The Ed Show for Wednesday, March 9th, 2011
Read the transcript to the Wednesday show
Guests: Fred Risser, Mark Miller, Julie Lassa, Kathleen Vinehout, Robert
Wirch, Jim Holperin, Lena Taylor, Dave Hansen, Tim Carpenter, Chris Larson,
Peter Barca, Cory Mason, Mark Pocan, John Nichols, Mike Langyel, Bart
ED SCHULTZ, HOST: Good evening, Americans.
From Norfolk, Virginia, my hometown, welcome to THE ED SHOW tonight.
And, of course, breaking news out of Wisconsin this evening—
Senate Republicans vote to strip workers of their rights in a stunning political move.
We‘ve got reaction from the Wisconsin 14 here on THE ED SHOW, exclusively tonight. We‘ll find out what is their next move. Plus, reaction on the ground in Madison, Wisconsin. What does this actually mean for the workers? What‘s their next move?
And, can the Republicans get away with this? We‘ll discuss the legal ramifications of Scott Walker‘s war on the middle class in Wisconsin.
Democratic lawmakers are calling what their Republican counterparts did tonight an affront to democracy.
The Wisconsin Senate passed a bill stripping collective bargaining rights from over 175,000 state employees. Senate Republicans voted 18-1 in what is being considered a bold political move—Republicans took collective bargaining out of the budget bill, and voted without the Democrats. Before the votes were cast Democratic Assemblyman Peter Barca made a last ditch appeal to Senate Republicans, and, of course, they ignored him.
Now, the bill heads to the Wisconsin assembly for a vote tomorrow.
It‘s expected to pass and Governor Scott Walker will take over from there.
Walker and his Republicans in the Senate have been saying—actually all along—that collective bargaining was a fiscal issue. Well, tonight they proved otherwise. They proved that this was really all about union-busting—which they have been accused of all along.
Governor Walker put out this statement following the vote of the Senate tonight: “The Senate Democrats have had three weeks to debate this bill, and were offered repeated opportunities to come home, which they refused. In order to move the state forward, I applaud the legislature‘s action today to stand up to the status quo and take a step in the right direction to balance the budget and reform government.”
That reforming of government is union-busting, in my opinion. Wisconsin Democrats say that this was undemocratic, and they plan to legally challenge it every step of the way.
So, at this hour, here‘s the scene: protesters are now flocking back to the capitol. The latest statement, we have from Democratic Minority Leader Miller, is we will not be back in Wisconsin tomorrow.
So, where do we go from here? The Republicans basically today said we‘re going to move without you. And they are saying that they are on legal ground.
The Wisconsin 14 will find out what they say in a moment.
Get your cell phones out. I want to know what you think about all of this. Tonight‘s question: Have the Wisconsin Republicans won their union-busting battle? Text “A” for yes, text “B” for no to 622639, or go to our new blog at Ed.MSNBC.com. I‘ll bring you the results later on in the show.
Joining us right now: members of the Wisconsin 14 who were still across state lines.
Thank you for joining us tonight.
And I want to start first, if I may, Senator Fred Risser.
Senator Risser, you have been around this process longer than anyone. Can you tell us tonight from your knowledge whether what the Republicans did today in the Senate is legal or not? And what the next move is going to be for the Wisconsin 14?
STATE SEN. FRED RISSER (D), WISCONSIN: I have never seen anything like this in my life. You know, the governor, instead of acting like a leader, and trying to negotiate with people, decided that he wanted to get this bill passed so bad, that he not only bent the rules, but he broke the rules. I think it‘s disgusting. And I think the public will react accordingly.
SCHULTZ: Senator Mark Miller, minority leader for the Democrats—
STATE SEN. DAVE HANSEN (D), WISCONSIN: I just wanted to say as a former public employee, I really appreciated what labor organizations did for me. I drove a truck for the city of Green Bay sanitation before I became a state senator. And without that, we wouldn‘t have had any pay or any benefits.
And that‘s what they‘re trying to do—they‘re trying to remove any right to bargain and negotiate and remove collective bargaining that‘s been in place for 50 years. It is a sad, sad day. And it‘s ridiculous what those 18 Republican senators did today. And our governor should be ashamed of himself.
SCHULTZ: Senator Miller, can you tell us, what are you going to do? Are the Wisconsin 14 going to stay out of state or are you coming back tomorrow?
STATE SEN. MARK MILLER (D), WISCONSIN: Absolutely, we‘re going to go back to Wisconsin.
