Guest: Wesley Clark, Tim Pawlenty, Neal Boortz, Joan Walsh, Chris Cillizza, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Rev. Barry Lynn
Spec: Richard Phillips; Military; Barack Obama; Somalia; Economy; Health and Medicine; Insurance; Taxes
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.
Thanks for joining us for the start of our second week. Thanks for being here tonight.
We‘ve got a packed show for you.
President Obama takes out some pirates, saves a U.S. ship captain, and still makes the White House Easter egg roll. So where are the Republican praising his Reagan-like handling of this crisis?
Another story, foreign car companies are putting the screws on U.S. automakers. Will the president—and what will the president do in 2010 if he let‘s GM and Chrysler go down on his watch? We‘ll ask Senator Debbie Stabenow from Michigan.
More Wall Street banks getting taxpayer dollars. They are slamming customers with outrageous fees. Can the Obama administration stop that?
Plus, “Psycho talk.” You ever wonder who listens to these crazy right-wing talkers? Well, we‘re going to give you a look inside the mind of a conservative audience.
We‘ve got that, a great panel coming up tonight.
But first, tonight‘s “OpEd.”
There is no “Mission Accomplished” banner at the White House being displayed tonight, but there is a sea captain coming home to his family alive. After an executive decision was made by this new president of the United States, who we were told on the campaign trail didn‘t have the experience to make these kinds of decisions, wasn‘t ready for the 3:00 a.m. phone call, well, first of all, the latest numbers are this: 61 percent of the American people believe that this president will make the right decisions in a crisis and keep this country safe, and I think these numbers are going to be going up. But on the campaign trail, we were told that Barack Obama didn‘t have military experience, that he just wasn‘t going to be able to make these kinds of decisions in a life-or-death situation.
The White House downplaying this quite a bit tonight. We‘ll talk more about that in a moment, but I want to refresh the memories of many of our listeners and viewers tonight.
This is what John McCain said on the campaign trail just before the election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA: And if Senator Obama is elected, Senator Biden said we will have an international crisis to test America‘s new president. We don‘t want a president who invites testing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Well, is this an international crisis? You know, this piracy thing has been going on for a long time.
There‘s been millions of dollars that have been played out in ransom.
Why wouldn‘t it just be the same old thing?
But this was supposed to be the moment of failure. The conservatives, oh, they were sitting on the fence. They couldn‘t wait to jump into the game of negativity.
In fact, yesterday, Newt Gingrich had something pretty ominous to say about the situation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH, FMR. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is an administration which keeps trying to find some kind of magical solution that doesn‘t involve effort and doesn‘t involve risk and doesn‘t involve making hard decisions. We have the most powerful Navy in history. We have the capacity to police the area if we want to. We have an entire NATO alliance which has total Navy dominance in the region.
Nobody has the will to do anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Now, folks, as I said, this was supposed to be the moment of failure.
Now, let‘s go back to the Reagan years. If this had been Ronald Reagan in the White House and we had had a successful conclusion the way we did on the high seas yesterday, what do you think the conservative talkers of America would have been saying? Oh, he loves the country, he‘s a great commander in chief. In fact, he loved the country a heck of a lot more than his opponent. This is the kind of leadership that we need to bring America together.
Where is all that conversation today? Why can‘t Mitch McConnell come out and say from a leadership position, Mr. President, good job?
Where are you, Mr. Boehner?
How about you, Mr. Cantor?
See, you want this president to fail.
Where are the conservative talkers of America? Can‘t you come out with one positive word since there is an American who is coming home to his family safe after a life-and-death situation came forward?
Here‘s what I think we need to focus in on tonight. This president has the executive experience. This president knows how to make decisions.
This president is not going to put up any banners. He‘s not going to give you any talk like, you know, “Bring them on.” He‘s not going to give you any kind of talk like, “We‘re going to smoke them out.”
All the president told us this weekend was that he was monitoring the situation. Now, what does that mean? We‘ve got to learn something from this.
The next time the president of the United States tells the country that he is monitoring the situation, well, a lot of things could happen. It could be either diplomacy or somebody could get shot in the head who‘s threatening an American.
Is this leadership? Is this a tough decision? How involved was the president of the United States?
Let‘s bring in NBC News Pentagon Correspondent Jim Miklaszewski.
Mik, thanks for joining us tonight.
JIM MIKLASZEWSKI, NBC NEWS PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: You bet, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Thank you, sir. I appreciate it.
And I‘m going to put this in as blunt terms as I possibly can. Did the president of the United States give the order, shoot to kill?
