updated 3/4/2011 12:35:55 PM ET 2011-03-04T17:35:55

Guests: Lena Taylor, Al Sharpton, John Nichols, E.J. Dionne

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

This is what‘s on the table tonight:

The Wisconsin 14 are holding out in the face of outrageous and bogus threats that they are going to be arrested and extradited to Wisconsin.

The fight in Wisconsin is really all about the middle-class in this country—I have said it all along.  But wait until you see what has happened to the middle class as union membership in this country has declined.  The graphic is telling.

Fixing a state‘s budget crisis without dumping on the wage earners and without destroying collective bargaining.  Oh, it can be done, and Governor Jerry Brown out of California, he‘s not the only one doing it.

This is the story that has me fired up first, folks: Governor Scott Walker and his cronies in the state of Wisconsin, here‘s what they want to do—they want to use taxpayer money to help wealthy kids go to private schools.  Now, do you think that is fair?

They are dead set on cutting $900 million from public education.  And the only thing that‘s standing in the way of this program are 14 brave public servants because they don‘t have votes to stop it, so they have to leave the state.

There have been rumors a deal has been cut and the Democrats of the Wisconsin 14 have been flying around trying to make this thing work out all day long, but nobody knows when they will come back to Madison, but the Republicans, they definitely turned up the heat today.  The Wisconsin Senate voted 19 to zero to hold the Wisconsin 14 in contempt of the Senate.

Now, the resolution they passed reads like this, “Senate majority leader Fitzgerald shall order Senate Sergeant at Arms Ted Blazel to take any and all necessary steps, with or without force, and with or without assistance of law enforcement officers, by warrant or other legal process, as he may deem necessary in order to bring that senator to the Senate chambers.”

I mean, that‘s pretty wide-ranging stuff, isn‘t it?  But I think that we need to hold it for a moment and really consider what‘s going on here.  Let‘s talk about the word “force.”  Scott Walker and his buddies in the Senate—they want to force unions to give up collective bargaining.  That‘s what this is about.

They want to force public schools to give up $550 per pupil, and, of course, force taxpayers to fund private education.  Who‘s going to think that‘s fair?  The rich people.

Walker‘s plan calls for the elimination of income limits in the Milwaukee voucher program which will open it up to every rich kid in the state of Wisconsin.  I think that this is the most dangerous part of the bill and the most under-covered.  When private schools have the option to pick a rich white kid from the suburbs or a poorer student from the inner city of Milwaukee, that poorer student, he‘s going to get the short end of the stick every single time.

I mean, look at the numbers, over 82 percent of the students in the Milwaukee school system, they live in poverty.  Now, do they think that they have a pretty good chance to go to a private school?  I mean, that number is staggering.  And the governor wants to do this.  It‘s a heartless move.

Those students, they don‘t have a chance.  They‘ll have to go—I guess you could say—to the back of the line where their relatives were years ago, because you see, Scott—Scott Walker doesn‘t value public education, and his budget proves it.

Walker doesn‘t want anybody to focus on his plan, because he knows how radical it is.  What he wants everybody to focus on is these radical liberals, the Wisconsin 14, and that‘s exactly what Governor Walker talked to the media about.  He says he‘s frustrated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

           

GOV. SCOTT WALKER ®, WISCONSIN:  I think it‘s exceptionally frustrating when you realized that it becomes clearer and clearer while a number of these responsible senators would like to come home or have intentions of coming home and telling people they‘d like to come home, that what is happening is there is a group in that caucus, amongst those 14 state Senate Democrats, who doesn‘t want to come home, who does want to come home even though two weeks have passed since they‘ve left, three weeks nearly since the bill was introduced.  There are some who apparently would be OK with staying two months, in some cases, maybe in as far as two years.  That is unacceptable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Really?  So, it‘s unacceptable.  So, what are you going to do about it?

Well, you see these handcuffs?  We are going to get tough now.  Wisconsin Republicans want to take handcuffs like these, and slap them on public servants and drag them into the capitol.  You know, the guys across the street would love to see that, because they love to make out the Wisconsin 14 like America‘s most wanted.  Wisconsin Republicans want to cuff and stuff 84-year-old grandfather of four, Fred Risser.  They want Senator Julie Lassa, a mother of two and who is seven months‘ pregnant, to be dragged into the capitol and force her to vote.

