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'The Ed Show' for Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

Guests: Jan Schakowsky, Mike Allen, John Feehery, Michael Crowley, Todd Webster, Tony Perkins, Elizabeth Smith, Lionel


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, President Obama has just announced that he‘ll be addressing a joint session of the Congress next week. 

Mr. President, a little lefty advice tonight.  This is no time to throw in the towel on the public option.

House Chief Deputy Whip Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky going to be joining me in just a moment to talk about that.

Plus, it turns out that Caribou Barbie, she wasn‘t all that big on this hunting and fishing thing after all.  Levi Johnston, he kind of tells a different story, says he‘s never seen her touch a fishing pole.

How about that?

Sarah, now, if you need a lesson on hooking a walleye, let‘s go up to Minnesota. 

And the main event tonight. 

Now, I have been referring to the health care reform deal as the real moral issue of our time.  I believe Jesus would vote yes for a public option, but some bible thumpers don‘t see me eye to eye on this one. 

I‘ll go head to head with Family Research Council‘s Tony Perkins later in the show tonight. 

All that.

And did you hear about Lamar Alexander of Tennessee?  He says we may have a minor revolution on our hands if the Democrats get this thing called public option. 

And Blanche Lincoln, doggone it, from Arkansas, she‘s fallen of the wagon on a public option. 

But first, tonight‘s “OpEd.” 

OK.  We are entering a new season, according to David Axelrod.  I‘m all about it.  I love football in September.  Now, we‘re talking about political season here. 

He says the president is going to be very active.  Hey, that‘s fantastic.  But I have to ask, what kind of active? 

Now, this better not be a throw in the towel type season from the White House for the lefties.  That‘s not the September that lefties have had in mind throughout this whole debate about getting every American covered. 

Now, Mr. President, there‘s no downside to standing your ground on this.  The Republican have staked their claim that they want you to fail.  These town hall crazies, three things—they‘ve been coached, they‘ve been instructed, and they have been motivated by right-wing talkers who have openly called you in one instance a racist. 

Now, what to you owe these people?  Nothing.  It‘s like making a deal with the devil.  You can‘t trust them. 

You couldn‘t trust them on No Child Left Behind.  You couldn‘t trust them on jobs.  You couldn‘t trust them on outsourcing.  You couldn‘t trust them on the economy. 

What can you trust the Republicans on other than invasions? 

Now, there can be no misunderstanding here.  There will be no change, no reform, no deal for Americans if a public option is left out. 

Now, hold it right there.  I want to see the president next week, a week from tonight, go into the joint session of the Congress and point to the Republicans and say, if you‘ve been talking about death panels, if you‘ve been talking about how we‘re going to fund abortions, if you‘ve been talking about how we‘re going to pull the plug on grandma, you‘re either lying or you‘ve got the wrong bill in your hand. 

This is how the president has to talk to the Congress and the country next week.  The consistent stated position of the president of the United States all along has been real government reform with a government-run option to give every American an opportunity.  You know, no more pre-existing conditions. 

Now, moving off of that is a loss.  It‘s going to be a loss.  It‘s going to be a letdown to the people that bought into this thing called change. 

Liberals are now demanding.  This is what I love.  We are demanding, yes, that it should be there and there should be no miscommunication from base of the White House, from the White House to the base.  Time to cut off all these olive branches coming out of the windows of the White House. 

Now, for the insurance industry, do you remember this voice?  When does the greed stop?  That‘s where we are. 

For the Democrats, show you got a pair.  Show us you got some guts. 

Stand up to the special interests. 

Now, the sad news here today is that we got another Democratic senator who has fallen off the wagon overnight, doggone it.  Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln, she‘s against the public option.  But I have to point out tonight that she now has the dubious distinction of being the biggest taker in 2009 -- $375,000-plus from the medical special interests. 

How about that? 

Some good news tonight is, remember that letter I showed you earlier this week from the Broomfield Democrats in Colorado who told the two Colorado senators you better get on board or we‘re not going to be supporting you anymore?  Well, one of them has responded. 

That‘s right, Michael Bennett of Colorado stated today on Huffington Post that he is supporting the public option.  I love town hall meetings, and I love the way they put it on paper and made the demand, and they got a result. 

Now, get out your cell phones.  I want to know what you think tonight. 

Did Republicans win August on health care?  Text “A” for yes and “B” for no to 622639.  We‘ll bring you the results later on in the show tonight. 

Now, joining me now is the House chief deputy whip, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky.  She held a town hall Monday night, and over 1,000 people showed up. 

Congresswoman, a pleasure.  Great to have you with us. 


SCHULTZ:  All right.

The president announcing late this afternoon that he‘s going to do the joint session of the Congress one week from tonight. 

Is this a breakout moment for the president?  How crucial is this address going to be next week?  What do you think? 

SCHAKOWSKY:  I think it‘s very important, the fact that this is the very week that we‘re coming back to roll up our sleeves, to get health care; the fact that the president has already said we are going to get this done.  And now I think he‘s going to have to reassure the American people that this is what they need and what they want to have done, and that we‘re listening to them. 

