Guests: Austan Goolsbee, Jamie Rubin, Earl Pomeroy, Joe Lucas, Dan Weiss,
Eamon Javers, Joan Walsh, Michael Medved, Keith Naughton
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.
Why are Republicans so scared of this? Take off the spurs, guys. The era of cowboy diplomacy is over.
President Obama‘s plan to crack down on abusive credit card companies.
I‘ll talk with one of his top advisers about that.
I was in Ohio over the weekend. And folks, there are signs of the recovery taking place. We‘ll look at a couple of businesses that are expanding in this economy.
We‘ll bring you the clean coal debate.
Plus, “Psycho Talk.” Republicans are finally willing to admit global warming does exist. They just think it‘s caused by breathing.
We‘ll have all of that, a great panel. But first, tonight‘s “OpEd.”
You know, for the first couple of weeks on this show we have been talking about middle class issues, the tight credit markets when it comes to lending and how credit card companies have been just drilling the consumer.
Now, this week, the Obama administration is focusing on these two issues. The president, I think, has heard the call from the middle class. The fundamentals are taking hold.
The big banks are starting to make some money. Bank of America reports a first quarter profit of $2.81 billion. Now, I‘ve said all along that these things have to happen for this recovery to take hold, but there can‘t be a double standard.
Now, basically, here‘s where we are.
There are two million people in this country who are financially stagnant. They aren‘t moving in this economy. Education costs are getting to them. Health care costs are going up. Credit is tight.
Consumers are not on the march. So what has to happen? There needs to be mechanisms put in place to change all of this.
So what is the Obama team actually going to focus on and do this week? Keep in mind the Republicans have offered nothing but tax cuts. They have no plan for health care. They have no plan but to vilify public education. And they have been absolute no-shows in this possible recovery.
They talk about failure. All they want to do is criticize the president. But there are some things happening out there that the Obama administration has to engage in.
We have not seen the credit markets this tight, not in my lifetime. You know, the credit market is tight, meaning money is not getting to where it has to go for the economy to recover.
The bottom line here is, is that something has to happen from within the administration. It‘s not a speech. Maybe a law has to be passed.
Now, going after the credit card companies is one thing. But what worries me, on the talk show today, on my radio show, I got a call from a gentleman who says he does the financing for a car dealership in Illinois. He says that people are coming in the door with a credit score of 700 and they can‘t qualify for a loan. How in the world is the car business supposed to move if that‘s going to be the case?
Joining me now is Austan Goolsbee, chief economist on President Obama‘s Economic Recovery Advisory Board.
Mr. Goolsbee, great to have you back with us tonight. This credit thing...
AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, CHIEF ECONOMIST, PRESIDENT OBAMA‘S ECONOMIC RECOVERY
BOARD: Thank you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: You bet.
This credit things is what it‘s all about, and I‘m hearing that the Obama administration is going to focus on that and credit card companies this week.
What can you do to loosen up credit for the American consumer?
GOOLSBEE: Well, Ed, as we‘ve talked about before on your show, loosening up credit is a critical ingredient for getting the middle class back in a situation where they can drive this economy, which is historically what does drive the economy, is ordinary Americans. And that‘s not just one thing. There‘s going to be a lot of things they have to do.
So you‘ve seen a big focus in the administration on loosening up small business lending. We‘ve seen good news coming out of the banking industry that profits are coming back, but we need to make sure everybody‘s incentives are aligned and that that profitability comes with more lending and easing credit for businesses, for other people. And you‘ve seen on the...
SCHULTZ: Well, that‘s the question.
GOOLSBEE: ... housing front...
SCHULTZ: That is really the question right there.
SCHULTZ: How are you going to ease up the credit? Just tell them to ease it up? I mean, we have people who have got good credit scores that are being denied access to capital because banks are too conservative and they‘re too tight and they‘re too worried. So what is the Obama administration going to do about that?
GOOLSBEE: Well, I‘d say two things about that.
One, you have seen that, but that persistent problem of people with decent credit not being able to get access to credit, including small businesses, that has actually gotten better in recent weeks, not worse. So all of these things combined are gearing at that.
The good news is, it‘s in their interest. The bank is going to make money when they are making loans, not when they are pulling back and shutting down.
What we‘re trying to do is get everybody on the same page. And you set that up, I think, by laying out a series of policies to reignite credit, but also to get the real economy growing.
SCHULTZ: Where does the president stand on the involvement of the Small Business Administration? You know, there‘s the infrastructure right there. Cheap money, it‘s what it‘s all about.
You‘ve got tight credit, high interest rates right now on people that want to do business. There is a double standard. I‘m not going to back off this story.
I need to know if the president is going to have some kind of special commission. Is he going to come up with some kind of program that would back up these community bank loans where they would lower interest rates? What about that?
