updated 10/9/2009 11:02:45 AM ET 2009-10-09T15:02:45

Guests: Jeff Bingaman, John Nichols, Robert Reich, Scott Paul, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Pat Buchanan, Joan Walsh, Jack Rice, Ernest Istook, A.B. Stoddard

ED SCHULTZ, HOST:  Good evening, Americans.  Welcome to THE ED SHOW.  Tonight, guess what?  Nothing changed for the bad guys.  Mitch McConnell says health care reform is dead.  Jim DeMint is talking about Waterloo again. 

Let me be very clear.  Crystal clear to the viewers of this show and of the listeners of my radio talk show, we‘re not going to do a head count on a cable talk show and pass legislation.  But, what we are going to do is make sure that the Democrats know if they side with the guys that are the bad guys on this, against the people in Conference Committee, there‘s going to be hell to pay at the polls. 

If this is about reform, if this is about change, liberals, we‘ve got to stay focused.  The bipartisan moderate slap in the face, liberal Baucus bill, has netted how in Republicans?  Zero.  We‘re still stuck on zero.  Remember that.  The Finance Committee put up a bill that comes, OK, well under the $900 billion, and I know we‘re all wiping our pockets out, really happy for that.  Look, it doesn‘t create a national insurance plan, doesn‘t cover everybody.  It includes tax incentives for businesses and the GOP still says no. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There are those who consider this a zero sum game and will only declare victory if President Obama concedes defeat. 

It‘s telling that their most of their oft repeated arguments, protest not the content of the bill, but now, Mr. President, the number of pages of the bill.  How‘s that for criticism?  The bill has too many pages. 

SEN DICK DURBIN, MAJORITY WHIP:  Senator Baucus said I have to try everything I can to make this bipartisan, and he did.  He spent months at it.  Day after day after day and what does he have to show for it?  At the end of it, two of the Republican senators walked out saying:  we‘re not interested, and the others said:  I‘ll wait and see. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Now, just remember, we‘ve compromised.  No single payer, and now there‘s this talk of a deal about a compromise on co-op.  I‘ll get to that in just a minute.  Just remember, the Republicans are nowhere to be found when it comes to reform.  They‘re protecting big business and the insurance companies. 

But, despite the majorities in the House and the Senate, the Democrats seem to kind find a will to get this thing together.  The Baucus bill isn‘t a full wallet, it is loose change, folks, it‘s a hoodwink.  There are some good things in it, I‘ll grant you that.  Getting rid of the preexisting conditions, limiting premium prices, yet I got to see more fine print on that, taxing so-called “Cadillac plans” for the rich, well somebody‘s got to pay for this stuff. 

But the Baucus bill only covers 94 percent of the people.  It leaves 25 million people uninsured.  Now, hold it right there.  This means that 25 million people are still going to be storming emergency rooms looking for coverage and where do you think costs are going to go?  You got to stay focused, we have got to get everybody covered.  They‘re going to be a drag on the system. 

Now, as we‘ve been told by Wendell Potter, this is nothing but a big gift to the insurance industry.  Hey, here‘s a bunch more customers and guess what, Uncle Sam‘s going to be paying for them.  The government is paying you to pay private insurance companies.  That‘s supposed to be a deal?  They‘re not looking for any change, here.  This isn‘t reform.  This is a sellout.  The House is floating, an interesting area to fix a lot of stuff. 

Now, Nancy Pelosi, House speaker, said Democrats are looking for a windfall profits tax on insurance companies.  That‘ll make them nervous. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE SPEAKER:  I have asked Chairman Rangel to ask his staff to see what is in it for us in terms of a windfall profit tax on income on the insurance companies. 

There is more that the insurance companies could contribute to this health care reform.  After all, they‘re going to get 50 million new consumers.  Many of them subsidized by the taxpayer, and we think they can put more on the table. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Thank you for the counterpunch, Nancy Pelosi.  That‘s how you play with these righties.  Come back at them and say look, you want to compromise on public option, OK, this is what we‘re going to do to the insurance industry.  This is how it‘s supposed to be played. 

Now, there were also a couple developments in the Senate, today. 

Barack Obama called Olympia Snowe, I guess they‘re getting along just fine.  She confirmed that they talked about the trigger, all right, but did not disclose the full details of the conversation.  Also the public option compromise, which was first reported on this show by “Huffington Post” reporter, Sam Stein, last night, that that would create a national plan, but allow states to opt out, joining that plan apparently has support of a couple of Democrats on opposite ends of the spectrum, both Chuck Schumer, a strong supporter of the public option, and Max Baucus, they are activity considering the idea. 

And late today, you know what?  I never thought I‘d be left of Howard Dean, but I guess I am.  Howard Dean, a Doctor whose opinion carries a lot of weight with lefties, threw his support behind this state opt-in, opt-out gig? 

Dean says that it‘s real public plan, it‘s real reform and if the opt-out proposal were to get 60 votes in the Senate, Democrats ought to support that.  Hold the phone on that! What‘s going—am I the last rat to leave the ship?  What the hell‘s going on? 

