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'The Ed Show' for Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

Guests: Chuck Todd, Van Hollen, Steve McMahon, John Harwood, Cliff May, Karen Hanretty, Joe Madison, A.B. Stoddard, Scott Paul


ED SCHULTZ, HOST:  I‘m Ed Schultz.  This is THE ED SHOW.


SCHULTZ:  Good evening, Americans.

Live from 30 Rock in New York, it‘s THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.

Tonight, I‘m going to be nice about this, but I think the Democrats need a little locker room talk, if you know what I mean.

Listen up, fellows.  August is over.  In this summer, you‘ve allowed these town hall wing nuts to dominate the health care conversation.  That has got to change starting tonight, September 1st.

It‘s comeback time.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen will join me to talk about the game plan for September coming up in just a moment.

More jobs are going down the toilet.  That‘s right.  Whirlpool just announced it‘s shipping 1,100 jobs south of the border to Mexico. 

Now, I want to know what the president is going to do about this to stop outsourcing.  Look, it doesn‘t matter if you‘re a Republican president or a Democratic president.  Outsourcing is still there.  And what ever happened to the fierce urgency of now? 

Plus, conservative columnist George Will almost knocked me over this morning.  He says that we ought to get out of Afghanistan. 

George, where the heck were you five years ago, buddy? 

All that, a great panel. 

And she just can‘t stay out of THE ED SHOW.  It‘s “Psycho Talk” for Michele Bachmann.  She‘s back at it, says she wants to be your blood brother. 

But first, tonight‘s “OpEd.”

OK, so Democrats, we took one for the team.  We‘ve lost the month of August.  At least that‘s the narrative that‘s out there. 

Well, today‘s a new month.  And I want to put some confidence back in the Democratic tackle box if I may. 

Now, I‘ve been doing town hall meetings all over the country in the last six months.  Over the weekend, I was in Indiana and in Colorado.  And this weekend, the message clear from the Democratic folks—leaders, you‘ve got to stand your ground. 

That‘s right, hold your ground.  Stand up for what this election was all about, change we can believe in. 

Now, the Democrats, I have to say, have been shaken by these town hall mobsters.  But keep in mind these are the fringies.  They are a very small element that makes the great cable fodder be what it is today; right? 

Well, the perception is bigger than reality.  We saw the same thing actually last summer.  Vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, she, of course, was shaking up the Republican base.  Everybody was convinced that they were going to be able to pull it through because they‘ve got Sarah on the ticket now.  Well, that never happened. 

Now, I‘ve heard it in New York.  I‘ve heard it in Buffalo.  I‘ve heard it in Madison.  I‘ve heard it in Portland.  I‘ve heard it in Denver.  I‘ve heard it in French Lick, Indiana. 

From towns of 1,000 people to towns of millions, people want reform. 

Democrats, do not forget that.  Millions of people are still being gouged every day with outrageous premiums.  Things haven‘t changed. 

Millions are being denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition.  That hasn‘t changed over the summer. 

Millions more don‘t have any insurance at all.  That hasn‘t changed. 

Remember that, Democrats. 

And there‘s all this talk about, well, what‘s in it for the people who have health care?  Well, I‘ll tell you.  If you get sick, you can‘t work.  If you can‘t work, you lose your job.  You lose your job, you lose your health care. 

That‘s how the domino effect takes place every day.  And if that happens, unless you‘ve got a million bucks in the bank, you‘re going to go bankrupt paying for the treatment. 

Think about this.  And this is what I can‘t understand about the Republicans. 

Every middle class family is just one bad medical test result away from financial ruin in the richest country in the world.  And they want to stand by and they want to just obstruct and do nothing and have no reform at all.  And they don‘t explain the reform. 

Folks, we‘ve got to have a moral conversation about this.  That is morally wrong.  We can do better.  The American people can do better.  We deserve better. 

The Republicans don‘t think that this is a problem.  They‘ve shown that they‘re not interested in reform.  The problem isn‘t the Republicans.  It‘s not President Obama.  It‘s the Democrats. 

I‘m all about a big tent, but sooner or later, you‘ve got to shut the door on these folks that don‘t want to do a deal. 

Now, I find it ironic the Republicans are talking about Medicare. 

Well, if it weren‘t for the Democrats, there wouldn‘t be any Medicare. 

My message to Democrats as we go to September, when you get back to Washington in September, just vote your conscience.  Take the moral high ground.  Do it for the people. 

Don‘t worry about your re-election.  The people will be there with you. 

Do the morally correct thing to stand with the people who want the change and have fought for it.  Stand strong. 

This is what‘s at stake.  This is what‘s at stake politically. 

Listen to Congressman Jim Clyburn on my radio show today. 


REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D), MAJORITY WHIP:  The people‘s lives won‘t change before the 2010 elections.  And a bunch of my friends are going to lose their elections in 2010. 

Barack Obama is up again in 2012.  We‘ve got to do some things that will take effect right now or we‘re going to pay a penalty next November, and Barack Obama will pay the ultimate penalty politically in 2012. 


