updated 9/16/2009 12:00:46 PM ET 2009-09-16T16:00:46

Guests: Debbie Stabenow, Jeff Merkley, Tim Dickinson, Richard Trumka, Maria Teresa Kumar, Bill Press, Larry Elder, Robert Greenwald, Roy Sekoff

ED SCHULTZ, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Good evening, Americans.  Thanks for joining us tonight on THE ED SHOW.

See these six Americans right here?  This Gang of Six?  They‘re supposed to be the power brokers at this point when it comes to health care.  I say they‘re not.  They‘re important, but I say you‘re more important.

Now, this crowd is going to be releasing their bipartisan health compromise solution thing tomorrow.  Oh, we‘re excited about that.

Now, we got to stop talking about them and the three percent of the country they represent and we have to start talking about the gang of millions, tens of millions of Americans who want a public option.

Now, I want the millions who voted for the president to stand up and decide this whole thing and we can still do it.  I always say you have to know where you come from.  You have to know what‘s happening in your own backyard.

Well, today President Obama went home to the unions, to the Democratic base, to the people who put him in office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  He showed a passion that is much, really needed in this fight down the stretch on the health care debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  When you go in and negotiate you can‘t even think about negotiating for salary and wage increase because the whole negotiation is about trying to keep the benefits you already have.  That‘s just not the fault of the employer, it‘s the fault of a broken health care system that‘s sucking up all the money.

When are we going to stop it?  When are we going to say enough is enough?  How many more workers have to lose their coverage?  How many more families have to go in the red for a sick loved one?

How much longer are we going to have to wait?  It can‘t wait.

I‘ve got a question for you.  Are you fired up?  Are you ready to go? 

Are you fired up?  Are you ready to go?  Let‘s go get this done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Let‘s go get this done.  Yes, the base is fired up.  And are you going to let six people who don‘t want the public option side with a bunch of Republicans to ruin everything the progressive movement has worked for in the last several years?

Now, I have faith in the president.  I don‘t think he‘s going to let us down.  Liberals have sunk it into their hearts and minds and their ears to elected Democrats if they want a public option, they want competition for the private sector.  But the battle lines are being drawn inside the Democratic Party.

Max Baucus and his gang are telling everybody that the option is going to be dead on arrival.  Here‘s Baucus talking about the compromise.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MAX BAUCUS, ® CHAIRMAN, FINANCE COMMITTEE:  We‘re working toward bipartisan solution.  I think basically as senators on and off the committee and the public begin to know more about all this, their comfort level is starting to come up a bit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Now we‘re into the comfort zone on all of this.  Double digit increases are on the way.  He can‘t even get excited about his own plan.  What‘s going on here?

Here is what you need to know about the Baucus plan that‘s soon to be released.  It will not have a public option.  It may not have guarantees.  In fact, the public option which the president wants wasn‘t even discussed.  Why would you take anything off the table in negotiations?  Why was single payer gone from this get go?

Now, this is going to be nothing but a gift to the insurance industry.  Don‘t take my word for it.  Listen to what insurance whistle blower, former executive Wendell Potter, told lawmakers today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WENDELL POTTER, INSURANCE WHISTLEBLOWER:  The Baucus framework would benefit health insurance companies far more than average Americans.  The bill it sends to the president might as well be called the Insurance Industry Profit Protection and Enhancement Act.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Now, Mr. Potter is going to be joining me in just a moment to talk more about what the Baucus plan isn‘t going to do for America.  It should be in the garbage can.

But I told you earlier folks, the battle lines are being drawn inside the Democratic Party.  And I want you to know that there are some Democrats that you‘ve got to support on this.  One of them is the President of the United States.  Choose up sides right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  When are we going to say enough is enough?

BAUCUS:  We‘re working toward bipartisan solutions.

OBAMA:  How much longer are we going to have to wait?

BAUCUS:  We‘re all talking, we‘re all meeting.

BAUCUS:  Their comfort level is starting to come up a bit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Now, who do you want to go with?  The guy that won nine Bush states and had an unbelievable turnout and helped a lot of Democrats get where they are today?  The guy that is fighting for the people?  Or do you want to support the senator who is the biggest taker of medical and insurance lobbyist money of anybody on Capitol Hill?  So who do you want to go with?

And don‘t forget, Harry Reid is in the middle of this, Harry Reid has got a real big re-election coming up.  He is determined to get 60 votes.  Listen to this sound bite.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HARRY REID, MAJORITY LEADER:   They‘ll either do a health care bill on a bipartisan basis or I hope we don‘t have to do this.  But if we can‘t get the 60 votes we need then we‘ll have no alternative but to do reconciliation.  I am certainly not overconfident, but I think there‘s a very good chance that we can get 60 votes on that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  All of a sudden some Republicans are going to wake up and vote for this?  It isn‘t going to happen.  Not the way the American people want it.

Now, the downside to the Obama thing is this.  And what scares me is that the president believes in this consensus stuff.  He actually believes that some Republicans are going to come over in the 11th hour and say, you know what, I‘m going to go along with this.  Sure they‘ll do it if the insurance industry is protected.

The fact is, folks, when the Bushies were in power, that‘s how they played the game.  It was a power.  Delay, Frist, Hastert Rove, Bush, Cheney, they didn‘t care what the Democrats thought.  They went out and they changed the country the way they wanted to do it.  That‘s what we have to do right now.

Now, I‘m not warning everybody here but I‘m just telling you we‘re getting very close to mobilizing big-time to Capitol Hill, not in the form of a fake march but in the form of you getting involved electronically, getting your phone, getting on your computer and letting your people know exactly where you stand on this.

Liberal, the call to arms is real soon.  Get your cell phones out I want to know what you think.

Do you really believe any Republicans are going to cross over and vote for health care reform the way we want it?  Text “a” for yes, “b” for no to 622639; we‘ll bring in results later on the show.

We‘ve got a number of guests in our first segment here tonight.  Joining me first is Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, a Member of the Senate Finance Committee.  Senator good to have you with us tonight.

SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW, (D) MEMBER OF THE FINANCE COMMITTEE, MICHIGAN: 

Ed, it‘s great to be with you.

SCHULTZ:  I know you‘re for the public option.  But the public option, the guaranteed competition for the private sector is not going to come out of the Finance Committee.  We know that.

Explain to our viewers, tonight, what is this purchasing pool that they‘re talking about that‘s going to be run by the insurance industry?  What is it?

STABENOW:  Well, Ed, first of all, let me say, I do support a public insurance choice.  That‘s what it is.  And if it‘s not in committee we certainly will see it offered on the floor.  So people need to be engaged because this is something that will be coming up in terms of a vote.  It‘s in the House plan as well.

But the choice, the public insurance choice is part of what has been talked about in bringing everybody together in a big group plan that doesn‘t have insurance now.  You‘re out there on your own, you and your family trying to buy insurance by yourself, good luck given the costs and if you can find it.  And if you‘re a small business, good luck, oftentimes, being able to find affordable insurance.

So we‘re talking about pooling everybody into one big pool so that you get more people, lower costs because you‘re in a big pool...

SCHULTZ:  Ok.

STABENOW:  ...just like federal government does.

SCHULTZ:  But, Senator, are you willing to say tonight that the public option, even though it‘s not coming out of the Senate Finance Committee, the public option is not dead because that‘s what Americans want to hear?  And a lot of Americans want to hear the single payer isn‘t dead.

I mean, the hope is it still has to be there, correct?

STABENOW:  Well, absolutely the hope has to be there.  It‘s not dead until everything is done.  And I‘m going to do everything in my power to get the very best bill possible.  And I believe the best bill is one that includes real competition against insurance companies...

SCHULTZ:  Well...

STABENOW:  ...which is a public insurance choice.

SCHULTZ:  Senator Stabenow, we need real competition because the numbers are very clear.  The Kaiser Family Foundation use premiums versus pay over the last ten years.

Now, if we go with this pool thing that the Finance Committee is talking about—just remember, folks, insurance premiums have gone up 131 percent over the last 10 years.  Employee pay has gone up 38 percent.  We‘re getting run over by this and now we‘re going to allow possibly out of the Finance Committee, the insurance industry to oversee this?

Senator, this is not what liberals voted for.  You know that.

STABENOW:  I do.  But let me say though, Ed, there is another really important piece of this and that is toughening up regulation on insurance companies.  That will be in the finance plan.  That‘s very important.

The president has been talking about that.  It is something I support strongly.

SCHULTZ:  Sure.

STABENOW:  All of us as Democrats support that strongly.  So there are a number of pieces to this, to put it all together, but there‘s no question, for real competition we need to give the public the choice...

SCHULTZ:  Well.

STABENOW:  ...about going to a public insurance system.

SCHULTZ:  And I know there‘s a lot of concern about paying for it. 

We‘ll talk about that on another day.

Senator, good to have you with us tonight.  I appreciate your time.

STABENOW:  Thank you.

SCHULTZ:  Another developing story at this hour.  I want to update you on the latest in the Joe Wilson heckling saga.  The House voted just a short time ago to rebuke Wilson for his conduct.

Here‘s the vote.  We‘re even divided on civility in this country; 240-179, can you believe that?  12 Democrats voted against the resolution only seven Republicans voted for the resolution.

So I can‘t wait until the next time the president speaks.  We‘ll have a heck of a lot of news because there will probably be about four or five Republicans stand up and say, “You lie.”

All right for more on the health care reform, let me bring in Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon who‘s a Member of the Senate HELP Committee, which will have the public option.

Senator, are you willing to go to go to the fire wall?  Because I‘m tired, I was in Washington yesterday.  And people say, Ed, you‘ve got to prepare your people that you know—you‘re viewers that the public option is dead.  I refuse to do that.  Is the public option still alive?

