updated 9/11/2009 10:42:26 AM ET 2009-09-11T14:42:26

Guests: John Barrasso, John Harwood, Gregory Meeks, Tom Harkin, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Henry Waxman, Stephen A. Smith, Tom Tancredo, Karen Hanretty, Jack Rice

ED SCHULTZ, HOST:  Good evening, Americans. I‘m Ed Schultz. This is THE ED SHOW, live from New York tonight.

The president‘s speech—yes—I loved it.  It was about challenges. 

He showed some two-fisted leadership last night.

Do you know what the guy did?  He goes out there and he challenges us as a nation to do this.  He challenged members of his own party.  He challenged the Republicans. 

But most important, President Obama, you know what he did?  He drew a line in the sand.  Nobody‘s talking about it.

Of course he drew a line in the sand.  You know what he told the insurance industry?  You‘re going to have to get it together on a couple of major issues like this one about denying coverage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK H. OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Under this plan, it will be against the law for insurance companies to deny you coverage because of a pre-existing condition.

(APPLAUSE)

As soon as I sign this bill, it will be against the law for insurance companies to drop your coverage when you get sick.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  It will be against the law.  That‘s a mandate if the president gets what he wants.

Do you know how many millions of Americans are going to be affected by this if it goes through?  This is huge. 

The president is making it illegal for insurance companies to game you, the consumer.  The insurance companies, they‘re not going to get on board with this.  There‘s no way that‘s going to happen.  There‘s going to be a fight like you‘ve never seen before. 

They‘re making really all these outrageous profits because they‘re able to keep high-risk people out of the insurance pool.  And you know what this is going to do, folks?  Let me back up a little bit.  This is going to walk the Democrats right to the public option, just what we want, because it‘s going to create the public outrage and it‘s going to create more of the political will than anything we have ever seen before. 

The American people, as the president said, want fairness.  They want the insurance industry to be—I think the word he used was “accountable.”  He wants accountability. 

President Obama laid it down last night, put it on the line.  He told the Democratic lawmakers, either you‘re with me and the American people, or you‘re going to be over there with the Democrats, you‘re going to be over there with the Republicans on the wrong side.  Well, there are some conservative Democrats over there and he‘s kind of concerned about that, obviously. 

Met with them this afternoon at 4:30.  No word on how that meeting went. 

Now, you can go stand with the Republicans and people like this guy Joe Wilson.  Oh, we‘ve got another Joe Wilson who‘s been outed; right? 

He calls the president a liar on national television.  Undoubtedly, a juvenile rabble-rouser who is incapable of serious debate about the country‘s most urgent issue, which is health care. 

And, you know, I really believe that this was a culmination.  This is kind of like a quick highlight tape of all these town hall psycho show-up meetings.  You know?

They have basically emboldened the righties to act like this—foolish, disrespectful, and downright childish last night.  You know, when you think about it, the school kids in Virginia were a heck of a lot more respectful to the president than some of those Republicans were last night. 

The American people are watching this.  They‘re paying the salaries of these guys.  And they were totally unprofessional. 

You have to ask yourself the question tonight, could you do that on your job?  Could you act like that in the workplace on your job, in front of your superior, and get away with it, and know with confidence that you‘ve got a job tomorrow morning? 

Now, when you consider where the president has been, it has been a summer of being told, let‘s see, he wasn‘t born in America, he‘s not an American, he‘s a socialist.  They‘ve compared him to Hitler, they held up signs doing that. 

President Obama had the courage last night to take the high road.  And what did he say?  “My door is open.  Let‘s get this done.”  It‘s the right thing morally to do for our country at this time. 

But let there be no mistake.  Here are the two key things the president said last night to everybody in the chamber. 

What he wants, it is against the law to deny coverage in pre-existing conditions.  It is against the law to drop somebody after they get sick. 

Did you see any press conferences today with the insurance industry saying, hey, we‘re going to go along with that?  You see any Republicans say, we‘re going to jump on that? 

Now, last night on this program—and I have great respect for John Feehery—but I think he may have misspoke.  Last night, he said that the Republicans were going to take care of the pre-existing conditions in their bills.  Well, we did some checking today.  It‘s not true. 

So, this is the key question for the Republicans—this is what the president wants, this pre-existing condition got to be gone.  You can‘t deny people coverage once they get cancer.  They were healthy for 10 years, they paid their premiums, but now they got cancer and you can‘t drop them. 

That‘s a mandate.  There is no way the insurance industry or the Republicans are going to go along with that, and I hope I‘m off base.  Let‘s find out.

I want to know what you think about this.  Get your cell phones out. 

Will the president‘s plan to ban pre-existing conditions lead to a public option?  Text “A” for yes and “B” for no to 622639. 

We‘ll bring you the results later on in the show.

The question for the Republicans tonight, where do you stand on those two things? 

Because folks, it‘s a mandate. 

Joining me now is Republican Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, who is a doctor and who loves THE ED SHOW and loves to mix it up with me. 

John, good to see you tonight.  I appreciate your time. 

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO ®, WYOMING:  Thanks for having me back, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  We‘ve had all the praises of the president, so I‘ve got to start with you tonight.  But seriously, Senator, I want to ask you, will you go along with eliminating the pre-existing condition?  Yes or no? 

BARRASSO:  Yes, I think we have to cover people with pre-existing conditions.  We did it in Wyoming with a high-risk pool, where the state stepped up and helped people with pre-existing conditions to make sure that they could continue to get insurance. 

I think that somebody who has insurance should not be dropped because they get ill.  I don‘t think that the president, though, solved all the problems, and the debate seems to be between Democrats.  As you just said, he has Democrats at the White House trying to convince them of his position. 

SCHULTZ:  Exactly.  But Senator, I got to point out...

BARRASSO:  But I think he‘s been unconvincing in terms of how he‘s going to pay for this.

SCHULTZ:  OK.  We‘ll get to that in a moment, but I want to focus on the two things that the president said would be against the law. 

You‘re telling us tonight—and there is nothing in any of the Republican proposals, because I read them all today.  I read all the Republican proposals.  There‘s nothing in there that says anything about eliminating pre-existing conditions.  So, you‘re telling us that you‘re willing, as a doctor, as a senator, you‘re willing to go along with the president on this.

Correct? 

BARRASSO:  I agree with the president, we need to do something for people with pre—existing conditions.  We did it in Wyoming with a high-risk pool. 

There are things you can do.  About 25 states have proposals that work.  And I think you can find the best ideas there and incorporate those, because the president said he wanted to get ideas from other people. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, we‘re making progress, Senator, because no other Republicans have said what you just said on this program. 

Here‘s question number two.

People who have insurance and all of a sudden get sick have been canceled by insurance companies.  The president wants to make that move by insurance companies against the law. 

Are you going to support him on that? 

BARRASSO:  I agree with the president.  If somebody already has insurance and becomes ill—look, my wife is a breast cancer survivor, Ed.  She‘s been through three operations, two full bouts of chemotherapy.  I would absolutely be offended if somebody tried to drop her because she has breast cancer for insurance that she‘s already had.  I think it‘s absolutely wrong and shouldn‘t happen in America. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, it won‘t happen because you‘re in the United States Senate.  That‘s not a cheap shot, that‘s just a fact.  I mean, you know, there are people that just aren‘t going to have their insurance dropped because of the job that they have.  And I praise you, Senator... 

BARRASSO:  I wasn‘t in the Senate at the time, but I still say people should not be dropped who have been paying their premiums and have insurance. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, Senator, I commend you.  And I‘ve been tough on the Republicans, but you‘re a stand-up guy if you‘re willing to support the president on these two key proposals.  And you better watch out, Senator.  They‘re going to be calling you a socialist and a Nazi here pretty soon. 

You better watch out on this deal now, what you‘re getting yourself into.

BARRASSO:  The president also said we still need to iron out some of the details, and of course I want to see the details, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.

Now, let‘s get to the money.  I will admit the president was not detailed last night on how we‘re going to pay for this.  He has been on the record saying that he wants to repeal the Bush tax cuts and even go farther than that. 

Is that a nonstarter for the Republicans, in your opinion? 

BARRASSO:  Well, ,I want to see the specific details.  The president said “My bill, my position.”  I don‘t know if that means he started over.  I want to see his bill.

I‘ve seen the House bill.  I‘ve seen the Senate bills.  I want to see the president‘s proposal and see if we can work together. 

I mean, I think there are certain areas where we‘re going to work together, as you just said.  I think that, really, it‘s been disappointing in terms of tort reform when he talked about doing some demonstration projects. 

Ed, we‘ve had demonstration projects in California, in Texas.  We know what works to help get the cost of care down, to help people have fewer unnecessary tests ordered, and to take care of some of this huge expense of defensive medicine. 

SCHULTZ:  And finally, Senator, can you give the president some credit that he didn‘t mandate to his party that we‘ve got to have a public option?  Isn‘t that a major olive branch?

Here we are in the 11th hour, the world is watching the president, and he backs off on a mandate, he doesn‘t have to have a public option.  He wants it, but he‘s not dictating to his party. 

Doesn‘t that say something to you as a Republican? 

BARRASSO:  I‘m not sure if he backed out or not.  And if you read the editorials today, a lot of people are disagreeing on what exactly he said.  But ultimately, in terms of a government-run plan, I don‘t think the American people ought to have to call their congressman to get an appointment to see a doctor. 

SCHULTZ:  It‘s not going to be a government-run plan.  We‘ll pick that up.  But I can‘t let you get away with that, John.  It‘s not a government-run plan.  It‘s an option, and you don‘t have to get into it.  Only five percent of the people early on would do it. 

Thank you.  I appreciate your time.

BARRASSO:  Early on, but soon enough it will be most of America. 

SCHULTZ:  Soon enough.  OK.  Well, that would be a choice then. 

John, good to have you on.

BARRASSO:  Good to be with you, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator John Barrasso with us tonight—you bet—here on

THE ED SHOW.

John Harwood, CNBC‘s chief Washington correspondent and political writer for “The New York Times” with us tonight. 

John, what was the biggest story, other than this guy down in South Carolina, and other than the Republicans holding up signs?  What do you think the biggest story was coming out of that speech last night? 

JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT:  I think there were two things, Ed. 

In terms of the public, I thought that outreach that the president exhibited to Republicans, to John McCain, Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch, was significant not because he has any chance of getting their votes or getting Senator Barrasso‘s vote, but because he‘s trying to persuade the average American out there watching on TV, he‘s being reasonable, he‘s accommodating Republican ideas, he‘s tried to work with them.  That makes it easier for moderate and conservative Democrats to stick with him and vote for this plan, even if almost all the Republicans are not going to vote for it. 

The second thing is, that he essentially embraced the outlines of the Senate Finance Committee bill.  What does that mean?  Well, it says that he wants to raise money by taxing insurance companies, which has the double effect of raising revenue and bending the cost curve.

SCHULTZ:  But John, he really didn‘t get to that.  He didn‘t talk about the surcharge last night. 

HARWOOD:  No, he did. 

SCHULTZ:  Not in detail. 

HARWOOD: Not in detail, but he‘s embracing the—what Max Baucus wants to do in the Finance Committee.  That means the surtax on millionaires in the House is in all probability dead.  And it also—I think it is more clear than some people think of where this thing is headed on the public option. 

I think a triggered public option is the likely outcome.  Still some uncertainty, some twists and turns that could happen.  That is a solution that I think, Ed, may not fully satisfy you, but I think it gives people on the left the opportunity to say the insurance market doesn‘t work, we‘ve got the public option, and for people on the right and Olympia Snowe to say we‘re not voting for that right now, we‘re going to try to let the marketplace do its work. 

SCHULTZ:  Here‘s House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reacting to the president‘s speech.  I want your response to this, and I‘ll have it as well. 

Here it is. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER:  If somebody has a better idea, put it on the table.  That‘s what the president said. 

Well, in the month of August, while people were complaining about the public option, they hit us with their best shot—distortion, misrepresentation, and obstruction.  So, so far, we haven‘t seen a better idea.  But it could be there. 

So, this is about a goal, it‘s not about provisions. 

But I don‘t think you ever really go into a negotiation and say that some things are non-negotiable.  One of those would be that we not pass a bill. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Well, what does that mean?  I mean, John, I‘m hearing that maybe she‘s going to back of on a public option a little bit, or everything is negotiable?  I thought that was—she had drawn her line in the sand. 

What do you make of that?

HARWOOD: I think she opened the door wide open to the solution that I just mentioned, which is Olympia Snowe‘s solution of a triggered public option.  And let me tell you something about liberals in the House.  There is no chance whatsoever that if that is what comes out of the conference committee, that Democrats are going to bring down this bill. 

They know that they lost control of the Congress in 1994 for failing to act on health care.  That memory hangs like a huge cloud over the Democratic Caucus in both chambers. 

I believe, Ed, as we sit tonight, that the outlook is very strong that Obama is going to get a bill encompassing most of his principles, including that triggered public option. 

SCHULTZ:  John, good to have you. 

HARWOOD: You bet.

SCHULTZ:  John Harwood, here on THE ED SHOW.

Joining me now is Congressman Gregory Meeks of New York. 

Congressman Meeks, great to see you tonight. 

Did the president recruit any Blue Dogs last night and today?  What do you think? 

REP. GREGORY MEEKS (D), NEW YORK:  Well, I think he did.  I know that today, that I‘ve been talking to a number of my colleagues who are Blue Dogs, and they were impressed with the speech last night. 

They said that‘s what they were waiting to hear, the president to be plain and clear and concise, and show that he‘s going to stand behind the bill.  And that‘s exactly what he did last night.  So, I think that you see that those of us who are Democrats in the House coming together. 

SCHULTZ:  I mean, I‘m saying that the key thing was pre-existing condition and you can‘t cancel people‘s insurance if they get sick.  Does that go far enough for you?  Would you support the president without the traditional, as we‘ve talked about, public option? 

MEEKS:  Well, you know what?  I think that what the president said last night was that he‘s with the public option, but if somebody can come up with something that accomplished that—because you‘ve got to give the insurance companies some competition.  And he said there‘s more than one way to give the insurance companies competition.  And if you can come up with that, that would continue to drive down the prices, and that‘s... 

SCHULTZ:  Would you go along with a trigger?  I mean, I‘m not a trigger guy.  I don‘t believe in a trigger.  I think that‘s a shortcut. 

Would you go along with a trigger option? 

MEEKS:  You know, I think that we‘re not going to have a trigger option in the bill that we pass out of the House.  However, I do believe that we‘ve got to have a bill passed. 

I think the president was correct when he said many presidents have tried to deal with health care, he intends to be the last.  So, we‘ve got to make sure, because the president has—and the bill that came out of the House and the Senate is loaded with a lot of good things that the American public needs, and we‘ve got to make sure that those provisions are passed.  And I believe the public option is absolutely necessary. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman Meeks, great to have you with us tonight.  I appreciate your time, Congressman.  Thank you so much. 

Coming up, Senator Tom Harkin is stepping into the role that Ted Kennedy played, chairman of the Senate HELP Committee.  He‘s going to be joining me for a prime-time exclusive interview in just a moment.  Where does he stand on all this? 

And President Obama accepted Joe Wilson‘s apology for last night‘s outburst, but I wouldn‘t do it. 

Former Republican congressman Tom Tancredo is taking Wilson‘s side on

this one?  We‘ll go head to head at the bottom of the hour

Plus, the NFL season gets under way tonight.  Stephen A. Smith is in the house. 

We‘ll size up all of that in the “Playbook” later on, on THE ED SHOW.

Stay with us.  You‘re watching MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  ... expressed confidence that this would be the year of health care reform.  That great unfinished business of our society, he called it, would finally pass. 

He repeated the truth that health care is decisive for our future prosperity, but he also reminded me that it concerns more than material things.  What we face, he wrote, is, above all, a moral issue.  At stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  That was the most moving part of the president‘s speech last night, when he read the part of Senator Ted Kennedy‘s final letter to him. 

Ted Kennedy called health care the cause of his life.  He was very proud of the bill his committee passed in July.  And the work goes on and a new chairman has taken up that fight to see that bill become law. 

Joining me now is Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, the new chairman of the Senate HELP Committee. 

Senator, good to see you tonight, and good to have you with us. 

SEN. TOM HARKIN (D), IOWA:  Hey, Ed.  It‘s always good to be on your show with you. 

SCHULTZ:  Did the president go far enough?  Because you and I have had conversations about got to have the public option, got to have competition for the insurance industry to get costs down and contain everything.

Did he go far enough, Tom? 

HARKIN:  Yes, he did, Ed.  Last night he was very strong on the public option.  He couldn‘t have been clearer about why we need a public option and what it would do, and that he was strongly for it. 

And I thought he was very clear—we‘ve got to have a public option. 

And believe me, we are going to have one. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, but the president wouldn‘t guarantee it.  Does that raise concern for you in any way? 

HARKIN:  No.  He said something very interesting though, Ed, and I think it‘s being misinterpreted. 

He said that the public option was just one part of the bill.  Now, what he meant by that was that, look, there‘s a lot of other good stuff in this bill that you might agree with, even though you don‘t agree on the public option. 

We‘ve heard a lot of talk around here, Ed, that, well, there‘s not the votes for the public option.  Well, we don‘t know that because we‘ve never voted on it. 

SCHULTZ:  Sure.

HARKIN:  But it‘s like a lot of things, Ed.  You know, you get a bill through here, and maybe there‘s something you don‘t like in it, but there‘s a lot of other things you do like. 

And so, I would like to see—I would like to see the Democrats and the Republicans here in the Senate vote on a bill that does away with pre-existing conditions, that does away with lifetime caps, that lets your kids be covered until they‘re 26, that doesn‘t allow the insurance companies to rip you off. 

Have that all in there with a public option.  You mean to say people will vote against that bill just because of the public option?  I don‘t think so. 

SCHULTZ:  Now, Senator, those were the key points that the president pointed out last night in his speech.  Do you really think the insurance industry is going to go along with that?  That, all of a sudden, that they‘re going to start taking people in with a pre-existing condition and they‘re not going to cut people off after they, you know, get ill and have been customers for a while, but then they get cancer and they get cut off, and stuff like that?

I mean, do you really think they‘re going to go along with that kind of reform? 

HARKIN:  Well, go along with it?  I mean, it‘s in every one of our bills, the three bills in the House and the bill out of our committee, the committee that you correctly said I now chair after Senator Kennedy‘s death.  It‘s all in our bills.  All of those things you mentioned is in every one of our bills, and the answer...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ:  And do you think that will survive the Conference Committee? 

HARKIN:  Absolutely.  Now, that I have no doubt whatsoever.  That is going to survive the Conference Committee.  They‘re in all our bills.  They‘re in both the House and the Senate bills. 

SCHULTZ:  If that‘s the case, Tom, then liberals got a big victory last night. 

HARKIN:  I think it was a great victory last night.  And I think that little outburst by Representative Wilson sort of kind of indicated where they were coming from. 

SCHULTZ:  Have you ever seen that before, ever?  Anything like it? 

HARKIN:  Not in all my years here.  I‘ve been to presidential speeches there since Gerald Ford, I‘ve never seen anything like that before. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator Tom Harkin, congratulations on all the heavy work that you have in front of you now to get this done. 

HARKIN:  It‘s a heck of a challenge, Ed, but I‘ll tell you, I‘m up for it.

SCHULTZ:  I know you are.

HARKIN:  And we‘re going to get this health reform bill through, and we‘re going to have it to the president before Thanksgiving. 

SCHULTZ:  You‘re a great one, Senator.  I appreciate your time tonight. 

HARKIN:  Thanks, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  Tom Harkin from Iowa, with us here on THE ED SHOW.

Coming up, Republican congressman and doctor, Paul Broun, sure needs to work on his bedside manner.  He blew off a constituent big-time at a health care town hall.  And we‘ve got the tape and we‘ll show you that in “Psycho Talk.”  

Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Time now for “Psycho Talk.” 

Let‘s see, who do we have here tonight?  Ooh, Congressman Paul Broun, M.D., the doctor from Georgia.   

