THE ED SHOW
November 9, 2009
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Guests: George Miller, Dennis Kucinich, Barney Frank, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Todd Webster, Ron Christie, Sam Stein, Col. Jack Jacobs
ED SCHULTZ, HOST: Good evening, Americans. Welcome to THE ED SHOW from New York tonight.
Some love it. Some hate it. I'm still reading it. And I think you ought to read it as well.
The House bill that passed Saturday night has Democrats all over the board. Liberals are calling this a sellout to the insurance industry, and I'm not so sure they're wrong. The context of the bill remains for profit.
I'm not convinced that your premiums and my premiums are going to be going down over the next three years. I'm not sure that a mandate to purchase will bring costs down over time. I'm just not certain that this is a complete victory for consumers.
Single payer was never on the table. The public option covers six million and excludes millions who really need the public option. The ban on pre-existing conditions has tremendous merit, but I don't trust the insurance industry, the industry that controls the payment structure.
I don't see any mechanism in place here that definitely holds rates down and helps consumers. It's all based on market theory. And maybe I expected too much, and maybe there's an air of disappointment with me tonight because there just wasn't enough teeth in this bill. At least I haven't read it yet.
Supporters are trying to sell this as a first step. OK, I buy that. The door to a public option in the future is now cracked open a little bit. Now we've got to kick it in down the road.
In the meantime, Republicans look just ridiculous in all of this. The Bachmann-loving, Tea-Partying, Nazi-comparing crowd of crazies that stormed the Capitol last week, may we simply say they failed. We saw more pathetic base-baiting stunts during the floor debate.
How about this one? Now, I just want this congressman to know I have-
Wendy and I have eight grandkids, so you're not pulling anything on me.
The congressman from Arizona who held up the baby, just railing against the government takeover, what was that all about? This is what the Republican Party is all about. They're nothing but stunts and tactics, no ideas, no plans and, most of all, no solutions.
Now the Senate is going to have to pick up where the House left off. And it's up to Harry Reid, Senate majority leader, to get it done. He has to win the votes-I guess you could call them the gang of six: Evan Bayh, Kent Conrad, Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson and, of course, we all know our good buddy Joe Lieberman, -- without losing progressive support. I like this part of the story.
Senator Bernie Sanders, who's going to be on the program later tonight, says that he won't vote for any bill without a public option.
Way to go, Bernie. We could play this game, too, when it comes to filibuster.
Get your cell phones out, folks, because this is a key question at this hour. I want to know what you think on this.
Should liberals in the Senate filibuster the health care bill if it doesn't have a public option? How far do you want to take this thing called reform?
Text "A" for yes, "B" for no to 622639. We'll bring you the results later on in the show tonight.
All right. Now, joining me now is Congressman George Miller. He's the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee.
George, good to have you back with us, Congressman. Thanks for your time tonight.
REP. GEORGE MILLER (D-CA), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE EDUCATION AND LABOR COMMITTEE:
Good evening. Thank you, Ed. Thank you.
SCHULTZ: I'm looking for the silver lining in all of this. And I need you to explain the mandate. In the House bill, there is a mandate that the government is going to be giving-subsidizing the consumer, the patient, who's going to go buy a private insurance policy from the industry that has been raking us over the coals.
Is this true or false? And explain it, please.
MILLER: For 37 million people who don't have insurance today, they're going to go to the health exchange, the national health exchange. And depending on the states, there could be 10 or 15 different insurance companies offering plans with a benefit that the government has set out.
There will also be a public option, a consumer choice plan in that health exchange. And we believe and the Congressional Budget Office has told us the presence of that public option is going to bring competition to that system.
I would have preferred a stronger public option, but even this public option gives us a competitive edge with the insurance companies. And I think as this progresses, the benefit is going to be for the taxpayers, because they're going to have to pay less subsidies because the plans are going to be less expensive, it's going to benefit American families because their premiums will be lower, and they'll be able to afford it.
So, for the first time, just for those 37 million Americans, they will have access to affordable health care, and the competition will be there. We've gotten rid of the antitrust exemption. We have the right to deny insurance companies to raise rates, access to that exchange. And the insurance company knows that there are 37 million potential customers out there.
SCHULTZ: But Congressman Miller, you just said that insurance rates will be lower. How can you guarantee that? That's basically on theory that the insurance industry, they're going to be honest brokers and all of a sudden new competitors with one another in this new environment of reform. I mean, you're really banking on them to be great players, aren't you?
MILLER: Well, the first piece of evidence I would take is how hard the insurance companies are fighting against having the public option, having the exchange. Yes, they would just like to throw everybody into the market they have today. But we don't get savings for the taxpayers, we don't get any reduced rates for families, and we don't have the chance to take down long-term health care costs.
If this was as easy as you say, the insurance companies would be on holiday. They're not on holiday, let me make that very clear. They're in this town lobbying day and night against the bill that's just passed the House.