They want health care reform.  They want to know that the insurance companies will not be turning them away because they have a pre-existing condition.  Imagine what that will do for Americans, to lift—to give them peace of mind and lift that burden of worry. 

SCHULTZ:  Now, what do you make of some of the comments in Politico, by his top adviser, David Axelrod, that they may be willing to give up on the public option and that‘s really not the most important thing?  Do we have miscommunication here, or do you believe that‘s really where they‘re going to go and capitulate just to get a deal? 

SCHAKOWSKY:  Well, OK.  Here‘s what I heard David Axelrod say.  I‘m quoting from him. 

He‘s confident that we‘re going to get a health care reform bill.  “I think a public option will be part of it.  I think the public wants to have that option, wants to see that kind of competition.  And I think we will have that.”

That‘s what the administration has been saying.  They‘re ready to fight for it.  They‘re willing to fight for it.  And I hope the president will say that next Wednesday. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, I think he‘s going to have to say it. 

Here‘s the response from the Republicans today when they found out that the president is going to speak to the joint session of the Congress.  This is Mr. Boehner, his statement referring the address. 

“Obviously we want to hear what the president has to say, but the American people don‘t want a new speech.  They want a plan.  We need to scrap the Democrats‘ government takeover of health care and start over on real bipartisan plan for reform.”

Now, how I read that, Congresswoman, is that this is all part of the September stall.  There is no government takeover. 

I want you to respond.  Does that sound like somebody who wants to do a deal with you? 

SCHAKOWSKY:  Absolutely not.  And I think that the House of Representatives is going to pass a strong reform bill, that it will have a public option in it.  And I think the time has come where, if the Republicans are only offering a clenched fist instead of an open hand, that the president—that we can do this without the Republicans. 

We certainly did it in the House on the stimulus bill.  They did it when they were in power.  We can do it without them.  And a time may have come that we‘re going to have to move ahead. 

Look, they‘ve already said in the Senate 82 amendments that the Republicans offered were accepted as part of the bill out of their HELP Committee.  And so it already is a bipartisan bill.  I agree with that.  That‘s not just window dressing.  If they‘re going to so no at the end of the day, then I think we need to move ahead. 

But you know, let me just say one other thing, Ed, about the news media. 


SCHAKOWSKY:  When myths or lies are told, it is not just he said/she said.  I like what you said.  It is not true.  It is simply a lie that this is a government takeover. 

And I think that it really ought to be up to the media, too, not to just report, well, this is what the Republicans said and this is what the Democrats said, and this is what the president said.  They‘re telling lies.  And I think they need to be called on it. 

SCHULTZ:  Final point I want to make.  Very clear with you, Congresswoman Schakowsky, will there be a fallback of Democratic support if the president waivers at all on a government-run option? 

SCHAKOWSKY:  Well, here‘s the thing.  This is not about ideology.  If the president really does want to hold the insurance companies, the private companies that have got us into this mess, then we do need to have real competition. 

SCHULTZ:  Congresswoman, that‘s all I need to know.  I think you answered it.  I really appreciate your time tonight.  Thanks so much.

SCHAKOWSKY:  Yes.  Thank you, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Chicago. 

And I want to turn now to Mike Allen, chief correspondent for Politico.

All right, Mike, how crucial is it for the president to connect a week from tonight?  There‘s going to be a lot of buildup to this speech.  It seems to me like it is the critical moment because he‘s got a lot on his plate in September. 

Your thoughts?

MIKE ALLEN, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO:  He does, but this is a chance for the president to have a fresh start.  If there‘s one thing we know that is in President Obama‘s wheelhouse, it‘s giving a great speech. 

SCHULTZ:  So, what would you say to Congress, Mike?  What do you think he has to say? 

ALLEN:  He‘s going to give the—he‘s going to sort of carry the torch in a way that they have been urging him to. 

We got delight when Congress—when we checked around in Congress today.  You would think, oh, they don‘t want the president messing around with what they‘re doing.  No.  In fact, Congress is very eager for the president to sort of draw tighter lines for them, to give them something more specific to work with. 

Now, he‘s not going to give him legislative language, the wherefores and whereshalls.  But he also recognizes that he needs to be more specific than the sort of vague principles he‘s given so far, that the media would pan a speech that simply repeated what he said in the past. 

So, it‘s going to be a more organized, prescriptive approach.  The way it was described to us is like chapter titles in a book.  So, he‘s going to say, here are the baskets, now you fill them. 


Do you think that this could be interpreted as somewhat of a panic move at this point, or do you think this was planned all along, this is how we‘re going to jump-start September and finish this thing down the stretch? 

ALLEN:  Well, certainly they would not have chosen to be exactly where they are.  They did intend to close, they did intend for the president to engage and be active in this final stretch. 

Now they‘re doing it because they absolutely have to.  But we‘re told the president is going to be quite aggressive. 

