Guests: Gary Newsom, Darrell Issa, Tom Harkin, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Michael
Medved, Todd Webster, Steve McMahon, Rep. Alan Grayson
ED SCHULTZ, HOST: Good evening, Americans, and welcome to THE ED SHOW from New York tonight.
These stories are hitting my hot buttons tonight.
All right. It‘s gut-check for the Democrats. Show the country that you‘ve got the guts to lead.
Well, they are doing the right thing. They are bringing back a former campaign manager to help them talk to the country. The White House drafted him to turn things around in 2010. But the president needs to show some fire on jobs, and I think he‘s headed in the right direction.
Senator Jim DeMint, this is another favorite one of mine tonight.
Kind of a short memory here.
What do you mean he never wanted health care to be Obama‘s Waterloo? Senator Tom Harkin has had enough of all the stall games in the Senate. He wants to do away with the filibuster. I‘ll ask him, just how many Republicans have signed on to that?
Plus, the Supreme Court sold out the country with its recent ruling on campaign contributions. I think the president, on Wednesday night at the State of the Union, should take a good look at these guys and say to the country, I think you made a serious mistake.
Congressman Alan Grayson is going to join us to talk to about that tonight.
But first, well, the White House I think is getting the message. They‘ve got a new game plan. It‘s all about jobs, focus on what is so important.
But I have to say, if we could hold it there, that they have been talking about jobs since, let‘s see, what was the date? February 17, 2009, when the president signed the stimulus package. Maybe we just all need a reminder.
So they brought back David Plouffe, Obama‘s former campaign manager. Plouffe gave his party some tough love this weekend in an op-ed, telling Democrats that they can‘t afford to wet the bed in front of the American people.
He writes in his op-ed, “This will be a touch election. Instead of fearing what may happen, let‘s proves that we have more than just the brains to govern, that we have the guts to govern.”
That must be the new word, “guts.”
Anyway, he goes on to say, “Let‘s fight like hell, not because we want to preserve our status, but because we sincerely believe too many everyday Americans will continue to lose if Republicans and special interests win.”
Amen to that.
The key right now, folks, is the stimulus package. President Obama believes the stimulus is working, but he needs to make the American people believe it because, right now, they don‘t.
And new CNN/Opinion Research poll shows that a majority, 56 percent, actually oppose the stimulus package. Too late now, folks. And 74 percent of the people believe that half or more of the stimulus money has been wasted.
The truth is, only about a third of the $787 billion in stimulus funds has been spent. We have $500 billion left to go. That could fund a lot of, let‘s see, projects, tax incentives, and, of course, help out small business, the backbone of our economy.
But the White House needs to get the story straight when it comes to jobs created. Advisers keep giving different numbers, saying it‘s somewhere between 1.5 and 2 million. Sounds like fuzzy math to me. A job just isn‘t a statistic, it‘s somebody‘s paycheck, their ability to provide for the family. It‘s serious business.
Today, President Obama hit that nerve, promising to be relentless about jobs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And when we walked through these doors last year, our first and most urgent task was to rescue our economy, to give immediate relief.
These steps have saved or created about two million jobs so far. But more than seven million have been lost as a consequence of this recession, an epidemic that demands our relentless and sustained response.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: The president needs to show the country that he‘s not going to back down, he‘s not defeated. Wednesday night is a big speech for him, and the main thing I think the president needs to do is make sure he draws a line between—a distinction between the people that really want to move the country forward and the Republican obstructionists who basically just want to sink his presidency.
Get your cell phones out, folks. Want to know what you think about this one tonight.
Tonight‘s survey is: Has President Obama and his administration done enough to help the middle class? Text “A” for yes and “B” for no to 622639. We‘ll bring you the results later on in the show.
Now, if the White House has a disconnect with the American people, and there‘s a communication problem, let‘s bring in a gentlemen who I think communicates very well.
Joining me now is San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.
MAYOR GAVIN NEWSOM (D), SAN FRANCISCO: Hey, Ed.
SCHULTZ: ... great to have you with us tonight.
I want to go to you first because I think you can hit the bull‘s eye here on the stimulus package. And you‘ve got a jobs program going in San Francisco.
Are we headed in the right direction? What do you think? Is the stimulus package working?
NEWSOM: I think there are components of it that have been very successful. Let me give you one of the most successful components of the $787 billion stimulus.
And that was $5 billion that was set aside through a program called TANF, which is a program set aside for assistance for needy families. It has not gotten much attention.
It has $5 billion that sets aside employment opportunities and subsidies for private, nonprofit and private sector jobs. We‘ve created just in the last few months 1,644 jobs with this specific program. But nationwide, only $94 million has been drawn down for the employment subsidies out of a $5 billion program.
