updated 5/21/2009 12:59:11 PM ET 2009-05-21T16:59:11

Guests: Ron Christie, Richard Viguerie, Joe Sestak, Rep. Ron Paul, Rep. Devin Nunes, Virg Bernero, John Feehery, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Chris Cillizza

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED SCHULTZ, HOST:  I‘m Ed Schultz.  This is THE ED SHOW.

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SCHULTZ:  Good evening, Americans. Live from 30 Rock in New York City, it‘s THE ED SHOW on MSNBC. Great to have you with us tonight. 

Is the GOP in a freefall?  They‘re taking a vote at this very moment. 

We‘ll tell you about it in just a moment. 

The Republicans are taking up a resolution to officially paint Democrats as socialists. 

President Obama‘s plan to close Gitmo is smacked down by the Congress today by Democrats.  Are they starting to cave in to Dick Cheney‘s fear mongering? 

And I want to know what you think about this issue, the Gitmo debate. 

We‘ll have a text survey.  Get your phone ready. 

And a few nights ago I put Ron Paul in “Psycho Talk.”  I got a lot of response to that.

Tonight, the congressman responds right here.  We‘ll go head-to-head at the half-hour. 

Plus, brand new “Psycho Talk” from the drugster.  Does Rush Limbaugh have the guts to take my challenge?  We‘ll see. 

And we‘ve got a great panel coming up tonight. 

But first, tonight‘s “OpEd.”

Now, the state chairmen of the Republican Party are at the war table at this hour right now trying to figure out how are they going to mount this offensive against the Obama political machine?  Now, at the center of the storm is RNC Chairman Michael Steele, who has been really accused of, first of all, not being very innovative, being too fast and too loose with the purse strings.  You see, he‘s hired a lot of his friends and paid them actually quite a bit of money, beyond market rate.

And among the state party chairs, he‘s really not in good shape.  He‘s short on respect.  I guess you could say in a sports term, the man doesn‘t have any game. 

Now, in steps Rush Limbaugh, who accuses this network, MSNBC, of purposefully invoking his name for the sake of ratings.  Now, the drugster has challenged this network not to use his name for 30 days.  And as a radio guy, I think it‘s funny.

But remember, folks, we‘re MSNBC.  We‘re the place for politics. 

Party leaders, you know, they get their names mentioned on this network.  It just goes to show how many Republican radio stations there are in this country to put up with it. 

Now, I‘ll have more on Rush in just a few minutes, but I want to focus on Steele first.

Now, if they really believed in this guy, they‘d let him run the money.  How can any party chair be effective if they can‘t control the purse strings?  Now, if Steele can‘t run the money, what about the next party chair?  What kind of leadership are they going to have then? 

This is really known as a Bush-Cheney hangover.  Now, the question is, where does Steele really want to take the party? 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL STEELE, RNC CHAIRMAN:  ... that change has indeed come to America, but it‘s not the one that the Obama administration wants aired on the nightly news.  Those of you who live outside of Washington know what I‘m talking about in diners, barber shops coffee shops, real where everyday, hardworking Americans can be found.

You know it‘s real.  You can see it and you can feel it.  This change, my friends, is being delivered in a teabag. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  I mean, I just think this guy is not a happening dude at all.  I mean, just a reminder—in those diners in those small towns, Barack Obama won 11 Bush states.  And here are some crucial numbers that I think you need to pay attention to. 

In 2008, the party was gutted.  They lost 10 percentage points of college grads, nine percentage points of low-income wage earners, nine percentage points of middle income wage earners.  I mean, it just goes on.

I mean, they‘re down in the Midwest with moderates and with voters under the age of 30.  And the voter registration stinks, too. 

Now, look, here is the bright idea that they have to turn this all around: attack President Obama and, oh, by the way, pass a resolution naming the Democratic Party the Democratic Socialist Party. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEELE:  There‘s been a great deal of talk in Republican circles about how we should deal with President Obama and the entire Obama phenomenon.  Many have suggested that we need to be careful, that we need to tiptoe around President Obama, that we have to be careful not to take him on, at least not directly.  If we have the courage of our convictions, and I believe we do, then we will and we must stand against this disastrous policy. 

Regardless of the president‘s personal popularity, this is not a game. 

This is not a popularity contest.  This is not “American Idol.” 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  They‘ve got nothing, folks. 

Kathleen Parker wrote today, “Captain Steele isn‘t doing much to save the GOP sinking ship.”

I think she‘s right.

Now, joining me now is former special assistant to President Bush, Ron Christie.

The RNC has just voted in favor of recognizing Democrats‘ march to socialism. 

Ron, good to have you with us tonight. 

RON CHRISTIE, FMR. SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT BUSH:  Nice to see you, as always. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.

First of all, I want to know, do you think that Michael Steele is heading the party in the right direction? 

CHRISTIE:  Well, I think Chairman Steele has done an excellent job in fund-raising and going around the country and talking about what we are as a party, who we are as a party, and what we stand for.  And that‘s standing for lower taxes, we want to be strong for a strong national defense, and obviously we want to create a climate in this country where the economy recovers, rather than being stuck in very difficult financial times.  So, I agree with his platform and his message there, and he‘s done a lot to raise a lot of money for the people.

