updated 12/16/2009 11:00:01 AM ET 2009-12-16T16:00:01

Guests: Sherrod Brown, Leo Gerard, Wendell Potter, Arianna Huffington, Joan

Walsh, Brad Blakeman, Rep. Joe Barton, Rep. Alan Grayson

ED SCHULTZ, HOST:  Good evening, Americans.  Welcome to “The Ed Show” tonight in New York, always great to have you with us.  There‘s really only one word that could capsulize the events today, and that is capitulation.  I‘m going to be straight with you, as I always am.  Now is not the time to start talking about killing the Senate health care bill.  Now, I know that‘s what Howard Dean is out there doing this afternoon, saying let‘s get rid of it.  But let‘s get it to conference committee, go through the process and see how this thing turns out.  But be very clear, there‘s not going to be any reform if it doesn‘t have a government-run public option.  But don‘t insult the base by saying that it‘s change, it‘s not change. 

It‘s just, in my opinion, rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

President Obama behind closed doors today met with the Senate Democratic caucus at the White House, including our friend Joe Lieberman, and after the meeting, the president said that he was cautiously optimistic that a health care bill is going to be passed.  And I tell you what?  He was selling hard if you didn‘t see it.  He talks about coverage for 30 million people, he‘s going to lower costs in the long run, doesn‘t add to the deficit, all the things that he‘s been talking about, but he did say that there‘s still a lot of details to be ironed out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The final bill won‘t include everything that everybody wants.  No bill can do that.  But what I told my former colleagues today is that we simply cannot allow differences over individual elements of this plan to prevent us from meeting our responsibility to solve a long-standing and urgent problem for the American people.  They are waiting for us to act.  They are counting on us to show leadership, and I don‘t intend to let them down, and neither do the people standing next to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

SCHULTZ:  Ooh, that sounds really good, but he didn‘t say who has to compromise.  But I think we know from past experience which side is going to be taking the hit in all of this.  Progressives have been asked to give up the single payer and the public option, all because of one senator from Connecticut, Joe Lieberman.  He just, you know, he couldn‘t keep Barack Obama from winning the first term, but doggone it, he‘s doing everything he possibly can to make sure he doesn‘t win a second time around.  This is a slap in the face to the base.  He‘s going to sell out to the people who elected him to win Joe Lieberman‘s vote, for what?  Here‘s what Lieberman said before he went to the white house today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT:  If as appears to be happening, the so-called public option, government-run insurance program is out and the Medicare  buy-in which I thought would jeopardize Medicare, cost taxpayers billions of dollars  over the long haul, increase our deficit is out, and there‘s no other attempts to bring things  like that in, then I‘m going to be in a position where I can say—I‘m getting toward that  position where I can say what I wanted to say all along, and I‘m ready to vote for health care reform.

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

SCHULTZ:  Let‘s see here now, blood pressure, 220 over 120.  Why are we giving in to this guy?  Lieberman claims that this isn‘t about punishing Democrats.  He says he‘s always been against a Medicare buy-in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

LIEBERMAN:  I didn‘t change my mind on the Medicare buy-in. 

What I was proposing that they have an option to buy in to Medicare. 

I didn‘t change my mind on the Medicare buy-in. 

What I was proposing was that they have an option to buy in to Medicare.

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

SCHULTZ:  You see, that was Joe Lieberman today and in September of this year.  But this is the comment that really got to me, folks, because it shows what a shameless hypocrite this guy is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

LIEBERMAN:  We all ought to be looking at paper.  This is a legislative process, we ought to be looking at specific legislative language before we say I agree or I object.

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

SCHULTZ:  Now, you‘ve admitted that you haven‘t seen the bill.  Here‘s the bottom line, folks.  If the Senate passes health care reform, you know, we‘re going to get some good things.  They‘re not the best.  Thirty million people are going to get covered, all right?  Deficit neutral, that‘s good.  Ban on the pre-existing conditions, if we can enforce it, and prevention and wellness.  That is all good.  It‘s all good.  But it‘s not the best.  Here‘s what we‘re not going to get.  No single payer, no public option, no expansion of Medicare coverage, and, oh, by the way, Americans are going to be forced to deal with private insurance.  So, it pains me to say it right now, but go ahead and pass the bill.  There‘s not going to be anything gained right now by killing it right now.  This whole thing—well, I guess you could say it reminds me when I hear Lieberman talk of the 1976 Clint Eastwood film “The Outlaw Josey Wales.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINT EASTWOOD, ACTOR “THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES FILM”:  Senator, don‘t piss down my back and tell me it‘s raining.

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

SCHULTZ:  Yes, that‘s kind of how I feel.  Tell me what you think in our telephone survey tonight, the number is 1-877-ed-msnbc.  My question tonight is—when it comes to health care reform was President Obama naive to trust the insurance industry?  Press one for “yes” and press two for “no.”  Again, the number tonight is 1-877-ed-msnbc.  I‘ll bring in the results later on in the program. 

Let me bring in Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown tonight who was in that meeting today with the president.  Sherrod, you have been a staunch supporter of the public option.  You would take another plan, the Medicare buy-in, but where we stand right now doesn‘t sound like any of that is going to be on the table because we‘ve got to satisfy Joe Lieberman and some conservative Democrats.  How do you feel about where we are at this hour?