It‘s just the first of many battles. This is a battle that needs to be joined in any every way we can, to use every bit of our effort, every bit of our wisdom because this outrage cannot stand. It‘s absolutely essential that we go back and fight this.
We join the citizens of Wisconsin who have been demonstrating and protesting and writing letters and doing everything they can to tell the governor that this cannot be—that this cannot be the future of Wisconsin. And we are going to be back there right shoulder to shoulder, arm to arm, to fight this battle right along with them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But not tomorrow.
MILLER: But not tomorrow.
SCHULTZ: And we want to hear from all of you tonight. You can just go ahead and pass the microphone.
Tell your Wisconsinite folks exactly how you feel about the situation right now.
STATE SEN. JULIE LASSA (D), WISCONSIN: Well, Ed, I think that it‘s absolutely shameful what the Republicans have done in the state Senate, what they‘re going to do in the state assembly tomorrow. You know, it really does take away from our Democratic process in Wisconsin.
This bill, they were so desperate to strip away 50 years of worker rights that they had to go and break the Open Meetings Law, according to the Republican attorney general. They voted on a bill that wasn‘t even—they didn‘t even have before them. And it wasn‘t even available to the public anywhere.
So, in their desperation to strip away workers‘ rights, they broke the law, and they rammed through this bill that will have significant ramifications for, as you said—you know, well over 100,000 workers in the state of Wisconsin. But we are going to take this fight, and we are going to fight it out in every part of the state.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That‘s right.
LASSA: And we are going to get the Senate back. And we are going to make sure that Governor Walker and his radical agenda that he has set to work against working families and the middle class will not stand.
STATE SEN. KATHLEEN VINEHOUT (D), WISCONSIN: You know, Ed, people feel tonight angry and they feel betrayed. And they feel like they want to do something.
And I would appeal to all those people who have worked so hard to try and help their voice be heard, that the way to have their voice be heard is to now turn to the ballot box. If we can‘t have the voices of the people heard, we‘ve got to change the faces of those who represent the people. And it‘s very important that everyone get involved in the recall elections, in any way that they can, because we need to make sure the people‘s voice is heard, and it will be heard on election day.
STATE SEN. ROBERT WIRCH (D), WISCONSIN: This is a day of infamy for Wisconsin workers. Tomorrow, they‘re second-class citizens, thanks to the Republicans who took that terrible vote tonight.
STATE SEN. JIM HOLPERIN (D), WISCONSIN: Ed, when the governor initially introduced this budget repair bill, he described these changes to our collective bargaining law as a modest change, a small amendment to Wisconsin law.
One reason we left the state was because we knew very differently. And I think that‘s been demonstrated abundantly across the state over the last couple of weeks.
And I think when the governor talks now about our state budget bill and starts describing programs as merely slight reductions in spending, something people can easily absorb. We need to be very, very skeptical about what we hear out of this governor. I think his credibility has been severely damaged by the way that he‘s described this action that the Senate took tonight.
And I think Wisconsin citizens will be properly—very doubtful about the way he characterizes his agenda, and the things he intends to do to this state, if he gets his way over the coming weeks and months.
STATE SEN. LENA TAYLOR (D), WISCONSIN: Ed, I think that Senator Holperin was kind. I think the truth is, our governor is a liar and he‘s been shown to be that. And that the Republicans have been shown to be rubber stamp legislators.
They are not going to stand up to him. They are not going to do what is right. They are not going to keep the people‘s interest over profit. They have shown that they‘re not going to allow people to have access to government, to petition their government.
It‘s, as Julie said, they‘re going to break the rules. I mean, they‘re going to defy the Constitution. It is a shame.
And I always keep saying, that my favorite candy is Now and Later. They didn‘t hear them now, but they will have to deal with the people later.
And Kathleen said it, we couldn‘t change their minds, then it‘s time to take your anger, people, Wisconsinites, take your anger and frustration, and it‘s time to change their faces through recall.
HANSEN: I just wanted to say everything that went on in the last several weeks, that we‘ve been gone, I‘m so proud of the Wisconsin 14 for standing up for what we believe in. What the governor is doing was not fair. It was not balanced. It was not respectful.
And it certainly didn‘t talk at all about what impact it‘s going to have on our communities and it‘s not positive at all. Stand together, believe in their dream, we can win this fight. And it is truly at the ballot box.
