Guest: Tom Daschle, Robert Reich, David Cho, Sen. Dick Durbin, Karen
Hanretty, Todd Webster, E.J. Dionne, Valerie Jarrett
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.
President Obama is getting to meet the press at a primetime press conference tonight. That starts at 8:00 p.m. You‘ll see it right here on MSNBC.
Got a great show for you tonight.
Tom Daschle, former senator, is going to be joining me in just a moment.
Also, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois is here. He‘s working on financial reform, but says the banks own the Senate?
And senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, she‘s been with the president since the beginning. Her thoughts on the first 100 days in office.
And we want to know what you think about Arlen Specter. Will he help advance the president‘s agenda? We‘ll give you a chance to vote in a text survey in just a moment.
Plus, “Psycho Talk.” Oh, she‘s back. Michele Bachmann is back at it.
But first, tonight‘s “OpEd.”
We have had 100 days to see what this president could do. I think he‘s a man of action. He‘s got a 61 percent approval rating.
The world is actually out there waving American flags again. We‘re back in the diplomacy business.
He passed the biggest economic recovery bill that we‘ve ever seen in history. The Senate passed his budget just a few minutes ago. It passed the House this morning without a single Republican vote. We‘ve heard this story before.
And I could tell you that the president‘s party is feeling good right now. And it‘s gaining in numbers, isn‘t it, with Arlen Specter coming over?
But there are a number of things that this president still has on his plate. What‘s the next 100 days going to look like?
Now, the president held a town hall meeting today down in St. Louis and was very frank and very up front about the kind of success they‘ve had in just 100 days. He‘s not playing it like a rookie.
The Republicans have done everything they can to stop him. They‘re running around accusing him of try to go bankrupt the country, the Republicans are just saying no to absolutely everything. But the polls show that you and I are pretty confident about this guy right now, that we feel pretty good about the country being on the right track again.
But as I said, down in a town in Missouri today, President Obama not taking any victory laps. It‘s just not in his personality. He says we still have a lot of work to do, especially on the economy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK H. OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will continue to measure my progress by the progress that you see in your own lives. And I believe that years from now, we are going to be able to look back at this time as the moment when the American people once again came together to reclaim their future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: The president did have a warning for critics, especially the TEA Partiers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Those of you who are watching certain news channels on which I‘m not very popular, and you see folks waving teabags around, let me just remind them that I am happy to have a serious conversation about how we are going to cut our health care costs down over the long term, how we‘re going to stabilize Social Security. But let‘s not play games.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Well, let‘s look at this from a critical view.
From a critical view from the left, they might measure it this way—to be fair about it—we‘re still spending billions of dollars in Iraq, we have ramped up operations in Afghanistan, leaving some liberals out there are wondering, is this change?
Now, on health care, why has the White House been so slow in articulating the message? What reforms are we actually looking at? Is single payer actually off the table?
In the automobile industry, why are we lending billions of dollars only to see job cuts, factories closed, and foreign ownership now take a grip of that industry?
Where is the president on the Employee Free Choice Act? Now, is this administration really going to focus on the middle class after Wall Street got a whole bunch of breaks and a bunch of money to bail themselves out?
Now, to be fair about it, it just seems that liberals are out there saying we voted for Obama, but now we‘re being asked to be patient. So a critical view of this, I think we have to be fair.
There are some liberals out there across America who are saying, all right, when is this reform really going to start? And I think Democrats have been patient—the $25 folks that, you know, never gave to a campaign before. And to his credit, he never took PAC money.
The fact is, the president, these folks are still waiting on you.
For more on that, joining me now is former senator from South Dakota and majority leader of the Democrats, Tom Daschle.
Tom, great to have you with us tonight.
TOM DASCHLE, FMR. SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Thanks, Ed. Great to be with you.
I‘ve got to play critical thinker on this. You know, I‘m push button. We want instant answers and everything else. But there are some lefties out there in America that are asking the question now, what kind of health care reform are we really going to see?
What do you think?
DASCHLE: Well, I think you‘re going to see the president engaged in the next 100 days, Ed, in exactly the issues you just raised. We‘re going to see the Congress work directly on health care reform for the next hundred days. You‘re going to see the Congress work on climate change for the next 100 days.