MIKLASZEWSKI: He gave the authorize to shoot to kill, and that‘s a little different. He was not on the phone and said, OK, take the shot. So it‘s a little different than an order, and it may be semantical and technical. But what he did was give the authorization to those operators on that ship, those commanders and special forces, Navy SEALs, that if the captain‘s life was threatened and they had the ability to take that shot, take it.
SCHULTZ: How much time did this take place? Were there opportunities that they had passed up, but maybe the second time around they decided to take that shot? Or was this the first time they could have done it?
MIKLASZEWSKI: I believe this was the first time that that they had all of the pirates who were on that lifeboat at one time visible to do that. They were lucky because, you know, earlier that day, one of the pirates had actually jumped off into a Navy resupply boat to go aboard the destroyer Bainbridge for medical treatment. So that reduced the numbers to three. That improved the odds.
And then, when they were able to attach a tow line to that lifeboat, with the pirates‘ permission, to tow it into calmer waters, they were able to position that lifeboat perfectly behind the fan tail, and the sharp shooters were at the ready. They could see one of them inside the pilot house with a gun apparently trained on Captain Phillips, and then when the other two popped up, don‘t know why exactly.
There may have been something that caused them to stick their heads up and look out. Boom. The sharp shooters were ready, they took the shots. Three simultaneous shots, three kills in a heartbeat.
SCHULTZ: Now, Mik, moving forward, what does this administration want to do about piracy? Is this the way it‘s going to be handling every situation—get the Navy in place, do the negotiation, and then if there‘s an opportunity, take action? Are we going to see more of this?
MIKLASZEWSKI: Well, only if U.S. citizens and U.S.-flagged ships are involved. That‘s the primary reason that the U.S. Navy acted the way it did, quite frankly, because today, there are more than a dozen ships that have been hijacked by pirates with over 250 hostages on board.
This was a unique situation in which the—you know, as you know, the captain was taken hostage by four of the pirates on a lifeboat. So it really was a life-or-death situation that the Navy felt that it could and had to do something about.
For the larger problem, President Obama made it clear today that it has to be an international effort to not only try to stamp out piracy, but get to the root of piracy. And that, of course, takes you into the Somalia situation, which nobody sees as being solved any time quickly.
SCHULTZ: Jim, thanks for joining us tonight.
Jim Miklaszewski, NBC Pentagon correspondent with us here tonight on
THE ED SHOW.
Joining me now is General Wesley Clark, former NATO supreme allied commander for Europe.
General Clark, good to have you on the program tonight.
GEN. WESLEY Clark, FMR. NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER (RET.): Thank you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Give us a grade now. Was this a real tough call for the president? And how does he score as far as leadership is concerned, in your opinion, in the wake of this?
CLARK: Well, I think it‘s an outstanding call by the president. I think he did the right thing.
He gave the authorization to use force. He also did the right thing
in keeping his own personality and his name as far away from it as
possible, because it doesn‘t do any good to personalize something like this
So I give him A-plus on judgment and handling of this. And obviously I give the captain of the Bainbridge a lot of credit. He made the right call at the right time. And then the execution by our great Special Forces team there was just outstanding.
So I think this shows what many of us said during the campaign, that it‘s a matter of judgment. And Barack Obama has it. He showed it here as our president, and the commander in chief for the men and women in uniform. And I think that he will build a great relationship with them. I think they‘ll come to trust him increasingly.
SCHULTZ: And speaking of that, General Clark, is this incident going to help President Obama bring in other countries into the fold, that this is the direction the United States will go in dealing with piracy?
CLARK: Well, I think that this does underscore the gravity of the situation, and I think that it gives the United States a chance to use leadership. But the European Union has already been seized with this problem. We can enlist and work with the European Union, it‘s a good opportunity to do so, but we don‘t want to have to take the lead in this.
There are other nations that are doing the shipping. They should also be engaged, and the United States should do its part. And we‘ve shown we‘re prepared to do that.
SCHULTZ: General, do you think that this would call for any type of different military focus when it comes to where we spend our money? Would this take us in a different direction with the budget? And, of course, the budget has been a big conversation in recent weeks.
CLARK: I don‘t think so. I think that this is something that you can do with the forces that you have. It‘s a matter of—well, we did it here.
But are we going to be the sole power that guarantees the safety and security around the Horn of Africa? I hope not, because basically other countries have commercial interests there. They should be working this. The United Nations, the African Union, the European Union, all those institutions are also in line here to work, and they should be working to promote stability in Somalia, and to undercut the authority of the pirate leaders that are there in these coastal towns.
