The Ed Show for Thursday, July 14, 2011
Read the transcript to the Thursday show
Guests: Sam Stein, Sen. Robert Menendez, Rep. John Yarmuth, Ron Christie,
Mike Papantonio, John Nichols, Lisa Graves, Heidi Harris, Joe Madison, Bill
ED SCHULTZ, HOST: Good evening, Americans. And welcome to THE ED SHOW tonight from New York.
Another meeting on the debt ceiling took at the White House tonight between the president and leaders from both sides, still no deal. But now, even Republicans are willing to admit that they‘ve talked themselves into a corner by refusing to raise the debt ceiling.
This is THE ED SHOW. Let‘s get to work.
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: It‘s time for all Republicans to put the interests of American families ahead of this small group of ideologues within their party.
SCHULTZ (voice-over): Democrats are taking their case to the American people. Republicans are still holding the economy hostage. We‘ve got the latest.
Major news from the Justice Department. The FBI today said that they have opened an investigation on News Corp.
And in “Psycho Talk” tonight, one of the most offensive and blatant false statements you will ever hear courtesy of FOX News.
SCHULTZ: Good to have you with us tonight, folks.
The latest round of tense negotiations between President Obama and the Republican leaders ended earlier this evening with no deal. Tonight‘s meeting lasted just over an hour. With no meeting planned for tomorrow. The White House says the president will hold a press conference tomorrow morning.
They have left the possibility of a weekend meeting up in the air.
During today‘s meeting, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor reportedly remained silent the entire time. Republicans are still refusing a generational opportunity to cut social safety net they have been after for decades, the New Deal.
President Obama put the country before his own political future in an effort to solve a crisis Republicans basically created. President Obama knows the stakes.
His Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner laid it out today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIMOTHY GEITHNER, TREASURY SECRETARY: We‘ve looked at all available options. And we have no way to give Congress more time to solve this problem and we‘re running out of time. And the eyes of the country are on us and the eyes of the world are us and we need to make sure we stand together and send a definitive signal that we‘re going to take these steps necessary to avoid default and also take advantage of this opportunity to make some progress in dealing with our long-term fiscal problems. We don‘t have much time. It‘s time we move.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Most Republicans are ignoring Geithner‘s warning. Take a listen to Michele Bachmann.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS: So, you don‘t care if we‘re downgraded?
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, we won‘t. We won‘t get downgraded if we pay the interest on the debt. The president knows and Secretary Geithner know that we have sufficient money to pay the interest on the debt.
SUSTEREN: So, why‘s Moody‘s saying that to scare the country then?
BACHMANN: What they‘re saying is that if we fail to pay the interest on the debt, we‘ll be downgraded. But there‘s no reason to do that. We have plenty of money to pay the interest on the debt.
That‘s why I think the president is playing politics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Plenty of money all of a sudden.
Republicans created the crisis and have been flat-out lying about it for months. Senator Lindsay of South Carolina admitted it. Graham told “The New York Times”: “Our problem is we made a deal about this for three months. How many Republicans have been on TV saying, ‘I‘m not going to raise the debt limit‘? We have no one to blame but ourselves.”
Graham isn‘t the only Republican admitting to the lie. This is what Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee said on the Senate floor today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BOB CORKER ®, TENNESSEE: Maybe the debt ceiling was a wrong place to pick a fight as it related to trying to get our country‘s house in order. Maybe that was a wrong place to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: No deal will ever get done until John Boehner and Eric Cantor admit the truth. They created the crisis and they own it.
A new Quinnipiac Poll shows 48 percent of Americans will hold the Republicans responsible if the debt ceiling isn‘t raised, compared to 34 percent who will blame the Obama administration.
The president has taken a hell of a risk by putting his political future on the table over this Republican-made crisis. He‘s betting independent voters will make up for the numbers that he may lose from his base if he ever gets to the point where he‘s really going to cut the big three.
I do give the president a great deal of credit for fighting the Republicans like this and standing up to them. They‘re a reckless party and they don‘t care if they have another financial meltdown in this country.
This is one of the most un-American things I think I have ever seen play out by a political party.
President Obama is putting politics aside. It‘s time for the Republicans to do the same. I mean, when the president says this may sink my presidency, he‘s willing to have that happen as long as it saves the country financially.
For once, for sure, we can turn to Washington and see that there is someone and it happens to be President Obama who‘s willing to put country first at the stake of—at the sake of possibly losing his base in a very important election cycle and it may, of course, jeopardize his re-election.
He‘s got 77 people in the House who signed on a resolution saying no cuts to the big three and he‘s willing to go to war with them as well to save the economy.
