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The Ed Show for Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

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Guests: Kelly O‘Donnell, Jim McDermott, Austan Goolsbee, Jesse Jackson, Laura Flanders, Heidi Harris, Bernie Sanders, Adam Green, Kelly O‘Donnell

ED SCHULTZ, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Good evening, Americans.

I‘m Ed Schultz with breaking news tonight.

Elizabeth Edwards lost her battle with cancer today.  She was 61.

She first came on the national stage as the wife of presidential candidate John Edwards, but in recent years she became a political figure, an advocate in her own right. 

For more, let‘s bring in NBC‘s Kelly O‘Donnell. 

Kelly, I‘m sure she is going to be remembered as a woman who endured a lot, and also regarded as a fighter. 

KELLY O‘DONNELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  I think that really is the image that people will take with them, as a fighter.

First, when we met her on the political stage when she fought for issues that were important to her husband, then-Senator John Edwards, who was running at first for president.  Ten they went on the vice presidential campaign trail with John Kerry. 

And then after that race ended and they conceded in 2004, right then is when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  And immediately, there was enormous public outpouring for her as she became the public face of that disease. 

Then a few years later, there was the recurrence that would ultimately be the end, because they said that it was the type of recurrence that she would not be able to see a cure, but they would treat it.  And then, today, her family was with her at 10:15 this morning in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, when she passed away.  And those close to her say that she is hoping that she would not be remembered for having lost a battle to cancer, because she knew that cancer would claim her life.  She felt that in the final months of her life, it was really a battle about trying to live well. 

And they felt that she had done that, she had won that battle.  That is how those close to her characterize it tonight. 

It was described as a very peaceful scene.  She had had time to prepare and had been, for many months, doing things to provide memories for especially her two younger children so that that would fill the years that will be coming now when they will not have her support. 

So it certainly is the kind of story where people have been moved by the adversity that she suffered, the death of her son, Wade, at age 16 in a car accident, the very public collapse of her marriage.  That was certainly a painful period.  And certainly battling cancer. 

So, for her successes, there was praise and a lot of empathy for the public hardships that she endured. 

SCHULTZ:  Elizabeth Edwards, dead at the age of 61. 

Kelly, thanks so much tonight. 

We‘ll have more on the extraordinary life of Elizabeth Edwards later on in this broadcast tonight. 

I want to turn now to the political hot battle that has captivated the country today, the battle over tax cuts.  There is a fight brewing on Capitol Hill among Democrats over President Obama‘s tax cut compromise.

A defiant President Obama went on the offensive today against Democrats during a press conference, and he went after it early this afternoon. 


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  This notion that somehow we are willing to compromise too much reminds me of the debate that we had during health care.  This is the public option debate all over again.  So I pass a signature piece of legislation where we finally get health care for all Americans, something that Democrats had been fighting for 100 years, but because there was a provision in there that they didn‘t get, somehow that was a sign of weakness and compromise. 

Now, if that‘s the standard by which we are measuring success or core principles, then let‘s face it, we will never get anything done.  People will have the satisfaction of having a purist position and no victories for the American people. 

And we will be able to feel good about ourselves and sanctimonious about how pure our intentions are and how tough we are.  And in the meantime, the American people are still saying to themselves, they‘re not able to get health insurance because of pre-existing condition, or not being able to pay their bills because their unemployment insurance ran out. 

That can‘t be the measure of how we think about our public service. 

That can‘t be the measure of what it means to be a Democrat. 


SCHULTZ:  What it means to be a Democrat is the question that is being asked across the country tonight by Democrats. 

The president tells us that we‘re being too hard on him.  I‘ve never seen a president come out in a press conference and be so aggressive against his own party. 

He went on to say America was founded on compromise. 


OBAMA:  This country was founded on compromise.  I couldn‘t go through the front door at this country‘s founding.  And, you know, if we were really thinking about ideal positions, we wouldn‘t have a union. 

So, my job is to make sure that we have a north star out there, what is helping the American people live out their lives.  You know what is giving them more opportunity?  What is growing the economy?  What is making us more competitive?  And at any given juncture, there are going to be times were my preferred option, what I‘m absolutely positive is right, I can‘t get done. 


SCHULTZ:  Well, President Obama claims he has to compromise after spending the last 24 months being told no by the minority party, the party of no. 

The president pretty much had his back up big-time today.  He wanted to tell liberals he has lived up to all of his campaign promises. 


OBAMA:  I don‘t think there‘s a single Democrat out there who, if they looked at where we started when I came into office and look at where we are now, would say that somehow we have not moved in the direction that I promised.  Take a tally.  Look at what I promised during the campaign.  There‘s not a single thing that I‘ve said that I would do that I have not either done or tried to do. 


