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The Ed Show for Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

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Guests: Sherrod Brown, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Jared Polis, Bernie Sanders, Stephanie Jones, Earnest Istook, John Nichols, Raul Grijalva

ED SCHULTZ, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Good evening, Americans, and welcome to THE


Tonight, from New York, these stories are hitting my hot buttons at this hour. 

Nancy Pelosi showed some major spine tonight and forced Republican scrooges to vote on tax cuts for the middle class.  It means something.  The tan man called the vote chicken crap. 

Well, he‘s bent out of shape because it exposes the righties for who they really are, rich guys who really only care about one thing and that‘s getting richer.  My commentary on that and reaction from Senator Sherrod Brown. 

What‘s next in the Senate?  And “The Nation‘s” Katrina Vanden Heuvel. 

Where‘s the base stand now? 

Holy smokes, Dick Cheney, he could be a wanted man real soon.  Nigeria plans to indict the former vice president and his Halliburton cronies over $180 million bribery scandal.  A prosecutor warns a warrant for Cheney‘s arrest is coming through Interpol and you know what?  I can‘t wait do this story in the “Playbook” tonight. 

And Republicans are kicking the unemployed in the teeth and Wall Street is partying like it‘s 1999.  I mean, you won‘t believe what we‘ve just learned about how high on the hog these fat cats are living.  Senator Bernie Sanders, he speaks the truth tonight in the “Battleground Story” and we‘ll go off on that. 

But this is the story that has me fired up tonight.  Now this afternoon, Democratic leaders in the House showed some spine.  Real spine.  They told the Republicans to put up or shut up on middle-class tax cuts. 

What‘s wrong with the yes vote?  If you‘re for it, you‘re for it.  The Democrats forced a vote on the tax cuts for families making $250,000 a year or less. 

Now leave it to Nancy Pelosi to fight back against the righties.  She decided if the Republicans want to go bat for the rich and to hell with everybody else, then let them be exposed and let‘s do the vote. 

That‘s exactly what they did.  168 Republicans voted no on extending tax cuts for the working Americans, and of course, Speaker-in-waiting John Boehner tried to claim that the vote was just a political game. 


REP. JOHN BOEHNER ®, MINORITY LEADER:  I‘m trying to catch my breath so I don‘t refer to this maneuver going on today as chicken crap, all right?  But this is nonsense, all right?  The election was one month ago. 

We‘re 23 months from the next election.  And the political games have already started.  We had an honest conversation at the White House about the challenges that we face to get out of here and to take care of what the American people expect of us.  All right? 

And to roll this vote out today, really is just—it‘s what you think I was going to say. 


SCHULTZ:  Do I have to go back and pull out ED tape from months on end when I‘ve told you on this program they never have cared about the middle class.  They never will.  And since when is it bad to get a vote for middle-class tax cuts? 

Well, if you‘re a Republican, it‘s just not good enough.  And that‘s a game?  It‘s a game that you‘re struggling out there, middle classers?  Boehner thinks that voting to give tax relief to working Americans is chicken, what?  And bad faith? 

Now what does he think about this? 


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL ®, MINORITY LEADER:  Now, a while ago, I delivered a letter to Senator Reid signed by all 42 Senate Republicans.  It says that every Republican will vote against proceeding to any legislative matter until we funded the government and protected every taxpayer from a tax hike. 


SCHULTZ:  Oh, it was that wonderful meeting they had over the White House.  Now, is that a political game?  Is that a political game?  Is that being an honest broker with the American people? 

Now don‘t tell me Nancy Pelosi broke the spirit of bipartisanship after that stunt Mitch McConnell pulled, the morning after the great White House meeting?  And for the record, the only chickens I see are the Republicans who can‘t tell their corporate cronies to do the patriotic thing and pay up. 

Now what the House Democrats did today was gutsy.  And we need a heck of a lot of that.  But so far the Senate and the White House, well, it‘s been a different story for liberals in this country. 

Here is the scorecard.  Mitch McConnell is dictating to the White House what this country is going to be doing on tax policy.  That‘s the way it‘s coming down.  The Democrats seem to be so weak in the Senate and in the House over in the White House and so spineless that they‘ve just refused to stick to their principles of sticking up for the downtrodden. 

And in the end the next generation pays the price, our kids and grandkids, financially they‘re going to suffer. 

Democrats, capital D, as in defense.  Hell, the Democrats are always playing defense, always protecting political ground that they think they own.  And they‘re too spineless to use the majority that the liberals gave them.  It sickens I think every Democrat in this country.  It turns the stomach of every liberal and it just underscores that President Obama is weak on every political front in this argument. 

You‘re either for it or you‘re not.  The Democrats can‘t stand for the unemployed.  They have forgotten the 99‘ers.  They cower on the tax rate debate and they refuse to publicly castigate the Republicans allowing them to just be played like a fool. 

Now these meetings are going on at the White House.  We‘ve outsourced it to Geithner.  Now there‘s a guy we can trust on Wall Street. 

The only people that can save the Democrats are a few tough progressives who are left in the house who have come to the conclusion it won‘t be President Obama that moves the liberal agenda forward.  He‘s basically been a turncoat to the base. 