Where are the Republicans?
For the latest on the negotiations, let‘s turn to “Huffington Post” political editor Sam Stein.
Sam, what is the latest? What can you tell us tonight from Washington?
SAM STEIN, HUFFINGTON POST: Well, the Republicans and Democrats wrapped up a meeting in the White House earlier today. They have not had a conclusion. All parties said it was cordial.
Eric Cantor reportedly did not speak during this meeting despite having his verbal dramatics with the president the day before.
The president continues to push for a big deal like you said, Ed. He continues to push for various elements of entitlement reform. We don‘t know what he wants now because he scales back the package, he scales back his willingness to do entitlement reform.
The likelihood I think at this juncture is they get some agreement out, but it may very well be a compromise along the lines of what Mitch McConnell had proposed, but tinkered it a little bit to include about $1.5 trillion to $1.7 trillion in spending cuts alone.
SCHULTZ: Does that deal have a chance? What harry Reid and Mitch McConnell are working on right now? How‘s that received? Does $1.5 trillion go far enough?
STEIN: It‘s being received skeptically and the details are still to be determined. It will face a tough, tough road ahead in the House. I think House Republicans are generally willing to sign on to spending cuts. But Democrats really don‘t get much out of the deal and signing off on $1.5 trillion in cuts. They get no revenue in that type of package as it‘s currently construed. Only the sort of amorphous, ambiguous promise of a deficit commission will be created on top of this to consider how else to find savings.
Obama doesn‘t get the package that he wants moreover, but he does get the debt ceiling raised. So, what‘s happening now is leadership going back to the caucuses on Friday. There‘s no meeting at the White House. They‘re going to determine where the political support lies. There might be a meeting over the weekend to discuss. But the president has given them 24 to 36 hours to come up with a path forward and then to fill in the blanks.
SCHULTZ: Sam Stein, reporting tonight from the White House—appreciate your time, so much.
STEIN: Thanks, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Let‘s turn to Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Congressman John Yarmuth of Kentucky. Mr. Yarmuth is a member of the House Budget Committee.
Gentlemen, good to have you with us.
Senator, to you first. Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell are working on a deal. How serious is it? How close is it?
SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW YORK: Well, I think it‘s an effort to have a plan B in the absence of having the country default and the consequences that arise from that for every American and our entire economy and our standing in the world.
And in terms of the specifics, it‘s still has to be worked out. But it is a plan B, on the presumption that Republicans in the House want to be totally responsible.
SCHULTZ: Congressman, do you know what the president wants to do with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid? When he puts $4 trillion, that number out there, it scares a lot of people. It prompted 77 members in the house on the Democratic side to sign on to a letter saying you can‘t touch the big three.
But do you know what he wants to cut?
REP. JOHN YARMUTH (D), KENTUCKY: No, I don‘t think we did. It‘s unfortunate there‘s actually the idea that we would consider substantial changes in important policies in this country behind closed doors. I don‘t think the American people are going to buy that.
But the important thing is the president basically positioned himself very well. He said everything‘s on the table. I‘m for a big plan.
The Republicans can‘t get their act together. There‘s nothing that they can get enough votes for to pass in the House right now.
So, the politics are pretty simple. And Mitch McConnell admitted them yesterday publicly and in a radio program in my district and Laura Ingraham‘s show, that basically if the debt ceiling is not raised the Republicans will pay a price. It will be bad for their brand. And that‘s why he‘s desperate to come up with some kind of a fallback position.
SCHULTZ: Senator Menendez, Lindsay Graham and Bob Corker have pretty much put all the cards on the table by admitting Republicans pretty much started this crisis and shouldn‘t have gone down this road. It would seem to me it would have a great impact on some of the other Republicans in the caucus.
What‘s your take on their admission?
MENENDEZ: Well, you know, they have just the problem, though, and their problem is that everything that‘s an entitlement for middle class, working families in this country and for seniors on Social Security, for the disabled, that‘s an entitlement that needs to be on the table.
SCHULTZ: But they‘re basically admitted to lying, aren‘t they, Senator? I mean, they‘re basically admitted the trying to hoodwink the American people.
MENENDEZ: Well, yes. I mean, that‘s why, you know, when you flush out an entitlement to big for oil $21 billion, and entitlement for corporate jets, and entitlement of mark-ups in the tax code for, you know, race horses and all of that, that‘s OK. But it‘s not OK for average people.
