updated 6/9/2009 10:48:56 AM ET 2009-06-09T14:48:56

Guests: Ralph Neas, David Lazarus, Ken Salazar, Richard Viguerie, Tom

Tancredo, Jamal Simmons, Jim Vandehei, Ryan Grim, Robert Reich

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHULTZ:  Good evening, Americans. 

Live from 30 Rock in New York City, it‘s THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.

The fight is on.  The public option for health care is bringing out the best in fundraising, but not on the side that‘s going to help you.

President Obama wants a job.  Actually, he wants 600,000 of them by the end of the summer. 

How‘s he going to get that done?  I‘ll ask cabinet secretary Ken Salazar here on The Ed Program.

And also, the Republican fringe is fighting.  Is Sarah Palin afraid the Newtster will steal her thunder? 

Plus “Psycho Talk.”

All that and a great panel, but first, tonight‘s “OpEd.”

The battle lines are being drawn, folks, when it comes to health care. 

President Obama wants a public option.  He‘s made that very clear. 

The American people want reform.  And they want it now. 

I was in Chicago over the weekend, and the people, that‘s all they were talking about.  Everywhere I go, that‘s all they‘d talk about is health care.  I must be the health care guy or something.  Isn‘t there anything else we can talk about? 

But I‘m going to Buffalo this weekend, and I guarantee you that‘s exactly what folks are talking about.  It‘s affecting every family across the country.  It is the number one issue on the minds of the people. 

Now that the election‘s over with, can we move forward? 

President Obama says he wants the Congress to come up with a plan

before summer recess.  With just five weeks to put it together—good luck

you would think that Senator Chuck Grassley, the ranking member on the Finance Committee, would be working his fanny off on this.  But what do you think he was doing yesterday?  He was tweeting. 

Grassley may be the most important Republican for putting this thing together because he‘s the ranking Republican on that Finance Committee.  And if we don‘t get Grassley on board really getting after this, we‘re not going to get a health care bill.  He could stall it in a heartbeat. 

And this is what he‘s spending his time on over the weekend:

“President Obama, you got nerve while you‘re sightseeing in Paris to tell us time to deliver on health care.  We still on schedule working weekends.”

OK.

“President Obama, you sightseeing in Paris?  You said ‘Time deliver on health care.‘  When you are a hammer you think everything is nail.  I‘m no nail.”

You know, when I read that I thought my mother would be rolling over in her grave on that being a high school English teacher, that a United States Senator is dinging around with stuff like that.  But anyway, let‘s clear something up here, folks. 

President Obama spent a few hours sightseeing with his family on Sunday.  He also held a bilateral meeting with the French president and made a speech at Normandy for D-Day, the real American thing to do. 

Now, Senator, what did you do this weekend? 

This isn‘t about President Obama.  This is about the Republican playbook.  They don‘t have any ideas on health care, so the fallback on all of this is to go negative. 

The Republicans on Grassley‘s committee are already saying no and making threats.  Check out this quote from Senator Orrin Hatch: “Democrats know that if they go to a totally partisan approach, the president has suggested they‘re going to eat that the rest of their lives.” 

Whatever that means.  It means negative, and it also means that they‘re not too high on a public option and they‘re going to fight it all the way. 

The Republicans don‘t want to talk about this issue.  Flat-out, folks, they‘re not on your side.  They‘re not on the side of the voters even after this huge election we had. 

Now, they have no plan to reduce costs.  They don‘t have you in mind, the consumer, from getting another 20 percent increase in your premiums next year. 

They keep talking about tort reform.  Tort reform is one percent of health care costs.  Do we have that?

I‘ve got some numbers you ought to pay attention to. 

Sixty percent of bankruptcies are caused by medical bills and 75 percent of those bankruptcies have happened with people who have had health insurance and they couldn‘t keep up. 

Now, I don‘t think you can say these numbers enough.  This is where a lot of American families are, and the GOP is trying to again scare people, saying that real reform would put the government between you and your doctor. 

I don‘t agree with that. 

So, where do you think the insurance companies are in all of this?  They‘re lining the pockets of these politicians.  They‘re not out to help you.  They‘re not out to help the doctors. 

The public option is good for consumers, good for health care providers, and it would be good for business, because everything drops to the bottom line of the books.  It gets right to the bottom of cutting all the costs. 

Now, it‘s not just Republicans.  Democratic senators get a little bit weak in the knees on this. 

Senator Kennedy is the only one out there, along with Bernie Sanders, who are really fighting against the lobbyists and fighting for the consumers.  As I see it, too many Democrats are quiet on this. 

Now, we‘ve got to put the fear of God in these senators if they don‘t listen to the American people.  They need to know that there will be a midterm and there will be people out there—the president is now asking the DNC to get involved in organized rallies across the country.  It won‘t be a hard thing to do, I can tell you that. 

For more on this, I want to bring in Mr. Ralph Neas, who‘s joining us tonight.  He‘s the CEO of the National Coalition on Health Care. 

Mr. Neas, good to have you back with us here tonight. 

What do you think the American people want?  If the American people were writing this, what do you think they would say? 

