updated 4/14/2011 1:24:00 PM ET 2011-04-14T17:24:00

Guests: Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Rep. Barney Frank, Joan Walsh, Joe Madison,

John Erpenbach, Chris Larson, Bob Jauch, Mark Miller, Fred Risser, Lena

Taylor, Kathleen Vinehout, Spencer Scoggs

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

All I can tell you is we had a wild town hall meeting in this town tonight.  People are fired up for a lot of reasons.

And I thought all day long this would be a defining moment for President Obama.  If you saw the speech I think you‘ll agree with me.  It could be a real game changer.

This is THE ED SHOW.  Let‘s get to work.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(MUSIC)

           

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We will need to make reforms.  We will all need to make sacrifices.  But we do not have to sacrifice the America we believe in.  And as long as I‘m president, we won‘t.

SCHULTZ (voice-over):  Tonight, Congressman Dennis Kucinich on the president‘s speech.  Is that enough for liberals?

Republicans rage as President Obama stakes a claim for mainstream American values.  We‘ll talk to Congressman Barney Frank about the Republican attacks on President Obama‘s speech.

And the Wisconsin 14 who were out of the state the last time I came here.  Tonight, for the first time, we‘ll be face to face with the men and women who started a national movement.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHULTZ:  This is the story that has me fired up tonight.  Thanks for joining us tonight from Madison, Wisconsin.

President Obama‘s full-throated defense of liberalism was in full steam today.  The president gave new life to the progressive values that I think made this country great.  And instead of being on the defensive, the president went on offense today and described the Republican vision of America for what it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  It paints a vision of our future that is deeply pessimistic.  It‘s a vision that says if our roads crumble and our bridges collapse, we can‘t afford to fix them.  If they are bright young Americans who have the drive and the will but not the money to go to college, we can‘t afford to send them.

Go to China and you‘ll see businesses opening research labs and solar facilities.  South Korean children are outpacing our kids in math and science.  They are scrambling to figure out how they put more money into education.  Brazil is investing billions in new infrastructure and can run half their cars, not on high-priced gasoline, but on biofuels.

And yet, we are presented with a vision that says the American people, the United States of America, the greatest nation on Earth, can‘t afford any of this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  This is exactly what the president is saying when it comes to the budget.  The bottom line here is that he uses an example of how China, how South Korea and how Brazil, they are funding things that are important to the future of that country.  And what are we doing?  We‘re cutting and giving tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans because there‘s a theory out there that it might create jobs.

Now, on the question of who‘s been getting ahead in this country and shared sacrifice and basic fairness, the president was perfectly clear.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  Think about that.  In the last decade, the average income of the bottom 90 percent of all working Americans actually declined.  Meanwhile, the top 1 percent saw their income rise by an average of more than a quarter of a million dollars each.  That‘s who needs to pay less taxes?

They want to give people like me a $200,000 tax cut that‘s paid for by asking 33 seniors each to pay $6,000 more in health costs.  That‘s not right, and it‘s not going to happen as long as I‘m president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  So, what we‘re hearing from the president, which I happen to love because I have been out across the country on a number of occasions, and this is what people are concerned about.

They are concerned about the income disparity.  That was the president‘s way of addressing it today.  They are concerned about the haves and the have-nots.  They are concerned about the separation.  They are concerned about the two Americas that is developing more and more every day.

And the Republican budget takes us further down that road.  The president was direct.  He was spot on.  And, as a liberal, I have to say, he hit it out of the park.

Now, we progressives wanted this president to offer a strong defense when it came to the big three: defense of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, and draw that line in the sand.

Here‘s the part of the speech that I really liked and that‘s what he went after.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  But let me be absolutely clear.  I will preserve these health care programs as a promise we make to each other in this society.  I will not allow Medicare to become a voucher program that leaves seniors at the mercy of the insurance industry, with a shrinking benefit to pay for rising costs.  I will not tell families with children who have disabilities that they have to fend for themselves.  We will reform these programs, but we will not abandon the fundamental commitment this country has kept for generations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Here‘s what I love.  The campaign is on.  And I guess you can say that—well, maybe this was the health care talk that we just didn‘t get before.

But the president says, “I will not allow Medicare to become a voucher program that leaves seniors at the mercy of the insurance industry.”  Hallelujah!

This is what liberals in this country wanted to hear because this is a direct shot at what the Republicans want to do.  The voucher program is the beginning of elimination of a social program that has helped this country for generations.  And the president, I think, fundamentally had to make his line in the sand and stand strong on this issue.  And he just did that.

Can I read it again?  Can I take just a couple of seconds?

