Guests: Anthony Weiner, Roger Simon, Mort Zuckerman, Robert Reich, Leo
Gerard, Kevin Madden, Joe Madison, Jeanne Cummings, Steve McMahon
ED SCHULTZ, HOST: Good evening, Americans, I‘m Ed Schultz, and this is THE ED SHOW, live from Washington.
The big story, Olympia Snowe, I thought we could count on her. Mr. President, don‘t blink, don‘t give the party of no, the party of shame, and the party of these nutjob protesters any credibility at all. Republican lawmakers are now almost demanding that the president take the public option off the table.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. OLYMPIA SNOWE ®, MAINE: I urge the president to take the public option off the table because it‘s universally opposed by our Republicans in the Senate, and, therefore, there‘s no way to pass a plan that includes a public option. So I think it‘s recognizing that because it is a roadblock to building the kind of consensus that we need to move forward.
Even Chairman Baucus has indicated no proposal could be passed in the Senate that includes it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Really? Take it off the table? The people don‘t count, huh? Typical Republican rhetoric. Well, let me tell you something, folks. She is correct about one thing, because the AP is reporting tonight that the Senate Finance Committee is going to come out with something later this week and here‘s the deal.
The majority of people already covered through an employer plan would see no major changes. But self-employed people and small businesses would be able to buy affordable coverage through a new purchasing pool called an exchange.
They‘ve got all these fancy names. Here‘s the bottom line. Baucus and the Senate Finance Committee, they are not going to show up with a public option. So Republicans win out of that committee. In the meantime, you‘ve got Kent Conrad saying it‘s dead.
Well, let me tell you something, a new poll is out today showing that support for public option is growing, 55 percent now say they want a government-run health insurance plan for competition. That‘s up from 52 percent in August.
You know, the month that the Democrats were supposed to have been hosed all over the place, right?
This is what I have predicted all along. Here we are, we‘re down to zero Republicans on board with the president. You know, the guy that got elected, the guy who won nine Bush states.
Mr. President, no matter how well you explain it, no matter what the forum, no matter what the speech, they‘re not going to be with you. They don‘t get it. They don‘t support you. You‘re going to have to do it alone.
They don‘t pay attention to facts and logic. And they certainly don‘t pay attention to the American people. The American people have got the Republican Party‘s number, 62 percent of Americans now say the Republican Party is not negotiating in good faith when it comes to health care reform.
Americans know the Republicans are only interested in killing reform. You can‘t work with somebody if they‘re going to be angling for failure all the time. Now I think the White House is starting to get this. Senior adviser David Axelrod is now starting to talk a little tougher on the public option.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID AXELROD, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: He continues to believe it‘s a good idea, he continues to advocate it. And I‘m not willing to accept that it‘s not going to be in the final package.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: This is what is so confusing to a lot of Democrats, is Senator Kent Conrad out of North Dakota, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and the gang of six in the Finance Committee. The numbers are with the Democrats, with the liberals, yet he‘s making his pitch saying that a number of bills out of the House have no chance, not going to make it, can‘t get the votes.
Are you tired of being told that we don‘t have the votes and the public option is dead? The American people want this. Senator Conrad, whose side are you on? The Republicans? Or the American people who want the public option? That‘s the key.
If it‘s going to come down to the gang of six and if it really is down to the Senate Finance Committee, well, the big news tonight is it‘s not going to have a public option.
Now, I want to address this tea party thing that happened over the weekend which is rather comical, here in Washington. They even lie about their own party numbers. Who showed up?
The number of psychos that are out there throwing their numbers out, well, oh, it‘s, excuse me, 2.5 million now. Folks, the real number is about 60,000. Now do you want to really see 2 million people, want to see what they look like? This is what 2 million people looks like. This is President Obama‘s Inauguration.
Now did you see any tape like this on the news this weekend? This is what a real rally looks like. These are the people that want the public option. The people want to change. The people want to make sure that the Democrats get the message. That‘s the rally I remember, 60,000 people is not an overwhelming display, in fact it‘s really just a Big Ten football game, it‘s about half the crowd of Penn State and Michigan when they get together and get it on, if you know what I mean.
But the righties are lying about their own attendance numbers just like they‘re lying about health care reform. Well, let me tell you something, folks, you can‘t let this one die. You‘ve got to get your phones out and call Capitol Hill. But you‘ve also got to get out and tell me what you think on this.
I want to know if you think the public option is now officially dead. Text A for yes and B for no to 622639. We‘ll bring you the results later on in the program.
Now speaking of this, joining me now is Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York who wrote in a press release “last rites for a public option is a death knell, a death knell for health care reform.”