And I think they clearly have contrived this issue. You know, I pointed out on the Senate floor today that George Bush raised the debt ceiling several times to the tune of $5 trillion, which is an essence the Bush tax cuts to the wealthiest people in the country. Ronald Reagan did it a whole bunch of times.
So, you know, this is contrived on their part but what they‘re really playing with is not President Obama‘s political future. What they‘re really playing with is the country‘s future.
SCHULTZ: No question about it.
Congressman Yarmuth, what do you make of Eric Cantor‘s silence today in the media—in the meeting after being pretty much chastised by Harry Reid and labeled his behavior as childish? Is Cantor the problem in all of this? Is he the stick in the mud a deal?
YARMUTH: He is a big problem because he‘s actually been—has either it is a tacitly or overtly encouraging the Tea Party members of this party to resist the resist any increase in the debt ceiling. There are now at least 60 members of the House Republican conference who say they won‘t vote for a debt ceiling increase under any circumstances, no deal. And I think he‘s responsible for that.
This is entirely reckless behavior on his part. He‘s acting like not the most mature person in the room.
And, unfortunately, you know, there‘s more than just a default crisis. That‘s big enough but you‘re talking about an impact of potentially taking 10 percent of the economy and letting it evaporate. I mean, there will be millions of jobs lost. Everybody‘s interest rates will go up.
I mean, this is really playing with fire—and Eric Cantor, through his lack of leadership, is creating a big part of this problem.
SCHULTZ: Yes. Gentlemen, final question: what more can the president do?
Senator, you first.
MENENDEZ: Well, I think he needs to continue to go to the American people and let them know, you know, the consequences in their lives from higher interest rates on their credit cards, their mortgages, the loss of jobs, the contraction of an economy—
SCHULTZ: Has he handled it well?
MENENDEZ: You know, I‘ve certainly am thrilled of what he‘s been doing over the last week, week and a half. I wish he started a little earlier in the process but I want him to go full throttle at this point because we need to get a deal done that ultimately saves the nation from what will be an enormous economic consequence.
SCHULTZ: Congressman, what do you think? Is the president—can he do any more?
YARMUTH: I think the last few days, he‘s been extremely strong—and as long as he doesn‘t back down now he‘s in a great spot. This is not about politics. This is the future of our economic. We can‘t let reckless Republicans tank it, and I think the president‘s standing up strong. As long as he stays there, we‘ll be OK.
SCHULTZ: New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez and Kentucky Congressman John Yarmuth—gentlemen, thanks for your time on this issue.
We‘ll have more on the debt ceiling talks and whether or not they‘re trying to move Eric Cantor from the negotiating table to the kid‘s table. I‘ll talk to Mike Papantonio and Ron Christie, coming up.
And “The Nation” magazine has hundreds of documents from a secretive right-wing organization responsible for most of the anti-labor laws in the country. That group‘s agenda and methods have now been exposed.
Stay with us. You‘re watching THE ED SHOW.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMY KELLOGG, FOX NEWS: Reportedly, the FBI has now opened an investigation in the United States to determine whether or not any of News Corp‘s entities hacked in to the voice mail systems of victims of 9/11.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Uh-huh. Rough day over at the office, huh, for FOX.
And things keep getting worse for FOX News‘ parent company News Corp and owner Rupert Murdoch. The FBI opening a preliminary investigation into News Corp‘s following requests of several members of Congress including the latest, Earl Blumenauer of Oregon.
Both the Department of Justice and the FBI officials tell NBC News that the agency is unlikely to move forward until the British conduct their investigation into the phone hacking scandal that took down British tabloid “News of the World.”
And now, Murdoch is speaking publicly for the first time about the crisis that has engulfed his empire. Murdoch telling his own newspaper, “The Wall Street Journal,” that News Corp has handled the situation, quote, “extremely well in every way possible.” In fact, he is annoyed by all the negative press about his company.
And after initially declining, Murdoch and son James have had a change of heart about testifying before a British parliamentary committee. The decision came after receiving an official summons to attend.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.
At this hour, still no deal on the debt talks. President Obama and the Republican leadership are at a standstill and no talks are scheduled for tomorrow. Earlier, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor praising both Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and also Speaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio for acting in good faith at the negotiating table.
It‘s Eric Cantor, that‘s the guy who‘s been the problem.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor shown that he shouldn‘t even be at the table. And Republicans agree he shouldn‘t be at the table and he‘s walking out on the meetings with the vice president of the United States. It was childish.
Another Republican said Cantor‘s putting himself first. He said this. Quote, “He‘s all about Eric.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: So, when we got a problem, we‘re going to let the lawyers fight it out.
