Guests: Max Brantley, Adam Green, Tom Harkin, Jeff Merkley, Steve McMahon,
Ron Christie, Jack Rice, Dennis Van Roekel, Elijah Cummings.
HOST: Good evening, Americans. Welcome to THE ED SHOW from
New York tonight.
Great to be with you. Was that a heck of a hockey game last night or what?
All right. These stories are hitting my hot buttons tonight.
The left is fed up with Blanche Lincoln. Now the lieutenant governor of
Arkansas is taking her head on. This is great news for progressives. More
on that in just a moment.
And the White House says Democrats have the votes for health care reform,
but Senator Kent Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, is still
saying no to reconciliation.
HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin will join us for the latest in just a
And one Republican senator is about to pull the rug right out from under
one million Americans. Jim Bunning is single-handedly blocking
unemployment benefits, dropping four-letter words in the process, and
flipping people off. I think it‘s a new low for the GOP.
That‘s all coming up here on THE ED SHOW tonight. But first, this is the
story that has got me cranked up tonight.
Democrats have had enough. Now we‘re weeding them out, right? And this
one, I think, is going to take a fall in the primary.
Over 60 million people stormed the polls in 2008 because they wanted to see
change. They were promised change. Remember those days?
The middle class was promised a seat at the table for universal health care
and the right to organize within the workplace without intimidation. But
we‘ve had to wait because Blue Dog Democrats have been trying to cover
their backside, kowtow to the “party of no.”
Well, now the time is up. The number one offender in all of that, in my
opinion, has been Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln. She‘s an
obstructionist as well.
The senator from the Wal-Mart state has really stuck it to the Democrat
base time and time again. She has, let‘s see, fought the public option,
she‘s gone after the unions, didn‘t give them any support. She has sided
with Wall Street. The Democrats in Arkansas have had enough.
Today, Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter—much rumored, now it‘s true—
has said that he would challenge Lincoln in the primary. He made the
announcement on his campaign Web site this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. GOV. BILL HALTER (D), ARKANSAS: Washington is broken—bailing out
Wall Street with no strings attached while leaving middle class Arkansas
taxpayers with the bill; protecting insurance company profits instead of
protecting patients and lowering health costs; gridlock; bickering and
partisan games, while unemployment is at a 25-year high
Enough is enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: I like it. It sounds to me like this guy isn‘t going to be
calling up lobbyists to see how they are ought to vote on stuff.
I mean, that doesn‘t sound like a guy to me who is afraid of any Tea Party
crazies out there. See, over here on the left, we don‘t have any Tea
Party. They‘re talking about a coffee party, and I don‘t know what that‘s
But we do have middle class folks, even in Arkansas, who want crazy things
like health care reform. And they all want a fair shake in the workplace
as well. What Democrats really want is to have Democrats act like
This could be really interesting. I think there could be a lot of Bill
Halters all over the country. And this could send shock waves right
through the Democratic Caucus.
If you don‘t listen to your base, you could be next. That‘s the message.
The money is starting to fly into Halter‘s campaign. Progressive groups
are going after it. They‘ve already sprung into action and they‘ve already
raised 66 percent of their fundraising goal and met that, for the first
week, totaling more than $330,000.
The people who wrote the $25 checks to Obama just cannot stand Blue Dog
Democrats. They‘ve gotten in the way of change.
Now the president of the United States, I think, is going to have to make a
choice, and a tough one. Will he support a candidate that wants real
universal health care reform or is he going to stand with Blanche Lincoln?
The White House said today Lincoln is their choice. I‘m disappointed.
Arkansas Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter will join me on this program
tomorrow night. I can‘t wait for that conversation.
Need you to get your cell phones out tonight, folks. Want to know what you
think about this.
Tonight‘s text survey is: Do you think this is a good move for progressive
groups to target Democrats?
Text “A” for yes and “B” for no to 622639. We‘ll bring you the results
later on in the program.
All right. Joining me now is Max Brantley, editor of “The Arkansas Times.”
Mr. Brantley, you‘re the perfect guest for this story tonight because we‘ve
got to get a flavor of Arkansas.
Tell us, how vulnerable is Blanche Lincoln? And can the lieutenant
governor really mount a charge and unseat her as a United States senator?
What do you think?
MAX BRANTLEY, EDITOR, “ARKANSAS TIMES”: Well, there‘s no doubt that she‘s
vulnerable to being beaten in this election. The question of how
vulnerable she is in the Democratic primary is a much tougher question.
I think the passion of progressives that you described is certainly true on
the national level, and there‘s some really mad liberals in Arkansas as far
as Blanche Lincoln is concerned. But the polls at this point show her
I think you have to remember, the Democratic primary in the last
presidential election, went strongly for Hillary Clinton. These are kind
of party regulars here. I don‘t think it follows that all of them will
necessarily follow the track that, say, the eastern might.
Well, what kind of political chops and popularity does Lieutenant Governor
Halter have? I mean, is he really a guy who can come in here? I
understand he‘s very popular. And after watching that announcement, he‘s
everything that I‘ve been hearing from progressives all over the country.