The Republicans are getting everything they want for the insurance industry.  And I will tell you what, this isn‘t over, lefties, we got to e-mail, we got to call, we got to stay focused, we got to be on this. 

No cable talk show is going to talk somebody into a vote.  I understand that.  But, I do believe that there are Americans out there that want this; that can be motivated to force these folks that when they get in the Conference Committee, they‘ll remember it‘s about the people and not the insurance industry.  Get out your cell phones, I want to know what you think about this.  Are Democrats, are they at a point where they‘re just going to take anything when it comes to health care bill?  Text A for yes, B to no to 622639, we‘ll bring you the results later on in the program. 

All right, lots flying around on Capitol Hill, today.  Joining me now is Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, he‘s a member of both the Senate Finance Committee, “Gang of Six” and also on the Senate Health Committee. 

Senator, at this hour, you are the perfect interview and I appreciate your time tonight, because we have to mesh these two things and you have been right at the firewall with all of this.  Now, where do we stand on the state opt-in, opt-out program?  Is this something that you could support and if you could, why? 

SEN JEFF BINGAMAN (D), FINANCE COMMITTEE:  Well, frankly, Ed, we just went through a couple of weeks of mark-up on the bill.  There was ample opportunity for that to be put forward as an amendment.  I never did see an amendment offered involving that concept.  My initial reaction to it is that states have the authority right now if they want to establish a so-called “public” option within their state, there‘s no prohibition against that in federal law, there‘s nothing to keep them from doing that, so I guess the idea of having a state opt-in to a national public option might be that the federal government would provide assistance to states that wanted to do it, but I‘m not sure that‘s what is being thought about.  So, I‘m sort of agnostic until I learn more about the proposal. 

SCHULTZ:  OK, so this is pretty much an 11th hour curveball, just trying to get some people satisfied with a government plan that might be involved in providing competition, is that correct? 

BINGAMAN:  Well, I don‘t want to characterize it as a curveball.  It may be something that merits serious consideration.  As I say, though, we had a chance to offer the public option.  Senator Rockefeller offered one version, which I supported.  Senator Schumer offered another version, which I thought was even a better proposal.  I supported that.  There wasn‘t anything offered involving any opt-in or opt-out opportunity for states. 

SCHULTZ:  See, this is a late-inning twist is what it is and I think it‘s part of a stall tactic and a diversion, but that‘s just my opinion. 

Now, to the point, Senator, the Senate Finance Committee bill, as it stands at this hour, do you think it can get 60 votes? 

BINGAMAN:  Well, I‘m not sure whether it can.  I certainly hope it can.  But, I—we‘re not going to get the vote on the Finance Committee bill. 

SCHULTZ:  Not until Tuesday, yeah.

BINGAMAN:  No, well we vote on it in committee on Tuesday, but the full Senate is never going to vote on it.  The full Senate is going to vote on the merged bill that Senator Reid develops from the finance bill and the Health Committee. 

SCHULTZ:  And you‘re on both of those committees, and in the Senate health bill, it‘s got a public option and your colleague Sherrod Brown has circulated a letter stating what senators are for public option.  Only 30 of them have signed it, and your name‘s not on it.  Why not? 

BINGAMAN:  Well, frankly, I‘m not in the practice of writing letters to Senator Reid.  I see him about every hour and a half and when I have things to say to him, I say to him and he says things to me. 

SCHULTZ:  So, what do you say about a public option, are you for it or against it?  Would you go along?

BINGAMAN:  Frankly, he hadn‘t asked my opinion, as of yet.  I voted for it in the Health Committee, I voted for it the Finance Committee.  I‘ll vote for it if the opportunity presents itself on the Senate floor, which I believe it will.  And I don‘t know if he will put it in a bill he brings to the Senate floor or it‘ll be proposed as an amendment on the Senate floor.  But, either way, I would plan to support it.  I‘ll vote for it if the opportunity presents itself on the Senate floor, which I believe it will.  I don‘t know if he will put it in a bill he brings to the Senate floor or opposed as an amendment.  Either way, I would plan to support it. 

SCHULTZ:  OK, Senator, well, I will count that as a signature, just because your name is not on here, we got a commitment that you‘re to be a public option, which I think speaks volumes and I appreciate your time. 

BINGAMAN:  Good talking to you. 

SCHULTZ:  You bet.  Senator Jeff Bingaman from New Mexico with us here on THE ED SHOW, tonight.

John Nichols, Washington correspondent of “The Nation” is here. 

Now, this letter that Sherrod Brown is sending around and everybody says oh, they‘ve only have 30 signatures! Wait a second, there‘s 31.  This is the point I‘m trying to make.  I don‘t think that you can do a head count on a cable talk show and say, well, everything‘s going to fail and liberals can go home now, they lost.  I don‘t buy that. 

