updated 2/17/2011 2:03:03 PM ET 2011-02-17T19:03:03

Guests: Scott Ross, John Nichols, Joe Conway Jr., Susan Stern, Liz Shuler, Joe Madison

           

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

This is what‘s on the table tonight:

I guess you could say as Wisconsin goes, so goes the nation.  That‘s the plan for the Republicans.  Workers fight back against the corporatist, extremist governor.  He seems to want to cut everything.  Everyone should be watching to see really who blinks first.

You can bet Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey and Governor John Kasich of Ohio, they are watching to see if Wisconsin‘s governor can roll labor.  What‘s happening now is just the beginning.

This is the third straight day that we‘ve been leading this show with this story, and other news channels are starting to catch up.  But they‘re getting it wrong.  And we‘ll tell you why.

This is the story that has me fired up again tonight.  It is day number six of protests in Wisconsin, and it exploded—upwards of 30,000 people gathered today to say no.

We‘ve been all over this story from the very beginning and now, the rest of the national media is waking up.  CNN finally realized that protests just don‘t happen in the Middle East.

The conservative cabal went on the attack today.  Karl Rove interestingly enough went after—jumped all over the unions on FOX.  Here comes Glenn Beck spinning another crazy conspiracy theory about unions.

And, of course, the president of the United States.

           

And the Drugster trashed the president and Madison protesters all day on his show.  And, of course, all the national media attention actually made some Republicans nervous in the state of Wisconsin, in asking Governor Scott Walker to make some minor changes to the proposal.

“The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel” reporting that Republican Senators Dale Schultz—thank God no relation—and Van Wanggaard were backing a plan to put at least some union bargaining rights back into the bill.

Believe me, folks, it‘s window dressing.  It‘s not real.

Later this afternoon, another major shoe dropped.  The president—the president of the United States finally ended his silence in an interview with the Milwaukee NBC affiliate and the president made this comment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I‘d say that I haven‘t followed exactly what‘s happening with the Wisconsin budget.  I‘ve got some budget problems here in Washington I‘ve had to focus on.  I would say as a general proposition that everybody‘s got to make some adjustments to new fiscal realities.

And I think if we want to avoid layoffs, which I want to avoid, I don‘t want to see layoffs of hardworking federal workers, we had to impose, for example, a freeze on pay increases for federal workers for the next two years as part of my overall budget freeze.  You know, I think those kinds of adjustments are the right thing to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Mr. President, whose side are you on?  And where are the Democrats tonight?  We‘ll investigate that a little bit later on in the show.

But what‘s going on here in Wisconsin is not a fiscal reality.  My friends, if you take one thing out of this program tonight, know this: there is no financial crisis in the state of Wisconsin.  Later in this show, I‘ll prove that Governor Walker is basically cooking the books to make things look worse than they really are.

For the president to use this fiscal reality talking point I think is very dangerous.  Governors like Walker, and Kasich down in Ohio will take that comment and they‘re going to run with it in a way.  President Obama has given the green light to cut anything they want.

Now, the president was also very careful to show support for unions today, which was surprising.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  Some of what I‘ve heard coming out of Wisconsin, where you‘re just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain generally, seems like more of an assault on unions.

And I think it‘s very important for us to understand that public employees, they‘re our neighbors.  They‘re our friends.  These are folks who are teachers, and they‘re firefighters, and they‘re social workers, and they‘re police officers.

You know, they make a lot of sacrifices to make a big contribution.  And I think it‘s important not to vilify them, or to suggest that somehow all these budget problems are due to public employees.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  OK.  So, where are the Democrats?  Where‘s the White House on this?  Now we know that the governor of Wisconsin has got some tough decisions to make and there are these fiscal realities out there.  And he‘s had to live with them, too, with the federal employees.  But, wait a minute, all the union people that work very hard for Wisconsin, they are very good people and we don‘t want to vilify them.

Stop the fence riding, America.  That‘s not good enough.  None of the made-up budget crisis is the fault of public employees.  Thirty years of Republican policy is the only reason a state like Wisconsin is hurting financially, if they are hurting.

I think the president is slow to the punch on this story.  It only took him a couple of days to come out and stand with the Egyptian protesters.  This is day number six in Madison?  OK.  It‘s not on his radar screen.

President Obama is sitting in the White House, because hard working union folk like the ones in Madison went door to door, made phone calls, social networked, to get him elected.  These people need the president to some parroting the right wing talking points and make what I would say an unequivocal stand for the rights of these workers.  This is what the Democratic Party is about.

