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'The Ed Show' for Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

Guests: Jay Rockefeller, Robert Menendez, Carl Levin, Roy Sekoff, Todd Webster, Stephanie Miller, Ernest Istook, Sen. Bernie Sanders

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

The final tally, 14-9 in favor of the Baucus bill.  All Republicans on the committee voted no with the exception of one, and that is Olympia Snowe, which—no big shakes.  Let me give you a warning tonight.  Listen to your buddy, Big Eddie here. 

This cannot be a super highway to a watered down public option.  We‘ve given a lot of cover to these conservative Democrats like Conrad, Baucus, Nelson and Lincoln.  They can say now, well, they voted for a bipartisan bill. 

Senator Baucus is at it already.  Here‘s what he told Politico late this afternoon: “I feel quite satisfy the bill passed by a good margin.  Senator Snowe voted for it, so now it‘s clear...”—and here‘s where I choke—“... we‘re not going to have to have reconciliation on the floor, which is a big relief.  We will work to get the bill merged with the HELP Committee, but in a way that still allows us to go to the floor with a bill that gets 60 votes.”

Hold the phone.  That is code for let‘s water it down some more. 

Folks, we cannot let them control the debate, OK?  We cannot let one Republican vote be the goal of health care reform in America. 

The Finance Committee bill is the worst thing out there of all the five bills that‘s dealing with health care reform.  Now, we need Chris Dodd, he‘s our guy, and Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, to make sure the health care bill is stronger and more progressive. 

Harry Reid, I didn‘t throw your name in there because you‘re in a tight election.  And I‘ll just take for granted that you are for the public option. 

Look, this is what the American people want.  Every poll shows it. 

That‘s what we voted for. 

And there is an upside and kind of comical that Olympia Snowe went this way and gave the “party of no” a big problem today.  You see, today, the country saw what the Republicans are all about first hand—failure, partisanship, obstruction.  Senator Snowe said today that voting against reform is like driving the Titanic into the iceberg. 


SEN. OLYMPIA SNOWE ®, MAINE:  With one in four Americans either uninsured or underinsured, the track record is clear.  The status quo approach has produced one glaring common denominator, and that is that we are having a problem that‘s growing worse, not better. 

Skyrocketing health care costs have driven up premiums, having the potential to send the entirety of our health care system into a death spiral.  It‘s really akin to the Titanic and turning the Titanic around before it hits an iceberg.  But the difference is that the captain did not know there was an iceberg, but we do. 


SCHULTZ:  Remember the guy in that car commercial, that truck commercial, where it goes off the ledge and the guy looks and says, “That can‘t be good”?  That‘s how I feel right now.  That‘s a pretty damning indictment, what she said, especially when it‘s not coming from Alan Grayson, but from a tax-cutting, small-government Republican. 

Immediately after the vote, the Republicans ran to the microphones to try to explain the way to opposition. 


SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY ®, IOWA:  A vote against a bill is not a vote for status quo. 

SEN. ORRIN HATCH ®, UTAH:  We are for health care reform, but it ought to be done in a restrained, dignified, good way. 

SEN. JOHN CORNYN ®, TEXAS:  Instead of bipartisanship, we see a “my way or the highway” approach. 

GRASSLEY:  I‘m not going to stand still and let people say that a vote against this bill is a vote for the status quo.  There are so many things that we can do and we‘re going to do.  And when we go to the floor, we will be there telling people how we will change the status quo. 


SCHULTZ:  I believe, Senator Grassley, you‘re from Iowa.  I think they have a term there known as hogwash, absolutely ridiculous. 

They haven‘t produced anything yet, and we‘ve been doing health care since June, I think.  Well, before that. 

Now, I wouldn‘t hold my breath for any of the Senate Republican plans for comprehensive health care reform.  So, I‘m glad one of their own, Olympia Snowe, exposed them for the partisan obstructionists that they really are. 

But, you know, I don‘t want to see Harry Reid go off in the weeds on this and weaken this bill down, and then be able to run home and say, hey, I got both sides to work together.  No.  No, no, no, no. 

The Republicans are not about reform at all.  OK? 

Folks, this is about power.  The Democrats need to remember the objective of this bill is not bipartisanship.  It is real reform for the American people, and we‘ve got to say that over and over again. 

Get your cell phones out.  I want to know what you think. 

Will Democrats weaken the Senate-combined health care bill to keep Olympia Snowe‘s vote?  Text “A” for yes and “B” for no to 622639.  We‘ll bring you the results later on in the program. 

Joining me now from the Senate Finance Committee, member Jay Rockefeller, senator from West Virginia. 

Senator, good to have you with us tonight. 


SCHULTZ:  You bet. 

There might be some people cheering over there that it‘s 14-9.  I personally would like more like, you know, 100-nothing.  But whatever. 