SCHULTZ: So you think that they don't like anything about this bill? That they're-I mean, I thought they cut a deal with the White House.
MILLER: That was an arrangement they made. That's not the House plan.
And the fact is that they would love it if this bill died.
MILLER: And there's a lot of the special interests in the health care industry would love to see the bill die. I don't believe it's going to die. It's going to the president's desk.
SCHULTZ: All right. Now, what if the Senate doesn't have a public option?
MILLER: Well, then that's going to make it very difficult.
SCHULTZ: Are the House conferees going to take it to the firewall?
MILLER: Well, we'll meet with our caucus, but I think that's going to be a real problem in the House Democratic caucus. I don't quite know how you pass that plan. I'm not even sure you can pass it in the Senate without a public option.
I respect the work that Leader Reid has done on this position. I mean, you get savings from this. And that's why it's there.
CBO has told us time and again it can be worth up to $110 billion. That's not what I say, that's what the Congressional Budget Office says.
SCHULTZ: But it can also mean big profits for the insurance industry. I mean, they're going to come out on this deal. There's no way around that.
As far as the enforcement of a mandate, what's the mechanism in place to make sure that every American buys health insurance?
MILLER: There's both a mandate on the employer to offer health insurance. If they don't, they have to pay. It's pay or play for employers. And individuals have a mandate to buy it.
Again, that goes to trying to get a grasp on the cost. If everybody's not in the system, it's very hard to get a hold of the cost, because, as you know, uninsured people, they don't go without illness, they don't go without cancer, they don't go without serious disease. And they show up in the health care system anyway, and there's no money to pay for them.
SCHULTZ: What about getting it done this year? Are you nervous about the Senate saying it may go into next yea? And, of course, we know how the Republicans are going to obstruct, and we'll talk more about their obstruction techniques later in this program. It's very clear what they're doing. But the timing at this point, how crucial is it to get it done this year, in your opinion?
MILLER: The timing is crucial. I think this bill is done either at the end of December, the beginning of January. And as far as I can tell from the Senate leaders I've talked to, they're working very, very hard to get this done.
SCHULTZ: Congressman, good to have you with us tonight.
Congressman George Miller, chairman of the Health Education and Labor Committee in the House.
Thanks so much.
MILLER: Thank you.
SCHULTZ: For more, let me bring in our only liberal who voted against the House health care bill on Saturday night, former presidential candidate and Congressman Dennis Kucinich, joining us from Ohio.
Why did you vote against it, Congressman?
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO: I voted against it because it's a giveaway to the insurance companies. They'll get $70 billion in new business. They'll have 21 million captive customers. It's the wrong business model, frankly.
I mean, they're in business to make a profit. The government should see health care as a service. We have to de-link the two. Otherwise, all we're going to be doing is working for the insurance companies, Ed.
SCHULTZ: But Congressman, they're saying that if they can get every American covered, and emergency room visits will go down, these 37 million people don't show up at emergency rooms, the costs will go down and it will be a better deal for the American people.
Do you believe that?
KUCINICH: Better than what? I mean, first of all, insurance doesn't mean you have care, because the insurance company makes money not providing care. And they have the option to keep pricing people to lower and lesser products. So, you know, once you start getting into the orbit of insurance companies, it's just no way that you can be guaranteed anything except that they'll keep raising the premiums.
SCHULTZ: So the mandate is a rip-off?
KUCINICH: Well, I would say that the mandate does something in terms of driving people into the arms of the insurance companies. It's a bonanza for Wall Street.
It's an extraordinary moment in our country's history where we tell people the only choice they have is to be able to go and get their insurance from a for-profit insurance company. And if you don't buy it, you pay a penalty. I mean, that's extraordinary.
SCHULTZ: Well, why did the Progressive Caucus vote for this? Why did they go along with this? I mean, there's a lot of consternation out there in the blogosphere about this, and I'm hearing it on talk radio as well. Why did the Democrats go along with this if it's not a strong enough public option and it's a sellout to the insurance industry?
KUCINICH: I think the White House was-I think the Democrats in Congress want to support the White House, which, you know, usually you want to do that. But in this case, I think progressives who made a very strong statement a few months ago saying they wanted a robust public option, were hoping against hope that that would stay in the bill. And then by the time it came to the end, they just decided, well, we can't beat them so we'll join them.
And in my case, I saw the public option shrink from its first iteration, $129 million, to about $40 million, and then to about $6 million. That's not competition with the insurance companies.
I saw an amendment that I had-and Mr. Miller, who's a great chairman-
I had it in his committee-passed it. It would have given the states the ability to have protection if they went and created their own single payer system, protection against lawsuits from the insurance industry. That was taken out of the bill. That's not congenial to competition.
