Guest: Leo Gerard, Ray LaHood, Lars Larson, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Larry Elder, Virg Bernero
Spec: Health and Medicine; Insurance; Education; Unemployment; Automotive Industry; Transportation Department; Economy; Newt Gingrich
ED SCHULTZ, HOST: I‘m Ed Schultz. This is THE ED SHOW.
SCHULTZ: Good evening, folks, and welcome to THE ED SHOW here on
If you‘re still at the office tonight or just getting home, I want to thank you for joining us here on our first program here on MSNBC. And I‘ll be here Monday through Friday in this time slot, 6:00 p.m. Eastern.
In the real world, I‘m a radio talk show host, “The Ed Schultz Show.”
And with this expansion to television.
I‘m going to bring the same passion to the screen every night. And I‘ll start every program here on THE ED SHOW, as I will tonight, with today‘s “OpEd.”
If you‘re in the middle class, if you‘re a wage earner, I‘m your guy. Let‘s get that straight. I have a passion for building the middle class in this country. And there‘s a number of different ways we can do it, but I think, first of all, we‘ve got to listen to the people of America.
Now, as a radio talker, I have had the unique opportunity to see this country. We‘ve done over 15 town hall meetings in the last year, and everywhere I go with Team Fargo, it‘s health care, education and the manufacturing sector.
Now, I have a passion for health care. The reason being is that I don‘t believe that we can turn this economy around unless we really have a sweeping change in the health care industry.
And I want to say something tonight to you wonderful viewers out there here on MSNBC. And I haven‘t heard this on network television. I want to tell you one thing about health care when it comes to money.
Personally, this is where I stand. I don‘t care how much it costs.
I think it‘s fantastic that the president‘s got $634 billion in his budget to do something about health care. But if it‘s a trillion, that‘s OK with me. If it‘s $1.2 trillion, I don‘t care, because I know what the people of America want.
I‘ve heard it in town after town. I know what‘s on the backs of small businesses in this country. I know what‘s at the heart of labor negotiations in this country. It‘s health care.
Now, today I‘ve got on my BlackBerry an e-mail from a gentleman who was a relative of a 60-year-old construction worker. He didn‘t have insurance. He died. He needed a pacemaker.
We‘re better than that. We are better than that. And I want this program, night in and night out, to bring the best in America.
I‘m a positive guy. I believe in winning. I love to win. I think Americans love to win. But for some reason, we‘ve got ourselves in this ridiculous system of a lack of providing.
How many people don‘t have health care in this country? This is a number I want you to put in your head and don‘t forget it. Forty-eight million Americans have no chance because they can‘t afford it.
They‘ve got to feed their family. They‘ve got to do the energy thing.
They‘ve got to think about education, retirement, and everything else.
Forty-eight million Americans are uninsured in this country. Now, the question is, what are we going to do about it?
On top of that, we‘re looking at premium costs over the last eight years -- 10 years that have gone up 200 percent since 1999. See, back in the good old days, you could get a health care premium for $5,800, and last year it was $12,700. And who knows where that‘s going to go today?
Now, these are numbers that we‘ve got to deal with, and the middle class has to deal with. If you‘re going to watch this program, you‘re going to hear two words a lot, “middle class.”
An average family of four in this country makes $50,200. And, of course, the family premium is $12,700. You know what that breaks down to be, folks? Twenty-five percent of your gross income.
OK. Let‘s see here. We want health care and we want to save the manufacturing sector in this country. And we want you to buy a car, by the way.
I want you to buy American. I‘m one of these “Buy American” guys, but this car that they are talking about in Detroit that‘s going to revolutionize how we travel in this country, that‘s going to cost $40,000. You know, the Volt?
So with those numbers, how are we going to do this? We‘re going to be leaving some people behind.
So my argument with the conservatives is that I think they are selfish when it comes to health care. I‘ve seen billions of dollars, you‘ve seen billions of dollars go overseas to foreign countries. Now it‘s time to put it in this country, and that‘s why I love President Barack Obama for his commitment, a down payment of $634 billion to do something about health care in this country.
I was at the White House when they signed the S-CHIP bill, and of course the president said at that time that this was just a down payment on what they were going to do for turning health care around in this country. I just want you to know where I stand.
When it comes to health care, I‘ve heard the voices of America. If it goes to a trillion dollars, that‘s just fine with me.
My other passion, of course, is education. My family members, my mother, my sister, they were educators. I‘m a public school guy, OK?
I believe the greatest thing in education, and now that we‘re seeing a commitment, the greatest thing in education, public education, when the doors open, everybody‘s welcome. Your son or daughter may be a gifted child. They may have a disability. They may be just an average kid.
