THE ED SHOW
November 6, 2009
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Guest host: David Shuster
Guests: Tom Tancredo, Markos Moulitsas, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Bill Press, Chrystia Freeland, Ron Christie, Andy Cobb, Robert Greenwald, Lizz Winstead
DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC GUEST ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody. I'm David Shuster, in for Ed Schultz.
At this hour the wheels are in motion for historic vote tomorrow in the U.S. House of Representatives on landmark legislation to reform the nation's health care system. The stakes are huge. So big, in fact, that the White House is doing a full-court press to coax shaky Democrats off the fence and into the yes column.
Vice President Joe Biden worked the phones lobbying moderate Democrats today. And tomorrow President Obama will go to the Hill to speak to the Democratic caucus hoping a little presidential pressure will convince undecideds.
That push was already under way this afternoon, inside the Oval Office where the president met personally with Bill Owens, the newest moderate Democrat in the House. Owens was the Democrat who won that special election Tuesday night in New York's 23rd Congressional District.
Republicans don't have the numbers to vote down the bill. Their only move is to try and scare conservative Democrats into voting no. So the GOP has offered an alternative bill. It would leave 17 percent of all Americans uninsured; the same percentage as today. The Democratic bill would cover nearly everyone.
The GOP plan would shave $68 billion off the deficit. The Democratic plan would cut the deficit almost twice that much. And pre-existing conditions, they will still exist under the Republican plan; the Democratic plan would make that kind of insurance discrimination illegal.
That's where the debate should be, on the differences between the Democratic and Republican proposals. Well, the House GOP leadership has now embraced the most extreme elements of the Republican Party.
Yesterday Republican lawmakers participated in a rally supposedly against the Democrats' health care plan, but it had all the trappings of a proverbial orgy of bigotry, racism, anti-Semitism and hate. One after another the celebrity speakers delivered vicious attacks on President Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON VOIGHT, ACTOR: His only success in his one-year term as president is taking America apart piece by piece. Could it be he has had 20 years of subconscious programming by Reverend Wright to damn America?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUSTER: Then Republican leaders spoke. And as they continued the Obama bashing, directly in front of that lectern was this sign of President Obama in a white coat, his face painted to look like the joker. It said "Stop Obamanism."
Of course, there were other offensive signs like this one, "Can you trust Obama?"-a reference to right-wing claims that the President of the United States is secretly a Muslim terrorist. This particular sign was autographed by Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King, yes he autographed it.
Other lawmakers signed autographs for protesters in the shadow of this banner. A photograph of corpses at a Nazi concentration camp, a word said "nationalized socialized health care".
Is there no shame anymore on the conservative right? Is there no decency anymore? A lot of Americans, a lot of us across the political spectrum grew up hearing about entire branches of our family who were slaughtered in concentration camps. And for all we know they may have been among the corpses stacked in that pile, photographed and used yesterday by the far right.
When anybody compares a health care proposal to the murders at Nazi death camps, it's offensive. And it diminishes all of us by diminishing just how evil the Holocaust really was. And yet the Republican House leaders yesterday, they were indifferent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, MINORITY LEADER: And I saw a lot of signs. I saw a lot of American flags. And I didn't see anything that I thought was disrespectful. Did someone have a sign that may have said something? They may have. I didn't see it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUSTER: What has become of our politics when not a single American lawmaker is willing to say to their own supporters, "Take that banner down?" Or refuses to acknowledge later, "Yes, that sign should not have been there."
Is it because the GOP now embraces the frenzy on the right even if is fuelled by hatred, racism and ignorance? Is that good for America?
Get your cell phones out. I want to know what you think. When a rally features racism and hatred, do elected leaders attending that rally have a responsibility to condemn it? Text "A" for yes, "B" for no to 622639; we will bring you the results later on in the show.
Now, for more, let's bring Markos Moulitsas, publisher of "The DailyKos" and Tom Tancredo, former Republican Congressman from Colorado. Congressman, why is it that the House Republican leadership is legitimizing hate?
TOM TANCREDO, FORMER GOP CONGRESSMAN: They're not and there any more than any Democrat who spoke to the thousands of crowds and rallies that were in Washington, D.C., against Bush. Where people-go to your computer, Google posters against Bush at rallies, it'll explode. You got Bush posters with the "S" looking like...
SHUSTER: Well, you're talking about code tank and there were not Democratic lawmakers, there's a different, Congressman, the House Democratic leadership was not there.
TANCREDO: Don't interrupt me.
You just asked me a question and I'm telling you that there were plenty of posters just as offensive and Democrats were speaking at the same time. I remember one gal carrying around a poster with a Bush head severed from the torso and all bloody. Nobody said anything about that. Listen this poster...
SHUSTER: Right that was wrong. But here's the question, is why didn't you say something about it then?