You voted against this.  You have been a strong proponent of the public option.  Today, if you could, Senator, explain your vote.  Why did you vote for this bill? 

ROCKEFELLER:  I voted for the bill for two reasons.  One—well, three, five, seven reasons.  One is that I got a lot of stuff in it that I wanted that involved Medicaid and children‘s health insurance and other kind of things, protecting coal miners.  But the most important thing is that we‘re—if you think that we are not going to get a public option, Ed, then you have got to go to radio.  You‘ve just got to go to radio. 

I mean, that‘s like thinking that the Republicans, when Chuck Grassley or whoever it was said that voting no is not voting for the status quo, voting no is voting for the status quo, period.  That‘s the only effect of voting no.  So let‘s clear that up. 

The insurance industry did us an enormous favor by completely turning their backs on the entire health reform bill which they had been pretending to support.  We were all wondering, when were they going to turn their backs and run the other direction? 

Well, they did it two days ago, and it, in fact, shows their greed, the health insurance part of the industry.  It shows their greed and the word rapacious, which I love using about them.  And it helps the public option.  It helps the public option. 

SCHULTZ:  Yes.  OK.  All right.  So, a strategic move on your part and other Democrats who want the public option. 

This is the quote that I think Americans ought to pay attention to.  This is Olympia Snowe.  Her quote after the vote today was, “My vote today is my vote today.  It doesn‘t forecast what my vote will be tomorrow.”

Senator, how do you take that comment? 

ROCKEFELLER:  No, I think she‘s absolutely right.  Look, we‘re walking into a whirlwind here. 

First, we‘ve got to meld with Teddy Kenny‘s old committee, and then we‘ve got to deal with the House.  I‘m on the Conference Committee.  The president is coming in.  I talked to him this afternoon.  I think he wants to come in hard, and I know he‘ll come in hard because this is very big for him. 

But the public option, the stock—I mean, we lost it in committee.  I mean, my amendment lost bigger than Chuck Schumer‘s amendment because mine was the stronger amendment.  But we lost it.  I have to face those facts. 

But we got a gift today—the other day, when the insurance company turned their back on the entire health care reform.  And that has really made the Democrats angry and I think has increased the chances of getting a public option in the final bill. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.  Here‘s the president late this afternoon commenting on the situation.  Here it is.  I want your response. 


BARACK H. OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  This bill goes a long way towards offering security to those who have insurance and affordable options for those who don‘t.  It reigns in some of the worst practices of the insurance industry like the denial of coverage due to pre-existing conditions.  It also sets up an insurance exchange that will make coverage affordable for those who don‘t currently have it. 


SCHULTZ:  Senator, it sounds to me like he‘s embracing the Senate Finance Committee bill as the final final.  Help me out on this one. 

ROCKEFELLER:  He‘s the president and you‘ve got to cut him some slack, OK?  He‘s an inside player, OK?  So, I mean, don‘t worry about that. 

He wants the public option.  He wants MedPAC.  He wants the things that you and I want.  And now that the Finance Committee is finally out of the way, we can move on.  But look, you don‘t vote no simply to stop the process. 

SCHULTZ:  Sure. 

ROCKEFELLER:  You just don‘t do it, because we‘ve got so much opportunity ahead of us.  You‘re going to have Bob Menendez on.  He‘s a total champion of public option, ferocious champion of public option.  He voted for the same reason I did, because we‘re not going to vote no, stop the process.  Because if we both voted no, then the thing might have failed. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator, good to have you with us tonight.  I appreciate your time. 

ROCKEFELLER:  You keep the faith.  You keep the faith, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  I‘m keeping the faith.  I‘m standing tall.  I just want this president to just get a little tougher at times, and I‘m sensing that that time is coming.  Correct? 

ROCKEFELLER:  It‘s coming. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.

ROCKEFELLER:  I talked to him this afternoon.  It‘s all right. 

Thanks, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  Thanks, Senator.  Appreciate your time. 

All right.  As predicted, many Republican senators quoted that bogus 11th hour report put out by the insurance lobby, America‘s Health Insurance Plans.  And as promised, we‘re going to call them out and show you just how much money they have taken from the top insurance companies who were paying big bucks—big bucks to kill reform. 


CORNYN:  I would like to go back to some of the discussion about the PricewaterhouseCoopers study that was released. 

SEN. JIM BUNNING ®, KENTUCKY:  And a recent study suggests that American families will pay more than $4,000 in 2019 because of this bill.

SEN. JOHN ENSIGN ®, NEVADA:  These fees would increase costs for the affected firms which would be passed on to purchasers and would ultimately raise insurance premiums by a corresponding amount.


SCHULTZ:  All right.  That insurance industry report, it was a threat.  If Congress cuts its profits by making it illegal to game the system, the insurers are going to jack up the premium prices. 