This is a program that works. This is what the administration should
be talking much more about. And we‘re hoping to get this extended beyond
this September 30th deadline, when these dollars are supposed to go away
SCHULTZ: And the American people, by the numbers that we showed, Mayor Newsom, is that the American people aren‘t sold that this is working. But I want to point out, in fairness, that President Obama, on February 17, 2009, almost a year ago, when he signed this, he didn‘t paint a rosy picture.
This is his comment. His quote was, “None of this will be easy. The road to recovery will not be straight. We will make progress and there may be some slippage along the way.
Now, it‘s not like he was selling a bed of roses to the country. He said that there was going to be some tough sledding.
Are we just impatient as a country and we just want it right now?
NEWSOM: Well, there‘s no doubt we‘re impatient, but there‘s something else at play. You know, for those of us that love baseball, the big distinction between baseball and politics is you don‘t get credit for saves in politics. And the reality is, with the stimulus program, we put out a report, for example, in December that showed $324 million we‘ve received just in our county and 1,389 jobs created.
It doesn‘t sound that impressive, but we did not put a component that incorporated the jobs saved. And that‘s a difficult thing, again, to explain to the American people, and that‘s why these numbers keep changing and they keep amending.
There‘s something else that‘s at stake here though with the federal stimulus dollars. They don‘t include the program that I just mentioned. Those 1,600 jobs are not part of the jobs that we put on our report.
They include the FMAP jobs, which are those federal Medicaid jobs. So, there is some reporting in the nomenclature that they need, I think, to clean up. And if they do, it will paint a much better picture—no question we‘re impatient, but a much better picture that should be painted, because I think the substance is actually there.
SCHULTZ: What should the majority party do about this money that‘s not reaching these shovel-ready jobs? And some of these states are taking the money, and I believe your state may be guilty of doing this, taking the money and doing it to balance the budget instead of doing and creating the jobs.
NEWSOM: I couldn‘t agree with you more. We were just out there at the U.S. Conference of Mayors and visiting the president, the White House, all of us making the same case.
It‘s metro areas that hold the majority of jobs in this country. In fact, 86 to 89, depending on your analyzing, of all the jobs in the country are in about 100 metro areas that generate 90 percent of the country‘s GDP. It‘s not the states.
And so, as quickly and as efficiently as we can get these jobs down to these regions and the cities without going through these states to take a little bit off the top here, a little bit out of the top there, then we‘re going to see a much robust and I think much more efficient recovery.
SCHULTZ: You can say with conviction tonight this stimulus package is working?
NEWSOM: Well, I don‘t think this. I know this.
NEWSOM: And I‘ve got to tell you, Ed, there‘s a human face that is a component. And you‘re absolutely right. It‘s not just stats. These are about people, and they‘re counting on these programs to continue.
SCHULTZ: San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom with us here tonight on THE
Thanks so much. Thanks for joining us.
NEWSOM: Thanks, Ed.
SCHULTZ: All right.
Now, we should point out that the last time the Republican voted for anything that the president put on the table was this stimulus package. They got three Republican votes. And, of course, Arlen Specter went to the Democrats.
Joining me now is California Congressman Darrell Issa, a ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Congressman, good to have you with us.
You‘re a successful entrepreneur. You know what it‘s like to make a dollar and hire people. I‘ve got to ask you about this stimulus package.
Do you believe, had we had not done the stimulus package, that the economy would be better off today than it would had we had not passed it?
REP. DARRELL ISSA ®, CALIFORNIA: Well, Ed, I‘m going to give credit where it is due. The nearly $300 billion that‘s been spent has allowed a number of people to keep their jobs, to be paid for another year. The vast majority are schoolteachers, federal, state and local workers. No question, government workers have kept their jobs.
The answer to your question, though, is if we took the remaining $400-plus billion and began investing in things which create permanent jobs, we‘d be far better off. This is a classic example where, quite frankly, you can pay somebody, you can employ somebody with money, or you can leverage money to create permanent new jobs.
So far, we‘re not doing that in any part of the stimulus. And I think that‘s the fundamental problem in the stimulus.
No matter where you go, what you see is we‘re spending money and people are keeping jobs for a time. The American people though want to know what‘s going to get a job at a factory and some employment that will be permanent started in their community, and that‘s something Republicans and Democrats should be working on together.
SCHULTZ: Congressman, let‘s you and I find the middle of the road here and let‘s be fair about this. And I think you‘re an honest broker about this, and most people that are in private business know what it‘s like to meet payroll and know how tough it is.
The Republicans, do you believe that they will be honest brokers from this point on? Now, you just mentioned that there are some things that have happened that are good, but don‘t the Republicans just have to make the case, President Obama, this is where you‘ve got to go, instead of having an obstructionist attitude?