We see him working the phone.  We see him already having contact with lawmakers.  And so, this is the president‘s top domestic priority.  And so, in the coming days, we‘re going to see his schedule, his actions, his words reflecting that. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, if he‘s going to be aggressive, we can pull out some old campaign tapes when he was talking about on the stump about reform.  So, I‘m anxious to see what the definition of aggressive is. 

Let‘s talk bipartisanship quickly.  This is Senator Chuck Grassley giving his definition of getting a bipartisan deal done.  And your response? 


SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY ®, IOWA:  There‘s a feeling that the only way to get a bipartisan agreement is to defeat a Democratic proposal on the first hand, and then the Democrats will come to Republican leadership.  If that strategy doesn‘t work and the Democrats go ahead and establish a public option, for instance, we‘ll be stuck with that plan forever.  I‘ve been talking to Max Baucus and other Democrats trying to ward off such a roll of the dice, and ward off any chance that we end up with a government-run, federalized health insurance program like Canada has. 


SCHULTZ:  Well, we should be so lucky to have their kind of health care.  Everybody‘s covered.  Nobody gets broke. 

I mean, how do you deal with something like that? 

ALLEN:  Well, it‘s very difficult.  And that‘s why the president is short-circuiting the conversations that had been going on by the bipartisan members of the Senate Finance Committee.  They had until September 15th, but he‘s going ahead, giving his speech before that. 

Before this speech was announced, leaders told us they saw a five percent chance of this group getting a deal.  That‘s not going to happen.  And so the train is going to go ahead and leave the station. 

SCHULTZ:  Mike Allen, Politico, great to have you on tonight.  Thanks so much. 

ALLEN:  Thanks for your coverage, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  You bet. 

Coming up, the stimulus spending is just starting to move through the economy, and experts say it‘s already helping us get out of the gutter financially.  So, naturally, the Republicans want to put a stop to it. 

I‘m calling out Eric Cantor on that in just a minute right here on THE


Stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

There are signs that we‘ve put the worst of the recession behind us.  Manufacturing is up, tax credits for first-time homebuyers have spurred sales.  And Cash for Clunkers has been a pretty good success. 

The stimulus money is starting to trickle into the economy.  And there‘s much more of that to come over the next several months, obviously.  But sometimes I wonder if the Republicans really want to recover, because that would mean that they‘d have to give the president some credit. 

Eric Cantor is now out there arguing that we ought to cancel the stimulus. 


REP. ERIC CANTOR ®, VIRGINIA:  And since we know now that the stimulus has not met the criteria by which it was passed and the White House promoted it, which was to stave off job losses and to stop unemployment from reaching above 8.5 percent, since we know that it‘s been a failure, why not do the responsible thing, which is to take the $400 billion that has not been committed yet or not been spent, but been committed to the stimulus, and just pay off the debt and the deficit so we can get our fiscal house back in order? 


SCHULTZ:  All right.  I want to bring in our panel on this one. 

Democratic strategist Todd Webster with us tonight.  Michael Crowley, senior editor of “The New Republic.”  And Republican strategist John Feehery with us tonight, here on THE ED SHOW.

Let‘s start with you, John, if we can.  What do you make of that?  Just, let‘s cut off the stimulus and let‘s take the $400 billion and throw it against what we owe China, I guess you could say?  Would that be a good move at this point? 

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Well, I‘m not sure if that would be the best move right now economically.  I think though that if you look at the stimulus, there‘s a lot of concern about where that stimulus money‘s going. 

Now, there‘s been some news reports about how some of the stimulus money is actually going to some mob folks in New York and New Jersey.  So, I‘m not sure...


SCHULTZ:  Wait a minute, now.  What is this, “The Godfather”?  Do we have “The Sopranos” going on here? 

FEEHERY:  Well, that‘s the big question.  So, we‘ll see.  I do think that if we could get some more targeted tax cuts to small business, it would help more than some of this excess spending that people are very, very much concerned with. 

SCHULTZ:  Todd Webster, in terms of jobs, you would have to say that the stimulus package has not done early on what some people thought it was going to do.  Isn‘t that the key number, the job creation and the turnaround of the unemployment numbers? 

TODD WEBSTER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Well, jobs are coming.  Look, give this president and Democrats in the Congress, frankly, credit for getting through the stimulus bill. 

There was not a single House Republican vote for it.  There was only three Senate Republican votes for this bill.  And what you have now, what you have the chief economist of Goldman Sachs saying, what you have John McCain‘s economic adviser from the last campaign, Mark Zandi, saying, is that growth is going to be at three percent in the third quarter. 

Now, only about 40 percent of the stimulus bill has made its way down to the communities where it‘s going to serve as a flywheel effect to create the jobs and get into the economy.  So, the jobs are going to be coming.

But if you look at the stock market, which has increased, and if you look at economic growth in the third quarter, ,not taking my word, but taking the word of Goldman Sachs, we‘re on the right track.  And that‘s directly responsible and attributable to the success of the stimulus bill. 