Yes, Ed just said that. 

He has basically been a turncoat to the base.  For the record, the idea that changing the tax rates will bring this country‘s economy down is garbage.  What has stifled this economy is the concentration of welt, tight credit markets and of course a right-wing movement that is fixated on one thing and that‘s power.  Absolute power.  Not statesmanship. 

And of course we don‘t have to look any further than the fiscal commission, the big Simpson crowd that came out with the wonderful report that says that we‘re a selfish generation.  But yet they do want to lower the tax rate from 35 down to 28 percent. 

They‘re living in a dream world, folks.  And I‘m at issue with the number of Democratic senators who are signing on to this commission report.  It‘s attacking all the programs that have helped this country out for decades, for generations.  Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and now they want to trim the tax rates for the filthy rich in this country? 

And where are the middle classers?  Well you can—you can go to the gas pump and pay another 15 cents a gallon for gas.  That‘s what the Democrats think of you right now. 

Stand up and fight. 

Mr. President, if you don‘t beat them in this debate.  If you don‘t stand behind Geithner and say you‘ve got to tell them this is the way it‘s going to be, we‘re not caving in on the top 2 percent.  This will be a political disaster for the Democrats.  And it will be a political disaster for the next Obama campaign if he decides to run. 

Tell me what you think in our telephone survey.  The number to dial is 1-877-ED-MSNBC. 

My question tonight is, do you believe people making over $250,000 a year deserve an additional tax break?  Press the number one for yes.  Press the number two for no.  We‘ll bring you the results later on in the show. 

Joining me now is Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown. 

Senator, I know that you‘re one of the tough ones.  I know where you stand.  Your constituents know where you stand but there‘s not enough Sherrod Browns in the Senate right now. 

What has to happen at this juncture now that the House has done the job of moving forward for middle class tax breaks?  Where does it stand for you in the Senate? 

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO:  I think we fight.  And we‘re going to vote—we‘re going to vote on the $250,000 standalone.  Give the tax breaks to the middle class.  Ninety plus percent of working Americans and that vote would eliminate tax cuts for—would let them expire for people above $250,000. 

It‘s the right thing to do.  It‘s the right -- 

SCHULTZ:  Is that where the Democrats are?  Is what they did in the House today—is that where the president and the Senate Democrats want to end up? 

BROWN:  Yes, I think so.  I mean I certainly were in the Senate.  I can‘t speak for the president.  It‘s certainly where the overwhelming—I mean, overwhelming majority of Democratic senators want to end up. 

I don‘t normally talk about what happens behind closed doors in the caucus because we don‘t betray each other‘s confidences but clearly overwhelming sentiment in our caucus is stand up, vote for $250,000.  Let them expire for the rest—for people above that income.  And it‘s—you know it‘s the right—it‘s the right thing to do morally.  It‘s the right thing to do in economic terms.  It‘s the right thing to do for our children and grandchildren. 

I mean, you know, basically what John Boehner‘s doing is he accuses us of playing political games.  John Boehner is saying let‘s borrow $700 billion from the Chinese, put it on our children‘s, grandchildren‘s credit cards.  Let them figure out how to pay in a generation from now and give that $700 billion to people that are millionaires and billionaires. 


BROWN:  That, in a nutshell, is what they‘re doing.  That‘s why it‘s morally wrong, but it‘s also fiscally wrong and financially wrong for our economy and for our great country. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator, this is what Robert Gibbs just recently said within the last hour.  He says that talks are ongoing and productive but any reports that we are near a deal in the tax cuts negotiations are inaccurate and premature. 

What is there to negotiate?  You‘re either going to -- 

BROWN:  I don‘t know. 

SCHULTZ:  You‘re either going to capitulate to the top 2 percent or you‘re not. 

BROWN:  I‘m not in them.  I don‘t know.  I do know that I want to make sure that earned income tax credit is continued for basically working families making $20,000, $25,000, $30,000 a year.  I want to make sure that unemployment is continued—unemployment benefits. 

Two days ago because of the Republican filibuster 85,000 Ohio families lost their unemployment benefit and this is not—Republicans suggest unemployment is welfare. 


BROWN:  It‘s insurance, that‘s why it‘s called insurance.  You pay in, you get out when you need it.  Just like fire insurance and health insurance.  You don‘t want to have to have it, but you want it to be there when you need it. 


BROWN:  And all of those are all part of this and for Republicans to say tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, but sorry, we can‘t do unemployment benefits for middle-class families who have lost jobs, tells you the whole story of what the next two years is going to be about. 

SCHULTZ:  No question. 

BROWN:  And that‘s why we‘ve got to stand.  That‘s why we‘ve got to stand and fight on this. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator, good to have you with us tonight.  Keep always fighting. 

BROWN:  Always, Ed.  Thank you.  Thank you for sticking out -- 

SCHULTZ:  Sherrod Brown from Ohio here with us on THE ED SHOW. 

For more let‘s turn to Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor, part owner of “The Nation” with us tonight here on THE ED SHOW. 