President Obama isn‘t the only one dropping the ball on this story. 

Democratic leadership has been dreadfully silent.

We reached out to senators who got a lot of labor in their states, like Senator Reid in Nevada.  There, of course, is a proposal there to knock off minimum wage.  Senator Durbin in Illinois, Senator Stabenow in Michigan, Senator Schumer here in New York.  Stabenow didn‘t respond—and the rest of them have made no comment on the story.

Can we wake them up tonight that this is the blueprint for them to take down the infrastructure of the very people that support all of you in your campaigns to keep the progressive agenda alive in this country?

We also reached out to Nancy Pelosi.  Shockingly, she had nothing.

May I say tonight that I find this absolutely unacceptable?  The protesters in Madison are fighting for the very principles of the Democratic Party.  I don‘t want you to think that they deserve something like this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  What is the price?  We ask the other side.  What is the price that you want from these working men and women?  What cost?  How much more do we have to give to the private sector and the business?  How many billion dollars more are you asking, are you requiring?  When does the greed stop?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Yes.  We‘ve got to go back into the file tape and remind Democrats, that‘s how you fight for workers when it‘s all on the line, when it‘s in the 11th hour of negotiations, when 30,000 people show up, that‘s the way it‘s got to sound in the chamber.

But the Democrats, they‘ve got other things to worry about in Washington right now.  You have nothing more to worry about than what they are saying in the heartland.  And I guess we could say when we see Senator Kennedy there, that maybe they just don‘t make them like they used to.

Working class Americans need a hero again.  They need the Democrats to show that the fire and the passion of these issues is still very much alive.  I believe that this is a defining moment for the progressive movement in America.  Why?  Because this is Ground Zero for labor.

The reason Republicans are trying to steal money from the poor and destroy the unions is very simple—if they undercut labor, it will undercut everyone in this country who makes a paycheck.  Labor sets the bar for wages.  Don‘t think they don‘t.

Republicans are on a mission to serve their corporate masters.  If they take away the right to organize, it will mean every worker in the United States will have to fend for themselves against corporate America, and if you think that‘s going to be a fair fight, you‘ve got another thing coming.

Democrats need to stand with these great Americans who are out there every day.  This is a fight for the very soul of this country.  And these protesters can‘t do it alone.

The country needs to pay attention to this.  Every worker needs to pay attention to this.  Every elected Democrat needs to pay attention to this.

The program, THE ED SHOW, which you‘re watching right now, will originate from Madison, Wisconsin, tomorrow night.  I‘m looking forward to it.

The Wisconsin assembly might vote on a bill as soon as tomorrow.  And we‘ll be there to give you the latest.  Because the big question is: now, where do we go?  Because it looks like it‘s going to pass.

And I‘m glad America is starting to wake up to this story, now that the Democrats maybe got the message tonight that, you know, maybe just the Democratic senators that I mentioned a moment ago could get together in front of the cameras on Capitol Hill and say that we know that those workers in Wisconsin are being victimized by phony numbers of a budget that don‘t add up, that are nothing but a product of a right-wing governor who wants to attack labor.  And it is Ground Zero to spread to other states across the country that are going to try to grab the infrastructure, and the support of the progressive movement in America.

Come on, harry.  Say something, will you?

Get your cell phones out.  I want to know what you think.  Tonight‘s text question is: Is President Obama backing Wisconsin workers 100 percent?  Text “A” for yes, text “B” for no to 622639.  We‘ll bring you the results later in the show.

You see, folks, every campaign now is national because of Citizens United.  The money that‘s going to be flowing in against Democrats in the next election cycle is going to be unprecedented.  It will reach historic levels.

And if we as a country, as workers, as middle classers, if we can‘t find a heart, a soul, if we can‘t find our pulse on an issue like this, we‘re done.  It‘s over.  It‘s going to be over.

There will be a super majority in the United States Senate.  What do you think about that?

If you don‘t think it can happen, we‘ve got more evidence coming up later on in the show.  But right now, we want to talk to Scott Ross.  He‘s the executive director of One Wisconsin Now, a progressive communication and organizing Web site.

Scott, good to have you with us tonight.  Where are we?

SCOTT ROSS, ONE WISCONSIN NOW:  Ed, thanks for having me.

SCHULTZ:  You bet.  Where are we at this hour?

ROSS:  Ed, I am proud to report that the people of Wisconsin are squarely behind the public servants of Wisconsin.  And there is momentum building, hundreds of thousands of people across this state, people standing up for our educators, and for our EMTs, and for our nurses, and our home health care workers, and our corrections officers and our snowplow drivers—they are united behind this cause.