I think the media is enjoying this, they want to Michael Steele the issue.  The Republican Party itself is the issue.  The Republican Party, the members, the men and women who are organized as Republicans, need to reclaim the mantel of fiscal responsibility and not just let this be a discussion about Michael Steele all the time.

SCHULTZ:  Well, let‘s see.  The conservative movement in this country has attacked the middle class, they‘ve attacked labor.  They really have no plan for health care.

They have vilified public education.  They‘ve outsourced jobs.

Is it OK if we invest in American jobs?  I mean, what is the plan for the Republican Party to grab that middle class again and say, hey, you‘re not road kill, we really do care about you?  What is Michael Steele doing to communicate that with hardworking Americans? 

CHRISTIE:  Well, Ed, I think that‘s exactly the right question to ask.  I think the Republican Party needs to be far more articulate in looking at what the Obama administration is doing. 

The media has largely given him a pass.  The Obama budget is going to double the size of the national debt in five years, it‘s going to triple it in 10 years. 

You look at the CAFE standards that were imposed by the administration, the administration, for goodness sakes, Ed, the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration, said that we shouldn‘t raise the CAFE standards higher than 32.3 miles per gallon.  The Obama administration wants to raise it to 39.

Republicans need to say to the American people, these are the consequences, these are the economic realities that are going to be forced on America if these policies come through.  It‘s not about Michael Steele.  It‘s drawing clear policy distinctions between what this administration and this Congress seeks to impose on the American economy. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, actually, it is about Michael Steele, because his messaging isn‘t resonating, number one, because you can see all of the demographics that we‘ve listed out as to where the party has really been hurting and there hasn‘t been any turn.  Only a few people really identify themselves as Republicans now.

The point is, the issues that this country has with the middle class, as I said, public education, health care, we had a vote, we had an election.  The country wants this investment.  They have gone forward with the stimulus package. 

Now, I‘ve got some issues with that, too.  But it just seems to me that the Republicans just want to beat up on Barack Obama and they want to talk about socialism, but they don‘t offer anything back in return. 

And Ron, you guys are going to get absolutely destroyed in the midterm if you don‘t come to the table with some ideas. 

CHRISTIE:  Well, I think we have plenty of ideas. 

SCHULTZ:  What are they?  Tax cuts?

CHRISTIE:  I think what we‘ve seen—if you want to look at health care, I think what we‘ve seen is allowing Americans to have the private opportunity to keep their doctor, to have private choice.  A one-size-government-fits-all solution is not the way to go. 

SCHULTZ:  Wait a second.  I‘ve got to challenge you on that, Ron, respectfully. 

CHRISTIE:  Please.  Absolutely. 

SCHULTZ:  You can‘t deny the fact that health care premiums have double-digited for the last eight years in a row.  It is unbelievable what is happening to American families.  And to come back and say it‘s all about choice, wait a minute.  We can figure this thing out, but you guys don‘t have any plan to get the costs down. 

CHRISTIE:  Well, Ed, actually, that‘s not true.  If you have a one-size-government-fits-all solution, you‘re going to drive the cost up.  Why?

SCHULTZ:  No.

CHRISTIE:  Because people aren‘t going to have choices.  They‘re not going to have the choices of the free market.  The government‘s going to get involved in the business of price controls, which is going to drive innovation out of the pharmaceutical market.  We need to stop demonizing the people who have made our health care delivery system one of the best in the world. 

SCHULTZ:  And what the Republican Party has to do is start telling the truth about the people who have done it for profit and run it through the roof. 

Now, let‘s reel it back in on Michael Steele. 

Do you support him as the party head?  Is he stable in his position right now? 

CHRISTIE:  I think he‘s stable in his position right now.  I think what Michael needs to do is to continue to go around the country to articulate a very positive vision for what we stand for as a party and continue to raise money and draw distinctions with what the Democrats are doing to this economy, which is try to destroy it.

SCHULTZ:  Is attacking Barack Obama the right way to go?  Do you agree with that?

CHRISTIE:  I would never want to attack a president of the United States.  I think what the Republican Party needs to do is draw respectful policy disagreements in areas where we can work together.  But, Ed, let‘s be honest about it.  The media and the Democrats demonized President Bush over the last eight years.  You have not seen a Republican lay any sort of treatment, similar treatment on President Obama, because we respect him as an individual. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, that‘s because he hasn‘t invaded anybody.  That‘s because he hasn‘t gutted Wall Street.  I mean, he‘s trying to patch this thing up, and you know that. 

Bush lied to this country.  You can‘t get around it.

CHRISTIE:  Oh, Ed.  The fact of the matter is...

SCHULTZ:  You know that this president, the past president, was not truthful with the American people. 

We‘re going to end up with a truth commission.  We‘ll get all of that.

I just want to know where the Republican Party is now on issues, and I think they are short on that. 

CHRISTIE:  We‘re fine.

SCHULTZ:  By the way, I want to get your take.  The vote just came in that the state party chairs have voted to label the Democrats as “socialists.”

Is that the right way to go?  Is this the strategy?

