updated 2/15/2011 10:51:29 AM ET 2011-02-15T15:51:29

Guests: Brad Lutes, Heather Lutes, Phil Neuenfeldt, Harold Schaitberger,

David Cay Johnston, Gerry DePietro

           

ED SCHULTZ, HOST:  Good evening, Americans.  And welcome to THE ED SHOW, tonight from New York.

This is what‘s on the table at this hour tonight:

Folks, there is a huge story brewing in the heartland.  The governor of Wisconsin is threatening to send out the National Guard to take on his own citizens?  I‘m going to stay on this story all week.

And House Speaker John Boehner keeps the Birther nonsense alive.  Good job, huh?  Boehner says it‘s not his job to tell the American people that the president of the United States is an American citizen and Boehner says people—they have the right to think what they want.

Congressman Ron Paul says Americans should be allowed to opt out of all government services.  And this is the guy who won the presidential straw poll at the conservative free-for-all this weekend.

Those stories are coming up.

           

But this is one I want you to take notice of that we‘re going to be on all week long.  There is a war brewing, folks.  And I don‘t mean to say that word lightly at all.  This is really going to affect people‘s lives.  American wage earners are under a ruthless attack by a new group of cold-hearted Republican governors around the country.

In the state of Wisconsin, newly-elected Republican Governor Scott Walker is trying to balance the budget on the backs of school teachers, prison guards, and snowplow drivers.

You see, he‘s got a $137 million shortfall in the current budget and refuses to raise taxes to solve the problem.  Instead, Walker announced $300 million in cuts to state workers.  He wants Wisconsin public employees to contribute 5.8 percent of their pay to their pensions and 12.6 percent of the cost of their health care premiums.

Well, this will cost—really will take thousands of dollars out of the pockets of Wisconsin public school teachers and don‘t let me knock you over it—they make a whopping, on average, $51,000 a year.  Walker is also on a mission to destroy basic human rights, union rights that is, for public employees.  He wants to eliminate collective bargaining rights except for salaried employees for all of Wisconsin‘s roughly 175,000 public employees.

You know what that is, folks?  That‘s union busting 101.

And he has a real good chance of getting his way because he now has a Republican legislature to back him up and they‘re going to be voting on that later this week.

Now, after last November‘s elections, Republicans have a 19 to 14 majority in the state senate.  They also have an advantage of 60-38-1 in the state assembly.  And Walker is already planning for a major pushback from Wisconsin public employees.  He‘s even alerted the National Guard.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. SCOTT WALKER ®, WISCONSIN:  A full briefing from all the major level one state agencies, as well as the National Guard yesterday.  We are fully prepared and equipped to handle whatever may occur so we have every confidence we can move forward on that.  But, again, you plan for the worst, you expect the best.  And I expect from the good men and women who work for state and local government that they‘re going to continue to do the good, professional job they do each and every day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  First part of that sound byte sounded like a threat to me—but don‘t take it from me.  Take it from a former member of the Wisconsin National Guard.  He is saying—Robin Eckstein is an Iraq war veteran from Appleton, Wisconsin.  He said, quote, “The National Guard is not his own personal intimidation force to be mobilized to quash political dissent.  This is a very dangerous line the governor is about to cross.”

I‘d say—Walker isn‘t alone.  Folks, this is a nationwide attack on the middle class by the heavy-handed Republican governors who got in at a time of low voter turnout.

Let‘s go to New Jersey.  Chris Christie, he wants to increase pension contributions for all employees by 8.5 percent, require state workers to pay 30 percent of the health care premiums, raise the retirement age, because you have worked long time, and eliminate the cost of living adjustments for pension recipients.

Now, later this week, Ohio Governor John Kasich and his Republican cronies in the state senate will debate a bill which will eliminate collective bargaining for state workers and ban local workers from bargaining for health insurance.  They‘re going to take that off the table.  They‘re going to try to.

Can we just say that the attack on labor is reaching just about every corner of America?  And your state could be next?

The numbers show this: 20 states are facing attacks on collective bargaining, 12 states are facing right-to-work legislation, and educators in 49 states are facing pension challenges.

Are they really?  No, they‘re not.  This is just an easy target for Republican legislatively-led bodies and Republican governors to go after the budget.  They have now made the determination, you know what, $51,000 a year is just too much damn money so we‘re going to take it out of the middle class.  I mean, it just doesn‘t stop.

But you see, if they can do it now and if they do it with no resistance whatsoever or any pushback or threat of a recall, whatsoever, they will succeed in diminishing the power of collective bargaining in this country, and that‘s really what the Republicans want to do across the board.