And we will prevail in this, Ed, I am proud to report.

SCHULTZ:  So, you think this bill will get defeated?

ROSS:  I believe that there is massive momentum on our side with this bill.  On Monday, we had 2,000 people here.  On Tuesday, we had 15,000 people.  And just today, we had 30,000 people.  And this is a—this is an endless mobilization that will continue until we stop this bill, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  Will the protests continue tomorrow?  How much resolve do these 30,000 people have, in your opinion?

ROSS:  Well, Ed, you just needed to be in that capital tonight to see thousands and thousands of Wisconsinites united to stop this bill, to protect working families in the state of Wisconsin.

And I will tell you that we will continue this until we stop this piece of legislation.  This is a bad bill for Wisconsin.  It is a bill that we do not need.  And it was created, as you have already alleged, under false circumstances to push through a right-wing, anti-worker agenda.

SCHULTZ:  Well, we‘re going to get into that a little bit later on in the program.  It is phony numbers that are being ginned up by a right-wing governor who wants to attack organized labor.

Now, do you think that this story is going to motivate these folks if the vote goes against labor?  What‘s the next move?  How passionate are these people going to be?  Are they going to be there?  Or do you think that the teachers are not going to go to work tomorrow and the next day?

How long will this go on, in your opinion?

ROSS:  This is an activism that people who have lived in this city for 50 years have never seen before.  They continue to tell us they have never seen anything like this.  Wisconsin is united behind its public servants.  And we will continue to fight this fight every step of the way, and kill this bill once and for all.

SCHULTZ:  And, Scott, what about the National Democratic Party?  Would you like to get some support from them?  Because I think we all know by now that this is a national effort by Republicans to take down organized labor in a full national attack on public employees.

What do you think?  What about the Democrats?  Are you getting enough support?

ROSS:  I‘ll tell you what, Ed?  I sat last night at midnight and testified in the hearing after waiting seven hours.  And to my left was a Republican, who was there to stand up for workers‘ rights—as many Democrats, as many independents, as many people across the political spectrum were.

But I‘ll tell you this—there was a woman sitting to my right.  She teaches disabled students and she came to tears in talking about how good people are going to be driven out of her profession.  And her students, the most vulnerable people we have in this community, and in this state, will be left behind, and the one voice they have will be taken away.  And she was brought to tears.  And there was not a dry eye in the House—until I looked up at the panel and I saw the Republicans who said, “We just want you to go away.  We want you to stop talking.”

Well, I tell you what?  We‘re not going to stop.  There were 30,000 people here in Madison today, from all over Wisconsin.  There are at least 50 mobilizations in cities everywhere from—everywhere from Green Bay to Greenfield, from Sheboygan to Superior, from Kewaunee to Kenosha, from Madison to Milwaukee—everybody in this state is united behind this bill because we have a proud tradition of standing up for our workers—and something that‘s not going to stop because a right-wing governor wants to gin the system for his political advantage.

SCHULTZ:  Scott Ross, thanks for your time tonight.  I appreciate it so much.

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

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(MUSIC)

SCHULTZ (voice-over):  Blueprint of a bogus budget crisis.  Numbers don‘t lie.  Politicians do.  The premeditated plan of attack, we‘ll show you proof.

It‘s not just happening in Wisconsin.  Middle class workers of America, beware, your state may be next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE ®, NEW JERSEY:  I‘m attacking the leadership of the union because they‘re greedy and they‘re selfish and self-interested.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  In tonight‘s “Takedown,” Glenn Beck knew this would happen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS:  That sounds kind of like things that I said would be coming and I warned about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  But just wait until you hear him explain why.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  This program, THE ED SHOW, will be in Madison, Wisconsin, tomorrow night, right in the center of the action.  Middle class, every day workers struggling to survive in a tough economy now the target of a governor who‘s crying about a budget crisis.  But the crisis in Wisconsin has nothing to do with those workers.  It‘s the product oft tax giveaways.  That‘s next.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says that he has to cut union pay and benefits because of the state‘s budget crisis.  Crisis!

Guess what, folks?  There is no crisis.  There is no budget crisis.  Walker says there is a deficit of $137 million.  But on January 31st, the state legislative fiscal bureau put out a report saying, quote, “Our analysis indicates a general fund gross balance of $121.4 million, and a net balance of $56.4 million.”

