updated 4/22/2011 12:06:30 PM ET 2011-04-22T16:06:30

Guests: Michael Steele, Garrett Lamp, Michael Weinman, Bart Chilton, Byron

Dorgan, Stephanie Miller

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

Tonight—oh, boy, round two with my special guest.  Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele is here tonight.

Eighty percent of Americans say, keep your hands off Medicare, 72 percent say raise taxes on the wealthy to help the budget.  But somehow, 98 percent of House Republicans voted to gut Medicare and lower taxes for the rich.

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

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(MUSIC)

SCHULTZ (voice-over):  You saw the fireworks from last week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

           

SCHULTZ:  Voucher program is going to cheat people in the latter part of their—

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN:  It will not.

SCHULTZ:  It will.

STEELE:  It will not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Tonight, Michael Steele is my guest.

In Wisconsin, Democrats say Republicans are buying recall signatures with booze?

Major news on gas prices—we‘ll tell you about the president‘s big announcement.

And the Donald announces he‘s done with the birther talk—except he isn‘t.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION (via telephone):  Every day that goes by, I think less and less that he was born in the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHULTZ:  And it‘s great to have you with us tonight here on THE ED

SHOW.

Top story tonight: You.  You and your conversations with your family or friends, your acquaintances, your co-workers.

I know this—I know that there is someone in your life that you come in contact with and you have these conversations from time to time and, all of a sudden, over time, you find out, hey, I can‘t go there.  I mean, I just can‘t go there—whether it be an issue, something about politics, another person, whatever.

I mean, there are folks out there that I know you know that you just can‘t reach them.  You know, after work you stop by the local watering hole and you run into Harry.  I mean, you can‘t talk politics with this guy because he believes all the big lies that are out there.

You know what?  I got to listen to the big lies tonight.  Here they are.

I mean, look—there‘s a couple dandies out there that you just can‘t talk through.  So, it‘s off limits.

Here‘s one: Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11.  That‘s been one of the greatest hits.  Also, Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.  Those are two of the biggest lies that have been out there for a decade.

Now, tax cuts generate revenue and create jobs.  Now, this is right now in the contemporary conversation of America with all these budget talks right now.  They actually believe that if we cut taxes, that it‘s going to generate revenue and it‘s going to create jobs.  And, of course, there are plenty of charts on this program that prove different.

Uh-oh!  Death panels.  Remember that?  The health care talk that was going on, President Obama, Obamacare was going to have death panels.  We were going to pull the plug on grandma.  No.  That didn‘t happen.

And President Obama has a deep-seeded hatred for white people.  We know where that came from.

And here‘s the latest great one that‘s out there.  Planned Parenthood spends 90 percent of its money on abortions.

Now, these are things that may be off limits when you have these conversations, but this is what a lot of people believe.  And you know what?  This is exactly what the Republicans are doing.

Cutting Medicare—they‘re doing it now.  They voted on it.  They‘re killing collective bargaining.  They‘re giving tax breaks to the rich and they are trying to destroy the New Deal across the board.

America, I think, is at a major tipping point.  That‘s why it‘s important for everyone to understand, back up now, the facts—because there are facts.  There are lies and then there are facts.

Now, according to the latest “New York Times”/CBS poll 45 percent of Republicans believe that President Obama was born in another country -- 45 percent of Republicans.  You ever run into them?  Another 22 percent of Republicans, well, they don‘t—they really don‘t know where the heck he was born.

That means that 67 percent of all Republicans in this country are completely out of touch with reality -- 67 percent.  My friends, this isn‘t a fringe.  What do you think Karl Rove would do with this number?  What do you think the Republicans would do if they had something pulling in their direction at 67 percent?

This isn‘t a splinter group.  It‘s not even a small majority.  This is mainstream Republicans.  The party refuses to accept the truth.

Here it is.  President Obama‘s certificate of live birth—there it is right there.  It‘s a fact that numerous independent organizations have verified its validity.  Sixty-seven percent of Republicans have chosen not to accept that fact, including Donald Trump who happens to be pulling pretty damn well these days.

Why is that?  Well, this is what he‘s talking about.  This is his issue, where President Obama was born.  And there‘s been so much conversation on one network about it, so much talk on talk radio across America about it.  Now, they have got the majority, a strong majority of Republicans believing that the president is not a citizen of the United States.

Can we get to the facts?  Can we have a conversation about what‘s real and what‘s not real?

Joining me now is Michael Steele.  He‘s a former chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Mr. Steele, good to have you with us tonight.

STEELE:  Ed, good to be with you, buddy.

SCHULTZ:  You‘re a good sport for coming on and I appreciate it.  We had a fun time the other night on Bill Maher‘s show.

STEELE:  We did.  We really did.  It was a good exchange.  I love the back and forth.

You know, what I loved was two guys showing their real passion for the issues of the day.  That to me was exciting.

SCHULTZ:  We do.

And I‘m looking for you for some insight tonight on these numbers.

STEELE:  OK.

SCHULTZ:  Sixty-seven percent of your party refuses to accept the fact that the president of the United States is a citizen.  Why don‘t you join them?

STEELE:  Why don‘t I join them?

Well, because I believe the president is a citizen of the United States and this issue is a nonstarter for me.  I think—you know, tonight, after I left services this evening, I ran into a young woman whose mom is about to lose her home.  That‘s where America is right now.  That‘s the conversation we need to have with people right now.