CHRISTIE:  Well, I think that will do to raise a lot of fund-raiser coffers around the country, but we need to focus here in Washington and around the states about talking about the issues that the American people talk about. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.  Ron, always good to visit with you on this. 

Thanks so much.

CHRISTIE:  Take care, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  I mean, this is really a huge vote that we just saw.  Democrats in Congress say that they won‘t fund the closing of Guantanamo Bay, and they want to see a plan.  And we‘re going to get to that a little bit later on. 

But I want to talk to Richard Viguerie first if he‘s with us here tonight. 

He‘s not with us yet.  OK. 

Democrats a in Congress say that they won‘t fund closing Guantanamo until they see a plan.  Do they have the political will to shut down that facility?  Don‘t tell me that the Dems are buying into the Republican scare tactics. 

That‘s next on THE ED SHOW.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

The big news right now, the RNC just voted to condemn the Democrats‘ march to socialism. 

For more on that, let‘s turn to Richard Viguerie, a man I respect because he is true to his convictions.  He‘s the chairman of ConservativeHQ.com. 

Mr. Viguerie, you‘ve got that big smile on your face tonight.  Now, you must have just lost this vote.  Right?  Our march to socialism is continuing. 

RICHARD VIGUERIE, CHAIRMAN, CONSERVATIVEHQ.COM:  I was in such a panic to get here.  Every once in a while I get reminded why I don‘t want to come into D.C. because of the traffic and other things here, Ed. 

But, no, I mean, it‘s like breaking news.  Wow.  We‘re unhappy with the Democrats. 

You know, you‘ve got the same old people running the Republican House of Representatives, the Senate, the National Committee with all of the consultants and the lobbyists and the lawyers and all.  And these are the same people that gave us Katrina, Iraq, Harriet Miers, Jack Abramoff, Duke Cunningham, Mark Foley, Bob Ney, the K  Street Project, selling your soul to big business.  And, you know, nothing else has changed.

And Michael Steele, I appreciate that he says we want to put the past behind us, but the American people are waiting to hear, Ed, do they—what did they do wrong?  Did they spend too much?  Did they ignore the working Americans out there?

He said yesterday the American people expect from us to win elections and to raise money.  Excuse me?

How about jobs, protecting America from terrorists overseas, and keeping our communities safe, our schools, protecting our economy?  We‘re worried about our jobs, our homes.  I mean, it‘s just like there‘s a disconnect between the Republicans and the American people.

SCHULTZ:  Well, there‘s a disconnect, I think, between the Republicans and the conservative movement in this country right now, and we‘re enjoying this sideshow pretty much. 

But Mr. Viguerie, labeling the Democrats “socialist,” I mean, is this moving forward for the American people?  It‘s just wordsmithing and sloganeering.  I mean, what does it really do for anybody? 

VIGUERIE:  Well, Ed, I just conducted a poll the last four or five days at my Web site, ConservativeHQ.com, and you might be shocked.  Ninety-one percent of conservatives think that Obama is either a socialist, a Marxist, a fascist or a communist.  Ninety-one percent. 

And so, you know, I think it‘s important to define this man.  And the media is not defining him, the Republicans are not defining him.  So it‘s up to the conservatives to define Obama and the Pelosi Democrats.

SCHULTZ:  OK.  So do you think it is a step in the right direction to put this label as a party on the Democrats?  And do you think it‘s going to have an effect, positively, for the party? 

VIGUERIE:  I think you have to. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.

VIGUERIE:  The law of the jungle, Ed, is eat or be eaten.  The law of politics is define or be defined.

The Democrats, yourself included, worked overtime very successfully the last four, six, eight years defining George Bush, Dick Cheney and the Republicans. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, yes.

VIGUERIE:  So now the turn (ph) is fair, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  I just want a break on my health care premium.  I want to get rid of this for-profit thing you guys have got going over there, Mr.  Viguerie.  Nobody in the Republican Party or the conservative movement has got any answers for middle class families who are just getting butchered by these health care increases, education increases, energy costs.  I mean, we‘re losing the middle class and I don‘t hear the conservative movement in this country coming up with any solutions at all. 

Sooner or later, to get those 11 Bush states that Obama won, you‘re going to have to talk to these people. 

VIGUERIE:  Absolutely, Ed.  And today, as we talk, Paul Ryan, the congressman from Wisconsin, Tom Coburn, the senator from Oklahoma, and other Republicans put forth a free market capitalistic American values...

SCHULTZ:  A tax cut.

VIGUERIE:  No, the values—American values health care.  You know, if you think it‘s expensive now, wait until the socialists make it free, Ed.  Our children and our grandchildren are going to live in a very different world than we‘ve enjoyed. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, there are some experts out there, Mr. Viguerie, that say if we were to have a public option, that it would bring down the cost, and that we‘re spending way too much money on this.  And it would also bring competition into it. 

I want to move one more point on this. 

Do you support Mr. Steele?  Should he be removed as the chair of the Republican Party, or could you support him? 

VIGUERIE:  I‘m not focused on that, Ed.  I don‘t think many conservatives are. 