Senator Chris Larson said that Republicans are “turning Wisconsin into a police state.  We are not flinching.”  What does that mean?  How long are they going to be out?

It takes courage to stand up to bullies like Scott Walker and threats.  The Wisconsin 14 are showing guts to this country, again.  These public servants have been away from their families for more than two weeks.  They‘ve really been called everything under the sun by those who oppose them politically.  They have been chased all over Illinois by a group of Tea Party stalkers because they got nothing better to do, and Republicans are harassing their staffers and threatening them back in Madison.  It‘s low-rent is what it is.  And it‘s because of the Republicans because they won‘t negotiate.

Walker has no intention of giving in to get these servants back into the state.

The hundreds of thousands of protesters I think owe these public servants a lot of respect.  They have showed what a sacrifice is all about.  The Wisconsin 14 don‘t deserve to be treated like or thought of as criminals, and portrayed by them across the street as America‘s most wanted.

No, they‘re not.  They are America‘s most revered.  They revere public education.  They are about fairness.  They know that those poor kids in the Milwaukee school district will never have a chance to go to a private school.

And they don‘t deserve to be demonized and handcuffed.  They deserve medals, is what they deserved.

Get your cell phones out.  I want to know what you think.  Tonight‘s text question is: Have the Wisconsin 14 done enough to come home now?  Text “A” for yes, text “B” for no to 622639, or you can go to our new blog at Ed.MSNBC.com, and comment on this.  I‘ll bring you the results later on in the show.

Joining me is Wisconsin State Senator Lena Taylor from Milwaukee.

Senator, good to have you with us tonight.  How do you react to—how do you react to the threat of being arrested?  You taking it seriously?

STATE SEN. LENA TAYLOR (D), WISCONSIN:  First of all, Ed, it‘s very good to be with you.  Thanks for keeping our voice alive.

I don‘t take the threat seriously for a number of reasons.  The first is that they have put a lot of extra language in that resolution, but they know as well as I know the sergeant does not have the authority to arrest us and there‘s nothing that we‘ve done criminally or civilly wrong, illegal.  So, there is no authority for them to be able to arrest.

What they can do is say that we‘re in contempt like they have done in the Senate.  But that doesn‘t reach over into having law enforcement then coming to enforce what the Senate wants.  That‘s completely ridiculous.  But more importantly, it‘s bully tactics.  It‘s threatening.  It‘s petty.

And, really, if they spent the amount of energy they‘ve spent trying to figure out how to threaten us, and how to force us back, instead to sit down and figure out how to talk, do what we need to do for the Wisconsin workers and to put Wisconsin on the right track, and to hear from the half a million people who have come to the capitol—we‘d be in a better situation now.

SCHULTZ:  Lena, how concerned are you and your 13 other colleagues about the way your staffers are being treated?  How they are being threatened and moved around and such stuff as that, that, you know, that‘s got to be a pretty unsettling situation.  Does that affect the group?

TAYLOR:  It really does.  It‘s very sad, Ed.  We‘re very concerned.

I mean, we have staff that have been with us for long periods of time.  They have a supervising senator that has come into the office.  Some have been, you know, very cordial and haven‘t been mean in any sense, and that‘s the experience that my office has had.  But other offices have had senators coming in demanding that visitors leave.

SCHULTZ:  Yes.

TAYLOR:  They have threatened to take the budget.  They haven‘t allowed them to fax or copy.  I mean, it‘s really is—it really is—it‘s sad to see them do this.

SCHULTZ:  Is there a deal on the table—is there a deal on the table?  Are you close to a deal?

TAYLOR:  There‘s been more conversation, but we‘re not close to a deal.  And the governor spoke about in the clip that you showed that there are individuals who want to leave and there are the reasonable ones in the group, and then those are not—listen, we all want to come home.  We‘ve been waiting on our governor the stand up and be a leader since the day we came.

We were ready to dart right back to Packer land, you know, and get out of this Bear country, you know?  But it wasn‘t something that we could get done because our governor spent more time coming in front of the cameras talking about what he won‘t do instead of trying to sit down and do what needs to be done for the Wisconsin people and show leadership.

SCHULTZ:  It seems interesting, every time some rumors are—circulate about a deal, or something comes up, he very opportunistically calls a press conference and goes and makes you folks the villain in all of this.  It‘s really a pattern of behavior, no doubt.

Senator Taylor, great to have you with us tonight.

For more, let‘s bring in Reverend Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network.

