Guests: Bob Casey, Leslie Banks, Steve McMahon, Wendell Potter, Joan Walsh,
HOST: Good evening, Americans, and welcome to THE ED SHOW
from New York tonight.
These stories are hitting my hot buttons tonight.
President Obama, well, he got after it today on health care reform,
went out on the stump, telling lawmakers to seize reform and get it done.
I‘ll visit with Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania in just a moment.
Plus, the single mom who introduced the president today at this event,
her premiums have gone up 100 percent. She will join us.
The controversy involving Congressman Eric Massa is getting really
strange by the hour. It‘s official, he has resigned. But now he‘s lashing
out at Rahm Emanuel and Steny Hoyer, and giving Glenn Beck an interview?
And the ACLU accuses President Obama of being just like Bush and
Cheney on terror trials.
That‘s all coming up.
But our big story tonight is the president out selling hard. We have
located the throttle. Now it‘s time to put it to the floor. That‘s what I
heard him say.
The president took his message to Pennsylvania and hammered it home on
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Health care is a hard
issue. It‘s easily misrepresented. It‘s easily misunderstood. So, it‘s
hard for some members of Congress to make this vote. There‘s no doubt
So I‘ll be honest with you. I don‘t know how passing health care will
play politically, but I do know that it‘s the right thing to do
It‘s right for our families. It‘s right for our businesses. It‘s
right for the United States of America.
And if you share that belief, I want you to stand with me and fight
with me! And I ask you to help us get us over the finish line these next
The need is great. The opportunity‘s here. Let‘s seize reform! It‘s
within our grasp!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: All right. That‘s the man. He showed the passion and the
fire that we‘ve been starving for in this health care debate, and he‘s
saving it for down the stretch.
The president needs to take this kind of passion to the Oval Office
and address the American people to get the attention of the folks. He
needs to sell the way Bush sold—flood the zone, on the message.
And, you know, the president can‘t do all the heavy lifting on his own
down the stretch. I mean, I think there is a major leadership vacuum in
the Democratic Party right now.
Where are all the most senior Democrats right now—Harry Reid, Dick
Durbin, Chuck Schumer, John Kerry, Chris Dodd? Yet, these are the guys
that need to get out there and do some fighting. Get visible. Be in front
of the American people.
Harry Reid, you need to do “Meet the Press,” OK? You need to get in
the news cycle like we talk about what happened over the talking heads on
Sunday. We do it on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, you know, depending on how
big it is.
Senator Kerry, I know that climate change is a big thing right now,
but, you know, we‘re down to the last few weeks if we‘re going to hit this
deadline. You guys, the senior most Democrats, have got to hit the talking
heads circuit and hammer it home to the American people, you know, the way
the Republicans did on Sunday morning. The right wing dominated the fight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ORRIN HATCH ®, UTAH: And, you know, the filibuster rule has
been around since really the turn of the last century. And one person
could stop—could stop the whole Senate since 1806. And there were a lot
of founding fathers who voted for that.
On the other handing the reconciliation rule, which they are going to
use—in fact, I just had this quote from Senator Durbin. He said, “We
will be testing some reconciliation rules and provisions that have never
been tested before.” And I think that‘s exactly what they are going to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Hogwash. Absolutely hogwash, because you would come back
individually on a number of different issues after the House passes the
bill. That‘s when the Senate would work on the reconciliation.
Now, this letter floating around, folks, is gaining steam. If you get
50 signatures, it tells the House, make the move, do it now. Lindsey
graham, of course he had to get in the act as well yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM ®, SOUTH CAROLINA: House members are going to
vote for the Senate bill and they hate it. And the Senate and president
saying, OK, we‘re going to change what you don‘t like. And when it comes
to the Republicans, you all don‘t matter anymore. You just need a simple
So, reconciliation will empower a bill that was very partisan. We
have had reconciliation votes, but all of them had received bipartisan
support. The least was 12 when we did reconciliation with tax cuts. So it
is taking a partisan product and making it law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: OK. So we‘re going to make history.
We‘re supposed—now, here‘s what‘s coming down. We‘re supposed to
feel sorry for the Republican because they lost? We‘re supposed to feel
sorry for them because, you know, they didn‘t get to do it the way they
wanted to do it?
You know, we just can‘t go down this road because nobody‘s done it
before. We can‘t make this such a big issue. That is absolutely bogus.
The Bush tax cuts were $1.8 trillion. This isn‘t anything, anywhere
Thirty-seven Democrats have shown, in my opinion, the guts to sign the
public option letter. Senator Dodd was the latest one to jump into the mix
President Obama wants the bill by March 18th. The Democrats, the
heavy-hitting Democrats, the most senior Democrats, have got to get out
there and they have got to lead the way.
The president today did all he could do. You know, he can‘t do all
the heavy lifting. But all the senior Democrats who have been around for a
long time, who knew Ted Kennedy, is this the way Ted would have sounded
down the stretch? I don‘t think so.