He displayed his lousy bedside manner after a town hall meeting in his home state yesterday.  A constituent, you see, came up to him and explained, you know, he just couldn‘t afford catastrophic insurance with a $20,000 deductible.  So, he asked the congressman, you know, what about your reform plan, the elusive Republican plan?  How would that address his issue? 

Big surprise.  Broun came up empty handed.  Here was his response. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Walking away from the situation.  Walking away from it.  “If you have a suggestion, send it to me”? 

I mean, these guys, they‘ve been complaining that the president of the United States isn‘t listening to their ideas on health care.  There‘s nothing to listen to.  Broun just admitted it.

The GOP doesn‘t have any ideas, and the congressman is blowing off the very real concerns of a man who he‘s supposed to be representing.  That is “Psycho Talk.”  

Coming up, in the past year the number of people without health insurance has increased to 45.7 million people, more proof that it is time for reform now.  Senator Bernie Sanders and Congressman Henry Waxman are fighting for it.  We‘ll have them right here on THE ED SHOW coming up.

Plus, it‘s hard to imagine that anyone would defend Congressman Joe Wilson in his disrespectful, despicable, immature behavior last night, but we found somebody.  Former congressman Tom Tancredo not only supports him, he was rooting him on.

I‘ll battle it out with him in “The Main Event.”

Stay with us.  You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Eighty one days, that‘s the new deadline for a health care bill.  Vice President Joe Biden told that to NBC News this morning, that he expects a bill by Thanksgiving.  And he‘s been around a long time.  He ought to know that stuff. 

The president made the case last night that Congress has to get this thing done.  He‘s taking action.  He met today separately with the House Blue Dogs, a group of moderate Democratic senators late this afternoon at the White House.  So the president is definitely working it the day after the speech. 

But the group who will probably get asked to compromise, to get on board—come on, you‘re not going to get everything.  It‘s the progressives.  It‘s the liberals in this country who played a major role in getting the president to the White House.

Joining me now is Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a member of the Senate Health Committee.  Senator, I‘m anxious to hear your take on this tonight.  Is there a level of disappointment in the performance of the president last night, in terms not so much of the speech, but in terms of substance?  Where do you stand, senator? 

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT:  I think the president made a very cogent argument as to why we need health care reform right now.  He pointed out, and it has to be stated over and over again, this is the only country in the industrialized world that does not guarantee health care to all of its people as a right of citizenship.  Health care costs are soaring.

And if the Republicans succeed in doing nothing, health care cost are going to double by the next eight years, which is clearly unsustainable;

18,000 people dying a year because they can‘t get to a doctor on time, and a million people going bankrupt this year.  If this is not a reason to bring about health care reform, I don‘t know what is. 

SCHULTZ:  Those numbers that you just quoted in the president‘s speech last night.  Do you think any Republicans on the Hill have softened their position a bit, that are maybe willing to work on this thing, outside the Senate Help Bill?  If you got to go reconciliation, you might get a few Republicans.  What about that?

SANDERS:  I think that‘s right, depending on the issue you‘re looking at.  For a start, some of the simple and obvious issues; do we continue with the insanity of insurance companies denying people coverage because of preexisting conditions.  I noticed a lot of Republicans standing up when the president said that. 

SCHULTZ:  That‘s not in any of their bills.  It‘s interesting about that, because that is not in any one of their bills.

SANDERS:  I know that.  And add to that, Ed, the absurdity.  If you were sick last year and you ran up a big bill, they can rescind you.  They can throw you off of your policy.  I think even Republicans will come on board with that. 

This is my view.  My view is that you‘ve got to get the grassroots moving.  You‘ve got to explain to the American people.  And the president did a pretty good job last night debunking some of the lies that the right wing has been throwing out.  And I think if we get the grassroots moving and saying to their senators, Republicans and Democrats, hey, this is nonsense; we need real health care reform, I think we can pull this off. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator Lindsey Graham said today he thought that President Obama had somewhat of a combative attitude.  What‘s your response to that?  How would you describe the president‘s attitude last night? 

SANDERS:  I‘ll tell you something, I think this president should have had that attitude about three or four months ago.  I think what the Republicans have been doing, in terms of filibustering in general, their obstructionism on health care—they‘re ignoring the needs of the American people.  And many Democrats continue to reach out, reach out, get slapped on the hand, slapped on the hand. 

Enough is enough!  He is the president of the United States.  Go to the people.  Let‘s rally the people.  Let‘s pass real health care reform.  I think, frankly, he has not been combative enough. 

SCHULTZ:  We‘re told right now, senator—this was just handed to me

·         a different subject here tonight.  President Obama on Monday is going to deliver a major speech on the financial crisis.  Is there news out there that you can tell us tonight that you know about?  Anything cooking on Capitol Hill that you‘re hearing in dealing with the financial crisis?

SANDERS:  The only thing I know is that an investigation—the Congress passed legislation finally establishing a committee to do a thorough investigation as to how we got into this disastrous crisis, how Wall Street acted in a reckless and irresponsible manner.  That investigation is about to begin.  I don‘t know if that‘s the issue the president will be talking about or not. 

SCHULTZ:  We‘re told that he‘s going to talk about taking up some measures that would prevent a crisis like we experienced a year ago, which would mean reforms.  If you can, just off the top of your head, tell us what kind of reforms would you advocate for?  Or what do you think has to be done? 

SANDERS:  I think we have to revisit, at the very least, Gramm-Leach-Bliley.  I was one of those in the House who said you can‘t just deregulate, deregulate.  If you deregulate Wall Street, all these guys know how to do is make money any way they can, whether it is illegal, whether it is good for the country or not.  So you got to revisit the whole issue of reregulation. 

In my view, you have to have a cap on credit card interest rates.  Credit unions have been living quite well with 15 percent.  I think you‘ve got to deal with that.

Too big to fail, we got to take a hard look at that as well. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator Bernie Sanders, great to have you with us tonight. 

Thanks so much. 

SANDERS:  Good to be with you, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  Coming up, it‘s my favorite time of the year; the NFL football season kicks off tonight.  Stephen A. Smith is in the house.  Michael Vick‘s on deck for game three.  Brett Favre, he just won‘t give up.  And the Redskins are ripping off their fans.  It‘s all coming in the playbook.  Stay with us.  You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Action today—progressives taking action.  They sent a letter to President Obama.  They want to meet with him on health care reform.  What don‘t they like? 

Let‘s go to Congressman Henry Waxman, chairman of the Energy Committee and a member of the progressive caucus.  Mr. Waxman, thanks for your time tonight.  Can you tell us what was in this letter?  What do you want to meet about? 

REP. HENRY WAXMAN (D), ENERGY COMMITTEE:  I don‘t know anything about it.  I‘m a member of the progressive caucus.  If they want to meet with the president, maybe I‘ll get invited.  I‘m working on the bill as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee.  It‘s a good bill.  We have to get it passed. 

I support the public plan.  It‘s in our bill.  It‘s going to make the whole system honest.  It will keep the private insurance companies with competition, and make them live up to their promises. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator, this is going to be a mandate on private business in this country.  The president said last night, you can‘t drop anybody once you‘ve got them as a client.  And by the way, preexisting conditions are gone.  Is this going to pass in the House?  Are the Blue Dogs going to go along with this? 

WAXMAN:  I think we‘ll pass the bill in the House.  We‘re going to bring all the Democrats together.  That means we have to compromise.  We have to look for what will bring us together.  We can‘t draw lines and say, if it isn‘t this way, I‘m voting against; if it isn‘t that way, I‘m voting against it. 

The most important thing we‘ve got to do is to pass this bill.  It is so long overdue. 

SCHULTZ:  No doubt about that.  A firestorm last night erupts over the question of whether any of this funding is going to cover illegal immigrants.  Can you say emphatically that your bill will not do that? 

WAXMAN:  Absolutely.  We have a specific provision in the bill that no funds can be used to pay for the illegal immigrants to get health care, either under Medicaid or S-CHIP or in this whole exchange.  And when I heard the minority leader make such an ill-informed comment that it could happen because it‘s not in there, that‘s ridiculous.  He should know better.  I was  appalled at the behavior last night.

SCHULTZ:  What about using federal funds to fund abortions?  Is that going to be in there?  Is there going to be a possibility that taxpayer dollars might go to that? 

WAXMAN:  No.  Taxpayer dollars may not be used to fund abortion.  We‘ve made that very clear in the legislation.  And so we‘re not using taxpayer funds for illegal immigrants.  We‘re not going to use tax funds to pay for abortions. 

Let me just state it unequivocally, and there should be no doubt about it. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman, one final thing tonight about the president‘s presentation last night.  He really went after all the misinformation and he said he was going to call out anybody who misrepresented any of the bills.  Give us a definition of what calling out the Republicans like—what does he mean, calling a press conference and saying hey, they‘re lying over here?  What are we talking about? 

WAXMAN:  I think just saying they‘re wrong; they‘re not telling the truth, and clarifying the record.  You can‘t let lies just sit there.  When I heard these lies about death panels and things like that, it was just appalling, because people should have known better, unless they‘re just trying to distort and scare people. 

SCHULTZ:  Do you think that‘s going to continue or do you think the conservatives will back off, quickly? 

WAXMAN:  I hope they‘ll back off, but they haven‘t shown any indication.  And last night, the behavior of some of the right wingers was pretty appalling.  They were holding up signs.  We had—We had President Bush who took us to war under false pretenses, and we were seething when we came in to talk to a joint session of Congress. 

We have to respect the office of the president.  We have to respect the dignity of an address by the president to members of Congress, and not behave like a Kindergarten. 

SCHULTZ:  I think it has to be pointed out, in my opinion, this was orchestrated.  They showed up with pamphlets.  They showed up with signs.  And when you point at somebody, you‘re trying to make a point.  That‘s not impulsive, in my opinion.  I think it was a game plan to discredit the president of the United States, and show him up.  This the what they were holding up.  It was their plan that they say gets no attention whatsoever. 