Reverend, when you hear that tax dollars would be diverted from all taxpayers to pay for private schooling—where does that take us in your opinion?

REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK:  I mean, that‘s the epitome of an insult, Ed.  At one level, you have this governor as well as in Ohio and other states and we are talking Wisconsin here, that are talking about what they are dealing with terms of the deficit, in terms of being in the red, the unions, the teachers, everyone gives back.  They say we‘ll concede a lot of these things, we all will sacrifice, take collective bargaining off the table.

That‘s not enough.  On top of that, they now want to spend public dollars to give vouchers to private schools for kids that will never ever come from the neighborhoods that most need public education.  I‘m against vouchers, period.  But now to come with this is an insult to add insult to injury, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  Well, I‘ll say it.  This is a racist budget.  I mean, anybody with a brain knows that those 82 percent of the kids under the poverty level are never going to go to a private school, and yet the governor wants the parents of those kids to take a portion of their tax dollars and fund private schools.

I mean, it is a racist budget.  You cannot get around it.  It‘s picking on the poor.  It‘s picking on the inner city kids.

How else can you read it?

SHARPTON:  Well, the results will certainly pick on them.  And when you look at the fact that we now want to take collective bargaining away from the parents, and we want to give a tax break to the rich, and we want to now give a voucher with public money to kids who come from the wealthy communities and criminalize the 14 Democrats that want to stand up and say, wait a minute, let‘s have a reasonable conversation with the people who elect me, we see what we are dealing with.

And I think that we got to stand behind these 14 and we got to stand behind the people in Ohio, Indiana and all around the country that are beginning to get a modified version of the same kind of behavior.

SCHULTZ:  It seems to me, Reverend Sharpton, that social justice has left the arena—social justice has left the discussion.  Your thoughts.

SHARPTON:  I think not only has social justice left, I think that is a challenge now for those who believe in social justice to really force the issue.  I mean, some of us are rallying in Ohio next week with the teachers, Randi Weingarten and Lee Saunders with AFSCME, we got to hit the ground and we‘ve got to let understand that we are not going to let them wear us out.

SCHULTZ:  And, Reverend, you‘ve seen the polling.  The governor is not being viewed favorably right now.  And there‘s a school of thought that he is really losing in the arena of public opinion.

Does that give the Wisconsin 14 a victory in your opinion even if they decide to come home tomorrow or the next day?

SHARPTON:  I think it gives them a huge victory.  When you look at the fact that you have a governor who was just elected in November and now according to polls could not get re-elected now, and when you see the huge amount of people around this country polls saying they want to see collective bargaining maintained and they want to see tax cuts to the rich, I think that that is a result of the sacrifice and courage that the 14 has done by standing up for all Americans of all races that are working class and regular people that want to live just the lives that they have the protection to go to work everyday.

SCHULTZ:  Reverend Al Sharpton, always a pleasure.

SHARPTON:  Thanks, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  Thanks for joining us tonight.

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

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHULTZ (voice-over):  Tonight‘s “Takedown”: the latest shovelful of Hucka-B.S.  This time, he is going after Natalie Portman.  Wait until you hear why.

Paying more at the pump.  The Republicans are blaming the president, because they don‘t want you to know who‘s really benefiting from the high gas prices.

And a memo to Scott Walker: you don‘t have to attack the middle class. 

We‘ve got the proof.  The Democratic governors who are doing it right.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Be sure to check out our new blog at Ed.MSNBC.com.  There you will find links to WeGotEd.com, our radio Web site, Twitter and Facebook.

On the ground reporting from Madison, Wisconsin, with insight into the battle, there is more to come as the pressure mounts.  John Nichols will tell us more and there are developments at this moment.  We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Folks, the crisis in Wisconsin has never been more heated.  A capitol in lockdown, threats of arresting the Wisconsin q14, protesters not giving up, and groups organizing to recall eight Republican senator and eventually Governor Walker himself next year, with every extremist Republican politician in the country watching to see who prevails in this fight.

Let‘s bring in Washington correspondent of “The Nation,” John Nichols, who has been with us from the start of this story and been with us all the way.

And, John, we understand there is some breaking news just moments ago that the capitol has been locked down and that the protesters inside have decided to leave.  What can you tell us?  What do you know?