SCHULTZ:  Michael Crowley, when I hear that manufacturing is up, I find that hard to believe.  There‘s a lot of stories out there—

Whirlpool, Cummins Engine going down to Mexico.  But the stock market seems to have recovered quite a bit, especially in the last 45 days. 

MICHAEL CROWLEY, SR. EDITOR, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”:  Yes.  I mean, there are still warning signs.  I think there are still toxic assets out there.  There are things that haven‘t been quite sorted out large.  But I think by and large, the picture is improving. 

I think it‘s very strange to say that because—that we would take the stimulus money that remains and just put it to pay down the deficit.  Unemployment is still up around nine percent.  You tell those guys who are out of work, those men and women who want jobs, well, you know, it‘s not working, that money is going to bring unemployment down.  Unemployment would have been higher. 

I mean, the key point that Eric Cantor and Obama‘s critics miss is the fact that unemployment is high, doesn‘t mean the stimulus didn‘t work.  It means unemployment would have been higher. 

So, Eric Cantor, you tell the people who got jobs through stimulus projects, or are going to get jobs through stimulus projects, you don‘t think the stimulus is any good.  I don‘t think that‘s what he wants to do, and I think that‘s the problem with that line of attack. 

SCHULTZ:  The job creation, John Feehery, is the bottom line.  When do you think we‘ll start seeing that? 

FEEHERY:  Well, you know, Ed, I don‘t have my crystal ball.  I think you‘re absolutely right, though, that at the end of the day, people don‘t care as much about the stock market as they care about their own jobs. 

SCHULTZ:  Exactly.

FEEHERY:  And I do think that the Obama administration has not focused on that nearly enough.  I think they have actually done some things, the Democrats in Congress have done things, to make job creation harder. 

For example, you push up the minimum wage, and, you know, that‘s hard for people getting entry-level jobs.  I think so many small businesses are just on the barest margins.  And anything you do to put more regulations and more taxes and things like that, it makes it harder for job creation.  And I think that‘s what the Obama administration has to focus on. 

SCHULTZ:  All right, gentlemen.  Stay with us.  A lot more coming up later in the show with our panel. 

Up next, Senator Lamar Alexander needs to work on his team-building skills.  One minute he‘s saying he wants to snuggle up and do a bipartisan health care agreement.  Then he‘s threatening us with a minor revolution. 

That lands him in the “Psycho Talk” zone.

Stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  Oh, welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

It‘s time now for another edition of “Psycho Talk.” 

Let‘s see here, now, from wrist-slitting to guns.  I tell you, the Republicans, they certainly are a violent bunch when it comes to fighting health care, aren‘t they? 

And Now Republican Senator Lamar Alexander, he‘s kind of upping the ante on us.  He says if the Democrats give up on bipartisanship and try to ram this health care bill through, better look out.  We could expect a revolution. 


SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER ®, TENNESSEE:  I think that would wreck our health care system and wreck the Democratic Party if they did that.  And if the people who are deeply concerned about this today thought that one party would ram through a proposal which is almost certain to increase the debt, limit coverage, raise costs, cause people to lose their employer-based insurance, there‘d be a minor revolution in the country. 


SCHULTZ:  Let me answer those questions.  No, no, no, no, and no. 

A minor revolution?  Who‘s going to revolt against what‘s really in those bills?  You know, keeping your insurance, lowering costs, and stopping the absolutely criminal act of blocking people with pre-existing conditions from actually getting insurance? 

Oh, wait, we found some people who will start a revolution. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Obama‘s a Marxist, socialist. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You do some homework and do some studying, you can see the radical communist.  And he‘s a basic Muslim.  And health care will just turn—this is the stepping stone for a takeover like communism, like Hitler did in Germany. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Right here, I‘ve got a book here called the “USS Constitution” (ph).  I‘m sure everybody‘s seen this before. 

And do you know what?  I‘ve read this book three times now and I‘ve referenced it dozens of times.  And you know, I can‘t find one little paragraph in here that says that the government has the right to take over our health care. 


SCHULTZ:  There‘s a child left behind there, folks. 

A reminder to him—the USS Constitution is a ship. 

He‘s read it, maybe he‘s been on the ship. 

That‘s the army you‘re trying to build?  Michele Bachmann talking about slitting wrists and becoming blood brothers?  People are bringing guns to town halls?  And now a top senator says there‘s going to be a minor revolution? 

Give me some definition, Senator. 

They‘re all feeding the crazies with this violent talk.  And we‘re laughing at how stupid these folks are, but it isn‘t funny.  It‘s genuinely dangerous “Psycho Talk.”  

Coming up, Levi Johnston‘s letting the cat out of the bag, I guess you could say, about what life was really life in the Palin camp.  Remember that big post-resignation fishing trip she went on?  Levi says she never even picked up a fishing pole. 

Plus, Republican Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins laughed at a 27-year-old mother who has no health care during a town hall meeting, told her that she ought to grow up.  That young mother joins me with reaction in just a minute right here on THE ED SHOW.