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO:  Of course, I‘m disappointed.  I‘m not happy, just like you‘re not, Ed.  I made another appeal at this meeting at the white house to senator Lieberman asking him again to look at the Medicare buy-in.  I pointed out that a 59-year-old worker in Youngstown that loses her insurance, or loses her job, loses her insurance, a 62-year-old in Toledo that—that has a pre-existing condition can‘t get insurance, then people as a result will die if they‘re between 55 and 64 and can‘t get insurance, and this is a chance to deal with that.  And I made another plea to him, I will continue to try as many of us are. 

We need 60 votes, and the math of it unfortunately, I know people don‘t want to hear this and we‘ve got to get 60 votes.  This bill is still a good bill as you said.  There are good things in it.  It could be better.  I‘m not giving up.  As you aren‘t, Ed, I‘m going to keep trying now, I‘m going to try when he gets into the conference committee, I was over in the House yesterday and the House of Representatives talking to an old friend of mine who want to say he was on the meeting about this point, but people who are right where we are wanted to see a good progressive bill come out of the conference committee.  So, we‘re not giving up.  This is too important. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  Was the president selling hard behind closed doors, because this was as emotional as I think we‘ve seen him on health care to the point of open frustration?  What was it like behind closed doors?

BROWN:  Well, he made a speech to us and then we asked questions and made comments and... 

SCHULTZ:  Did anybody ask him if he wants a public option and is willing to fight for it?

BROWN:  Nobody asked him about the public option this time.  I asked

about the Medicare buy-in.  Another senator asked about the tax on excise -

the excise tax on so-called Cadillac plans, which I don‘t think are.  And so there was—there was—it was not all—it was not all, you know, Kumbaya, it was a lot of direct questions to him, but it was a pitch from him and people are going to vote for it. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.

BROWN:  I think that we‘re going to get this bill.  This bill—it‘s a good bill, it needs to be better, it needs to be a lot better. 

SCHULTZ:  What is the feeling towards Joe Lieberman, I mean, how do you, you know, going to a room without punching a guy out after what he‘s done to the  progressive movement in this country?  I mean, that‘s how I think a lot of people feel.  What attitude, I mean, is he still just a beloved friendly, fraternal senator or is he a jerk in the room?

BROWN:  He‘s not beloved, for sure.  He‘s not—he—no.  I mean, people are—people are very upset at him.  This is a very—we take this personally, a lot of us take it personally.  Not him and his actions, necessarily, but take personally the importance of this bill.  And I know how—and I helped to write with Senator Whitehouse throughout the public option.  Senator Kennedy‘s and Senator Dodd‘s request.  I was in a negotiation that came up with the compromise with the Medicare buy-in.  Nobody cares about this in the Senate more than I do.  Plenty of people care a lot about it. 

SCHULTZ:  But we‘re seeing capitulation here. 

BROWN:  Well, if we had it—I mean, the frustration‘s great everywhere, that‘s what you pay us to do is figure this out.  But we‘ve got to get 60 votes.  We‘ve got to get this out of the house, Senate and out of the conference committee to get 60 votes.  We need every one of the 60, and that‘s the problem with the Senate.  The Senate is a body that is not as Democratic with a small “d” as it ought to be.  And we‘re trying to figure out the best way to do this, and make a good bill as good as it can be and we haven‘t been able to do that. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  I‘m told now that Senator Dorgan is not going to be able to make it later on in the show because of their vote that is coming up drug re-importation.  What‘s happening on that?

BROWN:  I was just on the floor speaking for it.  I used to work on that in the House of Representatives years ago.  Senator Dorgan‘s been great on that issue.

(CROSSTALK) 

SCHULTZ:  Is it going to get pass?

BROWN:  I don‘t know.  I think it‘s—there are two amendments that

are so-called side by side with the two.  I don‘t know.  I think it‘s got a

lot of support.  Interesting one more point if I can make that Ed, is the

re-importation.  I conducted a hearing about a year ago about how u.s. Drug

Companies go to China and buy a lot of their ingredients and do a lot of their putting to drugs, they‘re manufacturing in China, they could do that but they think we can‘t go to Canada and buy drugs that are safe.  I mean, the drug companies show their hypocrisy on this issue even more than I do and everything else.  Of course, we can import drugs from France, Germany, England, Japan and Canada.   

SCHULTZ:  This is a big deal, this is a big deal.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ:  This would save millions of dollars and it would be right to the consumer.  I don‘t know how this isn‘t a slam dunk.   

BROWN:  I know.

SCHULTZ:  Senator, good to have you on.  I know you‘re short on time. 

Sorry, good to have you with us tonight.  Senator Sherrod Brown from Ohio.   

BROWN:  Thanks.

SCHULTZ:  For more let me bring in the President of the United Steelworkers, Leo Gerard.  How do the wage earners of America feels about what‘s going on?  Leo, good to have you on tonight, Mr. Gerard, who is to blame for this capitulation?  Is it Joe Lieberman?  

