Guest: Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Nancy Giles, Tucker Bounds, Jack Rice, Dave Shepherdson, Candace Gingrich, Austan Goolsbee, Lanny Davis
ED SCHULTZ, HOST: I‘m Ed Schultz. This is THE ED SHOW.
SCHULTZ: Good evening, Americans. Live from 30 Rock in New York City, it‘s THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.
Tonight, for the Republicans it‘s “no” time. The right wing talkers are going nuts about New poll numbers, accusing President Obama of being a polarizing figure.
Here in the real world, people are worried about the economy, and the president very cautiously optimistic at the start of the Easter weekend. We‘ll talk to one of his top advisers tonight.
And later in the show, former Clinton attorney Lanny Davis has a bone to pick with me on the Employee Free Choice Act. We‘ll have a debate about the best way to protect workers and make sure they get a fair shake at the workplace.
Plus, “Psycho Talk.” A Republican lawmaker is tracking socialists at the U.S. Capitol.
And some Democrats not too happy about another $83 billion for the war.
Congressman Dennis Kucinich will join us tonight.
We‘ll have a great panel for you. But first, tonight‘s “OpEd.”
Folks, there is a disconnect taking place in this country right now. What is being said on over a thousand radio stations across the country and what the numbers are showing how you feel about this president and the direction of this country, there‘s a difference.
Here‘s what‘s happening.
The right wing talkers of America, they just can‘t stomach what has happened to them. Their ideas have been rejected by the American people, and the numbers show that.
So they‘re coming back at the president saying, oh, you‘re very polarizing.
Let‘s take a look at the numbers, the most recent numbers.
Now, a lot of Democrats love this president. Ninety percent approval rating for the president in a Gallup poll by Democrats. The job approval rating by Republicans is sitting at 27 percent. The overall approval rating is at 66 percent.
Now, hone in on that number for a moment. You mean to tell me that there are no Republicans in this country that support this president? There are no Independents in this country that support the president?
We just happen to have 66 percent of the American population that‘s nothing but a bunch of liberals. That‘s what it is.
That‘s not it, but that‘s what you‘re being told.
We are still divided in a sense, but the right wing talkers are going after this president despite all of his early-on success. They can‘t take the fact.
Let me tell you something, I‘m kind of going against one of my philosophies tonight because I am a uniter, but I have to point this out. I believe that the conversation that‘s taking place on the airwaves in America right now is wrongheaded. This “us versus them” conversation, it‘s old news, it‘s over. The American people have rejected it.
This is a high approval rating. This man has gotten a lot done in the first—we‘re not even day number 80 yet. We‘re on a roll. This country is turning around.
Why are we afraid to say that?
You know, it seems to me that the conservative talkers are a little angry right now. It‘s like they just have this real disdain for the United States of America.
And isn‘t it interesting how things have changed? Because I believe five years ago, that‘s what they were saying about progressive talkers in America. You know, we just hated absolutely everything.
“Hate” is a pretty strong word. But you know what? It all started with one word and one talk show host back in February at CPAC. That‘s right, the word “failure” came up. They tried to run from it, but they can‘t.
That‘s really want they want this president to do—fail. And the man who started it was the drugster, Rush Limbaugh.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: This notion that I want the president to fail, folks, this shows you a sign of the problem we‘ve got. That‘s nothing more than common sense. And to not be able to say it? What is so strange about being honest and saying I want Barack Obama to fail?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: There you have it. Folks, that set the tone. That has set the tone for the Republicans. They have not helped this president out at all.
Every time I get a righty talker on this program I ask, “OK, what‘s your plan for health care? What‘s your plan for education? What‘s your plan for wage earners of America?” They don‘t have any answers.
You know, the Republican leadership, we‘re waiting for you to get engaged here. We‘re waiting for you to be a part of this whole thing and let‘s turn America around. Isn‘t that what it‘s about?
But, no, no, no. You see, they‘re angry. What they are is they‘re off their rocker. They are un-American and they are not being patriotic to the vote.
We had a vote just months ago. I just have to say, I‘m kind of loving this, because there‘s been such a real role reversal. They can‘t stand success.
They can‘t stand the fact their policies have been rejected. But my message to the American people tonight, my “OpEd,” is this: We‘re headed in the right direction.
Despite what you hear on a thousand conservative talk shows across America, on all these radio stations, believe me, we‘re headed in the right direction. We have positive news out there.
Let‘s go to the middle of the country, for instance.
In Minneapolis, home sales up 21 percent in the last month. Now isn‘t that positive? Wouldn‘t that be a good story? Don‘t we look for positive news anymore?
They used to accuse progressive talkers of always dwelling on the negative.
Come on. Let‘s hear it.
