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'The Ed Show' for Monday, September 21, 2009

Read the transcript to the Monday show

Guests: Steny Hoyer, Roger Simon, Jack Jacobs, Dr. Paul Hockfeld, Roy Sekoff, A.B. Stoddard, Jamal Simmons, Ron Christie, Andy Stern

ED SCHULTZ, HOST:  Good evening, Americans.  Welcome to THE ED SHOW.

Tonight, breaking news off the top—at least it was to me.  John Boehner says health care reform is dead?  The president says no, the public option is still alive.  Boehner has something else to say.

Now, the leader of the Republican minority is telling NBC‘s “Meet the Press” that Democrats won‘t get it done. 


REP. JOHN BOEHNER ®, MINORITY LEADER:  The Congress will not pass this.  It‘s really time for the president to hit the reset button.  Let‘s stop all of this, and let‘s sit down and start over in a bipartisan way to build a plan that Americans will support. 

DAVID GREGORY, HOST, “MEET THE PRESS”:  So you think the plan is dead? 

BOEHNER:  I think it is. 


SCHULTZ:  Not only have the righties drawn a line in the sand, now they‘re dissing the president. 

Well, in response, here‘s what the president said on the same program. 


GREGORY:  The public option, you effectively said to the left, not going to happen. 

BARACK H. OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  No, that‘s not true.  What I‘ve said is the public option I think should be a part of this.  But we shouldn‘t think somehow that‘s the silver bullet that solves health care. 


SCHULTZ:  Oh yes it is.  The president is asked about the public option on the top-rated Sunday news show and that‘s the best he can do? 

Not to be too critical here, Mr. President, but the fact is you made health care the number one priority.  It‘s the country‘s most urgent issue. 

He had the microphone on all of the major networks, and I just don‘t understand the lack of passion and commitment as we head into the 11th hour of all of this.  The president did make a stronger statement on the public option on a different network, Univision. 


OBAMA:  I absolutely do not believe that it‘s dead.  I think that it‘s something that we can still include as part of a comprehensive reform effort. 


SCHULTZ:  But I want to hear we got to have it!  The president needs to start speaking from a position of authority.  I don‘t sense that. 

He should have said this: “This is what I want.  This is where we‘re going.  This is what the country wants.  This is what the country needs.  This is why I won nine Bush states.  I talked about change and, damn it, we‘re going to do it.”

Now, he didn‘t say any of that in any of his interviews, and I thought that that‘s what this was all about. 

Folks, doing defensive interviews isn‘t going to sell anything to anybody.  You can‘t play footsie with the Republicans.  They are not in the same game. 

The president is waiting for some Democrat to pull a rabbit out of the hat and get this thing done?  The Democrats in the Congress, they‘re looking to him.  They‘re looking to him on this.  He‘s the leader of the party, the most powerful and the most visible politician in the country. 

Shaky Democrats I think will line up behind the president and be a heck of a lot stronger if he stands stronger and starts making some demands.  They don‘t want to be on the opposite side of the most popular leader; right? 

Well, the president just can‘t be looking for cover from the Congress. 

He needs to take the lead. 

In the meantime, the righties, they‘re whining that there was no cooperation whatsoever on all of this.  I say, who cares?  But here‘s what the president had to say about that. 


OBAMA:  The opposition has made a decision, they‘re just not going to support anything for political reasons.  Let me put it this way—you know, I‘d love to get Republican votes, but I don‘t count on them.  And I‘m confident that we‘re going to get health care passed. 


SCHULTZ:  OK.  Then where‘s the next comment about “So this is what we‘re going to get”?

The right is supporting something.  It‘s called failure.  They want to kill health care reform right now, later this fall, next year, into 2010.  And then they want to come back and tell voters the Democrats, they can‘t govern, they can‘t get it done.  Republicans will say Democrats have the White House, huge majorities in both houses of the Congress, and they still couldn‘t get this thing done. 

The president needs to take control of this now.  He needs to put a demand when it comes to a strong health care bill with the public option to guarantee competition to the private sector.  Tell wavering Democrats that you‘re either with me or with the Republicans. 

That‘s what you have to do.  To it tonight on Letterman.  I think it would be great, Mr. President.

Get your cell phones out, folks. 

Maybe I‘m wrong on this.  I don‘t think I am.  I want to know what you think. 

Has President Obama shown enough spine on health care?  Text “A” for yes, “B” for no to 622639.  We‘ll bring you the results later on in the show.

Joining me now is House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. 

Steny, great to have you with us tonight.  Appreciate your time. 

REP. STENY HOYER (D), MAJORITY LEADER:  Ed, always good to be with you. 

SCHULTZ:  I‘m not giving up. 

HOYER:  I hear that. 

SCHULTZ:  I‘m not giving up. 

HOYER:  I can tell you have no strong views on this. 

SCHULTZ:  No.  I need to know, what is your response to John Boehner, the minority leader in the House, saying it‘s dead, it‘s not going to pass?  What do you say? 

HOYER:  He says it‘s not going to win.  And very frankly, if it doesn‘t win, the losers are not going to be the Democratic members of Congress or the Democrats in general.  It‘s going to be a American people.

It‘s going to be families who are being priced out of the market, individuals who can‘t get insurance because they have pre-existing conditions.  It‘s going to be the American public who‘s going to see prices spiral for government, for families and for individuals, small businesses.  They‘re all going to lose. 