Congressman, these are some pretty big developments. The Senate Finance Committee has had a lot of weight put on its shoulders and people are giving it a lot of credibility. Now it‘s reported tonight that they‘re not going to come out with a public option. How does that sit with you?
REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK: Well, you know, they call the Senate the cooling saucer of our democracy, they‘re really the icebox for a lot of reforms we‘ve tried to pass. Look, I‘m glad the Senate is finally punting this back to the House into a Conference Committee.
But I think we need to have a public option. Let‘s put aside the politics for a moment. You know, if you‘re going to have people signing up for health care and there‘s nothing new in the mix, what we have today, we‘re going to have rates go up and up and up because there is no competition for insurance companies.
If there is that option of something like Medicare that they can sign up for, the competition is going to bring down insurance rates, and without it there‘s really nothing that has that effect.
SCHULTZ: So what are you going to do in the House? I understand that you just will not give up on single-payer. Now, it‘s the—I don‘t want to be negative about this because I‘m a single-payer guy too. I mean, I believe in it, I believe that‘s where they‘ve got to go.
But this weekend at this rally, there were Republicans who were saying that they want to put an end to all government involvement in health care. How does that ring with you?
WEINER: Well, first let me make it clear, you know, some people use single-payer as a dirty word, but 47 percent of all of our dollars go to Medicare, Medicaid, programs that people know and they know that they work. They‘ve got very low overhead, they‘re very efficient, I think they should be extended to more Americans.
But I am prepared to compromise. If my amendment on single-payer goes down, then at least we have a public option, we have some choice that someone can sign up for something like Medicare.
You start taking away that and you have got virtually no cost containment. You have got, frankly, the insurance companies getting a lot of new customers but no real competition to hold down cost. So, look, we might be able to get something passed but we‘ve now watered it down so far that the Senate bill might not even be worth passing at all.
SCHULTZ: Well, at the rally this weekend here in Washington, D.C., this is what I was talking about. This is Congressman Price talking about getting rid of all government health care. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TOM PRICE ®, GEORGIA: We will not rest until we make certain that government-run health care is ended.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said on the stage that you want to end government health care. Do you support privatizing Medicare?
PRICE: What government-run medicine does is forces people to have other individuals besides themselves and their families making medical decisions. That‘s what‘s wrong and that‘s what the American people don‘t want.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you please answer my quick question. Do you support privatizing Medicare? You said on the stage that you want to get rid of government-run health care. What‘s the difference between Medicare and the public option?
PRICE: No, what I support is allowing patients to make independent medical decisions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you support government health care when it‘s Medicare?
PRICE: What I support is patients making independent decisions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Now, Congressman Weiner, are governments going to be making the health care decisions or are patients and doctors going to be doing it? Because I think that the Democrats might be losing this argument at this point even though the majority of Americans want the public option. Your thoughts?
WEINER: Well, look, I think that we all need to realize we all have a single payer. Some of us in insurance companies, some of us have Medicare or Medicaid or the Department of Defense or Veterans Affairs.
Look, the bottom line here is that under Medicare you get to choose your doctor, you get to choose your hospital. The only question is, you don‘t get the 30 percent overhead and profits that the insurance companies take.
The Republicans have tied themselves into an intellectual knot here. On one hand they say they‘re opposed to government-run health plans and they‘re opposed to single-payer, and then they thump their chest every year about how they‘re trying to protect Medicare.
The fact of the matter is they didn‘t like Medicare when it was passed. They don‘t like it today. And that makes them and the distinct minority in this country because people who have Medicare say they like it.
SCHULTZ: Congressman Weiner, thanks for your time tonight.
Appreciate it very much.
WEINER: Thank you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: For more—you bet.
For more, let me bring in Roger Simon, chief political columnist for Politico.
Roger, what do you make of these most recent numbers that are out? Is the tide starting to swing back to favorability for public option?
ROGER SIMON, POLITICO: It may be. But ironically enough—or sadly enough, it is swinging back at the same time I hear that the public option is dead in the Senate Finance Committee. That the gang of six is not even talking about it anymore, that they are arguing about Medicaid expansion and some kind of malpractice reform. Democrats want the first, Republicans want the second.
The public option is not even on the table anymore.
SCHULTZ: So what we‘re seeing here now is the Senate Finance Committee and Senate HELP Committee are going to have a couple of Democratic titans going at it. You‘ve got Tom Harkin who is now the chairman of the HELP Committee, he says, look, we‘re going to get a public option. You‘ve got Max Baucus who doesn‘t have it. You‘ve got Kent Conrad who is out there saying, it‘s not going to be there. They want this co-op.
Who‘s going to win? It‘s a Democratic fight.
SIMON: And then you have also got the House of Representatives, which its plan—its plans which all have the public option, and you heard from Representative Weiner just a few seconds ago, what I‘ve heard from Howard Dean and others, saying, you know, if you‘re not going to have the public option, maybe we ought not to do this thing at all.