RALPH NEAS, CEO, NATIONAL COALITION OF HEALTH:  Ed, they really want health reform, as you said.  They want comprehensive health care reform that is sustainable.  And that means you have to have coverage for all.  But as you said, very importantly, you have to have cost containment.  We have to cut the rate of increase in health care costs. 

Many people know this already, but in the last 10 years, health care costs have gone up 130 percent.  Wages, 34 percent.  That‘s outrageous.  Cost control has to be part of the mix, as well as quality. 

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Neas, are the Republicans winning the spin game early on this?  Because they‘re saying the government‘s going to be between you and your doctor, and you don‘t want that.  In fact, they‘ve gone so far as to say—Orrin Hatch said Democrats would live to regret it if they insist on a public plan. 

What do you think? 

NEAS:  I think that President Barack Obama and the congressional leaders are doing a fine job in terms of reaching out to the Republicans, in terms of bringing everybody to the table, all stakeholders.  I think they‘ve got a good message. 

There are Republicans, and I think Chuck Grassley would definitely take back that bitter twittering over the weekend, because he has been working hard with Senator Max Baucus.  Senator Mike Enzi has been working with Senator Kennedy and Senator Baucus. 

There is a bipartisan attempt in the Senate.  In the House, I‘m afraid, there‘s very little.

SCHULTZ:  There‘s also—Ralph, I‘ve got to jump in here.  There is also an unprecedented amount of money that is going to fight any reform on this. 

Where‘s the good money going to be coming from on the side of the people?  The money is out there for the health insurance industry and for the HMOs and for all of those who don‘t want any reform.  And we‘re talking millions of dollars that‘s going to be spent in the next few months. 

Where‘s the pushback on this financially? 

NEAS:  Ed, I was working on this back in ‘93 and ‘94, and those who wanted systemic, system-wide health care reform were defeated, in large measure because of rhetoric that just wasn‘t truthful and unbelievable amounts of money.  And you‘re right, we‘ve got to assume opponents will spend the money. 

This time, proponents of comprehensive health care are prepared with messages and communication.  The money is being raised and there is coordinated leadership downtown on Pennsylvania Avenue, as well as on Capitol Hill. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  I hope it happens.

NEAS:  We‘re going to get it this time.  We‘re going to get it this time. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.  I hope so.  Millions of dollars being thrown against any effort to reform.  And also, the president has asked for people to go out and attend town hall meetings. 

Mr. Neas, good to have you with us tonight. 

NEAS:  Great to be back.

SCHULTZ:  All right, folks.  Get your phones out because I want you to weigh in on this.  And it‘s a simple question.  Do you trust your health care insurance companies or the government?  Where do you want to go? 

Text “A” for insurance companies, “B” for the government to the number on your screen.  We‘ll bring you the results later in the show tonight. 

For more on this, let me bring in David Lazarus.  He‘s a business columnist for the “L.A. Times” and has spent a lot of time covering health care. 

David, what do you think the American people want?  If they were going to write this thing out, what would they put in there? 

DAVID LAZARUS, BUSINESS COLUMNIST, “LOS ANGELES TIMES”:  Oh, I think the American people have made it very clear that, first of all, they want change, but mostly, they want fair treatment.  Time and time again, Americans say, look, we‘ll pay for health insurance.  We understand what insurance is all about.  But at the same time, we don‘t want to be gouged and we don‘t want to be treated like lepers just because we finally come to use the product that we‘ve been paying for every month anyway. 

And that means, for instance, no exclusions for pre-existing conditions, no higher payments for people who are sick, and no deep gouging and no nickel-and-diming for the little stuff.  And then no one‘s there for you for the catastrophic stuff.  People just want to know that they‘ve got a safety net. 

SCHULTZ:  David, does the Senate get it?  I just don‘t hear enough Democratic senators out there saying we‘re going to do this.  I just don‘t sense the passion out of Washington.  And it‘s almost like they‘re afraid of the establishment because they could get targeted during an election. 

What do you think? 

LAZARUS:  Ed, I think what the Senate gets is plenty of do-re-mi from the insurance industry and from the pharmaceutical industry.  They throw the money around far and wide, and not just to Republicans, but to Democrats as well. 

That‘s why it‘s very hard to push something through.  But—and this is a big, important caveat here—when they tried in the Carter administration to push through reform, industry killed it.  When they tried in the Clinton administration, industry killed it. 

This time, every player I‘ve spoken to says there‘s too much momentum, you‘re not going to stop it.  The only question is what are going to be the contours of the plan?  Because there will be a reform plan. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.  Do you think one of the heaviest lifts for the president will be to explain how he‘s going to pay for all of this? 

LAZARUS:  Well, absolutely that‘s the heaviest lift.  But you know, he‘s got a big out on that, too, and that is, we can‘t pay for anything.  So why is anyone going to hold his feet to the fire on this? 

We‘ve got a $1.3 trillion to $1.8 trillion deficit this year, an $11 trillion national debt.  I think what Obama can say is, look, we‘ve got a lot of things we‘re paying for right now, this is just one of them, we‘ll take care of it. 

