updated 6/10/2009 10:45:04 AM ET 2009-06-10T14:45:04

Guests: Virg Bernero, Charlie Rangel, Kent Conrad, Sen. Barbara Mikulski,

Ron Christie, John Nichols, Mike Allen, Jack Rice

ED SCHULTZ, HOST:  How many elections, how many seats is it going to take to get some real change on the Hill?  The “Newster” slams President Obama for being like Ronald Reagan? 

And there‘s a bunch of other crazy comments in that speech that we‘re going to visit tonight from the GOP fundraiser last night.  Got “Psycho Talk” coming up.  All that and a great panel. 

But first, tonight‘s “Op-Ed.”  Now you‘re about to hear something that almost makes me vomit.  It is the most un-American garbage I think I have ever heard.  This goes beyond “Psycho Talk.”  I‘ve called this guy out on the radio many times before. 

Hugh Hewitt.  He‘s writing in “The Washington Examiner.”  He tells readers, don‘t buy GM or Chrysler cars.  That‘s right.  He says there‘s only one answer for conservatives angry at President Obama and the government for getting involved in the automobile industry.  He says boycott. 

Hewitt, who broadcasts on the right-wing Salem Radio Network, wrote, “I won‘t buy a socialist cars which means I won‘t be buying a GM or Chrysler.”  He goes on to say it doesn‘t matter if they build a good product. 

He says, “I won‘t be visiting a GM or a Chrysler lot no matter the product offered.  The very idea of a socialized American car company ought to cause millions of Americans to reject the idea of doing their car shopping at those venues.” 

Buy Ford, buy Toyota, buy anything.  Conservatives, are you folks out of your mind?  Do you know how many Americans have lost their jobs in manufacturing?  Do you know how many American families are being affected, their livelihoods are being drilled because of this recession? 

And what do they do?  They push back on the American families that are doing the absolute best they can to build a great product.  And you conservative talkers, and I mean there‘s a collection of them on the Salem Radio Network.  I mean there‘s Hugh Hewitt, there‘s Prager, Medved is in this crowd as well.  We have them on the program from time to time because it calms down and gives us a thoughtful idea from time to time. 

We are talking about hundreds of thousands of Americans.  And this is what they have?  They openly say, if you‘re angry.  No, I think the word is “if you hate Obama.”  If you hate Obama.  If you can‘t stand the fact that he‘s having success as a president.  If you just hate the fact that this guy has got a 60-plus percent approval rating.  He‘s trying to save American industry. 

If you hate him that much, don‘t buy a GM and don‘t buy a Chrysler.  Now the thing that bothers me, this is the crowd that was on the president because they didn‘t—he didn‘t wear a lapel pin.  This is the crowd that wrap themselves in the flag and said that the liberals weren‘t American. 

Liberals are trying to do everything they possibly can in this country to save American industry.  But this is now part of the failure talk.  That is the most un-American garbage. 

You know I‘m going to ask the listeners across the country to the Salem Radio Network, why don‘t you just boycott them?  Prove to me that you‘re an American.  Prove to me that you really believe that it‘s good for a family of four to make $60,000 a year but we‘ll take the product away.  We‘ll take their health care away.  We‘ll take their dental, their vision, everything else, and we‘ll side with them. 

And by the way, they‘re advertising to American listeners, don‘t buy it.  What do you say we just kick the American worker in the teeth?  What do you say we just give all the money to Wall Street?  Let‘s just take their health care, let‘s take their education, let‘s take their jobs.  Let‘s just genuflect to the Hugh Hewitts of the world. 

This is what we voted against.  These psycho talkers that are out there. 

Virg Bernero, you can say it better than I can but I almost feel like I‘m at the end of my rope.  I know where Americans are.  And you know what we‘re going to do, folks?  We‘re going to take THE ED SHOW on the road. 

I can‘t take this anymore in the studio in New York.  I got to get out with the people.  Because I know that if we put the microphone and the camera in front of Americans, they won‘t be saying, don‘t buy GM, don‘t buy Chrysler.  They‘re going to be saying, give us a chance the way you gave Wall Street a chance.  Give us a chance to prove that we can provide and we can compete against foreign manufacturers. 

What we did, we gave a boatload of money to Wall Street and then we put a gun to the head of American manufacturers. 

Virg, I want you to help in a boycott of the Salem Radio Network in your state of Michigan.  Can we work this thing out? 

VIRG BERNERO, MAYOR OF LANSING, MICHIGAN:  Absolutely.  And Ed, I couldn‘t say it any better than you did.  You‘re phenomenal.  And I certainly want to welcome you to Lansing.  I hope you‘ll come to Lansing, Michigan, to Detroit. 

SCHULTZ:  We‘re going to Lansing.  We are going to Lansing.  If I—if I have to personally buy the satellite truck, we are going to Lansing to tell the story of the American people who are home tonight going to homeless clinics, going to food banks.  Are they not going to food banks in your city?  Is that what‘s happening? 

BERNERO:  They are.  Absolutely.  And we have a mobile food pantry that we‘ve extended to the community.  The faith community has banded together.  The community has responded beautifully to come together to answer this need.  But there‘s no question about the disconnect. 