As I‘ve said to you before on your radio and television show, going forward, conservatives are going to be the primary opponents of the Obama administration, the Pelosi Democrats.  We‘re not going to look to the Republicans at the National Committee, the Senate Campaign Committee. 

Conservatives are furious with John Cornyn, the Republican senator from Texas, for supporting Charlie Crist for governor—the governor of Florida for the Senate race against a wonderful, young Hispanic conservative there in Florida.  And conservatives are getting angry that the Republicans are spending their money to elect moderate, liberal Democrats.

SCHULTZ:  All right.

VIGUERIE:  We‘re going to provide the leadership going forward, the conservatives.  We hope the Republicans join us, but we‘ll wait and see.

SCHULTZ:  Always enjoy the discussion, Mr. Viguerie.  Appreciate your time tonight.  Thanks for getting through that traffic for us.

VIGUERIE:  Sorry I was late.

SCHULTZ:  You bet.

Gitmo has been a legal mud wrestling event for years, one that really was created by the Bush administration.  Today, the Senate Democrats asked the White House for a plan after voting 90-6 to reject funding to close Gitmo, close it down. 

They want to hear a plan before President Obama.  They want to get Obama‘s plan before they show them any kind of money.  So tomorrow the president is going to deliver the mail.

And on the campaign trail, the president made it very clear that he was going to close this facility at Guantanamo Bay.  And it takes a plan, it takes money, it takes a political will.  And for the Democrats to really deny funding, I think is all part of the process.  No big deal.  I mean, it proves that the Democratic Party is willing to hold President Obama accountable. 

Now, we are early in the process.  Republicans are trying to present the case that Obama is not organized on the issue.  I say he is.

After all of these years, all of a sudden, the Republicans and the conservatives, they‘re so concerned about being on the fast track about what to do with these guys down at Guantanamo Bay?  For the United States to regain the moral high ground, the facility has to be closed. 

Gitmo represents torture.  We don‘t torture.  So this is definitely a new direction for the United States.  And I think the American people understand that now.

As for where the detainees are going to go, I say who cares?  Hardin, Montana?  Hey, if you want them out there, if you want to do some economic development, go ahead and do it. 

I mean, the fact is, it‘s pretty cold out there.  But if you look outside, it‘s snow, it‘s depressing.

Look, these people are not going to be community activists if we bring them on American soil.  They are going to be behind bars.  All right?

For more on this, I want to bring in Congressman Joe Sestak, who was a former admiral.  He says—let‘s find out what he says. 

Mr. Sestak, great to have you with us tonight. 

REP. JOE SESTAK (D), PENNSYLVANIA:  Good to be back, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.

What do you want to do with Guantanamo Bay? 

Look, practically, you could reinstill the rule of law down there—in fact, I had a bill last year for habeas corpus—and go about our business.  But you said it very well.

This is a major step towards reasserting the role of U.S. leadership in the world by closing it.  What a harsh, terrible symbol, to throw men into a black hole where they are beyond the rule of law.  We Americans don‘t do that.  If I‘ve learned anything in the Clinton White House when I was a young Navy captain, and I watched how we engaged in the world, that other nations will not be willing to take risk unless U.S. leadership, recertified by symbols closing like this, is out and about the world. 

Can we handle them back here in the United States?  We have over 12 terrorists today at Fort Leavenworth in the military.  We have them at Supermax in Florence, Colorado, 23-hour lockdown. 

This is not an issue. 

SCHULTZ:  Do you think we should bring them into our court system and just have it?  They hit the United States—and, of course, I heard a lot today on the radio that some people think that these guys are innocent. 

What do you think? 

SESTAK:  No.  What we have to do is bring them back into the rule of law. 

Now, I can support—but we haven‘t seen the details yet from President Obama—a commission if it meets the Supreme Court test, and there‘s two of them.  If it‘s within the Uniform Code of Military Justice, of which commissions can be part of that, it has to meet the generally consistent standards—that‘s what the Supreme Court said—of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. 

There‘s a second litmus test.  It also has to meet the standards of rules that are acceptable by civilized people.  And it‘s due process and hearsay evidence, and using a course of interrogation results in a court are going to be permissible, then the president hasn‘t done it right.  I‘m waiting to see the details of what he‘s proposed.  It has to be brought in within the Uniform Code of Military Justice, somewhat consistent for that for the federal courts.

SCHULTZ:  OK, Congressman.  Great to have you with us tonight.  I appreciate your take on all of this.

SESTAK:  Thanks for having me, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.

All right, folks.  Get out your phones.  I want to know what you think about all of this.

Would you be comfortable with a Gitmo detainee being imprisoned in your state?  Text “A” for yes and “B” for no to the number right there on your screen, and we‘ll bring you the results in the next half-hour of the show. 

Up next on THE ED SHOW, “Psycho Talk.”   Rush Limbaugh issues a challenge to MSNBC.  And I‘ve got one for him. 

That‘s next in “Psycho Talk.”  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

Have you heard some of the crazy things that are being said by conservatives? 

It‘s time for “Psycho Talk.” 

Oh, in the “Psycho Talk” zone tonight, it‘s the famous drugster.  The drugster has challenged MSNBC, this network, to go 30 days without saying his name. 