What do you think?
BRANTLEY: Well, he‘s not the charismatic sort of politician that, say,
(INAUDIBLE) or Bill Clinton or David Pryor was. But he ran away from the
field in his race for lieutenant governor in 2006 with a very smart and
friendly media campaign that was about sort of his high school, small town,
grocery-checking, football-playing values. I think you got a flavor of
that today in his video on the air and we‘ll see more of the same.
He will take a great deal of good feeling into the polling place because of
the new state lottery, which is solely his invention, solely of his making,
but he will carry a huge amount of resentment from the Democratic Party
establishment. How much of a factor that will be in the vote, they‘re
viewed as somewhat at the county courthouse level. I think that‘s the big
question in this primary right now.
SCHULTZ: Do you think, Max, that Blanche Lincoln could change her position
on health care reform and have maybe a softer stance to the point where she
would say, OK, I‘ll vote for the public option? Could she do that?
BRANTLEY: Well, there are a lot of us that wish she would. But to this
point she has not, and I think she runs the risk at this point of looking
even more rootless than she already does if she flip-flops again.
After all, she did vote for the Senate health care bill which we can all
take apart from 15 different ways, but it was still a critical vote that
she got beaten up for very badly in Arkansas, for being a critical vote
against the filibuster and then finally a vote for approval of the bill.
So she finds herself a little bit in a damned if you do, damned if you
SCHULTZ: Max Brantley, editor of “The Arkansas Times,” with us tonight.
It‘s the number one weekly in the state.
Final question: Where has Blanche Lincoln really gone wrong, in your
BRANTLEY: She‘ s solely in the keeping of the corporate interests in
Arkansas. That‘s generally viewed as pretty smart politically since they
control a lot of the shots. But after a while, the voter tumbles to it,
and it hasn‘t served her well.
She‘s viewed as a tool of Wall Street, the big farmer, the big banker, the
big insurance company, and not of the man on the street. And I think we‘ll
hear a lot from Bill Halter about that.
SCHULTZ: Yes. And she is the chairman of the Senate Agriculture
Committee. And, of course, Ag is a big part of your economy in Arkansas.
BRANTLEY: But I think it‘s a huge part of our economy in terms of wrong
number of people employed because of the rise of corporate farming. It‘s
not quite the same impact statewide. I don‘t find a great deal of uprising
support for Blanche Lincoln because she‘s chairman of the Agriculture
Committee. I just don‘t hear it.
Max, great to have you on. Thanks for your time tonight.
BRANTLEY: Thank you.
SCHULTZ: For more, let‘s bring in Adam Green. He is the co-founder of the
Progressive Change Committee. You can find them on the Web at
boldprogressives.org, and they have also launched yet another Web site
today, and that is dumplincoln.com.
Well, this has been quite a run for your organization, Adam, and there‘s a
lot of money that has been floated to the lieutenant governor early on.
Is this the tip of the iceberg? Will there be more? What do you think?
ADAM GREEN, CO-FOUNDER, PROGRESSIVE CHANGE COMMITTEE: There will probably
be more, but this will probably be the great symbolic race of 2010. And
this essentially symbolizes Democratic voters who have had enough of
corporate Democrats calling the shots. And in this case they will have a
clear choice, and we‘ll see what happens. But if Bill Halter wins, it will
send shock waves throughout the Democratic Party and put a lot of other
people on notice.
SCHULTZ: So this is target number one for the progressive community, all
the big progressive have gotten together. And message number one, you
better line is with the party platform.
Is that pretty much the way this shakes out?
GREEN: That‘s true. The party platform, but also, in many cases, what the
overwhelming majority of Americans and folks from Arkansas want.
You know, when we did polling, 56 percent of Blanche Lincoln‘s constituents
wanted the public option. Of course, that didn‘t go very well with her
health insurance contributors who gave her millions of dollars. So, she,
has consistently, as that reporter accurately said, sided with big
corporations over regular people.
SCHULTZ: Are you disappointed that the White House is supporting her and
not the lieutenant governor?
GREEN: How many times in one week do I need to say that the White House
has a loser mentality? I mean, it‘s really unfortunate.
Like, they consistently err on the side of risk aversion and going with
politicians who are not going to fight for “change you can believe in.”
But, again, there is a huge grassroots outpouring. You mentioned it
We‘re actually over $400,000 now raised from the folks at Daily Kos,
MoveOn.org, Progressive Change Committee and Democracy for America. And
our entire goal for the week was $500,000. So, again, thousands and
thousands of people are going to dumplincoln.com or mikebennett.com (ph)
and chipping in. It‘s really a grassroots moment.
SCHULTZ: Do you think that all of the—if you call it kind of a
bellwether campaign and a real, I think, real comeback against the Tea
Party—I mean, you guys have a base and you‘ve got a platform, and
Blanche Lincoln hasn‘t followed it. I mean, why not set a goal of raising
$5 million and make it happen? I mean, if you can raise $500,000 in one
day, this could really have a major impact.
Why keep the bar so low?