SCHULTZ:  We have found common ground.

STEELE:  It‘s crazy.  It‘s crazy.

SCHULTZ:  This is a defining moment in America‘s conversation.  You and I are finding common ground.  I totally agree with you.

STEELE:  Yes.

SCHULTZ:  But why in the world do Republicans, 67 percent of them, believe the president—why is that?

STEELE:  You know, I think it goes back—I mean, I think there‘s a number of factors there.  You know, the numbers—I don‘t know what the sample is, how representative it is.

I know that there are people in the party—I know some Democrats who believe that.  You know, conservative Democrats.  It‘s just—

SCHULTZ:  No.

STEELE:  No, I do, believe it or not.

SCHULTZ:  Not 67 percent of them.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE:  No, not 67 percent.

SCHULTZ:  The majority of Democrats believe this president was born in Hawaii.

But this is—you know—but seriously, in fairness, this isn‘t a snap shot.  This isn‘t one poll.  There‘s over a year and a half worth of polling that says that there are a lot of Americans and now 67 percent of Republicans who think the president is not a citizen.

I‘m asking you as former chair, is this hurting the Republican Party?

STEELE:  Oh, I think—no, absolutely.  I think it does.  I think it puts a drag on the debate that we had last week for example on the budget.  I think it puts a drag on issues that we have to deal with, the war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya.  I really think it takes the people‘s attention off of every day things that we are focused on.

SCHULTZ:  I respect you for that because that‘s an honest answer.  The Republican Party is leading its voters in the wrong direction.  You know, maybe that‘s why you‘re not the head anymore because—

STEELE:  Well—

SCHULTZ:  -- you‘re not in lock step with them.  I appreciate that.

Now, I want to get your take on a different topic.

STEELE:  Yes.

SCHULTZ:  Last Friday, the House of Representatives approved—approved—voted on and approved Paul Ryan‘s budget plan, 235 Republicans voted for it.

STEELE:  Right.

SCHULTZ:  And every Democrat voted against it.

STEELE:  Right.

SCHULTZ:  Here‘s what‘s in it—defunding Medicare as we know it.  And they‘re going to give a $15,000 voucher to the elderly and send them to negotiate with a private insurance sector, the private insurance companies.  Medicaid is going to be turned into block grants so states are going to be able to take the money and do whatever they want with it.

They also are calling for a cut in Pell grants, making it harder for poor students to go to college.  They‘re cutting taxes for the rich 35 percent down to 25 percent.  And increasing the Pentagon budget $5 billion just this year—just next year alone should I say.

STEELE:  Right.

SCHULTZ:  So, as I‘ve been showing all week long on this program, 72

percent of American people want taxes to go up on the top 2 percent, 80

percent want the Congress to leave Medicare and Medicaid alone.  Mr. Steele

--

           

STEELE:  Yes.

SCHULTZ:  -- do you agree or disagree with the American people because the Republicans have voted on exactly the opposite of where the people are?

STEELE:  Well, I think—I think, I have seen polling going the other way on this, and this is an interesting point that I think is really going to be a dynamic that‘s going to get played out over the next few weeks.

SCHULTZ:  I‘ve got to ask you the name of that poll.  What poll have you seen—

STEELE:  No, no.  My point is -- 

SCHULTZ:  What poll have you seen that says the American people want to get rid of Medicare?

STEELE:  No, not getting rid of.  No, that reform or changes to or cuts to depending on the language and the wording of the poll.

SCHULTZ:  OK.

STEELE:  That you have people agreeing with that sentiment as well.

SCHULTZ:  So, do you think—let me ask you, do you think—

STEELE:  Yes.

SCHULTZ:  -- do you think the American people want a voucher program for Medicare?

STEELE:  Well, I think that‘s a conversation we need to have.  This is the point.  Wait a minute.

SCHULTZ:  No.  It‘s not a conversation.  Respectfully, wait a minute.

STEELE:  It is.

SCHULTZ:  It‘s not a conversation because the Republicans have voted on it, Mr. Steele.

STEELE:  Wait a minute.  OK.  Ed, you‘re a very intelligent man.  This is a—this is a several stage process.  What the Republicans put in place was the first part of this.  The Senate has to do theirs.  But you have other pieces of legislation—

SCHULTZ:  True.

STEELE:  -- that are going to be introduced.

SCHULTZ:  True.

STEELE:  The president has introduced a budget.  What you have from the Republican leadership is the beginning of the framework, the beginning of a conversation.

SCHULTZ:  That‘s where you and I disagree.

(CROSSTLAK)

STEELE:  Well, wait a minute.  You may disagree with our framework, Ed, and that‘s your prerogative.

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Steele—

STEELE:  This is how we see this thing getting played out.

SCHULTZ:  OK.  All right.  Mr. Steele—

STEELE:  Yes, sir.

SCHULTZ:  John Boehner and the leadership in the House—

STEELE:  Yes.

SCHULTZ:  -- they want the Senate to pass this bill.

STEELE:  Of course.

SCHULTZ:  They want to pass.  This is not a start.  This is where the Republicans are, sir.

STEELE:  But this is where—this is the president wanted the House Republicans to go along with this health care bill.  I mean, that was his bill.