Because what we‘re talking about is a huge windfall for the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry. After all, reform is going to pass a law making everyone in America buy health insurance, 40 million people are going to be forced to buy health insurance.
You know, If GM could have gotten a law forcing everyone to buy a Chevy, it wouldn‘t be in bankruptcy. It would be a sweet deal. But if you can‘t keep the companies honest, as President Obama said the public option would do, why do it?
SCHULTZ: Purchasing pool called an exchange, and that everybody would be forced to buy it, how is that going to play? That is so heavy-handed. That is the government telling you what to do. I really think that this pool is going to need some serious explanation.
But it is also going to be run, as I understand it, by the insurance companies. That‘s who‘s going to be offering up the insurance.
SIMON: Sure it is. And it‘s the same problems with co-ops which some people might think might be a last-ditch way of getting a semi-public option. The insurance companies can convert into co-ops. And in both cases you don‘t have any way of containing the worse excesses of insurance companies.
SCHULTZ: Roger, good to have you with us. The battle goes on.
SIMON: Thanks, Ed.
SCHULTZ: It has been a hot August, and now we‘re in the middle of September, and the September stall is on. I thought we could count on Olympia Snowe, I guess not.
Coming up, one year after the financial collapse, the president says we have pulled the economy back from the brink. Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich and also mogul Mort Zuckerman will join us in a moment to talk about that.
And I don‘t know what kind of tea the “Drugster (ph)” has been drinking these days but he is flat-out delusional when it comes to what happened at this weekend‘s party, I‘m calling him out in “Psycho Talk.”
Plus, China has been putting the screws to us for years. And finally the president of the United States says, enough is enough. I‘ll talk to a leader of one of the largest unions in this country who says hooray for President Obama for taking on Beijing.
That‘s all coming up on THE ED SHOW. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Coming up on THE ED SHOW, President Obama dropped the hammer on Wall Street today, warning the days of quick kills and bloated bonuses are over. Sounds good. But I want to know what regulations are they going to bring forward to take care of these snakes in suits? Mort Zuckerman joins me in just a moment on THE ED SHOW.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One year ago we saw in stark relief how markets can spin out of control. How a lack of common-sense rules can lead to excess and abuse. How close we can come to the brink. One year later it is incumbent upon us to put in place those reforms that will prevent this kind of crisis from ever happening again. That‘s what we must do, and I‘m confident that‘s what we will do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. That was President Obama speaking in New York City today, one year after Lehman Brothers collapsed and our economy went into a tailspin. Today the president warned Wall Street not to go back to the risky behavior that brought on the recession. He said American taxpayers won‘t bail them out again.
The president also announced ambitious new financial regulations and urged Congress to pass his proposals by the end of the year. Joining me now is Mort Zuckerman, publisher and owner of The New York Daily News, and editor-in-chief of U.S. News and World Report. And also joining us is Robert Reich, former labor secretary in the Clinton administration and professor of public policy at U.C. Berkeley.
Gentlemen, good to have you with us tonight. Mr. Zuckerman, any regulation—is any regulation needed on Wall Street? Or should we just let it go the way it is right now? What do you think?
MORT ZUCKERMAN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT: No, I think there is some regulation that is appropriate, particularly raising the amount of equity in relation to debt or lowering the amount of debt in relation to equity. Call it any way you want.
When Chris Cox of the SEC permitted a lot of Wall Street firms to go from a ratio of $12 of debt to a dollar of equity from—to $30 to $40 of debt to a dollar of equity, you planted the seeds for the possibility of a financial crisis.
But it‘s not the whole story. And I think the president, frankly, has cast this in a way that is much too political by blaming it all on Wall Street. You could blame it as much on the Federal Reserve Board for keeping interest rates at 1 percent from 2001 to 2004.
You could blame it on the Congress for giving Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac almost a blank check in terms of making loans and guaranteeing loans and buying loans for people who were simply not qualified by income or net worth.
You could blame it on a lot of consumers who lied when they applied for mortgages by exaggerating their income. So it‘s—or their net worth or both. So it‘s not just blaming Wall Street. That‘s really what we would call an inexpensive political shot.
And I think it‘s unfortunate that he put it in those terms even though Wall Street does require re-regulation.
SCHULTZ: Mr. Reich, what do you think about that? Robert, do you agree with that?
ROBERT REICH, U.C. BERKELEY: Well, Mort Zuckerman is absolutely right in terms of there‘s a lot of blame to go around. I think that I would, though, put a little more accountability on Wall Street. Because after all, now a year later, you look at some of the techniques and the bets and the schemes that are being cooked up on Wall Street, they don‘t look that different from what they were a year ago, even though we‘ve been through a gigantic meltdown, even though Wall Street has got $600 billion of taxpayer dollars.