You‘ll want to see it.


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to “The Ed Show.”  Tonight, we‘ve got a very special guest for you.  I want to introduce you to Elizabeth Smith.  She‘s a 27-year-old mother who is struggling to take care of her child.  They have no health care.  She can‘t afford it.  She says it means that somewhere along the line, she kind of felt like her life was declared less valuable and that she doesn‘t know why with the system about insurance.  She recently went to a town hall meeting to get involved and asked Republican Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins why she was against a government-run health care program.  Here‘s what happened. 


ELIZABETH SMITH, KANSAS:  I want an option that I can pay for.  I work, I pay my bills. I‘m not (inaudible) So why can‘t I get an affordable option?

REP. LYNN JENSINS ®, KANSAS:  A government-run program is going to subsidize not only yours but everyone‘s in this room.  I believe people should be given the opportunity to take care of themselves with a tax credit to go buy the insurance. 


SCHULTZ:  So Congresswoman Jenkins issued this press release today that “Congresswoman Jenkins was not laughing at the young woman‘s situation.  Instead playing gotcha politics on blogs and zipping off press releases to MSNBC and using the young woman‘s response for a fundraising appeal for her political party.  Congresswoman Jenkins‘ office is looking into current resources available to the mother in the existing programs.”

Elizabeth Smith now joins us here on the line from Ottawa, Kansas.  Elizabeth, good to have you on “The Ed Show” tonight.  Thank you for your time. 

SMITH (on phone):  Thank you very much. 

SCHULTZ:  What was your response to the congresswoman‘s answer to you about how you should grow up and go get insurance?

SMITH:  I was really frustrated.  I am trying to get insurance.  I‘m trying to get affordable insurance. 

SCHULTZ:  And you don‘t have any insurance? Were you offended by what she said at that point?

SMITH:  Yeah, I was, but I sort of half expected that response. 


SMITH: Just because there‘s a lot of indifference, you know, to the situation when people on the other side of the line, you know, they are having a hard time with the empathy and I understand that.  You know, like, I just expected that. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  You‘re an uninsured waitress.  You‘ve got a 2.5-year-old son.  And all you were asking is, congresswoman, why are you against me getting affordable health care? Is that basically it?

SMITH:  Yeah.  I JUST wanted to know why shouldn‘t I, you know, get a public option? Why shouldn‘t I?

SCHULTZ:  And what was your response to her answer? I mean, do you think you swayed her in any way?

SMITH:  No, I don‘t think so at all.  I think she completely blew me off. 

SCHULTZ:  And how do you feel about that? Do you feel it was worthwhile going to this town hall?

SMITH:  I do because, you know, hopefully somebody out there will pay attention that, you know, people want answers and, you know, it‘s about communicate.  It‘s about helping and taking care of each other and—

SCHULTZ:  Elizabeth Smith, what do you do for health care right now?

SMITH:  Right now, you know, I—my son goes to the local health department for his immunizations.  But pretty much I just hope and pray none of us get sick or hurt.

SCHULTZ:  Do you access emergency rooms?

SMITH:  Yeah, I have before and I have, you know, considerable bills from emergency room visits for, you know, middle of the night ear infections, you know, that kind of stuff.

SCHULTZ:  But you basically are at the mercy of future circumstances. 

I mean, you could be financially destitute if you don‘t get some insurance. 

Is that correct?

SMITH:  Exactly, oh, yeah. 

SCHULTZ:  And that‘s really what you want to address throughout all of this debate, that you want an opportunity to buy in.  You don‘t want it free.  Do you want it free or do you want to buy in? I don‘t want to put words in your mouth. 

SMITH:  I don‘t want it free.  I‘m not asking for a handout.  I‘m asking for something that‘s affordable that I can pay for. 

SCHULTZ:  Elizabeth Smith, I appreciate your time here on “The Ed Show” tonight.  Thanks so much. 

SMITH:  Thank you very much.

SCHULTZ:  Our panel is back with us.  Todd Webster, Michael Crowley and John Feehery here tonight. 

Michael, is this really a circumstance that the Obama administration and the Congress is going to have to address to keep health care costs down in this country? I mean, she‘s not looking for a handout.  But she doesn‘t have anywhere to go right now.  I think that‘s—we‘ve seen all the crazies at the town hall meetings.  This lady stood up and asked a legitimate question.  Is there room for her in all of this, do you think?

CROWLEY:  Well, there‘s room for her voice and there should be room for her plight at the center of this debate.  And I think it‘s one of the key things that Obama wants to do.  I mean, I think essentially there are three big things that Obama wants to accomplish. 

One is to expand coverage so that we have just more people who have health insurance.  The other is to make it more affordable.  And that‘s what we‘re talking about here.  And then the third is sort of long-run costs and what it‘s doing to the national economy.  But that second one is critical.  You have to—part of broadening the coverage and giving more people insurance is bringing down the price.  That‘s why competition is so important to what Obama‘s doing.  He‘s saying maybe it‘s the public option, maybe it‘s not.  But it‘s got to have some element of competition that brings prices down. 