JOHN NICHOLS, “THE NATION” MAGAZINE:  Well, Ed, we witnessed a quite remarkable scene tonight.  Dane County judge issued an order saying that if the capitol was cleared and if it could be cleaned, then it had to be reopened as what Wisconsinites have always known it, an open, easily accessed state capitol.

We had a lot of little bit of tension early in the night.  The people who have been sitting in really wanted to know what that judge was saying.  They wanted to get a clear picture and they wanted to know that their in some cases up to 10 days, 12 days of sleeping in at the capitol would not be in vane, and they would have succeed in keeping it open.  Capitol Police Chief Tubbs, Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney, and former Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager, among others, came in and talk at great length with the protesters and an agreement was reached to leave the capitol, not to give up their fight for an open capitol, but indeed to advance that fight.

And the fascinating and wonderful thing is that for all of the efforts of Scott Walker and some of his media echo chamber to try and create a dispute, to try and see people being dragged out, at the end, you had police and protesters still working together to make sure that we have a safe and functional capitol and yet people can exercise their free speech rights.

SCHULTZ:  So—

NICHOLS:  In fact, the posters on the walls will remain on the walls, and this capitol—it looks like, we hope—is on its way back to becoming the People‘s House.

SCHULTZ:  So, it will be shut down for 48 hours.  It will be cleaned inside and then it will be opened back up.  And the protesters will be allowed to go back I guess for the second wave as this saga continues.

In the meantime, there is talk of a deal, but as you heard, Senator Lena Taylor earlier tonight and in the last segment, they really don‘t have anything concrete on the table.  It doesn‘t sound like they are coming home any time soon, so where does that leave to us night?

NICHOLS:  Well, let me say a couple of things here, Ed.  First off, if the capitol is being closed and cleaned for 48 hours, one would hope that the Democratic senators would not come back, because you certainly would not want to have some sort of situation where the Senate was meeting while the people were being kept out of the People‘s House.

Also, many assembly members that I have spoken of have warned the Democratic senators to be careful, because the assembly members thought they had deals for open and honest and free will and debate.  But at the end of the day, they ended up with a 17-second vote in which most of the Democrats were not allowed to vote on this fundamental issue.  So, there‘s still a lot of—there‘s a lot of questions that have remained open, and the Democratic senators unquestionably are the heroes of this movement.

SCHULTZ:  OK.

NICHOLS:  But so, too, are the protesters.

SCHULTZ:  And with public opinion starting to turn against the governor, how do you rate the chances of some Republican senators maybe giving up on this radical agenda and siding with the Democrats.  Do you see any of them possibly shifting in their position?

NICHOLS:  Yes, I‘ve been talking to Republican senators and I have sat in their offices.  I‘m quite certain that there will be at least one Republican senator who votes no, but there are, I‘m hoping—and this is something I say as a journalist—I‘m hoping that in our conversations some of the folks are telegraphing some important messages.

And some of the Republicans I have spoken to in recent days have indicated a great discomfort with the division of their state and with the threat to their local schools and to their local services that are contained in Governor Walker‘s budget.

SCHULTZ:  Yes.

NICHOLS:  So, I think that this debate remains open, and there is a real possibility that you could still have some Republican no votes.

SCHULTZ:  But it really comes down to trust, the element of trust.  The trust has been broken so much, every time the Democrats start talking about possible deal in coming back, Walker goes out and sticks it to them in a press briefing and threatening to arrest them.  The Senate took some very bold action with their resolution, very confrontational, said that they are in a constitutional crisis.

I mean, what they are saying, and how this is playing out, it looks like this is nowhere near any kind of conclusion, John.

NICHOLS:  No, it‘s not.  Look, there‘s one important thing to understand.  We had an election in 1800 between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson where they fought about these fundamental questions whether a president had the ability to arrest a member of Congress, whether presidents had an ability to go beyond the Constitution to become essentially monarchs.

Scott Walker is acting like one of those ancient leaders who thinks that when he‘s elected, he becomes a king for four years.  The Democrats have to have an assurance that if they come back, Wisconsin will operate as it always has—

SCHULTZ:  Yes.

NICHOLS:  -- with open debate, with transparency.  And that‘s going to take an agreement not with Scott Walker, I‘m afraid, but with the Republican legislators stepping up and saying, we are not going to be the puppets of this governor.

SCHULTZ:  It‘s going to take something in writing, I think.  John Nichols of “The Nation”—always a pleasure—

NICHOLS:  I think you maybe right.

SCHULTZ:  -- and great to have you with us.