Yes, they‘ve paid a little bit back, but they still have a lot of money underwritten by taxpayers. They haven‘t really learned anything. I think that if we were—you know, maybe a year-and-a-half ago, we might say they didn‘t know what they were doing. But now they do know what they‘re doing.
The Goldman Sachs chief financial officer said he is doing—he is using the same business plan he was using before.
SCHULTZ: And, Robert, do you agree that Glass-Steagall should be put back into effect? Should that be brought to the table for regulation? Because, of course, that made it so bank holding companies can pretty much go out and buy what they want, and, of course, led us down the road of mortgage-backed securities.
Do you think Glass-Steagall should be put back in place?
REICH: I do, Ed. And I‘ll tell you why, because—and again, we took away Glass-Steagall during the Clinton administration. And although tremendously proud to have been part of that administration, I think that was a mistake because once you allow commercial banking and investment banking to intermingle, basically you‘re asking for all sorts of problems.
That means that lenders can essentially securitize their loans, send
them around the world, not take any responsibility or accountant for those
loans. It means that pension funds are basically putting, you know, their
the trust and the fate of their beneficiaries into very, very risky places they have no business going.
Yes, let‘s re-erect the boundary between commercial and investment banking...
SCHULTZ: What about that, Mr. Zuckerman? Would you go along with Glass-Steagall being put back in place?
ZUCKERMAN: Yes, I think I would to a degree. I do think that that is an area where the commercial banks got into very, very deep water. So I think that regulation is appropriate, perhaps not as extreme as it was before, but I do think some of that is absolutely appropriate.
But I also think that we have to find a way to control the Congress in terms of what they want to do politically. It‘s very nice to say that everybody in this country should own their own home. But if they don‘t have the income or the net worth to do it and they are making and pushing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into that direction, which is what they did.
And Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac politically, in their usual way organized huge lobbyist groups to put pressure on Congress to permit them to do that, in addition to being a public vehicle, it‘s also a privately-owned vehicle. I think that is one of the things that absolutely needs reform, and that is a political decision.
REICH: But, if I could just say, Mort, what really worries me, and I think you put your finger on it, but in a slightly different way, Wall Street, itself, has so much political muscle, so much lobbying clout in Congress right now...
SCHULTZ: They‘re lobbying more than anybody right now.
REICH: Wall Street is responsible for so many campaign contribution, I‘m worried that they‘re not going to even allow the kind of regulation that is just sensible and necessary to go into play—effect.
ZUCKERMAN: But by the way, I have to say one thing, Wall Street really has changed. Just take one firm, Morgan Stanley, they have reduced their ratio of debt-to-equity from 31 to 1 to 15 to 1. And they are going to hold to that kind of level.
There are a number of firms who have really made it an absolute objective to change the ratio of equity to overall financing. And that is appropriate. I think it should be regulated, mind you.
But they have changed to a considerable degree. Not enough, perhaps, in every single case, but they really have changed. Now we have to make sure they don‘t change back in the other direction.
SCHULTZ: Mr. Zuckerman, Mr. Reich.
REICH: But the trouble is that when Goldman Sachs does risky things, all of the other banks worry about poaching, they have got to get their profits up, they‘ve got to get their salaries up, they‘ve got to get their bonuses up, and they start doing exactly what Goldman Sachs is doing, so the risk level goes up.
SCHULTZ: Gentlemen, thanks for joining us tonight with this discussion. Robert Reich and Mort Zuckerman, here on THE ED SHOW. Thanks so much.
ZUCKERMAN: OK. Good to see you, Bob.
SCHULTZ: Coming up, you probably know that the “Drugster” is a college dropout, but get this, he really sucks at math. I mean, he doesn‘t even know the difference between 60,000 and 2 million. I‘ll show up next in “Psycho Talk,” stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Oh, in “Psycho Talk” tonight, we‘ve got more coming from Rush Limbaugh, the “Drugster.” He just keeps them coming, doesn‘t he? Here he is rambling on about the right-wing 9/12 tea party in Washington, D.C., over the weekend. Pay attention to the part where he references the size of the crowd.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, HOST, “THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW”: You don‘t need a charismatic leader to get you out of the house and to spend money to drive or fly to Washington and get a hotel for Friday and Saturday night and show up as part of a 2 million people crowd on Saturday and then leave the place as clean as you found it.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Two million people, huh? Not even close, “Drugster.” About 60,000. That‘s the D.C. Fire Department‘s estimate. Rush must have been in one of those drug-induced stupors over the weekend where he was seeing double. Well, actually, he was seeing quadruple on that one.