Joining me now is host of the “Ring of Fire” radio talk show Mike Papantonio and Republican strategist Ron Christie, both attorneys.
Let‘s get after it.
All right. Now, I‘m told that Eric Cantor didn‘t say anything in the meeting today. I don‘t know if he‘s responding to Harry Reid with silence or what—and the president is going to hold a press conference tomorrow.
Ron Christie, to you first. Is Cantor holding up a deal?
RON CHRISTIE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: No, he‘s not holding up a deal. President Obama is holding up the deal. The Republicans have been very firm and very adamant that bill that will increase taxes will not pass the House of Representatives, not only with Republican votes, but they‘re not sure if they have the Democratic votes.
If President Obama‘s very sincere about getting a deal to make sure we don‘t have a debt crisis, he could say let‘s pass something right now. Who‘s held this up? President Obama. Who‘s held this up? Majority Leader Harry Reid.
SCHULTZ: Mike, what do you think?
MIKE PAPANTONIO, “RING OF FIRE” HOST: Well, look, Mitch McConnell is telling all of his, Ed, Obama‘s won this fight and he‘s also telling his friends, he‘s telling Mr. Cantor there that, you know what? What you‘re doing is making us look like a bunch of crazy old men. Like the crazy uncle that shows up at a thanksgiving dinner. That‘s the way the public is seeing this Republican Party right now.
So Mitch—so you got Mitch McConnell trying to talk sense into Eric Cantor. Eric Cantor is like he‘s not aware of the fact that today the American public, 55 percent of the American public, blame the Republicans, they blame George Bush for this economy -- 70 percent of the American public couldn‘t care less whether we give billionaires more of a tax break.
And you know what? The American public also knows that Cantor doesn‘t think they know. They know that Ronald Reagan raised this debt ceiling 19 times.
SCHULTZ: Ron --
PAPANTONIO: They know that George Bush, their icon, raised it nine times.
SCHULTZ: Ron, you will admit that Boehner, Cantor and McConnell not really much on the same page, are they?
CHRISTIE: Of course they are.
SCHULTZ: They are?
CHRISTIE: Of course, they are.
SCHULTZ: Then why did Mitch McConnell come forward and try to do a deal?
CHRISTIE: Hang on a second. They‘ve been very clear and very much on the same page. We want to reduce spending, we want to reform entitlements and we want to find a way that we do not continue to kick the can down the road to find the tough solutions to face right now.
You might have divergence of opinion of how you do that with this debt crisis, but all three leaders have been very firm. Stop spending. Reduce entitlements and find a way to do this now.
SCHULTZ: Ron, the conservatives in this country have gone after the entitlements. They wanted this time in history. And now, here‘s President Obama at the table ready to chip away to the tune of $4 trillion and you guys are saying, no. All over a little tax increase that might come happen down the road.
CHRISTIE: Ed, I don‘t believe him. I don‘t believe the president. The president came out with a budget resolution that was voted down 97-0 earlier this year.
SCHULTZ: You don‘t believe he‘s an honest broker?
CHRISTIE: No, I don‘t.
SCHULTZ: Mike Papantonio, is the president being an honest broker in all of this? He said it could take down his presidency.
MIKE PAPANTONIO, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: He has been an honest broker. And you know what, I love his high noon language right now, Ed. I love the fact he says you have until Friday. I love that high noon language.
I like when he talks—you know what? Every progressive in this country is waiting for him to do that. You know what I love about it? Is the Republicans have been so out matched here that Obama is doing it behind closed doors. He is doing it, he‘s got the Grover Norquist crowd behind closed doors and he‘s saying, look, buddy, you have until high noon to act like a responsible legislator.
SCHULTZ: So --
PAPANTONIO: And you know what? Right now, right now, he‘s avoiding this image of being radically inflexible, of being non-compromising. He is winning this fight. He is killing Eric Cantor and got to be tough for Republicans.
SCHULTZ: Ron Christie, is this all we‘re going to hear from the Republicans at this point? I mean, this is as far as they‘re going to go? Their line is in the sand. They‘re done?
CHRISTIE: Of course it is.
CHRISTIE: The Senate Democrats haven‘t passed a budget 908 days. That‘s over two years. Let me finish this, Ed. It‘s very important. We hear talk about—oh, the Republicans‘ game and Obama is schooling them. The American people are tired of the fact that the Senate hasn‘t passed a budget over two and a half years.
SCHULTZ: What about Lindsey Graham‘s comment saying we probably shouldn‘t have gone down this road? And Corker said the same thing.