SCHULTZ:  I‘ve said this a number of times, that I think it‘s going to take, David, an effort that would parallel that of the civil rights movement in the ‘60s if we‘re going to get real reform.  Because the establishment is that well funded, the establishment is that adamant about keeping things the way they are.  There‘s a trust level here that‘s not connecting with the American people in Washington.

So, can we get that done in six weeks?  I don‘t know how that can happen.

LAZARUS:  Well, I think the ace in the hole here, Ed, is that the insurance industry knows that they‘re facing some hard times.  They know that their customer base is already dwindling.  They want that national mandate real, real badly.  And the fact that the president signaled his willingness to talk about the other day is what‘s keeping these guys at the table right now.

The real question is, is Obama prepared to give up that public health plan that you were talking about earlier for the sake of keeping these guys at the table?  That‘s going to be the real deal-breaker.  These guys say there‘s no way they want to ever see a public program, large or small, as part of the picture. 

I‘m thinking that if he is going to agree to a national mandate—and that‘s probably going to be a big part of any solution here—he should not take that public plan off the table, at least not without a whole lot of gimmes from industry. 

SCHULTZ:  Amen to that. 

Now, you‘ve done a lot of reporting on this.  If the president takes that public option off the table, there‘s going to be a big political backlash, that‘s what it is. 

Do you sense that in your reporting? 

LAZARUS:  Yes, I do, but at the same time, he‘s being fought tooth and nail on this.  The Republicans released a letter today saying they want no part of a public plan. 

It seems to me the answer‘s going to be that if they want the public plan off the table, then the industry‘s going to have to agree to really Draconian price controls.  They don‘t want that either. 

So the solution is the compromise.  The compromise is the public plan to be some sort of counterbalance to the private plans.  I think they‘re going to wake up to reality and see that eventually. 

SCHULTZ:  David Lazarus, “L.A. Times.”

Great to have you with us.  Love your work.  You have done more work on this I think than anybody in the media.  And you know, when I go around the country—and I‘m going to be in Buffalo this Saturday night—people are asking questions—how come the media is not spending more time on this? 

It‘s the people‘s issue.  We‘ll see where it goes. 

Thanks so much, David.

LAZARUS:  Thank you, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  Coming up, with unemployment over nine percent, President Obama is making an aggressive push to create jobs this summer.  Now, how does he plan to do it?  I‘ll ask Interior secretary Ken Salazar next on THE ED SHOW.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK H. OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Our ultimate goal is making sure that the average family out there, mom working, dad working, that they are able to pay their bills, feel some job security, make their mortgage payments.  That‘s the measure, how ordinary families are helping to rebuild America once more. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

That was President Obama this morning announcing that the economic stimulus will save or create 600,000 jobs this summer.  That‘s four times as many jobs in the second 100 days as the stimulus produced in the first 100 days. 

Now, how will the White House make this happen? 

Joining me now is Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, my old friend from Colorado, former senator. 

Great to have you with us, Mr. Secretary. 

KEN SALAZAR, INTERIOR SECRETARY:  It‘s good to be with you, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  You know, I was curious that there‘s going to be a lot of jobs created in national parks.  Is that going to have an impact?  What do you think? 

SALAZAR:  It absolutely will.  The president was very clear with Vice President Biden this morning, and that is that we have a plan where we‘re going to have up to 600,000 jobs that are going to be either created or saved over the next 100 days.  And the projects that we have in—our projects that are real projects that are going to be able to put people back to work, dads and moms across the country working. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, Mr. Secretary, looking at the numbers, we‘ve lost 1.6 million jobs since this started and created 150,000 jobs. 

When is this going to turn around?  And when do you get a sense?  I mean, will 600,000 jobs be created in the next three months? 

SALAZAR:  Yes, we‘re confident that we‘re on the right track.  It‘s also a reality that the economic situation which President Obama inherited was the worst economic situation since the Great Depression.  So we‘re in the ditch, a long ways in the ditch, and so it‘s going to take a steady climb out of that ditch, but we or the right track.  And that‘s why having these projects that are shovel-ready projects that are going to be starting now over the summer months, in the next 100 days to create up to 600,000 jobs, is a very important step. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  And when you look at some of the numbers in a Gallup poll that‘s coming out, it appears to me that the American people are getting a little impatient on this.  The president‘s approval numbers on the economy, 42 percent disapproval, up 12 percent since March. 

Are the American people going to be behind the president the way they are right now, three months from now, if you don‘t reach that 600,000 mark plateau?  What do you think? 

SALAZAR:  Well, I think the American people rightfully want us to have an economy that is robust and that is strong.  And this president has spent more time on this issue perhaps than any other issue because he understands the importance of jobs for the American people.  And that‘s why the plan that we have is robust. 

It has the entire cabinet engaged.  It has the vice president, as its leader, working directly with the president so we make sure that we succeed. 

We never said it would be easy.  This is a very difficult situation that we find ourselves in. 

The United States of America in recent times since the Great Depression has never seen an economic crisis like the one that we‘re in.  And so it‘s going to take the kind of steady resolve that the president has to get us out of this ditch.  But we‘re confident we‘re going to do it. 