Every single middle-class American is losing money in the bank because of the Republican plan to bust unions, and I‘ll show you the proof.

Actress Natalie Portman‘s pregnancy is troubling to the nation?  We will tell you why Mike Huckabee thinks so.  And we will tell you that, why Mike Huckabee is a hypocrite.  That‘s in the “Takedown.”

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  It‘s time for “The Takedown.”

And I‘ll tell you want, we got another pile of Hucka-B.S. tonight.  I‘ll tell you what, he really stepped in it this time.  Mike Huckabee—well, he has seen the enemy and she has an Oscar.

Actress Natalie Portman was the subject of Huckabee‘s earlier finger-wagging earlier this week on the “Michael Medved Radio Show.”  Medved is frequent guest on this show, THE ED SHOW, but I really wondered what he was thinking when he said this.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

MICHAEL MEDVED, RADIO HOST:  She got up.  She was very visibly pregnant and it‘s really—it‘s a problem because she‘s just seven months pregnant, it‘s her first pregnancy, and she and the baby‘s father aren‘t married . And before 2 billion people, Natalie Portman says, “Oh, I want to thank my love, and he‘s given me the most wonderful gift.”  He didn‘t give her the most wonderful gift which would be a wedding ring.

And it just seems to me that sending that kind of message is problematic.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  It‘s just such a problem to have a pregnant woman out in public.  Michael, buddy, come on.  You didn‘t even get her quote right.  In her acceptance speech, Portman said, her fiance said quote, “has now given me my most important role of my life.”  Well, of course, Huckabee, he didn‘t miss a beat.  He couldn‘t resist being Mr. Judgmental. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HUCKABEE:  You know, Michael, one of the things that is troubling is that people see a Natalie Portman or some other Hollywood starlet who boasts, hey, look, we are having children.  We‘re not married, but we are having these children and they‘re doing just fine.

But there aren‘t really a lot of single moms out there who are making millions of dollars every year for being in a movie.  And it is unfortunate that we glorify and glamorize the idea of out of children wedlock. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Hmm, did you want her to have an abortion, Mike?  What do you any?  So Mike Huckabee finds it is troubling that an adult woman is pregnant in public.  Somehow that means she is glamorizing single motherhood.

Now, stop scratching your head for a moment, folks, and just consider this: Mike Huckabee has a problem with Natalie Portman, is a 29-year-old adult woman with a child on the way, and a husband-to-be.  But he never said a word about one of the GOP‘s favorite teenaged single moms, Bristol Palin, the now 20-year-old daughter of his Fox News co-worker Sarah Palin. 

Let‘s be clear.  Now I don‘t think Huckabee should be making judgments about any young mother.  But his selective choice of target is very cynical, isn‘t it?  He might want to take a trip back to 1992 and find out just how this type of attack turned out for the last national politician who tried it. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAN QUAYLE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Prime time TV has Murphy Brown, a character who supposedly epitomizes today‘s intelligent, highly-paid, professional woman, mocking the importance of fathers by bearing a child alone and calling it just another lifestyle choice. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Well, imagine that ticket.  Huckabee Quayle, 2012.  That would give us a lot of material for the Takedown.

Slashing spending on the backs of the poor isn‘t the only way to balance a budget.  What the Republican governors don‘t want you to know.  And the numbers prove what I have been saying for years; Republican union bashing is literally crushing the entire middle-class.  I‘ll show you how next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW and thanks for staying up with us tonight.  We have been on this Wisconsin story since the beginning.  And for three weeks, I have been telling the audience of THE ED SHOW and on my radio show that this is about union busting, because of the money, to go after the wage earners of America.  It is an all-out Republican assault on every wage earner in the middle-class. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Republicans are pulling out all stops to fundamentally change your earning potential in America.  It is all about them.  What we have watched unfold in Wisconsin is much bigger than a union story.  You have governors like Scott Walker and John Kasich and Chris Christie.  They have put the Republican 30-year attack plan against American wage earners I guess you could say on steroids.  They won‘t stop. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  I just had to do an I told you so from February 22nd.  You know, Chris Christie even says that unions are out to break the middle-class.  Well, the Center for American Progress today put out I thought some interesting data.  And it proves the exact opposite. 

In it is the proof of everything I have been saying all along.  Even wrote two books about it.  According to numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of union membership in this country has been on the decline for decades.  You can see the red line as it goes down. 