SEN. JEFF MERCKLEY, (D) MEMBER OF THE SENATE HELP COMMITTEE:  Ed, absolutely not dead.  We have public option that has come out of the HELP Committee.  We have every reason to include it in the final bill.  The House wants to see it done; the American people want to see it done.

And we‘re going to keep pushing.  Because if we don‘t take on the cost doubling every six or seven years we will not have fixed health care for American citizens.

SCHULTZ:  Now I know that you‘re for single payer and that of course, wasn‘t even at the table but—and it should be, will be in the House but not on the Senate side.  Do you have confidence that we can turn this purchasing pool over to the insurance industry and not have government involvement in this and still bring down prices for the American consumer?

MERKLEY:  Listen, the core idea of a purchasing pool, that‘s fine; that‘s when we talk about taking the type of gateway that we have for federal employees and make it available to all Americans so that those individuals and small businesses and medium size businesses that‘s getting the raw deal they don‘t have any purchasing clout can be part of a bigger pool.

That‘s fine, it should—this structure for it though, shouldn‘t be run by the insurance companies.  We set up the structure.  We set it up so that the companies can compete, but we‘ve got to make sure to make this run right and increase competition that we don‘t hand this over.

SCHULTZ:  Senator, good to have you with us.  There‘s a lot of folks that are counting on you.  I happen to be one on them.  Don‘t get weak knees on this.  We‘ve got to fight this to the very end.  We can do this I know we can.

MERKLEY:  Absolutely.

SCHULTZ:  And good to have you with us Jeff, thank you.

MERKLEY:  It‘s good to be with you.  Thank you.

SCHULTZ:  Folks, here‘s one thing that does concern me is that, Harry Reid is in a tough fight for re-election in Nevada.  And here he is about talking about getting 60 votes.

What are you‘re going to have to get 60 votes?  You‘re going to have to do a bunch of compromises and I think it‘s going to go away from what the core progressives and liberals want in this country when it comes to real reform.

There are other things here.  We have got a gentleman, next up; all the protests have been orchestrated and well managed against health care reform.  It‘s not grassroots.  “Rolling Stone” has the details on the wacko “Playbook.”

And speaking of lies, I can‘t get over this crowd-sized lie that‘s going on from this Washington Tea Party.  The drugster can‘t count and now neither can Glenn Beck.

Plus, I tell you, the man is the man.  The president, he isn‘t going to let us down.  He called Kanye West a jackass for his freak-out at the MTV awards.  We‘ll get to the bottom of that with our panel later on in the show.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Next up, GOP opportunists and the secret campaign to kill health care reform.  I‘m going to rip open the TEA bags all over the place.  Coming up in just a moment.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

Republicans still insist that right-wing T.E.A. Partiers and town hall crazies, well, they come from the grassroots movements.  They‘re lying again.

GOP operatives are using these folks to beat Democrats on health care

reform or at least attempt to.  I‘ve been saying this all along.  It‘s

right out of their playbook, the same strategy for years.  “Rolling Stones”

·         and I urge you to read this—has a new article on the behind the scenes maneuvering the Righties have been doing throughout this entire campaign.

Contributing editor of “Rolling Stone” magazine, Tim Dickinson wrote the article; he joins me from San Francisco.

Howdy, Tim, great to have you with us on this and a great piece.  

TIM DICKINSON, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, ROLLING STONE:  Thanks a lot. 

Good to be here, Ed.  

SCHULTZ:  How organized have they been from the elected officials actually coaching those to go out and do what they‘ve done over the last three months?

DICKINSON:  I mean, it‘s been a hand in glove effort with the right-wing operatives who orchestrated this and the Republican politicians.  If you remember the famous Jim DeMint comment about making health care Obama‘s Waterloo.  That made headlines.

Everybody was all upset that they were going to break Obama on this health care issue.  What didn‘t really get reported was the context which this statement was made.  That was a conference call with two of the primary orchestrators of the town hall brawls and they‘re effectively laying out a strategy for the end of August which was to delay health care and then to agitate and get people angry during August, itself, so that people come back in September too afraid to vote against—to vote for the Obama health reform.

SCHULTZ:  Tim, this clearly was the political strategy which doesn‘t parallel that of grassroots or actually people take it upon themselves to organize.  There was a great deal of manipulation, a great deal of coaching going on here.

Of course, they played the fear card on them quite a bit.  How much did that play into it?

DICKINSON:  You have to go back to May to understand how the fear card came a about.  Frank Luntz, he‘s the GOP‘s sort of foremost language specialist, came up with the Washington health care—Washington take over of health care which is what they‘re going to call any Democratic bill that came out of Congress.

And they basically worked from the polling backwards.  They found out what was the scariest thing they could call this reform, which was the Washington takeover.  And then they found out what people were most afraid of if you told them about a Washington takeover which is that bureaucrats were going to be in their doctor‘s room making decisions about what kind of health care they could receive.

They spawned that out into these death panels.  It‘s a lie built upon a lie built upon a lie.  And so they‘re seeding the fear from May onward and then, of course, people are angry.  They‘re terribly misinformed by Republicans including majority leader John Boehner who said that the Obama plan puts us on a slippery slope toward euthanasia.

SCHULTZ:  So Tim, is it fair to say that these folks might not have been there had there not been the funding from Americans for Prosperity, Freedom‘s Works and T.E.A. Party Patriots and the conservative media that was coaching these folks to go out and do this?  Had they not had this infrastructure we wouldn‘t have seen what we have seen?

DICKINSON:  No, you would—if there was—it was the health care freedom coalition which was Freedom Works, which was Tim Phillips‘ Americans for Prosperities, which is Rick Scott‘s Conservatives for Patients‘ Rights, in conjunction with a Freedom Works subsidiary subordinate group, the T.E.A. Party Patriots.  And came up with the Health Care Freedom Coalition and they organized these town halls and they had directors of the T.E.A. Party Patriots coaching people to go out, to protest Arlen Specter and Kathleen Sebelius in the beginning of August and congratulating them.

I have e-mails that say, “Good work.  We‘re so proud of you for being so disruptive.”  This is not a spontaneous effort.  This is something that was orchestrated at high levels by the top operatives in the GOP.  

SCHULTZ:  Tim Dickinson, great work.  Great to have you on THE ED SHOW tonight on MSNBC, thanks so much.

DICKINSON:  Really a pleasure.  Thanks.  

SCHULTZ:  Coming up a little later, we‘re going to be visiting with Richard Trumka, who is the head of the union AFL-CIO.  He‘ll tell us about his conversation with President Obama today.

Also coming up, the drugster‘s not alone.  Glenn beck also can‘t seem to figure out this crowd thing.  Just how many people were there and weren‘t there.  Looks like the Beckster rides the same crazy stream train right into “Psycho Talk.”

Stay with us.

1820 (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Oh, this is going to be a dandy.  “Psycho Talk” tonight:

Glenn Beck channels Rush Limbaugh, the drugster.  Now, he‘s using this new right-wing math.  I think it has something to do with “No Child Left Behind.”  You know, this right-wing math they have out there that really overestimates the size of crowds at T.E.A. Parties, especially the one in Washington, D.C., last weekend?  And Beck claims he‘s got a university study to prove it. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS HOST:  We had a university, I think it‘s university of—I don‘t remember which university it is.  Look at the pictures.  You know, they can do body space and calculations; 1.7 million that crowd was estimated.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  In Washington? 

BECK:  In Washington, D.C.  If you look at pictures, university looked at it, did the body count, et cetera, et cetera, 1.7 million.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  What university was that?  I didn‘t quite catch the name of that university. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BECK:  We had the university—I think it‘s university of—I don‘t remember which university it is. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Let me see if I can help you out here, Beckster.  It was Denial State University or College of the Crazy.  Or maybe it was Beckster State University, Department of Lying.

And let‘s not forget, folks, we‘re using this fake picture of a crowd from some ten years ago that these bloggers have been circulating.

I mean, come on, 1.7 million people?  It‘s not even close.  60,000 to 70,000 is more like it.  We called the D.C. Fire Department today.  They stand by that number.  I guess you have to give Glenn credit for being such a good salesman, although I understand sales have been a little soft as of late.

Anyway, he can spout the biggest load of bull you ever heard and he can convince some informationally-challenged people in America.  That kind of combination of flat-out lying and faking the pictures and all that stuff, then that puts you right into “Psycho Talk.”

Up next, the president showed labor some love today, meeting with automakers in Ohio and then the AFL-CIO in Pennsylvania.  Their incoming president, Richard Trumka, will join us in just a moment.

Plus Kanye West‘s temper tantrum at the VMAs has even got the president riled up.  He called him a jackass for stealing Taylor Swift‘s thunder.  The “Trash Talk” in details coming up with our panel.  So much more at the bottom of the hour.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I refuse to let America go back to the culture of irresponsibility and greed, back to an economy with soaring CEO salaries and shrinking middle class incomes, back to the days when banks made reckless decisions that hurt Wall Street and Main Street alike.

We‘re not going to go back to those days.  It would be bad for unions, bad for the middle class and bad for the United States of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  President Obama went back to his base—Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  He was fired up and so were the folks at the AFL-CIO rally in Pittsburgh.  Joining me now is Richard Trumka, incoming president of AFL-CIO.

Congratulations on where you‘re going, Mr. Trumka, taking over for Mr.  Sweeney.  Congratulations.  I know you have worked awful hard for this and you are a great leader.

You told me on Sunday night.  

RICHARD TRUMKA, PRESIDENT, AFL-CIO:  Thanks for having me on.

SCHULTZ:  You bet.  You told me on Sunday night that you were going to have a very interesting conversation with the president.

Tell us, did the president go far enough in your meeting with him on what he wants to do with health care?  Will you support him?

TRUMKA:  Absolutely.  We‘re probably closer to getting health care than we‘ve ever been in the last 25 or 30 years.  It‘s going to be decided in the next couple of weeks.  The president‘s determined to fight for several things that are very important to all workers.  And he‘s willing to break the strangle hold of those insurance companies. 

