updated 12/15/2009 10:51:52 AM ET 2009-12-15T15:51:52

Guests: Joe Courtney, Jane Hamsher, Richard Kirsch, Peter Morici, Roy

Sekoff, Todd Webster, Karen Hanretty, Gerald Posner, Jack Rice, Robert

Greenwald

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

What is happening right now could make or break health care reform. 

It has been a wild day on Capitol Hill.

It all started when Politico reported that the White House is telling Harry Reid to go cut a deal with our old friend Joe Lieberman.  A lot of developments.  Here‘s the latest.

Right now Reid has got a meeting behind closed doors, an emergency caucus meeting on Capitol Hill.  Tomorrow, all 60 members are expected to head over to the White House to meet with President Obama. 

House progressives are furious tonight and demanding their own face-to-face with the president on the issue of health care.  The White House pushed back hard on the Politico story today, but Press Secretary Robert Gibbs didn‘t deny it in his briefing.  Gibbs said that the president will continue to work with Democrats, Republicans and Independents. 

This comes after Lieberman made yet another threat stand with Republicans and filibuster the bill unless the Medicare buy-in is removed. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT:  I will tell you that on one part of it, the so called Medicare buy-in, the opposition to it has been growing as the week has gone on, though I don‘t know exactly what‘s in it.  From what I hear, I certainly would have a hard time voting for it because it has some of the same infirmities that the public option did. 

It will add taxpayer costs, it will add to the deficit.  It‘s unnecessary. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Joe, you‘re so strong telling us why this shouldn‘t take place. 

Folks, I‘m going to read just one sentence out of that sound bite so we‘re all on the same page here.  You just saw that sound bite on “Face the Nation.”

“And though I don‘t know exactly what‘s in it, from what I hear, I certainly would have a hard time voting for it.” 

Well, isn‘t this exciting?  We have got an admission from a guy who‘s going to stand in the way of health care reform that, hell, he hasn‘t even read the damn bill yet.  In fact, I guess it‘s a rumor mill from what he heard. 

Do you think that the people of Connecticut would have to have a senator that would at least read the most important legislation when it comes to health care reform this country has seen in 50 years?  That‘s probably asking too much.  I just thought I just had to point that out—he‘s not quite sure, but from what he‘s heard. 

I wonder if he picked up a paycheck last week? 

Now, that‘s not what Lieberman said when a Medicare buy-in was part of the Gore/Lieberman platform back in 2000.  Lieberman just—I guess you could say he‘s just moving the goal post so he can keep himself in the spotlight.  He‘s never going to be satisfied.  Harry Reid knows that, and he doesn‘t want to capitulate to Lieberman‘s demands.  Reid still has one bullet in the chamber, though—Lieberman‘s chairmanship on the Homeland Security Committee. 

So why is the White House jumping the gun?  The president gave us an answer last night in his interview with “60 Minutes,” which I found very interesting. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Seven presidents have tried to reform a health care system that everyone acknowledges is broken.  Seven presidents have failed up until this point.  We are now that close to having a bill that does all the things that I said and most experts said needed to be done. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You think it‘s going to pass? 

OBAMA:  Yes. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Do you think it‘s going to pass before Christmas in the Senate? 

OBAMA:  I think it‘s going to pass out of the Senate before Christmas. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Are you going to be involved in that process? 

OBAMA:  I‘ve been involved the whole time. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  OK.  Well, I believe that, because the 60 of them are going over to the White House tomorrow.  The fact is, I‘ve had House members tell me that they really haven‘t gotten much direction from the start from the White House on any of this stuff. 

Now, here‘s the key to this.  This isn‘t about—no offense to you, President Obama, but this isn‘t about somebody‘s legacy.  This is about the American people.

This is about those people that were down at that free health care clinic in Kansas City, Missouri, last week that I saw firsthand.  What about those folks?  What about their legacy? 

Now, the president refuses to fail on this.  Give him credit.  Health care reform has become, I guess, all about him right now. 

He wants a bill by Christmas.  Doesn‘t that count as a signal to Joe Lieberman, hey, ask for anything you want, because I‘m going to sign whatever you bring to me?  And that‘s telling Harry Reid, OK, go ahead and cut a deal with the devil in all of this.

The American people are not going to judge health care reform on whether or not it gets done on somebody‘s watch.  They‘re going to judge it based on what it‘s going to do for them to help their lives. 

If there‘s no public option, if they‘re forced to buy into a for-profit system, if their premiums go up, if their taxes go up, look, this is how the American people are going to judge this.  They‘re not going to look back and say, well, gosh, we didn‘t have the White House, the House and Senate for 30 years and we finally got this done thanks to Obama.  It‘s the Democratic Party platform, and it has been since last year, universal health care for all Americans. 

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

Tonight‘s text survey is: Should Harry Reid cut a deal with Joe Lieberman to win the vote on health care and just to get this over with?  Text “A” for yes and “B” for no to 622639.  We‘ll bring you the results later on in the show. 

Joining me now is Connecticut Congressman Joe Courtney.

Congressman, good to have you with us tonight. 

REP. JOE COURTNEY (D), CONNECTICUT:  Always great to be with you, Ed. 