But clearly, it was disrespectful.  And I know you‘ve never seen anything like that before.  But do you think that they felt emboldened and empowered by going to all these town hall meetings and these nut jobs showing up?  Basically, they acted like some of these town hall crazies last night.

WAXMAN:  I hope that Republicans and Democrats who saw this kind of misbehavior were shocked enough, as I was, to say this has to end.  We can‘t tolerate this in this country.  We have to behave in a civil manner.  We all have an interest.  We‘re all patriotic.  And we should try to get people health care coverage.  We have different ideas to do it, but let‘s work it out. 

SCHULTZ:  It was over board.  Congressman Waxman, thanks for joining us tonight. 

WAXMAN:  Thank you.  Good to see you.

SCHULTZ:  You bet.  Let‘s switch gears.  In my playbook tonight, the NFL season going to be starting its year.  Defending Super Bowl champs, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and they are kicking things off tonight right here on NBC, taking on the Tennessee Titans. 

Well, you know, NBC, we‘re MSNBC.  And they got a lot to look forward to this season.  Michael Vick is back in the game.  That‘s going to be interesting to watch.  Also, Brett Favre is still sticking around.  And it‘s the first season the NFL is going to have without John Madden in the broadcast booth. 

Let me bring in journalist and commentator Stephen A. Smith.  Stephen A., great to have you with us tonight.  I want to talk about Brett Favre.  I‘ll be selfish here.  How is he going to do with the Vikings? 

STEPHEN A. SMITH, JOURNALIST, COMMENTATOR:  In a perfect world, he‘d be sorry.  He‘d screw up, considering how awful he‘s been, all the attention grabbing that he‘s engaged in in recent memory.  When you consider the fact that over the last five games of the 2008 season, this man threw two touchdowns, nine interceptions, was absolutely abysmal.  And to still garner the attention that he‘s garnered and to ultimately end up landing with a team, the quality of a Minnesota Vikings, where you could potentially end up being in the Super Bowl, it‘s, quite frankly, nauseating to me personally. 

I‘m just going to throw it out there to you.  I‘m not rooting for this guy to win it all.  But Minnesota is a team to be reckoned with, especially with Adrian Peterson.  Keep your eyes on them.  Keep you eyes on the Packers as well. 

SCHULTZ:  How different will this season be for the viewers and fans with John Madden not in the broadcast booth? 

SMITH:  It‘s going to be tough, because he‘s an institution.  I mean, any time you talk about Monday Night Football or, most recently, Sunday Night Football on NBC, you expect to hear his voice.  He was very pragmatic, to the point, talked to the average American Joe out there each week during the NFL season.  He was an institution.  That‘s the best way that I can say it.

I‘m going to sorely miss him.  But I‘m confident that Cris Collinsworth will do a fabulous job. 

SCHULTZ:  Steelers going to be OK this year?  What do you think? 

SMITH:  Of course.  That‘s my favorite team, number one.  Number two, they‘re returning 19 of 22 starters.  Number three, Ben Roethlisberger is their quarterback.  They‘ve still got Hines Ward.  You‘ve got Santonio Holmes, the reigning Super Bowl MVP.  You‘ve got one of the top notch defenses in the game.  They better watch out for Tom Brady.  Can‘t sneeze at him.  San Diego is a team to be reckoned with.  But the Steelers are clearly the favorites to return back to Super Bowl prominence. 

SCHULTZ:  And some politics; the president‘s speech last night, scale of one to 10, where do you score him? 

SMITH:  I give it an eight.  He didn‘t commit to the public option the way you wanted him to, Ed.  If you remember, we talked before his speech.  He didn‘t commit to that, but I do like the adroit way in which he put the Republicans in a hole.  Basically what he did was he made some concessions, willing to engage in tort reform, the public option, et cetera.  And now they‘re backed into a corner, because if they come against him, then it‘s really not about health care to the American people; it‘s about taking this presidency down.  And I think that could ultimately hurt them. 

So it was skilled the way the president of the United States handled that. 

SCHULTZ:  Stephen A. Smith, you‘re the man, always welcome on THE ED SHOW.  Thanks for your time tonight.

SMITH:  My pleasure.

SCHULTZ:  Congressman Joe Wilson, what a story behind this guy.  We‘re talking about it with our panel next right here on THE ED SHOW.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  We may have seen President Obama at his best last night, but the GOP was at its worst.  The behavior was despicable.  They were on their Blackberries while the president was speaking.  And Democrats have done that in the past, but they‘ve backed off on it.  They waive their flimsy, do nothing bills in the air.

And then, of course, there was Joe Wilson heckling the president of the United States, calling him a liar.  Now, we‘ve seen this behavior from right wing nut jobs at tea parties around the country and town hall meetings, but members of Congress?  Don‘t you think they ought to have a little bit more respect for the moment and the issue? 

Let me bring in our panel on this tonight.  Former Congressman from Colorado Tom Tancredo is with us tonight.  Also, Karen Hanretty, Republican strategist, and Jack Rice, former CIA officer. 

I‘ll let you tee it up first, Mr. Tancredo.  Can you endorse that behavior when the president of the United States is speaking to the joint session of the Congress? 

TOM TANCREDO, FMR. CONGRESSMAN:  Such selective outrage.  You must not have been watching, Ed, when President Bush addressed the Congress on Social Security reform.  And about halfway through, all of these Democrats started booing, hissing, chanting untrue.  Nobody said squat about that.  Now, it wasn‘t one Democrat.  It was a whole bunch of them. 

By the way, every time the president—I don‘t know about every time, but many times when I was on the floor of the House and Bush was speaking, somebody on the other side would respond.  Not necessarily with “you liar,” but some guttural, you know, oh, no!  That happens all the time.  It‘s not that amazing.  The thing is, he was right.  Joe Wilson was right.  The president is a liar?

SCHULTZ:  He was right?  He was right to do what he did?  You would endorse that?  OK.

TANCREDO:  Sure. 

SCHULTZ:  I have to tell you, I have been to four State of the Union Addresses, and I know how there‘s cackling back and forth, and everything else.  They‘re is cheering going on and everything else.  But at no time did any Democrat ever use the L word on President Bush, and you know that, Tom.  We never called him a liar. 

TANCREDO:  What do you call chanting untrue.

SCHULTZ:  No.  The issue may be untrue, but to go after his character and call him a liar is over the top.  Karen, your take? 

KAREN HANRETTY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Look, they may not have done it on the floor.  But Harry Reid called George W. Bush a liar, and Barack Obama called Bill Clinton a liar.  So there‘s a lot of the L word going around right now. 

And let‘s not forget, Democrat Pete Stark called Blue Dog Democrats brain dead. 

SCHULTZ:  So you endorse him too.

(CROSS TALK)

HANRETTY:  And Harry Reid called us evil mongers.  Would you like them to apologize as well? 

SCHULTZ:  Karen, we are talking about the president of the United States in a joint session of the Congress.  You think it‘s apropos and you think it‘s OK for something to yell out the president‘s a liar? 

HANRETTY:  I think it‘s rude what Joe Wilson did.  But, I‘ll tell you what, at least he had the nerve to do it to Obama‘s face, unlike Harry Reid, who called George W. Bush a liar behind his back, and Barack Obama, who told a reporter—

SCHULTZ:  You‘re making excuses for him. 

(CROSS TALK)

SCHULTZ:  Jack Rice, where do you come down on this issue tonight? 

JACK RICE, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Come on, Ed, this is absolutely repulsive.  Let‘s figure out where the Republicans are.  He represents what the Republicans are right now.  Let‘s face it.  They started out by saying, we‘re going to kill your parents, then we‘re going to abort your kids.  Now basically it‘s the brown people‘s fault.  That‘s going to be the latest argument.

What else do they have?  Maybe they can say that, you know what we‘ll do?  We‘re going to spit on the Bible and then it‘s going to be gay people.  I‘m sure that‘s going to be the next attack.  It‘s going to be something completely ridiculous.  It‘s what we‘ve been seeing. And it is not a shock. 

SCHULTZ:  Tom Tancredo, would you admit that this was an orchestrated effort to discredit the president?  There was material that was distributed amongst the Republicans.  They came there with made up home-made signs questioning the president.  They were rude.  I mean, is this just going to be a free for all every time the president addresses the joint session? 

TANCREDO:  Believe it or not, this is not that unusual reaction on the part of the people in the Congress.  I‘ve seen it before.  I‘m not saying it‘s great.  I‘m telling you, it‘s not unusual.  The thing that annoys me about all this is the focus is on the decorum issue and not what he said.  And what he said was true.  The president is either a liar or he is stupid.  And by the way, I don‘t think he‘s stupid.  So, because there is absolutely nothing in that bill that will prevent illegal aliens from participating in the health care plan. 

SCHULTZ:  Tom, that is wrong.  That is absolutely wrong. 

TANCREDO:  Are you calling me a liar, Ed? 

RICE:  It‘s not in S-CHIP.  It‘s not in Medicare.  I will.  I‘ll call you a liar, because you know it‘s not true. 

(CROSS TALK) 

RICE:  I told you.  It‘s the brown people‘s fault now, Ed.  You see? 

It‘s coming. 

TANCREDO:  Ed, read the CBO report.  It‘s not me.  The CBO says illegal alien will be under the bill that‘s on the House floor—will be able to participate.  That‘s not me.  Are they all lying to you? 

SCHULTZ:  Able to participate?  Able to participate to get coverage?  They won‘t be turned away.  But federal dollars are not going to be used to pay their bills, Tom.  That is a fact.  And the president is not a liar. 

TANCREDO:  There is nothing in that bill to prevent that. 

HANRETTY:  President Obama may or may not have been lying about illegal immigrants.  You know, the language is there.  But I tell you one thing he was absolutely dishonest about is that his proposal is revenue neutral.  There is nothing revenue neutral.  They are going to have to raise taxes. 

SCHULTZ:  Karen, come on.  You don‘t know that.  Give a guy a chance to explain how he‘s going to pay for it.

HANRETTY:  -- worth of savings but cutting waste, fraud and abuse from Medicare.  If it‘s there on the table, you better get it right now.  You don‘t need to wait for a health reform bill.

