The Ed Show for Monday, March 7th, 2011
Read the transcript to the Monday show
Guests: Denny Lauer, Kristopher Rowe, John Nichols, Mark Miller, Lena
Taylor, Patrick Bauer, Kreg Battles, Greg Porter, Andrew Siegel
ED SCHULTZ, HOST: Good evening, Americans. And welcome to THE ED SHOW tonight from New York.
This is what‘s on the table tonight:
Governor Scott Walker rejects talks with Democratic senators even though most Wisconsinites want him to just compromise. This standoff for labor rights is at a crucial tipping point. Republicans are nervous tonight and the Wisconsin 14 are live with us and they will respond.
IPods, iPads, and iPhones—John McCain says we should be proud that they‘re made in America. The problem is they are not.
Wall Street is driving up the price of gasoline. You‘re paying for it now but the Democrats may pay for it big time in 2012. It‘s the first part of an ED SHOW special series tonight.
But this is the story that has me fired up tonight, folks: the Wisconsin 14 and Governor Scott Walker—I guess you could say they are both digging in their heels, waiting for the other side to blink.
Early this morning, Wisconsin Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller offered an olive branch to Walker with this letter. He wrote, “I would ask that you or your authorized representatives agree to meet with us near the Wisconsin/Illinois border to formally resume serious discussions as soon as possible. The people of Wisconsin are overwhelmingly supportive of us reaching a bipartisan, negotiated compromise.”
Well, true to form, Governor Walker used Miller‘s statement to attack him and the group. Walker called Miller‘s letter ridiculous.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SCOTT WALKER ®, WISCONSIN: We need to walk through why this letter is so ridiculous. And I think it‘s important, because for the last several weeks both Senator Fitzgerald and my administration have been reaching out to reasonable senators, many of whom are very interested and willing to come back to the state of Wisconsin. And time and time again, the person standing in the way of making that possible is Senator Mark Miller.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: I tell you what. This Governor Walker, he is the king of the double down. Every time a member of the 14 makes an offer to negotiate, Walker finds a camera and uses his bully pulpit to take shot at the senators. Today, the governor accused Senator Miller of misleading the press, his caucus, and the people of Wisconsin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALKER: And now, I think the public has finally seen in the past 24 hours first hand the frustration that we have felt for days in the sense that they were misled by the statements that Senator Miller made last night to a national media outlet when he said that the Senate was going to come back and now, today, is reversing course on that. I think that‘s indicative of the fact that now that Senator Miller is misleading the public, just like he misled us, and just like apparently he seems to be misleading many members of his own caucus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Why is he being so visible? Why is it that he reacts so much? Because he‘s losing in the arena of public opinion. Walker went on to use a Charlie Brown analogy to accuse Miller of doing the bidding of union bosses in Washington, D.C.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALKER: Time and time again, that analogy with Lucy pulling football kind of explains it all. Time and time again, when we think we have progress, when we‘ve heard repeatedly saying I think we‘re at a point where we can come back and the day—the day comes and goes. And I think many of us have questioned why that is. And increasingly, it seems certain that Senator Miller appears to be listening more to the labor union bosses from Washington than he is even from members of his own caucus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Governor Walker is I guess like Lucy would say a real block head if he doesn‘t think we remember who his boss is.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
IAN MURPHY, BUFFALO BEAST: You got to crush that union.
WALKER: Well it‘s one of those where in the end, you know, the—and I‘ve had only Cullen, and I‘ve talked to him myself, I‘ve had three or four of my other business-leader friends who know him over the years, and just kind of pass the message on to these guys, if they think I‘m caving, they‘ve been asleep for the last eight years because I‘ve taken on every major battle in Milwaukee County and won even in a county where I‘m overwhelmingly overpowered politically because we don‘t budge.
MURPHY: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) right.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Well, Senator Miller, he didn‘t wait very long to respond to Walker‘s cheap shots. He issued this statement after the governor‘s press conference. “I would hope as we move forward the governor and Republican leaders will spend less time at press conferences and more time on the phone or at meetings pursuing a resolution to our differences.”
Senator Miller and the members of the 14 will respond live to Governor Walker‘s letter on this program in a few moments. But a new poll shows by conservative-leaning Wisconsin Policy Research Institute shows that they are on the right side of the issue. Sixty-five percent of Wisconsin voters said Governor Walker should negotiate to find a compromise. Only 33 percent want him to stand strong.
Walker wants to fight this battle out in front of the TV cameras but he is losing the war in the arena of public opinion with Wisconsin voters. The same conservative poll shows Governor Walker has a 54 percent disapproval rating.