But more importantly to the American people, the Democrats, with all
the experience, who can get on any of these shows any time they want, they
need to grab the message. They need to prove to the American people that
they can meet a deadline, that March 18th actually means something, that
they can meet a deadline and they can govern.
Get your cell phones out, folks. I want to know what you think of the
Tonight‘s text survey is: Have Democrats done a good job explaining
all the positives of the health care reform? Text “A” for yes, text “B”
for no to 622639. We‘ll bring you the results later on in the program.
Now, joining me now is Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey, who was at the
Senator, good to have you with us.
SEN. BOB CASEY (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Ed, thank you very much.
SCHULTZ: All right. What‘s the last two weeks going to be like for
the Senate Democrats? Are we just going to see President Obama out there,
or is there—whatever happened to that old barnstorming-type campaigning
where about four or five folks would get together that could grab the
attention of people?
I mean, this is I this is it, is it not, Senator?
CASEY: Absolutely, Ed. And I like the passion you‘re bringing to
this, because we have to bring that same kind of commitment in the next
couple of weeks.
I don‘t think there is any question the commitment is there, but we
really have to dig deep now and really tell the American people about, what
are the stakes here? Not just about—I‘m not going to talk about
reconciliation or process here. We have got to tell them what‘s at stake.
We‘re either going to pass a bill that says that a child will not be
denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition or we‘re not. The
Republicans talk about wanting to do something, yet they don‘t want to pass
a bill that does that.
We‘re either going to pass a bill that covers 31 million Americans, or
are we going to go the way of the Republicans and just say three million
Americans is the best we can do?
We‘re also going to pass a bill that will begin to contain costs, as
the president said today.
You heard the president today, Ed, talk about three basic issues—
access for people who don‘t have coverage; protection for families that
have coverage, are paying their premiums and don‘t have the protection for
pre-existing condition; or all the other abuses. And thirdly, we‘re going
to make sure that we tackle the issue of costs. We‘re doing all those,
deficit reduction, all of that in one bill.
SCHULTZ: OK. So why has it been so hard for the Democrats to grab
those three things and go out and sell it hard to the American people? I
mean, I really believe that the Republicans are winning this message war,
vilifying you guys for reconciliation and process and scary—I keep, you
know, hearing that, well, people don‘t want it.
Yes, we do. The American people want the public option.
CASEY: That‘s right. Ed, and I agree. And I‘m—I‘ve been a strong
supporter of the public option from day one.
SCHULTZ: Yes, you have.
CASEY: I‘ll continue to be. And also—
SCHULTZ: And you signed the letter, yes.
CASEY: And I think we also have to make sure that people understand
when we get into this process question, the reconciliation has been used 22
times since 1980. The Republicans used it 16 times. But the key thing
here is telling the American people what‘s at stake.
CASEY: I do believe, Ed, that even though in December we were
legislating and they were communicating, which I think happened.
CASEY: But now I think they have had to answer questions—Mr.
Republican Senator, are you for covering 31 million Americans or are you
for covering three million or zero? Are you for really getting tough with
insurance companies, saying no to insurance companies and yes to families?
These kinds of questions they have not been asked. They have to
answer them now. I think the president, by engaging them, not only today,
but at Blair House and at the Republican House Caucus, has put them in a
position where they have to answer questions.
SCHULTZ: Sure. Absolutely.
CASEY: So I think we‘re moving in the right direction.
SCHULTZ: Well, I‘ll tell you what, I give the president a lot of
credit today, because on the left, a lot of folks are against this bill
because they say it is a sellout to the insurance industry. I believe
that, but I will take the good in this, especially if we can get 50
senators on the public option letter.
But the president mentioned today just how many customers the industry
is going to get. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We‘ll set a new fee on insurance companies that stand to gain
as millions of Americans are able to buy insurance. They are going to have
30 million new customers. There‘s nothing wrong with them paying a little
bit of the freight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Well, that is the sound cut that has got a lot of people on
the left upset, thinking it‘s a sellout. But it seems to me the Democrats,
Senator, are going to have to sell the good points.
I mean, let‘s face it, the insurance industry does get some things.
But to stop it in its tracks, I think the Dems would pay a huge price in
November if this doesn‘t take place.
What do you think?
CASEY: Well, Ed, I think there are things that have not been talked
about enough, and I‘ll take the blame as a Democrat for part of us not
emphasizing this. Not only will the bill make sure that a child gets
protection in the first year on pre-existing conditions—in other words,
you discriminate against a child on a pre-existing condition, you have
broken the law. First time in American history.
Secondly, with regard to adults, they will have maybe not the
prohibition in place until a couple of years, but if you‘re an adult and
you‘re denied coverage, you can get into a high-risk pool, so you get some
protection even though the legal protection comes later.
Thirdly—or secondly, I should say, what hasn‘t been covered is the
overhead costs that insurance companies run up on advertising and all this
other stuff. That will be limited for the first time ever.