SCHULTZ:  He didn‘t get the vote.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ:  OK.  We‘re getting a little bit in denial here.  This is not

--

           

STEELE:  And the Senate is not going to give John Boehner the vote on his—on that legislation.

SCHULTZ:  Why did ever Republican vote on tax cuts for the rich, going after the Pell grants, changing Medicare to a voucher system when the American people aren‘t there?

STEELE:  You want to talk about Pell grants, the president of the United States cut funding for the opportunity scholarships that would fund African-American kids attending schools here in the District of Columbia.

SCHULTZ:  Actually, he increased the budget.

STEELE:  No, he did not.

SCHULTZ:  Yes, he did.

STEELE:  No, sorry.  You know, he increased it when John Boehner put that legislation in the bill.

SCHULTZ:  I want to know about the Ryan budget.

STEELE:  Yes, sir.

SCHULTZ:  Let me ask you this question.  Do you think the Republicans can win on what they voted on in the House on the Ryan budget?

STEELE:  I do.  I think Republicans will have a very good case to take to the American people.  And ultimately, as you and I know, they will decide where they want this thing to come out.

SCHULTZ:  OK.

STEELE:  But I think as a starting point, it is a good conversation to begin.

SCHULTZ:  All right.  Mr. Steele, let‘s turn to jobs now.  Last year, the entire Republican Party ran around this country saying this:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER:  Americans are still asking the same simple, persistent question: Mr. President, where are the jobs?

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  Where are the jobs?

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER:  Where are the jobs?

REP. PAUL RYAN ®, WISCONSIN:  Where are the jobs?

REP. MIKE PENCE ®, INDIANA:  Americans are asking, where‘s the pivot?  And more importantly, where are the jobs?

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

SCHULTZ:  Now, these are facts: in the three months that the Republicans have had the majority in the House, they have voted to cut the Environmental Protection Agency, FEMA, NPR, Pell grants.  Why haven‘t they passed anything to create jobs?

STEELE:  Well, because that‘s not the job of the federal government is to create jobs.  The job of the federal government is to create the stimulus within the system to allow the entrepreneurs, the small and large businesses and medium business owners out there to go out and do that very thing.

But as you well know, businesses aren‘t investing in the economy that way right now because there‘s still too much uncertainty.  You‘ve got this whole question on the debt that still has to be resolved during the next couple of weeks.  You‘ve got the budget for 2012 being resolved.  Heck, we just signed the budget for 2011, and we‘re already halfway through the cycle.

SCHULTZ:  But, the point is—the point is—

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE:  -- invest in this economy right now?  No.

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Steele, the economy is turning around because we‘ve had 13 straight months of private sector job creation.

STEELE:  But that‘s a jobless recovery.  That‘s not creating the kind of jobs on Main Street that we need.

SCHULTZ:  Here‘s a graph right here.

STEELE:  Yes.

SCHULTZ:  This was job creation during the Bush years.  Turning to blue, that‘s the Obama term.  And there you can see 13 straight months of jobs on the positive side of the sector.  Those are private sector jobs.

Now, you said that it‘s government—it‘s not government‘s role.  How do you explain jobs being created if we got a stimulus package that is obviously working?

STEELE:  But wait a minute.  Those—how do you those are private sector jobs?  That‘s not what the unemployment numbers are showing.

SCHULTZ:  They‘re private sector jobs.

STEELE:  Wait a minute, that‘s not what the unemployment numbers are showing.  The employment, if that were the trend lines, unemployment would be down where Obama said it would be two years ago at 8 percent, right?

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Steele, are you telling us tonight that we are not creating jobs in the positive side of the ledger?

STEELE:  No, I‘m not saying that.  I‘m not saying we‘re not creating jobs.

SCHULTZ:  We are.

STEELE:  I‘m not saying that we are.  I‘m agree, there are jobs being created.  The question is: where the jobs being created?  What is the sustainability of those jobs being created?

SCHULTZ:  Private sector jobs.

STEELE:  And what level of investment are private sector owners putting in those jobs so that they can expand?

SCHULTZ:  But it‘s private sector jobs.

STEELE:  They‘re not all private sector jobs.  They‘re not.  Remember all those great jobs bills the president was talking about?

SCHULTZ:  That‘s my question to you.

STEELE:  We‘re going to do road construction.  Those are government contract jobs.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ:  All I‘m asking you to do is answer my question.  Why haven‘t the Republicans come up with a jobs plan?  Why haven‘t they come up with a jobs plan?

STEELE:  Well, they—of course, they have.

SCHULTZ:  They have?  Where is it?

STEELE:  Look -- 

SCHULTZ:  What‘s the jobs plan by the Republicans?

STEELE:  They‘ve talked about putting, lowering taxes on employers.

SCHULTZ:  Lowering taxes.  OK.

STEELE:  Yes.  You have this idea -- 

SCHULTZ:  They haven‘t voted on anything, Mr. Steele.

STEELE:  If I raise taxes, I‘m going to generate more money.  Let me ask you a question, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  No, no.  Mr. Steele, they have not -- 

STEELE:  If I come to you and say -- 

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ:  They have not voted on a jobs package.  They have not brought a jobs proposal to the table.

STEELE:  You‘re right.  There‘s not been a single jobs bill.  You are absolutely right, but the president hasn‘t put one forward either.  So, there you are.