GREEN: I wouldn‘t be surprised if the bar got raised significantly as
early as tomorrow. But since you mentioned the Tea Party, you know, one
thing that‘s been kind of a critique of the Democratic Party is that they
haven‘t tapped into this populist anger that‘s out there.
SCHULTZ: No, they haven‘t. There‘s populist anger over on the left.
There‘s populist anger on the left. And I‘m just not caving in on this. I
know the public option has got a pulse.
You have done some fabulous work. How many signatures does your
organization have now with Democratic senators to go reconciliation on the
GREEN: Well, we‘re a little bit less than two weeks now. We‘ve gone from
zero to 30 Democratic senators on the record saying they would vote yes if
the public option was brought up through reconciliation.
I can tell you, tomorrow, a couple more will also be stepping out. It‘s
been an amazing progress. And again, we need the White House to shape up,
stop undermining what the will of the American people is.
We can pass the public option. We have the votes to do it. It‘s just a
matter of, do Democratic leaders have the will?
SCHULTZ: How many other Blanche Lincolns are out there, in your opinion?
Give me some names of some other people that you think are very vulnerable.
GREEN: Well, in the Senate, when Ben Nelson is up for re-election next
time, he, like Blanche Lincoln, will go into the general election being
unpopular and also be vulnerable to a primary.
SCHULTZ: But, I mean, this might spur people around the country who are
thinking about a primary challenge, or somebody getting on the ticket, you
know, independently. I mean, who knows where this is going to go?
I mean, all the Tea Partiers, they‘ve got all the rhetoric, got the big
name at the convention speaking and everything else. But this is still
America bouncing back from the left, and I think it‘s fantastic. I think
this is going to turn Blanche Lincoln on health care fast.
What do you think?
GREEN: I wouldn‘t necessarily bank on that, but we‘ll see. You know,
stranger things have happened. But even if that‘s true, it‘s important to
have the real deal. You know, Bill Halter is an economic populist. We
need someone who has that in their heart, not just who‘s pandering for a
couple of months before the May primary.
SCHULTZ: Adam Green, great to have you with us. Good work. Thanks so
much for joining us tonight.
Coming up, Republican Senator Lamar Alexander says Democrats will be on a
political kamikaze mission if they go with reconciliation. The chairman of
the Senate HELP Committee, Senator Tom Harkin, will respond to that here in
just a moment on THE ED SHOW.
And while denying over a million Americans unemployment benefits, Jim
Bunning of Kentucky dropping a four-letter bomb and gave a TV producer the
More on that at the bottom of the hour.
Plus, I‘m issuing kind of a nerd alert in “Psycho Talk” tonight.
Stay with us. You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LAMAR ALEXANDER ®, TENNESSEE: It would be political kamikaze
mission for the Democratic Party if they jammed this through after the
American people have been saying look, we‘re trying to tell you in every
way we know how, in elections, in surveys, in town hall meetings, we don‘t
want this anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Republican Senator Lamar Alexander says going reconciliation
would be a kamikaze mission for the Democrats? We‘ll talk about his
reconciliation record in a moment.
This guy is looked at as a moderate in the United States Senate? I think
this is dangerous language.
White House health care adviser Nancy-Ann DeParle says Democrats have the
votes. And late today there‘s a development. Chairman of the Senate
Budget Committee Kent Conrad of North Dakota opened the door for
reconciliation saying, “If the House passes the Senate bill and wants
certain things improved on, like affordability, the Medicaid provisions,
how much of Medicaid expenses are paid for by the federal government, that
is something that could be done through reconciliation. A sidecar would be
a good candidate for reconciliation.”
Joining me now for more on this and the latest, Iowa Senator Tom Harkin,
chairman of the Senate HELP Committee.
Senator, great to have you with us tonight.
SEN. TOM HARKIN (D-IA), CHAIRMAN, HELP COMMITTEE: Good to be with you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: First, I want to talk about reconciliation.
Lamar Alexander was the first Republican to speak at the big gig last week
that the president hosted. And I was home because Olympic coverage was
going on in this timeslot, but I almost threw a shoe at the TV set, because
this is Lamar Alexander‘s record on reconciliation: 2003, Bush tax cuts;
2005, Deficit Reduction Act; 2005, Tax Increase Prevention; 2007, College
Cost Reduction and Access Act.
He was all about reconciliation on those, but not for anything when it
comes to health care reform, and asked the president to take it off the
table in the opening statement last Thursday.
How did you feel when you heard that comment, based on these numbers,
HARKIN: Well, sitting down where I was at the end of the table, we were
all just smiling to ourselves because we knew his record. That tax cut
bill that they rammed through under Bush, that‘s twice as expensive. Twice
as expensive as the health care bill, and that increased the deficit.
Our health care bill is going to reduce the deficit. But my good friend
Lamar Alexander, and all the Republicans, hey, reconciliation was fine when
you were giving tax breaks to the wealthiest of our society. But when
you‘re trying to cover 30 million Americans that don‘t have health care
insurance, when you‘re trying to make it more affordable, when you‘re
trying to cut back on the egregious policies of the health insurance
industry, no, then they can‘t have reconciliation.