Congressman let's make it clear. Is it wrong when somebody shows a-at any rally when they show a photo at any rally of a Nazi concentration camp to try to make a point about anything? Is that appropriate, ever?
TANCREDO: You bet it's ever, you bet-never. It's all ugly. I'll tell you it's been ugly for a long, long time. But there's been no reaction by the part-on the press to all the crap I saw when I was in the Congress of the United States and people were coming there with posters and stuff about George Bush that would make your hair stand on end. But nobody said anything then. Ok, it's...
SHUSTER: Well, actually a lot of people did. But let's get to Markos Moulitsas. Markos, what's going on here?
TANCREDO: Who did that?
SHUSTER: All of us. I remember doing segments on "Hardball" when we featured code tank on some of the taxes video they were using-but that's another issue.
Marcus what's going on here on the Republican right?
MARCUS MOULITSAS, DAILYKOS: Yes absolutely there's been cranks on the left as well on some of those protests, but the difference is that the Democratic leadership did not stand in solidarity with those people.
You did not have Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid or any top senator or congressman with those people encouraging them and leading the kind of chants and the kind of encouragement that we saw yesterday.
I mean this is some of the ugliest rhetoric I think that I've seen in politics in a while including some of the more ridiculous anti-Bush stuff.
SHUSTER: And Markos, what does it do in terms of Democrats who-that you're targeting, for example, who may be looking for moderates? How can there be Democratic moderates who are looking for moderate Republicans to work with when it doesn't appear that the party is willing to embrace the moderates?
MARKOS: Well, there are moderate, I think, Republicans left. They're not in Congress. Those people are long gone and long extinct. But these are people like in New York 23 who were Republicans. It's a district that hadn't seen a Republican in a-hadn't seen a Democrat in 120 years.
And they elected a Democrat last Tuesday because these moderate Republicans realize that the modern Republican Party no longer represents them. Any party that will use pictures of dead Jewish children and compare that to affordable health care really has lost its ethical and moral moorings.
SHUSTER: Congress Tancredo while Speaker Boehner...
TANCREDO: Well, your party did that.
SHUSTER: ...well, yesterday there was a poster, there was a banner, we can show it again if you like. It was right there. Some of your ex-colleagues were there signing autographs under the banner and didn't say a word.
But on the issue of health care, itself, when House Minority Leader Boehner says that this Democratic health care proposal is the biggest threat to freedom he has ever seen, do you agree with him that it's the biggest threat that you've ever seen?
SHUSTER: Really, bigger than communism? Bigger than terrorism?
Bigger than loose a nuclear weapons? Go ahead.
TANCREDO: It's a threat because it's coming from the President of the United States. It's coming from the leadership in the Congress and it is a threat to the American way of life.
It is, in fact, socialism. It is, in fact, taking over a huge, huge part of our economy. And, you know, so, therefore, it is a true and very scary threat. And that's one place I certainly agree with you in that instead of all this, what I certainly believe is poster posturing, I mean, we don't even know that that poster that you're looking at -- for all I know, it was a Democrat, like the one in Michigan, you know, the guy holding the...
SHUSTER: Congressman there were a lot of posters yesterday.
TANCREDO: ... poster of Obama looking like a Nazi, that was a Democrat. That was a Democrat.
SHUSTER: Well, we spoke out against it if there was a Democratic infiltrator...
TANCREDO: So how do I know, how do I know?
TANCREDO: ... it could have been. It could have been.
SHUSTER: Well, Congressman let's explore what...
TANCREDO: But we should go back and talk about health care.
You're right. That's far more important than posters.
SHUSTER: Well, when you describe it as a threat, what specifically are you referring to, because a lot of Americans who have Medicare which is essentially a single payer government system, does Medicare threaten the security of the United States right now?
TANCREDO: Well, that's an interesting point, because, of course, the way that they try to say that this particular bill that they've proposed is not going to cost us $1 trillion, $800 billion, it's because they're going to take I mean, in extra money, is because it's going to take about $500 billion out of Medicare.
Medicare has already got lots and lots of problems. And I do think it's a problem. Absolutely, you can't keep doctors in the...
SHUSTER: Ok, so how about the veterans administration? The Veterans Administration is a single-payer system. Everybody in the military who was treated yesterday; so the military members, their health care system, that's also a threat to our freedom?
TANCREDO: Talk to every veterans group I ever went and talked to complained about the Veterans Administration and the way it was a bureaucratically run program that didn't serve their needs. They would rather have vouchers that would allow them to go out and buy their insurance in a private marketplace.
They've talked about it and at least you're laughing. David, talk to the veterans. They talk to me and that's what they said.
MARKOS: I'm a veteran, Tom-Tom, I'm a veteran.
MARKOS: Ok? I did not get a deferment because I was too depressed to fight in a war that I supported in Vietnam. I'm a veteran.