You know what‘s great about public education? When the doors open, everybody is welcome.
Now, I know a lot of people in this country are saying, well, gosh, what is change? You know, we voted for change, we wanted change. President Obama says he was going to do some changes. Well, look at the numbers.
When it comes to public education, I‘ve heard enough school board members call me and tell me, “Ed, we don‘t have enough money to run our educational system in our town.” Well, here are the numbers. The president is going to beef it up.
In 2008, we spent $60 billion. 2009, we‘re going to $135 billion.
Folks, that‘s a commitment. I love it. And in 2010, we‘re going to go to $146 billion.
Now, do you want this? Yes, because you voted for it. This is exactly what President Obama talked about when he was on the campaign trail.
I believe that the conservatives have vilified public education, they have shortchanged teachers, they have shortchanged facilities, and now we‘ve got ourselves in a pickle. And all the conservative talkers of America, you know what they do? Public education is terrible, it will never work. We‘ve got to push this school voucher thing.
Folks, you know what I believe? I believe that we have to give an equal opportunity to every American if we‘re going to be the great country we once were.
We have it within us. We just need the leadership. And I can tell you, those numbers, that‘s a great start.
It‘s only day number 77. I‘m pretty excited about it.
Now, the other thing that I really believe that we have to do. And in this first show, THE ED SHOW, here on MSNBC, I kind of want you to get to know me. You can hear my show on 100 radio stations across the country, you can find more about me at wegoted.com.
But manufacturing, you know, I believe that we have to be able to build something in this country. I think that we just can‘t be a service industry. I don‘t think we can be a paper-shuffling industry. We‘ve got to do more than finance in this country.
We‘ve got to get the middle class reinvigorated, and we‘ve got to make something. And aren‘t we having that debate right now?
Should we save GM? Should we save Chrysler? What are we going to do?
Will you buy American?
This is a real challenge for this generation. It‘s a real challenge for the 40-and-50-somethings to set the table for the 20-somethings and the teens in this country.
We have to do this. We have to turn this around.
The thing I love about the stimulus package is what we‘re going to see is a real investment in manufacturing. But the numbers aren‘t good. Let‘s not paint a rosy picture here.
Manufacturing, jobs wiped out this decade, 22 percent of them are gone. What are we going to do to turn that number around? And when you take a look at the manufacturing jobs that were lost just last month, 161,000 in March, 1.5 million since December of ‘07, and 4.6 million since the year 2000.
My message to you on this program is that we are better than that. Yes, I‘m going to have the hot stories on THE ED SHOW. Yes, I‘m going to interview the movers and the shakers, and I‘m going to give you some sports and some commentary. We‘re going to have all kinds of fun on THE ED SHOW.
But you know what? It‘s coming from right here, because I‘ve seen it, I have heard it, and I have felt it with the American people, and they want this change. And I am not going to let the conservative talkers of America talk me down, and I‘m not going to let them talk you down.
We have spoken, and now we‘ve got to hold the majority‘s feet to the fire to make sure we get a lot of things done. And we can do a lot in manufacturing.
And a man who I admire a great deal joining me now is Leo Gerard, the president of the United Steelworkers.
Brother, it is great to have you here on the first Ed show. Leo, great to have you on board, buddy.
LEO GERARD, PRESIDENT, UNITED STEELWORKERS: Thank you very much, Ed.
And I want to say, I‘m honored and humbled to be on your first show.
You‘re hitting the nail right on the head, where it needs to be hit.
SCHULTZ: What do we have to do, Leo? I mean, we‘ve got numbers out there. We‘ve got a commitment out there. But where do we go from here?
We‘re not even at the 100-day mark yet. Where do you stand on all of this? What do we have to do?
GERARD: Well, I think President Obama started down the right path. I think that his stimulus package is in the right direction. But I think that we‘ve got to get the members of the House and Senate, and really in both parties. They‘ve got to start forward the way you‘re talking about and say that we need to rebuild America.
We cannot put this country back on its feet by continuing to worship at the knees of the financial community that put us in this mess. We‘ve got to go back to start to make things in America. We‘ve got to put people back to work. We‘ve got to save the auto industry.
Let me be very, very blunt. The domestic auto industry, the North American auto industry as we know it, is as important to the future of manufacturing as Goldman Sachs and Citibank were to the future of the financial community, and we need people to understand that.
These are good family-supporting jobs. And when you shut down the car industry, you‘re shutting down the steel industry, the tire industry, the computer chip industry. You‘re shutting down the (INAUDIBLE) mines, you‘re shutting down the conveyor belt manufacturers. And we need to stand up and demand that we go back to making things in America, and we have to make sure we save the auto industry to do it.
