updated 7/20/2009 10:27:10 AM ET 2009-07-20T14:27:10

Guests: Mike Viqueira, Joe Courtney, Dennis Kucinich, Leo Hindery, Wendell Potter, Stephanie Miller, Sam Stein, Michael Medved, Lizz Winstead, Paul Rieckhoff

(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, it‘s THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.

Well, you heard it here first.  Now it‘s official.  The House Intelligence Committee chairman, Silvestre Reyes, confirms that there will be an investigation into Dick Cheney and the CIA and why they didn‘t brief the Congress.

Yes!

The right‘s talking about taxing and spending, and some Democrats are starting to get some weak knees on this again.  We‘ll straighten them out tonight.  One of them is Joe Lieberman.  He‘s acting up again.

And I‘ve got a message for them tonight.  That‘s right.

Less than one year after the bailout, Wall Street‘s making some money again.  How‘s this working out?  I thought government wasn‘t supposed to get involved in any of this kind of stuff.  Another Republican talking point bites the dust. 

This country—serious business—not doing right by our female veterans.  We‘re going to talk about that tonight.  We could do a lot better. 

We‘ll visit with Paul Rieckhoff.  That‘s coming up in my playbook.

Plus, “Psycho Talk.”  

All that, a great panel, and “The Daily Show” creator Lizz Winstead is with us tonight. 

And I want you to get out your cell phones and be ready to communicate with us tonight.  Do you think the Democrats are going to get held up on this health care because of information we‘re going to give to you? 

That‘s coming up.  Stay with us. 

But first, tonight‘s “OpEd.”

All right.  Now, the president came out late on Friday afternoon to make a statement about health care. 

What‘s going on here?  Who‘s winning this thing? 

Now, the Democrats, there are some of them in the Congress who are acting as if Barack Obama actually did not win the election.  And I think a lot of Americans are starting to forget just how George W. Bush and his administration butchered this country for eight years. 

Now, I‘m telling you tonight, folks, don‘t get fooled again.  We don‘t need Republicans at all.  Every Democrat gets on board, we can get exactly what we want when it comes to health care reform.  We can get exactly what we want with the public option. 

That‘s what everybody‘s talking about.  But you see, we‘ve got some shaky Democrats out there.  I guess you could call them Republican-enablers.  And they get my blood boiling. 

Now, the Republicans think that they have found just the ammunition they need.  You see, here‘s what the director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office had to say recently about the Democratic plan. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DOUGLAS ELMENDORF, DIRECTOR, CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE:  We do not see the sort of fundamental changes that would be necessary to reduce the trajectory of federal health spending by a significant amount.  And on the contrary, the legislation significantly expands the federal responsibility for health care costs. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Oh, please.  Tell the whole story. 

Now, the right has jumped all over this, saying that it‘s just going to cost way too much money.  And what they aren‘t telling you, folks, is that the CBO report is really not complete.  It‘s based on if there‘s no new revenue streams coming into the Treasury. 

The CBO report only looks at the money that is going out.  It doesn‘t account for the money that‘s coming in. 

There‘s going to have to be a lot more money coming in, and obviously the taxes are going to be going up.  But let‘s go inside the numbers on this. 

The CBO says health care will cost $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years.  If we tax the top 1.2 percent of income earners in this country making over $1 million a year, that will bring in $544 billion.  That puts us just under $1 trillion. 

Let‘s keep going here. 

The Bush tax cuts cost this country $715 billion.  Now, when those tax cuts expire, the government‘s going to get that $715 billion coming into the Treasury. 

Reform will basically cost zero.  And we will get the Obama plan exactly the way the president wants it. 

Now, by my math, the only cost of health care reform, you know, is Dick Cheney‘s taxes are going to go up a little bit.  I‘m sure you‘re OK with that. 

Senator Jay Rockefeller told me last night on this program, if we tax the top two percent, we can basically pay for any kind of health care reform that we want to do in this country and get everybody covered.  Now, I think this is an easy sell, but we‘ve got some Democrats who just don‘t seem to be able to get on board with this public option. 

They are the usual suspects.  One of them, a close friend of mine.  Max Baucus from Montana and Kent Conrad from North Dakota still pushing this co-op thing.  And these other four Democrats who sent a letter to President Obama asking for more time—Ben Nelson, Marry Landrieu, Joe Lieberman, and Ron Wyden.

The White House is not taking this sitting down.  Rahm Emanuel brought in all the freshman Democrats today, gave them a little lesson on how the world is going to turn, because if it had not been for Obama, they probably wouldn‘t be in their position. 

And late this afternoon, President Obama went on the offensive.  He went to the microphone in the middle of the Friday afternoon, before the weekend, to grab a hold of the sound culture and address the naysayers. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK H. OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Now is not the time to slow down.  And now is certainly not the time to lose heart.  Those who are betting against this happening this year are badly mistaken. 

We are going to get this done.  We will reform health care.  It will happen this year.  I‘m absolutely convinced of that. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  All right.  I want to address one of the senators—just a little history check here—who‘s causing some trouble for the Obama administration when it comes to the public option and we have to slow down so much.  It‘s Ben Nelson of Nebraska. 

A fine gentleman, a good senator, but he‘s on the wrong side of the issue on this one.  He‘s waffling on a public option. 