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Secretary, do you see money getting to your state of Colorado?  There‘s a lot of folks out there that think the money‘s not being dispersed enough and it‘s too slow.  We heard a lot about shovel-ready projects, but it just seems that they were slow to get going. 

What‘s your take on that? 

SALAZAR:  Well, throughout this whole process, the president has been very clear.  We don‘t want to be in a position where this money is being wasted. 

This money has to be invested in the kinds of projects that we know are going to create jobs here in America, and also going to bring long-term sustainability to the American economy.  And so these projects have been carefully selected.  They are the kind of shot in the arm that the economists tell us will help us get out of the ditch.  But again, it‘s going to take some time to get us there. 

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Secretary, good to have you with us tonight on THE ED

SHOW.

SALAZAR:  It‘s always good to see you, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  You bet.

Ken Salazar with us from the Obama cabinet tonight. 

Next up on THE ED SHOW, “Psycho Talk.”  A Republican senator is worried President Obama will destroy the best health care system in the world? 

It‘s next on THE ED SHOW.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

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

You got it, it‘s time for “Psycho Talk.”  

Well, in “Psycho Talk” tonight, United States Senator Richard Shelby, the top Republican on the Banking Committee. 

Senator Shelby told Chris Wallace this weekend health care reform is a bad idea.  Here‘s why. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RICHARD SHELBY ®, ALABAMA:  It will be the first steps in destroying the best health care system the world has ever known.  When the government‘s involved, more and more in the details, and you start the one-pay deal, and you‘ve got the government competing with private enterprise with all the incentives government has, and the power, they will destroy the marketplace for health care and it will be a mistake, and the American people better be careful in what they want. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Fear, fear, fear. 

Now, no one can argue that we have some of the best doctors on the face of the Earth and hospitals on the face of the Earth.  But 14,000 Americans are losing health care every day, Senator. 

The United States ranks 29th in the world when it comes to infant mortality rates.  Twenty-ninth.  A Kaiser Family Foundation poll shows nearly 60 percent of Americans think health care reform is more important than ever before. 

By the way, Senator, you do have great health care, don‘t you?  You‘re one of 100 in the United States Senate.  Can I get a piece of that action?  Can the 46 million people who don‘t have health care, can they get a piece of that action? 

In a country with 300 million people, where at any given moment there could be 50 million people who are uninsured, calling that the best health care system in the world, that is “Psycho Talk.”    

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

Guess who‘s coming to dinner?  That‘s right, first she was invited, then cancelled.  Then she was invited again.  And it went back and forth. 

And Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska was uninvited from a joint fundraiser tonight for the Senate and House Republican Campaign Committees.  At least that‘s what her aides say. 

Now the dinner organizers have confirmed that, actually, Sarah Palin will be coming to dinner.  Pretty confusing stuff. 

And listen to the GOP backtalk on this.  Palin aides say organizers were afraid that she was going to upstage Newt Gingrich, who‘s keynoting, by the way.  Republican organizers say you dance with the one who brung you.  They say Sarah was the one who played hot and cold with them. 

So don‘t you just love all this family infighting? 

Joining me now is Richard Viguerie, chairman of ConservativeHQ.com. 

Mr. Viguerie, we‘re dancing on the other side of the table tonight with you. 

Richard, this just seems to me to be a big Newt Gingrich power play. 

What‘s going on here? 

RICHARD VIGUERIE, CHAIRMAN, CONSERVATIVEHQ.COM:  No, I don‘t think it‘s so much that, Ed.  It‘s politicians being politicians, much to do about nothing.  Mountains out of molehills. 

But you know, in a small way, we‘re beginning to see 2012 presidential politics come into play here, sure.  I mean, Washington doesn‘t like principled conservatives from the grassroots.  We‘ve seen that in the recent campaign, John McCain, Bob Dole before that.  Principled conservatives make Washington politicians, consultants, lobbyists—make them very nervous. 

SCHULTZ:  When is the Republican party, Mr. Viguerie—and it‘s a partisan question; I admit it.  When are they going to start working for the people here?  I don‘t see any plan on health care.  I don‘t hear them ever talk about creating jobs in this economic times we‘re facing.  They‘re in an identity crisis.  Are they not having one of those?  What do you think? 

VIGUERIE:  No, Ed.  Your solution to every problem is the government. 

SCHULTZ:  Not every one. 

VIGUERIE:  You were talking about Chuck Grassley thinks—the president thinks he‘s a nail and he‘s got a hammer in his hand.  You think every problem has to be solved with the government.  I mean, these jobs the president‘s creating, they‘re not real jobs, Ed.  Real jobs is when you create jobs in the private sector that you can keep for 10 years, 20 years, 30 years.  That‘s where you get the real jobs, not from these make jobs, where you‘re raking leaves and painting buildings that don‘t need painted. 

You know, if—if—you talked about how expensive health care was, Ed.  If you think it‘s expensive now, wait until the government makes it free.  It will really bankrupt this country. 