SCHULTZ:  Well, we can look at it from the Republicans‘ perspective.  They got the president to cave on tax cuts.  He says it‘s not a cave.  And now they have him attacking his own base. 

I think President Obama basically has a communication problem.  He even has a communication problem with the very people that put him in office, his base.  They have been disregarded from day one. 

Senator Mary Landrieu is mad at the president as well for compromising with the Republicans without talking to his own party and caucus.  She said today, “He didn‘t even speak to the Democratic Caucus, not the liberal group, not the moderate group, not the conservative group.”

Landrieu also hammered the idea of giving tax cuts to millionaires.  She went on to say, “I‘m going to argue forcefully for the nonsensicalness and the almost, you know, moral corruptness of that particular policy.  This is beyond politics.  This is about justice and doing what is right for the American people.”

Over in the House, a growing coalition of Democrats don‘t like the president‘s plan either.  The co-chairs of the Progressive Caucus put out this statement earlier today: “We call on our congressional leaders in the House and the Senate to hold firm on passing a middle class tax cut with no strings attached.  This holiday season should be about supporting middle class Americans, not another taxpayer-funded present for the wealthy.”

Liberals are frustrated with President Obama‘s capitulation.  That‘s what they perceive it to be.  The president doesn‘t agree.  He says he‘s drawn plenty of lines in the sand with the Republicans. 


OBAMA:  Look, I‘ve got a whole bunch of lines in the sand.  Not making tax cuts for the wealthy permanent, that was a line in the sand.  Making sure that the things that most impact middle class families and low-income families, that those were preserved, that was a line in the sand. 


SCHULTZ:  Let‘s talk about those tax cuts not being permanent.  This is where the Republicans are. 

That‘s not even a bargaining chip, because they think with all the corporate money that they‘ve got, they are going to come back in 2012 and win the Senate and be able to ramrod any tax they want right on through the Congress and force the president to do business with them.  So that is not really a bargaining chip or capitulation on the part of the righties. 

If President Obama can‘t draw a line in the sand with the Republicans, congressional Democrats need to step up for him and get it done.  After being sold time and time again down the road, we liberals can‘t lose our compass. 

For the record—for the record, there‘s nothing radical about wanting health care for every American.  There‘s nothing radical about fair taxation when the income disparity in this country is at an all-time high.  And there‘s nothing radical about supporting American workers and American products.  And there‘s nothing radical about expecting our government to respond to the majority of the people. 

President Obama, in the eyes a lot of liberals, is now the modern day version of Neville Chamberlain.  The capitulator-in-chief, it hurts to say that, but that‘s what‘s out there.

The Republicans get, well, whatever they want.  All they have to do is say no and then just wait this administration out. 

And where did this desire to avoid conflict come from?  I think the president of the United States is angry at the wrong people. 

We‘re getting a lecture today on compromise after the party of no has said no for 24 months, said they wanted it to be his Waterloo, health care, said they wanted him to be a one-termer?  And then they laid down the ultimatum, and then he says, OK, let‘s do and comes back and sells his base, saying, hey, I fought hard?  And then gets his back up at a press conference today?

I‘ve never seen anything like this.  Has any president ever handled his base like this?

If you want to win an election, if you want to be reelected, you have to do at least something for your base.  To alienate your base across the board, that ain‘t good.  That can‘t be good.

It‘s like the guy on the back of the Dodge truck commercial.  You know?  He‘s—the car goes on the back and he looks at it—“That can‘t be good.”

That‘s where the base is tonight.  This can‘t be good.

It is just giving away to the top two percent.  Why?  Because they demanded it.

And I want to answer directly to the White House tonight.  This bullet point that they‘re putting out about two million people are going to be hurt, hold the phone.  Where the hell was the concern for the five million people who were 99ers that you just stood ominously silent?

Where‘s the fight for the 99ers?  Where‘s the fight for the long-term unemployed?

Now we come up with this two-for-one deal.  They get a two-year tax abatement, they get a two-year stretch on the Bush tax cuts, and we‘re going to give unemployment after we borrow $420 billion from the Chinese?  Oh, we‘re going to do 13 months now of unemployment benefits for only two million people when there‘s how many millions out there that aren‘t getting any help?

These are extraordinary times, extraordinary circumstances, and the fight can‘t be normal.  It has to be extraordinary.

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

My question tonight is: Do you think President Obama has lived up to his promises of hope and change?  Press the number 1 for yes, press the number 2 for no.  We‘ll bring you the results later on in the show.