I mean, the disconnect between Wall Street and main street, and this guy‘s a part of it.  And, you know, he doesn‘t mention socialized banks.  Apparently, socialized banks are OK with him.  But socialized—and this whole bogeyman term.  You know the right wing is big on this.  Wall Street is big on this. 

They can‘t hit Obama with much so they try to do this socialized thing.  That if we support an industry, then it‘s socialized.  You know the medical reform is socialized medicine.  We‘re supposed to be afraid of it.  I see socialized medicine every time I go to the emergency room. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, let me just throw this in about health care because that‘s my issue.  The righties are saying, we don‘t want the government between you and your doctor. 

Folks, guess who‘s in between you right now?  Somebody who‘s looking for a profit.  And that might be an insurance agency and an insurance industry and a CEO who is milking consumers for millions of dollars and denying claims day after day on hard-working Americans. 

And you know what the conservatives say?  Well, don‘t buy GM or Chrysler. 

BERNERO:  Yes. 

SCHULTZ:  You know. 

(CROSSTALK)

BERNERO:  That is sick and obscene.  That is—it is exactly what you said, un-American.  You talk about self-defeating.  You talk about an attack on middle America.  These people have been through enough.  These hard-working Americans that we see like here at Lansing that make the Cadillac CTS “Motor Trend” car of the year. 

We make great vehicles.  We have productive people all across this country that used to be in industries, that used to make furniture, that used to make TVs, that used to make appliances.  Their jobs have been outsourced.  The steel workers.  Their jobs have been outsourced and offshored. 

The American dream has been offshored.  And yet Wall Street continues to prop up this free trade and now say that the companies that have been saved should be punished?  You know the last time Chrysler—the Chrysler investment paid off years ago and it will pay off again. 

Give Americans a chance to be productive.  They—we have the most productive workers in the world.  You know that.  And you appreciate that.  But Wall Street doesn‘t.  They‘re a bunch of paper shufflers and they make more money when they offshore the production, they offshore the pollution and the production. 

The pollution comes back.  We‘ve got to put the “P” back in GDP.  Growth Domestic Product.  Americans know that.  We‘ve got to have Americans working.  But Wall Street, they‘re happy if things are offshored because they can exploit the people and exploit land.  They don‘t have to deal with environmental regulations.  They don‘t have to deal with any unions, standards, an eight-hour work day, things like that. 

They can go overseas and work them any way they want.  They don‘t mind making deals with petty dictators or a big-time dictators overseas.  We‘ve got to promote the American way.  I say stand up and let‘s get these folks at Salem and other places, you know, if you‘re going to wear the flag it stands for something. 

You know it stands for democracy, it stands for free speech and free association.  And we should be promoting friendly countries, democratic countries, that have real fair trade.  We can trade on a fair basis with countries like Canada. 

SCHULTZ:  Virg, I‘m going to be in your town of Lansing, Michigan.  I can‘t take it anymore.  We‘ve got to get Americans on here who are going through it because there‘s obviously a disconnect.  It is horribly unfair that someone would take the opportunity of freedom of speech—you know we just celebrated, you know, a day where a lot of Americans died.  June 6th, 1944.  The unselfish generation.  They hit the beach.  They died for America. 

Do you think they died because they wanted the American worker in decades to come to fail? 

BERNERO:  This is the thing, Ed, you know. 

SCHULTZ:  Do you think that‘s what that was all about? 

BERNERO:  No, they fought for the American way. 

SCHULTZ:  Americans—you have to listen to how psycho and how anti-American these conservatives are.  They‘ve gone off the deep end. 

Virg, I‘m running short on time tonight.  I can‘t have enough time on the air tonight.  I love you, brother, because you‘re a fighter. 

BERNERO:  Love you, too. 

SCHULTZ:  . for American families. 

BERNERO:  We‘d love to have you. 

SCHULTZ:  And we are coming to Lansing, Michigan.  And we‘re going to tell the story to the American people, my man. 

BERNERO:  Fantastic.  Fantastic. 

SCHULTZ:  We have to bring that to the screen.  Do they really feel you know. 

BERNERO:  They deserve it.  They deserve it.  Thank you so much, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  All right, my man, thanks a lot. 

Newt Gingrich, who nobody likes or cares about, is going after the president, calling himself a citizen of the world.  President Reagan did the same thing.  That‘s how confused they are.  The “Newster.”  The low-rated “Newster”.  That‘s coming up next on THE ED SHOW.  Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  The battle over health care.  Are Democrats being too weak?  Why isn‘t 59 Senate seats enough to get some real change?  I‘ll put the Democratic senators on this program next on the hot seat coming up on THE ED SHOW.  Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  I wrote something on my blog today and I‘ve never had so much response.  Going after the Democrats, saying that they‘re missing in action. 

Health care is the most important fight this country will ever take up in our lifetime.  And I think, not to be too critical, but when you look at how they operate on the right and how the liberals and the Democrats are operating, I think the Dems are missing in action. 

More on this later. 