So I think you‘ve really got three situations. You‘ve got ships that have been seized already, and you‘ve got some hostages. You‘ve got the current navigation channels and trying to avoid the pirates for ships that are moving through the area, and then you‘ve got Somalia itself.
There needs to be a plan to work all three. It may not be the same plan, and in no case should the United States have to lead, but we should be prepared to do our part and encourage others to take the lead.
SCHULTZ: General, great to have you on with us tonight. Thanks so much.
CLARK: Thank you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: General Wesley Clark here with us on THE ED SHOW.
Next up on THE ED SHOW, Governor Tim Pawlenty says he just can‘t support President Obama‘s budget because he‘s worried about deficits. The American people are worried about deficits, too, like going bankrupt if somebody in their family gets sick or not having enough money to send their kids to college.
We‘ll see what the GOP has to say about that coming up next on THE ED
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.
Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota went after President Obama‘s $3.6 trillion budget proposal this weekend in a radio address. Pawlenty gave the GOP Saturday address. He argues Americans need lower taxes and less spending.
Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. TIM PAWLENTY ®, MINNESOTA: The federal government should keep a lid on taxes, control government spending, and borrow less, rather than increase the size and scope of the federal government so much that Washington is guaranteeing future tax increases.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: A Pew Research poll asked, “What would you rather have, spending more money on health care or taking care of the deficit?”
A majority of the Americans chose health care over the deficit, 59 to 35 percent. A similar story when it came to education. There was a 58-38 split in favor of education over reducing the deficit.
Joining me now is the man who gave the GOP Saturday address, and that is Minnesota Governor, my governor from Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty.
Governor, good to have you on the first Ed program. Hope you‘ll be back whenever we ask you. Thanks a lot for being here tonight.
PAWLENTY: Fast Eddie, it is good to be with you. I can‘t believe they gave you your own show. This is remarkable. I‘m in awe.
SCHULTZ: You know, I‘ll tell you, guys from the Midwest who tell the truth can go anywhere, can‘t they?
Governor, I understand your ideology, but what does it say about the Republican Party if you‘re going to go down the path where the people aren‘t there?
PAWLENTY: Well, Ed, the statistics that you just pointed out show what‘s been true for a long time, and also highlights one of the problems and challenges we face, which is, if you ask people, would you like some stuff right now, or would you rather worry about taking care of our long-term problems and challenges, they always choose the immediate. So, when you have Hillary Clinton in China, on rhetorical bended knee, pleading with the Chinese to continue to buy the federal government‘s debt, lest we not be able to pay our bills and other sovereign wealth funds around the world, that tells you we‘ve got some real problems.
So I understand the need to get this economy moving. I wish they would do more of it through tax cuts and putting money in people‘s pockets. But you cannot ignore this debt, the exponential. The quantum growth in this depth is going to give us the federal debt equivalent of the mortgage crisis in the not-too-distant future.
SCHULTZ: Well, why is it always a tax cut, Governor? What‘s wrong with investing in education? What‘s wrong with investing in health care?
The number of uninsured that we have in this country in health care has got to be changed or we‘re not going to be able to overcome these numbers that you‘re talking about. I mean, doesn‘t it take an investment to turn this economy around? Don‘t you believe in that?
PAWLENTY: Well, the stimulus bill at $800 million, in my view, was too big and it wasn‘t properly targeted and focused. If you even take the high number that the White House uses to save or create four million jobs, that‘s $200,000 a job.
They sort of led us to believe it was going to be things that put cash in people‘s pockets or meat and potato infrastructure projects like roads and bridges, and it really turned into a large government spending program, Ed. So I believe there should have been some stimulus. I think this one was too big. I also believe they should have and could have focused it on things that put money into average Americans‘ pockets rather than supporting, continuing programmatic spending of the government.
SCHULTZ: Governor, do you think Minnesotans are with you on this? I mean, in your state, a bridge collapsed and killed 13 people. And there are other bridges in Minnesota that need support. There are bridges all over the country that need some infrastructure work.
What‘s wrong with investing in that and getting people to work?
PAWLENTY: Well, the bill didn‘t do that to a very good degree.
First of all, Ed, as you know, the bridge fell in Minneapolis, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, because of a design flaw from the 1960s. But setting that aside for the moment, if you look at the total amount of road and bridge money in the $800 billion stimulus bill, it‘s only around $50 billion.
When people know that, they say, wait a minute, I thought this was presented as kind of an infrastructure bill. And there‘s other infrastructure on the bill, but on the road and bridges, it‘s only about $50 billion out of $800 billion. People—it‘s kind of false advertising.
That wasn‘t the way it was presented
SCHULTZ: Well, actually, the number I got is $200 billion, but we‘ll let that go. And now there‘s...
