updated 12/19/2012 10:55:04 AM ET 2012-12-19T15:55:04

THE ED SHOW with ED SCHULTZ
December 18, 2012

Guests: Jack Kingston, Robert Menendez, David Cay Johnston, Bernie Sanders, Bob Shrum, Joan Walsh, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy

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

The time for common sense gun safety is right now. The country`s
focused on it. Tonight, I`ll ask a pro-gun Republican lawmaker why there`s
a holdup.

This is THE ED SHOW -- let`s get to work.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: Let`s go down the path of banning
the assault weapon. I think there is a better chance to do that now than
ever.

SCHULTZ (voice-over): The gun debate heats up on Capitol Hill. The
president comes out for an assault weapons ban. And the NRA makes their
first statement following the Newtown massacre.

Tonight, Republican Congressman Jack Kingston of Georgia is here to
define his party`s message on assault weapons.

And Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy reacts to the president`s
statement.

Social Security is officially on the table in fiscal cliff
negotiations. David Cay Johnston tells me if there is any way that makes
any sense. And Senator Bernie Sanders on how progressives intend to fight.

Plus, Bob Shrum and Joan Walsh on John Boehner`s "Plan B".

And a real scare in Syria turns into a real happy ending. Tonight,
we`ll tell you how NBC`s Richard Engel escaped from his kidnappers.

RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS: I`m very happy that we`re able to do this
live shot this morning.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHULTZ: Good to have you with us tonight, folks. Thanks for
watching.

It may be a rare moment in gun history, but the nation is focused on
gun control following the massacre in Connecticut.

The National Rifle Association finally broke its silence on the
Newtown shooting. A statement released today by the organization said, in
part, "The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make
sure this never happens again."

The language is similar to President Obama`s call for meaningful
action, but contribution from the NRA remains to be seen.

But several Republican politicians are already headed in the direction
of change. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder saw Republicans in his state
legislature pass a bill to allow guns in schools and day care centers. The
bill was passed one day before the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. Today,
the Republican governor vetoed the bill. According to "The Detroit News,"
Snyder vetoed the bill because it wouldn`t allow schools and other public
locations to opt out of its provisions.

In the past 24 hours, Republican members of Congress said that some
gun restrictions are worth looking into. Senator Susan Collins of Maine,
Congressman Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania and Senator Lindsey Graham of
South Carolina, they are all pro-gun. They are all open to looking at gun
control solutions.

There is also Congressman Jack Kingston of Georgia. In the past, this
gentleman has voted to cut down the waiting period, the number of days for
gun purchases. He vetoed and voted -- or should I say he voted for broader
concealed to carry weapons laws. The NRA gave Kingston an A-rating for his
voting record today.

Today, this staunch gun rights advocate opened the door for change.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JACK KINGSTON (R), GEORGIA: We see a huge problem like this, and
it`s a problem that`s happening in other countries as well. And we look
for something that, OK, what can prevent it? And I think that`s where we
need to go with this discussion is, yes, put gun control, more gun control
on the table.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: On the surface, the comments are very encouraging. But when
things get specific, we can understand why this country has so much
difficulty arriving at common sense gun safety.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KINGSTON: Connecticut has the fifth toughest gun control laws in the
country, including an assault weapon ban that bans 35 different weapons.
The weapon used was not an assault weapon, therefore it wasn`t banned.

(ENBD VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: The definition of assault weapons has been gamed by the gun
lobby in the service of the gunmakers, no doubt. If the Bushmaster rifle
with 30 rounds per clip doesn`t qualify as an assault weapon, the term
"assault weapon" in my opinion is absolutely meaningless.

I wanted to get some answers from Congressman Kingston. So I had an
opportunity to visit with him earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHULTZ: Congressman, good to have you on THE ED SHOW tonight. I
appreciate your time.

KINGSTON: Well, thank you, Ed. Sad times.

SCHULTZ: You bet.

We`re having quite a debate in this country about gun control,
obviously. And there`s questions of bans coming up in the Senate. Senator
Feinstein says she is going to reintroduce the assault weapons ban.

As it stands, could you go along with that?

KINGSTON: Well, I would have to see what she has in mind. And as you
know, the AR-15 that was used in this unfortunate tragedy was not
considered an assault weapon. And I don`t know if she would put that in
there. It only shoots one round at a time, which is the definition of
assault weapons.

But I think put it on the table to discuss it and thoroughly vet this.
I think it`s a good process, and I`m not afraid of it.

SCHULTZ: Well, that`s exactly where I think the country is looking
for definition right now on what exactly is an assault weapon.

KINGSTON: Yes.