SCHULTZ:  But you answered the question.  You said the jobs program is tax cuts.

And so, my final question in this segment is—

STEELE:  Yes, sir.

SCHULTZ:  -- do you think that lowering taxes for the top 2 percent will create jobs?

STEELE:  Yes, I do.

SCHULTZ:  Wow.

OK.  Mr. Steele, stay with us.

STEELE:  You got it.

SCHULTZ:  I appreciate it.

Former Chairman Michael Steele here on THE ED SHOW tonight.

We‘re going to take another look at this issue.  We‘re going to talk to a firefighter and police officer who used to be in the Republican camp, but with the crackdown on the middle class, these men have changed their view of the Republican Party.

And in a possible sign of desperation by Wisconsin Republicans, they need to get people drunk in order to get them to sign recall petitions against Democrats.  Stay with us.  Another hot one is coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Be sure to check—be sure to check our new blog at Ed.MSNBC.com.  There you‘re going to find links to my radio Web site WeGotEd.com, Twitter, and Facebook.

A firefighter from Florida and a former police officer from Ohio, both Republicans—well, not anymore.  That‘s next with Michael Steele.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Now, if you‘ve ever wondered if Republican voters are being turned off by this radical Republican agenda, well, we‘ve got at least a couple answers tonight in the form of two gentlemen who have had a rude awakening by today‘s Republican Party.  Here they are.

Garret Lamp is a firefighter in Orlando, Florida.  And Michael Weinman is a retired police officer from Columbus, Ohio.  And he‘s also the director of the government affairs for the Fraternal Order of Police in that city.

Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele standing by.  He will join us in just a moment.

We‘re just looking for straight answers as always.

Garret, you were a life long Republican.  Tell me what happened.  What changed you?

GARRETT LAMP, ORLANDO FIREFIGHTER:  Well, I just feel like I did not leave the Republican Party.  The Republican Party left me.

I registered to vote as a Republican back in high school, worked on

several campaigns in the last 20 years.  And as a father of three, I‘m just

I‘m still a morally conservative person.  But when it comes to raising my children and my three boys, my wife, you know, I wake up on Sunday morning and I‘m going to take my family to church.  I‘m pro-life and pro-gun, but they have left me behind and my family.

           

As a fireman they have—and a public sector worker, public sector employee, they have decided it would be better to put the burden of the economy on middle classes‘ backs and I just—I don‘t think that that‘s right anymore.  Programs have been cut at my boys‘ school and all across the state of Florida, they‘ve decided to put the burden on my back and my brothers‘ backs instead of corporate America.

SCHULTZ:  OK.  So, let me get this straight.  It‘s the collective bargaining issue, the cuts in education.  And are you concerned about future health care when it comes to Medicare?

LAMP:  Well, I‘m absolutely concerned about that.

SCHULTZ:  OK.

(CROSSTALK)

LAMP:  Part of the reason is my insurance is going up every single year.

SCHULTZ:  OK.  And you say the Republican Party has left you on those issues.

Michael, how do you see today‘s Republican Party?  What happened?

MICHAEL WEINMAN, FRAT. ORDER OF POLICE, OHIO:  Well, it hit us pretty hard.  It was a broad side on workers‘ rights.  It got me really re-evaluating my position in the Republican Party and how I felt about the Republican Party.

SCHULTZ:  Well, what have they done that has turned you away, Michael?

WEINMAN:  Senate bill 5 here in the state of Ohio completely eliminated workers‘ rights.  It was quite unbelievable how it happened.  You know, we didn‘t see anyone campaigning on it.

One of the—the primary sponsor, Senator Shannon Jones, we endorsed her.  We endorsed a number of Republicans, you know, pretty much Fraternal Order of Police here in Ohio.  Its membership is about 70 percent Republicans, conservative Republicans.  These were our friends, and before we knew it, we were losing our rights as workers.

SCHULTZ:  Let‘s bring back former RNC chair, Michael Steele, back into the conversation.

Mr. Steele, what do you say to these two gentlemen who have both stated tonight that the Republican Party has left them and they gave reasons?  What‘s your response to this?  What‘s happening?

STEELE:  Well, first off, let me just say I want to thank them both for their service, you know, to the community.  And as a former state elected official, I appreciate very much what they bring to the table.  And I understand, particularly, the concerns about where pensions and health care and things like that are going to be for them down the road.

And when I became chairman in 2009, Ed, and, gentlemen, this—I heard this very same complaint, that the party had left them, that we had stepped away from some core values and principles and that we had begun, you know, down a road of what I liked to call big, you know, government Republicanism.

And I think that right now, at least what I tried to do in my 10 years RNC as chairman was to go out and listen to these voices and to understand and really bring that voice to the table.

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Steele, do you think the party is listening to these voices right now?

STEELE:  You know, I believe—in some parts, yes, I believe they are.  I believe they‘re trying very hard to do that.  I think they‘re really trying to find that balance between private sector and public sector and, you know, collective bargaining versus not collective bargaining.

SCHULTZ:  Well, that‘s a great point, Michael.  But what is the balance when you want to fundamentally change collective bargaining in America?  That‘s both what these gentlemen are concerned about and they feel like they‘ve been under attack as middle class Americans.  It‘s not the Democrats.  It‘s the Republicans.