But Democrats have a solution to make sure that that does not happen.  Here‘s what they‘re working on over on the House side—a windfall profits tax to hold insurance companies in check before any legislation goes into effect.  Also, anti-gouging legislation.  Insurance companies would not be able to participate in the exchange if they increase premiums. 

There would be a cap on increases.  They would be denied access into the pool to get all of those new customers.  So that‘s the game plan. 

Joining me now is Senator Bob Menendez, also a member of the Senate Finance Committee. 

Senator, are you more confident tonight than you were, say, last night? 

SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY:  More confident that we‘re going to get health care reform?  Absolutely. 

Got a great vote on the committee.  And the bottom line is, you know, a “no” vote today was for the status quo, a status quo that has record premium increases by insurance companies, that ultimately denies more and more families when they need that insurance the most, that doesn‘t control costs, and doesn‘t do anything about the millions who are uninsured in the country.  That‘s what Republicans voted for overwhelmingly. 

A “yes” vote was about changing that reality, reforming it.  You know, controlling costs for all of us who have insurance, creating insurance for all of us who don‘t.  Taking away the insurance companies‘, you know, prerogatives to go ahead and deny us coverage when we need it the most, stopping the pre-existing conditions, and all those other things.  And to move forward now in the full Senate so that we can pursue the public option we all want. 

SCHULTZ:  But Senator, doesn‘t this vote by Olympia Snowe give some cover to some conservative Democrats like Baucus and Conrad and Lincoln and Nelson, who have been very cool to the public option?  You‘re not going to get 60 votes, it sounds like, on the public option, yet, I‘m having you and, of course, Senator Rockefeller and others who are saying—and Senator Harkin—telling me today we‘re going to have a public option. 

How‘s this going to—I mean, it seems to me that Olympia Snowe just gave the conservative Democrats a bunch of cover tonight. 

MENENDEZ:  Well, no.  Olympia Snowe said her vote was her vote for today, for the committee to move the process along.  My vote is a vote in the committee to move the process along, but I want to see a public option. 

So the reality is, is that there are more than a significant number of members—I think Senator Sherrod Brown had, like, 25, 26 of us who signed a letter to the leadership saying, hey, we want a public option.  And there are people who support it who didn‘t sign on.  So, the bottom line is that‘s a significant—that‘s almost half of our caucus. 

So, I think we‘re going to see a public option at the end of the day.  Real competition for the insurance companies and a real opportunity for families. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.  Senator, we‘re just getting word late tonight that AFSCME, the AFL-CIO, Communication Workers of America, and about 30 unions total are going to go on the offensive tomorrow says nothing but a public option. 

You‘ve got four out of five bills, it‘s official.  The votes are in from committee. 

Are you willing to tell us tonight there will be—will be a public option when it goes to the president‘s desk? 

MENENDEZ:  Well, I‘m convinced, speaking as one of the strongest supporters of a public option, we will get it, and we will get one that we can all be proud of it.  And it will actually help us challenge the insurance industry, keep costs down, create innovation, and create a real option for American families. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator, great to have you with us tonight.  Thanks so much. 

MENENDEZ:  Good to be with you, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  You‘ve been at the right place on this all the time, I‘ve got to say that to you.  And I appreciate it.  And I know millions of Americans do as well. 

By the way, I mentioned AFSCME and the AFL-CIO and other unions.  Let me tell you something, folks.  They‘re going to have an ad campaign start and they‘re going to go after the folks to make sure on the House and the Senate side that they know exactly where they stand. 

Coming up, now that “Shooter” is retired, here comes Liz Cheney.  She thinks it‘s her duty to carry the torch and tick off the rest of the world.  She‘s organized a group to derail President Obama‘s—what she calls radical foreign policy.  The founding editor of “The Huffington Post” will call her out on that at the bottom of the hour. 

Plus, the White House is calling Fox News a wing of the Republican Party.  “The Beckster” is so bent out of shape over this, he‘s comparing it to the Holocaust.  I‘ll set him straight in “Psycho Talk.”  


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

Whatever strategy President Obama employs in the war in Afghanistan, he‘ll have an uphill battle to get Congress on board.  Republicans are pushing Obama to listen to General McChrystal and deploy 40,000 more troops, but Democrats don‘t agree.  Some want to get out of Afghanistan altogether, and others like Senator Carl Levin want to keep American troop levels steady and focused on building up Afghan forces. 


SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN:  I had a personal conversation with McChrystal.  And what he says is that you want to find ways of showing resolve to the people of Afghanistan. 

I say focus on the Afghan forces, the Army, faster, larger, better equipped.  Why are we shipping—why don‘t we have a great plan to ship equipment from Iraq to Afghanistan?  We ought to do that to strengthen the Afghan army.  So, there‘s a lot of ways to show resolve other than more and more combat forces. 


SCHULTZ:  And Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, joins us now on THE ED SHOW.