SCHULTZ: And in the state of Connecticut, the definition of assault
weapon is that it`s got to have a folding or telescoping stock. It`s got
to have a pistol grip, a bayonet mount, a grenade launcher, and a flash
supporter.

Now, the gun that was used, the .223 Bushmaster doesn`t have any of
those things.

KINGSTON: Yes.

SCHULTZ: But many Americans would consider that to be a assault
weapon because they had 30-round clips in them. I mean, where do you draw
the line?

KINGSTON: Well, I think a lot of the things that you mention are
actually cosmetic parts of a gun. They might make it look ugly and mean.
But the real question in my mind is can you pull the trigger one time and
have multiple rounds fired? Because that`s what would make an assault
weapon.

And Connecticut does have an assault weapon ban. It has 30 rifles
that are considered banned. But this one does not fall under that
definition.

So, in my opinion, rather than focus on the looks of the gun, we
should focus on the action. What does it actually do when you squeeze the
trigger? And to me, that`s where the gun is more lethal.

But, you know, Ed, I am a Second Amendment guy. But I do think having
this discussion is a very important part of the process that we must go
through as Americans.

SCHULTZ: Well, there is no question about that. And I appreciate
that. We need a discussion.

But Americans would look at what happened in Newtown, Connecticut, and
say that`s an assault weapon. I mean, there was rapid-fire that took the
lives of 28 -- 26 people -- 28 people, 20 of them children. And that is
the main focus on all of this.

KINGSTON: Yes.

SCHULTZ: So we get into the definition of what is an assault weapon.
I mean, 30 rounds in a clip in the minds of many Americans is too many to
have, whether it`s a single shot, rapid-fire, or if it`s an automatic fire.

So, how far are you willing to go? Are you really willing to go right
down to the definition of pulling the trigger as to whether it`s an assault
weapon or not, or just how much damage the weapon can do?

KINGSTON: Well, you know, they`re almost one and the same. It really
does get down to the action of the gun, the pulling of the trigger, what
happens when you pull the trigger. And it doesn`t really matter if it`s an
ugly-looking, mean military-type gun or not. It really matters what
happens when you pull the trigger.

So I think the discussion is a good one. And as you know, I`ve also
said you cannot leave out the mental health situation of this.

SCHULTZ: OK. And I agree with that. I agree. We`re going get to
the mental health part of it in just a minute.

But you`re satisfied with this gun that was used being legal, that
there should be no ban on the Bush -- the .223 Bushmaster.

KINGSTON: I think, again, it is not an assault weapon.

SCHULTZ: By definition it`s not.

KINGSTON: And as I understand it, what Senator Feinstein wants to do
is expand the definition to some 900 guns. And I was here during President
Clinton`s assault weapon ban. And I know there was a huge debate as to
what actually was one and what wasn`t one. And I think we all got to get
educated as to what is an assault weapon and what is it capable of doing.

SCHULTZ: That`s the key. What is the capability? And if you have
firearms that are capable within seconds of putting 30 rounds off, many
Americans are going to view that as an assault weapon.

And so, we get down to the definition. Not the NRA`s definition, but
the definition of what firearms can do. And so, you`re comfortable with
this firearm, the Bushmaster being legal in Connecticut. I will take your
answer on that.

Now, the other thing, mental health -- you have been against
Obamacare. Obamacare, of course, would bring 30 million more people into
coverage, which of course would cover mental health examinations. And, of
course, we could set up some kind of database that would help the sharing
of information. When you say --

KINGSTON: And you can do that -- you can do that, of course, Ed,
without Obamacare. And part of what I think we should do is more local
grants so that the police stations and the people as you know in
Connecticut, you need to register, you need to have classes for certain
handguns. You have to be under 21 years old --

SCHULTZ: Sure.

KINGSTON: -- over 21 years old.

So to me, putting on the mental health where you do have some local
grants that the law enforcement and the mayors, the political people, if
you will, in a city can say, OK, where are the red flags? And what can we
do when we spot the red flags.

SCHULTZ: Well, I mean, this morning, you said on MSNBC a 1-800
number. I take issue with that. We need a lot more than that.

Now you`re saying you`re willing to put federal grant money to help
out mental health so we could have better gun control in this country?

KINGSTON: Yes. And that`s part of the National Institutes of Health.
That`s one of the things they`re talking about there is a 1-800 number out
there right now. And let me say that should not be the end-all. But I
think a piece of it where you have somebody who is acting peculiar and
doing something, and you want to find out, OK, is this, you know, we got to
be very sensitive of course to privacy issues and so forth.

But I think to get more information, just as you would do on substance
abuse and addiction, I think that`s a reasonable step.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHULTZ: Congressman Jack Kingston of Georgia with me earlier today.
I certainly appreciate him taking the time to speak with us.