Anyway, he has got a math problem or he has just got a lying problem. I think that we all know about this one. Face it, Rush, the event was a flop! A flop! As much P.R. as it got, and trying to dupe the people into thinking that there were millions of people there, you got it. That‘s “Psycho Talk.”
Coming up, China has been cheating for a long time when it comes to trade agreements. And now the United States is calling them on it. The president just stood up to them and Beijing is not taking it lightly. And the head of one of the country‘s biggest unions is going to be joining me next.
Plus, I figured out why Brett Favre went to the Vikings. The geezer has figured out the best way to make $25 million is just to hand the ball to this guy who runs all over everybody. It‘s coming up in my “Playbook.” Stay with us. You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Tomorrow, President Obama will head to Pittsburgh to speak to union leaders at the annual AFL-CIO conference. Labor is fired up. I was there last night, had a radio town hall meeting. They‘re expecting a lot from President Obama.
The union‘s got a big victory from the Obama White House over the weekend, when the president agreed to impose temporary tariffs on tires imported from China. Union leaders say cheap Chinese tires have cost American jobs and shut down plants, and putting an import tax on them will level the playing field for American workers.
Joining me now is Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers International. Mr. Gerard, good to have you with us tonight. How bold a move was this by President Obama to go ahead and uphold the U.S. International Trade Commission‘s ruling on this? This is something the Bush administration did not do. How bold is this in your opinion?
LEO GERARD, UNITED STEELWORKERS INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT: I think it was a very important step, very important move. In fact, this is the first time a president has brought meaning for sanctions against a foreign—a foreign country since Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan did it twice. So I‘m pleased that President Obama stepped in.
We believe that this is a rule-base country. We went to the International Trade Commission and said, China‘s breaking the rules. They agreed. Now President Obama‘s agreed. I‘m very pleased.
SCHULTZ: John Harwood of CNBC had an exclusive interview with President Obama today and asked him about this ruling and trade agreements. Here‘s his response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I just want to make sure if we actually have rules written down, they mean something. The next time I go to the American people or to Congress, saying this trade agreement is good for America, people have to have confidence that these words are going to mean something.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Mr. Gerard, what does this signal to the Chinese? Is this a new day dawning on how we‘re going to deal with China, after we owe them a boat load of money? If it wasn‘t for their help, I don‘t know if our economy would be floating right now. What do you make of this?
SCHULTZ: I want to take a little license, I guess, with what you said. We owe them a boat load of money because we‘ve been sending them our jobs. And they‘ve been sending us their products. We‘ve been exporting jobs and importing products. That‘s the wrong approach. I think what President Obama has said is that he‘s now going to look at making sure that the rules of international trade are going to be followed.
I‘m very confident that what we ought to be doing now is using this opportunity to work with leadership in the Congress to talk about a new kind of trade pattern that we would take. We owe China trillions of dollars, but that‘s because we‘ve been running 300 and 400 billion dollar a year trade deficits for the last six, seven years.
If the president says we‘re going to have a rules-based system, I think then we have a look at how do we change the rules so that the rules favor American workers, so that we can export products and not jobs.
SCHULTZ: Do you think we can create jobs and the manufacturing sector in America with the trade agreements we have right now?
GERARD: I think the trade agreements we have now, Ed, are really knocking the manufacturing industry flat on its butt. Recently, China said it was going to have a stimulus program, and that every product that was going to get bought in the stimulus program had to be made in China. Just a couple of weeks ago, they said that they want to be the export platform for renewable energy.
Just this week, they said they want to be the export platform for photovoltaic cells and wind turbines. If we‘re going to try to have renewable energy so that we‘re not going to be prisoners of foreign oil, but we have to import wind turbines and photovoltaic cells from China, then that‘s not going to be much different.
I believe, given a level playing field, that American workers can compete with anybody and everybody.
SCHULTZ: Now, China is not taking this well. Beijing has responded. They don‘t like the move that the president, what he‘s done with the tariffs. Did you get the tariffs you wanted on tires? Or was it a lower number?
GERARD: The tariff that the president sanctioned is a much lower number than we asked for. It‘s a much lower number than the International Trade Commission approved. But they used a different set of facts because they were able to look three and four and five months into the year, where we weren‘t. They think these tariffs will be relatively equivalent to what the ITC said. We accept them at their word. We‘re going to monitor that.
Let me say a word about China. China is blustering and trying to bully. They ought to stop that. They sent an army of folks over here to try and intimidate us, to try and push us around. The fact of the matter is these are the rules China agreed to when they entered the World Trading Organization. When they entered the World Trading Organization, they said these are the rules we‘re willing to play by. We went to the International Trade Commission, which in my view is the Supreme Court of trade in this country; we demonstrated unequivocally that they broke the rules.
SCHULTZ: That they cheat.