This isn‘t just liberal Madison voters. Governor Walker is absolutely, no doubt about it, bleeding independents -- 62 percent of Wisconsin independents think the state is on the wrong track, 57 percent disapprove of Walker‘s job performance, and 59 percent have an unfavorable view of the governor.
Now, the poll shows a much closer split on the 14 Democrats who fled the state. Pretty close here -- 51 percent disapprove of the actions of the Democratic senators, but 47 percent approve. And the four-point split is within the margin of error.
So, it‘s pretty clear to see what‘s happening here. And, of course, there have been rumors all weekend long about a plan for the Wisconsin 14 to come back to the state, but numbers like these have empowered them to stay strong. Editorials and local papers have turned in their favor.
And there are rumors that the Senate Republicans are starting to crack. “The Nation‘s” John Nichols points out the key Republican that everyone is focusing on is Mike Ellis, a veteran senator who has traditionally worked well with Democrats and has a lot of labor ties. He represents a district with strong steel worker union presence.
If the Democrats can‘t get Ellis to change his vote, a recall effort could knock out some other vulnerable Republicans including and these senators, Dan Kapanke, Robert Cowles, Randy Hopper, Luther Olsen, Sheila Harsdorf, and Alberta Darling. This is an interesting story. People in her district have already gathered 25 percent of the recall signatures needed to take her out of the Wisconsin state Senate.
Scott Walker‘s dogmatic approach is never going to change. I think we know that. His ego is too big.
But the key now for the Democrats is to hold tight, don‘t give in and swing these vulnerable Republican senators right into the no column. So, what we have here is a premier political standoff that we haven‘t seen in this country in decades, if ever. We have a governor who is going against all of the polls and wishes of the people, against the popular thought in that state, and he is willing to throw and watch his fellow Republicans get thrown under the bus by the constituents so he can push his ideology.
Now, is that what the last election was all about? If you‘re in Wisconsin, if you‘re in Indiana, Ohio, New Jersey, wherever all of these kinds of things are taking place—ask yourself the question: Is that what it‘s really all about, just for the top 2 percent? Because that‘s where Walker is and the public‘s turning on him.
What the Wisconsin 14 did was they split and they gave them some time and some space for the public to consume all of this and really gather what was going on, and they are winning. They are winning.
There were a lot of rumors in the last week—oh, they‘re coming home. They‘re coming home. Really? Where are they tonight?
We‘ll put a camera on them and let them respond to the governor here in just a few moments.
But, first, get your cell phones out. I want to know what you think. Tonight‘s question: will the Wisconsin 14 face a backlash if they come home now? Text “A” for yes, text “B” for no to 622639, and we‘ll bring you the results later on in the show. Or go to our new blog at Ed.MSNBC.com and we‘ll bring you the results coming up.
Now, this all ties into the recall because a lot of the Republicans are starting to waver because they know what‘s out there. They are reading the political tea leaves and they‘re hearing it on their local streets.
Joining me now is Denny Lauer, a member of the steelworkers local 21279 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Lauer is a constituent of Senator Mike Ellis who may be wavering.
And joining us by phone is Kristopher Rowe, the grassroots campaign manager for the Alberta Darling recall campaign.
And as we go into the 11th hour of how this is going to unfold—
Denney, good to have you with us tonight. Can you—can you pressure—do you think the pressure that you‘re putting on Ellis might change his vote? What do you think?
DENNY LAUER, UNITED STEELWORKERS: Well, I would hope so. I‘ve known Mike for quite a few years, and for those who don‘t know Mike, he has actually grown up quite humbly. His father was a union mill worker. One of his brothers was a garbage man for the city.
So, Mike didn‘t grow up with a silver spoon in his mouth and, you know, he‘s turned his back on the middle class, but I‘m hoping that with some pressure, that Mike will finally come to his senses and see that, you know, the right thing to do is to vote against Governor Walker‘s budget bill.
SCHULTZ: Do you think that all of this talk of a recall could swing his vote?
LAUER: Well, Mike isn‘t up for a recall. He was just elected. So
SCHULTZ: But he sees what‘s happening to—he sees what‘s happening to his fellow constituents.
SCHULTZ: And, obviously, the Republicans do not want to lose the
majority here. They want to keep the majority. I mean, one
SCHULTZ: -- recall is as good as anybody being recalled if they‘re concerned about the majority.
LAUER: And that‘s—
SCHULTZ: Would he one—is he one that might say to other Republicans, hey, maybe this—we‘re over the top here? What do you think?