This is not an option.  Prices are driving people out of health care coverage, out of the confidence of being covered so they can get health care that they absolutely need. 

So, when John Boehner and Mitch McConnell and others say they are winning this battle, as Mitch McConnell said, very frankly, if winning means we do not make sure that Americans have health care coverage, that‘s not a win that I think the American people want. 

SCHULTZ:  Was the president direct enough yesterday in your opinion?  Did he get mission accomplished in dealing with all of the talking head shows to get his point across?  Are you comfortable with his performance? 

HOYER:  I think the president is—one of his strengths is he projects thoughtfulness to the American people.  I think he did that during the course of the campaign.  I think he‘s doing it now. 

But Ed, he was at the University of Maryland.  There were 18,000 people there.  It was on television, as you know.  And he was very forceful about the need for a public option, to do exactly what you said it needed to do, give us competition and bring prices down and give access... 

SCHULTZ:  That‘s what I—but Steny, that‘s what I find so amazing.  He goes on the stump and he riles up the crowd, he says all the right things.  But then when he comes back inside the beltway and has to talk to his own party, he‘s not as demanding in person or in these interviews as he is to a crowd.  And I just can‘t get away from the contrast on this.  And now you‘ve got Boehner saying, well, it‘s dead, it‘s not going to pass. 

HOYER:  Well, I think Boehner‘s wrong.  I think it is going to pass. 

We‘re working very hard on it.  I‘ve been working hard on it just today.  We‘re going to be working hard on it tomorrow and the next day and the day after until we get this passed. 

Clearly, Ed, as you and I both know, the American public is very conflicted, they‘re very worried that what they have now which they feel some degree of confidence in, they know the prices are going up, they know they‘re going up very fast, and they‘re going up so fast that they may be priced out of the market.  Nevertheless, they have been made to be fearful of what the options are.  So, it‘s very important that we inform the American people. 

There have been too many people trying to incite the American people.  What the president—Ed, what the president tries to do and he did during the course of his campaign was try to inform people.  He did that yesterday, I thought, in a thoughtful manner.  You thought it was not tough or strong enough, but he certainly has been pretty strong that the public option is absolutely essential, it‘s going to bring prices down. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, you‘ve got four out of five bills in the Congress, House and Senate combined, that call for a public option.  How can the president walk from that?  Why can‘t he make the demand right now? 

If he‘s not counting on any Republican votes, and your counterpart in the House is saying, well, it‘s dead, heck, let‘s go for the jugular, let‘s do whatever we want to do on this deal.  I mean, if this was the Republicans in power, that‘s the way they would play ball. 

HOYER:  They would play ball to the extent that they had the votes to do so.  That‘s our concern.  We have got to make sure that we have the necessary votes in the House and the Senate to pass not only a public option, but to pass the bill as well, and that‘s what we‘re working on. 

SCHULTZ:  Have you operated in good faith?  I mean, they‘re claiming that you have got to hit the reset button and bipartisanship hasn‘t been there.  I need to hear from you tonight, throughout all of this—Mr.  Majority leader, Steny Hoyer with us—have you been a good-faith negotiator and listened to the Republicans? 

HOYER:  Ed, I think the answer to that is yes.  Now, Mr. Boustany, who gave the response to the president‘s speech when he gave a speech to the joint session of Congress, Mr. Boustany said he believed we were 80 percent in agreement.  Now, I don‘t know that every Republican agrees on that, but that‘s what he said in response to the president‘s speech. 

If that‘s the case, I‘m going to certainly reach out and have been reaching out as to where is that 80 percent?  Let‘s talk. 

As a matter of fact, as you know, Roy Blunt, the former Republican whip, is a good friend of mine.  We met six months ago.  He‘s head of their health task force, and I‘ve invited him to give me alternatives. 

Now, very frankly, we haven‘t gotten very far along that path, but we‘re still prepared to hear what their alternatives are and what the 80 percent they can agree on.  Let‘s talk about the 20 percent. 

SCHULTZ:  It sounds to me like the September stall is well into effect. 

Steny Hoyer...

HOYER:  Ed, I think, unfortunately, the bottom line is when DeMint says that they want to make health care the president‘s Waterloo, it‘s all about defeating the president‘s plan, not about providing health care for the American public. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman Hoyer, great to have you with us again tonight. 

Thanks so much. 

HOYER:  Always good to be with you, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  A big day over on the Senate side.  Members of the United States Senate Finance Committee are putting forth their changes to the Baucus bill.  Three Democratic members are offering amendments for a public option. 

Senator Olympia Snowe, she wants a triggered option, whatever that is. 

And also, the conservative Democrats are somewhere to the right of that. 

For more, let me bring in Roger Simon, chief political columnist for Politico.

Roger, scorecard, 1 to 10 tonight, how did the president do on his media tour yesterday?

ROGER SIMON, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO:  Oh, I thought he did very well.  I don‘t know if I can give it a number score, but it‘s somewhere around an 8, I suppose.

You know, he wanted to go on and put health care on the front burner once again.  He got a lot of other questions on a lot of other subjects, but he put that on the spotlight.

Did he get closer to narrowing it down to what bill he would sign and what bill he would veto?  No.  So, that is why I think you can‘t give him any higher score than he got.