Now, I also don‘t buy that this state opt-in, whatever the heck that is, all this is going to do is give the conservatives a chance to fight against any real reform.  Your thoughts on that—John. 

JOHN NICHOLS, “THE NATION”:  I think the state opt-in, opt-out is a nightmare and I‘ll tell you why.  I don‘t think people understand what happens with programs like this.  You have to think back to welfare, back to before the welfare reform programs of the mid 1990s, when some states had better welfare programs than other ones.  Those became political footballs.  You would see right-wing Republicans, often financed by a lot of special interests, run against a moderate Democratic governor saying:  oh, he‘s giving away the store, he‘s taking your tax money and attracting people from other states to gibe them welfare. 

SCHULTZ:  So, it divides people.

NICHOLS:  It divides them, it divides them along the lines of race, along lines of ethnicity, along lines of color.  This is a bad road to go down. 

SCHULTZ:  And the funding of it, obviously, is going to be a question, as Senator Binghamton said.  But if you look at how the insurance industry has thrown lobbyists at this, on a state level there‘s a lot of easy votes that can be bought, a lot of elections that can be easily swayed to keep states out of opting in or out of the public option. 

NICHOLS:  You end up creating a race to the bottom, not a race to the top.  Instead of—as Senator Bingaman said, and he‘s right, states can do this right now.  States can create single payer programs right now, if they wanted to. 

SCHULTZ:  Where‘s Obama?  Where is the president of the United States on this at this hour?  Your thoughts? 

NICHOLS:  I think the president is about to make a move.  He has to.  Because, once that Senate Finance Committee votes on Tuesday, you‘re going to have to begin reconciling these bills, both in the House and in the Senate.  When that happens, if the president doesn‘t step up and send a signal, he‘s going to get a dumbed down bill and he‘s going to end up spending a lot of political capital on something that, frankly, isn‘t going to be very impressive.  He‘s got to push up, not allow the compromises to push it down. 

SCHULTZ:  John Nichols, great to have you with us. 

NICHOLS:  Thank you.

SCHULTZ:  Thanks so much.  John Nichols of “The Nation,” here on THE

ED SHOW.

Coming up, this is the worst job market we‘ve had in 70 years.  A tax credit for new jobs could help, but some call it corporate welfare.  Former secretary of Labor, Robert Reich will be joining us to break it down in just a moment. 

Plus, Michelle Bachmann has taken crazy to another level.  She says her critics, a group that definitely includes me, are stalking her.  She says MSNBC is stalking her.  Congresswoman, you say stupid things, and you‘re back in “Psycho Talk.” stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Coming up, you know, I think rich people are sitting on their money and it‘s not doing anything to help create jobs, they keep manufacturing.  Later, we‘ll tell us what the president should do about that, in a moment.  You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  The issue is American jobs. 

Unemployment at a 26-year high, benefits are running out for thousands.  Take for instance Detroit has the highest unemployment rate in the country at 27.8 percent.  Today, 35,000 people in that city lined up for hours to apply for a share of federal stimulus funds to help pay for housing.  Only 3,500 f them will get it.  That‘s in this country, folks. 

How bad is it getting?  For more, let me bring in Robert Reich, former Labor secretary in the Clinton administration, professor of public policy at U.C.  Berkeley, he is also the author of the book “Super Capitalism.”

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

ROBERT REICH, FORMER LABOR SECRETARY:  Hi Ed.

SCHULTZ:  We got some issues, how do we do to fix this?  Right straight to the point, what should we do?

REICH:  Well, No.  1, a new jobs tax credits.  That is small businesses that create most of the jobs in this country ought to, basically, get a tax credit for every new job that they create over and above the jobs that they‘ve had since, let‘s say, September 30. 

No.  2, we ought to exempt the first $20,000 of somebody‘s income from the payroll tax, at least for a year.  Payroll tax, holiday, put money directly into people‘s pockets.

No.  3, a new WPA, like we had during the Depression.  If you can‘t get a job, hire people directly, fix the parks, train them to administer swine flu vaccines.  I mean, we got a lot of things that need to be done in this country; we ought to actually get people employed because there is nothing more wasteful for individuals or for the country, than somebody who‘s lying around, just sitting around waiting to be hired. 

SCHULTZ:  Robert, what hair I have left, it does go up on the back of my neck when I see this number.  Back on March 6 of this year, the stock market was at 6,443.  Today, it closed at 9,786.  Hey, I‘m all for profit and I‘m all for people making money, but those aren‘t Main Street numbers, those are Wall Street numbers.  And until we can get cheap money to small business with flexible terms, I mean, three percent money and we can change the terms as we go along depending on how the economy works for that particular business, this recovery isn‘t going to happen because the risk takers are not coming into the market.  Now, your thoughts on that?  If I‘m wrong, tell me, but that‘s how I read it right now. 