“I will not allow Medicare to become a voucher program that leaves seniors at the mercy of the insurance industry.”  Oh, I love it.  And as for the renewal of those Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, the president seemed, I thought, pretty eager to fight again but with a different result.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  In December, I agreed to extend the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans because it was the only way I could prevent a tax hike on middle class Americans.  But we cannot afford $1 trillion worth of tax cuts for every millionaire and billionaire in our society.  We can‘t afford it.  And I refuse to renew them again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Oh, I‘ll tell you what.  We have got comments galore tonight, don‘t we?  I mean, this is like a day of reckoning for President Obama as we turn to 2012.

Let me read this one again.  “And I refuse to renew them again.”  “I refuse to renew them again.”  He‘s talking about the Bush tax cuts.  “I refuse to renew them again.”

I will not forget this broadcast as long as President Obama is president of the United States.

And the president defended his vision in a way that championed progressive values but also sounded, I thought, very practical and mainstream.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  There will be those who vigorously disagree with my approach.  I can guarantee that as well.  Some will argue we should not even consider ever, ever raising taxes, even if only on the wealthiest Americans.  It‘s just an article of faith to them.  I say that at a time when the tax burden on the wealthy is at its lowest level in half a century, the most fortunate among us can afford to pay a little more.

I don‘t need another tax cut.  Warren Buffett doesn‘t need another tax cut.  Not if we have to pay for it by making seniors pay more for Medicare or by cutting kids from Head Start or by taking away college scholarships that I wouldn‘t be here without and that some of you would not be here without.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  You know, the sound bites that we‘re playing here tonight folks on THE ED SHOW, I have to tell you, it‘s almost as if I wrote the speech because the president is saying exactly what I want him to say.  The president is just hitting it out of the park on a number of occasions.

Now, look here—he says, “The most fortunate among us can afford to pay a little bit more.”  Just a little bit more.  Not a whole lot more.  Just a little bit more.  Just a little bit more.

Remember the chart we put on the air last night, how union membership and middle class income, the way it‘s gone down over the last 30 years and CEO pay and how the top 2 percent of this country has just taken all the goodies, especially in the last 10 years?  And now the president, because we‘re in what they call a budget crisis is saying, the most fortunate among us can afford to pay just a little bit more.

Well, how do you think the Republicans responded to all of this?  It was almost as if we were offending them.  We‘re offending the wealthy in this country while there are more and more millions of Americans who are just trying to make ends meet.  And the income disparity in this country continues to grow, and the president is just asking for just a little bit more.

I just came from a town hall meeting here in Madison, Wisconsin, for my radio show.  And I can tell you—I explained to the crowd some of the positions that the president took today and, of course, many of them watched the president speak today.  This is going to reinvigorate the liberal base because the president—whether he intended to or not—has drawn that line in the sand, has told his base that Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are very important, and that the rich people have to pay just a little bit more.

You know, look, have we been let down, the liberal base in the past? 

Yes, we have.  Did we get everything we want?  No, we didn‘t.

But I‘m willing to take the president at his word.  And I do believe that this is the line that we‘ve been waiting for, and I do believe that he will go out on the campaign trail, and I do believe that he will negotiate under the terms of this speech that he gave tonight, and I think that is more than encouraging.

Get your cell phones out, folks.  I want to know what you think.  Tonight‘s question: does the president‘s speech set the tone for future budget talks?  Text “A” for yes, text “B” for no to 622639.  And you can also go to our new blog at Ed.MSNBC.com.  I‘ll bring you the results later on in the show.

Let‘s bring in Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio.

Congressman, great to have you with us tonight.

You heard what I thought.  I thought the president‘s speech laid out a pretty strong vision to counterpunch the Republicans on the budget.

But I‘m curious—what did you think of the president‘s speech tonight?  Did he hit the right notes and draw that line in the sand to protect those great progressive programs that have helped this country over these—over these decades?  What do you think?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO:  Well, first of all, I think that you‘ve accurately characterized his assessment of what the Republicans‘ plan represents, which is nothing more than an acceleration of the wealth upwards under the cover of reducing the deficit.  However, I think that we need more details before we can, you know, actually give a more thorough assessment of where the president stands on Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid.

I know what he said, Ed.  But he also said everything is on the table.  And he didn‘t say Social Security is off the table.  Medicare/Medicaid is off the table.  He said everything is on the table.  I want to know what that means.

I also want to point out that he said nothing about the trillions of dollars we‘re spending on war and about the hundreds of billions we continue to spend on war.  He didn‘t say anything about the trade deficit and the role that plays in causing American jobs to be lost and our national deficit increasing.