LEO GERARD, PRESIDENT, UNITED STEELWORKERS INTERNATIONAL:  Look, what I can tell you Ed that you started off about telling, how do the wage earners feel?  I just finished a second day of a two-day executive board meeting of our union and I could tell you this every board member is angry.  Our members are out there are angry.  The fact of the matter is that Joe Lieberman is holding up what could be a good bill, and, in fact, Joe Lieberman, we need to remember, he campaigned with the John McCain, he spoke to the Republican convention.  He spoke in favor, though in September of this year of buying in to a Medicare option, and    somehow he‘s changed his mind. 

People are angry and they‘re blaming Joe.  The fact of the matter is it‘s not the president.  The president‘s values are right, the president came to this with the right approach, with the exception of one thing, I love this guy a lot, but I think he came and he got hoodwinked.  The insurance industry said we‘re for reform, Joe and others said they we‘re reforming and when they get to the last minute, they‘re trying to pull the rug out from under of this.   

SCHULTZ:  Do you think that President Obama was naive in all of this?  

GERARD:  I think he‘s just too decent of a person who thinks that

because it‘s right, people ought to do it and what we‘re learning is that

people don‘t always do what‘s right.  I heard Senator Brown talking about

the excise tax and the so-called Cadillac plans.  I don‘t hear Joe

Lieberman standing up for the ordinary working person.  This is not

Cadillac plans are expensive plans, they happen in small workplaces and

they happen in large workplaces.  When you‘ve got an experience rating and

the insurance company just you rate up.  If you are not paying $20,000 for

family coverage and in a couple    years by medical inflation it goes up to

$23,000, $24,000, $25,000, $26,000 workers will    get taxed for that. 

They are going to fall out of the health care system, there is going to be more trouble in the workplace.   

SCHULTZ:  So, who is to blame for all of this?  I mean, the unions did an awful lot collectively to win Senate seats to support Barack Obama to put him in office.  You‘ve got to feel let down tonight.   

GERARD:  Well, I‘m angry at all the Republicans, because the Republicans aren‘t doing what‘s right for this country and I‘m angry at what I call the insurance company Democrats, and we‘ve got more than Joe Lieberman.  Joe Lieberman is now at the corner    of it, but just a few days ago it has Ben Nelson, before that it was Blanche Lincoln and    before that it was Mary Landrieu.   

SCHULTZ:  Will the unions work against these people in re-election?  

GERARD:  I can tell you this point-blank, if we don‘t get a meaningful health care bill that reduces costs and has everybody in, doesn‘t have an excise tax, has pay-for-play for employers, has a public option or a Medicare buy-in, we‘re not going to camp in for any Democrats that voted against this bill.  And we‘re going to vote and try to defeat them.   

SCHULTZ:  Well, I would want you guys against me if I were running for    office.  I can tell you that.  You had a tremendous impact in ‘06 and ‘08.   

GERARD:  Ed, let me tell you this, I go to the bargaining table almost everyday like all the other leaders do, and everyday we‘re barely hanging on like cats on a window seal to health care.  The costs are going through the roof.  America spends 17 percent of its gross domestic product more than any other country.  We can‘t continue giving this     control to the insurance companies.  It does not make sense.  Drug importation, this is a    Canadian accent, I came to America 16 years ago.  You know what?  Drug companies make drugs in America, they ship them to Canada, we re-import them back the same drug and we can save money.  This is more hypocrisy, this is more misrepresentation and we need to fight for what is right for the country and by fighting for what‘s right for the country; we‘ll do what‘s right for people.   

SCHULTZ:  Leo Gerard, always a pleasure.  Good to have you on speaking the truth to power.  Thank you.   

GERARD:  Ed, I‘m angry as hell.   

SCHULTZ:  I know you are.  And a lot of Americans are, and capitulation is the word but they kept telling us, they‘ve been telling us for six months, they don‘t have 60 votes.  It‘s almost like they walked themselves into this.  But let me ask you before you    go, if I could bring you back. 

GERARD:  Sure.

SCHULTZ:  What about no health care reform?  What about just seeing him in the mid term?  How is the political ups and down to that?  

GERARD:  I‘m a fighter and I come from a fighting union.   

SCHULTZ:  Yes.

GERARD:  I don‘t want to give up. 

SCHULTZ:  Yes.

GERARD:  I believe that the house has got a good bill.  Hopefully it is going to have to go to committee, we‘re going to fight like crazy to make sure that we get a good bill out.  I‘m not prepared to give up.  I want to fight and get a good bill out of this. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.

GERARD:  The American people deserve this and President Obama whose values are right, he deserves this.   

SCHULTZ:  Leo, good to have you on.  Thanks so much.   

GERARD:  My pleasure.   

SCHULTZ:  Coming up, folks, I‘m just scratching the surface on health care.    Right now, insurance industry snakes are popping the champagne over this deal.  A former Cigna Executive and Arianna Huffington will be in the house tonight to give us her take.  Michele Bachmann in her Tea Party brigade stormed Capitol Hill today.  They staged a die-in that went over like a led balloon, I‘ll show you how that all worked out.   

Plus, the folks over at fox news have an idea to save the economy.  Lower the minimum wage.  Do you know where that puts them?  In psycho talk, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to “The Ed Show.”  Christmas has come early for big insurance thanks to Santa Joe Lieberman.  He pulled the teeth out of the health care reform bill with the announcement this morning that the option‘s dead and, of course, the Medicare buy-in is going to be gone.  I don‘t care what they‘re saying about all the good stuff that‘s in the bill.  Mark my word, folks, the insurance companies is absolute   masters at this.  They‘re going to find a way to get around the pre-existing condition, you watch.  And I think they‘re also going to find a way to get around some other things that aren‘t going to work very well for them. 