Congressman Kingston`s willingness to put federal money into mental
health initiatives is a very good thing. But we are at an impasse. If the
conversation of assault weapons in this country come downs to whether we`re
pulling the trigger or not 100 times.

A federal assault weapons ban can be effective. Mass shootings in the
last 10 years of the 1994 assault weapons ban were way down compared to the
eight years since the ban expired.

This is why President Obama is actively pursuing a reinstatement of
the assault weapons ban. Democratic Congressional members Carolyn McCarthy
and Diana DeGette want to vote on legislation to ban high capacity
magazines before the end of the year. Senator Frank Lautenberg of New
Jersey has a similar bill in the Senate.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi says Congress can take action on
high capacity clips right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PELOSI: Right away we could pass, right away today, this week, we
could pass the ban on the assault magazine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: This issue is not taking away the Second Amendment rights.
No question about it. It`s about responsible access and ownership of
firearms.

But the bigger issue is the capacity of these firearms. And that`s
where the debate and the conversation has to be -- can we let the gun lobby
tell us what a semiautomatic and an automatic rifle actually is when within
seconds 30 rounds can go out and take multiple lives? Is that what we want
out there?

It`s time for common sense to win out.

Get your cell phones out. I want to know what you think. Tonight`s
question: Do you consider the Bushmaster .223 an assault weapon?

Text A for yes, text B for no, to 622639. You can always go to our
blog at Ed.MSNBC.com. We`ll bring you the results later on in the show.

I want to bring in Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey. This
senator is calling for Congress to ban high capacity clips.

Senator, good to have you with us tonight.

SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: Good to be with you, Ed.

SCHULTZ: Do you think that assault weapons ban would pass the
Congress, given the mood of the country and in the wake of the massacre in
Newtown?

MENENDEZ: Well, if it can`t now, I don`t know when it ever can.
Look, you know, the Bushmaster to me is an assault weapon. If it can fire
like an assault weapon, if it can be used like an assault weapon, if it can
multiple people quickly, then it`s an assault weapon.

Ands that`s why I voted for the assault weapons ban when I was in the
House of Representatives. That`s why I support it now.

And I simply don`t know how many more lives have to be lost for us to
get to action right away.

SCHULTZ: Senator, what is your definition of an assault weapon?

MENENDEZ: Well, for me, obviously, it`s common sense. You know, if
you have a high capacity clip, 30 rounds, or even more, that`s not about
hunting. That`s about killing the maximum number of people you can at a
given clip. That`s why we call it an assault weapon, because you can use
it multiple times against an individual or a group of individuals.

So the bottom line is to me, the high capacity clip, the ability to
shoot off quickly, that number of rounds with the high capacity clip
clearly makes it in my mind an assault weapon.

SCHULTZ: Well, do you think Republicans will go along with banning
these clips?

MENENDEZ: Well, I hope so. Look, no responsible hunter needs 30
clips, or even some of these clips that have up to 100 clips, like I think
the Colorado shooter had. No hunter needs 30 clips to hunt down a deer.
My God, by the time they`d be finished shooting that deer, they wouldn`t be
worthy of bringing it back to the kitchen table.

So, the reality is, is that you simply don`t -- you don`t need that.
And that`s really just about being able to shoot off as many people as you
can. That is not -- that is not about hunting. So I believe that a high
capacity clip, you know, prohibition should be one of the main things on
the table and should be able to pass.

SCHULTZ: Senator, what about -- what about access to mental health
care through more funding? I mean, will Congress agree to mental health
funding in a way Congressman Kingston described? What do you think?

MENENDEZ: Well, I think this is where a lot of my friends on the
other side of this question will try to head on the mental health funding.
And, of course, we welcome to that -- welcome them to that.

But I listened to your interview before. Unfortunately, one of the
first things that the House Republicans did in HR-1 is cut $26 million in
community health bloc grants. That`s exactly the type of work you want to
see happening in our communities. That`s why I voted for the Mental Health
Parity Act, to create mental health parity and insurance coverage with all
the other types of insurance that we have in health care.

And that`s why the Affordable Care Act expands that and makes it
responsible for in the exchange, in the health care exchange, that are
going to offer insurance to include mental health as a core element of that
coverage. That`s what we need in this country.

SCHULTZ: And, finally, Senator, the NRA -- what role do they play
when it comes time to this debate? Do you think that they can offer
something? They have never been in favor of any kind of regulations.

MENENDEZ: Well, you know, the NRA I think is out of step with their
members. You see NRA-registered members, 74 percent I think say they are
in support of criminal background checks nationally. They represent, in my
mind, the gun manufacturers.

SCHULTZ: Sure.