Let‘s talk about Wells Fargo. Heck, they had record profit for the first quarter. They‘re even talking about paying back the TARP money.
Isn‘t that positive? Come on.
We‘re going to start seeing some things happening in the job numbers in the next couple of months that are going to be very positive. We‘re going to see the credit being loosened up.
Now, this is a key point. I want you to really listen to this, Americans.
If the conservative talkers in this country are so concerned about socialism and being a socialist, why aren‘t they just banging on the door of every bank in this country asking for cheap money so small businesses can get on a roll in this country? Why don‘t they go after the financial sector? Why don‘t they ask for cheap money? Why don‘t they say, hey, we‘ve got credit problems for the middle class in this country?
You don‘t hear it.
As my friend Robert Byrd would say, they are on the economy ominously silent.
We move forward.
Joining us tonight, Austan Goolsbee, who is the chief economist on President Obama‘s Recovery Advisory Board, and is also a member of the president‘s Auto Task Force.
Mr. Goolsbee, I‘m high-fiving you right now even though you‘re in Washington and I‘m in New York.
Can we have some good news today? You guys have got to be happy. We‘ve got some positive indicators right now, don‘t we?
AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF ECONOMIST: Look, we do have some positive indicators. And thanks for having me on, Ed.
What the president said today I think was exactly on point. He said we do have some positive indicators, but the main thing we have is a commitment that it looks like if we stick to the policies that he‘s put in place, we‘re going to get out of this thing. And that‘s exactly what people have been wanting to feel like for the last several months, several years, is feeling like we had a direction, we had a coherent set of policies, and starting to see some impact. And we have started to see that.
SCHULTZ: We should point out that a month ago today, the market was, I believe, just around—a little over 6,000. It‘s 1,100 points higher today, market close today. But we‘ve seen over a 1,000-point increase in the market. That‘s positive.
But what does it mean yesterday, the news that Wells Fargo comes out with a profit? How does the president feel about that? You met with him today. How does he feel about it?
GOOLSBEE: Well, I‘m not exactly sure that—I don‘t know exactly how he feels about that specific piece of news. I think it‘s important in the broader sense of what‘s happening in credit markets.
So I think the president was particularly heartened to see that he outlined this small business lending facility because, as you know, small business lending had completely dried up. And over the last month, we have seen a 20 percent increase in the largest loans in just this month because of that government program.
If we can get small business lending going, if we can get job growth going again in small businesses, that would be a great, great achievement. And that‘s one of many bricks that we‘re trying to build a whole house with.
SCHULTZ: Mr. Goolsbee, thank you. Please talk more about small business in America. That‘s what we have got to have.
I want cheap money for the middle class, the small businesses of this country. Are we going to see interest rates dropping for small businesses in this country?
And I know that the SBA, the Small Business Administration, has got some things out there, but this is the key. I hear this every day on the radio. People want cheap money. They want to hire people. They are ready to take a chance. They want the same deal that Wall Street has.
What do you think?
GOOLSBEE: Well, as you know, a lot of small businesses have just had their lines of credit cut off. They‘ve had their access to credit just yanked out from under them. And so they can‘t even make their payrolls in a lot of cases.
That was what drove the president on this small business lending facility.
But it‘s not just that.
And Ed, what I would point out is it‘s one of several policies the president has been outlining. So, getting cheaper credit and ability of millions of people to refinance their mortgages, put an average of $2,000 per year, per person, into their pocket, it‘s like a $2,000 tax cut on top of the Making Work Pay tax cut that he already passed.
All of those are things which if you add them up, the president has taken a lot of robust actions, and we‘ve got to stick on the course and this thing is going to work. We‘ve already started to see that.
SCHULTZ: You know, Austan, I‘m sensing that this administration is too conservative. Why isn‘t anybody coming out saying, hey, we‘re off to a great start, look at these numbers on all of these different issues?
There‘s three major issues that the American people are taking a look at right now, and that is the economy. The approval rating right there is at 56 percent and foreign policy is sitting in there at 59 percent. And the Iraq War is at 59 percent.
Americans agree with this president. We‘re not polarized. These are big numbers.
GOOLSBEE: Well, look, Ed, what I‘d say is sometimes if you hear these critics, it kind of reminds me of the old East German judge—well, you know, our guy could land a triple flip and no splash and the still get a 3. And I don‘t think it‘s how we should do this.
I think that reasonable people in both parties, and Independents, they want the president to succeed, and they desperately want to hope again about the economy. Now, we shouldn‘t exaggerate. It‘s still a tough spot.
We lost a lot of jobs this month. We are definitely not out of the woods. The president has a clear-eyed realism on that point, and he outlined it today.