It‘s a sad day in America that we allow tax breaks for the rich, the wealthiest Americans to get whatever they want, but when it comes time for Republicans to balance the budget, they want to take it out of the hides of the middle class.  And I‘m not so sure that $51,000 a year qualifies for middle class anymore.

When you take in—gosh, all of the expenses that are going up today for American families?  Come on, folks.  Be fair-minded about this.

Get your cell phones out.  I want to know you what think.  Tonight‘s text survey question is: Are Republicans using budget problems as an excuse to break unions?  Text “A” for yes, and text “B” for no to 622639.  We‘ll bring you the results later in the show.

And I want you to know that what is unfolding in Wisconsin is a priority for THE ED SHOW this week, because I really think this is planting the seed of some real discontent amongst Americans who feel like they‘re getting picked on.

Joining me now are Heather and Brad Lutes from Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.  Brad is a teacher at Royal Oaks Elementary School and Heather teaches at North Side Elementary School in Sun Prairie.

They are married.  They have kids that are 8 and 10 years old.  They both have taught for 13 years.  They both have a master‘s degree and they both make about $51,000 a year.

The Luteses, it‘s great to have you with us tonight.

Mr. Lutes, what do these proposed increases mean to you?  What‘s it mean to your pocket?

BRAD LUTES, ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHER:  Just off the top, we‘re estimating somewhere between $8,000 and $12,000 out of pocket in the next year, and then every year going forward from there.

SCHULTZ:  Heather, will this change your lifestyle?

HEATHER LUTES, ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHER:  Oh, it sure will.  We‘ll have to take a lot of things into consideration and maybe not be able to do some of the things that we have planned to do and save for our kids for college and things like that that we had planned.

SCHUTZ:  So, Heather, there goes the disposable income I would say. 

This economically would definitely hurt your family?

H. LUTES:  Yes, it would.

SCHULTZ:  Has it changed your plans at all?

B. LUTES:  I would say it has.  We‘ve been trying to save for our kids‘ college education.  Obviously, it would be great if we could go on vacation in the summer, but when you know that money is going to disappear, you‘ve got to start packing it away.  It also impacts our retirement savings.

SCHULTZ:  Brad, what are your colleagues—what are your fellow teachers in your school saying?

B. LUTES:  They‘re mad.  Nobody expected this to happen, especially this fast, without a voice.  It‘s making people feel like they haven‘t had the opportunity to discuss this.  They feel like all of the ills of our society, I guess, when it comes to the budget and the budget deficit are being dumped on the backs of public sector employees and public sector employees aren‘t the ones that put us in this situation.

SCHULTZ:  Heather, are your neighbors talking about this?

H. LUTES:  They sure are.  In fact, some of our neighbors are teachers, also.  So, they are talking about it a lot also.

SCHULTZ:  Do you feel like you‘re being picked on, Heather?

H. LUTES:  Yes, I do.  I feel like—you know, I‘ve got a college education.  I have my masters.  I am a very good teacher and it feels like I‘m not appreciated for the job that we are doing and it does not seem fair.

And we‘re trying to educate our future leaders, and I don‘t know how you‘re going to do that with, you know, not quality teachers out there.

SCHULTZ:  Heather and Brad, good luck to you.  I appreciate your time tonight.

We will stay on this story and look at this.  Look at that family right there.  Let‘s take another shot.  Let‘s look at them.

They‘re just a beautiful married couple with a couple of kids, and everything that has happened on Wall Street and all the tax breaks that have gone to the top 2 percent—you know what we‘re doing, America?  We‘re going after this family.  That‘s what—that‘s what is happening in this country.  It‘s really sad, the selfishness that‘s taking place across America.

Thanks, Heather and Brad.  Thanks for being here tonight.

Unions are mobilizing all over the state of Wisconsin to pushback against Governor Walker, the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, which represents more than 250,000 union members is launching an advertising campaign on local Wisconsin television stations against the proposal, calling it unnecessary and unfair.

Let‘s take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR:  After 50 years of managers and workers solving problems together, there is now a move under way in Madison to take away the rights of thousands of teachers, nurses, and other trusted public employees.  A bill to take away any say they have in the work place and eliminate their union.  And it‘s happening now, this week, with almost no public input or discussion.  It‘s unnecessary and unfair to public employees.