GOOLSBEE: Well, he believes strongly in the Small Business Administration. You probably have been following his various small lending facility things, because that‘s an issue I know is important to you, Ed. They‘ve raised the amount that they are willing to guarantee small business loans. They‘ve engaged a series of policies to try he to reignite securitizations of small business credit so that we can get small business lending going again.
SCHULTZ: All right Now, what about these...
GOOLSBEE: And the further problem is these lines of credit. I mean, you‘ve seen banks just pull the line of credit so much so that a bunch of small business can‘t even make the payroll.
SCHULTZ: Yes, no doubt.
OK. Let‘s talk about the credit card companies, interest rates that are going from 9 percent to 25 percent?
What are you going to do about that? If the focus is to deal with these credit card companies this week, what can you do?
GOOLSBEE: Well, I think you can do a lot of things, and this—the president is not a newbie showing up on these issues. He‘s been saying for years that we need to keep a better eye on the operations, that there are certain kinds of practices being engaged in by certain players in this industry that are fairly outrageous.
They either clearly border on or become predatory lending. And you‘ve got to get out of this cycle where you get people dependent on credit cards and various practices that are misleading.
SCHULTZ: But how can the administration jump in and tell these credit card companies knock off on the 25 percent thing, you‘re sticking it to the consumer too much? I mean, we‘re giving them this money. They‘re going to recover. They‘re making money, but they‘re making money on the backs of us by just going crazy with these interest rates.
GOOLSBEE: I agree with that, but interest rates are not at all the only thing. As everybody knows, you‘ve got fees, you‘ve got their terms. You get the term sheet for signing up your credit card. You need a magnifying class even to read it. And I think we can do a lot of things following on what the president has been calling for really for years about disclosure, transparency, forbidding certain kinds of predatory practices, all of those things.
SCHULTZ: And finally, I know you‘re on the auto task force for the president, on that commission. Late word this afternoon that General Motors has spent $3 million lobbying the Congress in the first quarter.
What are they lobbying the Congress for? What‘s that all about? They are taking our tax dollars and going and lobbying. What‘s happening there?
GOOLSBEE: Ed, I don‘t know. I haven‘t seen that report, but as soon as we get off here, I‘m going to go look it up.
The key from the auto task force and what the administration put forward with autos is we need a viable business plan. We can‘t have companies that are wards of the state, that he believes that there is a viable auto industry there. But we just got to get to that.
SCHULTZ: Well, I was in Ohio over the weekend, and I can tell you, there‘s no appetite for bankruptcy. And I hope it doesn‘t go down that road.
Austan, good to have you with us tonight.
GOOLSBEE: Great to see you again, Ed.
SCHULTZ: I appreciate your time on the program.
Another big issue tonight, this picture is worth a thousand words. What happens when a smile and a handshake greet an adversary? How are Americans responding to this?
This has changed, folks. And conservatives are going crazy over this.
Now, tell me, Americans, what is the downside of starting a new relationship with any country? Are we worried that we don‘t have the might? I mean, this is really change in direction.
We have officially gotten away from the “my way or the highway” operating handbook. The conservative sound machine has made this Topic A for what‘s wrong with Obama. They view it as a sign of weakness.
Look, I view it as a sign of diplomatic recovery. And for more on that, let me bring in a man of experience, and let‘s turn to the former secretary (sic) of state in the Clinton administration, Jamie Rubin.
JAMIE RUBIN, FMR. ASST. SECRETARY OF STATE: Assistant secretary.
SCHULTZ: Assistant secretary.
RUBIN: Big difference.
SCHULTZ: I thought I said “assistant.”
How important is this? Is this just Obama‘s personality, or is this really an opportunity to do something different with Hugo Chavez and Venezuela?
RUBIN: I think it‘s probably his personality at this point. Look, President Bush left off as the world, let‘s face it, breathed a sign of relief. We have a new president who wants to bring down the walls that were built up over the last eight years.
Hugo Chavez comes over to him. What‘s he supposed to do, turn around and slap him across the face and go for a duel or something?
Conservatives, too often, look at these issues through the eyes of symbolism, and they think that somehow this means he‘s going to be soft on Hugo Chavez. There‘s no evidence for that. It‘s just a surmise on their part. They are being hysterical, overreacting.
Diplomacy means that you are working with other countries to see whether America‘s business can be done. Let‘s judge President Obama on what business he does, not these photo opportunities, which don‘t tell us anything about the foreign policy underlying the new administration.
SCHULTZ: What message does this send? Now, there were a number of exchanges. The first one, they shook hands and smiled and talked a little bit. But then it looked like Mr. Chavez was grandstanding by coming up to the head of the table and handing a book to the president, which might have put the president in somewhat of an awkward position.
He seemed to handle it well, but what message does it send to the other countries that President Obama was not offended by that?