Senator, great to have you with us tonight. 

LEVIN:  Great to be with you, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  There‘s a report out there that 13,000 troops are going to get the call to go to Afghanistan.  Can you confirm that?  Or where do you stand on that if you know it to be true? 

LEVIN:  Well, the 13,000 that was reported in this morning‘s “Post,” “The Washington Post,” if that‘s what you‘re referring to, is not on top of the 68,000 that the president has set as his troop level by this December.  It is part of that. 

This is made up of a number of decisions that were made last December in January before President Bush left office.  So, that is 12,000 or 13,000 that they talked about were decided on by President Bush, not by President Obama.  And they are not in addition to the 68,000, they are part of it. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  So, what would your advice to the president be right now in dealing with the situation in Afghanistan?  Would you go along with the general‘s request of 40,000 troops? 

LEVIN:  I don‘t think we ought to commit to additional combat forces for a number of reasons, but what we should do, it seems to me, is focus on strengthening the Afghan army, the Afghan police.  The resolve, the piece that you showed that I was referring to is important, but there‘s a lot of ways of showing resolve other than combat forces. 

For instance, you can send and we should send additional trainers, and NATO should send additional trainers.  The equipment that I referred to, we ought to have a major program from shipping equipment from Iraq to Afghanistan to help strengthen the Afghan army. 

We should have a plan for bringing into the Afghan life those lower-level local Taliban people who are not there because of religious fanaticism as part of the Taliban, they‘re there because they‘re on a payroll, just the way in Iraq we were able to switch 100,000 young Iraqis called Sons of Iraq on to the government payroll and our payroll for a while. 

I think we could do the same in Afghanistan, but we need a plan, Ed. 

We don‘t have that plan. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  And Senator, from what you‘ve just suggested, it sounds like you believe that we‘re going to be in Afghanistan for a long time no matter how this is cut. 

LEVIN:  We‘re going to be in Afghanistan for a while.  But what‘s critical here is the strategy.  And, you know, people say, do you go along with General McChrystal?  People ought to read what General McChrystal had to say in total, not just that one little specific reference. 

SCHULTZ:  What did he say in total? 

LEVIN:  In total, he says first adopt a strategy.  Don‘t focus on troop level.  Those are his words—don‘t focus on the troop level.  You‘ll be making a bad mistake.  First adopt the strategy, then talk about resources. 

What he also said is it is worth deliberating on this.  You should not rush into this, and don‘t worry about taking a reasonable amount of time to get it right.  That‘s also McChrystal saying that as well. 

SCHULTZ:  So, Senator, are you taking issue with the White House tonight that they, in nine months, 10 months into this presidency, they have not been clear with a strategy on Afghanistan and they better get it together? 

LEVIN:  No, I think they had the strategy in March which was basically to add 21,000 troops to get them through the election.  They were then hoping that the election would be a major turning point for the good in Afghanistan.  As it turned out, we have got an election where there‘s significant evidence of fraud, which only complicates the consideration of the president. 

SCHULTZ:  So, more troops is not the answer, in your opinion? 

LEVIN:  More combat troops I don‘t think should be the answer.  But we should have a surge of Afghan troops, Afghan police. 

SCHULTZ:  And do you have the will to do that? 

LEVIN:  They do.  The Afghan army is a fighting army.  They actually fought the Russians very hard.  They‘ve got the willpower.  They‘ve got the support of the public.  The Afghan army is the one institution in Afghanistan that has very strong public support. 

SCHULTZ:  Let me take your poll, Senator.  If there was a vote in the Senate today on to send more troops to Afghanistan, and the number is 40,000, do you think that would pass? 

LEVIN:  I just could not predict whether it would pass or not.  I think it would depend on the arguments which were presented and, perhaps, as to whether or not we have the results of the election. 

It is a very complicating matter and factor.  We should know by the end of this week whether there‘s going to be a runoff or not. 

But it would be—it‘s very difficult to predict.  And it would depend upon the rationale.  It would depend, to a large extent, not just upon McChrystal, who obviously you want to give great consideration to.  But also, we‘ve got a great secretary of defense who has great respect around here as well.  He is the commander of McChrystal. 

We have got another commander there in Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mullen.  We want to listen to him as well before they give their advice to the president. 

So, it‘s not just McChrystal and troops.  It‘s much more complicated than that.  There‘s a chain of command.  And even McChrystal is saying focus first on strategy. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator Levin, good to have you on tonight.  Thanks so much. 

LEVIN:  Thanks, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin, from Michigan, with us tonight, here on THE ED SHOW.

Coming up, Glenn Beck really is crazy like a fox.  He‘s found a way to compare White House criticism of his network to the murder of six million innocent people?  You know where that‘s putting him. 

“Psycho Talk” is next.  Look at that.


SCHULTZ:  Oh, time for “Psycho Talk” tonight.

