updated 3/4/2010 11:11:23 AM ET 2010-03-04T16:11:23

Guests: Joe Barton, Anthony Weiner, Bob Shrum, Luke Russert, Arlen Specter,

Jennifer Donahue, John Feehery, Bill Press, Stephanie Miller.

HOST:  Good evening, Americans and welcome to “The

Ed Show” tonight from New York.  These stories are hitting my hot buttons

tonight.  The president is taking control of the health care debate.  He

wants an up or down vote in two weeks.  More in just a moment.

And coming up at 6:30, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania on how

supporting health care reform is boosting him up in the polls and helping

his re-election chances.  House Democrats got rocked twice today.  First,

congressman and Chairman Charlie Rangel temporarily gave up the gavel.  Now

freshman Democrat from New York Eric Massa says he‘s retiring.  But there

might be much more to this story.  Allegations of sexual harassment with a

male staffer have surfaced.

And Sarah Palin gives Jay Leno a hand with “The Tonight Show.”  Of

course that earns her ticket to “The Zone.”  All coming up on “The Ed

Show.”

But first, let‘s get right into it.  Let‘s get it on.  When I saw the

president today step up there, I said, let‘s get it on.  He steps out in

front of the country this afternoon and said, he wasn‘t going to start over

on health care telling the Congress to schedule the vote. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The American people

want to know if it‘s still possible for Washington to look out for their

interests and their future.  They are waiting for us to act.  They are

waiting for us to leave.  And as long as I hold this office, I intend to

provide that leadership.  I do not know how this plays politically, but I

know it‘s right.  And so I ask Congress to finish it‘s work and I look

forward to signing this reform into law. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  I think they are watching the “The Ed Show.”  That‘s as

close that this president has ever gotten to drawing a line in the sand. 

Now all the pressure is on Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.  The president gave

them the green light for reconciliation today. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  I believe the United States Congress owes the American people

a final vote on health care reform.  I, therefore, ask leaders in both

houses of Congress to finish their work and schedule a vote in the next few

weeks.  From now until then, I will do everything in my power to make the

case for reform.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Here, here.  After a year of olive branches, the president

is fresh out of patience.  He‘s put up with the right wing lies long

enough.  The Republicans have a choice.  Lead, follow, or get the hell out

of the way.  Small government has never gotten anybody any health care in

this country.  We have people in need and they need to be helped.  The

Senate has obstructed at record levels and now the president says it‘s time

to move.  Nancy and Harry need to get their members in line, getting

Democrats to agree.  You know, it‘s like herding cats.  The president wants

your help. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  And I urge every American who wants this reform to make their

voice heard as well.  Every family, every business, every patient, every

doctor, every nurse, every physician‘s assistant.  Make your voice heard. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Now, the president is asking people to get engaged.  I‘m a

single payer guy.  Have been from the start.  But I want every Democrat to

support a public option.  We still have a chance with that on a single

vote.  Now, you know that if you‘re a baser over here on the left, we‘re

not getting everything we want.  But it is a start.  And now is the time to

show Washington if you believe in this that the tea party nut jobs aren‘t

calling the shots, if you want change of some sort, now is the time to

crank it up with your senator or congressman.  I will.  I will on the radio

and I will here. 

We‘ve got to get 33 million Americans covered.  I know it‘s a sell out

to the insurance industry, many of you believe that.  And I do too.  But it

is a start and it will help Americans.  And if we keep the majority, then

the Democrats will be able to work from here and make it better.  The

Republicans, they‘re going to go to the firewall to stop this thing.  You

know that.  They are going to play the fear and smear game all over the

place.  Conservative talk radio, it will be their topic for months on end

and of course across the street they will have plenty of material to brow

beat it. 

But the fact is, and remember this, folks, the Republican plan covers

three million Americans.  The Democratic plan covers 31 million Americans

and gets rid of the pre-existing condition.  That is change.  That is

change.  As many hours as I have spent in front of the camera since last

April talking about the public option and single payer and holding people

accountable, we are at the moment of fishing or cutting bait.  I want to go

fishing.  Let‘s get this thing done. 

Get your cell phones out.  I want to know what you think.  Tonight‘s

text survey is, do you believe the Democrats will have the guts to pass

reform before Easter? Text “A” for yes and “B” for no to 622639.  We‘ll

bring you the results later on in the show. 

Let‘s start tonight with Republican reaction in the House.  Joe Barton

of Texas.  Congressman, good to have you with us.

REP. JOE BARTON ®, TEXAS:  Glad to be with you, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  You know, the president today, his purpose was to come out

and say that he was going to accept some provisions of what the Republicans

have put out on the table all along.  Are you comfortable with what you

heard, based on some things like going after waste, fraud, and abuse?  What

do you think?

BARTON:  Well, of course we‘re for wading out waste, fraud, and abuse. 

But most of what the president said in terms of Republican ideas is just

window dressing.  He mentioned medical malpractice reform.  But what he

wants is a pilot program that really prevents states from imposing any kind

of caps on medical malpractice issues.  That‘s not, in my opinion, real

reform. 