So, you know, we—it sounds as though, at least with respect to the Bush tax cuts, he‘s correcting the course.  That‘s really good.  But we have a lot more details before I‘m going to be satisfied that this direction that we‘re about to take again is going to be a direction that‘s going to work for all Americans.

SCHULTZ:  Congressman, I took his comment that everything is on the table that he is willing to rework the finances in the long term but the fundamental quarry says “I will not allow Medicare to become a voucher program.”  Isn‘t that a definitive statement?  Isn‘t that good enough?

KUCINICH:  Well, you know, we don‘t want Medicare to be a voucher program.  I agree with that.  But it doesn‘t follow that there‘s not going to be any reductions.  That‘s what we have to work on.

I mean, you know, I want to join you in saying thanks to President Obama for being able to draw the differences between what the Republican stance—Republicans stand for and what the president says he wants to do.  That‘s fine.

But as far as I‘m concerned, I didn‘t hear anything that caused me to believe that we‘re going to take a new direction with respect to national security, which is a major factor of our budget crisis.  That we‘re going to take a new direction with respect to trade—major factor in our budget crisis.  That we‘re going to create millions of new jobs and put Americans back to work.  We have a jobless recovery.

So, we want to take some note of satisfaction that we can all participate in this upbeat feeling for the moment.  I want to see the details and what‘s going to happen down the road before I sign on.

SCHULTZ:  OK.  And what do you make of his comment talking about the trillion dollars worth of tax cuts that the Republicans are looking at for every millionaire or billionaire and he says, “And I refuse to renew them again.”  That‘s a line in the sand, isn‘t it?

KUCINICH:  Well, let‘s look at that statement.  “Refuse to renew them again.”  The president admitted that he went along with the renewal before.  We all know the Bush tax cuts drove us into a fiscal crisis.  They were renewed.

Now, he‘s not going to renew them.  Great.  I agree with him.

But we have to understand, there‘s a political process here of going back-and-forth that causes some confusion among the American people about, you know, where people stand on these issues.  I‘m glad the president is committing to put an end to the Bush tax cuts.  That‘s good news.

It‘s also good news that he‘s committing to challenge the Ryan tax cuts which would lower the corporate tax rate and the highest bracket to about 25 percent.  There‘s a lot of money that will be saved for the taxpayers by taking that approach.

But the ultimate challenge to our economy is not in the issue of tax cuts.  It‘s what are the priorities we have to get the economy moving it and to put America back to work, to end these rotten wars based on lies, based on misunderstanding of history, based on God knows what, and to take America in a direction where we can reclaim our country, not just fiscally but morally as well.

SCHULTZ:  Congressman Dennis Kucinich, appreciate your time tonight. 

Thanks so much.  Love your insight.

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

How did the right wing react to President Obama‘s speech?  I‘ll break it down with Congressman Barney Frank in just a moment.

And here in Wisconsin, the fight for the middle class rights just rages on.  Today, I had a pleasure of sharing a stage with some of the Wisconsin 14 at a radio town hall meeting just an hour ago.  Tonight, we‘re coming to you live with some of those 14.

This is THE ED SHOW.  We‘re going to be right back.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Be sure to check out our new blog at Ed.MSNBC.com.  There, you‘re going to find links to my radio Web site, WeGotEd.com, sign up for Twitter and Facebook.  We‘re all about having you on the team.

President Obama‘s speech and Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan and Rush Limbaugh

well, they are hopping mad.  That must be the president did one heck of a job.

           

Congressman Barney Frank joins me to talk about Republican reaction and the game plan.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  And thanks for watching tonight.  We‘re coming to you from Madison, Wisconsin.

Three completely unsurprising things happened today.  The sun came up, the sun went down, and the Republicans absolutely hated President Obama‘s budget speech.

House GOP leaders were shocked—absolutely shocked—that President Obama would dare bring up the idea of taxing millionaires and billionaires.  Majority Leader Eric Cantor and budget wonderboy Paul Ryan ignored the president‘s substance and focused on one thing—taxes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

REP. ERIC CANTOR ®, MAJORITY LEADER:  The president goes, and delivers his speech in which the only concrete proposal that he proposed was raising taxes.  And that solution falls far short of dealing with the kind of crisis that we‘re facing as far as the debt is concerned in this country.