What his commitment is, is that he‘s going to keep taking bold actions to get us on the right path, to make the investments we need to make. And if we stick with them, this thing is going to work, and we‘re starting to see glimmers of that.
SCHULTZ: It is going to work. I love to hear that. It is going to work.
Mr. Goolsbee, always a pleasure. And thanks for joining us tonight on THE ED SHOW.
GOOLSBEE: Great to see you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: You bet.
Making it easier for wage earners. Everyday Americans to unionize, that‘s what the Employee Free Choice Act is all about. Our next guest has a bone to pick with me about that.
I‘m bringing the heat and Lanny Davis is in Big Eddie‘s kitchen. That‘s coming up next on THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Time for some fireworks.
We‘ve been covering the debate over the Employee Free Choice Act. That‘s the bill that would give workers the right to choose how they want to unionize. OK?
It‘s currently stuck in Congress after some high profile flip-flop senators with big business to please their states and constituents. A group of these three companies say that we‘ve got to compromise.
Well, now the group‘s attorney has agreed to come on. Well, he better show up on this show. He‘s a good friend of mine, but we disagree.
Lanny Davis, who is a former White House counsel to President Clinton.
Now, Lanny, we‘re in the same family, but I‘m divorcing you for three minutes on this issue tonight. OK?
All right. What is it that you have against the wage earners? Why can‘t this bill work?
LANNY DAVIS, FMR. WHITE HOUSE SPECIAL COUNSEL: Well, I think the secret ballot is very important to all union elections. It‘s existed ever since Franklin Roosevelt passed the National Labor Relations Act.
You said that this act would not take away the secret ballot. And I‘m saying, as a matter of fact, and I challenge you to disagree, that there‘s a guaranteed secret ballot under current law since Franklin Roosevelt.
SCHULTZ: If they want it, Lanny. If the employees decide in the workplace to have a secret ballot, they can do that. But nowhere in this legislation is a secret ballot or an open ballot mandated. That‘s a choice in the workplace, my friend.
DAVIS: Let‘s agree on our facts. There will be no secret ballot if 51 percent of the people who check the cards say no secret ballot.
SCHULTZ: That‘s a choice. That‘s a choice, Lanny. That‘s not a mandate.
DAVIS: Under current—so then we both agree—Ed, let me speak.
DAVIS: We both agree that under this legislation, there will no longer be a guaranteed secret ballot, even those workers who didn‘t vote for the card check. We don‘t have a guaranteed secret brallot.
SCHULTZ: OK. But the advertising—wait a minute, Lanny. I‘ve got to hold you to this now.
The advertising that is out there says that it takes away the secret ballot. And that simply is not true. There is a choice in the workplace.
You and I could get together and say, OK, Ed and Lanny, what are we going to do? Are we going to have a secret ballot or do you want it open? You could do whatever you want to do.
DAVIS: Let‘s agree—you and I, first of all, if you bones to pick, we also share a feast of pleasure of Barack Obama‘s success.
SCHULTZ: Yes, we do.
DAVIS: All right.
So we both agree that under the legislation there is no guarantee that 51 percent of the workers can decide not to allow a secret ballot, and you don‘t mind that. I do. But we do propose, the three companies that I represent, Costco, Starbucks and Whole Foods, we want to improve access to the workplace which current law does not permit. We want to fix a date for the election which current law does not permit.
SCHULTZ: OK. I want to talk about that.
DAVIS: We want to increase...
SCHULTZ: I have to ask you, because we‘re short on time, Lanny—I‘ve got to get this point in. I want to ask you, is your group OK with a date specific on an agreement or an arbitrator comes into the picture? Are you OK with that?
DAVIS: Absolutely not. Franklin Roosevelt looked at mandatory arbitration to dictate terms and said no. Because you know why? If there‘s a conservative right wing arbitrator dictating terms that are below poverty, you‘re going to be stuck.
Mandatory arbitration is wrong, but enforcing the law, making it expedited, and having a level playing field for both management and labor, if I proposed these ideas three years ago, labor would have been cheering me on. What we disagree with is mandatory arbitration.
SCHULTZ: Well, labor has changed. Lanny, labor has gotten very aggressive because wages have been depressed, CEO salaries are going through the roof. They‘re aggressive about this. They‘re trying to be fair with workers. So my point in this and my dog in this fight is that I don‘t think we can have a middle class recovery unless we have this bill passed.
What do you think?
DAVIS: Well, let me give you my final comment.
This proposal that we put out there for conversation and reasonable disagreement, we think is evenhanded. It would improve the ability of workers to organize a union because it would, for the first time in history, give them access to the workplace, strict penalties, expedited procedures. It would make things far better.
Now, it doesn‘t disavow the guaranteed secret ballot. We disagree on that. It doesn‘t stand for mandated arbitration. But it is definitely progress for labor if the way that we‘re proposing were passed.