MENENDEZ: And the gun shows, but -- and the dealers. But they don`t
really represent the average rank and file.

It seems to me, I hope they`ll join us. But it seems to me that the
teachers and, you know, school principal were willing to take on the
gunman. It seems to me the Congress of the United States should take on
these guns as well.

Senator Robert Menendez, great to have you with us. Thank you so
much, sir.

Remember to answer the questions there at the bottom of the screen.
Share your thoughts with us on Twitter @EdShow and on Facebook. We want to
know what you think.

Coming up: Americans pay into Social Security, and they expect it to
be there when they retire. But, tonight, Social Security is on the
negotiating table. We`ll have the latest on the fiscal cliff when we come
back.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: Coming up, Social Security on the table? The real calls for
President Obama`s offer changed the way Social Security increases are
calculated. David Cay Johnston joins me on the consequences. And Senator
Bernie Sanders will talk about fairness.

And later, Speaker John Boehner`s "Plan B". Leader Pelosi calls it
befuddled. Joan Walsh and Bob Shrum are here tonight.

Share your thoughts with us on Facebook and on Twitter using the
#EdShow.

We`re coming right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: Thanks for stay with us on THE ED SHOW tonight.

There is big news to report tonight on the fiscal cliff talks. Today,
Social Security got sucked into the negotiations.

Here is the latest offer from the White House:

The president of the United States campaigned on letting taxes go up
on anyone making $250,000 a year. Now, he is offering to almost double it
to $400,000 a year.

Democrats are also offering $8 billion in cuts.

They want to raise the debt ceiling for the next two years.

And now, the White House is offering cost-of-living adjustments on
Social Security.

These are not your average cost-of-living adjustments. The White
House says we can recalculate how much money people get as they age. The
technical changes could save some money, but it could cost seniors dearly.

This is what the poverty rate for seniors would look like without
Social Security. Almost half the seniors would fall below the poverty
line.

Now, look at this. Social Security dramatically reduces poverty among
seniors. Economists like Paul Krugman say cutting Social Security would be
cruel.

The White House is defending the proposal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president has always
said, as part of this process, when we`re talking about the spending cuts
side of this, that it would require tough choices by both sides. And that
is certainly the case if you want to reach an agreement.

Secondly, this is a technical adjustment that supporters of it and
economists, outside economists, say it is meant to make the government`s
estimates of inflation more accurate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: We could save money and bring down the debt by adjusting
Social Security benefits. But many analysts don`t trust the Republicans to
take care of seniors in the process.

Joining me tonight, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of
"The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use Plain English to Rob You Blind,"
David Cay Johnston.

Technical adjustment -- what does that mean? In the interest of
fairness, is there any scenario in which chained CPI does not hurt seniors?

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, AUTHOR, "THE FINE PRINT": No. Chained CPI is a
good measure for the whole economy, but not for seniors who have rising
health care costs. And looking at average health care costs doesn`t work
for older people because they`re big consumers of health care.

SCHULTZ: Who is going to get hurt? I mean, if the -- if we cut
Social Security this way? If this is done the way the White House is
proposing it, who is going to get hurt?

JOHNSTON: Well, if you`re 45 years old today, or 35 years old today,
when you`re 85, you will really feel this pain. The change over time will
be significant.

And the idea of chained CPI is that you`ll institute things. So you
may be eating hamburger today. You`ll be eating chicken later because of
chained CPI. And you may end up on cat food your last days.

SCHULTZ: Could it be that bad? Is this a drastic move by the White
House to propose this?

JOHNSTON: It`s a tiny move in terms of the economy. In the year
2050, the CBO estimates that we`re talking about 2/10 of 1 percent of the
entire economy. That`s how much we would reduce spending on Social
Security, 2/10 of 1 percent. That`s today about $30 billion.

But we would be talking about an enormous amount of money in the
monthly incomes of seniors who are not as a class living it up, as the
charts you just put up show.

SCHULTZ: But as you see it, in the next, say, 10 years, would this
affect benefits to Americans?

JOHNSTON: Well, it affects -- it would affect them right away. But
it`s a little bit. Basically, chained CPI is if inflation is running 3
percent, it would be about 2.7 percent. So instead of getting a raise on a
thousand dollars Social Security check of $30, you`d get $27.

But this would continue year after year after year, slowly eroding
your benefits. And if you live 20 years, we`re now talking 6 percentage
points.

SCHULTZ: What kind of money are we talking about saving?

JOHNSTON: Well, the average Social Security check right now is
$1,229. So I calculate that if we go to the CPI system, chained CPI, in 20
years, you would get $126 a month less than you would under the current
system. That doesn`t sound like a lot of money, $1,500 a year. But if
you`re making less than $30,000 a year, that`s a big cut. It`s a 5.7
percent cut.