SCHULTZ:  The three of you got to come back for an hour-show.  This is too hot.

(CROSS TALK)

SCHULTZ:  Earlier in the show, I asked you what you thought.  Will the president‘s plan to ban preexisting conditions lead to a public option?  Eighty one percent of you said yes.  And that‘s where I am.  And 19 percent of you said no. 

That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Ed Schultz.  For more information, go to our website at WeGotEd.com, or check out MSNBC.com.  And “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts right now, here on the police for politics, MSNBC. 

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Guests: John Conyers, Maxine Waters, Roger Simon, Ron Wyden, John Barrasso,

Ernest Istook, A.B. Stoddard, Bill Press, Markos Moulitsas, Debbie Stabenow

ED SCHULTZ, MSNBC HOST:  I‘m Ed Schultz.  This is “The Ed Show.”  Good evening, Americans.  I‘m Ed Schultz, coming to you from Washington, D.C.  tonight.  We‘ll be here for the next couple of nights in the nation‘s capital because the president of course has got kind of a big week.  I‘ll have a special program tomorrow night right here at 11:00 Eastern Time.   But first, I want to talk about what the president said today.  And I want the Republicans to answer one question tonight, how stupid do you feel now?  The president said today to school children all across the America some real basic stuff, pay attention, show up in school, listen to your parents.  So new and innovative, and it still works.  What we saw today was an academic locker room talk that is long overdue from somebody in the Oval Office.  Conservatives, you ought to be loving this because he talked about responsibility. 

Here‘s what the president said.  “At the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents and the best schools in the world and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities.” 

Gosh, that‘s almost like Ronald Reagan, isn‘t it? You conservatives ought to be just loving that.  But what I found interesting is the president said, whatever you resolve to do, commit to it, whatever you resolve to do, commit to it.  That‘s how you‘re going to be successful. 

Well, Mr. President, there‘s your speech tomorrow night.  Tomorrow night, the president has to speak with tremendous clarity.  Hold it right there.  A public option.  How many of you actually know what a public option is?  Now they throw this word in “trigger.” Anybody know what a trigger is?

Here‘s the bottom line.  If the president comes out the way he did on the campaign trail with tremendous clarity, passionate, aggressive, almost to the point of demanding, he‘s going to knock it out of the park.  The Republicans need to know, speaking of schools, that recess is over.  The American people have figured out that all they‘re doing is protecting the insurance industry.  That‘s what the Republicans are doing.  That‘s what they‘re all about.  Premiums in this country have more than doubled from $5,800 in 1999 to nearly $13,000 annually for a family of four -- 13 grand a year. 

Now, how is a working family, two incomes, couple of kids, how do you handle that? You don‘t.  Now, here‘s how—here‘s what you‘ve been paying for, folks.  I‘ve always had this philosophy, you‘ve got to check your own backyard.  If you remember the first show I did on MSNBC, I pulled out my bill and said, gosh, Wendy and I, we got like a 22 percent increase.  How about you?  Well, that started a firestorm of conversation on the prairie in our backyard in North Dakota.  And we found out Blue Cross Blue Shield yanking the rates on us.  Here‘s what we‘ve been paying for. 

It‘s a 101-page report released today by the insurance commissioner‘s office.  How about $15 million in bonuses? Over $1 million of trips to swanky resorts including a $200,000 trip to the Caribbean.  Now, how did Blue Cross Blue Shield pay for that? By raising premiums in a time of recession, I think that‘s disgraceful.  But you ought to check your own backyard because that‘s what‘s happening.  That‘s what the Republicans are defending. 

That‘s what Chuck Grassley says, oh, we can‘t give them any competition.  That would be government-run.  You would see a federal agency, have you ever seen a federal agency deal out about $15 million in bonuses?  How about if the story in your local stations had, gosh, congressman so-and-so just got a $2 million bonus.  How would that go over?  This is what‘s happening in the insurance industry and the Republicans, do you know what they‘re doing?  They‘re protecting it. 

Now a public plan would have real oversight.  The Republicans, they ought to be liking that because that way they can watch every dollar like a hawk.  I‘m all for that, 90 cents of every dollar paid in private premiums in our state of North Dakota goes to Blue Cross Blue Shield.  That‘s right. 

This is not a free market, folks.  This is a monopoly.  Let‘s see, I think Robert Gibbs said something about his state of Alabama the other day, what 93 percent is that‘s what one insurance company has got.  Competition is good for the consumers, that‘s the basic principle of capitalism.  And until you get some competition—you‘re going to get gouged. 

The president is going to say one thing tomorrow night.  If you like your insurance, you can keep it.  In other words, if you like getting gouged, you can keep getting gouged.  But we‘re going to get a public option.  That‘s what we‘ve got to have.  That‘s what I think the president has to do tomorrow night.  He‘s got to very clear, do it the way he did it on the campaign trail, go right to the grassroots.  They‘ll never leave you, Mr. President.  They‘ll never leave you.

Get your cell phones tonight.  I want to know what you think.  What‘s more important for you to hear?  For you to hear tomorrow night on the president‘s speech? “A,” President Obama getting tough on Republicans.  Or “B,” President Obama getting specific on his plan? Text “A” for tough, “B” for specific to 622639.  We‘ll bring you the results later on in the program. 

Now, what‘s going on in the House?  Joining me now is Congressman John Conyers of Michigan.  Congressman, great to have you with us tonight. 

REP. JOHN CONYERS (D), MICHIGAN:  Always a pleasure to be here. 

SCHULTZ:  You bet, John.  And I tell you what, I don‘t have a stick, but if I did, I‘d hand it to you because I want to you draw that line in the sand tonight.  I know you‘re a single payer guy and you have been and you believe in that.  But would you accept any bill whatsoever that didn‘t have a public option?  Can you give us a definitive on that tonight? Any bill that doesn‘t have a public option, would you sign on to it?

CONYERS:  This is not going to be a long answer, no. 

SCHULTZ:  No? You mean, Barack Obama is not going to get your support unless he has a public option?

CONYERS:  Well, we should be doing single payer but we‘ve compromised on that and what we‘re doing now is we‘re stepping back, but this cannot be called reform of health care if a public option isn‘t on it and so this is down to the crunch time, and Nancy Pelosi has been very definitive on it.  Majority Leader Reid has come out on it. 

The majority of the single-payer people which comprise hundreds of unions, medical people, most doctors are now with us, the nurses, and most of all, the patients, the citizens want it.  So, look, the time has come.  If you do the math, Ed, there are 83 Progressive Caucus members, 42 Black Caucus members, 25 Hispanic Caucus members, 14 Asian-Pacific members, and most of them are public-option people.  Now—

SCHULTZ:  What about, OK, so you‘re saying that you‘ve got the numbers to get the public option.  A lot of people in the single payer—you got the numbers to get the public option.  But I want to hear you say tonight, congressman, that it‘s over for Barack Obama.  Your support‘s gone if he doesn‘t go public option tomorrow night and specifically state this.  Is that correct?

CONYERS:  Well, I wish this could be the first time I‘ve said that, but I‘ve been saying that all the time.

SCHULTZ:  Well, they‘re paying attention now.  More and more Americans are paying attention to this right now.  And this is, I think, a defining moment.  You‘re one of the strongest leaders in the House.  You‘ve been around for decades.  Obviously the president needs you and you‘re saying—you‘re saying tonight that if he doesn‘t talk public option tomorrow night, John Conyers, you‘re out?

CONYERS:  Well, the bill is out in the House.  Now a lot of people are worrying about what the Senate is going to do.  The reason I gave you these numbers, there isn‘t one Republican—now, they‘re voting no for the wrong reason to be sure.  But when you add up the numbers that I gave you and then throw in a half, at least, of the blue dogs of which there are 52, he can‘t get 218 without a public option.  This is simple arithmetic. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman, great to have you with us tonight, Congressman John Conyers.  You just drew a line in the sand.  My friend, I‘ve been waiting for that for a long time from the Democrats.  Thanks so much. 

CONYERS:  You‘re welcome, always. 

SCHULTZ:  You bet.  Joining me now is Congresswoman Maxine Waters, member of the Progressive Caucus.  Congresswoman, you go along with that math? That‘s no representative left behind right there.  That‘s what that is.  Do you go along with that math tonight?

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA:  Yes, absolutely.  And I think your question is very, very clear.  You‘re asking whether or not we will support some other alternative to public option.  I want to be very, very clear.  I have said over and over again that any comprehensive universal health care plan must have public option or we don‘t bring down the cost.  We don‘t have any competition.  In order to have competition, bring down the cost and not allow the insurance companies to keep running rampant over the American people, squeezing them for high premiums.  We‘ve got to have a public option.  I will not vote for anything that does not have a public option. 

SCHULTZ:  Amen to that.  This is what people who put Obama in the White House, this is exactly what they want to hear tonight.  It‘s important that the true Democrats stand up and tell it like it is.  Now, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid went over and visited with the president today.  Day one, back to work, he gets the leadership of both houses—the Senate and the House together.  Here‘s what Nancy Pelosi had to say after the meeting. 

WATERS:  OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER:  As the president has said and I listened to him very carefully, he believes that the public option is the best way to keep the insurance companies honest and to increase competition.  But he said if you have a better idea, put it on the table and so if somebody has a better idea of how to do that, put it on the table.  For the moment, however, as far as our House members are concerned, the overwhelming majority of them support a public option. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Well, the only better idea on the table in my opinion is single payer.  And that‘s not going to happen over on the Senate side.  You‘d never get that. 

WATERS:  You‘re absolutely right. 

SCHULTZ:  So I‘m hearing you tell the president, tonight, Mr.  President, this is what we got to have, or you‘re not going to have a deal from House Democrats.  Correct?

WATERS:  Oh, absolutely.  As a matter of fact, I said in my town hall meeting where there was tremendous support for public option, and still some people angry that we didn‘t have single payer, I said Mr. President, it‘s time to fight.  It‘s time to stand up for what you believe in and we know that you want public option.  We know this is what you would prefer.  We know this is what you campaigned on.  Stand up and we‘ll be behind you. 

We got your back. 