Call your legislators now and tell them to stop this radical move to take away the rights of Wisconsin workers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  It‘s going to happen all over the country, folks.  The state‘s AFL-CIO in Wisconsin is holding rallies at the state capitol in Madison on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Joining me now is Wisconsin state AFL-CIO president, Phil Neuenfeldt.

Phil, good to have you with us.  What is your -- 

PHIL NEUENFELDT, WISCONSIN STATE AFL-CIO PRESIDENT:  Thanks for having me, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  You bet.  What is your interpretation of the National Guard being on call for this?  What‘s your feeling?  What do you expect them to do?

NEUENFELDT:  Well, I haven‘t heard a lot about the National Guard call up since the initial remarks.  But, you know, if you introduce a piece of legislation and as a result you have to contemplate calling up the National Guard, that tells you something about what‘s in that piece of legislation.  It should make all people wonder about what it is that‘s really going on here, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  I have to ask you: has there been any talk in Wisconsin about a recall of the governor?  Because I‘ve gotten a lot of e-mail on this story from my radio show—and Wisconsin is one of 18 states that permit the recall of state officials if, in the state of Wisconsin, if he‘s been in office for a year.  What can you tell us about this?

NEUENFELDT:  Well, we do not have any plans at this time—or as far as I know there are no plans under discussion around a recall.  We are totally focused right now on making our voice heard about what this bill does to affect working families, middle class families across the state of Wisconsin.

Our ad campaign is about standing up for the rights of workers, basic rights to have a collective bargaining unit.   That should be respected by governors across the country and they should be coming to the table having discussions and negotiating and treating working families with respect, and not the disregard that I think we‘re starting to see.

SCHULTZ:  Is this union-busting 101?

NEUENFELDT:  It‘s union busting 101 all across this proposal.  The issue is that we have a budget deficit.  There‘s no question.  There‘s no question that sacrifices have to be made.

But, you know, people and governments have choices, and when you give tax breaks and then at the same time turn around and ask for concessions and start cutting benefits for those in need, those are choices that people are making and those are choices that elected officials are making.  And we really need to question those choices.

SCHULTZ:  How passionate are the people of Wisconsin about this issue?

NEUENFELDT:  Ed, I got to tell you, when the cry came out on Thursday and we started talking about having—on Friday, we started talking about having this rally, over the weekend, there was just—there‘s been thousands of people expressing support through calls, through e-mails, coming into our offices and asking what they can do.  I‘ve been hearing from people who are retired and come some way in their years and they want to come down to Madison because they can‘t believe the disrespect that‘s being shown towards union families—and for that fact, all middle class families, because we like to say that union is the underpinning of the middle class.  And as we fare so, do the wages and benefits for all middle class people.

So, everybody has a stake in this fight.  Everybody has a stake in making sure that there is a strong and vocal union movement to speak for their rights.

SCHULTZ:  Phil, good to have you with us tonight.  We‘re going to stay on the story.  I think this is just a microcosm of what is happening around the country and you guys just happen to be first on the block.  Thanks for joining us tonight.

Remember to answer tonight‘s text question.  There at the bottom of the screen.  I want to know what you think.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHULTZ (voice-over):  It‘s not just teachers feeling the pinch.  The GOP wants firefighters‘ pensions to go up in smoke as well.

Retiring senators, who voted against extending unemployment benefits, need not worry about their pensions.  The 99ers do.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  She sold the gold ring that her husband gave her for $20.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULZ:  Gerry DePietro joins us.

In tonight‘s “Takedown,” John Boehner passes the buck on Birthers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  The American people have the right to think what they want to think.  I can‘t—it‘s not my job to tell them.

(ENED VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Not your job?  Just speak the truth, Mr. Speaker.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  We got a flood of e-mails about the unemployed woman I told about last week on this show.  She sold a gold ring her husband had given her because she needed the money to survive -- $20 for that gold ring, after 37 years of marriage.  Tonight, she is our guest on the show.

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann says that liberals are scared.  The American people, when they talk about a government shutdown.  But it‘s Republicans making those threats, Michele.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

If you know them well, then you know that they wrap themselves in the flag.  They do it better than you, don‘t they?  They claim that they will do anything for the nation‘s bravest soldiers—except, of course, when it comes to the money.

The right wing myth machine in this country has managed to not only demonize our teachers, as you saw in the last segment.  How about sanitation workers and those who construct our roads in this country?  They manage to lay the state budget crisis right at the feet of our firefighters as well.

And it‘s happening everywhere, from John Kasich‘s Ohio to Chris Christie‘s New Jersey.

