updated 12/8/2009 10:50:28 AM ET 2009-12-08T15:50:28

Guests: Peter Alexander, Tom Harkin, Jacob Hacker, Bill Press, Eliot Spitzer, Bob Baer, Joan

Walsh, Ron Christie, Phil Hare

ED SCHULTZ, HOST:  Good evening, Americans.  Welcome to THE ED SHOW from New York tonight.

If you‘re a lefty, you might be a little dazed and confused right now. 

If President Obama wants a public option, this must be some strange Chicago way of showing it. 

The president was silent on the public option and the abortion issue on Capitol Hill when he visited the Democrats on Sunday.  But there was plenty of noise out there today.  As expected, Senator Bill Nelson of Nebraska delivered an amendment that could stop health care reform flat in its tracks. 

It says in part, “No funds authorized or appropriated by this act may be used to pay for any abortion or to cover any parts of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion.”

Well, that‘s a big battle line drawn. 

Liberals are furious about this.  They say that the amendment goes way too far and they will not support it.  But Senator Nelson, on the other hand, is saying that he won‘t vote for a bill without that amendment. 

For more, let me bring in Senator Tom Harkin, who was one of the five Democrats, who, I will say, is on the good side of this.  And then, of course, there‘s five conservative Democrats that are working this thing over behind closed doors today.  It‘s Harkin, Feingold, Rockefeller, Brown and Schumer if you‘re for the public option. 

We‘re really choosing up sides now, aren‘t we, Tom? 

SEN. TOM HARKIN (D), IOWA:  We sure are, Ed. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCHULTZ:  All right. 

At this hour, Senator, where does it stand? 

HARKIN:  Well, Ed, I just came out of a negotiating session.  We were here last night until 8:00.  We‘re going to be here again all day tomorrow.  But we‘re going to finish this negotiation by late tomorrow, and we‘ll have our package put together. 

And again, it‘s a compromise, Ed.  You know, it‘s like a lot of things around here.

Is it what I would like to have?  No.  It‘s not going to be what I would like, but it‘s not going to be what a lot of the conservatives and moderates want either.  So it‘s a true kind of a compromise, let me put it that way. 

SCHULTZ:  How close are you, Senator Harkin? 

HARKIN:  We‘re close.  I mean, we‘re real close.  We‘ll have this thing tied up by tomorrow night. 

And keep in mind, Ed, I‘ve always been like a Hubert Humphrey Democrat, who once said, “If you can‘t get a whole loaf, get a half loaf.”  And that‘s what we‘re going to shoot for to get a compromise.  We cannot let this bill fail.

And on this abortion issue, let me tell you, we‘re going to have the vote and it‘s going down to defeat.  Mr. Nelson will not win on that amendment. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  Well, then you‘re going to be short of 60 votes unless you get Olympia Snowe or Susan Collins. 

Is that achievable, in your opinion, where it stands right now? 

HARKIN:  Well, I mean, you have to, again, look at Senator Nelson‘s words.  He said he would not vote for the bill. 

Well, fine.  He doesn‘t have to vote for the bill.  We‘ve got more than enough votes to pass the bill.  All we need are enough votes to get to the vote on the bill, to end the filibuster, and that‘s where we need the 60 votes.  And I‘m confident...

SCHULTZ:  Senator Harkin, let‘s talk about President Obama. 

He came up to Capitol Hill yesterday and spoke to the Democrats behind closed doors.  And I will tell you what the chatter was on talk radio today for liberals across the country. 

They were floored and they‘re shocked that the president never mentioned the public option, which is the only true guaranteed method of giving the private sector any kind of competition to force down rates and premiums in this country. 

Were your surprise that he didn‘t address it? 

HARKIN:  Well, I‘m kind of saddened that he didn‘t mention it.  I wish he would have come out strongly for it, but he didn‘t mention it.  The reports are correct.  I can‘t deny that. 

SCHULTZ:  Are they surrendering on a public option, the White House? 

HARKIN:  Well, Ed, let me put it this way—I‘m not surrendering and

neither is Jay Rockefeller or Sherrod Brown or Russ Feingold, those of us -

and Chuck Schumer—who are in this.  We‘re fighting hard. 

And again, Ed, you know, what‘s in a name?  What‘s in a name? 

I mean, we‘re going to have something that is what I‘ve always been fighting for, and that is some kind of a national plan that‘s available in every state, to every citizen, they can take it wherever they go, and it will force the private insurance companies to come down, and it will be strict competition with those insurance companies. 

If it‘s not a government plan, it will at least be a nonprofit.  I can guarantee you that. 

SCHULTZ:  And you think that a nonprofit plan is going to lower premiums?  And what‘s happening right now, Senator Harkin, and I‘m sure you know this, we‘re getting a lot of e-mail, correspondence from viewers and listeners across the country.  Rates are going up 20 and 30 percent for a lot of Americans right now.  I mean, they are so bold to do this to the American people right in the thick of the battle of this fight. 

HARKIN:  Oh, yes.  I mean, the insurance companies are jacking up their rights like you can‘t believe right now because they want to get to a higher level so that when this bill goes into effect, they can say, well, gee, we can‘t take this and that and this and that.  But they‘ve already jacked up their rates. 

I know what they‘re doing.  We all know what they‘re doing.  But believe me, we‘re going to call them in.  We‘re going to call them in next year, and if I have to, we‘ll put them under oath to find out just what they‘re doing. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator, good to have you with us tonight.  We‘re close. 