The other Joe. 

SCHULTZ:  Yes—what‘s that?

COURTNEY:  The other Joe.

SCHULTZ:  Yes, we‘ve got the good Joe on the program here tonight. 

Let me ask you, Congressman.  From Connecticut, if I were to call your office—and I‘m not, I‘m talking directly to you—but if somebody were to call your office tonight and say, “Where do the people of Connecticut stand on the public option?” what‘s the answer?  What would you tell us? 

COURTNEY:  Well, actually, we know the answer to that question because Quinnipiac Polling Institute just released a poll November 12th in which that question was posed to the people of the state, and a very strong majority, 56-37, support having the choice of a public plan in a purchasing exchange.  And that‘s exactly the way the question was asked.  And frankly, that number has been very consistent and strong.

Let me tell you, Ed, right now in Connecticut, just last week, the state insurance department approved a merger between UnitedHealthcare and Health Net, two of the largest insurers offering health insurance in the state.  What we‘re seeing is competition disappear in that state.  And for Joe Lieberman to state that there‘s no need to give people another place to go really doesn‘t reflect what‘s happening on the ground in Connecticut. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  So you can unequivocally say that Joe Lieberman is not with the people tonight, the people of Connecticut?  He‘s on the wrong side of the issue? 

COURTNEY:  Well, it‘s very disappointing for those of us who have been out there doing the town hall meetings and making the case, and seeing that the public really has stayed with us on this issue, to see the position that he announced over the weekend.  Which, again, the Medicare buy-in, as you point out, was part of the Democratic platform going back to the Gore/Lieberman campaign.  And certainly, it would seem that that was a reasonable attempt to try and get his vote given the fact that he went out and campaigned for vice president on that issue. 

SCHULTZ:  It‘s rather strange.  This has been the strangest turn of events I think we have ever seen. 

Here‘s the White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, tonight responding to some things this afternoon on the president‘s involvement. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  The president is anxious to see progress.  And we‘ll continue to work with Democrats and Republicans.

QUESTION:  And Independents? 

GIBBS:  And Independents and everyone in between to make that progress and to take those steps. 

QUESTION:  Is this a serious problem for Senator Lieberman?  Would the president get involved? 

GIBBS:  Well, Anne (ph), the president‘s been involved. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Congressman, how far should President Obama go and Harry Reid—how far should they go to appease Joe Lieberman‘s wishes? 

COURTNEY:  Well, Harry Reid has the worst job in America.  And I have no—I have nothing but pity for him in terms of trying to assemble 60 votes.

SCHULTZ:  But if you listen to the people, Joe Lieberman is on the wrong side of the issue.  He‘s not representing his constituents.  So what should Harry Reid and Barack Obama do, the president, about Joe Lieberman? 

SCHULTZ:  Well, what I would just say is this—first of all, we must have a conference committee so that we have an opportunity, regardless of what the Senate does, so that the issue of the public option, where we passed it in the House on November 7th is alive and well.  Frankly, there‘s problems with the Senate bill.

The excise tax on health care plans is going to be a huge hit on the middle class.  And we in the House who did not pass an excise tax want to have an opportunity in the conference committee to flush that out.  There‘s a lot of work ahead for the House, the Senate and the president, and certainly...

SCHULTZ:  Joe Lieberman, he‘s like a dartboard mentality.  Let me throw it and see where it sticks up today.  I mean, that‘s basically where it is. 

I‘m glad you‘re telling us tonight where the people of Connecticut are on a number of different things. 

Thank you, Congressman.  Appreciate your time. 

COURTNEY:  Thanks, Ed.  Always a pleasure.

SCHULTZ:  You bet.

I want to turn now to Jane Hamsher, who‘s founder of firedoglake.com. 

Today Jane has a call to action related to Lieberman‘s wife, Haddassah. 

Now, many people think that this is getting personal, that this is getting down to the nitty-gritty, it‘s too aggressive, it‘s mean-spirited. 

Jane, what do you want your followers on your Web site and also progressives around the country to do about this connection that Haddassah Lieberman has got to the lobbying interests? 

JANE HAMSHER, FIREDOGLAKE.COM:  Well, when people go and they race for the cure—and many people have—they are largely doing it because they themselves have suffered from breast cancer or they have watched somebody who they love suffer and die from breast cancer.  And they really consider it an opportunity to go out and give something so that somebody else doesn‘t have to suffer.

I‘ve suffered.  I have had breast cancer three times.  My sister had it.  My mother had it twice.  So it really has affected my family.  And it‘s a deeply personal connection that people have when they do this.

They think that money is going for a Race for a Cure for Cancer.  They don‘t think it‘s going to someone like Haddassah Lieberman, who has worked her entire career for lobbying shops, for Pfizer, for pharmaceutical interests that are trying desperately to be able to make pharmaceutical drugs more expensive for people who suffer from cancer. 

SCHULTZ:  Are you going to have the people with you on this?  I mean, right now, in a Research 2000 poll, people want Joe Lieberman punished for what he is doing and this obstructionist that he‘s playing the role of throughout all of this. 

Is this going to be an easy charge? 