As a candidate, Mr. Christie promised the firefighters of the state that he would not, quote, “eliminate, change, or alter pensions.”  Well, as governor, he‘s broken that promise, asking firefighters to shoulder extra costs.  Maybe the lawmakers like Christie would be better off listening to those on the front lines.

Guys like Mark McLees, the fire chief in Syracuse, New York.  At a recent ceremony, McLees spoke against the attack on pensions.  He said, quote, “The last time I checked, there were no plaques with the names of bankers who died in the line of duty.  There are no statutes on the Wall Street executives who laid down their lives for total strangers.”

Joining me now is Harold Schaitberger, general president of the International Association of Firefighters.  It represents 300,000 firefighters and paramedics across the country.

Mr. Schaitberger, good to have you with us tonight be.

HAROLD SCHAITBERGER, INTL. ASSN. OF FIREFIGHTERS:  Ed, thanks for having me on your show.

SCHULTZ:  What‘s the most important thing you want to tell the American people tonight, Harold?

SCHAITBERGER:  That the attacks on the retirement plans of firefighters and paramedics that is occurring all over this country is unwarranted.  It‘s unfounded.  And it‘s based on basically a myth—and that is that so many of our plans are in such drastic condition.

The fact of the matter, Ed, is that over 80 percent of the retirement plans of firefighters and paramedics are funded at 80 percent or better.  They are not in terrible, unfunded situations.

And you mentioned New Jersey when we—you began this part of the show.  Let me talk about New Jersey.  Let‘s go back to Christine Whitman that in 1994 and 1995 basically stole $3 billion out of the New Jersey pension plans in order to provide tax cuts that she had promised during her campaign.  Since that time, that state has never paid more than 58 percent of its obligation each year into that retirement plan while firefighters and paramedics paid every single month out of every single paycheck.

And for four years, they never paid a single penny into those plans.  They basically took that plan from a $7.5 billion surplus.  They ran it into the ground at $34 billion deficit, and now, we‘ve got a governor who is the poster boy for pension reform trying to lay the blame at the feet of firefighters and paramedics and other government workers.  It‘s simply a myth and it‘s a fraud.

SCHULTZ:  And the bottom line is, they‘re just trying to take it out

of the backs of the working folk of America.  They‘ll go—they go after

their health care.  They go after their wages.  They go after their pension

anything they possibly can to the working folk to make sure that they‘re politically safe when it comes to balancing the budget.

           

Now, some states that deny employees collective bargaining like Nevada and also North Carolina and Arizona, are running giant deficits over 30 percent on spending.  What do you make of that?

SCHAITBERGER:  Well, first of all, the deficit.  We do not deny that this country has gone through a very horrific economic crisis, which hopefully is beginning the economy beginning to turn.  We do know there are budget challenges at the state and the local level.

But I can tell you that the members of the IAFF and the firefighters that represent our workers all across this country have been working with their local governments.  We have been giving back wages in Santa Barbara and Tulsa.  We‘ve been giving back raises that were negotiated in the past, in San Francisco and Warren, Ohio.  We‘re coming to the table to do our part.

But this attack on the pension systems, Ed, I‘ve got to—I‘ve got to get this in.  This is really all about the money.  This is not about trying to reform pensions.  The pension benefits have not changed over time.  These unfunded liabilities, they do increase, and they shrink as an economy grows and as sometimes an economy shrinks.

When the markets go down, the assets for a short period of time—yes, they will go down.  And in times of better markets, they will rise.

The point is that we have Wall Street—the people with the money, the people that helped to create this economic crisis who got their stimulus money, who got their gross bonuses and what they want is the $2.7 trillion that are right now in well-managed, secure, trusteed pension plans that provide benefits.  If they can get that money in the hand of individual workers, it‘s next cash cow for Wall Street.

SCHULTZ:  You were doing a number of interviews, OK?  And Jason Hart (ph) of the local 292 in Toledo e-mailed the guy across the street, Bill O‘Reilly, and asked why Mr. O‘Reilly wouldn‘t have you on his program?

Would you go on his program if he asked you to go on?  Because, you know, he‘s looking out for everybody.  That‘s what he says.  Is he not looking out for the firefighters of America?

SCHAITBERGER:  I have been waiting for an invitation from Mr. O‘Reilly and Mr. Hannity.  I hate to plug his show.  I want to go on FOX and I want to challenge them.

SCHULTZ:  OK.  Well, if you just say what you just said, tonight I‘d like to hear what they come back and say to you.  The fact of the matter is that Jason Hart is a conservative and he listens to Limbaugh and Beck and that whole crowd over there.