SCHULTZ: Congressman Kucinich, that's what I think has a lot of liberals in this country who made a difference in the last two elections, in '06 and '08, is that doing six million people in the public option doesn't scratch the surface of the problem. And we're supposed to buy this?
KUCINICH: You're absolutely right.
SCHULTZ: And so I'm thinking that the Democrats are going to shoot themselves in the foot in the midterm because there's going to be a lot of disenfranchised people out there, disgruntled people thinking, you know what? They didn't do what they said they were going to do.
They left single payer on the side of the road like road kill. They're never going to talk about that. The public option got watered down. It's a sellout to the insurance industry.
Tell me what the victory is on this and tell me what the next move and the political downside of this. I think this is dangerous territory for the Democrats right now.
KUCINICH: First of all, as far as the American people, there's only one way that we're going to really be able to rescue the American people from this current system, and that is to establish a not-for-profit system. Ed, it's the wrong model that we're working under.
For-profit health care is really a contradiction in terms. You can't get health care if it's going to be a for-profit system, you can't control costs. People are going to be shut out. Forty-seven million Americans, no insurance. Fifty million Americans underinsured.
We've got to go back to where we are today. This bill established a trajectory. There's a lot of wonderful people who feel they're doing the best thing here, but you know what? It's the wrong model.
You know, the for-profit health care system, you can't fault the insurance companies for being what they are. They're in to make money.
SCHULTZ: I'm disappointed that there's not more liberals standing with you on this. I mean, I think you're on the correct side of the issue, Congressman Kucinich. I hear it every day. I get a lot of e-mails on it.
And I think that Democrats are miscalculating the undercurrent that's across this country, or the disappointment of this. The Obama people better get out and sell this as something great, because on the surface, I have to say, I don't see it.
Congressman, great to have you with us tonight. Thanks so much.
KUCINICH: Ed, I appreciate being on your show. Thank you, sir.
SCHULTZ: Well, we're going to keep talking about it because this is a generational fight. Thanks so much.
Coming up, Joe Lieberman may not be the only health care spoiler in the Senate. Independent Bernie Sanders has given the Democrats a headache. He'll make some noise in "The Main Event" later in this program.
Plus, just one year after getting bailed out by the government, Wall Street's big three, what are they doing? They are dishing out $30 billion in bonus money. Barney Frank going to sound the alarm.
All that, pus the Tea Party's on the ballot in Florida and "The Drugster" lands in the psycho zone.
It's all coming up. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.
There are tough times on Main Street. Unemployment reached double digits and small businesses are struggling to stay alive. But there's a party raging on Wall Street.
Today the Dow hit, hey, a 52-week high. And the big three, that's just-they went out and got after it as well.
You see, they decided to give out a record reward of bonuses. Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley will be handing out $30 billion in bonuses this year. By the way, that's a 60 percent increase on their bonus payouts from a year ago.
Joining me now is Congressman Barney Frank, chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services.
Congressman, good to have you on tonight. I guess a news flash here is you can't do anything about this, can you?
REP. BARNEY FRANK (D-MA), CHAIRMAN, FINANCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE: Well, we can do a couple of things.
First of all, Ed, let's not loose sight of this. We can tax it. Let's not forget that.
George Bush came to power and got Republicans to vote to reduce taxes. In the House bill that we passed on health care, one of the differences we have with the Senate is we finance a large part of it-I don't think enough of it-by a surtax on upper-income people.
SCHULTZ: But doesn't that miss the point, Congressman? I mean, we dished out billions of dollars to Wall Street and they're doing the bonus dance right now. That wasn't in the fine print, Barney. You know that.
FRANK: Ed, don't condescend to me. And I disagree with you.
SCHULTZ: I'm not condescending to you. I'm just trying to get to the bottom of the story.
FRANK: Excuse me. I disagree with you that recovering a large percentage of that taxation is wrong. I think liberals are missing the boat here because we ought to be pushing for that surtax. We shouldn't be letting them get away with this.
Secondly, we have legislation pending. We tried to do this in 2006 when the Republicans were in power. We did it in 2007 in the House, we couldn't get it through the Senate. I'm convinced we'll get it now. One of the things we do is let the shareholders vote.
SCHULTZ: Congressman, why can't you just admit that this was a serious misstep on the part of the Congress? You forked out billions of dollars to save the economy, I get all that, to get the structure back going again. But you didn't ask them questions about how this...
FRANK: No, Ed. You're wrong.
SCHULTZ: Oh, tell me I'm wrong.
FRANK: You're wrong. And I'd like to be able to explain it.
First of all, we believe the shareholders, if they could get to vote on this, would be rejecting it. Say on pay-and we work with the AFL-CIO on this and other investors-they have been chunks of this. They would not be voting to allow these large amounts to go through. We've been trying for three years to get that through. We're going to get it through this year.