HAMSHER:  Well, that Haddassah Lieberman has been working actively throughout her career to advance the interests of companies that are trying to get drug prices not be able to be negotiated?  You know, Byron Dorgan right now is trying to get his bill on to the floor for drug re-importation, and Harry Reid is using procedure to keep it from coming to the floor, even though it has all the votes that it needs to pass and it‘s extremely popular with the public. 

That could bring drug prices down $100 billion for consumers in this country, and the companies that Haddassah Lieberman works for are actively trying to stop that. 

SCHULTZ:  So, do you think that Joe Lieberman is playing to the special interests of his wife?  I mean, do you think that the pillow talk is holding up reform in this country? 

HAMSHER:  Well, I think that it‘s clear that they‘re both sort of working on the same side of this thing, that both of them are engaged in trying to advance the interests of large companies over the people. 

And you have seen, as you mentioned yourself, that Joe Lieberman was for one thing two months ago and he‘s for something else today.  He‘s completely unprincipled. 

Rahm Emanuel is telling Harry Reid to give Joe Lieberman everything he wants just to call something a win.  And I frankly don‘t think that the people who are out there racing and giving their money think that giving that time and that effort for a straight political win is what they‘re out there for. 

SCHULTZ:  Jane, good to have you on—firedoglake.com.  Doing great work out there.  Thanks so much.

For more, let me bring in Richard Kirsch.  He is the national campaign manager for Health Care for America Now. 

Folks, you hear so much about the public option.  This was one of the men who stepped to the plate early on in this process and tagged it, the public option, and gave us a footprint of what really it should be for health care reform in this country. 

Richard, where do we stand right now?  What do you make of Lieberman?  What do you make of Harry Reid, and your base, your followers out there, your organization?  Where do you think they stand?. 

RICHARD KIRSCH, HEALTH CARE FOR AMERICA NOW:  Well, anger at Joe Lieberman would be putting it mildly.  I mean, this guy is so much in the pocket of the insurance industry.

He‘s taken $450,000 from them, the top 10 in the Congress.  He‘s, you know, from Connecticut.  He‘s doing their bidding. 

His whole thing is—he has no principles.  As you pointed out, a couple months ago he gave a speech talking about Medicare buy-in.  Now he doesn‘t want it just to punish people.  This guy has no principles and what he‘s doing is he‘s causing Connecticut and the whole country to pay more and keep us at the mercy of the health insurance industry. 

SCHULTZ:  So what if we just scrap health care reform right now and let‘s go to the midterm and we‘ll see who wins and loses, we‘ll get more seats?  What about that?

KIRSCH:  That‘s not the only option.  I mean, if we can‘t get 60 votes, then you can also do something called reconciliation. 

SCHULTZ:  I don‘t think they‘re going to go down that road.  But how do you think the American people would go for, OK, no deal this year, we‘ll see you at the polls?  Is that a political risk that maybe the Democrats don‘t want to take? 

KIRSCH:  I think the Democrats should focus on getting it done this year.  And they should look at doing it without Joe Lieberman if they have to.  And that‘s where you have this reconciliation as an option they need to seriously consider.  It means that you don‘t have Joe Lieberman be able to act like he‘s the president with veto power and holding up the whole process.

SCHULTZ:  The president said on “Oprah” last night his grade would be a B-plus.  Do you think his base would agree with him on that? 

KIRSCH:  Well, I don‘t know where his base is, but I know what we need to do is get this bill done in the best way we can, and that means including a public option, including, as Joe Courtney said, being sure we‘re not taxing people‘s health care benefits. 

The House has a good bill that does all this thing.  We need to get this bill to conference.  We need to come out of it with a bill that does what the House bill does, give us real affordable coverage, give us a choice of a public option. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, you‘re not going to get that done with Lieberman in the way.  I mean...

KIRSCH:  They‘ve got to go either over him or around him, one of the two.

SCHULTZ:  And it‘s nice to know that, “And though I don‘t know exactly what‘s in it, what form, I certainly would have a hard time voting for it.”  I just find that amazing. 

If that doesn‘t signal, get me the hell out of the Senate, I don‘t know what does?  If that‘s not a signal to the American progressives out there to do something—Richard, good to have you on tonight.  I appreciate your time. 

KIRSCH:  You bet, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  Coming up, President Obama told Oprah he gives himself a grade of B-plus.  I‘ll tell you what I think he ought to get at the bottom of the hour.

And Wall Street‘s fat cats, they strutted their stuff to the White House today.  My next guest says the president talks tough but really kowtows to these bankers. 

All that, plus Liz Cheney‘s running her mouth again and one of Tiger‘s sponsors is heading for the hills. 

You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street.  The people on Wall Street still don‘t get it.  They don‘t get it.  They‘re still puzzled, why is it that people are mad at the banks? 

Well, let‘s see.  You know, you guys are drawing down $10 million, $20 million bonuses after America went through the worst economic year that it‘s gone through in decades.  And you guys caused the problem, and we got 10 percent unemployment.

Why do you think people might be a little frustrated? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  President Obama sending a warning shot to the Wall Street fat cats ahead of his meeting with the bankers at the White House today. 