CHRISTIE: I don‘t really care what Lindsey Graham has to say about this. I care about the fact that the Republicans have failed—excuse me, the Senate Democrats failed in the responsibility to pass a budget and President Obama has not put forth a budget outline.
He‘s lying to the American people. He should be called a liar. He is a liar.
SCHULTZ: Ron Christie, Mike Papantonio, great to have you guys with us tonight. Thanks so much.
The flooding in Minot, North Dakota sure does turn Tea Party Republicans into advocates of big government. So, why is North Dakota sitting on a billion dollar surplus when its people are hurting?
And new polls show the Americans don‘t like the debt ceiling games the Republicans are playing? I‘ll ask righty talker Heidi Harris to weigh in on the numbers, coming up.
Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.
You know, there really is no better story in America than this one that really illustrates who the Republicans are and what the Tea Party is all about. And it‘s from the prairie state of North Dakota, where the Republicans of North Dakota with their heavy Tea Party contingent, you see, they‘re all for small government and state‘s rights until, of course, flooding hit Minot, North Dakota. Then they want to know just how the state can get as much federal aid as possible.
At the same time, North Dakota is sitting on more—get this number
they‘re sitting on more than $2 billion it could use to help people whose lives have been torn apart by the flooding. Senator John Hoeven who was governor for 10 years is one of the North Dakota Republicans who sounded the alarm about the nation‘s deficit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN HOEVEN ®, NORTH DAKOTA: And we need the president to lead. When we talk about getting this debt under control, we need the president to lead. We can‘t have a situation where we spend more and then simply borrow more or try to raise taxes to cover that spending.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: But then, of course, the flood came. Senator Hoeven, he was calling for swift presidential action. He wanted a disaster declaration. Of course, to get FEMA money flowing ASAP—and once that happened, North Dakota Republicans were among those calling on President Obama to visit Minot, North Dakota, hoping for federal funds could be approved.
Yesterday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano went to Minot and announced even more counties would be eligible for disaster relief.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANET NAPOLITANO, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We want to make sure that we are giving the full court press here, the full court press on grants for temporary housing and home repairs, on low-coast loans to cover uninsured property losses. And there are other programs, as well, designed to help families, to help individuals, to help businesses get back on their feet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Now, did you hear her say full-court press? OK. Full-court press, meaning they‘re going to go all out to help the folks in North Dakota. So, the federal money—federal money is going to be flowing to the state. But get this—North Dakota is one of the few states sitting on a budget surplus, a nearly $1 billion surplus. And it also has one billion dollars in trust funds.
So it could, you know, easily be utilized to help the people, you know, maybe with some dollars to keep them from suffering. Now, these folks in Minot and along the Souris River, they‘ve lost their homes. It‘s been record flooding. Their jobs aren‘t there because, of course, the economy has been stymied with all this flooding.
And yet, the Tea Partiers on the prairie and the Republican party, they don‘t know what full-court press is all about. They just don‘t get it. So they‘ve got to have all these committee meetings. And they might get to it by November with a special session.
I wonder if those people are even going to be there in North Dakota by November. You see, they‘re tight with the dollar. When it‘s their money, they don‘t want to spend it. They‘re Tea Parties, so they‘re hoarding the money away in the checking account, to the tune of a billion dollars. And they really don‘t know what they‘re going to spend it on.
I used to do talk radio up there, and I used to ask them, what are you going to do with the surplus? Well, we are saving it for a rainy day. Well, hell, it‘s been raining.
And this is a chance now for the representatives and the senators of North Dakota on a state level to bite the bullet and write the check to tax paying Americans who desperately need it. The Tea Party, that‘s what they‘re all about, selfishness.
If you really want to know what kept the public option out of the health care reform bill, look no further than a shadowy right wing organization responsible for pushing the conservative agenda throughout the country. That group‘s secrets are being exposed for the first time.
And Fox‘s Eric Bolling bowling is pretending—pretending the 9/11 terror attacks never happened. Outrageous Psycho Talk tonight. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW and thanks for watching tonight. In 2010, the last election cycle, Republicans took complete legislative control of 21 states and ALEC was right there to help them push through a radical right wing agenda. ALEC is the American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC for short.
It‘s responsible for creating model bill that are then passed by Republican lawmakers and governors. ALEC is powered by billionaires like the Koch Brothers, who pump money into the organization and sit on its corporate board. This year, GOP governors and legislatures came up with at least 500 anti-labor laws that were crafted using ALEC legislation as templates.
