Guest: John Kerry, Byron Dorgan, Rep. Gary Peters, Jonathan Landay, Jamal
Simmons, Chris Cillizza, John Feehery, Van Jones, Sen. Bob Menendez
ED SCHULTZ, MSNBC ANCHOR: I‘m Ed Schultz. This is THE ED SHOW. Good evening, Americans. Live from 30 Rock in New York City, it‘s THE ED SHOW on MSNBC. An explosive report about Bush, Cheney and torture. How the administration officials used torture to sell the war in Iraq. I‘ll talk to Senator John Kerry about that.
President Obama is talking up green jobs on Earth Day. Can those jobs help turn the economy around?
And Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan warned us about the financial crisis 10 years ago. We‘ll talk to him.
Plus, “Psycho Talk,” one Republican thinks Americans are having buyer‘s remorse over President Obama.
But first, we have breaking news from CNBC tonight. Right now General Motors says it will close most U.S. factories for up to nine weeks this is summer. We‘ll have more information on this story later in the program. Tonight, Michigan Congressman Gary Peters will join us to talk about that.
But first, tonight‘s op/ed. The question is, Americans, is it time to prosecute? Today, the Senate put out a report that shows top Bush administration officials signed off on torture. Not just at Guantanamo Bay, but in the war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. The report says it set the tone for this disgusting abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. President Bush blamed that on the soldiers, saying it was just a few bad apples acting on their own.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: They don‘t represent America. They represent the actions of a few people. Secondly, it‘s important for people to understand that in a democracy, that there will be a full investigation. In other words, we want to know the truth. There will be a full investigation and justice will be delivered.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: OK. Have we heard that before? Folks, this is the moment of truth for all of us. Do you want the truth? I want the truth. President Bush, what did you know and when did you know it? Did you give the orders? I think you have an obligation to answer those questions to all Americans. We need to hear from you, Mr. Former President. We need to hear from the people inside the ring of fire. Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, George Tenet, you know, the guy with a metal around his neck, anyone who was involved with this, Americans needs to hear the truth.
There was a report out today in the McClatchy papers, you know, that the Bush folks were using torture for—you know what they were using it for? To get detainees to confess that Iraq was tied to 9/11. They used torture to make the case for their phony war in Iraq. Republicans, well, they like to talk about Jack Bauer. Folks, wait a second. This isn‘t about a reality TV show. This is real live stuff. We lost a lot of men and women in Iraq and we have spent a lot of money. For what? A falsehood? And they were torturing detainees to gin up to the public, that see, we did the right thing, we went into Iraq because they said so.
Now, President Obama says he wants to look forward and not backwards. But I say that we are at a cross roads in this country right now. You and me, Americans, we have to decide if we want this to move forward. Is this going to disfocus the country? Is this going to knock the Obama agenda off its heels? Or can we do more than walk and chew gum? Do we have the system in place to make sure that we get the truth and we get justice and we move forward?
I think the Democrats are kind of split on this. Real strong lefties want the absolute truth. Centrist Democrats are saying, wait a minute, we‘ve really got this health care thing we‘ve got to get straightened out. We‘ve got to address the environment.
Now just keep in mind, this is a 232-page report from the Senate Armed Services Committee. They did over 70 interviews, they have over 200,000 pages of documents. And some people are saying, it‘s time to move on? I‘m asking you tonight, what is more important? President Obama has put a new face on America. That‘s why I was heartened today to hear Secretary of State Senator Clinton say this to the Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY O FSTATE: I believe that we ought to get to the bottom of this entire matter. I think it‘s in the best interest of the country and that is what the president believes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: And there is new information tonight. We‘re going to be talking about this throughout the show and I want to know what you think. Americans, should we prosecute Bush officials for approving torture? There is evidence and it seems to be mounting day by day. Send us a text. “A” for yes, “B” for no. The number is right there on your screen.
For more on this, joining me now is Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. Senator, great to you have with us tonight.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Glad to be with you, thank you.
SCHULTZ: How far do we go on this? What‘s your quick take on this tonight? How far should we go with this?
KERRY: I think you need to know the truth. I think it would probably be beneficial to have a commission of some kind, of senior respected bipartisan people with public experience who examine that truth and lay it out to the country.
Clearly, somebody has got to be held accountable for something that really violates the fundamental values of who we are as a people. Remember, we were fighting this. We were talking about this over the last years. We have said the United States of America doesn‘t torture. And we have been arguing about the standards for any number of years. This is not just a sudden issue that has appeared on the screen of America‘s conscience. This is something that goes to the core of how we are viewed in the world and what our moral authority is in the world, of what we—how we define ourselves. And I think it‘s very important to understand that fully.