And thirdly, they have to be able to demonstrate over time that if
they want to get in the exchange in a couple of years, they have got make
sure that they haven‘t been jacking up rates in 2010, ‘11 and ‘12.
SCHULTZ: Well, the public option would take care of that.
Senator, I appreciate you signing the letter and I appreciate your
time here tonight.
CASEY: Ed, thank you.
SCHULTZ: Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania.
Today, the president was introduced by Leslie Banks, a single mother
from Philadelphia who saw her health insurance premium jump 100 percent.
Her family is, I think, Exhibit A for what is wrong in this country and why
we need reform.
Leslie, thank you for communicating with me about a month ago. And
that‘s when Bill Clinton had his heart thing and we didn‘t get you on the
program that night. And I was so excited to hear that you were involved in
today‘s presentation by the president.
LESLIE BANKS, INTRODUCED PRESIDENT OBAMA: Oh, thanks so much, Ed.
SCHULTZ: What does this reform mean to you and your family? ?
BANKS: It means the world, because my health insurance rates went
from $301 a month to $659 a month just because it was an across-the-board
increase. There was no reason. It was done to everybody across the board.
And, you know, as a single mom and a working person, who can have their
health insurance literally double overnight?
SCHULTZ: Describe the president today. Was he—was he passionate?
Did he convince you? Does he deserve the support of Democrats across this
country to get this done?
What do you think?
BANKS: I think President Obama is the most authentic person that I
have met, just a person. He seemed passionate on the issue, he seemed
convicted on the issue. And he said to me behind the curtain—he said,
“We are going to get this done. We are going to help you. We‘re going to
get you some help.”
So I felt very good speaking to him, and I felt good hearing what his
SCHULTZ: Leslie Banks, great to have you with us. By the way, you
did a super job of introducing him today. Nice job.
BANKS: Thank you.
SCHULTZ: Thank you. It‘s nice to have you with us.
For more, let me bring in Democratic strategist Steve McMahon.
Steve, I asked Chris van Hollen today on the radio, “What‘s the
downside if you don‘t get this done?” And there was a little bit of
stammering there for a moment.
I think the Democrats think that if they don‘t get this done, they are
in serious trouble. They‘ve got to hit this deadline.
What do you think?
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think they‘re
absolutely right. They absolutely need to hit the deadline, or at least
they need to come close to hitting the deadline. But what they have to do
is get something passed this year.
You know, I hear this argument, Ed, as I‘m sure you do, about these
Democrats who are afraid to vote yes. And, you know, many of these
Democrats, number one, have already voted yes, so what ever the political
downside is, they have already got it.
But just think about this for a second. This is the same Congress
that will send a man—a young man into battle to fight for his country
and to perhaps die fighting for his country.
SCHULTZ: Are the Democrats losing the war of words? And let‘s face,
that‘s the culture we live in. Are they losing the war of words?
MCMAHON: Yes, they have been losing the war of words, but I actually
think the president and some of the things that have happened the last
couple of weeks have begun to turn it around. People are now paying
attention again because it‘s right on the cusp of passing.
The president is starting to define what this means. I think Senator
Casey just a few minutes ago articulated it beautifully, and more Democrats
need to do that on a more consistent basis.
SCHULTZ: And the senior Democrats. Why have they been so quiet?
MCMAHON: You know, that‘s a good question, Ed. I think they should
frankly be sitting here in my place making the case to the American people.
SCHULTZ: Every night.
MCMAHON: Every single night, because that‘s what it‘s going to take.
The American people, when they understand what‘s in this bill, are going to
find an awful lot that they are going to like quite a bit.
It‘s not going to make everybody happy absolutely, but, you know, I
came to this town working for Ted Kennedy a long, long time ago, and
Senator Kennedy‘s view, particularly on health care reform, is take what
you can get, improve it today, and fight to do more tomorrow. And that‘s
really what we need to do right now.
SCHULTZ: Quickly, do you think they will get 50 signatures?
MCMAHON: I don‘t know if they will get 50 signatures, but I think
they‘re going to get this thing passed. They‘re going to get through
reconciliation. It‘s going to be a good day for America.
SCHULTZ: Steve, good to have you on. Thanks so much.
MCMAHON: Thank you.
SCHULTZ: Coming up, Congressman Eric Massa, I‘ll tell you, this guy
is going down just guns blazing. He is naming names. One of them is Rahm
Emanuel. That‘s next.
And hundreds and thousands of cash-strapped schools may pare down to
the four-day workweek. We‘ll break that down in the “Playbook.” I don‘t
like that at all.
Plus, it‘s “Hammer” time. Tom DeLay has earned himself a one-way
ticket to the zone.
You‘re watching THE ED SHOW. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.
Congressman Eric Massa officially resigned from Congress today, but he
is going down swinging at Democrats.
Massa first said he was resigning because of cancer. Then he admitted
he was under investigation for allegedly sexually harassing a staff member.
Now he says Democrats are forcing him out because he voted against health
For more, let me bring in NBC‘s Kelly O‘Donnell.