Remember that‘s what I said and I continue to say that.  Mr.  President, we are prepared to fight with you to get public option, to get a credible universal health care reform bill.  We‘re not going to go along the usual way.  This is not backroom politics.  This is not politics as usual.  This is real change.  And that‘s what we‘re all about. 

SCHULTZ:  Thank you, Congresswoman Maxine Waters.  I appreciate your support tonight. 

WATERS:  Thank you. 

SCHULTZ:  You bet.  And a lot of Americans, let me define public option for you.  All it is is a government-run program that would give the private sector some competition, but pre-existing condition is the key here.  No matter what your pre-existing condition is, you would be able to get insurance. 

Now, I‘m waiting for the press release from all these big insurance companies that have said all we‘re going to change.  None of them have guaranteed that they will start taking patients with pre-existing conditions because they wouldn‘t make the money they‘re making. 

Roger Simon, chief political columnist for “Politico” with us tonight here on “The Ed Show.”  Great to have you with us. 

ROGER SIMON, POLITICO:  Thank you, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  You wrote a great piece today and I think you drew it in the line.  It‘s not the wacky left that wants the public option, it is the Democratic Party. 

SIMON:  Absolutely.  As you heard from both Conyers and Waters, they think they‘ve already compromised.  They want single payer.  That‘s what the left wing of the Democratic Party wants.  The mainstream of the Democratic Party, the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party wants the public option because they think they‘re never going to get single payer. 

So you have this group of powerful Democrats who say, you want us to compromise more?  Look, the public option is a compromise.  That‘s our line in the sand.  Without it, health care doesn‘t work.  We can‘t pay for it.  We can‘t keep costs down.  So what are we really arguing about?

The second factor is, you know, Obama can‘t trade away—President Obama can‘t trade away people like Conyers and Waters in order to get Republican votes that he‘s never going to get.  Could anything be more clear to him now than the fact that except for two senators from Maine, he‘s not going to get any Republican votes?

SCHULTZ:  Roger, are we witnessing right now a perfect political strategy? The president has brought in the Republicans.  They‘ve been sounding off for months.  He was very patient, moved the deadline back.  We went through August.  He‘s spoken, I think, with clarity in August about all these crazies that are out there.  Now he‘s got everybody‘s attention and now when everybody‘s watching, he‘s finally going to weigh in on this thing.  Are we seeing just a perfect political blueprint here?

SIMON:  We‘ve got to hope.  That‘s the best thing that could come out of tomorrow night‘s speech.  I mean it‘s a very august formal setting.  Congress, the House of Representatives.

SCHULTZ:  Can‘t get bigger than that. 

SIMON:  With all the senators crammed in there.  But, it worries me because we don‘t need a State of the Union speech with flights of rhetoric.  Your suggestion, an address from the Oval Office, in retrospect, we don‘t know yet, might have been better. 

But all right, he‘s going to do it from Congress.  But I think it‘s got to be heavy on specifics, not flights of rhetoric.  None of it has been more private than how Barack Obama truly feels about the public option.  Is it just a silver of a plan? Is it a be all and end all?  Tell us.  Then, take a few minutes to tell us how you‘re going to pay for it.

SCHULTZ:  You bring up the very point.  Was he dangling information out there to get reaction from everybody? And now he‘s got everybody on the web, now he‘s going to bring them in, and now he‘s going to lay it on the line, this is what we have to have to make this thing happen. 

SIMON:  I think it was not unreasonable for him in the beginning to pursue bipartisanship as a general policy.  But when you get Republican after Republican to say well, I won‘t vote for a bill if it has a public option.  Then you say, OK, there‘s no public option.  And they still, oh, I still won‘t vote for it.  So who are you arguing with?

The only bipartisanship going on is within the Democratic Party, is between the moderates and the left wing.  I mean, that‘s where the bargaining is going on in this.

SCHULTZ:  Roger, thanks for joining us.  We‘ll see you tomorrow night, our special 11:00 Eastern right here on MSNBC.

Coming up, Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, now he‘s ditched the public option totally.  Now, that‘s not sitting well with everybody.  Two key members of the committee, Senators Ron Wyden and also Debbie Stabenow will join me with their reaction.

Plus, President Obama had better crank it up a notch tomorrow night or the net roots, are they going to leave him? “Daily Kos‘s” Marcos Moulitsas will be joining us later on in the program.

And you won‘t want to miss “Psycho Talk” because doggone it, if the Rushster didn‘t do a double dose today, I‘ll set him straight in “Psycho Talk.”

Stay with us, you‘re watching “The Ed Show” on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Righty obstructionist Chuck Grassley is now moaning about proposed cuts in health care reform.  I say I don‘t care what it costs.  I‘ve said that from day one.  Republican Senator John Barrasso going to go head to head with me on that one at the bottom of the hour.  Stay with us, you‘re watching “The Ed Show” on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to “The Ed Show.”  OK, here‘s the latest.  The Senate Finance Committee‘s gang of six, they met this afternoon and tried to get a deal on health care reform before President Obama‘s big speech tomorrow night. 

Now, committee chairman Max Baucus has finally distributed a plan, not to the White House, first.  Distributed a plan that he thinks can get bipartisan support.  Meanwhile, a new poll suggesting that Americans are heavily divided along party lines on health care.  Gosh, how surprising?  Sixty-eight percent of Democrats want their representatives in Congress to support a reform bill, 72 percent of Republicans want them to vote against reform.  OK, hold it right there. 

Let‘s see, we‘re divided as a nation on health care.  We won and they lost.  OK, let‘s go.  Looks like it might be time for the Democrats to get her done all by themselves. 

Joining me now, Democratic member of that Finance Committee on the Senate side, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon.  Senator, good to have you with us tonight.

SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON:  Many thanks, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  All right, I want to know about this Baucus plan that ended up on K Street first before it got over to the White House.  Is that any signal at all to you that there‘s really no genuine effort here on a bipartisan agreement? What do you think?

WYDEN:  Ed, first of all, this is just a starting point.  This isn‘t the end point.  There are plenty of areas for improvement.  To me, it starts with the comment that Robert Gibbs made yesterday, the White House communications man.  He said that 180 million people wouldn‘t be eligible for the public option. 

Our figures are that it‘s more like 225 million people.  And we need real choices for the consumer.  That‘s how you‘re going to hold the insurance industry accountable.  That‘s how you get real reform.  And that‘s what I‘m going to get out of the Senate Finance Committee.

SCHULTZ:  OK so you‘re saying that 180 million or 220 million people would not benefit from the public option? Which whatever number it is, senator, at least they‘re going to have a choice.  Right now they don‘t have a choice.  In many respects, it‘s a pre-existing condition.  So why wouldn‘t a public option be the right way to go?

WYDEN:  Well, let‘s make sure people have real choices, Ed, like members of Congress.  And first of all, it‘s a no brainer to me to outlaw these pre-existing conditions. 

SCHULTZ:  Hold it right there.  Senator, hold it right there.  That‘s a key point because I haven‘t seen any insurance executives step to the microphones and say, hey, we‘re taking all people with pre-existing conditions, those are gone.  So how can there be real reform with that one point you just mentioned?  Unless they do that, there won‘t be any reform. 

WYDEN:  Ed, I very much want to make this a bipartisan bill.  But if we can‘t get Republicans to support something, which I call no-brainer consumer protection, then you do have to go it alone.  What we‘re going to hear tomorrow night from the president of the United States is that it is time, these premiums are gobbling up everything in sight.  I do think that the finance committee bill needs to be strengthened in terms of the provisions that will hold people‘s premiums down.  I‘m going to do everything I can to make this a bipartisan bill.  If we can‘t do that, then Democrats are going to generate the support.

SCHULTZ:  So the question is, is the president tomorrow night willing to leave all Republicans behind if they don‘t want to go along the freight train of reform for the American people? And speaking of that, Harry Reid met be the president today and came out and talked about reconciliation after that. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER:  We‘re still approaching this in the form of bipartisanship.  We still, after all these months, have a place at the table for the Republicans.  And we‘re going to do everything we can to work with them.  We want a bipartisan bill.  We do not want to do reconciliation unless we have no alternative. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Well, I‘ll tell you where the Democrats are.  The lefties in this country they say, heck, yes, go to reconciliation.  Now senator, you‘ve held a couple of town hall meetings.  What did you hear during the recess?

WYDEN:  People are saying, get this done.  They understand that fixing the economy and fixing health care are two sides of the same coin.  The reason people‘s take-home pay isn‘t going up is because it all goes to health care.  Now I think the themes that the president is going to be talking about in the days ahead, particularly more choices for the consumer and also competition.  Those are themes that are going to resonate with the country.  They are going to resonate all across the political spectrum.  That‘s what I‘m going to be building support for with my amendments when we go into the Finance Committee.

SCHULTZ:  OK and I understand that Mr. Baucus has said you‘ve got until 10:00 tomorrow morning to bring any additions to his bill.  So obviously it‘s going to be a big news day again tomorrow.  Of course, the president speaking tomorrow night.  Senator, good to have you with us.  Appreciate your time.  All the best to you.  You bet.

Coming up, the drugster really needs a dose of reality.  He‘s comparing President Obama to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il.  I‘ll set him straight in “Psycho Talk.”   

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Time for another addition of “Psycho Talk.  And wouldn‘t you know, it‘s the drugster, he‘s back in the zone tonight.  Rush is still taking swipes at President Obama‘s speech to students today.  Hmm, what would Rush know about talking to kids? He doesn‘t have any.  Anyway, most Republicans have backed off their original criticisms of the speech.  They realized that continuing to criticize such an encouraging and obviously nonpartisan speech would make them look flat-out stupid, which they are.  Anyway, Newt Gingrich even endorsed the speech, but not the drugster.  Rush Limbaugh doesn‘t really worry about things like reality, kind of like a certain North Korean dictator. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST:  The original intent of the speech was, you know, a dear leader kind of thing.  Right out of the pages of the pot belly dictator in North Korea, Kim Jong-il.  That‘s what it was going to be.  You‘ve got to think about me all the time.  You‘ve got to write a letter to yourself about how you can help me. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Pot belly dictator.  That really seems more like the drugster than President Obama.  Right wing crazies have blown this letter writing issue way out of proportion.  The president wanted to engage students to give them a writing exercise that they would be able to express themselves, you know, composition, English composition and really say what they would do to contribute to their country.  Any logical person could see that. 