SCHULTZ:  OK, well the president says he‘s willing to commit $50

million to fund state initiatives designed to reduce medical malpractice

costs.  Now I‘ve spoken with a few legal beagles today.  They say that this

is a great start and it will undoubtedly have an effect on cases which

would favor the position of the conservatives.  What about that?

BARTON:  Well, real medical malpractice reform would be to take the

bill that Texas passed in 2003 or that California passed in 1975.

SCHULTZ:  But is this a change, congressman? I mean, this is $50

million geared on a state level to address what your side of the aisle has

said, frivolous lawsuits.

BARTON:  Well if you look at the fine print, states can‘t put any kind

of a cap on punitive damages or lawyer fees.  They don‘t have

disproportionate responsibility of things like that.  So it‘s really, you

know, any step towards reform is a good thing.  But in terms of really

changing the system, the president‘s proposal on medical malpractice reform

just doesn‘t do it. 

SCHULTZ:  And what about boosting Medicaid reimbursements to doctors?

That‘s something the Republicans have wanted all along.

BARTON:  We would be for that.  I don‘t know the details of that

proposal, but that‘s something that we could support.

SCHULTZ:  OK, well that‘s in there.  That‘s what the president says he

wants to do.  So we can say tonight, whether you vote for it or not, there

are some Republican ideas in this bill. 

BARTON:  Well, it‘s a 2,700 -- we think it‘s going to be a 2,700 page

bill and to have three or four paragraphs that are things that we support,

does not make this something we can vote for. 

SCHULTZ:  But congressman, if I were a doctor and someone told me that

if I treat patients that are in a government program such as Medicaid and

there‘s going to be reimbursement to the doctors and I‘m going to get more

money, I would think that would be a good thing.  I‘m getting paid more for

my services.  That is a Republican issue.  How can you not embrace that?

BARTON:  Well, you know one thing that‘s a good idea doesn‘t make the

entire bill something that we can vote for.  And 160 mandates and new

commissions requiring every person to have health insurance whether they

want it or not, requiring employers to offer it whether they want it or

not, spending a trillion dollars. 

SCHULTZ:  Half the bush tax cuts.  $1.8 trillion was the Bush tax

cuts.  Yes, it was. 

BARTON:  It doesn‘t compute, sir.

SCHULTZ:  It does.  The Bush tax cuts were $1.8 trillion, Joe, you

know that.  And this bill is half that.  And the CBO scores it, it‘s going

to save money over 10 years. 

BARTON:  Well, it saves money according to their scoring because it

counts 10 years of revenue increases and only six years of spending. 

That‘s what most people would call a gimmick. 

SCHULTZ:  All right, so Congressman Barton, the $64 question, will you

vote for it?

BARTON:  I do not plan to vote for it and I don‘t think they have the

votes to pass it. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, we‘ll see.  Congressman, good to have you on tonight. 

Good sport. 

BARTON:  Always my pleasure. 

SCHULTZ:  All right, joining me now is New York Congressman Anthony

Weiner.  And now everybody on the left is happy about this.  Congressman,

what do you make of this 11th hour pitch by the president to say, go do the

work, get it done?

REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK:  Boy I wish he gave that speech

eight months ago, six months ago.  I came on your show a bunch of times

saying that I wanted to see presidential leadership.  I want to see him put

a finger on the scale here.  He left out some stuff he should have put in. 

You know, part of the problem is that President Obama thinks that if you

make some concessions, guys like my friend Joe Barton will come along. 

Don‘t hold your breath.  Or as I say to the president, good luck will that.

SCHULTZ:  All right, well there‘s a sound bite to back up what you

just said.  This is Mitch McConnell on the floor today. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, MINORITY LEADER:  Unfortunately, Democrats here

in Washington have decided to press ahead on the same kind of massive bill

they were pushing before the summit.  Even worse, they now seem willing to

go to any length necessary, any length necessary, to force the bill through

Congress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Well, Congressman Weiner, I know you‘re not happy.  I‘m not

happy.  But it is a start.  And 31 million people getting coverage, can you

vote yes on this?

WEINER:  Listen, I don‘t believe in letting the perfect be the enemy,

the good, there are things I want to have in there.  You know, the funny

thing about what Mitch McConnell just said, to do anything possible to get

things passed, how about just calling it for a vote and seeing if there‘s a

majority in the House and the Senate?  Isn‘t that the way we govern?  Isn‘t

that what we came to Washington to do?

Look, there is no doubt about it, there are things in it that I have

some concerns about.  For one thing, I haven‘t actually seen the bill yet. 

And I do want to see it.  You know, there are some mistakes that the

president made going state by state exchange rather than a national

exchange.  I want to see the public option in there.  I understand there‘s

50 votes, 51 in the House, we have in the Senate.  There‘s a majority in

the House and the American people want it. 

So I‘m not a potted plant here.  I want to legislate, make this thing

better, but definitely this is a step in the right directions.