Kelly, he is going out naming names and being very aggressive, not
your usual resignation.
What‘s happening here?
KELLY O‘DONNELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It is so different than we
typically see. And when political careers end, it is not normally the sort
of NASCAR crash that‘s been happening here, and it is always, I think, very
hard for these public officials personally.
So let‘s assume for a moment that he was being forthright about the
cancer recurrence. That, of course, is a troubling development for him.
That was his reason last week.
Then, he did acknowledge that there was this situation which he did
not believe was harassment. He denies that it was harassment, but he does
go into some detail in a radio interview back in his hometown.
He represents a district in New York that is the Rochester suburbs,
and it goes to the Pennsylvania border. It tends to be a bit more
Republican than Democrat. And he talked at length, and that‘s where you
can sometimes get into trouble.
He described on attending a wedding that was on New Year‘s Eve that
involved a staff member. There was a lot of drinking, he said. Some
suggestions were made about -- you know, some salty talk among the boys,
and he acknowledges that he said something suggestive to one of his male
staffers, and then left and nothing happened.
That is what he acknowledges. He said did he not know that the
staffer was even uncomfortable and that it had led to his ethics
investigation. He originally said he was going to serve out the rest of
his term and not run for a second term, but it all really picked up speed
and he resigned effective 5:00 p.m.
The political twist that none of us saw coming was that he said that
the leadership in the House, the Democrat leadership—remember, he‘s
SCHULTZ: Oh, yes.
O‘DONNELL: Suggesting that they wanted him out because he had voted
no on the House bill for health care reform back in the fall, and that was
still in the no column right now, and that they needed a yes. And not
having him in the Congress would be beneficial to health care reform for
Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer.
So, a real twist that we did not expect.
SCHULTZ: And he is just going after the leadership of the Democrats.
He goes after Rahm Emanuel right here in this radio interview.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. ERIC MASSA (D), NEW YORK: Now, Rahm Emanuel is son of the devil
spawned. He is an individual who would sell his mother to get a vote. He
would strap his children to a front end of a steam locomotive. And he
doesn‘t like that, he can come after me personally.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: I mean, that is borderline out of touch, more than
But the point being here is that he wants single payer, and he didn‘t
even like—he wanted to go far beyond public option. And he was also
very critical of the Democratic leadership as well.
So, do we know how many staffers have complained? Is it just one?
Because he‘s saying that he is being targeted because of the health care
What do we know?
O‘DONNELL: Well, the Ethics Committee does all of its work in secret.
So, they have acknowledged that an investigation had begun. With his
resignation it dies. And there is a former staffer who has been identified
in some published reports, does not work for the congressman any longer.
We don‘t know of any accusations that go beyond this wedding reception
incident that he detailed quite colorfully on the radio. So that is
apparently the extent of it.
And if he did have a recurrence of cancer as well, that certainly
complicates things. He and his wife certainly are having a very difficult
night this evening. That‘s how these things go. But the aggression he
showed toward fellow Democrats really caught some people by surprise.
SCHULTZ: NBC‘s Kelly O‘Donnell at the Capitol.
Thanks so much, Kelly. Appreciate it.
Coming up, Tom DeLay once made a career out of lying, and now he‘s
taken that to a whole new level. “The Hammer” lands in the zone.
You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: And in “Psycho Talk” tonight, hey, former House majority
leader, “The Hammer, Tom DeLay. How about that?
This weekend on CNN, he showed just how out of touch he is with this
whopper about unemployment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM DELAY ®, FMR. MAJORITY LEADER: There‘s an argument to be made
that these extensions of these unemployment benefits keeps people from
going and finding jobs.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Congressman, that‘s
such a hard sell, isn‘t it? I mean, it‘s—
DELAY: It‘s the truth.
CROWLEY: -- you know, to say, well, people are unemployed because
they want to be—
DELAY: Well, it is the truth. And people in the real world know it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: The real world?
Now, Tom, I know you‘ve got personal experience with unemployment, but
in the real world, unemployment benefits don‘t cut it. In your state of
Texas, the maximum unemployment check is $406 a week. Not exactly an
incentive to sit around and do nothing.
Of course, when you lost your job, all you had to do was pull on a
pair of shoes and go “Dancing With the Stars.” You know?
DeLay was also asked why he thinks the Democrats have had so much
trouble passing health care. Here‘s the “Psycho Talk.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DELAY: I think what they are doing wrong is because of arrogance.
They have huge majorities. You would think you could pass anything and
pass it quickly with those minds of majorities.
Why can‘t they? It‘s because they are going back in rooms and then
telling the members, take it or leave it.
Nancy Pelosi writes the bill, hands it to the chairman, and says get
it out of committee in an hour. And we‘re going to the floor, we‘re going
to debate it in an hour, and I will break arms if you vote against me.
That will come to haunt you and bring you down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Oh, we have to remind you, folks, “The Hammer” criticizing
Nancy Pelosi for twisting arms?
This is the guy who held up votes for hours when he strong-armed
members of his own party into voting the way he wanted them to vote.