SCHULTZ:  You want that to happen?  You want Barack Obama to pay the penalty after he‘s brought us to change, after he‘s brought us to the doorstep?  And now we‘ve got wobbly knees with some electeds on the Democratic side? 

I want to know what you think.  Our text survey tonight, quite simple. 

Will President Obama give up on the public option? 

Text “A” for yes and “B” for no to 622639.  Because it is a test of wills right now.  We‘ll bring you the result later on in the show. 

Joining me now is Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland.  He, of course, is the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. 

Chris, good to have you on tonight. 


SCHULTZ:  I have to—let me just take a second. 

I love to fish.  I mean, that is my thing.  And, you know, whether you‘re using a live bait rig or if you‘re using a jig, or if you‘re using a jig and a minnow, or a spinner, or a crank bait, when you‘re fishing, you‘ve got to have confidence in your tackle box that what you‘re throwing out there is going to work, baby. 

And I need to know, do the Democrats have that?  Do you still have the fire in the belly, or have these town hall meetings taken some of that fire away? 

VAN HOLLEN:  Ed, I like to fish, too.  And I think we‘ve got the right bait and I think we‘re going to catch a good fish, legislatively speaking, when we get back. 

Listen, these town meetings have been very instructive, because the longer they‘ve gone on, the more our members of Congress have been able to listen to their constituents.  And the takeaway that they‘re getting, at least based on my conversations with our members, is that the noisiest people showing up at the meetings, the most disruptive people showing up at these meetings, do not represent the great majority of their constituents.  That most of their constituents want to get something done on health care reform. 

And so, I believe that our members are going to come back.  Our first Democratic Caucus, they‘re going to provide the feedback, and I think they‘re going to have a unified message that we‘ve got to get something to the president‘s desk on health care reform by the end of the year. 

SCHULTZ:  Is there somebody in the Democratic Caucus that is willing to stand up and squash maybe a nervous voice?  Is there somebody there that‘s going to say, sit down, you‘re wrong on it, this is where we‘re going, this is what the people want? 

I think that‘s the conversation that‘s got to be had behind closed doors. 

VAN HOLLEN:  Well, I think a lot of our members are going to come back and deliver that message, because early in August we had the media focused entirely on the people who were disrupting these meetings as if everybody was somehow against health care reform.  But as time has gone on, what‘s happened is that a lot of those people have been exposed in terms of the fact they‘re not there just because of health care.  They‘re out there because they don‘t like Obama, they don‘t like a whole lot of other things that are happening in the country, and they represent a fairly small group of people. 

And so, the more the more misinformation campaign has gone on, the more discredited the Republicans have become, and the more people are looking for solutions.  So, I think a lot of our members are going to come back and they‘re going to say, hey, listen, we had a whole lot of town hall meetings.  Yes, we had people disrupting those meetings, but our overall take was that most people want to move forward on health care reform and want to do it now. 

Now, what happens in the Senate is a whole other story.  I don‘t think...

SCHULTZ:  Well, one House at a time.  You know, I think if we get it out of the people‘s House the way it‘s got to be, I think there will be new life over on the Senate side. 

Chris Van Hollen, always practice catch and release but don‘t let this plan go, my man. 

Good to have you on with us.

VAN HOLLEN:  All right, Ed.  Good to be with you.

SCHULTZ:  All right.  Thank you.

All right.  I want to bring in some more folks on this, Democratic strategist Steve McMahon, and John Harwood, CNBC‘s chief Washington correspondent and political writer for “The New York Times.”

Steve, we‘ll start with you first tonight on this segment of the show. 

Now, I‘m nervous that there‘s going to be a miscalculation on the part of the Democrats, that they might be influenced and not really vote their conscience and keep the conviction of what this election was all about. 

Who‘s the leader?  Who steps up and has to drive this train right now? 

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Well, I think the president has to step up and drive the train.  It‘s nice that he‘s let Congress craft the bills, and that‘s probably something he should have done, but at some point he‘s got to sort of settle the tie.  It‘s not the tie goes to the runner here, it‘s the tie goes to the president. 

And you‘re going to have different versions between the House and the Senate, almost regardless of what happens in the Senate.  And someone is going to have to step up and say, OK, this is what we need to do when we put these two bills together, and this is what we‘re going to get in health care reform.

What cannot happen and what should not happen is what you were saying, Ed.  The Democrats need to stand up and say the American people want health care reform and we‘re going to give it to them this year.  And if we can‘t give them everything this year, we‘re going to give them as much as we can. 

SCHULTZ:  John Harwood, is there a White House Washington, a Washington White House September strategy?  Is there a plan, OK, we‘re armed with this information, we‘re armed with what the people are saying, we‘ve seen all of this stuff, here‘s where we‘re going, here‘s the plan? 

Do they have that? 


First of all, Ed, you realize that Van Hollen and McMahon are blood bothers, right? 


SCHULTZ:  Well, I didn‘t want to separate them.  That‘s why I went to one after the other on that deal. 