PAWLENTY: Well, Ed, if you include all the infrastructure, you might get up above $100 billion, including ports and rail and a bunch of other things. But if you just focus on the road and bridge piece of it, it is nowhere near $200 billion. It‘s much closer to $50 billion.
SCHULTZ: Well, it‘s 200 billion, Governor, when it comes to construction in this country on the stimulus, but I‘ll let that go.
But I really want to focus in, what is the Republican plan for health care? You have got health care premiums going up all over the country.
I don‘t hear the Republicans coming forward with any kind of plan whatsoever. I don‘t hear them audibilizing anything. I don‘t see any plan.
What is it, Governor? And many people are looking at you for leadership. Your name is tossed out there a lot for 2012. I know it‘s early, but you‘re in the position to give these responses.
What‘s the plan for health care?
PAWLENTY: Well, here‘s a handful of things we need to do in health care, and these are consistent with Republican principles.
Number one, we need to get electronic medical records and electronic prescribing, and take out the inefficiencies in the system. We also should encourage payers, whether that‘s the government or private insurers, to use uniform billing codes so we don‘t have people in the backrooms of hospitals and clinics and doctors‘ offices trying to go through 20 different compliance regimes for different insurance companies.
We also need...
SCHULTZ: But Tim, that cost money. Governor, that costs money.
That‘s what the president is doing. He‘s putting $634 billion to what you just talked about, and that‘s a big part of it.
Why aren‘t the conservatives going to go on board with that?
PAWLENTY: Well, I think as to health information technology and electronic records, they would and they will. But here‘s—you know, that will save you 5 or 10 percent. But here‘s the big one.
We pay right now in health care for volumes of procedures. Ed, if you pay for volumes of procedures, what do you think you‘re going to get? More procedures.
We need to transition to where we pay for better health. We pay for health outcomes and health performance, give consumers good information about cost and quality, and give them incentives to use the system wisely. And I know we don‘t have time to go into this in detail, but in Minnesota, we‘ve done that. We‘ve done that, Ed, and it‘s made a huge difference.
SCHULTZ: Well, one thing that hasn‘t been done all over the country, including Minnesota, is reeling in these insurance companies that are charging exorbitant rates. And they‘re running wild. I think they need to be regulated.
Governor, great to have you on the program. I appreciate the discussion. We‘ll do it again. Thanks so much.
PAWLENTY: All right. Thanks for having me on the show. And you know I was pulling your leg there about being surprised about you getting a show. I don‘t always agree with you, but you always give me a fair shake.
SCHULTZ: Well, I try to. Thank you, Governor. Good to have you on.
We‘ll do it again.
PAWLENTY: All right.
SCHULTZ: Next up on THE ED SHOW, “Psycho Talk.” Have you heard about these tea parties conservatives are organizing? They‘re revolting against government spending and TV converter box brainwashing.
That‘s right. You heard it right. That‘s crazy things that these tea brain protesters are saying.
That‘s next up on “Psycho Talk.”
Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.
Have you heard some of the crazy things that are being said by conservatives? Well, it‘s time for “Psycho Talk.”
Republicans are planning this thing called a tea party. They‘ve got protesters on April 15th, and they‘ve got big bucks that are just pouring in for this movement.
Fox‘s Glenn Beck is a supporter and said on his radio show, which very few people listen to, said he plans to attend a $500-a-plate dinner—nothing elite about that—fund-raiser for the tea party movement.
Now, one smaller fund-raiser was caught on video by our spies, and now it‘s made it into “Psycho Talk.”
Now, what you‘re about to watch is an event organized by this 912 Project, though Beck was not at the event himself. The man in the video begins with a conspiracy theory saying that in the early ‘50s, our country was infiltrated by the Communist Party and the Obama administration is the culmination of that infiltration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are doing everything they can to brainwash our public right now. The things they‘re putting on our TVs, it‘s a brainwash unit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: The digital cable converters, watch out for them. That‘s what he‘s talking about—the digital cable converters are brainwashing us.
Then comes the warning—the brainwashing also has infiltrated our school system. The man‘s anti-school message struck a nerve with a woman at the event.
Watch and listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you‘ve got kids in school, you‘ve got them in college, get them the hell out of college. They are brainwashing them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Burn the books!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) before they go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you may have to do that. You can send them off to college, but these professors brainwash these kids.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not only that...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don‘t think you were serious about that, were you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am, too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Burn all the books?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The ones in college, the brainwashing books.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The brainwashing books.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which ones are those?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like the evolution crap.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Burn the books. That‘s tea party insanity.