TANCREDO: Yes. Well decade, people want - they don't any more stupid things...
MARKOS: They want a more effective-they want a more effective VA. That's more money.
TANCREDO: No, you're not going to do that. You're not going to try to insult me that way and then pretend like we're just going on and talk about that. You either apologize.
MARKOS: I'm not pretending anything. I told you straight up.
The issue here, what the Republicans are afraid of, this is a threat to Republicans. They built an entire ideology predicated on telling people that government does not work. They are terrified of government programs that work because then people will realize that the government is not the enemy and that they're going to work-they're going to vote Democratic because Democrats are the party who realize that people need help and government can sometimes offer solutions.
SHUSTER: Thank you Markos Moulitsas and also Congress Tom Tancredo for the time that he was with us. I think he left a little bit early. But the congressman is always welcome on this show. We always appreciate hearing his point of view. And it's a feisty one. And that's what we like around here.
Markos, thank you as well.
One final comment regarding the health care situation in this country, the status quo right now is this: 45,000 Americans die each year because they don't have health insurance. Our nation ranks 31st in life expectancy, 34th in maternal mortality and 37th in infant mortality.
For one party, one-half of our political system to not take this problem seriously and to refuse to offer any real serious solutions is a disgrace. There are legitimate concerns, as the congressman raised about deficit spending and the role of the government in tackling our health care program. But concentration camps and Communist takeovers are not among them.
For Republican leaders to suggest otherwise is a degradation of the Office they hold. And if these elected Republicans think government is so evil, perhaps they should consider another line of work.
Coming up, more on the Capitol Hill craziness: Congressman Todd Akin got the TEA Party started with the pledge of allegiance. But he should have brought some cue cards. We'll show you what happened in "Psycho Talk".
Plus, an exclusive interview with the former blue cross blue shield front man. He says he did all the damage he could while employed as their spokes-jerk. That's coming up in the "Playbook."
All that plus "Daily Show" creator Lizz Winstead is in the house tonight.
You're watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.
SHUSTER: Coming up, flags are flying at half staff today as investigators search for clues about the massacre at Fort Hood. The suspected killer is alive.
At this hour, former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt has some new details in what may have led to the rampage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This morning I met with FBI Director Mueller and the relevant agencies to discuss their ongoing investigation into what caused one individual to turn his gun on fellow servicemen and women.
We don't know all the answers yet, and I would caution against jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUSTER: That was President Obama warning Americans not to jump to conclusions about the shooting rampage at the Fort Hood Army post in Texas. It left 13 people dead and dozens more wounded.
Today, details started pouring in about the suspected shooter Army psychiatrist Major Nidal Hasan.
Let's go right to NBC's Charles Hadlock live from Fort Hood-
CHARLES, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: David, we've learned that Major Nidal Hasan has been transferred now from the central Texas hospital where he was being treated to the Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio. He is said to be in a coma. He was shot four times and is on a respirator. That is all the details we know about his condition.
But some details are emerging about some of the heroes who emerged from yesterday's strategy. Sergeant Kim Munley, she was a civilian police officer who was one of the first responders to alive on the scene along with her supervisor. She was shot in the leg but she returned fire, hitting the suspect several times along with her partner who also returned fire.
That is one of the miracles of this. She was reported to have died in the gunfight. Late yesterday it was revealed she did survive and today was on the phone talking with friends about her recovery-David.
SHUSTER: And Charles, I understand that an Army investigation is under way now into possible missed signs involving the psychiatrist, Major Hasan?
HADLOCK: That's right. And Army team went to the apartment last night along with a bomb squad. The apartments were evacuated as the FBI and the bomb squad went through this apartment trying to find out exactly what was in it.
It was a $300-a-month apartment in Colleen where Major Hasan lived. And inside that they confiscated a computer and took away a large trash bin.
But what's really unusual about all this, David, is that the tales are beginning to emerge that Hasan on Wednesday went door to door to his neighbors and began giving away furniture and food. He said he was going to be deployed on Friday. On Thursday morning he knocked on his neighbor's door and gave her a Koran and asked her to clean up his apartment and offered her $60 to clean up his apartment on Friday when he leaves.
The Army will not say when he was scheduled to deploy but it was believed to be not on Friday but perhaps sometime after Thanksgiving. Just one of the many bizarre pieces of this tragic puzzle that investigators are having to deal with.
SHUSTER: Indeed. Charles Hadlock in Fort Hood. Charles thanks very much.
Let's bring in former FBI profiler and MSNBC analyst, Clint Van Zandt. Clint talk about some of the other red flags that have come out and what you think might have been missed in all of this.