REP. PAUL RYAN ®, WISCONSIN:  I‘m very disappointed in the president.  I was excited when we got invited to attend his speech today.  I thought the president‘s invitation to Mr. Camp, Mr. Hensarling and myself was an olive branch.  Instead what we got was a speech that was excessively partisan, dramatically inaccurate, and hopelessly inadequate to addressing our country‘s pressing fiscal challenges.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

SCHULTZ:  And with Glenn Beck fading into the sunset, off of FOX, soon to be, Rush Limbaugh wasted no time reclaiming the mantel of the right wing media kingpin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, TALK RADIO HOST:  If you are productive, if you work, if you are successful, if you create wealth, if you earn wealth, if you create jobs, then you are Obama‘s target.  Because he cannot pay for what he‘s done.  He can‘t pay for what he‘s doing unless he steals more from you.

What you heard today, if you haven‘t heard it, you will.  It‘s like a labor party leader in Europe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Joining me tonight here on THE ED SHOW is Democratic Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts.

Congressman, great to have you with us tonight.

REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  Thank you, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  I don‘t think—there‘s really no surprise at how the Republicans were going to react to this.  But they just cannot accept any type of tax increase whatsoever.  What‘s your response to the way they responded to the president?

FRANK:  Well, first, I was surprised.  The chutzpah of the Republican leadership of the House accusing Barack Obama of being partisan—that‘s a little bit like being lectured on family planning by the “Octomom.”  These are the people who are the most partisan, rigidly ideological, mean-spirited group we‘ve ever seen running either house of Congress.

Secondly, they distort what the president says.  Let‘s be—let‘s go to the record.  Let‘s look at the evidence.  What the president is talking about is returning tax rates for people who make $250,000 a year or more to the level they were at in the Clinton years.

I voted for tax increase under Bill Clinton and it was for everybody, but it was particularly—it was not for everybody, it was for the people that the president is talking about.  And we were talking about them paying 39 percent instead of 35 percent of their income—hardly an enormous disruption in the lives of people with millions of dollars.

And after we passed that tax, Dick Armey and other predicted it would devastate the economy and we had the best economic record in recent American history, unlike the record after the Bush tax cuts.

The only thing I would say to correct the president, in fairness to Warren Buffett, he said Warren Buffett doesn‘t need a tax cut.  That‘s right.  And Warren Buffett knows he doesn‘t need a tax cut and doesn‘t want one.  He‘s one of those sensible business people who supports putting those tax rates for the upper income people back up there.

The president said some other things as well.  He did—he did talk about for the first time cutting military spending.  Not as much as I think we should.  But he did specifically say that he thinks he can cut $400 billion.

I think that‘s less than half of what we can do.  But it‘s a great contrast to the Republicans who continue to cut things that we need here at home so they can spend unnecessarily on the military.  So, I was very pleased with the speech.

SCHULTZ:  Congressman—

FRANK:  Yes?

SCHULTZ:  Congressman, what about the taxes, the increase?  There‘s going to be spending cuts right away, but the tax increases aren‘t going to happen for some months ahead.  You know, the Bush tax cuts are going to go through next year.

Can the president win on this issue?

FRANK:  Yes.

SCHULTZ:  I mean, all the polls out there show that the American people are with him.  What do you think about that?

FRANK:  Absolutely.  He wins for a couple of reasons.  First of all, we don‘t have to do anything.  Remember what the president did, and I disagree—I voted against that deal last year that let them—those tax reductions stay in power—in place for another year.

But if nothing happens, the tax rate goes back to where they were.  We don‘t have to get a bill through the House.  They have to get one through the Senate and signed by the president to keep them at the lower level.

Secondly, from the economic standpoint, we are still in a weak economy

although it‘s growing and strengthening.  You know, for the last year, every month, we‘ve seen more private sector jobs.  And, by the way, that‘s one of the things the Republicans are frantic about.  This economy is starting to recover and they hate that because they want to be able to defeat the president based on a bad economy.

           

I hate to have to say that, but I think that‘s true.

SCHULTZ:  Absolutely.

FRANK:  But most economists would say this—it is better, in fact, deferring the tax increase is OK because we want this year, we are still in an economy that needs some stimulation.  And having the spending now and the tax revenues coming next year, we need to bring the deficit down over a period of five, six, seven years.  In the short term, we still need some stimulation to get people back to work.

SCHULTZ:  And, finally, Congressman, two things: Does President Obama, does his numbers work?  And secondly, was he strong enough on Medicare saying that we‘re not going to go to a voucher program?  Did he satisfy you with that language and do you believe him?

FRANK:  Yes, I definitely believe him.  And I was satisfied with what he said.  Dennis Kucinich is right.  We want more details.  But what he said was exactly right.

And the point we have to make it this.  And he said this.  You don‘t just single out Medicare and Medicaid because if you, the people on Medicare and Medicaid will be at a disadvantage.  You‘ve got to reform the way we deliver health care overall.  And the president was on target when he said that.