Mr. Jason Hart, I‘d like you to come on THE ED SHOW tomorrow night and I‘ll give you the real answers.  The conservatives across the street, they‘re not fighting for those school teachers.  They‘re vilifying them.  They‘re not fighting for the pensions of these firefighters.  They‘re ponying up the numbers to the public in many respects.

The fact of the matter is that when the rubber meets the road, it‘s the liberals who are out there who are fighting for the working folk of America.

Mr. Schaitberger, great to have you with us tonight.  And we will stay on this story.

What they‘re doing to firefighters is un-American.  It‘s a raw deal.

Republicans pounce on President Obama‘s budget, spending cuts. 

They‘re just never enough.  And taxes, of course, are always too high.

But when it comes to President Obama‘s citizenship, Republicans suddenly find some wiggle room.  Oh, sure.  He‘s an American if he‘s—well, if he says so.  That‘s the “Takedown” next on THE ED SHOW.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And tonight‘s “Takedown,” Speaker John Boehner‘s transparent line of B.S. about the Birthers.  Republicans always portray Democratic presidents as un-American, regardless of the facts, simply because it helps Republicans politically.

And it‘s not just Tea Party Republicans either.  A dozen House Republicans have cast doubt on President Obama‘s citizenship.  It doesn‘t matter how many times we‘ve shown them the birth certificate because that‘s really not what it‘s about.  See, Speaker Boehner knows his party benefits when Americans harbor doubts about the president American-ness?

So, watch what happened when David Gregory on “Meet the Press” yesterday asked Boehner yesterday whether he has a responsibility to push back on Birtherism.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID GREGORY, MODERATOR, “MEET THE PRESS”:  As the speaker of the House, as a leader, do you not think it‘s your responsibility to stand up to that kind of ignorance?

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  David, it‘s not my job to tell the American people what to think.  The American people have a right to think what they think.  I can‘t—it‘s not my job to tell them.  It really is not our job to tell the American people what to believe and what to think.

GREGORY:  Is it because it weakens the president politically that you want to sort of let it stay out there?

BOEHNER:  No.  What I‘m trying to do is do my job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  It‘s not his job?  Boy, these lazy wasp congressmen are all over the place, aren‘t they?  If it‘s not their job, they just won‘t do it.  They have no obligation to do anything unless, of course, it helps them politically.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

BOEHNER:  We have to oppose the president or our Democratic colleagues in Congress.  It‘s our responsibility to tell the people what our better solution would be.

When I handed Nancy Pelosi the gavel 18 months ago, I said that if Republicans had to oppose our Democrat colleagues or our new president, it was our obligation to tell the American people how we would do it differently.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

SCHULTZ:  Same guy, wasn‘t it?  I think so.

Boehner says it‘s not his job to tell other members that they‘re wrong about the president?  Funny, because just last month, he was there telling them it‘s his job to let them do their job.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER:  As speaker, I feel part of my job is to help each of you do your job well regardless of your political party.  My hope is that every new member and indeed every member will be comfortable with approaching me with regard to matters of the House.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Well, just a couple years ago, Mr. Boehner said his job was to keep members focused.  You‘d think shutting down the birther circus would keep him focused.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER:  My job is to keep our members focused on the task at hand.  We‘ve got a lot of work to do and my job is to keep our members focused on the work in front of us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  And what about the line Boehner said his job isn‘t to tell the American people what to think?  You believe that?

Because funny thing is when it comes to telling Americans how great Republicans are, then Mr. Boehner says telling people what to think is his job.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER:  Listen, my job is to help bring our members together and lead them, and show the American people that we can deliver the kind of changes that they deserve.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  And when it comes to telling Americans to believe the lie of a government takeover of health care, then Mr. Boehner says people telling what to think is his job.  Telling people what to think is his job.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER:  My job is to keep House Republicans unified and to keep the American people engaged in this fight to stop this government takeover of our health care system.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  And when it comes to telling Americans to think that the deficit can‘t be cut by taxing the rich, then Mr. Boehner says telling people what to think is his job.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER:  Part of my job is to help the American people understand that if you took all of the wealth that the top 5 percent in America have, it will not fix this problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Want to get away?

So, next time Speaker Boehner claims it‘s not his job to tell people what to think, remember, you know that‘s a lie—because you saw it on “The Takedown.”

The big surprises at the big conservative get together this weekend.  Former Vice President Dick Cheney is booed and called a war criminal.  I wasn‘t there.