Joining me now is someone who knows, Wendell Potter, Senior Fellow for the Center for Media in Democracy, he‘s the former VP of the Insurance Giant Cigna.  Mr. Potter, good to have you with us tonight. 

WENDELL POTTER, CENTER FOR MEDIA AND DEMOCRACY:  Thank you Ed.

SCHULTZ:  Do you see the insurance industry still on the offensive after any kind of health care bill is planned?  In other words, is there a way for them to get around the pre-existing condition?  Is there a way for them to maneuver around denying    coverage, your thoughts?  

POTTER:  Oh, absolutely.  The Senate bill is full of loopholes and the insurance    industry knows that.  In fact, they‘ve made sure that they‘re in there.  One in particular will allow employers to charge certain workers thousands of dollars more just based on health factors, and it could be obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, so    people who have those conditions and other health factors may wind up, and probably will wind up, being charged half as much as someone who doesn‘t.  And the insurance industry will be able to write the rules. 

They‘re not being set in the legislation as currently written, so that‘s one way in particular.  The bill also gives the insurance industry wide latitude to continue to offer and market bill—excuse me, health insurance plans that will put more and more of us into the ranks of the underinsured by pushing more and more of the financial burden on to us.  In fact, the middle-income people in this—in this bill, many of them will have to pay up to 17 percent of their income before insurance coverage will kick in.   

SCHULTZ:  Where‘s the competition?  Tell me where the—the reeling in the costs, where is this happening in this—in this reform bill that they‘re selling us?  Where‘s the competition?  

POTTER:  The competition is disappearing.  In fact, if you look at some of the analysts‘ reports that are being written for the health insurance industry, they know the competition is not there.  In fact, it‘s dwindling, and this legislation will hasten that.  In fact, one of the reports I read yesterday, notes that some of the big insurance companies are waiting for reform to be done with so they can continue consolidation in the industry.   

SCHULTZ:  Has the president had been hoodwinked?  I mean, today he came out selling hard, Mr. Potter, and do you think when we asked in our survey tonight that folks can get involved with, do you think the president has been somewhat naive in dealing with the insurance industry?  

POTTER:  I wish I could say no, but I can‘t.  Because I do think, in fact, as I‘ve said at the very beginning of my speaking out that you can‘t trust these people.  They have no intention of being their operating and bargaining in good faith.  They had no intention of that.  They conduct duplicitous pr campaigns and what the president and members of congress were falling for months was the charm offensive.  They were just oblivious apparently to the other campaigns that are going on, like the campaign to get Joe Lieberman to be their shill, and it worked.   

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Potter, always a pleasure.  Thanks for speaking up

tonight    again.  Appreciate it.   

            POTTER:  Thank you.  Can I make one more point?  

            SCHULTZ:  Sure.   

            POTTER:  Some of this—this may happen at the state level to be much

more meaningful than in Washington.  Tomorrow in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania,

where I am,    they‘ll be a Senate hearing on a single-payer bill, so it‘s

conceivable that some of the    states might actually make some more

actually more progress toward insuring people more than Washington.   

SCHULTZ:  Well, throughout all of this, a burr in my saddle is that we have never gotten the congressional budget office to score single payer and what it really means, because we would have had a benchmark of conversation that would have    destroyed any bullet point that ever came across from the conservatives on this.  Mr.  Potter, great to have you with us.  Obviously we will have you back.

POTTER:  Thank you very much.

SCHULTZ:  Coming up, the folks at fox are doing some serious fuzzy

math.    They think paying hardworking people less money will lead to an

economic recovery.    I‘ll teach them in a lesson in psycho talk coming up. 

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And its psycho talk tonight, Fox News.  Why not?  They‘re pushing a new plan to fight unemployment, decrease the minimum wage?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)  

UNIDENTIFIED:  Lowering the minimum wage, so that low-skilled workers can earn more money.   

UNIDENTIFIED:  If you scaled back the minimum wage, would it help create jobs?  

UNIDENTIFIED:  The minimum wage is kind of like a sacred cow in Washington, with many, many lawmakers thinking it‘s a win/win for less skilled workers, but what if those good intentions backfired for the people they were supposed to help?  

UNIDENTIFIED:  Up in the minimum wage is supposed to protect the workers but the critics have always said it does just the opposite.

(END VIDEO CLIP)   

SCHULTZ:  Yes, it‘s a sacred cow in Washington, that‘s why they didn‘t raise the minimum wage for ten years.  Leave it to a bunch of Rupert Murdoch empire to suggest that the Americans who are struggling the most should pay to fix an economic catastrophe that was caused by Wall Street greed, come on.  Right now the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.  Try living on that.  That adds up to $15,080 a year, which is more than $3,000 below the poverty line for a family of three.  Plunging more Americans deeper into poverty is not the answer to economic recovery.  And for Fox News legitimizing the fringe theory that this is some kind of serious way out of our economic strife is simply psycho talk.   

Coming up, I think the president has cut a deal with the devil on health care.  Arianna Huffington will respond in just a moment.   