RUBIN: Well, I think this whole meeting, this whole set of days where President Obama said we‘re going to look again at our Cuba policy, it just took the wind out of the sales of anti-Americanism in Latin America and it transformed this meeting of the Summit of the Americas. Same thing here—he takes Chavez‘s book, he moves on.
It‘s those people who can‘t let go of the failed diplomacy of the Bush years that want to see these things for what they are. He showed dignity, he moved on, he did his business. But in the end—and I think this is really the most important point—whether it‘s Latin America, or whether it‘s going to be Iran, or whether it‘s the meetings he had in Europe, in the end American foreign policy is going to be judged by results. What does it do for the American people?
George Bush had an attitude. He had a cowboy diplomacy style. But if the Iraq War had been a great success, if the Iraq War had yielded democracy in the Middle East and it hadn‘t taken six years, if all the things that he wanted to do had worked, then people wouldn‘t spend so much time criticizing his style. So style matters, but in the end substance rules.
SCHULTZ: With what the president wants to do with Cuba, a whole new horizon of opportunities here, isn‘t that a message to all of Central America?
RUBIN: Well, you‘re absolutely right. I think this transformed America‘s reputation and the attitude towards the United States and the world.
And one of the things that we need to realize in the globalization age, around the world there are more and more democracies. And those democracies have to reflect the views of their citizens.
When the United States has a popular president, those democracies are going to want to work with him because it‘s in their interest. Their people are going to want to work with him. That‘s the way the world is going to work now.
The old days of backroom deals and everything being decided by leaders without relevant of the popular view in these countries are gone. And Barack Obama brings us something we‘ve never had in the modern era, which is a president who, across the Muslim world, across Africa, and now with what he said on Cuba in Latin America, starts with a desire for America to succeed.
SCHULTZ: Have you ever seen a more eventful 100 days? We‘re not there yet, but a lot has happened.
RUBIN: Certainly on foreign policy across the board. The bad old Bush days are gone.
SCHULTZ: Jamie, thanks for being here.
RUBIN: Thank you.
SCHULTZ: Appreciate it so much.
Let‘s remember one thing, folks. We did hire the smart guy.
President Obama walks softly and carries a big stick. This is not about showing muscle and testosterone. Cowboy diplomacy is gone.
The Republican reaction? This is your classic sore loser right here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH, FMR. HOUSE SPEAKER: Frankly, this does look a lot like Jimmy Carter. Carter tried weakness, and the world got tougher and tougher because the predators, the aggressors, the anti-Americans, the dictators, when they sense weakness, they all start pushing ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Need I say any more?
Coming up, “Psycho Talk.” House Republican John Boehner suggests carbon emissions aren‘t that bad. Polluting is apparently just like breathing, which makes you wonder, how would he reduce his carbon footprint? He‘s full of hot air.
Stay with us. We‘re back on THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.
We‘ve been following closely the news from Iran on Roxana Saberi, the young journalist from North Dakota who was arrested in January and accused of being a spy. On Saturday, Saberi was convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison after a trial that was closed to the public.
President Obama is calling for her release.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK H. OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She an American citizen, and I have complete confidence that she was not engaging in any sort of espionage. And it is appropriate for her to be treated as such and to be released.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton echoed that call.
Joining us from Fargo, North Dakota, is Saberi‘s congressional representative, Congressman Earl Pomeroy.
Congressman, is she going to be in jail for eight years? What do you think?
REP. EARL POMEROY (D), NORTH DAKOTA: Well, we certainly hope not.
That would be completely unacceptable.
She‘s a Fargo girl. We know her. We know she‘s a tremendously talented person of the highest integrity.
I was very pleased the president spoke out on her behalf. I think it‘s a sign that all things that can be done to get her released are being done in the most constructive ways we can think of.
SCHULTZ: Congressman, she‘s very educated, has two degrees, graduated from Northwestern University. Her father is Iranian. She was very concerned about learning more about the country, worked as a journalist.
Would this not be an opening for the United States to start diplomatic relations with Iran? Would you go that far to suggest that?
POMEROY: Well, I would suggest instead, perhaps, that this is an unfortunate and unnecessary complication at a new point in this administration when relationships with many countries are being looked at anew. Why would they want at this point in time to have this unnecessary complication?
When Roxana was first arrested, they said it was on an alcohol violation. Then they said, well, she didn‘t have the right press credentials. After some months in captivity, now she‘s tried on espionage in a secret trial.
You know, clearly, this thing is just a deepening problem that they can fix right away. They ought to, on humanitarian grounds, if nothing else, release her, let her come home once again. Then this issue is over.
SCHULTZ: The fact that the president has acknowledged this and says that he is deeply concerned about this, this does take the conversation between the two countries to a whole new level that we haven‘t seen in a number of years, doesn‘t it?
POMEROY: That‘s correct, it is at the highest levels. President Ahmadinejad himself talked about it in Iran and full due process ought to...