LAUER: And you bring up a good point. Mike is president of the Senate and might be feeling some pressure from the other Republicans to take another look at this thing and maybe take a different stance on what they feel is the right thing to do. And, you know, they don‘t—they don‘t want to become the minority in the Senate. They definitely want to stay in the majority and you bring up a good point as far as other Republicans potentially getting recalled.
SCHULTZ: Denny, what about this? The budget repair bill in Wisconsin is not polling very well. Only 46 percent of the people support it, 51 percent of the people oppose it.
Are you hearing that in your neighborhood? Has the tide turned?
LAUER: Absolutely. Not only in my neighborhood but even with my own local. There‘s 700 members at my local union that are in Mike Ellis‘ district. And my members are pretty darned fired up over this as well as our community is getting pretty fired up over this as well.
And a Rasmussen poll, a conservative Rasmussen Poll had it at close to 60 percent disapproval for Governor Walker as well.
SCHULTZ: All right. Let‘s turn to Kristopher Rowe.
Kristopher, you are running the recall effort on Alberta Darling. Have you spoken to Senator Darling? Does she know that her job could be on the line?
KRISTOPHER ROWE, RECALL SUPPORTER (via telephone): Well, I haven‘t spoken directly with Senator Darling, but as she‘s watched the news in the last week, she definitely knows what‘s happening.
SCHULTZ: And do you think that this recall momentum is enough to shift her vote?
ROWE: I don‘t think so. We put out there via the media to let her know before we started the recall efforts that if she—that we had—the campaign was raring to go and she could just come to the table at any time, those calls went unanswered. She also stood by Governor Walker since he got elected, and time and time again has come out in support of all of his initiatives.
SCHULTZ: How many signatures do you actually have to recall her?
ROWE: Well, I don‘t have—we don‘t have exact numbers just because we like to pore over the data as they come in and vet the signatures and make sure that they are legitimate. No duplicates. But we do have several thousand already and we just started.
SCHULTZ: You just started. But this is one that you‘re going to have to recall it sounds like because she‘s in the governor‘s camp and won‘t move, right?
ROWE: That is correct. She is co-chair of the joint finance committee, so she‘s in a powerful position and she has refused to listen to her constituents, and it‘s—we can‘t wait for her to be up for re-election in 2012.
SCHULTZ: Some other numbers that are out there, the WPRI Poll. Would you solve the budget—how would you solve the budget gap? Seventy-two percent of the people in Wisconsin want the income tax on people making over $150,000 to go up. Fifty percent say raising the state tax by 1 percent point. And 31 percent reducing state aid to local governments and school districts and only 30 percent saying laying off state workers.
It appears to me that the governor—those two bottom numbers: 31 percent, 30 percent, those are the Republicans. Do you think that‘s accurate?
ROWE: I—that sounds—that sounds right. I mean, the—what we have seen in our district here and in my community is that the initiatives that he has come forth with with the budget repair bill are just unacceptable and exactly what those polls say. I mean, we—the corporate taxes are too low and we should be, you know, should be doing a multi-approach to this and try to raise some revenue.
SCHULTZ: Good to have you with us tonight, Kristopher Rowe and also Denny Lauer. Thanks so much for joining us.
Let‘s turn now to John Nichols, Washington correspondent of “The Nation.”
John, good to have you on. Do you think Governor Walker could lose two Republican senators?
JOHN NICHOLS, THE NATION: I think there‘s no question that he could.
Now, Ed, the question is when does he lose them? Does he lose them in this vote that will eventually come in the state Senate? Remember, we have to have three Republican senators vote no. We‘re pretty sure one that senator, Dale Schultz, will do so. The question is whether Mike Ellis who Denny has spoken of so well and wisely tonight will swing over. If Mike Ellis swings over, then I think you‘re going to see other relatively moderate to conservative Republicans like Rob Cowles and potentially Luther Olsen swing.
SCHULTZ: Do you think—
NICHOLS: But if they don‘t swing—
SCHULTZ: Yes. If they don‘t swing, you know, the governor wins, right?
NICHOLS: Well, the governor might win the battle but then I think this recall will go ahead with incredible power. Ed, the fact of the matter is that recall efforts have been launched in eight districts across this state and I‘ve been talking to people around Wisconsin. I‘m amazed at the amount of energy. People are staying up late and waking up early to go out and get these signatures.