SCHULTZ:  Well, the president refuses to be demanding at this point, after there‘s a declaration that they‘ve got to hit the reset button, after Republicans have put a line in the sand.  I mean, when does the president get demanding on his own party?  And I find this very interesting from this standpoint, Roger, and I want your take on this.  Here‘s the president telling the governor of New York not to run. 

SIMON:  Right. 

SCHULTZ:  OK?  Here‘s the president saying, oh, gosh, we‘ve got to have an investigation on ACORN.

Well, what about an investigation on Dick Cheney?  Why is it the president seems to grab the low-hanging fruit when it comes to what seems to be popular at the time, ,but when it comes to demanding from his own party, I have to say, I see a weakness in this president, that he is too much of a consensus guy and he doesn‘t go after it with his own party. 

I‘m telling you, the American people want guaranteed—guaranteed competition for the private sector when it comes to health care costs.  And if they don‘t get it, this guy‘s teetering on failure with his base. 

And one thing about the Democrats, they will leave their candidate if they‘re not happy.  It‘s like herding cats.  You know that.  I mean, the Democrats, the base definitely will make a decision on this.  And I think the president is in a crucial territory right mow. 

Your thoughts on all that? 

SIMON:  I understand your frustration and I share it.  I mean, once

the president has decided that he‘s not going to get any Republican votes -

and I think he‘s decided that—then one wonders why he doesn‘t take a harder line. 

He doesn‘t have to cater to those conservatives who aren‘t going to vote for his bill anyway.  He could simply say to his own party, look, I won‘t sign a bill without the public option.  And I won‘t do it for the—not for reasons of ideology, not because it‘s the most liberal thing to do, it‘s the best way to keep costs down.  It‘s the only way to keep insurance companies honest. 

It‘s not enough to have universal health care if you can‘t afford the health care.  We‘ve got to keep health care affordable, as well as universal.  The public option is the best way. 

He is not willing to do that because I think he does not—is not willing to risk losing the entire health care bill over what he stills calls just a sliver of the public option.  And until he does that, I think the public option just might be dead.  I think it‘s dead in the Senate right now.  I think the only hope is with the House. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, if it‘s dead in the Senate, there are going to be some Senate Democrats going who are going to pay a price for that next year. 

Roger, good to have you with us tonight.  Thanks so much.

Roger Simon, chief political columnist for Politico with us here on


Coming up, I‘m not the only one who‘s wondering if the White House has a backbone.  There are thousands of doctors who are “mad as hell” at the state of reform right now.  A leading doctor will sound the alarm at the bottom of the hour.  The Mad as Hell Doctors touring the country on their way to the nation‘s capital.

And it‘s hard to believe this man was once a heartbeat away from the presidency.  A former staffer is spilling the beans about the sleazy plans John Edwards once had with his mistress.  You won‘t believe it. 

That‘s coming up in the “Playbook.”

Plus, talk about grasping at straws.  The Republican value voters have chosen “The Huckster” over “The Mittster” and Palin as their savior for 2012.  I‘ll put all that to the panel coming up.

You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.  Stay with us.



OBAMA:  I‘m not interested in just being in Afghanistan for the sake of being in Afghanistan, or saving face, or in some way, you know, sending a message that America is here for the duration.  I think it‘s important that we match strategy to resources.  And until I‘m satisfied that we have got the right strategy, I‘m not going to be sending some young man or woman over there beyond what we already have. 


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

President Obama still trying to figure out the right strategy in Afghanistan.  And his top commander over there has some urgent warnings. 

“The Washington Post” got a hold of General McChrystal‘s confidential assessment of the situation in Afghanistan.  In it, he says if he doesn‘t get more troops within the next year, the war will “likely result in failure.” 

I think we‘re in a no-win situation in Afghanistan anyway, but the president of the United States is risking turning it into his Iraq.  Is he not? 

Let me bring in MSNBC military analyst, retired Army Colonel and all-around good guy and tough guy, Jack Jacobs. 

COL. JACK JACOBS, U.S. ARMY (RET.):  Well, short, but tough, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  This is ominous, to say the least.  And if the president is going to listen to the generals on the ground, we‘re going to have to send more troops over there. 

Is that the right move? 

JACOBS:  I think we‘re going to have a send a lot more troops, and I think it‘s not yet clear how many troops he‘s going to ask for.  But I think it‘s more than most people think. 

He may need—he may say he needs twice as many troops as he‘s got there now.  And the real question is whether or not we have got the right strategy to use the troops properly in a war that‘s probably going to go on for a long period of time. 

SCHULTZ:  Do we have the appetite for this? 

JACOBS:  No, I don‘t think so. 

SCHULTZ:  Do we have the resources for this?  I thought we had depleted resources because of what‘ going on in Iraq. 

JACOBS:  We do.  The president said as part of his campaign promise that we were going to get out of the bad war, Iraq, we‘re going to get back in, in force, in the good war in Afghanistan because we need to protect against the Taliban and so on.  But I do not think that after years of war we have got the resources in order to make it happen over a reasonable period of time. 

SCHULTZ:  Is there an exit strategy? 

JACOBS:  Oh, yes, there is.  There‘s always a plan to get out.  And I think the plan that‘s going to be proper (ph) to get out is going to get out as quickly as we can but leave mobile training teams in the area in order to train and empower the local (INAUDIBLE), which, after all, is what really needs to be done in order to reject the Taliban. 

SCHULTZ:  Colonel, the Senate has yet to weigh in on this.  And the American people—CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, “Do you support or oppose Afghan war?”  Thirty-nine percent oppose -- 58 percent are opposed, ,39 percent support it. 