He‘s willing to fight for the public option.  So it‘s going to come down to the politicians and who they want to make happy.  They either want to make the insurance company happy or they want to make Americans healthy.  We‘re going to make sure that they make Americans healthy. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, it sounds like coming out of the Senate Finance Committee that there‘s going to be a proposal for a new purchasing pool which is not the public option.  What kind of conversation did you have with the president today in dealing with the public option and seeing this thing through and making sure they get it done? 

TRUMKA:  The president‘s committed to the public option.  Unless they come up with something better, and we haven‘t seen it yet, he‘s committed to the pub list option.  We‘re committed to helping him and the American people solve the health care crisis, break the strangle-hold of the insurance companies, and get this thing done. 

SCHULTZ:  Now, it seems like the Employee Free Choice Act has been put on the back burner, because the president said he wants to do health care first.  Are you confident that—I mean, he gave a great speech today.  Is this president really in your corner on your big issues? 

TRUMKA:  Absolutely.  There‘s not a doubt in my mind that he stands four square behind the Employee Free Choice Act.  He said today, and he said several times, not just today—but he said several times you can‘t have a strong middle class without a strong union movement, because you can‘t borrow your way into the middle class.  You have to bargain your way into the middle class. 

He was there very strongly today.  We feel very certain he‘ll be behind it. 

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Trumka, you told me Sunday night—and you gave a very strong message to Democrats who don‘t support the progressive movement and don‘t go for health care reform.  Did you express that to the president today?  Can you tell us where do unions stand if this thing unravels the way you don‘t want it to work? 

TRUMKA:  If it doesn‘t break the strangle-holds of those insurance companies, we won‘t be there.  Americans deserve better.  I think we‘re going to get it done.  We really are convinced we‘ll get it done.  The president‘s committed to do it.  The Democratic leadership in the Senate‘s committed to getting it done.  The Democratic leadership in the House is committed to getting it done. 

I know the American labor movement‘s committed to get it done.  And the American people are demanding that it be done.  So I think we get it done, and we actually do something to break the strangle-hold on those insurance companies on the health care industry. 

SCHULTZ:  Are you giving them an ultimatum?  Are you telling—is labor telling Democrats in this country you better not fail on this one? 

TRUMKA:  I think the American public is telling them that.  It‘s not just Democrats.  It‘s independents and it‘s Republicans.  This thing‘s going on too long.  It‘s over 30 years.  One American declares bankruptcy every 30 seconds because of medical bills; 14,000 Americans lose their health care every day.  It‘s insane. 

We can solve this problem and those that don‘t, I believe, they do so at their own peril. 

SCHULTZ:  Richard Trumka, good to have you with us.  Congratulations. 

We‘ll obviously visit again.  Thanks so much. 

TRUMKA:  Thanks, Ed.  Thanks for having me on. 

SCHULTZ:  You bet.  Let‘s bring in our panel.  Bill Press, nationally syndicated talk show host.  Also Maria Teresa Kumar, who is the founding director of Voto Latino.  And Larry Elder is a media commentator with us tonight. 

Bill Press, we‘ll start with you.  Mr. Trumka is sending, I think, a shot over the bow to Democrats that labor may not be there if they screw this thing up, and don‘t come up with competition against the private sector.  How do you read that? 

BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  I think he‘s sending a shot over to the so-called Blue Dogs.  My advice is, with Richard Trumka and all of our friends in labor, the president gave a great speech today.  Trust but verify is my advice.  I think the president has got to remember his friends.  You got to remember the people that put him in office. 

Remember who represents the middle class.  Its not Chuck Grassley.  Remember who got him there.  It wasn‘t Chuck Grassley.  Remember who he owes.  It‘s not Chuck Grassley, Ed. 

I think the president—we‘ve got to make sure he delivers on that public plan option, and on Employee Free Choice Act, both.  And labor and the public have to keep the pressure on Obama. 

SCHULTZ:  Maria, what Democrats do you think could be swayed back into the fold on a competitive situation, where the insurance industry is going to be held accountable?  There are some conservative Democrats in the Senate and in the House that are being pretty stubborn about this right now.  Where‘s the movement going to be in your opinion? 

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, VOTO LATINO:  I think the Blue Dogs have had a lot of conversations behind closed doors.  That‘s where they should have had those conversations from the beginning.  It never should have been out in the open. 

But I believe that what bill was saying is absolutely right.  We need health care reform.  And if you—I believe every person that works should be able to not worry whether or not they‘re going to go bankrupt because they have to take their kid to a doctor.  That‘s what we‘re discussing here today. 

I think what Bill also said is absolutely right.  This is the time

when the grassroots mobilization arm that got Barack Obama into the office

·         this is when they have to start pulling the punches.  And they have to say, you know what, this is why we wanted change.  This is the audacity of hope, not the audacity of nope, as a good friend of mine says. 

SCHULTZ:  Larry Elder, do you think that the Republicans are going to stand shoulder to shoulder on this?  Or do you think there‘s some wiggle room over there?  Maybe you can throw out a name of who you think might work with Barack Obama on this. 

LARRY ELDER, MEDIA COMMENTATOR:  I hope nobody works with Barack Obama on this.  Ed, you mentioned the incoming president of the union.  There‘s an incoming president of the Canadian Medical Association, the equivalent of our AMA.  That‘s a single payer system.  That‘s a system that you want.  That‘s a system that Barack Obama says he would want if he was starting from scratch. 

She said their system is imploding.  The current president of the CMA says we ought to be encouraging competition, not fearing competition.  There ain‘t no such free thing as a free lunch.  Americans have an intuitive understanding of that.  You have said before, Ed, you want health care insurance for everybody and you don‘t care what it costs.  Most Americans are afraid of the spending and borrowing.  And they are worried about all this. 

SCHULTZ:  Here‘s where you and I part the waters, Larry.  I‘m willing to raise your taxes.  You don‘t want to raise my taxes.  That‘s where it is all screwed up.  I admit, we have to pay for this.  And it‘s going to be a really tough bullet to bite.  There‘s no question about that. 

ELDER:  Ed, if you think—

SCHULTZ:  Go ahead. 

ELDER:  If you think you‘re going to be able to retain your health care, retain the quality, insure 47 million Americans, raise taxes only on the so-called rich, and ring out fraud, waste and abuse, not add anything to the deficit, I‘ve got some toxic assets to sell you. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, that‘s fine.  I‘m willing to take a look at them. 

Depends on what the price is. 

Larry, this is a moral issue.  We have to do this.  Bill Press, this is something.  It‘s a heavy lift, there‘s no doubt.  But it‘s what the American people want.  I think the American people are ready to sacrifice for it right now. 

The key is the president believes in all this consensus stuff.  He—you know, he believes in the consensus stuff.  Harry Reid saying he‘s going to get 60 votes.  What planet is that on? 

PRESS:  No, no, no. 

SCHULTZ:  What to you think? 

PRESS:  Look, yes, let‘s get real.  There are not going to be any Republican votes for this, just like there were no Republican votes for Cash for Clunkers.  There were no Republican votes for the stimulus.  You go down the list.  They‘re not going to vote for it. 

so the president has to accept that.  Harry Reid has to accept that.  I think Larry Elder has to accept that there ain‘t nobody across the street who is talking about the Canadian health care plan.  It doesn‘t exist. 

SCHULTZ:  We‘ve got to go.  We‘ll come back and talk more about it. 

ELDER:  I can tell you about the British health care plan.  Talk about that one, too. 

SCHULTZ:  Coming up—all right, coming up, folks, you can‘t get any lower than this.  An insurance company that is so desperate for profit, it didn‘t tell a patient she‘s got lung cancer.  Award winning film maker Robert Greenwald blows the whistle on Cigna in playbook.  You won‘t believe this story.  You‘ve got to believe it, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  In my playbook tonight, dirty play from the health insurance industry.  They‘re doing more than holding, huh?  They want to kill health care reform because it might cut into their obscene profits, profits that are made by denying care and canceling coverage when policyholders get sick.  Production company Brave New Films released a new short documentary that exposed the despicable behavior of health insurance giant, Cigna.  Watch this, folks. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I would go to Cigna and they would tell me I had Bronchitis and just give me medicine and send me home.  Then the Cigna director called me up, and she told me there was nothing wrong with me at all. 

I got out the phone book and I called the doctor.  He told me, you have cancer.  He said, the reason Cigna didn‘t want to give you your records is they‘ve known right way back for years that you have cancer.  They‘re not going to treat you. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Joining me now is filmmaker and political activist and director of Brave New Films, Robert Greenwald.  Mr. Greenwald, great work again.  This had to be a very gut wrenching piece you put together.  Was there any commonality amongst all the stories you culminated in this documentary? 

ROBERT GREENWALD, DIRECTOR, BRAVE NEW FILMS:  I think among all the stories in “Sick For Profit” it‘s this overwhelming sense of greed.  It‘s like some of these executives are right out of the movie “Wall Street,” only they‘re real life, Ed.  Part of what the audience didn‘t get to see is Cigna has two corporate jets, 68 million dollars that they spend on corporate jets.  There‘s gold-plated silverware.  And this is an insurance company, damn it. 

That money is being taken right away from people who you‘ve seen on screen and put into the jets.  We really need to bring a stop to it.  And the good thing about this debate right now and what we‘re doing with “Sick For Profit” is raising that question about profiteering on your health. 

SCHULTZ:  Now, profiteering on people‘s health, but it‘s the sick people that they are canceling, is that correct?  Those stories are out there all over the place. 

GREENWALD:  Yes.  It‘s the sick people they‘re canceling because that‘s how they‘re making the profit, by making sure they don‘t pay out the money.  We‘ve got thousands and thousands of stories, Ed, people e-mailing us.  I encourage your audience to.  “Sick For Profit,” Facebook, Twitter.  We‘re going after Wellpoint next. 