Now, I love a good challenge, but I have to admit, it would be really hard to do that, Rush.  Rush Limbaugh, buddy, you run the party.

He is undoubtedly the failed leader.  He is the leader of a failed movement.

Now, he has more influence than anyone on the right, and they do fear him.  Republican politicians have had to kiss his ring time and time again this year. 

When do they dare—how do they dare to challenge the drugster?  How could they do that?  They come back the next day when they challenge him and they‘re just, I apologize, Rush, I‘m sorry. 

You know, folks, I‘m not one of those wimpy conservatives, you see. 

I‘m not a wimpy conservative politician, and I like a good scrap. 

Now, there‘s only one condition.  I‘ll do it if the drugster agrees to my challenge. 

First, let‘s take a listen to “Psycho Talk.” 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Throughout the busy broadcast day, MSNBC cannot go an hour without mentioning me or playing video of me or having me discussed.  Let‘s see if you can do Rush withdrawal. 

I challenge you, MSNBC: 30 days without anything mentioning me, no video of me, no guests commenting on me.  Let‘s see if you can do it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  I don‘t think I can. 

OK, drugster.  But it‘s not a one-way street. 

Here‘s my challenge to you.  I challenge you to go 30 days without making any derogatory or hateful comments about the president of the United States.  Thirty days.  No racist, no sexist, no homophobic comments. 

But there‘s an issue with my challenge, and I realize that.  Who would be the judge? 

You don‘t know the difference between a racist, sexist and a homophobic comment.  I mean, that‘s just who you are.  That‘s just how you talk.  You don‘t know any better. 

And that‘s why you‘re just a daily doser of the “Psycho Talk.”  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW and our first edition—I guess you can call it Psycho Talk Playback.  Last Friday, I put Congressman Ron Paul in Psycho talk.  Take a look. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  In tonight‘s Psycho Talk, we got an elected official, Congressman Ron Paul of Texas brings back an old favorite talking point.  If we really want to save money in this country, you‘ve got to cut out the deficit, right?  Well, you should abolish a few departments is what he was talking about.  Why not?  Ron Paul said it today on “MORNING JOE.”

REP. RON PAUL ®, TEXAS:  How about get rid of the Department of Education and the Department of Agricultural?  Just go down the list.  Get rid of it.  Cut the budget in half.  Everything that‘s not Constitutional, that‘s a good place to start.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  My feeling on this, localized government made sense for the founding fathers 230 years ago, when it took three weeks to travel from Boston to Philadelphia.  Today, we live in a much different world. 

Now, I think all American kids deserve a good shot at a good education regardless of where they live.  The Department of Education plays a role in that.  As for the Department of Agriculture, you know, I don‘t grow my own food and you probably don‘t either, but I‘m kind of glad that the government is making sure it is safe before it shows up on my plate. 

Congressman Ron Paul has just got a different view to all of this.  Congressman, in the spirit of sportsmanship, glad to have you here with us tonight on THE ED SHOW.

PAUL:  Well, thank you. 

What I don‘t understand is why you don‘t care about the Constitution.  You know, we‘re only supposed to do those things authorized in the Constitution.  If I say let‘s defend the Constitution and cut out all unconstitutional spending, you can‘t jump on me for that. 

Besides, you misreported that because, on top of the list, and what I was mainly talking about in that interview was cutting spending overseas.  I would suspect maybe you would agree with some of that.  I say—wait, I said cut 500 billion dollars from over seas war mongering, never cut domestic programs until we get our house in order. 

So you didn‘t report that kind of position, which I said entirely through the whole campaign, that I was not going to attack any domestic programs.  But when I‘m asked, what I would cut, I would.  The Department of Education should be cut.  It‘s unconstitutional.  It‘s inefficient.

We‘ve spent nearly two trillion dollars on the Department of Education

and people aren‘t doing that well.  And right now in Washington, the city

of Washington, we spend 25,000 dollars per student and they‘re not doing

all that well.  We can spend 400 or 500 dollars on a home schooler in Texas

not that I believe everybody should be home schooled.  But in comparison, they spend 400 or 500 dollars and they almost all go to college.  There are no guns and no drugs.  

We have to come down to a census.  To defend the education system, even when it‘s unconstitutional, doesn‘t make much sense to me.

SCHULTZ:  Congressman Paul, let‘s get to my reporting.  Did you or did you not say that you want to eliminate the Department of Agriculture.  Is that true?

PAUL:  I do.

SCHULTZ:  OK, you do.  That‘s the key point here.  This deals with food security.  This deals with a cheap food policy.  So you want—and also with disasters.  The School Lunch Program for poor people.  Across the board, you want to get rid of all of that. 

PAUL:  It really hasn‘t served well. 

SCHULTZ:  You want to get rid of that.  That‘s the key point here, Congressman.  You say that you want to get rid of things that Americans absolutely rely on. 

PAUL:  Because it‘s unconstitutional.  There‘s no authority for it.  Let me tell you the practical reason is it subsidizes corporate farmers, not the little farmers; 78 percent of all the subsidies go to corporations.  It raises the cost of food to the average person. 

Just think for over 100 years, who did they protect?  The tobacco farmers.  You‘re defending the tobacco farmers.