Now, we‘re all for free speech. But in this case, Mr. Digital TV Brainwasher and Madame Burn the Books, you‘ve both landed in “Psycho Talk.”
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. In my playbook tonight, don‘t let us down, President Obama. The “New York Times” says the Treasury Department is telling General Motors to prepare for a bankruptcy filing by June 1st. The goal is for a so-called surgical bankruptcy. GM has gotten 13.4 billion dollars in emergency loans. That does really not help the confidence too much of the company. Shares fell 16 percent or 32 cents today on that news.
Retirees are shaking in their boots, quite frankly. Bloomberg reports as many as half of GM‘s 607,000 retirees might see their benefits cut. One retiree tells Bloomberg, General Motor‘s pledges are, quote, garbage.
Folks, mark my words, there‘s going to be political fallout to this. Remember the Obama victory? He was elected, had strong backing from the unions. They worked the polls. They did boots on the ground. They had infrastructure? Unions including the United Auto Workers spent 52 million dollars to help elect Obama last year. Inside 100 days, they are talking bankruptcy?
Folks, this is not good. Now, let‘s bring in our political panel tonight. We have Chris Cillizza, “Washington Post” White House reporter, and author of the Fix blog, Neal Boortz, nationally syndicated radio talk show host, and also Joan Walsh, editor in chief of Salon.com.
Neal, I‘ve got to ask you—we‘ll start with you tonight. Are the unions not going to get anything from this administration and the audacity of the president to throw them under the bus in the first 100 days? How is that going to play out in Michigan and in Ohio and in Indiana? What do you think?
NEAL BOORTZ, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, first of all, Ed, thanks for the make up, you bed wetting left winger.
SCHULTZ: You have to like this tie. New York has so many ties. It would even uplift your outfit.
BOORTZ: I wear ties for Hannity, OK?
SCHULTZ: Never heard of him.
BOORTZ: -- but the unions—I hope the unions get absolutely nothing. Look, they destroyed GM. Here‘s an idea, let‘s them destroy Wal-Mart and a few other companies at the same time.
SCHULTZ: We want to get Wal-Mart unionized. That‘s another story now, Neal. But I‘m just talking about, do you think that this is going to hurt the president in the midterms if he let‘s these companies go bankrupt?
BOORTZ: No, I don‘t. It won‘t hurt them with the unions because they don‘t have any other game, OK, Ed? The unions have the Democrats. That‘s it. They will fuss. We‘ll have to call the cops for domestic disturbance. But there‘s—but I love him. And they are going to stay together. So, no, in the long run, it won‘t hurt him and it might actually help GM.
SCHULTZ: All right. Joan Walsh, your thoughts on this. Is there any political payback here at all here for the unions when it comes to the car industry?
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: You know, I hate to say that Neal is right because I disagree with his whole take on this, but Neal really may be right. There‘s not many places for the unions to go. I disagree with Neal, the reason these companies are in trouble, they have to do with management. And management agreed to some onerous conditions in some of the contracts, that‘s true. But they weren‘t—no unions held a gun to their head.
It was bad products, bad decisions all along, and some bad decisions by the unions. But to put this off on the unions—I‘m going to be Polly Anna here for one second, Ed. Bear with me. I could imagine a bankruptcy proceeding that did protect the unions, that did protect the pensioners. I‘m just not hearing about it. There‘s nothing that says bankruptcy has to harm those parties. But everything that I‘m hearing about the new GM that would be created, that would off-load the pension obligations, off-load the health care, that will hurt the union.
So we‘ve got to stay clear about what our bottom line is and what represents fairness to the unions.
SCHULTZ: Chris Cillizza, the retirees are out there wondering, I didn‘t vote for a benefit cut here. How can this not hurt President Obama if he goes through with this and they throw the pensions into the guarantee fund and the benefits are cut? These folks weren‘t expecting this?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Well, Ed, look, Neal is right on the broad point, which is I don‘t think broadly labor backers or leaders are going to go over to whoever the Republican nominee is. But I do think there‘s a little bit of a nuanced point here. To me it‘s an issue of intensity. In 2008, labor was very excited to get out. They wanted George Bush out. They wanted Barack Obama in.
Midterm elections especially, because turn out is so much lower than a presidential elections—midterm elections they are a lot about intensity, really driving people to the polls. And that‘s what they are going to need to be doing. If labor is not 100 percent behind that kind of effort, I do think it will have some affect.
SCHULTZ: We should point out that Neal Boortz wants everybody to work for free. That‘s another story we‘ll get to a little bit later on. Stay with us, panel. We want to do more of this.