And I want to say this before we go to our first guest tonight—I‘m not going to sit here and take heat from anybody in this country saying that, oh, Ed, you‘re too hard on President Obama, the left is too hard.  No.

If we don‘t speak up, if we don‘t cherish this moment of having the voice and having opportunity to speak up, and letting this administration know exactly where we stand after working so hard to get him elected, we are doing him a disservice.  We‘re not being Americans if we sit back and take this. 

Joining me now is Congressman Jim McDermott.  He‘s a member of the House Ways and Means Committee and the chair of the Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support. 

Congressman, your thoughts on the press conference today? 

REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D), WASHINGTON:  Well, Ed, the situation is really this—you have to listen to Mitch McConnell.  First, he said, my first job is to make sure that Obama doesn‘t get re-elected.  My second job is that nothing will move here unless the tax cuts for the millionaires gets put into law. 

Now, the reason we‘re getting this bum‘s rush today is that the Republicans don‘t want to have to do it when they are in control of the House of Representatives and the Senate.  They want it to be done when the Democrats are in charge so they can‘t be blamed for the economic inequities going on in this society. 

In 1980, the top five percent of people in this country had $8 trillion in wealth.  Today, the top five percent have $40 trillion in wealth. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman, what about the deal?  The president admitted today that most of the American people, 67 percent of them, are with him with him on this issue, but he‘s not going to get it because he can‘t get the votes. 

What about the Democrats?  Steny Hoyer says there was no deal, there was no deal made.  Where are we tonight? 

MCDERMOTT:  I don‘t think the president is running clear at the moment.  He has got real problems because more than two-thirds of the people in this country do not believe we should extend the tax benefits for the wealthy. 

They don‘t agree with the president, and he is agreeing with the Republicans.  And he‘s just on the wrong side of that part of the issue.  And until that changes, I don‘t think you are going to get that bill through in this Congress. 

He can certainly get it through in January, when the Republicans control it.  But he can‘t—right now, the way it is, he can‘t get it. 

SCHULTZ:  Your call tonight is you don‘t think the Democrats are going to support this in the House?  Is that right? 

MCDERMOTT:  That‘s my guess.  I can‘t imagine how you could hold unemployed people hostage for two months, right through the Christmas season, and have two million people lose the ability to put the turkey on the table—


MCDERMOTT:  -- and still say, but I voted for a tax cut for the extremely wealthy in this country who have already got more than enough. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman Jim McDermott, thanks for speaking up tonight. 

I appreciate your time. 

MCDERMOTT:  You‘re welcome. 

SCHULTZ:  Coming up, I‘m going head-to-head with the White House on the compromise.  Austan Goolsbee, chairman of the president‘s Economic Council of Advisors, joins me live from the White House next. 

Senator Bernie Sanders called the compromise an absolute disaster. 

He‘s fired up, he is vowing to do whatever he can to fight it and stop it.  Senator Sanders will blast off on the president‘s press conference in “The Playbook” later in the show. 

Plus, Reverend Jesse Jackson joins me in “The Battleground” story tonight.  And “The Beckster” lands in “The Zone.”

You‘re watching MSNBC.  Stay with us. 


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

Some Democrats across the country are furious about the tax cut deal, and the White House is trying to do damage control, in the eyes of many. 

President Obama came out to meet the press and Vice President Joe Biden went to Capitol Hill to sell the plan to Democratic lawmakers.  I think this is a giveaway to the rich.  It is what it is, which will add another $1 trillion to the deficit.  Make rhyme or reason of that.

Joining us now from the White House is Austan Goolsbee, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors. 

Austan, you and I can get along on this.  You‘re a fair-minded guy. 

This is a lot of red ink.  Explain this to the American people. 

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISORS:  OK.  Well, let me highlight two things. 

The high-income tax cuts, look, I‘m not for that, the president‘s not for it.  We have said many times it doesn‘t work.  He has committed he will not allow that to become permanent.  But as part of this deal to get a series of other things that vastly outweigh in importance of that, that was the—that was the price that we had to pay. 

Now, it doesn‘t make anybody happy about that, but the fact is that in this deal, the president got a bunch of things that nobody ever expected he would be able to get, including the unemployment benefits for more than a year, the American opportunity tax credit, the refundable earned income tax credit, the child tax credit, a payroll tax cut for employees, things that add up to thousands of dollars a year for just regular working families in the country, as well as incentives for companies to do their investments here in America.  And that adds up to two and a half times the size of those high-income tax cuts, and the alternative was getting in a fight and then having them impose those high-income tax cuts without any of that stuff. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  We‘ll put the politic and the fight aside for a moment, but what about the payroll tax?  We have been hearing that Social Security is in trouble, and now we‘re going to throw another $120 billion against it again by reducing the payroll obligation of a lot of Americans that‘s been out there. 