You‘re going to see some of the most extraordinary and huge issues this country has avoided dealing with now for a long period of time on the floor before the American people, and you‘re going to see this president engaged every step of the way.
SCHULTZ: His demeanor is the same all the time. He‘s a cool customer, no question about it. But he seems to be really moving to the center.
Is this the Barack Obama that ran for president, or is this Barack Obama the president that we‘re going to have?
DASCHLE: I wouldn‘t say he‘s running—I mean, think what you see is a president who‘s pragmatic, a president who understand that he‘s got to govern, that he‘s got to inspire, he‘s got to lead, but he also has to govern. And that governance requires bringing everybody together.
You don‘t find everybody together on the far left or on the far right. You find them in the center. So he‘s going to try to do everything he can to move the country in the direction that he speaks to eloquently about, but at the end of the day, he‘s got to govern. And that‘s what you see him trying to do now.
SCHULTZ: Where is he as far as a grade, in your opinion, 1 to 100?
What would you give him, and the first 100 days?
DASCHLE: I tell you what, I give him a strong 90-plus. I really would.
I think when it comes to setting the tone, when it comes to leading the way, when it comes to reestablishing our credibility in international affairs, when it comes to really creating a new vision for this country, and giving people the hope he talked about in the campaign, you‘ve got to give him high marks. He deserves them.
SCHULTZ: Tom, how hard has this been on you, not to be a part of this health care thing? It‘s had to have been a rough 100 days for you.
DASCHLE: Well, Ed, I‘m part of it. I‘m just not part of it in the way I thought I might be.
SCHULTZ: Well, that‘s why I have you here tonight, because I think you are a really big-time part of it, and I want to hear what your role is, and so does America.
DASCHLE: Well, I want to continue to contribute and find ways to do it. I‘m going to be working informally with members of the White House, with the Congress, with groups all over the country.
I‘m speaking around the country. I‘m doing as much as possible to see that we get this job done this year, and I‘m more optimistic every day that we will.
SCHULTZ: Do you still have the president‘s ear?
DASCHLE: Well, I like to think so.
Now, this is really—you‘re the perfect person to weigh in on this, because you were there in the Senate for many, many years, in a minority and majority leader position. We‘ve just seen Senator Specter move over to the Democrats.
Tom, what does it really mean? Does it mean anything?
DASCHLE: Well, I think it means two things, Ed.
First of all, it‘s tremendous psychology. It shows once again that the Republicans are losing ground, they‘re losing the moderates, that the party of the big tent, the party of inclusion, is the Democratic Party. Arlen Specter proved that just as Jim Jeffords proved it nine years ago.
The other thing it does is it does move you closer to 60 votes on procedural, on the key, critical motions. Procedural votes sometimes are more important than the substantive votes because you have got to get over the logjam. This gets him closer to doing that.
SCHULTZ: OK. This is Senator Specter this morning. He went to the White House, got quite an endorsement by the president and the vice president. They went so far to say that they‘re going to support him if there‘s anybody in Pennsylvania that rivals him in a primary.
That‘s a heck of an endorsement to have from the president and the vice president.
This is Senator Specter this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (D), PENNSYLVANIA: I think I can be of assistance to you, Mr. President, in my views on centrist government. There are a lot of big issues which we‘re tackling now that I‘ve been deeply involved in.
I‘ve been deeply involved in health care reform and global warming, climate control, and immigration. And will continue to be so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: OK. Health care reform, I‘m all about it.
Can the president of the United States count on Arlen Specter when it comes to health care reform? And how far will he go in reform?
DASCHLE: I think he can. Arlen Specter‘s been involved personally and professionally with health care for a long time.
He led the fight to get more cancer research under way. There‘s no question he‘s going to be right in the middle of this.
I had some good conversations with him a couple of months ago, and I will say he‘s committed. I think you can see him as one of the real generals when it comes to making health care reform a reality.
SCHULTZ: Well, you know, Tom, it wasn‘t only his defection to the Democratic Party. Olympia Snowe has come out and said some pretty critical things about what it‘s like to be a Republican now. You know, their camp‘s a lot smaller and, undoubtedly, they‘ve got some issues.
How serious do you think it is? Because I remember the days when you were in the minority, 2002, Bush was on a roll; 2004 you lost your election; and he came out in 2005, went on the road and whatnot, and with a lot of momentum. I mean, this pendulum has definitely swung, but what do you make of Olympia Snowe saying what she‘s saying? Are there other Republicans that feel the same way but just aren‘t voicing it the way she is?