Now, it seems like Ben Nelson is always the fly in the ointment every time the progressives want to get something done in this country.  If you‘ll remember correctly, it was Ben Nelson‘s vote who helped along the Bush tax cuts to the tune of $715 billion for the rich in this country. 

How did that work out, going from surpluses to budget deficits? 

Ben, you‘re no authority on money this time.  Stay away from the president.  Give this man what he wants. 

Now, on that sell-out, on that sell-out for the Bush tax cuts, what did Ben Nelson get for the state of Nebraska?  He got a bunch of millions of dollars for, of all things, in the middle of the country, homeland security.  Hope everything is safe in Nebraska. 

I mean, this is the kind of stuff that‘s going on right now.  The president won nine Bush states.  There has been a mandate.  What don‘t these conservative Democrats get about what‘s going on? 

Now, over on the House side, it looks like it‘s getting to be about a little bit heavier of a lift. 

Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Joe Courtney of Connecticut. 

He‘s on the House Education and Labor Committee.

Joe, good to have you with us tonight. 

Now, you‘re getting a lot of blog traffic, my man.  You‘re getting—the people will be talking about your stuff; all right? 

Well, is it true that you have decided not to take your health care until the country gets theirs when it comes to equality, about what they get in the Congress and what the public should get? 

REP. JOE COURTNEY (D), CONNECTICUT:  That‘s right, Ed.  Thanks for the invitation this evening. 

When I ran for Congress in 2006, I made a pledge to the people in my district, which is that I would not expect them to subsidize and pay for my health insurance until we had a system which gave them the same opportunity. 

You know, one of the things that is so galling to my constituents, and I think millions of Americans, is that we‘ve got people down here in Washington, D.C., who, the day they‘re sworn into office, they get a pin, they get a voting card, they get a health plan, and it‘s paid for by the American taxpayer.  Yet, some of these same folks are the ones who are saying, well, it‘s too soon, we‘ve got to wait, we can‘t afford to give the people, the taxpayers, who are providing their insurance. 

SCHULTZ:  Sure. 

All right.  Now, this CBO report that has come out on the Senate side, everybody‘s all upset about this saying we can‘t get it done.  It does not take into account the money that the Treasury would get if we taxed the top two percent. 

But do you think the Democrats are starting to use this as cover so they can back away from any kind of public option? 

COURTNEY:  Well, certainly there‘s some noise out there.  But the ironic thing is, is what CBO has told us, is that, actually, a public option saves health care reform more money than it costs. 

I mean, you know this, Ed.  The reason why a public option is so important, aside from a stable choice for people, is that it‘s actually—it‘s run more efficiently and will actually bring down costs for the overall health care reform effort.  So that‘s a bad argument for the people out there making it. 

SCHULTZ:  And what do you make of some conservative Democrats who are saying that, well, they‘re not for the public option because it‘s connected to Medicare reimbursement rates, and that‘s just not going to be fair to the private sector?  And, in fact, it might even run them out of business? 

COURTNEY:  Well, they should certainly surrender their label as fiscal conservatives, because the fact of the matter is that Medicare, as you know, runs a very efficient program.  Very low overhead.  And the plan that we are looking at is Medicare plus five percent.  So we‘re actually not really strictly tied to Medicare under the public option. 

SCHULTZ:  And I understand that insurance rates in your state are going up 32 percent?  Did I hear that correctly? 

COURTNEY:  That‘s right. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.

COURTNEY:  And people really want to see what the status quo is.  Blue Cross is requesting a 32 percent rate increase for the individual market, which is, as you know, the worst end of the system. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  Congressman, good to have you with us tonight.

COURTNEY:  Thanks, Ed.  Keep it up.

SCHULTZ:  I appreciate your time.  I commend you for what you‘re doing.

COURTNEY:  This is the time.

SCHULTZ:  You‘re an unselfish American.  Thank you so much. 

I want to go now to another lawmaker who‘s on the phone, who has been up for 36 hours working on this.  Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, I believe, is really doing the country a service.  He has been able to get an amendment coming out of one of the committees that deals with single payer. 

Congressman, good to have you with us tonight. 

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO:  Ed Schultz, great to be with you. 

SCHULTZ:  You bet, sir. 

What were you able to get that deals with single payer in dealing with the states? 

KUCINICH:  Well, we won a major legislative victory today for state single payer health care option.  It was a great vote.  It was 14 Democrats and 13 Republicans voted yes. 

And what it does is it moves single payer option at the state level forward by making sure that states will have the right to waive the application of the Employment Retirement Security Act, ERISA, which in the past has been used to nullify efforts to expand state or local government health care.

SCHULTZ:  OK.  So this means that there is going to be an opportunity for the 50 states, the United States of America, to go back to their states and say hey, look, if we could put together single payer and people are going to go along with it, we‘ve got the framework to do it?

KUCINICH:  Well, what it means is that the ERISA law, which in the past had been used to nullify efforts to expand state or local government health care, won‘t—you know, won‘t do that anymore, because under my amendment, a state will have an application for a waiver that would be granted automatically once the state signs into law a singer payer plan.  So, for the first time, you‘re going to have the state single payer health option shielded from an ERISA-based legal attack.