And even if Walker‘s numbers are right, and there really is a deficit of $137 million, it‘s Walker himself who‘s responsible for most of the shortfall.  In less than two months in office, he‘s pushed through millions in tax breaks for the rich.  Quoting the state fiscal bureau again, “These three bills will reduce general fund tax collections by $55.2 million in 2011 and 2012, and $62 million in 2012-2013.”  I didn‘t say that, the report did.

And Governor Walker wants to do away with what‘s known as combined reporting of corporate income taxes.  Well, you know what that is.  This alone would cost Wisconsin about $187 million over two years, and a lot of companies doing business in Wisconsin would really no longer have to pay their fair share, because of this type of corporate tax reporting and filing.

Now, even if the great budget crisis scam were real, don‘t think spending cuts make anything better.  The institute for Wisconsin‘s future estimates Walker‘s cuts would lead to the loss of 9,000 private sector jobs and cost the state about $111 million in lost tax revenue.

On the ground tonight is John Nichols, Washington correspondent for “The Nation” magazine.

John, you wrote an editorial for the “Madison Cap Times” called

“Walker Gins Up the Crisis to Reward Cronies.”  Explain that to us tonight

and great to have you with us.

           

JOHN NICHOLS, THE NATION:  Ed, it‘s great to be with you.  We‘ve been together every night of this struggle, and as Scott Ross told you a little bit, the size of these crowds are just incredible.  These are Wisconsinites who are coming out to say, “We do not believe you, Governor Walker.  We do not believe that there is a fiscal crisis, period, and we certainly do not believe that there is a fiscal crisis sufficient to break our unions, to cut our pay, to cut our benefits.”

Now, let me clear about what‘s going on.

SCHULTZ: Is the governor cooking the books?  John, I‘ve got to ask you, is the governor cooking the books to get rid of organized labor in Wisconsin?

NICHOSL:  There is simply no question that that is what is happening.  Let‘s look at the basic facts.  This governor came into office with a stabilized financial situation.

The unions, public sector unions took hard hits.  They sacrificed. 

They took furlough days.  They did not fill positions that were empty.

They made the budget balanced.  They made the state functional.

Scott Walker came into office and immediately began giving away massive tax breaks to multinational corporations, out-of-state corporations.

Ed, I wish I could bring some of the folks I‘ve just talked to as I‘ve been waiting to come on with us right now.  I had a small business owner come up to me and say that what the governor is proposing is absolutely devastating, because taking the money that public workers recycle in our communities harms our local businesses.

So, Scott Walker is not helping Wisconsin businesses.  He is helping the out-of-state crony businesses that gave campaign contributions to him, and that continue to fund Club for Growth ads and other out-of-state advertising that supports his plan.

SCHULTZ:  Last night on this program, Senator Grothman said that they have tried raising taxes on the rich.  Our team today could find absolutely no record of that whatsoever.  What we did find, if we‘ll go to graphic two here, the Wisconsin income tax rate.  On income over $10,000, the rate is 6.15 percent.  The income on over those who make $221,600 a year is just at 7.75 percent.

Walker gave tax breaks to companies coming into Wisconsin, not the ones that are already in Wisconsin.  And he also gave tax breaks to companies like Wal-Mart and McDonald‘s for hiring low-wage earners they would have hired anyway.

So, this has been manufactured.

Now, there‘s one more angle I want to ask you about tonight.  This is the president responding to the NBC Milwaukee affiliate today on this situation.  Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  I would say as a general proposition that everybody‘s got to make some adjustments to new fiscal realities.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  It sounds to me like the president is buying into a phony report that maybe the White House says it researched enough.  What do you it call, John?

NICHOLS:  I‘m deeply disappointed in my president.  He has a responsibility to speak in serious and informed ways about the fundamental issues for the lives of working people.

The bottom line is: Barack Obama‘s a good man.  I think he‘s a decent man.  But he should come to Wisconsin.  He should stand with these public employees, with these teachers, with these small business owners who are coming out in the tens of thousands to say there‘s not a fiscal crisis sufficient to break our unions.

And the fact of the matter is, if there is any crisis at all, it was caused by the banksters and the out-of-state corporations.

SCHULTZ:  No doubt.

NICHOLS:  Not by the working public servants of Wisconsin.

SCHULTZ:   And one final point I want to make tonight, John.  To my knowledge, not one national Democrat has been in this crowd, given a speech, keeping them motivated, telling them what‘s at stake.  Not one.  You said the president should be there.  But no Democrat has locked onto this story from a national level.

Is that correct?

NICHOLS:  I‘m afraid you‘re right, Ed.  And you know what, in a sense, that‘s bad for the country because they should be getting the right message out.

