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
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
(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
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
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.
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
(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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
(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
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.
(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
(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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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—
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.
PRESS: You can‘t get away with that, john.
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.
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
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY LENO, “THE TONIGHT SHOW”: Hey Paul, are you ready to go with the
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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