And keep in mind, Ed, California, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington all have active single payer efforts in their legislatures.  So this is where inevitably this health care movement is going.  And today‘s amendment enables it to happen. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  Thanks, Congressman.  I appreciate your time tonight. 

Dennis Kucinich with us on the phone here on THE ED SHOW.

Folks, I want to know what you think.  Get your phones out.  Get your cell phones out.

Will the new CBO report derail Democrats on health care?  Text “A” for yes and “B” for no to 622639.  Will this CBO report derail the Democratic efforts? 

You‘ve got the number right there.  We‘ll bring you the results later in the show. 

Now, for more on this, I would like to go to our NBC Correspondent Mike Viqueira, who‘s been working at the White House today. 

Mike, what‘s this, the president coming out, jumping in the fray on a Friday afternoon?  What are we supposed to take from that? 

MIKE VIQUEIRA, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Ed, I‘ve got to tell you, that CBO statement by Douglas Elmendorf, the chief over there at the Congressional Budget Office, threw a scare into Democrats, because the interpretation here in Washington is that this goes right to the heart of the rationale for this whole exercise to begin with. 

The president and Democrats have said time and time again that not only do we want to insure the 50 million Americans who do not have health insurance at this point, but we also want to bring down the so-called cost curve.  We want to keep it from going up in the long term and we want it to go down in the long term.  And, of course, Elmendorf said that the opposite would happen, that it‘s going to go up. 

That set off a chain reaction now.  Republicans on the attack.  Nancy Pelosi, Charlie Rangel, Nancy Pelosi‘s top lieutenant, George Miller, who was up until 6:00 in the morning marking up the bill, his portion of the bill in his Education and Labor Committee, appeared, trying to accentuate the positives, say they‘re moving forward.  This is further than they‘ve ever gone in Congress on a scale of this nature in trying to reform health care. 

There is still the Energy and Commerce Committee led by Henry Waxman.  That‘s where the heavy lifting is going on.  That‘s going to be going on up until Wednesday. 

Then at 3:15, you know, Ed, when we walked through this driveway here this morning coming to the press room, we didn‘t think the president had anything on his public schedule.  That always gives us pause.  And then sure enough, at 3:15, a very stern and forceful President Obama came out, trying to get back on offense, trying to get back out ahead of this story before we head into the weekend. 

SCHULTZ:  There‘s another story developing this afternoon, Mike.  The House Intelligence Committee chairman, Silvestre Reyes, has said that there will be a House investigation into Dick Cheney and the CIA, and they want to know why the Congress was not briefed. 

Is there any White House reaction to this today? 

VIQUEIRA:  Not as of yet.  We all know where the president has come down on this.  And that, coupled with the issue of whether there‘s going to be any investigation into waterboarding—of course, Attorney General Holder considering that as we speak at this time. 

Jan Schakowsky, she‘s been on that committee, the Intelligence Committee, the Democrat from Chicago.  She‘s been there for two and a half years.  She‘s been very vocal over the last week, Ed, as you know, saying the CIA has lied to her four times in the two and half years she‘s been on that committee, or misled her. 

She says she‘s going to lead a full investigation to explore certain CIA programs and how the committee was informed.  She doesn‘t have a timeline now.  They‘re just starting to collect documents. 

Pete Hoekstra is her Republican counterpart, the top Republican on that committee, as a matter of fact.  He says he was misled. 

He‘s been in negotiations with the chairman of that committee, Silvestre Reyes of El Paso, another Democrat, of course.  They were talking about a review, not an investigation.  He says that this smells like a cover job, according to Republican here from Michigan, Pete Hoekstra, to cover for Nancy Pelosi. 

Of course this is something that Republicans have been talking about in the past week.  They interpret this as the cover for her because of the accusations she‘s made about the CIA misleading her. 

SCHULTZ:  NBC Correspondent Mike Viqueira with us tonight on THE ED

SHOW.

Thanks so much, Mike. 

VIQUEIRA:  All right, Ed.  You‘ve got it.

SCHULTZ:  We should point out that this House investigation, folks, has got—they‘ve got subpoena power.  You know, let‘s get Dick Cheney, let‘s get George Tenet.  Heck, we could have all kinds of fun with new information, couldn‘t we? 

I can‘t wait.  We‘ll talk about it a lot next week on this program. 

Coming up, banks that took bailout money are turning a dollar.  So, if the government throws money at a problem, wait a minute, I thought that wasn‘t supposed to work.  But it is working. 

Righty talking points biting the dust again.  Now let‘s throw some money at health care.  Can we do that? 

It‘s coming up on THE ED SHOW.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

Well, less than a year after the financial crisis started, bailed-out banks are posting huge profits.  How about this—Goldman Sachs, $3.4 billion.  JPMorgan, $2.7 billion.  Bank of America‘s in there with a $3.2 billion profit.  And Citigroup coming in at $4.3 billion. 

So, the big boys on Wall Street are making money.  But I have to ask, now that they‘re making profits, is this a success?  Can we call this a Bush/Obama successful program?  Is the government program working to keep our financial system afloat? 

President Obama supported this in a big way.  Throwing money at problems and having it work is not exactly what the right wing is all about, is it? 