Look, come on. We all know this is a game. We know what they are up to.
SCHULTZ: $1.8 trillion is what he voted for when it came to the Bush tax
cuts. That‘s half of what health care reform would be in this country.
Plus, over 10 years, the CBO scores it as saving money.
Now, Senator—Tom, we‘re friends now, OK?
HARKIN: Always have been, always will be.
SCHULTZ: My man, I need you to sign this public option letter. What is it
going to—if the public option comes up for a vote for reconciliation,
would you vote yes, Senator Harkin?
HARKIN: Look, Ed, you‘re talking to a guy who is for a single payer
HARKIN: And I‘m for a public option, always have been. But I know that
Speaker Pelosi said yesterday, I guess, on one of the talk shows, that it‘s
off the table, simply because of the vote arrangement that we have to do.
She has to count votes in the House side. So we‘ve got a deal with this
And I always say this, Ed—you know, to Adam HARKIN and others like that,
God bless you. I appreciate what you‘re doing. You‘re on the right course
in terms of pushing for the public option.
This bill is not the Ten Commandments, Ed, as you‘ve heard me say many
times, carved in stone for all eternity. This is a bill.
We pass laws around here. And then when we do, we come back and we amend
them and we change them.
I‘ll tell you this—if the public option is not in this bill—and it
looks like it probably won‘t be because of the votes—that means we‘ll be
back on it again, maybe even this year, maybe next year. But I‘m telling
you, it‘s going to be coming back again and again and again. We are not
giving up on it.
SCHULTZ: But why do I sense a “yes” out of you? If it were to come to the
floor, you would vote yes for the public option, would you not?
HARKIN: Ed, I‘ll tell you this straightforward. Not if it meant that it
would sink the whole health care reform bill.
There‘s a lot of other stuff in there I care very deeply about—getting
rid of all of these pre-existing conditions, insurance rescinding these
things, covering 30 million people, giving tax credits to low income so
they can buy insurance, getting more competition out there. These are very
important things to have for our country, and so I have to weigh all of
And if we have a bill sent to us from the House, a reconciliation bill that
does not have the public option in there, then if we were to do that, if we
were to add it here, that would sink the whole bill. And I don‘t want to
sink this bill. I want to get this bill passed. I want it on Obama‘s desk
and have him sign it.
SCHULTZ: Yes. We all do, Senator. But if it were just a single issue and
a single reconciliation attempt at a public option, you would vote for
that, wouldn‘t you?
HARKIN: Ed, not if it doomed the entire bill.
HARKIN: I‘ve got to be honest with you. Not if it doomed the entire bill.
SCHULTZ: OK. But in this case it might not be that scenario.
HARKIN: Well, I don‘t know. Well, Ed, let‘s see what the House sends us.
HARKIN: And we‘re working that out right now. As the chairman of the
committee, I‘m involved in these talks. The Speaker is—I‘ll tell you,
she is doing a great job.
HARKIN: But she has to get 218 votes, Ed. And this is a very delicate
balancing trick to make sure we get all these votes, and --
SCHULTZ: Well, they had a public option in the House bill before. Why
would they not have the votes for it this time?
HARKIN: Well, because there are other things happening because the Senate
bill is there and they have to pass the Senate bill. There are certain
things in the Senate bill that cannot be fixed in reconciliation, and some
House members are peeling off.
SCHULTZ: All right.
HARKIN: The Stupak Amendment, for example, we can‘t fix that in
reconciliation. So some House members are peeling off. So Speaker Pelosi
has a very tough job of making sure she gets all the votes together.
SCHULTZ: All right, Senator.
HARKIN: Now, Ed, I‘ve got to tell you one other thing.
HARKIN: Alexander said about this is a political kamikaze for the
Democrats to pass this. Ed, I‘ve been around here long enough to recognize
reverse psychology when they are doing it.
HARKIN: If the Republicans thought that we were on a kamikaze mission on
this health care, they would be applauding us. Why aren‘t they? Because
they know that if we pass this bill, and Obama signs it, the American
people are going to see what‘s in that bill.
They are going to recognize that we clamp down on the insurance industry.
They are going to recognize we‘re covering 30 million people. They are
going to recognize that we‘re giving tax credits to families.
SCHULTZ: They don‘t want to be on the wrong side of history, yes.
HARKIN: And they‘re going to be on the wrong side. And I‘ll tell you this
we pass this bill, it‘s kamikaze day for the Republicans.
SCHULTZ: Senator, great to have you with us. And I will accept that
polite Iowa scolding you just gave me on the public option.
HARKIN: Thanks, Ed.
SCHULTZ: This is how Washington used to be. People used to get along and
have a nice gentlemanly conversation.
Tom, great to have you on. Thank you.
HARKIN: I love you, Ed. Thanks.
SCHULTZ: All right. Me too, my friend. You‘re a great one. Fought for
the people all along and always give us a heady response. I appreciate it.