He is talking about—military spending of the Republicans, more revenue from the very rich in ways that won‘t hurt the economy and then protecting our ability.

SCHULTZ:  Yes.

FRANK:  Social Security and Medicare, two great Democratic achievements of the last few years—last 50, 70 years, brought older people out of poverty.  Before Social Security and before Medicare, for most older people, unless they were wealthy, they had to live in poverty.  We should be proud of that accomplishment, not apologize for it.

SCHULTZ:  No doubt.  I don‘t think there‘s any doubt Americans agree with you on that.  The bottom line now is that this administration, the Democrats are going to have to protect those because the Republicans have got them in their crosshairs.  No doubt.

Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts, good to have you with us tonight.  Thanks so much.

FRANK:  Thank you, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  Today, the president may have set the table for every big policy and political fight for the rest of his first term.  The big picture of what happened today.

And a little later in the show—last night, we did a “Takedown” on Florida congressman for his lack of concern about airline safety.  Today, he got taken down by a fellow Republican.  Two takedowns are always better than one.

That‘s next.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  It‘s time for the Takedown.  Last night, this video of Republican Congressman John Mica of Florida, I tell you, it really fired me up.  Here he is defending cuts to the Federal Aviation Administration that would leave our nation‘s airports with fewer air traffic controllers.  Here it is. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN MICA ®, FLORIDA:  Do we need to double up?  Do we need to double up when there‘s no air traffic at most these airports between the hours of midnight and 5:00 a.m.?  That‘s the Washington big spending, big government, let‘s add more. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Now this is significant.  John Mica, first of all, he‘s not a pilot.  He‘s never been an air traffic controller.  He has no connection to aviation whatsoever. 

But as the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, he gets to make decisions that affect lives. 

I wonder what Mica thinks of last night‘s incident in Reno, Nevada.  A medical aircraft with a critically ill passenger could not land at Reno Airport because the only air traffic controller on duty had fallen asleep. 

Now whether he was overworked and worked long hours, that‘s all debatable.  That will come out in an investigation.  The pilot eventually landed without guidance from the airport. 

John Mica might not think that we need to double up on overnight shifts.  But Senator Harry Reid says enough is enough.  Today, he spoke to the Secretary of Transportation Ray Lahood, who is a life-long Republican.  And Reid says action is being taken. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HARRY REID (D), NEVADA:  Reno is one of 27 airports across the country that sometimes had only one air traffic controller on the overnight shift. 

Because of Secretary Lahood‘s quick action, there will now be zero.  Effective immediately, every airport will have at least two air traffic controllers in the tower. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Ray Lahood, a Republican, is not going to be playing games with the nation‘s air safety.  Meanwhile, Republican John Mica thinks safety is secondary to cutting airline jobs.  In the next election, Florida voters might want to make sure John Mica loses his job. 

That‘s the Takedown.

tonight, an ED SHOW first.  I‘m here in Madison, Wisconsin.  The Wisconsin 14 are here in the city as well.  We‘re going to talk to them about where the fight for the middle class stands right now against that radical budget of the governor. 

Why House Speaker John Boehner has a lot to worry about if he plans—if he really plans on pushing the debt ceiling right up to the deadline. 

Plus, the big picture for the president of the United States in the wake of today‘s speech.  That‘s next.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Thanks for watching tonight.  The president‘s speech today may set the tone for every big policy battle for the rest of his first term.  I mean, I thought it was really important. 

I mean, he might also be starting to point for a re-election stump speech.  But coming up very soon there‘s going to be a battle on raising the debt ceiling in this country.  And the president is going to have to weigh in on this pretty soon. 

Although it‘s reality, it‘s more of a problem for House Speaker John Boehner.  Speaker Boehner has actually had conversations with top Wall Street executives, asking them how close Congress could get to this deadline on the debt ceiling without affecting interest rates and stock prices. 

Now this, of course, according to “Politico,” as they reported it.  That‘s how desperate Speaker Boehner is to please the Tea Party?  I mean, but Wall Street executives say that even talk of letting the vote get close to the deadline could have serious consequences. 

So a lot of game playing going on.  So who really has the leverage here?  Speaker Boehner or the Democrats?  Maybe it‘s the Democrats who should be getting concessions from Boehner. 

He‘s the speaker.  And I bet, you know, he doesn‘t want the country to go into default on his watch or anything close to it on his watch.  Let‘s bring in Sirius XM radio talk show host Joe Madison.  He‘s with us tonight.  And also Salon‘s editor at large, Joan Walsh. 