SCHULTZ:  Have the Democrats been negotiating with themselves? That

sound bite we just played of Mitch McConnell, after the meeting last

Thursday after four provisions that the Republicans have asked for are

going to be put in the bill, the president announced that today, the olive

branches have been cut off, it‘s time to move on.  Have the Democrats been

negotiating with themselves?

WEINER:  Look, we‘re trying to make a good law here.  We‘re the

governing party.  We‘ve always known that.  But the fact that the

Republican Party is basically said as a group around here it‘s their

political imperative to stop the president from getting a success, once

they call it the health care his waterloo, we should realize right then and

there they want him to fail.  Now I don‘t like that idea.  I hope that my

Republican friends, when they look in the mirror, maybe they have a turn

around moment.  But I think we pretty much have to realize they are

standing at the sidelines letting us govern.  But we have to take off that

mantel now.

SCHULTZ:  Congressman Weiner, good to have you on with us tonight,

thanks so much.

WEINER:  My pleasure. Thanks.

SCHULTZ:  All right, joining me now is Democratic strategist Bob

Strum.  Also joins me on the radio from time to time.  He‘s a professor at

New York University.  Bob, great to have you with us. 

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Glad to be here, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  Is there a political strategy here by the president to make

sure that the American people know that he‘s done everything he possibly

can to bring on at least one Republican vote and oh by the way, he‘s got

four of their provisions to put in the bill to prove it.  What‘s the play

here?

SHRUM:  Well, I think he is trying to convince the country and I think

he‘s going to succeed at it, that he‘s the one who‘s reached out and the

Republicans have refused to compromise at all.  It‘s not just four

provisions, by the way, Ed.  Those are four today.  There were hundreds of

amendments during the process that were accepted from the Republican Party. 

The public option was taken out of the bill. 

I‘m not sure it‘s going to come back because I think to get the votes

in the House, you‘re going to have to get some of those blue dog Democrats

who voted against it in the first place who are more comfortable with a

bill that doesn‘t have it.

But Democrats in Congress need to understand they are going to run

with health care this year.  It‘s going to be an issue.  It‘s either going

to be the reality of health care or the phantom of health care.  The

phantom of health care is death panels, rationing, your costs are going to

go up.  The reality is that you‘re going to get all sorts of new

protections.  Your premiums are actually going to go down, 31 million

Americans are going to be better off and you can‘t be kicked off of your

insurance when you get cancer and you need chemotherapy.  If that reality

begins to take hold in the next few moths, Republicans are going to pay a

big price for the obstruction that they practiced here. 

SCHULTZ:  And I think the president wants this battle on the campaign

trail.  I think the White House thinks that they can go out and they can

convince the American people.  Or am I reading that wrong?

STRUM:  Oh no, I think you‘re absolutely right.  And I think the

battle is going to be there.  The Republicans want the battle too by the

way but they want the battle after Obama fails. 

First they want to neuter his presidency, make it impossible or almost

impossible for him to do anything else significant.  And secondly they want

to go out there and argue death panels.  You know Ed, there is a death

panel.  It‘s called the status quo -- 49,000 people, according to a Harvard

study, die every year because of a lack of health insurance.  Let‘s get rid

of the death panels and pass this bill.

SCHULTZ:  And I‘ve got to get this story to you, Bob, the one we

talked a lot about last night.  I want your take on this.  Are the

Democrats shooting themselves in the foot with all these progressive groups

that are mounting the charge against Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas? Your

thoughts. 

STRUM:  I think it‘s likely that it‘s—it‘s more likely now that

Blanche Lincoln will vote for reconciliation than vote for a health care

bill.  I think she understands going into that Democratic primary that it

would put her in a very difficult position if she didn‘t.  She voted for it

the first time so I‘ll give her the benefit of the doubt, say she would

have voted for it any way.

But, look, the Democratic Party has inside it certain tensions and

certain disagreements and we‘re always going to have a range of view.  I

think what happened in Arkansas was that a lot of Democrats got very

dissatisfied, said she‘s too close to being a Republican.  And the fact is,

if people want to vote for a Republican, they are going to vote for a real

one, not a pseudo one.

SCHULTZ:  I want to be at that debate.  It‘s going to be a dandy.  Bob

Shrum, great to have you with us.

STRUM:  Thanks, Ed.

SCHULTS:  Coming up, I guess you could say all hell is breaking loose

on Capitol Hill.  A first term congressman and former Navy commander will

not seek re-election due to medical reasons.  Sexual harassment allegations

from a male staffer have also surfaced.  We‘ll address that.