Joining me now is Senator Debbie Stabenow, Democrat from Michigan. Senator, good to have you on the program tonight. We‘ve seen the numbers across the country that most Americans now feel that we‘ve gone far enough with the big three, far enough with GM and Chrysler. But what‘s the attitude in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana, where those people went to Barack Obama? They didn‘t expect that they were going to get thrown under the bus this early. What about that?
SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW (D), MICHIGAN: Well, Ed, first let me say, it‘s great to see your show. I think it‘s exactly what we need.
Congratulations on that.
SCHULTZ: Thank you.
STABENOW: We need somebody talking for working people and that‘s what you have always done. Let‘s face it, in Michigan, we are at the heart of the storm. And have people who have worked hard for a generation. Now, the backbone of the middle class, who have made things in this country and really created this country—I would argue the auto industry and the auto workers have created the manufacturing middle class that we have. And now we are in a very tough spot.
I have a little different take, though, as it relates to the president and what is happening with the Auto Task Force, because the fact is that under the proposal that—and the conditions that the Bush administration put forward, the Obama administration on March 31 could have said, you don‘t meet viability and so you have to pay the funds back, and that‘s it. That‘s not what they did.
I really do believe that they are very committed to doing everything they can to keep as many jobs as possible.
SCHULTZ: But what about those retirees—senator, I have to ask you, what about these retirees. They didn‘t vote to have their benefits cut. These are your constituents in Michigan.
STABENOW: No question. If you‘re asking me, do I think bankruptcy is a good idea? The answer is absolutely not. I don‘t support bankruptcy as an option. And the reality is that taxpayers shouldn‘t either, because we‘re talking about 670,000 people with pensions with General Motors alone that would become potentially a federal responsibility.
STABENOW: It wouldn‘t have to be that way. There is a way to do it.
SCHULTZ: There‘s no doubt about that. But it would seem to me—
SCHULTZ: -- that if it goes to the Pension Guarantee Corporation, and people have to take a cut, I don‘t know how they are going to be motivated to come back and vote for the Democrats.
STABENOW: Well, first of all, people took a pay cut to get that pension, and they should not be cut in their pensions, period. People took pay cut after pay cut to keep their health care and to keep their pensions. And so there is a way to do this, even going into a bankruptcy.
Northwest Airlines, based out of Detroit substantially, went into bankruptcy, kept their pension obligations. We worked with them to help protect their pensions. They came out of bankruptcy. They kept their pension commitments. So it is possible to do that. And I am strongly urging the administration, whatever happens, to keep those pensions in tact, because people have worked hard all of their lives for those.
SCHULTZ: Senator, good to have you on with us tonight. Thanks so much.
STABENOW: Good to be with you.
SCHULTZ: There is good financial news tonight, which we‘ll get to in just a bit.
But, also, can the Obama administration stop bailed-out banks that are double dipping right now into the taxpayer wallets? We‘ll have that next on THE ED SHOW.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. I think it‘s another middle class rip off. It turns out the banks were bailed out with big bucks are double dipping. First, they get taxpayer dollars. Now, they are passing on higher rates to the customers. Last week, Bank of America told millions of customers to expect their credit card rates to double to 14 percent or more.
It‘s not just Bank of America. Take a look at this. This is how much money the banks got and this is how they are hitting you again. Overdraft fees up 10 percent industry wide since the government started pumping money into the banks. And predatory loans; a new ad from Citigroup says, you can get 5,000 today. Except the catch is they‘re going to be zinging you with a 30 percent interest rate increase.
Now, these stunts have caught the attention of the Tarp oversight committee. For more on this, let‘s go back to our panel, Chris Cillizza, Neal Boortz, Joan Walsh. Joan, middle classers, this is really hitting them here. Do you think the Obama administration is going to reel these folks in with some legislation?
WALSH: I don‘t know. I honestly don‘t know, Ed. Elizabeth Warren, who heads the Tarp oversight, is a hero of mine. She‘s raising every red flag she can about all of this double dipping. She‘s made clear that we, the taxpayers, are paying to bail these guys out. They are too big to fail, so they can‘t go bankrupt like GM, of course. So we are baling them out and then they are coming around on the other side and hitting us as consumers with these fees.
These fees are mainly going to low-risk consumers. And they really do represent a kind of double dipping, because the explanation is we have these toxic assets and all of these losses. We have to be able to raise prices to make up for that. The government is helping make up for that. So they get us coming and going. And Obama really needs to pay attention to this.
SCHULTZ: Chris Cillizza, how important do you think it is for the Democrats to get some legislation to reel in these rates before the midterm? I mean, they‘ve got time to get this done. This is a middle class issue. People are upset about this. What about that?