Joan, great to have you with us, as well you, Joe.  Two great takes coming up on this.  You know, look, I admit it, I‘m doing some cheerleading tonight.  But at least before the speech, I said what I wanted to hear from the president.  I heard what I wanted to hear.  I want to know what you think. 

Joan, you first.  What did we get out of the president today? 

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM:  Well, I thought we got a very strong defense of Democratic values and Democratic principles, Ed.  I was very proud of the president.  That‘s the man I voted for. 

And I think that‘s the vision that can bring people to the Democratic party.  We are the ones who really brought us Social Security.  We are the ones who provided Medicare.  And he did not back down a bit in his defense of those programs, lifting seniors out of poverty and creating dignity for people. 

I was really proud to hear the way he talked about the tax cut.  And I was super proud that he has begun the discussion about what‘s going on with the top one percent of our country walking away with 40 percent of the wealth, this plutocracy we have. 

So those were very important things to get across to the American people.  He began a conversation.  And I look forward to him continuing it. 

SCHULTZ:  You know, Joe, I think this is what the liberals in this country, the basers wanted to hear President Obama say.  There‘s some real fundamental stuff in here that I think he needed to say.  I know I wanted to hear it.  Is this a turning point in any sense of the word?  What do you think? 

JOE MADISON, SIRIUS XM RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Not only is it a turning point, but he also in his—his style if you notice.  He put aside his professorial style that he usually has, that sometimes baffles people.  And he was very direct. 

The other thing, Ed, was that he drew not only one line in the sand, but he drew two or three lines in the sand.  And at a time where he won‘t be able to flip flop, he has to hold tight on this. 

Tomorrow, I know what I‘m going to be saying is that, look, we bailed out big banks with, what?  Tax money.  We bailed out Wall Street with what?  Tax money. 

The very wealthy in this country who don‘t pay taxes and also hire, what, lawyers and accountants to make sure they baffle the IRS.  And the IRS, as the “USA Today” said, they don‘t get an increase in staff.  And the rich know it. 

These are the kinds of things that we‘re going to talk about.  And I think you are absolutely right.  His base now has to get behind the president and make sure that we‘re a counter-force to the Tea Party. 

WALSH:  Right. 

SCHULTZ:  Joan Walsh, the debt ceiling; who holds the best deck of cards in negotiating on how this plays out?  And can the Republicans afford on their watch to play a tough hand against the Democrats on this and come out a political winner?  How do you see this? 

WALSH:  Well, look, I was not thrilled with the compromises that have

that were made either to extend the Bush tax cuts last year or even on Friday.  I wasn‘t happy with some of the things the president gave up. 

           

However, he did that.  He ought to have bought some good faith from them.  And I think there are prominent Republicans who are not really enjoying this game of chicken that the Tea Party and John Boehner are playing with the debt ceiling. 

I think the Republicans have the upper hand here, Ed.  And I hope the president remembers that.  And I hope we talk about it every chance we get. 

SCHULTZ:  Joe, does the president have to weigh in on this big time? 

What do you think? 

MADISON:  Oh, he has to weigh in on it big time, but I don‘t know if I understood correctly what Joan was saying.  But I think Boehner is the one that is in deep trouble here because, again, these Tea Party members—

WALSH:  I agree, Joe. 

MADISON:  Oh, OK.  These freshmen are going to sit up there and say we‘re not going to be satisfied until we get major cuts in Medicare.  Well, you‘re not going to get them.  We‘re not satisfied until, you know, we don‘t have any taxes at all—rise in taxes for the rich.  It‘s not going to happen. 

Boehner is the one who now is caught between a rock and a hard place. 

WALSH:  I agree. 

SCHULTZ:  Joan, what do you think about that?  Do you agree? 

WALSH:  I hope—you know, I hope the president realizes that.  I hope the Democrats realize that.  And don‘t get sucked back into a conversation about what more they‘ll give in order to get the debt ceiling up.  There‘s no more negotiation. 

MADISON:  There‘s no more negotiations.  Cut it.  I‘m not giving up anything, because I think the president took a hit like here in Washington, D.C.  

WALSH:  Yes. 

MADISON:  -- when he threw the District of Columbia under the bus.  And he might want to take a line from Eleanor Holmes Norton—although he won‘t do it—but tell Boehner to go straight to hell. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.  Joe Madison and Joan Walsh, great to have you with us tonight.  Thanks so much. 

It was quite a scene at my radio town hall meeting today in Madison, Wisconsin.  This evening, I should say.  People are fired up.  They are engaged.  I‘m telling you, these recalls are under way.  The list is getting long. 