CLINT VAN ZANDT, MSNBC ANALYST: Yes. I think there were a number. We wind up in these situations, David, we wind up -- (INAUDIBLE) our children. You know afterwards we find reasons to criticize ourselves. But in many cases it's really true. I think there's enough to go around both for the Military and for my former organization, the FBI and others.
As you and I have discussed, the FBI and other intelligence agencies, they're monitoring the Internet. They're looking for certain key words or pulling that down. They're trying to see, realizing that there's thousands of radicalized Islamic Web sites.
SHUSTER: And that's important because supposedly he wrote messages which praised suicide bombers and talked about killing 100 American soldiers.
VAN ZANDT: Yes. Someone using his name-at the very least, using that name-wrote messages about killing American soldiers. So when that came down and allegedly came to our government's attention about six months ago, from what we've heard so far, no one went to interview him.
We have flags coming up for the intelligence community saying someone's writing about one way or the other saying American soldiers die. And then we have this medical doctor. We have his-his former commander, David, said during a course of a conversation the major indicated he was happy when he heard that an American recruiting sergeant had been killed this last June by an Islamic fundamentalists.
When you have a major in the U.S. military saying he was happy an American soldier was murdered, right away there should have been flags gone up and there should have been a meeting. There should have been the intelligence community, the FBI, the military, the medical community, sitting down and saying, "What do we have here?"
And at the very least, someone should have set him down and said, "Major, we see these writings on the Internet, are these yours or not? Major, we've heard you made disparaging statements about the United States military, that you're unhappy about the U.S. policy and this alleged war on terrorism that we're involved in. How do you really feel about that?"
SHUSTER: Now, I understand you have some new information about one of the weapons that he allegedly used yesterday.
VAN ZANDT: This is a frightening thing, David. And this takes me into the realm of premeditation.
One of the weapons he used was allegedly a 5.7 mm semiautomatic pistol; now among some circles that's known as a cop-killer gun because that round, at least, has the ability to penetrate body armor. You can buy that weapon. I mean, it's kind of wannabes to go out and buy something like that.
But just the idea of procuring a weapon like that suggests to me that there may have been planning that he knew he was going to confront law enforcement like this brave female police sergeant we hear about who finally put him down.
He knew he was going to be in that confrontation. He wanted to win out in that gun battle. And I think, David, in his ultimate plan, which I think was suicide after he took, perhaps, 100 soldiers-in his dreams he was going to take them out-I think his plan was to die for his cause, perhaps, his religious belief. We don't know but we may find that out.
But I think if there's any failure in his plan it's that he didn't die and now he's going to be held accountable should he live for the crimes that he committed.
SHUSTER: MSNBC analyst Clint Van Zandt, former FBI profiler.
Clint thanks as always. We appreciate it.
VAN ZANDT: Thank you.
SHUSTER: Coming up next, in "Psycho Talk" Todd Akin must be aching with embarrassment after flubbing the Pledge of Allegiance at yesterday's TEA Party.
Congressman, didn't they teach you that in kindergarten?
I'll show you the tape in just a moment.
SHUSTER: In "Psycho Talk" tonight, there was a lot to choose from the "Psycho Talker" reunion held in Washington yesterday. But the winner is Republican Congressman Todd Aikin of Missouri.
He must be pretty far down in the hierarchy of Congressional wing nuts. He didn't get to give a speech. His only job-his only job was to lead the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.
But Akin did take the opportunity to prove his love for the pledge by taking a dig at liberals.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TODD AKIN ®, MISSOURI: Let us with boldness proclaim the fact that we are one nation under God. It is all together fitting and proper that we should do this and it drives the liberals crazy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUSTER: Then he launched into the Pledge of Allegiance. Now watch closely. Is it just me or was something missing?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AKIN: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUSTER: Oh. Notice the word he left out there? "Indivisible?"
Ironic since these are some of the most divisive folks in the country.
And think about it. These guys are out there saying they want liberty and justice for all when what they really mean is liberty and justice only for the people who look like them and think like them.
So maybe it's not so surprising that they're messing up the words to the Pledge of Allegiance. But surprising or not, it's today's "Psycho Talk."
Coming up, "Daily Show" creator Lizz Winstead will tell us what she makes of the "Psycho Talker" Michele Bachmann's TEA Party performance.
Plus a moment we've all been dreading has come. The national unemployment rate reached 10.2 percent today. We'll ask Democratic campaign committee chairman what the party in power has planned to turn things around.
SHUSTER: Welcome back. I'm David Shuster, in for Ed Schultz. It's been a tough week to have a D behind your name or to live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Voters kicked Democrats out of the governors mansions in purple Virginia and royal blue New Jersey. Exit polls show that 85 percent of Virginia and 89 percent of New Jersey voters said they were worried about the economy.
The forecast for the economy became even darker today. We learned the unemployment rate surpassed 10 percent for the first time since 1983. There are now more than 16 million Americans who cannot find a job. This challenge has put the country in a major anti-incumbent mood.