SCHULTZ: I‘m greedy, my friend. I want the whole enchilada on this one.
I want to eat the whole plate, if that‘s OK. All right?
DAVIS: You‘re entitled, Ed.
SCHULTZ: We agree on a lot of stuff, but I‘m throwing you out of the family for one night.
DAVIS: Congratulations on your show. Congratulations on this great show.
SCHULTZ: All right. Thanks, Lanny. All right. Good to have you on tonight.
DAVIS: Take care.
SCHULTZ: Next up on THE ED SHOW, “Psycho Talk.” Did you know there are socialists working on Capitol Hill right now? That‘s what Congressman Spencer Bachus claims. And he‘s keeping a headcount.
It sounds to me like “Psycho Talk.”
We‘re right back on THE ED SHOW.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.
Have you heard some of the crazy things that are being said by conservatives?
It‘s time for “Psycho Talk.”
Oh, I love this segment. There‘s so much material out there, we could actually do a late-night one-hour show if they want me to, “Psycho Talk.”
But on this Friday, we wanted to flash back on the week that was “Psycho Talk.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: So you‘re saying that President Gingrich would have taken out...
NEWT GINGRICH, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: There are three or four techniques that could have been used.
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA: And the real concern is that there are provisions for what I would call re-education camps for young people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard the announcement we‘re cutting—and I would say gutting—our military.
GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS: Some of these Marxists revolutionary courses...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: I‘ll tell you, the library is getting pretty big early on, isn‘t it?
Glenn Beck keeps giving us more material.
Last night, in a rant about President Obama‘s immigration and budget plans, he starts to imitate Obama pouring gasoline on the average American.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BECK: President Obama, why don‘t you just set us on fire? For the love of Pete, what are you doing? Do you not hear? Do you not hear the cries of people who are saying stop?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Now let‘s get to today‘s “Psycho Talk.”
Congressman Spencer Bachus started his day yesterday in his hometown state of Alabama at a breakfast where he talked about guns, the national debt and socialists. Bachus told his group, “Some of the men and women I work with in Congress are socialists.” Asked to clarify, he said 17 members of the House are socialists -- 17.
Who are the 17 socialists, I‘m asking?
Well, Congressman Bachus, will you please list those socialists on your Web site? I mean, why is it a secret?
In the spirit of bipartisanship, I think I found one of them, and he‘s coming up next on THE ED SHOW.
That‘s tonight‘s “Psycho Talk.”
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.
Progressive Democrats don‘t want to put any more money into staying in Iraq. That‘s not surprising, but many of them are also skeptical about President Obama‘s plans to increase our forces in Afghanistan.
Democrat Jim McGovern of Massachusetts says he‘s afraid “... we‘re getting deeper and deeper into a war that has no end.”
The bottom line is, folks, 50,000 troops on the ground in Iraq is $4 billion a month. When does it end? Will it ever end?
Joining me now is Congressman Dennis Kucinich, longtime progressive Democrat from Ohio.
I suppose I better clarify it. Are you one of the 17 socialists that Mr. Baucus is talking about? Are you going to take that claim tonight?
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO: Spence is a good friend of mine.
SCHULTZ: That‘s the right answer right there. Are you OK with this money? Are you OK with the president asking for another 84 billion dollars to go do what he wants to do in Iraq and Afghanistan?
KUCINICH: I actually voted against the budget because of the budget for Iraq and Afghanistan. And I will vote against the supplemental. We‘re getting deeper into it in Afghanistan, according to General Petraeus, who asked for another 10,000 troops a couple weeks ago. We could end up with as many as 78,000 troops in Afghanistan by next year. We‘re accelerating a war there instead of getting out. I think it‘s very dangerous. I think we‘re going to find that we can‘t afford it, either—both in terms of loss of troops as well as the loss of dollars.
SCHULTZ: Congressman, what would be your solution? Would you just exit both those countries?
SCHULTZ: Flat out? You would get out of Iraq and get out of Afghanistan?
KUCINICH: We do it in concert with a more regional approach. I think you have to look at Afghanistan in terms of the approach the Shanghai Cooperative has been taking. We really need to look at the fact that NATO cannot truly function in that region in Afghanistan. Think about it, what does NATO stand for? North Atlantic Treaty Organization. We have a geographically impaired approach here. What NATO is doing around Afghanistan is highly questionable.
SCHULTZ: What would you do to fight al Qaeda? There are elements on the face of the Earth that want to destroy the United States. And they are camped in that region of the world. And the president, who was vilified by conservatives that he wouldn‘t be a hawk on terrorists, is doing exactly what he said he was going to do. Now, what would you do to fight terrorism?