And tonight, breaking news in the legal fight to stop Scott Walker‘s union busting law from going into effect.  Who better to talk about it than the Wisconsin 14.  They‘re going to join me live right here in studio in Madison, Wisconsin, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW from Madison, Wisconsin, where earlier tonight we recorded a very successful radio town hall meeting at the Barrymore Theater in downtown Madison.  Now I‘ll tell you why it was successful. Because, number one, I saw an engaged crowd. 

Folks, I know we talk about it here on THE ED SHOW and you‘ve seen Rachel talk about it a lot.  I just cannot tell you how enthused this crowd is and how engaged the people of this state are when it comes to doing democracy.  OK. 

You can talk about recalls.  You can talk about votes.  You can talk about boots on the ground.  These folks are doing democracy.  That‘s what they‘re doing.  That‘s what they think they are doing, and they are doing it. 

And there is such tremendous passion.  And they have easily connected

no question about it—what is happening on a national level with the budget concerns and what‘s happening on a state level.  Believe me, they parallel one another. 

           

And you wouldn‘t know it.  Here I am, big Eddie, I come back to Madison and Scott Walker high tails it out of the state.  He‘s going to be testifying in Washington tomorrow in front of Daryl Issa‘s committee.  Can you believe that?

Tomorrow, Walker‘s going to be in front of the House Oversight Committee testifying about his plan to bust unions in the state of Wisconsin.  The Walker law is currently being challenged in a Dane County Court. 

Today, Judge Maryann Sumi said she would have a ruling by Friday deciding on whether or not to dismiss the case and let the law stand. 

And what about the recall?  Another Republican senator got a challenger.  In 2008, Oshkosh Common Counselor Jessica King lost to Republican Randy Hopper by just 200 votes.  King now says if there‘s a real -- recall election that she will take on Hopper again. 

And then there‘s my old pal on the Republican side—yeah, right—senator Glen Grothman (ph).  This is the guy that called the protesters inside the capitol building a bunch of slobs.  Now the senator is worried that those slobs are going to be recalling him. 

Today, he told a Wisconsin website, “I guess this is a very serious, determined group of people.  And I have to raise more money to recruit more volunteers.” 

Yeah.  I know another serious, determined group.  For the rest of the time in the flesh here on THE ED SHOW tonight, I am so thrilled.  I think they are heroes.  I think that they have been a model of democracy for the United States of America when it comes to standing up for the middle class and workers‘ rights.

And the onslaught continues here in this state.  I mean, they are going after education like you wouldn‘t believe.  They want to cut a billion dollars out of the state of Wisconsin, which has a rich tradition of funding education and getting fabulous results in public education. 

And they haven‘t stopped the fight.  And they will join me next right here on THE ED SHOW stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW here in Madison, Wisconsin.  You want to see a group of heroes?  You want to see a group of heroes?  Right here. 

This is what democracy is all about.  These are the people who stopped the presses and brought the nation‘s attention to the fight for workers‘ rights that‘s going on right here in Madison, Wisconsin. 

Joining me now, in person for the first time—did you like interviewing with me in camera?  Now it‘s in person. 

I have to tell you, it has been a highlight in my career to watch these Democratic state senators, John Erpenbach, Chris Larson, Bob Jauch, Mark Miller, the longest serving state legislator in American history, Fred Risser and state Senators Lena Taylor, Kathleen Vinehout and Spencer Scoggs. 

These are people that are committed to their constituents, that said no to a radical budget.  And I congratulate you.  It‘s an honor to meet you tonight. 

John, great to have you with us.  What are the big things you are fighting right now against the Walker budget? 

ST. SEN. JON ERPENBACH (D), WISCONSIN:  We‘re just trying to make things as fair as we possibly can.  K-12 education is very, very important to all of us.  Obviously, we want jobs in the state of Wisconsin.  But we don‘t want to give away the store like the governor‘s trying to do right now. 

SCHULTZ:  No doubt.  And Senator Larson, when you take a look at what is going on right now across the country, does it kind of—I mean, what‘s happening here is happening everywhere. 

ST. SEN. CHRIS LARSON ((D), WISCONSIN:  Yeah.  It really started in Wisconsin, but I think we and the people of Wisconsin set the tone that we‘re not going to turn over our country to billionaires without a fight. 

SCHULTZ:  You and I had a conversation earlier tonight.  And you talked about how emotional this has been for this group and for the state. 

ST. SEN BOB JAUCH (D), WISCONSIN:  For the state, for the nation. 

People have found their voice.  We crossed the line.  We lit the candles. 