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Viguerie, where‘s the competition coming from?  The insurance industry‘s running out of—I mean, they‘re just running over the American people.  They deny coverage.  They raise up claims.  The CEO pay is going through the roof.  How do you hold the infrastructure in place right now and the American health care delivery system—how do you hold them in check?  What‘s the plan? 

VIGUERIE:  We‘ve got plans.  Senator Tom Coburn from Oklahoma, Paul Ryan, Congressman from Wisconsin, have proposed a free market, American plan.  Not something where you change America and you take it and give us the French model, or the Russian model.  We want a free market, a Constitutional program.  We don‘t want the government taking over Wall Street, car companies, health care. 

Where do you draw the line?  At what point do you say, we‘re not going to have the government take over this?  I can‘t think of anything y‘all aren‘t trying to take over now. 

SCHULTZ:  Obviously we‘re on the opposite side of this.  But why has our health care rates double digited, 19 percent, 20 percent, 22 percent?  It‘s gone up 130 percent since the turn of the century.  I mean, the free market‘s not working.  We‘ve got to get some competition. 

VIGUERIE:  Ed, we need competition for the government.  The government spends something around 50 to 60 percent of every health care dollar.  That‘s the problem.  The government is coming in here and suffocating the private market.  You talk about the private sector.  It‘s the government that‘s the number one consumer of health care, 50 to 60 percent of the dollars. 

SCHULTZ:  Richard, what would the Republicans do to get everybody in this country covered?  Because the ones that aren‘t covered are going into emergency rooms and driving the costs up for you and me.  So what happens? 

VIGUERIE:  Everybody gets coverage that needs it.  As you said, you go into the emergency room, people can get coverage.  But we need to find marketplace solutions there, and we need to have—not have the government be the supplier of health care. 

I mean, you think it‘s a problem now?  When the government comes in and controls everything, Ed, we‘ll regret it in a way we can‘t even imagine. 

SCHULTZ:  We don‘t want to control everything.  We just want some competition so those CEOs don‘t run off with my premium every time. 

VIGUERIE:  Hire and fire presidents of automobile companies, financial companies—

SCHULTZ:  They weren‘t getting it done.  Richard, they weren‘t getting it down.  What are you talking about real jobs?  Define real jobs now. 

VIGUERIE:  Well, that‘s a job where you‘re making something, where you‘re a producer, not where you‘re just consuming things, where you‘re raking leaves, painting buildings.  We need real jobs in this country, not government jobs.  Roosevelt tried this in 1933, 1934, and five, six, seven, eight, ten years later, we‘re still in a Depression because we didn‘t have real jobs.  We had government made jobs. 

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Viguerie, great to have you with us tonight.  Keep it in the fairway, will you? 

VIGUERIE:  Good luck to your son, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  We always go back and forth.  He‘s a good guy. 

On Sunday, Newt Gingrich called the Republican party to shrug off conservative ideologues.  Here it is. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH, FMR. HOUSE SPEAKER:  I‘m a Reagan Republican.  Reagan believed in a very broad base.  He always talked about, my fellow Republicans and those independents and Democrats who want a better future. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You have a voice of ideological purity out there that unless people kow-tow to—

GINGRICH:  Shrug them off.  None of them—Reagan shrugged them off. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.  The Newtster has a pretty short memory.  Here‘s what he said earlier in the interview about Sonia Sotomayor. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH:  It‘s clear that what she said was racist.  And it‘s clear -

as somebody wrote—racialist, if you prefer.  It‘s clear that she didn‘t just say it once.  She said the courts should be radical.  The courts should, in effect, rewrite law.  The courts are where policy is made.  That‘s a direct quote. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Racialism instead of racism?  I‘m sorry, Newt, that‘s not reaching out to a broad base.  That‘s not exactly welcoming Democrats or moderates into the party.  Here‘s the Newtster at a Virginia church on Friday. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH:  The ACLU is a hateful, anti-religious system, designed to drive god out of America.  This is a period that St. Paul would have totally understood.  We are in a period when we are surrounded by Paganism and Paganism is on offense.  That‘s why our first great challenge is spiritual. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Time to bring in tonight‘s political panel.  Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons with us tonight.  “Politico” executive editor Jim Vandehei, and former Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo.  Tom, we‘ll start with you.  Who are you going to support?  Is it going to be Sarah Palin or is it going to be Newt Gingrich?  Who‘s winning the PR war over there? 

TOM TANCREDO, FMR. REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN:  It‘s a good question.  Support in terms of what?  For who‘s going to be running for president or just who‘s in the PR war? 

SCHULTZ:  In the PR war. 

TANCREDO:  I think I support Sarah, frankly.  Newt—he‘s kind of all over the place sometimes.  In a way, it reminds me of Obama, in that sometimes I listen to Obama and the first part of the—of his speech, he sounds really good.  He‘s saying all the right stuff.  Then he moves 180 degrees to the opposite side, but he sounded so good saying it. 

And it‘s like listening to somebody giving you a speech about—a passionate speech about pro-life, that life starts at conception.  It‘s a wonderful thing, while he‘s doing an abortion.  He‘s that way. 