This is like “The A Team” tonight.  “The Beckster,” he is all upset about the White House calling Fox News “a wing of the Republican Party.”  And he took out his frustrations, like he usually does, by whipping out the Nazi comparisons. 


GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS:  Let me speak to the good journalists out there.  When they‘re done with Fox and you decide to speak out on something, the old “First they came for the Jews and I wasn‘t Jewish”—do you really think they‘re going to leave you alone if you want to ask a tough question? 

If you believe that, you should open up a history book, because you‘ve missed the point of many brutal dictators.  You missed the point on how they always start. 


SCHULTZ:  Brutal dictator.  Is Obama a brutal dictator now? 

Beckster, come on.  The White House called you and your friends out for being biased and simply wrong on a lot of stuff like that.  They‘re not stopping you or hurting you in any way.  They‘re not killing you. 

You know, you ought to take your own advice and open up a history book

·         show us your degree, by the way—because the White House pointing out your network‘s bias is no way resembling what Hitler did to the Jews during the Holocaust.  Implying that is simply supreme psycho talk.

Coming up, Liz Cheney just launched a mission to keep America safe.  Her target, the president of the United States.  I tell you, this lady is dangerous.  Roy Sekoff is going to weigh in at the bottom of the hour on all of that. 

Plus, the Senate Finance Committee today got the big vote on the Baucus bill.  All but one Republican voted no.  The Senate Finance Committee‘s Bernie Sanders will join us for reaction in the main event.  He says that single payer should still be on the table.  This is no time to get weak knees.  We‘re right back on THE ED SHOW.


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. shooter‘s daughter, Liz Cheney, she‘s still busy trying to take down the president of the United States. 

She‘s teamed up with some right-wing buddies of hers and started a non-

profit group specializing in fear mongering.  The group, Keep America Safe

·         that‘s innovative—reverts to the old GOP scare tactic of trying to paint the Democrats for extremely weak on national security.  Of course, calling President Obama‘s foreign policy, quote, radical. 

How about that?  Talking to people‘s radical.  Saying that it‘s really undermining our security.  Joining me for more on that, Roy Sekoff, founding editor of “Huffington Post.”  She‘s dangerous. 

ROY SEKOFF, “HUFFINGTON POST”:  Yes, there‘s no question.  She‘s a chip off the old block.  I don‘t mean that as a compliment.  We‘ve seen this movie before.  The fear mongering, the demagoguery, and the willful misinformation.  That‘s the thing, if you look at her new little website—it‘s not such a good place to go.  I went there today.  It says that he‘s cutting the defense budget among other things. 

Of course she knows the truth.  We know the truth.  He‘s spending 40 billion dollars more than we spent last year.  It‘s nonsense and it is dangerous. 

SCHULTZ:  These non-profits, they get money.  They get action.  And they get airtime.  Here is their commercial, talking about keeping America safe.  Here it is. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Barack Obama knows how to give a great speech.  But when it comes to America‘s defense, the rhetoric doesn‘t match the reality.  He talked tough on Afghanistan. 

OBAMA:  I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He hasn‘t reached a conclusion.  I suppose because he‘s spending all his time preparing for Letterman and speeches. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Not enough time for decision, but plenty of time for Letterman, golf, a beer summit, more golf, vacation, and a visit to Copenhagen. 


SCHULTZ:  All right.  Let‘s compare it to the last president, if we may, Roy.  Let‘s go to this.  At Camp David, President Bush out of the White House—total for the presidency, at Camp David, 487 days, at Crawford ranch, 490 days.  That‘s one-third of the presidency.  Pre-911, how about 96 vacation days, including all of August.  That was 42 percent of the time. 

SEKOFF:  Tell me they‘re not playing the golf card, Ed.  I mean, they got to bring something better than that.  Let‘s be serious.  Look at who‘s on her team.  Bill Kristol, foreign policy expert; We know how right he was about Iraq, right?  He said it was going to bring democracy to the Middle East. 

SCHULTZ:  Why does she get all these talking head appearances?  Does he know anything?  Is she credible in any way?  I know she worked at the State Department.  I have always thought that was cronyism.

SEKOFF:  That gives nepotism a bad name.  If you look at her track record, you know what the first thing she did, Rummie send her over to help with the transition in Iraq right after Shock and Awe.  We remember how well that turned out, utter chaos, a disaster, infighting.  What happened after that?  What does she go to?  She was going to reform the Palestinian Authority.  That went well, too.  Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, this was on her plate.  All those places are a disaster. 

She has no credibility.  To top it, she‘s a believer in the birther movement.  Say no more. 

SCHULTZ:  She‘s setting up for a Senate run? 

SEKOFF:  I don‘t know.  It depends.  She may be like Palin, looking to cash in on a lot of money.  Here‘s the scary thing about the Republican party, Ed.  There was a story in the “New York Times” where she went to speak in front of a group of conservatives, and she said, water boarding is not torture.  You know what the response was?  You should run for office.  That‘s the state of the Republican party. 