It‘s tough to ask for more troops and money on a consistent basis when this is the number you‘re dealing with, with the public. 

JACOBS:  It certainly is.  And what‘s going to happen here is something that hasn‘t happened for a long time—presidential leadership.  It was Teddy Roosevelt who said that the presidency is only a bully pulpit, and unless and until the president can actually explain to the Congress who is going to write the check, and the people who have to provide the people to go over there, he‘s not going to be successful. 

SCHULTZ:  So, Jack, McChrystal says that success is still achievable. 

What does that mean and at what cost?  What do you think?

JACOBS:  We have the stop the polite fiction of an Afghanistan that‘s centrally governed from Kabul.  I‘ve been there, lots of other people have, and they will tell you that people in the outlying areas where the Taliban are located do not care about Kabul.  They‘re not interested in that. 

We can focus our attention on local areas, empowering the (INAUDIBLE) to protect themselves and to develop economic zones where they can actually make money from something other than poppies.  But that‘s going to take troops, it‘s going to take a long time, and it‘s going to take money that I‘m not certain that the American public is willing to put up with.

SCHULTZ:  How do you think the generals should handle the situation with the president? 

JACOBS:  Ah, that‘s the biggest question of all.  This will be the first time that a group of generals will have said, we need X.  And if the president is not willing to give X or the Congress not willing to give X, the generals who are in charge need to be able to make a decision whether or not they‘re going to stand up for what they know to be militarily correct and say we‘re not doing it then, or they‘re going to go ahead and suboptimalize as generals before have done and wind up losing and sacrificing troops in the process. 

SCHULTZ:  From a resources standpoint, not strategy and not mission, but resources standpoint, how is what we‘re doing different resource-wise from what the Soviets went through back in the ‘80s when they saw their resources completely deteriorated?  It really affected that country dramatically. 

JACOBS:  They fought in Afghanistan the way we fought in Iraq.  They fought an unconventional conflict with conventional troops. 

It won‘t work.  It‘s one of the reasons that Petraeus is now in the saddle and why Stan McChrystal is now in the saddle over in Afghanistan. 

They know how to fight an unconventional war.  Everything is local. 

It‘s Like Tip O‘Neill said about politics.  It‘s all local down there. 

It does require resources, and it requires a lot of time and a lot of money.  I‘m not sure whether or not the American public is ready to put it up. 

SCHULTZ:  So we‘re talking about compartmentalizing the country? 

JACOBS:  Very much so.  I think it‘s well put. 


Jack Jacobs, Colonel, always a pleasure.

JACOBS:  Ed, good being with you.

SCHULTZ:  Great to have you with us tonight.  Thanks so much.

Coming up, get ready for some popcorn, I guess you could say tonight, because Tommy Twinkle Toes is lacing up the dance shoes and strapping on the sequins.  We‘ll finally get him right where we‘ve wanted him all along, right in the entertainment zone; right? 

It‘s coming up in “Psycho Talk.”  

Stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  That‘s right.  Tonight, “The Hammer” is putting on the sequence and his heels to take a spin around the dance floor.  And this is a guy who‘s got some experience when it comes to the spin; right? 

Remember back in 2004 when he said that the Democrats wanted to “win the White House more than they wanted to win the war on terror”?  He was dancing back then and he‘s dancing right now. 

And just last month he made it into “Psycho Talk” when he went on “HARDBALL” and joined the wacky righties in support of a crazy birther theory. 


TOM DELAY ®, FMR. HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER:  I would like the president to produce his birth certificate. 


DELAY:  Yes.  I can.  I can.  Most illegal aliens here in America can. 

Why can‘t the president of the United States produce a birth certificate? 


SCHULTZ:  Actually, DeLay is exactly where he needs to be, in the entertainment business. 

Tom, get out there tonight and break a leg.  In fact, why don‘t you break both of them?  Because, you know, you do have access to great health care with that government-run program you‘ve had all these years. 

Folks, you may want to think twice before you flip over on the tube tonight supporting a guy with such a long history of “Psycho Talk.”  

Coming up in my “Playbook,” just when you think you‘ve heard it all, there‘s more.  A former aide to John Edwards is, well, singing like a canary about what he had planned for his mistress.  Here‘s a hint—it involved a rooftop and the Dave Matthews band. 


Plus, thousands of doctors—you won‘t want to miss this—thousands of doctors are mad about the state of health care reform.  They‘re taking it to the streets.  A top doctor says the president is as much a part of the problem as he is the solution; right?  He‘ll explain why you need to get mad as hell in just a moment.

Stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. 

Get mad, stay mad, make history.  That‘s the slogan for the mad as hell doctors.  Now I met these guys out in Portland, Oregon at a town hall earlier this year.  This group of doctors believes that the public option is doomed.  They are demanding single-payer.  And of course, I‘m all for that. 

But this month the doctors are taking their call for real health care reform on the road.  They‘re driving a bus to Washington, D.C. and making stops at about a dozen states along the way to rally Americans. 

Tonight they are in Tennessee.  And joining me now from Nashville is Dr. Paul Hochfeld, an emergency room doctor, in Oregon and he is mad as hell. 

You don‘t like mad as hell but I think inside you are, Doctor.  Good to have you with us tonight. 