I think Newt is also—he‘s a skillful wordsmith and creates the right impression for a while, then heads off someplace else.  So, frankly, I know what people think of—I know how people make fun of Sarah Palin.  But I appreciate the fact that she says what she thinks.  She‘s straight about it.  And I don‘t know, from my point of view, I vote for her. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.  Jamal Simmons, it appears that—I would think that Sarah Palin has a card to play here with the public, that she‘s not getting the equal treatment that Newt Gingrich is getting.  What do you think? 

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  You know what, Ed, where I‘m from, they have a saying for what‘s going on in the Republican party.  But I can‘t say it on TV.  Instead, what I will say is—

TANCREDO:  -- buster.   

SIMMONS:  Something like that.  I will say, it‘s like a circus.  Send in the clowns.  Where is the bearded lady?  I wouldn‘t let any one of these guys run a two-car motorcade.  It‘s really out of control.  I think we‘re in danger of having one party, a Democratic party, be offering the solutions—even if you disagree with them, they sound right or they‘re inside the broad middle of where the country is. 

On the Republican side, they are steadily heading right and not competing at all for the center of the country. 

SCHULTZ:  Jim, what about a show of respect?  There‘s an appearance here that those in charge of this dinner really weren‘t respecting Sarah Palin down the stretch.  Your take on it? 

JIM VANDEHEI, “POLITICO”:  I‘ve got to be honest with you, and with no sort of disrespect to the show, or to “Politico,” which has written a lot about this.  I think this is much ado about nothing.  It seems to me this is very much like a bunch of staff level screw-ups, and then a little bit of sort of CYA to make sure people weren‘t getting in trouble.  This has been going on and off again for some time about whether Sarah Palin should appear. 

Once she came back—like if you‘re going to have a prominent speaker, it was going to be Newt Gingrich.  I think some staffers and some folks higher than that felt, well, we‘ve got to make sure the spotlight‘s on him.  Now they‘ve scrambled.  Now we‘re at least going to have her there, and she can say thank you.  People will joke about it. 

I don‘t think this has anything to do with tension between Palin and Gingrich or anything to do with what her standing is within the Republican party. 

SCHULTZ:  When we come back with the panel again, we‘ll talk to them about health care and just these jobs that the Republicans think that they can create as well.  Stay with us. 

President Obama says he wants a public option for health care.  Progressives and conservatives have very different ideas about that.  Can Congress get on the same page by the Summer deadline?  That‘s next in my playbook.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  The status quo is broken.  We cannot continue this way.  If we do nothing, everyone‘s health care will be put in jeopardy.  Within a decade, we‘ll spend one dollar out of every five we earn on health care, and we‘ll keep getting less for our money. 

That‘s why fixing what‘s wrong with our health care system is no longer a luxury we hope to achieve; it‘s a necessity we cannot postpone any longer. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Senator Shelby, what don‘t you get about that?  In my playbook tonight, President Obama throws the hammer down for health care reform.  After sitting on the sidelines for some time, he jumped right into the game today.  The president laid out his priorities last week.  He said Americans must have a choice of a public health insurance plan that would compete against the private sector. 

I‘m all for it.  Now he‘s planning speeches, town halls, and a grassroots effort to make sure the people are heard.  In Congress, the key player in the health care reform battle is Senator Ted Kennedy.  The chairman of the Health Committee is working long distance to get a plan to put in front of the president by August. 

That‘s left the door open for Senator Max Baucus of Montana, the chairman of the Finance Committee, to really go out and draft his own plan.  Meanwhile, Republicans basically have drawn a line in the sand on a public option.  President Obama‘s going to have to use a lot of political capital I think to get this done. 

Joining us now is Ryan Grim, senior congressional correspondent for the “Huffington Post.”  Ryan, good to have you with us tonight.  You‘re reporting a lot on this.  Do you think the town hall meetings are going to have an effect?  Where the president goes, he gets a lot of attention, attention gets to the American people? 

RYAN GRIM, “THE HUFFINGTON POST”:  Absolutely.  There was a lot of question over the last few weeks about how much effort Obama would put behind this public option.  People were wondering would he even keep it on the table when he went into negotiation?  So just the fact that he sent a letter to Kennedy and Baucus saying, I support a public option, was heralded by reform advocates. 

The fact that he‘s going to make a major push for it really puts the onus on the insurance industry to say, why shouldn‘t you have to compete with this public option? 

SCHULTZ:  Did we see Max Baucus over the weekend back off on the public option a little bit and entertain it? 

GRIM:  Baucus is doing what he‘s always been doing, which is repeating the mantra, everything is on the table.  He was under tons of pressure from progressives out in Montana.  And responding to that pressure, his chief of staff said he‘s fighting tooth and nail to have the public option included in a final package. 

When I asked him about that, he said, well, everything‘s on the table.  Are you fighting tooth and nail for it?  He said, everything‘s on the table. 

So he hasn‘t publicly said that he‘s fighting for it.  But according to his chief of staff, he is. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, here‘s what Senator Kennedy has got on the table with his rough draft of a rough draft, if you may.  Guarantees access to health insurance for all; requires employers to help provide coverage; ends the practice of denying coverage; and gives ability to comparison shop for coverage. 