And a fellow New Yorker Congressman Charlie Rangel puts his chairman‘s

gavel, he put it down today.  Luke Russert will break into all of that in

just a moment here on “The Ed Show.”  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  In another story coming up tonight, an air traffic

controller at John F. Kennedy Airport here in New York brought a whole new

meaning to the term take your kid to work day.  He let his young child run

the show up in the control tower.  You won‘t believe this story.  We‘ll

have a full report.  You‘re watching “The Ed Show” on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And welcome back to “The Ed Show.”  House Democrats got

rocked today by potentially explosive ethics allegations against two

congressmen.  It all started this morning when Congressman Charlie Rangel

of New York temporarily gave up his gavel on the powerful House Ways and

Means Committee, the chairmanship.  Rangel has already been admonished for

improperly funded travel but the allegations still under review are more

much more serious.

And this stunning story late this afternoon, Congressman Eric Massa, a

freshman from New York, announced that he will not seek re-election in New

York.  Massa has terminal cancer and said he‘s retiring because of health. 

But “Politico” reporting this afternoon that a complaint had been filed

against the congressman with the House Ethics Committee accusing him of

sexually harassing a male staffer.  For more on this, let‘s go to NBC‘s

Luke Russert on Capitol Hill.  Luke, let‘s talk about the Massa story

first.  He put out a statement saying that he had used salty language and

that is he is, of course, battling cancer.  Do we know any more than that

at this hour?

LUKE RUSSERT, NBC NEWS:  Well, as of right now, Ed, that‘s the

official story coming from the congressman‘s office, that he‘s used salty

language with his staffers in the past and he‘s apologized for that.  This

really is a story that‘s taken on a life of its own down here on Capitol

Hill.

After working sources all day, I had two sources close to the New York

delegation say that this is just the tip of the iceberg, that more is going

to come out later about Congressman Massa and possibly being involved with

sexual harassment against male staffers.  This has been rumored around the

New York delegation for a few days now.  I also spoke to a few members who

said it‘s not cancer, some very serious charges against the congressman. 

And I do believe that once some investigative reporters get involved in

this case, we will know a lot more.  We‘ve simply just seen the tip of the

iceberg.  But as of right now, he is retiring at the end of his term,

first-term congressman in the Elmira district who was carried by John

McCain by two points in ‘08 by Bush by 14 points in ‘04, very conservative

district.  So either way, it‘s going to be tough for Democrats to get it

back in 2010.

SCHULTZ:  Here is Congressman Massa talking about the life of this

story today in the way it‘s going on the blogs.  Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ERIC MASSA (D), NEW YORK:  There are blogs that are out there

saying that I‘m leaving because I‘ve harassed my staff.  Do I use salty

language? Yep.  And I‘m trying to do better.  But these blogs are a symptom

of the problem in Washington, D.C.  I simply don‘t have the life‘s energy

to continue to fight every single battle. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  And, Luke, you‘re saying that there‘s more to come?

RUSSERT:  I‘m saying that the sources that I have spoken to have

claimed—like I said before, the tip of the iceberg.  You have to

understand here, Ed, that it‘s very odd and for one news outlet to say it‘s

about sexual harassment and another one to say it‘s about cancer.  But they

are two very different things.  Someone is not telling the whole truth. 

But from sources that I‘ve spoken to, it looks like more is going to come

out about this in the coming weeks. 

SCHULTZ:  And there are also two stories to the Charlie Rangel story

tonight about him stepping down.  Is it temporary?  Is it permanent? 

Here‘s the congressman from New York earlier today. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. CHARLIE RANGEL (D), NEW YORK:  I love the Congress and I love the

Democrats more and so any member who thought that my chairmanship would

impede their election, then I think that if the speaker accepts my request

to take a leave of absence politically, I think that that should take care

of the political problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Luke, not too many Democrats are coming out in defense of

Charles Rangel.  What‘s the story?

RUSSERT:  No, they are not, Ed, and this leave of absence that Charlie

Rangel speaks of really does not exist for being a chairman in the House. 

There‘s no historical precedent for it.  John Boehner, a Republican, asked

what exactly is a leave of absence.  We do know now from deliberations that

happened on the House floor, Pete Stark of California is the current active

chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.  That could change in the

coming weeks.  But for right now, he‘s the chairman. 

Why does this happen with Rangel? Late last night we received word

that 39 Democrats would have joined with Republicans today on a resolution

they were offering to strip him of his chairmanship.  Where do these

Republicans come from?  Blue dogs, conservative districts, who really saw

problems back home in their rural districts in the mountains being

associated with a Harlem Democrat who writes the nation‘s tax laws who a

lot of folks say is not paying their taxes.  One blue dog member told me it

would be political suicide for me to support Charlie Rangel.  I might as

well kiss my seat good-bye.  So amazing stuff.  Amazing stuff on that end.

SCHULTZ:  NBC‘s Luke Russert on Capitol Hill tonight, thanks for

joining us on “The Ed Show.”  Appreciate it.

RUSSERT:  Take care, Ed, be well.