But I want to tell you something, the fact of the matter is that the Democratic Party, to whatever value it is, is a party of the grassroots—and the grass roots working class people of Wisconsin are doing the heavy lifting.  If the national leaders aren‘t up to it, there are teachers, there are snowplow drivers, there are day care deliverers, who are ready to do the job.

You watch tomorrow, they will be out in numbers, unprecedented, tens of thousands saying, “No matter where our national leaders are, in Wisconsin, we know how to fight for our rights.”

SCHULTZ:  John Nichols, we will be there tomorrow night.  Great to have you with us on this story tonight.

NICHOLS:  I look forward to seeing you.

SCHULTZ:  You bet.

We‘ll be on this—we‘ve been doing this story from the start.  The rest of the national media is now trying to catch up.

But FOX News is working overtime to kill this thing.

And then there‘s Glenn Beck.  He had a message for president Obama about Wisconsin.  “The Takedown,” next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And in “The Takedown” tonight, Glenn Beck wants you to think his imaginary Muslim insurrection is now playing out in the state of Wisconsin.  Here he is yesterday talking about the protesters in Madison.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BECK:  At one point, they all got together and they chanted this violent rhetoric, “Kill this bill!”  I don‘t know what they meant by that.

Some workers carried signs reading, “From Cairo to Madison, Workers Unite.”  Boy, that sounds like maybe revolution.  You know, that kind of sounds like things that I said would be coming and I warned about.  And it looks like maybe it‘s starting. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Oh, yeah.  Look at Glenn Beck spreading a fire all over a map of the Middle East.  He thinks that‘s exactly what‘s going on in Madison.  And he thinks it‘s organized by the same people. 

Funny that these accusations only apply to a labor protest with blue collar workers and not to Glenn‘s protest on the mall in D.C. that was organized by billionaires.  Here‘s Glenn again. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BECK:  It‘s crazy to even consider the possibility that Egyptian protests could be tied to unions, or could influence anyone else around the world, like students in all of the Middle East, in Europe or this country.  But that‘s who‘s protesting, students, young people. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Yeah, forget about all that rank and file union membership, huh?  You know, the teachers, the firefighters.  According to Glenn, it‘s just a bunch of kids.  He sounds a lot like the former vice president of Egypt, if you ask me. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OMAR SULEIMAN, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT OF EGYPT:  We will not use any violence.  But we will ask them to go home.  And we‘ll ask their parents to ask them to come home. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  But the Beckster, he was back at it again today, blaming young people. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BECK:  But who is being dragged along?  Useful idiots?  Our children.  Look at this video from protests in Wisconsin.  Kids marching have no idea whatsoever what they‘re even marching for. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  For what?  Are you guys protesting?  Are you testifying? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I don‘t even really know.  I guess we‘re protesting today. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We‘re trying to stop whatever it is they‘re doing. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  I love how the Beckster thinks all of our kids are just useful idiots.  So he found two kids who couldn‘t explain why they were there at the protest.  Well, we found a few thousand who knew exactly why they were there. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We have some bad news, everybody.  Governor Walker doesn‘t want to meet with a few thousand students.  We‘re here to show some love to the people that make our universities working here today. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  So remember, to Glenn Beck, if you‘re a Tea Party protester, you‘re a patriot.  If you‘re a labor protester, you‘re a useful idiot, or a Muslim revolutionary. 

Glad we cleared that up tonight.  That‘s the Takedown. 

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey compares unions to a schoolyard bully.  Gosh, this is getting to be an epidemic, isn‘t it?  And he wants a fight. 

Up next, a firefighter and a teacher from Wisconsin, they stay with us with the truth.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We have worked very hard to maintain our unions.  And we have rights too.  Governor Walker seems to forget that we are taxpayers as well. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  For him to say, to repair the budget by throwing that contract away—to say that that‘s going to repair the budget and create jobs is crap. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  We just thought we‘d show you some of those kids that the Beckster was talking about.  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  We do have some news out of Wisconsin tonight.  Reports from the state that the Madison Schools will be closed tomorrow because of protests, along with three other school districts, as teachers and students continue to protest Governor Scott Walker‘s assault on workers‘ rights. 

Let‘s get back to Madison, Wisconsin, as we have done every night this week.  Let‘s talk to some of the workers who have been on the front lines at the capital, trying to convince lawmakers they are making a grave mistake.  My guests tonight are Joe Conway Jr., the president of the International Association of Firefighters, local 311, and Susan Stern, an elementary schoolteacher. 