The Democrats hold a wide majority in the House. Our next guests' job is to keep all those incumbent Democrats safe in 2010. Joining us now is Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen, chairman of the DCCC. Congressman, how eager are you to move past health care, and convince the country that your main focus is jobs?
REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD), DCCC CHAIRMAN: David, let me say there were two very big bright spots on the election day the other day. One was a new member of Congress from California. And the other was a new member of Congress from upstate New York, Bill Owens, who won his seat that the Republicans have held since the Civil War.
Both those members of Congress have been sworn in now. Bill Owens was just sworn in today. Of all the elections that took place last Tuesday, those are the only two people who actually have a vote on health care and the Obama agenda and the national economic recovery plan.
SHUSTER: That's true. But didn't the election results in New Jersey and Virginia-isn't that hurting you right now, though, in terms of trying to line up votes for health care, because of the number of Democrats who are now concerned about fiscal conservatism and the worry that maybe this will raise cost? And given the public mood right now, that's an issue?
VAN HOLLEN: I don't think the results in Virginia and New Jersey have given people pause. There have been issues with the health care reform bill that-we've been answering those questions. We're very close now to having a majority.
But to get to your earlier question, there's no doubt that we have to keep moving on the economy. As a result of the economic recovery plan that we passed earlier in the year, we at least stopped the free fall. We have begun to stabilize the economy.
The unemployment rate, obviously, is a huge concern. It's my view that we continue to take measures to turn that around.
Today, the president signed a bill that will provide for tax relief to small businesses, so they can get more liquidity, keep people on the job, hire more people.
I believe we also need to move forward on a major infrastructure reinvestment effort around this country to help rebuild this country, both in the energy sector, transportation sector. We need to do it in a way that's paid for.
You raised the issue of spending. We're absolutely committed to passing what is called statutory Pay-Go, which is to make it the law of the land that whenever you have additional spending, it is offset by cuts elsewhere. Very important issue. Go ahead-
SHUSTER: I was going to say, with the House Democratic leadership-you listed a couple of different items-would the House Democrat leadership they support anything that includes a mix of tax cuts?
VAN HOLLEN: I'm sorry, I didn't hear you, David.
SHUSTER: Would the House Democratic leadership in Congress-would they support a mix of measures that includes tax cuts?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, as you know, the economic recovery plan that we passed included the largest tax relief for middle-class Americans in the history of the country. The bill that we passed yesterday and the president signed today provides tax relief for businesses throughout the country, so as I said, they can keep hiring people.
We're continuing to take measures to keep the economy on a somewhat upward tilt. As you know, the good news, from the economists' perspective, was last month we finally saw positive some economic growth. We will not be satisfied until that translates into reducing the unemployment rate. And we're all pushing very hard to turn the corner on that.
As we saw today it's a 10.2 percent. Very bad news. The only silver lining is the number of people who lost their jobs last month was lower than the month before, and the overall trend is improving.
But look, if you're out of a job, you're still not able to put food on the table. We responded with an extension of unemployment compensation for people who were out of work through no fault of their own. The only long-term solution is to get the economy moving again. We're going to be focused like a laser beam on jobs.
As you say, next November, that's what the voters are going to be asking.
SHUSTER: Congressman Chris Van Hollen, a member of the Democratic leadership. Congressman, good of you to join us. We appreciate it.
VAN HOLLEN: Thanks, David. Thanks for having me.
SHUSTER: Of course. For more, let's bring in Bill Press, radio talk show host, Chrystia Freeland, U.S. managing editor for the "Financial Times" and Ron Christie, Republican strategist.
Chrystia, let's start with you. What is it that the Democrats could do, other than what Congressman Van Hollen just said, to really bring that unemployment figure down?
CHRYSTIA FREELAND, "THE FINANCIAL TIMES": I think one of the big problems right now is that no one really does have a magic bullet. I think that if you had a group of economists around the table, a lot of them would be recommending another big stimulus. Politically, that's pretty hard to see how the Democrats could get that through.
I think we'll also see a lot of people talking about whether there should be some type of tax credit for job creation. When you look at the numbers there, one back of the envelope calculation is that kind of a tax credit would wind up costing 50,000 dollars per each job created. That's a lot of money.
SHUSTER: Ron Christie, is there something that you see that, perhaps, Democrats and Republicans could agree on as far as dealing with unemployment?
RON CHRISTIE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think so, David. With all due respect to Congressman Van Hollen, who I personally like a great deal, I think what he talked about shows the disconnect between the Democratic leadership and where the American people are coming from.
I think the American people are looking at Republicans and Democrats alike to focus on the economy, to focus on job creation, to focus on wealth creation. We've seen this Congress focus so much on global climate change and the health care debate. If you don't have a job, you don't need to worry about health care.