STATE SEN. TIM CARPENTER (D), WISCONSIN: Well, Ed, I guess the best way to describe this is this is our Pearl Harbor of workers‘ rights. The governor has really been out of bounds and this sneak attack in the middle of the night without any public notice, without any input for many—hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites that have expressed their views.
It‘s a sad day for Wisconsin. I‘m kind of ashamed that this has happened. And I don‘t know what the governor will do next.
STATE SEN. CHRIS LARSON (D), WISCONSIN: Yes, Ed, I think this is—there‘s people who are very disheartened right now. And have a lot of anger.
But I think that what comes of this, we may—they may have won this battle today, but I think that he just awoke a sleeping middle class that wasn‘t sure if there was a difference between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. And now tonight, it‘s never been clearer which party sides with the middle class, which party sides with the workers, which party will go and stay away from the state that they love for three weeks in order to stand up for rights.
And then which party is going to use anything they can in the books to try and undercut that. No low they will not go to to undercut the people. And which side will go for corporations, and public—against the public interest.
So, I think that as we are disheartened tonight, I think there‘s going to be thousands of people who wake up tomorrow and grab clipboards in order to give the Republican recalls new life as we take back our democracy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Amen.
LARSON: Thanks, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Senator Mark Miller, I‘d like to ask you this, if I could. OK. The recall process is probably going to get even more enthusiastic here in the coming days. But what recourse do the workers of Wisconsin have at this point? Is there anything else in your opinion that they can do outside of the recall, Senator Miller?
MILLER: The die‘s been cast, Ed. The legislative agenda has been adopted. And their only recourse at this point is the ballot box.
You know, Ed, Wisconsin has a lot of great traditions, a lot of reformer traditions. We are the home of Fighting Bob La Follette.
And Fighting Bob La Follette was the one who inspired the people to stand up against the big-money interests of the 1910s and 1920s, to take back their government. Now, it‘s time for there to be a new reform, a new taking back the government, a new commitment by the people of the state of Wisconsin that this government belongs to them, not to the big-money interests.
LASSA: I think, Ed, too—
SCHULTZ: That‘s the case—Senator, I want to ask Senator Miller, I have to ask this question, Senator Miller.
There are several Wisconsinites who have told me via e-mail that they think it‘s time to strike, that they think it‘s time for the 175,000 state workers to stay home and force this governor to give back collective bargaining rights to the people. Is that possible in Wisconsin? Do you see that the passion of the people would be so strong that they would do something that drastic?
MILLER: Well, the passions are running very, very high, Ed. And I can‘t rule out anything that might happen in the future by the decisions of people who feel they‘ve been abused by their government.
But the point is, is that we need to change the faces of the people who turned their back on the folks who elected them. This is time to work at the ballot box, to stand up, and keep Wisconsin strong, with the traditions that we‘ve had for generations and generations—respecting people, respecting their work, an honest day‘s pay for an honest day‘s work, good schools, clean air and clean water. These are the things that make Wisconsin great. We need to fight for them.
SCHULTZ: The members of the Wisconsin 14 with us—go ahead. Go ahead.
TAYLOR: Ed, there are two things. One, there is potential legal recourse that can be done, because of, frankly, the law that was broken in regards to open records—I mean, notice provided for the meetings that were done. And other items where they have broken the law.
So, there is some recourse that may be able to happen through the legal process. But there‘s another piece in regards to the strike.
I know Walker well enough to know that part of what he wants to do is privatize. And so, I am somewhat concerned about if individuals choose to do that, whether or not it goes into his hand to privatize different pieces of Wisconsin. And so, I want to make sure that individuals strategically think about how they make their moves.
The most powerful place, the most power of the people is going to be in the ballot box. And it‘s going to be through recalls. It‘s going to be taking those clipboards and getting those names and doing what needs to be done so we can change the faces of the people that we could not change their opinions.
SCHULTZ: We would like to thank all of you—the members of the Wisconsin 14 collectively speaking up here tonight on THE ED SHOW. Thank you for joining us. And thank you for sharing your thoughts with our audience at this critical juncture of this battle for the middle class in Wisconsin.
Remember to answer tonight‘s text question there at the bottom of the screen, I want to know what you think.
We‘ll have much more on this breaking news story.
Coming up: the assembly minority leader, Peter Barca, will join us to tell us if it was actually legal what the Republicans did, and what is their next move.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.