Do you think the Republicans can be honest brokers from this point on? Isn‘t it better to create jobs than to score cheap political points? What do you think?
ISSA: Well, it‘s certainly better to create jobs. We do have a fundamental difference of opinion about whether you put money out to employ people for a day or you find ways to leverage that for permanent new jobs. Permanent being at least they continue beyond when the federal dollars run out.
Right now, there‘s a difference where there‘s a lot of Democrats—and a lot of them have talked to me about, you know, when this money is gone, are we just going to spend another $800 billion? How do we make it go on longer, particularly if this recession is somewhat difficult to break?
So, do I think there are honest brokers? Yes. In both parties there are honest brokers.
What I would suggest is that as we get closer to the election, it gets harder to break through the election clutter. So, if the president is going to start reallocating funds from the existing stimulus, come back to us for what is out of favor a little bit, but what used to be called investment tax credits, specific requirements that somebody invest in something that creates long-term new jobs, then I think he‘ll be received well whether it‘s new money or old money. But if we simply continue spending money on government jobs, that‘s just a soft landing for government, it‘s not what the people that are listening to your show and watching tonight would care about.
Congressman Darrell Issa, good to have you with us tonight. I appreciate your take on this.
ISSA: Thank you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: You bet.
Sooner or later, we‘re going to have to have a conversation in this country about, is there any middle of the road? It would seem to me—I understand the ideological divide when it comes to health care. I get all that. And I think most Americans do. And when it comes to public education.
But how can there be an ideological divide when it comes to creating a job? I mean, if you can prove you can create a job by going down this path or going down that path, why wouldn‘t you do it together? Why wouldn‘t you -- it‘s got to be more than just credit to one politician or one party.
Coming up, the Republicans turned the word “no” into an art form in 2009. Senate HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin has a plan to get them out of the way in 2010 and beyond. He‘ll explain it in just a moment.
Too many filibusters.
And Senator Bernie Sanders is calling for Ben Bernanke to get the hook. That puts him at odds with the White House and some of the most powerful Democrats in the Congress.
He‘ll join me in the front lines at the bottom of the hour to talk about that.
Plus, we‘re going to be catching up with what‘s happening with Tiger Woods in our “Playbook.” Is he going to come back and play this year?
You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW tonight.
Washington, as we know, is divided. People are sick of it. But the president I don‘t think is to blame.
The Republicans haven‘t shown President Obama one ounce of good faith, and I don‘t think they intend to. Senator Jim DeMint proved it back in July and when he made this comment on ABC‘s “This Week” just yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JIM DEMINT ®, SOUTH CAROLINA: I did not want this to be the president‘s Waterloo, but pushing through a massive government takeover of our health care system was certainly not a good idea.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Did you hear that? He didn‘t want it to be President Obama‘s Waterloo. It‘s simply not the truth.
Here is Mr. DeMint from South Carolina giving the marching orders to his party back on July 9th.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DEMINT: If we‘re able to stop Obama on, it will be his water Waterloo. It will break him.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: You be the judge.
The Republicans are trying to rewrite history, but Americans I don‘t think are going to buy this one.
Now that the GOP has 41 votes in the Senate, of course they can filibuster and the American people can see right through it. They‘re obstructionists, they have been all along.
That‘s what Governor Ed Rendell actually wants.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA: I think it‘s time to call their bluff. Remember, it‘s 51 votes for passage. They have to filibuster. Make them filibuster.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Joining me now is Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate HELP Committee.
Senator, good to have you with us.
I want to point out to our audience off the top tonight that back in 1995, when you and your party was in the minority, you and Joe Lieberman signed an effort to change this rule on the filibuster.
Do I have my facts correct?
SEN. TOM HARKIN (D-IA), CHAIRMAN, HELP COMMITTEE: You‘re absolutely right, Ed.
SCHULTZ: OK. So this is just not gaming now that you‘re in the majority. I want to point that out.
I also want to point out the fact before you comment tonight on the major legislation targeted. This is how American in the Senate has changed.
In the 1960s, eight percent was filibustered. Last Congress, 70 percent.
You guys need to go out to lunch with one another and figure out what‘s going on here. Why is the climate like this, Tom?
HARKIN: Well, it‘s simply because Mr. DeMint and a couple of his colleagues are calling the shots on the Republican side. They just want to stop everything. They want to make it impossible for us to pass anything.
I mean, Ed, don‘t take my word for it. Look at what happened even last September. We had a bill to extend the unemployment insurance.
HARKIN: Now, they held it up for almost four weeks before we could pass it. And it passed 97-1. So why was it held up all that time, eating up time, eating up the clock so that we couldn‘t do anything else?