SCHULTZ:  Coming up, caribou Barbie took a stab at late night comedy

last night.  She sure got a laugh of out me when she talked about how her

new day job is all about journalism.  That puts her in the zone.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And in “Psycho Talk” tonight, oh it was great last night,

wasn‘t it?  Sarah Palin just spent some quality time with Jay Leno.  Jay

asked her about her new gig as a contributor at FOX News.  Here‘s what she

had to say about it. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  It‘s kind of full

circle for me.  I studied journalism, my college degree there in

communications, and now I am back there wanting to build some trust back in

our media.  I think that the mainstream media is quite broken and I think

that there needs to be the fairness, the balance in there.  That‘s why I

joined FOX.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  OK.  I‘m going to confess to our audience tonight.  I did

not see that sound bite before this show.  So I‘m a little taken so just

cut me some slack for about five seconds here to gather my thoughts after

listening to that.  She thinks FOX News is the way back to pure journalism.

I tell you what, she must have paid about as much enough attention in

her orientation session over at FOX as she did during the debate prep in

2008.  Last fall, FOX News senior V.P. acknowledged the network‘s lack of

straight news, saying, “the average news consumer can certainly distinguish

between the A section of the newspaper and the editorial page, which is

what our programming represents.”  And the grand of FOX News himself Roger

Ailes recently admitted that the White House may have been justified when

they called out the network‘s bias last fall. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROGER AILES, FOX NEWS:  There‘s legitimate complaints that they can

have, and I‘ve had this dialogue with David Axelrod, who I like very much. 

And there are legitimate areas. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Sarah, you may want to get on the same page with your own

brand new boss.  It‘s all about journalism.  Saying that your commentary of

FOX News contributes to unbiased journalism, you got it.  That‘s “Psycho

Talk.”

Up next, President Obama pulled no punches during his health care

announcement this afternoon.  Now it‘s up to the Democrats in Congress to

get the ball across the goal line.  Rising Pennsylvania star Senator Arlen

Specter will join me in just a moment.  

Plus, why in the heck was a child directing air traffic control at one

of America‘s busiest airports?  I mean, I just can‘t believe this story. 

There are some stories in the news business that strike you.  I can‘t

believe this one.  It‘s coming up on THE ED SHOW, right here on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  Everything idea has been put out on the table.  Every argument

has been made.  Everything there is to say about health care has been said,

and just about everybody has said it.  So now is the time to make a

decision.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  I guess you could say that

Easter is the new Christmas when it comes to health care and the health

care deadline.  President Obama wants a final reform bill before Congress

leaves for the Easter recess on March 26th, and possibly even a week

earlier, before the president leaves for Indonesia. 

The effort got a big boost today on the Senate side when the HELP

Committee Chairman Tom Harkin said reconciliation is a go.  Here‘s the

plan: the House will pass the current Senate health care bill as is.  A lot

of progressives are going to have to take a leap of faith on this, because

Nancy Pelosi needs 216 votes.  There are two vacancies in the House. 

The House will then move to pass a second bill with fixes to the

reform bill.  That bill will go to the Senate, where Democrats will try to

use reconciliation to pass the fixes with just 51 votes.  It‘s really a

tough needle to thread.  But folks, it is the last, best shot the Democrats

are going to have at passing health care reform. 

Joining me now is Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter.  Senator, good

to have you with us tonight.  

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (D), PENNSYLVANIA:  Nice to be with you, Ed.  Thank

you.  

SCHULTZ:  You bet.  A couple of things.  First of all, the president,

are you comfortable that he has exhausted every effort to make this

bipartisan?  Is there anything else he can do?  

SPECTER:  I think he‘s made every last effort.  On Thursday, they went

the extra mile and a half.  And it‘s not a line in the sand anymore.  It‘s

in concrete.  The Republicans simply are not going to do anything by way of

cooperating.  

SCHULTZ:  I‘ve noticed that you are, if I may have a smile on my face

saying this, surging in the polls, because I don‘t see any other Democrat

in this country opening up a lead as you have in Pennsylvania.  You‘re

leading your opponent 49 to 42, up against Mr.  Toomey, the Republican

challenger.  You still have to go through a primary, and you have a wide

margin in the polls on Congressman Joe Sestak. 

Now, our team here on THE ED SHOW, we believe you‘re support of the

public option and your support of EFCA have turned things around.  Are we

wrong in that analysis?  

SPECTER:  Well, I think it‘s a combination of factors, Ed.  I think

those items are important.  But perhaps the best reason is that I‘ve been

on your show for so long.  That‘s the reason for the surge.  

SCHULTZ:  Well, I‘m not going to deny that.  I was going to let you

say that, not me, Arlen.  The point being here is we were seeing a

challenge in Arkansas because of the public option.  That‘s the number one

issue.  And the letter that‘s floating around has now got 34 senators on

board.  I believe that you are one of them.  Is this that popular of an

issue that it would shift the base?  

SPECTER:  Ed, it is important.  People want something done.  This

whole issue has moved beyond the health care legislative matter, which is

enormously important, to something which is even transcendent of that.  And

it‘s a test as to whether we can govern. 

Right now, our stock around the world is going down.  I just asked a

question of Secretary of State Clinton last week, a week ago today.  I read

a lot about the president‘s popularity going down.  Is this affecting our

relations and the president‘s power to deal with people of China and Iran? 