That‘s why he‘s called “The Hammer.” For a reason, right?
For him to say that Nancy Pelosi‘s arrogance and arm-breaking is why
they haven‘t passed health care, hypocritical “Psycho Talk.”
Coming up, folks over at Goldman Sachs have got a hot stock tip for
you—health care reform is—well, it‘s going to be a big win fall for
the insurance companies. Whistle-blower hero Wendell Potter joins me next
on THE ED SHOW.
Plus, kids from China and India are getting a major jump on American
schoolchildren when it comes to education. Instead of improving class
quality, some schools are going down to a four-day week?
I don‘t like it. We‘ll have that in the “Playbook.”
You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Listen to this, the other day, there was a conference call
that was organized by Goldman Sachs. This broker said that insurance
companies know they will lose customers if they keep on raising premiums.
But because there is so little competition in the insurance industry, they
are OK with people being priced out of the insurance market, because, first
of all, a lot of folks are going to be stuck, and even if some people drop
out, they will still make more money by raising premiums on customers that
they keep. And they will keep on doing this for as long as they can get
away with it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: President Obama laid it out today in Pennsylvania. Wall
Street wins if health insurance reform fails. The president told the crowd
about that conference call with Goldman Sachs that they had with investors
last week. During that call, analysts predicted major margin expansion
next, year with the, you know, favorite names being United Health care and
Cigna. In sum, insurance companies will continue to exploit their
customers unless we really get reform in Washington.
Joining me now is Wendell Potter, senior fellow at the health care—
at the Center for Media and Democracy. He is a former vice president of
the insurance giant Cigna. Was the president correct, Mr. Potter? Thanks
for joining us tonight. Was he correct?
WENDELL POTTER, CENTER FOR MEDIA AND DEMOCRACY: He was correct. The
insurance companies will win one way or the other. If it all falls apart,
they will certainly win, because they can keep going the way they have been
going, and jacking up rates and get by with it, and we will all suffer. If
there is reform, yeah, they will get new customers, but they will have to
live in a world that has a lot more restrictions, a lot more oversight than
they have been used to.
SCHULTZ: This is the one issue that liberals have been uptight about,
that the insurance giant that‘s been gouging people across the board with
double-digit increases, they are going to get 30 million new customers.
And the president today admitted to it. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We will set a new fee on insurance companies that stand to
gain as millions of Americans are able to buy insurance. They will have 30
million new customers. There is nothing wrong with them paying a little
bit of the freight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Now, liberals consider that to be a sellout. What do you
think, Mr. Potter? How do we navigate through that one?
POTTER: Well, it is just reality. And I think that liberals need to
understand that he is operating in a very political world in Washington.
The insurance companies have so much clout, so much influence over
Congress, that the liberals cannot get exactly what they want. It is just
something not achievable this time.
SCHULTZ: So the president, down the stretch, is making the case,
look, the preexisting condition, 30 million more people are going to get
insurance; we hope that there are going to be some cost controls; there‘s
going to be some preventive medicine stuff in there as well. There‘s
enough good in here not to curb it?
POTTER: There really is, because we need these kinds of curbs, these
kinds of restriction. A lot of these practices should have been made
illegal a long time ago, but we have never been this close to getting that
done. We can‘t—there are too many people who are counting on this
passing, who are likely to lose their coverage, including many liberals and
many conservatives. I don‘t want anyone else to be in that boat.
SCHULTZ: Mr. Potter, what are your thoughts of 37 senators signing
onto a letter saying that they will vote yes if it comes to a vote on
public option through reconciliation? How interesting is that for House
POTTER: I think it‘s very interesting. Of course, the House passed a
bill with a public option, not as strong as I would like it to be. But I
think it is encouraging that if it doesn‘t—if it is not included in
legislation this time, I think there‘s hope that, some time down the road,
we really can have a public option.
SCHULTZ: Well, what is your response to all the chatter about, gosh,
if we don‘t go do it now, we just aren‘t going to get it done for another
POTTER: I agree with that chatter. I think we really have to take
advantage of this opportunity. There‘s no guarantee that the Democrats
will be able to hold a majority. And the Republicans have been able to
pretty much control the debate on health care reform the past year. I
think the Democrats are getting back into control, to a certain extent, but
we can‘t lose this opportunity. The insurance companies have too much
money—they use too much of our premium dollars to pay the lobbyists and
to put up PR campaigns.
SCHULTZ: So, Mr. Potter, you‘re saying straight to the liberals that
are having a hard time with this, take the deal?
POTTER: Take the deal. I understand why they don‘t like the deal,
but we have got to have this deal or many of us—many more of us are
going to be suffering. And we cannot wait any longer. We have got to get
SCHULTZ: Mr. Potter, good to have you with us tonight. Thanks so
For more, let‘s bring in our panel tonight. Joan Walsh is editor in
chief of Salon.com, and Michael Medved, nationally syndicated radio talk
show host. Mr. Potter brought up a very interesting point, you know, about
the majority. And I want to ask you, Joan, what‘s your calculation? If
the Democrats don‘t meet the deadline and don‘t get this passed and can‘t
resolve these final issues, politically, will they pay a price?