We‘re continuing to look for these stories.  But it breaks your heart to come to work every day and see and hear about well-meaning, hard-working Americans who are being denied care so the head of Cigna can have a 15-bedroom mansion that‘s worth 13.5 million dollars.  I don‘t know how he gets up in the morning, looks in the mirror, and knows that he‘s doing what he‘s doing to these people. 

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Greenwald, do you think that this documentary is going to have an effect on lawmakers?  I know it‘s very powerful, but the way Cigna plays the game and the way the big insurance companies play the game, the way they lobby, could these stories and this documentary have an impact on them? 

GREENWALD:  Well, we certainly can‘t touch them even one penny to one dollar.  But what‘s happened, Ed, in just a few days, a quarter of a million people have seen the “Sick for Profit” documentaries.  And they‘re sending them to their friends and their relatives.  But most importantly, they‘re sending them to their elected officials.  They‘re sending them to chiefs of staff.  They‘re sending the “Sick for Profit” to newspapers. 

So, as in good old-fashioned Paul Revere, we‘re forcing an issue to be discussed. 

SCHULTZ:  Finally, why Cigna?  Are they the biggest culprit in all of this?  Or are they all doing it, all the big insurance companies? 

GREENWALD:  Unfortunately. it‘s several of the big insurance companies.  We had a wide variety of choices.  We did United Health.  We did Cigna.  We‘ll be doing Wellpoint next.  The list goes on and on.  It‘s really fundamental to our country, to who we are.  And I really think it‘s time to draw that line in the sand, and say, we will not live being intimidated and controlled and exploited by insurance companies. 

SCHULTZ:  The documentary—your website again, Mr. Greenwald?  I want people to see this.

GREENWALD:  Thank you, Ed.  It‘s “Sick For Profit.”  Go there, see the videos.  Most important, do something.  Pass them around. 

SCHULTZ:  Thank you so much.  Robert Greenwald, Brave New Films.  A real American. 

Joining me now is Wendell Potter, a senior fellow on the Health Care for the Center for Media and Democracy.  He is a former vice president for Cigna.  I want to ask you—you have been very critical of the Baucus bill coming out of the Senate Finance Committee.  In fact, you called it a joke.  Why is it a joke? 

WENDELL POTTER, FMR. CIGNA VICE PRESIDENT:  It represents what I think the insurance industry would really hope for.  I think it delivers more than they could probably ever have expected.  It doesn‘t have the consumer protections the House bill has.  It would enable them to do much of what they have been doing, which is to continue to shift more and more of the financial burden from them and from employers on to the shoulders of working men and women. 

It gives them broad latitude to do that kind of cost shifting.  And it‘s not real reform.  It‘s just almost locking in place the insurance industry‘s grip on the health industry. 

SCHULTZ:  So Mr. Potter, this new purchasing pool that is going to be created, you say that‘s phony.  That isn‘t going to work, isn‘t going to bring any reform at all? 

POTTER:  No, it‘s not.  What we really need is a public health insurance option that will compete on a level playing field with these companies, but will not have the same profit motive and will be able to deliver quality care in a standard benefit package that will keep these companies more honest. 

Some of the other options on the table, like of co-op, for example, or having a trigger that would some day be pulled in the insurance industry doesn‘t reach a criteria, those are just stalling tactics.  The whole idea of the co-ops will never get off the ground because they don‘t have the heft, the scale to be able to compete with these big, giant companies. 

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Potter, have you seen Mr. Greenwald‘s documentary? 

POTTER:  I have. 

SCHULTZ:  You have? 

POTTER:  Yes. 

SCHULTZ:  Is it accurate? 

POTTER:  The work that he does and what he was saying on your show a few minutes ago is pervasive across the industry, and has been for many years.  Back in the mid-‘90s, the media spent a lot of time reporting on the horror stories that came out of the managed care companies.  This has been going on for many years.  There are a lot of high-cost procedures that require prior authorization.  That means there is someone standing between a person and his or her doctor, looking at what the doctor recommends, and making decisions as to whether or not you‘ll get coverage for that. 

SCHULTZ:  So the Senate Finance Bill, the Baucus bill, as you know it, what you know of it, is a hoodwink?  It‘s not anywhere near reform and it‘s bogus? 

POTTER:  It‘s bogus.  It‘s not reform. 

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Potter, great to have you with us.  I appreciate your time tonight.  Thanks so much. 

He spoke in front of the Congress and testified again today.  He‘s a major player in all of this.  I appreciate him speaking up. 

Next up, I‘m calling out Max Baucus and his bogus health care plan.  The former editor of the “Huffington Post will blast away again.  Roy Sekoff coming up in just a moment.  Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Tomorrow, Max Baucus and the gang of six going to release their compromise health care plan.  The plan does not include a public option.  Is that a win or a loss?  Does it matter?  Joining me now, Roy Sekoff, founding editor of the “Huffington Post.”  Roy, good to see you tonight.

Couple of questions here.  First of all, if it‘s not a public option, I can tell you, it better be damn good, and the White House better be able to sell this thing.  I think the blogosphere is going to go nuts on this thing.  Am I wrong?

ROY SEKOFF, FOUNDING EDITOR OF “THE HUFFINGTON POST”:  You‘re absolutely right, Ed.  Your last guest, Mr. Potter, really nailed it today during his testimony, when he said that the Baucus bill is an absolute gift to the insurance industry. 

Let me tell you something, it‘s not even technically a gift, because they got what they paid for with the three million dollars that they have donated to Baucus since 2003.  So that‘s the bottom line on that. 

SCHULTZ:  What do you think is going to be more effective?  A documentary by Robert Greenwald or this goofy march that went to Washington with phony numbers?  I think this Greenwald thing is the kind of thing that really stirs the passion of people.  And it‘s so factual that this is what really could put this whole fight over the top. 

SEKOFF:  That‘s the thing.  The House had this panel today, and it‘s something they should have done three months ago.  It really hit on the emotion.  That‘s what we should have seen three months ago.  We should have seen the people who are losing their insurance, the middle class working people who are going bankrupt because of health care bills. 

Then we should have had the insurance company executives come there and we ask them about making 25 million dollars a year.  I think the juxtaposition of those two things, that‘s where it is.  I think that‘s where Robert Greenwald is bringing—it‘s the personal, putting flesh and blood on these numbers. 

SCHULTZ:  How does Obama bring—reel that regulation in and get his party to reel that kind of stuff in in an industry that‘s so heavily lobbied in Washington? 

SEKOFF:  That‘s just it.  He makes these great speeches.  Last week‘s speech was wonderful.  But I think what it is is down below the deck, they‘re on auto pilot.  The auto pilot has been set by the donations and the lobbying.  And I think the progressives are left with a pretty lousy choice between do we want no public option or a really, really watered down public option? 

SCHULTZ:  Roy Sekoff, good to have you with us tonight.  Thanks so much.

SEKOFF:  Always good to see you, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  Another developing story late today.  The House voted to rebuke Congressman Joe Wilson and his outburst last week.  The vote was 240-179, which means most House Republicans stood by the presidential heckler. 

Let‘s bring our panel back in.  Bill Press, Maria Teresa Kumar and Larry Elder.  Larry, we are so divided in this country.  We‘re divided on civility at this point. 

ELDER:  I guess we are, Ed.  We‘re divided over whether or not Harry Reid should have apologized for calling the president a loser and a liar, President Bush.  We‘re divided over whether Hillary Rodham Clinton, as a senator, should apologize for saying the Republicans run this place like a plantation.  And you know what I‘m talking about. 

We‘re divided over whether or not Charlie Rangel should have said about the 1994 House Republicans, they don‘t say S-word, a slur for Hispanics, or N word anymore.  They just say let‘s cut taxes.  I don‘t recall any apologies. 

SCHULTZ:  You make your point.  Maria, what do you make of this?  Was this the right move by the Democratic leadership today to have this vote? 

KUMAR:  Absolutely, 68 percent of the American public agree with the Democrats, saying what Wilson did was wrong.  This is not about Barack Obama the man.  It‘s about the presidency and what it means.  By slighting and setting a precedent—if they allow him to do so on the floor of the House, when we are in session, then, all of a sudden, it degenerates the conversation, and we‘re not allowed to have a real, true conversation of the items we need to talk about, such as health care and so forth. 

SCHULTZ:  Bill Press, I don‘t take issue with Larry Elder and what he said about how other things have been said in the past.  But in the House, there are rules.  Was this the right thing to do or was this baseless on the part of the Democrats to take this vote? 

PRESS:  Ed, let‘s put this in context.  What we‘re talking about is not that something somebody has said, like Larry or me, on television or at a bar or in some speech somewhere.  We‘re talking about the floor of the House of Representatives.  Joe Wilson—this could have been all over if last Thursday he had been man enough to just go to the floor of the House after insulting the House—he insulted the president.  He apologized for him, fine. 

He also insulted his fellow members of the House.  He abused the dignity of the House of Representatives.  He owed the House an apology.  John Boehner asked him to do it.  He refused.  Bob Inglis, Republican, South Carolina, asked him to apologize.  He refused. 

I think the Democrats, to protect the dignity of the United States Congress, had no choice.  And Joe Wilson asked for it.  So he got what he deserved. 

SCHULTZ:  Larry, do you think race played into this, because Representative Clyburn was very passionate about this and he wanted an apology and he wanted the rules followed?  What about that? 

ELDER:  Well, you know, it‘s interesting.  I haven‘t heard anything from Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton along those lines.  Those guys are able to find racism under every rock.  Barack Obama accepted the apology.  This is much ado about nothing.  Of course it had nothing whatever to do with race.  But that is out of the Democratic playbook.  You disagree with somebody, you say something somebody doesn‘t like, call them a bigot, shuts down conversation. 

SCHULTZ:  What about that, Maria? 