CILLIZZA: Ed, I‘ll say with Tarp, as well as the economic stimulus package, I think the key here, from a political perspective, implementation. The Bush administration got whacked a number of times for the fact they just didn‘t implement well on any number of fronts. I think the Obama administration is extremely conscious of the fact that on Tarp, as well as economic stimulus, it just can‘t look like in 2010 that we dumped a bunch of money that got spent in ways that we can‘t really account for.
My guess is that you will see them be quite vigilant. I don‘t know about legislation. I am not sure about that. I think we‘ll know more when Congress comes back next week. I think you will see them be very vigilant, because they know the political price to pay if it looks like the implementation has fallen down, and we‘ve simply written a blank check to the country.
SCHULTZ: Neal, what‘s a good interest rate? If you‘re the president of the bank, Neal, what are you going to charge, especially if it‘s me, the customer?
BOORTZ: Ed, bear with me now, because I want to make two points. First of all, forgive me. I have to go back to Debbie Stabenow. She illustrated beautifully a difference between the government sector and the private sector. The government sector wants to save, as she said, as many jobs as possible. The private sector talks about as many jobs as necessary. Those are two differences.
Now, first of all, on the interest rates, pay off your credit card every month, you don‘t have a problem. OK? And most of these people are using their credit cards for lifestyle, not for necessities.
WALSH: You don‘t know that?
BOORTZ: Yes, Joan, I do.
WALSH: OK. OK. Good.
BOORTZ: You haven‘t seen anything until you‘ve seen what happens to interest rates when the private sector has to compete with the government sector in borrowing, as the government sector sucks up all of the available money to pay back—
SCHULTZ: Actually, Neal, the Small Business Administration—wait a minute, Neal. Actually, the Small Business Administration is lowering rates for small businesses, whereas the private sector is still gauging a lot of small business, eight, nine and 9.5 percent on small business loans. So it‘s not like the private sector is getting away Scott free here.
I‘m all about profit. I get that. But 30 percent interest rates on credit cards on average Americans? Come on.
WALSH: And people are paying for their health care on their credit cards, sadly. Sure, there are people taking vacations, absolutely. But to generalize and say this is lifestyle discretionary stuff in a recession that may be depression, that is not what‘s going on. They are simply gauging. No one is asking questions.
SCHULTZ: Neal, I‘ve got to run to a break. We‘ll come back and get more on this. The Republicans bet that gays, guns, and god would lead to landslide victories in the voting booth. They‘ve gotten thumped twice in the last two elections. Will conservatives give up on the culture wars? That‘s next on THE ED SHOW. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW on MSNBC. Are the cultural wars ever? In his farewell address to Focus on the Family, James Dobson, who founded the Family Research Council back in 1981 to push socially conservative causes on Capitol Hill, declared defeat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES DOBSON, FOCUS ON THE FAMILY: The battles that we fought in the ‘80s now; we were victorious in many of those conflicts with the culture, trying to defend righteousness, trying to defend the unborn child, trying to preserve the dignity of the family, and the definition of marriage. And now we are absolutely awash in evil. Humanly speaking, we can say that we have lost all of those battles.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: With major decisions on same-sex marriage in several states this month, are social conservatives waving the white flag or retrenching for the next big battle? Joining me now, Reverend Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Reverend, great to have you on tonight.
Is it over? Or is this just a ploy by the conservatives to say it‘s over, so no one will pay attention to them?
REV. BARRY LYNN, AMERICANS UNITED FOR SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATES:
Yes, it‘s mainly a ploy, because we‘ve heard this death of the religious right at least four times in the last 20 years. Just like Freddie Kreuger, they always come back to Elm Street, whether we like them or not. Certainly, James Dobson knows he lost some big battles in the last decade. And I‘m out there every day trying to make sure they lose more battles in the years to come.
But he‘s also a man with a mound of money, no new ideas, and he and others on the religious right are going to come back to the same well; prayer in the school, how do we get more religion into the schools? How do we harass gay and lesbian American more? How do we fight evolution, as they might call it.
SCHULTZ: Do you think the passing of Jerry Falwell, the story that developed before the election, with Ted Haggard, really hurt the cause of the social conservatives in this country, kind of brought them back to ground? They are not holier than thou. They have issues too. Do you think it hurt them politically?
LYNN: I think it hurt them very briefly, and maybe hurt them a little bit in the 2006 election. But I think we make a huge mistake if we believe that they are gone in any significant way. Dobson‘s organization in the last IRS reporting year took in 145 million dollars for Focus on the Family. His political action committee added another 10 million dollars to that.