I think, Ed, we should go the other direction. There is another
measure of inflation called CPIE, for elderly. And when you do that, the 3
percent inflation raise the elderly`s check by about 3.3 percent. After 20
years, they`d be getting $133 a month more than under the current system.

And the swing between what the Petersons want, to take money away from
old people, and what I`m proposing, is about $259 a month. That`s over
$3,000 a year.

SCHULTZ: That`s real money to people, no doubt.

David Cay Johnston, thanks for your time tonight in clarifying all of
this.

Progressives aren`t happy with the key part of President Obama`s
counteroffer on the fiscal cliff. Bernie Sanders will join me on that. He
says it`s real money to folks.

Then, House Speaker John Boehner decides to go with "Plan B" in the
fiscal cliff talks. What is that all about? We`ll explain Boehner`s
latest political tactic, find out what it could cost you in taxes when we
come back.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: And we are back. Progressives are lining up against any
change in Social Security, including the way cost of living increases are
calculated. The Congressional Progressive Caucus opposes it, as do other
progressive groups.

Today, Senator Dick Durbin said, "We ought to deal with Social
Security in a separate conversation. This is not part of deficit
reduction. To do it at this stage is the wrong way to go."

That counters certainly what we`re seeing coming out of the White
House.

Let`s turn to Senator Bernie Sanders tonight from Vermont.

Senator, good to have you with us.

Does this come out of right field, so to speak? Is this the wrong way
to go on Social Security?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Well, it certainly is the wrong way
to go on Social Security. As Durbin just pointed out, Social Security has
a huge surplus. It has nothing to do with deficit reduction. We have ways
to make sure that it`s solvent for the next 75 years. You do not have to
cut benefits for seniors and for disabled veterans.

Ed, what is not widely pointed out -- and tomorrow I`ll be holding a
press conference with all of the veterans organizations, the DAV, the
American Legion -- the chained CPI would make major cuts for people who
have lost their arms and legs in Iraq and Afghanistan, widows and orphans.

Furthermore, what I would say is, if you saw the poll today in the
"Washington Post," the people of this country are very clear.
Overwhelmingly they say do not cut Social Security. Do not cut Medicare.
Do not cut Medicaid. And yes, to the tune of 74 percent of the people
responding in that poll, ask people making more than 250,000 dollars a year
to pay more in taxes.

The president has got to listen to the American people and stand firm
against the bullies in the Republican House.

SCHULTZ: Here is House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi today. Listen
to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: Yes, the Democrats will stick
with the president. Maybe not every single one of them. But on the CPI,
since you bring it up, the chained CPI, the president -- the details of
this are not all ironed out. But they all mitigate for helping the poorest
and neediest in our society, whether they`re SSI recipients, whether
they`re 80 and older, or whether they`re truly needy in between.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Senator, she says other factors mitigate the impact of the
CPI change. And she would have the votes. Any circumstances under which
that you could support it?

SANDERS: No. I have a lot of respect for Nancy Pelosi. I think she
is dead wrong on this issue. Listen, the AARP, the National Committee to
Preserve Medicare, the AFL-CIO, the veterans organizations, the vast
majority of the American people are saying you do not balance the budget on
the elderly. People who are making 15,000, 16,000 dollars a year, who are
struggling to keep themselves alive should not be taking cuts when we have
growing wealth and income inequality in America.

Yes, the wealthiest people and the large corporations who are doing
phenomenally well are going to have to start paying their fair share of
taxes.

SCHULTZ: President Obama`s plan would bring in 1.2 trillion dollars
in revenue and extend unemployment benefits, which is pretty important.
Are these and other aspects of the president`s counter-offer agreeable with
you? I mean, certainly the unemployed are going to need some help. And we
still have millions of people who are out of work in this country.

What about that? There are some good things to this, but is it worth
the gamble?

SANDERS: Obviously we want to do everything we can to protect the
unemployed. But what we also have to understand, Ed, and also what is not
talked about enough is a s a result of I think the weak negotiating on the
part of the White House in 2010 and 2011, we have already cut 1.5 trillion
dollars in programs.

And up to this point, the wealthy haven`t paid a nickel more in taxes.
So I don`t think it`s a question of, you know, a little here and a little
there. People on top doing phenomenally well. Middle class disappearing.
Millions of people living in poverty. I think the president will have the
support of the American people if he stands tall, if he stands strong and
demands justice and fairness in terms of how we do deficit reduction.

SCHULTZ: What about Boehner`s plan to pass an extension of the Bush
tax cuts for everyone below the one million dollars mark.

SANDERS: No.