That‘s the good news. 

HARKIN:  Thanks, Ed.  We‘re close.  We‘re going to get this done by Christmas, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.  OK.  I‘m all for it. 

HARKIN:  All right.  Thanks.

SCHULTZ:  Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa with us here on THE ED SHOW.

Now, just the way I see things as they are, it looks to me like the White House is really at a point where they‘re going to kind of take anything they can get on health care.  Now, in this pep talk to the Senate Democrats yesterday—you heard it—the two hot issues, abortion and the public option.  The president didn‘t even mention them. 

Those are deal-killers the way it stands right now.  And it looks like the president is just going to go ahead and let the senators battle it out. 

The plan they‘re talking about right now, folks, would be run by the Office of Personnel and Management, which administers the federal plan for the members of the Congress.  It all sounds good, but don‘t be hoodwinked.  It is not a public option. 

It will not reduce, in my opinion, the cost from what I‘ve been able to see throughout all of this.  I just don‘t think it‘s reform to the extent that liberals want. 

This is the government giving a taxpayer-funded subsidy to low-income folks under $90,000 a year, who in turn are going to purchase insurance from the private sector.  Then the insurance companies line the pockets of the politicians to keep things going, and we‘re back to the triangle of death, as we talked about, I think, what, two and a half months ago? 

Now, the president, he‘s all excited about 31 million customers going into the insurance industry, and the pre-existing condition is a big deal, too.  I would go along with it if it was a true robust public option, but I don‘t think it‘s there. 

There‘s no guaranteed formula for rate reduction in any of this.  It‘s a handout based on your income.  And there‘s no rate control. 

No American families—you know what they‘re going to do?  They‘re still going to feel the financial crunch.  Rates are still going to go up. 

All of those options would be in a not-for-profit offered by and administered by the private insurance companies?  Where‘s the deal?  There isn‘t one, in my opinion.  This just shows that the dirty money still runs Washington. 

There‘s some honorable people who are behind closed doors who are battling away for the public option, but it‘s still the conservative Democrats who are forcing the watering down.  And you‘ve got to give credit to the Republicans, folks.  They‘ve got their 40 together and said we‘re not moving, we‘re the party of no, and we think these conservative Democrats will never go along with Obama, and that‘s exactly what has happened. 

And it appears to me that the White House is ready to take what it can get, move on, sell it as a victory, call it big reform.  The fact is, is that Obama never mentioned the public option on the Hill yesterday.  And I think that signals surrender. 

It boils down to this—you‘ve got a few people in the Congress, as we have called all along.  They‘re going to screw it up for millions of Americans.  And the White House, it appears, is ready to call it a day. 

Can‘t wait for them to get in into conference committee.  Maybe things will change.

Get your cell phones out, folks.  Want to know what you think about this tonight. 

Our text survey is: Do you think President Obama is being tough enough on Democrats when it comes to health care?  Text “A” for yes and “B” for no to 622639.  We‘ll bring you the results later on in the show. 

Let me bring in Jacob Hacker, professor of political science at Yale University. 

Professor Hacker, good to have you with us tonight. 

This plan that I just described that‘s going to be administered and is part of the congressional plan, that‘s a great selling point.  But correct me if I‘m wrong—the private industry is still who you‘re going to be negotiating with, correct? 

JACOB HACKER, YALE UNIVERSITY:  Yes, you‘re not wrong there.  I‘m afraid that this compromise/proposal that‘s being put out right now is really just a continuation of the current structure that we have.  It is the case that having a national nonprofit plan would allow a little bit more portability across state lines, but we‘re basically talking about having the same kinds of private insurance, nonprofit plans that are available already, offered through the Office of Personnel Management. 

SCHULTZ:  So where is the reform, Professor?  In your professional opinion—and you‘ve studied this inside and out and been around it a long time—where is the reform? 

HACKER:  Well, there‘s a lot of reforms in the bill.  Let‘s not forget that there‘s going to be serious regulation of the insurance companies.  There‘s a new exchange that‘s offering coverage to people who don‘t have it today.  There‘s new money available for that. 

So we don‘t want to downplay that.  But I think you‘re absolutely right that this is really not a middle ground.  This is really a retreat from having some kind of public health insurance option that‘s available to people through the exchange, if they don‘t have coverage already, that will pose a real competitive threat to private health insurance. 

There‘s got to be a better compromise than this.  In my view, if those who support the public option stand firm and demand more, they can get more than this. 

SCHULTZ:  Professor Hacker, good to have you with us tonight.  I appreciate your time.  You‘ve been terrific on this issue. 

Thank you.

HACKER:  Thank you so much, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  The plot is thickening for Max Baucus, senator from Montana, the guy who held singer payer off the table.  Well, it turns out that he‘s got some girlfriend issues. 

We now know that back in February, he asked the White House to consider his girlfriend, Melodee Hanes, to serve as Montana‘s U.S.  attorney.  She eventually withdrew her name from consideration.  And he‘s defending himself? 

Look, I have no time for this.  This speaks directly to the level of his character and the length at which he‘ll go to benefit himself. 

Senator Baucus is the guy who kept single payer off the table, then offered up a Senate finance bill without any public option.  And now he‘s demonstrating the same kind of dishonorable behavior in his personal life.  He will advance anybody if it‘s a benefit to him. 