You have liberal groups that are out there, and the PCCC, that are running commercials against President Obama and telling him to fight, telling him to stand up.  Trying to hold him accountable. 


SCHULTZ:  What are their expectations if they don‘t get the tax policy they want and that is letting them expire on the top 2 percent?  What‘s your take? 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Demobilization.  Because I think it‘s not just progressives, Ed.  It‘s people, Americans who seek the politics of dignity and decency, who were with the Democrats.  I mean, the Democrats had a majority of Americans who said don‘t give tax cuts to the richest 2 percent at this time of belt tightening.  $700 billion, giveaway to the tax—the very rich. 

I think you‘re going to have a base that is very demobilized.  I—kudos, I love women with spine and Nancy Pelosi today showed that.  I think that progressives will want to work with those in the House and people like Senator Sherrod Brown who will stand and fight for a Democratic progressive politics moving forward. 

And the White House—listen, they‘ve had to operate more pragmatically at times.  There‘s time for compromise.  This is capitulation, what they are doing now.  They lost a good hand because the president hasn‘t stood tall.  He is negotiating, not leading. 

SCHULTZ:  Is President Obama playing with his future with Democrats? 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Well, I think he—you know, he has risked playing with his future at different points.  The war in Afghanistan is opposed by majority.  Certainly majority of Democrats and progressives. 

I think what we need to do is to continue to agitate, mobilize and protest to make of potentially good reform president into a better one.  He needs wind at his back.  He has demobilized too many, though. 

It is going to get tougher.  This is a fight that should have been won or should have been fought because you need -- 


VANDEN HEUVEL:  -- to draw sharp right partisan lines at time.  You cannot compromise with people like John Boehner who has held hostage millions of people are going to going into the holiday with job -- 


VANDEN HEUVEL:  No jobless insurance. 

SCHULTZ:  Katrina, I had a number of callers say on the radio show saying, let‘s turn this around.  It‘s not President Obama.  He‘s been very clear that he wants to end the tax breaks for the top 2 percent.  It‘s the Senate that‘s letting him down.  What about that?

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Well, listen, you‘ve got a Senate which is working on these arcane rules.  The filibuster is a disaster.  There‘s a move to reform that, you‘ve got to do that.  But the president is the president.  And on this, he could have come out, when he did that federal pay freeze feeding the conservative narrative. 


VANDEN HEUVEL:  He could have said at that moment, educating the country, speaking to those in this country who are with him.  We cannot afford at this time of deficit and belt tightening to give $700 billion over 10 years to the very richest. 

We are not hearing that from the president and he has the ability to speak above and lead.  The Senate is a problem.  It is an institution that needs busting up with that filibuster.  But it is a problem the president isn‘t leading. 


VANDEN HEUVEL:  And it is a problem he got people like Boehner who is

you know what he described by way of this, quote, “maneuver.”  Talk about maneuvers, talk about trying to undermine. 

SCHULTZ:  They think they‘re in the majority. 


SCHULTZ:  I mean the Republicans -- 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  They acted as if they‘re in the majority. 

SCHULTZ:  They do. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  And the Democrats need to act. 

SCHULTZ:  You know? 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  As if they are in the majority. 

SCHULTZ:  Exactly. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  There needs to be a confidence and taking their own side in an argument and that is—you might lose but you‘ve got to lay down the lines for what you believe in conviction. 

SCHULTZ:  Thanks, Katrina.  Absolutely. 

Katrina, great to have with you us tonight. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Thank you. 

SCHULTZ:  Thanks so much. 

Coming up, we‘ve got an absolute bombshell on shooter here.  An arrest warrant is on its way for his alleged role in a shocking bribery case involving Halliburton.  I‘m all over this one in the “Playbook.” 

Congressman Steve King just doubled down on calling President Obama, quote, “very urban,” and I‘m not letting him get away with this one.  Playing dumb won‘t work.  “Rapid-Fire Response” on that coming up. 

Plus the Beckster‘s going bananas.  Senator Coburn says America is rotting?  And Snoop Dog is hooking up with royalty. 

Lots coming up on THE ED SHOW.  Stay with us.  You‘re watching MSNBC. 


SCHULTZ:  Coming up on THE ED SHOW, John McCain needs to wake up and realize what year it is.  The Pentagon, the Democrats, and the American people all say now is the time to repeal “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell.”  But the maverick just—you know, he just comes up with excuse after excuse.  All of a sudden, he‘s degrading military authority? 

It‘s pathetic.  Congressman Jared Polis, the first openly gay man elected to the House as a freshman, sounds off next on THE ED SHOW. 


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW and thanks for watching tonight. 

Well, Arizona Senator John McCain still in denial, still fighting against change.  He has stubbornly standing in the way of repealing “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell,” and to make matters worse he keeps moving the goal posts. 

Here are McCain‘s previous requirements for getting rid of the policy. 


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA:  The day that the leadership of the military comes to me and says, Senator, we ought to change the policy, then I think we ought to consider seriously changing it. 

I would welcome a report done by the Joints Chiefs of Staff based solely on military readiness, effectiveness, and needs, and not on politics.  That would study the “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell” policy that would consider the impact of its repeal on our armed services and that would offer their best military advice on the right course of action. 