DR. PAUL HOCHFELD, “MAD AS HELL” DOCTOR:  Thanks, Ed.  Good to be here. 

SCHULTZ:  What‘s the message?  You know I met you guys out in Portland at the town hall that we did out there with KPOJ and one of the doctors stood up and got after it and we knew that this was going to happen.  But I get a lot of e-mail around the country, saying you got to pay attention to these guys. 

What would you say to the president right now if you saw him?  What‘s the message? 

HOCHFELD:  Well, what I‘m mad about, what we‘re mad about is actually not health care.  What we‘re mad about is that the industry has once again manipulated the public process, the political process to create and manipulate public policy for profits instead of health. 

And I think that the industry is just far more powerful within the beltway than I think even President Obama could even imagine before he was president.  And I think he‘s as much a victim as he is not showing the courage to tell the American public the truth. 

SCHULTZ:  Thank you.  I‘m not alone.  I‘m finding somebody else saying the same thing I am.  I think it‘s a matter of being very direct with the folks. 

You say the public option is doomed.  Why do you say that? 

HOCHFELD:  Well, this is how we‘re going to fix health care, all right?  We‘re going to mandate that everybody in the country that doesn‘t have health insurance buy a commercial product that‘s flawed.  That would be health insurance.  And if you can‘t afford it we‘ll make you pay slightly more than you can comfortably afford and the taxpayer will pay the difference. 

That‘s fixing health care.  Now, the public plan option isn‘t available until 2013.  And if you get your insurance through your employer then you don‘t actually qualify for the public plan option.  It turns out that employed people are healthier than unemployed people. 

SCHULTZ:  Now, Dr. Hochfeld, you see everything as an ER doctor.  But this is what the American people are seeing right now when they talk about reform.  That is the top five drug companies and the kind of money they‘re making, the gross profit, $225 billion, and they spend $71 billion on marketing and $32 billion on research. 

How does that sit with you as a professional doctor?  How does that sit with you, those kinds of numbers and the resources spent on that? 

HOCHFELD:  That‘s just part of the problem.  I mean it‘s not just the insurance—it‘s not just the drug industry.  We‘re spending 20 percent of all of our health care dollars servicing the insurance industry.  They add nothing to health, they only add to cost and they only complicate the lives of your providers who are trying to provide you health. 

And the drug companies are the problems and the insurance companies are the problem.  For me getting rid of the insurance companies is not just about saving 20 percent right off the top. 


HOCHFELD:  It‘s about having a system in place so that maybe some public health people could make the really important decisions we need to make that gives us health for our health care dollars instead of profits for the industry. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.  Here‘s the kind of thinking you‘re up against.  This is Tom Coburn, who‘s a senator from Oklahoma.  This is what he has to say on this doctor show he does.  Here it is. 


SEN. TOM COBURN ®, OKLAHOMA:  When people run across the border, they‘re running across for specialty care or they‘re running across because they got a waiting line so long that they can‘t get into the Canadian system. 


SCHULTZ:  How do you feel about that when you hear stuff like that, Doctor? 

HOCHFELD:  85 percent of Canadians are happy with their health care system.  We don‘t even come close. 

SCHULTZ:  What kind of response are you getting from people that you‘re running into across the country making all these stops? 

HOCHFELD:  Ed, at every rally and at every presentation we find an absolutely enthusiastic response from people.  The people in Minnesota and the people in Wisconsin they seem to understand that single-payer is the only way we‘re going to be able to afford the moral imperative of universal access without breaking the bank. 

This is not spend-a-lot liberals.  These are fiscally conservative people that understand we can‘t throw more money at our health care system. 

SCHULTZ:  Dr. Hochfeld. 

HOCHFELD:  This is about doing the efficient thing. 

SCHULTZ:  Yes, no doubt.  Dr. Hochfeld, when you get to Washington, let‘s hook up again and do more on this.  I appreciate your time.  And I know a lot of you guys are taking your personal time to send a message to America.  I appreciate what you‘re doing.  I think it‘s going to have an impact. 

HOCHFELD:  Thank you. 

SCHULTZ:  Dr. Paul Hochfeld with us.  For more, let me bring in Roy Sekoff, founding editor of “Huffington Post.” 

You know what, Roy, I just think that the worst thing the White House can do is underestimate the base if they don‘t get this right.  And I guess I wasn‘t satisfied with the president‘s performance yesterday because he wasn‘t direct enough. 

What‘s out there in the blogosphere?  And how do you think it‘s going to be received over the next 24, 48 hours? 

ROY SEKOFF, HUFFINGTON POST:  Absolutely.  What we saw this weekend was a classic example of reassuring the patient while sending in the priest to give the last rights.  I mean, on the one hand, you know, we heard Obama say it‘s not dead yet but at the same time he‘s saying the praises of the Baucus bill, which we all know is a gift to the insurance industry. 

How did it come down to this, Ed?  How did it come down to the fact that he said that he was very excited that Olympia Snowe was warming to the idea of reform?  Is that what it‘s all about now?  Just getting one person, Olympia Snowe, to say that she‘ll sign up all in the name of bipartisanship? 

It‘s really sad, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, I will say this.  The Baucus bill, if it passes the way it is right now, has got some workable things in it when it comes to pre-existing conditions and stuff like this. 

SEKOFF:  Sure. 