Plus, straight-talking hero from the left, Congressman Alan Grayson, he‘s not giving up the battle against the war in Afghanistan, he‘s got 300,000 people backing him up on it.  That‘s going to be in “The Main Event.”  

Plus, General Motors is back on track and Gitmo detainees are one step closer to coming to a town near you.  That‘s all coming up in “The Playbook.”  Stay with us.  You‘re watching THE ED SHOW at MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Thanks for watching tonight.  The base, basically, is not on board with the Joe Lieberman health care reform plan.  Howard Dean told a Vermont public radio station today that it‘s time to, quote, kill the bill.  “This is essentially the collapse of health care reform in the United States Senate.  Honestly, the best thing to do right now is kill the Senate bill, go back to the House, start the reconciliation process, where you‘ll only need 51 votes, and it would be a much simpler bill.” 

Joining me now is Arianna Huffington, founder of the “Huffington Post.”  Arianna, nice to see you.  Good to have you on. 

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, “THE HUFFINGTON POST”:  Good to see you, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  Do you agree with Howard Dean?  Is it time to throw it in the garbage and go back and start over?  What do you think? 

HUFFINGTON:  Yes, Ed, this is time to recognize how broken this whole process has been, how broken our system is, that we have ceded the whole legislative process to one man, Joe Lieberman, who is making his decision, as he acknowledged, based on what Anthony Weiner and a Yale professor like or don‘t like about the Medicare plan.  This is really a level of absurdity that we cannot concede to.  Because contrary to what the president said, this is not a bill that has the right cost containment elements that would actually provide real reform, as opposed to an expansion available to the health insurance industry.  You know—

SCHULTZ:  Would it by worthwhile, Arianna, to allow it to go through the process, see what comes out of the conference committee, and then go from there?  I mean, we really don‘t know what is going to be in the final piece of legislation, because a lot of decisions are made in that conference committee.  Do you think the public option and Medicare reform is completely dead, and now we‘re on a totally different page? 

HUFFINGTON:  Absolutely completely dead, when it comes to the Senate.  And what the House is going to do is another story.  But when it comes to the Senate, it‘s unequivocal that the public option or the Medicare expansion are both dead.  And, you know, look at all the concessions that have already been made, the concessions to Pharma, in terms of negotiating for lower prices, the concession to not allow the importation of drugs from Canada.  All those conceptions that are, in fact, so detrimental to cost containment have already been made. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  Let‘s talk about the president for a moment.  Today he came out and I sensed a real level of frustration.  He was visibly frustrated, I thought, when he came out and talked about, you know, it‘s time to get this done; we‘re not going to get everything we want; we got to make sure that we get this thing done on our watch, he said.  Has he caved in, in your opinion?  A lot of people are asking what kind of grade would you give the president?  But right now, has he caved in? 

HUFFINGTON:  Yes, he has unequivocally caved in.  You know, the White House is kind of arguing that they didn‘t pressure Senator Reid to cave in to Lieberman, that everybody was in agreement.  But the bottom line is they all caved in, and that‘s not the kind of change we believe in. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, as we move forward—and I think I‘ve got this right

it would seem to me that the Congressional Black Caucus holds a lot of cards right now.  I mean, the—President Obama is beholden to them.  They were ardent supporters of him throughout the entire process.  They have flat-out told the president you‘re not going far enough for African-Americans.  And now he‘s stopping at the water‘s edge when it comes to the public option and Medicare reform and also Medicare expansion.  So don‘t you think the House is going to have an awful lot to say about this before it‘s over with? 

HUFFINGTON:  Well, absolutely.  The House—everybody who cares about real reform should have a lot to say.  You know, the idea that somehow only Joe Lieberman and Olympia Snowe should have a lot to say is really making a mockery of our democratic system. 

And, you know, Ed, I want to stress one thing.  This is not about right versus left.  I‘m really sick of hearing it defined that way or about the base.  It‘s not about satisfying the base or the left.  This is about right versus wrong.  It‘s about what is right for all the people that you saw in the free clinic that you were at, that clearly so moved you.  That‘s what this is about.  And let‘s not pretend that we can just have any kind of bill, pass it, and declare it reform, the way we did with education. 

And just one last thing.  The White House is convinced that the minute they pass health care reform, everything is going to change. 

SCHULTZ:  Yeah. 

HUFFINGTON:  The numbers are going to change. 

SCHULTZ:  They‘re not. 

HUFFINGTON:  This is absolutely untrue. 

SCHULTZ:  They‘re not.  That‘s really the biggest—you know, don‘t insult our intelligence on this.  That‘s the whole deal that the White House has got to figure out.  This is changes, but it‘s not reform.  And, finally, the “Huffington Post” today had the headline up “you‘re screwed,” with a picture of Democratic leadership with the president.  That‘s a bold statement.  And it‘s a very grabbing headline.  Do you really think that the American consumers are screwed on this deal? 

HUFFINGTON:  Well, actually, this was a quote given by a Democratic congressman to the entire Democratic caucus, when he came back from campaigning in Massachusetts.  And they asked him to give a report of what‘s happening out there.  And he said “you‘re screwed,” and he was referring to the 2010 election.  And do you know what, there is still time to course correct.  The first step to course correcting is acknowledging that this White House is on the wrong course. 