SCHULTZ:  I‘m not saying that there‘s not mistakes in the Ag Department.  But I do know that the checks and balances when it comes to good food on our table is something that we‘ve got to have.

What about food security in this country?  We‘ve had some issues with food security.  The Department of Agriculture is the department that oversees all of that.  How can you be for stripping that away?

You say it‘s not constitution.  The vote of the people, this goes back to Abraham Lincoln. 

PAUL:  You‘re right.

SCHULTZ:  -- that goes all the way back to Abraham Lincoln.  Was he a socialist, too? 

PAUL:  No, but he didn‘t believe in the republic as we do, because he wanted to nationalize everything.  That is true.  It started in 1862.  It wasn‘t authorized originally. 

SCHULTZ:  So get rid of it.  So you‘re saying that the Ag Department today plays no function in our government of any meaningful source at all and we should just get rid of it? 

PAUL:  No, I didn‘t say that. 

SCHULTZ:  Yes, you did say that, Congressman.  You said that on “MORNING JOE.”  You said you wanted to get rid of the Ag Department—

PAUL:  Do you want to interview me or not?  Do you want to interview me?

SCHULTZ:  I‘ve interviewed you.  I‘m giving you all I need to hear.  Respectfully, Congressman, you‘re in the psycho talk zone because you want to get rid of something that provides security to this country, and that‘s food security.  I appreciate your time tonight.  Good to have you with us. 

PAUL:  Ed, I think the psycho term is misplaced.  It may be a reversal of that term because of the rant that I just heard.  You get paid for that.

SCHULTZ:  I‘m accurate, congressman.  I‘m with the American people.  They want an Ag Department.  I understand that we‘ve got to trim government.  But to arbitrarily completely get rid of the Ag Department, I‘m sorry, that is so way off base—

PAUL:  What you‘re refusing to admit is the priorities.  That‘s what -

you‘re refusing to admit—

(CROSS TALK)

PAUL:  You‘re refusing to admit that you don‘t give a darn about our Constitution.  Pretty soon they are going to be going to war without a declaration.

(CROSS TALK)

PAUL:  They‘re going to be spying on you, against the Fourth Amendment.  You better have respect for the Fourth Amendment and the Constitution, and not be so careless with our rule of law.

SCHULTZ:  Congressman, you‘re a good sport.  We‘ve got to have you back.  The next time you‘re back, we will talk about the Fourth Amendment.

PAUL:  Will you be friendly?

SCHULTZ:  I‘m friendly right now.  I just disagree with you.

PAUL:  You used to be friendlier on the radio.  You get a big audience, it goes to your head.

SCHULTZ:  Congressman, I like you.  You‘re a great guy, but we‘re not going to get rid of the Department of Agriculture.

PAUL:  Who said we were?

SCHULTZ:  What about your state Texas, where they‘ve had all those droughts out there on those ranches?  You going to throw them under the bus?

PAUL:  The only ones that would lose any money are the very wealthy corporate farms.  You‘ll come around.  You believe in the Constitution when you want to. 

SCHULTZ:  I do believe in the constitution, but I also believe in the Department of Agriculture.

PAUL:  There you go, whatever you want. 

SCHULTZ:  Thank you Congressman.  I appreciate your time.  And I do.  I do.  I got a lot of heat from people because I put him in the psycho talk zone.  But the fact is, look at what the Department of Agriculture does for this country.  Mad Cow Disease?  They had a provision in the last farm bill that was called COOL, Country Origin Of Labeling.  Do you want to know where your food comes from?  The Department of Ag does that. 

We‘re in a world of terrorists that want to take us down.  That‘s all the conservatives do is tell us, gosh, we gotta protect the country.  Part of protecting the country is protecting the food source. 

All right.  Is president—we‘re going to have him back, because I want to talk about that Fourth Amendment thing.  President Obama is going to make a major speech about national security tomorrow.  This comes after the Senate voted 90 to 6 to block the funds to close Gitmo.  What is up with that? 

For more on that, let‘s go to our political panel tonight, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor of “The Nation,” also Chris Cillizza is a White House reporter for the “Washington Post” and John Feehery is a Republican strategist. 

All three of you can tell that I need a break right now.  I feel like I just ran a marathon.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Hard to top that, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  Let‘s talk about closing of Gitmo.  I want to start with you tonight, Katrina.  This is really what the last election was all about, who we are as a country.  What‘s the president going to do tomorrow?  What do you think he‘s going to do? 

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, “THE NATION”:  President Obama was elected in part on his commitment to ending torture, to tending policies—Bush-Cheney policies which have made us hated in the world, made us less secure. 

He‘s going to, I believe, start to lay out a plan.  We saw in Washington, I have to say, you got demagogues Republican fear-mongering, playing not in my backyard, and you‘ve got Democrats who need a spine transplant, because the Republicans always go after the Democrats for not being strong on national security.

What does strong on national security mean?  It means being smart.  We have prisons in this country which have the capacity and the experience to hold hardened criminals.  We should abide by our rule of law, close Guantanamo.  It is restoring our image in the world.  It will make us more secure in the long run.

And President Obama made a vow.  He now needs to lay out a plan and get those Democrats in order. 