SCHULTZ: Mr. Gerard, do you agree with the president? Was this a good move, to tell GM that there‘s a timetable, there‘s 60 days, and for Chrysler, there‘s 30 days? They‘ve got to get their act together and prove that they‘re going to be aggressive and get it done? Or is that just not enough time to get it done?
What do you think?
GERARD: I think in the first step, you always need to have a timetable. But I think 60 days is going to be short.
I‘ve been through a lot of bankruptcies in the steel industry and other industries. It takes a long time to do that. And here we‘re trying to do it outside of bankruptcy.
I need to make sure that people understand, this isn‘t the workers‘ fault. This was management‘s fault making dumb decisions.
The bondholders need to get ready to take a big haircut, because they‘re the ones that took the risks. The workers went to work every day, played by the rules, and did what had to be done.
The steel industry that supports the manufacturing industry, that supports the car industry, they are getting hurt now because of this. So I think the president has done the right thing.
But I also want to say very clearly that what we need is a new plan from these people. They can‘t shrink themselves to profitability or import themselves to profitability.
The problem is, we‘ve been losing the family-supporting jobs in America. And on top of the financial crisis, people can‘t get to the incomes they need to buy cars and to maintain their standard of living. And when you put health care on top of it, Ed, that health care thing is a crusher. It‘s a crusher to manufacturing in North America.
SCHULTZ: Yes. It is the number one issue. I have heard it all over the country. We can‘t talk enough about it.
Now, Mr. Gerard, I want to ask you about the president over at the G-20. Is he tough enough on China? What do we have to do?
These trade agreements have absolutely harnessed the American worker. What has to change? Can we change? And do you think President Obama has what it takes to face up to the Chinese with these agreements?
GERARD: I certainly believe that President Obama has what it takes to lead us out of the mess we‘re in. I want to do say, though, that I‘m very concerned that we‘re so indebted to China, that they are trying to push us around.
The fact is, they don‘t meet our environmental standards, they don‘t meet our labor standards. They‘re manipulating our currency, and we ought not to be pushed off that dime. And we‘re not going to be able to save American manufacturing unless we get China to play by the rules, quit manipulating their currency, start opening up their markets to us.
SCHULTZ: And finally, Leo Gerard, president of the steelworkers in this country, I‘ve got to ask you—the Employee Free Choice Act, how important is it to you? Do you have to have this to reinvigorate the country‘s economy?
GERARD: I think people that look at history will know that it was the ability to have workers organized into unions that helped us build the middle class. And the last eight years, where this administration of the Bush gang crushed the ability of unions to organize, we need to pass the Employee Free Choice Act so that as we move into a stronger economy, workers can get a fair share of that economy. Without the ability to bargain, there is no way for them to get anything except benevolence from some benevolent bosses, if you can find one.
SCHULTZ: For the working folk of America, Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers.
It‘s an honor to have you on. We‘ll talk more about it on so many more shows, Leo. Thanks so much.
GERARD: Thank you very much. And good luck in the future, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Thank you, buddy.
All right. President Obama has had, I think, a great GG20 trip. I mean, he‘s a star. He‘s acting like he‘s been president for seven years.
He looks like a seasoned veteran. He has won the hearts and minds of the European folks.
Now, we made a list, President Obama‘s top 10 accomplishments in 77 days. We‘ll go through them with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood when THE ED SHOW continues, right here on MSNBC.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.
President Obama is on his way back from Europe after a great trip. It looks like he‘s been president for seven years, but it‘s just day 77.
Folks, this guy has been awfully busy. Let‘s take a look at what President Obama has really accomplished. Forget this 100-day stuff.
On national security, he signed the order to close Gitmo for good. He announced a timetable to get troops out of Iraq. And he came up with a plan to go after al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
On health care, four million children now insured under S-CHIP. He ended restrictions on stem-cell research and rolled out a budget with a $634 billion down payment on universal health care. And there is more.
He signed an equal pay bill. It means a lot to a lot of people.
Laid out a plan to help Chrysler and GM restructure. Came out with a housing plan that will keep nine million Americans in their homes. And he got a $787 billion stimulus package passed.
Joining me now is the transportation secretary of the Obama administration, Ray LaHood.
Mr. Secretary, it‘s great to have you with us here on THE ED SHOW.
RAY LAHOOD, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: Congratulations, Ed. You‘ve come from radio to TV. I wish you well.
SCHULTZ: Thank you, sir. It‘s great to be here with you.
