Guests: Dan Abrams, Pat Buchanan, Richard Trumka, Sherrod Brown, John Harwood, Ron Paul, Sen. Arlen Specter, Brent Budowsky, Joe Madison, Earnest Istook
ED SHULTZ, HOST: Good evening, Americans. Welcome to THE ED SHOW in New York tonight. We‘ll talk health care a little bit later. Commentary with that, lots of things happening in Washington on health care.
But first, it is all about jobs. It looks like the White House is finally starting to get it after dealing with Afghanistan and a host of other issues this week. President Obama is putting direct focus on creating jobs.
Today, he brought the CEOs and labor leaders together for a big job summit at the White House. Tomorrow, he heads off to Allentown, Pennsylvania. The message is very clear. He wants Americans to know that he‘s not going to be complacent until he can fix this economy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We cannot hang back and hope for the best when we‘ve seen the kinds of job losses that we‘ve seen over the last year. I am not interested in taking a wait-and-see approach when it comes to creating jobs. What I‘m interested in is taking action right now to help businesses create jobs. Right now. In the near term.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: This is the determination Americans want to see when it comes to job creation. But my concern in all of this—I‘m glad the White House is doing this, but I‘m a little concerned about what voices they are listening to. I think it‘s great to bring in CEOs and I think the CEO of Google, he‘s got things going pretty good right now. I don‘t think they need a rescue plan.
I‘m worried about the big companies because in many respects, of course, they want the tax credits and they want the tax rates reduced. Their goal is to make money, not create jobs.
Now it‘s the little guy out there that wants to create the jobs. Versus the stock price. There is a big difference when it comes to job creation in America.
I want the president to hear from small business owners who have got those 25 employees and need to add another five more. That‘s the fabric I think of job creation and moving this economy forward.
Those are the people that are making investment in communities, those are the people that want to move things forward. Small business is a big part of this. Owners, small business owners want to make it happen. Whether it‘s contracting company or it‘s a pizza shop or whatever, there‘s a lot of Americans out there with ideas.
I want to tell you, today I had an interesting conversation with a gentleman named Noel Davis out of Indiana. He‘s a retired U.S. Navy commander. Now he is working on what we call the green sector jobs in America. He wants to make critically needed gear components for wind turbines.
He says he can put some 200 machinists to work right away but what‘s the problem? Money. For over more three months he has been waiting to get a loan guaranty from the Department of Energy.
This is what gives government a bad name. When we can‘t get things fast tracked, when there‘s too much paperwork. This is one of the things I know they talked about at the White House today, streamlining the process, access to capital.
Because I think that there is a lot of Noel Davises out there that want to create jobs if they can get their mitts on some capital and get some people behind them like the government, through the SPA, fast track it, back them up, let them go to work. Because right now, folks, in this industry I was talking about, the wind turbine industry, the critically needed gear components, you know where we‘re getting them from right now? 86 percent of them are coming from China.
Now this is an American who‘s got an idea, who wants to compete, who wants to move forward. His voice needs to be heard. Get your cell phones out. I want to know what your think about this. Our text survey tonight is, do you think the president of the United States has done enough to create jobs?
Text A for yes and B for no to 622639. We‘ll bring you the results later on in the program.
Now what was encouraging today is the conversation at the White House. Not only CEOs but labor leaders. Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, was part of that job summit today.
Mr. Trumka, good to have you on board tonight. Thanks so much.
RICHARD TRUMKA, AFL-CIO PRESIDENT: Ed, thanks for having me on.
SCHULTZ: You have been hound thing White House for months on job creation and what has to happen. Give us a grade. How did it work today?
TRUMKA: I think it worked pretty well. I think the president really does understand the urgency of job creation. He said on numerous occasions jobs, jobs, jobs. I think his staff and his Cabinet understand the importance of job creation. I think a lot of good ideas came out today that are usable. And if we turn them around real quick, I think we can start putting Americans back to work in virtually weeks.