DASCHLE: Well, I‘ll tell you what, Olympia Snowe is really one of the most respected members of the Senate, Ed. She‘s been that for a long period of time, and her voice matters.
And I think it would be a huge mistake for the Republican Party to ignore the voice of an Olympia Snowe. She is speaking for a lot more members than have spoken so far about how lonely it is and how far to the right the Republican Caucus has moved, to their own detriment. What she‘s saying is come back to the middle, make us feel more welcome. And I don‘t see that happening.
SCHULTZ: How much can the president get done in 2009? Health care reform? Maybe another stimulus package? Employee Free Choice Act? What do you think?
DASCHLE: I think it‘s all within the realm of possibility depending on two things. One, how much can he ignite and energize the country? And how much support is he going to get from the Democratic Caucus?
SCHULTZ: Tom, great to see you.
DASCHLE: My pleasure.
SCHULTZ: Thanks for coming in.
All right. We want to know what you think about Senator Specter joining the Democrats. Will he advance President Obama‘s agenda? Text “A” for yes and “B” for no. The number‘s right there on your screen. We‘ll bring it back to you later on in the show and bring you the results.
Coming up next, President Obama is getting good marks from the American people, but the economy is getting worse. Is the president doing enough to fix it?
Robert Reich will join us when we come back right here on THE ED SHOW.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.
Just in, the Senate has passed President Obama‘s budget 53-43. The House also passed his plan without a single Republican vote. We‘ve heard that story before.
It lays out ambitious reforms in education and energy policy. And it‘s a huge step towards getting health care cost down and health care coverage for all Americans.
That‘s the great news, but we also heard some news today that isn‘t so good.
For the first three months of the year, the economic contracted by 6.1 percent. At least six of the 19 banks that went through stress tests may need more capital to stay afloat.
Is President Obama doing enough? When will we see the results?
Joining me now is Robert Reich, former secretary of labor in the Clinton administration, and author of the book “Supercapitalism,” now in paperback.
Robert, great to have you with us.
This obviously is not very good news. When do you think this is going to turn around? When is this stimulus package going to kick into gear?
ROBERT REICH, FMR. LABOR SECRETARY: Well, Ed, I think the economy will probably turn around next year, not this year, unfortunately. We could see unemployment getting up to around 10 percent officially by the end of this year, but of course, unofficially, a lot of people who are giving up looking for work are not counted, and that doesn‘t include a lot of part-time workers.
So we probably do need a larger stimulus package. Now, I know that $787 billion sounds like a very large amount of money, but it probably does have to be bigger.
SCHULTZ: Well, there‘s one thing for sure, Robert. That this 61 approval rating is not going to stay with the president if these jobs don‘t start getting created.
Will we see some movement this summer because there‘s been so much money put into construction?
REICH: Yes, we‘ll see some movement, Ed. But again, there is such a gap between what a full employment economy could be producing and the failure of consumers and businesses to demand very much from the economy right now, because consumers have pulled back a great deal.
That makes a lot of sense from the standpoint of individual consumers. They can‘t afford it. They can‘t go into debt. They‘ve got to start saving.
But if you look at the total economy, when consumers pull back, pull in their belts, when businesses pull back, pull in their belts, that means there just is not enough consumption, there‘s just not enough spending to keep everybody employed. So government is the spender of last resort.
That means government is going to have to. We‘ll see a bit of more spending. Government spending will kick in this summer to some extent, but government is probably going to have to do more spending before things get better.
SCHULTZ: Well, so you think there‘s going to be another stimulus package before the year‘s out? Is that what I‘m hearing tonight?
REICH: Well, I certainly would hope so.
Now, again, when you talk to a lot of people on Capitol Hill about a bigger stimulus package or more stimulus, they shake their heads and say, no, we can‘t possibly go into debt more than this. But I remind them that Franklin D. Roosevelt did not get us out of the depression until he spent really big time on the Second World War.
There is no way out until government does the right amount of spending. And once you do it, once you get people back employed, then the economy can handle the debt because, of course, the economy is much larger, people are employed, there are tax revenues, they can pay the debt down.