This includes the collective bargaining laws signed by Republican governors such as John Kasich in Ohio, Senate Bill 5, which is now being challenged, and Scott Walker of Wisconsin, both former members of ALEC. The ALEC agenda involves some pretty basic right-wing stuff, shrinking government regulations, union busting, which they‘re good at, privatizing education, which most of the country doesn‘t want, and other goals intended to benefit powerful corporations and the politicians who work for them.
The ALEC bills and even ALEC membership has been kept pretty much under wraps for years, until now. Thanks to a data leak—data leak, ALEC is exposed in this week‘s edition of “the Nation” magazine as part of a joint effort with the Center for Media and Democracy.
More than 800 documents, including ALEC‘s model legislation, were obtained by “the Nation” and can be viewed at ALECExposed.org and also at TheNation.com.
Let‘s turn now to Washington correspondent of “the Nation,” John Nichols, and Lisa Graves with us tonight, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy in the state of Wisconsin. Great to have both of you with us.
This is so important. We have a crucial election coming up. But I think our viewers are going to want to know, John, what are the origins of ALEC? When did it start? How long has it been in effect? Who‘s behind it?
JOHN NICHOLS, “THE NATION”: Well, it‘s a great question, Ed. It is the place to begin. ALEC was founded back in 1973 by the losers of the great political battles of the ‘60s and the ‘70s, ring-wing conservatives who had failed at every turn. And they were looking at the reality that America was becoming a more progressive country.
Even Richard Nixon was doing environmental laws. So they decided to create a very secretive kind of back door operation to go into the states. And their model was a fascinating one. They linked legislators as members paying very, very low dues, and big corporations as members, paying very, very high dues. Putting them together to write model legislation, but also to form an ideology, a vision of what could be done in the states.
NICHOLS: And ALEC has been around now almost 40 years. But what‘s important is the 2010 election gave Republicans more legislative seats than at any time since 1928. And they have leapt—ALEC has leapt on that opening to begin to flood legislation into the states.
SCHULTZ: Lisa, tell us about this template. How similar are the bills? How easy is it for a lawmaker on a state level to take ALEC material and put it in front of a legislative committee and in front of a body?
LISA GRAVES, CENTER FOR MEDIA AND DEMOCRACY: Well, we published over 800 bills from ALEC through a whistle-blower. And those bills look a lot like many of the bills that we have seen popping out around the country.
The fact is that all of these bills and resolutions virtually have been published in your state houses, in state houses across the country. But what hasn‘t been known before the publication on our site of ALECExposed.org is that you could trace the origin of the bills back to ALEC.
You could trace the origin of these bills back to task forces that ALEC has formed, in which corporations and politicians vote on these bills before they‘re introduced in state houses across the country. And so this template—
SCHULTZ: How is ALEC going to affect the 2012 run?
GRAVES: Well, that‘s a great question. I think that they are probably about ready to tout tremendous success in August, at their conference in New Orleans, because so many of their bills have been making their way through the state houses on voter I.D., things on the unions, things on teachers, issues regarding privatizing public education, the whole panoply of the privatization binge.
Along with extraordinary support for oil companies, opposing windfall taxes on oil company profits, opposing increasing revenue. These measures are really echoed in all of ALEC‘s documents. And they‘re echoed in the national legislature by ALEC alumni John Boehner and Eric Cantor.
ALEC is tremendously influential.
SCHULTZ: Yeah. John, what influence, if any, did ALEC have when it came to changing health care reform legislation in the heat of the battle?
NICHOLS: I think that‘s a terrific question, Ed. ALEC was in the forefront of the fight against health care reform, and particularly the fight against the public option. ALEC organized letters that were signed by hundreds and hundreds of legislators from across the country, including key legislative leaders.
It was the backbone of the effort to pressure Republicans to hold firm against any kind of realistic reform.
SCHULTZ: John, is there anything on the left that would compare to this or parallel it in the way?
NICHOLS: There‘s the Progressive States Network, which is very open and very public. It is not a secretive group like ALEC. The reality is there‘s no parallel grouping on the left, but there is a need for progressives to do something.
NICHOLS: Not to do so secretly and behind closed doors, but to openly go out and challenge the right-wing agenda in the states.
SCHULTZ: Lisa, in the story, it said membership to ALEC. How do you get membership to ALEC? Just pledge allegiance if you‘re a public servant, say I‘ll do exactly what you want me to do, as long as you line my pockets for re-election? Is that how it works?
GRAVES: You know, legislators pay 50 bucks a bill. Sometimes taxpayers foot that bill for them. Corporations pay between 7,000 and 25,000 dollars a year for one stop shopping at ALEC conventions to hob knob with these politicians and basically push their wish list through these legislators.