Everything we bring up on the floor now they filibuster, requiring us to have 60 votes. I think the American people would be surprised to learn that the Constitution, which provides for a majority vote, no longer holds. Now you have to have 60 votes to get anything done.
SCHULTZ: OK. So what do you want to do, Senator? You want to change the rules of the Senate, right?
HARKIN: Absolutely, Ed. You know, what I proposed back in 1995 -- and you‘re right, I come at this with clean hands because I proposed it when we were in the minority. And the idea is that, yes, you could have a filibuster to slow things down a little bit, but you couldn‘t absolutely stop anything.
In another words, what I‘m proposing is that, on the first vote, yes, you require 60 votes. And then, after a few days, you could bring it up again, and then it would only require 57 votes. Then a few more days would go by and you require 54 votes. And then after a few more days, but within the span of, let‘s say, a week and a half or two weeks, you finally get down 51 votes, and that‘s it.
SCHULTZ: So, do you think the Democratic Party, or the majority here, has to explain to the American people over and over again, make this part of the conversation, part of the vernacular, however you want to wordsmith it, just tell the truth and say, look, they are standing in the way of everything? Is that a fair statement, they are standing in the way of everything, they‘re stalling everything, they don‘t want to see President Obama get any kind of legislative achievement whatsoever?
HARKIN: I think that‘s absolutely fair. I mean, just look at the record. Look at what you just pointed out last year, the number of times that we had to file closure—that is, to stop debate on I think, if I‘m not mistaken, over 107 items last year, 139, perhaps—you may have the figure on that, Ed—on just innocuous pieces of legislation, motions to proceed a bill that now we require 60 votes and before it was always just 51 votes.
SCHULTZ: Will you get any Republicans on board to help you with this?
HARKIN: Well, I don‘t know, Ed. I‘m going to start talking to them about it, because they may be in the minority now, we may be in the minority in the future.
When I first proposed this, we were in the minority, so I was kind of actually going after my own party at the time. But I felt then and I felt now very strongly that this filibuster has gotten out of hand and it is really ruining our democracy in this country.
SCHULTZ: I mean, if the American people think—and there are some out there who believe that our system is headed towards the broken road, so to speak, that Washington is dysfunctional. Do you think that this would be a serious tool that could be used to bring things back to some normalcy?
HARKIN: I really do.
Now, again, there is a role for minority. The minority does need protections from the rule of the majority. There‘s a lot of ways to do that, from the committee procedures, through presidential vetoes, to overrides, all kinds of protections for the minority.
I‘m not trying to take everything away. I‘m just saying, let‘s make it so that you can have a filibuster, but after a certain period of time you only need 51 votes, not just to pass a bill, but just to bring it to a vote, just to bring it up.
SCHULTZ: And how confident—and Senator Harkin, are confident are you tonight that from right now, until the election, the midterms, that the Republicans will work with the president on anything? On a scale of 0-100, where are you on that?
HARKIN: Well, already, the Republicans have indicated to our leader that they are going to object to motions to proceed on various pieces of legislation.
I‘ve got a bill that the House passed overwhelmingly. It is supported by Republicans over here. It‘s a food safety bill, Ed.
It‘s to modernize our food inspection system, to protect the American people. And yet, we can‘t bring it up. And yet, I‘ll guarantee you that once we bring it up and it comes down for a vote, it will pass overwhelmingly. And this is an important bill for consumers.
SCHULTZ: No doubt.
We‘ll see you Wednesday in Washington, Senator. Good to have you with us tonight. Thanks so much.
HARKIN: Thanks, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Coming up, when it comes to South Carolina politicians, the love gov is just the tip of the iceberg. Wait until you hear what his number two has to say about hungry children.
It lands him in the “Psycho Talk” zone.
Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: And in “Psycho Talk” tonight, the lieutenant governor of South Carolina, Andre Bauer. I don‘t think this guy turns the pages too fast.
This is the guy who would have taken over for the love gov, Marc Sanford, if they had kicked him out of office after his Argentinean affair. But maybe, just maybe, the South Carolina legislature actually made the right decision in keeping Sanford right in place.
In a speech over the weekend, Andre came up with this analogy about families who are in the government‘s free or reduced-price school lunch programs.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
LT. GOV. ANDRE BAUER ®, SOUTH CAROLINA: My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed!
You‘re facilitating the problem. If you give an animal or a person ample food supply, they will reproduce, especially ones that don‘t think too much further than that.
And so, what you‘ve got to do is you‘ve got to curtail that type of behavior. They don‘t know any better.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Wow. His solution is to deprive people of food.
It looks like the effect the recession has really had on South Carolina is pretty severe. The state‘s jobless rate is at 12.6 percent, 58 percent of its students get free or reduced-price lunch. Starving those kids won‘t create jobs.