Because as we know, the rate of health care cost is just skyrocketing.  And one last quick point, people who say I like what I have now, the price is going up and pretty soon you might not like that anymore.  You might not have it anymore because it‘s going to be to expensive.  So the time to do something about it is now.

SCHULTZ:  OK, Todd Webster, what would be the solution? A public option where she could be a contributor to a program and then be able to get covered if something catastrophic happened?  I mean, why wouldn‘t a story like that touch the hearts of a lot of Americans to see this thing through?

WEBSTER:  Well, I think that it should and it will.  The most articulate voice over the last month about health care has been that of Anthony Weiner and what he has proposed and what I think makes a lot of sense is taking the Medicare model, which is enormously successful.  You ask anybody over the age of 65, if they like Medicare and to a person they‘ll say yes.  And that is a public option.  Nobody is forced to take Medicare.  They can go to Aetna and buy health care from the insurance provider if they like. 

But the perversity of the American system is such that the provider of health care, the insurance companies have an economic incentive to deny you care, to throw you out for having a pre-existing condition and to increase your premium by 10, 20 or in my case, 35 percent a year. 

It‘s not sustainable.  And that‘s why we need to get health care reform done.  That‘s the position that the Republicans are in currently is to defend that status quo position.  And I think it‘s untenable. 

SCHULTZ:  John Feehery, what would your answer to be this lady about what kind of opportunity she could have to make sure she doesn‘t have financial ruin and has a chance at a future and her 2.5-year-old son can be covered?

FEEHERY:  Well I think if you look at the Republican plans and they do have plans.  They want to help this lady‘s situation.  And I do think there has got to be competition in the program.  I don‘t think it‘s a public option.  I think there must be competition across state lines so any insurance company can go in and compete for business.  I also think that there should be an individual mandate.

SCHULTZ:  Wait a minute, John.  Her question was why as a working mother can‘t she get an affordable option?

FEEHERY:  Right, I think it‘s because there is basically monopolies in each state that make it almost impossible.  I think they have to break down those monopolies.  I think you can do that.

SCHULTZ:  She‘s a perfect example of a recipient of a public option that would eventually lower our costs. 

FEEHERY:  I don‘t think so.  I think you can do this without the public option.  I think you can do this with a medical health savings account which helps with catastrophic and you can save money.  There are plenty of ways to do this without going to a public option.  Republicans have offered all those ideas and they‘ve been rejected by the Democrats.

WEBSTER:  But what does the value add of an insurance company? You get sick, you go to the doctor, the doctor takes care of you, the nurse provides care for you, the hospital provides a place for you to stay.  An insurance company adds no value to that health care equation.  There is no need for it. 

SCHULTZ:  I‘m not sure the Medicare -- 

FEEHERY:  Todd, what you want to say is get rid of the insurance companies.  I don‘t think that‘s the answer.  I don‘t think President Obama is saying that‘s the answer.  What the answer is is more competition.  Get rid of monopolies.  And allow health care costs to be controlled by things like tort reform and plenty of other ways to do it. 

SCHULTZ:  Go ahead.

CROWLEY:  President Obama he is open to something other than the public option.  He‘s made it clear that is not his line in the sand.  He is willing.  I think the president might say that John is one of these reasonable Republicans that he is trying to work with who‘s willing to have a debate about this. 

But it‘s not an end all or be all for the president.  But the key is that in a country this wealthy, we should not have citizens like this who are looking at complete ruin should one illness—

SCHULTZ:  Gentlemen, hold on second.  The point here is, gentlemen, is that she is not in the market because she can‘t afford it. 

Now, I don‘t know what waitresses in the middle of the country make.  But she was motivated enough to go to a town hall meeting and ask a representative, how come I can‘t get an affordable deal? I‘m willing to pay, but there‘s nothing in the market for me.  This is the fundamental question.

FEEHERY:  And there should be.  The fact of the matter is, you can cut a deal here where you have an individual mandate where everyone is forced to get health insurance, but allow, get rid of all pre-existing conditions. 

And then you can have that deal right now.  And I think the insurance industry has offered that deal.  There‘s a deal to be had here but it can‘t with the public option. 

WEBSTER:  The insurance industry is still incentivized to drop her as soon as she gets sick or to deny her the appropriate medical attention or life-saving drug that she may need.  It‘s in their business plan.  It is how they operate. 

FEEHERY:  Todd, you can do regulations that require that they don‘t do that.  You can have that and that can be part of the deal without a public option. 

SCHULTZ:  Well let me just point out that we have a president who had a single mother who got sick and died and she didn‘t have any insurance.  So, I mean, I think—that condition still exists in this country.  That‘s what I think they have to address. 

FEEHERY:  Absolutely, we need reform.  I agree with that 10 percent.

SCHULTZ:  Gentlemen, good to have you on tonight.  I appreciate it.