KUCINICH: The first rule that you have to remember is that an occupation fuels an insurgency. That happened in Iraq and it continues to happen in Iraq. And it is happening in Afghanistan as well.
SCHULTZ: You think al Qaeda would change their attitude towards the United States‘ existence if we were to get out of that region?
KUCINICH: This isn‘t about taking an approach where you can use massive armies to go after these terrorists. To the extent that terrorism represents a threat to the national security of the United States, we have an obligation to protect our country. But Iraq didn‘t add to the protection of the United States. We were lied to to get into that war.
Staying in Afghanistan is against the interest of the United States, because there‘s no way to win in Afghanistan. How do you separate al Qaeda from the Taliban, from the people who are switching sides, going back into Pakistan and back into Afghanistan.
SCHULTZ: What would you do about Osama bin Laden? Would you just let him go?
KUCINICH: Yes, the Osama bin Laden card. You know, where is bin Laden? This is like the Where‘s Waldo of international games. If he was so important, wouldn‘t we have already found him. With the hundreds of billions of dollars and all the geniuses we have running our country, wouldn‘t we have already found him? This isn‘t about bin Laden anymore. It‘s about whether or not the United States will work with the world community and recognize certain areas where we cannot remain.
We cannot remain in Iraq. We cannot remain in Afghanistan. It‘s contrary to our national security interests. It only gets us deeper and deeper into war and creates more instability instead of less.
SCHULTZ: OK. Congressman Kucinich, great to have you on the program tonight. I appreciate it. Obviously, we‘re going to want you back. Thanks so much. All points of view on this program.
We have a great panel for you tonight. Let‘s bring them in. Political writer and commentator Nancy Giles, and Republican strategist Tucker Bounds, former chief spokesperson for John McCain, and radio talk show host Jack Rice. Thanks for joining us tonight.
Nancy, we‘ll start with you. Do you agree with Congressman Kucinich?
Do you agree with—
NANCY GILES, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I agree with some of what he said. He said we didn‘t have geniuses. We didn‘t have geniuses running the war before. He sort of made an allusion to that. I mean, 822 billion dollars were spent on the war in supplemental funding since 2001. But it wasn‘t regulated. We don‘t know where that money is spent. All we heard was things like, our brave men and women overseas need body armor. They had second rate tools to fight the war.
And even though it upsets me and it‘s horrifying, to even get us out of that war is going to cost money. To extract ourselves from what‘s going on in Iraq is going to cost money and troops.
SCHULTZ: So you are not in favor of the 83 billion dollars that President Obama wants?
GILES: I am, in the sense that I feel that he‘s really going to make sure that money is regulated, make sure that it goes directly to the troops, that there won‘t be war profiteering or badly constructed showers for our soldiers overseas.
SCHULTZ: Tucker Bounds, do you support the president on asking for this funding to continue operations in those countries?
TUCKER BOUNDS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I don‘t know if it‘s important on what my views are. But I do know that a lot of Republicans in Congress support this. And I think that it‘s—too many conservatives around the country, this is a breath of fresh air. He‘s taking a lot of steps towards eradicating terrorism from the Middle East, which is important to conservatives.
But the bigger question is, how long until he abandons this policy? Because I think what Dennis Kucinich brings up are valid points that the liberal left is going to make. I think the liberal left—the Obama administration is at some point going to begin to cater to. So really it‘s just a stop watch. We‘re going to see how long he can keep this up before he abandons the policy.
But what it is, it‘s a signal that he‘s going to fight terrorism. And it will just be interesting to see how long he keeps this course.
SCHULTZ: OK. Jack Rice, you‘re coming from the middle of the country, the Twin cities in Minnesota. How much time does President Obama -- how much patience, how much room does he have with the American people on this issue?
JACK RICE, RADIO TALK SHOW HOW: Ed, it‘s a great question. But actually, I think it‘s a different question we have to ask. It‘s not just about the patience of the American people. We also need the patience of the Afghan people.
Look, I‘m actually with him on this one. I appreciate the fact that they‘re looking at it like adults. You can‘t look at Afghanistan in isolation. Remember, I‘m not just a talk show host. I‘m a former CIA case officer.
When I think of this, I realize he‘s actually decided it‘s not about just Afghanistan. They look at that. They put in concert what‘s going on in Pakistan, which must be done. And they‘re even looking at the impact that Iran has here.
Look, this has been the problem in the past. We‘ve decided, it‘s a simple answer. We can fit it on a bumper sticker. This is not a bumper sticker question. It‘s a five-hour question. If we don‘t look at it like that, we‘re going to have very serious problems.
SCHULTZ: So the president, across all political lines, for the most part, has got the country with him on this, Nancy.