SCHULTZ: Senator Kerry, at the executive level, what role could President Bush play, former President Bush, in all of this? Would a private conversation with President Obama help to start full disclosure instead of dragging the country through all of what we can see when it comes to Senate and House hearings? Is that possible?
KERRY: Well, of course it‘s possible. But don‘t hold your breath. On the other hand, I think—look, if the president—the old saying, the buck stops there at the president‘s desk. I think either he or Vice President Cheney ought to, since they are certainly—certainly Vice President Cheney in recent days hasn‘t been reluctant to speak out on other issues, about national security. He ought to speak out about this one and tell the American people the truth.
SCHULTZ: Now, how would this work? How do you see this working? If we have a special commission, you‘ve got a special prosecutor, you‘ve got to go through hearings. From your experience, Senator Kerry, what chance does this run of this focusing the Obama administration or the country, for that matter? You know we pay attention to what the media talks about.
KERRY: We do. And I hope this is not going to become the sole topic or the principal focus because there are critical issues we have on the table at the same time. So we need to multi-task as a nation. We need to go down the road where people are doing what is appropriate to guaranteeing we understand how it happened so it doesn‘t happen again. And so the American people have the truth, which is the foundation of our society.
But also we‘ve got to do the business of this country to put people back to work, to fix our economy, get health care reform, deal with global climate change. These are big issues that are for the long term. And I think we can find a way to search for the truth without being consumed by it, Ed, at the same time as we do these other things.
SCHULTZ: OK. And those other things that you were talking about, you were addressing today, climate change. This is a big day. We‘re about 15 years behind as the country.
KERRY: We are.
SCHULTZ: Will the Obama administration go with the Kyoto protocol and will we see a real shift and real effort by the United States now that we‘ve got new leadership?
KERRY: Well, the president has already made a very significant shift and he‘s already offering very significant leadership. He was in Iowa today speaking on this topic. If you look at what the president has already achieved, he‘s done things that we‘ve been waiting 15 years to be able to do.
His stimulus package and the budget have enormous amount of incentive in them to move America towards alternative, renewable fuels, to break our independence on foreign oil, to make America more secure. And he is, I think exciting private investment, venture capital and university research and private sector research, we have Siemens company in front of us today. They are putting $6 billion into the research into these alternative and renewable possibilities. So I think we‘re on the cusp of an entire new economy and President Obama completely understands that and I think is deeply committed to moving the country in the right direction.
SCHULTZ: Senator, you just got back from an overseas trip, Pakistan and you made some comments about our policy. Where do you—
SCHULTZ: Where do you stand on the Obama administration? Are we headed in the right direction? What‘s your assessment of Pakistan right now?
KERRY: Well, Pakistan is in great difficulty right now. It‘s very, very challenged. And let me be very clear about the comments I‘ve made because some people have tried to, as is always the case in these things, to position me as if I‘m at odds with the Obama administration on where we‘re heading there. I am not.
What I said was, the white paper that the administration has done represents a set of priorities. Not a full fleshing out of a strategy. They understand that. I agree with those priorities. I think the president and Dick Holbrooke and Secretary Clinton have set out the right priorities.
But we‘re working now, all of us together. I met with Dick Holbrooke yesterday. We‘re going to be working closely with the administration to really put in place the plan which they acknowledge needs to be further refined. You‘ve got to cross the T‘s and dot the I‘s. So really all I was saying in a casual comment getting into an elevator, is that that white paper does not represent the strategy as we all understand we need to be able to go forward.
It represents the priorities on which we‘re going to build that strategy and we‘re going to get the job done.
SCHULTZ: And finally, senator, I want to bring up tonight that we‘re going to be in Afghanistan. We‘re making a strong commitment there. Do you support the president on that?
KERRY: I support the president‘s approach on that very, very strongly. I think it‘s key. But—and here‘s my but—we‘ve got to get the Pakistan piece completed because if you can‘t get Pakistan to be a component of this, then the effort in Afghanistan is going to be very, very difficult.
SCHULTZ: Senator, good to have you on tonight.
KERRY: Thank you.
SCHULTZ: Thank you so much.
KERRY: Good to be with you.
SCHULTZ: You bet.
The Bush crowd says there was nothing we could have done to prevent the economic collapse. You know, stuff happens. Well, next we‘ll talk to a Democratic senator, Byron Dorgan. He sounded the alarm on deregulation 10 years ago. What can we do about it right now? That‘s next on THE ED SHOW.