REICH:  First of all, on the stock market.  The stock market as we have learned, painfully, is not an accurate gauge of the real economy at all.  I mean, one of the reasons that corporate earnings are going up is because they are cutting their costs and their main cost is their payrolls.  So, they‘re slicing payrolls, causing more unemployment.  It shows, at least on paper, that their earnings are going up, but more are losing their jobs and that mean fewer people are able to buy the goods and services those businesses are creating.  So, it‘s a self-inflicted wound over the long-term. 

Secondly, you‘re absolutely right.  I mean, small businesses need to be able to get credit and the banks are not providing the credit to them.  I mean, the big Wall Street banks, the five biggest ones, they‘re sitting pretty.  They‘ve never had it so good, they‘re going back to what they were doing in 2007, their executives are doing fine, their bonus pool is terrific.  But, smaller banks that actually provide small businesses with loans, those small banks are in terrible trouble, right now. 

SCHULTZ:  OK, now this is going on, we‘re in month No.  10 now, OK?  I don‘t think the Obama administration gets cheap money in flexible terms for small businesses.  I don‘t think they get it.  I don‘t know how in people in the administration have actually had to meet payroll and write the check to take the chance for a small business and I think they need to address this. 

REICH:  I do too, Ed.  I think it‘s—you know, it‘s not just small businesses, it‘s Main Street, generally.  I mean, people are still having huge problems with their mortgage loans.  I mean, this whole notion of helping people revise their mortgage loans and modify their loans, that‘s not happening.  A lot of students can‘t get education loans.  A lot of people can‘t get auto loans.  Now, these are good credit risks.  I‘m not talking about bad credit risks, I‘m talking about good credit risks.  I mean, you know, we bailed out the big guys, we bailed out Wall Street, but nothing is trickling down. 

SCHULTZ:  Thank you Mr. Reich, I appreciate your time, tonight. 

Thanks so much.

REICH:  Thanks.

SCHULTZ:  I should also point out that the $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyer, that‘s going to expire here at the end of the month.  I mean, that‘s been a good program.  They‘re going to have to address that. 

For more on manufacturing and how to create jobs, let‘s bring in Scott Paul, executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing. 

Scott, you know, let‘s talk about Detroit.  We have to start viewing people as a commodity, as something that can be good for the economy to employ people.  What could we do with the city of Detroit sitting at 27 percent plus unemployment and thousands willing to work?  What can we do to fix that? 

SCOTT PAUL, ALLIANCE FOR AMERICAN MANUFACTURING:  I think the possibilities are unlimited.  And it‘s important to keep in mind exactly as you said, Ed, our most valuable asset, as Americans, are the innovation, ingenuity and hard work of our workers.  Let‘s put them back to work.  I like some of the ideas that the Secretary Reich had.  I think we also need to focus on long-term economic growth in the United States, we need to be investing, right now, in high-speed rail, we need to be investing in clean energy, we need to be getting, as you say, some capital to the small and mid-sized manufacturers and we need to be creating markets for this.  We‘re behind.  China‘s doing this, Germany‘s doing this, Korea‘s doing this, Japan is doing it.  We‘re the only one, we‘re the only country, Ed, that sitting there, we‘re kind of sitting on our hands wondering what to do, not wanting to aggravate Wall Street or the markets. 

But we got to forge ahead.  Otherwise, this 15 percent unemployment in Michigan is going to keep growing and growing and growing.  The situation in Detroit is only going to grow more grim and it‘s a shameful, shameful sight to see all those people on the street.  These are people who once worked in factories, who made things that were terrific, who took pride in their work.  We got to put them back to work. 

SCHULTZ:  Do we need a Manhattan project in Detroit? 

PAUL:  We absolutely do.  I mean, we have workers who worked for years in factories that made great automobiles.  They can make fuel cells, they can make LED lighting, they can make rail cars for high-speed rail, they can make the next generation of automobiles.  They just need a chance.  They need some of that Wall Street money invested in Detroit rather than in China where it‘s all going, right now. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, FDR did it, I don‘t know why Obama can‘t do it and it‘s probably because the Republicans would be against that, too.  The Senate‘s probably going to vote here, pretty soon, on extending these unemployment benefits another 17 weeks for 50 states.  That‘s good for now, but that‘s not the answer.  We got to start making stuff in this country. 

Scott, good to have you with us, tonight.  Thanks for your time. 

PAUL:  Thanks, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  Next up, I‘ve shown you how crazy Michele Bachmann is and now we can add paranoid to the list.  You won‘t believe what she‘s saying now about this network and how people are stalking her.  “Psycho Talk” coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  “Psycho Talk” tonight.  Frequent visitor and star, Michele Bachmann, congresswoman from Minnesota.  The paranoia, folks, is really setting in.  Yesterday she went on Fox and they asked her why the liberal media was so obsessed with her.  This is her response. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA CONGRESSWOMAN:  I think it happened with a competing cable network that took an interest in me and it‘s only grown and so now it‘s like I almost have personal stalkers, only they have TV shows. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Congresswoman, as a representative of that competing cable network, I have to tell you, and being a Minnesota resident, sometimes, this isn‘t stalking.  You‘re an elected official and the American people have a right to know when you say stuff that simply isn‘t true.  It‘s practically a full-time job to stay on top of all the lies you tell. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BACHMANN:  I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out are they pro-America or anti-America? 