Now, the president sounded fed up when talking to the American people on “60 Minutes” last night, but it didn‘t seem like he showed that anger to the banks‘ CEOs behind closed doors today. 

Here‘s how the president described the meeting...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  My main message in today‘s meeting was very simple: that America‘s banks received extraordinary assistance from American taxpayers to rebuild their industry, ,and now that they‘re back on their feet, we expect an extraordinary commitment from them to help rebuild our economy.  And I made very clear that I have no intention of letting their lobbyists thwart reforms necessary to protect the American people.  If they wish to fight commonsense consumer protections, that‘s a fight I‘m more than willing to have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Joining me now is economist Peter Morici, a professor at the University of Maryland.

Peter, good to have you on tonight.

How do you read those two sound bites?  So, was the president tougher in his interview and not so tough in his meeting with the CEOs and the banks? 

What do you think?

PETER MORICI, ECONOMIST:  Well, I think the president was putting on a great show for the American people.  The bottom line is the banks are paying themselves $140 billion in bonuses, and they‘re still paying themselves that money even after this meeting. 

They‘re going to be lending money next year because the environment will be better for them to lend money.  Interest rates will be higher, it will be more profitable, and they‘ll be more inclined.  And then they‘ll look like they complied. 

No, this was all a great big show.  If the president was serious, he would talk about taxing their bonuses the way they‘re doing in Britain. 

SCHULTZ:  It seems to me the president‘s got to have a lot of things fall in place for him to create these jobs the way they‘re working on the cheap money.  You‘ve got to get the big banks to loan it out to these community banks, then you‘ve got to have the small business trigger in and have access to that money.  You‘ve got to have entrepreneurial spirit alive and well in America. 

Are there just too many dominoes, in your opinion, to knock over here for us to see maybe eight percent unemployment a year from now? 

MORICI:  Domino number one is the huge deficit.  Because of the trade deficit, there‘s not enough demand for American goods and services.  The president talks whimsically about boosting exports, but he says not how. 

We have a huge deficit with China, its markets closed to our goods.  The best selling vehicle there is a Buick, but we can‘t export.  The president does little about it.

No, the biggest domino of all the president is not inclined to lean on, so he beats up on the banks today.  It was a great theater, lousy economic policy. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, do the banks deserve getting beat up on?  I mean, they have been tight with the dollar.  Lending is very tight in our country right now.

MORICI:  They deserve all the abuse we can dole out.  They earned this money?  Ha ha.  They didn‘t earn it.

The Federal Reserve loaned them $2 trillion at near zero interest rate, along with the FDIC, and then they used the money to trade derivatives and swaps all over again.  The very same stuff that got us into this mess, and they tell us how talented they are and how much we need them.  They nearly caused another Great Depression. 

SCHULTZ:  And Peter, what kind of reform has to take place for this to

for us to safeguard ourselves again? 

MORICI:  We have to some real limits on compensation of commercial banks.  We have to separate depositories—that is, commercial banks—from what we call the casino, these investment banks like Goldman Sachs.

SCHULTZ:  Well, that‘s Glass-Steagall.

MORICI:  Absolutely.  And we can‘t let somebody like Goldman Sachs call themselves a bank so they can borrow money from Ben Bernanke‘s Federal Reserve to go trading with it.  I mean, why don‘t we just go to Las Vegas and give greenbacks out there and call it stimulus?

SCHULTZ:  Professor, always a pleasure.  Great to have you telling it like it is.  Thanks for your time tonight, Peter. 

MORICI:  All the best.

SCHULTZ:  Coming up, Liz Cheney says the president slandered the CIA during his Nobel Prize speech?  Maybe she‘s forgotten that dear old dad outed a CIA agent. 

Liz, that chick, she‘s in the “Psycho Talk” zone.  Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And in “Psycho Talk” tonight, one of my favorites, Liz Cheney.

Liz went on Fox News this weekend to talk about President Obama‘s Nobel acceptance speech.  Now, at first, she seemed to be abandoning the Cheney family bunker mentality by actually praising the president. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIZ CHENEY, DICK CHENEY‘S DAUGHTER:  There were certainly parts of this speech with which I wholeheartedly agree.  And I think it was really good, frankly, to have the president finally annunciate some of these things, talk about the insufficiency of engagement with respect to dealing with terror or dealing with enemies, talk about the importance of America supporting democracy around the world, and also talk about the role that America has played, particularly in post-World War II Europe. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  But then she got a memo.  Then she did a 180 and spilt some classic Cheney venom out. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHENEY:  I think that as we see this president repeatedly go on to foreign soil and accuse America of having tortured people, talk about Guantanamo Bay as an abandonment of our ideals, that part of the speech to me really is nothing short of shameful.  And it‘s not just an attack on political opponents.  It really is casting aspersions and, I would say, slandering the men and women in the CIA who carried out key programs that kept us safe. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  That‘s when she got on autopilot. 

Liz, you know why the president‘s accusing America of having tortured people?  Because we did torture people. 

Your dad is very comfortable with waterboarding.  And Obama wants to make it clear that we don‘t do that anymore.  It‘s torture. 