I‘m actually with the RNC chair, Michael Steele, on this one.  He‘s calling for an ethics investigation.  Regardless of whether the Ethics Committee does anything to Baucus, this is a serious error in judgment. 

For more, let me bring in nationally syndicated talk show host Bill Press, with us tonight. 

Bill, good to have you with us.

BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Hey, Ed.  How you doing?  You‘re on fire tonight, man. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, first of all, if Max Baucus takes a bunch of money from the anti-reform people in the medical industry and then turns around and wants to do a favor for his girlfriend, can we turn the light bulb on, on this one now? 

PRESS:  Well, I think we have.  Yes.

Ed, I may surprise you on this one.  Let me tell you, what Max Baucus did I think was totally dumb, and he knows it.  But there are two things about it. 

Number one, his girlfriend was qualified to be U.S. attorney.  Number two, they knew it looked bad and it smelled, and she pulled out of consideration.  Unlike Mitch McConnell‘s wife—he recommended her for labor secretary—she was not qualified, she took the job, but nobody said beans about it. 

But, see, Max Baucus to me, Ed, is not the problem right now.  The problem is Ben Nelson and Mary Landrieu and Blanche Lincoln. 

Max Baucus will vote for that public plan option that‘s on the floor that Harry Reid put there.  Those three won‘t.  They‘re the ones I think that are in the way.

And I agree with you.  Obama had a chance yesterday to stick it to these senators and he didn‘t say beans.  Why not? 

SCHULTZ:  Well, with Baucus, it is a serious error in judgment...

PRESS:  Yes.  Yes.

SCHULTZ:  ... and it looks like he can be bought.  And it looks like he plays to favorites. 

I will never forgive this guy for keeping single payer off the table.  You don‘t start negotiating with your bottom line—with some of the things you want right off the table.  I‘m just amazed at that. 

Now, let‘s...

PRESS:  I know.  I know. 

And Ed, look at this stupid compromise you were just talking with the professor about.  That shows again why we should have started with single payer. 

But I have to point out, too, remember, President Obama said from the beginning he was against single payer.  So there‘s more than, you know...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ:  Well, what are your callers saying?  I mean, I think they‘re on fire that Obama was quiet on the public option yesterday.  I also don‘t think that they‘re sold.  I‘ve gotten phone calls from people and e-mails across the country who actually have this plan that they‘re talking about, and their rates went up last year some 20 percent. 

PRESS:  I‘ll tell you what my callers are saying.  I‘m sure the same ones as yours, Ed.  They feel that we‘re throwing in the towel. 

We‘re raising the red flag over that Capitol dome in back of me when we don‘t have to.  I mean, I think—again, I think Obama has got to get tough with these three senators, particularly those three Democrats, and talk about stimulus funds going to their state.  They‘re not going to get anything.  Talk about the next primary.  They‘re going to have a candidate against them unless they vote for this. 

We haven‘t seen anybody willing to play hardball.  And so the minority are ruling, Ed, and they‘re getting away with it. 

I‘ve got to tell you, I‘m afraid we‘re about to blow the whole thing.  And I think Dianne Feinstein said it right over the weekend.  We blow this, we‘re done. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, I‘ve got to have you back later this week, Bill, because I‘m OK with that.  I mean, I‘m OK.

I think Obama has got strong enough political power.  And I‘m surprised he didn‘t go into that caucus meeting yesterday and say, look, we‘re going to have the public option, and if you don‘t like it, then we won‘t have any reform and we‘ll see you at the polls next November.  I think that there is a strong enough base out there that would propel—look, you‘ve got Independents and conservatives who are losing their health care.  It‘s that big of an issue. 

PRESS:  Absolutely. 

SCHULTZ:  I  mean, I think this is a political misjudgment on the part of the Democrats if they don‘t fight hard down the stretch for a public option. 

PRESS:  You‘re damn right.  You‘re damn right. 

SCHULTZ:  Yes.

PRESS:  They‘ve got the people behind them, and they‘re listening to the insurance companies and to these three so-called Democratic senators instead of the American people. 

SCHULTZ:  Bill, always a pleasure.  Good to have you on.  Thank you.

PRESS:  All right, Ed.  Go for it. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.

Coming up, the banks are paying back the bailout bucks, and it puts, let‘s see, a $200 billion jump ball in the air this year?  Former New York governor Eliot Spitzer will tell us how he thinks the president should spend the money. 

And our defense secretary admitted that it‘s going to be years—well, it‘s been years since we‘ve had any intel on Osama bin Laden‘s whereabouts.  But he‘s probably crossed into Afghanistan.

Former CIA field officer Bob Baer will break that down for us.

All that, plus a former porn star now says she was connected to Tiger. 

Michael Vick turns booze into cheers.  That‘s right. 

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

Tomorrow the president will deliver a major speech on the economy.  Although Main Street is still hurting, Wall Street is on the fast track to recovery.  The bailed-out banks have paid back so much TARP money, the government is left with about $200 billion in leftover funds.  That‘s a $200 billion jump ball in many circles. 

So the Republicans are arguing that it should be used to reduce the deficit, and Democratic leaders are pushing it to be used for a major jobs fund and a plan. 

Joining me now to weigh in on all of this is former New York governor and attorney general, Eliot Spitzer. 