I think how the Congress can come together is to give the president of the United States a bill that would enact the Bush tax cuts, extend those tax cuts, have marginal rate cuts, allow small businesses to deduct for depreciation, allow these companies to continue to try to gain forth momentum to hire people.
But putting a big tax on employers is not the right way to go, David.
SHUSTER: Bill Press?
BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Let me tell you, David, first of all, look, there's no doubt about it. Fixing our health care system is a very important part of getting this economy moving again.
Having said that, I have to tell you, I think the Democrats have a real problem here. They have to get health care done fast. And they have to get on to jobs. I think-you know, Chris, I hear what you say, but I don't think they have any choice. There has to be another-don't call it a stimulus package. There has to be a jobs bill, a bill that is directed toward immediately putting, particularly construction jobs, out there.
The infrastructure, you know, is badly broken. We know what's got to be done. It has to be that focus.
David, I have to tell you, I had lunch yesterday with a group of labor
presidents of labor unions and one of the top members of the Senate.
I'm not going to mention his name. Those labor unions told him that if they don't get a jobs bill out of this Congress, they're not going to be able to deliver their labor workers to work to vote or work for Democrats in 2010.
It's that bad. They're losing their base because there's no focus on jobs.
SHUSTER: I want to talk about the message of the White House. Here's President Obama talking about the economy today. I'll get your reaction in terms of the politics on the other side. Here's the president. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: When we first came into office, our immediate goal was to stop the free fall that caused our economy to shrink at an alarming rate. We have succeeded in achieving that goal, as our economy grew last quarter for the first time in a year.
History tells us that job growth always lags behind economic growth.
I am confident that our economy will recover. I'm confident that we're moving in the right direction. I promise that I won't rest until America prospers once again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUSTER: Bill press, saying that they stopped a free fall, does that work politically?
PRESS: Not enough. No, I mean, look, it's true, the economy is starting to come back. The Dow went up over 10,000 again this week. Housing starts are up again.
As Chris Van Hollen said a little while ago, if you're out there and lost your job and you can't get another one and you can't make ends meet, you don't feel any bounce from this economy. It's got to be jobs, jobs, jobs.
SHUSTER: Ron Christie, I have talked to a number of Democrats who say they would like to work with Republicans on this very issue. When they look up and see the kind of what they describe as a spectacle, yesterday, with the kind of hateful signs about President Obama and comparing health care to the Holocaust, they say, you know what, why should we believe Republicans? Why should we trust them and try to compromise on anything?
CHRISTIE: I'm so disgusted by some of the commentary that relates to the activities that took forth yesterday. You had thousands of Americans, average, ordinary, hard-working decent Americans, who came to lobby and petition their government, which is their right under the Constitution.
There will always be a fringe element that come out with hateful signs on either side. Let's talk about Code Pink on the left. But to try to denigrate people who came out, who really were very upset and very worried about the size and scope of government is disgraceful.
I think the Congress should address the issue, as my friend Bill Press just said. Focus on jobs, job creation, and not trying to do things to solve a political problem or a political solution to pay off their political contributors.
Help the American people, those people who elected these people to their positions in office.
SHUSTER: Just to be clear; Chrystia Freeland, from your own reporting, do you remember the House Democratic leadership ever standing with Code Pink?
FREELAND: No, I don't.
CHRISTIE: I have to say this, David. They never, ever said to Code Pink that their behavior when Dr. Condoleezza Rice testified before the Congress was disgraceful. And they interrupted a hearing.
FREELAND: What I do think, though, David, is worth pointing out here is that one of the things that we actually haven't seen from the Republicans so far is really-a really coherent focus on what they would do on the economy. And I think that it's going to be interesting to see whether voters notice that, whether voters demand from the Republican party a really coherent economic platform.
I think it's obvious that it's going to be tough for the Democrats and tough for the White House if the jobs numbers continue to be pretty bleak. which is going to be the situation. Are voters going to trust the Republicans to do better?
PRESS: Chrystia, you're right. I just have to point out, just for the record, the Democratic chairman threw Code Pink out of the hearing rooms every time they interrupted any speaker, Republican or Democrat. You show me one sign that any Code Pink protester ever had that matches the disgusting stuff we saw yesterday in front of the U.S. Capitol, and John Boehner saying this is the greatest threat to freedom that he's seen in 19 years. Did he forget about 9/11? Did he forget about those families that have no health insurance?
CHRISTIE: Bill, I can show you plenty of signs that Code Pink had down in front of the Bush ranch down there in Texas. I would also say, yes, actually, the chairman of the committee-
SHUSTER: I want to see the Holocaust, signs, Ron.
CHRISTIE: The Chairman-actually the committee threw them out because they were disrupting a proceeding of the House. My point was the Democratic leadership never, ever stepped forward to say this is disgraceful behavior.