And she said, yes, plus the fact that there aren‘t confirmations of

ambassadors. 

And the kind of gridlock shows that we are not able to govern.  So

while this health care legislation is very important for the millions not

covered and the escalating costs on small business, it‘s really a test as

to whether we can govern.  And that has to be demonstrated. 

This business on reconciliation—we‘ve gotten very deeply involved

in it recently because of necessity.  And the fact is that reconciliation

has been used 22 times under similar circumstances, on SCHIP, on Cobra, on

Medicare Advantage, on welfare reform.  And the same people now who are

speaking against reconciliation were touting its virtue when they wanted to

use it.  

SCHULTZ:  Yeah.  Senator, you‘re a wealth of information.  And if I

may end with this, your popularity may be going up because you‘re on this

show.  I want you to know it‘s not hurting me at all either having you on.  

SPECTER:  Well, call me more often, Ed.  I‘m on campus all the time.  

SCHULTZ:  All right, senator, good to have you with us.  Interesting

point about how we‘re being viewed around the world on this, about

governing.  Thank you, senator.  

SPECTER:  Thank you.  

SCHULTZ:  You bet.  For more, let me bring in Jennifer Donahue,

political columnist and analyst for the “Huffington Post.” 

Jennifer, what about that comment that he just made?  I have not heard

anyone else say that the world is watching us and our inability to possibly

govern out of Washington.  What do you make of that?    

JENNIFER DONAHUE, “THE HUFFINGTON POST”:  I think Senator Specter is

absolutely right.  I think world‘s watching.  I think they‘re wondering how

what they view as a super-power, the wealthiest country in the world, could

possibly be stuck over something when we have so much. 

We‘re in a recession.  People are very frustrated by that.  They are

blaming congress.  They‘re blaming President Obama.  But the truth is we

are the wealthiest country.  And when you look at earthquakes in Chile and

Haiti, and the devastation that occurs when housing isn‘t built correctly,

you realize that this issue, whether you view it as a Republican does, that

this is an over reach—a legislative over reach and big government, or

you view it the way that a lot of Democrats do, which is that this is a

fundamental right for Americans to have health care that is equal to other

health care from other Americans—you know, either way, this gridlock and

what Senator Bunning was doing over the filibuster, is a national

embarrassment.  

SCHULTZ:  How do you think this is going to play in the House? 

Because there‘s some big decisions that are going to have to be made by

some conservative Democrats and progressive Democrats.  They might have to

eat a lot of crow and not enjoy everything that is in this bill to see

President Obama get a victory on this, and to see the majority party move

forward on this.  Your thoughts?  

DONAHUE:  I think you‘re absolutely right, Ed.  I think they may

really have to swallow hard and vote for the bill if they want to support

the party.  And the problem with not doing that is they won‘t be supporting

President Obama. 

This is a leadership moment for him.  He staged it really well.  Last

Thursday, the bipartisan summit, that got good reviews.  He pushed

Republicans into a corner strategically, so they are the party of no.  They

are the mean guys.  And now he has something to argue against, which is

their position. 

Now, today, he reframed the debate.  Now it‘s Pelosi‘s job, Steny

Hoyer‘s job, everybody who counts the numbers job to get people in rank,

and get them to vote for Obama‘s bill.  But it‘s been reframed.  As you

said, this is the last best chance.  And I think they will use words like a

simple majority.  They won‘t use reconciliation.  Too loaded.  They will

say, we need this pass.  This is a matter of principle.  When this is done,

we‘ll move on to other issues.  

SCHULTZ:  Jennifer Donahue, love your work on the “Huffington Post.” 

Great to have you with us tonight.  Thank you.

For more, let me bring in our nationally syndicated talk show host—

Bill Press is with us tonight, also John Feehery, Republican strategist. 

Bill Press, was today the green light for reconciliation and, as Jennifer

just said, a simple majority?  

BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  I think it was the day for common

sense, Ed.  I have to tell you, I was there at the White House today when

the president made his statement, covering it as a journalist.  It was hard

for me not to stand up there and cheer, like the audience did, because the

president just said, look, we‘ve talked about this long enough.  The status

quo is unacceptable.  Now is the time to act.  And the American people

deserve an up or down vote on health care. 

It doesn‘t matter whether you want single payer or you want nothing,

let‘s just have a vote.  It‘s hard to argue with that kind of logic.  I‘m

sure John Feehery has to agree.  Let‘s just have a vote.  Up or down.  

SCHULTZ:  What about that, John?  

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  I don‘t agree with Bill Press. 

I know that‘s absolutely shocking.  I think that this—I think this is a

big political problem for the Democrats.  I think you see the Democrat

leadership in disarray, in the House especially, Charlie Rangel having to

step aside, and all of these other problems.  

SCHULTZ:  That doesn‘t have anything to do with health care, John.  