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

ELIOT SPITZER (D), FMR. NEW YORK GOVERNOR:  Ed, always great to be here.  Thank you.

SCHULTZ:  Give us the upside and the downside of what could be done with this money when it comes to job creation. 

SPITZER:  Well, first, obviously there is a deficit problem that we need to confront, but now is not the moment to worry about that.  We‘ve got a jobs crisis.  The banks have paid back TARP money because they do not want to be constrained in terms of their pay practices. 

They‘ve paid it back because we‘ve given them cheap capital.  They‘re making money.  That‘s good.  They‘re not lending.  That‘s bad. 

What the government has to do, in my view is, one, it could consider a direct jobs program.  I doubt there‘s the political support for that. 

Two, it could eliminate payroll taxes for new hires.  That would lower the cost of hiring people.  That would be important. 

Three, your prior conversation about health care cost, to drive down the cost of health care with a real public option, real reform.  Again, the cost of hiring people goes down. 

And fourth, invest in the real infrastructure such as high-speed rail, biotech, nanotech, that will create jobs over the long term. 

These each have a different temporal impact.  Some are faster, some are slower.  But jobs, jobs, jobs.  That is the crisis of our economy.

SCHULTZ:  Well, the president is dealing with health care, he‘s dealing with Afghanistan, he‘s dealing with the budget.  But this really is the issue that could really hurt the Democrats in the midterm if they do not turn these numbers around. 

How best would you distribute—if you had decided to go—if the president decides to go with the jobs program, even if it‘s $100 billion or whatever it might be, what do you think the best way would be to distribute it and how to use it? 

SPITZER:  I would hope that he would do something on the payroll tax side, because I think there‘s a public hesitancy to beginning to hire people to a public payroll directly, because how long do those jobs last?  Even though that could be effective in the short run, eliminate the payroll tax for new hires in the private sector.  Encourage the private sector. 

Now that we‘re seeing the elimination of jobs diminish, give the private sector an incentive to actually bring people back on to their payrolls.  Eliminate or lower the marginal cost of doing that.  That is what is going to create jobs for the long term, and that‘s what we need. 

SCHULTZ:  Is Wall Street fixed, in your opinion? 

SPITZER:  By no means. 

SCHULTZ:  We don‘t have the regulation.  We‘ve still got to do some things legislatively.  But are we a lot more solvent today than we were, say, six months ago? 

SPITZER:  Different issues.  Are we more solvent?  Of course, because we gave Wall Street trillions of dollars. 

(CROSSTALK) 

SCHULTZ:  So, not to interrupt you, but we would really have to score this as a victory for Obama‘s economic team. 

SPITZER:  No.  I‘m going to say something bizarre.  It‘s a victory for the plan that was put in place by President Bush. 

President Bush is the one who said give them all the TARP money, give them trillions of dollars.  A victory for the Obama administration will be meaningful reform, because by the time the Obama administration came into office, these pieces that have bailed out the banks were in place, and that money had gone out the door. 

Really what we‘re talking about now is, do we meaningfully reform Wall Street?  And I hate to say it, but there we are nowhere close to getting the job done. 

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Spitzer, always a pleasure.  Great to have you on the program tonight.

SPITZER:  Thank you.

SCHULTZ:  Thank you.

Coming up, the righties must have gotten sick of their talking point that compares health care reform to—Nazi Germany?  Now they‘ve moved on to Soviet-era gulags.  Can you believe this? 

Senator John Cornyn of Texas marches into the “Psycho Talk” zone next. 

You won‘t want to miss this one.

Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And in “Psycho Talk” tonight, the righties have a few new talking points against health care reform.  This is a dandy.  Of course, the fact that it‘s completely historically inaccurate really doesn‘t bother them a bit. 

Senator John Cornyn of Texas made his wing-nut colleagues proud this weekend on “Fox News Sunday,” perfectly delivering this lie about health care reform.  Here it is. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN CORNYN ®, TEXAS:  It will limit people‘s choices to—in many cases, to a government-run program like Medicaid, which is essentially a health care gulag because people will not have any choices but to take that poorly-performing government-run plan. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Well, there you have it, comparing Medicaid to gulags. 

Now, let‘s crack open the history books for just a minute here, folks. 

Gulags were brutal labor camps set up in remote areas of the Soviet Union where Stalin sent up to 20 million prisoners.  More than a million people died there.  Medicaid is a system that saves lives by helping low-income Americans pay for health care. 

Not only is that a ridiculous comparison, it is irresponsible, fear mongering—you got it --  “Psycho Talk.”  

Coming up, today the president dropped a major hint on how he plans to tackle the economy and 10 percent unemployment.  My next guest says people don‘t care about the GDP.  All they want is a JOB. 

Congressman Phil Hare has got a plan.  You‘ll want to hear it.

And folks, don‘t let anyone fool you when it comes to Afghanistan.  We‘re going to be there well past 2011.  Former CIA officer Bob Baer will give us the lay of the land and he‘ll tell us just where bin Laden is hiding. 

That‘s next on THE ED SHOW.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Thanks for joining us on THE ED SHOW tonight.  Osama bin Laden remains our biggest symbolic target in the war in Afghanistan.  But we have been hearing for a while that he‘s hiding out over the border in Pakistan.  Then yesterday the president‘s national security adviser, Jim Jones, said that bin Laden does sometimes slip back into Afghanistan. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM JONES, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER:  The best estimate is that he is somewhere in North Waziristan, sometimes on the Pakistani side of the border, sometimes on the Afghan side of the border. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  But Defense Secretary Robert Gates said they haven‘t known where bin Laden is for a long time. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY:  We don‘t know for a fact where Osama bin Laden is.  If we did, we would go get him. 