And the fact of the matter is that these Republicans are conscious of what is going on. I am talking to Democrats and Republicans, and what I am hearing, frankly, is we keep focusing on the stress of the Democrats in this state Senate, the 14. The fact is that I think these Republicans, many Republican senators, are under just as much or more stress.
SCHULTZ: You get a sense that Governor Walker will not recover from these poll numbers that are out there and they‘re pretty startling. Sixty-eight percent of Republicans think things in Wisconsin are going in the right direction. That‘s a big number against I think. Ninety-six percent of Democrats say they‘re on the wrong track.
And that very same poll, the Public Policy Poll, Walker‘s approval ratings is at 46 percent, 52 percent disapproved. And the Rasmussen Poll, he‘s at 43 percent approval, 57 percent disapproval. It really now is the political struggle for the Wisconsin 14 to continue to hold on and see if this recall pressure will change a vote.
That‘s what we‘re down to. Are we not, John?
NICHOLS: I think you‘re right, Ed. And I think also that when you start to look inside those polls and you see the almost radical movement in union households, the fact of the matter is that the Reagan Democrats are coming home to the Democratic Party. The gender gap is widening out, women becoming overwhelmingly supportive of the Democrats.
NICHOLS: And among young people, the coming generations of voters overwhelmingly Democratic.
SCHULTZ: All right. John Nichols of “The Nation,” good to have you with us tonight.
Remember to answer tonight‘s question at the bottom of the screen.
I want to know you what think.
SCHULTZ (voice-over): The Wisconsin 14 still in exile. I‘m sure the response to the governor‘s bully tactics will be positive.
JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA: An iPad or iPhone, those are built in the United States of America.
SCHULTZ: He had it right the first time. Back on the campaign trail.
MCCAIN: Now, I am not an expert on Wall Street.
SCHULTZ: Gas prices jump over 40 cents in a month.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it could hurt your pocket, especially with no job.
SCHULTZ: But don‘t buy the B.S. about the Middle East causing the rise. A familiar enemy returns.
SCHULTZ: Be sure to check out our new blog at Ed.MSNBC.com. There, you will find links to WeGotEd.com, Twitter and Facebook. Join up.
Next, standing in Walker‘s way, the Wisconsin 14. Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller will react to the governor‘s latest round of attacks. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW and thanks for watching tonight.
It‘s been nearly three weeks since 14 Democratic lawmakers left Wisconsin to block a vote that would kill collective bargaining. Earlier, Governor Scott Walker rejected Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller‘s request for talks, calling the offer ridiculous.
Walker claimed his side was close to a deal with Democrats in negotiating for the return. He provided a time line of meetings two key Democrats had with Walker allies.
The Senate majority leader, Scott Fitzgerald, even named the Democrats: State Senators Tim Cullen and Bob Jauch. Bad move.
Senator Jauch told the “Associated Press,” “Right now, I‘m so damn mad at his misrepresentation of the truth and the public should be as well. Trust is completely broken down now. I don‘t believe anything he says.”
Those are the Democrats. Here‘s what we know about the Republicans:
Today, Scott Walker said he is already counting on Republican State Senator Dale Schultz to vote with Democrats. And you heard what John Nichols had to say earlier, that the Democrats are targeting Mike Ellis. Republicans need one Democrat to flip. Democrats need three Republicans to come out against Walker‘s bill.
Joining me now is the Wisconsin Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller and Senator Lena Taylor. Welcome to the program tonight.
There—you know, that picture right there, America is looking at people who have got the guts to stand up to a radical agenda. You‘re leading the way.
Senator Miller, Governor Walker called your request for talks ridiculous. What‘s your reaction to that?
STATE SEN. MARK MILLER (D), WISCONSIN: Well, you know, Ed, it‘s good to see you again. It‘s been two long weeks since last we met. But, you know, the Governor Walker in that same press conference said he had zero flexibility and then he accuses us of not being able to negotiate.
I think I‘m beginning to understand why governor—one of the reasons why the governor wants to get rid of public bargaining and that‘s because he doesn‘t know how to do it, you know? The negotiations are what we are about in the political arena. Negotiations are what it‘s about in collective bargaining. You got to know how to do it, though.
SCHULTZ: Senator Taylor, the Republicans are out there naming names. I mean, that kind of breaks down the trust. They‘re out there. They called out Cullen and Jauch.
And where are Schultz and Ellis right now? Where do you think they stand right now on the Republican side?
STATE SEN. LENA TAYLOR (D), WISCONSIN: Well, you know, Schultz has pretty much stated in different ways that he does not support the bill. He‘s wanted to see it amended.