SCHULTZ:  Roy Sekoff, always a pleasure.  Great to have you with us. 

Before we go to our panel, let‘s have a little reality check.  The majority of the American people believe President Obama is keeping them safe, according to a new AP poll out this month; 53 percent approve of the job the president is doing on terrorism; 61 percent approve of the way the president is dealing with other countries. 

Let‘s look at where the American people are on the wars.  In Afghanistan, where the president‘s considering increasing our involvement, 46 percent approve.  In Iraq, where the president is ending the war in Iraq, 50 percent approve of that. 

One final note, according to a new Gallup Poll tonight, the president‘s overall job approval rating jumped to 56 percent after he won the Nobel Peace Prize, which, of course, Liz Cheney has been criticizing. 

Let‘s go To our panel tonight.  Radio talk show host Stephanie Miller is with us in the house here in New York.  Democratic strategist Todd Webster on our panel tonight.  And distinguished fellow at the Heritage Foundation and former Republican Congressman Ernest Istook. 

Stephanie, we just have so much material.  There‘s a new Michele Bachmann on the airwaves.  It‘s Miss Cheney.  Can she be effective with this group? 

STEPHANIE MILLER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Just as crazy as Bachmann and just as evil as Dick Cheney.  Just what we were waiting for in American politics.  She‘s just like Dick, but with none of the charm, none of the cuddly warmth.  This is really—Bill Kristol said, you know, the good guys need a little help, too.  There‘s all these left-wing organizations.

I‘m sorry, you‘re referring to the torturers and the people who unnecessarily invaded a country and killed hundreds of thousands of people based on a pack of lies?  Those are the good guys?

SCHULTZ:  Is she electable?  She can communicate. 

MILLER:  Wow, one can only hope that that‘s—that she and Sarah Palin are all they‘ve got. 

SCHULTZ:  Todd Webster, what is the strategy?  What should be the strategy to combat troops like this targeting the president and pulling out the old card, Democrats can‘t keep the country safe? 

TODD WEBSTER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  My first—based on that ad, my first reaction is to ignore them.  The cardinal rule in politics is to have credibility.  Liz Cheney, frankly, has very little.  By accident of her birthright, her name is Liz Cheney, not Liz Vincent, sort of like George W.  Bush.  She would not have a public profile if not for her father. 

On the merits of the policy, President Obama approved sending another 30,000 troops to Afghanistan.  By the yardstick by which the previous administration asked to be measured, have we been attacked again, the answer is no.  He has been keeping us safe.  Let‘s look at what this really is.  It‘s a fund-raising platform to keep alive the Cheney legacy of torture and defense contracting, by engaging in partisan fear-mongering.  That‘s all that it really is. 

SCHULTZ:  Ernest, what about all that?  Why the fearmongering?  How do we now were less safe?  It‘s been ten months.  What kind of policies have been implemented to make us less safe? 

ERNEST ISTOOK, FMR. CONGRESSMAN:  I hear people talking about personalities.  I don‘t hear them talking about policies. 

SCHULTZ:  I‘m asking you about policy.  What is President Obama doing? 

What‘s he doing? 

ISTOOK:  That‘s a good question.  What is he doing?  Remember, the third person of this particular organization, Deborah—I believe it‘s Burlingame, whose brother was the pilot of the plane that terrorists hijacked and flew into the Pentagon.  Let‘s remember that person is involved also in this organization. 

SCHULTZ:  What does that have to do with anything?  She‘s no more important than anybody else on the face of the Earth.  I fly in commercial airplanes all the time.  Wait a minute, where‘s the substance here, Ernest?  What is the president doing that‘s making us less safe?  What is the basis of the commercial? 

ISTOOK:  He‘s telling us we don‘t need to worry about al Qaeda, because they‘re too weak, and we don‘t need to worry about the Taliban because they‘re too strong to go after.  Who is it that the president thinks that we‘re supposed to be combating in Afghanistan?  That‘s where the terrorists were trained that flew the airplanes into the buildings on 9/11. 

SCHULTZ:  That‘s not what they—Ernest, they are not in Afghanistan right now.  They are in Pakistan.  The debate is—

ISTOOK:  They move back and forth, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  Back own forth. 

ISTOOK:  If you know exactly where they are, tell us.  We‘ll go get them. 

SCHULTZ:  What we knew in Tora Bora.  You know that story and you didn‘t go after them.  What about this?

MILLER:  Even the president, General Jones have said there are less than 100 al Qaeda in Afghanistan.  So, you know, George Bush, apparently the good on security guy, is the one that let Osama bin Laden go in Tora Bora. 