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC ANCHOR:  When was the last time we had any good intelligence? 

GATES:  I think it‘s been years. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Well, that doesn‘t make any sense to me.  Let me bring in Bob Baer, former CIA field agent, intelligence columnist for Time.com.  Mr.  Baer, good to have you on tonight.  What do you make of these answers?  Why didn‘t the defense secretary say, well, he goes back into Afghanistan every now and then. 

BOB BAER, FMR. CIA FIELD AGENT:  Because they don‘t have a clue.  And he‘s absolutely accurate.  It‘s refreshing that he‘s that honest, the secretary of defense.  They simply don‘t know what‘s happened to him.  He‘s gone off telephones.  He‘s gone off the Internet.  No one has seen him.  No one has walked out of the tribal areas of Pakistan.  They have no idea what happened to this man. 

SCHULTZ:  Why would Jim Jones say that he goes across the border in Afghanistan?  He would have to know that, wouldn‘t he, to say something like that? 

BAER:  Well, the keyword was estimate.  What he‘s done is gone to his analysts at the Pentagon and said where do you think he is?  Well, North Waziristan is fairly remote.  We can‘t get up there.  So maybe he‘s up there.  It‘s pretty much guess work.  

SCHULTZ:  Is there a chance bin Laden is dead? 

BAER:  I asked that very question to my ex-colleagues who have been on the hunt for bin Laden for the last eight years.  Trust me, there‘s a couple of them that say, we don‘t know where he is because the man is dead.  He‘s under a pile of rubble at Tora Bora.  He died of ill health.  He‘s dead.  Al Qaeda has hidden his death for obvious reasons, you know, to keep us fighting in Afghanistan. 

SCHULTZ:  Should we continue or maybe you could give our viewers tonight an idea just how many resources do we have looking for this guy?  I mean, how much time, effort, and money are we spending on this, or are we focused on other things? 

BAER:  There‘s nothing we can do, and it‘s not lack of confidence. 

It‘s that area.  It‘s the high mountains.  They‘re very remote.  They‘ve

never been governed.  We would have to put ten divisions in the mountains

and search the place door-to-door.  Obviously we can‘t do that.  So 30,000

Soldiers more is not going to make any difference at all.  This could take

you know, it could take forever. 

SCHULTZ:  What is your professional opinion of more drones over Pakistan and more air activity there? 

BAER:  Look, we‘re going to get a couple guys every once in a while.  But we‘re going to be adding to our enemies a lot faster.  Ultimately, we‘re not going to be able to eliminate al Qaeda with drones.  Do some damage to it, but it will still exist the way it is. 

SCHULTZ:  How much of an impact do you think this surge will have? 

BAER:  None.  We can‘t drain the swamp in Afghanistan.  It‘s a waist of extra resources.  We should get out.  There‘s nothing we can do with that country.  I won‘t say it‘s a basket case.  But it‘s going to move into the 20th century—or 21st century at its own pace, not at ours. 

SCHULTZ:  Bob, good to have you on tonight.  Thanks for your opinion.

The more we hear about the president‘s plan for Afghanistan, the clearer it is that we‘re going to be over there well beyond 2011.  Secretaries Clinton and Gates spent Sunday morning walking back the idea that the United States is planning for a quick withdrawal. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID GREGORY, “MEET THE PRESS” ANCHOR: Is this a deadline? 

GATES:  It‘s the beginning of a process. 

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE:  We‘re not talking about an exit strategy or a drop dead deadline. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Is there a deadline, or is there not a deadline? 

GATES:  What we have is a specific date on which we will begin transferring responsibility for security. 

CLINTON:  It‘s hard to sit here today in Washington and predict exactly what that pace will be. 

GATES:  I don‘t consider this an exit strategy.  And I try to avoid using that term. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Well, I think we‘re getting mixed messages from the Obama administration.  Let‘s bring in our panel tonight to talk about it.  Editor in chief, Salon.com, Joan Walsh and republican strategist Ron Christie.  Uh oh, I better get ready.  Ron‘s got his game face on tonight. 

RON CHRISTIE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  I‘m in a good mood, Ed.  I‘m here with you. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.  You know, I have to present to both of you the mood of the country last week, or at least the understanding of the American people last week, after the president gave that speech, was that it was going to be 18 months, and we were going to be able to do easy work of this, and then kind of start popping out there.  Joan, your thoughts. 

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM:  Well, two things, Ed.  I disagree with you on that one a little bit.  I said that night—I said the next day that he was very cautious.  He really didn‘t commit himself to a time line.  And he can‘t.  Once you get in there and once you send these extra troops, you have really no idea what‘s going to happen. 

What worries me, however, is that it was presented as an exit strategy.  It was previewed to the media.  There were leaks for days about what he was going to say and how important that July 2011 date was.  And so to hear Secretary Clinton and Secretary Gates explicitly disavow the use of the term exit strategy, that is what was unsettling.  I hope Ron‘s going to agree with me no this.  We need an exit strategy.  We can‘t be there forever.  We have to know what our goals are and what will represent victory to us and get the hell out.  And so that really blew my mind yesterday, to be honest with you. 