The lieutenant governor is completely out of touch in suggesting that the government should treat its citizens like animals. It‘s derogatory “Psycho Talk.”
Coming up, there is a growing number of elected officials who want to put former Bush money man Ben Bernanke in the unemployment line. Senator Bernie Sanders is leading the charge there. He‘ll explain what the next move should be.
Plus, I want the president to look at the Supreme Court justices—just take a good look at them during the State of the Union speech on Wednesday night and explain to them how awful this decision was the other day about campaign finance reform. I think Congressman Alan Grayson will join me with that opinion for some straight talk in just a moment.
Stay with us. You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Thanks for watching tonight. Battle lines are being drawn around Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. The White House wants him reconfirmed. So does Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd. They don‘t want to change horses in the middle of an economic recovery. Other Democrats vehemently disagree. Barbara Boxer says Bernanke represents the failed policies of the guy who appointed him, George W. Bush.
Today, John McCain says that he will vote against the Fed Chair, Ben Bernanke. I don‘t like the threats the Bernanke supporters are making. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner suggested the markets could tank if Bernanke doesn‘t get reconfirmed. What is that all about? That‘s the same argument Wall Street makes when they say Americans have to pay their bonuses. Any time we try to hold these masters of the universe accountable, we‘re told that it could just rip apart the economy. You believe it?
Joining me now is Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a vocal critic of Mr. Bernanke. Senator, good to have you on tonight.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Good to be with you, Ed?
SCHULTZ: Why not just give the White House what they want? They want this guy in this position. Why not give it to them?
SANDERS: Look, we‘re in a terrible recession now. The recession was caused by the recklessness and greed of Wall Street. Ben Bernanke‘s job, as chairman of the Fed, is to protect the safety and soundness of our financial institutions.
You know what? He failed and he failed badly. The evidence is very clear. When Bernanke became chairman of the Fed, he said it—he said it publicly, I want to follow in the footsteps of Alan Greenspan. Alan Greenspan‘s philosophy is a disaster.
Many people in this country voted for President Obama because they wanted change. Maintaining the philosophy of Alan Greenspan is not change. That‘s what Wall Street wants. That‘s what big money wants. That‘s this whole deregulatory philosophy which got us where we are right now.
SCHULTZ: OK. So Mr. Bernanke hasn‘t played any role, in your opinion, in this market recovery that we‘ve seen. When the president—last March, it was what 3,500, 4,000 points less than what it is right now. That‘s people‘s retirements. It‘s their 401(k)s. It‘s their pensions. So there are some positive things here. Hasn‘t Mr. Bernanke played any kind of a role in that?
SANDERS: Sure he has. But he‘s the guy whose job it was to prevent this problem in the first place. He was asleep at the switch. His job was to tell the financial institutions that Wall Street cannot be a gambling casino. He did not do that.
Furthermore, as part of the recovery, he lent out trillions of dollars
trillions of dollars at zero interest to large financial institutions.
Hey, Ed, do you know which financial institutions received that money and what the terms were? You don‘t know. I don‘t know because Mr. Bernanke is not giving us the transparency that we need.
Furthermore—furthermore, the Fed today has the power to lower interest rates on credit cards, in which millions of people are paying 25 or 30 percent. The Fed today has the power to demand.
SCHULTZ: OK, senator. So what you just explained here doesn‘t sound good at all to the middle class in this country. So how can President Obama—and I‘m asking you—how can President Obama strike a populist and then go ahead and support a guy like Ben Bernanke, if it is exactly what you say it is?
SANDERS: Ed, that‘s exactly the problem. On Monday and Tuesday, the president and his supporters are saying, we‘ve got to take on Wall Street. On Wednesday and Thursday, they‘re giving Wall Street the Alan Greenspan/Ben Bernanke philosophy to run the Fed. It just doesn‘t pass the smell test.
SCHULTZ: Is this a big PR problem for the White House if Bernanke gets reconfirmed?
SANDERS: I think what it says to the progressive committee and to ordinary Americans that when a president is talking about—I‘m a supporter of Obama. I want him to succeed. Why are you going back to Bush? This was not only a Bush appointee; this was a member of Bush‘s Economic Advisory Council, the chairman of that. Why are we appointing somebody who was active in the Bush administration.
SCHULTZ: Senator Sanders, what do you say to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, who says, well, the market will react negatively if we make this change?
SANDERS: Any time you begin to bring about real change in this country, the big money interests don‘t want it. They‘re going to punish us. If you pass real health care reform, the stock market will go down because insurance companies and drug companies can‘t make as much money as possible.
Don‘t tell me there‘s nobody else in this country, no economist out there, who is capable of running the Fed, but on behalf of the middle class and working class of this country, rather than the big money interests on Wall Street. I just don‘t believe it. That is just an absurd remark.