HARWOOD:  But, look, I think their September plan is the one they went into August with.  And I‘ve got to tell you, I think so much of the conventional wisdom about the status of this debate is dead wrong.  And that is to say that the House entered the recess with the votes, in the view of the leadership, the people who are counting the votes, to pass what came out of the three House committees which is very close -- 95 percent, the White House tells me—of what they want in a health plan.

In the Senate, it is apparent that the bipartisan negotiations are dead.  That‘s not likely to go anywhere.  But the Democrats have got 59 votes, they‘ve got Olympia Snowe, who‘s sympathetic to what they‘re trying to do, maybe Susan Collins.

They‘ve got a lot of strength to get something through the Senate. 

The key is to get something through both Houses and then get to conference.

The erosion that the Democrats have had in the House from those town halls, maybe six or eight members.  That leaves about 20 House Democrats against what the leadership wants to do.  But they‘ve got 257 Democratic members, so they‘ve got the strength to move this.

They‘re a lot further along than they‘re given credit for.  And so, I think the strategy that they‘ve been on is not working out nearly as badly as some people think.

SCHULTZ:  Steve, as far as the strategy is concerned going into September, does the president have to be really calculated on when he picks his moment, if it‘s going to be a prime-time address, or does he come out smoking right away, as soon as everybody gets back next week?

What about that?

MCMAHON:  Well, I think when everybody gets back, you‘re going to have a lot of nervous Democrats.  And you‘re going to have a lot of Democrats who are going to need some reassurance inside the caucus.  And I think it is time for the president to step forward. 

What he‘s done was the opposite of what President Clinton did.  You remember, they wrote the bill at the White House when President Clinton tried to do health care reform, and then they sent it down to Congress and Congress said thank you very much, but we‘ll do this on our own, and never did anything.

In this case, the White House laid back.  Some people think they laid back a little too long. 

I think it‘s time for them to step forward and say, here‘s what we think we can get done, and here‘s what we need to get done for the American people.  And it may not be everything that everybody wants, but it‘s certainly going to be a lot more than the Republicans, who want to do nothing.  They‘re not going to be satisfied. 

And what the president needs to do, you know, 70 -- or, I‘m sorry, 85 percent of folks have health care right now.  They‘re pretty happy with it.  He needs to explain clearly to them, which I think they‘re doing now, how this reform benefits them, as well as the uninsured.  And that‘s really the swing vote here, is the person who has health insurance who is pretty happy. 

SCHULTZ:  And finally, John, do you think the White House is watching the poll numbers, or do you think that they‘ve just got a strong conviction of this and are determined to make this thing happened? 

A lot of talk about dogs lately.  Blue Dog, hound dog, yellow dog.  So, I thought I‘d throw that in there.  Are they dog determined to get this thing done despite what any poll says? 

HARWOOD:  Well, I‘m glad you raised the Blue Dogs.  A couple things. 

First of all, yes, they‘re looking at the polls.  And yes, they‘re concerned about them.  They‘d like to be higher.  That‘s not helpful. 

But Democrats also remember what happened in 1994 when they didn‘t pass that health care bill for Bill Clinton, and the whole party got slaughtered next year in the midterm elections.  They don‘t want to repeat that. 

Finally, Ed, the Democratic Caucus is much more unified ideologically than in was in ‘94.  A lot of those conservative Democrats, especially in the South who served, they lost their seats.  Those seats are now held by Republicans.  They have got a more cohesive majority than they did under Bill Clinton. 

SCHULTZ:  John Harwood, Steve McMahon, great to have you guys on tonight. 

Thanks so much.

HARWOOD:  You bet.

MCMAHON:  Thank you.

SCHULTZ:  Coming up, righty-columnist-turned-political-opportunist, I think, George Will, wants us to cut and run from Afghanistan.  How about that?  He thinks we can fight the war without being there. 

Cliff May and I are going to go back and forth on that when we come back right here on THE ED SHOW on MSNBC next.

Stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  President Obama is on a slippery slope with the war in Afghanistan.  What do you think? 

He has called it a war of necessity and has ordered 20,000 more troops deployed.  But last month was the deadliest one for the United States since the beginning of the war.  And the president is getting a lot of calls to pull out from all sides. 

Democratic Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin has called for a timetable to bring the troops home.  Today, conservative commentator George Will wrote that our ground forces should get out.  And a new poll shows that 41 percent of American people think the United States troop levels in Afghanistan should be decreased. 

Joining me now, Cliff May, president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. 

All right.  I‘m going to give you a little smoke here off the top here, Cliff. 



SCHULTZ:  What‘s this talk about cutting and running by you conservatives all of a sudden?  You told us Barack Obama was going to cut and run during the election.  What the heck is going on here, buddy? 

MAY:  Listen, you‘ve got a point.  I adore George Will.  I learn from George Will.  I‘m very pleased to know that you‘re now reading George Will. 

But on this issue, Ed, I don‘t agree with George Will.  I rather agree with Barack Obama, who has made it clear that this is an important battleground in the international conflict that we‘re fighting. 