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: I think they will pay a price, Ed. I think
that they have come this far. So many of them have already voted for it.
So if this is unpopular—I don‘t think it is. But if it is unpopular,
you still have those Republican votes that these people tried to pass
Obama-care, blah, blah, blah. Whereas if you have a bill that does
something, that protects people with preexisting conditions, that protects
people from getting thrown off their insurance exactly when they need it,
when they get sick, I think a lot of the hysteria is going to melt away,
and the Democrats will be in a much better position.
SCHULTZ: Michael Medved, watching the president today, he is putting
everything he has into this. He was passionate. He was animated. He
spoke from the heart. Is he putting all his political capital on this?
And if he doesn‘t get it, what does it mean?
MICHAEL MEDVED, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, he has. He has done it
for a full year. And you have got to wonder why. I was encouraged, Ed—
and you and I talked about this—during the State of the Union Address,
he seemed to be refocusing on jobs, which is a much deeper concern of the
American people. Now, all of a sudden, we have forgot been jobs again, and
we are back to talking only about health care.
I think every single day we are engaged in this health care debate is
a good day for Republicans, a bad day for Obama, and probably a bad day for
the country, because I think the exhaustion over this issue is huge.
SCHULTZ: What do you think, Joan?
WALSH: Michael, but they passed a jobs bill last week, and they are
still talking about jobs. And I just can‘t stress enough how much this
health care reform is a job creator, or at least a job saver. There are
small businesses that cannot expand and hire workers. “Salon” is a small
business. And we have seen our premiums rise and rise and rise.
So this is an economic issue. And the president has to a ---I think
he has done an inadequate job—inadequate job of addressing it as such.
MEDVED: Absolutely. But however, most small business people don‘t
agree with you. For most people, the idea of putting on new requirements
and new regulations and new burdens on small businesses regarding health
insurance for their employees is not a way to stimulate job creation.
WALSH: There are new subsidies as well.
MEDVED: In terms of the political consequences—and Joan, you will
agree this, too, I‘m sure—a great deal will depend upon how this strikes
the average American. And the way this bill is structured right now—we
haven‘t seen the final bill. But the way that the Senate bill is
structured, the costs of the bill, the taxes, the taxes on the additional
so-called Cadillac plans, that all kicks in much sooner than any of the
benefits that will be promised, that won‘t kick in until 2014.
WALSH: I‘m not sure that is true. I thought they were talking about
pushing that back to 2018.
SCHULTZ: They are, Michael. They are going to push that back. Go
WALSH: I agree with Michael, in that we haven‘t had a bill to like or
dislike. We have been arguing about shards of the bill. We have been
MEDVED: And shadows.
WALSH: And shadows, exactly. So I think that once there is a bill—
we know when it kicks in. We know when the taxes kick in. We know when
the subsidies kick in. We will have a better idea of how Democrats can
sell it and how Republicans can, of course, predictably, hit it.
SCHULTZ: Joan, let go back to a point I was making earlier in the
show. Where are the senior-most Democrats? Why aren‘t they speaking up?
Why is it President Obama that has to do all the heavy lifting? Why aren‘t
we seeing some of the senior Democrats out on the talking heads, really
making the case, saying this is going to be 30 million people, the
SCHULTZ: I feel like they have been very coy about it in the last 60
days. What do you think?
WALSH: I guess I would also have to ask our bookers at our various TV
shows, news shows, Ed, if they are actually going out. I don‘t have any
proof that John Kerry is being asked and he is saying no. I don‘t know who
makes up those lineups. They seem very heavy on Republicans to me.
MEDVED: John Kerry was in Jerusalem with me. I mean, I saw him there
in the hotel in Jerusalem. So he wasn‘t available talking about health
SCHULTZ: The last 60 days? Come on, Michael.
MEDVED: No. No. No.
SCHULTZ: You look at Harry Reid. You look at Dick Durbin. You see
Schumer and Kerry and Dodd.
WALSH: I agree. They should be out there. I don‘t know about Harry
MEDVED: They should. But the fact is the president is more popular
than those people.
SCHULTZ: No wait a minute now—
MEDVED: If you look at the approval rating for members of Congress,
it is low.
WALSH: I might be with Michael on this one, Ed. I‘m not sure I want
to see Harry Reid out there step in it again.
SCHULTZ: This is about selling what is good about reform. Do you
want to cover three million people in the Republican plan? Or do you want
to cover 30 million people in the Democratic plan? Do you want to wipe out
the preexisting condition? Do you want to do something for lower income
people and get subsidies? That is all positive stuff.
WALSH: It is.
MEDVED: Ed, I would have a question for you: when do you think those
30 million people are going to be covered? How long do you think that is
going to take, if this bill pass?
SCHULTZ: That‘s a good question. The preexisting condition is going
to kick in within 18 months. I mean, that is a good deal.