GERARD: That they cheated, that they broke the rules. They surged in violation of what they said they would do. Now for them to bluster and to bring about threats, that also is a violation of the World Trade Organization. So I don‘t take them too seriously. We‘re a rules-based society and we follow the rules.
SCHULTZ: President of the United International Steelworkers, Mr. Leo Gerard, thanks for your time tonight on this subject. We‘ll visit again.
For more, let‘s bring in our panel, tonight. Jeanne Cummings is assistant managing editor for “Politico.” Joe Madison is an XM radio talk show host. Kevin Madden is a Republican strategist.
Kevin, we‘ll start with you. The fact that Mr. Gerard is satisfied with this and compared it to Reagan, is this one of these issues Republicans can go along with, that the president made the right move on this?
KEVIN MADDEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: You know, trade, especially trade with China, is an interesting issue. It seems to cross ideological lines. I worked on the Bush/Cheney campaign in 2004 in Pennsylvania. You had Congressmen from rural western Pennsylvania and congressmen from urban areas in Philadelphia all agreeing that they didn‘t like China and that China was breaking the rules.
I think you‘re going to find this is not on ideological issue. It‘s not going to be breaking down by party a lot. Instead, it is going to be about manufacturing states, and those who believe that China has to have a level playing field when dealing with the United States.
The big issue now is whether or not this affects the equity markets and how this affects the debt markets, and how that affects our larger economy. You may have other differences there.
SCHULTZ: Joe, this is protecting jobs. We‘ve already lost several tire plants in this country. This move by the president will probably save a few, save the jobs. I think the next move by Obama is going to be the big one, is it not, when it comes to trade?
JOE MADISON, XM RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I grew up in Dayton, Ohio. Dayton Rubber, tire company. You could leave high school, get a job. Get a job, buy a car. Buy a car, get an apartment. Maybe get married, get a home. Now, the west side of Dayton is just shattered, because not only did the rubber company move, but National Cash Register moved.
I think this is just an excellent move. I agree with you. It transcends partisan lines, because you‘re looking at individuals who are conservatives. At the same time, you‘re looking at labor movement—that‘s Democrat. They all agree with this. I think now we have to expand this. I would take it beyond tires, right into toys, if I had the choice.
So I think he should—he should receive a standing ovation by the AFL-CIO tomorrow for what he‘s done.
SCHULTZ: Jeanne, the political timing of this, some say, is very interesting because of the health care fight that‘s going on, the discussion that‘s going on. The president needs the unions to really step it up on the public option. He needs that extra push down the stretch. The timing of this, for him to do this on trade, was very interesting.
JEANNE CUMMINGS, “POLITICO”: It could be related to health care. I think the unions were largely there on the public option, but they certainly will be with more enthusiasm now. I think one of your previous questions is really important. That is what is the next move here? One key phrase in the interview with John Harwood is “when I come to the American people with a trade deal.”
It‘s pretty clear this White House does want to pursue some trade deals. They‘re very controversial. And this is an important step for him to establish some credibility with the labor unions and with working Americans, before he tries to bring in one of those future trade deals.
SCHULTZ: Kevin, will the Republicans ever come on board with a buy-American cause? You heard Mr. Gerard talk about how the Chinese are going to do a level of protectionism. They want to manufacture in their country and they want to buy in their country. And we‘ve seen that early on in the Obama administration with the car issue. I mean, there was no protection at all. What about that?
MADDEN: I think attitudes are changing among many Republicans and many Republican constituencies on issues like trade. I think largely that has to do with people‘s perceptions of how China is dealing with the international markets. Jeanne wrote a story about this a long time ago in the—that dealt with how people, you know, were dealing with these threats.
I do think that, at the end of the day, what Republicans care about is whether or not there are still free-market principles driving American ingenuity. Any time that you have a buy-American clause that is going to hurt or a buy-American clause that is going to in any way bring out—sap out equity and capital out of the markets, then they‘re going to stand up and fight for it.
But this has much less to do with, again, ideological partisan lines. And it has much more to do with how it is Republicans can—and Democrats can come together to protect the economy.
MADISON: But American ingenuity is one thing. But what good does it do if, in fact, you then take what you‘ve invented, what you‘ve created and watch a country like China capitalize on it, instead of the American worker? I honestly think this is an excellent move to get everyone focused on bringing jobs back to this country.
SCHULTZ: Well, in the energy sector, they‘re talking about making a big commitment in China when it comes to wind energy, when it comes to the manufacturing of the windmills. We‘re going to be going into energy independence. We‘re going to be competing right with them.
CUMMINGS: We‘re already behind. I mean, for those who want—who see—and the president‘s one of them, and he makes a good argument that the energy sector is an area where we could revive our economy in a growth direction, by creating new products and that sort of thing.