Meanwhile, these right wing legislators have a chance to have one-stop shopping for out of state funding for their re-election campaigns.
SCHULTZ: Great work by both of you. John Nichols, Lisa Graves, good to have you with us tonight. We‘ll do more on this, because this is going to affects 2012.
Next up, Fox News replaced Glenn Beck with a five-person psycho squad. Very innovative. They‘re so focused on sticking up for W, they‘re pretending like 9/11 didn‘t happen. Psycho Talk is next.
SCHULTZ: And in Psycho Talk tonight, we have the group of brain wizards who took over for Glenn Beck on Fox News. They‘re called the five. And it only took these folks three days to make it into Psycho Talk.
Yesterday, they were hollering about whether Bush was a fear monger, when Eric Bolling decided to rewrite history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC BOLLING, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: America was certainly saved between 2000 and 2008. I don‘t remember any terrorist attacks on American soil in that period of time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Really, Eric? You don‘t remember any attacks during George W. Bush‘s administration? Bolling has a long history of saying stupid stuff, but this might be the worst. Ignoring the most devastating terror attacks in American history because it doesn‘t fit your pro-Bush, anti-Obama narrative is outrageous.
And by the way, not one of the five pointed out Bolling‘s blatant, self-serving lie. In my book, they‘re just as guilty as he is.
Then today, Bolling went on the air and tried to wriggle his way out of it. Of course, he blamed it all on the liberal media.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOLLING: Yesterday, I misspoke when saying there were no U.S. terror attacks during the Bush years. Obviously, I meant in the afternoon math of 9/11. Media Matters posted my error, saying I forgot about 9/11.
No. I haven‘t forgotten. See, I happened to be standing there watching in true terror as radical Islamists slammed planes into the towers that morning. I‘ll never forget 9/11.
But thank you, liberals, for reminding me how petty you can be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Petty? How about insensitive on your part? Could you be any dumber? Eric Bolling thinks it‘s pretty petty to point out deliberately ignoring 9/11 to make Bush look good? I don‘t care how many lame excuses Bolling comes up with, saying he doesn‘t remember any attacks on American soil on Bush‘s watch is flat-out offensive Psycho Talk.
Summer of 2011 is shaping up to be a barn burner for radio talk in America. We have the debt ceiling fight, the whacko righties running for 2012, and now the FBI is investigating Uncle Rupert Murdoch.
Three of my very opinionated friends on the radio dial join me in a moment. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Finally tonight on THE ED SHOW, Republicans are doing everything they can to convince Americans the debt ceiling fight is all President Obama‘s fault. But the American people, well, they‘re not buying it, according to the polls. Remember this poll showing 48 percent of Americans would blame Republicans if the debt ceiling isn‘t raised, while only 34 percent would blame President Obama.
Furthermore, 49 percent of independents would hold Republicans responsible, and almost 30 percent of Republicans would blame their own party. And when it comes to the economy, as a whole, 54 percent of people say that the bad economy is W.‘s fault. Only 27 percent are ready to blame the current president of the United States, Barack Obama.
For more on this, as well as some other hot top stories of the week, let‘s bring in Bill Press, nationally syndicated radio talk show host, and author of the book “Toxic Talk, How the Radical Right Has Poisoned America‘s Airwaves.” and also with us tonight is Heidi Harris. I don‘t know if Heidi‘s had anything to do with that or not.
HEIDI HARRIS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Not poisoning them.
SCHULTZ: And also Sirius XM radio talk show host Joe Madison is with us tonight. Great to have all of you here. Let‘s have at it.
Heidi, I know that you don‘t like polls. So let me present it to you this way as a question: who‘s winning in the arena of public opinion when it comes to this debt ceiling debate in Washington?
HARRIS: Well, you know, I think the voters are disgusted with everybody. The way I look at it is that 14 trillion, 16, 20, what difference does it make? If it was two trillion—you know how many zeroes after a trillion? Twelve zeros.
Are we ever going to pay this off, no matter what we do? I think the American people are disgusted with both sides, that they can‘t seem to come to an agreement, and they keep spending money. And even if they cut this or cut that over the next ten years, ultimately they‘re continuing to spend beyond what they can.
And they‘re mortgaging our kids‘ future. I think they‘re disgusted with both sides.
SCHULTZ: Joe Madison, who‘s winning in this debate right now? Who‘s taking the heat?
JOE MADISON, SIRIUS XM RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, I think after yesterday, Barack Obama, at least with my audience, was a big winner. Finally, finally, almost for three hours, people said that‘s the Barack Obama we have been waiting for, when he challenged Eric Cantor and told him, don‘t call my bluff. I‘ll take this to the American people.