KUMAR:  We‘re talking about the institution of the presidency.  I think Bill hit it on the head.  What Wilson did by what he said was he degenerated the conversation and the sanctity of Congress. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.  That‘s all we‘ve got time for tonight.  Here we go. 

Earlier, I asked our viewers tonight what you think.  Will any Republican senator cross over and vote for health care reform?  Fifteen percent of you said yes; 85 percent said no.  They‘re not coming over to do anything about reform. 

That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Ed Schultz.  For more information on THE ED SHOW, go to Ed.MSNBC.com.  Or check out our radio website at WeGotEd.com.  Chris Matthews and “HARDBALL” coming up next, right here on the place for politics, MSNBC.  We‘ll see you tomorrow night, 6:00 Eastern, right here on THE ED SHOW.

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Guests: Anthony Weiner, Roger Simon, Mort Zuckerman, Robert Reich, Leo

Gerard, Kevin Madden, Joe Madison, Jeanne Cummings, Steve McMahon

ED SCHULTZ, HOST:  Good evening, Americans, I‘m Ed Schultz, and this is THE ED SHOW, live from Washington. 

The big story, Olympia Snowe, I thought we could count on her.  Mr.  President, don‘t blink, don‘t give the party of no, the party of shame, and the party of these nutjob protesters any credibility at all.  Republican lawmakers are now almost demanding that the president take the public option off the table. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. OLYMPIA SNOWE ®, MAINE:  I urge the president to take the public option off the table because it‘s universally opposed by our Republicans in the Senate, and, therefore, there‘s no way to pass a plan that includes a public option.  So I think it‘s recognizing that because it is a roadblock to building the kind of consensus that we need to move forward. 

Even Chairman Baucus has indicated no proposal could be passed in the Senate that includes it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Really?  Take it off the table?  The people don‘t count, huh?  Typical Republican rhetoric.  Well, let me tell you something, folks.  She is correct about one thing, because the AP is reporting tonight that the Senate Finance Committee is going to come out with something later this week and here‘s the deal. 

The majority of people already covered through an employer plan would see no major changes.  But self-employed people and small businesses would be able to buy affordable coverage through a new purchasing pool called an exchange. 

They‘ve got all these fancy names.  Here‘s the bottom line.  Baucus and the Senate Finance Committee, they are not going to show up with a public option.  So Republicans win out of that committee.  In the meantime, you‘ve got Kent Conrad saying it‘s dead. 

Well, let me tell you something, a new poll is out today showing that support for public option is growing, 55 percent now say they want a government-run health insurance plan for competition.  That‘s up from 52 percent in August. 

You know, the month that the Democrats were supposed to have been hosed all over the place, right? 

This is what I have predicted all along.  Here we are, we‘re down to zero Republicans on board with the president.  You know, the guy that got elected, the guy who won nine Bush states.

Mr. President, no matter how well you explain it, no matter what the forum, no matter what the speech, they‘re not going to be with you.  They don‘t get it.  They don‘t support you.  You‘re going to have to do it alone. 

They don‘t pay attention to facts and logic.  And they certainly don‘t pay attention to the American people.  The American people have got the Republican Party‘s number, 62 percent of Americans now say the Republican Party is not negotiating in good faith when it comes to health care reform. 

Americans know the Republicans are only interested in killing reform.  You can‘t work with somebody if they‘re going to be angling for failure all the time.  Now I think the White House is starting to get this.  Senior adviser David Axelrod is now starting to talk a little tougher on the public option. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID AXELROD, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISER:  He continues to believe it‘s a good idea, he continues to advocate it.  And I‘m not willing to accept that it‘s not going to be in the final package. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  This is what is so confusing to a lot of Democrats, is Senator Kent Conrad out of North Dakota, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and the gang of six in the Finance Committee.  The numbers are with the Democrats, with the liberals, yet he‘s making his pitch saying that a number of bills out of the House have no chance, not going to make it, can‘t get the votes. 

Are you tired of being told that we don‘t have the votes and the public option is dead?  The American people want this.  Senator Conrad, whose side are you on?  The Republicans?  Or the American people who want the public option?  That‘s the key. 

If it‘s going to come down to the gang of six and if it really is down to the Senate Finance Committee, well, the big news tonight is it‘s not going to have a public option. 

Now, I want to address this tea party thing that happened over the weekend which is rather comical, here in Washington.  They even lie about their own party numbers.  Who showed up? 

The number of psychos that are out there throwing their numbers out, well, oh, it‘s, excuse me, 2.5 million now.  Folks, the real number is about 60,000.  Now do you want to really see 2 million people, want to see what they look like?  This is what 2 million people looks like.  This is President Obama‘s Inauguration. 

Now did you see any tape like this on the news this weekend?  This is what a real rally looks like.  These are the people that want the public option.  The people want to change.  The people want to make sure that the Democrats get the message.  That‘s the rally I remember, 60,000 people is not an overwhelming display, in fact it‘s really just a Big Ten football game, it‘s about half the crowd of Penn State and Michigan when they get together and get it on, if you know what I mean. 

But the righties are lying about their own attendance numbers just like they‘re lying about health care reform.  Well, let me tell you something, folks, you can‘t let this one die.  You‘ve got to get your phones out and call Capitol Hill.  But you‘ve also got to get out and tell me what you think on this. 

I want to know if you think the public option is now officially dead.  Text A for yes and B for no to 622639.  We‘ll bring you the results later on in the program. 

Now speaking of this, joining me now is Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York who wrote in a press release “last rites for a public option is a death knell, a death knell for health care reform.”

Congressman, these are some pretty big developments.  The Senate Finance Committee has had a lot of weight put on its shoulders and people are giving it a lot of credibility.  Now it‘s reported tonight that they‘re not going to come out with a public option.  How does that sit with you? 

REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK:  Well, you know, they call the Senate the cooling saucer of our democracy, they‘re really the icebox for a lot of reforms we‘ve tried to pass.  Look, I‘m glad the Senate is finally punting this back to the House into a Conference Committee. 

But I think we need to have a public option.  Let‘s put aside the politics for a moment.  You know, if you‘re going to have people signing up for health care and there‘s nothing new in the mix, what we have today, we‘re going to have rates go up and up and up because there is no competition for insurance companies. 

If there is that option of something like Medicare that they can sign up for, the competition is going to bring down insurance rates, and without it there‘s really nothing that has that effect. 

SCHULTZ:  So what are you going to do in the House?  I understand that you just will not give up on single-payer.  Now, it‘s the—I don‘t want to be negative about this because I‘m a single-payer guy too.  I mean, I believe in it, I believe that‘s where they‘ve got to go. 

But this weekend at this rally, there were Republicans who were saying that they want to put an end to all government involvement in health care.  How does that ring with you? 

WEINER:  Well, first let me make it clear, you know, some people use single-payer as a dirty word, but 47 percent of all of our dollars go to Medicare, Medicaid, programs that people know and they know that they work.  They‘ve got very low overhead, they‘re very efficient, I think they should be extended to more Americans. 

But I am prepared to compromise.  If my amendment on single-payer goes down, then at least we have a public option, we have some choice that someone can sign up for something like Medicare. 

You start taking away that and you have got virtually no cost containment.  You have got, frankly, the insurance companies getting a lot of new customers but no real competition to hold down cost.  So, look, we might be able to get something passed but we‘ve now watered it down so far that the Senate bill might not even be worth passing at all. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, at the rally this weekend here in Washington, D.C., this is what I was talking about.  This is Congressman Price talking about getting rid of all government health care.  Here it is. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TOM PRICE ®, GEORGIA:  We will not rest until we make certain that government-run health care is ended. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You said on the stage that you want to end government health care.  Do you support privatizing Medicare? 

PRICE:  What government-run medicine does is forces people to have other individuals besides themselves and their families making medical decisions.  That‘s what‘s wrong and that‘s what the American people don‘t want. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Can you please answer my quick question.  Do you support privatizing Medicare?  You said on the stage that you want to get rid of government-run health care.  What‘s the difference between Medicare and the public option? 

PRICE:  No, what I support is allowing patients to make independent medical decisions. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So you support government health care when it‘s Medicare? 

PRICE:  What I support is patients making independent decisions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Now, Congressman Weiner, are governments going to be making the health care decisions or are patients and doctors going to be doing it?  Because I think that the Democrats might be losing this argument at this point even though the majority of Americans want the public option.  Your thoughts? 

WEINER:  Well, look, I think that we all need to realize we all have a single payer.  Some of us in insurance companies, some of us have Medicare or Medicaid or the Department of Defense or Veterans Affairs. 

Look, the bottom line here is that under Medicare you get to choose your doctor, you get to choose your hospital.  The only question is, you don‘t get the 30 percent overhead and profits that the insurance companies take. 

The Republicans have tied themselves into an intellectual knot here.  On one hand they say they‘re opposed to government-run health plans and they‘re opposed to single-payer, and then they thump their chest every year about how they‘re trying to protect Medicare. 

The fact of the matter is they didn‘t like Medicare when it was passed.  They don‘t like it today.  And that makes them and the distinct minority in this country because people who have Medicare say they like it. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman Weiner, thanks for your time tonight. 

Appreciate it very much. 

WEINER:  Thank you, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  For more—you bet. 

For more, let me bring in Roger Simon, chief political columnist for Politico.

Roger, what do you make of these most recent numbers that are out?  Is the tide starting to swing back to favorability for public option? 

ROGER SIMON, POLITICO:  It may be.  But ironically enough—or sadly enough, it is swinging back at the same time I hear that the public option is dead in the Senate Finance Committee.  That the gang of six is not even talking about it anymore, that they are arguing about Medicaid expansion and some kind of malpractice reform.  Democrats want the first, Republicans want the second. 

The public option is not even on the table anymore. 