STEELE:  It‘s a legitimate—well, Republican leadership that‘s in place and where these issues are coming up.  And, you know, I can‘t speak for what‘s going on specifically in Florida and Ohio.  You know, I‘ve got my own issues here in Maryland with the Democratic governor.

SCHULTZ:  OK.  Garrett—

STEELE:  But my point—but my point is this.  If I could, Ed, real quick -- 

SCHULTZ:  Yes?

STEELE:  -- is that I think it‘s important that these gentlemen—and they‘ve made it very clear, their frustration and concern, and I think the governors in both of those states are going to be paying much more attention as we get to future budget discussions.

SCHULTZ:  OK.  Garrett and Michael—you first, Garrett—does the chairman, Chairman Steele, former Chairman Steele, his response to what we were just talking—does it ease your mind at all?

LAMP:  No, it doesn‘t.  And part of the reason why is because that‘s the first thing you hear is somebody will come on and they‘ll tell you, thank you very much for your service.  We really appreciate what you do, but.  And then here it comes.  And get ready.

And right here in Florida right now, they‘re trying to take our rights to have our union dues deducted from our paychecks.  Only 12 percent of the workforce is union any longer and they are only trying to come after the union dues in my paycheck.

The insurance that comes out of my paycheck, all other deductions that comes out of my paycheck, they‘re OK with that.  They‘re not messing with that.  Only the union dues, because they say that it funds political activity.

STEELE:  But if I could—

LAMP:  But I guarantee you—I guarantee you that every other deduction, every insurance company, they‘re making political contributions.  And that‘s just one way they‘re coming after us again.

SCHULTZ:  What about that, Mr. Steele?

STEELE:  Yes.  But let me just—you know, let me just back up and say, you know, my saying that was not to insult you or to, you know, somehow say, but.  Again, I don‘t know what your circumstances are in your state.  I can only speak to when I was lieutenant governor of Maryland, how we worked with our state employees.

SCHULTZ:  But, Mr. Steele—

STEELE:  But this is the point -- 

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ:  No, wait a minute.  The point is, is that Republican Party is attacking labor and these two guys are middle classers who have turned on your party.

STEELE:  I understand that.

SCHULTZ:  Now, what does the party have to do to get them back?

STEELE:  I understand that.  But, you know, there are those who will argue that the Republican Party is not attacking labor.

SCHULTZ:  OK.

STEELE:  What they are responding to -- 

SCHULTZ:  Michael, you want to respond to that?

STEELE:  Let me finish my point.

WEINMAN:  Absolutely.  We tried to sit down in Ohio with the Senator Jones.  We tried to sit down with leadership.  We went to the speaker.  We went to the Senate president.

No one wanted to sit down and talk to us.  Nobody showed us this bill until the day it was introduced.  We only heard rumors of what might be in it.

So, Mr. Steele‘s, you know, statement about working with people—like I said, this was a sneaky broad side that, you know, we heard rumors might be coming, and this is what we‘re left with.  We‘re left with nothing.  We‘re left with collective begging.

We can‘t even ask, you know, they put in a little blurp in the bill about asking for safety equipment.  But the final arbitrator is the city council and the county commissioners.  We have to accept our final and best deal.  They‘ve eliminated fair share and—I‘m going with Garrett here—they eliminated the payroll deduction for union dues.

SCHULTZ:  All right.  Garrett Lamp, Michael—

(CROSSSTALK)

SCHULTZ:  Garrett Lamp, Michael Weinman, and Mr. Steele—stay with us.  We‘re going to continue this discussion.

Why it is that some middle class Americans are leaving the Republican Party and what is the Republican Party going to do about it?  The numbers are very clear.  Eighty percent of Americans say leave Medicare and Medicaid alone, 72 percent of Americans say they want the taxes going up on the top 2 percent to fix the budget problem.

We‘ve got a lot more coming back.  We‘re right back here on THE ED SHOW.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW and thanks for watching tonight.  We continue our discussion.  Back with us, Garrett Lamp a firefighter in Orlando, Florida, Michael Weinman, a retired police officer from Columbus, Ohio.  And also former RNC Chairman Michael Steele. 

These two middle class workers have left the Republican party and Mr.  Steele kind enough to join us tonight to give us insight as to exactly what the political landscape is. 

The president recently has been very clear on this issue on the Ryan budget.  He went so far as to say that it is radical.  Mr. Steele, can you respond to that? 

STEELE:  Well, you know, I think that that is part of the problem right now quite frankly.  A lot of the hot rhetoric makes it much more difficult to come to consensus.  This was the same president who stood before the Republican caucus in January and said we don‘t want to go down that road.  We don‘t want to call things extreme this and radical that and make all that kind of noise.

And then to get the leadership in front of him in speeches in the last week or so, and do that makes it much more difficult to address the very concerns that the firefighters and policemen and teachers have out there on a broader national level.  I‘d like to see that change. 

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Lamp, do you think it‘s radical to go after collective bargaining and eliminate it? 

LAMP:  Absolutely.  What Michael said is—we were pretty much blind sided.  They certainly didn‘t campaign on this.  There were some rumors.  I‘m still trying to figure out how axing union dues from my paycheck creates jobs and stimulates the economy. 

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Weinman if you had a question to ask Mr. Steele, what would it be?  I want to give you a chance to converse with him on exactly why you left the party and what direction the party is going to go. 