Breaking news tonight: Wisconsin Senate Republicans have voted 18-1 to strip Wisconsin public employees of their collective bargaining rights. There were no Democrats present for the vote.
Before Republicans decided to act alone tonight, Democratic Assemblyman Minority Leader Peter Barca made a last-ditch effort to stop them. He was ignored.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE REP. PETER BARCA (D), WISCONSIN: Like all other provisions of the Open Meetings Laws must be con screwed in favor of providing the public with the fullness and—
STATE SEN. SCOTT FITZGERALD ®, WISCONSIN: Mr. Barca—
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Call roll.
BARCA: No, no, listen. If there‘s any doubt as to whether good cause exists, the governmental body should provide 24 hours‘ notice. This is clearly a violation of the Open Meetings Law.
Now, if you shut the people down, it is improper to move forward while this is a violation of the Open Meetings Law. You‘re not allowing it. And that is wrong.
Mr. Chairman, this is a violation of law. This is not just a rule, it is the law. There must be—
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You‘re wrong.
BARCA: No, Mr. Chairman, this is a violation of the Open Meetings Law. It requires 24 -- at least two hours‘ notice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Joining me now are Democratic members of the Wisconsin state assembly. Joining us here on THE ED SHOW, the man that was just up there, State Representative Peter Barca, who is the minority leader in the assembly.
Mr. Barca, how confident are you that this was an illegal move? And what is your course of action at this point?
BARCA: Well, we‘re very confident, Ed. The law is very clear, and in fact, our current Republican attorney general, Van Hollen, just in August of 2010 issued a memo defining it.
We will be seeking legal recourse as early as tomorrow morning. And we are looking at every single option.
SCHULTZ: Well, it is true that the attorney general in the state of Wisconsin is—
BARCA: But this law cannot stand.
SCHULTZ: Go ahead, speak, sir. I‘m sorry for the delay tonight.
We‘ve got an interesting technical setup.
Let me ask this question, and you respond to it. The attorney general in Wisconsin is a Republican. Do you think you‘ll get legal cooperation from him?
BARCA: Well, we‘ll find out tomorrow morning. I would hope so. He‘s taken an oath of office to uphold the law, regardless of whether it‘s Democrat or Republican.
It‘s the people of Wisconsin‘s interests that are at stake here. Wisconsin has a long tradition of clean and open government, and we all take an oath of office to uphold the Constitution and uphold that law. So, I‘m hoping that he will take his responsibilities seriously tomorrow.
But if he does not, he is not the only person authorized to challenge the Open Meetings Law. And we will be prepared if he‘s not willing to carry forward his responsibilities.
SCHULTZ: State Representative Cory Mason—did the Republicans by doing this in the Senate give you all the support you‘re going to need to rally the Wisconsin folk behind you? Do you clearly win because of this heavy-handed move in the arena of public opinion? What do you think?
STATE REP. CORY MASON (D), WISCONSIN: I think what they‘re doing is a clear demonstration of how desperate they are to attack workers‘ rights. And the public hasn‘t been with them since the get-go of this. But to finally reveal themselves of what they are, and to strip the financial pieces out of the bill and just move forward on taking away workers‘ rights clearly reveals them for what they are, which is a group of extreme Republican right-wing legislators who will stop at nothing to strip workers of their rights.
And I can tell you that the citizens of Wisconsin, if you try to take away their rights, they are going to rise up—they‘re going to rise up peacefully and they‘re going to be at that building there tomorrow demanding that their voices are heard. And we‘re going to be standing with them.
SCHULTZ: Mark Pocan, what does this do—State Representative Mark Pocan, what does this do to the recall effort on your opinion? How will your neighbors respond to this?
STATE REP. MARK POCAN (D), WISCONSIN: Well, I think the move tonight, and what‘s happened in the culmination of the last three weeks has guaranteed that the Senate is going to flip to Democratic. I have no question that these recalls are going to happen. They‘re going to be successful. And when you treat state government like a third world junta, and that‘s what the governor and Republicans have done, then you‘re going to have the people coming back and I think you‘re going to see a lot of the senators getting recalled and we‘re going to have a Democratic Senate to finally provide a check and balance.
SCHULTZ: But before all of that happens, gentlemen, it appears that stripping collective bargaining rights away from Wisconsin workers is now on the fast track, because of the Republicans.
Mr. Barca, what recourse is there? Do you think that the state workers will turn around and do something drastic as it was suggested earlier that maybe they would strike? The passion of the people, where is it?