The data that was collected by the Census Bureau was handed over to the FBI, and that‘s how the Japanese were rounded up and put into the internment camps. 

National takeover of health care. 

Sarah Palin easily is a competent woman. 

Not all cultures are equal. 

Death panels are the bureaucracies that President Obama is establishing that where—bureaucrats will make the decision on who gets health care. 

And thank god for Joe Wilson. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  That‘s only a fraction of the library, I might add.  Michele, the reason that we talk about you is because you‘re saying all this crazy stuff.  And we‘re going to keep on covering you until you stop saying all this crazy stuff.  But, don‘t get me wrong, because I don‘t want you to stop, this segment is a heck of a lot more fun for me to do and I think entertaining when you are in “Psycho Talk.”

Coming up, Jim DeMint is so relentless in trying to kill health care reform, I‘m starting to think his favorite word is “Waterloo.” Joan Walsh coming up to talk about that in the “Playbook.”

Plus, the president has a huge decision to make on Afghanistan and time is ticking away.  There‘s so much passion, so much passion on both sides of the debate.  Congressman Dennis Kucinich will join us, and also Pat Buchanan makes his first trip to THE ED SHOW.  Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  President Obama has a big decision to make on Afghanistan.  And he has a lot of voices to consider.  Most Republicans on the Hill want Obama to follow General McChrystal‘s advice and send tens of thousands of additional troops into the war zone of Afghanistan. 

But a recent poll found that 50 percent of the American people oppose a troop surge, or whatever you want to call it.  Democrats in Washington are divided.  Some, like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, have said they‘ll support whatever decision President Obama makes.  But others in the Congress want to end the war and bring the troops home. 

Joining me now is Democratic Congressman from Ohio Dennis Kucinich.  Congressman, great to have you with us tonight, on your birthday, I might add.  Thank you for staying with us in the dinner hour. 

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO:  Thank you. 

SCHULTZ:  Is this an easy call, in your opinion, for the president? 

What should he do? 

KUCINICH:  Well, it may not be an easy call for the president, because he has not determined to get out of Afghanistan, nor get out of Iraq.  So once you start to get into the slippery slope of entertaining general suggestions to send more troops, you start to cut off the possibility that you‘re going to pack up the troops and get out. 

So he must be in a difficult way on this.  We need to get out and get out now. 

SCHULTZ:  Why?  Why do we have to get out? 

KUCINICH:  First of all, you have total corruption in the country.  It‘s a weak central government.  You have gang lords and drug lords running Afghanistan.  There‘s no way to plan a democracy there.  We‘re looking at more losses of our troops.  We‘re destabilizing the Pakistan border. 

This is a losing proposition for the United States.  And we need to recognize that.  I‘m hopeful that President Obama will go with his first inclination on Afghanistan, which is to start to go in a direction of getting out.  And it doesn‘t look like that‘s going to happen right now. 

Congressman, Devil‘s Advocate here.  Isn‘t it too much of a gamble for us not to have a presence there?  What kind of presence would you suggest that we have to fight people who do want to hit this country? 

KUCINICH:  Every occupation fuels an insurgency.  Al Qaeda didn‘t have a presence in Iraq until we went into Iraq.  And now we‘re there and look at the mess we‘re in.  We need to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and start taking care of things here at home, and work with the world community to help stabilize that broader region. 

We cannot go it alone.  We can‘t go it alone because we don‘t have the troops.  We don‘t have the resources.  We can‘t keep spending trillions on war on war, and forget health care and job creation and retirement security and education here at home. 

SCHULTZ:  Are you convinced that we can protect this country without having a presence in Afghanistan? 

KUCINICH:  Absolutely.  As a matter of fact, I‘m convinced that we‘ll be safer once we get out of areas where we‘re starting to inspire insurgencies.  What‘s happening—the more we‘re there, the more civilians are going to get killed.  Do you think if someone loses a member of their family, they are going to be a friend to the United States, if it our weapons or material that resulted in the deaths of the civilians that are there?  Just over maybe a million people have perished in Iraq at the hands of a war that was really based on lies.

We‘re creating enemies.  The way you create friends is you start to work with the wider region on matters of security.  We cannot police the world.  But we can be part of an effort to secure the world. 

SCHULTZ:  What kind of reaction do you think President Obama is going to get from his base if he does send what is requested, what has been requested, 40,000 troops? 

KUCINICH:  He‘s the president.  He can make the decision.  But let me point out something that the reporting is somehow ignoring.  And that is today, Ed, Congress approved 130 billion dollars—they authorized 130 billion dollars for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  And I think that you have to start considering that Congress is giving up its authority here by continuing to say, we‘re going to give you whatever money you want, you‘re the president. 