SCHULTZ: Who could have predicted the financial collapse? Well, Senator Byron Dorgan warned us about the risk of big deals about a decade ago. We‘re paying for it now. He says it makes him sick today. We‘ll talk to him when we come back on THE ED SHOW.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. What caused the financial crisis? We keep hearing, no one could have seen this coming but someone did see it coming. Ten years ago, Senator Byron Dorgan was only one of eight senators who voted against deregulation. He said it would “raise the likelihood of future massive taxpayer bailouts.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BYRON DORGAN (D), NORTH DAKOTA: We are almost certainly moving towards substantial new concentration and mergers in the financial industry. I think we will in 10 years time look back and say, we should not have done this because we forgot the lessons of the past.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Well, joining us now is that Senator Byron Dorgan from North Dakota. He sits on the Commerce Committee. Senator, this is real a bad subject to be vindicated on.
DORGAN: I know, I know.
SCHULTZ: You know, you got it right. A lot of people got it wrong. You only had seven others with you. What can we do right now to turn this around and bring regulation back into our financial markets?
DORGAN: Well, I mean, there‘s no solace in being right given the fact that this economy is a wreck and we‘re steered into the ditch by a bunch of speculators and the folks that really did some bad things in business.
And so, you know, I said back then, you know, this is setting up unbelievable risk and speculation and people producing exotic products they couldn‘t even pronounce and didn‘t understand. People buying things they wouldn‘t get from people that never had it, making massive money on both ends.
You know, we need to get back to real business here. Now what do we have to do? We have to lift this country up. We‘re in a deep hole. We need to lift this country up. And so a lot of things that start with—the subprime loan scandal that I know you‘ve covered that, but you can‘t loan money to people that can‘t repay it.
You can‘t loan money to people with conditions that are just unbelievable conditions. You‘ve got to get back to real business and good business.
SCHULTZ: Senator, this is what has a lot of Americans scared that really pay attention to this story. Larry Summers back in 1999 said this comment. “Let me welcome you all here today for the signing of this historic legislation. With this bill, the American financial system takes a major step forward towards the 21st century, one that will benefit American consumers, business, and the national economy for many years to come.”
Now, Senator Dorgan, right now Larry Summers is the director of the White House National Economic Council. Has he changed his position on this? And where does he stand on getting some regulation back into the markets?
DORGAN: Well, they say there‘s no education in the second kick of a mule. I hope everybody has learned from this. What we have is several problems. Massive debt in every direction, not just government, especially government. But household debt, credit card debt, corporate debt, deregulation.
We have people that are supposed to be regulating all of these issues that we‘re willing to be willfully blind and brag about it. And then dark money. So much of these exotic products were outside of the view of regulators. We need to put all of this back together. And you know what? I want this country to succeed badly. And so I want Larry Summers, I want everybody to work together to lift this country up and put this back together in a way that makes some sense.
SCHULTZ: Now senator you were not in favor of the TARP program but now we‘re getting word that there are 20 fraud investigations going on. This, is it not the worst possible news that American taxpayers could get right now? What do you make of this?
DORGAN: Well I‘ll tell you what, if they were investigating it, at least they are tracking some bad guys and that‘s fine with me. But I voted against the TARP funding because I didn‘t think the treasury secretary back then had the foggiest idea what he was going to do with that money.
Turns out I was right about that as well. I mean is troubled assets, toxic assets. Well they didn‘t go by toxic assets. That‘s what they said they were going to use the money for. It‘s not what they used the money for. So look again, Ed, I just want this country to succeed. I want to lift this country up, get it out of the ditch and do the things that will prevent this from ever happening again.
SCHULTZ: Now senator, you on the Commerce Committee, I know paying attention to the banks. Some of the banks are reporting some pretty hefty profits in this first quarter. But with the rules changing of mark to market, is this phony accounting or do you believe that they are making real money and are going to be able to pay back this TARP money?
DORGAN: Don‘t know, Ed. I think things have turned around a bit for some and I hope that‘s the case. I think there are some cases where it‘s kind of an illusion. They are being made to look better than they actually are. But we‘ll see. I think all of us want the same thing. This is a pretty tough situation for our country and we need to pull it out of this problem.
SCHULTZ: Senator, totally different subject. Roxana Saberi is from your state, she was Miss North Dakota years ago, highly educated. She‘s now been convicted in an Iranian court behind closed doors. What do you think will be the end game here? Do you think she‘ll serve eight years or are you confident that she‘s going to be released and we‘re going to get some diplomacy with Iran?