BARCA: Well, people are clearly outraged. Tonight, the citizens of Wisconsin were cheated out of their democracy. There was a clear violation of the law. And we believe that it will not stand.
But we will be there tomorrow to fulfill our responsibilities, and we will be battling this. And this fight will continue.
But your promo to this show was perfect because the charade has now been exposed. From day one, they intended to take away the rights of workers, and they‘ve proved tonight that it had nothing to do with the fiscal policy of the state because they took out the keystone of that bill which was a bonding that the governor said he needed in order to not lay off workers.
So, the charade is up. The people of Wisconsin were cheated. The people in Wisconsin believe in the Wisconsin way of clean and open government, of rolling up our sleeves and solving our problems together.
But, unfortunately, the governor has never—has divided this state like we‘ve never been divided before. And there will be recourse on every single level. That I can assure you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Wisconsin State Representatives Peter Barca, Mark Pocan, and Cory Mason—thanks for your time tonight. Thanks for joining us.
When we come back, John Nichols of “The Nation” magazine joins us with the latest on the ground in Madison, Wisconsin. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW as we continue our coverage of the developments in Wisconsin tonight. Joining me now from Madison is the Washington correspondent for “The Nation Magazine,” john Nichols. John, what we‘re seeing tonight is absolutely historic. And what‘s scary about this is this may be the template for the way Republicans want to handle state and local issues across this country in a very heavy-handed manner.
How are the people of Wisconsin at this hour reacting? What are you seeing at the capitol tonight, John?
JOHN NICHOLS, “THE NATION”: Ed, I was just at the capitol until about 15 minutes before I came down here. I walked the perimeter of the capitol and then I was inside the building. There are thousands of Wisconsinites there. I have to say that I was reminded most of those stories I read as a child of the Minutemen, when they got the signal that something was awry, and they rushed to the town center.
I saw parents bringing their children. I saw people driving up and parking as legally as they could, and literally rushing to the capitol. And many of them said they were coming to defend democracy.
SCHULTZ: John, weren‘t the Democrats promised some kind of compromise, as negotiations were going on? And this heavy-handed tactic and vote almost unannounced blind sided the Democrats in the midst of all of this? How is this being received?
NICHOLS: Absolutely, Ed, you‘re right. Throughout the day today, Governor Walker sent out press releases and did appearances suggesting that he was negotiating with the Democrats. Headlines and papers across the state suggested that the impasse was heading toward a compromise. All of the signals from the governor‘s office were that things were easing, that this tension was beginning to dial down.
At the same time, it‘s clear that Republican legislators were preparing to spring this surprise. People were shocked. There were people who told me that they literally heard the report on the radio, saw a mention on television, and ran out of their house. Some of them came without coats, because they thought that their entire democratic process in this state was under assault.
People are incredibly and very passionately concerned at this moment, Ed.
SCHULTZ: John, the vote was 18 to one. That‘s what it was, 18 to one. There‘s been a lot of talk about recall. Recall efforts, the infrastructure is being placed. This was somewhat of a solid move by the Senate Republicans to basically come out and say, we stand with Governor Walker.
Are you surprised by all the recall talk, but then 18 of the 19 stood with the governor? What do you make of that?
NICHOLS: Ed, I believe that they popped this vote this quickly for a number of reasons. But one of the reasons was because they knew the intense pressure that was coming on some of their more moderate members, people like Rob Coles (ph), Luther Olson (ph), Dan Kapanki (ph). And I think that the leadership forced this vote now because they were afraid if a few more days went by, they were going to start to lose members to the other side.
And so I think the recall is actually being incredibly effective. And I have to tell you, Ed, tonight, my phone was burning up with calls from people around the state, in small towns all across this state, saying that they were going to be out tomorrow morning with those petitions. I think the recall just got super-charged.
SCHULTZ: And what about the legal fight, John Nichols? The Democrats tonight are saying that this was an unconstitutional move by the Republicans, that they could not take this vote. And you heard the assemblymen earlier say it was a violation of the Open Meeting Laws. Where do you think legally, from your experience, this is going to come down? Because I don‘t believe something like this has ever happened in the state of Wisconsin before.
NICHOLS: Well, we‘ve had violations of Open Meeting Laws before. And we have some precedent on it. When it happens, the actions of the chambers, the actions of the bodies that take a vote when they should not, when they have jumped the gun, when they have not informed the voters, or even their fellow legislators, those are thrown out by the courts. They are ruled illegal.