We‘re fighting the Taliban.  We‘re fighting al Qaeda there as well.  And I think you can have a good discussion, and maybe we will, of what your strategic objectives are, and make sure that those are what you are pursuing, not broader goals.  But it‘s very important that we not be defeated on this battlefield either by the Taliban or al Qaeda. 


MAY:  I think Barack Obama sees that and you and I see that.  And that‘s very encouraging. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, I‘m not so sure about that.  I need some definition here. 

Let‘s look at the meat and potatoes of exactly what George Will wrote

“Forces should be substantially reduced to serve a comprehensively revised policy.  America should do only what it can be done from off shore, using intelligence drones, cruise missiles, air strikes, small potent Special Forces, concentrating on the porous 1,500 mile border with Pakistan, a nation that actually matters.”

Now, this, of course, is a less risky position.  It‘s an electronic war, is what it is, a mechanical war, and not so much boots on the ground. 

Are you saying that that wouldn‘t work at all, that strategy wouldn‘t work?  You don‘t buy that? 

MAY:  Yes, I think the future is not what it used to be.  There was a time when we thought—a lot of people thought that the future wars were going to look like the kind of computer games our kids play.  What happened in Iraq is we learned that‘s not true. 

We have—and again, I give Barack Obama credit for that—General Petraeus overseeing this battlefield, ,as well as other battlefields, that are kinetic, that are hot right now like Iraq.  And we have General Stanley McChrystal, hand picked by Petraeus and by President Obama, who is the commander on the ground in Afghanistan.  He‘s a Special Forces guy.  This is very unusual. 

And yes, you don‘t get intelligence from satellites.  You get intelligence, I‘m afraid, we‘ve learned, by going into the villages and saying to the local villagers, we want to protect you from the Taliban if you‘ll help us do so.  And they give you intelligence that no satellite can buy. 

SCHULTZ:  I‘m not convinced that if we don‘t have boots on the ground we‘re going to get hit.  I mean, that‘s what this is all about, to make sure that the United States is protected, that we take out the people who want to harm us, want to kill us, and whatever terminology you‘re going to use.  I mean, I‘m not convinced that we have to be there on the ground to get this thing done. 

I‘m just surprised that George Will and a number of conservatives, apparently, all of a sudden, never felt this way with Iraq.  But why feeling this way about Afghanistan? 

MAY:  No, actually, you‘re a little wrong on that.  In fact, if you look back, Ed, you‘ll see that George Will was very much in favor of the Iraq conflict, and then at a certain point, when it was going real badly, he was against the Iraq conflict and thought we should give up on that.  And a criticism that‘s been made of George Will is that if he had been not a great columnist, but a commander, we would now be in the process of losing the second war. 

Also, I think we can do more good for Pakistan if we‘re next door in Afghanistan than if we are not, because I think he‘s right on that.  Pakistan is supremely consequential, nuclear weapons.  You don‘t want that to go jihadist. 

SCHULTZ:  Can you broad-brush this—so, conservatives are with the president and his policy?  Would you broad-brush that?

MAY:  I would say it‘s actually probably a good thing if support for national security does not divide along party lines. 


MAY:  I don‘t think it‘s a good thing if Democrats are seen as weak on national security and Republicans strong.  I‘m glad...


SCHULTZ:  Well, the Democrats are strong. 

MAY:  That‘s great.  Some of them are.

SCHULTZ:  The Democrats are strong on that.  The president‘s strong on national security. 

MAY:  The president is strong on Afghanistan.  Joe Lieberman is strong on Afghanistan.  I think Howard Berman—there are a lot of Democrats who are.  And again, I don‘t think it‘s good for us for national security to be a partisan issue, and I never though that. 


Well, before I leave you, let‘s just take a look at a CBS News poll earlier released today.  Decrease in support for troops in Afghanistan since April. 

Right now it‘s at 25 percent.  It was at 39 percent in April.  It was at 23, keep the same.  It was at 18 in April.  And a decrease, at 41 percent now.  Back in April, it was at 30.

I mean, the tide is turning.  The public opinion is going against what the president is doing. 

Fair enough? 

MAY:  Yes.  And what that tells me is the president has to go out and make the case for the war that he has taken possession of, the war that he defended.  He hasn‘t done that, as you know.  He needs to get out there and make the case.  He is supremely talented and qualified to do that.

SCHULTZ:  Well, he‘s listening to the generals, Cliff.  He‘s listening to—remember, that‘s what Bush did.  He‘s listening to the generals.  So you conservatives have got to line up with Obama. 

MAY:  Listening to the generals, listening to General Petraeus, who would say that hard is not the same as hopeless.  I hope he‘s listening to generals and listening to us right now.

SCHULTZ:  All right.  Cliff, good to have you on.  Appreciate your time. 

MAY:  Thanks, Ed.  Always a pleasure.

SCHULTZ:  Next up, Michele Bachmann shows her dark side.  Wait until you hear her bloody, gory and just plain gross idea for how to bond with the fellow antis. 

Coming up next in “Psycho Talk” on THE ED SHOW.

Stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

In “Psycho Talk” again tonight, for the second night in a row, Michele Bachmann, congresswoman out of Minnesota. 