Joining me for more on this is one of the great entrepreneurs and a friend of mine, Leo Hindery.  He‘s the managing partner of Intermedia Partners.

Leo, good to have you here tonight. 

LEO HINDERY, INTERMEDIA PARTNERS:  Thank you, Ed.  Nice to be here.

SCHULTZ:  How do the average Joes out there take this when they see that our tax dollars went to Wall Street, they‘re posting big profits, but we really don‘t feel this recovery yet? 

HINDERY:  Well, I think your intro really posed the question for us. 

This is an important week, Ed. 

Three questions.  Have we resuscitated Wall Street, or have we reformed it?  Are we, in fact, seeing monies come into the lending, which was the whole principle, and especially are we seeing it come into the small-and-medium-sized businesses?  And the answer to all three questions this week was no, no, and no. 

The profits that you‘ve just described, they were enormous.  In some cases, they were obscene.  If you dig down into those numbers, they were 100 percent from trading, selling of assets and trading.  The exact kind of behavior that we are trying to dismotivate, not motivate. 

And now we have to ask, in those same numbers, are we lending to American businesses?  And the answer is, we‘re not.  And we‘re especially not—I was down in Congress today, Ed, and we‘re especially not lending to the small-and-medium-sized businesses. 

SCHULTZ:  I know that you have been telling Congress, you‘ve got to get cheap money to small businesses to make this a complete recovery, to get risk-takers into the market.  But these profits that have been posted now by these big four financial institutions, they‘re going to come back and say, see?  We don‘t need regulation, you‘ve got to stay away.  They‘re going to make that case.

Is this a challenge for the Obama administration at this point? 

HINDERY:  This is a huge challenge, because these are the very same type of profits that brought us to our knees just last year. 

The canary in the coal mine in this whole week has been CIT.  Here‘s a lending company, Ed, that has a million customers, 950,000 of them are small-and-medium-sized businesses.  And it‘s being allowed to fail, it looks like, this week, while Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, and JPMorgan are back trading with none of the changes, none of the reform that we were promised. 

All that‘s happened, Ed, is we‘ve reblown the balloon back up. 

SCHULTZ:  This is the next big thing the Obama administration‘s got to tackle, I would imagine after health care.  I mean, I know they‘re working on it, but the focus really hasn‘t been...

HINDERY:  Well, this is one where we claim victory, and yet when you dig down into the numbers on the victory—again, these are trading profits. 

SCHULTZ:  But Glass-Steagall, does Glass-Steagall need to be put back in place, in your opinion? 

HINDERY:  A hundred percent.  It should never have been canceled. 

Byron Dorgan, senator from North Dakota, was right in 1999.  Put it back, and put it back tomorrow.

SCHULTZ:  OK.

And cheap money to businesses, do you think that the Obama administration gets that? 

HINDERY:  I don‘t even think it has to be cheap money, it just has to be money. 

SCHULTZ:  Available? 

HINDERY:  Yes.  I mean, there is—I think the principle that‘s being violated is, we are not back to lending. 

SCHULTZ:  Leo Hindery, great to have you with us. 

HINDERY:  Always a pleasure, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  Thanks so much.

Coming up next on THE ED SHOW, it‘s “Psycho Talk.” 

A Republican lawmaker uses an abortion debate to wonder, what if President Obama was never born?  He did it on the floor of the Congress. 

You‘ve got to see it to believe it.  It‘s next in “Psycho Talk” on THE

ED SHOW.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Oh, it‘s Friday night, so we love it so much, why don‘t we do just a double “Psycho Talk” tonight, get you ready for the weekend?  Double the fun.  You know?

Senator Jim DeMint from South Carolina is back with his “deminted” thoughts about health care reform. 

First up, he told a Christian magazine he would not be able to persuade his colleagues to do the right thing, so “I‘m just going to have to create pain.”

Nice. 

Second, he announced this morning on his conference call, “This health care issue is D-Day for freedom in America.  If we‘re able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo.  It will break him.”

Gosh, that kind of falls into the philosophy of “The Drugster” and all that talk about Obama failing, doesn‘t it?  Gosh, they all stick together. 

OK.  And then there‘s this nut job from Kansas, Republican Congressman Todd Tiahrt. 

In a House floor speech against public funding for abortions, the congressman posed this question: If abortions were free, just imagine who would never have been born?

Listen to who he comes up with this time. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TODD TIAHRT ®, KANSAS:  There‘s a financial incentive that will be put in place, paid for by tax dollars, that will encourage women who are in—single parents, living below the poverty level, to have the opportunity for a free abortion.  If you take that scenario and apply it to many of the great minds we have today, who would we have been deprived of? 

Our president grew up in those similar circumstances.  If that financial incentive was in place, is it possible that his mother may have taken advantage of it? 

Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court justice.  If those circumstances were in place, is it possible that we would have been denied his great mind? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Wow. 

With all the trouble Republicans seem to have having with minorities, why would you think only African-Americans are the ones who might never have been born?  Yes, you did hear some “boos” in the background of the Congress, because all his colleagues agree he‘s nuts. 

So between Senator DeMint calling for, you know, breaking Obama over health care, and then Tiahrt‘s charming speech, it‘s double disrespectful “Psycho Talk.”  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  The Republican sound machine is in full force against health care.