And it‘s ironic that you‘re going after Obama for slandering men and women of the CIA.  I find that very interesting when your father was the one who shot his mouth off about a covert CIA cooperative.  I think her name was Valerie Plame. 

Liz, it‘s shameful “Psycho Talk.”  

Coming up, President Obama, he got pretty good grades at Harvard.  He gives himself a B-plus for his first year in office.  “Huffington Post” founder Roy Sekoff and I, well, we‘ll pull out the red pins on that one in just a moment.

Plus, former CIA officer Jack Rice just got back from a wild embedded mission with the 82nd Airborne over in Afghanistan.  He‘s got some stories to tell us about that.  Absolute disaster is what he saw. 

And another day, another girlfriend, and one less sponsor.  The Tiger Woods scandal rolls on.  This is really going to hurt the PGA.

I‘ll tell you about it in the “Playbook.”

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back too THE ED SHOW.  Thanks for watching tonight.  After 11 months in office, President Obama is feeling pretty confident about his performance.  Here‘s what he told Oprah. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OPRAH WINFREY, “OPRAH”:  What grade would you give yourself for this year? 

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Good solid B-plus.  We stabilized the economy, prevented the possibilities of a Great Depression or a significant financial meltdown. 

B-Plus because of the things that are undone.  Health care is not yet signed.  If I get health care passed, we tip into A-minus. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Joining me now is Roy Sekoff, founding editor of “The Huffington Post.”  Roy, good to have you with us tonight. 

You know, I have to give the president an incomplete.  But if he gets all his assignments in, I‘ll give him an A, not an A-plus, but I‘ll give him an A.  He‘s got to get this Gitmo thing squared away.  He‘s got to get us more out of Iraq.  He‘s got to chip away at the ten percent unemployment.  But the question was what kind of grade would they give him this year?  If they can get health care done this year, Roy, that‘s going to give him an A-minus.

SCHULTZ:  Wow, I don‘t know, Ed.  That‘s a pretty nice curve.  Are you comparing him to his predecessor, George Bush, or is it the expectations that he set for himself during the campaign?  If that‘s the case, I‘m not sure that B-plus is exactly where I go. 

If you look at it one by one, the economy—yes, we didn‘t go into the Great Depression, but it‘s clear that he paid a lot more attention to Wall Street and the banks than he did to jobs and the foreclosures.  Very timid there.  The first stimulus package not quite what it needed to be.  Health care—he‘s mostly been on the sidelines.  And we see, as they slowly chip away at all the things that would make reform really reform.  So I‘m not sure if you‘re going to give him an A-minus there. 

And then we get to the big one that‘s going to bring the average way down, Afghanistan.  I‘m not sure that he has actually factored in the current facts on the ground, and the fact that there‘s only 100 al Qaeda left there.  So I think it‘s now become, you know, a war of choice instead of a war of necessity, and I think that brings the curve way down. 

SCHULTZ:  If he tells Harry Reid to get Joe Lieberman off of his chairmanship position, I would quickly vault him to an A-plus. 

SEKOFF:  That‘s right.  But we have to give him a demotion there, because what did we hear today?  It was reported on the Huff-Post today that, in fact, Rahm Emanuel went to Harry Reid‘s office and said, make a deal with Joe Lieberman, not cut his knees out from under him, but make a deal.  Now they denied it, but the sources that gave it to us confirmed that that is what happened.

SCHULTZ:  So you‘re standing by the story? 

SEKOFF:  Our sources said it was firm.  So, yes, we‘re standing by it. 

SCHULTZ:  OK, so what does that tell the progressives of this country, that the president would sign any bill that comes his way on health care, that he really has no demands at this point?  He‘s telling Harry, look, just do the deal and get it to the desk, and let‘s get it done and focus on jobs. 

SCHULTZ:  It certainly feels this way.  It feels like it‘s part of the pattern of conciliation.  Roosevelt said give me the deal I want.  It sounds like the White House is saying, give me any deal. 

SCHULTZ:  So Joe Lieberman is in the driver‘s seat right now, Roy? 

SEKOFF:  Joe Lieberman is in the driver‘s seat.  Are there scarier words in the English language, Ed?  I don‘t know.  The grade is falling the more we talk.

SCHULTZ:  I find it interesting.  According to the “Wall Street Journal,” the stocks of several managed care companies rose today on the heels of what Lieberman said yesterday, that he could not vote for it.  Also in the interview—if you want to dissect the interview—he says “and though I don‘t know exactly what‘s in it, from what I hear, certainly I would have a hard time voting for it.”  It‘s nice to know that this is how Washington‘s being run. 

SEKOFF:  Exactly.  I‘m not sure what it is, but I‘m against it.  We know the Republican have already said that, right, whatever‘s in the bill, we‘re going to vote against it.  And yet we‘re still trying to make deals with them.  I think that‘s the most troubling thing and that‘s part of the timidity.  It really comes down to the style of leadership.  And on the style of leadership, I can‘t be giving him a B-plus. 

SCHULTZ:  OK, Roy Sekoff, always a pleasure.  Good to have you on, buddy. 

For more, let‘s bring in our panel tonight, Democratic strategist Todd Webster, and Republican strategist Karen Hanretty is with us tonight.