Now I know where the conservatives are.  All you‘ve got to do is flip around on TV.  Heck, they‘re everywhere, doing interviews, trying to scare the American people to be against the public option.  You‘d think the sky was falling. 

Here‘s Senator Chuck Grassley who‘s supposed to be responsible on the issue today on MSNBC. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREA MITCHELL, HOST:  What is your objection to the public option? 

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA), MEMBER, REPUBLICAN FINANCE CMTE.:  My objection to the public option is based upon the Loewen think tank study that says 119 million people will opt out of private health insurance.  When you only have 50 million left, premiums are going to go way up.  And then the president‘s promise during the campaign that if you want to keep your existing health insurance, you ought to be able to keep it, will not be reality. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Premiums are going to go way up.  As if they haven‘t.  But this is a classic example.  That study that that senator just quoted is a bunch of garbage.  The Loewen Group is not a think tank.  It‘s a consulting firm owned by who?  An insurance giant named United Health Care. 

Psycho talk now is going to be extended to the full hour on THE ED

SHOW. 

Here‘s the top Republican of the Finance Committee quoting what is essentially a press release from an insurance company on national television.  It‘s proof that the Republicans simply are not honest.  They are dishonest brokers when it comes to saying, hey, Americans, we really want to help you. 

And by the way, doesn‘t it tell you something about the 119 million people that want to opt out of private insurance?  The Republicans don‘t care about health care reform.  They‘re not trying to find any kind of solution at all.  I‘m getting tired of everybody on the Democratic side being nice about this. 

All they care about is taking every opportunity they can to call the Democrats socialists, don‘t buy what they make, because they think that that‘s the best hope of winning an election next year. 

Who‘s going to stand up to these people?  Joining me is New York congressman Charlie Rangel, chairman of the House Ways And Means Committee. 

Mr. Rangel, I‘m going to turn it over to you for 60 seconds so my blood pressure will go down tonight. 

(LAUGHTER)

OK, I can‘t believe what I‘m hearing, Charlie.  I can‘t believe what I‘m hearing.  But the public option on the House side, what is the House in your opinion going to come up with to offer to the American people? 

REP. CHARLIE RANGEL (D), WAYS & MEANS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN:  Well, we just left the president of the United States and he‘s assured us that he‘s back now to deal with some of these exciting programs and certainly health care is one. 

The question of the public option is not in trouble in the House at all.  The three committees that have jurisdiction, we‘re working together.  We‘re coming up with one bill.  And we‘re going to pass a bill and there‘s no question about it, in July, for the president to be able to sign. 

I don‘t know what‘s happening in the Senate.  And it‘s disappointing to hear Senator Grassley talk about the private plan the way he is because the chairman of that committee, Baucus, Senator Max Baucus, has been depending on him for a bipartisan solution to this exciting opportunity that we have. 

But in the House, the Republicans have opposition.  But they don‘t have any plan.  But fortunately, we have enough votes to guarantee the president and you that we‘re going to have a solid, almost universal coverage for everyone in the United States. 

SCHULTZ:  So the House can be pretty aggressive on this.  The House can really set an aggressive agenda.  I mean, that‘s what you‘re telling us tonight, Charlie? 

RANGEL:  There is no excuse.  We have the votes.  We‘ve worked together with the committees.  We had a caucus meeting of all of the Democrats. 

True, they had a lot of questions, and they should.  Because this is a very complicated bill.  But everyone left there saying that we‘ve got to bring this to the American people and we‘re just hopeful that this would give the impetus into the Senate.  And we know that the president‘s going to be with us every step of the way. 

It‘s an exciting historic time in our country. 

SCHULTZ:  Yes. 

RANGEL:  Presidents ever since President Truman has promised it. 

We‘re going to do it. 

SCHULTZ:  And finally, Congressman, you used the word contribution, raising taxes, whatever.  As an American, I don‘t care how much it costs because I know small business will turn around if we can get this done. 

Are you willing to say that you are in favor of a tax increase to get this done? 

RANGEL:  We‘re not talking about a tax increase.  We‘re really talking about it being revenue-neutral.  The money that we‘re going to save—you know, most Americans have some type of life—I mean a health insurance.  But they never know just what it covers or the ever-increasing premiums. 

But we do have 48 million people without any insurance and half that number underinsured.  To be able to have these people to get health insurance is going to make them more productive, it‘s going to reduce the costs of insurance.  And having a public option only means, as we put $1 trillion in subsidy out there for insurance, that we‘ll be able to keep the private sector honest and compete against each other. 

It‘s a great opportunity for our country. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman Rangel, always a pleasure.  Thanks for being on THE ED SHOW tonight. 

RANGEL:  Keep up the good work, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  Joining me is now North Dakota senator Kent Conrad, chairman of the Budget Committee, and he‘s a very good friend of mine.  If he can‘t calm me down tonight, nobody can. 

But Kent, doggone it, I want this reform to go through.  The American people want this reform to go through.  What about reconciliation?  Why not just say, we‘re going to do 51 and we‘re going to get this thing done?  What about that, Senator? 

SEN. KENT CONRAD (D), BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN:  A lot of problems with it.  I hate to bore your people with the details but under reconciliation it all has to be deficit-neutral over six years and every year thereafter. 