And I think that‘s because he saw the polls and he knew that Eric Cantor, who‘s leading this charge, cannot win. And if the Republicans go down on this, it will be Eric Cantor‘s fault.
SCHULTZ: Well, it was no question that the president came out strong on that point. But considering what you said, Joe, Bill Press, is this the Barack Obama the American people have been waiting for, especially the liberals, when he puts the big three on the table for possible cuts to the tune of four trillion dollars? What do you make of it?
BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, I don‘t think we have to worry about President Obama cutting benefits to Social Security and Medicare. But I agree with Joe.
I mean, I think—you know the word I would use, Ed, is check mate. Because you have the Republicans, they can‘t agree on each other on anything. John Boehner and Eric Cantor are in a duel for leadership over there. Eric Cantor has a knife in his hand, hoping Boehner will back up into it.
Mitch McConnell says let‘s just throw this whole thing away and let Obama decide it. And then you have Michele Bachmann and Steve King out there saying it doesn‘t matter whether we raise the debt ceiling or not.
So I think the people see there‘s one grown-up in the room and there are six babies in the room—or four babies and they‘re the Republicans.
SCHULTZ: Heidi, is Cantor genuflecting to the Tea Party on this? He won‘t budge on taxes.
HARRIS: Well, I don‘t blame him. He shouldn‘t budge on taxes. I‘m kind of mixed on this. On the one hand, I don‘t know that it matters if you raise the debt ceiling. Frankly, like I said before, we‘re not going to pay the bills off anyway.
MADISON: Oh God. Come on.
HARRIS: We can‘t have more taxes. You simply can‘t have more taxes. Why won‘t President Obama, why won‘t the left say, OK, fine, we‘re not going to raise taxes. We‘ll agree to that perfect.
MADISON: Look. It is the Bush‘s—it is the Bush‘s tax policies that got us in this. You had net zero—
HARRIS: Oh, please.
MADISON: Let me finish, please. You had net zero gain of jobs under Bush, when millionaires and billionaires had tax cuts. Net zero gain. Now we want to talk about zeros, those are big zeros. And so—
(CROSS TALK) .
MADISON: I‘m sorry. Go ahead.
PRESS: No, I‘m sorry, Joe. I didn‘t mean to interrupt. I just want to put a fact on the table. The four Republicans that are sitting at that table in the White House—I learned this down there today—have voted 25 times collectively to raise the debt ceiling with no conditions whatsoever.
This time, they came around and said, we‘ll only raise it if you give us deep cuts. Guess what, President Obama went along. He gave them three trillion dollars in program cuts, budgetary cuts, and said you match it now with one trillion—no Heidi, not in new taxes—getting rid of subsidies we can no longer afford.
And the Republicans have walked away from that deal. They‘re idiots.
MADISON: Ronald Reagan raised taxes 11 times!
MADISON: Eleven times.
HARRIS: Listen. The debt ceiling‘s been raised almost 100 times since 1917. This is not news to anybody. That‘s why I‘m telling you, the average American people, not the person who lives within the beltway, the average American person is saying, you know what, two trillion 20 trillion, they‘re not going to pay it off.
MADISON: You know why you‘re wrong, Heidi? I‘ll tell you why. Because come August 3rd, some of those people are not going to get their veterans benefits. Some of those people are not going to get a Social Security check.
HARRIS: Why do they—not welfare checks? Why don‘t we stop the welfare checks and the unemployment. That‘s what we ought to do.
PRESS: You cannot pay all the bills when you have 136 billion dollar shortfall. Those people are not going to get paid. You know what I think Obama should be doing right now? He ought to have the Social Security working on those Tea Party districts. And they ought to be the people who don‘t get their Social Security checks because they voted for these people.
SCHULTZ: Heidi, quickly, what about Mitch McConnell? Is he a savior for sanity on this side on the conservative side?
HARRIS: No, I think he is folding like a cheap tent. What‘s the point of posturing to this point if you are going to let President Obama have complete control? If that‘s the whole point, why have we waited this long to get that done? I don‘t understand that.
SCHULTZ: All right. Bill Press, Heidi Harris, Joe Madison, we could go for hours. Thanks for joining us tonight.
That‘s THE ED SHOW. I‘m Ed Schultz. You can listen to me on Sirius
XM radio, Channel 127, Monday through Friday, from noon to 3:00
“THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O‘Donnell starts right now. We‘ll see you Monday night.
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