These people are just absolutely awash with funds that come from people who believe that the culture wars are not over, even if they, in fact, listen to Dobson say that about what is possible in the human level. They say, well, god still has a plan and it is the same plan that Jerry Falwell had back in the 1970s.
SCHULTZ: Reverend Lynn, is the challenge now for liberals in this country to prove that they are not godless? Is this a window of opportunity right now? What do you think?
LYNN: I don‘t think we‘ve got to prove anything. Most of us—many of us are spiritual people and we‘re proud to say that. I think this administration has to be very careful, though, that it doesn‘t play the religion card too often, because, frankly, President Obama has not, for example, changed the George Bush rules on allowing discriminatory hiring in faith-based organizations that get tax dollars. Two-thirds of the American people said it was wrong in the last administration. This administration has got to work on that.
They have lost the religious right. They lost them long before he even took office. They hate Barack Obama‘s policies on stem cell. They are never going to get them back. I think it‘s important that this administration do what President Obama has said several times. I believe he says in the separation of church and state. He has to do that. And he has to demonstrate, as he frequently does, separation of church and state is not anti-religion. It‘s just pro-religion working and operating on its own, without government‘s so-called help or assistance.
SCHULTZ: Reverend, good to have you with us tonight. Great to have you on the program. Thanks for your insight on this. Let‘s bring back our panel, Chris Cillizza, Neal Boortz, and Joan Walsh. Neal, I‘ll go to you. As a libertarian, you know, where does the conservative movement go right now? Do they have a play in this, when it comes to getting the social conservatives motivated again? Or is Dobson telling the truth?
BOORTZ: Well, you know, he may be telling the truth. Ed, you know me. I know you. You‘re a strong family guy. We both are. But I‘m the wrong guy for this segment.
SCHULTZ: No, you‘re the perfect guy for this segment. You‘re a libertarian.
BOORTZ: Well, I totally support Barack Obama on the stem cell research. There is no way in the world a gay couple getting married is ever going to have any affect whatsoever on my life. I simply do not care. But when we talk about culture wars, let‘s also talk about the culture war of the left versus individuality, and the left versus achievement.
SCHULTZ: Well, that would be—
BOORTZ: That needs to be discussed, too.
SCHULTZ: Well, if you‘re talking about health care, public education, and unions, then I‘m your guy on that one. Let‘s go to Chris Cillizza. Chris, take a look at the Obama administration moving forward on this. Can we just say that the social conservatives are not going to be a factor in the midterm?
CILLIZZA: You know, Ed, they have been pulling back a little bit from the political process. While I don‘t disagree with what has been said, they have been pulling back. I did a piece recently on the website, after the Iowa and the Vermont decisions on gay marriage. And I talked to a lot of Republican strategist, people who are campaign people, not activists but campaign people. And I said, is gay marriage still something that you guys can run and win on?
I was surprised. It was a 50/50 split. There were a lot of Republican strategists who said, I‘d rather talk about the economy right now than the gay marriage. The country, by and large, has moved on. They don‘t really care about it in a general election. Maybe still in a Republican primary. But in the general election, it‘s just not something that speaks to those independents that they need to win back from Barack Obama.
SCHULTZ: Joan, what do you think of what the Reverend Barry Lynn just said, that the Obama administration has to be careful the way they play this out?
WALSH: I agree with Reverend Lynn. I‘m a person of faith myself, but I don‘t wear it on my sleeve. And I think the Obama administration has gone too far at various points trying to reach out to right wing conservative Christians. Rick Warren is one of them. Now Rick Warren is a fascinating person this week, because he felt the need, for some reason, to deny that he had ever supported the anti-gay marriage Prop 8.
Now, we all immediately focused on he got caught in a lie, because he clearly did support Prop 8. But what was more interesting to me, and that I don‘t think we‘ve gotten to the bottom of, is why was he compelled to lie? Why does he now think that being really harsh on gay rights is possibly not a political advantage for him?
I would finally say, when you listen to Dobson say we‘re awash in evil, that‘s why the Christian right is on the skid. No one wants to hear that.
SCHULTZ: Joan Walsh, Neal Boortz, Chris Cillizza, thanks so much for joining us tonight. Certainly want to get you all back and thank you. That‘s THE ED SHOW. I‘m Ed Schultz. For more information on THE ED SHOW, go to Ed.MSNBC.com or check out WeGotEd.com. And you can get text alerts about THE ED SHOW sent to your phone. Just text the word Ed to 622639.
We‘ll see you back here tomorrow night at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.
“HARDBALL” is next.
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