GILES: I believe he does.
SCHULTZ: Maybe that‘s why his approval ratings are where they are right now.
GILES: Despite what Republicans might say, yes. The guy has the support. It seems like he‘s trying to fight the war now the way it should have been fought in the beginning. He‘s trying to go back and target things for the way they should have been.
SCHULTZ: Tucker, why are the right wing talkers of this country so negative about this president? Why are they just going after every issue? They can‘t say a good word, even when there‘s good economic news out there.
We can‘t get a good word out of anybody on the right.
BOUNDS: Ed, come on, is that a legitimate question? Conservative talkers on the radio, of course, they‘re going to be critical.
SCHULTZ: They‘re all Republicans. They‘re all Republicans.
BOUNDS: He‘s a Democratic president who is taking—very liberal policies. He‘s deficit spending up the gazoo. There are a lot of things that you can criticize about his policies. He‘s a charismatic leader. I think he has the support of the American people, as you mentioned earlier in your show; 66 percent of Americans support the job he‘s doing.
But when you look at his policies, those are vastly and much more problematic, in the sense that they‘re not as popular as he is.
SCHULTZ: Jack Rice, I got to ask you—go ahead, Jack.
RICE: I have a simple answer for it. You know what it is? They‘re pandering. That‘s what this is about. The fact is, President Bush spent more money than any president since LBJ. That‘s according to the Cato Institute. So the idea that they could come back now and say, we need to be financially fiscal—how does that happen all of a sudden now? I‘m shocked. It‘s like being reborn. It‘s amazing.
BOUNDS: When the party is in a bad shape like it is right now, you have to go back to your foundation. What we‘re seeing is a rebirth in the Republican party of fiscal conservatism. It should have never been abandoned under the Bush administration. There were some stalwarts on spending, like John McCain I mind you.
SCHULTZ: He lost, Tucker. Little news flash, buddy, he lost quite a bit. In fact, he lost 11 Bush states. Just so we‘re on the same page there. We‘ll come back. Stay with us. We‘re going to come back. Our panel will be back in a moment.
Did America catch a little bailout fatigue? It seems like most folks aren‘t so hot on bailing out the United States automobile industry. But I say give them a chance. Let‘s try to save General Motors. My reasons why when we come back, next up on THE ED SHOW.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. It‘s time for my playbook. I have to say, I‘ve been getting a lot of e-mails, people asking who is that guy on the screen? Those were the days, back when I was in shape. They wanted me to say that I was a stud muffin, but I refused to read that in the teleprompter tonight, OK? I was just a slow quarterback. But that was me.
Anyhow, it‘s on to tonight‘s playbook. I want to hear buy American. We certainly did not hear that from the CEO of General Motors when he spoke on “Meet the Press” last Sunday. I‘ve been waiting to hear it from President Obama. We haven‘t heard it yesterday, but we have seen some action.
How about this? President Obama is going car shopping for Uncle Sam. The president announced plans to buy 17,600 American made fuel efficient cars for the government fleet. The government will spend 285 million in stimulus money to buy the vehicles from GM, Ford and Chrysler.
Saving our automakers is the big deal. Earlier this week, President Obama, the administration sent a team of finance experts to Detroit to work with the General Motors and Chrysler front office on restructuring. The Treasury Department has given Chrysler until April to get a deal done. GM has until the end of May.
Saving the automakers is not popular with Americans now; 59 percent oppose the auto bail outs in a recent “USA Today”/Gallop poll.
Joining me now is Dave Shepherdson of the “Detroit News.” Dave, good to have you with us tonight. Is confidence high among the citizens of Detroit that bankruptcy will not take place? What‘s the pulse out there?
DAVE SHEPHERDSON, “DETROIT NEWS”: No, no. People are very worried.
In fact, as you pointed out, they have been given two very tight deadlines. Chrysler has until the end of April to reach a tie-up deal with the Italian automaker Fiat. And GM, which is already in the process of closing or shuddering four of its eight brands, cutting another 47,000 jobs worldwide, has got until the end of May.
So no, people are on the edge of their seats. They‘re very worried.
They know there‘s a lot more pain to come with more intense restructuring.
SCHULTZ: Dave, does this purchase of these cars by the government affect the bottom line at all? Is this going to help at all?
SHEPHERDSON: Sure, it helps a little bit. They are buying 2,500 hybrids. With gas prices down about two dollars a gallon, hybrid sales are off dramatically. The reality is 17,000 vehicles only keeps about one plant open for about one month or two months. Certainly it helps.
But what really has to be done is Americans have to buy more cars. Auto sales are down 38 percent in the first three months of the year. They fell to lowest level since 1992 in 2008. So the broader issue is getting Americans to be more confident in buying cars again.