I want to ask you, is that enough money? Do you have enough money to rebuild the infrastructure in this country? Or do you need more?
LAHOOD: Well, one of the reasons that we have the money we have is because we can get it out quickly. The purpose of the money is to put people to work in good-paying jobs this summer, and we‘re going to get the money out the door. Five billion dollars is already out the door.
We believe people are already starting to work in good-paying jobs, building roads and bridges and helping transit districts and airports. So we think that the money will be used wisely and put an enormous number of people to work this summer, and really provide an opportunity to jump-start our economy in a way like we‘ve never seen before.
SCHULTZ: OK. A way in which we‘ve never seen before.
So when we talk about jobs, when are these numbers going to start turning around? I mean, we still have some pretty tough months that we‘ve just passed. And when are we going to start seeing it leveling off or even turning back the other way?
What is your prediction on that? Do you think it will happen with this package?
LAHOOD: Well, I definitely think that you‘re going to see an enormous number of people working. And it will happen quickly this summer when the money really begins to be spent by the states and by contractors to build roads and bridges, and by transit districts and by airports.
We have between $40 billion and $50 billion in a very short period of time, and because of our ability to get the money out the door quickly, I think this will help jump-start the economy. People will be going back to work in good-paying jobs. And I believe it will give us the ability to really be on a road to recovery like we never have been before in a very, very quick way.
SCHULTZ: Now, Mr. Secretary, how are these bids going to work out? Do state legislators, are they controlling the money that‘s going to each state? Is it the governor? Is there a blueprint that you want states to follow?
And how is the bidding process going to work? Is this for the big guys or for the little guys? How does it work?
LAHOOD: Well, first of all, the president made it very clear, no earmarks, no boondoggles. The money goes in the case of the Highway Department to the secretaries of transportation and to the governors around the country.
We now have about 43 states who have received money. About $5 billion is out the door. And so people will begin working on highways and bridges.
Airport money, a billion dollars to build runways to decrease incursions at airports. Transit districts, we have $8 billion. Much of that money will be going directly to transit districts.
So we have relationships with governors, with secretaries of transportation, with transit districts, with airports, which enables us at DOT to get this money out the door very, very quickly. And it is an enormous amount of money that I think will create many, many—hundreds of jobs around the country. And these are good paying jobs, too, Ed.
SCHULTZ: But is there a federal blueprint to make sure that these jobs get done? Is there an oversight committee? Because, you know, there are some states that are thinking about taking the money and putting it in the bank for the next biennium. And there are other states that are saying, hey, the governor‘s going to make a decision on this.
So what is it?
LAHOOD: Look, Ed, every governor has accepted the transportation, the infrastructure money. Every governor, all 50 governors, have said they will take their portion of the transportation money because they know it will put people to work quickly in their states in good-paying jobs.
We have a Web site called Recovery.gov. Recovery.gov, any taxpayer, any person can look on that Web site and see immediately where the money is going, what states, what projects, how much money, what airports, what transit districts. And eventually we‘ll be able to put up on this Web site how many jobs are being created by the money that we are sending out to transit districts, ,airports and highway administrations.
SCHULTZ: Mr. Secretary, I appreciate your time on THE ED SHOW. And of course, those are middle class jobs, are they not? Yes, they are.
LAHOOD: They really are. They are jobs that will help the middle class.
SCHULTZ: Thanks so much. Good to have you with us.
LAHOOD: Good luck, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood with us here on THE
Next up on THE ED SHOW, psycho talk. Did you hear what Newt Gingrich said? He‘s apparently a rocket scientist. Seriously.
You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.
Have you heard some of the crazy things that are being said by conservatives? Now, this is a segment we‘re going to have on THE ED SHOW. It‘s called “Psycho Talk.”
Oh, yes. This weekend, North Korea tried to shoot a long-range missile, but it was a dud that crashed into the Pacific Ocean. But it sure scared the heck out of one guy. In fact, he thinks President Obama should have taken the missile out.
Let‘s go to the tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: So you‘re saying that President Gingrich would have taken out that...
NEWT GINGRICH, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: There are three or four techniques that could have been used, from unconventional forces to standoff capabilities, to say, we‘re not going to tolerate a North Korean missile launch, period. I mean, the world‘s either got to decide that North Korea is utterly dangerous—and again, I‘d recommend, look at electrical magnetic pulse, which changes—which we‘ve known about since 1958. It changes every equations about how risky these weapons are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Newt, what techniques are you talking about? What do you think and why do you think it‘s Obama‘s fault?