SCHULTZ:  Ron Christie, is this just another Bush surge?  What do you think? 

CHRISTIE:  Well, actually I think Joan is right in large measure.  I think this is a surge.  I would hate to say the Obama surge or the Bush surge.  I think it‘s very important that the generals on the field have said that we need to have an additional level of troops to achieve victory. 

I think the problem that Joan hit on is the president and his allies had previewed for the last couple of days prior to his speech at West Point that hey, we‘re going to start a process.  We‘re going to have an end date.  You don‘t preview to the enemy and tell the enemy when you‘re going to get out.  You go over there.  You achieve your success.  You achieve your objectives, and then you get out. 

But I think the reason that we saw Secretary Gates and Secretary Clinton on the shows this weekend is trying to shore up our allies, to let them know, hey, we‘re not leaving.  We‘re there until we need to get out.  We‘re not leaving and we‘re not going to leave you behind.

SCHULTZ:  Joan, does the president have enough support to get this job done?  Does he have 18 months of grace period now that this is basically his war and his move? 

WALSH:  I don‘t think he does.  I think he‘s going to face opposition from antiwar Democrats and worried Republicans as well.  I think he‘s really got to thread a needle on this that‘s almost impossible to thread.  I don‘t want to be talking about politics here, because we‘re talking about people dying.  On the other hand, politics—it‘s important, because we elected Democrats to wind down these wars, not to escalate them, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  Not so much for the politics of this.  I‘m talking about the political will of the people.  The American people, majority right now, are with the president on this move, thinking that OK, this is what we have to do to go in and secure the region, and to fight al Qaeda, and to control loose nukes.  It looks to me like the majority of Americans are with the president right now. 

WALSH:  Yes. 

SCHULTZ:  And I‘m not talking so much about whether he‘s going to win the next election or anything like that.  Ron Christie, how much of a grace period do you—how patient do you think the American people are on this? 

CHRISTIE:  Well, I think the American people were very wary of the war, not only in Afghanistan, but Iraq.  They continue to watch our American men and women fight valiantly.  But some of them unfortunately paid the ultimate price.  So I think what the president did last week was to state in very clear terms to the American people what our objectives were, why we are there, and what it will take to bring them home.  I just think the American public, in general, are saying great, let‘s win this war, but why are you setting an end date?  I think that left a lot more questions than it did answers at the end of his speech.

WALSH:  That‘s where I disagree with Ron.  I think people like—

Obama was politically smart to give us the surge, what his generals wanted, sort of—kind of, sort of, and then marry it to an exit strategy, which is what the American people want.  I think they want—they want to be behind the president.  They want to be behind the troops.  They see that we have some national interest there.  But they want it tied to an exit strategy.  This idea that we don‘t have one, and we‘re not using those words is a very bad idea. 

SCHULTZ:  Joan Walsh, Ron Christie, good to have you with us tonight. 

Coming up, unemployment is so out of control that nearly 11,000 people have applied for a few hundred jobs at a hotel in California.  One city in L.A. County has a 30 percent jobless rate.  My next guest has a plan to change all of that.  Congressman Phil Hare will outline the game plan next in the playbook.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  In my playbook tonight, unemployment in our country still is over 10 percent, and job creation just isn‘t coming fast enough for a lot of counties and states in this country.  President Obama himself has called it the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, when we hit 25 percent unemployment, back in those days in the ‘30s.  Now—and one congressman is planning to use lessons learns for the dark days of the 1930s to create jobs today.  He plans to introduce his own version of the New Deal tomorrow. 

Joining me now is Congressman Phil Hare of Illinois, who sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.  Congressman, good to have you on tonight.  First of all, does your plan call for using the Tarp money, the 200 billion dollars that‘s leftover?  What do you think? 

REP. PHIL HARE (D), ILLINOIS:  It does, Ed.  It calls for 60 billion dollars of the Tarp money going to put people back to work, over three million people back to work.  So the bill is revenue neutral.  I said earlier, and I told our caucus, look, enough of this Wall Street stuff.  We need to talk about Main Street.  I kept hearing the banks are too big to fail.  The American people are too big to let us fail them. 

And I just decided, look, we‘re going to have to start investing in people and not these big banks.  I think this bill is a great first start in doing that. 

SCHULTZ:  What do you want to do with it?  You want to hand out money? 

Easy loans? 

HARE:  I wish it was that easy.  No, what we want to do are three things.  One is we want to—I have a public works program similar to what Roosevelt has with the CCC.  Getting people to work, repairing schools, maybe working in community health clinics, getting people that are out of work. 

SCHULTZ:  Just so you just want to write a federal check of this 200 billion dollars to wherever it‘s needed to do schools and infrastructures, right? 

HARE:  Not just that, Ed.  We want to take the second part—there‘s three elements to this bill.  The second part we want to do is give money directly to states.  There‘s 48 states that are upside down.  My home state 11.5 billion dollars.  So what we want to do is give them money so they don‘t have to lay people off or furlough people, or possibly hire people. 

The other thing we want to do is give money to the USDA and the Department of Interior for grants to put people to work repairing our national forests and our parks.  This is something that we can do.  The question becomes whether or not we want to spend more time and money on putting people and investing in people, or whether we want to continue to hear these guys are too big to fail.  I got tired of it.  I‘ll tell you, if I hear the term jobless recovery one more time, I‘m going to be ill. 