SCHULTZ: Now I know there‘s been a lot of conversation by labor leaders in this country when it comes to retrofitting buildings and making buildings in this country, upgraded and energy efficient. Does that have merit and will it happen when we start talking about infrastructure?
TRUMKA: Well, it does have merit and it will work. It will work on the residential side and then it will work on the commercial side. Actually the big jobs are in commercial, but the energy savings on the residential side. So if you do residential, you get a twofer. You create jobs and you would save energy. If you do on a commercial side, you get the same thing. You get bigger jobs, more jobs, rather, and you save more energy.
SCHULTZ: Mr. Trumka, are unions standing in the way of—would we say progress in this country? That, you know, you‘re going to get entrepreneurs out there to say hey, wages are too high, the health care benefits. And I know it all ties together.
What role can unions play in revitalizing this economy?
TRUMKA: First of all, we‘re doing a lot of the training and preparing people to do the jobs that I just spoke about a little bit earlier. Second of all, this economy must be driven by consumer demand. The only way to create consumer demand is put money in their pockets and of course unions put more money in their member‘s pockets than non-union members.
So it creates more demand. You create a solid foundation for a real economy. We have to get back to manufacturing. We have to have a manufacturing base in this country that were lost, and quite frankly, and we have a five-point program that would create a couple of million jobs very, very quickly.
SCHULTZ: Do you think the Obama economic team gets it? They‘re getting a lot of criticism for never having had to meet payroll in their career. And they don‘t know anything about job creation. But from what you saw today, do you think they get it?
TRUMKA: I do think they get it. I talked to Cabinet members, I had several meetings with Cabinet members, several meeting with the staff, the economic advisers, secretaries, and I can tell you from top to bottom, they get it. They understand the pain that‘s out there. They understand that we need jobs and more jobs and more jobs yet.
On top of that, And I think today‘s summit was a chance for them to hear from small business people, large manufacturers, a lot of union people, a lot of—some academics, a lot of economists, all of us were pretty much in consensus that, one, there‘s a crisis out there, that we have a 10 million job deficit that must be stopped. We must create those jobs immediately. And then there was a lot of consensus on how to get it done.
SCHULTZ: And was there conversation about trade agreements? That‘s big.
TRUMKA: Absolutely. One of the breakout groups was about how we can increate exports so that we can have more jobs created by exporting like our major competitors do.
SCHULTZ: Mr. Trumka.
TRUMKA: That was a major subject.
SCHULTZ: Mr. Trumka, great to have you with us tonight. Thanks for your time. I‘m glad you were part of the process. The voice of labor has to be heard at this White House.
And I was telling this story earlier about this gentleman who was waiting for loans. The Department of Energy, I‘m going to follow up on this and I want an answer, because I think it‘s one job at a time, one story at a time.
And I am really intrigued that there is someone out there with an idea who‘s ready to compete against the Chinese but for some reason the Department of Energy just can‘t get the paperwork going fast enough.
Let‘s go to Ohio senator Sharrod Brown on this issue. He was part of it today.
Senator, great to have you with us.
SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: Nice to see you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Job summit at the White House obviously needed. You know, the fast track of capital, you can‘t get around it. If people can‘t get their hands on money, how are the jobs going to be created? I mean I‘m all for this infrastructure stuff, but at the end of the day, job starts have got to be there and business starts have got to be there.
Are you confident they get that and understand this?
BROWN: You know, I think they get that. I think they don‘t quite know what to do for sure. But I—there‘s several things we got to do. We got to help small business create jobs, one of the ways of doing that is freeing up capital, reforming the small business administration to allow larger guaranteed loans which will help especially manufacturers who need a little more money than a service business might need to expand.
We need to work more with the incubators around—Ohio has got a lot of incubators that a small federal investment creates lots of jobs. And we need to look at trade policy. The president made the right decision about a month ago on Chinese tires. Findlay, Ohio has hired 100 people because of that. (INAUDIBLE), the same company.