Now, I usually like to change up, you know, the “Psycho Talk” honorees, but this was just too good. 

Last night, the congresswoman gave a speech to a conservative crowd in Colorado and she really got riled up about the health care reform thing.  She set the tone for the evening by screaming. 

“Something is way crazy out there!”

SCHULTZ:  Now, I‘ll let you decide what the “way crazy” part is.  But to help you out, listen to her plan for blocking reform. 

She said this: “What we have to do today is make a covenant to slit our wrists, be blood brothers on this thing.  This will not pass.  We will do whatever it is to make sure this doesn‘t pass.”

Any takers?  Do you think we could get Michele Bachmann to slit her wrists right here on THE ED SHOW?

Well, just to remind you, this is the woman who said that she‘s proud to be the second most hated Republican woman in the country.  And oh, by the way, the most hated woman of the Republican Party, the queen of the death panel, Sarah Palin, she is now donating money to Bachmann‘s campaign. 

So, I guess those crazy conservative gals, they kind of got to stick together, a fraternal kind of thing.

But Bachmann really rises above her Alaskan comrade tonight, calling for the folks to swap bodily fluids so they can block health care reform. 

Disgusting “Psycho Talk.”  

Coming up, Whirlpool is flushing over 1,000 American jobs down the drain.  They call it streamlining?  I call it the butchering of the middle class. 

I‘ll talk to a key manufacturing player about how we can stop the outsourcing. 

Plus, Democrats, if you think the Republicans made August miserable, they‘ve got a plan to “keep the nightmare going through the fall.”  And I‘ve got an idea on how we can turn this whole thing around. 

We‘ll get into it at the bottom of the hour. 

We‘ll be right back after this on THE ED SHOW.


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Congress returns next Tuesday.  Of course, the first order of business is health care.  Lots of other stuff on the plate as well.  But for the Democrats, they need to figure out how to fix the damage that was done in August, if there really was any. 

Now there is a fight over this bill, no doubt about it.  Nancy Pelosi is holding the line on the public option and the government-run insurance program, against the conservative Senate Democrats, who basically want to scrap that. 

Now there really is only one person who can intervene at this point, in my opinion.  That‘s the president of the United States, President Obama.  He needs to issue the marching orders.  He needs to make it clear that he expects—what he expects from the Congress and how to get it.  He needs to lead the charge to sell reform to the American people. 

Health care has become his signature issue.  The Republicans are hoping that it will, quote, break him.  The president needs to show some real fire on this going into September, real fire in the belly. 

Is he doing everything he can?  Is the White House doing everything they can?  Joining me now is Chuck Todd, NBC chief White House correspondent and political director.  Chuck, good to have you with us tonight. 

As we go to September, my friend, all right, do they have a new plan?  When is the shoe going to drop from the White House, giving up on bipartisanship?  Are they going to play this all the way out? 

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR:  Well, look, first of all, they‘re playing that game of chicken, right?  They don‘t want to be the ones to give Chuck Grassley and Mike Enzi the high ground by saying, hey, you‘re out of the talks.  They don‘t want to be the ones to do that.  Max Baucus certainly doesn‘t want to be the one to do that. 

But Grassley and Enzi are probably doing everything they can to get out of the talks.  They‘d love to get kicked out, but they don‘t want to quit them for the same reason as they don‘t want to give the high ground to the president.  So that‘s a little bit of a game of chicken. 

The most likely I think thing you‘re going to see going on is, at some point, they have to get a bill out of that Finance Committee.  The Senate has got to have a bill.  The Finance Committee has got to be the one to produce the bill. 

Now, will it come out of committee?  Or could he bring something to the floor, and just keep—negotiate, for instance, just with Olympia Snowe, at this point?  All the Democrats plus Olympia Snowe on the Finance Committee.  And then find a Republican or two in the bigger, you know, Senate.  Maybe it‘s a George Voinovich, who‘s retiring and might not be as swayed by Republican leadership.  Or, you know, maybe it‘s one of the other folks—one of the few Republican senators that voted for the S-CHIP, the expansion of children‘s health care.  There were nine of those.  Arlen Specter is one. 

So there‘s a couple of them there.  They may go there.  Just start negotiating this on the floor of the Senate, and figure out how to get a role from there. 

As for the White House role, next week is probably going to be the bigger week, simply when you look at the calendar.  The following week, you‘re going to have the September 11th remembrances.  You‘re going to have September 15th, a lot of chatter about the one-year anniversary, if you want to call it that, of the economic crisis beginning, or at least becoming aware to the public.  You have the UN General Assembly, foreign policy entering in. 

Next week, when Congress returns, I think that is when we‘re probably going to hear from the president more forcefully on health care. 

SCHULTZ:  Of course, later on in the month, it‘s the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh.  There‘s a lot of stuff going on in September. 

TODD:  A September to remember.  Absolutely.  A ton of stuff. 

SCHULTZ:  Yes.  Was it a tough August, in your opinion?  What do you think?  Did this White House just maybe loss some ground?  There was a lot of tough news out there.  What do you think? 