SCHULTZ: Can the president build on this 61 percent approval rating, or would that be asking too much? I mean, if he delivers health care to every American, I mean, I really think that this is going to be the ticket to the midterm if he can get that done.
REICH: I agree with you.
SCHULTZ: You know, and also to get reelected in ‘12. I mean, if he can come out to the American people and say, look, I‘ve got everybody covered and I‘ve reduced your costs, would he be just rolling to a second term?
REICH: Yes, I completely agree with you, Ed. I think that overall budget and the health care and the cap and trade system against climate change, a lot of the stuff in the budget makes a lot of sense. And it is on the way to being enacted.
Tom Daschle is absolutely right. The big fight in the health care bill though is going to be over whether there is going to be a government insurance alternative for people to buy into if they want.
SCHULTZ: Do you want that? Do you want that?
REICH: Oh, absolutely. It has to be there.
SCHULTZ: Yes, I think it does too.
REICH: The insurance companies are going to scream about it. The health care companies and the drug companies are going to scream about it, but that‘s the big fight.
SCHULTZ: You know, Mr. Reich, every time we talk about getting the government involved in health care, we just see the numbers go down further and further for the Republicans. They are definitely in trouble, no doubt about it.
REICH: Well, because people are in trouble. I mean, not only 44 million Americans who don‘t have health care, Ed, but you know, 120 million American families can barely hold on to the health care they have.
SCHULTZ: No doubt about it.
Robert, thanks for joining us tonight.
REICH: Thanks. Bye, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Next up on THE ED SHOW, “Psycho Talk.” Michele Bachmann is at it again. I‘ll tell you what, she is the gift that just keeps on giving. This time she wonders if the Democrats are connected to swine flu.
That‘s next in “Psycho Talk.”
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.
Have you heard some of the crazy things that are being said by conservatives?
That‘s right, it‘s time for “Psycho Talk.”
Oh, she‘s back. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has found herself in what‘s becoming a familiar place—her special place in the “Psycho Talk” zone.
Bachmann made the false claim that flu pandemics seem to happen when Democrats are in power. She spoke on right-wing Pajamas TV.
Listen to this one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA: I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out then under another Democrat president, Jimmy Carter. And I‘m not blaming this on President Obama. I just think it‘s an interesting coincidence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: It sure is.
How generous of Michele Bachmann. She‘s not blaming President Obama for the current outbreak in swine flue. Of course not. She just can‘t help but notice the coincidence. It‘s just interesting that we had another Democratic president the last time swine flu hit the country. Except we didn‘t.
That was just flat-out wrong. The last flu scare started in 1976, and I do recall Gerald Ford was the president. Ford was a Republican.
Michele Bachmann making any sort of connection between the president‘s party, affiliation and a flu outbreak, even thinking it, even saying it, puts her right into the “Psycho Talk” zone.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back for THE ED SHOW. We have breaking news at this hour dealing with Chrysler tonight. It appears they have a deal with Fiat. For the latest, let‘s go to the “Washington Post‘s” David Cho, who has been following this story. David, what can you tell us about this breaking news tonight?
DAVID CHO, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Fiat has agreed to this deal, not only today. I think they had agreed in principle before today. But really, more importantly, more details about what the government is planning to do with Chrysler is now coming out. We just broke this on our website.
You know, some of these details include Robert Nardelli, the current chief executive of Chrysler would be ousted and replaced by Fiat‘s management. Secondly, in a bankruptcy, if it happens—that‘s still not an absolutely sure thing. But if it happens, as expected, tomorrow, billions of more dollars in federal aid would come from the U.S. and Canada and go into the coffers of Chrysler to keep it alive.
SCHULTZ: OK, so Nardelli—you‘re reporting, “Washington Post” reporting tonight that Nardelli is out and Fiat management is in?
CHO: If the bankruptcy happens as planned. Our understanding is this is almost certain to happen either way. Right now, it‘s not an absolutely sure thing that the bankruptcy will happen. The Treasury right now is desperately negotiating with these lenders, to make sure that they could agree to the government‘s plan.
If they get agreement from these lenders, a bankruptcy possibly could be avoided. I‘m told that Obama has two speeches planned, one if Chrysler goes into bankruptcy, another if it doesn‘t. You know, he doesn‘t yet know which speech he‘s going to give tomorrow.