Folks, tomorrow, the president is going to be meeting with 60 -- 58 Democrats and two independents at the White House.  What should the president tell the Democrats at this hour? 

TODD WEBSTER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  I think if you look at some of the surveys, there was an Ipsos poll that came out just last week, that said, among the people who were now opposed to health care reform, a quarter of them are opposed because they don‘t think this health care reform bill goes far enough.  I think that‘s what you‘re starting to see.  You‘ve got 60% of the public that supports the public option. 

It‘s time to get tough now, and it‘s time to get this thing done.  If Harry Reid needs to cut a deal with Lieberman, he can get that done with carrots or sticks.  The sticks are you strip his chairmanship.  The carrots are you give him a couple hundred million bucks for Connecticut.  It only took 300 million to get Mary Landrieu, her vote from Louisiana.  So maybe you get a couple hundred million for job retraining for Hartford.  But they do need to get a deal done.  This thing has been going on for six months. 

SCHULTZ:  But it‘s a deal that, Todd, didn‘t going to have anything in it.  There‘s not going to be any public option.  There‘s not going to be this Medicare buy-in.  Karen Hanretty, aren‘t the Republicans about ready to claim victory on this health care debate? 

KAREN HANRETTY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Ed, I have been talking about health care on your show for six months.  And I have been telling you all along you‘re not going to get a public option.  This president does not deserve a B-plus.  I guess it depends on whose perspective.  But what has he done?  He doesn‘t have health care.  He doesn‘t have cap and trade.  He‘s going to come back from Copenhagen empty handed from the climate summit.  He hasn‘t done anything about gays in the military, Defense of Marriage Act, anything.

The only thing he‘s done is pass this massive stimulus bill, with 300 billion dollars still sitting there, which I assume will just be walking around money in competitive districts in an election year, so they can buy people off, like Todd just suggested. 

SCHULTZ:  Todd, what about all that? 

WEBSTER:  Well, there‘s a number of ways you can skin a cat.  There‘s a number of deals that he could cut with Lieberman.  But I think obviously Lieberman is the biggest obstacle.  You strip him of his chairmanship, maybe he goes to the Republicans.  But at this point, he‘s not doing us a whole lot of good as a democrat. 

Hold on, Karen.  The stimulus bill has gone out.  It‘s now projected to start getting into small businesses, to medium sized businesses, who are now going to be creating jobs.  And you‘re going to continue to see the unemployment rate drop, from 10 percent, where it is now, to even less necks year.  So the political position, we‘re in a pretty good spot.  But we do have to get health care done. 

HANRETTY:  I don‘t think you‘re in a good political spot.  Obama‘s numbers are dropping.  Democrats are going to lose a lot of House seats at this rate.  The generic is getting worse for Democrats. 

WEBSTER:  The generic for Democrats is significantly better than Republicans.  So Republicans are sitting there trying to obstruct.  Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have to deal with not only half of the Congress that gets up every morning trying to screw up what they‘re doing—

HANRETTY:  Todd, you would be the only analyst in town who thinks Democrats are in a good political position. 

WEBSTER:  He‘s also got to deal with Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson -- 

SCHULTZ:  Karen, it‘s not over on the public option.  But I would say you‘re ahead right now.  And I do believe that there will be political hell to pay on the part of the Democrats if they don‘t deliver the mail in the form of a public option.  And I guess my loyalty or my goals were just too lofty for the Democrats to deliver on, something which would be reform. 

I don‘t believe this is reform as it sits right now.  I don‘t trust the insurance industry.  And I really think that we would be better off right now either to make sure we have got some kind of public option, some kind of anti-trust to really try to reel in the insurance industry, or just go to the midterm and label your party the obstructionists.  We would be better off doing that? 

HANRETTY:  That‘s not how it‘s going to play out.  Ed, you see the poll numbers that I see.  We see public and internal polling.  Blanche Lincoln is in dire shape, the senator from Arkansas, right now. 

SCHULTZ:  Because she doesn‘t support the public option. 

HANRETTY:  I don‘t think that‘s why.  I have seen a lot of polling.  Would you be more or less likely to vote for her if she voted for cap and trade and health care. 

SCHULTZ:  I was in Missouri last week.  And I saw a lot of people who need help that aren‘t getting it from the Democrats.  And they‘re upset with the fact that the public option is somewhere off in space, and it‘s not targeted in for the Democrats.

Karen, good to have you on.  Also, Todd, great to have you tonight. 

Coming up, professional golf has landed in a major Tiger sand trap, I guess you could say.  I‘ll tell you exactly which sponsor has given Tiger the boot and how much money it‘s really going to cost him and the PGA. 

All that and the city of Houston just elected its first openly gay mayor.  I will tell you what this means to the Lone Star State.  That‘s coming up in the playbook.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And in my playbook tonight, the situation for Tiger Woods only gets worse.  His sponsors are starting to take an indefinite break from him.  Accenture censure counseling, a firm that was the first to really cut ties with Tiger, made that announcement yesterday.  Then, over the weekend, Gillette announced that it would stop running his ads.  And AT&T is said to be re-evaluating their relationship. 