FEEHERY:  Let me make my point.   That actually plays a role in how

they count the votes.  And I think they are trying to get this thing passed

first through the House.  They haven‘t really addressed the abortion issue,

which is a huge problem for the Democrats.  They are trying to get this

jammed through before the Easter recess, because they don‘t want to face

the voters.  

SCHULTZ:  Nancy Pelosi says they are going to accept the Senate

language on that, which would be fine.  

FEEHERY:  Actually, it‘s not fine to Bart Stupak.  

PRESS:  Well, vote no.  

FEEHERY:  I think he will vote no and I think he‘ll bring a lot of

Democrats with him.  My only point is that this is a very tough lift for

the Democrats.  And I don‘t think they are going to get there.  If they do,

I think it will be politically disastrous for them.

SCHULTZ:  Let me ask you this—I think they are going to get,

because I think there‘s going to be a lot of Democrats that recognize the

moment.  They don‘t want to be on the wrong side of history.  Now, looking

forward, John, as a Republican strategist, would you really want to run

against this health care bill?  Would you really think that the Republicans

will have an advantage saying that, hey, I voted to deny 31 million

Americans health care coverage?  Do you think that‘s a good place to be?  

FEEHERY:  I think what they will say is I voted against a bill that

was being jammed down your throats, that only 35 percent of the American

people supported.  This is a very bad bill that is going to bankrupt the

country.  We‘re going to repeal it as soon as—

(CROSS TALK)

PRESS:  I just want to say, this is the biggest myth that‘s going

around Washington today, that somehow passing health care reform and

extending coverage to 30 million Americans, is going to be bad for

Democrats in November.  I would love to see the Republicans go up and say,

hey, we fought for two years and we produced nothing.  

SCHULTZ:  Bill Press, has the tide turned for the Democrats on this?  

PRESS:  Absolutely.  And once—the tide is going to turn even more,

Ed, once we‘re talking about the product that they delivered, and we are

not debating the process, which we have been doing for the last 15 months. 

That‘s the problem.  

SCHULTZ:  John, you‘ve got to tell your guys, you‘ve got to get on the

right side of history on this deal.  

PRESS:  Damn right.  

FEEHERY:  I think the right side of history is to stop this bill, and

not put us in a bankruptcy.  This cost about a trillion dollars which we

can‘t afford.  It‘s interesting, you look at what has happened to the

Greeks and look at what‘s happened to the British, they‘re going bankrupt. 

We‘re next.  We can‘t afford it.  We also can‘t afford the tax increases.  

PRESS:  Here‘s the issue, John.  Let‘s have a vote.  That‘s the issue

today.  Let‘s have an up or down vote, and then we will decide.  

FEEHERY:  We are having an up or down vote.  We are having an up or

down vote in the House.  Then they‘ll vote.  According to the Senate rules,

they need to get 60 votes.  

PRESS:  No.  No.  No.  

(CROSS TALK)

PRESS: You can‘t get away with that, john.  

(CROSS TALK)

SCHULTZ:  I know the three of us could fill five hours, but we have

only got five minutes.  Great to have you guys on.  Coming up, Stephanie

Miller will join me to run through the details that Sarah Palin delivered

last night.  We‘ll see what she has written up her sleeve on this one. 

Stay with us.  That‘s next in the Playbook.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  In my playbook tonight, Sarah Palin blew in from the north

to warm Jay Leno‘s couch and his heart on “The Tonight Show” last night. 

Well, we already mentioned that, because she was pulling the Psycho Talk. 

But she also showed she wasn‘t above poking fun at herself for getting

caught with the crib notes on her hand during her speech at the Tea Party

Convention.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY LENO, “THE TONIGHT SHOW”:  Hey Paul, are you ready to go with the

monologue.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Sure, Jay.

PALIN:  Where are the cue cards?  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We‘re not using cue cards today, Jay.

PALIN:  Hey, Jay, we‘re going old school tonight.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Then a little later in the show, Palin got to try her hand

at some stand-up comedy, with her own version of an opening monologue.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  Shaun White on the show, what an amazing athlete.  I watched

him do a Double McTwist 1260.  And the only people to do a Double McTwist

1260 was last week, the White House on health care. 

The truth is, though, I‘m glad that I‘m not vice president.  I‘m glad

because I would not know what to do with all of that free time.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  For more on this whole performance, let me bring in the pro,

the stand-up comic and nationally syndicated talk show host, Stephanie

Miller.  Steph, did she knock it out of the park?  How did she do?  

STEPHANIE MILLER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Oh, Ed, I don‘t even know if

I can talk to you.  I‘m still holding my ribs.  Oh, my gosh. 

Did I miss the jokes?  Where was the 1260 on health care by the White

House?  You see, Ed, normally comedy needs to be based in truth.  And I

know the clip you played on Psycho Talk that she said she‘s on Fox because

we need to be fair and balanced in the media—see, that one was funny. 

I‘m not sure what she‘s talking about.  Fox, as you know, has parroted

every lie that the right has told about health care, and every lie that

they are telling now, right, about reconciliation being the nuclear option. 