SCHULTZ: Senator Sanders, keep up the fight. Appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.
SANDERS: Thank you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: For me, let me bring in Democratic strategist Steve McMahon, who can put into perspective, from a PR standpoint, what kind of a problem this might be for the middle class with the president. What do you think, Steve? I‘ll ask you the same question. How can the president strike a populist tone when he‘s ready to embrace the same people that took us down the road of the problems that we have, who was appointed by the Bush administration? What do you think?
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think there‘s two parts to the road that we‘ve been down. The first part was what happened, the reckless excess on Wall Street, prior to the collapse of the economy. And then the second part, of course, of the journey is what happened after that.
I think what the Obama administration is doing is taking both parts
and giving them an equal measure, if you will. The fact of the matter is -
and the folks out there who don‘t understand what this is all about, I would recommend that that they read “Time Magazine‘s” man of the year story on Ben Bernanke, which I just read today.
It‘s a pretty remarkable story. He came to Washington. He was an economics professor at Princeton. He wasn‘t a politician. He wasn‘t really involved in politics at all. He was an economist who happened to know more about the Great Depression and the causes of the Great Depression that anybody perhaps in America.
And during the time that we were in a financial meltdown, Ben Bernanke took steps to lower the interest rates to zero. The government bought mortgage backed securities, which is why the home interest rates went down to below five percent. It did all kinds of things that it didn‘t do during the Depression, in the late 1920s and early 1930s, that it should have done. And what he did was bring us back from the brink of collapse.
Ben Bernanke was not Barack Obama‘s first choice for Federal Reserve chairman. He made the choice last August because of the job that Ben Bernanke had been doing to bring us out of the recession, and to keep us from going into another Great Depression. I‘m sure the president would have preferred to change a course and go in a different direction. But he decided, wisely in my judgment, to go with a person who was getting us out.
SCHULTZ: Steve, what do you say to those Progressive democrats out there that just don‘t want to give Bernanke any credit for any kind of recovery, and, as Senator Sanders said, loaned trillions of dollars out to banks and then, of course, turned and stuck it to the American middle class when it came to credit card rates and abuses and such stuff as that? How does the president balance that and then go out on the campaign trail and say, hey, I‘m fighting for you?
MCMAHON: That‘s very difficult, Ed. Let‘s look at the facts for a second. I mean, Senator Sanders, who‘s a smart, thoughtful progressive, and is right about many things, is simply ignoring one fact. The Congress of the United States—the Senate of the United States has the ability to reign in banks. And for Senator Sanders to sit there and say that Ben Bernanke and only Ben Bernanke can do this, and Congress, which is elected to do these things, can‘t, is a little disingenuous, number one.
Number two, it‘s the banks that are charging those rates, and it‘s not Ben Bernanke. And again, I would go back to the Congress of the United States. Why hasn‘t Congress passed financial regulatory reform? Why are these members of Congress blaming Ben Bernanke for something that, frankly, he doesn‘t have the power to do?
SCHULTZ: Bernanke is influencing the Congress, if that‘s a fair statement, that he doesn‘t want any kind of regulation. He doesn‘t want to reinstitute Glass-Steagall or make any kind of reforms that really the Obama administration is talking about. I mean, they are on a tight rope here. I think they are on a tight rope with the American people to explain their position clearly.
MCMAHON: They are on a tight rope and they have not explained their position very clearly. The fact of the matter is this is a tight rope that they have put themselves on. Ben Bernanke may not be the most politically popular choice. I understand the progressives who say anyone who was there with George W. Bush should be gone right now. I happen to believe, for the most part, they‘re right.
On the other hand, I think that when you‘re talking about something that is this technical, and that requires a level of knowledge that most people, frankly, don‘t have, and you‘re looking at someone whose entire career has basically been in academia and studying the things that went wrong during the Great Depression, he‘s exactly the right person to have there right now. And recognize that he wasn‘t the person Barack Obama wanted. He was the person Barack Obama felt could do the best job.
SCHULTZ: He wants him now and that‘s a big key. Steve, good to have you with us tonight. Thanks so much.
For more, let‘s bring in our panel tonight. Democratic strategist Todd Webster is with us, and Michael Medved, radio talk show host, and author of the book, “The Five Big Lies About American Business, Combating Smears Against the Free Market Economy.”
This is the perfect title for the subject that we‘re talking about.
Michael, do you go with Ben Bernanke? What do you think?
MICHAEL MEDVED, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Yeah, sure. This is one where I support President Obama. And I do because the one thing that this economy requires most of all right now is a little bit of certainty about the road ahead. It has spooked investors, and you saw that in the market the last couple of days before today. It has spooked investors a great deal not knowing what‘s going to come down the pike.