TODD:  Look, it absolutely was a tough August for them.  You can‘t deny it.  You look at our polling.  You look at some of the other reputable polling that I‘ve looked at out there.  They‘ve clearly lost some ground, particularly with independents, independents becoming a little disenchanted.  They‘re not moving and suddenly supporting Republicans at this point, but they‘re a little disenchanted with all of Washington, nervous about government intervention. 

These are the same folks concerned about the bank bailout, concerned about the takeover of the auto company.  So that‘s really where he has some political ground to make up. 

The reason why the White House won‘t panic right now is because they will sit there and say, guess what, we had a bad August in 2007.  We had a bad August in 2008.  And we rebounded well come September, come October in ‘07, come September and come October in ‘08. 

It‘s one thing to do that on the campaign trail.  Sometimes it‘s a lot tougher to rebound as quickly when you‘re fighting with your own self and your own party in Washington. 

SCHULTZ:  No doubt.  Chuck Todd, great insight as always.  Thanks so much for your time tonight. 


SCHULTZ:  For more, let‘s bring in our panel.  XM radio talk show host Joe Madison with us tonight.  A.B. Stoddard, associate editor for “The Hill.”  And Republican strategist Karen Hanretty with us tonight. 

Joe, I want to go to this, if I can, this one CBS poll.  Confused about reform; 69 percent of Republicans are confused; 58 percent of Democrats are confused.  I find this very interesting because what‘s the confusion?  The Democrats want to give you health care insurance and make it possible, and the Republicans don‘t.  Or, Joe, is that just too simple to start things out the way to look at it? 

JOE MADISON, XM RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  You‘re my friend, but that‘s a little simple.  It‘s a complicated issue.  And the debates or the town hall meetings—why did I call them debates?  The town hall meetings really didn‘t help, because what people saw was a lot of heat, a lot of discussions about Nazis and socialism. 

I think what‘s going to happen is things will settle down.  You talk about September.  If I were the president of the United States, I would do a President Johnson type campaigning.  That‘s not public.  This is where you invite Republicans and Democrats.  Your staff does what Kennedy‘s staff did.  You do your homework.  You find out what every senator needs.  You find out their grandchildren‘s birthday.  And you don‘t bring them in to the Oval Office. 

Now, President Obama, if you‘re listening, you bring them into your private chambers.  And that‘s where you get those votes. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.  Karen, let‘s talk about bipartisanship, if we can.  This is the White House yesterday, responding to Senator Enzi and the things that he has said about not doing a deal.  Here it is. 


ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  It appears that, at least in Senator Enzi‘s case, he doesn‘t believe there‘s a pathway to get bipartisan support.  And the president thinks that‘s wrong.  I think Senator Enzi has clearly turned over his cards on bipartisanship and decided it‘s time to walk away from the table. 


SCHULTZ:  Is that a proper interpretation, Karen? 

KAREN HANRETTY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  My interpretation these days of bipartisanship in Washington has less to do with Republicans and more to do with moderate Democrats.  My question is, if President Obama can get the Mary Landrieus and the Kent Conrads and the Bill and Ben Nelsons to the table, those moderate Democrats who don‘t support the health care bill prior to the town halls, and don‘t support it after the town halls—if he can get them to the table, will people like you, Ed Schultz, the progressives on the left, still support the president and his health bill? 


SCHULTZ:  Karen, I will support the president.  I will not support any Democrat that waivers on a public option. 

HANRETTY:  They‘re not going to support a public option. 

SCHULTZ:  You know what—

HANRETTY:  That has nothing to do with the Republicans. 

SCHULTZ:  I am ready to lose friends over this.  I know what the American people want, the majority.  I know what the progressive movement meant to the House, the White House and the Senate.  They can‘t turn their back on these folks.  This was about reform.

A.B. Stoddard, if you don‘t have a government-run insurance program or an option out there, where‘s the reform?  Are we getting hung up on the definition of reform?  What do you think? 

A.B. STODDARD, “THE HILL”:  I think there are many arguing right now in the Democratic—the very divided Democratic party, that insurance reforms like caps on out of pocket fees and costs and portability and new coverage for those with pre-existing conditions would be very significant reform that would reign in the industry and help provide more coverage for more people.  Individual mandates, employer mandates—Consumer protection bill like this would have definite appeal and probably bring some Republicans to the table. 

There are conservative Democrats right now arguing in the Congress, let‘s put that bill down, make Republicans vote for it. 

Karen is right.  The problem is when you cite this majority, Ed, there‘s a majority in the progressive wing of the party for a public option, but not in the majority in the Congress.  It is a conservative majority. 

SCHULTZ:  I‘m about the people.  I think the people want this to be about the people. 

STODDARD:  The polling shows that the public option is not going to pass. 

SCHULTZ:  No, no. 

STODDARD:  I disagree with you. 

SCHULTZ:  I tell you what, if the Democrats, A.B., do not vote their conscience on this, and if they do not deliver what they promise to the American people, they will pay a horrific price in the midterm.  And you heard Jim Clyburn—

STODDARD:  I don‘t think the progressive Democrats will. 