WEINMAN:  Well, I‘d like to know when public employees became enemies. 

STEELE:  Well, look, I can only speak for me. 

LAMP:  Me too. 

STEELE:  -- for my tenure as RNC chairman.  And I can only speak, you know, of the leadership that I brought to the table as lieutenant governor of my state of Maryland.  I do not and did not as chairman see public employees as the enemy. 

And I believe that that is a lot of the same rhetoric out there that makes it very difficult—makes it very difficult to address. 

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Steele, it‘s not rhetoric. 

(CROSS TALK)

STEELE:  No, you have to understand—collective bargaining agreements that governors are dealing with, whether they‘re Republican or Democrat, are decisions that were made up to ten years ago that are now coming home to be paid for. 

SCHULTZ:  Mr.  Steele -- 

STEELE:  You have to take a look at the process. 

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Steele, in Wisconsin it would eliminate collective bargaining.  Now, is that a radical policy or not?  These two middle classers tonight are saying that that‘s radical, that that is taking away their right to get together and try to get a better life for themselves. 

STEELE:  I understand that. 

SCHULTZ:  You talked about you personally with the RNC. 

STEELE:  Right. 

SCHULTZ:  Where is the Republican party now?  Why are they going after labor the way they are? 

STEELE:  You have to ask the RNC chairman that because I do not—let me be clear.  I not speak for the republican party anymore. 

SCHULTZ:  Fair enough. 

STEELE:  If you want to know that—

(CROSS TALK)  

SCHULTZ:  But I think you can give some insight with your experience because you were very successful as an RNC chairman.  You won a lot of elections.  Is the Republican party going down the right path to turn off these two middle classers, who used to be Republicans, and are now saying that the party has left them?  What do you say to them? 

STEELE:  I think you‘ve got to do a couple things here.  One, I think you‘ve got to separate the national party from what an individual governor does in his or her state. 

SCHULTZ:  Garrett Lamp, can you do that? 

STEELE:  That is not necessarily representative of what Bob McDonnell is doing in Virginia or what Haley Barbour is doing in Mississippi. 

(CROSS TALK)

LAMP:  It‘s going to be difficult.  Without a doubt, what is going on in Florida had a huge impact on my decision, because what is going on in the state—you know, it‘s almost like they‘re just on a feeding frenzy after the public employee and the middle class and the guy that swings a hammer on the week days and guys that are just working hard trying to make it through every Friday to get that paycheck. 

SCHULTZ:  The next point I want to bring up is shared sacrifice.  The president has talked about that.  The Democrats have asked for shared sacrifice.  Mr. Weinman, how do you feel about taxes possibly going up on the top two percent?  Would you be in favor of that? 

WEINMAN:  I‘d have to look, you know, at how these taxes would be raised.  Definitely this whole shift from—it just seems as though the middle class and the poor in this country are getting picked on with these taxes.  You know, they‘re definitely shouldering more and more of the tax burden in this country. 

SCHULTZ:  Garrett, you believe that? 

LAMP:  I totally agree with it.  I totally agree with it.  You know, the higher you climb on the income scale, the more things you have to write off, which, at the end of the day, you know, the less taxes you have to pay.  So I totally agree with Mike and he‘s right about that. 

SCHULTZ:  Your final question for you, Mr. Steele. 

STEELE:  Yes, sir. 

SCHULTZ:  Do you think that reducing the personal income tax from 35 to 25 percent—do you think that‘s a political winner for the Republicans? 

STEELE:  Well, since that is part of the debt commission that the president has put together, has recommended a 23 percent top rate—yeah, I think 25 percent would be a good start. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  So you give no validity whatsoever to the recent polling, numerous polls recently that the majority of Americans want to see shared sacrifice from the top two percent? 

STEELE:  Well, look.  Everybody—everybody is paying and playing right now.  You have the top five percent, the average income is 114,000 dollars a year.  I don‘t know what the salary—

SCHULTZ:  OK. 

STEELE:  The combined salaries of these gentlemen is. 

(CROSS TALK)

STEELE:  Gentlemen, if you‘re making more than 250,000 dollars, under this administration‘s plan, you‘re considered rich.  And you‘re now part of that top two percent. 

SCHULTZ:  That‘s all I need to hear, Mr. Steele.  You‘ve said it all tonight.  You want to give tax breaks to the top two percent and beyond. 

STEELE:  I would give tax breaks to every American across the board. 

SCHULTZ:  Your party didn‘t do that. 

STEELE:  Of course they did.  The Bush tax cut. 

SCHULTZ:  Great to have you guys with us tonight.  I appreciate the conversation so much. 

Coming up, Donald Trump‘s Birther flip flop.  And new poll shows him doing as well as an independent.  Come on, folks.  You know it‘s my endorsement that‘s turning this thing around. 

President Obama takes action today on rising gas prices.  And one of his targets is speculation in the oil market, exactly what we‘ve been talking about here on THE ED SHOW in recent weeks.  That‘s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Thanks for watching tonight.  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Gas prices getting pretty ugly out there, aren‘t they?  And we‘ve been telling you about how speculators in the oil market affect the price of gas.  President Obama, well, he jumped into it today on the issue. 