And on top of that a thing called the Byrd Rule applies which means major pieces of the legislation would be stricken because of an arcane rule.  So that really doesn‘t present a very good opportunity. 

The parliamentarian has said we‘d be left with Swiss cheese as legislation if we had to rely on reconciliation.  But look, I think at the end of the day we are going to have transformational change.  I think at the end of the day you‘ll be pretty pleased with what‘s produced. 

And remember the Senate, that‘s the first stop along the way.  The House.  Then we go to a conference committee where the final legislation is written. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, Senator, you know, I‘ve known you for a long time.  And you‘re a class act.  But I also know that if there were 59 Republican votes and there were 40 Democratic votes, and if the Republicans had the White House, the House and the Senate, you guys would be shining shoes. 

I mean, you‘ve got—you wouldn‘t be even at the table with the Republicans.  Why is it that the Democrats are so nice on health care?  We don‘t need bipartisan support, do we? 

CONRAD:  Yes, unfortunately, we do.  For two reasons.  Number one, we‘ve got to get over the 60 vote hurdle.  Number two, there are many 60 vote hurdles in the United States Senate as you know.  Not just one.  There are many. 

And number two, to have something that‘s sustainable over time, you really need both parties to use their best ideas. 

Look, at the end of the day, I suspect many Republicans won‘t join with us.  I suspect many will be in opposition.  They‘ll be in the just-say-no crowd as they‘ve been most of this year.  But there are a small group, I think a critically important group, that will join with us to do something historic and extraordinarily important for the country. 

SCHULTZ:  And what about pay-go?  Is this something that we can really achieve with a Democratic majority?  And I know it‘s something that you‘ve talked about for a long time now.  The president is talking about it. 

Is this going to be the game plan to kind of reel in all these conservative talkers that are saying that spending is so far out of control, and the Democrats aren‘t going to do anything about it?  What about that? 

CONRAD:  Yes.  You‘d hope that some of these Republicans that would support pay-go because what it says, if you want more spending, if you want more tax cuts, you‘ve got to pay for it.  It‘s an interesting, novel idea here in Washington.  You‘ve got to pay for things. 

The president came out strongly for it today.  A lot of House members did as well.  And hopefully we can get in place something we had before that helped us reel in the deficits in the ‘90s. 

SCHULTZ:  And you‘re the chairman of the Senate budget committee.  Can we do this without a tax increase?  Yes or no? 

CONRAD:  Well, it depends on what you mean by can we do this. 

SCHULTZ:  Health care. 

CONRAD:  Can we do health care reform?  Look, I think we‘re going to have to look at those Rolls Royce plans where people have health care insurance that‘s worth $200,000 a year. 

SCHULTZ:  Yes. 

CONRAD:  None of it‘s taxable.  I don‘t think that‘s a reasonable outcome.  I think we‘re probably going to have to cap the deductibility and use some of that revenue to finance an expansion of coverage so that every American has the chance to have quality, affordable health care. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator Conrad, chairman of the budget committee, great to have you with us tonight on THE ED SHOW.  Thanks so much. 

CONRAD:  Good to be with you. 

SCHULTZ:  Tomorrow, I‘m going to be down in Washington.  I‘m going to be going one on one and interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. 

What can we expect when it comes to health care reform, raising taxes, foreign policy, her trip to China, an interview with the speaker tomorrow right here on THE ED SHOW. 

Next up on THE ED SHOW—well, actually almost the whole show‘s been psycho talk but we‘ll do a little bit more of it. 

This actor launched a crazy attack on President Obama at last night‘s Republican fundraiser.  What did he say?  We‘ll tell you 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 sent by low-rent conservatives?  It‘s time for “Psycho Talk.” 

Well, they are low-rent.  In “Psycho Talk” tonight, Hollywood actor Jon Voight.  Didn‘t he play in some spy movie one time or something?  Well, he‘s still doing that.  That‘s right.  Angelina Jolie‘s estranged father and the Republican Party‘s only celebrity. 

Voight was the master of ceremonies at the GOP fundraising dinner last night.  And they may not have raised all the money they wanted but they were strong on Obama-hating.  Listen to Voight. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON VOIGHT, ACTOR:  Obama really thinks he is a soft-spoken Julius Caesar.  He thinks he‘s going to conquer the world with his soft-spoken sweet talk and really thinks he‘s going to bring all the enemies of the world into a little playground where they‘ll swing each other back and forth. 

We and we alone are the right frame of mind to free this nation from this Obama oppression.  Let‘s give thanks to them for not giving up and staying the course, to bring an end to this false prophet, Obama. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  False prophet?  You think he was taping a movie right there? 

Even their lines of attack are old.  Obama has built a cult-like following?  We‘ve got a president dealing with health care, a crisis on banking and auto and housing, and working to get the economy going again.  600,000 jobs in the next three months to get Americans back to work by the end of the summer. 

And this is what they‘ve got?  That‘s how they raise money.  More Obama bashing and hating.  They hate the man. 