We gave you the “Playbook,” in fact back on May 6th on this program, we went through the right wing‘s messaging machine playbook; it‘s a 28-page strategy memo from Republican pollster Frank Luntz.  He told the Republicans to hammer basically four things when it comes to reform, that reform would be a “government takeover” by Washington bureaucrats.  It would “ration” your health care.  And get “between you and your doctor.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL ® MINORITY LEADER:  The advocates of a government takeover of health care are talking about spending trillions more, trillions more. 

SEN. MIKE ENZI ®, WYOMING:  This bill will allow Washington bureaucrats to ration care.  The bill lays the groundwork for a government takeover of healthcare, giving Washington bureaucrats the power to prevent patients from seeing the doctor they choose.

REP. KEVIN BRADY ®, TEXAS:  The federal programs, agencies, commissions and mandates that will be in between the patient and their health care provider, their doctor.  Why would any patient be forced to give control of their health care decisions over to this Faustian web of Washington bureaucracy? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Well, you‘ve got to admit they do their homework when you ever give them anything to learn, you know.

Big insurance is lining is pockets of lawmakers.  Big insurance only cares about their profits.  They want lawmakers to protect their backyard, their profits.  They‘re voting against reforms that would really be good for consumers.

But I don‘t want you to take my word for it.  I want you to pay attention to this next interview.  We have a former insurance insider.

Joining me now is Wendell Potter.  He is a senior fellow on health care for the center for media and democracy.  He‘s also a former vice president for the insurance giant Cigna.

Mr. Potter, good to have you with us tonight.  I appreciate your time.  Is the industry telling the truth to the American people and telling the truth to those in the Congress?

WENDELL POTTER, SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER FOR MEDIA & DEMOCRACY:  No, they‘re not.  And that‘s one of the reasons why I left my job at Cigna and why I decided to speak out.  I didn‘t want to be a part of that—those lies and misleading statements once again.

I‘ve been a part of them in the past and I just didn‘t want to do that again.

SCHULTZ:  Where are the insurance companies making their big profits when it comes to health care?  What are they doing to consumers?

POTTER:  What they‘re doing to consumers is, number one—they‘re shifting a lot more of the financial burden from them and the employers onto the shoulders of working men and women.  And they also are very actively looking at claims when they‘re submitted.  And they‘re acting—taking action to dump people when they‘re sick, either in the individual market or in the small groups.

So a lot of small employers no longer can afford health care because of the actions taken by the insurance companies to get rid of them when their employees‘ claims are a little bit higher than the underwriters expected.

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Potter, do you think that there‘s a lot of people in the industry that feel the same way you did but just didn‘t follow the action you took?

POTTER:  Absolutely, I know there are.  I‘ve gotten just dozens, actually hundreds of e-mails from people that I have worked with in the past.  And most of them now former Cigna employees and employees of other companies who know me and have sent me communications to sell me, “I wish I had done that.”

There are many who feel the same way.  

SCHULTZ:  Now, Mr. Potter recently the inspector general‘s office came out with a report earlier this week stating that this out-of-network expense to Americans hits about 100 million Americans who are dealing in the health care industry, that want insurance and whatnot.  And Senator Rockefeller has told us clearly that the American people are getting ripped off.

Do you think Congress believes that the American people are getting ripped off, and now of course we‘ve got this inspector general‘s office report to back it up?  What don‘t they get about what‘s going on?

POTTER:  I don‘t think they‘ve been paying attention.  I think if they had been paying attention and weren‘t—as you put it—their pockets being lined with contributions from the industry, I think that they would be outraged and it would be very willing to take action to make sure that we have a reformed, functional health care system in this country.

SCHULTZ:  How much do you think they want to defeat the public option? 

POTTER:  Well, they‘re pulling out all the stops.  That‘s why you‘re seeing the same talking points they‘ve used over the years being trotted out again.  They‘re ever green talking points.

They will say one thing on—the industry is engaged in what I call the charm defense in saying that they‘re all for reform; but behind the scenes, working with their allies to gut it.  The public option is one of the things that they pretty much have drawn a line in the sand saying, “We can‘t accept that.”

SCHULTZ:  And finally, Mr. Potter, give the American people, our viewers tonight, a sense who‘s winning this battle.  We‘ve never seen a president go this far against Washington lobbyists.  We‘ve never seen a president go this far against the establishment when it comes to health care.

There‘s a lot of pressure on the Democrats to get this done.  They‘ve got 60 Democrats in the Senate.  They‘ve got a bunch in the House.  Some of the conservative Democrats are still wavering a bit.  But who do you think is winning this battle right now? 

POTTER:  I think the president is winning.  I think the advocates for health care reform are winning.  It may not seem that way, when we see a headline like we saw the other day in the “Wall Street Journal,” about the CBO estimating that we can‘t afford it.

We can‘t afford not to do this.  I think the president can communicate that more as time goes by and as Congress really gets down to business.  I think that we‘ll see reform this time and meaningful reform.

SCHULTZ:  How do the folks at Cigna treat you now? 

POTTER:  I haven‘t heard anything from them.  I‘m not surprised.  A lot of my former colleagues have been—who are no longer—who like me, former colleagues, have been contacting me.  I didn‘t expect that they would be visibly attacking me or even communicating with me, and they haven‘t been.