His administration announced a working group of federal agencies to investigate potential fraud.  Listen to what the president had to say at a town hall in Reno, Nevada today. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  Today I‘m going to go a step further.  The attorney general is putting together a team whose  job it is to root out any cases of fraud or manipulation in the oil markets that might affect gas prices.  That includes the role of traders and speculators.  We‘re going to make sure that nobody is taking advantage of American consumers. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Attorney General Eric Holder said that we will be vigilant in monitoring the oil and gas markets for any wrongdoing, so that consumers can be confident that they are not paying higher prices as a result of illegal activity. 

Let‘s bring in the commissioner on the Consumer Futures Trading Commission, Bart Chilton, and former North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan.  Gentlemen, thanks for your time tonight. 

Mr. Chilton, what is your role going to be in the president‘s working group on this? 

BART CHILTON, CFTC COMMISSIONER:  We‘re one of several agencies, Ed, that are on this.  But let me be clear.  There is lots that we can do absent of this task force and the working group.  It‘s important that we have it for a bunch of reasons.

But as Senator Dorgan knows, the law they passed last year, and as you‘ve talked about in several weeks—we can implement position limits to lower the amount that speculators are having an impact on prices right now.  And we need to do that. 

But we‘ll be involved in both—in looking at investigations, and in going forward to find out where we can coordinate and cooperate more efficiently and more effectively.  A lot of people don‘t realize that 75 percent of the cases that my agency refers to the Department of Justice recently, they‘ve been rejected by DOJ. 

You remember Baretta?  He‘d say if you do a crime, you do the time.  Well, up until recently, it‘s been you do the crime and maybe you‘ll pay a fine and get a slap on the wrist. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator Dorgan, what did you think of President Obama today? 

And do you think this is a big step forward?  And will it have an impact? 

BYRON DORGAN, FORMER SENATOR:  First of all, Bart Chilton is one of the good guys down at the commission.  Let me say that. 

In my judgment, we don‘t need to investigate speculation at this point.  We just need to stop it.  It‘s the same old movie.  It always has a bad ending.  We have the big investment banks, the hedge funds.  They‘re selling oil they don‘t have to people who are buying it who will never get it, trading energy contracts.

And the result is higher prices through speculation.  And somebody who drives up at the gas pump pays 60 or 80 bucks for a gas tank full of gas.  Or a trucker pays 1,000 dollars or 1,200 dollars, all because of rampant excess speculation. 

We don‘t need to investigate it anymore.  Let‘s just stop it. 

SCHULTZ:  So, senator, is the White House just doing a political tap dance on this?  What do you think? 

DORGAN:  Well, I‘ve seen a lot of tap dancing in politics over the years.  Look, the president cares about this.  And all I‘m saying is that the American people—four dollars a gallon is kind of a trigger point certainly.  And the administration understands something has to be done to deal with it. 

There is no justification for what‘s happening in these energy markets.  The supply and demand doesn‘t justify what the price is.  It just does not. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator Dorgan, is the president letting down the American people by not advocating position limits?  Mr. Chilton, he could do this.  Mr. Dorgan, first. 

DORGAN:  Well, the CFTC, Bart Chilton and others, have the capability.  They‘re moving, by the way.  The CFTC is, in my judgement, doing some good things here.

But I think at this point, given what‘s happening and given the fact that the price is way out of whack with supply and demand of oil—and by the way, there‘s no free market in oil in any event.  We can talk about that later. 

I just think the administration, the CFTC and others ought to just grab this by the horns and say we‘re going to stop and shut down this excess speculation. 

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Chilton, the president could appoint someone that would think like you.  And you could get this done with three of the five votes.  Why not? 

CHILTON:  A majority is what you need, as you‘ve talked about before, Ed.  But look, this has been a good week.  And in part I think we should thank you for calling attention to what is a pretty complicated issue, dealing with futures markets, et cetera.  But it is important. 

As you said, the president talked about the role of speculators and the link between prices a couple days ago.  Today, he set up this working group that‘s headed up by the attorney general of the United States.  It‘s a pretty big damn deal.

And I think it‘s going to be important for us to coordinate.  A lot of these investigations are key, Ed, that we work together.  Too often, as you know, government is siloed.  This is going to help us out. 

SCHULTZ:  Finally, Senator Dorgan, this is a pretty big moment for the attorney general, is it not?  This has got to have some teeth to it. 

DORGAN:  It is.  And it needs to have some teeth because, as I said, we‘ve been through this before.  We‘ll go through it again unless and until somebody takes a look at the law that created these—this trading, which has, by the way, a provision in it that talks about excess speculation. 

It was never intended that these markets be captured by excess speculation by investment banks and hedge funds.  And that is exactly what‘s happened.  And the same victims, the same perpetrators.  Investments banks hedge funds and the victims over here are the consumers. 

SCHULTZ:  Bart Chilton, Byron Dorgan, great to have you both with us tonight.  Thanks so much. 

If you are a Scott Walker supporter and you‘re trying to get people to sign recall petitions, you want to go where everybody knows your name.  Some intoxicating news is coming out of Wisconsin.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Lots of things happening on the northern tier.  So far, Wisconsin Democrats have filed five recall petitions against Republican state senators, with another three in sight before next month‘s deadline. 

Republicans, on the other hand, have filed petitions against three

Democrats.  By the way, they got the signatures for those three petitions -

well, that may not have been on the up and up. 