SCHULTZ: So do you think she‘s being used as a pawn—Earl, do you think she‘s being used as a pawn here right now? She just happens to be at the right place at the right time as the president is talking about new diplomatic relations?
POMEROY: Well, I think it might have been a series of inadvertent events. Why in the world would you hold a young journalist, someone that has the kind of integrity and credibility that she does, and engage the press from across the world? You‘re now starting to see the international community chime in on this one.
So they certainly have—you know, for a big old country to pick on a young journalist with the highest credibility, it makes no sense. It does not serve their interest. And I hope that cooler minds there sort this out in that way.
SCHULTZ: Well, Congressman, it is a big story in that part of the country, but it is a big story internationally. This is why we don‘t torture, and there are a lot of people who are nervous about this. And now we‘re kind of at the mercy of the Iranians here.
How do we know exactly what they are going to do with Roxana Saberi?
That‘s the tough thing in all of this.
Congressman, thanks for your time tonight. And thanks for joining us on this story.
POMEROY: Thank you, Ed. Thanks for following this story.
SCHULTZ: You bet.
It is Green Week here at NBC Universal. Coming up next, we‘ve got some environmental “Psycho Talk.” That‘s right. House Minority Leader John Boehner says don‘t have a cow over climate change.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW here on MSNBC.
Have you heard some of the crazy things that are being said by conservatives?
It‘s time for “Psycho Talk.”
Oh, yes, in honor of Earth Week, we have climate change “Psycho Talk” tonight.
House Minority Leader John Boehner is today‘s subject.
Last week, the EPA formally declared carbon dioxide and five other heat-trapping gases to be pollutants and dangerous to public health. Now, the EPA said the science supporting the findings was compelling and overwhelming.
In light of that report, ABC News‘ George Stephanopoulos asked Congressman Boehner on Sunday to explain the Republican plan to deal with greenhouse gas emissions. First, the congressman responded and said it‘s other types of alternative energy, including American made oil and gas. When Stephanopoulos said a drilling plan doesn‘t do anything when it comes to emissions, Boehner responded with this...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER ®, MINORITY LEADER: The idea of the carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical. Every time we exhale, we exhale carbon dioxide. Every cow in the world, when they do what they do, you‘ve got more carbon dioxide.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: First, we want to clarify for the congressman that gas from cows is called methane, not carbon dioxide.
Republicans don‘t have a plan for health care, they don‘t have a plan for the budget, and they don‘t know the difference between a cow farting out in the field and climate change.
That‘s “Psycho Talk.”
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.
On this Green Week, we begin with a debate on coal. Or, more specifically, clean coal. The “New York Times” says that after five months of an advertising war on coal, the phrase “clean coal” is sticking around and has become political shorthand. Environmentalists say the clean coal rhetoric is dangerous and a myth.
Joining us to debate the issue is Joe Lucas, senior vice president of communications of the American Coalition for Clean Coal and Electricity, and Dan Weiss is a senior fellow and director of climate strategy for the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C.
Joe, let‘s start with you tonight if we can. Are you winning this PR battle? Are the American people with you on the use of coal to turn on the lights in this country?
JOE LUCAS, COALITION FOR CLEAN COAL: Absolutely. Coal to domestic energy resource, over half the electricity that we consume each day here in America is produced using coal. It‘s an affordable energy resource, and thanks to technology, it‘s getting greener every day. So clean coal is as apple—as American as apple pie.
SCHULTZ: Now, Mr. Weiss, there are people that would suggest that you definitely have the facts on your side that there is no such thing as clean coal. But if you‘re losing in the public of political opinion, what‘s the next move here? Coal is not going away.
DAN WEISS, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Well, first of all, Ed, thanks for having me on the third week of THE ED SHOW. It‘s quite an honor.
It‘s important to note that clean coal technology can play an important role in our efforts to reduce global warming pollution. But what Joe wants to do is he wants to delay any solution to global warming and job creation and reducing oil use until this technology is ready.
And it‘s not going to be ready for at least 10 years. In fact, what Joe said isn‘t so. Coal isn‘t cleaner today than it was yesterday. It‘s just as dirty. It‘s just as dirty as it was three years ago.
SCHULTZ: So Dan.—Dan, there is.
WEISS: And we support all kinds of research—yes.
SCHULTZ: Dan, there have been no advances in technology in scrubber technology at all in the last five years that is just as dirty as it always was?
WEISS: When it comes to global warming, coal is no cleaner now than it was five years ago. In fact, Joe‘s group, although they.
LUCAS: Dan, Dan, I.
WEISS: Just a minute, Joe. Let me finish while you‘re interrupting. Joe‘s group, over the last five years, have made $300 billion in profits and invested only $3.5 billion of that.
WEISS: . in research on clean coal.