Ellis has always been a very practical person. And as you stated earlier in your show that he has worked in a bipartisan way and know that he and Senator Risser have a good relationship as well as others. And so, there is, you know, always a possibility that individuals and we hope that individuals will do what‘s right.
We‘re wondering whose side are those senators, those 19 senators, those Republican senators, whose side are they on? Are they on the side of Wisconsin workers or are they on Walker‘s side?
SCHULTZ: Mr. Miller, do you think that this recall conversation that‘s being had in Wisconsin is enough to turn some of the folks away from the Republican Party and go with the workers?
MILLER: Oh, absolutely. Walker‘s radical agenda has so divided our state that basically these recall efforts are a do-over in the November election. Walker did not campaign on his agenda. It‘s been exposed in the budget repair bill.
It‘s been exposed on the new budget bill which is undermining everything that we hold dear in Wisconsin. It‘s privatizing the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It is gutting the long tradition of environmental laws that are so important to our clean air and water.
Absolutely the—he is—he has divided our state and this will be a do-over for us.
TAYLOR: Ed, if I could, I just want to say one thing about the recalls. You know, in Alberta Darling‘s district alone, there was a line around the block. There were hundreds of people who came to participate.
So, if this does not energize—you know, if this hasn‘t energized Wisconsinites I don‘t know, you know, why they‘re, you know, around the corner. And more importantly, I hope that it will make senators rethink their position.
SCHULTZ: Well, if it doesn‘t, where does that leave the 14? Where does that leave you? If they don‘t—if they don‘t cave in and they don‘t change and they don‘t—I mean, the public polling that‘s out there shows that the Republicans are clearly on the wrong side. But what if they stand with the governor? How long can you hang in there?
MILLER: Well, it‘s a question of whose side are you on? As Senator Taylor said, it‘s a basic, fundamental question. Are you with an unpopular governor or are you with the workers who have been demonstrating for weeks?
SCHULTZ: It‘s been almost—it‘s been almost three weeks. I mean, there are no talks that are productive at this point. Is that a fair analysis?
TAYLOR: Well, clearly, based on what they did today, there‘s a question of whether or not as Senator Jauch said, whether or not we can trust anything that they say or anything that they do. And you ask, you know, whether or not, you know, how long we can stay out. You know, the issue at this juncture is whose side are they on as Senator Miller has stated.
And in the long run, we‘re going to ultimately have to go home. We can‘t stay here. We‘ll continue to analyze what to do but the recalls really also provide an opportunity for Wisconsinites to take this baton and to really do what needs to be done to hold them accountable.
My favorite candy is Now and Laters. They‘re going to see them now, they‘re going to hear them now, they‘re going to listen to them now, or they‘re going to have to deal with them later.
SCHULTZ: Senator Miller, Senator Taylor and the group, great to have you with us tonight. I appreciate your time so much.
Just like Wisconsin, Democratic legislators in Indiana have had enough for their governor‘s plan to gut workers‘ rights. Tonight another exclusive interview. The leadership of the Indiana 37 will join me.
John McCain already told America that he doesn‘t know much about the economy. It looks like he doesn‘t know much about technology either. “The Takedown” is next. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Time for “The Takedown” tonight.
Senator John McCain played the role of jobs expert on ABC yesterday. Somebody should have reminded ABC that John McCain said this when he was running for president: “The issue of economics is something that I‘ve never really understood as well as I should.”
That didn‘t stop Christiane Amanpour from asking McCain his opinion of this video which showed a house being emptied of every item not made in America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, ABC NEWS: What does it say to you about that empty house, but particularly its impact on jobs here in the United States?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA: I think it‘s obviously a recognition of the reality and the trends that cheaper, lower cost labor products will usually prevail over products made in a higher wage and income countries. But I would also point out that if you‘d emptied that house there, if you‘d left a computer there or an iPad or an iPhone, those are built in the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Actually, John, they‘re all made in China. I guess you never heard about the Foxconn factory. Well, it‘s a Chinese factory that makes products like iPads, iPhones. Last year, more than a dozen employees committed suicide.
Or how about the Chinese iPhone factory Wintek which 62 employees had confirmed nerve damage from the inhalation exposure to n-hexane, which the company admits it used illegally for nearly a year in the production process?
Now, you might be saying, oh, Ed McCain is just an old dude. Leave him alone. He just made a mistake.