I mean, when do we make this up? 

GOOLSBEE:  Look, this is totally in the short run.  Let‘s not conflate longer-run fiscal challenges with the short run, getting out of this recession. 

Even the fiscal commission, which some people have been critical because they thought it was too much on austerity, they made clear in their report that the long-run fiscal challenges should be totally separated from the discussion about what we are doing right now to get out of the worst economic crisis since 1929. 

SCHULTZ:  So why not throw $120 billion at the 99ers?  I mean, if it‘s just short term and we‘re throwing billions of dollars around, why not do that? 

GOOLSBEE:  Wait.  We‘re not trying to throw billions of dollars around.  The point is not just to throw money around.  This is a 13-month extensions of unemployment benefits. 

SCHULTZ:  For two million people, right? 

GOOLSBEE:  For seven million people, yes.

SCHULTZ:  OK.  But there‘s 4.5 million people to 5 million who are 99ers that have been caught up in this wave as well that have nothing in this package. 

GOOLSBEE:  I‘m not arguing with you about things that could be good.  We are having to deal in the reality of the president was able to negotiate two and a half times as much stuff which is on the priorities of the administration—the Obama tax cuts, extending unemployment benefits beyond what anybody thought they would be able to be extended, as well as middle class tax relief and incentives for companies to invest in this country.

And at a moment like this, if you have an opportunity like that, you‘ve simply got to take it. 

Now, that doesn‘t make me any happier about all this estate tax and income tax stuff on the high-income people.  That stuff doesn‘t work, and I think everybody knows it ‘t work. 

But look, we live to fight another day on that.  I two years, the president has absolutely committed, we won‘t be in a recession, we‘re going to be growing our way out of this.  And all of the argument is going to be about, does it make sense to extend this?  And I don‘t think it does.

But if you‘re offered two and a half times I as much in terms of size as that in order to do things that actually matter for working people, I think you‘ve got to take that deal. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  Austan Goolsbee, good to have you with us with tonight, speaking up for the White House. 

GOOLSBEE:  Great to see you again, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  Appreciate your time.  Thank you. 

Coming up, false prophet Glenn Beck thinks America would be doomed to a Marxist hell without Fox News.  There‘s a stroke for you. 

Buddy, you‘re going down in “The Zone” next.  This may be history-making for “Psycho Talk.”  


SCHULTZ:  Tonight, “The Beckster” is keeping the fear mongering going about us heading to socialism.  The guy won‘t give up.  And today, he said if it weren‘t for folks like him, we would already be there with socialism.


GLENN BECK, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  If it wasn‘t for talk radio and Fox News, where would this country be today?  Now, you can answer that—oh, it would be a lot better off if you‘re Bertha Lewis.  Or you could say doomed to a Marxist hell if you are on my side. 



SCHULTZ:  So the day after President Obama completely caves to Republicans on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, Beck still thinks he can get away with hollering about Marxism. 

Well, we wouldn‘t be doomed to a Marxist hell without righty talkers and Fox News.  In fact, no one would even be talking about American Marxism if they weren‘t around.  Beck and his buddies created that myth. 


BECK:  I do believe that Barack Obama is a socialist.  He has Marxist tendencies.  He may be a full-fledged Marxist. 



SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS:  The end of capitalism as we know it act of 2009. 



RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  It‘s about dancing socialism, Marxism, whatever you want to call it. 



BECK:  Social justice is code language for Marxism. 



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is central planning, Soviet-style.  This is Joseph Stalin without the bloodshed. 



BECK:  Marxism is alive and well.  It is thriving here in the United States. 


SCHULTZ:  For “The Beckster” to say Fox News and right-wing radio are the only things keeping us from Marxism dooms him to complete “Psycho Talk.”  

Coming up, millions of Americans were inspired by President Obama‘s promise to bring change to Washington, but the base is losing hope.  Reverend Jesse Jackson feels let down, but he is keeping hope alive, next in “The Battleground” story tonight. 

And the other reverend, Mike Huckabee, is jealous of Sarah Palin.  So much for thou shall not covet. 

Oh, we‘ll get “Rapid Fire Response” on that.

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


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW, the “Battleground” story tonight, a lot of folks across America, including myself, are asking the question, where is the guy I voted for?  I can‘t believe that candidate Obama became the president who was browbeating Democrats to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.  Quite a turnaround, isn‘t it?  Mr. President, millions of Americans were inspired by your campaign and your promise to bring change to Washington.  You‘ve tried, but the party of no has held a lot of stuff up, right?  The liberal base carried you through an epic primary fight.  The base barnstormed for you in general, just got after it.  They gave money and they knocked on doors and they helped you win nine Bush states. 