SCHULTZ: Is that something you could possibly support? Of course,
the president wants to move to it 400,000.

SANDERS: No. That`s wrong. It simply does not bring in enough
revenue. And it would necessitate even more cuts.

SCHULTZ: Two fifty is the number for you? You want the Bush tax cuts
gone?

SANDERS: Absolutely.

SCHULTZ: OK. Senator, good to have you with us tonight. I
appreciate your time. There is a lot more coming up in the next half hour
of THE ED SHOW. Stay with us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: At the same time that we`re
going to continue to talk with the president, we`re going to also move to
plan B.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Boehner buckles on the rates and floats plan B. Bob Shrum
and "Salon`s" Joan Walsh will break down the speaker`s sideshow.

Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy said she would embarrass the president
to get common sense gun laws. Tonight, I`ll ask her if she is happy with
the endorsement of the assault weapons ban.

And NBC`s Richard Engel is safe and sound after being kidnapped in
Syria.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD ENGEL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: It is good to be
here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: We`ve got the harrowing details next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. House Speaker John Boehner
doesn`t like the way the fiscal cliff negotiations are going. So today he
announced he is activating what he is calling plan B. As early as
Thursday, Boehner plans to offer two amendments. One would extend the
Bush-era tax cuts for people who make up to 250,000 dollars a year. The
other would extend the tax cuts for everyone who makes up to a million
dollars a year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER: Plan B would protect American taxpayers who make a million
dollars or less, and have all of their current rates extended.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Boehner is basically offering to end the fiscal cliff talks
for the holidays. He would take up the spending cuts and debt ceiling
debate next year.

Joining me tonight, editor at large for "Salon," Joan Walsh, and
Democratic strategist Bob Shrum with us tonight. Great to have both of you
with us.

JOAN WALSH, "SALON": Thanks, Ed.

SCHULTZ: Joan, what is Boehner trying to prove here with this
strategy, that he is so concerned with small business? What is happening
here.

WALSH: Exactly. I mean, look, he knows plan B is DOA, Ed. It
doesn`t do anything. It doesn`t solve any problems. You know, it protects
people who make between 250,000 and a million who are still quite wealthy.
It doesn`t make a dent in the deficit.

And it also doesn`t solve any of the sequestration problems. So, you
know, I`m not a big fan of some of the issues -- some of the concessions
that I hear might be on the table. I`m withholding judgment until I hear
everything that may be on the table, Ed.

But, you know, there is an argument for a deal. If you can get some
unemployment insurance, if you get some infrastructure funding, and if you
can get the debt ceiling to go away for a long time, those sorts of things
are worth talking about.

This takes all the leverage away from Democrats, if Democrats were to
support it. They know Democrats won`t support it. And you know what?
John Boehner is also boasting that he thinks he`s got the votes. He said
that -- the Republican votes. He said that before. And poor Nancy Pelosi
has to go out and whip Democrats.

She will not do that this time. Even if it passes the House, it will
lose in the Senate. And they`re just doing this to cover their behinds.

SCHULTZ: Bob, it seems to me that Speaker Boehner wants to go to
President Obama and say, see that? You can`t raise taxes at any level on
the country. What do you make of that?

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, he is just flatly wrong. And
look, Plan B is BS. It`s never going to pass. Joan is right. It`s a
wonderful Republican idea, by the way. Let`s protect the people who make
say 980,000 a year.

The Republicans confront two realities here. The first reality is, by
every poll, if we go off the fiscal cliff, they`re going to be blamed. The
second reality is the top rate tax rates are going up, whether it`s 250,000
or 400,000 dollars. Maybe people in the Republican caucus don`t get that.
Maybe we have to have a communication, Earth to the Republican caucus. But
it`s going to happen.

It`s either going to happen before or after we go off the fiscal
cliff.

SCHULTZ: So why -- Bob, why is Boehner just ignoring the rest of the
president`s offer here?

SHRUM: Because Boehner isn`t so much worried about the fiscal cliff
right now as he is worried about his speakership being on the cliff. He`s
got a very restive caucus. They don`t understand that they lost the
election. I agree with Joan, by the way. The president, even though he
won the election, isn`t going to win every point here in this negotiation.

But Republicans seem to think they can have it mostly their way. They
have made one concession, which is higher tax rates for some rich people.
Now they want it to be for a very small number of rich people, won`t raise
the revenue that is need. So I don`t think they have any chance here.

But maybe what this whole thing is about is letting these Republicans
get up and vent, and then he can go back to the bargaining table.

SCHULTZ: Sure.

SHRUM: But I`ll tell you one thing. He has to be a little careful,
because that bill that extends the tax cuts for everybody up to 250,000, I
think the Democrats might vote for that. And then if a number of
Republicans say wait a minute, I`m not going to vote to let taxes go up on
people under 250,000 dollars, it might pass. The Senate I think would then
pass that. And the president would probably sign it.