SCHULTZ:  Finally, why are you doing this?  You did a very compelling interview with Bill Moyers.  We tried to get you on the program before; I appreciate you being here tonight.

This is a brave position, I think.  This is one that‘s unusual for someone who worked and lived and profited in the corporate world.  Why are you doing this?

POTTER:  Two reasons.  One, I left my job because I didn‘t like where the industry was taking this country in terms of the insurance products it‘s now selling.  They‘re pushing these so-called consumer-driven plans that are pushing more, as you put it, as you noted, of the financial burden onto consumers.  We can‘t afford that.  The median household income is $50,000 in this country, we can‘t afford more cost shifting.

Secondly, I didn‘t want to be part of the lying machine again.  I didn‘t want to be misrepresenting reality like the industry has done and its allies have done for many years.

SCHULTZ:  Ok, Mr. Potter, I appreciate your time tonight.  Come back and join us again.  And thanks for speaking the truth to the American people and telling us what‘s going on.

POTTER:  Thank you for this opportunity.

SCHULTZ:  You bet.

For more, let‘s bring in our panel tonight: Stephanie Miller is with us, syndicated radio talk show host from Los Angeles; Sam Stein, political reporter for the Huffington Post; and Michael Medved is here tonight, nationally syndicated radio talk show host.

Sam, let‘s start with you.  What do you make of the president stepping out at 3:15 p.m., trying to set the tone for the weekend?  Winning, losing, what do you think?

SAM STEIN, POLITICAL REPORTER, HUFFINGTON POST:  That was remarkable, Ed.  Never have I seen the testimony of an obscure CBO official about incomplete health care legislation cause so much commotion.  We‘re talking about judging a product in the fifth inning but clearly there‘s political ramifications for it.

The president thought that he was losing the debate, he wanted to calm nerves.  It‘s sort of is reminiscent of the campaign where people getting nervous about him not getting aggressive enough.  He‘d go out there throw them a bone saying, “Calm down, we‘ve got a ways to go.”

This is very reminiscent of that.  I still think the White House feels they have this thing in hand.  They‘re going to get health care legislation, it depends what the final product look like.

SCHULTZ:  Ok, another big story happening today.

Michael Medved, I want to ask you about this most recent news that the House Intelligence Committee has decided to investigate the former vice president and the CIA for not briefing Congress.

They say they‘re going to go back to this 1947 law that they‘re looking at.  What do you make of this?  Is this a political play or a needed investigation? 

MICHAEL MEDVED, RADIO SHOW HOST:  Well, it‘s a political play.  It‘s a very foolish political play for Democrats.  I mean, President Obama has his hands full right now, pushing for health care reform, pushing for cap and trade.  This is a huge distraction.

It is not the kind of thing that is a top priority for most Americans.  And I happen to believe that the deeper context here is the reason that President Obama had to make his statement today.  The deeper context is the American people are worried about spending.  They are worried about the fact that the stimulus package has been a huge disappointment.  And that we are running now a deficit that is 13.2 percent of our gross domestic product, compared to 1.2 percent deficit just two years ago; now that is a ten-time increase, that‘s 1,000 percent increase from the deficit.

That‘s what concerns the American people.

SCHULTZ:  Okay, now what about this investigation, Stephanie Miller?  Do you really think we can get Dick Cheney to show up on Capitol Hill and tell the truth? 

STEPHANIE MILLER, RADIO SHOW HOST:  Well, he‘s showed up everywhere else on television.  He‘s had a lot to say in the last few months.

You know, I think we can walk and chew gum, Ed.  You know, we‘re Americans and this should not be partisan; this is not Democratic or Republican.  This is American values.  And we cannot say that it‘s all right to lie to Congress and it‘s all right to order illegal torture to get into an illegal war.  It‘s just not.

You know, I think we have no choice but to investigate this.  

SCHULTZ:  Sam, what are your thoughts on the investigation?  Tip of the iceberg? 

STEIN:  Obviously it‘s the tip of the iceberg.  We‘re getting new revelations every other week.  I have a feeling that it‘s going to go on.  It‘s going to be done in secret and then you‘ll see a final product and then we‘ll know where the bodies are buried.

Let me make one point.  I was looking at past...

SCHULTZ:  Wait a minute, Sam, you said bodies are buried.  Let‘s hope it doesn‘t go that far, okay?

STEIN:  A bad figure of speech.

Let me make one quick point about the CBO score because we‘re talking about cost containment.  I was looking up old CBO scores.  I found out in 2007 there‘s a CBO report for the cost of the Iraq war; the estimated cost was $2.4 trillion over 10 years.  That‘s health care reform done twice over.

I didn‘t hear a single Republican complain about cost containment then, we could have done health care twice for that cost.

SCHULTZ:  Panel, stay with us.  We‘ve got a lot more coming up.

All right, they‘re protecting our country just like men but women in the military aren‘t getting equal protection when they come home.  Paul Rieckhoff joins me to talk about those details.

Our panel‘s going to be coming back.  It‘s all coming up on our “Playbook.”  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Well, the Republicans are twisting the truth.  They‘re twisting the budget report trying to kill health care reform.  I want to know what you think.