Let me say this one more time.  Question mark.  Where are the ideas? 

Now they‘re playing the bible card on us again.  That‘s “Psycho Talk.” 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

*

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Democrats are looking for bipartisanship on health care.  That just warms my heart.  I think they need to be worried about getting real reform, and listening to the voters, and not giving away the store, so people on the other side will think they‘re just such nice people. 

The Republicans, my friends, are on a crusade against reform.  They couldn‘t get to the microphone fast enough today to trash the idea of a public option. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL ®, MINORITY LEADER:  The best way to go forward on a bipartisan basis would be to take out the government plan, take out any effort to ration health care.  I think the sooner we can get the government plan off the table, the better. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The idea of a government-run health care plan is a big problem for us.  And it‘s a big problem because it leads inevitably to a Washington takeover of health care. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The American people continue want that.  They‘re concerned about the cost.  They‘re concerned about the government takeover, just as they are with other aspects of our economy.  And I suspect at the end of the day, most of all, they‘re concerned about the potential for rationing of their family‘s health care. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  I can‘t believe what I‘m hearing.  You know what, I would pay to interview any one of them.  No, we‘re not afraid of a government takeover.  Senator Ted Kennedy and Chris Dodd have come forth with a health care plan.  It‘s called the Affordable Health Choices Act.  It‘s 615 pages in detail, which I‘m sure no Republicans are going to read, because it‘s got a public action in that. 

Joining me to talk about that is Senator Barbara Mikulski.  She is a member of the Senate Health Committee.  Senator, good to have you on tonight. 

SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI (D), HEALTH COMMITTEE:  Hi, Ed.  We‘re all fired up and we‘re raring to go. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, I‘ll tell you what, somebody‘s got to lead the charge up there.  Because I know what life would be like for you, senator, if you were one of 40.  But you‘re one of 59.  And I think the American people are expecting some real reform here.  What do you make of this Republican gibberish that they‘re throwing out at you on the Hill? 

MIKULSKI:  First of all, we would like to pass a bipartisan bill.  But that doesn‘t mean we surrender our principles.  At the end of the day, we want to pass legislation that deals with the health care mess that most families and businesses are coping with.  We want to deal with the sky-rocketing costs that family face, that good guy businesses who want to furnish it do. 

We want to keep the health insurance industry honest by offering a public option.  Why should they fear some competition?  At the end of the day, we think we can pay for a lot of this by emphasizing quality, prevention and wellness. 

But the fact is, they‘re coming out with the same old tired arguments.  You know, they ought to go talk to Harry and Louise.  Harry‘s now had a heart attack.  He needs to have five different medications, lots of therapy.  He would like to be able to have a public option, because he can‘t get health care right now, because he has a pre-existing condition. 

And good old Louise, she‘s got a grandchild with autism, and she herself has diabetes.  And she sure would like to have access to a public option or an insurance company that gave her a real deal, instead of this deal that she has now. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator, you‘re saying it so well.  I absolutely love it.  And I hope the Democrats can close ranks and go after this in such a way, because I know if the conservatives had the White House, the House, and Senate, 59 votes, I don‘t even think they‘d be listening to any of you. 

Why is it?  A lot of progressives on radio, a lot of e-mails on this, a lot of blog traffic—why is it the first thing that Democratic senators are concerned about is a bipartisan agreement?  And this is a partisan comment.  I don‘t care what they think.  I want to make sure that my health care bill and Americans‘ health care bills don‘t go up by 20 percent next year.  Go ahead. 

MIKULSKI:  Well, you‘re absolutely right.  But we feel that there are two kinds of Republicans: those who really want to find a sensible center and be able to reform health care; then there‘s this other crowd that wants to maintain the stagnant quo.  We want to reach out, try to find some common ground, so that we can have legislation that we not only pass today, but that we can sustain tomorrow. 

Listen, if we‘ve got to do the muscle act, I think many of us are prepared to do it. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator, would you admit tonight, or maybe I‘m wrong on this, it sure seems like the Republicans are trying to just protect the hen house, protect the establishment.  They don‘t want any reform. 

MIKULSKI:  You know, they‘ve been tied into their special interests for so long that they feel that they have a special entitlement to preserve this stagnant quo.  People voted for change.  They also voted to change the tone.  President Obama and the Democrats are trying to change the tone, but they‘re the same old grouchy self, using the same old stale arguments. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator Mikulski, great to have you on THE ED SHOW tonight. 

Thanks so much. 

MIKULSKI:  Good to be with you. 

SCHULTZ:  For more, let me bring in our panel tonight.  John Nichols is the Washington correspondent for “The Nation.”  Mike Allen is the chief White House correspondent for “Politico.”  Ron Christie is a Republican strategist. 

Let‘s start with you, John, tonight.  Maybe you can calm my blood pressure a little bit.  This is the issue, is it not?  This is the issue that will frame the next year in politics in this country.  Whether we can make it provocative enough remains to be seen.  But damn it, this is what American families are talking about. 