But here‘s why I don‘t buy that excuse. John McCain is on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and P. He helps make decisions on jobs in this country. And here is his solution to the American jobs crisis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: And as the president said continuously and I agree with him, innovation is the key to us being able to restore our economy and that‘s got to be exports. We got to have free trade agreements.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Well, there you go again. Free trade is always the answer. In fact, John McCain voted to approve every free trade agreement that has come up in the Senate. He says NAFTA was a good idea even though it resulted in a loss of more than a million U.S. jobs. John McCain and his corporate backers love these trade agreements. They helped send American jobs to underpaid foreigners and make sure the products like iPhones are never made in the United States of America again.
And if you think this isn‘t related to what‘s going on in Wisconsin and around the country, you better think again. When you bust unions and get rid of their bargaining power, it‘s easier to fire workers and shift their jobs overseas. So, when I slammed John McCain for not knowing iPhones are made in China, I‘m not doing it because he‘s old. I‘m doing it because he doesn‘t care about the consequences.
That‘s “The Takedown.”
Still ahead, everyone is talking about gas prices, food prices. We‘ll tell you how Wall Street is making it happen and the key decision facing President Obama over what to do about it all.
And Democrats taking a stand for workers against the Mitch Daniels agenda in the Hoosier State will go to an undisclosed location and talk to the leaders. Hey, we can‘t forget them—the leaders of the Indiana 37. That‘s next.
Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back.
Just like his pal Scott Walker in Wisconsin, Governor Mitch Daniels in Indiana wants to get public education system in his state. I mean, he wants to get it. And in Indiana, just like in Wisconsin, Democratic lawmakers are taking a stand.
Last month, 37 Democratic state representatives left Indiana to stop Republicans from jamming the right-to-work legislation through the statehouse. The law would have gutted private unions‘ ability to organize in the state.
And as we showed last week with the graph from the Center for American Progress, as unions get busted—well, so does the middle class. Democrats left the state and got Republicans to pull their right-to-work bill off the table. What Republicans have refused to take off the table is legislation aimed at gutting the state‘s public school system. Governor Daniels, like his pal Scott Walker, wants the public—the public—to fund private education. Are you for that?
So, those 37 independent Indiana Democrats have remained in Illinois. And in the week since, they took a stand there that they have been big protesters at the Indiana statehouse where tomorrow workers will mourn the death of the middle class with a New Orleans-style funeral procession.
Now, today, Republicans began fining Democratic lawmakers $250 for each day they spend outside Indiana. Just like the Wisconsin 14, the Indiana 37 have vowed not to return until they get a compromise.
Joining me now from an undisclosed location in Illinois is Indiana State Democratic Leader Patrick Bauer along with Indiana State Representatives Lawson, Porter, Battles, and Tyler. Welcome to all of you tonight.
Leader Bauer, good to have you on. I want you to speak to this issue about the public paying for private schools. How likely is a compromise on the school voucher system seeing that the Republicans just want to hang on to that so bad? Your thoughts on that.
STATE REP. PATRICK BAUER (D), INDIANA: Well, there will be a voucher bill that is—who is in effect—we‘re trying to make it lower income families and a lower number. Right now, they have it so it‘s split the first year. It would cost the state approximately $800 million in the second year, about $1.6 -- $160 million. That‘s $100 million, $160 million the second year, $80 million the first and that will be taken from public education.
If we can lower the number that are eligible and that if we can keep that income to just lower income families, we might be able to work something out. They have moved in the one area of lowering the amount. It‘s down to about $61,000 now for a family of four. There is some progress there.
SCHULTZ: Yes. Mr. Battles do you see this as the big sticking point to bring you folks home?
STATE REP. KREG BATTLES (D), INDIANA: I think it‘s one of the big sticking points. Clearly, we‘re worried about two things. We‘re not only worried about making sure we provide the best education we can afford for the young people in Indiana, but it‘s just as crucial that once they get that education, they have the ability to get a job and more importantly a job that earns a living wage. And those living wage issues are just as important as the education. I think they‘re dually important.
SCHULTZ: Greg Porter, Governor Daniels called teachers and other public employees, quote, “the privileged elite.” Do state employees in Indiana agree with that? What is the response to that?
STATE REP. GREG PORTER (D), INDIANA: Absolutely not. We‘re not the privileged elite. That‘s just a sound bite the governor wants to portray in our society. They are hardworking middle class Americans here in our state of Indiana and they‘re doing a wonderful job. And our state has been built on the back of those individuals in our community. Teachers are hardworking public servants as well as educators in our great state.
SCHULTZ: And, Mr. Porter, how do you think Indiana residents feel about tax dollars going to private education? When not everybody in that state can afford private education?