Will the new CBO report derail the Democrats‘ health care plan?  Text “A” for a “yes,” “B” for a “no” to 622639; we‘ll bring you the results coming up on THE ED SHOW.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  In my “Playbook” tonight, they‘re in Afghanistan, they‘re in Iraq, both theaters; they‘re serving alongside men.  But when women veterans come home, it turns out they‘re losing out when it comes to care.

Joining me now is Paul Rieckhoff, he executive director and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.  What‘s happening here?  How could this—there‘s discrimination in care for our veterans?

PAUL RIECKHOFF, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, IRAQ & AFGHANISTAN VETERANS OF

AMERICA:  A pretty ground-breaking GAO report came out this week, the investigative arm of Congress.  It kind of got lost amidst the Sotomayor hearings and the Michael Jackson stuff.  But what it basically told us is the VA is not stepping up to address the needs of returning women.

SCHULTZ:  What are they not doing?

RIECKHOFF:  Well, they‘re not providing privacy.  They don‘t have enough specialized health care workers to focus on women‘s issues, the military sexual trauma.  And the entire bureaucracy just really hasn‘t evolved to meet the fact that about 15 percent of our current serving force is made up of women.

SCHULTZ:  Post-traumatic stress disorder; more women than men.  How‘s that working out? 

RIECKHOFF:  yes, it‘s a huge issue for women.  Everybody coming home is at risk.  About one in three folks coming home face some kind of a mental health injury but women are especially at risk because they have also got this issue of military sexual trauma or MST, sexual harassment, sexual assault; that‘s all kind of woven into this growing problem.

SCHULTZ:  Paul, how many women are we talking about here?  How many veterans are we talking about?

RIECKHOFF:  Hundreds of thousands. 

SCHULTZ:  What are they not getting?  Are they not being seen by doctors?

RIECKHOFF:  They‘re not being seen by doctors, sometimes they have to walk through waiting rooms to get to bathrooms.  The bureaucracy itself, the actual structures; the buildings weren‘t adapted to meet the fact that a different gender was going to be coming through the system.

So you have hundreds of hospitals that were built to deal with World War II men.  That‘s really how most of the structure was built.  They‘ve really got to evolve this bureaucracy to catch up.

SCHULTZ:  I understand that 20 percent of the women that come back are experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder.  How do we address this?  What‘s the military going to do?  Have they backed this report?

RIECKHOFF:  They have.  Well, I think they‘re all just kind of absorbing it right now.  But we‘re stepping up.  We‘ve launched a program called communityofveterans.org.  So if there are veterans coming home, and he or she is dealing with a problem, they can go there and get mental health resources, suicide prevention information, and most importantly, be around other veterans.

We need Congress to continue to hold the VA accountable.  We need Secretary Shinseki to be out in front talking about this.  We need to get the country involved and keep focused on it.

SCHULTZ:  Well, you and I will have an announcement about what we‘re going to do for these vets in the coming weeks.  I appreciate your cooperation on this.

RIECKHOFF:  Thanks, Ed.  We appreciate you.

SCHULTZ:  You bet.

Paul Rieckhoff, a great American, no doubt about it.

Coming up, Republicans just aren‘t hypocrites at work; they‘re hypocrites at home too.  Comedienne Lizz Winstead takes it on next on THE ED SHOW on this Friday.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Ok.  I like the music because it‘s Friday.  Welcome back to The Ed Show.

Well, it‘s a “Club Ed Thing” with Lizz Winstead, co-creator of “The Daily Show,” the brains behind “Wake Up, World.”  Didn‘t you like that?

LIZZ WINSTEAD, COMEDIENNE:  You kind of got down a little bit, I was afraid.

SCHULTZ:  What‘s happening with all these cheap shots on the judge?

WINSTEAD:  You know, it is—these hearings, Ed, there were so many turds in the confirmation punch bowl that I don‘t even know where you begin, really. 

SCHULTZ:  Affirmative action.  What the...

WINSTEAD:  It‘s amazing to me whenever you hear these rabid anti-affirmative action people talking.  They act like the disparity between what white students have to go through to get into college and the free pass that people of color get to go to college is stunning.

It‘s kind of like white kids actually have to rescue kittens in a burning building while they take their SATs.  And all Latinos have to do is finish the TV Guide crossword puzzle and they can go to Harvard whenever they want.  I mean it‘s crazy.

SCHULTZ:  It is pretty crazy, there‘s no doubt.  And Lindsey Graham wouldn‘t let it go, would he?

WINSTEAD:  He wouldn‘t let it go.  He was on and on saying, “I can‘t understand what the hell she‘s saying.”  And then he would talk about how the firemen are working their asses.  Who knew Lindsey Graham had such a mouth on him.  No idea.

SCHULTZ:  What do you make of Senator Coburn‘s “splaining” comment? 

Where the heck did that come from? 

WINSTEAD:  I‘m not sure where that came from but he needs to do some “splaining” about being John Ensign‘s gyno (ph).  I‘m not sure how that works.  But he‘s part of that whole crazy C Street cabal that‘s really—it‘s a building they live in masquerading as some Christian prayer center.  It‘s really nothing more than...

SCHULTZ:  They start hitting on everybody.

WINSTEAD:  It‘s crazy.  It‘s like an evangelical he-man women-haters club.  I would not be surprised Ed if they were not dealing Viagra out the back door to other promise-keepers (ph).