SCHULTZ:  How much support you going to get for this?  Do you have a lot of colleagues in the House to back you up on this?  If the Democrats don‘t create jobs, it‘s going to be brutal next November. 

HARE:  It will be more than brutal.  I have told the colleagues—I have a lot of people that are very interested in the bill.  I think initially, when I was passing out just the fact sheet paper, I had members coming up, going can I have one of those, can I have one of these. 

The people that I talked to, from Blue Dog Democrats, from progressive members of Congress, the Hispanic caucus, every caucus in the House, people are very enthused about the bill.  I tell you, I‘m going to not just drop the bill.  I‘m going to work to get this thing passed.  I didn‘t come here to be a back bencher.  We have got to get people to work. 

If we do not—it‘s not even the political thing with me, Ed.  These are people who, for heaven‘s sakes—and by the way, this isn‘t just about young kids.  These are people from 18 to 60 years old.  It‘s time that we, as I said, took a look at what we‘re doing here as a Congress and made a direct deposit, if you will, into the homes of people. 

There‘s so many people that are just on the verge of losing their homes.  They‘ve already lost it.  They don‘t have health care.  They can‘t put their kids through school. 

SCHULTZ:  There‘s a lot of things you can do with 200 billion dollars. 

No doubt. 

HARE:  I‘m going to carve 60 billion out and put three million people to work.  I‘m not going to stop until we get this bill passed.  I think we can.  And I‘m not giving up.  As you know, I came out of a clothing factory.  I know what it‘s like to see a plant lose it‘s workers.  I‘m not going to be part of that anymore.  I‘m going to part of the solution, not part of a problem. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman, good to have you on.  Thanks so much.  Thanks for being with us here on THE ED SHOW.

Another page in my playbook tonight; Michael Vick made a return to the

Georgia Dome yesterday and was greeted by his former fans with a roar of

boos.  But after Donovan McNabb got injured, Vick entered the game.  He put

on quite a show.  Ran for one, threw for one.  First time he‘s done that

since October 2006.  By the end of the game, his old fans were cheering him

on and chanting his name, hoping to see more of the action.  >

Speaking of action, in Washington the debate goes on with health care.  Let me bring back my panel now.  Joan Walsh with us tonight and also Ron Christie.  Where do we stand, Ron, at this hour, in your opinion?  Is the public option out?  Is your side willing to declare a victory that you have defeated a public plan that would go against the private sector?  Are you at that point yet? 

CHRISTIE:  I just don‘t think Senator Reid, ed, at this juncture has the 60 votes that he is going to be require to get a bill through the Senate with a public option in it.  You have a lot of very, very nervous Democrats, Blanche Lincoln among the top of those, who say there‘s no way they‘re going to support it.  I would also say the majority leader made a big mistake this weekend, Ed, of not including Republicans in the negotiations, not including the Republicans in the discussions with President Obama.  Olympia Snowe now has indicated she‘s very displeased with the direction it‘s going.  I don‘t see they have 60 votes at the juncture. 

SCHULTZ:  Joan, your take on it? 

WALSH:  Well, Ron, I mean the Republicans have done nothing but obstruct.  They‘ve been included.  Amendments have been offered and accepted on bills they later voted against.  So the frustration—

CHRISTIE:  We have not been included. 

WALSH:  That is just utterly ridiculous.  At the committee level, they‘ve been included.  They‘ve offered amendments.  The amendments get taken and then they vote against the bill that they amended.  There‘s been consultation.  There‘s been inclusion.  And then there‘s been snow walling.  The Republican answer, except for Olympia Snowe—I will give her credit for that—the Republican answer to Obama is to obstruct him and wait him out and make him look like a failure.  That‘s their answer. 

SCHULTZ:  I want to ask both of you how you feel about what they‘re offering up in the conference right now behind closed doors.  These ten senators going at it.  The Office of Personal Management would administer the federal plan for—the same plan that members of Congress have, and it would be somewhat of a co-op.  Ron, you think that will fly?  You think any Republicans would get on board with that? 

CHRISTIE:  I think you might have a couple of Republicans, in a symbolic manner, saying whatever is that you‘re going to inflict on the rest of the country, it should also apply to members of Congress as well. 

SCHULTZ:  That‘s the selling point.  The fact is they still have to go out and they have to negotiate this rate with the private sector.  So any way you slice that, I think the insurance industry wins on this deal. 

CHRISTIE:  Well, Ed, again, I just don‘t think they have the votes right now.  I think there‘s a lot of concern and there‘s a lot of lack of transparency.  You mentioned ten senators in a back room.  President Obama promised the American people we would have transparent discussions.  It was going to be on C-SPAN.  None of these things have happened.  That‘s why his poll numbers continue to plummet, along with the popularity of the bill. 

SCHULTZ:  What Republican would be willing to go on the record?  I mean, all of the Republicans are against what the ten are working for right now. 

CHRISTIE:  Well, again—

WALSH:  So why bother? 

CHRISTIE:  I would rather focus on what Republicans are for, and what we could forge in a bipartisan manner, rather than having a Democratic only bill through the Senate, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  Is it watered down, Joan?  In the end, will it be a victory for the Obama administration and the American people? 