SCHULTZ:  But I don‘t think it guarantees the competition.  And that means the middle class is going to see their rates continue to go up.  Now, I just don‘t know what the president doesn‘t get about that where he can‘t make a demand to his own party after he‘s been told by his counterparts that, hey, it‘s dead, it‘s not going to pass. 

Why isn‘t he doing this?  Who‘s advising the president on this? 

SEKOFF:  Well, I think we know that it‘s Rahm Emanuel and people like that.  And that‘s the scary thing.  We need him to take off the kid gloves and put on the brass knuckles.  And we‘re not talking about putting on the brass knuckles to go against the Republicans.  It‘s his own party, Ed. 

It‘s time to start knocking some heads, twisting some arms, and saying, hey look, do you want me to campaign for you?  I mean do you want me to be there?  Do you want to have an instant replay of 1994? 

SCHULTZ:  So, Roy, what‘s next?  We‘ve had a joint session of Congress, speech there, we‘ve seen primetime news conferences.  We‘ve seen town halls.  We‘ve seen the president talk to everybody on Sunday.  What‘s his next play to get what the people want and that is true competition for the industry? 

SEKOFF:  Yes.  I think he‘s got to get it in his own head that that‘s what he wants.  I mean we‘ve seen that he‘s—he‘s not reluctant to say, Governor Paterson, you‘re out, right?  He‘s not reluctant to say, Van Jones, good bye.  You know he‘s not reluctant to say ACORN, you need to be investigated, which they do. 

But he seems to be reluctant to say, here‘s my line in the sand.  We have to have a public option because without it, Ed, I‘m worried that we‘re going to get is diluted health care and then it‘s not going to work and the Republicans are going to turn around and go, see, government is the real problem. 

SCHULTZ:  I agree. 

SEKOFF:  And that‘s the real problem. 

SCHULTZ:  I totally agree.  Thanks, Roy.  Appreciate your time tonight. 

SEKOFF:  All right, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  Roy Sekoff, good to see you here on THE ED SHOW. 

For more, let me bring in our panel tonight.  Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons, A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of “The Hill”, and Republican strategist Ron Christie with us tonight. 

A.B., I‘ll go with you first.  Is this just a political strategy that Boehner is saying that health care reform is dead, it isn‘t going to pass?  Or does he—do you think he really believes that this isn‘t going to go anywhere? 

A.B. STODDARD, THE HILL:  I think he really believes that the Republicans can give health care a terrible time on the House side.  Things are looking very chaotic over there.  As you know the bills are over $1 trillion.  The president says he wants one that‘s $9 billion.  They‘ve got some re-jiggering to do. 

I think that the Republicans will be hardening their opposition because they see that the White House doesn‘t want to use this procedure called reconciliation to pass with 51 votes, which, of course, Ed, you want them to use.  And that they‘re looking at a 60-vote strategy. 

And that Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine is sounding like she would want to work with the Democrats more than she wants to back away.  Again, we don‘t have a final plan on the table but I think you‘re going to see Republicans now counting these votes saying, wow, if you hold 59 and you fill the Massachusetts seat and you have Olympia Snowe you get 60. 

SCHULTZ:  Jamal Simmons, would a trigger option be acceptable to the base?  Now what that is, folks.  Quick explanation.  We‘d see if this co-op or whatever would work.  And—then if it didn‘t, then it would kick into a public option.  What do you think about that? 

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  You know, I think that‘s a pretty reasonable compromise because what that does is—the real objective isn‘t public option or no public option, Ed.  I know you love the public option but. 

SCHULTZ:  It‘s the best way to guarantee competition.  That‘s what I‘m saying. 

SIMMONS:  Well, right.  But it‘s competition.  It‘s affordability. 

It‘s getting the cost curved down.  And something that does that will work.  So part of what the trigger is, let‘s give the private market a chance.  If it doesn‘t work, we automatically have a trigger that kicks the public option in.  And so people have to do that. 

But one thing, I think, we have to remember as progressives, is that the country is actually a little more conservative than we may want to give it credit for.  And remember, we‘ve got about seven senators, who are in states—Democrats who are in states that John McCain won and we‘ve got dozens of House Democrats who run in districts where John McCain won. 

We‘ve got to be considerate of their politics also. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, I just think that the Democrats could make a great play here.  Hold off on the health care reform for another year.  Let‘s go to the midterms and let‘s see what the people say about the obstructionist.  Ron Christie. 

SIMMONS:  Ed, we saw that movie.  We saw it in 1994 and we got our clocks cleaned so I think nobody will even want to let the. 

SCHULTZ:  The climate is different now.  The climate is much different right now.  You have a president who campaigned on change, and a watered-down Republican bill that where they continue to say it‘s not going to pass.  I mean that‘s capitulation in my world.  That‘s what I think. 

Ron Christie. 


SIMMONS:  Bill Clinton campaigned on change, too. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.  Ron Christie, your thoughts on this?  I mean, are you still leading the game? 


RON CHRISTIE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Of course we are, Ed.  I think the one thing that I found the most, perhaps, a lesser evil (ph) of this entire debate, is how the president of the United States continues to take to the airwaves and think that he can sell this plan himself. 

I think the American people have listened to the details, they‘ve listened to president, they‘ve heard from their representatives and they, frankly, Ed, aren‘t buying the specifics.  They don‘t believe that you can add millions of people to the rolls of health care and at the same time lower costs. 

And I think that Jamal is exactly right.  America is still a center right country.  They. 


CHRISTIE:  We are not as right. 