Coming up, when you put Ben Stein and Neil Cavuto together, a crash landing
in the zone? Absolutely guaranteed.
You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.
SCHULTZ: And in “Psycho Talk” tonight, former Nixon speechwriter and a
hero to folks with dry, itchy eyes, Ben Stein.
You used to be able to go—watch on TV and try to win this guy‘s money by
proving that you were smarter than he was. Well, it‘s lucky for him that
he doesn‘t do that anymore, because I would probably clean up on him
Ben went on the right-wing network today and suggested that the Toyota
defects that have caused runaway vehicles weren‘t real. He decided to
blame the victims instead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN STEIN, FMR. NIXON SPEECHWRITER: Is there even a real problem, or is
this, like, a phony problem like global warming? I mean, how many actual
incidents were there? How many were there that could be clearly traced to
something other than the driver making a mistake or the floor mat not being
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Well, as a matter of fact, Ben, the “L.A. Times” reported that at
least 56 people have died because of out-of-control Toyotas. They even
published accounts from the National Highway Safety Administration of all
You should check it out before you go on TV again.
Although Ben was right that there‘s a connection between Toyota‘s defects
and global warming. They‘re both real. They‘re both potentially deadly.
And they‘re both fodder for wacky writers who have nothing to do than go on
TV and spew a bunch of “Psycho Talk.”
Coming up, Republican Senator “Gentleman” Jim Bunning has been acting like
not a real good guy over on Capitol Hill. I‘ll talk to the senator he
recently cursed at on the floor in just a moment.
Plus, conservatives are calling on Speaker Nancy Pelosi to sideline Charlie
Rangel while the Ethics Committee investigate his conduct. Whatever
happened to innocent until proven guilty? All that and so much more coming
up on “THE ED SHOW” on MSNBC. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Thanks for watching tonight.
Republican Senator Jim Bunning, he has got an answer for Americans
struggling with unemployment in this economy: tough you know what—I
can‘t say it on the tube or on the radio. Can‘t pay your rent for your
mortgage? Tough. Lost your health care benefits when you got laid off?
Tough. Extending unemployment benefits for another month? Absolutely a
The Senate was ready to pass it with unanimous consent last week, and
now one Republican is blocking it. That means—that means, folks, that
over one million people are about to be denied unemployment and Cobra
benefits. Already 2,000 federal workers were furloughed without pay today.
Construction projects are just coming to a screeching halt across the
country. The suffering has just begun, right?
My next guest respectfully challenged Senator Bunning on the Senate
floor about this. Bunning‘s response was a four-letter word that I can‘t
repeat on the tube. And joining me is that Democratic senator from Oregon,
Jeff Merkley. Mr. Merkley, good to have you with us tonight.
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON: Thanks, Ed. It‘s great to be with
SCHULTZ: Is this the most heartless thing you‘ve seen the
Republicans do in the last year? How would you characterize this?
MERKLEY: It‘s unbelievable. It‘s shocking from every perspective.
To take and say, tough luck—that‘s the polite version—to the American
working families when they are down and out, when we are sitting here with
record unemployment—I was back home this weekend. I was in a county
with over 14 percent unemployment. It‘s next to a county with nearly 17
percent unemployment. I went down to southern Oregon, in Klamath (ph)
county, nearly 13 percent unemployment. And here we have a Republican
filibuster aimed at our workers, aimed at our seniors, aimed at even our
SCHULTZ: Well, where is the outcry from other Republicans? This is
their guy. They picked one guy to step up and be an obstructionist. This
is a hell of a way to say to the rest of the folks in this country that
we‘re spending too much money. This is the job‘s bill. It‘s not the jobs
bill. But we‘ve been talking about jobs all along and now look what he‘s
done to over half a million Americans.
MERKLEY: Well, and believe you me, we shouldn‘t view this as one
Republican. This is a coordinated Republican attack on the American
SCHULTZ: You think it‘s a coordinated attack by Republicans?
MERKLEY: Absolutely. Here‘s the thing, others have to keep coming
to the floor so Bunning can leave the floor. They did that last Thursday
night, and they did it just a few minutes ago when I was on the floor. And
I‘ll tell you, this—I challenged Senator Thune to come to the floor and
end this filibuster now, because he had just given a speech about small
businesses. Yet this filibuster is cutting off small business lending to
small businesses. If you believe that, come to the floor. If you believe
in support for working family, come to the floor, Republican leadership,
and end this Republican filibuster, this Republican attack on our workers
SCHULTZ: Money to small business, this is exactly what this
administration has been trying to do, been talking about, and trying to put
in place. And now we‘re getting cut off at the knees by one senator who is
SCHULTZ: By the way, with all of the filibusters, we‘re at a record
level, an unbelievable pace for this year. It‘s three times what it was in
the last session of the Congress. How do you combat that, senator?
MERKLEY: I‘ll tell you, the small businesses are going to create
jobs. We have a lot of help that we can send their way. We are trying to
get the bill through the House now that we passed last week. We‘re trying
to get a fund to recapitalize our community banks, so they can do more
We are trying to get the filibuster out of the way, this blockade, so
we can continue small business lending through the Small Business
Administration. We need to do all of this, because our small businesses
will then be able to hire and put people back to work and seize
opportunities to grow this economy.