SCHULTZ: Dave, what about the retirees. All of this talk of bankruptcy and what would happen to their pension; they would have to take a cut. Aren‘t they furious about this?
SHEPHERDSON: Well, certainly they‘re furious. But there‘s also the fact that they‘ve been going through restructuring. Don‘t forget, the United Auto Workers has already made two rounds of health care concessions. They‘ve agreed to end the jobs bank and a few other practices to make the companies more competitive.
You‘re right. Now they‘re being asked to accept a 50 percent cut in these trust funds that will begin to overtake health care in 2010 for retirees. And potentially they could lose billions of dollars in their pensions if GM or Chrysler are forced into bankruptcy. They know the reality is the companies have to get smaller and they‘ve got to wipe away billions of dollars off their balance sheets, so they can be productive again.
SCHULTZ: What is it like living in Detroit? You‘ve got high unemployment. You‘ve got a high dropout rate. You‘ve got a deficit in the city. The pulse of the community is making cars. Is anybody in a good mood in Detroit at all? It‘s got to be one of the worst places in the country right now.
SHEPHERDSON: Unemployment is 12 percent in Michigan, the highest in the country. The state did get a pretty big boost when Michigan State Spartans made it to the Final Four. It kind of captivated the state‘s attention.
But the state is doing things to get on the right track. They are putting a big emphasis on advanced battery research. The governor just signed a bill last week.
SCHULTZ: Do the constituents like the governor? Is she on solid ground? Do they think she‘s doing enough?
SHEPHERDSON: Well, I mean, certainly there are mixed opinions of the governor. You know, would any governor be popular at 12 percent unemployment? Clearly, the state has to do things to diversify away from the auto industry. The fact is, the state is going to continue to lose auto jobs. Chrysler this week said the number of employees it has has fallen to the lowest level—
SCHULTZ: Got to run, Dave. Thank you so much, Dave Shepherdson of “Detroit News” with us here on THE ED SHOW.
Talk about your family feuds. Newt Gingrich‘s sister Candace goes online to tell her brother, Newt, he‘s gone too far in the latest criticism. We‘ll talk to Candace Gingrich and find out why she told big bro to back off. That‘s coming up next on THE ED SHOW on MSNBC. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. This week, after seeing the light in converting to Catholicism over the weekend—we won‘t talk about that one—Newt Gingrich went on Fox News and called the president intensely secular and very anti-religious. Why? Because he appointed a guy, Harry Knox, who is an advocate for gay rights to one of his advisers on faith issues? What‘s the matter with Harry. Listen to the Newtser go after him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEW GINGRICH, FMR. HOUSE SPEAKER: I think their goal is to have a very secular America, in which government dominates everything. Why wouldn‘t you put an anti-religious left wing zealot on a faith based group? It‘s a perfect pattern for this administration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Newtser better look out. He‘s going to end up finding himself again in the psycho talk zone. That‘s not the case for the rest of the family. Joining me now is Newt‘s sister, Candace Gingrich. She‘s a senior manager for a youth campus outreach in Human Rights Campaign. Candace, good to have you on. Your brother needs to take a chill pill, doesn‘t he? What‘s he up to any way?
CANDACE GINGRICH, SISTER OF NEWT GINGRICH: Well, I think it‘s a very difficult time right now for some folks on the right wing. Progress is marching forward. And there really isn‘t very much they can do about it, except for kind of bring back the things that were effective in the ‘90s, but in the 21st century just don‘t play well.
SCHULTZ: Your brother had some pretty good ideas in the eyes of conservatives before. But now he just seems to be a bomb thrower.
GINGRICH: Well, you know, I think that part of it is fear, and regurgitating some of the old lines and some of the old canards that played well. It‘s is sort of their desperate attempt at trying to score points.
SCHULTZ: He was getting together with Hillary Clinton a few years ago. And they were going to do this health care thing. Whatever happened to that?
GINGRICH: I‘m not sure. Maybe you can ask Hillary about that one.
SCHULTZ: My point being here is that Newt seems to be in the attack mode, like he‘s trying to grab the attention of the right wing zealots in this country. I think the American people right now are solution based. They want answers to big problems. Your brother is getting visibility. I give him credit for a lot of publicity. But he‘s not offering solutions.
GINGRICH: It‘s kind of reminiscent of maybe back before the Republican revolution in ‘94, when he was, you know, the minority whip, more of a bomb thrower. I think that I‘m just grateful that most people, when they hear the sorts of things that he does say, see them for what they are. And that the people of America today want to work together. They want to move forward. They don‘t want divisive talk.
So he can continue to say those kinds of things. He‘s wasting his time. If he wants to continue saying them, we‘ll continue to point out that he‘s living in a previous century.