DORGAN: Well, I know Roxana Saberi. She now sits in a prison in Tehran, unfairly accused of espionage. I mean, it‘s a preposterous thing. This is a horrible miscarriage of justice and my fervent hope is that she‘s released from prison and allowed to leave the country.
I spoke to her father yesterday. He‘s in Tehran. He‘s visited with Roxana. This is a wonderful young woman, born, raised, educated in North Dakota. She was in Iran because she‘s proud of her cultural heritage. Her dad is Iranian, so she has dual citizenship. She needs to be released from prison and allowed to leave that country. This is a terrible miscarriage of justice.
SCHULTZ: And the breaking news tonight, senator, is that General Motors has announced they are going to be shutting down plants for up to nine weeks. It‘s going to affect a lot of employees. Are you ready to say you‘re going to support them further tonight or do you advocate bankruptcy? What‘s the next move?
DORGAN: Well, let me say it in a general way. No country remains a strong world economic power without a strong manufacturing base. And, frankly, a significant part of that manufacturing base is automobiles. I want our automobile industry to succeed. Now, I don‘t know how that‘s going to happen but I want it to succeed. Those are important jobs and that‘s an important part of our manufacturing industry.
SCHULTZ: Senator, great to have you on tonight.
DORGAN: Thanks Ed, good to be with you.
SCHULTZ: Next up on THE ED SHOW, “Psycho Talk.” A Republican senator says America regrets electing President Obama. He says the country that we‘re living in is regretting, buyer‘s remorse? What‘s that‘s all about? That‘s next in “Psycho Talk.”
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Have you heard some of the crazy things being that are being said by conservatives? It‘s time for “Psycho Talk.” Oh, Senator Jim DeMint makes the “Psycho Talk” zone today. The Republican from South Carolina, spoke to psycho television, that‘s Newsmax TV, yesterday and claimed that supporters of President Obama are experiencing buyers‘ remorse, that‘s right, buyers‘ remorse, because they now see the Obama agenda taking America towards socialism. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JIM DEMINT ®, SOUTH CAROLINA: After Obama led this emotional swoon across the country during his election, where thousands came out for hope and change, which I think many believe that—they have a little buyer‘s remorse. Let‘s just say that. The swoon is over and more and more people are taking to their feet and they‘re speaking out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Senator DeMint, let‘s go over the president‘s approval ratings just one more time. Now, if I recall correctly, they remain in the 60s. Gallup has Obama‘s average approval at 63 percent since taking office, the highest first quarter average since the 1990s. Does that seem like buyer‘s remorse to you? What‘s the sticker price say now?
Senator DeMint also said that government health care is the last thing we need. And republicans need to offer a real alternative to Obama. Except, senator, I‘ve had four different Republicans on this program, they haven‘t offered anything every time I ask them. Alternatives? Buyer‘s remorse? For a president with an approval rating above 60 percent? Sorry senator, that‘s “Psycho Talk.”
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Big breaking news tonight;
General Motors plans to close most of the U.S. factories for up to nine weeks this summer. Let‘s go to Congressman Gary Peters of Michigan. Congressman, great to have you on with us tonight. Is this good news? Bad news? What do you think?
REP. GARY PETERS (D), MICHIGAN: Well, it certainly reflects what is happening with the auto industry all across North America. Sales are down dramatically, not just with General Motors, but with Chrysler, as well as with Nissan and Toyota, Honda. All sales are down about 40, 50 percent.
As a result of that, companies are now curtailing production or stepping back production. General Motor‘s announcement of course today, which we‘re not happy about, but we‘re likely to see other announcements from other auto makers. In fact, I understand Toyota also may be cutting back production. When you have this kind of drop in sales that we‘ve seen as a result of the credit crisis and consumers, quite frankly, very nervous about getting out there and buying an automobile or any kind of large ticket item right now.
SCHULTZ: Congressman, do you think that this is an indication that they might be able to avert bankruptcy?
PETERS: Well, I think this is a way to trim costs, which is what they have to do to be able to be viable going forward. This allows them to conserve cash, and also meet production with the actual demand that‘s out there. But the real challenge for both General Motors and Chrysler right now is to get the creditors and the bond holders to renegotiate debt. Both of them are on tight time lines. We‘ve only got about eight days for Chrysler.
SCHULTZ: Are there any serious offers on the table?
PETERS: Right now, the creditors for Chrysler gave what I think is an outrageous offer. It is not serious. It needs to be revisited. General Motors will be going to their bond holders very shortly. We‘ll see what happens. But that‘s going to be critical for these companies. They have to step forward and be part of a solution, so we can continue to have not only an American auto industry, but a manufacturing sector in this country, which is essential for the American middle class to be in this country.