SCHULTZ: OK. So what does this mean to the workers? The workers took a bunch of concessions, United Auto Workers. And we keep hearing that this guy that runs Fiat is a wage-cutter, so concessions made by workers, what can we expect in the future?
CHO: Really, Fiat won‘t be able to change the deal that‘s in place, that‘s been put in place by the government. The UAW is voting on this deal tonight. Under this deal, the union and their health care plan, they actually come out as real winners here. They would take 55 percent of the newly formed Chrysler. That‘s a huge win for them.
But it‘s really going to alter how they approach their jobs. They‘re going to have to work for the future of the company. I mean, their very stake will motivate them to make sure the whole company is doing well.
SCHULTZ: David, thanks for your report tonight. Great reporting by the “Washington Post.” There you have it, Nardelli out at Chrysler and Fiat management in. So, of course, they had to make this deal by tomorrow.
President Obama marked his 100th day in office with a townhall meeting in Missouri today. He‘s doing everything he can to revive the economy. But one of his closest allies in the Senate now says there‘s a brick wall in the way. The quote is, “the banks own the Senate.” The man who said it joins us, and that‘s Senator Dick Durbin from Illinois, the Democratic whip.
Senator Durbin, good to have you with us tonight. Does that mean—I know you‘ve been working on banking reform and financial reform. Does that mean that the lobbying power is just too strong and you won‘t be able to get this deal done?
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: Ed, I hope we can win at the end of the day. But I can tell you this, I‘ve been working for months to try to bring the banks to table. We face eight million mortgage foreclosures in America. What that means is that one out of every six home mortgages will go into foreclosures.
That‘s not my estimate, it‘s Moody‘s. This is an economic group that makes these projections. With this looming foreclosure crisis that threatens neighborhoods all across the United States of America, I‘ve tried to sit down with the banks and work out a reasonable way for people to keep their homes, so that the banks will renegotiate the mortgage or, if worst comes to worst, they end up in bankruptcy, and the bankruptcy judge has one last chance to try.
The banks have walked away from the table. They‘ve refused to sit down and work with us. Only Citigroup—Citigroup is the only bank that‘s been willing to work with us.
SCHULTZ: So the banks that have taken taxpayer dollars are being obstinate about reform. You went so far as to say in a radio interview that the banks own the Senate. You believe the banks own the Senate and you can‘t get this done?
DUBRIN: I will tell you that at this point in time, it‘s an uphill battle for me to get 60 votes in the Senate.
SCHULTZ: So their lobbying power is that strong?
DURBIN: Yes, it is. It‘s hard to believe, Ed. When they bring us this crisis, this crisis which has brought us into this recession, when they receive billions of dollars in tax payers‘ money, for mistakes that they‘ve made, billions of dollars, that they refuse to sit down at the table and work out a reasonable compromise, so that we can help millions of Americans avoid mortgage foreclosure.
SCHULTZ: Senator, based on your comments, it looks to me like the next 100 days will be pretty interesting for President Obama, because this is exactly what he ran on action, and that was change and reform. And millions of Americans are affected by this, not to mention we bailed them out to keep them in business.
What‘s your next play? Is this something that Arlen Specter could help you with?
DURBIN: Well, of course, we‘ll need his help and a lot of others. The next issue that we‘re going to move on is credit cards. I want to let you know, most Americans, if they don‘t know much about mortgage foreclosure, know a lot about credit cards. You know, if you miss a payment or you turn one in late, you know what‘s going to happen to you, penalties and interest, and interest on the penalties.
It just keeps coming at you. The interest rates are jimmied and changed so that people end up paying more. Well, Chris Dodd is bringing a bill out of the Banking Committee next week, a good, strong bill. It will be another test of the strength of the banks. I hope that my colleagues in the Senate, in both parties, will stand up for working families and consumers across America who are struggling in this economy.
SCHULTZ: Senator, great to have you on with us tonight, and thanks for sticking to go your comment. I think the American people need to hear this. is what‘s going to bring change. We have people such as yourself and others in the Senate willing to step out and say what‘s really happening. It is going to set the table I think for a very interesting summer.
DURBIN: Thanks, Ed.
SCHULTZ: You bet. Thank you, sir. Senator Dick Durbin, who is the whip in the Senate for the Democrats. He is the number two Democrat.