SCHULTZ:  So what we‘re seeing here now is the Senate Finance Committee and Senate HELP Committee are going to have a couple of Democratic titans going at it.  You‘ve got Tom Harkin who is now the chairman of the HELP Committee, he says, look, we‘re going to get a public option.  You‘ve got Max Baucus who doesn‘t have it.  You‘ve got Kent Conrad who is out there saying, it‘s not going to be there.  They want this co-op. 

Who‘s going to win?  It‘s a Democratic fight. 

SIMON:  And then you have also got the House of Representatives, which its plan—its plans which all have the public option, and you heard from Representative Weiner just a few seconds ago, what I‘ve heard from Howard Dean and others, saying, you know, if you‘re not going to have the public option, maybe we ought not to do this thing at all. 

Because what we‘re talking about is a huge windfall for the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry.  After all, reform is going to pass a law making everyone in America buy health insurance, 40 million people are going to be forced to buy health insurance. 

You know, If GM could have gotten a law forcing everyone to buy a Chevy, it wouldn‘t be in bankruptcy.  It would be a sweet deal.  But if you can‘t keep the companies honest, as President Obama said the public option would do, why do it? 

SCHULTZ:  Purchasing pool called an exchange, and that everybody would be forced to buy it, how is that going to play?  That is so heavy-handed.  That is the government telling you what to do.  I really think that this pool is going to need some serious explanation. 

But it is also going to be run, as I understand it, by the insurance companies.  That‘s who‘s going to be offering up the insurance. 

SIMON:  Sure it is.  And it‘s the same problems with co-ops which some people might think might be a last-ditch way of getting a semi-public option.  The insurance companies can convert into co-ops.  And in both cases you don‘t have any way of containing the worse excesses of insurance companies. 

SCHULTZ:  Roger, good to have you with us.  The battle goes on. 

SIMON:  Thanks, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  It has been a hot August, and now we‘re in the middle of September, and the September stall is on.  I thought we could count on Olympia Snowe, I guess not. 

Coming up, one year after the financial collapse, the president says we have pulled the economy back from the brink.  Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich and also mogul Mort Zuckerman will join us in a moment to talk about that. 

And I don‘t know what kind of tea the “Drugster (ph)” has been drinking these days but he is flat-out delusional when it comes to what happened at this weekend‘s party, I‘m calling him out in “Psycho Talk.”

Plus, China has been putting the screws to us for years.  And finally the president of the United States says, enough is enough.  I‘ll talk to a leader of one of the largest unions in this country who says hooray for President Obama for taking on Beijing.  

That‘s all coming up on THE ED SHOW.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Coming up on THE ED SHOW, President Obama dropped the hammer on Wall Street today, warning the days of quick kills and bloated bonuses are over.  Sounds good.  But I want to know what regulations are they going to bring forward to take care of these snakes in suits?  Mort Zuckerman joins me in just a moment on THE ED SHOW.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  One year ago we saw in stark relief how markets can spin out of control.  How a lack of common-sense rules can lead to excess and abuse.  How close we can come to the brink.  One year later it is incumbent upon us to put in place those reforms that will prevent this kind of crisis from ever happening again.  That‘s what we must do, and I‘m confident that‘s what we will do. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  That was President Obama speaking in New York City today, one year after Lehman Brothers collapsed and our economy went into a tailspin.  Today the president warned Wall Street not to go back to the risky behavior that brought on the recession.  He said American taxpayers won‘t bail them out again. 

The president also announced ambitious new financial regulations and urged Congress to pass his proposals by the end of the year.  Joining me now is Mort Zuckerman, publisher and owner of The New York Daily News, and editor-in-chief of U.S. News and World Report.  And also joining us is Robert Reich, former labor secretary in the Clinton administration and professor of public policy at U.C. Berkeley. 

Gentlemen, good to have you with us tonight.  Mr. Zuckerman, any regulation—is any regulation needed on Wall Street?  Or should we just let it go the way it is right now?  What do you think? 

MORT ZUCKERMAN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT:  No, I think there is some regulation that is appropriate, particularly raising the amount of equity in relation to debt or lowering the amount of debt in relation to equity.  Call it any way you want. 

When Chris Cox of the SEC permitted a lot of Wall Street firms to go from a ratio of $12 of debt to a dollar of equity from—to $30 to $40 of debt to a dollar of equity, you planted the seeds for the possibility of a financial crisis. 

But it‘s not the whole story.  And I think the president, frankly, has cast this in a way that is much too political by blaming it all on Wall Street.  You could blame it as much on the Federal Reserve Board for keeping interest rates at 1 percent from 2001 to 2004. 

You could blame it on the Congress for giving Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac almost a blank check in terms of making loans and guaranteeing loans and buying loans for people who were simply not qualified by income or net worth. 

You could blame it on a lot of consumers who lied when they applied for mortgages by exaggerating their income.  So it‘s—or their net worth or both.  So it‘s not just blaming Wall Street.  That‘s really what we would call an inexpensive political shot. 

And I think it‘s unfortunate that he put it in those terms even though Wall Street does require re-regulation. 

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Reich, what do you think about that?  Robert, do you agree with that? 

ROBERT REICH, U.C. BERKELEY:  Well, Mort Zuckerman is absolutely right in terms of there‘s a lot of blame to go around.  I think that I would, though, put a little more accountability on Wall Street.  Because after all, now a year later, you look at some of the techniques and the bets and the schemes that are being cooked up on Wall Street, they don‘t look that different from what they were a year ago, even though we‘ve been through a gigantic meltdown, even though Wall Street has got $600 billion of taxpayer dollars. 

Yes, they‘ve paid a little bit back, but they still have a lot of money underwritten by taxpayers.  They haven‘t really learned anything.  I think that if we were—you know, maybe a year-and-a-half ago, we might say they didn‘t know what they were doing.  But now they do know what they‘re doing. 

The Goldman Sachs chief financial officer said he is doing—he is using the same business plan he was using before. 

SCHULTZ:  And, Robert, do you agree that Glass-Steagall should be put back into effect?  Should that be brought to the table for regulation?  Because, of course, that made it so bank holding companies can pretty much go out and buy what they want, and, of course, led us down the road of mortgage-backed securities. 

Do you think Glass-Steagall should be put back in place? 

REICH:  I do, Ed.  And I‘ll tell you why, because—and again, we took away Glass-Steagall during the Clinton administration.  And although tremendously proud to have been part of that administration, I think that was a mistake because once you allow commercial banking and investment banking to intermingle, basically you‘re asking for all sorts of problems. 

That means that lenders can essentially securitize their loans, send

them around the world, not take any responsibility or accountant for those

loans.  It means that pension funds are basically putting, you know, their

the trust and the fate of their beneficiaries into very, very risky places they have no business going. 

Yes, let‘s re-erect the boundary between commercial and investment banking...

(CROSSTALK)  

SCHULTZ:  What about that, Mr. Zuckerman?  Would you go along with Glass-Steagall being put back in place? 

ZUCKERMAN:  Yes, I think I would to a degree.  I do think that that is an area where the commercial banks got into very, very deep water.  So I think that regulation is appropriate, perhaps not as extreme as it was before, but I do think some of that is absolutely appropriate.

But I also think that we have to find a way to control the Congress in terms of what they want to do politically.  It‘s very nice to say that everybody in this country should own their own home.  But if they don‘t have the income or the net worth to do it and they are making and pushing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into that direction, which is what they did.

And Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac politically, in their usual way organized huge lobbyist groups to put pressure on Congress to permit them to do that, in addition to being a public vehicle, it‘s also a privately-owned vehicle.  I think that is one of the things that absolutely needs reform, and that is a political decision.

REICH:  But, if I could just say, Mort, what really worries me, and I think you put your finger on it, but in a slightly different way, Wall Street, itself, has so much political muscle, so much lobbying clout in Congress right now... 

SCHULTZ:  They‘re lobbying more than anybody right now. 

REICH:  Wall Street is responsible for so many campaign contribution, I‘m worried that they‘re not going to even allow the kind of regulation that is just sensible and necessary to go into play—effect. 

ZUCKERMAN:  But by the way, I have to say one thing, Wall Street really has changed.  Just take one firm, Morgan Stanley, they have reduced their ratio of debt-to-equity from 31 to 1 to 15 to 1.  And they are going to hold to that kind of level. 

There are a number of firms who have really made it an absolute objective to change the ratio of equity to overall financing.  And that is appropriate.  I think it should be regulated, mind you. 

But they have changed to a considerable degree.  Not enough, perhaps, in every single case, but they really have changed.  Now we have to make sure they don‘t change back in the other direction. 

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Zuckerman, Mr. Reich.

REICH:  But the trouble is that when Goldman Sachs does risky things, all of the other banks worry about poaching, they have got to get their profits up, they‘ve got to get their salaries up, they‘ve got to get their bonuses up, and they start doing exactly what Goldman Sachs is doing, so the risk level goes up. 

SCHULTZ:  Gentlemen, thanks for joining us tonight with this discussion.  Robert Reich and Mort Zuckerman, here on THE ED SHOW.  Thanks so much. 

ZUCKERMAN:  OK.  Good to see you, Bob.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ:  Coming up, you probably know that the “Drugster” is a college dropout, but get this, he really sucks at math.  I mean, he doesn‘t even know the difference between 60,000 and 2 million.  I‘ll show up next in “Psycho Talk,” stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Oh, in “Psycho Talk” tonight, we‘ve got more coming from Rush Limbaugh, the “Drugster.”  He just keeps them coming, doesn‘t he?  Here he is rambling on about the right-wing 9/12 tea party in Washington, D.C., over the weekend.  Pay attention to the part where he references the size of the crowd. 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, HOST, “THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW”:  You don‘t need a charismatic leader to get you out of the house and to spend money to drive or fly to Washington and get a hotel for Friday and Saturday night and show up as part of a 2 million people crowd on Saturday and then leave the place as clean as you found it. 