JOHN NICHOLS, “THE NATION”:  You‘re absolutely right, Ed.  And I find it fascinating that people are talking about rationing health care.  The fact of the matter is roughly 50 million Americans have rationed health care in the form of none.  Another 50 million have rationed health care in the form of inadequate.  And basically the rest of us have rationed health care, in a real sense, that if we got very sick, we‘re not sure if our health care would cover us. 

So we‘ve got a rotten system that doesn‘t work.  Everybody knows it.  That‘s why polling suggests that the public option, that has been so attacked today, is actually supported by roughly 70 to 80 percent of Americans. 

SCHULTZ:  Ron Christie, let me ask you, what is the potion that you guys use on the conservative side to intimidate every Democrat that ever wanted to pass anything?  You guys are the most powerful 40 group of the Senate I think I‘ve ever seen in my lifetime. 

RON CHRISTIE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Ed, Ed, take a breath, my friend.  Look, the Republicans, you know—you sit up there and say the Republicans are obstructionists; the Republicans don‘t want to reform anything.  Let‘s talk the truth here.  John says 50 million people don‘t have health insurance.  That is absolutely not true.  There are about nine million illegal immigrants here on the public dole who are a part of that figure. 

Number two, we‘re talking about transforming one-sixth of the United States economy.  President Obama wants it done by August 7th.  What in the heck is the rush?  Let‘s look at this very sensibly.  Let‘s go through this very methodically.  But the Democrats are trying to cram something through the House and the Senate before we have a chance to look at it.  Republicans are saying enough is enough. 

SCHULTZ:  Ron, let me just throw in here, it was Republican Senator Chuck Grassley who said that if it doesn‘t get done, it‘s now or never, because we go to the midterms in 2010, and then in 2011, everybody‘s running for president, and nobody wants to vote on anything controversial.  So it‘s your side that has put the first shot over the bow saying, now or never. 

The president I think is being realistic about this.  John, I want you to respond to what Ron just said and then we‘ll get mike in here. 

NICHOLS:  I would just say on the issue of urgency, one of my assistant‘s daughters—daughter-in-law died on Sunday.  She died of very serious cancer.  She‘s had a long and difficult struggle.  The fact of the matter is that having just gone through watching someone struggle with our health care system, I cannot accept this notion that there isn‘t a sense of urgency.  The fact of the matter is people across this country—

SCHULTZ:  John, he‘s saying the Republicans want change. 

NICHOLS:  If they do want change, that is fabulous.  I‘m delighted that they do.  Get to the table and sort it out.  But don‘t tell us—don‘t tell Americans there isn‘t a sense of urgency. 

SCHULTZ:  Mike Allen, I‘ve got to ask you, is the White House feeling some heat on this?  Do they understand the sense of urgency here?  Why are they being so nice to Republicans on a the biggest issue out there, after such a big, sweeping election? 

MIKE ALLEN, “POLITICO”:  Ed, I can definitely help with your blood pressure.  They are not in any way underestimating what‘s going on here.  The president also has said that if we don‘t get it this year, we won‘t get it, for the exact reasons you said.  Things usually only pass in odd numbered years.  If you don‘t get climate and health care this year, very hard to get them. 

This week was a real pivot point in this debate, Ed.  Until now, it‘s all been puppies and ice cream.  Everybody‘s been saying they want reform.  But this week we started to talk about specifics.  And Ed, for the first time, big business groups, which have been in these meetings for weeks, months, at the table, wanting to save these bills, are saying they might oppose them. 

So the administration is very concerned about the number of players that are involved in here.  This is a lot of cats to heard.

SCHULTZ:  Ron Christie, do you think the Republicans are winning the debate on this early on? 

CHRISTIE:  I do.  I think the Republicans right now are finally taking the president to task and holding his feet to the fire with the facts that he puts out.  The president said in his 787 billion dollar stimulus bill that we‘re going to have unemployment under eight percent.  Well, unemployment is 9.3 percent. 

No, I‘m not, Ed.  I‘m not mixing up, this is exactly the point.  Now the president‘s saying, oh, we‘ve got to act really quickly, we‘ve got to have this one size fits all government solution for health care.  We‘ve been burned once.  The American people have been burned once.  What the president said was going to happen didn‘t happen.  The Republicans, very wisely, now are saying, before we rush, before we get into something we can‘t get out of, because lord knows—

(CROSS TALK)

ALLEN:  Ed, it‘s not one size fits all.  As you know, if you have your own insurance, under the president‘s plan you‘ll be able to keep it. 

CHRISTIE:  First of all, I don‘t believe that.  Because we haven‘t seen the president‘s plan.  Secondly, the president says we‘re making an investment for health care.  Why is it that we can‘t pay for our Medicare liabilities?  Why should we transform one-sixth of the American economy when we can‘t—

(CROSS TALK)

ALLEN:  Democrats are very worried about the issue that Ron just mentioned there.  If Republicans are going to have an issue next year, it‘s going to be fiscal responsibility. 

SCHULTZ:  Gentlemen, we‘re coming back. 

ALLEN:  It‘s clear today that this is going to be deficit spending for a while, the first few years of health care.  They say they‘ll pay for it over five to ten years.  It best be ten, not five. 

SCHULTZ:  We‘ll get back to this and other issues. 