Secondly, we did put into the economic recovery bill, when we had the president ready to sign it-and Chris Dodd deserves credit for that-the restrictions that Ken Feinberg had that did cover the people who were getting TARP money. We now have legislation pending that will have the shareholders vote on whether or not they can get these bonuses, and I believe the shareholders will be opposed to it.
And we also give the regulators the mandate to put some restrictions on those bonuses that cause the disincentives. But I also disagree with that taxation is beside the point.
SCHULTZ: Look, you can tax anything.
FRANK: Yes. And we should tax things. And I think you're making a mistake by pooh-poohing taxation. That's a major way to recover that.
SCHULTZ: No. Well, I think I'm making a mistake because I think-you can't tell me that 119,000 people on Wall Street just happen to qualify for a $250,000 bonus here. Now, come on.
FRANK: I'm not telling you that. I was against it.
SCHULTZ: That's what it is. But that's what's happened right now, Congressman.
FRANK: That's because we voted-that's because we tried to get a bill through to let the shareholders vote. And I think you're underestimating the extent to which shareholders' pension funds and others, state governments, et cetera, would vote against this if they had the right and not leave it up to the board of directors.
You are underestimating the extent to which Ken Feinberg did reduce some of them. The ones that you mentioned are the ones that paid back the TARP money. The ones that got the TARP money, Bank of America and Citicorp, are restricted.
But finally, I'm just baffled by your almost hostility to taxation of people who are making these large amounts of money. That's one of the ways we get it back.
SCHULTZ: Well, first of all, I do believe in fair taxation, there's no question about that. I'm not in favor of the Bush tax cuts. They should have never been passed.
But I'm talking about TARP dollars that are going out, that have gone out, and these guys have gone back and just operated the same way they did before. They have the same financial pay structure. And by the way, we didn't have a say in any of this until after the fact. That's the only point I'm making on this.
FRANK: Well, the point I made to you several times is that's probably because the Republicans were in power and rejected some of what we tried to do with say on pay, which you're neglecting. We then-I believe we will get that put into law. Thanks to the legislation-the amendment that was put into the economic recovery bill, Ken Feinberg was able to put some real restrictions on those gets TARP money.
SCHULTZ: All right. But can we come to this conclusion, Congressman, that
maybe the Congress just didn't realize that these guys were going to have -
I guess you could say the guts or whatever you want to call it to go back and operate the same way they were operating before?
FRANK: Not the whole Congress. Ed, I don't understand how you can ignore what I'm saying.
SCHULTZ: I'm talking about Wall Street, Congressman. I'm talking about how there was no oversight the way these bonuses are being dished (ph) out.
FRANK: There was oversight.
SCHULTZ: What you're talking about is after the fact.
FRANK: No, I'm not talking about after the fact. In 2006 and 2007, we tried to pass the law that would have put say on pay. I don't understand how you can keep just neglecting that.
Secondly, we did put some oversight in there. We instructed the Bush administration to do it. They refused.
And early in the Obama administration we did get this language that Ken Feinberg used to cut them back. But the point I'm making now is the people you are talking about are post-TARP, and what I'm working on is legislation that deals with all financial institutions, because pretty soon there won't be any TARP recipients left, and it's important to focus on them. That's say on pay, that's restrictions on bonuses, and that's taxation.
SCHULTZ: All right. So I don't want to leave this interview without any misconception for our viewers. You're OK with the bonuses right now? I mean, that's what...
FRANK: I am not OK. Ed, you are totally wrong. I am not OK. I don't understand.
I wanted to have the shareholders be able to restrict them. I was for-
I'm trying to get legislation so it would stop it.
FRANK: How can you say that I'm for it? What's the matter with you?
SCHULTZ: Nothing's wrong with me.
FRANK: Well, you're distorting the facts.
SCHULTZ: I just know that credit is tight for small businesses.
SCHULTZ: I know that there is a double standard that is out there and the American people are seeing more grease into the skids on Wall Street.
FRANK: And we are trying to pass legislation.
SCHULTZ: OK. Well, you shouldn't have any problem with it now, Congressman, because you've got the White House, the House and the Senate. You can talk about '06 and '05 and everything else, but you've got the teeth to do it now. All right.
FRANK: Right. And that's what I told you was about to happen.
SCHULTZ: All right.
FRANK: We have passed this in the House. We have restrictions on bonuses, we have restrictions on say and pay. And unlike you, I think taxation is also important.
SCHULTZ: Well, I think it is important, too.
FRANK: Well, you pooh-pooh it. You said that's beside the point.
SCHULTZ: No. No, I'm not. Hey, look...
FRANK: You said it was beside the point. I don't think higher taxation on the super rich is beside the point.
SCHULTZ: I didn't say that. Wait a minute. No, no. I said for fair taxation. That's what I'm talking about.
FRANK: You said it was beside the point.