SCHULTZ: It will come back.
MEDVED: And at least Ben Bernanke—sure, it will come back eventually. But it will come back when people are able to count on what they can expect from their government. Ben Bernanke gives a certain amount of stability and consistency to those expectations.
SCHULTZ: Todd Webster, Mr. Medved used the word certainty. Is there certainty that we won‘t have the abuses that we saw in the past if we don‘t put in some regulation which Mr. Bernanke is not in favor of? What do you think?
TODD WEBSTER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Look, I think there‘s no question that he did help stave off another Great Depression. He does deserve credit for that. This was not Obama‘s first choice. Frankly, if he tried to nominate somebody else, given how the Republicans in the Senate are behaving right now, you would never get it through for months and months to come.
So I think, looking forward, what he needs to embrace is what President Obama has put forth, which is the big bank responsibility fee, which will require the big banks to show some prudence, to not get into the big speculative lending that caused this economic collapse, that will recover all the Tarp funds, ever nickel of Main Street money that was invested in them to help them save themselves from themselves during the banking downturn. And, frankly, it‘s also good politics. It‘s good policy and good politics. It will allow the administration to show who is on the side of Main Street and who is on the side of Wall Street.
SCHULTZ: Quickly, let me ask both of you here: do you believe—I do
do you believe that the Fed chair plays a vital role in rebuilding the American middle class, and the availability of money to small businesses and rebuilding the structure and the strength of small businesses in America? Because, you know, we‘ve heard compliments tonight of Mr. Bernanke. Where is small business? They can‘t get their mitts on money.
What do you think, Mike?
MEDVED: Well, I think that‘s exactly right.
SCHULTZ: So he does bear responsibility.
MEDVED: He bears some responsibility. There‘s no question about it. But so does President Obama. The truth is that right now what small business people are saying—and I hear this all the time—is we need to know what to expect. We need to know what‘s coming down the pike. The problem is—part of the negative about this huge debate about health care is nobody has known what to expect.
SCHULTZ: We‘re not talking about health care. We‘re talking about the financial structure right now.
MEDVED: Yeah. But health care impacts the financial structure. It really does.
WEBSTER: At the end of the day, it‘s about these banks recognizing that their hides were saved by the American taxpayer over the last year, and that they are the ones that need to step up and start doing some lending, with some help from the administration, with help from the SBA to get things moving again.
SCHULTZ: Correct me if I‘m wrong, Mr. Bernanke is still embracing the same policies that took us down the road in the ditch where there was a lot of abuse. Can we agree on that?
WEBSTER: That‘s why you need the big bank responsibility fee. It‘s a great policy and it‘s good politics. I hope we‘ll see some hearings and actions on this on the Hill in the days and weeks ahead.
SCHULTZ: Gentlemen, good to have you with us tonight. Say it, Mike, quickly.
MEDVED: I just disagree. I‘m all for repaying the banks that actually got the money, repaying. But to punish those banks that never took the money in the first place is wrong.
SCHULTZ: Good to have you on tonight. Thanks so much.
Coming up, the details of Tiger‘s worst Thanksgiving ever have been finally revealed. I‘ll tell you why text messaging and sleeping pills just don‘t mix. That‘s in the playbook. And, of course, a word to the Vikings. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: New details about the events that led to Tiger Woods ramming his SUV into a tree on Thanksgiving night. It turns out Tiger‘s wife Elin confirmed that he was cheating on her by using his phone to text one of his mistresses. For more on what happened next, let me bring in NBC‘s Peter Alexander.
Peter, tell us what happened that night, the night that golf changed for at least 2010.
PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, maybe for a while.
That‘s right. To be clear, this should go in the what not to do playbook. This was the night before Thanksgiving, when this whole mess exploded, when he hit that fire hydrant and hit the tabloid floodgates. Apparently Tiger Woods aware that their was a tabloid article, according to the “Daily Beast” website—aware that the “National Enquirer” was about to report his affair with Rachel Uchitel, a night club promoter.
He went up to his wife, Elin, the website reports, and said to her, you know, honey, this isn‘t true. I want to you speak to this alleged mistresses on the phone. He put his wife Elin on the phone with the woman on the screen, Rachel Uchitel, and apparently they spoke for up to half an hour, according to this report.
And then Elin, Tiger‘s wife, apparently was satisfied that there was nothing romantically going on between the two. But then the next day, Thanksgiving, she learned new details about this relationship, when “National Enquirer” was about to report, including the fact that he, Tiger, and Uchitel had a rendezvous in Australia.
She then got in a fight with Tiger. He, according to the report, popped an Ambien pill, went to bed in the bedroom. That was when she picked up his cell phone that he left behind. Apparently she found a text where he wrote, among other things, “you are the only one that I‘ve loved” to Uchitel. You can imagine you furious Elin was to find that.