The North Koreans just didn‘t slap this thing together in the last 77 days. I mean, I didn‘t hear you screaming about the last president. He didn‘t take out the North Korean nuclear weapons when they fired six rockets over the 4th of July, back in the summer of 2006.
Did you think those were just fireworks?
He didn‘t stop there.
Today, Gingrich told Politico, “Dick Cheney is clearly right in saying that between the court decisions about terrorists and the administration‘s actions, the United States is running greater risks of getting attacked than we were under the Bush administration.”
Now, I have a couple of questions to ask Mr. Gingrich. He probably won‘t come on my program.
I‘d like to know, Newt, how many CIA briefings have you had? How many intel briefings have you had? And how many counter-intelligent operations meetings have you been at?
You know, Newt, you don‘t know what you‘re talking about, and all you‘re doing is ginning up a bunch of fear in this country. And I have waited a long time to say this. This country has rejected fear.
And Newt, when you get those intel briefings, when you get to be in those CIA briefings, I want you to come on any show on MSNBC, because for you to do that makes you a fraud, my friend. You‘re not telling the truth to the American people because you don‘t know, unless, of course, you‘ve been in the meetings.
Well, maybe our guests can tell us what Gingrich was thinking with what I say is “Psycho Talk.” We‘re going to talk to them after the break.
Plus, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner tells CEOs, hey, watch out. If you can‘t cut the mustard, you could be finding yourself in the unemployment line. That‘s coming up next right here on THE ED SHOW.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW on MSNBC. I‘m Ed Schultz. Let‘s bring in our panel tonight. I appreciate them being here, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, who is the editor of “The Nation,” and also radio talk show host Lars Larson on Compass Media Networks, from 3 to 6:00 Pacific. And media commentator Larry Elder. Thanks for joining with us tonight.
Lars, we‘re going to start with you. Why is Newt Gingrich being so critical, when during the Bush administration the North Koreans fired these two cent rockets and why are we getting so excited about this?
LARS LARSON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Ed, I think we should have done the same thing then. I think we should respond with military force, and so do 57 percent of the American people, according to today‘s Rasmussen poll. Let‘s take some of those missiles out. If the president is willing to say that the North Koreans have broken the law and broken the rules, and they shouldn‘t have launched the missile, then we should use our capabilities and take those missiles out.
SCHULTZ: Katrina, you can‘t agree with that. Or do you?
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, “THE NATION”: That‘s lunatic talk. We‘re going to break the cycle of nuclear proliferation through tough bargaining. You know, Ed, the North Korean nuclear program advance most between 2001 and 2006 when the Bush administration cut off top diplomacy. The preemptive war the Bush administration took us into not only made us more secure, but led countries to want nuclear weapons as a deterrent.
We need to lead. America needs to lead on a new road to nuclear disarmament and fighting proliferation. That is security in this new age, when the genie is out of the bottle. We‘ve got to control nuclear materials. That is the real danger. If Lars or Newt want to get on a warhead and strap it on, a la “Dr. Strangelove,” and fly over there, that‘s not going to solve the problem. It‘s going to lead to more military confrontation in this world.
SCHULTZ: Larry Elder, I want to ask you, was the reaction from President Obama appropriate on this, or should he have taken out this missile before it was launched? What do you think?
LARRY ELDER, MEDIA COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, Ed, thank you so much for inviting me on your first show. It‘s very flattering that you asked me to be your guest. That said, this is a bad actor, North Korea. The Bush administration made a mistake when they took North Korea off the official list of state sponsors of terror. It‘s—North Korea, they helped Syria build their nuclear reactor that was taken out by Israel.
There is a legitimate concern that North Korea is going to sell or transfer some of this stuff to Islamo fascists who want us dead. I believe that Lars is absolutely right. Every option should remain on the table, up to and including taking military action. Absolutely.
SCHULTZ: Lars, do you think the U.N. has any role at all to play in this?
LARSON: You know that Larry is a friend of mine, so I was so honored I wore my favorite commie pinko tie for you. But, no, does the U.N. have a role? Yes. We can have another 12 years of—I mean, what role does the U.N. have? They are going to what, pass another resolution? That really worked with Saddam. It doesn‘t work.
The United Nations is one of the most ineffectual organizations on planet Earth. This tough talk from Obama, they broke the rules. They broke the rules. Somebody tell the little pot belly dictator to stop breaking the rules. This is ridiculous.
HEUVEL: Lars, the U.N. has a role. You know what else has a role? Security guarantees, economic incentives, tough diplomacy. The military—we‘ve seen the limits of military power in Iraq. Our country is less secure as a result. Billions of dollars have been thrown down a rat hole when our men and women could have been protected more effectively in—through deterrent, through containment.