SCHULTZ:  The president gave himself a B plus.  Would you go along with that? 

HUFFINGTON:  You know what, I wouldn‘t go along with that.  I think there are millions of people suffering out there.  And the president is calling to the White House, the bankers, three of whom didn‘t even bother to turn up.  And he‘s lecturing them.  You know, it‘s my job and your job to lecture people.  It‘s his job to mandate people to do things.  He is the head of the executive branch.  He‘s not a pundit or a talk show host, to lecture and be frustrated and be angry and tell them what to do.  He needs to make them do it. 

SCHULTZ:  Arianna Huffington, always a pleasure.  Thanks for joining us tonight.  I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to write on your—on your website about what I saw at the health care free clinic.  I stand by what I say; these senators ought to go down and talk to these people who are really affected by all of this.  I‘d like to see Joe Lieberman give those sound bites, see if he has the intestinal fortitude to give the sound bites in front of people that they have absolutely denied, hard working Americans. 

Thanks, Arianna.  Appreciate your time. 

HUFFINGTON:  Thank you. 

SCHULTZ:  For more, let me bring in our panel.  Joan Walsh is the editor in chief of Salon.com and Brad Blakeman is with us tonight, Republican strategist. 

All right, Howard Dean seems to be a hot story right now.  Now, of course, Arianna Huffington on this program, moments ago, saying that she agrees with Howard Dean, that they ought to correct the course, bag this bill and start over.  Joan Walsh, your thoughts on that? 

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM:  You know, Ed, I‘m not ready to go there.  I‘m very disappointed today.  I did not elect President Lieberman.  But I think if the left gets as petty as Joe Lieberman is—and he‘s clearly acting out against the leftists who opposed him and supported Ned Lamont.  But if the left makes this about Joe Lieberman and not about the 31 million people who will get health care assistance under this bill, they are foolish. 

I want to say, let‘s fight.  Let‘s fight in conference committee.  Let‘s make this the best bill possible.  But, at the end of the day, the people who are going to organize to say, kill the bill, go back to reconciliation, I think, that‘s destructive.  And Arianna‘s point of view reminds me a little bit of the people who voted for Ralph Nader in 2000. 

SCHULTZ:  Yeah. 

WALSH:  I think there‘s a lot of positive stuff in this bill.  I want us to fight to the very last breath to get more.  But there‘s a nihilism on the left right now that is really frightening me.  It is bad for the president and it‘s bad for the Democrats.  It‘s bad for the uninsured.

SCHULTZ:  But, Joan, Howard Dean is pretty much an expert on health care.  He ran on it.  He‘s a doctor.  HE wrote a book on this.  He‘s a revered resource on all of this. 

WALSH:  I love Howard Dean.  I was a Howard Dean supporter way back when.  But I saw Howard Dean recently talk at Fordham University.  My daughter helped bring him to the university.  It was very interesting.  And he said the reason he‘s not president is because he‘s an insurgent.  He‘s the challenger.  He‘s the guy that makes everybody uncomfortable.  And I love that about him. 

But, at the end of the day, Barack Obama has to govern.  He has to get the 60 votes.  We have to get the 60 votes in the Senate.  And I don‘t see how we do that when you have Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman, Olympia Snowe.  It‘s not going to happen. 

Do you throw the whole thing away?  Give me one example, please, of when we scuttled a progressive reform because it wasn‘t progressive enough and then it came back and it was more progressive.  Clinton lost.

SCHULTZ:  When did the Republicans ever need 60 votes?  During the Bush years, they did damn near whatever they wanted to do, you know.  So I think that‘s where the frustration comes from. 

WALSH:  I agree. 

SCHULTZ:  Brad Blakeman  -- Brad, I want to ask you, who is taking Joe Lieberman to lunch tomorrow over on the Republican‘s side?  He has to have a year‘s worth of lunches here.  It‘s a very quiet day for the Republicans, because Joe Lieberman did all your talking.  This guy is your best ally. 

BRAD BLAKEMAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Joe Lieberman is a statesman. 

He‘s standing up for what he believes in. 

WALSH:  Oh, please. 

BLAKEMAN:  You guys kicked him out of the party.  And now you expect to be—have Joe Lieberman controlled by the party. 

SCHULTZ:  You think this bill has got good enough things where Joe Lieberman can call the shots? 

BLAKEMAN:  He‘s not calling the shots. 

SCHULTZ:  Sure, he is.  He‘s the obstructionist in all of this, Brad. 

BLAKEMAN:  You need a demon.  The fact is you‘re not getting what you want. 

SCHULTZ:  That‘s right. 

BLAKEMAN:  You need to blame somebody. 

SCHULTZ:  But the American people aren‘t getting what they want.  The American people—if he‘s representing his constituents, the majority of Americans that live in Connecticut want a public option, and even more people want the Medicare buy-in.  Who is Joe Lieberman representing? 

BLAKEMAN:  Joe Lieberman is representing not only his own constituency, but every American.  He‘s a United States senator.  And the fact of the matter is, the Medicare option, by the president‘s own actuary, hasn‘t been scored yet by the CBO.  The president‘s own actuary at HHS tells us that it‘s going to blow up a system that‘s already bankrupt. 

WALSH:  They have no idea.  They have no idea how it would work. 