PORTER: That is not something that we—we‘ve done a poll and almost 60 percent of the individuals do not agree with that in regards to vouchers going to public schools—I mean, private schools. You cannot take private—public dollars to provide public education and private schools. That‘s just not the way it should be done.
And we, as our citizens do understand that and that‘s what this is about. We slowed down the process, Ed, to show individuals what was going on in our community. Now that the people really realize what is happening, we‘re getting more support in regards to our slowdown and putting the Republicans in a time-out mode.
SCHULTZ: Yes. And Democrats—
BAUER: And we‘re getting support from Republican teachers, too.
SCHULTZ: Are you getting support? So, is the tide turning do you think in your favor?
BAUER: Well, the—we‘re getting thousands of e-mails and that includes a lot of Republicans supporting us in this education battle, in this fight to save working people.
SCHULTZ: Mr. Bauer, finally, I understand that Republicans need six of the 37 Democrats to return in order to go ahead with voting. Is that the case? Just how unified is your group at this point?
BAUER: Well, they do need six and we‘re very unified. Every day, we come together and for strength and to keep on going and keep on fighting.
SCHULTZ: You see a lot of parallels on what‘s going on in Wisconsin, what‘s happening with you folks in Indiana. Do you think it‘s an orchestrated effort across the board by the conservatives?
BAUER: Well, that‘s what I understand. I understand that there are many Republican governors that are going after public employees, including teachers. Our governor, six years, seven years ago, ended collective bargaining—
BAUER: -- for public state officials. He‘s now expanding that to include local public officials and teachers. And that is happening in other states. So, there seems to be an attack on education and on public employees everywhere. Ours is even deeper, though, because they‘re going after prevailing wage and project labor agreements—
BAUER: -- which—so they‘re going deeper, wider, and harder in Indiana.
SCHULTZ: We will follow a story in Indiana. Indiana State Representatives Patrick Bauer, Kreg Battles, and Greg Porter—thank you so much for joining us tonight.
Coming up: the war on the middle class—my special report on the secret tax you‘re paying at the pump and at the grocery store. How will Wall Street profits come from it? Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: And it‘s not too late to let us know what you think. Tonight‘s text question: Will the Wisconsin 14 face a backlash if they come home now? Text “A” for yes, text “B” for no to 622639. Or go to our blog, our new blog, at Ed.MSNBC.com. The results are coming up.
Plus, when we come back, a special week-long series. What no one is telling you about rising gas prices and crude prices. Wall Street is getting rich off your gas and grocery bill. President Obama has one chance to stop it.
We‘re breaking news on this show tonight. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: We talk all the time about the war on the middle class. But it‘s not just union-busting and bailouts for fat cats. Wall Street picks your pocket every time you go to the grocery store, fill up at the gas station or turn up your thermostat.
In a special series in conjunction with “The Nation” magazine, all this week, we‘re going to show you just how Wall Street does all of this. And we‘ll tell you the one very simple, essential step President Obama has to take if he wants to do something about it.
The first thing you need to know is that supply and demand no longer controls prices for basic commodities like gas and wheat. A “Bloomberg News” survey last month found that the gasoline supply, this country at an 18-year high.
So, don‘t believe it when they say, when they blame this latest round of price hikes on the violence in Libya.
SCHULTZ (voice-over): The price of gas has shot up to $3.51, up 13 percent in just the past month—even though Libya produces less than 2 percent of the world‘s oil and even though the Saudis agreed to ramp up their production to help compensate.
So, why the big spike? Because the price of oil is driven by speculators. Here‘s how it works: people who buy and sell oil, like aviation companies, heating oil companies, need to protect themselves against big swings in the price of oil. So, they make deals with each other to lock in prices down the road.
FDR knew that Wall Street wanted in on these deals because if speculators could overwhelm the market, they could drive up the price. So, he put limits on how much betting Wall Street could do.
Fast forward 50 years, and under Democrats and Republicans alike, those limits have come crumbling down. For commodities ranging from gasoline to wheat, speculators now drive the price. The CFTC, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, was empowered by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law to restore limits on Wall Street speculation.
And the need for those limits is a bipartisan cause. McCain and Obama both called for regulating the speculators after MSNBC reported on this issue in 2008. Small businesses agreed, because they can‘t protect themselves against price swings when speculators are jacking up prices.
The World Bank and the U.N. agree. Even Bill O‘Reilly and Dennis Kucinich agree.
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO: As the chairman of the Domestic Policy Subcommittee, I‘ve been looking into the role of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission.
BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS: Oh, I‘m with you on that. Go get them.