But as usual, the drugster managed to take something positive and inject in his own evil way, some real negative stuff.  And then during the same show, Rush said the President Obama speech to students was, quote, “100 percent conservative in its message.” 

Now let me get this straight.  First the president was originally going to deliver a socialist message but then all of a sudden it ended up to be something completely different like a conservative speech? Even by the drugster‘s standards, that is “Psycho Talk.”

Coming up, the gang of six, Republican Senator Mike Enzi says he‘s pretty sure health reform is going to fail.  I want to know who he‘s speaking for.  Would that be all Republicans?  His colleague, John Barrasso, goes head to head with me coming up in just a moment.

Plus, the net roots stood behind the president and got him into the Oval Office.  If he turns his back on a public option, they may turn their backs on him.  Markos Moulitsas will join us in my “Playbook.”

Coming up on THE ED SHOW right here on MSNBC.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I want a health insurance system that works as well for the American people as it does for the insurance industry.  They should be free to make a profit but they also have to be fair.  They also have to be accountable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  That was President Obama speaking to labor unions yesterday on Labor Day.  He‘s got to remember what they want.

He wants to hold insurance companies accountable.  That‘s not being socialist or anti-capitalist.  They‘ve got a monopoly.

Now let‘s go to my backyard, ok, 90 cents of every dollar in the private premiums in the State of North Dakota goes to Blue Cross-Blue Shield.  So tell me where is the competition?  That‘s not a free market when consumers don‘t have a choice.  Premiums have really more than doubled, but families can‘t go elsewhere to get a better deal.

Democrats want to protect the American families from price gouging that appears to be the Republicans want to protect the insurance industry‘s profits.  Tomorrow night both sides will make their case to the American people.

President Obama will deliver what I hope is a fiery speech to the Congress with some passion, with some real directness to those who have been lying on a campaign trail.

Now, Louisiana Congressman and Dr. Charles Boustany will deliver the Republican response.  Keep in mind this is an elected official who still believes there are questions about whether the president was born in the United States.

For more, let me turn to Republican Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming; he is also a doctor.  I‘ve cooled off since the last time you and got into it, Senator.

So we‘ll start but let‘s make one ground rule here tonight.  Don‘t tell me that—don‘t tell me that a government agent is going to get between me and my doctor.  Let‘s just put that off limits for this conversation.

Now, I want to point out, today, the president was speaking to school kids and a kid got up and asked him this question.  Here‘s the question from the school kid.  Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN, STUDENT:  Hi, my name is Sean.  And my question is currently 36 countries have universal health coverage, Iraq and Afghanistan, which have been paid for by the United States.  Why can‘t the United States have universal health coverage?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Senator, I‘d like you to answer that question.

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO, ® WYOMING:  Well, you take a look at universal health coverage.  People come to the United States for health care if they can afford it.  People come here because our survival rates for cancer are the highest in the world.  People come here because we have the highest quality of care.  And we need to do more to get the cost down for insurance cost, for American families, for small businesses.  We need to get the cost of care down.

But this is still the best place...

SCHULTZ:  Now, how do we do that?

BARRASSO:  ...well, you could do a couple of things.

One, is you were starting to talk about insurance companies and the lack of competition in North Dakota, Ed.  The reality is that people ought to be able to shop across state lines to buy health insurance.  They‘ve got to do it just the way we do it—you see ads for Geico and other insurance companies, why not for health insurance?

But President Obama when he was in the senate voted against that.  Why should we penalize people who buy their own insurance?

SCHULTZ:  Senator you‘re telling us or you‘re telling our audience tonight that it is against the law for state employees or should I say residents of some states to go buy insurance in other states.  Right, is that right?

BARRASSO:  That‘s correct Ed.

SCHULTZ:  Senator that‘s not true.

BARRASSO:  You can‘t shop across state line...

SHULTZ:  Senator, simply that is not true.  That is not true; you can get health insurance where you want in this country.

BARRASSO:  No you can‘t—you can‘t shop around.  If you‘re living in Maine and you‘re a 30-year-old man it‘s going to cost you $725 for your health insurance because of the—Ed but if you‘re a 30-year-old man that‘s healthy in New Hampshire it‘s only going to be $222.  Those young men in Maine want to buy health insurance in New Hampshire and they‘re blocked from doing it.

They have to pay $500 a month more, $6,000 a year more because of the Maine plan compared to New Hampshire plan.

SCHULTZ:  Ok.

BARRASSO:  ...people would love to be able to shop around and look and see what they want to buy and what they don‘t want to buy.  You can‘t do that now in this country Ed.

SCHULTZ:  I know that‘s not true but for the sake of moving the conversation on, is there anything that you would go along with, with a government-run insurance plan when the American people want it?  The American people want it.  Why not just let the president have what he wants?  If you like your insurance, you can keep it.  What‘s wrong with that?

BARRASSO:  I don‘t believe that is what the American people want.  And I‘ve been having town hall meetings, five different states; lots of meetings listening to people.  And I‘ll tell you, people show up because they are absolutely concerned about their future, their health future, also the future of the country.

As James Carville said, it‘s the economy stupid.  People are worried about this incredible amount of spending, the incredible amount of debt.  All of these government takeovers...

SCHULTZ:  But they‘re also worried...

BARRASSO:  And I think that the government—go ahead, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  But senator they‘re also worried about pre-existing conditions.

BARRASSO:  Yes.

SCHULTZ:  Now, are you willing to tell us tonight that this reform that‘s going to take place is going to have insurance companies all of a sudden get down on bended knee and say, gosh, we‘ve been making a mistake, we‘re going to take everybody who‘s got a pre-existing condition, because Obama wants us to.

Do you really think that‘s going to happen?  It‘s not going to happen.

BARRASSO:  If you can shop across state lines they should.

But if you take a look at this 1,000-page bill, Ed, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services says don‘t be distracted by the details.  You had Representative Conyers on earlier that said, read the bill, why should I read the bill?  It takes two days two lawyers to explain it to me.

SCHULTZ:  Well now senator...

BARRASSO:  You need to know what‘s in the bill.

SCHULTZ:  And senator, you‘re a medical doctor.

BARRASSO:  One of your previous guests said, Maxine Waters, you saw it from the Representative of Congress, I don‘t think the American people want a universal plan, if a plan where you have Canadian or British health care.

SCHULTZ:  Sure they do.  Absolutely they do.  And those folks north of the border are very happy.  Now, as far as reading the bill—it was your colleague, it was your colleague Senator Inhofe of Oklahoma said, he wasn‘t going to read it because he wasn‘t going to vote for it anyway.

So I mean, we‘re getting—but wait a minute.  You are a medical doctor.  Now, I know that you‘ve read books that are over 1,000 pages long.  So I mean, this is what you guys in the Congress are paid to do is to read the bills.

And it shouldn‘t take you—you ought to be able to go on vacation for three days.  You just had a month.  And go down there and read the bill.  So I can‘t accept you saying, well, it‘s too long, we can‘t read it.  You know that Senator?

BARRASSO:  Well, that‘s what you guest Representative Conyers said.  I say people ought to read the bills because the detail is in the bills.  Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services says don‘t be distracted by the details.

This is a personal thing for every American.

SCHULTZ:  And you bet it is.

BARRASSO:  Their lives are at stake.  And you better believe that they want to know what the details are of the bill and they are going to be distracted by the details.  And that‘s why I‘m hoping that people vote “b” on your question tonight.  I hope people will check “b” that the president ought to be specific with his plan.  Because that‘s what I think the American people want to hear.

And that‘s certainly what I want to hear.

SCHULTZ:  Senator John Barrasso, great to have you with us tonight.  I appreciate your time.  Thank you so much.

BARRASSO:  Thanks, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  Let‘s bring in our panel tonight: Bill Press, nationally syndicated radio talk show host; also A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of the Hill; and Ernie Istook, a former Congressman Republican from Oklahoma and a distinguished Fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

Ernie, don‘t tell me that a government agent is going to get between me and (INAUDIBLE) I don‘t want to hear that.  You know that‘s not true.

ERNEST ISTOOK, HERITAGE FOUNDATION:  Well, the idea of government having an insurance company that competes with private insurance companies is like putting a rabbit in a cage with a wolf.

SCHULTZ:  What is it right now?

ISTOOK:  That‘s not when you too work it out.  The government has...

SCHULTZ:  Ernie, what it is right now?  And you‘ve got an—you have got obscene profits, you‘ve got gouging going on.  A little competition could change that.  The insurance industry isn‘t going to reform itself.

ISTOOK:  Well, if you look at the profits, the average profitability of health insurance companies is something like three and half percent return on investment.  It‘s way down the list if you look at “Forbes” or “Fortune” with the list of most profitable companies.

And there are a lot of tricky statistics have been used.  But let‘s not do this by attacking the insurance companies.

SCHULTZ:  Oh yes.

ISTOOK:  The big difference is this: 260 million Americans have health care insurance and they don‘t want it to be jeopardized.

SCHULTZ:  Ok, where not—the president says you can keep it.

ISTOOK:  Well, you don‘t put that choice—your employer picks it for you.

SCHULTZ:  All right, we could do hours of shows on this.

A.B., what‘s the president got to do tomorrow night?  Does he have to be direct?

A.B. STODDARD, THE HILL:  Well, I think, Bill has made the case to me that he—that he—I was asking earlier about why he‘s going to continue to straddle the public option even though it doesn‘t looks like he has the votes for it in his own party.  And they can‘t make it into a final bill that becomes law.

I guess he‘s going to still say he supports that.  He has to be very specific, I think, about a tax increase.  What is going to be the driver that pays for any...

SCHULTZ:  We‘re going to tax Ernie.  We‘re going to tax Ernie, he should give us the top 10 percent.

STODDARD:  Because Ed, the members of the House are very concerned about—the Democrats are very concerned going into next year‘s elections about supporting tax increases that won‘t make it into a final bill or through the senate.