SCHULTZ:  What about that, John Feehery?  Is the president backing off on this?  What do you want to hear from him tomorrow?

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  It‘s not really about the president.  It‘s really about the House and the Senate.  They both said we don‘t want them in our backyard.  And then you have the FBI director say today that he thinks it‘s dangerous to bring these folks back. 

So this is not an easy one for the president.  I think he‘ll probably try to do what he said in his campaign trail.  But he‘s going to run into some tough times with his own Democrats.  And it‘s not just Republicans pushing this.  A lot of Democrats are very wary.  David Obey, the Appropriations Chairman, said I don‘t want to do anything on this until I get a plan.  So no money for you, Mr. President, until I get a plan.  He has not seen that plan yet.

SCHULTZ:  Chris, why is the president slow to put forth the plan but quick to ask for the money? 

SCHULTZ:  Because that‘s the easier way to do things, Ed.  It‘s always easier to say, hey, give me the money and we‘ll figure out the plan later.  Remember, everything, everything, I think—past is prologue.  Look back, several of the votes taken—I‘ll give you an example in the Republican administration under President Bush, the Tarp vote.  I know there are a lot of Republican senators on that first bank bailout who, if they had it to do all over again, would have voted against it. 

They voted for it because they thought we have to do this or everything is going to collapse.  I think they are proceeding with all due haste.  People are taking their time because they know in the past they voted for these things and a month, two months, three months down the road, it doesn‘t look—politically at least, it doesn‘t like they thought it was going to look.  That‘s why I think you‘re seeing Democrats in the Senate slow walk this and say, we want to know exactly how this is going to be done before we agree to something and put the money forward.

SCHULTZ:  All right, panel, we have a lot more coming up on this tonight.  Earlier in the show, we asked our viewers about bringing Gitmo detainees into the United States.  We got over 1,000 responses.  Here‘s what they said; 92 percent say yes, they would be OK with detainees if they were put in prisons in their state; eight percent say no. 

They‘d be OK with it.  All right?

Coming, now to fix health care; what are we going to do?  The insurance company profits going through the roof more than 400 percent.  Why do Republicans think this is a system worth saving?  I‘ll ask one GOP law maker next, plus more on the panel, when we come back on THE ED SHOW.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  In my playbook tonight, I‘ve been waiting for this one, the GOP to come up with a health care plan.  Today, they say they have one.

Joining me now is Congressman Devin Nunes of California.  He is a sponsor of the Patient‘s Choice Act.  Congressman, great to have you with us tonight. 

Just a quick statistic here.  We have insurance companies that have risen premiums 428 -- publicly traded insurance companies rose 428 percent, the profits at the ten biggest companies -- 428 percent from 2000 to 2007.  Now, Congressman, are you going to address this tonight?  Does your plan do that? 

REP. DEVIN NUNES ®, CALIFORNIA:  Yes, it absolutely does.  Ed, thank you for having me on tonight to get our plan out there before the American people.  We‘re very excited about this plan, because, for the first time, we have a plan that allows universal access for all Americans, and it doesn‘t cost the taxpayers any more money that what they‘re paying today.  I think that‘s a key part of what we‘re putting together here, is that all Americans will be treated equally. 

I agree.  The insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies have been out of control.  And our plan addresses that. 

SCHULTZ:  What are you going to do to reel them in? 

NUNES:  Specifically, what we do is by having universal access to coverage for all Americans, from the high end to the low end, everyone will have the same opportunity to buy a health care plan that will be, at minimum, what members of Congress have and what federal employees have. 

SCHULTZ:  That‘s a key word.  They will have an opportunity?  What about a public auction?  Is that in your offering, in your plan? 

NUNES:  When I say opportunity, it‘s their option.  They will have the money to do it.  If they don‘t want to have a plan, they don‘t have to have a plan.

SCHULTZ:  Will this cover the 47 million people that don‘t have any insurance? 

NUNES:  It absolutely will.  And I think one of the most important things that I like to say from my district in rural California, where we have a lot of folks on Medicaid—let‘s take the example of a single mother with three kids.  Under our plan, today, that lady would have the opportunity to have the same health care that I have.  She would have about 11,000 dollars to go out—

SCHULTZ:  What‘s it going to cost?  It‘s connected to a tax cut and a tax credit.  Is it not? 

NUNES:  It is. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  So we just can‘t get away from that.  But the fact is -

-

NUNES:  We take the dollars that the government is currently using today, and we provide universal access for all Americans. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.  I‘m intrigued by your plan.  I want to have you back on the program if you‘ll be kind enough to come back.  We‘re on this tonight, but I really want to talk more about it.  Congressman Nunes, I appreciate your time. 

NUNES:  Thank you.

SCHULTZ:  I give them credit.  They got a plan out there.  We‘ve been asking for that for a long time.