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Two million people, huh?  Not even close, “Drugster.”  About 60,000.  That‘s the D.C. Fire Department‘s estimate.  Rush must have been in one of those drug-induced stupors over the weekend where he was seeing double.  Well, actually, he was seeing quadruple on that one. 

Anyway, he has got a math problem or he has just got a lying problem.  I think that we all know about this one.  Face it, Rush, the event was a flop!  A flop!  As much P.R. as it got, and trying to dupe the people into thinking that there were millions of people there, you got it.  That‘s “Psycho Talk.”

Coming up, China has been cheating for a long time when it comes to trade agreements.  And now the United States is calling them on it.  The president just stood up to them and Beijing is not taking it lightly.  And the head of one of the country‘s biggest unions is going to be joining me next. 

Plus, I figured out why Brett Favre went to the Vikings.  The geezer has figured out the best way to make $25 million is just to hand the ball to this guy who runs all over everybody.  It‘s coming up in my “Playbook.” Stay with us.  You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Tomorrow, President Obama will head to Pittsburgh to speak to union leaders at the annual AFL-CIO conference.  Labor is fired up.  I was there last night, had a radio town hall meeting.  They‘re expecting a lot from President Obama. 

The union‘s got a big victory from the Obama White House over the weekend, when the president agreed to impose temporary tariffs on tires imported from China.  Union leaders say cheap Chinese tires have cost American jobs and shut down plants, and putting an import tax on them will level the playing field for American workers. 

Joining me now is Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers International.  Mr. Gerard, good to have you with us tonight.  How bold a move was this by President Obama to go ahead and uphold the U.S.  International Trade Commission‘s ruling on this?  This is something the Bush administration did not do.  How bold is this in your opinion? 

LEO GERARD, UNITED STEELWORKERS INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT:  I think it was a very important step, very important move.  In fact, this is the first time a president has brought meaning for sanctions against a foreign—a foreign country since Ronald Reagan.  Ronald Reagan did it twice.  So I‘m pleased that President Obama stepped in. 

We believe that this is a rule-base country.  We went to the International Trade Commission and said, China‘s breaking the rules.  They agreed.  Now President Obama‘s agreed.  I‘m very pleased. 

SCHULTZ:  John Harwood of CNBC had an exclusive interview with President Obama today and asked him about this ruling and trade agreements.  Here‘s his response. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  I just want to make sure if we actually have rules written down, they mean something.  The next time I go to the American people or to Congress, saying this trade agreement is good for America, people have to have confidence that these words are going to mean something. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Gerard, what does this signal to the Chinese?  Is this a new day dawning on how we‘re going to deal with China, after we owe them a boat load of money?  If it wasn‘t for their help, I don‘t know if our economy would be floating right now.  What do you make of this? 

SCHULTZ:  I want to take a little license, I guess, with what you said.  We owe them a boat load of money because we‘ve been sending them our jobs.  And they‘ve been sending us their products.  We‘ve been exporting jobs and importing products.  That‘s the wrong approach.  I think what President Obama has said is that he‘s now going to look at making sure that the rules of international trade are going to be followed. 

I‘m very confident that what we ought to be doing now is using this opportunity to work with leadership in the Congress to talk about a new kind of trade pattern that we would take.  We owe China trillions of dollars, but that‘s because we‘ve been running 300 and 400 billion dollar a year trade deficits for the last six, seven years. 

If the president says we‘re going to have a rules-based system, I think then we have a look at how do we change the rules so that the rules favor American workers, so that we can export products and not jobs. 

SCHULTZ:  Do you think we can create jobs and the manufacturing sector in America with the trade agreements we have right now? 

GERARD:  I think the trade agreements we have now, Ed, are really knocking the manufacturing industry flat on its butt.  Recently, China said it was going to have a stimulus program, and that every product that was going to get bought in the stimulus program had to be made in China.  Just a couple of weeks ago, they said that they want to be the export platform for renewable energy. 

Just this week, they said they want to be the export platform for photovoltaic cells and wind turbines.  If we‘re going to try to have renewable energy so that we‘re not going to be prisoners of foreign oil, but we have to import wind turbines and photovoltaic cells from China, then that‘s not going to be much different. 

I believe, given a level playing field, that American workers can compete with anybody and everybody. 

SCHULTZ:  Now, China is not taking this well.  Beijing has responded.  They don‘t like the move that the president, what he‘s done with the tariffs.  Did you get the tariffs you wanted on tires?  Or was it a lower number? 

GERARD:  The tariff that the president sanctioned is a much lower number than we asked for.  It‘s a much lower number than the International Trade Commission approved.  But they used a different set of facts because they were able to look three and four and five months into the year, where we weren‘t.  They think these tariffs will be relatively equivalent to what the ITC said.  We accept them at their word.  We‘re going to monitor that. 

Let me say a word about China.  China is blustering and trying to bully.  They ought to stop that.  They sent an army of folks over here to try and intimidate us, to try and push us around.  The fact of the matter is these are the rules China agreed to when they entered the World Trading Organization.  When they entered the World Trading Organization, they said these are the rules we‘re willing to play by.  We went to the International Trade Commission, which in my view is the Supreme Court of trade in this country; we demonstrated unequivocally that they broke the rules. 

SCHULTZ:  That they cheat. 

GERARD:  That they cheated, that they broke the rules.  They surged in violation of what they said they would do.  Now for them to bluster and to bring about threats, that also is a violation of the World Trade Organization.  So I don‘t take them too seriously.  We‘re a rules-based society and we follow the rules. 

SCHULTZ:  President of the United International Steelworkers, Mr. Leo Gerard, thanks for your time tonight on this subject.  We‘ll visit again. 

For more, let‘s bring in our panel, tonight.  Jeanne Cummings is assistant managing editor for “Politico.”  Joe Madison is an XM radio talk show host.  Kevin Madden is a Republican strategist. 

Kevin, we‘ll start with you.  The fact that Mr. Gerard is satisfied with this and compared it to Reagan, is this one of these issues Republicans can go along with, that the president made the right move on this? 

KEVIN MADDEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  You know, trade, especially trade with China, is an interesting issue.  It seems to cross ideological lines.  I worked on the Bush/Cheney campaign in 2004 in Pennsylvania.  You had Congressmen from rural western Pennsylvania and congressmen from urban areas in Philadelphia all agreeing that they didn‘t like China and that China was breaking the rules. 

I think you‘re going to find this is not on ideological issue.  It‘s not going to be breaking down by party a lot.  Instead, it is going to be about manufacturing states, and those who believe that China has to have a level playing field when dealing with the United States. 

The big issue now is whether or not this affects the equity markets and how this affects the debt markets, and how that affects our larger economy.  You may have other differences there.

SCHULTZ:  Joe, this is protecting jobs.  We‘ve already lost several tire plants in this country.  This move by the president will probably save a few, save the jobs.  I think the next move by Obama is going to be the big one, is it not, when it comes to trade? 

JOE MADISON, XM RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  I grew up in Dayton, Ohio.  Dayton Rubber, tire company.  You could leave high school, get a job.  Get a job, buy a car.  Buy a car, get an apartment.  Maybe get married, get a home.  Now, the west side of Dayton is just shattered, because not only did the rubber company move, but National Cash Register moved. 

I think this is just an excellent move.  I agree with you.  It transcends partisan lines, because you‘re looking at individuals who are conservatives.  At the same time, you‘re looking at labor movement—that‘s Democrat.  They all agree with this.  I think now we have to expand this.  I would take it beyond tires, right into toys, if I had the choice. 

So I think he should—he should receive a standing ovation by the AFL-CIO tomorrow for what he‘s done. 

SCHULTZ:  Jeanne, the political timing of this, some say, is very interesting because of the health care fight that‘s going on, the discussion that‘s going on.  The president needs the unions to really step it up on the public option.  He needs that extra push down the stretch.  The timing of this, for him to do this on trade, was very interesting. 

Your thoughts?

JEANNE CUMMINGS, “POLITICO”:  It could be related to health care.  I think the unions were largely there on the public option, but they certainly will be with more enthusiasm now.  I think one of your previous questions is really important.  That is what is the next move here?  One key phrase in the interview with John Harwood is “when I come to the American people with a trade deal.”

It‘s pretty clear this White House does want to pursue some trade deals.  They‘re very controversial.  And this is an important step for him to establish some credibility with the labor unions and with working Americans, before he tries to bring in one of those future trade deals. 

SCHULTZ:  Kevin, will the Republicans ever come on board with a buy-American cause?  You heard Mr. Gerard talk about how the Chinese are going to do a level of protectionism.  They want to manufacture in their country and they want to buy in their country.  And we‘ve seen that early on in the Obama administration with the car issue.  I mean, there was no protection at all.  What about that? 

MADDEN:  I think attitudes are changing among many Republicans and many Republican constituencies on issues like trade.  I think largely that has to do with people‘s perceptions of how China is dealing with the international markets.  Jeanne wrote a story about this a long time ago in the—that dealt with how people, you know, were dealing with these threats. 

I do think that, at the end of the day, what Republicans care about is whether or not there are still free-market principles driving American ingenuity.  Any time that you have a buy-American clause that is going to hurt or a buy-American clause that is going to in any way bring out—sap out equity and capital out of the markets, then they‘re going to stand up and fight for it. 

But this has much less to do with, again, ideological partisan lines.  And it has much more to do with how it is Republicans can—and Democrats can come together to protect the economy. 

MADISON:  But American ingenuity is one thing.  But what good does it do if, in fact, you then take what you‘ve invented, what you‘ve created and watch a country like China capitalize on it, instead of the American worker?  I honestly think this is an excellent move to get everyone focused on bringing jobs back to this country. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, in the energy sector, they‘re talking about making a big commitment in China when it comes to wind energy, when it comes to the manufacturing of the windmills.  We‘re going to be going into energy independence.  We‘re going to be competing right with them. 