CHRISTIE:  We are not to the left as we would be led to believe, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  I‘m not trying to say that hey, we‘ve all turned lefty across America, but we are not a center right country.  We are a center left country. 


SCHULTZ:  We have proven that.  And that happened with four Senate pickups in ‘06 before Barack Obama got on the scene and then, of course, sweeping changes at the electorate coming up in ‘08.  It happened in ‘08. 


SCHULTZ:  I think it‘s a center left country right now. 

CHRISTIE:  Ed, it‘s your opinion.  This is my opinion.  We‘re still a center right country.  The latest Rasmussen poll says that 56 percent of the American people do not like the president‘s plan.  Only 42 percent agree with it.  So I think the Democrats need to say to themselves, why do everything all at once? 

SCHULTZ:  And I could point out “The New England Journal of Medicine” that came out the other day with a poll that said most Americans want it, especially the health care providers.  There‘s all kinds of polls out there. 

Ron, you got to stay with us because I have a good one for you later on in the show.  A follow-up to what we talked about on Friday. 

CHRISTIE:  Looking forward to it. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  Stay with us, folks. 

Coming up, it turns out Caribou Barbie has got some stiff competition for 2012.  The Huckster is out the front-runner among conservatives by a 2-1 margin.  I‘ll ask the panel what‘s going on with that. 

(INAUDIBLE), it‘s all coming with the “Playbook.”  Stay with us. 


SCHULTZ:  Still not too late to let us know what you think.  Tonight‘s text survey is, has the president shown enough spine on health care?  Text a for yes, b for no, to 622639.  The results are coming up. 

Plus, I‘ll show you why old-timer Bret Favre might be able to stick around in purple all the way into his 50‘s.  That‘s next in my “Playbook.”  Stay with us. 


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  In my “Playbook” tonight, conservatives got together in D.C. for a right-ring pep rally over the weekend.  Among the festivities was a straw poll to see who the righties want for president. 

Former governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee, killed the competition.  The Huckster led with more than 28 percent of the vote.  He was followed by Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, and “Values” vote summit no-show Sarah Palin came in fourth. 

Let‘s bring in our panel, Jamal Simmons, A.B. Stoddard and Ron Christie. 

Ron, does this mean anything?  If you‘re a supporter of Huckabee tonight, are you feeling good about the weekend? 

CHRISTIE:  I think both, Ed.  I don‘t think it‘s means anything.  But if I‘m a supporter of Governor Huckabee I‘ve had to say well, at least that‘s a good start out of the gate. 

Listen, we still have well over a year and a half to go before the American people really start looking to the Republicans and say who is the next Republican candidate for president going to be? 

There are two very critical races in New Jersey and in Virginia this year, Ed.  I think that‘s what more conservatives around the country are looking for rather than saying did Governor Palin do very well or did Governor Romney do well?  Far too early. 

SCHULTZ:  Jamal Simmons, I was reading that the two top issues for this crowd at the summit was abortion and taxes.  I think we‘ve heard that before, haven‘t we?  What do you think? 

SIMMONS:  We have heard that before.  And if the Republicans want to run for president again on those two issues tell them to have at it, especially on the choice issue.  But you know, one thing to remember is that Republicans typically nominate somebody who has run for president before—candidates. 

So Tim Pawlenty may actually be the best choice they have.  But I doubt that he‘s going to have that much strong of a chance.  If you take a look back at history, whether it‘s Bob Dole or Dick Nixon or Ronald Reagan, any of those guys, they all ran for president before they got the nominations. 

SCHULTZ:  A.B., if Sarah Palin is going to be in the mix, being a no-show doesn‘t really help, does it? 

STODDARD:  No, this is sort of a strange strategy of Sarah Palin.  She doesn‘t show up at these events.  I think she would have broken far more than 12 percent.  If she had been there and she‘d given a speech I think she would have done much better.  A lot of people in these crowds really get excited by Sarah Palin.  And I think she would have done better but again, just like you said, you really have to show up. 

Interesting thing about Mike Huckabee is this.  He won this straw poll at “Values” voters summit in 2007.  And of course, we know he won Iowa. 


STODDARD:  Doesn‘t get you far enough.  But he did win by double digits so it‘s something for him to be happy about. 

SCHULTZ:  And those are the numbers.  Huckabee, Romney, Pawlenty and Sarah Palin at 12 percent. 

Panel, thanks so much.  But Ron, I want to just bring up a conversation we had on Friday.  We did go back and check on this.  We did cover the story that you and I were talking about on August 11th.  And we looked for the videotape. 

Ron, the guy was a faker.  Come on, now, you know that.  Huh? 


CHRISTIE:  No, I don‘t buy that for a second. 

SCHULTZ:  There‘s a right wing story, then there‘s a good lefty story. 

I‘m taking the lefty story on that. 

CHRISTIE:  If he was a faker then he wouldn‘t have had the St. Louis Police Department go in and arrest six people, Ed, for battery.  It took the suspicious.  That‘s all. 

SCHULTZ:  It takes six to tango in a bar show, Ron.  You know that. 

I‘ve been in a lot of them.  Good. 

CHRISTIE:  Well, Ed, my whole point was you didn‘t see violence at Republican town halls.  You only found people getting arrested are the Democrats. 

SCHULTZ:  This wasn‘t violence.  And he was a faker.  But we did cover it.  And I told you I‘d bring it up with you again.  I appreciate your time, panel.  Thanks so much. 