KUCINICH: That‘s right. Well, you know what they‘re doing, they‘re actually standing back while all the speculation is going. It has nothing to do with supply and demand—
KUCINICH: -- driving the price of oil.
O‘REILLY: Get them.
KUCINICH: And you know what? I didn‘t know that we were together on something.
SCHULTZ: But the CFTC hasn‘t done it yet. Why not? Democrats out number Republicans on the CFTC three to two. But one of the Democrats, Michael Dunn, says he does not think limiting speculation will bring down prices.
So, the CFTC doesn‘t have the votes yet to limit the speculation. Dunn was appointed by President Bush. His term expires this June giving, President Obama the chance to appoint someone who will limit speculation.
If President Obama makes the wrong choice here, you could be paying for it at the grocery store and the gas pump. And the Democrats could pay for it at the polls in 2012.
SCHULTZ: THE ED SHOW has learned the Obama administration has begun vetting a replacement for Dunn on the CFTC. The White House told us it‘s against their policy to tell us who they are considering for the CFTC. But they also did not answer the key question of whether they are committed to putting someone who will back the Democrats on the CFTC and put in those limits on Wall Street‘s speculation.
When we come back, a working American who is getting crushed by these speculators makes a personal plea to the president. That‘s next.
Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: And if President Obama fails to stop Wall Street speculators, prices for gas and food and heating oil will continue to skyrocket. The recovery will stall. Job creation will sputter to a halt. Republicans would love that. And Democrats, including the president, will head into the 2012 elections running on high gas, high food prices, and a stalled economy.
How good is that going to be?
We‘ll have more on the politics tomorrow of all of this with Chris Hayes of “The Nation” magazine. But, tonight, we wanted to put a face on this problem—someone whose business is struggling under the secret taxes imposed by these Wall Street speculators.
When Pigs Fly is a bakery, with six locations in the New England area. Wall Street speculators have driven up the cost of their supplies and the cost of the gas it takes to deliver the goods.
Let‘s bring in the co-owner of When Pigs Fly, Andrew Siegel, who has testified to Congress about Wall Street commodity speculation.
Andrew, thanks for your time tonight.
ANDREW SIEGEL, BAKERY CO-OWNER: Thanks for having me.
SCHULTZ: You bet. How do you explain to people who doubt that Wall Street is driving up your costs?
SIEGEL: Well, I think that—well, I think most people don‘t really believe it. If I had to try to explain it to somebody, I think that Wall Street pretty much thrives on people‘s fears and emotions, and when I heard you talking earlier about whether oil prices are rising because of the fighting going on in Libya, I‘m sure that probably has something to do with it. But they use those fears to get us, you know, to get—to drive the prices higher through buying commodities.
SCHULTZ: And you run into that in your business, obviously. What would you say to President Obama if he were watching right now—what would—about this issue? What would you say to him? What you need him to do?
SIEGEL: Well, I think what we need to do is we need to stop the speculation. I mean, that‘s the way—that‘s what we need to do. But, I don‘t think it‘s reducing the amount of speculation. I think it‘s elimination the speculation. Whether that can be done or not, I mean, I‘m not really sure.
I own a business. I‘m really kind of in the perfect storm now because we use flour to bake our bread. We use propane to bake it and I use gasoline to deliver it. And so, I‘m getting hit from all ends.
SIEGEL: If there‘s one thing I would say—go ahead.
SCHULTZ: No, go ahead. If there‘s something you‘d say, it would be, what?
SIEGEL: Well, I know one thing that speculators thrive on and they thrive on being able to be highly leveraged. And what happens is that, you know, if you want to go out and buy futures now, you can put down 10 percent of your money and own 10 times as much of the future.
So, I would think that if they just raised the limits up, said, hey, you know, let‘s make these people put up 100 percent of the money instead of 10 percent, we got to dry up all that liquidity and it will get people out of the market.
SCHULTZ: No doubt. And, of course, I should point out that the Republicans, they won‘t fund the enforcement that‘s needed on all this even though they say that they are the party of small business.
Andrew Siegel, thanks for your time tonight. I appreciate it.
Our special series on President Obama and the Wall Street speculators continues tomorrow night with Chris Hayes of “The Nation” magazine.
Tonight in our survey, I asked: Will the Wisconsin 14 face a backlash if they come home now? Eighty-one percent of you said yes, 19 percent of you said no.
That‘s THE ED SHOW. I‘m Ed Schultz.
“THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O‘Donnell starts right now. We‘ll see you back here tomorrow night.
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