SCHULTZ: I`m not quite sure, Joan, how John Boehner is going change
public opinion with this posturing, these two votes.

WALSH: Well, he is not. But, I mean, we should acknowledge that it
is at least some recognition that tax hikes on the rich at some level are
extremely popular with the American people, Ed. So that`s a little bit of
a victory. I think there was a quote today after a meeting on this from
Senator Jeff Flake. And he came out and said this will show that we`re not
in the pocket of the top two percent, which in fact it protects a whole lot
of the top two percent here. Let`s just say that.

But it`s showing that they are afraid of being known as the absolute
lap dogs of the super rich. And they are trying to win some sort of PR
victory so that they can go out and say we voted for some tax hikes. It
will be interesting to see what kind of revolt there will be, though, from
their Tea Party caucus and the people who have said no tax hikes for any
reason.

SCHULTZ: They want to go home for the holidays and tell their
constituents, you know, we voted for tax cuts. That`s where it is.

WALSH: Right.

SCHULTZ: That`s where I think it is. Joan Walsh, Bob Shrum, great to
have you with us tonight.

Coming up, NBC`s Richard Engel is safe after five days of captivity in
Syria. We`ll have the details. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: And we here at MSNBC are relieved and happy to report that
NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel and his crew were freed
late last night after five days in captivity in Syria. Engel described the
ordeal on "The Today Show" this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ENGEL: We were driving in Syria, about five days ago, in what we
thought was a rebel-controlled area. We were with some of the rebels. And
as we were moving down the road, a group of gunmen just literally jumped
out of the trees and bushes on the side of the road.

There were probably 15 gunmen. They were wearing ski masks. They
were heavily armed. They dragged us out of the car. They had a container
truck positioned, waiting by the side of the road. They put us into that
container truck.

We were with some gunmen, some rebels who were escorting us. They
executed one of them on the spot. Then they took us to a series of safe
houses and interrogation places. We weren`t physically beaten or tortured.
It was a lot of psychological torture, threats of being killed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: While NBC could not confirm the identities of the kidnapper,
Engel noted that they talked openly about their loyalties to the government
and of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad. The crew was freed after five
days when the captors drove them into a checkpoint manned by a Syrian rebel
group.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ENGEL: The kidnappers saw this checkpoint, started a gunfight with
it. Two of the kidnappers were killed. We climbed out of the vehicle and
the rebels took us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: The crew then crossed the border into Turkey this morning.
All of us here at THE ED SHOW are glad Richard and his crew are safe and
sound.

Tonight in our survey, I asked do you consider the Bushmaster .223 an
assault weapon? Eighty seven percent of you say yes; 13 percent of you say
no.

Coming up, a major investment firm says that it will sell its stake in
the company that makes the rifle used to kill 26 people at Sandy Hook
Elementary. Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy will weigh in on that and much
more. Stay tuned. You`re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY BOEHEIM, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY BASKETBALL COACH: If we in this
country as Americans cannot get the people who represent us to do something
about firearms, we are a sad, sad society.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Syracuse basketball coach Jimmy Boeheim marking his 900th
win by speaking out about gun control. The coach added, "if one person in
this world, the NRA president, anybody can tell me why we need assault
weapons with 30 shots in the thing, this is our fault."

Today the White House spokesperson Jay Carney said the president
supports an assault weapons ban renewal. And now we`re starting to see a
shift in thinking. And it`s happening in, of all places, corporate
America.

The investment firm Cerberus Capital Management will sell its stake in
the country`s largest gun maker after one of the company`s guns, the
Bushmaster Semiautomatic Rifle, was used to kill 26 people at Sandy Hook
Elementary. As "the New York Times" reports, Cerberus said that it was
putting the company Freedom Group up for sale just hours after one of its
largest investors, the California Teachers Pension Fund, said it was
reviewing its relationship with the firm.

The investment firm issuing this statement: "it is apparent that the
Sandy Hook tragedy was a watershed event that has raised the national
debate on gun control to an unprecedented level."

Cerberus also says that "as a firm, we are investors, not statesmen or
policymakers."

But as "the Daily Beast" points out, Cerberus` small leadership team
includes statesmen and former policymakers like Dan Quayle, a former vice
president of the United States, and John Snow, a former Treasury secretary.
The firm is owned by billionaire financier Steven A. Feinberg. Feinberg is
reportedly an avid hunter and sportsman, a major Republican donor. And his
father happens to live in Newtown, Connecticut.