Up next, Levi Johnston, he tells “Vanity Fair” what‘s really going on inside Sarah Palin‘s house.  You won‘t believe what she keeps in a box, under her bed?


SCHULTZ:  Want to know what you think, did the Republicans win August on health care?  Test A for yes, B for no to 622639.  The results are coming up, stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  In my “Playbook” tonight, we cover hockey, the puck is being passed between hockey mom Sarah Palin and her daughter‘s baby daddy Levi Johnston.  This time Levi takes the shot on the goal with a piece in “Vanity Fair” magazine.  Really?  He wrote a piece for “Vanity Fair” and in what I consider the most shocking revelation, he says that he‘s never seen Sarah Palin pick up a fishing pole.  I mean, that‘s it.  Totally unqualified to be president.  I‘m done with her.  Joining me now is radio talk show host and comedian, Lionel.  What do you make of that? Will the real Sarah Palin please stand up?

LIONEL, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  I don‘t think he‘s read the constitution, Ed, “The USS Constitution.”  I tell you what, buddy.  Sorry, I had to.  You know the guy at home saying, hey, I‘m on TV.  Yeah, dad. 

Let me just say this first, all right? Levi, this is unimportant.  There‘s a lot to discuss about Sarah Palin other than her liking chalupas and wearing her Wal-Mart pajamas on the couch.  OK.  That being said, I loved it.  And I wish I didn‘t love it.  She apparently doesn‘t fish, doesn‘t hunt.  Can she really field dress a moose? You‘re a woodsman.  What does that mean?


LIONEL:  Has somebody ever asked her, OK, what is this cut called on a moose?

SCHULTZ:  Well we just call it gutting the animal. I mean I don‘t mean to be too gruesome here, but you field dress the animal.  I don‘t know if she‘s ever field dressed a moose or not.  But here‘s the thing, one of the things that she wanted to adopt the child and make it look like the baby never came from her family.

LIONEL:  What happens to Bristol when she is with the bump for a while? All of a sudden Bristol now loses it and Sarah says, guess what, we adopted a kid.  Whose is it?

SCHULTZ:  I don‘t know, some weight reduction program or something. 

Keep her as a shut in for the last three months.

LIONEL:  This is a woman, by the way, do we really need this?

SCHULTZ:  She‘s a phony.  She could be 2012 --

LIONEL:  No.  No.  Wait a minute.  Be still my heart.  But listen, look at this guy.  “Vanity Fair,” Graydon Carter, Levi Johnston?  All right. 

That being said, I‘m afraid—this is the only thing I‘m worried about, Ed.  I‘m afraid that somebody out there may start to maybe feel a little sorry for her because they feel this is a pile on.  Remember, this is a woman who could not name one magazine she read, couldn‘t even make it up. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, maybe she‘ll get “Field and Stream” now.  Here‘s what Levi says about hunting and fishing.  “She says she goes hunts and lives off animal meat.  I‘ve never seen it.  I‘ve never seen her touch a fishing pole.  She had a gun in her bedroom and one day she asked me to show her how to shoot it.  I asked her what kind of gun it was and she said she didn‘t know because it was in a box under her bed.” 

This was just a bunch of song and dance fairy tale stuff. 

LIONEL:  This is a woman—I mean, yeah—

SCHULTZ:  Yeah. 

LIONEL:  But there‘s other good stuff, too, though.  Listen, the good part of this, unless America be confused, Levi doesn‘t have an axe to grind.  He‘s 18-years-old.  Don‘t forget this is a guy whose MySpace or Facebook, whatever it was, remember this, I‘m an F-ing party guy.  This is not exactly the Neil Boortz of Wasilla.

SCHULTZ:  On a serious note—just for 10 seconds, why would he do this to the kid‘s grandmother? Money?

LIONEL:  No, no, not money, Ed.  This, no.  He—look, this is a chance for him to be the next Lindsay Lohan.  He‘s got what, “Playgirl” offers?  He‘s 18-years-old.  After this, his 15 minutes are up.  That‘s it.

SCHULTZ:  Lionel, Air America radio host.  Good to have you with us, buddy. 

LIONEL:  Hey buddy, appreciate it.

SCHULTZ:  Up next, the main event, the health care is a moral obligation.  But some churchgoers don‘t believe me.  Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, joins me next on “The Ed Show.”  Stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to “The Ed Show.”  Fixing health care in this country is a moral obligation.  There isn‘t any way around it.  At least that‘s how I see it and I think the public option to make health care affordable and accessible is a key, fulfilling moral obligation in this country.  But some religious leaders don‘t agree with me on that. 

Take for example Catholic leaders in Kansas who teamed up to put out this letter about health care reform with this statement.  “The teaching of the universal church has never been to suggest a government socialization of medical services.  Rather the church has asserted the rights of every individual to have access to those things most necessary for sustaining and caring for human life while at the same time insisting on the personal responsibility of each individual to care properly for his or her own health.” 