I mean, all this, and I was just back at the International Trade Commission
this week on another steel case. In this case, China is—why do we keep
allowing our jobs—why we allow China to continue to steal our jobs?
No country on earth would do that.
SCHULTZ: Senator, I don‘t mean to dunn you on the air, you know I‘m a big fan of yours but I‘m asking you tonight for help. Personally. Ed to Sherrod Brown. This is a gentleman, I got a story here. A gentleman who wants to deal with critically needed gear components for wind turbines.
He says he‘s been waiting for a loan guaranty from the Energy Department.
Now we‘ve heard so much about green jobs. Will you help me with this guy?
BROWN: Of course.
SCHULTZ: He‘s not in your state, but I mean I think we have to understand the wheels of how these spokes are supposed to hold this wheel up that‘s supposed to turn and create jobs in this country, for lack of a better term. Because right now, the Chinese are eating our lunch in wind energy.
BROWN: I know that. Toledo, Ohio has more solar jobs than any city in America. We have real opportunity in my state and across the country. This guy, everybody has to help make sure he gets financing. Our bill called the Impact Act, which is in the House climate bill, we‘re working with the administration on putting in their budget, would provide loans, guaranteed loans to companies that want to transition into alternative energy.
If you can make glass for trucks, you can make glass for solar panels. If you can make gears for cars, you can make gearboxes for wind turbines. We have real potential there. The federal government in Germany kick-started its industry by stimulating supply and demand.
We need to do the same thing. And we have the capabilities, of course, to do it, whether it‘s through the climate change bill, through presidential edict, through deciding trade policy better, through the money that‘s left in the TARP money. Wherever the administration wants to go with it, we‘re there cheering them on, and we‘re behind them to make them do it.
SCHULTZ: All right . This is House leader John Boehner today over on the Republican side, .taking a shot at the effort by the White House.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER ®, MINORITY LEADER: This is people rightly sitting on their hands trying to figure out how do I make the next move? But until Washington provides some certainty, I don‘t think they will. You have to remember that President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid have never run a business. Much less ever had a real job in the private sector. So how would they know what it takes to create real jobs?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Senator, can you respond to that?
BROWN: Well, first of all, it‘s laughable. I mean John‘s from my state, he‘s a nice guy, but it‘s laughable. I mean the fact is that for the last 10 years, even with economic growth during the Bush administration, we had no job growth. These guys, they know a lot about running up deficits.
They know a lot about paying off their special interest friends in the drug industry and the insurance industry. They know a lot about starting two wars and not finishing them, but they don‘t know a squat about job creation. They want to create profits for their business friends. And I want more profits. But I want those profits to turn into jobs.
To me, it‘s all about jobs. It‘s about jobs in Lima, in Springfield, and Mansfield and Xena, Ohio, not about the Republicans scoring political points, which they‘re pretty darn—they‘ve really learned. They‘re good at scoring political points this year. But it‘s not providing any jobs for our workers.
SCHULTZ: Senator Brown, great to have you on. Thank you. Appreciate your time.
BROWN: My pleasure. Thanks.
SCHULTZ: For more on this, how did the White House fair in all of this today? John Harwood, CNBC chief Washington correspondent and political writer for the “New York Times”.
John, how is the White House feeling after day one of getting everybody together, trying to get some job creation in this country? Was it mission accomplished day one?
JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC: Well, I think they‘re trying to provide a road map for Congress in how to deal with this. What they‘re feeling right now, Ed, is they‘re feeling the heat of 10.2 percent unemployment. We‘ll get new jobs numbers tomorrow. They could be higher.
In any case, everybody expects payrolls to have declined over the last month. This is a tough situation for people like Sherrod Brown and others in his party who are looking at election year in 2010 where the prospect is that unemployment is going to go up significantly more than it is right now, and not come down very much by election day so that‘s really galvanized the attention of the Democrats on the hill and in the White House, even though we‘ve got this huge deficit.
I think they recognize that they need to do something to show voters out there and workers out there some progress and some indications that they‘re doing something about it.