SCHULTZ: OK. Dan, wait a minute.
WEISS: One penny of research.
SCHULTZ: Dan, profit is not a bad thing but you just made a statement saying that it‘s not any cleaner today than it was five years ago.
Joe, is that true?
LUCAS: Dan, I disagree significantly. The fact is, a new coal plant built today is more efficient than a coal plant built five, six years ago. And it‘s the same thing as having a more fuel efficient car. The more efficient a plant is the less greenhouse gas it emits and ultimately the less greenhouse gas will have to be captured with new technologies and ultimately stored.
The other thing is, Dan continues to talk about how much these industries are putting out there. I think your—the study, and we talked about on Ed‘s radio program, about the fact that I think the geo myth categorize the profits of this industry when you include companies like GE, the parent company of this network, and you call them a coal company, I think the figure that you said showed that there was $1 for every—for every $17 in profit.
Can you compare that with what wind companies are doing today?
SCHULTZ: All right, Dan, respond to that.
WEISS: Well, what we said is the members of Joe‘s group, which are all supporting clean coal and wanted to lay solutions that will create jobs and reduce oil, all of those companies over the last six years made $300 billion in profits and invested about 3.5 billion in research. They talk about clean coal but they don‘t invest in the research.
SCHULTZ: They don‘t invest in the research at all? Is that true, Joe?
LUCAS: I disagree with that. I come from the Department of Energy. I was a special assistant to the secretary of energy during the Clinton administration. The coal industry does more to bring these new technologies to the marketplace. There are renewable energies, technology folks, and oil and gas folks and the nuclear folks. This is.
SCHULTZ: Joe, will—Joe, I have to ask you. Will the Obama administration allow you to build more plants in this country?
LUCAS: I absolutely agree that we‘re going to need to build new coal plants here in this country that are more efficient and ultimately use advanced technology because meeting our growing demand for energy in this country is going to require us to use more coal here and more coal around the world.
SCHULTZ: Dan, can the environmentalists stop that expansion if that‘s what they want?
WEISS: Well, I agree that we ought to invest in research. But here‘s the thing. According to McKenzie & Co., we can meet almost all of our new energy demands through efficiency alone. That‘s what we need to be investing in, is efficiency, wind, and sun.
Those will create half a million new jobs, faster and cleaner than investing a significant amount in clean coal. A little bit for research but let‘s move forward and get those emission reductions locked in.
SCHULTZ: All right. Gentlemen, we‘ll have you back talking about this again. It is a hot issue. There‘s been millions of dollars that have been spent on this campaign, both sides, and we‘ll continue the discussion. Thanks so much.
LUCAS: Thanks so much, Ed.
SCHULTZ: You bet.
WEISS: Thank you.
SCHULTZ: Now let‘s turn—you bet. Now let‘s turn to our panel, Joan Walsh, editor in chief of Salon.com, and Eamon Javers who‘s a correspondent for Politico, and Michael Medved, nationally syndicated talk show host, the author of “The 10 Big Lies about America.”
Michael, we‘ll start with you tonight. It sounds to me like President Obama is embracing clean coal technology. Is this one area where the conservatives can embrace his thinking?
MICHAEL MEDVED, NATIONALLY SYNDICATED TALK SHOW HOST: Well, I think so. If he is going to actually go forward in a sort of an all-out effort to try to build energy independence. But one thing that‘s nobody‘s talked about so fat this segment is nuclear. And that‘s also something that President Obama hasn‘t spoken about.
It is the majority of the electricity that‘s provided, for instance, in the nation of France and Lithuania yes and elsewhere. And this is one area where I think the United States can legitimately learn from Europe‘s success. We know nuclear power works and we need to do more to develop it.
SCHULTZ: Joan, who is winning the PR battle? Where is the American public on coal right now? We see commercials all over the place, pro and con. There is no clean coal. and the antis are saying that. So who‘s winning this tug of war?
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: You know, I think the country is split. And part of it is sort of where you live and what—who you‘re inclined to believe in, you know? I tend to believe there is no such thing as clean coal so what stays in my mind are those terrific ads where the guy is spraying the clean coal air freshener and it‘s dark and it‘s dirty.
That certainly gets the point across. I think the real issue with coal is that, a, it‘s tough to make it really clean. And b, to do it it‘s very expensive. And many environmentalists believe that there cheaper ways to get to energy efficiency. And the same is true for nuclear power to make it really safe. To deal with all the disposal issues is very, very expensive and perhaps impossible.
And that corporate America has an investment in these kinds of super expensive things that create high profit whereas environmentalists are saying those things are risky and we should invest in greener things and also in efficiency. So that‘s the way to get there.
SCHULTZ: OK. Mr. Javers, I‘ve got to ask you, is this where the liberals in this country part with President Obama as he has embraced a diversified package when it comes to energy? You can‘t deny the fact that half the lights are turned on because we‘re burning coal.