In 2007, nobody thought it would ever happen.  You proved them wrong with the help of the very people you were lecturing to today.  I think this president has lost touch with the people who got him elected.   He needs a liberal conference.  I guarantee you that none of the people who lined up on the mall in the dead of winter to see you inaugurated were full of hope and change that another tax cut for the rich was on the way and that the unemployed Americans in this country would be held hostage, they would be a bargaining chip. 

Joining me now is Reverend Jesse Jackson, president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.  Reverend, good to have you with us tonight, you told me earlier today that you feel like that you‘ve been let down.  What did you mean by that?

REV. JESSE JACKSON, PRESIDENT, THE RAINBOW PUSH COALITION:  Well, the president, in his rush to avoid confrontation, it seems, cut a deal with Republicans before he met with Democrats on his own base, he never should have allowed the linkage between the workers‘ benefits needs and the tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.  I could very well see this president going to eight or ten place around the country, asking the people, do you want a tax cut for the very wealthy or do you want your job benefits?  He would have won that public debate, that is not an inside Washington, that is a take your case to the people and that did not happen.  And so now, you see Republicans rejoicing and Democrats rebelling. 

SCHULTZ:  He was borderline—the president was borderline combative today.  Somewhat out of his normal decorum, if I may, he is angry at liberals, is he angry at the wrong people?

JACKSON:  Well, of course, I think that they—he has been hit more directly by liberals and by changing than ever before, so it is a kind of reaction, but he is our guy.  It seems that the meeting he had with McConnell should have been met with the Reids and with the Congress and with the independents first then meet with them because fundamentally, what you are looking at now is you focus on more—those who didn‘t want the deficit now getting more deficit.  In the meantime, 59 million Americans don‘t have health insurance and 49 million lie in poverty and 41 million on food stamps.  So, it seems that the poor are not even on the agenda and that is where the base and the inspiration comes from. 

SCHULTZ:  Reverend, do you think it is worth the fight?  Should the president have said, I‘m not going to give it to the rich no matter you want, if this stalls everything the way it is going to be, do you think he should have done that because he‘s making the case that the economy could not take it, the middle class couldn‘t take it and he had to cut this deal.  Do you agree with that?

JACKSON:  Some fights should have the fight, it would better to be—it would better to lose fighting the right fight than win fighting the wrong fight.  And I say separating the tax cut for the wealthy from jobless  benefits is a fight that should be fought and given his considerable skills, go to ten place around the country and  have mass rallies, do you want your tax benefits for Christmas or do you want tax cuts for the wealthy?  He was the one—his strength is not in Washington, it is in those who send him to Washington.  

SCHULTZ:  And finally, Reverend, there is a lot of African-Americans in this country, black Americans, who are so emotionally connected to President Obama, how hard is it for you to come out tonight and say you‘ve been let down?  How hard is it for you to say that he has got to politically fight and where do you draw the line between advice, support and being too critical, in your opinion?

JACKSON:  You know, protest makes good president great.  Dr. King supported Kennedy over Nixon.  We have seen the fight for the accommodations, it‘s for the—or for Goldwater, (INAUDIBLE) and so, those who love him and supported him cannot lose leverage because leverage helps him be strong and I would hope that we will see it just that with those saying, for the focus on the people who have no health insurance, 49 who are in poverty and that is the king tradition, the 41 million who are now on food because in that crowd of two million are Tea Partiers and Republicans and Democrats, here with a win that and he may have to, because it seemed that Democrats might not buy this deal, so where you go next, take the case to the public. 

SCHULTZ:  So, am I hearing from you tonight in a different way that this has been a real political miscalculation on the part of the White House?

JACKSON:  His strength is the not inside Washington, it is not outside Washington.  Washington never have embraced him.  The people are his power base.  The two million I say time about eight million people, looking at Christmas without the basic necessities of gift and cars and the like, that is his base and they can still be rallied.  They must be rallied for what?  Their own best interest, which is I‘m concerned that we keep—bail out the bank banks without link the lending to reinvestment.  The insurance company got the public options, now again, extension of the tax cut while the Democrats are upset.  I think that‘s not—I think that is a miscalculation.  

SCHULTZ:  OK.  Reverend Jackson, good to have you on tonight. 

JACKSON:  Ed, I‘m not going to ride you about the bears tonight but let me do say that we—our hearts go out for Elizabeth Edwards. 