MEDVED: The additional coverage that we are promised—the
additional coverage we are promised, do you really believe that is going to
happen in the next four or five years?
SCHULTZ: Absolutely, I do. Absolutely, I do. And I also think the
public option is not dead. I think 37 senators who are saying they are
going to vote for it. There‘s a lot of senators that won‘t sign on to it
because they just don‘t sign letters. But I think there is a few more that
are going to tip. If this gets into the 40s, there is going to be a
groundswell of support from lefties across this country about the public
option. And now you‘ve got something more than a poll. You have got a
democratic majority who wants to do something. I don‘t think the public
option is dead.
MEDVED: How can you do that through reconciliation, Ed? I agree with
you there are lots and lots of Democrats.
SCHULTZ: You have got—the House has got to pass what the Senate‘s
done. And they got to do it—
MEDVED: Right. OK.
SCHULTZ: But the key here is—
MEDVED: But there‘s no public on notice senate bill.
SCHULTZ: Now, wait a minute now, that‘s true. But if they move on
good faith, if they get the 50 signatures, that signatures sends a message
over to the House: go ahead and pass our bill; we will come back and deal
with these other issues on reconciliation; here‘s the letter; here‘s the
paper; you are holding senators accountable; and they will move it forward.
That is what this is all b.
MEDVED: Lots of luck.
SCHULTZ: OK. You know what, I will take that luck, Mike, because it
has been 50 years since we did anything for people that didn‘t have
insurance. I will give you the final word, Joan.
WALSH: It‘s hard to do it through reconciliation, but it‘s possible.
I don‘t know if they are going to get up into the 40s ed, but they have got
to pass the bill.
SCHULTZ: I‘m going to Washington the next two days. I will show you
how to twist some arms. I‘m just kidding.
WALSH: All right, ed.
SCHULTZ: I will go down there and ask for some signatures. I need to
know why they are not doing this. And I think it will get into the 40s and
I—I‘m just not going to give up on the public option. I just—you
can‘t do t.
MEDVED: Good for you, Ed. And I‘m glad to see it. Let‘s continue
fighting within the Democratic party. I love that.
SCHULTZ: You know what, we will take the fight as long as we get the
WALSH: We all get along in the end, Michael. We all get along in the
MEDVED: Absolutely, all Americans.
SCHULTZ: Stay with us, panel. We have some school issues coming up.
Schools across the country are having budget troubles. And some of them
are saying, gosh, we got to save money. So, hey, what do you say we just
don‘t worry about whether the kids are falling behind? Let‘s just see if
they can go to school four days a week. Does that make sense? That is
next in the playbook. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: In my playbook tonight, in the struggle between giving kids
a quality education and finding the funds to pay for it, money is winning
out again. A growing number of schools are considering moving to a four-
day week to save money. This isn‘t a new deal. More than 100 districts in
17 states already have four-day weeks. And some rural districts have been
on that schedule since the 1980s. Students may like the idea of a little
less school. But a lot of adults are worried about reducing their learning
For more, let me bring in NBC correspondent Miguel Almaguer. Miguel,
what are we seeing in any one particular portion of the country? Is this a
west coast, east coast, any section of the country where it‘s really on the
MIGUEL ALMAGUER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Ed, this certainly seems to
be a trend a little more prevalent here in the west. Hawaii being one of
the last states to jump onto the four-day school schedule. As you
mentioned, we are seeing this move primarily because of money. Of course,
many school districts all across the country, particularly out here west,
they are being hit by some serious financial woes. So by eliminating one
school day a week, school districts are really able to slice into their
Although, for the most part, teachers are paid on a salary basis.
This is really affecting those hourly employees, janitors, school cafeteria
workers, bus drivers. And they are able to save money on that area.
Now, the US Department of Education, who wouldn‘t comment specifically
on individual school districts, does have some issue with going to a four
day a week schedule. Critics, including many teacher unions, have said
that cost cutting measures hurt students academically. And they are
concerned that students in the four-day-a-week program won‘t keep pace with
those going five days a week.
Now, there doesn‘t appear to be any statistical evidence, no test
scores that directly compare the two districts, and the two ways of doing
things. Many parents have also been opposed to this move, not only because
of those academic concerns, also because of logistic concerns. Students
and parents, of course, having to scramble with students being in only four
days a week in school.
Many school districts across the country have looked to adopt this
measure. About 100 school districts are seeing this now. Some school
districts are looking to apply this next year. Others who have been in the
four day a week program are reverting back to the five-day program, because
of some of those academic concerns.
But we should also point out here, Ed, that most major school
districts, particularly those ones in urban areas, are not looking to adopt
SCHULTZ: Thank you, Miguel. Appreciate your report tonight.
For more, let‘s bring back our panel here, Joan Walsh and Michael
Medved, to get their take on all of this. Joan, the Chinese, the Japanese,
they are going to school more days. They‘re doing it for more hours. Are
they putting out a better product? I think this is a real crossroads issue
for the American people. What do you think?