We need to return to what was a bipartisan strategy before the Bush administration took us down the road of a preemptive war, which has made this country far more dangerous. And there are leaders, Reagan administration officials, who are now supporting building down nuclear weapons.
SCHULTZ: OK. Lars, I have to tell you, I wore this tie because I wanted you to know what the sky would look like if a nuke went off. I don‘t know about any of that stuff. Don‘t our intelligence services know exactly what the capabilities of the North Koreans are right now? Aren‘t we—
LARSON: I‘m not sure they do. I think there‘s going to be—let‘s talk about these—according to the left—
Go ahead, Larry.
SCHULTZ: Larry, go ahead.
ELDER: I‘m sorry. Let‘s talk about—I‘m sorry, guys. Let‘s talk about the United Nations. You‘ve got China and Russia that have veto power. They are inconsistent with our own interest. Obama is giving a speech about getting rid of nukes as North Korea is launching this long-range missile.
And, you‘re right, it was a dud, Ed, but it was better than the one before and better than the one before that. They are getting closer and closer to having a successful intercontinental missile that can reach Alaska.
SCHULTZ: OK, I want to—Hold it here, folks. I want to switch subjects quickly, because the president at the G-20, I think, did a tremendous job at reaching out to other nations. And the American people are behind him on this. There is—reaching out to Muslim nations. There‘s a “Washington Post” poll that shows that 81 percent of the American people think that is important. Katrina, is this a move forward?
HEUVEL: Of course it‘s a move forward. After eight years of delay and denial, President Obama is reengaging the world and showing intelligence, the right level of humility and leadership, and showing the world that America is ready to be a constructive partner through its global leadership, both economically and politically and socially. And I think he understands that regional solutions are the way to go.
And Obama in Turkey is so important as an outreach to the Muslim world. Ed, you‘re right. You cited that poll. The majority of Americans want to reengage the world in a new way.
SCHULTZ: OK. Lars, Katrina, Larry, stay with us. We have so much coming up.
Up next, does General Motors really think the answer to the Motor City‘s problem is the Chevy Volt? Do you know how much this electric car costs? Who is going to buy it? We‘re going to ask the mayor of Lansing, Michigan, when THE ED SHOW returns, right here on MSNBC.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. I‘m a football guy. Football guys have these things called play books. I love play books. The play book today is about saving Detroit.
Let‘s look at the auto industry. Remember Lee Iacocca and Chrysler? In 1980, Chrysler got 1.2 billion dollars in government loans to save the company from bankruptcy. Two years later, Iacocca introduced the K-car, remember the Plymouth Reliant and the Dodge Aries? These were K-cars. They were cheap and had better mileage than the competitors, 26 miles per gallon in the city and 41 miles per gallon on the highway. I wish we had those days.
The K car took off like it was just crazy. In its first year, Chrysler sold 30,000 K cars. It kept on going, 280,000 to 360,000 cars were sold every year from 1981 to ‘88. And by 1983, Iacocca had paid the government back.
Now, it took two years and Iacocca credited the K car with allowing Chrysler to pay the loans back early on.
Let‘s look at today, what‘s going on. GM‘s plan, the Volt. Is the Volt going to be able to do that? I don‘t think so. The car is going to cost 40,000 dollars. Now, with the average American household income at 50,000 dollars, America can‘t pay that kind of money for a car that fits only four people.
Joining me on this is the mayor of Lansing, Michigan, who is a breath of fresh air in a very tough economy, Virg Bernero. Great to have you with us here. First of all, congratulations on Michigan State getting to the big dance. Attitudes have got to be great at least for one night in Michigan.
MAYOR VIRG BERNERO, LANSING, MICHIGAN: Absolutely. We‘re very excited about Tom Izzou and the guys, the job they‘ve done. That‘s why we‘ve put the green on behind me. Go green, go white, we‘re all excited. We‘re going all the way. We‘re not waving the white flag and we‘re not waving the white flag on the auto industry, as you know very well.
SCHULTZ: I know that. I know you‘ve been a battler big time for the manufacturing sector of this country. And you‘ve led the way in Lansing and really told the truth to the folks in Washington. Do you think the Volt can do what the K car did?
BERNERO: Well, you have a great—you had a great setup to this discussion. You make a great argument. I‘m not sure exactly—I didn‘t know that‘s what it was going to cost. The K car did amazingly well. I‘m not sure a design like that would work so well today. It was really positively uninspiring from a style standpoint. But Americans were patriotic. They responded to Lee Iacocca. He appealed to our best selves. We need that today.