SCHULTZ:  Yes.

STODDARD:  And they want specifics on that.  What is the revenue raiser?  How are you going to...

SCHULTZ:  Repeal the Bush tax cuts, to get $800 billion over the next eight year.  I mean, that‘s the bottom line.

Bill, what does the president have to do?  Because we have Maxine Waters and we have John Conyers on here tonight they drew their line in the sand.  What do you think?

BILL PRESS, RADIO SHOW HOST:  Look Ed, the way I see it, I mean, foreplay is over, right?  We‘re getting to the main event now.  And I think the president yesterday said it‘s time to decide, it‘s time to act.  I‘d add, it‘s time to take charge.  It‘s time for Barack Obama to take charge and get up there.

You know what I want to see tomorrow night?  I don‘t want to see this guy that looks like a president.  I‘d like to see the guy that we saw at the labor union yesterday.  Roll up his shirt sleeves and say, let‘s get to work and get this done.  And here is what I want and here is what I‘ve got to have and put the public option plan out there and say that this is—we need the public plan option if we‘re really going to cut costs.

If we‘re going to get the low-end cost from private insurance plans and public insurance plans.  This is the only way to do it.  Emphasize the cost.  And I‘d love to hear him say “And I‘m not going to sign a bill unless you give me a public plan option.”

He‘d get a standing ovation from the Democrats.  And screw the Republicans.  They‘re not going to vote for it.

SCHULTZ:  What about that Ernie?

ISTOOK:  Well, I think the president‘s base is looking for him to breathe a little bit of fire and I agree with Bill they are looking for that.  The problem is, of course, you‘ve got some other Democrats that don‘t want that plan.

SCHULTZ:  They‘ll lose next year.

ISTOOK:  Well, the—well, like you said, that‘s another debate there, Ed.  But I think the president is going to show the passion.

PRESS:  Well, here‘s the problem and I think...

ISTOOK:  Yes that was just set up.

PRESS:  Here‘s the problem that I got with those Blue Dog Democrats.  When they say, oh, we‘ll have a problem if we go out there and we vote for this.  Yes, well then you go out there and you say I voted for the status quo.  You go out there and say I voted for nothing.

STODDARD:  They don‘t want the status quo—they don‘t want the status quo.  No, I think in fairness to the Blue Dog Democrats who aren‘t going to lose primaries and general elections next year and then the Democratic Party will not be in the majority.

ISTOOK:  I don‘t buy that.

STODDARD:  They represent most of the marginal districts.  One in 06‘ and 08‘ particularly they are at risk.  I—you‘re wrong about them not wanting health care.  They actually want a bill.  They want a consumer protection bill and they want to force Republicans‘ hands on a consumer protection bill.  They don‘t want a public option.  But they want a bill.

PRESS:  Final point I would just say.  You put the test to them and you say you‘re going to have to vote for this or it‘s nothing.  They‘ll vote for it.

SCHULTZ:  All right.

PRESS:  They are going to vote for it.

SCHULTZ:  Great panel, great discussion.  Obviously you‘re coming back with us.

Next up, after the tough summer he‘s had, President Obama has got to hit one out of the park tomorrow night.  I wish I could write the speech.  Anyway, if he does, it will ignite a net root firestorm that will help blaze the path to real reform.

The founder of the Daily Kos will join me in my “Playbook” coming up.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  It‘s still not too late to see what you think about this issue.  Tonight‘s text survey is what most important thing the president can do in his speech tomorrow night?  “A,” percent say get tough on Republicans; “B” percent say be specific about the plan.  Text “A” for tough, “B” for specific at 622639.

The results are coming up stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  In my “Playbook” tonight, you‘re supposed to dance with the one who brung you, right?  It‘s that old country Western saying.

Well, the Net roots went to bat for Barack Obama big-time.  The Obama campaign ran the biggest most sophisticated Internet operation seen in American politics.  It was built on the base of the liberal blogs.

Now it seems they‘re being told their priorities have to take a back seat to what Blue Dogs and Republicans want.  I don‘t buy it, don‘t like it.

Joining me now is Markos Moulitsas, who is the founder and the publisher of “The Daily Kos.”  Markos, is the online community going to stay with Barack Obama if he does not go strong for a public option tomorrow night?

MARKOS MOULISAS, DAILY KOS:  Well, I got to say that right now what we‘re hoping is that Obama simply delivers on the promises he made during his campaign, promises that are good policy, are still very popular with the American people and were endorsed by the American people in the way of a historically large Congressional and White House majority.

I mean, the American people delivered on the message of change that they could believe in, they‘ve delivered on the message of reforming the health care system.  And now...

SCHULTZ:  But where do you think the pulse of the progressive community is?  There‘s got to be a level of expectations for tomorrow night.

The recess is over.  The Republicans have said who they are, what they are and what they don‘t want to do.

It‘s time the fisher cut bait, I mean, I know there‘s got to be expectations out there in the progressive blogosphere.  

MARKOS MOULITSAS, DAILY KOS:  We‘re tired of waiting, I‘ll tell you that much.  There‘s no doubt about that.  I think there are people who sort of hope that Obama does the right thing and some of them that expect Obama to do the right thing.  We all—at the end of the day we want Obama to do the right thing.

But we‘re not very hopeful given the last couple months, given the sort of lack of message discipline from the White House, given the vast number of Democrats who are willing to compromise against each other.  They‘re not even negotiating with Republicans.  They‘re negotiating with each other.  It gets really tiresome.

Really when you have a campaign and a presidency that was built on hope and on getting rid of cynicism, there would be no greater return of cynicism than to show that the lobbyists in the insurance companies have won this debate as opposed to the American people who would most benefit from health care reform.

SHULTZ:  But don‘t you think, tomorrow night, if he comes out tomorrow night and points to the Republicans and says, you‘ve been lying to the American people—maybe not that—that would be Ed talk.  That‘s not President Obama talk.  But, I mean, to really nail them on how the disinformation campaign has mixed up a lot of people in this country.

The only way we‘re going to get this thing taken care of is to make sure the pre-existing condition is gone.  It would seem to me that the blogosphere would turn on the president if he doesn‘t do that.

MOULITSAS:  It would be pretty ugly.  I can‘t say otherwise.  This is sort of the defining issue outside of the war in Iraq.  This is the defining Democratic issue.

If you cannot deliver on health care, even though you have these incredible large historically large majorities in Congress and the White House and this large public mandate, if you still cannot deliver on basic reform—we‘re not talking what we really wanted.  We really wanted single payer.  We already compromised from our position.

This isn‘t a question of taking the least of the bunch of options—we already gave up on a preferred option.  I think the public option at this point is sort—it is sort of our Waterloo.  This is where we stand and this is where we fight.  

Marcos Moulitsas, founder and publisher of “The Daily Kos.”  Good to have you on tonight.  Thanks so much.

MOULITSAS:  Thank you very much.

SCHULTZ:  Coming up, there is no state in the nation that feels the economic crisis more than the state of Michigan.  Senator Debbie Stabenow joins me next.

Stay with us.

SCHULTZ:  Big news today: Majority Leader Harry Reid says he doesn‘t want to use reconciliation of the Senate unless there‘s no other alternative.  Joining me now is Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.

Senator, good to have you with us tonight.

SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW (D), MICHIGAN:  Thank you Ed.

SCHULTZ:  Can your folks in begun been wait another three, four maybe five years for a public option?  I mean, President Obama has talked about the urgency of now, the sense of urgency to get this thing done.  Can your folks in Michigan wait that long to get something done on health care?

STABENOW:  Well, Ed, no.  We absolutely can‘t.  We have to get something done.  I would broaden the discussion though to say we have to stop the bad insurance company practices, we have to have lower costs, we have to give people more choices, we have to create a real safety net for low-income people.  There‘s a lot of things we need to do.  A public health choice is a very important part of that.

You know, Ed, you‘re looking at somebody who would vote right now for Medicare for all Americans.  I start from a very different position.  It is broader than just an option that is a public option even though I support it strongly.

SCHULTZ:  Ok.  What about reconciliation?  What if it comes down in the caucus and you‘re all there.  You know where the Republicans are.  They don‘t want to do it.  Are you ready to tell Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, “Harry, we have to go for this?”  Are you going to be online to go with reconciliation?  Would you advocate for that?

STABENOW:  If we have no other choice, if we can‘t get the whole package we want, then, yes, as far as I‘m concerned, we need to use reconciliation if we need to.

But here‘s what I‘m worried about, Ed.  I‘ve been looking very seriously at all of the details on reconciliation.  We can add coverage for people under this process, but we can‘t necessarily get—we know we can‘t get the insurance reforms and we know we can‘t get a full exchange for people to buy low-cost insurance.  I‘m not sure we can get a public option under reconciliation.

So, that is my concern.

SCHULTZ:  The question begs now, you‘re on the Senate Finance Committee.  You‘re in there with Max Baucus.  You‘re in there with Chuck Grassley.

Do you trust Chuck Grassley?  Do you really think Chuck Grassley wants to reel in the insurance companies and stop gouging the American people?  Do you believe the Republicans on your committee, senate finance, that they are genuine about this? 

SCHULTZ:  Ed, we‘ll find out tomorrow if there is agreement.  I think we‘ll know by then.

I will say two things.  One, I do believe that there has been a good faith effort, a very thoughtful effort of trying to come together.  I believe, also, I also believe the majority of the Republicans are in a position of just wanting to vote no.

The special interest, the insurance companies, the drug companies, all the folks that back them, they‘re much more interested in protecting their interests.

SCHULTZ:  Senator, thanks for your time tonight.

STABENOW:  You‘re welcome.

SCHULTZ:  Debbie Stabenow from Michigan.

Earlier in the show I asked you what‘s the more important thing the president can do in his speech tomorrow night?  52 percent said get tough on the Republicans.  48 percent said be specific about the plan.

That‘s THE ED SHOW.  We‘re back tomorrow night from the nation‘s capital and also with a special show tomorrow night 11:00 p.m. Eastern.

“HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews is next right here on MSNBC.

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