SCHULTZ: Do you know when these shut downs are going to take place?
Is it this summer or—
PETERS: We‘re expecting it this summer. We‘re still waiting for more details from the company.
SCHULTZ: Congressman, great to have you on the program. I appreciate your time on short notice tonight.
PETERS: Great to be with you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Now back to the other big story tonight. Remember this misinformation campaign?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE BUSH, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Evidence from intelligent sources, secret communications, and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al Qaeda.
DICK CHENEY, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We‘ve learned a couple of things. We‘ve learned more and more that there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Well, there is a report today that the Bush administration used torture not only to stop terrorist attacks, but to connect Saddam Hussein to 9/11. Basically, the Bush administration was trying to cover their tracks. They tortured to try to get people to go back their case, you know, when we invaded that country.
Army psychologist Major Paul Burney told Army investigators what happened at Guantanamo Bay saying, “we were focused on trying to establish a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq and we were not being successful in establishing a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq. The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish this link, there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results.”
Joining me now is Jonathan Landay, who is the national security intelligence correspondent for “McClatchy Newspapers.” Jonathan, this is another barn burner. If your sources are spot on with this, this opens up a whole new Pandora‘s Box, doesn‘t it?
JONATHAN LANDAY, “MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS”: Well, what seems to be going on was that the administration was trying to find justification at that point or evidence to support one of their main key arguments for the invasion of Iraq, which was the alleged relationship between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. Every time you heard a speech by the president or Vice President Cheney or one of the senior officials, there was always this mention of 9/11, and immediately afterwards the mention of Saddam Hussein.
And they were getting information, turned out to be bogus, from various Iraqi exiles that this connection existed. The fact is that they were being told by the CIA, right from day one, that there was no operational relationship, at least no evidence of an operational relationship. There was—were contacts going back maybe a decade, but no operational relationship. And it appears that they were trying to find that evidence through the use of these aggressive abusive interrogation methods.
SCHULTZ: So the bottom line here is that the administration must have felt that the country was not buying their story on WMD, and that we weren‘t 45 minutes from a launch and mushroom clouds, and they wanted to go back, torture somebody, get them to back their story to get free and clear, so we wouldn‘t be back here talking about what we are today and that‘s torture?
LANDAY: Well, chronologically, if you look at what was going on, the period in which these—they were using—the CIA was using these methods against their detainees, and then they were being used in Guantanamo Bay, was right in that period when the administration was pushing its public campaign to gin up public support for the invasion of Iraq.
SCHULTZ: Now this story doesn‘t stop right here. You have some pretty explosive stuff here. What‘s your next step in reporting this story?
LANDAY: Well, we have to go and see how extensive this pressure was, and precisely where it was coming from, and who it was being put on, besides the major who was talked about it in his interview with the Army investigators.
SCHULTZ: Jonathan Landay, “McClatchy Newspapers,” good work. Thanks for joining us tonight on THE ED SHOW.
LANDAY: My pleasure.
SCHULTZ: For more on this, let‘s bring in tonight‘s panel, Jamal Simmons, Democratic strategist, Chris Cillizza, White House reporter for “Washington Post” and author of “The Fix,” and John Feehery is a Republican strategist. Gentlemen, thanks for your time tonight.
Chris, let‘s start with you. Let‘s get back, if we can, to whether we should push forward with prosecution and investigate of former Bush officials on this torture thing, and obviously keeping in mind that this runs the risk of disfocusing the country. What do you think?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Ed, this is fascinating one, I think, because what you saw during the election was Barack Obama with the full support of the Democratic base of the party, that liberals were really excited about someone for the first time. No offense to Bill Clinton, but the truth of the matter is liberal Democrats never saw Bill Clinton as one of them.
Liberal Democrats feel very strongly that these prosecutions should go forward, that the Bush administration needs to pay for what they did. But Barack Obama, remember, an idealist, but with a very strong pragmatic streak to him, he doesn‘t necessarily want to get back into this debate over what happened. He knows. He has seen all the polling. He knows the data. He knows that the Bush administration is not very popular and that this, if anything, will make it less popular.
But he also knows the economy, Afghanistan, there‘s a lot of energies on Earth Day. There‘s a lot of other big challenges here moving forward that I think he would prefer to focus on.
SCHULTZ: John Feehery, how big of a tight rope is this for the president?
JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think that Chris is absolutely right. To Chris‘ point, to fight Afghanistan and Pakistan, he needs a very solid CIA and a solid and strong intelligence community. If we have all of these people checking their back sides during all of this investigation, it‘s going to be very hard to have a really solid intelligence agency.
Pakistan and Afghanistan and Iraq, those are the things that he wants to focus on in the international arena. He has a shooting war going on. If he gets involved in investigations, it‘s going to take the focus off the shooting war.
SCHULTZ: But Jamal, there are liberal Democrats out there who want truth. They want justice. And they want to see prosecution. Does the president just ignore them?
JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: So we have truth, right? We‘ve gotten these memos out. So now the memos are on the table. We know which Bush administration officials wrote the memos. Should we go through the process of prosecution? I don‘t know. I‘m genuinely conflicted by this. I think some of my liberal friends might be upset about this. But do we really want to go back and start spending all of the government‘s time prosecuting past behavior?
Did we do that after we interned 122,000 Japanese during World War II? That was clearly illegal under Constitutional standards. We apologized for that. And for those people who had to suffer through it, it was torture. But we didn‘t go back and prosecute government officials for doing that during a time of war. So I‘m a little nervous about criminalizing government behavior.
And there‘s another kind of punishment. There is shame. And there‘s historical blame. So all of these people responsible for this will have to pay the cost for perpetuity in the history books.
SCHULTZ: Chris, I‘ve read portions of this and it is damaging, this Senate Armed Services report, this 200-plus pager. Where are the Republicans on this? I mean, there are Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee, but they seem to be ominously silent on this tonight.
CILLIZZA: You know, Ed, I‘ll tell you what I‘ve been struck by. It‘s a little bit broader point, but I think it goes to what you‘re talking about here. I‘ve actually been surprised when you‘ve seen people like Dick Cheney has taken a very prominent role, in terms of being a spokesman for the Republican party, as well as a defender of the Bush years. I‘ve got to be honest, I‘m somewhat surprised that you haven‘t seen a Republican leader or two, or even more rank in file Republicans, come out and say, you know what, we honor Vice President Cheney for his service and we appreciate his comments, but we need to move forward and I politely disagree with him.
This is not—Dick Cheney is not a guy who is sitting at 70 or 80 percent approval ratings. This is a guy in the 20s and 30s. I‘m a little bit surprised, because it bogs them down, again in the past. And that‘s not what they want.
SCHULTZ: John, we‘ll come back and start you in the next segment.
Stay with us, fellows. At the top of the show, we asked you to text us. Nearly 2,000 of you have responded, and an overwhelming number, 94 percent, want to see Bush officials prosecuted. If you haven‘t responded, we still want you to hear—we want to hear from you. Should Bush officials be prosecuted for signing off on torture? Send us a text to the number on your screen. A for yes and B for no.
Coming up, President Obama says green jobs will grow our economy and make us energy independent. Van Jones wrote the book, literally, on green collar economy. He‘s now an adviser to President Obama. We‘ll talk to him when we come back on THE ED SHOW. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: On this Earth Day, it‘s time for us to lay a new foundation for economic grown by beginning a new era of energy exploration in America. The choice we face is not between saving our environment and our economy.
The choice we face is between prosperity and decline.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: And on this Earth Day, my playbook turns to President Obama‘s push to create green jobs. How many can he create? You just heard the president speaking in Iowa. President Obama headed to the battleground state today, the place where it really all started for him.
He toured and met with workers at a former Maytag plant, which has been converted into a green manufacturing facility that produces towers for wind energy. The president used his trip to Newton, Iowa to deliver the green jobs message.
This is a critical time for the administration‘s energy agenda. Today the House Energy Commerce Committee started hearings on comprehensive climate and energy bill. Energy Secretary Steven Hsu testified the president‘s budget also calls for increased spending on energy and includes a promise to create millions of green jobs.
Joining me now is the president‘s special adviser on green jobs, Van Jones. Van, thanks for being here tonight. Explain to the American people who don‘t get this wind and solar thing, where are these jobs going to be created? Is it manufacturing? What is it?
VAN JONES, SPECIAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT FOR GREEN JOBS: Well, these are going to be jobs literally from PHDs to GEDs and back again. When you are talking about creating green jobs, you‘re recognizing, we have a Saudi Arabia of clean energy right here in America. We have Saudi Arabia wind power off our coasts and our heartland. We‘ve got Saudi Arabia in the Sun Belt and on roof tops across America.