And the fact of the matter is I spoke tonight to lawyers and to legislators who pointed out that notice was not received by legislators and by key players in the time period that was required. So we clearly—every lawyer I spoke to tonight said there‘s clearly a case for taking this law into court, and having it thrown out.
SCHULTZ: John Nichols, I want to ask you one question about Governor Scott Walker. It seems to me that he stands a real good chance of getting support from other Republican governors across the country right now, for being bold, being radical, and not backing down, and doing exactly what the hard right-wingers in this country want.
They want to go after unions. They want to go after public employees.
What is the upside in the right wing for Governor Walker, in your opinion?
NICHOLS: Well, Governor Walker is clearly running for the presidency, be it in 2012 or 2016. He‘s telegraphed that in every way. He‘s referenced Ronald Reagan in that fake call with one of the supposed Koch Brothers. He has celebrated the fact that he‘s being featured on Fox, and that his actions are being written up by all the right-wing publications.
This is a guy who is on a political power trip. And he‘s using Wisconsin as his playground. But the fact of the matter is, I think even the most right-wing zealot will notice if three or four or more members of his Republican majority in the state Senate are defeated in recall elections.
SCHULTZ: John Nichols, Washington correspondent of “The Nation Magazine,” great to have you with us. Tomorrow on this program, we‘re going to have union reaction to all of this.
When we return, we‘ll hear from the president of the Milwaukee Teachers‘ Education Association on how this bill could affect teachers across the state, students, the lot. That‘s all coming up next.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Protesters in Madison came together quickly to call out the Republicans‘ political maneuvering tonight. Eighteen GOP senators voted to strip workers of their rights earlier. Only one, Dale Schultz, stood up to the party and voted against the measure.
How will this affect the Wisconsin workers? Joining me now on the phone from Milwaukee is Mike Langyel. He has been a high school math teacher for the past 34 years. And he‘s the president of the Milwaukee Teachers‘ Education Association. Mike, thanks for your time tonight.
Your reaction to what has unfolded in the last six hours in your state of Wisconsin?
MIKE LANGYEL, PRESIDENT, MILWAUKEE TECHERS‘ EDUCATION ASSOCIATION:
Well, again, it‘s unbelievable, once again. This governor is an extremist. He‘s part of a fringe element. And the educators in Milwaukee and Wisconsin, we are going to stand up to him like we have before. We‘re here for the long haul. We are here for our students.
And he is not going to let his little group take over our state.
SCHULTZ: Mr. Langyel, this means that the governor is going to be able to make the cuts to education. Because as soon as the Democrats come back, they‘re going to get to the budget side of this. This means that your school district in Milwaukee will lose 74 million dollars. What does that mean to your teachers? What does that mean to the school district?
LANGYEL: It‘s absolutely terrible for our students. If they take away the 74 million dollars, on top of the fact that we‘re losing the stimulus money, it will be extremely difficult for the students of Milwaukee to have a fair shot at an education. And this is what is deplorable. And this is why our members are not going to stand for this.
SCHULTZ: When you say your members aren‘t going to stand for it, what do you mean? Are they going to come to work tomorrow? Are they going to come to work the next day? What recourse do they have? The recall efforts obviously are going to be in high gear tomorrow. Everybody is confident that the signatures are going to be made.
But what about the teachers? Would the teachers fight back and maybe not come to work in the next few days?
LANGYEL: Our members are going to be on the job. But we‘re going to be in Madison on Saturday. We‘re going to be demonstrating in Milwaukee after school. We‘re going to continue to work for the recalls. We are going to work in every way possible to make sure that our students are defended from this governor and this extremist group that he is part of.
You know, we have a lot of students, Ed, public education is the only hope they have of getting ahead in this life. We‘re not going to let them take it away. I‘ve worked in this district for 34 years. I‘ve been a classroom teacher. This is what my life is about. And this is a life of many, many, many people in the city, our members, and the community. And we‘re not going to let him attack our students. And he‘s not going to get away with it.
SCHULTZ: What does it mean, since you have been a teacher for 34 years there? All of a sudden, you don‘t have any representation. Once this bill is signed by the governor, you no longer have representation. How do you feel about that?
LANGYEL: Well, it‘s just absolutely terrible that he‘s trying to do this. See, what‘s important for us as educators is this: we use collective bargaining to represent our students at the bargaining table. We negotiate for smaller class sizes. We negotiate for art, music and phy-ed. That‘s what we use bargaining for.