SCHULTZ: I don't think 119,000 employees just happen to show up and do such a hell of a job they get this kind of bonus structure.
FRANK: Oh, I agree. That's why I'm trying to get say on pay through.
SCHULTZ: And the fact is there was no controls on this TARP money and you know that.
FRANK: No. Right-no-yes, there was no control on the TARP money until Obama came in. But Ken Feinberg did cut back, and the people you just cited are in the non-TARP category right now. There are restrictions in the TARP area. What I want to do now is to extend those restrictions so we have them whether people pay TARP money or not, and that's in the bill we're...
SCHULTZ: Congressman, we'll have you back when it all heats up again. I appreciate the conversation.
Barney Frank with us here tonight on THE ED SHOW.
Coming up, "The Drugster" has sunken to a new low and he says the massacre at Fort Hood could be the president's fault? I'll set him straight next in "Psycho Talk."
Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: And welcome back to "Psycho Talk."
Tonight, actually, it's over-the-top "Psycho Talk."
Rush Limbaugh back at it, in the zone for all the wrong reasons. This time, "The Drugster" has sunk to a new low. He'll do anything to trash the president. This time he's blaming him for last week's horrible shooting at Fort Hood.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: We could almost say that this is Obama's fault, because this guy said that he believed Obama was going to get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama hasn't done it. And that's one of the reasons why the guy cracked.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Only Rush would have taken an event as horrific as last week's shooting and find a way to pin it on the president of the United States as his fault. But he didn't stop there. According to "The Drugster," the suspect is just like Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIMBAUGH: If we're going to ask why did he do it, knowing full well that he's in the same mosque in 2001 with the radical preacher going nuts, we're going to also have to believe that the guy was just like Obama and didn't hear Reverend Wright's words when he was in his church.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Hey, Rush, those families who lost loved ones at Fort Hood, do you think they're kind of giggling a little bit tonight?
Wanting Obama to fail is one thing, but to blame him for the tragic events that happened at Fort Hood is beyond the pale, even for this hate merchant. There is nothing entertaining or funny about this.
Rush, this is truly reprehensible, out of character for any professional broadcaster. It is "Psycho Talk."
Coming up, look out, Florida. Incoming. The Tea Party has taken up residence on the ballot. Something tells me that Governor Charlie Crist is hitting the deck.
Plus, Senate Republicans will do anything to make health care reform fail. Their playbook is obstruct, delay, run the clock out. Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan will join us to talk about that in just a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: The public option plan is unnecessary. It's been put forward, I'm convinced, by people who really want the government to take over all of health insurance.
If the public option plan is in there, as a matter of conscience, I will not allow this bill to come to a final vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Yes, more fun and games with our good buddy from Connecticut. The ink on the House health care bill wasn't dry before independent Senator and Democratic back stabber Joe Lieberman started making filibuster threats. This is exactly what the Republicans want.
Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn has told his staff to clear his schedule for, quote, every minute that bill is on the floor. The minority played the filibuster game with unemployment benefits. They stalled the bill for five weeks before finally giving up. In the end, not one Republican voted against helping out Americans who needed it.
This is the key point. They don't care about policy. They supported the policy, but they want Democrats to fail more than anything else, more than helping Americans in a tough economy, and more than fixing our broken health care system in this country.
Joining me now is Michigan Senator Deb Stabenow. Senator, good to have you with us tonight.
Have you ever seen the Republican party operate at such a fever pitch when it comes to slowing down and using every procedural opportunity they can to stop the Democratic agenda?
SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW (D), MICHIGAN: No, I haven't, Ed. And you are so right. I mean, this is about blocking our efforts to solve problems when we need to be focusing on jobs and health care and what is happening in this country right now, financial institutions.
They just delay, delay, delay.
SCHULTZ: Senator, why do they do what they did on unemployment benefits? In the end, the vote was 98 to nothing. There are like some 200,000 Americans who needed that paycheck and didn't get it and found tougher times. Why did they do that?
STABENOW: Just to run the clock. If they don't agree, if even one senator objects to going to a bill, the leader needs to file a motion. You have to wait two days. You can't do anything else during those two days.
SCHULTZ: I think we have it like this. Let me put it up for you. Republicans object, this is step number one. Step number two, Democrats file the cloture and they have to wait a couple of days. Then the vote on the cloture, you have to wait another 30 hours. Then the clock starts ticking. Then the fourth thing on the plan is to vote on the action being considered. And, of course, number five, Republicans object again. And it just-you go back to step one and repeat the whole thing over again.
STABENOW: Exactly. In the meantime, as you said, almost 200,000 Americans lost their unemployment benefits, were worrying about whether or not they were going to keep a roof over their family's heads and food on the table and pay the heating bills while these guys were just playing games.
SCHULTZ: So the number right now, how many times have they used that graphic this year? Eighty seven times, unless they did it some more in the last few days, when I had a breather on Friday.