WALSH:  I don‘t know yet.  We‘re going to have to see what really happens.  It‘s not a public option that I would have wanted.  It‘s not what I would have designed, clearly.  But, on the other hand, I‘m waiting to see how tough—how tough they‘re able to be on the insurance industry, you know, if they add a lot of people.  But I share your concern, Ed, that we wind up subsidizing the insurance industry, putting a lot of money into a broken system.  Costs go up.  Then the Democrats are stuck with this plan. 

SCHULTZ:  I‘m as liberal as anybody.  But this is a handout.  That‘s what this is.  Anybody who is under 90,000 dollars, if it‘s the House bill, you‘re going to get some money depending on your income.  You can go buy insurance in the private sector.  They‘re getting 30 to 40 million new customers.  And the Obama administration is going to sell that as reform. 

But a lot of you Americans out there who have got health insurance right now, your costs are still going up.  My problem with all of this is that I don‘t see the mechanism in place that‘s going to drive down costs, and drive down rates.  I want to be wrong.  I want to be wrong.  But I don‘t think I am. 

CHRISTIE:  You‘re right. 

SCHULTZ:  Ron Christie, Joan Walsh, always a pleasure.  Did we replay that?  Ron said I was correct. 

CHRISTIE:  You were. 

SCHULTZ:  All right, coming up, the hits just keep oncoming for Tiger Woods.  We can ad a Perkins manager and a porn star to the list of alleged affairs he‘s had.  Peter Alexander will talk about the image and the recovery of Tiger Woods.  You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Earlier today, I had an unfortunate incident with my golf clubs.  I was putting them away in the closet and one of them dropped on top of me.  Luckily, my wife Elin was there to hand me the phone so I could call the paramedics. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE  Hey, let me see those papers. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What, these papers? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP). 

SCHULTZ:  Well, I think we‘re going to be seeing an awful lot of that in the weeks to come.  Sadly enough, we have to ask the question, will the real Tiger Woods please stand up?  This isn‘t a game show, folks.  This is real life.  To those who love Tiger Woods and respect what he has done for the game, well, in recent days, a lot has changed.  The list continues to grow.  Since Friday‘s show, even more women have come out of the wood work to claim they‘ve had affairs with the great golfer.  Including Holly Sampson, a 36-year-old former porn star. 

Woods and his associates are now in serious damage control.  The image is tarnished.  But no sponsors have split, not yet.  At least none have revealed themselves as leaving Tiger Woods as of yet.  For more on this, let‘s turn to NBC‘s Peter Alexander. 

Peter, what‘s going to happen here?  Is this just going to go away?  Will everybody just stay with Tiger Woods, or is he damaged goods right now, and can he be rehabilitated in the advertising world? 

PETER ALEXANDER, NBC SPORTS CORRESPONDENT:  It‘s a good question.  This weekend, NBC Sports was hosting the charity golf tournament that Tiger was supposed to be at in California.  Usually if you watch golf on television, you see him on pretty much every commercial.  He was almost nowhere to be seen in the commercials.  So even if he‘s not been pulled by the sponsors, he wasn‘t in the commercials that aired in that event. 

I think the biggest problem here is that when he came forward and released that statement saying that he admitted to his, quote, transgressions, saying he let his family down, he opened up this huge can.  It‘s turn into a fire hydrant, a tabloid parade of women coming forward.  Essentially, he said there were multiple transgressions.  Anybody who comes forward, whether they‘re telling the truth or making it up for money, is getting their free chance in the tabloid media right now.  There are ten unnamed women in total, seven named women who are caught in these headlines.  You just listed the most recent one who came out today, this former porn star, just 36 years old, who like most of the other woman, is a big busty woman, who has now been splashed across tabloids across the world. 

SCHULTZ:  Is anybody working with Tiger Woods on this that we know of?  Any rehabilitation therapist or anybody in the business world who is managing all of this?  Because, from day one, it seems like he‘s been on his own just doing whatever he wants to do with this, which basically is what he‘s always done. 

ALEXANDER:  I‘ve interviewed Tiger Woods in the past.  This is about as tough a guy as there is to get to in this regard.  He‘s surrounded by a huge crew of sponsors, close executives, his agent, Lee Steinberg.  It‘s 90 million dollars each year that he‘s taking in in terms of endorsements.  Who exactly is speaking on his behalf is unclear.  He‘s obviously the one ultimately making the statements.  But a lot of people think he‘s handled it so poorly at this point.  Oprah Winfrey, reportedly, among others reaching out, saying, hey, if you want to sit on my couch and share your side of the story. 

SCHULTZ:  Anybody would love to have that interview.  In the image business, look at what he has to put up with on the Internet.  The American people will find a joke wherever they possibly can.  This is the Obama—or the Tiger Woods Christmas card.  It‘s really sad what is happening here.  And it won‘t stop, I don‘t think, any time soon. 

ALEXANDER:  The best advice—and we‘ve spoken to all sorts of crisis consultants, to these PR managers, who say a variety of different things.  The first of which is he has to get in front of the camera real quickly. 

Others say he‘s just got to start hitting golf balls again. 

SCHULTZ:  Thank you, Peter.  Coming up—I asked our audience earlier tonight, is President Obama being tough enough on the Democrats?  Eight percent of you say yes; 92 percent of you say no.  That‘s THE ED SHOW.  Chris Matthews is next with “HARDBALL.” We‘ll see you tomorrow night.

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