The Volt, I think, will go a long way. It will prove what GM can do. I think, if all goes well, it will be a great car. It will bring us into that green future. Ultimately, I think you‘re right that we‘re going to have to have a more affordable clean, green option for people, lower than the 40,000 dollar rate. But if it‘s a great car for 40,000 dollars, there will certainly be a market for it. I think you‘ve right, we have to appeal to the mass audience. We also have to appeal to people‘s sense of patriotism. We have to get back to buy American and build American or we‘re not going to get out of this recession.
SCHULTZ: I want to talk to you about that, because yesterday on “Meet the Press,” David Gregory asked the new CEO of General Motors about the president getting involved and asking the American people to buy American. Let‘s play that. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID GREGORY, “MEET THE PRESS”: Do you expect and would you like to see President Obama to encourage the country to buy American cars?
FRITZ HENDERSON, CEO OF GM: No, actually. I think the consumer should buy exactly what kind of car they think meets their needs and excites them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Virg, Virg, help me. This guy needs an attitude adjustment. This guy is trying to sell cars. Why didn‘t he say, we‘ll take all of the promotion we possibly can get. I think it‘s an attitude. I want to take you to a 1981 K car ad. This is what Lee Iacocca was telling the American people back then, America is not going to be pushed around anymore. Don‘t we have to have to get that attitude? Don‘t we have to ask people to go out and buy American? What do you think about that?
BERNERO: Ed, you‘re right on. The thing is, we‘ve been sold this stuff for so long about free trade, that a rising tide will lift all boats. But now we know better. As one industry after another has been decimated, electronics, furniture, textiles, you name it, industry after industry, appliances. It‘s all gone overseas. Our standard of living is being outsourced.
Part of the reason the guy doesn‘t want to say that, he doesn‘t want to embarrass Obama. He doesn‘t want to put him under pressure. The fact is, a lot of these company, even my beloved GM, are outsourcing a lot of their parts and a lot of their pieces. They have to become a global country because the free trade that Wall Street and Washington put them up in made it so they had to become global operations and move their operations overseas.
I‘m not beating up on the big three. I think the Detroit three did everything they could. They are the last great patriotic company. Most of all the other companies moved everything, all their production, overseas as fast as they could. And that‘s contributed to this recession. And we‘re not going to get out of this recession until we get back to taking care of our neighborhoods. The best way to take care of your neighbor isn‘t a handout, it‘s a good job. The best stimulus is a stimulating job. We need to put Americans back to work. The only way we‘re going to do that is if we bring manufacturing back to this country.
SCHULTZ: Virg, I just want to give you ten more seconds. I don‘t have a dog in the fight, because I picked Memphis. And I‘ve got to root for Michigan State tonight. You guys have just had a tough run there in Michigan. All the best to you and I hope your team wins.
BERNERO: Thanks so much. Go, green. We‘re going all the way.
SCHULTZ: Thank you, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, a real fighter for American workers, here on THE ED PROGRAM.
OK, now, Coach K, remember when you said that maybe the president shouldn‘t be doing these Final Four picks? He ought to be doing the thing on the economy? Coach K, if you recruited more and didn‘t spend so much time at GOP fund-raisers, maybe your Blue Devils would be playing tonight. I do think the president has North Carolina in the championship game tonight.
And it‘s baseball‘s opening day. Former President George Bush is getting into the act. So is Vice President Biden. We‘ll get to more of that coming up in just a moment. That‘s all coming up on THE ED SHOW. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. I found a page at the back of my playbook. It‘s baseball opening day. A lot of famous faces were out on the mound today. Former President George Bush, who tossed out seven opening day pitches when he was in the front office, he wound up throwing out a pitch today against the Texas Rangers. And they let him back even though he traded Sammy Sosa. Another story.
Vice President Joe Biden headed to Camden Yards for the Orioles‘ season opener. They took on the Yankees. Eliot Spitzer. You remember him, the ex-governor of New York, who was caught in a prostitution scandal, was out there pitching, too, today on “The Today Show.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELIOT SPITZER, FMR. GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK”: I‘ve also been asked my views about important issues because I had worked for many years trying to address some of the issues that unfortunately have been dragging down our economy. But what I did was an egregious violation of trust to my family, my colleagues, to the state. And I‘ve paid a price, and appropriately so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: That sounds like a pitch to me. That is a pitch to get back into the game after what looked like a career-ending injury to his credibility. Back with me now Katrina Vanden Heuvel of “The Nation,” Lars Larson, and also Larry Elder. Larry, I‘ll start with you. Do you think that Eliot Spitzer could actually get back into service after the ordeal he went through?