STABENOW: We are about to see this happen I'm sure more this week. Eighty seven times they've either objected or we've run the whole-most of the time we've run that whole chart that you're talking about.
SCHULTZ: Is this what is going to happen on health care? Is this what they're going to do when health care comes to the floor, if it gets to the floor?
STABENOW: I think that's exactly what they're going to do. Every single tiny step that we take that normally is agreed to by both parties will be objected to. They'll stall and run the clock.
From my perspective, my feeling is, let's just vote. If they have disagreements, fine. We can debate it. We can vote up or down. And we can move forward for the American people. What they have done all year is stall the president's team being put in place, stall bills being passed, stall problems being solved.
Now, as we get to the end of the year, they want to stall the ability for us to solve the health care crisis in this country.
SCHULTZ: Oh, this is the kind of stuff that turns off Americans, this kind of stuff that happens in Washington. Senator, good to have you with us tonight. I want to ask you before you go, just quickly switching to health care. Do you think it will get done this year? Do you think you'll get 60 votes?
STABENOW: I believe that we are very likely to get this through the Senate by the end of the year. The challenge, though, is what you and I just talked about, in terms of running the clock. It could very easily be into next year before a final bill is on the president's desk. But you know what? The most important thing is that we get this done. We are focused. We understand that health care-
SCHULTZ: It doesn't sound like Joe Lieberman is focused. I think you have some other Democrats over there that are going to be struggles as well. Senator, good to have you with us. I appreciate your time tonight. Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.
For more, let's bring in our panel tonight: Todd Webster, Democratic strategist, Sam Stein, political reporter for the "Huffington Post," is with us, and Ron Christie, Republican strategist.
Todd, Webster, let's talk about the House vote. Where's the victory here? Six million people on the public option. A mandate to give money to the private insurance industry. Where's the victory here?
TODD WEBSTER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, you have to start somewhere, Ed. It's no the plan I would have chosen. I think we ought to expand Medicare. I think that's the perfect model for dealing with health care. There's not a senior in this country who does not love Medicare and wouldn't love to see that expanded. If you don't like Medicare, you can opt out and go pay Cigna or Humana 1,400 dollars a month and do the private plan.
SCHULTZ: This is the government writing a check to subsidize to patients, and patients are going to be forced to go buy insurance. Where's the victory here for the liberals?
WEBSTER: It is an important first step, Ed. I think these things don't happen overnight. That's the reality. I think you need to give Nancy Pelosi, Speaker Pelosi, a lot of credit for getting this bill through. It's the first time in more than 40 years, since Medicare was passed in 1965, that you see a real health care reform on this scale passed. Let's not forget that. That's a huge-
SCHULTZ: I have a lot of friends in the House. I have a lot of friends on the Hill. This is a time where politicians start breaking their arm, patting themselves on the back. I'm telling you, the progressives in this country think that this House bill falls short. Ron Christie, is this a victory of sorts for the conservatives?
RON CHRISTIE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Oh, I don't think of this in terms of a victory for conservatives. The question is, is this a victory for the American people, for trying to advance meaningful health reform? I think the answer to that is no. Given what President Obama has said-he said that he would veto a bill that reached his desk if it increased taxes by one dime.
We should stop this debate, Ed, because we've seen that the House bill will increase taxes by billions of dollars. The Democrats have been very disingenuous with the American people. They said they were going to reduce costs. They said they were going to cover more people. They were going to do this in a fair way. More taxes, not universal coverage, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Taxing the top two percent, you're right. We have said that all along.
CHRISTIE: Obama said-remember, President Obama said if there was a tax increase by one dime, he was going to veto it. So given by the president's own logic, Ed, he should veto this and start over.
SCHULTZ: Sam Stein, what about all that? Sam, what do you think?
SAM STEIN, "THE HUFFINGTON POST": I think Ron's very adept at reading talking points. You know, there are a lot-there's a lot to be very-you know, there's a lot to be proud of the plan for Democrats. I think expansion of coverage being the first and foremost. There's going to be 36 million people who will have insurance who previously did not. I think that's a noble achievement.
Certainly there's a lot to be disappointed with. Just look at the public option, which was incredibly watered down from its conception.
At the end of the day, it's a dirty and disgusting process passing legislation.
SCHULTZ: Gentlemen, we have to talk about a controversial provision in all of this. The pro-choice caucus has sent a letter to Nancy Pelosi, "the Stupak/Pits amendment represents an unprecedented, unacceptable restriction on women's ability to access the full range of reproductive health services to which they are lawfully entitled. We will not vote for a conference report that contains language that restricts women's rights to choose any further than current law."
Todd Webster, these are fighting words. This tells me that if this comes back, and if they deny funding for abortions in this health care bill, the House isn't going to vote for it.