So she picked up this phone, and she texted, essentially, I‘m here; when do I get to see you next? Uchitel wrote back, thinking it was Tiger, thinking he should have been asleep. But it turns out it was Elin herself.
So, Ed, get this, Rachel Uchitel then received a phone call from Elin Woods—Elin then called the mistress and said, I knew it was you. That‘s when things exploded, according to the “Daily Beast.” Then she, Elin, woke up Tiger and chased him outside, according to this website, with this golf club, as you‘ve heard so much about. It‘s unclear whether or not that club was used to knock in the windows of the SUV outside the house. But you do have a better sense of how this all played out.
SCHULTZ: Peter Alexander, thanks for the report tonight.
And the Vikings did not win yesterday. I do have one question about this replay thing going on overtime. Let me get this straight, they can spot the ball based on the replay, but they can‘t figure out whether they should use the replay or why don‘t they use the replay to determine if it‘s a catchable ball when pass interference is called. NFL rule committee, at your winter meetings, why don‘t you take that up?
The Vikings should have won.
Coming up, I‘ll tell the president why he should confront the Supreme Court in his State of the Union address. Congressman Alan Grayson is with me on this one. You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Last week, the Supreme Court removed campaign spending limits—wow—on big business, giving corporations even more political power. President Obama voiced his objection to the ruling in his weekly address this Saturday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States Supreme Court handed a huge victory to the special interests and their lobbyists, and a powerful blow to our efforts to rein in corporate influence. This ruling strikes at our democracy itself. I can‘t think of anything more devastating to the public interest.
The last thing we need to do is hand more influence to the lobbyists in Washington, or more power to the special interests to tip the outcome of the elections.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson of Florida joins us tonight. Congressman, do you agree with the president and what should the majority party do about this?
REP. ALAN GRAYSON (D), FLORIDA: Well, they should do what I‘ve suggested, which is to pass my bills. We‘ve already introduced six bills to take care of this problem, four before the Supreme Court even acted. I was there the day the Supreme Court decided the case. We are on it. What has to happen is what 85,000 people have already asked to happen by going to the website SaveDemocracy.net and signing our petition. That‘s to pass these bill and stop this tragedy from going on, the tragedy of selling America to the highest bidder.
SCHULTZ: I agree with you, congressman. But do you actually believe that this will ruin democracy, that there is no way for the working folk of America to push back on those who would be donating that would influence the decisions of corporations in Washington?
GRAYSON: It‘s not even close. Look—look at 2008, three billion dollars spent on national elections, presidential, Senate, House of Representatives, all together three billion dollars spent. Do you know what Exxon made every single month in profits that year? Three billion dollars. They can peal off one month‘s worth of earnings and swamp everything else.
What‘s going to happen here is lobbyists are going to walk into my office and say, Mr. Grayson, I got five million dollars to spend on your race; I can spend it for you or I can spend it against you. Which do you prefer?
SCHULTZ: And so how big of an issue do you think this should be for the president? As if he doesn‘t have enough on his plate right now, this throws, you know, another piece of raw meat that‘s got to get cooked up.
Where would you prioritize this, congressman?
GRAYSON: No, this is a priority, because if we don‘t do anything about this, you can kiss your country good-bye, because the next time you have an election, they are going to put all of their people in, and all of our people are going to be out. By then it will be too late. We have to do something now or we‘re going to soon see the distinguished gentlemen from Saudi Arabia, because they even allow foreign corporations to spend anything they want. Or the senator from Microsoft; maybe we will soon be wearing their corporate logos on our lapels.
SCHULTZ: Does the president push hard State of the Union, on Wednesday night, on this issue, in your opinion?
GRAYSON: Absolutely. Look, this is a threat like no other threat that we‘ve seen lately. And at least 85,000 people recognize that by going to SaveDemocracy.net and signing the petition.
SCHULTZ: SaveDemocracy.net. Congressman, good to have you on tonight.
GRAYSON: Thank you, Ed. And we‘re going to fight them until we can‘t.
SCHULTZ: You‘re the man.
GRAYSON: Thank you.
SCHULTZ: Tonight in our text survey, I‘ve asked you, has the Obama administration done enough to help the middle class? Fifteen percent of you said yes; 85 percent of you said no. It‘s an issue the president is going to have to deal with it on Wednesday night, during the State of the Union, which obviously we‘ll have full coverage of here on MSNBC.
That‘s THE ED SHOW. I‘m Ed Schultz. For more information on THE ED SHOW, go to Ed.MSNBC.com or my radio website at WeGotEd.com. “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews is next on the place for politics, MSNBC.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Copyright 2010 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.> transcript
Copyright 2010 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>