WALSH: I agree. We cannot go there. Every educational reform study
that I know about says one issue in our country is that we have a shorter
school year. And most of the great programs that I know about actually
extend the school year, make it longer. Some of them make the day longer,
so kids are really getting intense instruction, and also a lot of support
from a community in the schools.
So it‘s terrible. The other thing is—I mean, for low-income
families, that fifth day, suddenly having to find child care, that‘s
outrageous. So it is a terrible idea. But it‘s just an example—
SCHULTZ: What do you think, Michael? Money—
MEDVED: You are completely correct. This is—you are completely
correct. This is totally unacceptable. But, in a sense, it is a
reflection of, it seems to me, what has been bad educational policy.
Ed, I‘m from a family of teachers. I‘ve been a teacher myself in
years past. And one of the ideas that was a terrible idea, that has helped
to bring us to this pass, is the idea that you are going to improve
American education by shrinking class size. You and I both know—we grew
up with much larger classes than they have today. Shrinking class size is
not necessarily going to improve educational quality. But shrinking the
school calendar, shrinking the—having only four days a week of school is
a disastrous idea. And as Joan was saying, it‘s disastrous for parents who
have to make arrangements for the kids. It is unacceptable.
SCHULTZ: My mother was a high school English teacher. And I don‘t
think she would have been for this at all.
MEDVED: Not a chance.
SCHULTZ: And I really believe more time in the classroom and maybe
even more days, and I think we are going in the wrong direction. Keeping
kids‘ attention today is tough business. Great to have both of you with us
tonight. Thanks for weighing in on that.
Up next, the ACLU thinks President Obama is turning into George Bush
when it comes to terror trials. The president, Anthony Romeo (sic), will
show us how he plans to pressure the White House to stick to its guns. We
will be right back. >
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW, The Obama administration has
been wavering on their plan to try 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed
in civilian court. Now, they may be working out a deal with South Carolina
Senator Lindsey Graham. Graham has said that if the Obama administration
agrees to try KSM in a military tribunal, then he will convince Republicans
to support shutting down Guantanamo Bay.
Well, the ACLU, they are not seeing it that way. They placed an ad in
the “New York Times” that compares President Obama to George W. Bush. It
says, “as President Barack Obama must decide whether to keep his solemn
promise to restore our Constitution and due process, or ignore his vow and
continue the Bush/Cheney policies.”
Hard words they are. For more, let‘s bring in Mr. Anthony Romero. He
is the executive director of the ACLU. Mr. Romero, why do you take issue
with—could be a successful conclusion in the eyes of the American
ANTHONY ROMERO, ACLU PRESIDENT: Ed, there‘s no way that if they move
these defendants to the military commissions, that this will be a
successful completion on these cases. The military commissions don‘t work.
For eight years, all we‘ve had are three convictions. And two of the guys
who were prosecuted in military commissions are now Scott free.
The fact is that we have had over 300 terrorism cases in our federal
criminal courts. That‘s where we should try them. The rules are
established. The lawyers know what to do. We clearly have rules of
evidence in place. The military commissions were brought out of whole
cloth by George Bush. They have never worked, and they are never gonna
work, not even under President Obama‘s watch.
SCHULTZ: But wouldn‘t the president be moving this, not because
Republicans are squawking. It‘s because New Yorkers are having concerns
about security and expense?
ROMERO: I think there are other alternative to us, not just in New
York. Frankly as a New Yorker, born and raised in the Bronx, I think that
was overstated a bit. We are tough enough. We have lived through a lot
more in New York, including the 9/11 attacks. We can definitely bring them
to New York City, do justice in our own city, and then lock them up when we
find them guilty.
SCHULTZ: Mr. Romero, have you—has your organization, the ACLU, had
any response from the attorney general on this?
SCHULTZ: Have you asked him?
ROMERO: We have tried to get a meeting with the attorney general this
week and he has been busy, as we have been told by his scheduler.
SCHULTZ: What is your call? Do you they will do it? Do you think
they will move the trial?
ROMERO: I don‘t know. I think, frankly, when I read the news
reports, it looks like it‘s a done deal. I frankly think if the president
does so, he will make an enormous mistake. He is going to be crawling into
that quagmire that Bush could not pull himself out of. It will be years
before they get anything approaching justice in the military commissions,
which will never work. He will be running for office again with all the
9/11 family members and New Yorkers, like myself and you, who want to see
justice, and they will not have done mission accomplished.
So I think for both the practical reasons and the principle reasons,
they are going down the path that‘s going to doom them to failure.
SCHULTZ: Mr. Romero, good to have you with us tonight. Thanks so
Tonight to in our text survey, I asked viewers, have Democrats done a
good job explaining all the positives of health care reform? Twenty
percent said yes; 80 percent of you said no.
That‘s THE ED SHOW. I‘m Ed Schultz. “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews
starts right now on the place for politics, MSNBC. We‘ll see you tomorrow.
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