It‘s amazing stuff. Democratic strategist Todd Webster joins us tonight, as we go to our panel. Also joining us tonight is the “Washington Post” columnist E.J. Dionne, and also Republican strategist Karen Hanretty with us.
We‘ll start with you, Todd. That just doesn‘t sound good. What should be the move by the president? Should he even address this tonight in the press conference?
TODD WEBSTER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think he may have to. I think it‘s likely it‘s going to come up. I think what he has—you‘ve seen it in a series of surveys now on the 100 days that he sat in office—that he has tremendous job approval ratings. He has even larger amounts of personal approval ratings.
So he has political capital. He‘s stored that up. He has made faith with the American people. And he can lead and he can lobby.
SCHULTZ: E.J., does that comment by Senator Durbin cause a problem for the president?
E.J. DIONNE, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: I don‘t know if it causes a problem for the president. It may help get some of the things he wants done, done. What you‘ve got here, I think, is a president who says, look, we have to put up a lot of money to save the banking system. That means putting money in banks that people aren‘t crazy about right now, and people who made an awful lot of money off a series of decisions that got us into this mess.
I think the trade-off for that, in the minds of a lot of people is, all right, people don‘t like getting all this money to the banks in the first place. But maybe we‘ll save the financial system. But there has to be some give-back on issues like mortgage foreclosures and decent rules on credit cards.
So I think that it can work into a kind of Obama argument, where he likes to say, well, we‘re going to be reasonable here, but we need to do this here. I think it‘s a trade-off.
SCHULTZ: Karen, wouldn‘t this be a great opportunity for the Republicans to come back and reconnect with the middle class, by reeling in some of these folks on Wall Street and getting some accountability. If there was ever an issue that affects every American, it‘s this one.
KAREN HANRETTY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Absolutely. I think that was a stunning indictment on the U.S. Senate. I‘ll be fair about this, Republicans and Democrats alike. The Democrats have the majority. They own the Senate. And President Obama I think—the first 100 days are the easiest days probably of the next four years, as difficult they‘ve been.
Over the next 1100 days, he‘s got to get his hands dirty. And he‘s going to have to, I think, really exert some influence over Harry Reid and the leadership in the Democratic party.
SCHULTZ: OK, Let‘s talk about this shift by Mr. Specter. And I think even a bigger story is some of the open comments that Olympia Snowe has made within the last 24 hours. This is Olympia Snowe earlier today on MSNBC talking about the Republican party.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. OLYMPIA SNOW ®, MAINE: We‘re losing not only some very good people, some very difficult people to replace in the future, if we don‘t reorient the philosophy and the views and the foundation of the Republican party that really has disaffected and alienated so many Americans, including mainstream Republicans who have left our party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Todd, what do you think they got to do? Are there going to be more defections?
WEBSTER: We would love to have Olympia Snowe. She can check the pearls at the door, but we would love to have her --
SCHULTZ: Nothing wrong with pearls.
WEBSTER: The reality is that if you can drive from the southern tip of Virginia, through West Virginia, all the way to the tip of Maine, and there are only three Republican senators who represent the entire—more than half of the entire Eastern seaboard. One of them is retiring in 2010, Judd Gregg. So the only two Republican senators are Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. And both of them might find a more—a stronger and more welcoming home in the Democratic party.
SCHULTZ: E.J., big problem?
DIONNE: It‘s a problem that Republican party is in danger of becoming a southern, regional, conservative party, with a few outposts in other parts.
SCHULTZ: They‘re pretty white and pretty southern.
DIONNE: Exactly. In New England, there‘s not a single Republican in the House. In New York, there are three Republicans left in the House. Back in 1960, same—more or less the same numbers of Republicans in Congress. Yet, three dozen Republicans from those states, roughly, in the House. So that—
And that Specter‘s move is obviously a move he made in his own political interest. He was going to lose the Republican primary, because the Republican party has become so conservative.
But also Pennsylvania has become a much more Democratic state. Kerry carried it by about 140,000. Obama carried it by over 660,000. So there‘s something happening all through the northeast, the Midwest and on the West Coast.
SCHULTZ: Karen, the votes today in the House on the budget, not one Republican vote. And also the word in the Senate is it‘s going with the president as well. Are the Republicans staking their political future in America on failure of the economy? To say that we didn‘t vote for this?