SCHULTZ: Is he playing for 2012?
GINGRICH: It kind of seems that way. I have no insider knowledge, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Candace, good to have you on the program. Thanks so much.
GINGRICH: Thank you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Let‘s bring back our panel, Nancy Giles, Tucker Bounds and Jack Rice. Tucker, who is in charge of ideas for the Republican party and the conservative movement right now?
BOUNDS: I think that we‘re going to see ideas for the Republican party come from the states, which is what happens every time—you know, a party that is, frankly, vanquished from power, which is what happened to us over the course of the last two election cycles. Look to the states. Look to leaders like Tim Pawlenty. Look out in California. There‘s going to be an important governor‘s race out there. Look at Bobby Jindal in Louisiana. That‘s where the real power base of the party lies, out in these communities, with these voters on the ground.
I think the ideas will be the incubators of the state.
SCHULTZ: Jack, when are we going to see Tim Pawlenty talk about ideas for America?
RICE: Yes, well, we‘ve been waiting for a long time now. We better not go to Newt Gingrich. Think about this, last weekend, this was the guy who said we should take out that North Korean rocket. Remember, I sat down the other day with the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Richard Myers. And even he said, come on, you do that, contemplate the instability in the region. If they go there, they‘re going to be in worse trouble than they‘re already in.
SCHULTZ: Nancy Giles, I talked about this on the radio today; the president of the United States has taken himself so far above all of this rhetoric. He hasn‘t responded to any of it.
GILES: The best way to be.
SCHULTZ: Is that what he‘s going to do?
GILES: I think so. When you have the two biggest wind bags for the Republican party, let‘s call them—with all due respect to Candace‘s half brother, Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh—when they talking smack like that, it only brings you down when you respond to it. It‘s so off kilter as to what‘s really going on in the world. It‘s hard to understand.
SCHULTZ: Can we have a dialogue with the Iranians in your opinion?
GILES: I think we can. I‘m a regular person that is just saying, I think a dialogue even with people that are thought of as enemies is a lot better than just not talking to them and shutting off any opportunity to try to communicate.
SCHULTZ: Jack, your experience as a CIA associate, what do you think?
Do you think we can have an honest dialogue with the Iranians?
RICE: Yes we can. But it‘s going to be narrow in terms. We have to find some place where we actually have common ground. Here‘s the one place. I was referring to it earlier. That‘s on Afghanistan. If you think of the one organization, the one country that really, really hates the Taliban, it isn‘t Pakistan. The Pakistani ISI, the intelligence service, they established the Taliban.
It‘s the Iranians. If we can find a way to find some common ground there, that‘s the one place where we can talk. They have huge influence in the region. We should try to take advantage of it. They want them gone, too.
SCHULTZ: Tucker, would you like to see Republican leadership step up and be a part of this process, and maybe have some type of diplomatic effort with the Russians, because the Russians play a key role in relations with the Iranians, to maybe simmer tensions and move this whole dialogue farther? Don‘t you see the Republicans, in any way, playing any kind of role in this?
BOUNDS: Ed, I wish I could say that we were able to. Let‘s speak honestly about this, which is that Republicans haven‘t been asked to come to the table on some of these issues. They‘ve been closed out of the most important things going on in Washington, when you talk about the budget and the stimulus plan. We‘re not taken seriously in this town by the Obama administration.
And until the caucuses up on the Hill are allowed a seat at the table, I don‘t see that as a relevant question.
GILES: I can‘t think of how many times President Obama extended himself, from simple social situations to really bringing Republicans in and trying to have a dialogue. I don‘t know how you can throw that out.
BOUNDS: You can count them on one hand.
GILES: What do you mean you can count them on one hand? No, that‘s totally not true. That‘s totally not true. If you want to compare what President Obama has done, as opposed to what President Bush didn‘t do, there‘s no comparison. The guy has been trying to bring people in.
RICE: Come on, guys. In the end, the bottom line here is that Americans really are looking for answers. I actually agree with you completely on that, Ed. That‘s what they‘re looking for. I think whoever is going to bring that is going to—that is where the American people are going to be looking to.
SCHULTZ: Jack Rice, Tucker Bounds, Nancy Giles, always a pleasure. Come back and join us again here on THE ED SHOW. Thanks for being here tonight.
That‘s THE ED SHOW tonight. I‘m Ed Schultz. Have a great weekend. We‘ll see you back here on Monday at 6:00 Eastern time. Have a very blessed and holy weekend. For more information on THE ED SHOW, go to Ed.MSNBC.com or check out WeGotEd.com. “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews is coming up. And filling in for Chris is Mike Barnicle. He will clarify just how far the Red Sox will go this year. I‘m saying not very far.
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