Now, it would seem to me that ending the practice of denying coverage, this is going to be a big one.  This is almost dictating to the insurance companies.  How heavy a lift is this? 

GRIM:  It‘s not the biggest lift.  Everybody assumes that this is something that, at a minimum, they have to agree to.  The big fights are going to be over how to fund it, whether or not people‘s health insurance is taxed, and whether or not there‘s a public option.  That‘s what it‘s really coming down to. 

And there was some news on this today, that your bud Sam Stein at the “Huffington Post” reported, that Ben Nelson is getting beaten up so much about his position on the public option, he said, you know what, I won‘t vote to support a filibuster.  I might not support it in the end, but I will allow it to go forward. 

SCHULTZ:  Quickly, PR war, who‘s winning it early on? 

GRIM:  I think right now the progressives are.  The idea of competition. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  Great to have you with us, Ryan, thanks so much.  Great work at the “Huffington Post.”

President Obama‘s walking a tough line on the economy.  He‘s got to free up federal money without getting tabbed a big spender.  How‘s he doing?  The results of a new poll next on THE ED SHOW.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  A new Gallup poll shows President Obama is hugely popular, but voters are less thrilled with how he‘s handling the economy.  Check this out; 67 percent have a favorable view of President Obama.  His overall job approval is at 61 percent.  But on the economy, his numbers a little bit lower.  On the budget deficit, 48 percent disapprove.  And on controlling federal spending, 51 percent disapprove. 

They tag the president as a big spender.  How does he convince the people he‘s doing the right thing? 

Joining me now is Robert Reich, former labor secretary under President Clinton and a professor of public policy at UC Berkeley.  He‘s also the author of the book “Super Capitalism,” available in paperback. 

Mr. Reich, it seems to me that President Obama, with throwing out the number of wanting to create 600,000 jobs by the end of the summer—I mean, that number is a number I think the American people are going to hold him to.  If he doesn‘t achieve that number, what‘s the outcome?  What do you think? 

ROBERT REICH, FORMER LABOR SECRETARY:  Look, Ed, he is personally very popular, as you say.  People trust him a great deal.  His favorability rating is over 60 percent.  And that continues even at this late date.  And surprisingly, even though unemployment keeps going upward—I mean, most leaders in most nations—we see this in Europe right now, when unemployment goes upward, their popularity goes downward. 

Obama is defying this.  But his policies are not popular.  I think people are worried, first of all, that there‘s too much pork barrel.  He has outlined many of the policies he wants.  But he‘s left the details to Congress.  And Congress is not nearly as popular as he is. 

There‘s a great deal of skepticism about the bail outs, autos and Wall Street.  A lot of people say, why should they be bailed out when I am struggling?

SCHULTZ:  But if they don‘t create the 600,000 jobs by the fall—and we‘ve got a line in the sand here.  We‘ve got a number now.  Americans love a number.  We wanted a date specific on Iraq.  So it‘s really the same thing.  We‘ve got an economy.  The American people want this thing turned around.  Now there‘s a number out there.  It would seem to me the Republicans would work as hard as they possibly can to make sure that stimulus money doesn‘t get out there, to say that the president‘s not getting the job done. 

REICH:  The Republicans are in a little bit of a fix, Ed.  First of all, they haven‘t come up with a plan of their own at all.  They have nothing to say.  They just say no. 

Secondly, they are saying that, on the one hand, the president is not doing enough because unemployment keeps going up.  But on the other hand, we should get rid of the stimulus, because we don‘t need it, because the economy is turning around. 

Well, you can‘t have it both ways.  You have to stick to one story or the other.  So, yes, the president is certainly—by putting an individual, precise number out there, he is setting a bar and it may be hard to reach.  But the Republicans, by not coming up with another plan, really are not providing an alternative. 

SCHULTZ:  Robert, quickly, let‘s go to health care.  If we go to a public option and if that‘s on the table, do you think that will create more jobs?  And do you think we‘d be able to pay for it? 

REICH:  Yes, a public option definitely will create more jobs, Ed.  The real question is not so much will there be a public option, although that is certainly a question.  It‘s whether it will be a public option in name only. 

There are a lot of Democrats who are getting a huge amount of pressure from the pharmaceutical industry and also from the private insurers to go with various sort of variations that will put the public option under states, rather than under federal government, or put it under regional administrators, or require there to be a trigger before the public option can be used.  All sorts of ways of saying that they‘re voting for a public option, but actually not. 

We‘ve got to watch the details very carefully. 

SCHULTZ:  The details, in my opinion—we‘ve got to start looking at an Internet sales tax.  That‘s just—we‘ll do that another day.  Mr.  Reich, good to have you with us tonight. 

SCHULTZ:  Good to see you, Ed.  Bye-bye.

SCHULTZ:  Health care is a big—yes, I did say that.  I did say that.  Small retailers get hit on Internet sales, absolutely.  We‘ll be talking about that in the coming days.  Health care is a big part of President Obama‘s economic recovery plan. 