Republicans attack the president‘s budget but Congresswoman Michele Bachmann says that there would be a government shutdown.

We‘re going to hold you to that one, next on THE ED SHOW.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  When I was sworn in as president, I pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term.  The budget I‘m proposing today meets that pledge.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  President Obama‘s budget proposal is getting bad reviews, bad grades from both the left and the right.  But Republicans are still pretending the president gave a big Valentine‘s Day gift to liberals.

President Obama‘s budget spends $3.7 trillion next year and cuts $1.1 trillion from the deficit over 10 years.  That would bring the deficit down to 3 percent of our domestic GDP by 2017.  It‘s a great goal.

New spending includes more money for education, high speed rail, and a national wireless network.  But there are big cuts to some important programs which I wonder about—home heating, aid to poor families, is that where we have to go, Mr. President?  Grants for community organizers?  Pell Grants for college students?  Loans to graduate students?  Really?

Fellow Democrats told the president that they‘re unhappy with the cuts.  Chairman of the Progressive Caucus, Congressman Raul Grijalva, released this statement, quote, “Nickel and diming our way to economic recovery, especially on the backs of working Americans who did nothing to cause our economic problems is not the right way to go.”

As for Republicans—well, they say the president just didn‘t cut enough.  Speaker John Boehner says the plan has too much spending.  Can you predict that?

House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan—oh, he forgot about the extension of the Bush tax cuts and also complained about the spending.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), HOUSE BUDGET CHAIRMAN:  The debt crisis is caused by spending, not taxes.  And so, let‘s go where the problem is, and that‘s spending.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Well, these are the same Republicans who had no problem with eight years of big spending and debt expansion under “W.”

Joining me now is David Cay Johnston, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his tax reporting in 2001.  He‘s a columnist for Tax.com and professor at Syracuse University College of Law.

Mr. Johnston, great to have you with us.

You wrote a column today saying that the working poor are under attack in this country.  Will it get worse in your opinion?

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, TAX.COM:  Oh, the budget the president has put forward makes it very clear that this is a war on the most vulnerable people in this country and it‘s going to spread beyond that.  The budget—

I‘m sorry—the tax law was passed in December, raised taxes on one out of three Americans, basically everybody who makes under $30,000 a year.  That‘s half the population and everybody in that group who works had their taxes raised and everybody who makes more than that had their taxes cut.

Almost $7 billion, Ed, of extra tax costs for the poorest half of Americans and $60 billion less tax for people like you and me.

SCHULTZ:  If the Bush tax cuts are extended again in 2012, would that just create even more havoc on the Treasury?

JOHNSTON:  Yes, and this claim that we don‘t have a revenue problem is absurd.  We‘re taking in less money from the corporate income tax and less money from the individual income tax than we were back in the year 2000 or even the year 2001.

And when you adjust for the growth in population, it‘s down significantly.  The country is growing but the tax revenues are shrinking.  This is one of the big lies being told.

Tax cuts lead to higher revenue.  No, they don‘t.

SCHULTZ:  There is nothing in the budget about job creation.  Is this an admission the White House has done everything they can do?  What do you think?

JOHNSTON:  Well, there‘s job destruction in here.  When you cut spending to educate young people, when you say, we‘re going to not put as much money into graduate education, which is where we produce the people who produce the high value jobs—you‘re deciding that in the future, we will be poorer.

You know, one of the things the Republicans want to do if they get in control, remember, we don‘t have a budget, Ed, we‘re five months into the year and there is no budget that‘s been adopted for this country for the current fiscal year, the Republicans want to radically slash such things as food safety inspections.  We have people who get sick now from bad food at 21 times the rate they do in France, eight times the rate in England, and the Republicans say we‘re spending too much money on food safety.

SCHULTZ:  You think President Obama is counting on a government shutdown with this budget?

JOHNSTON:  I don‘t know.  I think the—that is a very good question.  I don‘t think we‘re going to see that happen again.  That was a disaster for the Republicans under Newt Gingrich and of course ended his tenure as House speaker.  But they‘re certainly going to do their best to try and beat up the president on this and divert us from the fundamental questions we‘re not examining, two undeclared wars.

SCHULTZ:  Yes, isn‘t this budget so unlike the president that was on the campaign trail during 2008?  Isn‘t it—isn‘t this budget just something you would have never thought he would have presented?