Couple of more pages in my “Playbook” tonight.  First, just when you thought John Edwards couldn‘t sink any lower his former aide is writing a tell-all book.  And in it apparently writes that Edwards told his former mistress that he would marry her after his wife died.  He practically planned the entire wedding. 

Edwards allegedly told her that they would marry on a rooftop ceremony and the Dave Matthew‘s Band would make an appearance. 

What the heck was he thinking?  This guy‘s got a screw loose in my opinion.  I usually don‘t have an appetite for this kind of stuff on our show.  I mean let‘s get over it.  But I mean, this is John Edwards.  How could you fool so many people? 

Also I want to tell you about Brett Favre.  Now this guy—here‘s—see the swing pass right here to Percy Harvin in the fourth quarter of the Vikings?  They beat the Lions yesterday. 

Buddy, if you keep throwing touchdown passes that short and that easy to toss, you can play when you‘re 50. 

Stay with us.  We‘re coming right back on THE ED SHOW.  So much more coming up.  The number one union leader in the country is joining us right here on THE ED SHOW. 


SCHULTZ:  Our main event tonight on THE ED SHOW, joining me is Andy Stern, president of Service Employees International Union. 

Mr. Sterns, great to have you with us. 

ANDY STERN, SEIU PRESIDENT:  Ed, how are you? 

SCHULTZ:  Why can‘t the president get tough on his own party and make a demand?  Wouldn‘t this be the time if conservatives and the Republicans are saying hey, it‘s not going to pass? 

STERN:  Now I think with the time is right now is two things.  One is we‘re going out tomorrow at 150 different places with a rally that says big insurance, sick of it.  In front of Wellpoint, Aetna and all these big insurance companies.  That‘s one thing. 

And two is I think the president needs to say let‘s get this bill going.  Let‘s take real votes.  But then in the end, Ed, I think what‘s going to happen.  In the Senate, the co-op is dead.  Olympia Snowe off the bill.  I think we‘re going to not see the co-op ever again.  Let it rest in peace. 

Then we‘re going to conference committee.  Nancy Pelosi passes in the House.  Then we have the public option and a triggered public option.  And I think people in Montana are going to ask Max Baucus, now why in the world do some states get options and Montana and North Dakotas don‘t?  I think we‘re going to end up with this public option. 

SCHULTZ:  Refreshing view.  You say the co-op isn‘t going to happen.  So we‘re down to the public option and the trigger option.  So is that when the president is really going to engage when we go to conference? 

STERN:  Yes, I think we have all the leaders of the Democratic Party really in one room, you know, our top leaders.  And I think it‘s showtime for them, about where they really stand with the American people. 

SCHULTZ:  What if the president doesn‘t engage as far as—and start demanding public option?  What would your response be to that? 

STERN:  Our response is what we‘re doing now.  We‘re going out.  And this not a spectator sport making change.  You know you have to go out and rally the people.  And that‘s what we‘re doing tomorrow with the insurance companies.  That‘s what we‘re doing tomorrow bringing smocks signed by our nurses and health care workers to these Democratic congressmen. 

We‘re saying America wants change.  We‘re tired of 50 years of the insurance company rule.  We want a change and we want it now. 

SCHULTZ:  And did you think that doctor—or the president should, I say, was strong enough yesterday?  Do you think that, I mean, we‘ve seen a joint session speech, we‘ve seen press conferences, we‘ve seen rallies.  What other card can he play right now? 

STERN:  I think the card he can play and he keeps playing is he doesn‘t turn around and back down.  We‘ve never made this change in 233 years in this country.  A lot of people tell the president it‘s too hard, turn around, go home, take small change.  He‘s stuck in it.  Now we got to stick with him and get the job done. 

SCHULTZ:  Do you think the media is buying the conservative talking points about the public option being dead? 

STERN:  No.  I do—I think the media is—absolutely. 

SCHULTZ:  I mean I. 

STERN:  But America is not.  And that‘s the important thing.  America is not—they want real choice.  They want their cost tailed down.  And they‘re tired of 50 years of the insurance company telling them what to do, raising their rates, telling women who are victims of domestic violence, they have pre-existing conditions, telling people who had Caesarian sections they can‘t get health care. 

People are sick of the insurance companies.  They want change. 

SCHULTZ:  Is the base satisfied right now, in your opinion, the way this thing is moving? 

STERN:  I think people are nervous.  I think people are scared.  But again, it‘s not a spectator sport.  I say to people, let‘s get out and make change happen.  You know, let‘s turn up the heat until the politicians see the light. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, I hope the Democrats wake up and get it done.  Andy Stern. 

STERN:  Thank you, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  Appreciate your time tonight.  Thanks so much. 

Earlier in the program we asked you what you thought.  Has President Obama shown enough spine on health care?  21 percent of you say yes.  79 percent of you say no. 

That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Ed Schultz.  For more information on THE ED SHOW, you can go to our Web site at or check out my radio Web site at  We‘ll be talking about this a lot more tomorrow. 

Mr. Stern will be joining us on the radio tomorrow.  He doesn‘t know that but I‘m announcing that right now because he says the co-op in the Senate is history.  That is music to my years.  OK? 

“HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts right now here on the place for politics, MSNBC.  We‘ll see you tomorrow night 6:00 Eastern Time right here on MSNBC.



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