I think, on all sides, Bill, you cannot have this level of discourse. We need to be polite. We need to be civil. I think there's been a level of disrespect on both sides. But a lot of it has come from the Democrats over eight years about what they said about President Bush.
PRESS: I'm not going to take lessons of civility from that rabble that was in front of the crowd yesterday, led by the ultimate fringe leader, Tea Bagger John Boehner.
CHRISTIE: I would say to my friend, John Boehner, and say to you Bill, who I respect, that rabble rouser John Boehner is an extraordinarily responsible public servant.
PRESS: He didn't show it yesterday.
CHRISTIE: These are normal Americans and this is where the Democrats act at their peril. You're going to find Democrats thrown out of office. You're going to be able to put them in a phone booth next year because of the disgraceful and condescending manner in which they treat normal American citizens, who elect these people into public office. They disgrace themselves by trying to ignore and denigrate people who are very concerned about the way the government is acting.
SHUSTER: Ron, I respect you too. I think we saw how effective the Tea Baggers are in New York's 23rd. Let them take over the Republican party. Let them follow Michele Bachmann and John Boehner and Sarah Palin. And the party will be even more marginalized than today.
CHRISTIE: We'll do just fine, Bill.
SHUSTER: Bill Press, radio talk show host, Chrystia Freeland, US managing editor for the "Financial Times," and Ron Christie, Republican strategist. Thank you all, we appreciate it. Great discussion, as always.
Coming up, Oscar the Grouch trashes Fox News and it's got conservatives up in arms? We will set them straight next in the playbook.
SHUSTER: In the playbook tonight, it's no secret at all that the health care system in our country is simply not cutting it. And insurance companies will do pretty much anything in their power to block reforms so they can keep their profits high. A former spokesman for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida has had enough, and has teamed up with the production company Brave New Films to blow the whistle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDY COBB, FORMER BLUE CROSS/BLUE SHIELD OF FLORIDA SPOKESPERSON: I'm calling on leaders of the spokes-jerk industry. The FreeCreditReport.com guy, the Sham-Wow dude, and Senator Nelson, recipient of big money from insurance companies to lead us, to walk away from their cash cows and tell the American people the truth.
Us spokes-jerks, we'll be fine. There's plenty of room in entertainment for someone who once tried to sell you the worst product in American history, private health insurance.
SHUSTER: Joining us now, Andy Cobb, former spokesperson for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, and Robert Greenwald, director of Brave New Films.
Andy, let's start with you. What's the worst lie you ever told on your job?
COBB: Well, you know, I think the general lie of health insurance is the lesson that we have to learn from this. That the health insurance industry as a whole is not working for America. And we have to find a better way.
Insurance companies are standing in the way of that, like the most congressman, Dennis Kucinich, said, it's time to choose which side we're on: the American people or the insurance companies.
I've been on the wrong side of that line for too long. I'm happy to be on the right side.
SHUSTER: Robert Greenwald, you've done several films now about the insurance companies and the for-profit effort and what that means. Do you think you're making progress?
ROBERT GREENWALD, BRAVE NEW FILMS: Well, there are a lot of people working very hard out there to try to get this story out. And I think they're using the videos. They're using the Sick For Profit videos, which have been seen by 700,000, 800,000, 900,000 people now.
We're also finding that the fundamental story is getting through, which is insurance companies profit in one way, by denying you health care. That's a fundamental flaw. That's what we're focused on at Brave New Films. And that's what Andy has courageously come forward and reached us through Facebook and now been telling the truth.
SHUSTER: Andy, I can only imagine the number of people in Florida who either denied coverage because of preexisting conditions or dropped when they were sick. What would you like to tell them now?
COBB: Actors are people who lie to you. That's our job. Acting in commercials has never been political for me. I think we're all realizing through the health care debate right now and through personal stories, like ones I've encountered, that this can't possibly continue.
So I'm sorry for my role in all of that. I hope they understand that if Senator Lieberman can go from the right side of this issue to the wrong side, a shmuck actor like me can change his mind, and go from the wrong side to the right side.
SHUSTER: Robert Greenwald, what do you predict is going to happen in the U.S. Senate, where they're still trying to get the votes, for example, of Senator Lieberman?
GREENWALD: Well, I think it's tragic when the whole country is relying on the vote of Senator Lieberman, who has been discredited on every critical fundamental issue this country has faced. There has to be a way to go around this nonsense of needing the 60 votes and take it on. Go right at the economic interests, which are buying members of the Senate and fight back tough and hard.
SHUSTER: Robert Greenwald, director of Brave New Films, and Andy Cobb, former spokesperson or Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida. Thank you both so much for coming on. We appreciate it.
COBB: Thank you, David.