SCHULTZ:  Todd Webster, how important is this decision going to be politically for the president, when you‘re talking about committing more bodies and manpower and treasure over to Afghanistan? 

WEBSTER:  Well, I think that‘s clearly the cradle of instability.  Those are the folks that attacked us.  I think he is right to review it carefully, to invite members of both parties, because there needs to be a political consensus and a public consensus to continue with this war that‘s cost hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives, unfortunately. 

So I think he wants to get the policy right, get the strategy right, and then he‘ll make his decision.  But unlike the previous administration, he‘s going to go in with a real plan and a real strategy that‘s going to be thoroughly thought out.  I think that‘s much to his credit. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  Go ahead, Ernest. 

ISTOOK:  He said when he ran for president he had a plan and strategy.  He said in March he had a plan and strategy.  Now he‘s saying, time out, I need time to think up one. 

SCHULTZ:  How many times did Bush do that, Ernest?  Come on, now.  Is the guy not allowed to make any decisions at all? 

ISTOOK:  He should do it, not wait and wait and wait. 

SCHULTZ:  He is listening to his advisers.  He‘s listening to his generals.  He is doing all this.  This is not an iron-fist decision here.  The guy has been president for ten months.  And you‘re expecting miracles in Afghanistan. 

ISTOOK:  No.  I‘m expecting that he meant what he said last August when he was running for president, that he meant what he said in March.  But now when he watched these public opinion polls that are moving against Afghanistan, now he‘s thinking again. 

MILLER:  What kind of world are we living in when the guy who has reignited international diplomacy around the world and won the Nobel Peace Prize is the radical? 

ISTOOK:  What? 

MILLER:  -- started necessary war—

SCHULTZ:  We‘ll leave it at that.  Panel, hang around.  Thanks so much.  More coming up. 

Up next, now, I was in the heartland over the weekend doing some pheasant hunting and I had some conversations.  Got verification they‘re nervous out there.  Americans are stock piling ammo, topping off their fuel tanks, stocking up on water and watching the dollar.  OK?  I‘ll tell you what they‘re really afraid of coming up in my playbook.  Stay with us.  We‘re right back on THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.


SCHULTZ:  In my playbook tonight, job creation.  I‘m not sure anybody in the White House understands how to create jobs in the private sector.  Now, we‘re seeing all these stories about how the White House is so excited about the stimulus package.  And let me just remind everybody that the stimulus package has been all about government improvements and saving jobs that would have been cut.  Correct? 

All right.  The true creation of a job, actually adding employees because conditions call for it, is the issue and the challenge for the Obama White House. 

Now, the play is this: the White House, in my opinion, is not doing enough to get risk takers into the market, into the arena that we would create new jobs—new jobs.  I‘ll offer to you tonight, folks, this is not brain surgery.  There are 29.6 million small businesses in this country.  I don‘t care what kind of business you‘re running.  The fast track to expansion is cheap money and flexible terms.  You can‘t get around that. 

Don‘t tell me to go to the Small Business Administration.  Please don‘t tell me to do that.  You know, that is so old and so tired.  The reason why that‘s old and tired is because I see the fast track of money to Wall Street.  I see where the Dow went down in March to, what, 6,500, in that neighborhood.  Now we‘re at 9,800.  Do you feel that, middle America?  Do you feel that good about what‘s going on?

Look, it doesn‘t matter how big your business is.  Five employees, 15, 20, 100, it doesn‘t matter.  The White House has to understand that access to capital for expansion and getting the Wall Street bank rates will change the business climate in this country. 

People out there are nervous.  When jobs aren‘t being created, you know what they do?  They do kind of goofy stuff.  Now, I was in the Midwest over the weekend, OK?  They are doing this.  This is where America is right now.  They‘re purchasing ammunition.  Get that?  They are keeping fuel tanks full.  They are stocking fresh water.  They are watching the dollar and watching gold go up, thinking, whoa, what‘s going on here?  The dollar‘s going to end. 

You know, look—and, of course, they‘re paying attention to their local banker who‘s not lowering the rates.  Mr. Obama, I write checks, OK?  I have a couple of small businesses.  I know I speak for a lot of Americans, because there are 29.6 million small businesses in this country.  Can I get three percent?  Can I get flexible terms?  Can small businesses go to the government the same way Wall Street went to the government and said, hey, come bail us out, man, give me a chance? 

All we want is a level playing field.  We want access to capital.  We‘ll guarantee—and we can guarantee many small businesses that will keep these employees for an extended period of time.  Give me some terms, man.  Stop teasing me, OK?  Stop nailing me with the big rates.  Stop nailing small businesses with these terms.  In small town America, bankers are looking at their best customers different than the way they used to.  Until that changes—and, oh, by the way, I speak for everybody on this, will you get workman‘s comp off my back?  Will you get workman‘s comp off the back of small businesses and get somebody working on that? 