SCHULTZ:  Well, now he‘s got what he wanted.  The Pentagon study is done and military leaders are strongly urging repeal. 


ADM. MIKE MULLEN, CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF:  I‘m convinced that repeal of the law governing “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell” is the right thing to do.  Back in February when I testified to this sentiment, I also said that I believe that men and women of the armed force could accommodate such a change, but I did not know it for a fact.  Now I do. 

And so what was my personal opinion is now my professional opinion.  I would not recommend repeal of this law if I did not believe in my soul that it was the right thing to do for our military, for our nation, and for our collective honor. 


SCHULTZ:  So, the chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff says, it‘s a fact that repealing “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell” is the right thing to do, but McCain is still blatantly disregarding the military leadership he claimed to respect.  Now he‘s saying the Pentagon, well, they didn‘t do the study correctly. 


MCCAIN:  What I want to know and what it is that Congress‘ duty to determine is not can our armed forces implement a repeal of this law, but whether the law should be repealed?  Unfortunately, that key issue was not the focus of this study. 


SCHULTZ:  John McCain is sadly out of touch.  His attitude on this is absolutely disgraceful. 

For more let‘s bring in openly gay Congressman Jared Polis of Colorado. 

Congressman, good to have you with us tonight.  Have we‘ve done everything we have to do to make this happen, to have this rule repealed in the military—repealed in the military in your opinion? 

REP. JARED POLIS (D), COLORADO:  Well, you know, Ed, this was an obvious call in the first place.  You don‘t have to be straight to be able to fight for our country.  It doesn‘t make any sense.  No other western country has this. 

I mean you can do study after study.  They‘re all going to show the same thing, that of course gays and lesbians are capable of serving in the military and of course the military is a professional institution that‘s up to the challenge of allowing them to serve like every other institution in society, like United States Congress where there‘s four gay people, where there—like our police forces. 

I mean this is just a bizarre discussion we‘re having.  You can keep coming out with data.  It‘s all going to point out in the same direction.  It‘s time to allow gays and lesbian to serve in the military. 

SCHULTZ:  Is this the civil rights issue of our time? 

POLIS:  Well I hope it‘s just a civil rights issue of the next week because I hope we can get this thing done.  I hope that Senator McCain doesn‘t stand in the way.  They just need a couple of more votes in the Senate.  It passed the House overwhelmingly.  We have support from Republicans and Democrats, overwhelmingly passed the House, the repeal of “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell.” 

So let‘s get this darn issue done here in the next few weeks.  I mean this is just an absurd issue that time has long since passed. 

SCHULTZ:  Pew Research poll says 58 percent of the American people are in favor of repealing “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell.”  Senator McCain on record nitpicking pretty much the Pentagon study.  This is what he had to say about the way it was conducted. 


MCCAIN:  In addition to my concerns about what questions were not asked by this survey and considered in this report, I‘m troubled by the fact that this report only represents the input of 28 percent of the force who received the questionnaire including completely leaving out a numerous members of the military in combat areas.  That‘s only 6 percent of the force at large. 


SCHULTZ:  Congressman, does he have a point there? 

POLIS:  You know I‘ve talked to friends of mine in the military, constituents.  They said the military has never asked for their opinion of what‘s on the menu, any of the other conditions. 

This has been the broadest-reaching model for input, from members of the military on any major decision.  I mean, and again, and of course you can ask more but any statistic can tell you you can easily model the attitudes of everybody from the significant number that were surveyed. 

Of course the men and women in the military overwhelmingly support allowing gays and lesbians.  They have gay and lesbian friends.  Sometimes brothers, sisters, cousins.  I mean this is just a stigma that maybe a few old white male senators have but the men and women of the military are long passed this. 

SCHULTZ:  What do you say to the thousands that have been put out of the military? 

POLIS:  Yes. 

SCHULTZ:  How would you implement them back in as soon as possible?  And of course when you look at our resources, we could certainly use the help. 

POLIS:  Well, I won‘t—let me speak to the men and women that were wrongfully discharged under this policy.  I do hope that you consider a career in the United States military after the repeal of “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell” policy. 

You will have every kind of opportunity, no more or no less than every other American to serve your country with honor and with openness. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman Jared Polis, good to have you with us tonight. 

Thanks so much. 

POLIS:  Always a pleasure, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  Coming up the Beckster‘s paranoia has spread, well, right to the kitchen.  He‘s freaking out over food and sees Stalin and starvation in our future. 

Such a positive guy.  Well, I‘m going to take a bite of that one next on the “Zone.”  Stay with us. 


SCHULTZ:  And in “Psycho Talk” tonight, Glenn Beck, he‘s obsessed with food.  A few months ago the Fruitloop flipped over the first lady‘s anti-obesity campaign and predicted French fry riots or as he nicknamed them “fry-ots”.  And now he‘s attacking the Food Safety Bill. 

Well, the bill recently passed the Senate with overwhelmingly bipartisan support, but to the Beckster, ooh it‘s a communist threat. 


GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  Now they want to protect you from your food.  Really?  Control and power.  They control your food, they control you.  This is about control and in the end starvation. 

These people in Congress—it‘s criminal what they‘re doing.  It‘s criminal.  Inflation is going up, then you‘re going to do something that causes the price of food to go up even faster?  What are you, out of your mind?  No, no, this is what Stalin did. 


SCHULTZ:  Hmm?  Does that mean he‘s for the farm bill and the small guy out there in the middle of the country trying to make a living on the land?  Everything goes back to Stalin with this guy. 

Glenn, if you wanted to talk about higher prices, let‘s talk about the billions of dollars American farmers and manufacturers lose in cases of tainted eggs or spinach or meat.  Now you don‘t think that that leads to higher prices, do you? 

Now—and if you want to talk criminal, let‘s talk about the 5,000 Americans who die each year from food illnesses. 

Here‘s what the “Washington Post” says about the Food Safety Bill.  The bill places greater responsibility on manufacturers and farmers to prevent contamination, a departure from the current system, which relies on government inspectors to catch contamination after the fact. 

Preventing food contamination means preventing financial losses as well as illness and death. 

So for Glenn Beck to attack Congress for trying to keep Americans safe, that is I guess you could say contaminated “Psycho Talk.” 

Coming up, the tan man, John Boehner, and his fat cat cronies are living high on the hog while millions of Americans are fighting to survive.  You will not believe how much rich people are spending on diamonds?  And or organic dog food, while the middle class and lower-income folks in this country suffer.  Senator Bernie Sanders‘ fuming about that.  He‘ll stick it to the righties next in the “Battleground” story coming up.  

Republican Congressman Steve King just had the audacity to defend what, clearly, were racist remarks against the President of the United States.  I‘ll show you the tape and get rapid-fire response.  

Plus, the Mittster, well, he‘s sucking up to Caribou Barbie.  Shooters about to get busted.  And President Obama thanks LeBron James, he‘s in for a rough night?  OK.  You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.  Stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  The “Battleground” story tonight.  Well, Republicans are causing human suffering and destroying America‘s economic future.  That‘s what I think.  This is the season to be jolly.  This holiday season.  And of course, thanks to the Republicans, by the end of the month, two million more Americans will be left out in the cold with no financial support.  Well, the White House just released an eye-opening report revealing just how destructive it is if unemployment benefits aren‘t extended.  It could cost the country about 600,000 jobs by the end of next year.  The economic growth would also free going into free-fall.  And a Labor Department study also shows every dollar spent on federal unemployment benefits leads to $2 of economic activity. 

Now millions of Americans are struggling to feed their families, they‘re struggling to keep a roof over their head.  They‘re struggling to survive in many cases and I‘m not overplaying that and the Republicans and their fat cat buddies on Wall Street are living high on the hog.  The front page of today‘s “New York Daily News,” I guess you could say it says all.  Ninety five thousand can kiss benefits good-bye but Wall Street parties like it‘s 1999.  Well, Wall Street profits recently had a record third quarter and the high-end department stores, well, they‘re booming.  Banks are hosting lavished parents.  The rich are buying TVs, jewelry, wine, even organic dog food at record rates. 

But spending on everyday things like medical care, day care, education, prescription drugs, well they‘re pretty much down into the dumps and at the same time, the unemployment rates sits at over nine percent by tomorrow.  It‘s predicted that the rate will be over nine percent for 19 straight months.  That would break a record set back in the 1980s.  But Republicans, you have to really believe that they don‘t give a damn.  They‘re against an unemployment  extension but fighting like hell for an extension for the Bush tax cuts for the millionaires and billionaires, that‘s really is their priority and it makes I think a lot of Americans sick including this American. 

Joining me now is a fierce fighter for the middle class, Independent Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont.  He sits on the help and budget committees.  We‘re losing our moral authority with the world.  The world is watching what we‘re doing with families that are losing their homes.  Senator, do you see anything in this lame-duck session of the Congress that will move the conservatives off of the top two percent issue?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT:  Well, I think the only thing that‘s going to do that, Ed, is if Democrats hold firm and we say very clearly that at a time when the middle class is collapsing and poverty is  increasing and millions of our brothers and sisters are unemployed.  Long-term unemployment, holiday seasons.  Common people don‘t know how to take care of their kids.  What we have got say is, no.  We‘re not going to give huge tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires and ignore the needs of working families.  So, the priorities have got to be not increasing our national debt by $700 billion by giving tax breaks to people who don‘t need it.  Our attention has got to be on the middle class working families, creating jobs by rebuilding our infrastructure and as you have indicated, making sure that people who are long-term unemployed get the help they need.  

SCHULTZ:  Senator, the Republicans continually make the case through the media that we can‘t raise taxes on anybody right now and go back to the old rates or it will absolutely butcher any kind of economic growth that we have had in the last year.  Do you agree with that?  

SANDERS:  Look, the Republicans say that when times are bad.  You have to give tax breaks to billionaires.  When times are good, you have to give tax breaks to billionaires.  That is their DNA.  That‘s all they believe in.  In my view the evidence is pretty clear.  We pass these tax rates against my vote in 2001.  That‘s what the Bush tax plan was about.  