Completely false.  

SCHULTZ:  But Stephanie, don‘t you think that she really was last

night where she belongs?  I mean, when I see these clips, that‘s her gig. 

I think this is something new for Fox.  What do you think.

MILLER:  Ed, I think you‘re right.  I think that I need to be vice

president and she needs to have a fart joke radio show like mine.  I think

you‘re absolutely right.  We are misplaced.  

SCHULTZ:  All right.  So you don‘t think she—couldn‘t she do stand

up comic?  I mean -- 

MILLER:  Well, yeah.  That‘s the thing. 

(CROSS TALK)

MILLER:  She‘s doing things with her hands.  She‘s like Carrot Top. 

Here‘s the thing, every time I come on your show and make jokes about Sarah

Palin, I get hate mail saying, you know, you‘re just a bitter, childless

loser that‘s jealous of Sarah Palin.  Ed, let me go on the record as saying

I am a bitter, childless loser, but I‘m a bitter, childless loser that

agrees with 70 percent of the country, she‘s not qualified to be president

of the United States.  

SCHULTZ:  Stephanie Miller with us here on THE ED SHOW. Thanks so

much, Stephanie.

Coming up, imagine being on an airplane descending from 30,000 feet

towards New York City.  Now imagine that the air traffic controller who is

looking after your flight may not know how to tie their own shoes.  Tell

you the craziest story I‘ve heard in a long time.  That‘s next on THE ED

SHOW.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Two air traffic controllers

are in big trouble tonight after they let a child transmit directions to

flights at JFK airport.  Here is some of what the kid said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Jet Blue 171, clear for takeoff.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Clear for takeoff, Jet Blue 171.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is what you get guys when the kids are out of

school. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Wish I could bring my kid to work.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Jet Blue 171, contact departure. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Departure, Jet Blue 171, awesome job.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Air Mex 403, contact departure, adios.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Contact departure, Mexico 403, adios.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Adios Amigos.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Adios Amigos, contact departure, Jet Blue 195.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  The father of that child and his supervisor are both on

administrative leave pending an investigation.  The FAA administrator said,

quote, “the lapse in judgment not only violated FAA‘s own policies, but

common sense standards for professional conduct.  These kinds of

distractions are totally unacceptable.” 

For more on this, let‘s bring in NBC‘s Tom Costello.  Tom, how in the

world did this happen?  That‘s what people are thinking.

TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Ed, I think what happened here

was this was a father who had his kids—brought them along for a day at

work with dad, if you will, and perhaps lost some sense of balance and

judgment.  And, unfortunately, we have a late-breaking development on the

story.  It turns out that the very next night, he brought his daughter in

and she, too, was on the radio.  She‘s an eight year old twin to the boy

who was on the night before.  Here‘s that clip.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Jet Blue 57, contact new York departure.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Jet Blue 57.   Thank you, good day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That‘s the next generation of air traffic

controller going on here.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO:  So the next generation of air traffic controllers is what

his—the father then says.  And clearly the concern here is that any

distraction in a tower is completely inappropriate, and that‘s apparently

what was happening.  Obviously, thankfully, nothing bad happened, but this

violates every tenant of what is supposed to happen in a tower.  

SCHULTZ:  You know, there‘s no way that could have been scripted for a

time.  And as a pilot with a couple thousand of hours, I have to say, the

first sound clips of the boy, he was perfect.  I mean, he was using the

proper verbiage and the proper terms.  And it could have been as if his dad

was doing it.  It was just a different voice.  

COSTELLO:  Clearly what was happening, dad was saying, say this.  And

dad was on the headset the whole time.  But, listen, this happened at JFK

airport, one of the busiest international airports in the country. 

International, that means you have international pilots.  English is not

their first language. 

You know, it happened at 4:30 in the afternoon, and 7:30 in the

evening.  That‘s the push.  That‘s the rush.  These are very serious

issues.  I think, as a father, any father knows exactly what this dad was

doing.  And you feel for him. 

But this was also, it appears to be, just really not smart.  And now

he‘s been suspended.  The supervisor has been suspended.  He‘s got the

secretary of Transportation down his back, along with the FAA

administrator.  Even the union says it can‘t condone and won‘t defend it. 

It just was not a smart thing to do.  You wouldn‘t let your kid operate if

you were a surgeon.  And clearly this probably was not a bright idea.  

SCHULTZ:  NBC‘s Tom Costello, appreciate your time tonight.  

COSTELLO:  All right.  

SCHULTZ:  Tonight in our text survey question I asked, do you think

Democrats will have the guts to pass reform before Easter?  Seventy seven

percent of you have confidence.  You voted yes.  Twenty three percent said

no. 

That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Ed Schultz.  For more information on THE ED

SHOW, you can go to Ed.MSNBC.com, or check out our radio website at

WeGotEd.com.  “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts right now on the place

for politics, MSNBC.  We‘ll see you tomorrow night. 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY

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