           

In a recording obtained by “Huffington Post,” a bartender at John‘s Main Event in Burlington, Wisconsin, is heard offering free shots to customers.  Confused customers, that is.  He wanted to trade them booze for their names on a petition to recall Democratic State Senator Robert Werch. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I don‘t know what it is. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What‘s that for? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I don‘t know.  What am I? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What is that? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  OK.  So you‘re going to get us, one, two, three, four, five, shots. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That‘s right. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  If we sign that.  What is it? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘ll buy them. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Well, if we all sign this recall petition, we can do—

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Just win, baby.  Just win.  State Democrats filed a complaint with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, signed by witnesses of the alleged bribe.  A board spokesman says the behavior probably isn‘t illegal, but that doesn‘t make it right. 

Democrats contend that the bribes are further proof that Republicans don‘t have the same kind of support for the recall campaigns that the Democrats have. 

Meanwhile, the Democrats say that they received more than 140 percent of the total signatures needed for each petition they submitted.  And they didn‘t need to get people drunk to have them sign on to the dotted line. 

Donald Trump will travel to New Hampshire next week.  Does this mean he is really running?  I‘ll talk about a Trump candidacy with my radio partner, Stephanie Miller, next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Finally, tonight, the Donald wants you to know he is a real serious dude when it comes to running for president, because he is showing all the signs.  First, he is traveling to the early primary states.  Next week, he‘s going to be up to New Hampshire.  There according to a bigwig at the Trump organization, he is expected to give some type of speech.  Sounds promising, doesn‘t it? 

Then Trump will take his act to Nevada.  He is slated to speak to several GOP women‘s groups at Treasure Island in Las Vegas.  I‘ll leave that one for Stephanie. 

Another sign that he is serious, he is sucking up to the GOP elites.  Trump called columnist Charles Krauthammer to let him know just how serious he is.  Krauthammer shared details on Fox News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Is it your sense that he is running? 

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR:  Absolutely. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No doubt in your mind. 

KRAUTHAMMER:  No. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  But it is tough to be taken seriously as a candidate when the liberal media, they‘re fixated on the whole Birther thing.  I‘ll let Donald explain. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, “THE APPRENTICE”:  The problem is every time I go on a show, like as an example this morning, the first question you ask me is about the birth certificate. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  But seconds later, Trump seemed to change his tune. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR:  Let‘s get it on the record right now that you believe Barack Obama was born in the United States.  And I promise you after this, no one at CNN will ever ask you this question again. 

TRUMP:  I wish I could say that.  I wish I could say that with certainty.  It‘s possible that he was.  But there is a big question as to whether or not he was. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Time now for radio talk show host Stephanie Miller.  Her comedy tour, by the way, starts this Saturday in Madison, Wisconsin.  They love you there, Steph.  They‘re waiting for you.  Going to have a lot of fun. 

Donald Trump is giving you a lot of material.  Is he serious or is he comedy? 

STEPHANIE MILLER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Please, Ed.  When his investigators get done in Hawaii and they open Donald Trump‘s vault, there will be nothing in there.  And he‘ll have not just egg on his face, but he‘ll have an entire omelet on whatever that woodland creature is that serves as his hair currently. 

Please, the women‘s groups that are talking about him, Ed?  I love the whole new barometer for family values and moral values on the Republican side.  Literally, a Republican activist said well, his three ex-wives seem happy, so I guess it‘s OK. 

SCHULTZ:  How about his flip flop on the Birther issue?  He doesn‘t want to bring it up and then he talks about it. 

MILLER:  Exactly.  I think Sarah Palin said that.  Oh, he‘d talk about other things if they would let him.  Oh, please.  You can see the graph.  His ratings for “The Apprentice” are straight down.  Now he‘s talking about this.  They‘re going up.  It‘s like oh, please.  He‘s been selling this everywhere. 

SCHULTZ:  He claims he has got these investigators in Hawaii.  Is he choking our chain or is this the real deal?

MILLER:  Yeah.  It‘s interesting.  I guess we won‘t know the results of that, Ed, until the season finale of “The Apprentice.”

SCHULTZ:  And Charles Krauthammer is convinced that Trump is running. 

Are you? 

MILLER:  No.  I don‘t—seriously, first of all, he‘s, you know, supposed to be this great businessman.  How do you go broke running a casino?  His casino just declared bankruptcy for the third time.  Let‘s hope America is not the fourth business he bankrupts. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.  Of course, John McCain had the Straight Talk Express.  Stephanie Miller, what should Donald Trump call his train? 

MILLER:  You know, someone—a listener today, Ed, said they have—who do they have?  Palin, Romney, and Trump.  It should be I quit, I‘m it, and I‘m full of—

SCHULTZ:  Stephanie Miller, great to have you with us tonight.  Folks in Madison, check her program out.  It is absolutely awesome.  You see her in person, you‘ll be in stitches. 

That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Ed Schultz.  For more information on THE ED SHOW, check out Ed.MSNBC.com.  And my radio website, WeGotEd.com.

“THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O‘Donnell starts right now.  We‘ll see you Monday night.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

Copyright 2011 CQ-Roll Call, Inc.  All materials herein are protected by

United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,

transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written

permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,

copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>

PASTE THE TRANSCRIPT HERE