SCHULTZ:  Yes.  

SANDERS:  During the Bush era Ed, we lost, lost 500,000 private sector jobs, 48,000 factories shutdown.  We lost millions of manufacturing jobs.  I don‘t think that these tax breaks have stimulated the economy.  

SCHULTZ:  It‘s really a culture of manipulation.  I mean, when you look at the Fed and the way they‘re disclosing what happened during the financial crisis, what‘s your response to that?

SANDERS:  Well, Ed, I fought very hard in financial reform to get that disclosure and it makes you sick and it just—you know, emphasizes, re-emphasizes the point that you‘ve been making all evening.  You have every single without exception, major financial institution on the DOLE getting huge amounts of bailout.  Huge American Corporations, General Electric, McDonald‘s, Verizon, Verizon on the take.  They‘re getting bailed out.  And guess what?  We‘re looking at billions and billions of dollars going too foreign banks, the develop fund of Korea, the banks in Bahrain are getting financial support.  Foreign corporations are getting financial support and yet when it comes to the middle class of this country, I guess we‘re not prepared to help those people.  

SCHULTZ:  Senator Sanders, good to have you with us tonight.  Thanks for keeping up the fight.  Good to have you with us. 

SANDERS:  Thank you.

SCHULTZ:  Now, let‘s get some rapid-fire response from our panel on these stories.  Mitt Romney won‘t tell Jay Leno if he‘s running or not but he had some interesting thoughts on Sarah Palin and FOX News. 

Republican Senator Tom Coburn says, America is rotting from its reliance on government programs.  Spoken by a true millionaire doctor.  

And Iowa psycho-talker Steve King says, he didn‘t mean anything when he described President Obama as urban during his racist rant against the black farmers‘ bill. 

With us tonight Stephanie Jones, a democratic analyst and president of Stephanie Jones Strategies.  And Ernest Istook, former republican congressman and now with The Heritage Foundation.  Great to have both of you with us tonight.  



SCHULTZ:  Let‘s talk about Mitt Romney.  Earnest, what do you—is Mitt in a run or what‘s happening here?

ISTOOK:  Well, he hasn‘t said whether he‘s going to run.  He was nice last night to Jay Leno.  He was nice to Sarah Palin.  Gosh, Ed, I think if you had him on your show, he‘d be nice to you too.  I don‘t see what‘s—you know, what‘s the fear about somebody being a nice guy?

SCHULTZ:  Is the Palin wave, Stephanie, taken some candidates out early on?  What do you think?

JONES:  I don‘t know if it‘s taking candidates out but you‘ve got to feel sorry for the guy.  He goes on television and then he has to talk about Sarah Palin.  It‘s sort of like the old line of governor, enough about Sarah Palin, let‘s talk about you.  What do you think about Sarah Palin?  It‘s really a shame that he can‘t move on and talk about what he wants to talk about and that he‘s not talking about politics and the issues of the day that we‘re all concerned about but he‘s got to deal with this distraction that many in his party are having to deal  with now.  

SCHULTZ:  Here‘s Mitt Romney talking about FOX News to Leno.  Here it is. 


JAY LENO, HOST, “THE TONIGHT SHOW”:  A lot of republican candidates have gone to work for FOX News.  Have they approached you as being a correspondent or something of that nature?  

GOV. MITT ROMNEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  Well, Jay, if you ever see me sign up for a gig on FOX News, it will be a clear indication I‘ve decided to run for president.  

LENO:  Really?  

ROMNEY:  Yes, absolutely.  

LENO:  Wow.  

ROMNEY:  So that‘s not in the cards anytime soon, thanks.  



SCHULTZ:  I have to say, I‘m stunned that he would think—let it out there that he‘s thinking about not running.  I mean, Ernie, I thought he‘s probably one of the best ones that you‘ve got over there.  

ISTOOK:  He wasn‘t talking about not running, he was talking about not being a commentator or a paid commentator for FOX News, that‘s what he said.  

SCHULTZ:  All right.  Republican Senator Tom Coburn says that America is rotting from its reliance on government programs.  Stephanie, what‘s your response to that?

JONES:  Well, I find those comments very troubling.  Because even though I think we can all agree with some of what Senator Coburn was saying that—that we need to—need to have shared sacrifice in this country, he did what is all too common now.  And he wants—and elaborating on those comments, he pointed his finger down at the people on the lowest end of the totem pole.  The only people he talked about of being reliant on government were folks on Social Security, and on disability.  And so once again, we have this—this sense of blaming the people who are suffering the most.  And expecting them to shoulder the burden...  

SCHULTZ:  Yes.  

JONES: .of this difficult economy we‘re in.  It‘s truly unfortunate.  

SCHULTZ:  Here‘s Mr. Coburn‘s comment on the issue.  Here it is.  


SEN. TOM COBURN ®, OKLAHOMA:  We‘ve created reliance instead of depending on self-reliance.  We‘ve created government programs that are unaffordable.  We‘re rotting.  We‘re rotting as we sit here and speak today.  


SCHULTZ:  Ernie, is he talking about Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the programs that have worked so successfully for Americans for generations?  What do you think?  