I don‘t know how you‘re going to get away from that any time so soon.
So is this a problem for President Obama?
EAMON JAVERS, POLITICO: Yes, you know, this is one of the heartbreaking things for any constituency that helps elect the president of the United States, is when they start to realize he‘s not going to give us everything that we‘re looking for. But this clean coal debate is sort of a precursor for, I think, what‘s going to be a larger environmental debate later this year, which is over the fate of the so-called cap and trade program in which companies are given pollution and allowed to trade those.
And pollution is made more and more expensive. That‘s something that environmentalists favor and we‘re seeing even some companies coming on board and saying, OK, we can get with that program but a lot of corporate America.
JAVERS: Folks in incorporate America are saying that‘s going to be a huge tax hike in effect for companies. That‘s going to be a big battle royale later in this year.
SCHULTZ: OK, panelists, stay with us. We‘ve got a lot more coming.
Let‘s get to this picture here. President Obama‘s handshake with Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, this weekend. It didn‘t take long for the conservatives to get cranked up over this.
Here‘s Senator John Ensign of Nevada speaking on CNN this Sunday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN ENSIGN ®, NEVADA: When you‘re talking about the prestige of the United States and the presidency in the United States, you have to be careful who you are seen joking around with and I think it was irresponsible for the president to be seen kind of laughing and joking with Hugo Chavez.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: The president struck back saying it‘s unlikely his shaking hands with Mr. Chavez was going to endanger the strategic interests of the United States. Instead he explained Sunday reaching out to enemies strengthens our hands. We have to make sure that we are a leader, not a lecturer of democracy.
Listen to senior White House adviser, David Axelrod, on CBS‘ “Face the Nation.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID AXELROD, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: I think this president has engaged the people of the world, the constituencies of these leaders and the leaders are now responding easy anti-Americanism is no longer a great political tactic in their countries. And I think that‘s one of the early accomplishments of this presidency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Michael Medved, got to ask you. Did President Obama make a mistake and did he go too far in reaching out to Hugo Chavez this weekend?
MEDVED: Well, I‘m not sure who reached the hand out first. I don‘t think it‘s worked to Obama‘s disadvantage. And part of the problem for the president is exactly what happened today at the U.N. conference on racism so-called, where President Ahmadinejad spoke and all the European nations walked out.
There needs to be some recognition that not every nation in the world is equally deserving of U.S. respect. There are bad guys in this world. I happen to believe that Hugo Chavez is one of them. He‘s somebody who has not shown respect for human rights in his own country.
SCHULTZ: Well, the Chinese.
MEDVED: Also the right for free expression and dissent.
SCHULTZ: Well, the Chinese have.
MEDVED: What‘s that?
SCHULTZ: The Chinese are a little behind on human rights, too, and we do a hell of a lot of business with them.
Joan, let me ask you from the standpoint of Hugo Chavez. Is this a new step forward or this potentially going to hurt the president?
WALSH: Our president? I don‘t think it hurts him at all. I think it helps him. Look, I don‘t think Chavez is really the intended audience for the handshake. He—you know, they shook hands, they smiled. Obama flashed that winning smile. But his constituency is not Hugo Chavez. His constituency is, a, Chavez‘s people who want to like Obama and are inclined to like Obama, and the rest of Latin America for whom Chavez has become a little bit of a hero because he stands up to the United States.
So it‘s important, as you say, that Obama has, you know, diminished this reflective anti-Americanism and that‘s his constituency. I don‘t expect a whole lot to come of a new relationship with Chavez. We are talking about having ambassadors. That is a good step. But I would also add to Michael, we‘re not at the U.N. conference on racism exactly because of Ahmadinejad‘s presence and also some statements that were made there.
So Obama is actually making some distinctions in the world. There are places he will not go. This is a place where he should have gone. He should have shaken that hand. It will pay dividends in the future.
SCHULTZ: Mr. Javers, I got to ask you. Does Hugo Chavez hate the United States or that he‘s—just dislike and not get along with President Bush? Which is it?
JAVERS: Well, look, it looked very much from this picture like he wanted to be in a picture with Barack Obama. So clearly doesn‘t hate Barack Obama or the United States. And this is clearly a consistent approach from Barack Obama. Remember his inaugural address where he talked about extending an open hand to dictators if they would respond by unclenching their fists.
But the danger of this sort of handshake diplomacy is that it can look naive in retrospect if the dictator blows up on you. We all remember what President Bush said about Vladimir Putin. He‘d looked into his soul by looking into his eyes. That, in later years, turned to look like a miscue and a little bit naive on President Bush‘s part.
That‘s the same danger that Barack Obama is running here, is that if Chavez becomes public enemy number one in the U.S. later in the administration, these photos are now all on file in all of the major networks.
MEDVED: Ed, Ed.