They‘re forgetting that the Constitution of the United States puts the power in the hands of Congress, under Article I, Section VIII, the War Power.  We have the power to cut off funds.  Once Congress cedes that, the president, essentially, is on his own.  Frankly, I don‘t think that‘s a good play for any president to be in matters of war and peace. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman Kucinich, appreciate your time tonight.  Thanks so much.

KUCINICH:  Thank you. 

SCHULTZ:  For more on this issue, let me bring in Pat Buchanan, former Republican presidential candidate and MSNBC analyst. 

Pat, your first appearance here.  Welcome to the People‘s Republic of Damn Good Television. 

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  I remember you from the Dakota days, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  Pat, what‘s the correct move here?  If the president decides not to put troops in, where does that leave us, in your opinion? 

BUCHANAN:  Well, I think you have to listen to General McChrystal‘s analysis.  He says, given the current balance of forces, we can‘t win this war, and we‘re risking mission failure.  We‘re risking a defeat.  We‘re risking a Taliban victory. 

That‘s your general.  When he tells you that, I think you can say, well, I don‘t care what he says, that‘s what we‘re going to do.  I think Obama is faced with two choices, starting to wind the war down or listening to General McChrystal if he wants to win it, or at least prevent a defeat, and provide him with the troops requested. 

It‘s a tough choice, but I think those are the choices. 

SCHULTZ:  What is the definition of defeat?  If he makes a decision to get out, and still says that we can be protected as a country, where is the defeat? 

BUCHANAN:  The defeat would be here: the United States started this war on the Taliban.  We overthrew them.  The United States will lose.  The Taliban will walk into Kabul.  They will control the south and east.  The United States will be seen as having been defeated. 

The people who cast their lot with the Americans will be slaughtered and massacred.  You‘ll have city officials, tribal leaders, government officials, soldiers, women who taught in these women schools, they will be wiped out, just as they were in Algeria, Vietnam and Cambodia.  Across the Arab and Islamic world, it will be seen that the Americans committed themselves to a war; they said we‘re going to turn this into a democracy.  And after 800 dead, the Americans turn tailed and walked out, just like the Russians did. 

I think that will be a dramatic loss for the United States in the Arab and Islamic world.  Maybe that‘s coming, Ed.  Maybe that‘s unavoidable.  But I will tell you, we ought to look a defeat in the face, and its consequences.  And I think those are what it will be. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, you know, the appetite for war is starting to dwindle in this country.  The polls are very clear.

BUCHANAN:  Understandably.

SCHULTZ:  The Vietnam War lasted 102 months.  And we‘re at now month 96 in Afghanistan.  The president is going to have to have some political will behind him to maintain this.  I mean, to send 40,000 troops in there, Pat, this means another—at least another two to three years.  I mean, do we have the stomach for that right now?  Are the American people going to be with the president on that? 

SCHULTZ:  I think McChrystal tends to agree with you on this.  He realizes, look, we‘re going to do what we have to do in 12 to 18 months to turn this around, because the patience and the perseverance of the American people for this war is fading.  Half the country is against it.  Half the country is against putting more troops in there. 

And there‘s still a possibility, in my judgment, down the road, that if he ratchet up 40,000, the Taliban see us and raise, or they hold out for a little while, saying the American are only going to put in another year, then we‘ll take over. 

I think that‘s what Obama is faced with.  It doesn‘t make sense, Ed, to sit there and hold with the present strategy, when even your commander you sent in there says look, this isn‘t working.  We got to change the strategy.  And we need more troops. 

SCHULTZ:  Pat, this is long-term interventionism is what it is.  I mean, how do we know—

BUCHANAN:  Ed—

SCHULTZ:  How do we that know we‘re going to be safer with a presence in Afghanistan?  That‘s a judgment call. 

BUCHANAN:  I don‘t think we should have gone into Iraq; 4,000 dead, the cost enormous.  I don‘t think we should have gone nation building in Afghanistan.  I think we should have gone in, as per General Powell.  Go in, you got to knock over the Taliban to get at al Qaeda.  Go after al Qaeda, try to kill them and get rid of them. 

If they move out, then you move out.  And you tell the Taliban, if they come back in, look, if you do this, if you give these guys sanctuary, we‘re coming in and it is going to be worse for you.  In the meantime, we‘re going to be bombing you. 

But to go in and try to build a country out of that backward area that has never known any kind of democracy as we know it—it‘s not western.  It‘s Islamic.  I think their government comes out organically out of the roots of the civilization.  And we can‘t re-create Vermont in the Hindu Kush. 

SCHULTZ:  Pat Buchanan, always a pleasure.  Hope to have you back.

A lot of ifs in that answer, buddy. 

BUCHANAN:  It‘s a tough call.  He‘s got to go, I think, this way or this way.

SCHULTZ:  Thanks, Pat.  Appreciate it.