SCHULTZ:  No, they will.  Joe Madison, I believe that there‘s millions of progressives across the country that are ready to cut and run from the Democratic party if they cave in on this. 

MADISON:  If they cave in—look, if they cave in, they lose. 

SCHULTZ:  Period. 

MADISON:  There is no if, ands, buts about it.  Here‘s what the Republicans will do—and I think everyone would agree.  They will remind them that they lost on it. 

SCHULTZ:  Sure. 

MADISON:  As I listen to everybody talking, listen to the language we‘re using.  I‘m sitting up here going, wait a minute, now, what is this?  What is cap and trade?  Somebody has got to get on television, cable, networks or otherwise, and talk radio, and I‘ll tell you like my grandfather used to say it, put it where the goats can get it, guys. 

SCHULTZ:  Let me—final comment in this segment.  The Republicans will never take away the pre-existing conditions.  They won‘t do it.  That would be way too much reform for the insurance industry that lines their pockets.  That‘s why you got to go with some kind of government-run plan.  We‘ll come back, panel.  Stay with us. 

Up next, dirty plays.  Sometimes, old-timers like Brett Favre thinks it‘s OK to hit below the belt just to get by.  I‘ll show you what he did next in my playbook.  Stay with us. 


SCHULTZ:  In my playbook tonight, another major plant closure in Indiana.  This time, it‘s a Whirlpool refrigerator factory if Evansville, Indiana.  On Friday, 1,100 workers got the pink slip.  Come mid-2010, they‘re done.  Whirlpool is shipping those 1,100 jobs south of the border to Mexico. 

That may not be the end of it.  The company still deciding whether or not to relocate their Evansville Produce Develop Center.  If they do, that would kill another 300 jobs.  The problem is, people aren‘t buying the products, right? 

Whirlpool‘s second quarter sales fell 18 percent this year.  So they‘re moving their operations south of the border; 1,100 jobs, 1,100 families wonder, now, what do we do?  I can‘t help but think, what if Whirlpool didn‘t have to wrestle with health care costs? 

Let me bring in Scott Paul, executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing.  Scott, did you know this was going to happen?  I mean, whether it would be a Republican president or a Democratic president, is this just the global economy and this is the way it is?  What about that? 

SCOTT PAUL, ALLIANCE FOR AMERICAN MANUFACTURING:  Actually, I think it‘s more than the global economy.  I think it‘s the deliberate set of policies we have in place on health care, trade, on a number of issues.  The fact is we‘ve had 50,000 plants close down over the last ten years. 

We‘ve lost five million manufacturing jobs. 

In Indiana, they‘ve lost one out of every four manufacturing jobs.  They used to make televisions, elevators, refrigerators there.  Now they‘re not making much of anything.

SCHULTZ:  How do we get this back? 

PAUL:  We have to do a couple of things.  One is we do really need to reign in health care costs, because American producers face health care costs that they don‘t face in Canada or Europe or Asia or Mexico.  Second thing we need to do is provide the right kind of tax incentives.  Right now, we have tax incentives that are great for Wall Street, great for oil and gas exploration, great for outsourcing, horrible for trying to produce things in the United States. 

SCHULTZ:  So the Obama team has got to kick it in gear.  A lot of these folks voted for Obama.  This isn‘t the change they can believe in.  They‘re losing their job and the same thing is happening under his administration. 

PAUL:  That‘s exactly right.  There were a lot of promises made during the campaign.  I think the important thing here is to look at what happened to the Democrats after NAFTA passed in 1993.  They lost the Congress in 1994.  And passing NAFTA, not doing health care, was a big part of that. 

He really does need to reorient this trade policy.  We have problems with China.  We have problems with Mexico.  We have to stop this outsourcing.  Until we get this manufacturing economy back on track, it‘s going to be tough to win the votes of blue-collar workers. 

SCHULTZ:  I would imagine this is going to come up at the G-20 in September in Pittsburgh, just a few weeks away. 

PAUL:  It really will.  It think the challenge we face, Ed, is that all the world‘s leaders use this bogeyman of protectionism.  When they all have manufacturing policies.  They all have industrial policies. 

SCHULTZ:  That cover their backyard.

PAUL:  They do.  The United States has nothing but an outsourcing policy.  We need to change that.  We need Obama to give us a manufacturing policy. 

SCHULTZ:  Scott Paul, good to have you on tonight.  I appreciate your time.  Thanks so much.

One last page in my playbook tonight.  Brett Favre—good night for the Vikings last night.  Let‘s see, 13 of 18, 142 yards and a touchdown, and one real bad block.  That‘s right.  All right, now, Favre, I‘m a Viking fan.  We don‘t play like this.  Take that garbage back to Green Bay, will you? 

I‘ll take that touchdown pass you threw any day of the week.  Way to go, buddy. 