JAVERS: And the Republican National Committee headquarters.
MEDVED: Ed, if I can.
SCHULTZ: Go ahead, Mike.
SCHULTZ: Michael, go ahead. Go ahead, Michael.
MEDVED: I would just think for a moment of what you would feel like if you were part of the opposition in Venezuela. If you were part of this group of people who‘ve been crushed down, battled down—they‘ve seen their president change the constitution so they can be president for life.
They‘re battling for Democratic rights in Venezuela. I‘m sorry. I think that President Obama‘s handshake with Mr. Chavez is a poke in the eye.
SCHULTZ: What about that, Joan?
SCHULTZ: Joan, what about that?
WALSH: I completely disagree. I think it sets him up to try to do something about the plight of the opposition. And I think it‘s—I think strategic engagement is good and again, to go back to the example of China, there are plenty of—many more political prisoners in China, and still we find a way to have good diplomatic relations.
SCHULTZ: You know, there‘s something else to go along with this.
MEDVED: But the Chinese regime has been there for 50 years.
SCHULTZ: Hold on, Michael. There‘s something else to go along with this. This is a total change for the Obama administration and the United States.
Mr. Javers, we‘re talking about doing different things with Cuba. Doesn‘t that send a message to the entire Latin American community? I mean is shaking hands with Chavez is just a small part of it?
JAVERS: Yes, and that‘s what the president said in his speech Friday night in Latin America. He said the United States has changed but, look, we‘re not the only country in this region that needs to change. We need to see some change here in Latin America as well. And he has enormous credibility when he goes to deliver that kind of a message.
SCHULTZ: OK. Panel, stay with us. A lot more coming up.
Next up, Main Street success stories. That‘s right. Two Ohio companies are making it through this tough economy. The community gave them a good deal. Now they are returning the favor. We‘ll tell you about it next on THE ED SHOW. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.
In my playbook today, some positive signs in the economy. I spent the weekend in Columbus, Ohio visiting with the union folks. And I can tell you there are some signs of recovery in middle America.
Two stories have caught my attention and they both come of Ashland, Ohio. The first involves Lance Cookies and Crackers. Lance is taking over a cookie plant from bankrupt Archway Cookies. The company got, guess what, cheap money. They landed a great price, a tax abatement, and a break from the school district.
Company spokeswoman tells us so far they‘ve hired back 130 employees from Archway Cookies. The spokesman says that they were all hired back at the same wages just as they had at the previous jobs, plus, they get health care, in fact, better health care. That‘s good news.
The other story involves Barbasol shaving cream. Now Barbasol is also setting up a new plant in Ashland, Ohio and got the silver deal that the other company got. It says it‘s going to create 30 jobs and employ an additional 60 to 100 people in the next three years. Barbasol also says it‘ll pay a higher than average wage in the area.
Why is this important? Where there is cheap money and aggressive action, there is usually a strong response. This is what we‘ve got to have happen. In a state where there‘s almost 10 percent unemployment, there was opportunity for companies where people want to work.
That‘s the page right out of my playbook.
Next up, Chrysler has just 10 days left to cut a deal with Fiat. What will it mean if President Obama allow the foreign company to come in and depress American wages?
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.
Ten days. That‘s how long Chrysler and Fiat have to make a deal. In 10 days, the automaker must present a business plan that President Obama‘s auto task force considers viable or Chrysler may be forced into bankruptcy.
Now this is a big test for President Obama. Fiat‘s CEO has threatened to abandon the deal unless Chrysler forces workers to take wage and benefit cuts. Stop right there. This is where I begin to boil. We‘re bringing a foreign company in, they are using our tax dollars and, oh, by the way, they are dictating terms to an American auto manufacturer.
I‘m struggling with this. Chrysler is so desperate for the deal it threatened that they‘re to leave the Canadian market where union negotiations are at an impasse. If the unions don‘t agree, Chrysler‘s workers and retirees, we care about them, that the company may throw them under the bus.
Joining us now is Keith Naughton, an auto writer for Bloomberg.
Mr. Naughton, I know you‘re close to this story. Isn‘t the tight credit market a big part of this whole equation? Don‘t we have to sell cars in this country? Isn‘t that a big part of all of this?
KEITH NAUGHTON, BLOOMBERG: Well, absolutely and it‘s a very hard time to sell cars right now because the economy is the way it is and financing has been difficult for people and nobody is in the mood to buy a big ticket item like a car right now.
SCHULTZ: Well, what‘s going to happen? And is Fiat going to come in and call the shots on this? And it seems to me that this is just going to depress American workers‘ wages on this to make this deal happen. What do you think will happen?
NAUGHTON: Well, Fiat definitely would drive this deal. Really, the Obama administration is driving the sort of shotgun marriage of Fiat and Chrysler. And what has to happen is this next 10 days is the unions have to give concession, as you‘ve said. The lenders have to forgive some debts and Fiat and Chrysler have to come to terms with Fiat being in charge.