Thanks to both of you for joining us tonight.  Great to have you with us. 

Joe, I understand that the local firefighters have broken with the state association because they had gone on and made a deal with the governor.  Is that correct? 

JOE CONWAY JR. PRESIDENT, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FIREFIGHTERS,

LOCAL 311:  Not exactly.  We were just out of the blocks a little bit quicker than the state association.  We have a different role. 

The state association‘s on board with us.  We had state firefighters with Madison today, and—railing with us, walking through the capital. 

We have a different role in Madison.  We‘re supported by public employees.  Madison has the most public employees of anyplace in the state of Wisconsin.  And so we work with them.  They support us with their tax money.  And we had to be out of the blocks quick because they‘ve always supported us, and it was our turn to support them. 

SCHULTZ:  Susan, you just heard the news that—you probably knew this.  You‘re on the ground there, obviously—that the teachers are going to be out the rest of the week.  Tell us about that decision and what you know, and how do you feel about it? 

SUSAN STERN, ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHER:  I feel great.  Teachers are worried.  They‘re worried about loss of income.  They‘re worried about loss of income now for the next couple days.  They‘re worried about loss of income in the future.  But—and they‘re worried about the students. 

There are teachers, you know, who knew that there would be people going to school today because they didn‘t get the message.  They were worried about kids who were missing their education. 

But they‘re worried about much, much bigger things than that.  And there were thousands of people out here who understood the bigger picture.  And they‘re worried about the loss of collective bargaining.  And they know what that means.  They know that that means that not only would there be a loss of income, but there would be loss of our voice, our voice to have any say in things like class size, in prep time, in the environment in which we teach. 

And so people are out here with that in mind, even though they‘re really worried.  And that just feels great.  We‘re out here with a lot of support from firefighters and parents and students and other unions. 

SCHULTZ:  Susan, if this bill passes, do you think it‘s going to be harder to hire new teachers in Wisconsin? 

STERN:  Oh, absolutely.  The working conditions now—you know, people think that—some people think teachers have it really easy.  They have some time off.  We get off at 3:00.  People who are teaching know that‘s not the case. 

And if that changes, it would be really, really hard.  It would be hard to attract people to that profession.  There will be people who are already in the profession who will leave. 

SCHULTZ:  And Joe Conway, this is a national effort to go after the firefighters as well.  The opponents of your profession have been very clear.  But then when something happens, they wrap themselves in the flag and call you heroes.  How do you feel about that? 

CONWAY JR.:  You know, we don‘t feel good about that at all.  I mean, it sickened me when George Bush wrapped himself in the flag on Ground Zero.  He attacked us later on.  He‘s gone after everything that we hold dear to us: our safer, our staffer bills, our fire act grants. 

You know, bottom line is these politicians, they love us when they can use us.  And Scott Walker tried to use us here, tried to divide us from the rest of the labor.  We wouldn‘t let that happen.  We‘ll never let that happen.  When he drew the line, we‘re on the side of labor always. 

SCHULTZ:  Joe Conway, Susan Stern, keep up the fight.  God bless you. 

Thank you for joining us tonight.  Appreciate it so much. 

It‘s not just Wisconsin.  The national stage is set for a showdown. 

That‘s next. 

And a reminder that THE ED SHOW will be in Madison, Wisconsin, tomorrow night.  Stay with us.  We‘re right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Thank you for joining us on THE ED SHOW tonight.  We continue our coverage about middle classers in America.  Think about this, if Scott Walker is offering the road map for how to go after the middle class in this country, the guy who paved the way now wants some of that credit. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE ®, NEW JERSEY:  I ran for governor in 2009.  If they gave me the opportunity to be their governor, that not only would the state go on a path towards fiscal recovery, but we would also lead the nation, because we had a one-year head start on everybody.  Because of our odd election year, we would have a one-year head start on a huge new class of governors. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  That, of course, was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaking earlier at a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C., taking pride at the head start he got on those other guys in slashing pensions and benefits for teachers, police officers, firefighters.  The new class of governors, they are following Christie‘s lead, no doubt. 

In John Kasich‘s Ohio, Republicans are seeking to end collective bargaining for employees, period, and ban employees from striking.  Yesterday, 1,000 public workers came to the state capital in Ohio to protest.  And protests are planned for tomorrow. 

In Bill Haslam‘s Tennessee, well, hundreds of teachers came to the state capital to do the same.  The measure that would eliminate collective bargaining passed a key committee today, and is headed for a full vote in the state senate. 