JACKSON:  Because she lived with dignity.  She died with grace and she never, even now, has stopped peace.  And may God bless her soul and her soul rest in peace for Elizabeth Edwards tonight. 

SCHULTZ:  You put so well, Reverend.  Thank you for your time tonight. 

I appreciate it. 

JACKSON:  Thank you, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  Now, let‘s get some rapid-response from our panel on these stories tonight.  I‘ll get their reaction to President Obama‘s smack down to the base at his news conference today.  

Karl Rove tells FOX News that there is no front-runner for the republican nomination in 2012.  Do you believe him?

And Mike Huckabee is jealous over Sarah Palin‘s immediate coverage. 

With us tonight, Laura Flanders, host of Grit TV and Free Speech TV and Heidi Harris, radio talk show host out of Los Angeles.  Great to have both of you with us tonight. 

Laura, the press conference.  Was the president too tough on the base today?

LAURA FLANDERS, HOST, GRIT TV:  Oh, the only people he seems to get angry at are his base and the folks on the left.  You are going to have Senator Sanders on in just bit, a regular guest on Grit TV, I hope he makes the point that this is not a done deal yet and I‘m looking forward to him saying that he is going to filibuster this deal.  The president can slap down his critics from the left all he likes but they still have some possibilities in their lap and I hope they take action, there are things they can do.  

SCHULTZ:  Heidi, your take?

HEIDI HARRIS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Well, it is interesting to me.  I don‘t know why they don‘t just do what they want to do, the Democrats still have control, not for much longer, but they do and it seems to me if they are not getting what they want, the Democrats have only themselves to blame.  You guys on the left have got to be just so frustrated that you are not getting what you thought he promised you. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, I won‘t disagree with that.  I‘m frustrated about a lot of things but I also think that we have to speak up and make sure the president knows exactly where we are and when you stop speaking up, you lose faith.  President Obama right now is in Bush territory.  A Gallup poll has got him at 46 percent approval rating.  Does this mean anything?  Can he rejuvenate his base, Laura Flanders?

FLANDERS:  Well, Obama‘s tax break for billionaires was bigger than Bush‘s, if they are going to compare numbers here.  You know, we had bill McKibben on the show this week and he said, it‘s not about the punditry, it is about the power.  And really, when it comes to the future here, we‘ve got to talk about who is going to mobilize the base and about what?  Republicans can be happy but what are they going to run on?  They are going to run on shrinking the deficit?


FLANDERS:  They just grew, are they going stand up for the little guy? 

They just held him hostage. 

SCHULTZ:  And the president said today that he is looking forward to future fights.  We are kind of looking for the first one.  All right.  Here is Karl Rove saying that there is no front-runner for the Republicans.  


KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR:  There is no front-runner in Iowa, there is no front-runner in America and we should welcome that.  If you take a look at the several polls that have been done so far, there are four candidates who tend to be towards the top, the better known candidates but none of them above 40 percent.  This contest is going to be wide open.  And that‘s going to be good for conservatives and good for the Republicans.  


SCHULTZ:  Heidi Harris, what do you think?

HARRIS:  I think he may be right about that, as I have said before, Newt Gingrich can‘t win, he‘s had too many wives.  Romney can‘t win in the south, Huckabee is not as strong on immigration, some other things that people like.  And Sarah Palin is still out there, I say keep your eye on people like Mike Pence, he is right.  I think Karl Rove is right.  We don‘t really know.  Sarah gets the most publicity, everything she does of course causes stir, is that going to get her all the way to the top?  We don‘t know. 

FLANDERS:  Well, Palin is the great producers of the primary race.  She is going to raise money all the way to losing, but again, what are these people going to run on on the GOP side?  Deficit shrinking?  They didn‘t do it, standing up for the little guy, they did the opposite.  You‘ve got policies as well as people and that is what we need to focus.  

SCHULTZ:  Don‘t you think Huckabee is your best shot right now, Heidi?

HARRIS:  Well, I like Mike Huckabee, I think he‘s a good guy, and I think he is very likable but I still think there are some people out there, like I mentioned, like Mike Pence who may jump in this race at some point a lot of people talk about him.  And you know and I know two years is an eternity in politics, he‘d have to make a move within the next year, obviously, but I will keep my eye on him. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, he is not short on confidence, he said, “I just don‘t understand, how is that a person can read these polls day after day and the narrative is constantly everybody but me.”

Oh, Mike Huckabee, yes.  Well, you know, he‘s likable guy, he‘s a very nice guy, he hate that he is not getting as much attention as Sarah Palin does.  But, you know, she gets—a lot of people don‘t like the fact that she is getting attention which is why so many people on the right say so many snarky things about her, because they are jealous about him.