Coming up, the president‘s playing basketball with some Blue Dogs tonight.  How is that for diplomacy?  I think it‘s time for the president to get into the game on health care myself.  New poll numbers show when the president gets involved, support for reform goes up.  Joan Walsh, her take in playbook when we come back, and other issues on THE ED SHOW.  Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Tonight, President Obama going to be playing a pickup game at the White House tonight.  Arne Duncan, Education Secretary, Tim Geithner—he doesn‘t have any game.  What‘s he playing for?  And a bunch of Blue Dogs, they‘re going to be there.  I hope the president gives them a locker room talk. 

In all seriousness, the president has been on the sidelines I think way too long in this health care debate.  Once the Finance Committee votes, he needs to just jump in the game and lay out what he wants.  This is a critical moment for the president. 

A new poll yesterday showed a major uptick in the president‘s approval rating for support on health care reform.  Pollsters say the public liked it when the president got involved.  He spoke to Congress.  He went on the road.  He needs to keep the pressure on.  A Quinnipiac poll just out today showed confusion still reigns when it comes to health care: 47 percent say they oppose the president‘s plan, but 61 percent say they support a public option. 

I also think Democrats need to start calling the Republicans obstructionists because I don‘t think the American people quite get it.  Only 27 percent of them think the GOP is acting in good faith.  OK, they get that.  But 57 percent of them say that they want a bipartisan bill.  I have no idea what the heck that is about. 

The Democrats can‘t focus on the Republicans, to work with them, can‘t count on them at all.  We need to move forward.  And we will right now with Joan Walsh, editor in chief of Salon.com. 

Joan, good to have you on tonight.  Thank you.  The latest news out of Washington is that they‘re working on a state opt-in, opt-out deal.  What‘s your quick take on that?  What do you think? 

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM:  I‘m going to be agnostic on that until I hear the details.  I just want to go back to that poll contradiction you pointed to, Ed. I think that is Americans being against gridlock.  And they think that bipartisanism is the way to get around gridlock.  They don‘t yet understand, because Obama, frankly, hasn‘t told them, that the problem is there are no Republicans to compromise with.  That‘s why we have gridlock. 

So in terms of the opt-in, opt-out, opt-in would be a disaster.  Opt-out, I would like to hear the details.  The only good point about opt-out is something that Paul Krugman raised on his blog today.  He said it might be fun to see these red state Democrats or Republicans, whoever they are, telling their constituents, we‘re going to opt out of this cheaper plan; you‘re going to pay more, because I‘m on the payroll of the insurance industry.  That might be interesting.

So let‘s see what they really flesh out before we get all over it.  It could possibly work. 

SCHULTZ:  It would appear to me that it would pit states against states, because the conservative states—and they are out there—would say, hey, we don‘t want to be like them across the river, because they got to pay the taxes.  Their local taxes are going up.  You, all of a sudden, have a target to blame, and it would be health care reform.  So it divides people.  I think it‘s dangerous move.  I think it‘s a sellout by the Democrats.  What do you think? 

WALSH:  I think it‘s probably somewhat of a sellout.  Again, I‘m passionately for a public option.  I want a strong public option. 

This is a real compromise.  Let‘s be clear.  The only thing I would say is I think it‘s not just that subsidized people would get the public option.  You or I, if we were unemployed, or if our employer did not give health insurance, we could pay into it also.  So you have people who have skin in the game, who are going to be handed over to the insurance companies to pay this mandatory health insurance premium.  I think those people will get smart, if their state decides to opt out. 

It‘s not just like a welfare program.  I don‘t mean to disparage welfare programs.  But working people who are now forced to pay for health insurance would have to pay for it, they might say, why are you—

Californians have this great public option.  Why are we in, say Montana, going without it? 

SCHULTZ:  What‘s the play for the Democrats on the push back on Medicare?  This is a sound cut from Harry Reid on Medicare.  Here it is. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HARRY REID (D), MAJORITY LEADER:  Ever since Senate Republicans opposed the creation of Medicare, they spent the past 40 years on the wrong side of history when it comes to helping seniors.  In the past ten years, Republicans have voted against protecting and strengthening Medicare 59 times. 

The American people can be excused for not buying Republican‘s 11th hour claim that they‘re the true guardians of senior‘s health care. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Today, the Republicans were quick to point out that in the Senate Finance Bill, there‘s a 500 billion dollar cut to seniors.  Who‘s going to win this bar, Joan?  How does this play out? 

WALSH:  I think it‘s tough to explain in the abstract, Ed, and taken out of context, the Republicans have been using it.  But I think that Harry Reid‘s logic, said with a lot of passion and said often, can carry the day.  They‘ve always opposed Medicare.  It‘s ridiculous to see them as the defenders of Medicare. 

And the cut is actually a complicated kind of restructuring.  They will not cut senior‘s care and they will not cut Medicare.  That‘s not what they‘re doing.  So I think if the Democrats get tough, take on these lies, basically, they can win.  If they are namby pamby and try to compromise, they‘re going to get rolled. 

SCHULTZ:  Joan, Salon.com, thank you so much. 