We already are behind Europe. We already are behind China. So, you know, people talk about the energy bill can wait until next year and that sort of thing. What also gets delayed is any kind of transition to that kind of economy.
MADISON: We were told these are jobs you can‘t export. Materials—
SCHULTZ: Well, we got this big elephant in the room called health care and we got a big gorilla in the backyard called trade. They—if you don‘t have a job, you can‘t get health care. If they come out with a mandate to buy health care, this is going to be real interesting, because the job numbers are very important. Panel, stay with us. We have a lot more coming up.
Coming up, I thought President Obama knocked it out of the park when he addressed the Congress about health care. Turns out a one in five of you think Joe Wilson hit the homer. Veteran Democratic strategist Steve McMahon joins me when we come back in the playbook. Stay with us. You‘re watching MSNBC.
SCHULTZ: In may playbook tonight, President Obama finally stepped up to the plate on health care reform. But it doesn‘t look like his big speech to Congress was a game changer as many thought, at least when it comes to public opinion. A new “USA Today”/Gallup poll found that the president‘s rating is at 54 percent. That‘s exactly where it was a month ago. His disapproval rating hit a new high in a poll, at 43 percent.
What do those numbers mean for health care reform? Let me bring in Democratic strategist and analyst Steve McMahon. Steve, good to have you with us tonight.
These numbers on the president mean anything at this point?
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: If you think about what happened over the last month, it was a blistering August for most members of Congress. There was coverage every night of these town hall meetings, where these angry mobs were screaming at politicians.
The president‘s approval rating has held steady at 54 percent. It‘s a very good sign for him. More importantly, I think it‘s a very good sign for health care reform, because it‘s not dead. It‘s very much alive. With a few tweaks and tucks, I think it‘s headed for passage.
SCHULTZ: I was in Pittsburgh last night for a radio town hall, AFL-CIO convention is going on. The incoming president, Mr. Trumka, who is going to be replacing Mr. Sweeney in that position, was very direct about what he wants when it comes to health care reform. Mr. Gerard was there and also Mr. Trumka was there. They are going to play a key role down the stretch and they are going to be very demanding. They‘re meeting with the president tomorrow.
This is pressure and support I think the president needs at this point. What do you think?
MCMAHON: I think the president needs it in one sense. I mean, he needs his friends with him. But in another sense, if his friends are out there saying, it‘s our way or the highway, that‘s not very helpful to the president. If you look at the polling numbers out there today, what you see is that people want health care reform and they would prefer some measure of bipartisanship.
Now, that may not be possible. But it‘s important for the president to maintain that 54 percent approval rating and the Obama brand to be out there trying to reach compromises that bring more people along on health care reform.
SCHULTZ: Aren‘t you surprised that his numbers didn‘t go up after the speech?
MCMAHON: The number of people who support the Obama plan on health care reform did go up. If there was a flash poll right afterwards, it was two thirds of the people who watched the speech. The problem is not everybody watched the speech.
SCHULTZ: Congressman Joe Wilson, your thoughts on this guy. He apologizes and says, I‘m not going to apologize again. He has really gamed this when it comes to showmanship, when it comes to rallying the base. Some of the numbers are pretty interesting. Feelings about Joe Wilson‘s outburst in the Congress; 23 percent are outraged; 45 are opposed to it; 21 percent support him; six percent were actually thrilled that he did this.
His opponent is raising money like crazy. And he, of course, has gamed this pretty good. How outrageous was it? How far should the Democrats go with this, when it comes to some kind of reprimand in the House?
MCMAHON: I think it was outrageous. I think the House rules are pretty clear you couldn‘t do that to another member of Congress without being reprimanded. I don‘t see how the Democrats in Congress or anybody in Congress can expect civility in that chamber if they‘re not willing to enforce the House riles.
With respect to Representative Wilson, he‘s obviously buffoon, for lack of a better word. I don‘t know that there is a better word for him. But he‘s sort of emblematic or symptomatic of the Republican problems now. They‘re the party of no. They‘re the party of hell no. They‘re the party of you lie. The American public doesn‘t like that very much.
SCHULTZ: So how far should the Democrats go in the House? Should they go through the formal—
MCMAHON: It‘s not what the Democrats should do. It‘s what the House of Representatives should do. There are House rules. Every Republican should cast a vote with the Democrats to support the House rules. It may be their president that some buffoon is yelling at at some point down the room.
SCHULTZ: Steve McMahon, good to have you with us.
Got to put this one in. Last page of playbook tonight. Look, if you‘re going to come back, almost at the age of 40 years old, and play quarterback, make sure you‘re handing off to a guy who can make you look really, really good. Peterson took the ball and ran with it. This is a great run. And this is how you make a 39-year-old, almost 40-year-old, quarterback look good in his return.