Twenty seven percent of Americans were in unions back in 1967.  Now, well, it is under 12 percent.  Lots of union busting going on over the years.  And if you think that this has nothing to do with you, because you‘re not in a union, you better think again. 

The fact is that the fate—the economic fate of the middle-class is tied to that union membership, the blue line.  Well, that is the middle class share of national income over the same period of time.  See any patterns here? 

See any patterns here at all?  Here‘s the union membership over the years, way back in 1967.  Almost 30 percent of the country in the workforce was in organized labor, and it has gone down to where it is today.  And the blue line, right along with it. 

You know, there‘s so much anti-union talk, and so much anti-worker talk in this country.  What if we were—and where that talk comes from.  What if we were to tell the right-wing talkers of America that this is where your income is going to be going?  This is where your income is going to be going in the next 10, 20, 30 years.  You see any movement up at all? 

There‘s no movement.  Little shot there, but there is no upward movement.  None, none.  Bush tax cuts here, didn‘t help at all.  What about the jobs it would create?  What about helping every boat lift in our economic society?  It is not there.  It‘s not there.

This is a failed economic policy, because, you see, if you are not in a union, it doesn‘t matter, because as they chip away at the unions, they chip away at the middle class income in this country. 

I think it is sad.  I really do.  I think it is sad that we vilify workers.  And we have seen this over the year.  And this is the result. 

Let me ask you, do you ever hear any of the Republicans talk about turning around the middle-class income potential in this country?  Do you ever hear that?  Or do you think that they‘re more concerned with the Bush tax cuts.  Let‘s extend them for another two years.  That is what think are all about. 

But let‘s get back to the union busting for a moment.  Over the years, this means—this red line—less and less money coming from unions to support candidates across America who will protect their wages and give them a fair shake in the working place with collective bargaining.  That is what it is about. 

As this membership shrinks, so does their potential to help out their cause.  Listen to Karl Rove admit it not long ago. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR:  They lost 602,000 union members in 2010 alone.  Now, 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 unions to spend on politics.

So yes, you keep having a couple hundred thousand people each year—if a half a million people leave the labor union movement every year, pretty soon, you start having a crimp in the political budgets of these union.  It has a direct effect on the presidential election. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  A direct effect on the presidential election.  Well, that‘s the story.  If you are a middle-classer tonight, just remember that graph, because that‘s where it‘s been and that is where it is going. 

It is going to go down lower.  Keep in mind, the Republicans, they are not going to be happy until it is about down to here.  They are all about union busting.  That is what they‘re about. 

This is where these right-wing Republican governors want to take these numbers.  They don‘t care about the blue line.  This is not a hockey game, folks.  They don‘t care about the blue line.  They don‘t care how low that gets. 

Collective bargaining can save the middle-class in this country.  And that graphic right there proves it. 

Collective bargaining, what has it done for America?  Well, it has given us the 40-hour work week, weekends off, worker safety standards, health care, pensions, vacations, minimum wage.

In fact, unions lifted everybody‘s wage, because they set the bar in the workplace.  And now as union membership goes down, every single wallet in the middle-class is going to get pinched.  And those numbers right there prove it. 

Is that good for America?  Is this trend going to turn our economy around?  I mean, hell, we have given all kinds of tax breaks to the top two percent.  Where are all the jobs?  Where is the income potential? 

It is going in the wrong direction.  So the next time you hear a right-wing talker or some of the jugheads on Fox talk about how unions are bad, you just think about your income if you are below 100,000 dollars a year, because that is your future. 

Coming up, the right wing is blaming President Obama now for high gas prices.  We will tell you who they are covering for.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW and thank you for watching tonight.  Now, the graph I showed you just a moment ago, there is some other things that play into all of this.  This war on the middle-class just isn‘t being fought in the state of Wisconsin.  It is being fought everyday at your grocery store. 

Have you seen food prices?  How about your favorite gas station?  Looked at the gas prices lately?  By the way, folks, you and I, we are losing.  Gas is 3.40 a gallon and headed for four, maybe higher thank that.  But it is not OPEC that is winning.  It is Wall Street. 

Wall Street speculators are back at it again.  And they are driving up the price of commodities, ranging from gas to wheat, which is why we have seen food riots throughout the Middle East.  And yes, that is what about.  You don‘t even know how much of your food and gas dollars go to Wall Street.  It is quite a bit.