Folks in Rick Snider‘s Michigan, they are bracing for pension, benefit and wage cuts.  Tomorrow, that‘s when it‘s going to happen.  The new governor reveals his budget proposal.  We‘ll have to see if he can possibly top the Rick Scott of Florida. 

Mr. Scott in Florida wants to give pink slips to people, but only 9,000 state workers.  And he delivered that news not at the state capital in Tallahassee, Florida, but nearly 200 miles away at an event, dog gone it, for a Tea Party. 

Good to mix it in with politics, isn‘t it?  Is it the budget or is it politics.  Well, it‘s both. 

Today, Scott added to his job-killing record by rejecting federal funds for a high-speed rail in Florida.  Hey, Wisconsin, does that sound familiar?  And, oh, yes, it would have created at least 24,000 jobs. 

Time to call on Liz Shuler, secretary treasurer of the AFL-CIO.  Great to have you with us tonight. 

Liz, how do we know that Republicans are orchestrated doing this around the country? 

LIZ SHULER, SECRETARY TREASURER, AFL-CIO:  Well, you‘ve been talking a lot about Wisconsin.  And certainly that‘s getting a lot of attention.  But as you mentioned, this is a playbook.  We‘ve seen attacks surfacing clear up into New England, Indiana, Missouri.  The list goes on and on. 

So we believe that this is a calculated political attack, trying to take the voice away from workers. 

SCHULTZ:  And what do you say to John Kasich in Ohio, who says that all of this is connected to job creation.  What do you make of that? 

SHULER:  Job creation seems to be the last thing on their minds, because when you start taking the voice away from workers, you start cutting pay, you start cutting pension benefits and health care, you‘re cutting security for your citizens.  And who best to get the economic engine running again than the people who live in your state. 

SCHULTZ:  I want to play this sound bite of Governor Christie, and you respond to it.  Here it is. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE:  One of the things that the public sector unions don‘t understand about my approach in New Jersey is they think I‘m attacking them.  I‘m attacking the leadership of the union, because they‘re greedy and they‘re selfish, and self-interested. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  You‘re in leadership, Liz.  What‘s your response? 

SHULER:  Well, I often bristle when I hear those words.  And people call us union bosses.  And, you know, really, we are the voice and we‘re representing millions of working men and women.  And it‘s every state, like Wisconsin, where you see workers coming together, firefighters, police, teachers, social workers, you know, exercising their collective right to be heard. 

And so no better example of what unions are really about than what‘s going on right in Wisconsin. 

SCHULTZ:  Liz Shuler, AFL-CIO, great to have you with us tonight. 

Thanks for speaking up. 

SHULER:  Thanks for giving a voice to the issues. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, we need to do that.  It‘s for this country.  First, the other guys ignored the story.  Then they screw it up.  That‘s next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Finally tonight on THE ED SHOW, our coverage of the Republican assault on American workers continues.  Now, we have been on this story for the last three days.  Tomorrow, I will be covering it from Wisconsin.  And something tells me that MSNBC will be the only national media platform there telling the story of the workers.  And I am so proud of that. 

Until today, the networks and cable news channels have largely ignored the thousands of protesters in Madison.  CNN finally put a camera on the protesters today.  Fox ignored the story, until last night, when they gave the governor of Wisconsin a five-minute infomercial. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. SCOTT WALKER ®, WISCONSIN:  Well, the bottom line is the skate‘s broke, just like about every other state in the country, other than maybe a handful.  Wisconsin and nearly every other state out there doesn‘t have money.  And so what we‘re going to do is balance the budget.  We‘re telling the truth. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  The truth?  Well, you invented this crisis so you could bust unions.  There was no pushback on Walker from Fox News‘ host, of course.  And for good reason.  You see, last year, Newscorp, the parent company of Fox News, donated 1.25 million dollars to the Republican Governors Association to help union busters like Scott Walker in Wisconsin, and former Fox News host John Kasich in Ohio. 

Kind of a coincidence, isn‘t it?  Today, the rest of “Fox and Friends,” well, the attack is on the workers.  Here we go. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I don‘t think it helps unions to be skipping their jobs and coming out and getting paid to protest to get more taxpayer money, while being paid taxpayer money. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Chanting kill the bill, recall Walker.  It‘s actually borderline going to get violent it sounds like. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Teachers should not be using students as political props. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Bottom line, this is bad for the kids. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The Christie/Scott Walker way of doing it seems to be the winning way. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I, for one, hope they lose.  I hope they lose. 