WALSH:  Thanks, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  Coming up, over 400,000 unemployed Americans lost their health care last month.  Congress is considering a lifeline to those who face the chopping block.  That‘s one subject we‘ll talk about with our hot panel, next, along with health care and Afghanistan.  You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.  Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Well, I guess it‘s the economy.  The most telling poll number out there today may be this: when voters were asked what is most important problem the country is facing right now, 42 percent of the folks said the economy; 18 percent said health care.  Nothing else hit double digits, not even the war expenditures.  Interesting. 

Jack Rice joining us tonight.  He is radio talk show host and former CIA officer.  Also on our panel tonight, A.B. Stoddard, associate editor for “The Hill,” and Earnest Istook, Congressman on the Republican side, now a distinguished fellow at the Heritage Foundation. 

A.B., the president is spending time on health care.  But it is about jobs, according to the people.  What is his time frame for having to turn that number around, in your opinion? 

A.B. STODDARD, “THE HILL”:  I think he has to get health care off the table as soon as humanly possible.  He has some tough races he‘s looking at in Virginia, and New Jersey in a couple weeks.  Virginia, the Democrat is behind.  Republicans could win that race.  It would demoralize nervous House Democrats and Senate Democrats.  They need to get the health care bill off the table and get right back to jobs, and stay on that through the 2010 midterm elections. 

SCHULTZ:  Ernest, what should the president do? 

ERNEST ISTOOK, FMR. CONGRESSMAN:  I think he needs to give up the idea that somehow you create more jobs with taxes and more government spending on health care, or that you create more jobs with government spending on so-called stimulus, or he says create more jobs with energy taxes.  No. 

Let businesses have the incentives that we supplied when the

Republicans had the majority, that businesses have the certainty that know

--

SCHULTZ:  The money is still expensive, Ernest.  The rates for small businesses are still high and the terms are terrible.  And that is Obama‘s fault.  He‘s got to address that.  I agree with that portion of it, if that‘s where you‘re going.

Jack Rice, where does the president go when it comes to creating jobs?  I mean, the stimulus package, shovel ready projects—I mean, the jobless claims are down for the last month at 521,000.  That is encouraging.  That‘s the lowest number we‘ve had since January.  Are we maybe too impatient?  What do you think? 

JACK RICE, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  I think we‘re a little impatient. 

But I can understand it.  If I‘m a person losing my job, guess what?  Whether it‘s eight percent, 10 percent, or 20 percent unemployment, I‘m the one who is looking right now.  President Obama needs to be aggressive on this issue. 

When he turns around and looks at Wall Street and says, look at the numbers; it‘s almost 10,000, guess what?  That doesn‘t reflect what‘s going on in Main Street.  People are saying, if we‘re going to talk about the economy for real, let‘s talk about jobs for real.  So his focus shouldn‘t be this voodoo, trickle down economics of the Reagan administration and the Bush Administration—two tax cuts, by the way.  How are those going for you? 

Instead, let‘s look at jobs and go directly to the people, and bring those jobs to them, rather than somehow saying, we‘ll just cut your taxes for the rich guys, and somehow you‘ll get a dollar or two somewhere down the road. 

SCHULTZ:  A.B., what should the president do if the Senate Finance Committee doesn‘t appear to be able to get 60 votes?  Where does it go? 

STODDARD:  You know, he—it really appears that the reaction in town

today to the numbers that the Senate Finance Committee was able to produce

after being scored by the Congressional Budget Office—this was a deficit

cutter at under 900 billion over ten years.  I really think he‘s going to

stick with this bill, Ed.  I know you don‘t love this bill.  But the five -

the four other bills are more expensive.  And I really think, in the end, he‘s going to drive the consensus around the Finance bill. 

SCHULTZ:  Ernest, any Republicans going to jump on the Senate Finance Committee bill?  What do you think? 

ISTOOK:  I think the notion that this bill would actually cut the deficit was actually written by the tooth fairy.  It has fictitious cuts that you know are not going to happen in Medicare spending.  Congress has said that before, didn‘t follow through.  The CBO report even says as much.  Then over 60 percent of the House Democrats have written a letter to Speaker Pelosi saying don‘t go with this tax on health care. 

SCHULTZ:  Jack, the pressure is on Nancy Pelosi.  Is that a fair statement? 

RICE:  Absolutely.  She has to push.  You know what?  The Republicans have already proven this; they have no problem with hurting America so long as they hurt President Obama, so long as they hurt the Democrats.  President Obama must step up now in the reconciliation process. 

SCHULTZ:  Thank you, panel.  I appreciate it.  Earlier I asked you, are Democrats at the point where they just want to take any kind of health care bill passed?  Sixty four percent of you said yes; 36 percent said no. 

That‘s THE ED SHOW.  We‘re back tomorrow night from Minneapolis.  I got to see what they‘re saying in the Heartland this weekend.  Chris Matthews, “HARDBALL” is next on MSNBC.

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