Earlier in the show, I asked you who you trusted with your health care, insurance companies or the government?  More than 2,000 of you responded; eight percent of you trust insurance companies, 92 percent of you trust the government.  I think the American people just want to give the government a shot at doing something and bringing in some competition. 

For more on that, let‘s bring back our panel, Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons, “Politico‘s” Jim Vandehei, former Congressman Tom Tancredo. 

Jim, we‘ll start with you.  Do you think the president‘s going to be effective going out and ginning up a bunch of support and listening to the American people, to the point where inside the Beltway would get connected?  What do you think? 

VANDEHEI:  So far his track record is pretty good on this stuff.  When goes out and when he puts his name behind a policy, he tends to get some public support behind it.  I think there seems to be a big enough group of moderate Republicans that want to do something on health care, particularly in the Senate.  So I think you have all the ingredients to get a health care deal. 

I think his bigger problems longer term are some of the things we‘re starting to see in polling.  And that is you see a little bit of unease with the public about the deficit, about the growth of spending, the intervention in these bail outs.  And if any of those don‘t work and if you don‘t see job creation and you don‘t see real growth, particularly early next year, I think that‘s when he has real problems. 

Right now, he‘s very popular.  Put his name behind it, it certainly brings him votes. 

SCHULTZ:  Tom Tancredo, why in the world won‘t the Republicans at least try some form of public competition for the insurance companies, seeing that the infrastructure of the industry has not done a good job of keeping costs down?  What are you afraid of? 

TANCREDO:  First of all, let me refer back to that poll you mentioned.  Please, everybody understand that is a poll of your listeners.  It is certainly not reflective of the general public of America.  It‘s the political makeup of your audience certainly, but not America.  Secondly—

SCHULTZ:  I imagine, if you were to do a poll like that on another network that I don‘t want to name, you‘d probably have the same kind of numbers.  Tom, wait a second now. 

TANCREDO:  You‘re right, but your question—

SCHULTZ:  Hold on a second, Tom.  I‘ve gone all over the country and this is the number one issue with the American people.  But the Republicans don‘t have a plan and they don‘t want any competition for the insurance companies. 

TANCREDO:  Competition.  Only someone as liberal as you are would conceive of competition—using the word competition when you have the federal government and a private—an entrepreneur in the same business.  That is not competition. 

SCHULTZ:  I don‘t want an entrepreneur, I want some coverage. 

TANCREDO:  That‘s not competition, Ed.  You cannot compete—

SCHULTZ:  I want coverage for the 50 million people that don‘t have it. 

TANCREDO:  Listen to Americans.  This is not competition. 

SCHULTZ:  It is. 

TANCREDO:  You can‘t compete against an entity that does not have to make a profit.  It‘s impossible.  Don‘t use the word competition, Ed.  It doesn‘t work in this context. 

SCHULTZ:  All right, Jamal, your thoughts on this? 

SIMMONS:  Well, it‘s interesting, we look at this poll.  One thing‘s clear, and I think this has been clear almost from the beginning, that people like Barack Obama.  They trust Barack Obama.  And one of the reasons why he‘s been as successful as he is is because he talks straight to the American people. 

What I imagine happening—by the way, people don‘t like spending money.  They don‘t like putting money into auto companies.  They don‘t like putting money into banks.  What I imagine will happen is if we come up short on the jobs number, Barack Obama will give a speech or talk to the American public and say, listen, I swung for the fences.  We landed in the outfield.  We came up a little bit short.  We‘re going to keep trying and keep trying to get you jobs.  The American people will say, OK. 

SCHULTZ:  Jim, what if they don‘t create 600,000 jobs in the next three or four months? 

VANDEHEI:  I don‘t know if it has to be a specific number, but there has to be clear indications that the economy is going to start to grow and that jobs are getting put back in and that they‘re not just jobs that come at a super high cost.  The thing about swinging for the fences, if it works, it‘s fantastic.  But if it doesn‘t work, it can be disastrous. 

And Republicans—you were talking earlier in the program about what are their ideas, what are their ideas.  Opposition parties usually do best by simply being the opposition party by benefiting from the majority party‘s failures.  That‘s what I think the Republicans are doing.  They‘re laying the predicate for 2010 by saying, too much spending, too big deficits, too much government intervention. 

If any of those things happen you talked about, not enough jobs being created, not enough economic growth, that message might start to resonate.  Right now, it looks like total disarray by the Republican party.  That‘s where it could be effective.

SIMMONS:  I think that might work in a time where there are small problems.  Right now, we have big problems and people want some solutions. 

SCHULTZ:  Quick response, Mr. Tancredo.  Do you think that it will be political trouble for the president if he doesn‘t get the 600,000 jobs? 

TANCREDO:  Not really.  The president is a cult leader.  He is.  And the people who are—the millions of people in this country who are part of that cult aren‘t going to let go of it simply because it doesn‘t reach that particular goal. 

SCHULTZ:  Good to have you on tonight.  That‘s THE ED SHOW.  That‘s all we have time for.  Be back here tomorrow night.  Town hall meeting this weekend in Buffalo.  “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews is coming up next.

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