What we haven‘t done is connected our clean energy power centers with our population centers. What Barack Obama understands is that everything that is good for our energy independence and for the environment is a job. Solar panels don‘t manufacture themselves. Wind turbines don‘t put themselves up.
What you‘ve got to be able to do is put people to work in these new industries of tomorrow. And we can create literally millions of jobs doing this, and be more energy secure and energy independent in America.
SCHULTZ: Now, is this going to be really government backed or is the administration going to have to have the private sector to step up and do the investment on this? What happens here?
JONES: Thank you for asking the question, because we‘re talking about private sector jobs. Barack Obama is trying to do something which is going to unleash innovation, entrepreneurship, give opportunities to the people with the big ideas in energy. We haven‘t had any innovation in our energy sector for 30 years. The people with the big lobbyist have been holding back the people with the big ideas.
We have people in this country that have a Yahoo! for clean energy in their brains, in their garages right now. What Barack Obama wants to do is give them the support, change the rules so they can compete, and you‘re going to unleash a title wave of innovation, a title wave of entrepreneurship for small business, for the new folks to get in here, shake up this energy sector and create new jobs.
SCHULTZ: Mr. Jones, are you willing to put a number on what we can create this year and in 2010 on this?
JONES: Well, I‘ll tell you, we have enough money on the table to train 100,000 people just with the federal dollars. That‘s coming through the Department of Labor. We know that that‘s going to create opportunities at the state and local levels. We can talk about the training dollars. Enough money on the table right now to train 100,000. There‘s going to be a multiplier on that.
But here‘s the reality. This is Earth Day for everybody. Barack Obama is standing at a Maytag—he could have gone to a creak or mountain. That would have been beautiful. He‘s standing there with the workers. He‘s going to points of pain in this country, and saying, we have promise now. You can have green manufacturing jobs.
SCHULTZ: And let‘s point out that the president supported tax incentives and tax credits when it came to wind and solar. Van, thanks for being with us tonight. We‘ll have you back. Thanks so much.
JONES: Happy Earth Day.
SCHULTZ: You bet. We want to tell you tonight, folks, that MSNBC has a new green series coming up. It‘s called “Future Earth.” The first part is a journey to the Arctic. It premiers this Sunday night at 10:00 p.m. right here on MSNBC.
Next up, credit cards are hiking interest rates and charging outrageous fees. A lot of these companies are still in business because you and I had our tax dollars thrown to them. Is President Obama ready to crack down on them? Well, they are coming to the White House tomorrow. We‘ll tell you more about that after this.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Is President Obama ready to get tough on credit card companies? He‘s got a big meeting with 14 credit card executives tomorrow. Many of those executives represent the credit divisions of bailed out banks. They‘ve been jacking up interest rates and fees on customers. Some of these companies—actually, they wouldn‘t be in business if they hadn‘t been handed the bailout.
Do you and I—do we have any leverage on this deal? Joining me now is Senator Bob Menendez. Senator, how tough can the Congress get on these credit card?
SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: First of all, congratulations on a great launch on your program. It‘s fantastic.
SCHULTZ: Thank you.
MENENDEZ: Look, I think we have leverage. As a matter of fact, for the first time in over a decade, the Senate Banking Committee passed legislation to provide more consumer protections. Today, the House Banking Committee did the same exact thing. As the president goes into that meeting tomorrow, he‘s going to have action that he can relate to those executives from both the House and the Senate on greater consumer protection, as it relates to credit cards. And I think that should strengthen his hand at that meeting.
SCHULTZ: Senator, are you ready to put a number on how much interest these companies can charge on consumers? Back in the ‘20s, they went after people with regulation when they were in the 20s. We‘re up into the high 20s right now.
MENENDEZ: We have a whole bunch of things we want to do. Number one is we don‘t want credit card companies to be able to go back on your present balance, and retroactively raise your rates. That simply not justifiable, number one. Number two is if you‘ve got a great credit card history and you‘re paying on time, there‘s no reason—one of my constituents called me and said, I went from eight percent to 29 percent on my credit card and I have paid consistently on time.
SCHULTZ: And consumers—you know, senator, consumers are saying, hey, we lend them the money, this is how they are going to pay it back on our backs. You‘ve got to stop it.
MENENDEZ: Absolutely. And I think that is what the legislation that we passed through the Senate Banking Committee and that very similar, not exact, that passed through the House today. I think it‘s a great opportunity to do that. The industry can respond to President Obama tomorrow. Hopefully, he‘s going to let it be known to them rather clearly that they‘ve got to change either internally or we‘ll see a change legislatively.
SCHULTZ: Senator, great to have you with us tonight.