And we also will work in the legislature, too. This fight is not over. This is a fight the whole nation is looking at. And we understand that, because it really gets down to the core values of what kind of country do we want to live in. What is our nation going to look like?
And we believe that there‘s a better future for us. And we‘re not going to take it. I‘m going to tell you this, Ed, if the people of Wisconsin knew then when we voted what we know now, this man would never have been elected.
SCHULTZ: Do you think this seals his recall next January? They can‘t do it until January of 2012 by state law. They can‘t recall the governor until after he‘s been in office for a year. But do you think that the momentum will carry so far that he‘ll pay the price in a year?
LANGYEL: I think it will. I think that recalls are moving ahead in the Republican areas. And we had so many people out that we had lines of people just to get to petition papers. This is for the fundamental values of Wisconsin. This is—we are known as a progressive state. We are known as a state that looks out for each other.
And this is just a terrible thing that this governor is doing. And he is losing respect every day. He‘s losing the public. He has lost the public. And it‘s just going to get worse. That‘s why he had to resort to this illegal action that he took.
SCHULTZ: Mike Langyel, president of the Milwaukee Teachers Association, and a teacher for 34 years in the state of Wisconsin, I appreciate your time tonight here on THE ED SHOW. We‘ll have a lot more on this tomorrow as well.
Still ahead, can President Obama stop gas prices from sinking the recovery? Our exclusive interview with a Wall Street regulator on what needs to be done and isn‘t being done. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Part of our series tonight, we go to Wall Street. With union rights under assault, with military families like the ones here in Norfolk, Virginia, struggling to make ends meet, the last thing working Americans need—look at these numbers—is rising gas prices.
It drives up heating costs, kills tourism, by car and by air. It adds a premium to the cost of every single thing you buy that gets shipped by truck or by plane. You‘re going to feel it. And if gas prices continue their 22-day rise, it won‘t be long before four dollar or even five dollar a gallon gas torpedoes the country‘s what some people call weak economic recovery.
In our special series this week, we‘ve talked about the small businesses, and even some big ones that are clamoring for the government to tighten position limits, the caps that are supposed to prevent speculators from influencing the price of everything from gas to wheat to cotton.
The same Republicans who are blocking enforcement of those caps are blaming the president for not increasing the supply of oil with more digging. They always want to dig. And while so far it seems President Obama may not even realize the role Wall Street is playing in these price increases, today Press Secretary Jay Carney suggested the White House might at least understand that this is not—not just an issue of supply and demand.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It‘s important to note—and I don‘t think many people realize this—that domestic oil production last year rose to its highest level since 2003.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: We‘ve been telling you all week that Bloomberg just reported last month oil supplies at an 18-year high. Working Americans need help on this. They‘re getting squeezed by Wall Street every time they fill up their car, or stock up their groceries. Jobs are in jeopardy. The recovery may be in jeopardy.
Four dollar a gallon gas is going to hurt us. President Obama‘s re-election will be in jeopardy, because if he doesn‘t take a stand against Wall Street speculators, Republicans will be right and the high prices will be the fault of one government agency, the CFTC. Commodity Futures Trading Commission has the power to do something about this. But they can‘t do it without the president‘s help.
When we come back, our exclusive interview with CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton on what the president must do. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Finally tonight on THE ED SHOW, as promised, our exclusive interview now with one of the people on the front lines in the battle between Wall Street and working Americans, Commissioner Bart Chilton of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, or CFTC, as it‘s known.
Good evening, commissioner. Good to have you with us here on THE ED SHOW. I appreciate your time, and I know our audience does too.
Let‘s start with the basics, if we can. Your office gave us a chart that shows the number of oil futures contracts rose from 617,000 back in the summer of 2008 to more than one million last month. I‘m curious, can you prove that that‘s the cause of high gas prices?
BART CHILTON, COMMISSIONER, COMMODITIES FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION:
Well, obviously there‘s some things going on in the Middle East that you‘ve covered. We also have some transportation issues, Ed, with oil pipelines. I‘m worried that the speculative interest is being masked by these obvious things that you and neighbors around the country talk about, and that they are having an influence on prices.
I‘m not suggesting that speculators are the cruise control on gas and oil prices, but I think they‘re tapping the gas pedal.