SCHULTZ: Senator Merkley, good to have you with us tonight.
Appreciate your time. Thanks for keeping up fight.
MERKLEY: It‘s great to be with you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: You bet. Over in the House, Republicans are jumping on
Charlie Rangel‘s ethic troubles. They are planning to force a vote on his
chairmanship after the House Ethics Committee found that corporate funded
trips Rangel took to the Caribbean violated House rules. But Speaker Nancy
Pelosi says she will wait for the full Ethics Committee inquiry is finished
before considering any action.
For more on that, let me bring in Democratic strategist Steve
McMahon. Steve, great to have you on. How do you view this? Should the
Democrats just go ahead and move on Charlie Rangel? Is their political
baggage at this point? What do you think?
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think Charlie Rangel
deserves his day in court, if you will. This is somebody who served in the
Korean war, was put in a segregated unit, fought in a segregated unit, came
home to serve his country, and has been there for a long, long time.
There‘s no question that what he was found guilty of in, or accused
of this in ethics finding, taking corporate sponsored trip is a very
serious matter. They also pointed out that there was no evidence that he
knew about the sponsorship and who was paying the bill. Now, we can argue
about whether or not he should have known. I think he probably should
have. His staff certainly knew. But they did not find that he knew
There is, as you know, Ed, a number—there are a number of other
allegations that the Ethics Committee is looking into. I hope they act
expeditiously, come out with a report so that Democrats can move on.
There‘s no question that this is a distraction. And there‘s also no
question that this is a distraction that Democrats don‘t need right now.
SCHULTZ: Here‘s the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, on Charlie
Rangel. Here‘s her response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: It is a public
admonishment. It said he did not knowingly violate House rules, so that
gives him some comfort. What Rangel has been admonished for is not good.
It was a violation of the rule of the House. It was not a—something
that jeopardized our country in any way. So what remains to be seen—
what the rest of the work of the committee is and I hope it will be soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Steve, what about his tax issues? Is that all cleared up?
MCMAHON: Frankly, the more serious allegations have to do with
whether or not he reported all of the income that he was supposed to
report, whether or not he paid all of the taxes that he was supposed to
pay. He is the Ways and Means Committee chairman of the United States
Congress, which is the highest ranking committee, and, of course, it‘s the
committee that writes all of the tax policy.
SCHULTZ: Well, there‘s no doubt you‘re spot on with that. But Nancy
Pelosi is caught in a tough spot right now, because she said she was going
to drain the swamp.
MCMAHON: She is caught in a tight spot. She doesn‘t appreciate it.
I think the honorable thing for Mr. Rangel to do would be to recuse
himself, for the time being, until the Ethics Committee finishes. He was
admonished. It‘s not like there‘s nothing here. There are a number of
other allegations which, frankly, are far more serious than the corporate
sponsored trip thing. I think it‘s a distraction the Democrats don‘t need.
And, frankly, Chairman Rangel would be well advised, in my opinion, to sit
down for a few weeks or a few months, however long it takes, for this thing
to work itself out.
SCHULTZ: Democratic strategist Steve McMahon, great to have you on
tonight. Thanks so much.
MCMAHON: Thank you. >
SCHULTZ: For more, let‘s bring in our panel. Radio talk show host
and former CIA officer Jack Rice with us tonight, and Republican strategist
and former Bush-Cheney aide, Ron Christie. Ron, what should the Democrats
do here? Does Charlie Rangel deserve the full disclosure, full report?
What do you think?
RON CHRISTIE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think he should step aside
for the time being, Ed. I think Steve McMahon was exactly right. I think,
for the good of the House, for the institution of the House of
representatives—when you have a very senior member, who is the chairman
of the Ways and Means Committee, who has been admonished, who has other
serious charges before him, it‘s a distraction. It‘s not only a
distraction for the Democrats, it‘s a distraction for the American people.
I think, as Steve pointed out, which I agree with, for the next
several weeks and months, as the Ethics Committee does their work, I think
it would be good for him to recuse himself.
SCHULTZ: What do you think, Jack Rice?
JACK RICE, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I think it‘s a magical
transformation for the Republicans, all of a sudden jumping on this one,
saying, we need to deal with ethics, despite all of the problems they‘ve
had in the past.
But, actually, I do completely agree here. I think it makes a lot of
sense, strategically, to say, you know what, there are issues out that are
there, let‘s address this. This makes it very difficult for the Democrats.
If they don‘t do it correctly, they will be just as hypocritical as I think
the Republicans have been in the past, and continue to be.
SCHULTZ: Let‘s switch gears now. Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas
getting a challenge in the primary from the lieutenant governor, who I
think has come forth with some pretty populist ideas when it comes to
answering to the progressives in this country. Jack Rice, is this going to
be a real challenge? I mean, they are raising money like crazy right now.
Over half a million dollars -- 400,000 dollars has been raised in one day.