ISTOOK:  You know, Ed, I‘m up here in Boston.  All of this week I‘ve been attending a conference at Harvard and Harvard economists, and they‘re saying this to new members of Congress, Harvard economist are saying that the reason that we‘ve got the financial problems in the federal government are because of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  The programs that are spending so much we cannot afford it.  The Heritage Foundation every year, publishes an index of dependency and it shows that last year in 2009, national dependence upon federal programs went up over 13 percent.  

SCHULTZ:  Stephanie, what do you think? 

ISTOOK:  And that‘s even before Obama-care kicked in. 

JONES:  Well with all due respect, Congressman, I think that there are a lot of other factors that have contributed to this economic crisis we‘re in including the massive tax cuts that we cannot afford.  The—we have a tremendous military spending.  We have a lot of other areas that we need to look at as well.  And so when we talk about shared sacrifice, as Senator Coburn talked about, I think that‘s an important conversation but we have to be fair and we have to be reasonable about making sure we‘re looking at all areas and not just. 

SCHULTZ:  Ernie, you‘ve got to admit that the tax cuts didn‘t create any jobs.  The tax cuts did not work.  They‘ve put us in the hole along with the two wars that have been off-budget.  Now, I don‘t know what the Harvard economist, how they figure that in, but those are facts, those are flat-out facts.  Here‘s Congressman Steve King talking about President Obama being too urban.  Here it is. 


REP. STEVE KING ®, IOWA:  We have a very, very urban Senator, Barack Obama, who has decided he‘s going to run for president, and what does he do?  He introduces legislation to create a whole new Pigford claim.  We‘ve got to stand up at some point and say, we‘re not going to pay slavery reparations in the United States Congress.  


SCHULTZ:  Wow, what about that, Ernie?

ISTOOK:  Well, I don‘t—I don‘t think that reparations is what was pending.  I do know the other part that Steve King was criticized, was saying that Obama is an urban president, which some people found offense.  But if you‘ll just Google what the Obama administration calls its Liveability Agenda, you will find there‘s a common agreement between Department of Transportation, EPA and HUD to try to put Americans into more urban settings.  So for somebody to say. 


SCHULTZ:  No, he was describing the president in his priorities. 

ISTOOK:  Pardon?

SCHULTZ:  He was describing the president in putting a social twist to it.  That‘s how many people took that.  Stephanie, your thoughts.

JONES:  Well, yes, I think we all know that urban is a dog whistle, euphemism in many quarters for black.  

ISTOOK:  I don‘t think so.  

JONES:  And I certainly don‘t know what—what Representative King was thinking.  But if he didn‘t know that, then he‘s very ignorant of a very important—of a very important factor in American public discourse.  

SCHULTZ:  Stephanie joins, Ernest Istook. 

JONES:  That‘s all well and good.  But he should just say I didn‘t know and apologize and be done with it instead of complaining about people who do.

SCHULTZ:  He was surprised by the reaction.  He couldn‘t believe people responded that way. 

ISTOOK:  I didn‘t know urban had become a dirty word either, Ed.  

SCHULTZ:  Ernest Istook, Stephanie Jones, good to have you with us tonight.  

JONES:  Thank you.

SCHULTZ:  Coming up, shooter might finally end up right where he belongs in the slammer.  And an arrest warrant is coming from Nigeria, for his alleged role in a Halliburton bribery scandal.  No, he wouldn‘t be involved in that, would he?  I think it‘s about time U.S. officials renew their investigation.  John Nichols wrote the book on Dick.  He reveals more of shooter‘s shady past.  Next on the “Playbook.”  Stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  And it‘s still not too late to let us know what you think. 

The number to dial tonight is 1-877-ed-msnbc.  Tonight‘s telephone survey question is, do you believe people making over $250,000 a year deserve additional tax breaks.  Press the number one for yes.  Press the number two for no.  Again, the number to dial is 1-877-ed-msnbc.  We‘re right back.  


SCHULTZ:  And in my “Playbook tonight, former Vice President Dick Cheney is about to be indicted for allegedly participating in an international bribery scheme.  Nigerian officials say that they are issuing an arrest warrant for Cheney through Interpol.  The world‘s biggest international police organization.  Shooter‘s new legal troubles stem from Halliburton‘s alleged bribery of the corrupt Nigerian government of the 1990s when he was a CEO of the company.  Halliburton is accused of paying the government $180 million in hopes of getting a $6 billion natural gas contract in return. 

Cheney‘s attorney responded this afternoon with this following statement.  “This matter involves the activities of an international four-company joint venture, which included KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton, well over a decade ago.  The Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission investigated that joint venture extensively and found no suggestion of any impropriety by Dick Cheney in his role of CEO of Halliburton.  Any suggestion of misconduct on his part, made now, years later is entirely baseless.”

For more, let‘s bring in John Nichols.  Washington correspondent to “The Nation” and author of the book “Dick: The Man Who is President.”  Gosh, the Department of Justice looked into it.  Was that Alberto Gonzalez or was it john Ashcroft?  There‘s a real investigation for you.  Is this big trouble for him, John?  Good to have you with us tonight.  