Joining me now for the main event is Tony Perkins, he is the president of Family Research Council.  Mr. Perkins, nice to have you with us tonight.


SCHULTZ:  I am somewhat surprised at the silence of many religious leaders in this country.  The president has been on record.  He believes we have a moral obligation.  What‘s your position on this? Do we as a country have a moral obligation to get health care to Americans?

PERKINS:  Well at first, let me say I do believe we have some problems in our health care system in America today.  And I would agree with you that we do have a moral obligation to care for our neighbors.  This is where we disagree.  The issue is the selective lifting of scriptures of the teachings of Jesus, like from “Matthew Chapter 25” that Al Gore used over the weekend that are actually teachings to the church and to fellow Christian followers of Jesus to care for others.  And I‘m thankful that that has historically been the view because it was churches and religious people who established the hospitals in this country.  And we do have an obligation to care for the poor.  But it‘s not the government‘s obligation. 

SCHULTZ:  We are the government.  The people are the government.  If we make a decision to use our money to give everybody health care, what would be wrong with that?

PERKINS:  I‘m glad we didn‘t have that view early on in this country because it was not the government that established the hospitals and institutions of higher learning.  It was religious institutions.

SCHULTZ:  Well Tony, back then, they weren‘t gouging people and it wasn‘t for profit back then.  The point is we have got a sick nation right now morally and physically.  And I take issue with the hard right conservatives, religious leaders.  You‘re after the—not you—whatever.  You‘re after the marriage amendment, OK? You‘re after Roe v. Wade but silent on this issue. 

PERKINS:  No, no, that‘s not true.  We‘ve not been silent on this issue.

SCHULTZ:  Where is the advocacy in the Christian community?

PERKINS:  You were talking about that young mother earlier.  She could qualify under SCHIP.  Her 2-year-old could get health care in this country.  When you talk about that 47 million, there are only about 12 million who actually can‘t afford health care.  The others fall into different categories. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, actually not to change the facts here, Tony, she doesn‘t qualify.  We checked that out.  She doesn‘t qualify.

PERKINS:  She must make more than—

SCHULTZ:  She‘s still a single mom trying to get involved and looking for affordable health care.

PERKINS:  Her child can‘t.  I know her child can‘t.

SCHULTZ:  There is discrimination going on in this country.  If you don‘t have money, you can‘t get proper health care.  And I just don‘t think that religiously, you know, morally, we‘re not serving this country and the people the way we should.  We made a decision as a people to do something and the conservatives are stopping it. 

PERKINS:  No, Ed, I‘d be happy to work with you to resolve issues on health care and I think they can be done.  But this is the issue where the president and others are using scripture and applying it to the state when it really is not to be applied to the state. 

SCHULTZ:  Well you do it with the marriage amendment.

PERKINS:  Look, there‘s a double standard here.

SCHULTZ:  President Bush did it with a marriage amendment.

PERKINS:  There‘s this double standard.  When the conservative uses scripture, the media goes into convulsions saying they‘re trying to create a theocracy.  When the liberals use scripture, they just report it I guess because they know they don‘t mean it.  In fact in 2005 you talk about the marriage amendment, 2005 when Bill Frist was the majority leader in the Senate, he attended one of our church-based events.  John Kerry went ballistic on the Senate floor saying he was trying to inject religion into a public policy debate where it did not belong.  There‘s a double standard here.

SCHULTZ:  I‘m talking about leadership.  Now, you know, people can lead.  When you have the pulpit and you have the visibility and you write the books and you have got these mega churches, you have to admit, Tony, that Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, Franklin Graham and also Pat Robertson, they are nowhere to be found on health care reform.  I don‘t want to call it hypocritical but they are ominously silent and they are the Christian leaders in this country. 

PERKINS:  I can‘t speak for them, but I can tell you that a year ago when I published my book with Harry Jackson, it‘s a chapter in our book on health care reform.  We put ideas out there on how to do it and we do believe we have a collective responsibility to do.  But we don‘t believe in government takeover of the health care system is a solution.  And using scripture like silly putty to wrap around radical ideas is not going to be sold to the Christian community.

SCHULTZ:  So you‘re saying that we don‘t have a moral obligation?  I mean either we do or we don‘t?  As a country we do or we don‘t?

PERKINS:  Trying to give it off to the government is an abdication of personal responsibility.  We have a personal responsibility and the church has a responsibility to this.  And I‘m glad they lived up to it in the past and they need to live up to it today.

SCHULTZ:  Tony Perkins, always a pleasure, I appreciate your conversation tonight.

PERKINS:  Thanks, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  You bet.  Earlier, I asked you what you thought.  Did the Republicans win August on health care?  Forty-four percent of you said yes, 56 percent said no.  That‘s “The Ed Show.”  I‘m Ed Schultz.  For more information on “The Ed Show,” go to  Check out my radio Web site at  We have got a town hall coming up in Pittsburgh.  All the details coming up in the next few days.  Chris Matthews is next with “Hardball” right here on the place for politics, MSNBC.



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