Because they do their speculation right in the dark.  So, we don‘t even really know what the real price should be as far as supply and demand and competition.  It is the speculators.  And of course, the right wing, they cannot admit their pay masters are getting rich off of your grocery bill and your gas bill. 

Well, gosh, who are we going to blame for this?  President Obama?  Well, conservatives say he should drill more for oil, that it is all about supply and demand.  Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour said yesterday that President Obama wants gas prices high? 

President Obama knows that Wall Street speculators have driven up the price.  He said so back in 2008, when they ran it up to four dollars a gallon.  But when White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked about gas prices yesterday, he showed no sign of a White House commitment to crack down on Wall Street speculators, let alone the understanding of Wall Street‘s role in all of this. 

Here‘s what he said about bringing down the price of gas. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  We remain confident that the global system has the capacity to deal with major disruptions in oil supply.  And we are obviously discussing—having conversations with international organizations, the IEA, as well as oil-producing states about options related to that capacity. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Oh, yeah, they just don‘t know how to produce anymore, do they?  Did you notice in that soundbite not a single mention of Wall Street?  Now, the fact is there is—there is something President Obama can do about the secret Wall Street gas and food tax.  If he does it right, he could bring down the price of gas overnight by, who knows, maybe a buck a gallon, a 1.50. 

Do you think that the president could do that?  Well, we will tell you how he could do it all next week on this program, in a special series in conjunction with “The Nation” magazine, on the secret Wall Street gas tax.  It starts Monday.  And we have even—going to break a little news that could determine whether you will be paying four bucks a gallon this summer. 

Now you have to be sitting there wondering, gosh, I didn‘t like it when it was four bucks a gallon.  That really slowed down the economy.  Don‘t you think that is what those rich boys on Wall Street want?  Who is going to get the blame?  President Obama will pay the price for that 2012. 

It starts Monday night right here on THE ED SHOW with a special report.  Don‘t miss it.  We are right back. 

Cutting spending at the expense of the working class isn‘t the only way to balance the budget.  There is another solution.  That is next on THE ED SHOW.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And we want to recap the breaking news from this hour in Madison, Wisconsin.  You are looking at pictures of protesters who have been camped out in the capitol for 17 days.  They have agreed to leave so that crews can clean the rotunda.  The agreement came after a judge issued a court order forcing the protesters to leave.  But they came to the agreement that they will be allowed back in on Monday morning after it is closed for 48 hours. 

Well, Republicans would like you to believe that slashing spending on the backs of the poor is the only way to fix a budget crisis.  But, of course, that is a lie. 

How do we know?  Because Democratic governors facing the exact same problems are doing something a little bit different.  They are proposing to raise taxes.  Is the Earth still spinning?  Somebody is going to raise taxes?  That is right, facing a 25 billion dollar budget shortfall, California Governor Jerry Brown has had to cut funding to many state programs, but he also wants to extend across the board tax increases. 

Illinois has a 15 billion dollar budget gap.  Governor Pat Quinn raised both personal and corporate tax rates.  Scott Walker found that hysterical. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. SCOTT WALKER ®, WISCONSIN:  We still have for tourism the bumper sticker that says “Escape to Wisconsin.”  And instead of spending it to tourists, we are going to send it to employers down in the state in Illinois. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  That will turn a lot of people, governor.  Except even with the increase, that the tax rates in Illinois are still lower than Wisconsin‘s.  And Governor Quinn‘s plan will net seven billion of revenue to boot.  Yet, Republican governors are following the Walker model and proposing big tax breaks for businesses, at the expense of everyone else. 

Florida Governor Rick Scott got a 3.5 billion dollar budget shortfall on his hands.  He is calling for two billion dollars in corporate and property tax cuts.  Go figure. 

In Michigan, Rick Schneider‘s business tax cut would cost nearly two billion dollars.  He plans to offset the cost by eliminating a tax credit for low income families. 

An South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard, well, he explains the Republican logic, “a recession is the worst time to raise taxes.”  So I guess that when Reagan did it, it didn‘t count.  Check your history book, big guy in South Dakota. 

Time now to call in “Washington Post” columnist and senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, E.J. Dionne.  Great to have you with us, E.J. 

E.J. DIONNE, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Good to be with you, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  Good to see you tonight.  You wrote a column.  In your column, what Republicans are doing isn‘t bold at all.  In fact, staying in their comfort zone.  Where do you come to that conclusion?  Explain that? 