JOHNSTON:  I‘m absolutely astounded by this budget.  You know, the president in many ways is like a child who gets beaten by his parents cruelly and then keeps going back to them because that‘s what he expects.  And it‘s what he‘s been adapted to.

The fact is the president promised no tax increases on people under $250,000.  He went along with the raise in taxes on a third of the working poor in this country.  And Tax.com has all the numbers about that.  And now, he‘s going along with cutting the opportunities for people to get out of poverty through education.  And it‘s appalling.

SCHULTZ:  David Cay Johnston, thanks for your time.  I appreciate it so much.

A Sarah Palin look alike was a big hit this weekend.  The real Sarah Palin didn‘t bother to go.  But Ron Paul was there and Donald Trump and Dick Cheney.  That‘s a crowd you just don‘t want to miss.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  It‘s not too late to let us know what you think.  Tonight‘s text question is: Are Republicans using budget problems as an excuse to break unions?  Text “A” for yes, text “B” for no to 622639.  Results are coming up.

The CPAC roundup is next.  You‘re watching MSNBC, THE ED SHOW.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back.  Thanks for staying with us tonight.

This year‘s CPAC started out like a party with Michele Bachmann buying everyone drinks.  It ended with charges that radical Islam has infiltrated the conservative movement.

Well, for the second year in a row, Ron Paul beat out Mitt Romney to win the CPAC straw poll.

There was a fake Sarah Palin and a real Michele Bachmann at CPAC this year.

Here‘s the Minnesota congresswoman with the guy from the Rent is Too Damn High Party.  He is a great interview by the way.

Most of the crowd went nuts when Dick Cheney‘s surprise walk on took place.  The rest booed the former vice president.  Someone from the crowd yelled out, “War criminal.”

Today, Rush Limbaugh pined for the old days.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  At CPAC, you didn‘t get the impression here that there was a conservative ascendency going on.  I mean, Cheney got heckled, called a war criminal and a draft dodger at CPAC.  Sorry.  That‘s not—that‘s not the CPAC that I‘ve always thought of, or known.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Well, this is what it looked like the last time the Drugster came gave a keynote address to the conservative pep rally.  That was before conspiracy theorists at CPAC said that the conservative movement was infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The Muslim Brotherhood has become wildly successful in its plan to become part of America‘s civil culture and to infiltrate to the institutions of America‘s civil governments, including the White House and both political parties and the conservative movement as well.

PAMELA GELLER, POLITICAL ACTIVIST:  This is the problem with CPAC, that it‘s corrupted and it‘s been compromised by Muslim Brotherhood operatives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That‘s right.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

SCHULTZ:  They came there are two Muslim Brotherhood infiltrators.  One is Suhail Khan, a former employee of the Bush White House, who was a guest on the show last week.  The other is Grover Norquist.  No liberal can vouch for Grover Norquist.  But when I talked to Suhail Khan last week, all he could cop to being was a Republican.

Senator Jon Kyl will collect a big, fat Senate pension when he retires in 2012 every year for the rest of his life.  No cuts there.  But he attacks unemployment benefits for struggling Americans.  He should meet our next guest who sold her deceased husband‘s golf clubs and gold ring just to get by.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And, finally, tonight on THE ED SHOW, the Senate‘s second ranking Republican Jon Kyl out of Arizona has decided not to run for a fourth term.  Now, Kyl becomes the fifth senator to announce his retirement before the 2012 elections, but that‘s really not the story.

Here‘s the story: Kyl has been one of the lead Republican attack dogs on the middle class in this country in my opinion.  Last year, he fought extending unemployment benefits, saying that unemployment insurance, quote, “doesn‘t create new jobs.  In fact, if anything, continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to go seek new work.”

Well, now that Mr. Kyl is retiring, he‘s not going to have to retire about finding a job again ever.  You see the 68-year-old Kyl will be getting a big, fat government pension check and it will be safe.  It will be safe for the rest of his life.

According to the Senate‘s Web site, members of the Congress are eligible for a pension at the age of 62 if they completed at least five years of service.  I get that.  They served one term.

The amount of the pension depends on the years of service and the average of their highest three years of salary.  By law, the starting amount of any member‘s retirement annuity may not exceed 80 percent of his or her final salary.  So, over the last three years, senators earned $174,000 a year.  That means Mr. Kyl could be taking home almost 140,000 bucks a year for the rest of his life.

Hold it right there.

So, he served 18 years in a job and he‘s going to get 140,000 bucks every year for the rest of his life.

Most people work like 45 or 50 years in a career.  He worked 18.  Look what kind of numbers he‘s taking home.