Coming up, what I‘ve learned on the road the past few days about fellow Americans.  The economic crisis has dealt a lot of people a really tough hand.  They are down, but they are not out.  Not by a long shot.  That‘s next on THE ED SHOW.  Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m married with three boys, 11, 10, and two years old.  Had a little surprise there.  So yes, it‘s—you really got to—you just feel like you can‘t do anything.  You are just on pins and needles all the time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I have people than don‘t have food to eat.  I have a serious problem with that. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We need to turn this all around and twist this back around to where we can build a manufacturing base in the United States again.  We‘ve got good workers.  We‘ve got good work ethics.  These people are ready to work.  We‘ve just got to have jobs for them to work at. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  That was a video put together by the Alliance for American Manufacturing.  It‘s gut wrenching when you see people lose their jobs.  In DC for the last few days, they concluded a bus tour where they went through 11 states and hit numerous cities. 

Joining me now is the mayor of Lansing, Michigan, Virg Bernero.  He was part of that coalition that wanted to bring the message to Washington about what‘s happening to the manufacturing base.

Virg, is Washington getting the message?  What do you think? 

VIRG BERNERO, MAYOR OF LANSING, MICHIGAN:  Boy, I hope so, Ed.  I‘ll tell you, you saw the testimony.  It is gut wrenching.  People tried to say a lot of times that Michigan, it was a one state recession.  These people are hurting all across this country.  American workers deserve to be invested in.  They deserve the opportunity to be productive. 

We have the most productive workers in the world.  They want to be making things.  They want to be contributing to the GDP, contributing to their families.  I tell you, Wall Street has just about reduced them. 

They are down.  Like you said, they are down, but they are not out.  The unholy alliance between Wall Street and Washington; what we see is bailouts and bonuses for Wall Street and baloney for Main Street.  The people deserve better. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, they do deserve better.  And how long is the working folk so America going to be patient with the Obama administration?  The manufacturing sector has been nailed.  What are these folks going to deal when this ripple effect of the car manufacturers go down?

;

BERNERO:  Ed, I‘m losing my patience, let me be clear.  There‘s two key tests right now.  If we see these so-called viability plans for GM forcing further outsourcing, and forcing them to make cars in China, pushing them to make cars in China to sell back here, that is bull.  That is nonsense. 

The American people should say hell no to that.  And then this cash for clunkers deal.  If we‘re going to stimulate the economy, shouldn‘t we stimulate people to buy American cars?  If we‘re going to spend American tax dollars, shouldn‘t we be incentivizing them to buy American products instead of foreign products?  What sense does this make? 

SCHULTZ:  That is common sense.  The mayor of Lansing, Michigan with us tonight, Virg Bernero.  You‘re a real champion.  I‘ve got a lot of respect for you.  Keep speaking up, my man.

Katrina Vanden Heuvel and, also, Chris Cillizza and John Feehery joins us tonight.  These are folks that voted for Obama, Katrina.  He better have an answer for this. 

HEUVEL:  We‘ve talked about this.  I‘ve always worried about the double standard, the way the bank bailouts have bailed out Wall Street.  When you look at what is going on in Lansing, Michigan, in states that have double digit unemployment—if we had some imagination about this, we could have a national industrial policy that could green our economy, that could help workers transition. 

We need a jobs program.  At a minimum, we need a second stimulus, Ed.  But we need some real imagination, because it is cruel and brutal out there. 

SCHULTZ:  It is brutal, especially the health care issue.  Chris, is this a tide deal wave coming in on the Obama administration? 

CILLIZZA:  Ed, I‘m doing a story along these lines.  I talked to Paul Begala and he essentially said the Obama administration has staked its presidency on the economy.  That‘s no secret.  Just look at the pure political implications of this, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin; these are all states being very hard hit.

If the economy doesn‘t turn around, particularly in the manufacturing sector, these are the places where when Democrats stand in 2010, when Barack Obama stands in 2012, there could be a reckoning.  Obviously, we are only.  We don‘t want to say—I don‘t want to prejudge it.  But let‘s be honest, that belt right there is very critical in any national election. 

SCHULTZ:  John, is this an opening for Republicans? 

FEEHERY:  Ed, it could be.  I think Chris is right.  This is important politically.  When the president does his thing with GM and makes the Italians buy Chrysler, it looks like it‘s an inside deal.  And he‘s outsourcing these jobs, which is not good politics for him.  And then he imposes these high EPA CAFE standards, which Detroit is against, and makes people want to buy more foreign cars, not American cars.  That‘s a real problem for the Clinton—for the Obama administration.  And they better get handle on it, because it would be bad for them in the long run. 

HEUVEL:  Listen, Obama says he‘s a ruthless pragmatist.  He needs to listen to the mayor of Lansing and other mayors, governors on the ground, who are seeing the pain in their states, and understand that his presidency is—there‘s something at stake here.  But it‘s not just a partisan thing, Ed.  You know that.  You‘ve gone and interviewed people on the ground.  It‘s about giving a chance to lead a decent life of dignity.  And that‘s health care.  That‘s empowering workers to organize.  That‘s a jobs program. 

We haven‘t seen enough focus on jobs, jobs, jobs.  And that needs to be at the forefront of this team, which is too wedded by the hip to Wall Street. 

SCHULTZ:  Katrina, Chris, John, thanks for joining us tonight.  Sorry we ran out of time on this panel.  We‘ll obviously have you back.  That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Ed Schultz.  “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts right here, right now on MSNBC. 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

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