MENENDEZ: Thank you.
SCHULTZ: Our panel is still with us, Jamal Simmons, Chris Cillizza, and John Feehery. John, I‘ll start with you. Is there a fine line on how far the president can go in and strong arm these banks?
FEEHERY: There is, Ed. The problem is that do you want the credit card companies to continue to loan and keep their credit out to some of the high-risk customers to keep the economy going? If you press too hard on them, they‘ll just stop lending their money and giving credit cards to people they want to help inject the economy.
It‘s a very fine line. If you go too far, these credit card companies will just say, we‘re not going to give credit to these people.
SCHULTZ: Jamal, what should President Obama say to these executives tomorrow?
SIMMONS: President Obama should get right on the side of the American people. This is like being for apple pie and motherhood in America. Everybody in America has had trouble with some credit card company. You make an agreement with a credit card company. They loan you money. You say you‘ll pay it back. If you pay it back, there‘s no reason for them to punish you by raising your credit card rate.
You have people like my mother, who just last weekend we had this conversation, who pays her credit card every month. Then what happens is they lower the credit card limit on the credit card. So now it shrinks her available credit. Other credit card companies look at that. Then she gets her credit card rates raised because her credit rating goes down.
This is a scam. President Obama has got to go in there and stop it.
SCHULTZ: Chris, I want to ask you about GM. The breaking news tonight that they‘re going to be shutting down a lot of plants this summer for an extended period of time. What‘s your take on that? Does this buy them more time or are they headed for bankruptcy?
CILLIZZA: Ed, it seems to me—if you‘re looking down the horizon and trying to figure out what the potential problems are for Barack Obama, figuring out how to keep the auto industry viable seems to me to be the biggest one out there. We‘ve talked about it on the show before. I still think that what you‘re going to ultimately see is how much is Barack Obama going to stand up to the unions and say, look, you‘ve got to make some concessions here. This is just simply not viable unless you do.
That‘s going to be a real moment to see how he stands up to what is arguably the most powerful interest group in the Democratic party. I think that‘s where we‘re headed.
SCHULTZ: John, you‘re take on this? Will he be letting a lot of people down if they go bankruptcy?
FEEHERY: I think bankruptcy is probably in their future. The problem you have is people aren‘t buying cars right now. I think there‘s one solution out there that you can do, which is this cash for clunkers idea, where people can turn in their cars, get a big cash—some money for it, and then it helps the environment, helps people buy cars. I think you need to have something like that to get people to buy cars, because they are just not buying them right now.
SCHULTZ: Jamal, I have heard that people with high ratings can‘t even get a car loan. The entire landscape has changed. It would seem to me this is the bigger conversation that the president needs to have with these bankers.
SIMMONS: That‘s right. The whole thing has ceased up. I‘ll tell you, I‘m from Michigan. And nine weeks off is going to hurt a lot of people. But I‘d rather they have nine weeks off and have car companies that are still able to survive than not.
But I also want to say one thing. The UAW has been the first union to step up. They stepped up and offered concessions immediately after these problems started. So I don‘t think we should be blaming the unions. The UAW has tried and they is continuing to try to give concessions to keep these car companies alive.
What they need to see is that if the car companies come back, the unions get some benefit from the resurgence of the auto industry. I think that‘s what is missing from the rhetoric right now.
SCHULTZ: Chris, as a journalist, what do you make of Ron Gettelfinger‘s silence?
CILLIZZA: You know, I think it‘s fascinating. The broader picture you have here too, the entire labor movement, in some ways, is under—I don‘t want to say a duress, but it‘s certainly under change. You had the break away and now the reformation. I think they are still getting their feet under them, which is making it harder, because you don‘t necessarily have that unified—broadly unified labor movement.
So you‘re seeing trouble as a result of that. But to Jamal‘s point, I don‘t disagree with him. One other thing about GM—
SCHULTZ: I‘ve got to run. Sorry.
SCHULTZ: I‘m up against the clock, buddy. Fellows, thanks so much for joining me.
We‘ve been talking about the torture report. Now, you guys have a lot to say about that. We asked to you text us. More than 3,600 people have responded; 94 percent want to see Bush administration officials prosecuted.
That‘s THE ED SHOW. I‘m Ed Schultz. Send me an e-mail or get more information. Go to Ed.MSNBC.com or check out my website at WeGotEd.com. Get text alerts about THE ED SHOW sent right to your phone; just text the word Ed to 622639. We‘ll see you back here tomorrow night at 6:00 Eastern. Next up, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews on MSNBC. Starting right now.
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