WEBSTER: Good for them. The amendment that passed will impact overwhelmingly poor younger women. The people who passed that bill overwhelmingly are older white men. It's patently unfair. And this is a step that they need to take to try to fix this.
SCHULTZ: Ron, is this the issue that's going to stop health care reform in its tracks, and slow the Obama agenda?
CHRISTIE: I think it could, Ed. I think there are enough progressives who are very upset with the Stupak provision being in there, and there are a lot of conservative and centrist Democrats that if the provision wasn't in there wouldn't vote for it. I think this could derail health care for the Democrats.
SCHULTZ: What's the president's play on this, Sam?
STEIN: Well, I think the president, who has been totally hands off, continues to be totally hand's off on this specifically. Gibbs declined to address five questions about this. I have to disagree with my colleagues. If anything, through this debate, the progressive caucus, as much as they should be applauded for their goals, have been proven that they're easily pushed over. They were opposed to the Stupak amendment in the first go around. They're opposed to negotiated rates for the public option in the first go around.
Each time they caved in, in the end. I think, unfortunately, we'll see them do it again. There's no other way to interpret it.
SCHULTZ: You have a subsidy that's going to be going to women. Then they're going to be forced to buy from the private market.
STEIN: Supplemental plan.
SCHULTZ: Yes. I don't know how you can get around. It is going to be interesting. Fellows, thanks a lot.
Coming up, the suspected shooter at Ft. Hood is now conscious and speaking.
Meanwhile, a radical imam who had contact with two 9/11 hijackers sings his praises. Colonel Jack Jacobs on what the military should do at this point in the vetting process. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: In my playbook tonight, it's all about numbers. A lot of people in this country have been wondering what President Obama is going to do about Afghanistan. Tonight, CBS News is reporting that the White House has decided to send four new combat brigades, support troops, and the number would come close to 40,000, near the requested number of 44,000.
Joining me now for reaction on that is Medal of Honor recipient, MSNBC military analyst, Colonel Jack Jacobs. Jack, what do you make of these numbers tonight? Is this a bold move by the president? Basically, it sounds like the generals are getting what they asked for.
COL. JACK JACOBS (RET), US ARMY: I think it is a bold move. A couple of days ago, I would have said, and did say, that I thought that bearing up under the pressure of a Congressional delegation would try to keep the numbers low, try to be politically correct about how many people he was going to send.
SCHULTZ: This is a commitment.
JACOBS: This is definitely a commitment. You talk about four brigades, four combat brigades, about 17,000 people, plus support, brings it up to about 32,000, plus probably some special forces, special operations forces, some intelligence folks. That's pretty close to what McChrystal asked for. I'm surprised he did it. It is a bold move.
SCHULTZ: Now, do we have the resources to do all this? I mean, we keep hearing about how thin we are. We keep hearing about how the replenishing of the resources has been tough, the capital improvements. Where does this leave us, Colonel?
JACOBS: I think we are. We have a lot of obligations around the world. One of the things that has happened is that we have reduced our footprint in Iraq. A lot of forces have already come out of there and are resting up. By August of this coming year, we'll have fewer than 50,000 on the ground in Iraq. That frees up lots of troops to come back to Afghanistan.
What we are still short of are special forces, special operations forces. The secretary of defense has made a commitment to increase that in the pipeline. I think probably McChrystal is going to get those, too.
SCHULTZ: Colonel Jack Jacobs, would you take this news tonight, as reported by CBS News, that four combat brigades, support troops and the number of 40,000 more Americans going to Afghanistan, that President Obama clearly thinks that we can stabilize that region when no one else has been able to do it? I have to ask in that context. I mean, has anybody ever been militarily successful? In your expertise, do we have the numbers to be successful at this point?
JACOBS: Nobody's been successful in Afghanistan, if he's trying to rule from Kabul. The plan of General McChrystal and General Petraeus is instead to solve problems locally by concentrating forces in specific areas like up in the mountains against Pakistan, in Kandahar province, in Helmand, where there are lots of bad guys. But to concentrate there instead of trying to control the whole country. In that way, to stabilize specific areas one at a time.
That's the one place-Afghanistan is one of the very few places where you could probably pull it off. I think, given enough time-we're going to have to have a lot of patience, and it's going to take a long time. But given enough time, I think they're liable to pull it off.
SCHULTZ: Colonel, what about the shooting at Ft. Hood? It appears this doctor was a disgruntled employee. In the private sector, we would say that this doctor was a disgruntled employee. He was bad mouthing the commission. In many respects-well, he was reprimanded with a letter, and then he was promoted.
JACOBS: He got two bad evaluations. It is beyond my comprehension how somebody with as bad a record as that could slide in through the radar. The only conclusion I can come to, having been in the Army a long time and having supervised both good and bad soldiers, is that the chain of command was not paying attention. This man should have been pulled out of the system early on and-
SCHULTZ: We're thin. But we're thin, are we not? Does this not make a statement how thin we are?