And another of Tiger‘s alleged mistresses talked to “The Today Show” this morning.  The single mom wanted to make it clear that she was different from the other women connected to Woods. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I wasn‘t looking to get anything out of this relationship.  I wasn‘t saving every message and hanging on every word that he said.  I‘m not like most of these girls.  I‘m not judging them, by any means.  I‘m not putting anybody down.  But I‘m a mom.  I‘m a stay-at-home mom.  I‘ve worked hard.  And I try to set the right example by my son. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Has this been hard for your son? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes.  He‘s suffered a lot of consequences from this.  And I have had to explain to him the mistakes that I have made.  So it has been very tough. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  For more on Tiger Woods, let me bring in chief investigative reporter for “The Daily Beast,” Gerald Posner.  Gerald, good to have you on tonight.  You also have written an excellent book.  You‘re the author of “Miami Babylon.”

This is getting worse every day.  But now it‘s really starting to hurt professional golf.  Put all the personal issues aside.  From the business world, the PGA is concerned now about the purse money.  A lot of the players aren‘t talking about Tiger because they don‘t want to bite the hands that feeds them.  He means a lot to the world of professional golf.  The ratings were down 40 percent when he hurt his knee and didn‘t play. 

How do you see it as this moment? 

GERALD POSNER, “THE DAILY BEAST”:  Yes, you‘re right, Ed.  As a matter of fact, they‘re very word.  Behind the scenes, I have talked to the PGA tour officials, and they want to put on a brave face.  But they know just what you said, figures were off 40 to 50 percent when Tiger was off for eight months.  There was recently last year a tour that he went to down in Australia.  He appeared for the first time.  It‘s the first time in the history of that tournament they ever sold out. 

He was a draw and is a draw.  Without him, they miss the major reason the public was tuning in.  Add dollars, all of a sudden, drop off.  Appearance fees drop off.  The other golfers can‘t bring him in.  The young stars coming up are still a few years away.  So they‘re all holding their breath.  What does an indefinite leave from the game mean?  They‘re hoping he‘s back in time for April when the majors get underway.  But nobody knows if that‘s the case. 

SCHULTZ:  He may not come back this year.  And nobody‘s really talking about that.  Tiger Woods is full of talent.  He‘s going to be around for another 30 years.  This guy is going to be the seniors tournament, the seniors tour.  And I‘m not convinced that the guy‘s going to be around playing at all this year.  If that doesn‘t happen, does it give him a clean slate a year from now?  Time and space heals a lot of wounds. 

POSNER:  Time and space absolutely works in this situation, I think, for him.  All of the ad people, marketing people and branding people, I talk to say the same thing you do, which is He should not rush back.  As a matter of fact, what he needs to do—because golf‘s one of those few sports where he can go for another 20 or 30 years, as you said, into the seniors.  He‘ll play for a long time. 

They said, take the time off to admit he has a problem, accept responsibility, go through some type of rehab, come back and go on that rehab circuit, the sort—in the end, Larry King and a bit of Oprah.  People love it, in this country.  As you well know, whether it‘s politics or not, you get knocked off the pedestal, then you show you‘re human.  People are willing to accept you if enough time‘s gone by.  Right now, he is wearing the black cap.  But he may be able to get rid of that eventually.

SCHULTZ:  Here‘s his caddy, Steve Williams, in a broadcast interview in Australia.  Here it is. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE WILLIAMS, CADDY:  If he doesn‘t enjoy it anymore, no big deal. 

It‘s just a game.  Life is more important.  His family is more important. 

Tiger‘s human.  We all make mistakes in life.  He‘s made a mistake, but we all make mistakes. 

I feel deeply sorry for the guy.  In all the years that I have caddied for this guy, he has been incredibly gracious to the media.  He‘s never not committed himself to the media, and he‘s been great.  And he makes one mistake and they run all over the guy. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Gerald, the reason why I played that is it would seem to me that Tiger would talk to his caddy.  If there‘s somebody out there that is giving any kind of an interview that has talked to Tiger Woods, it would probably be this gentleman.  What kind of insight could you take from that sound cut? 

POSNER:  Absolutely, I agree with you.  The caddy is very close, in this case very close to Tiger.  It‘s very interesting when he says Tiger has always been good with the media, it‘s just wrong.  He hasn‘t given a full interview since 1997 when he sort of gave a stumbling interview to “GQ” and he took a lot of heat for it. 

Since then, he‘s been so well managed.  He only holds press conference after the tour wins.  He‘s been very careful on what he says.  And I love when they say here—Williams says he‘s only made one mistake.  Let‘s say he‘s made a dozen mistakes and they‘ve continued through five years of marriage, through two pregnancies of his wife.  So there‘s a reason here why I think he‘s lost the clean-cut image.  

SCHULTZ:  There‘s other clients down the road when it comes to endorsements when this is all said and done.  Gerald Posner, good to have you on tonight.  Appreciate it.  Thank you.  