How much of a problem is this going to be for other Democrats who, so to
speak, don‘t get in line with the agenda?
RICE: Frankly, I think it‘s a good idea that this drives the
Democrats to stand up and say what it is that they are standing for. We
have seen a split amongst the party itself, and there‘s a perception across
the country that the Democrats can‘t get their act together, let alone
where the Republicans are. If nothing else, what this does to Blanche
Lincoln is it requires her to step up and say, this is where I am.
Does this drive them potentially further to the left? Yes, it might.
But that s not necessarily a bad thing. Certainly not for President Obama.
SCHULTZ: And Ron Christie, aren‘t you kind of—over on the
conservative side—licking your chops on this one, because the White
House has already come out and said, we‘re going with Blanche Lincoln. If
she loses in the primary—she could go the route of Joe Lieberman. But
it just seems to me that the political capital is being spent early on by
the White House. What is the risk there, in your opinion?
CHRISTIE: I think you‘re right, Ed. I think the White House has put
a pretty firm line in the sand, saying, we support Blanche Lincoln. We
want her to be our nominee. Arkansas is a tough case for the Democrats
either way you look at it. If the progressive candidate takes her out in
the primary, then the Republicans have an even better chance of picking of
that seat. As it is now, Lincoln is in a lot of trouble. You have a lot
of members—a lot of African-Americans in Arkansas who are very
displeased with her. Regardless of any way you look at it, Ed, I think
she‘s in deep trouble, and not likely to come back for the next session of
SCHULTZ: I think this is a wakeup call to a lot of progressives that
aren‘t on board with real change because there could be others. I also
think this is going to embolden a lot of progressive groups. If they can
get the lieutenant governor a victory in the primary, is it not going to be
a wake-up call, Jack Rice, to Democrats to get in line or get out?
RICE: Absolutely. It also really strengthens the point of the left
of the party. Frequently, what we have seen over the last year,
especially, is it seems that the Democrats have almost dismissed many on
the progressive wing. And I think what the progressives are doing right
now is they‘re flexing their muscles and they‘re saying, look, we have a
seat—not just a seat at the table, one of the reasons that you are where
you are is because we put you there. Now, you will either listen to us or
we will move you aside. This is going to be a very interesting midterm set
SCHULTZ: And Ron Christie, I guess I failed on my first night back
after my two weeks off from the Olympics, because I don‘t think you‘re mad
at me tonight.
CHRISTIE: I‘m not. It‘s all good. I‘m in a good mood. Happy
March. Good to see you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Up next, 7,000 students drop out of school every day in
America, which means over one million kids won‘t get their diploma this
year. The president, he‘s got a plan that gives some teachers and
principals the pink slip. That is coming up in the playbook. Stay with
us. You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.
SCHULTZ: In my playbook tonight, 1.2 million students drop out of
school very year in this country. Now, President Obama has 3.5 billion
dollar plan that he thinks will turn that number around. The problem is it
sounds like No Child Left Behind on steroids. Part of the Obama‘s plan
targets 5,000 of the lowest performing schools in the country.
But to get federal funding, those schools will have to take drastic
action following one of the four models. The school could work to improve
in one of four specific areas: teacher effectiveness, instruction,
operational flexibility, and learning and teaching planning time. Also,
the district could temporarily shut down a low-performing school, then
reopen it under charter school management. Or they could permanently close
a failing school, and send the students elsewhere in the district.
Finally, the school district could flat out fire the teacher, the
principals, and at least half the staff of a struggling school and overhaul
its program of instruction. To tell us more about this, and does it have
legs, and is it going to turn things around, let me bring in Dennis Van
Roekel. He is the president of the country‘s largest labor union, the
National Education Association, who is a teacher in Arizona.
Mr. Van Roekel, appreciate your time tonight. Does the NEA embrace
what the president said today? Can you go along with this plan?
DENNIS VAN ROEKEL, NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION: Well, number one,
we agree 100 percent that we need to do something about the dropout
problem. One point two million kids a year that we are losing, our future
depends on us doing something about it. And of the four models, the
transformation model, where it is done through collaboration, involving
management, the school board, the employees and their unions, who then must
reach out to the teachers and community and say, let‘s talk and work
together to determine what is best for the students—we support that.
SCHULTZ: Is it fair to say that the Obama plan is somewhat heavy
handed? I mean, this sounds like No Child Left Behind on steroids. If
they are going to come in, fire principles, fire half the staff, shut the
school down and redirect students. You and I know—and we‘ve had this
conversation before—in low-income areas in this country, in the inner
city, it‘s really—public education is a challenge, to say the least. Is
3.5 billion dollars going to do it? And is this plan heavy handed?
VAN ROEKEL: One of the things that we look at when we look at the
lowest 5,000 schools, 30 percent of those are in small and rural
communities. And of the four options, three of them don‘t make sense at
all. I grew up in one of those little towns. There was only one school.