SCHULTZ: Well, what about the Middle East? The United States of America does not get much oil from Libya. So why would that affect our price at the gas pump? I mean, this is what a lot of Americans are wondering. If we don‘t get our oil from them, why would it affect our price?
CHILTON: These are global commodities now, Ed. So oil in one part of the world—the price of oil in one part affects oil in other place of the world. This is really a global commodity and it‘s traded that way. You can ship tankers from any place in the world to Houston, if you want, and get it in the U.S. pipeline.
So it does matter what‘s going on worldwide on oil and gas.
SCHULTZ: Even after Bloomberg reported that we‘ve got an 18-year high supply of oil and gas? What about that?
CHILTON: That‘s the nutty thing. You‘re absolutely right. We have a historic high of supply and fairly stable demand. So when you say why are prices rising, it gives credence to the issue that speculators may be a having a big influence.
We‘re looking at it. But if you go back to 2008, where we also had large supply, limited demand, Ed, we saw prices of gas, as you reported, go over four dollars a gallon. Oil was at 147.27. There‘s no other reason that I can see—nobody can explain why prices were that high. But we did have 200 billion dollars of speculative interests come into the markets over a several-year period. And I think that helped spike prices up.
Again, I think they‘re tapping the gas pedal when they get into markets, if they have a big footprint. But I‘m not suggesting that they are driving it. Certainly the Middle East and other issues are having some impact also.
SCHULTZ: Commissioner, where does President Obama stand on position limits? He campaigned on the fact that the speculators had to be reeled in. Yet we don‘t see the White House taking a very strong position in that regard. What do you make of it?
CHILTON: Well, as you‘ve reported, this has been historically a fairly bipartisan issue. Then candidate and current Senator McCain supported position limits. You even had Bill O‘Reilly and Dennis Kucinich the other day. You‘ve got the entire spectrum.
This shouldn‘t be a partisan issue. The president did fight for positions in the new law. That‘s the Wall Street Reform Act. They told us to put these limits in place this January, two months ago. We still haven‘t done it. I wish we do. And we should do it as soon as possible.
But the administration‘s been very good. But all too often in Washington, there‘s amnesia. And people forget that not just Wall Street, but the regulators fell asleep at the switch several years ago, put us into this deep economic ditch. We‘re just now crawling our way out. And if we don‘t recall some of what happened, we‘re going to be right back there again. And we need these position limits in place and we need them soon.
SCHULTZ: Does President Obama believe what you just said, that we need position limits and we need them soon?
CHILTON: I can‘t speak for the president. But everything that he has said indicates to me that he is a strong supporter of putting appropriate side boards like position limits on these markets, to ensure that Wall Street or Lasalle Street don‘t push the price of products up beyond what they should be.
Government‘s not price setters, as you know. But we‘re supposed to make sure these markets are free and fair, that they‘re efficient and effective, and they‘re good for consumers and businesses who hedge their commercial risk, whether or not it‘s somebody in oil or gas or silver or wheat or cotton.
Like you say, these markets impact the price of just about everything people pay, from a home mortgage to a gallon of gas, or a gallon of orange juice, Ed. They‘re important.
SCHULTZ: They certainly do. What about Commissioner Dunn? Will he support position limits? He hasn‘t in the past. And now he‘s going off the commission. And the Obama administration has a chance to bring someone in who definitely will support position limits, which will stop the gauging at the gas pump. Your thoughts on that?
CHILTON: Well, Mike Dunn has been a friend and colleague of mine for years. But we‘re all independent commissioners, Ed. There‘s five of us. So you have to have three in order to get something done. I wish people agreed with me all the time. This is one particular issue that I think is very important.
So I‘m hopeful we‘re going to have the support to put these things in place. As I said, they were supposed to be done in January. We need to do them now.
SCHULTZ: Yeah. CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton, thanks for your time tonight. I appreciate it. There‘s no question about it, I‘ll say it, the president can inject himself and put somebody on that commission to replace Mr. Dunn, and take a stand on position limits and stop the gouging at the pump.
We‘ll have more on this tomorrow with Matt Taibbi, naming names as to who is getting rich off your gas bills.
Our tech survey tonight—I asked you out there, have the Wisconsin Republicans won their union-busting battle? Sixteen percent of you said yes, 84 percent of you said no.
That‘s the Ed Show. I‘m Ed Schultz. We‘ll see you tomorrow night again from Norfolk, Virginia.
Lawrence O‘Donnel is next, with The Last Word.
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