Coming up, we need to get to the truth about torture.  Don‘t we?  So why is President Obama‘s CIA director trying to keep Bush-era documents classified?  It‘s next in my playbook.  Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  In my playbook tonight, how do we get to the truth about torture?  We know the CIA destroyed 92 videotapes during the Bush years.  We know that the tapes showed the interrogation of CIA prisoners from April to December of 2002.  We know the Bushes water boarded CIA prisoner Abu Zubaydah at least 83 times in August of 2002. 

So you do the math.  It sounds to me like this guy was tortured on tape and the evidence was flat out destroyed.  Why don‘t we know exactly what was on these tapes?  Would that hurt national security?  The ACLU has spent years suing to find out exactly what‘s on those tapes.  They want e-mails, notes, logbooks describe the videotapes the Bushes used and destroyed. 

Here‘s my question, why would any lefty who wants to be sure torture never happens again prevent us from finding out?  Yesterday, Obama‘s CIA director, Leon Panetta, filed an affidavit to prevent the documents being released.  He argues they would reveal intelligence methods, hurt the CIA, and be ammunition for al Qaeda propaganda. 

Will we get to the truth about torture?  Joining me now is former CIA agent Jack Rice. 

Jack, what‘s your quick take on this tonight?  Who‘s right, who‘s wrong?  Should Leon Panetta have done what he did? 

JACK RICE, FMR. CIA AGENT:  No, we need more transparency here.  We‘ve had some serious problems over the last eight years.  What we need is this bright line so President Obama can look at not just the Muslim world, the billion people in that world, but the American world too, and say, we are not George W. Bush.  This is a new era.  We remember who we are.  Let‘s have some transparency. 

SCHULTZ:  But haven‘t we seen enough?  Can‘t we leave anything to the imagination?  If we‘ve got oversight committees, and we‘ve got people in high-ranking positions that are honest Americans?  Why isn‘t that enough?  Do we have to know everything?  Isn‘t it a recruiting tool for al Qaeda? 

RICE:  Of course it‘s a recruiting tool.  That was the problem in the first place.  What we‘ve done in the past is lied about it over and over and over again.  And now what we need to do, I hate to say this, is come clean and say, you know what, the past is the past; we acknowledge our failures; we know they existed.  But we are not that. 

SCHULTZ:  Why do you think—

RICE:  They‘re trying to give excuses. 

SCHULTZ:  Jack, why do you think Leon Panetta, and I‘m sure on orders from the president, is doing this?  Do they just want to put this behind them and get to the next chapter? 

RICE:  You know, there‘s two sides here.  There‘s the sources and methods side that says, look, we need to protect intelligence.  That‘s absolutely true.  It‘s a difficult thing do in a democracy, but that‘s a fact. 

At the same time, there is this transparency aspect.  Will this be more difficult for the future?  In the short-term, yes.  But we have to look beyond this week, next week, next month.  We need to look two years, five years, ten years down the road.  Transparency will provide that.  I think the president made a mistake.  I was in the White House when Gibbs said they weren‘t going to give those Abu Ghraib photos.  It was a mistake then.  It was a mistake in 2004 not to disclose everything.  They should do it, get it done, move forward. 

SCHULTZ:  So does the president lose credibility when he talks about having a very transparent White House? 

RICE:  No question about it.  When he looked back at President Bush and criticized him, I thought to myself, now we‘re talking about a leader here.  And it‘s easy to make the criticism from the outside.  Now he‘s the guy on the inside.  He needs to step up, take the leadership role, and say, yes, this is a tough call.  But let‘s make it, let‘s do the right thing, let‘s move forward. 

SCHULTZ:  Finally, Jack, as a former CIA agent, how much about field operations should someone in the Senate know on an oversight or intel committee? 

RICE:  We need to understand what‘s going on.  First of all, inside the agency, that‘s an issue.  We‘re concerned about it.  However, Capitol Hill also has an oversight role.  We have seen those who are over-zealous in the past and there is a requirement that Capitol Hill understand what‘s going on.  They don‘t need to understand everything.  But let‘s face it, all of a sudden when they find out that Abu Zubaydah was tortured 83 times in a month; yes, guess what, that‘s a problem. 

SCHULTZ:  Jack, great to have you with us.  Jack Rice, former CIA agent, with us here tonight on THE ED SHOW. 

Next up, the Newtster is attacking President Obama for calling himself a citizen of the world.  Do the righties really think this guy is going to lead them back into the majority?  We‘ll talk about it next on THE ED SHOW, the Newtster. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  The Newtster headlined the biggest House and Senate campaign fund-raiser of the year last night.  He said he wants the Republican party to reach out to every American.  I just feel so touched.  This sounds like reaching across party lines to me.  Here it is. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH, FMR. HOUSE SPEAKER:  I thought the president‘s decision to deliberately schedule a speech opposite Dick Cheney was the first big tactical mistake of his presidency.  Let me assert clearly and simply, bowing to the Saudi king is not an energy policy.  Their plan has already failed. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Failed?  We‘re not even 200 days into the Obama administration.  Time to bring back our political panel.  John Nichols, Mike Allen, Ron Christie.  Ron, how do you view Newt Gingrich as a conservative Republican?  Is this someone that you think that you can point to leadership and you really pay attention to what he says from a party standpoint? 