Martin Feinberg declined to comment on his son`s firm`s sale, but told
"Bloomberg News" the shooting was devastating and truly horrendous.

Joining me tonight, Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy of New York.
Congresswoman, thank you for your time tonight.

REP. CAROLYN MCCARTHY (D), NEW YORK: Thank you.

SCHULTZ: This is really an unprecedented move. What do you make of
this, this firm making a move like this, and of course being, in a sense,
pressured by the Teachers Pension Fund in California?

MCCARTHY: Well, I can certainly understand it, because some
statements have come out saying that teachers should be armed. Talking to
certainly an awful lot of the teachers in the last two days, that`s the
last thing that they want to do. So I can understand that.

And you`re looking at a lot of these pension funds that are being
invested in this company, and they don`t want any part of this. So I`m
very happy, because, you know, we have investment funds that only do social
issues. And I`m glad to see them doing that. Maybe that sends even a
stronger message to the National Rifle Association that their grip is
losing.

Work with us. Let`s get an assault weapons bill passed. Let`s make
sure we can make this country safer.

SCHULTZ: Do you think they`re losing their grip?

MCCARTHY: I do. I actually do. Talking to a number of my Republican
friends, I asked them -- I said, you know, we`re reading about this press
conference on Friday. And they`re going to come out with something
positive. Now, I don`t know what that means. But with that being said, I
would love them to see them working with us.

We`re not taking away the rights of anybody to own a gun. But even
they hopefully will see that assault weapons and the large magazines, they
are not meant for the average citizen. And they are not.

SCHULTZ: Do you think we`ll see more move in commerce because of
this?

MCCARTHY: I do. I actually do. You know, there has been a shift.
You`ve seen this. You`ve been talking about it. You talked about it last
night. And I have to say that even from -- again, talking to some NRA
members, they have said, you know, listen, I`m a hunter. And I`m more than
willing to give up my assault weapons. I`ve never used it for hunting. I
don`t even use it for the security of my home. I like it for target
shooting at the range and things like that, he said, but enough is enough.
We cannot take this slaughter anymore.

SCHULTZ: Congresswoman, you warned the White House the gloves are off
if the president fails to act on gun control. Today Jay Carney said the
president supports an assault weapons ban. Are you confident that the
president is ready to act? Are we at that point?

MCCARTHY: Well, you know, number one, I was very thrilled, to be
honest with you, to see him come out not only on the assault weapons ban,
on one of the things he is planning on doing, closing the gun show
loophole, making sure the background checks are going to be able to be
there for everybody that would have to go through a background check before
they could buy a gun.

Those are all my bills that have actually been introduced here in
Congress for many years. I also know he is going to be working on the
educational side and the health side as far as mental illness.

SCHULTZ: Well, what about that? We`ve had quite a discussion about
mental health assets and resources going to this. That is a monumental
lift. That`s a huge lift. And it`s going to take a ton of money. You
think Republicans will go along with that?

MCCARTHY: Well, Ed, to be very honest with you, the reason it`s going
to take a ton of money is because last year and the year before, the amount
of cuts that have already done -- and a lot of people don`t realize this in
the United States, we made large cuts last year.

SCHULTZ: Yeah.

MCCARTHY: We made large cuts the year before. That`s shutting down
my mental health clinics in my community.

SCHULTZ: Yeah.

MCCARTHY: It`s shutting down the after-school programs, where we work
with these children that need a little bit of extra help. So when you say
you`re going to cut, you got to be very careful on what will be the end
effect. I think when we look at it, it`s got to be a whole comprehensive
package.

I`m a nurse. I look at things holistically. We have to do all these
things and above to make this a country safer.

SCHULTZ: Earlier tonight on this broadcast, Congressman Jack Kingston
said he doesn`t consider the gun used in the Newtown shooting an assault
weapon. Your response to that.

MCCARTHY: Listen, you know, we can take these shootings any way you
want to. And I don`t particularly care what kind of gun that they used.
But to be very honest with you, the large assault clips are the ones that
do the most killing.

He had 30 rounds in each of the guns that he had. Two rounds went
off. He shot over 100 bullets. And I think that`s probably what shocks
the nation. You know, when they read that a six-year-old was shot from six
to 11 times. You know what a six-year-old looks like. I know what a six-
year-old looks like. I know what gunshots look like.

That has tipped the country to say wait a minute. You know, we`ll
protect those hunters. They can go hunting. We will protect the right to
be able to own a gun to protect your home. But what I`ve been saying for
years, the average citizen does not need any of this.

SCHULTZ: No doubt. Congresswoman, thank you for your time tonight.
Carolyn McCarthy with us here on THE ED SHOW. And that is THE ED SHOW.
I`m Ed Schultz. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening,
Rachel.

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

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