SCHULTZ:  And Sanford is—we noticed that he‘s got some priorities when it comes to spending money.

WINSTEAD:  He does have priorities when it comes to spending money and his priority is, spend the taxpayer dollar.  And you know, I have breaking news—and I want to say may—he may be having sex with his actual wife this weekend.  I don‘t want to promise anything.  But it could be breaking news and you heard it here first on THE ED SHOW.

SCHULTZ:  Thank you, Lizz Winstead.  Always a pleasure.

For more let‘s bring back our panel.

And with that let‘s go to Stephanie Miller, Sam Stein and Michael Medved.

All right, Stephanie, what‘s with this Sanford guy?  He says he‘s a fiscal conservative and then he goes off—but when he was chasing his girlfriend he was really spending the money, wasn‘t he?

MILLER:  Yes, he didn‘t—he wasn‘t quite so reticent.  He didn‘t want to take the stimulus funds but his personal stimulus package was apparently a big priority, Ed, and he wanted to fly in comfort, apparently.

SCHULTZ:  Sam Stein, did the Republicans go overboard at any time with Sonia Sotomayor?  Playing the affirmative action card, really digging into her comments two days in a row, I might add.

STEIN:  Yes, sure, there were uncomfortable moments.  I thought Jeff Sessions sort of suggesting all Hispanic judges should vote the same way was a little bit bizarre.  That was like right at the beginning of the hearing so that set the tone.

Pat Buchanan on your own network, I have to say said some fairly outrageous things.  We won‘t call it out because we‘re speaking on MSNBC right now.  But overall I think they tried to contain themselves knowing that there were political implications to attacking the first Hispanic judge.

SCHULTZ:  Michael, your take on the hearings.  What do you think?  Did the Republicans do what they had to do?

MEDVED:  I think to the most—some people definitely went overboard.  I think we‘ve heard enough about the wise Latina remark.  In fact I‘m—assuming that there will be some kind of band called the “Wise Latinas” that debuts at some point soon.

She handled herself very well.  I think the worst thing for me is a couple of my colleagues, and it embarrasses me, were attacking Judge Sotomayor because she said eminent when she meant imminent and because she said vagrancies when she meant vagaries.

Come on, she‘s a brilliant woman.  I think she‘s actually a moderate judge.  And I believe that on the Supreme Court, she‘ll adjudicate that way.

SCHULTZ:  Ok.  I want to talk about paying for health care.  It looks like if the Obama White House gets his way, Stephanie, that rich folks are going to be paying some more money into the Treasury.  We‘re talking about taxing the top 1.2 percent income earners.  Senator Rockefeller on this program said if that goes through, we‘re going to have enough money to do what we can do for health care.  Is that a tough sell for the Obama White House to the conservative Democrats?

MILLER:  Well, you know, it shouldn‘t be, Ed.  There‘s all this screaming over, you know, once again, the top one percent.  They‘re basically rolling back the tax cuts that George Bush gave them.  All this fear-mongering.

The top one percent screaming and something—somebody‘s coming for our sugary drinks.  They‘re going to take it away from families trying to fish at a lake.  That‘s all I know, there‘s a lot of fear-mongering going on.

And you‘re right.  That alone would pay for it.

SCHULTZ:  Can they sell it, Sam? 

STEIN:  Of course they can.  I‘ll tell you how they can sell it.  All these centrist Democrats are asking for more time.  This is what you say will cost you more time; 140,000 people will lose their insurance in the next three weeks if they delay this health care reform package.

Those are the statistics that you should be hearing from the White House.  I‘m surprised they haven‘t pushed this angle, that there is a human suffering component to delaying on health care.

Why are we hearing about costs when people are literally going to be struggling to pay their bills, losing their insurance, and in some cases dying because of a lack of health care coverage?

SCHULTZ:  And Michael Medved, what do you make of the comments Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina saying that this is going to be Obama‘s waterloo, we‘re going to make sure he fails on this.  What about that?

MEDVED:  I don‘t want President Obama to fail.  I don‘t want the country to fail.  But I do want this health care reform to be moderated.

Everybody agrees—I thought that was a good statement the president gave today, because what he sketched out was there are a whole series of reforms on which Republicans and Democrats agree.  Where we don‘t agree is raising the tax rates to the highest point that they‘ve been in 25 years.  That was the front page of “USA Today” and that is not going to be an easy sell on the American people to raise the top tax rate to 45 percent.

SCHULTZ:  Michael, Sam and Stephanie, thanks for your time on this Friday night.  I appreciate it so much.

Early on this show I asked you what you thought.  Will the new CBO report derail the Democrats on health care?  Here‘s what you said: 27 percent say yes; 73 percent say no.

That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Ed Schultz.  For more information on THE ED SHOW go to ed.msnbc.com or check out our radio Web site at wegoted.com.  Going to be in Madison, Wisconsin this Sunday night 7:00 at the Barrymore Theater.  We‘ll have our cameras there and microphones so you can speak up about health care and what kind of reform you want.  That‘ll be in Madison Wisconsin at the Barrymore Theater on Sunday night.

Have a great weekend.

“HARDBALL” starts right now here on MSNBC.

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