ELDER: Well, stranger things have happened. The real egregious thing, to use his words, is all this tax payer money used to bail out financial institutions. There isn‘t anything too big to fail. These institutions should fail. And the money comes from somewhere. It comes out of the pockets of the taxpayers, money that would otherwise be used to save, to consume, or to invest. It doesn‘t come from the sky.
And it‘s an outrageous thing that we‘re doing. The economy needs to restructure. And we ought not be bailing out anybody who managed to build a company that has not been profitable.
SCHULTZ: Do you think he might be the right medicine to go after the front-office of these banks if they are doing hanky panky with tax payer dollars?
LARSON: No way, no how. A sleazy character like that? His own wife can‘t trust him. Why would the rest of the country trust him? I mean, this is just crazy. I understand the Democratic party is very broad minded about accepting people back, like Marion Barry and folks who have done absolutely outrageous things. But no way, no how should this man be rehabilitated for public consumption. He slink back to his hole and hope that nobody asks him his opinion about anything.
SCHULTZ: Katrina, your thoughts on it?
HEUVEL: I wrote a column a few weeks ago called “Spitzer for Treasury Secretary?” I think he acted miserably toward his family. He‘s apologized. But he took on the metasticizing corruption of Wall Street, of AIG way before others did. He understood the deregulatory mania, the frenzy, the danger. He is someone who was chastened by personal scandal. But he has taken on the public scandal, which has obliterated the savings of millions and destroyed our economy at this point.
So you, as a voice for working Americans—thank you for having me on your first show. I think we need to listen to an Eliot Spitzer, who represented the working people of this country, the consumers and the tax payers, and did so at a moment when it wasn‘t popular.
SCHULTZ: Well, he‘s paid a tremendous personal price. He does have the pit bull mentality to go after people that are in this arena that are doing the wrong thing.
HEUVEL: He does. And you know what I like, is that he understands that we need a new economy. We need a system in which we don‘t have these big banks too big to fail. We need an economy that serves the people.
SCHULTZ: Lars, I want to ask you—switching gears to the G-20, what kind of grade would you give President Obama on his trip?
LARSON: I‘ll tell you something, I don‘t think he got a lot of the things he was looking for. I would give him about a B plus on that. I was really disappointed in the bow to the Saudi king. I was disappointed in some of the other little gaffes. But I really don‘t think much of this guy. And I certainly don‘t like him saying that America is not a Christian nation. I know that technically he‘s right. But I think this country has its roots so deep in Christianity, in its traditions and its law. I think that should be an affront to the American people.
SCHULTZ: Larry Elder, do you think we‘re back in the get along business globally? Do you think the president had a good trip?
ELDER: I give him an A for style, a D for substance. The biggest thing he wanted was increased commitment to Afghanistan. What he got were 5,000 advisers and trainers who are going to be there only for a period of time and not be put in harm‘s way. So I don‘t think he got very much.
SCHULTZ: Katrina, I want to ask you, because I know a lot of your readers were very dogmatic about this before the election. Get out of Iraq.
SCHULTZ: Are you comfortable with 50,000 troops in Iraq? That‘s still a pretty big footprint.
HEUVEL: It is still a big footprint. I think we would be wise to remove that footprint. Occupations bread resistance. Iraq needs to rebuild its country. We can help with assistance. But 50,000 is too many. And you know what, Ed? On Afghanistan, I want Barack Obama‘s agenda, his administration to succeed. I worry that escalation in Afghanistan will drain this country of the resources it needs to rebuild. There are other ways to provide for Afghanistan security.
SCHULTZ: Katrina, thanks so much. Lars Larson, you make sure you come back with a striped tie next time. And Larry, you look great. Thank you all. I appreciate it very much.
That‘s the first ED SHOW. I‘m Ed Schultz, quite an experience. I want to thank all of the folks here at MSNBC for taking a chance on a guy from the middle of the country who has something to say. I‘ll be back with another op-ed tomorrow night, 6:00 eastern time right here on MSNBC. For more information on THE ED SHOW, you can go to Ed.MSNBC.com. I didn‘t even know I had that until this afternoon. I think that‘s pretty cool.
Or you can check out my radio website at WeGotEd.com. I appreciate the opportunity. There‘s going to be a real focus on the middle class There‘s going to be a real focus on wage earners. We‘ve got to hold the majority‘s feet to the fire if we‘re going to get health care in this country. And that has to happen this year in 2009. The focal point of this program and future shows to come.
Now coming up on MSNBC, it‘s “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews. It starts right now. And David Shuster has it tonight for the vacationing Chris Matthews. We‘ll see you tomorrow night on MSNBC.
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