SHUSTER: In our final page on the playbook tonight, a two-year-old episode of Sesame Street has the children's television show in the hot seat as they celebrate their 40th birthday. A re-air of an episode last week refers to a Trashy News Network.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hugging and kissing? That is it! I'm changing the channel. From now on, I'm watching Pox News. Now there's a trashy news show.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUSTER: The episode has come under fire this week by-you guess it
conservatives and conservative bloggers. They claim the long running PBS series of having a liberal bias. Since the re-air, a PBS official stated that the parody should have been resisted by the producers.
Coming up, what do Michele Bachmann and former beauty queen Carrie Prejean have in common? Liz Winstead is dragging them both on stage next in Club Ed.
SHUSTER: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. If it's Friday, it's time for Club Ed with Liz Winstead, co-creator of "The Daily Show" and the brains behind "Wake Up World." You can also find Liz at Twitter.com/LizzWinstead. What do you make of the Michele Bachmann rally yesterday here in Washington?
ELIZABETH WINSTEAD, "WAKE UP WORLD": I'm from Minnesota, originally. So I've been watching the crazy train that is Michele Bachmann for many years, eight years. For those newbies that are on board, this is not new behavior anymore.
But it's so crazy. I like to call her the pied viper, because she just had these crazy followers marching through the Capital with her, like the Frankenstein villagers basically. Instead of skulls on their heads, they had weird posters, you know, with horrible hateful signs.
It's just shocking to me that she has one follower, never mind any followers, you know? The signs, you've been so awesome. I've been watching you during the day talk about this yesterday and today. Some of these signs, like "Kenya Believe Obama?" It's like, really?
I mean, they're not even good at it. It's like Dixie riddle cubs with racism written on it. I didn't understand it.
SHUSTER: And the fact that the crowd seems fairly homogeneous. I mean, very few minorities, very few Hispanics.
WINSTEAD: There's few anything. You know, when you see Boehner up there-you know, it's the same people, Boehner and Cantor and Michele Bachmann, who are screaming, oh, you know, we don't have time to read the health care bill. But they have time to go indulge these vigilantes for hours on end.
I thought the whole point of being a Congressman, sort of the definition of your job as an elected official, is that you read things and then you write things. So all of your time should be spent reading and writing.
Yet, they can't find the time. They have to work on Saturday because they're out at these crazy hate parades.
SHUSTER: The Congressional Budget Office, which is the nonpartisan analysis in Washington, they actually read the Republican health care plan this week and said that it would cut less money from the federal deficit than the Democratic plan. Whereas the Democratic plan would end up covering 96 percent of all Americans, the Republican plan would still leave 17 percent of all Americans without insurance. By the way, the insurance companies, they can still knock you off if you have a preexisting condition.
WINSTEAD: Can you even believe it? I mean, I have a couple points about it. You know, what it lacks in coverage it makes up for in bloated expenses. That's a win/win. Really, what I never understood is, when you elect people like, again, your Cantor and your Boehner and these crazy, uber-excessive conservatives, when their platform is hating gays, gun-toting, hating abortion people, how can you expect they're going to have to plan a fix the economy or health care?
This is what they come up with, a bill that they're proud of. We can't wait to see it. Then in it, it covers, like, 15 people and costs almost, you know, twice as much. It's ridiculous.
SHUSTER: I want to ask you about this thing-tell me about the Carrie Prejean sex tape.
WINSTEAD: You want me to tell you about the Carrie Prejean sex tape, do you, Dave?
WINSTEAD: Apparently, there was this whole scandal with she didn't want to pay back the money they paid to give her her fake boobs. Then, all of a sudden, there was a settlement. It turns out there's a Carrie Prejean sex tape that's out there. And it's a solo sex tape, they're calling it, which I guess in pageant terms means she's alone on the tape polishing her crown, if you will.
SHUSTER: Oh my god. Lizz Winstead. I'm not even going to imagine what that is, although maybe later.
WINSTEAD: Don't act like you're not-
SHUSTER: Lizz Winstead, co-creator of "The Daily Show."
WINSTEAD: You're going to be following me on Twitter.
SHUSTER: I will. Absolutely. Thanks, Lizz.
By the way, earlier in the show, I asked all of you, when a rally features racism and hatred, do elected leaders attending that rally have a responsibility to condemn it? Ninety eight percent say yes; two percent say no. Wow, I'd like to know who the two percent was.
That's THE ED SHOW. I'm David Shuster for Ed Schultz. Ed will be back Monday. "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Transcription Copyright 2009 CQ Transcriptions, LLC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon NBC and CQ Transcriptions, LLC's copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.>
Transcription Copyright 2009 CQ Transcriptions, LLC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research.
User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user's
personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed,
nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion
that may infringe upon NBC and CQ Transcriptions, LLC's copyright or other
proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal
transcript for purposes of litigation.>