That is a run. Favre has got a great deal.
Coming up, the righty whack jobs were out in full force this weekend, spewing nonsense and hate. What was supposed to be a million-man march on Washington turned out to be a small group of soggy tea bags. That‘s next on THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. The crazies came to Washington D.C. over the weekend; 60,000 people showed up to protest, which was organized and promoted by the righty talkers of America. The protesters claimed they were demonstrating against health care reform, that they were not going to be really bringing any tasteless signs the way they did.
How about this one? Bury Obama with Kennedy.” And this, “Obama Lies, Grandma Dies,” with the warning “Remember 9/11, Stop Sinning, or Something Worse May Happen.”
Many signs had nothing to do with health care at all. Like this woman holding a sign that says “Where‘s My Gun?” And this sign “we came unarmed this time.”
“We came unarmed this time?” Isn‘t that a direct threat? And it‘s got nothing to do with the health care debate in this country? Remember, these protesters were promoted by a guy who called the president, quote, “a racist with a deep-seated hatred of white people.”
Our panel takes it on tonight on THE ED SHOW. Joe Madison with us, Jeanne Cummings and Kevin Madden. Sooner or later, we‘ve got to get down to the brass tax of some serious conversation. And I think lefties at times can go out of bounds. This was the out of bounds crowd this weekend. Or am I reading that wrong?
MADDEN: I think that opponents of this movement, and it is a movement, I think they—I think they grossly underestimate the anxiety people have here and how real it is. And that, yes, there are rhetorical extremes. There are the rhetorical extremes on the left. There are rhetorical extremes on the right. If we were to judge every single protest by signs only, then a lot would be judged very poorly.
But there is an anxiety here that‘s not just about health care. I think the American public—you see this in focus groups. You see it polls. They are conflating everything now. They see a lot of massive spending. They see a Congress—they see a Washington, D.C. mindset that is not in touch with the real problems that they‘re facing every single day, the real anxieties that they have. They don‘t feel that there‘s a real solution-oriented approach. Instead, what they‘re seeing is just, again, this—you know, this maintenance of the status quo here in Washington.
I think they‘re going to blame Republicans and Democrats right now.
The problem for Democrats, there just happens to be more of you guys.
SCHULTZ: Joe, what was your take?
MADISON: I am so angry at what happened. Let me tell you one of the things. Dorothy Heights, just a beautiful woman, black family reunion was the same weekend. These signs went walking through the middle of that black family reunion. These were families that were down there talking about health care, education, as benign as you can get. And they deliberately looked for confrontation when they could have avoided it.
I mean, I am telling you that at some point in time in this country, we better wake up to realize when people start talking about killing grandma, you start talking about carrying guns, I hope he dies, and goes where Kennedy goes—we as communicators have a responsibility to realize that there are wackos out there, and that they will take this as a message.
You already have a president who has received 400 times more death threats than any president in the history of this country. This is total irresponsibility on the part of people that I‘m ashamed to say are part of my business in talk radio.
SCHULTZ: Jeanne, how does the White House play this? Ignore it?
CUMMINGS: Absolutely. I mean, that‘s been the position that they‘ve tried to take from the beginning. And in some respects, if the media had ignored it, too, you would have to wonder if it could have gotten as big as it is.
I think there may be aspects of this that are movement-like. But the risk for the Republicans is that nobody is really trying to harness or control that movement. There‘s no indication whether anybody actually can.
SCHULTZ: The Republican party—
SCHULTZ: They don‘t draw the line at all, saying, hey, come on, knock off the signs. It‘s about health care reform. This was Dick Army‘s thing. He was a former leader in the Republican party. These are the people that he‘s ginned up to come to Washington and do this kind of stuff.
MADDEN: I think we probably try to simplify it too much by saying who owns it?
SCHULTZ: Here‘s the organization behind it—
MADDEN: These organizations are involved in it. One of the things I was struck by, was how many of these people were talking about it‘s an organic movement, that they‘re not being told to come here by anybody.
MADDEN: When it‘s against you, it‘s astroturfing. When it‘s for you, it‘s organized, grassroots, effectiveness, ground up organizing.
CUMMINGS: It‘s not Astroturfing. These people are real. This is not some fake protest.
SCHULTZ: End of discussion. Got to run.
Earlier I asked you what you thought of the public option. Was it dead? Seventeen percent of you said yes; 83 percent of you said no. You‘ve got confidence it‘s still alive. I like that.
That‘s THE ED SHOW. I‘m Ed Schultz. For more, “HARDBALL” coming up, with Chris Matthews. Starting right now, here on the place for politics, MSNBC. We‘ll be back tomorrow night. Have a great one.
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