BLAKEMAN:  These are your own people. 

WALSH:  That‘s completely unreliable. 

BLAKEMAN:  Not Republicans, it‘s your administration. 

WALSH:  We need to wait for the CBO scoring.  It‘s all a matter of implementation.  There are ways to do the Medicare buy-in option that would bring down costs, and that would be a win.  I don‘t want to sound like I‘m a fan of what‘s going on on, because I‘m not.  And I despise Joe Lieberman.  I think he‘s a petty, petty person, serving the insurance company and serving his own ego.  So let me be totally straight about that. 

BLAKEMAN:  Let me tell you something—I agree with Dr. Dean.  I agree with Arianna Huffington.  Scrap this bill and concentrate on what Americans, the vast majority of them want, and that is jobs.  Fix Medicaid and Medicare, but do what people want and that is fix the economy.

(CROSS TALK)

SCHULTZ:  I don‘t mean to done you here on the air.  But I‘m asking you the next time I go to a free health care clinic, put on by that organization that does fabulous work, I‘ll pay for your expenses.  Will you go with me?  And you can tell me that we don‘t need health care reform in this country? 

BLAKEMAN:  And I tell you what—

SCHULTZ:  Come on!

BLAKEMAN:  Let‘s make a deal, I‘ll go with you to your clinic if you go with me to the job lines at unemployment and see the millions of Americans who don‘t have work.  That can‘t—

SCHULTZ:  Fair enough! I‘m ready to go. 

(CROSS TALK)  

WALSH:  These things are not mutually exclusively.  The idea that the Republican party is a party holding itself up as the party that wants to help the unemployed, this is laughable.  They move from issue to issue to issue.  And all they have is really no.  There is no program to help the unemployed in the Republican party.  And the fact that Brad sides with Arianna and Dr. Dean, that means I‘m right. 

BLAKEMAN:  Here‘s our solution, and that is put more money in the pockets of the individual, not government spending. 

(CROSS TALK)  

WALSH:  That worked so well.  That worked so well for the Bush administration and it worked so well in the stimulus.  If Barack Obama hadn‘t caved to the Republican party and made the stim—yes, because it was one-third tax cuts, rather than actually job creating money. 

SCHULTZ:  Joan Walsh and Brad Blakeman, thank you for your time tonight.  I‘m going to take you up on that offer.  You take me up on mine and we‘ll do this.   

WALSH:  I want to go. 

SCHULTZ:  You can go, too, Joan. 

Look, we got to tell the truth about what is happening.  The real Americans out there busting their fannies trying to make a living, they can‘t afford health insurance.  And to say put it on the back burner I think is a death knell.  I think we need to get it in the conference committee.  We got to see what comes out before any decision.  I understand Howard Dean‘s frustration.  I want the public option as much or more than anybody. 

Now, as far as the jobs are concerned, I think the president and his administration are on the right track when it comes to getting money to small business.  They‘ve got to get some of that Tarp money out working in the market and force these big bankers to do something. 

Coming up, Liz Cheney is ripping on the president‘s decision to transfer Gitmo detainees to Illinois.  She says they radicalized their fellow prisoners and then give them a platform to preach Jihad?  Republican Congressman Joe Barton and I are going to go head to head on that in the playbook.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And in my playbook tonight, the Obama administration has just gotten us closer to shutting down the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.  They announced that the federal government is going to buy an existing correctional facility in the state of Illinois, beef it up with security, and then use it to hold up to 100 Gitmo detainees.  The governor of Illinois and both of the state senators support the decision.  But many Republicans are opposed to bringing terror suspects on United States soil. 

Joining me now is Republican Congressman Joe Barton of Texas.  Joe, good to have you back with us tonight. 

REP. JOE BARTON ®, TEXAS:  Good to be here. 

SCHULTZ:  You bet.  What is wrong with putting these detainees, who are going to be tried on American soil, in a super-max facility?  What‘s the harm here? 

BARTON:  Well, the first question is why move them in the first place?  We have a very secure facility down in Guantanamo, in Cuba.  It‘s already paid for.  It‘s already there.  It‘s already set up.  So that would be my first question.  Other than fulfilling a campaign promise, doesn‘t make sense to me. 

Secondly, if you‘re going to move them, you‘re moving them to a minimum security prison in Illinois, that‘s a state prison. 

SCHULTZ:  That‘s not what the governor says. 

BARTON:  Well, that‘s what—that‘s what it is.  It houses right now about 200 minimum security prisons—prisoners in a 1,600-bed or cell facility. 

SCHULTZ:  So, congressman, are they lying to us when they say it‘s a super-max facility? 

BARTON:  Well, I—you know, I‘m not going to say anybody in the Obama administration is not telling the truth. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, either it is or it isn‘t. 

BARTON:  But the talking points in the briefing that I have is this is a minimum-security facility. 

SCHULTZ:  Oh, OK. 

BARTON:  -- in rural Illinois. 

SCHULTZ:  Got to watch those talking points.  Look out now.  The Obama administration says, if they are tried, if they are found innocent, they are not going to be released in the United States.  So I don‘t quite understand what the harm is here.  Plus it is going to create 3,000 jobs in that part of the country, which is a pretty good thing right now. 