SCHULTZ:  Great to have you with us tonight, Laura Flanders and Heidi Harris.  Always a pleasure.  

Coming up, Senator Bernie Sanders is the leading the charge against the tax cut compromise.  He is sick and tired of the top two percent getting their way all the time.  Senator Sanders sounds of on the president‘s lecture and the left, next on THE ED SHOW.


SCHULTZ:  We‘ve got a lot of news tonight, so we are giving you the results of our telephone survey early.  Tonight, I asked, do you think President Obama has lived up to his promises of hope and change?  Twenty nine percent of you say, yes.  Seventy one percent of you say no.  Stay with us.  Bernie Sanders is coming up next.                           



BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I think it‘s tempting not to negotiate with hostage takers, unless the hostage gets harmed.  Then, people will question the wisdom of that strategy.  In this case, the hostage was the American people and I was not willing to see them get harmed.  


SCHULTZ:  And in my playbook tonight, President Obama spent the day trying to defend his decision to cave on the republican—to the Republicans on tax cut but liberals still aren‘t buying it.  Last night on the show, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders called the president‘s deal an “Absolute disaster” and today, he released a statement saying that he would do everything he could to defeat the deal.  The senator from Vermont joins us tonight.  Senator Sanders, good to have you with us.  The president was selling hard today, senator, to the point where he was almost scolding the base.  Did he change your mind at all?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT:  Not at all.  Look, Ed, what we are looking at is a real moral outrage, where Republicans are telling us that we have got to give huge tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires in order to get an extension of tax breaks for the middle class and unemployment compensation for two million unemployed workers.  That is outrageous.  We can and must fight for an agreement that‘s a lot better than that.  The issue. 

SCHULTZ:  Now, you have got an a lot of support from around the country.  In fact, I understand your office has got an record number of phone calls after your appearance on this show last night when you said that you would do everything in your power to stop it.  

SANDERS:  Well, Ed, let me tell you this. 

SCHULTZ:  But you have stopped short of using the word filibuster. 

Will you filibuster?

SANDERS:  One minute.  We have gotten 800 had calls today, 99 percent of them in opposition to this agreement.  I am going to do everything that I can to defeat this proposal.  And I will tell you something, I think the American people agree with us that it is totally absurd that we ask our children and grandchildren to go more deeply in debt in order to provide tax breaks for people who don‘t need it.  And furthermore, our job right now is to get handful of Republicans and these are the guys who tell us every day how concerned they are about the deficit and the national debt, well if they are concerned about the deficit and the national debt, they have got to support us, not give tax breaks to billionaires and ask how our kids to pay for those taxes. 

SCHULTZ:  But the president made the strong case today that he just cannot pin this burden on the middle class right now because of the economic situation we‘re in.  You don‘t buy that?

SANDERS:  He is absolutely right in saying, we have got to do everything that we can to extend the tax breaks for the middle class and make sure that the unemployed get the help that they need.  He is absolutely right.  But I think we can do it, if we rally the American people.  If people all over this country start writing to Republicans. 

SCHULTZ:  And he hasn‘t done that?

SANDERS:  Well, you tell me.  The issue now is to get republican senators do what they talk about and that is not to raise the national debt, not have progressives cave in.  I think we can get the relief for the middle class that we desperately need, no argument there, and extend tax breaks for the middle class, which we have got to do.  You can do this without giving tax breaks to people who don‘t need it.  That is the fight. 

SCHULTZ:  Is the president losing the base on this issue?  Is this his waterloo?

SANDERS:  I‘m not going to speculate on what his waterloo is. 


Ed, all I can—Ed, all I can tell you is I‘ve got—I‘m a senator from a small state. 


SANDERS:  We got 800 calls today, 99 percent of them in opposition to the president‘s agreement. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator, I appreciate you sticking up for those people and carrying the fight because I think the president needs to hear it.  Good to have you with us tonight. 

SANDERS:  Thank you, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  Thanks so much. 

For more, let‘s bring in at Adam Green, co-chair of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.   There‘s a difference between motivating and alienating.  Did the president alienate the base today, Adam?

ADAM GREEN, CO-CHAIR, PROGRESSIVE CHANGE CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE:  Score one for alienating.  Two days in a row, he has blamed some of his most passionate supporters in 2008 for holding him to a campaign promise, it is really—seriously, it is crazy.  During 2008, he said that renewing the Bush tax cuts, quote, “offended his conscience” and now, as millions of people are asking him to fight for his own promise, he is saying that we are playing games with people‘s lives?  It is absurd, it is alienating.  