Next up, Nancy Pelosi‘s bringing in her top dogs to go into the war-table in the war-room to fix health care.  They need to be reassured that this is the way we‘re going to take care of it in September.  I‘ll have all of that with our panel next on THE ED SHOW.  Stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House for the Democrats, are planning a big closed door caucus meeting next week.  Congressman Jim Clyburn said today if there is no reform, Democrats will pay the price in 2010.  President Obama will pay the ultimate price in 2012. 

Let‘s bring back our panel.  Karen Hanretty, let me ask you on this one.  Do you think that President Obama is prepared to stake his presidency on this issue?  The way the cards are starting to line up, do you think he‘s willing to do that, or be the politician and cut a lesser deal? 

HANRETTY:  I don‘t think he‘s willing to stake his presidency.  It‘s not about his presidency.  Is he willing to stake the 2010 Democrat majority in Congress on this issue.  And not just health care, but the prior segment, manufacturing jobs in America are under attack if cap and trade passes. 

So between cap and trade and health care, those pet projects of the progressive left, I tell you what, that could wipe out your majority. 

SCHULTZ:  A.B., your thoughts on that? 

STODDARD:  Well, I think Karen is—I think that the Democrats have concluded they absolutely have to pass something.  It‘s not going to be what you want, Ed.  It‘s going to be a watered down bill.  And it‘s going to be something that they hope puts pressure on Republicans, like I mentioned in the last segment, a consumer protection bill.  Something that is health care reform, that they can call health care reform.

The lesson they learned from the Clinton debacle on health care was that you pay when you don‘t pass something.  Something is better than nothing.  They need to look like they‘re governing.  I think something will pass.  I don‘t think you can get through the reconciliation process in the Senate with a substantive bill.  I think it‘s going to be subject of these legislative points of order.  They‘re going to need 60 votes there ultimately.  To get 60 votes, you‘re really going to have to water it down.  It will not be what progressives like, but it will be a health care bill. 

SCHULTZ:  No, A.B., stop telling me I‘m not going to get what I want.  I‘m tired of that.  I‘m tired of being told I am not going to get what I want.  I admit, I‘m a two-year-old on this.  I want the whole thing. 


SCHULTZ:  Joe, reconciliation, what‘s wrong with that? 

MADISON:  Nothing. 

SCHULTZ:  Bush did it for three tax cuts. 

MADISON:  Nothing‘s wrong with reconciliation.  What I find rather interesting is that do you think you get reconciliation or you compromise on the bill, that Republicans on the right are going to reverse what you just reported about Indiana?  Of course they‘re not.  They‘re going to support these companies going to Mexico. 

I mean, I‘m from the Midwest.  And I am absolutely—I am absolutely angry at both parties when it comes to this.  We call it outsourcing.  It used to be we would worry about Indiana to Michigan, Michigan to Ohio.  Now if you want to stop illegal immigration, all you‘ve got to do is move all the jobs to Mexico.  As a matter of fact, we may have Americans going to Mexico to get health care and jobs. 

SCHULTZ:  A.B., your thoughts? 

STODDARD:  Well, I—you know, he makes a good point.  I just think that in terms of the health care debate, itself—jobs will determine the Democrats‘ chances in the 2010 elections, no question, no question.  If jobs are the lagging indicator, the last thing to turn around, and they haven‘t started coming back by 2010, this party is going to have a lot of problems.  They still have to pass a health care reform bill.  They just have to. 

SCHULTZ:  That reform bill—those 1,100 families that got the bad news on Friday from Whirlpool is a microcosm of how they‘re going to think, that if they have health care, they‘ll know that Obama and the Democrats are at least on their side.  In they don‘t, they‘re going to turn on them.  Karen, I want you to respond to that.

HANRETTY:  You know, here‘s the problem with these manufacturing jobs.  It‘s not left versus right.  You‘ve got big business is colluding with the environmental lobby and they‘re colluding with the government.  It was the Bush administration and it is the Obama administration. 

SCHULTZ:  I don‘t disagree with you there.  But I‘m talking about votes.  If they deliver the health care, those people aren‘t going to go away from them. 

HANRETTY:  You‘re going to lose big votes if you pass the health care bill that has a singled payer plan.  You‘re going to lose even more votes if the environmental lobby is successful in passing this cap and trade job, which is going to ship more jobs than NAFTA off to China. 

MADISON:  I‘m going to tell you—

SCHULTZ:  Make it quick. 

MADISON:  Those people in Indiana right now don‘t have an option.  Look, what we‘re talking about is options, choices.  When has America been against choice? 

SCHULTZ:  I have to run. 

HANRETTY:  Cut regulation in America.  Let those businesses stay open. 

SCHULTZ:  I‘m declaring tonight to all three, I‘m going to get what I want on this.  We still have time to win this thing. 

Earlier, I asked you what you thought: will President Obama give up on a public option?  Twenty six percent of you say yes; 74 percent of you say absolutely he will not give up on it. 

That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Ed Schultz.  For more information on our program, go to or check out my radio website at  We have a town hall meeting coming up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  I‘ll tell you more about that tomorrow night.  Chris Matthews coming up next on “HARDBALL,” right here on the place for politics, MSNBC.



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