DIONNE:  Well, if you are a conservative Republican and you come in and you either keep taxes steady or cut the, and then cut a lot of programs, many of which benefit voters who vote the other way, you are not threatening yourself with your base.  You get cheered by your base.  You get a lot attention on conservative media all over the country, and we know a lot of attention in mainstream media. 

The really hard thing to do is what a number of these governors are doing, which is raising taxes and cutting programs at the same time.  That risks making everybody angry at you.  And yet, it is a more balanced approach to budget cutting.  And it is the way that governors used to be behave, Republicans and Democrats alike. 

SCHULTZ:  There is, you know, certain programs and certain areas of the budget that they are really attacking unlike any other time before.  I mean this attack on education, this attack on collective bargaining, is this the long-term strategy?  Or have they been positioning themselves to be this aggressive for some 25 or 30 years, and this is just the best time to do it?  What do you think? 

DIONNE:  Well, I think you have had a kind of steady movement to the right over a long period of time.  I mean, you noted that Ronald Reagan raised taxes.  Who knew that Ronald Reagan was actually a moderate Republican, at least compared to the Republicans you have right now. 

I think there‘s an interesting potential price right here.  I was struck, to go to the Wisconsin story, about a Pew poll that showed a straight up question, do you support Governor Walker or do you support the unions?  The unions won in that poll, 42 to 31 percent, which means the Republicans aren‘t even getting the Republican base; 17 percent of Republicans in that poll said they support the unions. 

I think something important may be happening, that in the last election Democrats really took it on the chin among white working class voters.  They lost them by 30 points in the House races.  I think a lot of those kinds of voters, many of them had been union members or were sympathetic.  They didn‘t vote for some of the cuts.  They support higher taxes on the wealthy. 

I think many of these voters are having second thoughts right now.  And I think that may be one of the reasons why there‘s some nervousness in Wisconsin among Republicans, or so it seems, with the position they have.  And I think that you are going to see that in the Congress among Republicans in some of these cuts. 

SCHULTZ:  Let‘s talk about New Jersey.  That is a state where the governor has been very visible, being touted as a presidential candidate.  And he keeps himself in the media saying he is not going to run.  But, you know, his trick. 

DIONNE:  That is the way to do it. 

SCHULTZ:  That‘s right. 

DIONNE:  I‘m not going to run either, I want to tell you. 

SCHULTZ:  I‘m not going to pitch a perfect game this spring because the Yankees won‘t give me a chance.  But anyway, that state has more millionaires than they do teachers.  And we have gotten into the discussion across the river about shared sacrifice.  I was at one of the rallies, and I asked about shared sacrifice.  And most of these people feel like they are being cheated, that they are willing to give up, but they don‘t want to be the only ones to give up. 

How is that going to play out politically for the governor? 

DIONNE:  Short-term, it is OK, because people were mad at Governor Corzine.  They were unhappy.  I‘m not sure it works so well over a four-year period, because, you know, when you are doing really tough cuts the way you are having to do in a lot of states—Greg Dworkin, who writes for “Daily  Kos” talked about Governor Malloy in Connecticut.  He‘s got some—about 1.8 billion in cuts, including a billion out of labor, but he is offsetting that with 1.5 billion in tax increases. 

I think people look at that and say, OK, I don‘t like this, but at least he is getting something back from wealthier people.  When you take nothing at all out of the best off people in a situation like this, I just don‘t think works in the long run. 

SCHULTZ:  And why aren‘t the Republicans jumping out saying that they are running for president?  It seems that they are somewhat very skeptical to do so or be the first one.  No one has officially announced.  There‘s a lot of speculation obviously with Newt and what not.  But do they think Obama—President Obama may be just too tough to beat? 

DIONNE:  You know, I‘ve talked to a lot of Republicans who, after saying we have a chance and it could go wrong this way or that for Obama, they kind of think he is going to win again.  And I think that is part of it. 

SCHULTZ:  E.J. Dionne, always a pleasure.  Great to have you with us here tonight. 

DIONNE:  Great to be with you. 

SCHULTZ:  Tonight in our survey, I asked have the Wisconsin 14 done enough to come home now?  Eight percent of you said yes; 92 percent of you said no.

That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Ed Schultz.  Be sure to check out our new blog at Ed.MSNBC.com.  “THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O‘Donnell starts right now.  We‘ll see you back here Monday night.

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