SCHULTZ: What about the retirees? I was in Ohio over the weekend. I met a lot of auto workers. They have absolutely no appetite for bankruptcy and they feel that the Obama administration is kicking them to the side of the road like road kill if they go down the road to bankruptcy? What do you think?
NAUGHTON: There is a great deal of concern about bankruptcy among retirees at all three, at GM, Ford and Chrysler. They are worried that they‘ll lose their benefits, which are shrinking faster already. So that is a legitimate concern by the retirees and by the active workers for that matter. They‘re going after all the wages and benefits that have been built up through the years, I have to say.
SCHULTZ: It seems—Mr. Naughton, it seems to me that Fiat wants this deal. They just want to make sure they have the complete advantage when they start to run this thing.
NAUGHTON: Well, I think they will. I think Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of Fiat who‘s here in Detroit actually today, negotiating this deal, he will probably end up being the CEO at Chrysler and Fiat will access to Chrysler‘s factories and its dealerships. And really Fiat doesn‘t have to put a penny to get into the deal.
SCHULTZ: Mr. Naughton, thanks for your time tonight.
We should point out the CEO of Fiat—he is undoubtedly a wage cutter. So beware.
Back with me now is our political panel, Joan Walsh, Eamon Javers and also Michael Medved.
Joan, I‘ve been harping on this. I think it could be real political fallout the Democrats if bankruptcy shows up for these companies. What do you think?
WALSH: Well, I think there‘ll be fallout whichever way it goes, Ed, because as you say, if Fiat wins here, there will be wage reductions. There will be benefit reductions. But the sad thing that I have to point out is that this has been going on for years and years, for decades. And foreign automakers have come in here, they‘ve taken our tax dollars, they‘ve gotten land, especially in the southern states, and they‘ve set up a parallel production—a parallel market for foreign cars built in the United States.
Now, one thing I have to say, some of those cars are better and, therefore, Americans buy them. It‘s not—the problem is not necessarily the wages that are paid. One big problem for the American automakers is that huge burden of the health care.
WALSH: . which Obama has to solve. So whatever happens, he‘s got to protect health care, do something for health care, protect those pensions but whichever way it goes workers are going to suffer.
SCHULTZ: Eamon Javers, what do you think about this? Any way out for the Obama administration to get a big play here?
JAVERS: Well, the politics of this are disasters for Obama, right, because he‘s basically got two choices. He can continue to pump billions of taxpayer dollars into Chrysler, which is in such disastrous financial shape that it really is not a going company going forward as the Obama administration has concluded after looking into this.
Or they can hope to arrange some kind of shotgun marriage, as you say, with Fiat. That seems to be the best-case scenario for all those workers and everybody else who depends on Chrysler because if they want to have any jobs at all, this might be the only scenario in which those jobs continue to exist.
There is a real danger that we don‘t have any Chrysler Corporation in this country six months or a year from now.
SCHULTZ: Now let me guess, Michael Medved, it‘s all the union‘s fault, right? They‘re making too much money, and health care is just too much. What‘s your take on this?
MEDVED: No, I don‘t think that‘s true. I know that‘s supposed to be part of the conservative hymnal. It‘s that part that I won‘t sing. Because, actually, I mean, UAW has done what they should do. They‘ve gotten a good deal for their workers and the people in UAW are some of the finest American workers out there.
They don‘t deserve this situation. Nobody deserves this situation. The reality is, that I think if you talk to auto workers, and they call me from Detroit on my radio show, they would all prefer Fiat, even with some cutbacks in some of the benefits and some of the wages, they prefer having a going concern rather than having Chrysler close its doors or go through bankruptcy, or go through worse disruption.
SCHULTZ: And quickly, Joan, isn‘t it the way out for the Obama administration, just guarantee that the retirees aren‘t going to get hurt in this? Isn‘t that one way out?
WALSH: I think that is one way out. And I think he pretty much have to take that way out. You cannot have a situation where these retirees are just kind of cast aside. I don‘t see that happening, Ed.
SCHULTZ: OK. Appreciate all of you being with us tonight. Thanks so much.
I want to point out that in an e-mail today, UAW urged members and supporters of the union to e-mail President Obama and call the White House and remind him to stand up for workers.
“We need President Obama and his auto task for to stand up for the interests of workers and retirees in these restructuring negotiations.”
They have been so silent, I really struggle with the UAW and now they are asking people to send e-mails.
Mr. Gettelfinger, get out in front of the cameras and tell the American people why this industry is so important.
That‘s THE ED SHOW tonight. I‘m Ed Schultz. For more information on THE ED SHOW, go to Ed.MSNBC.com or check out wegoted.com and 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 6:00 Eastern. “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts right now.
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