So the idea that you would close it, telling me to go somewhere else,
doesn‘t make much sense. I don‘t think it makes sense to fire half the
teachers when you haven‘t done the research to know that that is the
SCHULTZ: I agree with you. But how are you going to recruit
teachers to go into a troubled area? Getting people into the profession
and paying them properly, to keep them motivated to stay in the profession
many times it does come down to the money. How are you going to get
people to go into districts that are having the challenges under this
VAN ROEKEL: Well, we surveyed more than 2,000 of our members, who
are nationally board certified, and we asked them that question: what would
it take to get you into the most troubled, the most high need schools? The
number one they say is they want good, strong school leadership. And
that‘s in the principle. They want to have collective and responsibility
and accountability for all of the students. They want to have good
learning and working environment. And pay comes in last. And what it says
is, we want to have a say in what it takes to turn the school around.
SCHULTZ: When kids come home at night tired, they stay out of
trouble and they are probably doing something that is pretty constructive,
such as extra-curricular activities. It would seem to me that if kids in
this country are going to get ahead, their time has to be occupied. That‘s
what I believe in. A kid that is focused and occupied and involved in
activities has got a much greater chance of getting there. A lot of these
after school programs and pre-school programs have been cut. Have they
VAN ROEKEL: Absolutely. We agree with what you just said. After
school programs are extremely important. In the 23 years as a high school
math teacher, I also coached. And I used to say to parents, I don‘t know
why you don‘t encourage your kids to get more involved. Wouldn‘t you
rather have them with me, and let me send them home at 6:00 or 6:30, tired
and ready to stay at home, rather than running around in the afternoon.
SCHULTZ: Mr. Van Roekel, good to have you with us tonight.
VAN ROEKEL: Thanks a lot, Ed. I appreciate.
SCHULTZ: Coming up, the verbal grenades being launched over health
care reform, well, they have brought new meaning to March Madness, in my
opinion. Congressman Elijah Cummings will join me from Battlefield,
Indiana in just a moment. You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. It‘s a battle every step of
the way for health care reform. Democratic leaders in Congress can‘t even
agree on whether—who should act first. Speaker of the House Nancy
Pelosi says they will have to wait and see what the Senate does. But House
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer says the House has to lead the way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STENY HOYER (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Whether we‘re willing or not, we
have to go first if we‘re going to correct some things that the House
disagree with—change, so we can reach agreement The House will have to
move first on some sort of corrections or reconciliation bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Joining us for more on this is Democratic Congressman
Elijah Cummings of Maryland. Congressman Cummings, great to have you on
tonight. Do you agree with the majority leader? Is that the way it‘s
going to have to be?
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: I think we‘re going to have to
move. Keep in mind, we have a Senate bill and a House bill. Keep in mind,
the Senate bill was passed with a super majority. So what the House could
do is pass the Senate bill and then use reconciliation to tweak some of the
budget issues in that Senate bill.
But basically the bills have been passed by both houses. It‘s just a
question of whether we‘re going to take up that Senate bill and then tweak
it with reconciliation on the Senate side.
SCHULTZ: Is that what you recommend, congressman?
CUMMINGS: Well, it‘s going to be difficult. I probably would,
because I think that‘s probably going to be the only way we‘re going to get
a bill through. We‘re in a situation now where there‘s a lot of things
that I don‘t necessarily like about the Senate bill. But I do believe that
if we get a commitment from the Senate that once we pass their bill, that,
again, has already come over to us with a super majority—that once we
get a commitment from them that they will do the right things, I think I
could live with it.
And then we‘ve got to deal with this, Ed, like we have dealt with
Social Security. When Social Security first came about, it was not exactly
what we wanted it to be. But then you tweak it and keep improving it, and
then it gets better. Once we get this thing passed, then we‘ve got to make
sure that the American people understand that it is a good thing. And then
we‘ve got to make sure that we make it clear that we‘re saving lives and
saving a lot of pain.
SCHULTZ: Congressman Cummings, did the president make a difference
CUMMINGS: I think he did make a difference, because I think what he
did was he showed that the Democrats were—believe that it is important,
that it‘s a right for people to have insurance and to be taken care of.
And he—and I think—but on the other hand, he also showed the hand of
our Republican colleagues, who basically tried to find something wrong with
every little thing --
CUMMINGS: -- that the president was stating, even things like the
exchange that was their idea. You know, that‘s—and that—it gets
rather frustrating, Ed. And to be frank with you, I am coming to the point
where I think about all of the people who will not be able to have coverage
because of, say, for example, preexisting conditions or recissions, that is
being dropped when they have an ailment. Ed, we have no choice. We have
got to pass this.
SCHULTZ: Congressman, great to have you with us tonight. I
appreciate you weighing in on this.
CUMMINGS: Always a pleasure, Ed.
SCHULTZ: You bet. Tonight in our text survey, I asked you, do you
think it‘s a good move for progressive groups to target Democrats? Eighty
four percent said yes; 16 percent said no. That‘s THE ED SHOW. I‘m Ed
Schultz. Be sure to watch tomorrow night. Arkansas Lieutenant Governor
Bill Halter will be here to talk about his race against Blanche Lincoln.
“HARDBALL” and Chris Matthews is next.
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