I hope they stick their ground and the unions lose in the end. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Well, there is no question that Fox News is the media arm of the republican party.  They invested in the Republican Governors Association, so people like Scott Walker could get elected and bust the unions.  Today on Fox, here we go, the big guy, Karl Rove explained the game plan. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KARL ROVE, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH:  If you take a look at it in 2009, the unionized work force made up 12.3 percent of all the workers in America.  In 2010, it dropped to 11.9 percent of the work force.  They lost 612,000 union members in 2010 alone. 

Think about it, every one of those 602,000 people had literally perhaps several hundred dollars worth of union dues going into the political coffers of their union to spend on politics. 

So yeah, you keep having a couple hundred thousand people each year—if half a million people leave the labor movement every year, pretty soon you start having crimp in the political budget.  So these unions, it has a direct affect on the presidential race. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  A direct effect on the presidential race is what he said.  That is the game plan.  You know, that might be the most honest thing that Karl Rove has ever said. 

Joining me now is Sirius XM radio talk show host Joe Madison.  Joe, welcome tonight. 

JOE MADISON, SIRIUS XM RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Thank you. 

SCHULTZ:  Is Karl Rove, as he just laid it out—is he wrong? 

MADISON:  No, you hit it.  That‘s the game plan.  Absolutely right.  Look, Ed, I‘m glad you‘re there tomorrow.  I‘m solution-oriented.  Look, I‘m calling on the NAACP, the black trade unionists—look, this is reminiscent of Martin Luther King and the reason he went to Memphis, Tennessee.  This is reminiscent of A. Phillip Randolph, and the reason that he threatened that there would be hundreds of thousands of people.  He said, you find the enemy of collective bargaining, of public education, and you will find reactionary Republicans, and you will find Dixiecrats, in his day—today it‘s Tea Partiers. 

I‘m saying to you, we who are progressives and liberals, we ought to join you in Madison.  The battle line has been drawn in Madison.  If Fox—

I mean, if CNN and all these other networks won‘t cover it, we should take our microphones, our prestige and we ought to join you there. 

Because let me tell you something, this is about President Obama.  And I‘ll say this finally.  And that is President Obama, you must support these workers the way that you supported the protesters in Cairo.  There‘s no if, ands, buts about it. 

SCHULTZ:  It‘s very interesting that today, Beck, Limbaugh, Karl Rove, the allotment of the right-wing talkers, Hannity, they‘re all onboard all of a sudden going after the unions.  Are they worried?  Are they worried that this really—this helpful protest to keep workers‘ rights, to keep benefits and pay that they have earned and negotiated for—do you think the right-wing is realizing that, hey, we might be a problem on our hands and we might not succeed at this? 

MADISON:  Of course.  Because there‘s more of us than there are of them.  And the fact is, you know this, and I know this, blue collar, white collar, union, non-union—unions sit the standard.  The reason we have 40-hour work weeks, unions.  The reason we don‘t have child labor—have child labor laws, unions. 

The reason we have vacations and benefits, unions.  Every union benefit also benefits those Hannitys of the world, who also enjoy and will enjoy President‘s Day off and all the other vacation times that they get. 

I‘m saying to you, just like they‘ve come together, we need to come together, Ed, with you, myself, and others and make our voice as collective as theirs. 

SCHULTZ:  I think it should be profoundly pointed out that when 50 Tea

Partiers lined up along the Potomac River, some of them carrying a sidearm

--

MADISON:  I remember that. 

SCHULTZ:  -- every network on the face of the Earth was covering the Tea Partiers.  It seems to be that there‘s almost a media suppression here, except for some shows here on MSNBC.  I want to thank Rachel for her coverage tonight. 

It‘s almost like they‘re ignoring it, Joe. 

MADISON:  They are.  Look, there were 10,000 people at the so-called CPAC Conference.  It was wall-to-wall news coverage.  Remember, only one-third of them voted in the straw vote. 

And the next thing I know, Ron Paul‘s on every network.  He only got one-third of one-third of the votes that were there at the thing.  We‘ve got 30,000 people who showed up.  I bet you before it‘s over, there will be 100,000. 

SCHULTZ:  I hope so.  Joe, thanks for getting in on the fight.  And thanks for calling out the Democrats.  We need to have some leadership to support these workers.  No doubt about it. 

Tonight in our text survey, I asked you is President Obama backing Wisconsin workers 100 percent?  Sixteen percent of you said yes; 84 percent of you said no.  Democrats, hello, wake up. 

That‘s THE ED SHOW.  We‘ll see you tomorrow night from Madison.

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