HANRETTY: Betting on failure? You know, it doesn‘t bother me that they voted in unison against the budget. You know what bothers me more than Arlen Specter‘s defection? The 200,000 Republican voters who defected to vote for a Democrat. That bothers me much more.
And if the Republicans want to change the dynamic, want to start winning elections, I think they‘re going to have to go to open primaries across the country. I know a lot—believe me, I worked for the California Republican party. Those are fighting words to them.
But that is—that‘s one of the reforms that will have—we have to let independents vote in our primaries.
SCHULTZ: OK, panel, stay with us, please. Coming up next, President Obama will meet the press tonight. I want to know what he‘ll say on health care, the auto industry, the occupation of Iraq. It‘s my playbook coming up next. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Tonight the president marks the end of his first 100 days with a news conference. In my playbook tonight, I want to say what I want to hear from the press and from the president. Now, I want some detailed information on what the president is going to do about health care. I want to get some dates. I want to get a calendar out. I want to get some dates about this Iraq thing.
I also want to know where he stands on the Employee Free Choice Act. What I do not want to hear—I don‘t want to hear any question about one world currency. No psycho-questions out there tonight. Our panel is still with us. Todd Webster, E.J. Dionne, and also Karen Hanretty. What do you want to hear tonight, Todd?
WEBSTER: Health care is the big issue. That‘s the issue that‘s facing the country. That‘s the issue that he needs to deal with and that is an economic issue and it‘s a social issue. That‘s the big one. Green energy, education, environmental issues. He has a robust and a big agenda.
In the first 100 days, he did—he established a massive agenda, got the stimulus bill through. We‘ll hear what the next 100 days will be like.
SCHULTZ: E.J., is there any play the Republicans can make on health care? Are they just going to be void of ideas, void of the debate and just say no, no, no? Is there any play for them?
DIONNE: I think there are some ready to deal on health care. I think Orrin Hatch, partly because of his friendship with Ted Kennedy, and partly because he already did do it on children‘s health care. I think there may be a few in the House. I think it may end up being the place where complete Republican unanimity broke. There actually have been other role calls where Republicans have actually voted with the Democrats.
I think it may break here. But I agree with your premise that if health care passes, I thinking that is the most important issue of the year. It‘s the most important issue for the Obama agenda. If it passes, this is the kind of benefit that people don‘t forget. As you said, like Medicare, like Social security.
There are some conservatives who are up front in saying, that‘s why we don‘t want it. They say, if the government can guarantee that, that will make the government popular again. Well, yes, it will probably make government popular again, as Medicare did for a while.
SCHULTZ: Karen, where do you think the president‘s vulnerable? He‘s had high approval ratings. He‘s had some good numbers out there. But where is he vulnerable?
HANRETTY: I think he‘s vulnerable on something that may or not be in his control, something that Joe Biden touched on, Dick Armitage touched on recently, which is Afghanistan and Pakistan. Armitage told al Jazeera this is spiraling out of control, and it may be spiraling out of control faster than we can get our hands around it. Joe biding said our greatest nightmare is that the second largest Muslim nation in the world falls into the hands of fundamentalists, have a nuclear arsenal at their disposal, and a population that‘s larger than Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and North Korea combined has this control.
I hope he addresses that at tonight‘s press conference. I think is—that could put his presidency—these 100 days into a tailspin very quickly.
SCHULTZ: I think the American people are going to start asking the question, when is this stimulus package going to start kicking in some jobs. It is going to be interesting to see how long this grace period is going to be.
WEBSTER: I think he has promised transparency, created Recovery.gov, to try to show where every dime of stimulus spending is going. You‘ve not yet been able to see on the site where all the money is going. But hopefully that‘s going to be coming as well. It will help small business who can then go and see where the contracts are bid on them.
SCHULTZ: Todd, E.J., Karen, thanks so much for being here tonight.
At the top of the show, we asked you to weigh in about Senator Arlen Specter‘s move. Will he help advance the president‘s agenda? He voted against the president‘s budget tonight. That‘s right. Hundreds of you have responded; 85 percent of you say yes, 15 percent say no. If you haven‘t taken the survey yet, send us a text. Will Senator Specter help advance President Obama‘s agenda? Text A for yes, B for no. The number is right there on your screen.