BARTON:  Well, if you‘re—that‘s an unusual way to talk about a job creator.  If you use that logic, going to war in Iraq and Afghanistan is a big job creator over there.  And I don‘t really see that that makes much sense. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, this is on our soil, not someone else‘s soil. 

BARTON:  Well, these folks are international terrorists.  They weren‘t caught by the Illinois police or the highway patrol.  They‘re—they‘re combatants.  I don‘t think they should come to the United States.  I don‘t think that they should be tried in civil courts. 

SCHULTZ:  But what‘s the downside?   But we have got to take the moral high ground and do proper justice here.  Are you just flat-out against them being tried in the United States? 

BARTON:  Well, I‘m just puzzled by it.  I don‘t—but, again, I view

folks down in Texas view terrorists a little bit differently than I guess folks in other parts of the country.  We think, you know, if you‘re caught in a war zone, you really don‘t have rights under the US Constitution.  These are people that are car bombing, that are murdering innocent children, that think it‘s OK to put a bomb on a child and send them into a marketplace.  I don‘t think that they have Constitutional rights. 

SCHULTZ:  You think we could take the moral high ground by keeping them at Guantanamo Bay, and you‘re in favor of leaving that facility open, OK? 

BARTON:  Yes, sir.  They‘re already being tried there.  They‘ve been there.  It‘s a safe, secure facility.  Makes sense to me on a lot of different reasons just to leave them there. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman, good to have you with us.  Thanks so much. 

BARTON:  Always my pleasure. 

SCHULTZ:  You bet. 

Coming up, Dr. Howard Dean has become the hit man on health care.  He says the Senate should just flat-out kill the bill.  Straight-shooting Congressman Alan Grayson will tell us what he thinks about that in just a moment and comment on Afghanistan.  That‘s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Congressman Alan Grayson of Florida has been at the forefront of the progressive fight for real health care reform.  Now after all the watering-down of the Senate bill, I want to hear what he has to say about where things stand at this hour.  Congressman Grayson, good to have you with us tonight.  Appreciate your time. 

From what you‘re hearing and the dirt kicking that Joe Lieberman has done on this effort, how do you feel about where things stand right now? 

REP. ALAN GRAYSON (D), FLORIDA:  Well, the bill they‘re talking about now is better than nothing.  But I keep wondering why you have to settle for something that‘s better than nothing.  I keep hoping that we‘ll see government of the people, by the people, and for the people, not for the insurance companies, not for the lobbyists.  And I keep getting disappointed. 

SCHULTZ:  OK, disappointed, but to the point where you would agree with Howard Dean where it‘s time to kill the Senate bill and start over?  Would you agree with that? 

GRAYSON:  No, no, no.  There are lives at stake.  There are almost 4,000 Americans that die every month because they have no health insurance.  And we should have saved lives by passing some bill that would have taken care of them sooner.  This is still a bill that provides health insurance to most of the people who don‘t have it, and will save most of the lives that we‘re losing every month because of people dying because of no health insurance.  It‘s worth signing.

SCHULTZ:  You‘re with the president right now, got to get it done. 

You‘re in that mode? 

GRAYSON:  Well, I‘m pushing hard to make it better.  Among other things, I think we need to stop letting one senator dictate to the entire country.  That‘s why I support an effort to try to see that we change the filibuster rule, and see that we have democracy, instead of rule by the minority.  But I think right now if a bill comes to it, and we‘re going to have to go with the Senate version, it‘s better than nothing.  But I‘m still fighting for the public option.  I‘m still fighting for everything that was good in the House bill. 

SCHULTZ:  Yeah. 

GRAYSON:  And I think that our leadership and the president—in particular, the president—should be doing the same.  I don‘t think the president has done enough to lay down the law to recalcitrant senators in his own party. 

SCHULTZ:  Let‘s talk Afghanistan.  Is it realistic for progressives to think that the funding for the president‘s troop increase in Afghanistan, surge if you may, might come to a vote, and that they might not get the money to get this done?  Where do you stand on that? 

GRAYSON:  I think that the initial feeling was that the president needed  a chance to explain his plans to the country and to try to execute them.  My own feeling is that the war—both wars are hopelessly misguided.  We can‘t bring peace to the world at the end of a bayonet.  It‘s not going to work.  The whole approach is just wrong.  And we need to let the troops come home. 

It‘s been eight long years at war.  The fundamental mistake that we‘re making is that we‘re trying to win the same war twice.  Back in 2001, two months after 9/11, we had already deposed the Taliban government.  Three months after 9/11, we managed to expel al Qaeda from Afghanistan.  And we still think we need to win the war. 

We‘ve already won the war.  You can‘t win the same war twice.  And the remarkable thing is that we did that with only 1,000 special forces troops.  Why do we need 100,000 now, when it took only 1,000 to take over the entire country. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman Grayson, good to have you on tonight.  Thanks so much.  Appreciate your time.  Tonight I asked our audience, when it comes to health care reform, was President Obama naive to trust the insurance industry?  Eight percent of you said yes; 92 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, or check out the radio website at WeGotEd.com. 

Tomorrow night, Senator Sanders could possibly join us.  He‘s talking about a single payer amendment  being introduced to the Senate for debate.  That and drug re-importation with Senator Dorgan.  Chris Matthews is next on “HARDBALL.”  Have a good one. 

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