One last page in my playbook tonight.  Houston is now the largest city in America to elect an openly gay mayor.  Annise Parker won a runoff election on Saturday with 53 percent of the vote.  But voter turnout was extremely low.  Only 16.5 percent of the people showed up at the polls?  What is happening here?  Low voter turnout?  In the gubernatorial races in Virginia and also New Jersey, low voter turnout here in Houston, down there.  They‘ve got 2.2 million people and 155,000 people show up to vote? 

That is not the right direction America wants to go.  We as citizens, left, right, center, blue, green, whatever, we need to stay engaged in our communities. 

Coming up, former CIA officer Jack Rice just witnessed all the hell in Afghanistan.  And award winning filmmaker Robert Greenwald has an idea on how you can help stop the war.  They‘ll be here when we come back next on THE ED SHOW.  Stay with us.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  The first of 30,000 new troops President Obama is sending to Afghanistan will arrive there this week.  But some soldiers who have returned from the war are circulating a petition to convince Congress to stop the surge by not funding it.  A new production company, Brave New Films, some of these veterans explain why they are against President Obama‘s new strategy. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What I saw firsthand in Afghanistan is that we‘re making a lot of enemies over there using the tactics we have been using. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There‘s no way that guns bullets are going to change people‘s minds and cause them to randomly come out and say, we love America now, because you gave us guns and bullets.  Food is.  You give the people food, jobs, welfare and education for their children.  That‘s how you stop extremism, not with bullets and troops. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Joining me now is the director of Brave New Films, Robert Greenwald, and also former CIA special agent Jack Rice.  Jack recently returned from Afghanistan, where he was embedded with the 82nd Airborne Division. 

Mr. Greenwald, how many veterans are we talking about here and how many people have signed this petition? 

ROBERT GREENWALD, BRAVE NEW FILMS:  It‘s been an amazing response, Ed.  In less than a week, working with our partners, Crido (ph) and True Majority, we have 100,000 people who have signed this petition.  And tomorrow, the amazing and wonderful Alan Grayson is going to read it into the records in the House of Representatives. 

We know this war has to be funded.  We know there‘s going to be lots of efforts.  And we must start now letting people know loudly and clearly, we don‘t want to spend a million dollars per troop in Afghanistan. 

SCHULTZ:  Jack Rice, what did you see in Afghanistan that would correlate to some of the things that are on this film? 

JACK RICE, FMR. CIA AGENT:  Without question, Ed.  If we see what‘s going on in Afghanistan right now, the fact is we don‘t have enough troops to dominate this country.  I could take 300,000 troops, and that still wouldn‘t be enough.  If what this was about was to destroy the Taliban—frankly, we need to give the people of Afghanistan an alternative to the Taliban.  Which means we need schools, we need hospitals, we need roads.  And, believe it or not, that would be cheaper than what we‘re doing now. 

The cost of just the 30,000 is an estimated 30 billion dollars. 

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Greenwald, when you look at these veterans coming back, what is the common theme that you hear from these vets that are opposed to this surge? 

GREENWALD:  There‘s tremendous pain.  And I think many of us feel that.  The veterans feel it even more strongly.  Patriotic men and women who have gone over there thinking they were doing the right thing; and then they get over there and they see the reality.  They see the reality of what we‘re doing to the third poorest country in the world.  And they know—they know this is not making us safer, damn it.  And that‘s the tragedy of this, Ed.  And we‘re hearing it over and over again. 

SCHULTZ:  Jack, what is the morale of our troops.  The 82nd Airborne always seems to get called on for all the big assignments. 

RICE:  This was an incredible thing for me, Ed.  This was the first time I ever saw a group of guys, some of them on their fifth deployments, one guy on his seventh deployment.  Think about this, since 2001.  These guys are trigger pullers.  That‘s what they do.  So for them, this is a big part of what they are. 

But, you know what, at the same time, one officer told me this: he said if I had to pick one country that was harder for a mechanized army to win, you couldn‘t find one that‘s harder than this one.  What I saw was an incredible difficult situation.  And I think that‘s the reality. 

But you know the real problem that we have is we apparently decided, instead of going to organizations that would help build up this country, we  decided to go to the Pentagon, which is designed to kill people and blow things up—it‘s what they do.  They will acknowledge that.  But the problem is we need to do something more than that, because that‘s the only way to motivate the people of Afghanistan to turn away. 

SCHULTZ:  Jack, I have to ask you, did you see much involvement of Blackwater in Afghanistan?  

RICE:  I did not.  I was in Kabul.  I was in Kandahar.  And I was in Harat.  And yet, at the same time, they try to separate themselves as much as they can.  What I‘m hearing right now is that Blackwater is operating in Pakistan.  They‘re also operating in places to try to separate themselves from the military.  The problem there, of course, is that we have so little oversight of what they and others are doing.  It‘s causing serious, serious problems. 

SCHULTZ:  Quickly, Mr. Greenwald, where can people sign the petition. 

GREENWALD:  RethinkAfghanistan.com.  Sign the petition.  Send it around.  Send the video around of the vets.  People need to be involved now and our representatives must hear from us. 

SCHULTZ:  Gentlemen, good to have you on.  Thanks much.  Tonight I asked our audience, should Harry Reid cut a deal with Joe Lieberman to win his vote on health care reform?  Six percent of you said yes; 94 percent of you said no.

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

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