SCHULTZ:  The president said today that he has drawn a lot of lines in the sand. 

GREEN:  Yes.  OK.  So, let‘s talk about the issue of negotiation.  First of all, you don‘t draw lots of lines in the sand, you draw a line in the sand and the significance of the line in the sand is you fight for that line in the sand.  So, expressing a light preference for the public option or preference for stopping the Bush tax cut is not the point of line in the sand or strong negotiation.  Again, I guess, I would pose this question, is there one republican in Congress right now who has felt any political pressure or political pain back home as a result of being on the wrong side of this issue for the last month?  If the answer was no, his line in the sand is worth nothing, so, what we are acting is for a strong negotiator, a competent negotiator to act on behalf of the American people. 

SCHULTZ:  They are claiming the White House tonight earlier told us on this program that they felt like they got a lot more than they would have.  They claimed that they were tough negotiators, but Jim McDermott told us earlier tonight that he doesn‘t think it is going to go through the House.  You have got McDermott and Weiner in the House along with John Conyers over on the Senate side who is opposed to it Tom Harkin and Sherrod Brown.  Now, the PCCC, do you work on these folks?  Meaning, do you support them heavily?  What is the strategy of the base right now, now that the president almost got angry today?

GREEN:  Absolutely.  Literally just minutes ago, we sent out some e-mails to our members in the districts of people who are fighting asking them to thank their member, but probably more importantly, right now, both, we have a link where people are clicking it and signing up—no, not signing up, they‘re directly calling their members of Congress, a lot of those calls to Bernie Sanders came from our members, democracy for America—action and others.  And we need to keep the pressure on and we‘ll going to keep asking them to not accept a raw deal. 

SCHULTZ:  I will ask you as I asked Senator Sanders, is this President Obama‘s waterloo?

GREEN:  Yes, look, I don‘t know if it is his waterloo.  I think that -

he is just disappointing a lot of people, he‘s being really lame and there are people who are being hurt as a result.  And it is just so ironic because I don‘t want to be criticizing President Obama.  I really don‘t.  I don‘t want to be spending my holiday season saying that Democrats shouldn‘t be cutting Social Security and shouldn‘t be giving more tax cuts to the wealthy, I want to be supporting him but he is alienating so many people and I just want to point out that the recent CBS poll shows that 52 percent of Republicans, over 60 percent of Independents and over 80 percent of Democrats agree there is bipartisanship around the point that he should not be caving. 

SCHULTZ:  He acknowledged today—the president acknowledged today that the majority of Americans are with him but for some within reason, he just doesn‘t want this political fight, there‘s too much anguish amongst some middle class and they can‘t take it and he has bought into the idea that the economy would take a severe hit if they let the tax cuts expire.  

GREEN:  Right.

SCHULTZ:  Adam, good to have you with us tonight.  We will visit again on this, so be a lot to talk about through the holidays.  


SCHULTZ:  Coming up, we remember the life of Elizabeth Edwards, she died today at the age of 61.  Back after this. 


SCHULTZ:  And finally tonight, some sad news to report.  Elizabeth Edwards died today, losing her battle with cancer at the age of 61. 

Joining me with the latest is NBC‘s Kelly O‘Donnell.  Kelly, we understand that John Edwards and her children were with her at her side?

KELLY O‘DONNELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Yes, they were, Ed.  They were together as a family at 10:15 this morning when Elizabeth Edwards died.  She had been preparing for this time and knew that cancer would end her life and in the years, six years of battling that disease, she prepared, trying to create as many memories, especially her younger children.  She had said that she did not fear death for herself, after losing her first-born son, Wade, who died in a car accident but she did fear for the impact it would have on especially her especially younger children.  She was known for, of course, her work as a political spouse but also as an author, an advocate for health care and she was in many ways, a public person in her own right are. 

The difficult times of her life, whether they happened to be the destruction of her marriage or the behind-the-scenes stories of ambition and difficult days on the campaign trail, all of those things, the brightest moments, most difficult moments played out publicly and many people related to her because of that.  She was a certainly a source of support for other women going through breast cancer and she was admired by many politically, she had been considered really one of the strongest voices of support and political advice for John Edwards and now he and their three children mourn her loss along with her brother and sister and extended family in North Carolina—Ed.

SCHULTZ:  NBC‘s Kelly O‘Donnell.  Thanks, Kelly.  Elizabeth Edwards dying today at the age of 61.  She will be remembered as a great progressive and a fighter for people.  That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Ed Schultz.  “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts right now on the place for politics, MSNBC. 



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