I tell you what, I‘m nervous that unemployment could go well into the double digits unless this happens.  That‘s right.  It‘s the Ed plan.  That‘s what it is.  You‘ve got to get us cheap money.  You got to get us flexible terms.  You got to be innovative about what you‘re going to do for small business in America. 

If you think I‘m wrong, drop me an e-mail:

Up next, the main event.  This is a call to action.  Do not let that one Republican vote on the Baucus bill take you down the road to a weak public option, because that is worse than the Yellow Brick Road.  You know what I mean?  The Help Committee member Senator Bernie Sanders is going to be here in just a minute.  You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  It‘s up to these three guys, Chris Dodd, Harry Reid, and Max Baucus.  These are going to be the big players when it comes to health care reform, now, after it‘s on the floor with all the amendments, in discussion.  When it gets to committee, these are the three gentlemen that are really going to control health care reform in this country. 

Let‘s do a score check right now.  We‘ve given up on single payer.  That‘s a negotiating chip that‘s gone off the table.  We‘re so excited Olympia Snowe is now going to give us a bipartisan bill.  She did say today, my vote today may not be my vote later, to that effect. 

Joining me now, Senator Bernie Sanders, who voted for the Help Committee bill.  Senator, what do you think of the Senate Finance Committee bill?  Would you have voted for that if you had had the opportunity? 

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT:  Let me just say this, Ed.  The good news is after months and months and months, they finally voted something out.  The bad news is it is a very weak bill, as you‘ve indicated, despite the overwhelming support of the American people.  The last poll that I saw a week ago, CBS, two to one in favor of a strong Medicare-type option for the American people.  This bill didn‘t have that. 

In terms of affordability, it‘s weak.  In terms of how it pays for the bill, it‘s also pretty weak, in that it begins the process of taxing health care benefits that working people have worked years and years to obtain.  What you have is a weak bill.  If I were on the committee, no, I do not think I would have voted for that bill. 

But now the process moves on.  And some of us are going to fight to make this a really strong progressive bill that gives the American people what they deserve. 

SCHULTZ:  Here‘s what Senator Tom Harkin told me today on my radio show.  Pretty strong stuff.  Here it is. 


SEN. TOM HARKIN (D), IOWA:  I‘ve just about had it with one or two or three or four of the more conservative Democrats saying it‘s got to be this way, it‘s got to be that way.  What about the 52 Democrats that are for a strong public option?  You know, it seems to me now is the time for some of our more conservative Democrats to say, look, for the good of the organization, and for the good of the American people—by the way, 65 percent of the American people say they want a public option—for the good of the American people, it‘s time for them to belly up to the bar and to vote with us to get this thing through. 


SCHULTZ:  Senator, you agree with that? 

SANDERS:  Absolutely.  Tom is right on. 

SCHULTZ:  Mr.—I have to interrupt you.  Mr. Baucus today said this vote means we‘re not going to have reconciliation.  I have to have lefties and progressives know that reconciliation is still a possibility.  Can you clear that up. 

SANDERS:  Reconciliation is still a possibility.  It‘s a tough way to do a comprehensive health care bill.  The more important way and better way forward is to have 60 people in the Democratic caucus say no to Republican filibusters, and to do as Tom Harkin just indicated.  The vast majority of the American people understand that a public option is right, because it gives you the choice.  What are our opponents afraid of?  If the American people don‘t want a Medicare-type bill, they‘re going to go to private insurance.  That‘s OK. 

The second point is, if we‘re talking about cost containment, if we‘re talking about doing something about the outrageously high cost of health care in America, we‘ve got to have competition with the private insurance companies, which is also what a public option will do. 

SCHULTZ:  I think, today, Senator Baucus signaled to liberals in this country that, hey, conservative Democrats are going to call the shots from here on out, because we have Olympia Snowe over here.  That‘s how I read it.  What do you think? 

SANDERS:  Mr. Baucus may say whatever he wants.  He has one vote.  As Tom Harkin said, there are a hell of a lot more of us than there are them.  Most importantly, you know, Ed, there‘s an election coming up.  I don‘t understand how the Democrats go to the people and say, we‘re not doing what you wanted us to do, and we‘re going to tax your benefits.  We‘re coming forward with a McCain tax program, but we want you to vote for us. 

I think that‘s bad public policy.  I think it‘s bad politics.  We‘ve got to turn it around. 

SCHULTZ:  One of these three guys, Harry Reid—he‘s playing with fire.  You don‘t have to comment on that.  I know exactly what you‘re talking about when you say an election‘s coming up. 

Senator, great to have you with us.  Appreciate your take on this. 

Earlier, I asked you what you thought of the Democrats watering down the combined Senate health care bill to keep Olympia Snowe‘s vote.  Forty four percent of you said yes; 56 percent said no.  “HARDBALL” is next.  We‘ll see you tomorrow night.  



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