Coming up next, President Obama‘s senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett. She‘s been with the president from the beginning in Chicago. What‘s in store for the next 100 days. How has he adjusted to being the leader of the free world? Valerie Jarrett joins me next.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. In three and a half months, President Obama has put his stamp on Washington. He‘s got 1,300 days to go. What can we expect by, say, August 7th? That would be day 200 for the president. Here‘s what the president‘s budget director told NBC‘s Andrea Mitchell today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: What are your top priorities for the next 100 days?
PETER ORSZAG, OMB DIRECTOR: Health care, health care, and health care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Joining me now is senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett. That was a pretty straightforward answer. Valerie, can you say the same thing? Is it going to be health care in the next 100 days?
VALERIE JARRETT, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Good evening, Ed. And yes, it‘s going to be health care.
SCHULTZ: What reforms are we going to see? What portion of health care reform does the president want to attack first?
JARRETT: Well, we‘re very concerned about costs. We have to figure out a way to make health care affordable. That‘s one of the largest impediments that we face. If you look at our overall economy, as you know, the president passed the recover bill not long ago. We‘re pumping nearly 800 billion back into the economy. That‘s a short term jump start.
The longer term systemic problems that we have to tackle, health care first. We have to reduce our dependence on foreign oil to deal with our energy crisis. And we‘ve got to put a jump start back in public education, so that our children can compete in a global marketplace.
Right, just as Peter said earlier, it is health care, health care, health care. As you know, the president had a health care summit here at the White House. He assembled a bipartisan group of folks from Congress. We had folks from hospital administrators, to the pharmaceutical industry, to nurses, to patients, everyone around the table. And we began a dialogue. That‘s what we‘re going to do over the course of the next several months.
SCHULTZ: Now, Ms. Jarrett, you are undoubtedly one of the closest people to President Obama, as a senior adviser. Mr. Durbin came out and said that the banks own the Senate. If that‘s the case, how do we get financial reform in this country? And that‘s exactly what President Obama talked about on the campaign trail, getting the lobbyists out of the way. What‘s your response to that?
JARRETT: That‘s the reason why he‘s here in Washington. That‘s why the American people elected him, is that they want to see reform. I think everybody understands that the special interests have had a stranglehold on Washington for far too long. What President Obama is committed to do everyday is work on behalf of the American people.
That‘s also what Senator Durbin is committed to doing. They are partners in this. So we are absolutely confident that we can get regulatory reform through Congress, and it‘s because the American people are going to demand it.
SCHULTZ: OK. So you think that despite the fact the lobbyists are so strong in the banking industry, after they‘ve taking our tax dollars to keep themselves in business, that they don‘t own the banks, that the president can overcome this? You think that can happen?
SCHULTZ: Now, we got some not so good economic news. The economy has contracted again. When do you think we‘re going to see the stimulus package kick in and start adding some jobs?
JARRETT: Well, the stimulus package has already created over 250,000 jobs here in the United States. So I think it‘s already begun. We‘re expecting to create millions of jobs over the course of the two years that the stimulus package is in place. We have already begun.
The vice president is responsible for implementing the package. He‘s been all over the country, working with governors, mayors, county officials, making sure that we coordinate our efforts, so that those dollars can flow as quickly as possible. So we‘ve already started to see improvement, and there are glimmers of hope.
SCHULTZ: OK. Taking a look at the auto industry, the president—how involved is he going to get in this to the point of keeping these companies out of bankruptcy? Will he have the government get more involved to make sure they can stay solvent?
JARRETT: As you know, he has set tomorrow for a deadline for Chrysler to hopefully come to a deal with Fiat. He‘s given General Motors a little longer than this. He‘s very involved in this. He understands the importance of the auto industry to our country, to our overall economy. But there has to be some gives on all sides. He‘s involved. He‘s briefed regularly. He cares deeply about this industry and he wants to do what we can do, within reason, to help save the industry.
SCHULTZ: Valerie Jarrett, I really appreciate you joining us tonight.
JARRETT: My pleasure. Good speaking with you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: That‘s THE ED SHOW. I‘m Ed Schultz. We‘ll see you back in New York tomorrow night, 6:00 Eastern time. Right now, I‘m headed over to the White House for the president‘s press conference. You‘ll see it right here on MSNBC starting at 8:00 tonight.
“HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts right now on MSNBC.
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