JACOBS: Yes. But you wouldn't make that decision to send somebody like him, as thin as we are, to go do bad things. No, no, no. I think there was a failure in the chain of command. I think this is a wake-up call to everybody in every military occupational speciality, that it really doesn't matter who you are, but you really got to hang together or you'll hang separately.
I think this is going to reinvigorate instructions that have been given a long time ago to the chain of command that they have to pay attention to everybody on their left and their right, and they got to pull people out who can't do the job.
SCHULTZ: Thank you. Colonel Jack Jacobs with us.
Now, a final page in my playbook tonight. It seems a financial bailout isn't the only bailout happening on Wall Street these days. High profile firms like Goldman Socks, Citigroup have reached batches of hard to come by H1N1 vaccine for their high risk employees. Other people at high risk, like New York City schoolchildren, pregnant women, still have no access to the vaccine. Go figure.
In sports, I guess you could say it's Horn Frog week here on "THE ED SHOW," with TCU undefeated at nine and zero, and the BCS still has them ranked fourth. Come on. What does a great football team have to do with making it to the national championship these days? Maybe it's time we stopped letting computers figure this stuff out, and leave it up to the actual players.
TCU still has a shot. I'll be pulling for them all week long on THE ED SHOW. I'd like to see them go undefeated and the experts be wrong.
Up next in the main event, Joe Lieberman isn't the only independent who is threatening to go rogue on health care reform. Senator Bernie Sanders is the lefty hero. He's mixing it up with me next here on THE ED SHOW. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. When it comes to health care reform, if the choice is between a bad bill or a delayed bill, I tell you, folks, I'll take the delay. I don't think liberals should give away the store on this one, if the bill isn't what they want. They should wait. We should wait as Americans to get it right.
Now, Bernie Sanders, the Senate's other independent member, is suggesting that he might filibuster the health care reform bill if it doesn't include a public option. He's showing the left isn't afraid to play hard ball either. Senator Sanders joins us from Capitol Hill. Good to have you with us.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Good to be with you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Are you drawing a line in the sand? Are you saying that this has to have a public option?
SANDERS: What I'm saying is that if the bill ends up being nothing more than hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies for the insurance companies and the drug companies, if it's not affordable for the middle class, if we don't have a public option, widely diverse, so that people all over this country can enjoy it, then I think it's not worth proceeding.
I'm going to fight very hard, I think, to make sure we have those aspects of the bill in there.
SCHULTZ: OK. Fight hard to get those things. I commend you for that. So do a lot of progressives around the country, a lot of Americans who need health care across the political spectrum. If you don't get it, you're willing to say I'm not going to go there? And you're now really taking the position of a Joe Lieberman, in a different way of doing it. What do you think?
SANDERS: Let me just say this: I'm a member of the Health Committee. And I voted for and worked on and supported what came out of that committee. If I had been on the Finance Committee, I would have voted against that bill.
The bottom line here is there is not a bill yet. But what the American people want, among many other things, is a public option all over this country, widely dispersed, so that they can choose between a private insurance company or a public plan. And that's important not only from the individuals' point of view. If we're serious about cost containment-how are you going to keep private insurance rates down if there is not strong strong competition?
SCHULTZ: You're not going to. That's the fallacy in all of this. The House bill doesn't go far enough, in my opinion. Six million people to the public option. Could you embrace that?
SANDERS: We have to expand that very substantially. Most Americans, today, are of the impression that they will be given that public option, that they will have a choice between-they are going to be in for a big shock when it's just a small minority. We're going to fight very hard to expand hat as well.
SCHULTZ: Are you for this mandate? If a mandate comes out of the Senate, would you go along with that?
SANDERS: If, in fact, we had a strong affordable plan that provided people with the public option, yes. If not, no.
SCHULTZ: Senator, switching gears. The news out tonight, reported by CBS News, that the president is going to send 40,000 troops to Afghanistan. A quick answer on that. Do you support that?
SCHULTZ: That's a quick answer. Senator Bernie Sanders, good to have you with us tonight.
SANDERS: Good to be with you.
SCHULTZ: You bet.
Earlier I asked you, should Senate liberals filibuster the health care bill if it doesn't have a public option? Eighty six percent of you said yes; 14 percent of you said no.
We've got a town hall meeting coming up Sunday night at the Seattle Town Hall in Seattle, Washington. And we thought all along this health care debate was going to go until the middle of November. It has. It may go-hear me now, it may go to the middle of next year. Don't give up the fight.
That's THE ED SHOW. I'm Ed Schultz. Chris Matthews and "HARDBALL" starts right now on the place for politics. You're watching MSNBC. We'll see you back here tomorrow night for THE ED SHOW. Have a great one.
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