CUMMINGS:  We‘re already behind.  I mean, for those who want—who see—and the president‘s one of them, and he makes a good argument that the energy sector is an area where we could revive our economy in a growth direction, by creating new products and that sort of thing. 

We already are behind Europe.  We already are behind China.  So, you know, people talk about the energy bill can wait until next year and that sort of thing.  What also gets delayed is any kind of transition to that kind of economy. 

MADISON:  We were told these are jobs you can‘t export.  Materials—

SCHULTZ:  Well, we got this big elephant in the room called health care and we got a big gorilla in the backyard called trade.  They—if you don‘t have a job, you can‘t get health care.  If they come out with a mandate to buy health care, this is going to be real interesting, because the job numbers are very important.  Panel, stay with us.  We have a lot more coming up. 

Coming up, I thought President Obama knocked it out of the park when he addressed the Congress about health care.  Turns out a one in five of you think Joe Wilson hit the homer.  Veteran Democratic strategist Steve McMahon joins me when we come back in the playbook.  Stay with us.  You‘re watching MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  In may playbook tonight, President Obama finally stepped up to the plate on health care reform.  But it doesn‘t look like his big speech to Congress was a game changer as many thought, at least when it comes to public opinion.  A new “USA Today”/Gallup poll found that the president‘s rating is at 54 percent.  That‘s exactly where it was a month ago.  His disapproval rating hit a new high in a poll, at 43 percent. 

What do those numbers mean for health care reform?  Let me bring in Democratic strategist and analyst Steve McMahon.  Steve, good to have you with us tonight.

These numbers on the president mean anything at this point? 

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  If you think about what happened over the last month, it was a blistering August for most members of Congress.  There was coverage every night of these town hall meetings, where these angry mobs were screaming at politicians. 

The president‘s approval rating has held steady at 54 percent.  It‘s a very good sign for him.  More importantly, I think it‘s a very good sign for health care reform, because it‘s not dead.  It‘s very much alive.  With a few tweaks and tucks, I think it‘s headed for passage. 

SCHULTZ:  I was in Pittsburgh last night for a radio town hall, AFL-CIO convention is going on.  The incoming president, Mr. Trumka, who is going to be replacing Mr. Sweeney in that position, was very direct about what he wants when it comes to health care reform.  Mr. Gerard was there and also Mr. Trumka was there.  They are going to play a key role down the stretch and they are going to be very demanding.  They‘re meeting with the president tomorrow. 

This is pressure and support I think the president needs at this point.  What do you think? 

MCMAHON:  I think the president needs it in one sense.  I mean, he needs his friends with him.  But in another sense, if his friends are out there saying, it‘s our way or the highway, that‘s not very helpful to the president.  If you look at the polling numbers out there today, what you see is that people want health care reform and they would prefer some measure of bipartisanship. 

Now, that may not be possible.  But it‘s important for the president to maintain that 54 percent approval rating and the Obama brand to be out there trying to reach compromises that bring more people along on health care reform. 

SCHULTZ:  Aren‘t you surprised that his numbers didn‘t go up after the speech? 

MCMAHON:  The number of people who support the Obama plan on health care reform did go up.  If there was a flash poll right afterwards, it was two thirds of the people who watched the speech.  The problem is not everybody watched the speech.

SCHULTZ:  Congressman Joe Wilson, your thoughts on this guy.  He apologizes and says, I‘m not going to apologize again.  He has really gamed this when it comes to showmanship, when it comes to rallying the base.  Some of the numbers are pretty interesting.  Feelings about Joe Wilson‘s outburst in the Congress; 23 percent are outraged; 45 are opposed to it; 21 percent support him; six percent were actually thrilled that he did this. 

His opponent is raising money like crazy.  And he, of course, has gamed this pretty good.  How outrageous was it?  How far should the Democrats go with this, when it comes to some kind of reprimand in the House? 

MCMAHON:  I think it was outrageous.  I think the House rules are pretty clear you couldn‘t do that to another member of Congress without being reprimanded.  I don‘t see how the Democrats in Congress or anybody in Congress can expect civility in that chamber if they‘re not willing to enforce the House riles. 

With respect to Representative Wilson, he‘s obviously buffoon, for lack of a better word.  I don‘t know that there is a better word for him.  But he‘s sort of emblematic or symptomatic of the Republican problems now.  They‘re the party of no.  They‘re the party of hell no.  They‘re the party of you lie.  The American public doesn‘t like that very much. 

SCHULTZ:  So how far should the Democrats go in the House?  Should they go through the formal—

MCMAHON:  It‘s not what the Democrats should do.  It‘s what the House of Representatives should do.  There are House rules.  Every Republican should cast a vote with the Democrats to support the House rules.  It may be their president that some buffoon is yelling at at some point down the room. 

SCHULTZ:  Steve McMahon, good to have you with us. 

Got to put this one in.  Last page of playbook tonight.  Look, if you‘re going to come back, almost at the age of 40 years old, and play quarterback, make sure you‘re handing off to a guy who can make you look really, really good.  Peterson took the ball and ran with it.  This is a great run.  And this is how you make a 39-year-old, almost 40-year-old, quarterback look good in his return. 

That is a run.  Favre has got a great deal. 

Coming up, the righty whack jobs were out in full force this weekend, spewing nonsense and hate.  What was supposed to be a million-man march on Washington turned out to be a small group of soggy tea bags.  That‘s next on THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  The crazies came to Washington D.C. over the weekend; 60,000 people showed up to protest, which was organized and promoted by the righty talkers of America.  The protesters claimed they were demonstrating against health care reform, that they were not going to be really bringing any tasteless signs the way they did. 

How about this one?  Bury Obama with Kennedy.”  And this, “Obama Lies, Grandma Dies,” with the warning “Remember 9/11, Stop Sinning, or Something Worse May Happen.”

Many signs had nothing to do with health care at all.  Like this woman holding a sign that says “Where‘s My Gun?”  And this sign “we came unarmed this time.” 

“We came unarmed this time?”  Isn‘t that a direct threat?  And it‘s got nothing to do with the health care debate in this country?  Remember, these protesters were promoted by a guy who called the president, quote, “a racist with a deep-seated hatred of white people.” 

Our panel takes it on tonight on THE ED SHOW.  Joe Madison with us, Jeanne Cummings and Kevin Madden.  Sooner or later, we‘ve got to get down to the brass tax of some serious conversation.  And I think lefties at times can go out of bounds.  This was the out of bounds crowd this weekend.  Or am I reading that wrong? 

MADDEN:  I think that opponents of this movement, and it is a movement, I think they—I think they grossly underestimate the anxiety people have here and how real it is.  And that, yes, there are rhetorical extremes.  There are the rhetorical extremes on the left.  There are rhetorical extremes on the right.  If we were to judge every single protest by signs only, then a lot would be judged very poorly. 

But there is an anxiety here that‘s not just about health care.  I think the American public—you see this in focus groups.  You see it polls.  They are conflating everything now.  They see a lot of massive spending.  They see a Congress—they see a Washington, D.C. mindset that is not in touch with the real problems that they‘re facing every single day, the real anxieties that they have.  They don‘t feel that there‘s a real solution-oriented approach.  Instead, what they‘re seeing is just, again, this—you know, this maintenance of the status quo here in Washington. 

I think they‘re going to blame Republicans and Democrats right now. 

The problem for Democrats, there just happens to be more of you guys. 

SCHULTZ:  Joe, what was your take? 

MADISON:  I am so angry at what happened.  Let me tell you one of the things.  Dorothy Heights, just a beautiful woman, black family reunion was the same weekend.  These signs went walking through the middle of that black family reunion.  These were families that were down there talking about health care, education, as benign as you can get.  And they deliberately looked for confrontation when they could have avoided it. 

I mean, I am telling you that at some point in time in this country, we better wake up to realize when people start talking about killing grandma, you start talking about carrying guns, I hope he dies, and goes where Kennedy goes—we as communicators have a responsibility to realize that there are wackos out there, and that they will take this as a message. 

You already have a president who has received 400 times more death threats than any president in the history of this country.  This is total irresponsibility on the part of people that I‘m ashamed to say are part of my business in talk radio. 

SCHULTZ:  Jeanne, how does the White House play this?  Ignore it? 

CUMMINGS:  Absolutely.  I mean, that‘s been the position that they‘ve tried to take from the beginning.  And in some respects, if the media had ignored it, too, you would have to wonder if it could have gotten as big as it is. 

I think there may be aspects of this that are movement-like.  But the risk for the Republicans is that nobody is really trying to harness or control that movement.  There‘s no indication whether anybody actually can. 

SCHULTZ:  The Republican party—

(CROSS TALK)

SCHULTZ:  They don‘t draw the line at all, saying, hey, come on, knock off the signs.  It‘s about health care reform.  This was Dick Army‘s thing.  He was a former leader in the Republican party.  These are the people that he‘s ginned up to come to Washington and do this kind of stuff. 

MADDEN:  I think we probably try to simplify it too much by saying who owns it? 

SCHULTZ:  Here‘s the organization behind it—

MADDEN:  These organizations are involved in it.  One of the things I was struck by, was how many of these people were talking about it‘s an organic movement, that they‘re not being told to come here by anybody.

(CROSS TALK)

MADDEN:  When it‘s against you, it‘s astroturfing.  When it‘s for you, it‘s organized, grassroots, effectiveness, ground up organizing. 

CUMMINGS:  It‘s not Astroturfing.  These people are real.  This is not some fake protest. 

SCHULTZ:  End of discussion.  Got to run. 

Earlier I asked you what you thought of the public option.  Was it dead?  Seventeen percent of you said yes; 83 percent of you said no.  You‘ve got confidence it‘s still alive.  I like that. 

That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Ed Schultz.  For more, “HARDBALL” coming up, with Chris Matthews.  Starting right now, here on the place for politics, MSNBC.  We‘ll be back tomorrow night.  Have a great one.

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

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