CHRISTIE:  Absolutely.  Ed, for goodness sakes, I am so tired of the Obama administration and the president of the United States going out, day after day, misleading and lying to the American people.  And I think Speaker Gingrich, and there are a whole number of other Republicans—

SCHULTZ:  How is the Obama administration lying? 

CHRISTIE:  How much time do we have? 

SCHULTZ:  I‘ll give you 15 seconds, give me one lie. 

CHRISTIE:  I‘ll give you one lie—excuse me, I didn‘t cut you off—

787 billion dollar stimulus package was going to stimulate the economy, bring it down to eight percent.  Unemployment is now at 9.2 percent. 

SCHULTZ:  That‘s a lie?  No, that‘s an effort. 

CHRISTIE:  No, excuse me, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  Ron, wait a minute, now.  Come on, now.  That‘s not a lie.  That was passed—the voters wanted a stimulus package.  That‘s not a lie on the people. 

CHRISTIE:  Excuse me, I didn‘t cut you off.  The president said, if we pass this stimulus package, we will have the unemployment rate down beneath eight percent.  If we don‘t pass it, it will be catastrophic and higher.  It is at 9.3 percent—

SCHULTZ:  So you‘re giving him 140 days to get that to happen.  Let‘s go to John Nichols.  John, your response on that.  Do you think President Obama‘s lied? 

NICHOLS:  No, I don‘t think the president has lied.  I do think that one of the challenges is, after eight years of George Bush and Dick Cheney, it is often difficult for Republicans to distinguish the truth. 

CHRISTIE:  Let‘s not talk about George Bush.  Let‘s talk about the president. 

NICHOLS:  Well, look—I believe, if I quote you, Ron; I didn‘t interrupt you, don‘t interrupt me. 

CHRISTIE:  Go ahead. 

NICHOLS:  Now, let‘s get to the core thing here.  The real question you were asking, Ed, was about Newt Gingrich as a face of the Republican party.  And I think Newt Gingrich reached his sell-by date about a week and a half ago, when he referred to the first Latina nominee to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court as a racist. 

CHRISTIE:  She is a racist. 

NICHOLS:  The fact of the matter is he is running the Republican party back not to the 1950s, but to the 1850s.  And not to the—

SCHULTZ:  Mike Allen, what‘s your take on all of this? 

NICHOLS:  -- but to the roots of the old Democratic party. 

ALLEN:  First of all, just for the record, as you know, the president did not schedule his speech against Vice President Cheney.  His speech was well before Vice President Cheney‘s.  But on the topic of—

CHRISTIE:  I think that was a joke. 

ALLEN:  There‘s a very interesting “USA Today”/Gallup poll—

SCHULTZ:  Nobody laughed. 

ALLEN:  One-third of Republicans—one-third of Republicans disapprove of their party.  How many Democrats disapprove of their party?  Four percent. 

SCHULTZ:  Gentlemen, I want to go to another subject here—

ALLEN:  You can see that the customers are not happy with who‘s running the show. 

SCHULTZ:  Gentlemen, I want to go to another subject here.  A conservative talker out there has said don‘t buy GM or Chrysler.  Ron, what‘s your response to that? 

CHRISTIE:  I disagree.  I don‘t like the government getting involved with Chrysler and GM.  I thought the Supreme Court did a very smart thing yesterday by holding up the sale.  But if people want to by the cars, let them do it. 

SCHULTZ:  OK, Mike, back to you for a moment, what about Leon Panetta doing this?  Is this going to be some blow-back to the president?  I mean, he said he was going to have transparency, and now look where we are, a shroud of secrecy here. 

ALLEN:  Ed, I have to disagree with you and I could not disagree more with your guest.  Relations with other foreign intelligence services depend in part on keeping these matters private.  There‘s some things that this government needs to know that I don‘t want to know about.  And these very sensitive foreign intelligence ones are exhibit A in that. 

And you saw—your mom told you, where you stand depends on where you sit.  The president got inside, and he realized that it‘s not possible to talk about all these things publicly.  If we did, it would endanger the country.  He‘s smart enough—

NICHOLS:  I would say Ron—Sorry, Ed—look, the fact of the matter is he‘s wrong.  We shouldn‘t be cheerleaders for any president and we shouldn‘t be cheerleaders for secrecy.  Journalists should be in the forefront of advocating for transparency—

(CROSS TALK) 

SCHULTZ:  We‘re out of time tonight, sorry.  We‘ll bring you all back.  I know it‘s a very passionate time in this country.  Thanks for joining us, all of you.  That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Ed Schultz.  We‘ll be back in Washington tomorrow night.  Got an interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, same time, 6:00 Eastern time, right here on MSNBC. 

Remember, got a townhall meeting coming up in Buffalo this Saturday night at Canesius (ph) College.  For more information, check out my website at WeGotEd.com.  “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts right now on MSNBC, the place for politics.

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

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