JOHN NICHOLS, “THE NATION” CORRESPONDENT:  It‘s good to be with you, Ed.  And it‘s—it is very significant.  Nigeria which is a real ally of the United States in a country that we have immense levels of business interaction with, has been investigating this case for six years.  These prosecutors are oxford educated, very, very capable prosecutors, and they‘ve come to the conclusion that Dick Cheney should be indicted for criminal activities in bribing a brutal dictator who has been accused of actually killing people in order to advance the interest of his business partners.  So yes, it‘s a big deal.  

SCHULTZ:  Should the Department of Justice in the United States get back—get their hunting dogs back on the trail here?

NICHOLS:  There‘s simply no question that they should.  Look, this was investigated by the Bush/Cheney administration‘s highly politicized Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission.  Halliburton has paid a lot of fines with regard to its international activities.  Huge amounts of money under the foreign corrupt practices act and so there are acknowledgements that there was wrongdoing.  What we‘re now getting to is the question of whether the CEO of the company was involved in what another country, a foreign country, determines to be criminal activity.  Of course we ought to look at this and we ought to take it seriously.  It shouldn‘t be something that we dismiss.  Not just because it involves Cheney, but because it really involves questions of corporate wrongdoing on the international stage.  

SCHULTZ:  How about the—maybe there might be some, oh, cables that might have been intercepted? It‘s been an interesting week with that story.  

NICHOLS:  It‘s been interesting.  

SCHULTZ:  What do you think?

NICHOLS:  I think it‘s highly significant.  Look, Dick Cheney literally went over to the CIA three and four times a day at some points during his vice presidency.  There‘s nobody who was more engaged with cable traffic than this guy.  And I wouldn‘t be at all surprised if Wikileaks has another package for us to look at with regard to this.  

SCHULTZ:  John Nichols of “The Nation.”  Great to have you with us tonight.  Thanks, John.

Some final pages in the “Playbook” tonight.  LeBron James makes his return to Cleveland tonight.  Extra security was hired since his first time back since leaving the play for Miami.  President Obama weighed in today saying, quote, “it‘s going to be brutal.”  OK?  

Coming up, progressives across the country are wondering what happened to that bold progressive man we elected two years ago?  Congressman Raul Grijalva, chairman of the Progressive Caucus sounds off next.                        What is the game plan?  That‘s coming up on THE ED SHOW.  Stay with us.



UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN:  We, the people, want you back and need you back.  

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN:  What‘s happened to that bold progressive man we‘ve elected as president in 2008?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  The guy who stands for all the people and is not going to let himself get pushed around.  

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN:  Mr. President, please do not compromise with the Republicans about extending the Bush tax cuts. 

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN:  I am in the highest tax bracket.  We don‘t need the money.  The country does.  


SCHULTZ:  That‘s part of a hard-hitting new commercial put out by, progressives want the president to go to the mat and start fighting. 

Joining me now is Congressman Raul Grijalva who was just re-elected as the chair of the Progressive Caucus.  Congressman, are these liberal groups who are taking these commercials out and also the PCCC, are they doing the president a favor or they doing damage in your opinion?  

REP. RAUL GRIJALVA, PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS CO-CHAIR:  I think in the long term that it is—it is helpful and I do want to add that I‘m co-chair along with a good colleague Keith Ellison of Minnesota, who will be serving his co-chair as Progressive Caucuses this session.  Yes, I think they‘re being helpful.  Because I think we have to clarify these issues.  A negotiation that occurs between the administration and republican leadership shouldn‘t be binding on the rest of us that are in Congress.  We don‘t want to extend the cuts to the very rich, that has been our position all along.  And I think we need to hold the line on that position and we need to have the president as an ally in this fight.  Because part of the strategy has to be now that the Republicans have the House of Representatives, they‘re going to set the agenda there.  And the Senate has a part to play and most obviously the administration has a huge part.  

SCHULTZ:  But, Congressman, isn‘t this somewhat of a critical juncture for President Obama in his  presidency in the first term that after pushing so hard on the campaign trail saying he wants these tax cuts to expire to the top two percent to give it away in negotiation, how damaging would that be, in your opinion?

GRIJALVA:  Well, you know, one of the reasons that I think we didn‘t do as well as we should have in  the midterms, didn‘t hold out to our majority, lost Senate seats is because the leadership was lacking.  And the president needs to be seen as a fighter.  Democrats have to be seen as fighting for the average American.  We‘ve received a lot of anger in this campaign and a lot of it was directed at us but the point being that they want to see fighting and they want to see somebody who stands up and advocates for the average Joe in this country. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman. 

GRIJALVA:  I think the president has to do that.  

SCHULTZ:  He does.  Congressman, great to have you with us tonight. 

Thank you.  I appreciate it.  

GRIJALVA:  Thank you.  

SCHULTZ:  Tonight in our telephone survey I asked, do you believe people making over $250,000 a year deserve additional tax breaks?  Five percent of you said yes.  Ninety five percent of you said no. 

That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Ed Schultz.  “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts right now.  We‘ll see you back here tomorrow night.



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