Nobody will ever attack his government paycheck the way Kyl attacked a measly $400 a week unemployment benefit.  Out-of-touch Senate millionaires, and that‘s what they are, will never have to face heart breaking decisions like the 99ers have had to make—including my next guest who had to sell a set of her deceased husband‘s golf clubs and a gold ring that he gave her just so she could survive.

Joining me now is Gerry DePietro.  She is a 99er who lost her job as a business manager in October of 2008.  She has put out 450 applications trying to get back into the workforce.

Gerry, thank you for your time tonight.

GERRY DEPIETRO, 99ER:  Thank you, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  How do you feel about congressional members that say that if they give you $400 a week, that that would be a disincentive for you to go get a job and knowing that these people will never have their pension attacked or adjusted?  How does that make you feel?

DEPIETRO:  It doesn‘t make me feel good at all.  I really would rather work.  I don‘t like having to take these checks.  I would prefer to be out working.

But, you just get this feeling of feeling dehumanized and it‘s not a good feeling at all.  I miss getting dressed up and going to work.

SCHULTZ:  Four hundred and fifty applications since you became unemployed.  Do you think there is age discrimination going on in this country?

DEPIETRO:  Oh, absolutely.  Absolutely.  I had five actual interviews, five actual in person interviews.

SCHULTZ:  Four hundred and fifty applications and five interviews. 

What do you do?  What can you do?

DEPIETRO:  You just keep—every day, I send in 10 resumes to whoever and you keep calling and calling and calling and finally, when you get to someone, a real live voice, and they all tell you that the job‘s been filled.

SCHULTZ:  How hard was it for you to sell the ring that your husband gave you?

DEPIETRO:  Oh, it was devastating.  I mean, I cried.  I took a bag full of jewelry and they gave me $65.  It was either that or get my cable cut off, disconnected, and my computer is my life line to find a job because you can‘t get a job in person.

And so, then when I looked at the ring and, you know, I figured he would want me to do that.  And the guy said $20.  So, then I took it to a jewelry store to make sure he wasn‘t ripping me off.  And he, too, said $20.

So, then I went back to the We Buy gold store and slithered in and got my $20 -- you know, $85 altogether for everything.

SCHULTZ:  Have you done that—have you done that with a lot of your belongings, Gerry, just to stay alive?

DEPIETRO:  Oh, everything.  I‘ve sold everything.  The jewelry was the last resort.

SCHULTZ:  What about the golf clubs?

DEPIETRO:  Oh, I know he paid over $800 or $900 for them and I sold them, and these two men came and they were in the trunk of my car and, you know, I said, $100.  And he said, I think he said how about $50, he said?  And I said, OK.

And then I watched him put them on his back and, you know, I remembered watching my husband go out with the golf clubs on his back.  And it wasn‘t a good feeling.  And they were both laughing.  I felt like they were thinking, boy, we got a good deal.

SCHULTZ:  Gerry, if you had a moment with the president and John Boehner in the same room, the decision-makers, what would you tell them?

DEPIETRO:  I would tell them to please look at us like human beings.  You know, I‘m here fighting for the 99ers.  I‘m one of the lucky ones.  I‘m getting a Social Security, a small one, because I made women‘s wages.  And I‘m getting a pension from International Union of Operating Engineers local 542 I will get that for the rest of my life.

In fact, I just received the thing the other day from the local—from the international in Washington that the pension is solvent.  It‘s in the green zone, which means it‘s safe.  And—I‘m losing my train of thought, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  It‘s not easy.  Gerri, thank you for joining us tonight. 

God bless you.  And keep up the fight.

And I know that you‘re wearing that ribbon for this show tonight because you want to support the 99ers and I hope everybody in this country understands.

DEPIETRO:  The ribbon is black and blue.

SCHULTZ:  You bet.  Well you‘ve been black and blued, there‘s no question about that.  I can‘t believe what we‘re doing to the 99ers in this country.  Thanks for joining us.

DEPIETRO:  You‘re welcome.

SCHULTZ:  Tonight in our text survey, I asked: Are Republicans using budget problems as an excuse to break unions?  Ninety-five percent of you said yes, 5 percent of you said no.

That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Ed Schultz.  For more information on THE ED SHOW, we‘d like you to direct—direct you to our new blog at Ed.MSNBC.com.  There you‘re going to find links to WeGotEd.com, Twitter, Facebook.  It‘s all there.

“THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O‘Donnell starts right now.  We‘ll see you tomorrow night.

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

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