The public is carrying the torch. 

People have found their voice.  They will be quiet no longer.  This is Wisconsin citizens united, where the passion of the human spirit is going to prevail over the almighty dollar, corporate dollar. 

SCHULTZ:  And do you think that people across the country are paying attention to this state? 

JAUCH:  I think they are stirred.  They‘re inspired by the spirit of Wisconsin.  This is Wisconsin at its very best.  We have led the nation for years.  History is going to record Wisconsin—people have always looked to Wisconsin for being a leader in protecting rights.  We‘re going to restore these rights. 

SCHULTZ:  I have to ask you this question, because you come from rural Wisconsin. 

JAUCH:  Right. 

SCHULTZ:  What‘s happening in the countryside? 

JAUCH:  Well, I live 315 miles from here on Lake Superior—shores of Lake Superior.  Washburn, Wisconsin is a community of 2,000 people; 2,000 people that represented the face of Wisconsin and northern Wisconsin showed up to protest Governor Walker.  They feel as strongly there as everywhere else. 

SCHULTZ:  Democratic Leader Miller, great to have you with us.  Thank you.  You were the one that said we‘ve got to walk.  How tough was that? 

ST. SEN. MARK MILLER (D), WISCONSIN:  Actually, it wasn‘t all that hard.  Once what was presented to us, which was a bill to strip away the rights of—long-held rights of workers in the state of Wisconsin.  When I presented it to this caucus, they stood up and said yes, we have to slow this bill down.  We are headed for Illinois. 

SCHULTZ:  Give me the results in your mind and your political take on how the last election went, just last week.  Was it a good night for progressives in the state of Wisconsin? 

MILLER:  I think so, Ed.  What happened was an unknown challenger for the Wisconsin Supreme Court came out of nowhere and came up to where it‘s a razor-thin margin.  Still to be decided by what happens in Waukesha County. 

SCHULTZ:  Great work, my friend.  Mr. Risser, you make me feel like a young buck.  You‘ve served a lot of people and done a lot for your community in this state.  Have you ever seen such radical times when it comes to a budget? 

ST. SEN. FRED RISSER (D), WISCONSIN:  Absolutely not.  I have been through a number of budgets.  This is the worst budget.  You know, Wisconsin has a tradition of support for education, for environment, for its public employees.  And this budget goes and attacks every one of these ideas.  We‘re going to have to—our governor is not representing the Wisconsin ideal. 

SCHULTZ:  No doubt.  Lena Taylor, thanks for joining us again tonight.  What is it going to do if a billion dollars is taken out of the education budget in the state? 

ST. SEN. LENA TAYLOR (D), WISCONSIN:  It surely isn‘t going to take us forward.  This governor is taking us backwards.  Senator Risser said it.  It‘s a value in Wisconsin to make sure we educate our children.  It‘s our future. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator, you come from a rural area as well.  What does it mean these cuts to small towns? 

ST. SEN. KATHLEEN VINEHOUT (D), WISCONSIN:  We‘re looking at little towns that are just going to go away if their school goes away.  The school is the heart of the community.  For those communities to lose their schools is tragic.  It will never come back. 

SCHULTZ:  And they will lose the schools. 

VINEHOUT:  And you know what North Dakota looks like.  You know what these communities look like when the school goes. 

SCHULTZ:  I do.  It‘s—it‘s gut wrenching.  All over rural America it‘s happening.  Can you believe this is happening in your lifetime? 

VINEHOUT:  No, absolutely, I can‘t.  But what we do have is people willing to take back democracy.  We saw that earlier tonight.  And when people get involved, the right thing happens.  And all over the country, people are getting involved.  And they need to stay involved. 

SCHULTZ:  And Senator Scoggs from Milwaukee, how devastating are the cuts going to be? 

ST. SEN. SPENCER COGGS (D), WISCONSIN:  They are bad, especially for minority children.  They‘re being treated unequal.  There should be real equalization aid going to large urban districts like Milwaukee. 

But here we have the worst graduation rate, the highest infant mortality and he‘s cutting the heck out of the budget.  So we‘ll have more kids in the classroom and less teachers. 

SCHULTZ:  You are an example for America the way you have stood behind your principles, stood up to the power grab that has taken place in a lot of states. 

God bless you for what you do.  I will not let this story go.  I know you can replenish the budget.  And I know you can get these recalls done. 

Wisconsin state senators, these are true Americans right here. 

Tonight, I asked in our survey, does the president‘s speech set the right tone for future budget talks?  Ninety six percent of you said yes.  Four 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 in Las Vegas tomorrow night.  Have a great one.

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