SCHULTZ: What can the president do? Now my sources are telling me that he did a lengthy Q&A with a lot of these folks at the end of the day and was very impressive and knows what he wants to do.
Is he going to be able to create jobs without Republican help? What do you think?
HARWOOD: Yes, I think he can do that. The way he did on the stimulus bill. He is going next Tuesday to give a speech in which he outlines which are the measures he wants to move forward on. And I think we saw some previews of that today, some of the green jobs initiatives that Sherrod Brown was talking about, the so-called cash for caucers (ph) program. They give incentives for people to hire contractors to make homes more energy efficient.
I think you can see some direct job creation at a—perhaps at a small level, but at least money for states and city governments to try to prevent them from laying off workers. And you‘re also going to see some tax credits for small business.
The president specifically mentioned that as an idea he wanted to pursue at this job summit. The question is how much do you have to spend to get a big bang for the buck? Mark Zandy, the independent economist, says if you spend $250 billion over the next two years, you can bring the unemployment rate down one percentage point.
That‘s not a lot of progress but I think Democrats are feeling enough heat that they‘re going to do at least something.
SCHULTZ: John Harwood, thanks so much. Appreciate it tonight.
Coming up, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke played defense, big time, on the hot seat in the Senate confirmation hearing today.
Congressman Ron Paul is getting after him, says we got to audit the Fed.
Paul is going to join me in just a moment.
And most of us were horrified to hear Joe Wilson scream out “liar” when the president was speaking in front of the nation at the joint session of Congress. But it seems that Jim DeMint wishes he had done it. That puts him in “Psycho Talk.” You got it.
All that, plus the White House party crashers. Will they blow off the Congress? And Gloria Allred, who loves the spotlight, canceled a press conference. It‘s all coming up on THE ED SHOW. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN BERNANKE, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: I welcome transparency about the Fed‘s activities and the Fed‘s financial position. Both to the public and to the Congress. I am, however, concerned with the auditing of monetary policy. My fear is that if we were to take what might be perceived as an unpopular step, that Congress would order an audit, which would be a way, essentially, of applying pressure or be perceived as a way of applying pressure to our policy decisions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: That was the story on Capitol Hill today from Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, basically playing defense at his confirmation hearing. The chairman is trying to stonewall the Fed from being audited. Senator Bernie Sanders has pulled a hold on Bernanke‘s confirmation.
Also, Congressman Alan Grayson told us on this program that he think that the audit would show secret bailouts to Wall Street. We know they gave Wall Street $700 billion with the TARP money. But Grayson thinks there could be hundreds of billions more dolled out in secret.
Joining me now who has been really going after this for many years, Texas congressman and former presidential candidate, Ron Paul.
You and I are on the same page on this one, so no shouting tonight, Ron.
REP. RON PAUL ®, TEXAS: That will be boring then, Ed. That‘ll be boring.
SCHULTZ: Oh, no, no, no. We‘re not boring. We don‘t like that. OK, do you agree with Congressman Grayson? And I know he‘s worked with you on this. Do you believe that there have been, quote, “secret bailouts”?
PAUL: I think so. But the trouble is, we can‘t prove it. But yes, I suspect there is, because they doubled their balance sheet and where did—how did they do that? What did they buy? On their balance sheet, we still see that there‘s $800 billion worth of mortgage securities they bought. That‘s the derivatives.
And they call them illiquid, that they were worthless. And yet we don‘t know whom they bought them from and how much they paid for them. So it literally could be in the trillions of dollars for all we know. But Bernanke said it was unpopular? Well, I think transparency in the Fed right now is getting to be very popular.
At least the congressmen now are getting the message and we have 313 co-sponsors of that. So I think he‘s wrong in saying this is not a popular position. It‘s unpopular with him. That‘s for sure.
SCHULTZ: Congressman Paul, when are you going to ask the White House for support on this? How about directly asking the president of the United States how do you feel about auditing the Fed?
PAUL: Well, I thought you had more friends over there at the White House than I have.
SCHULTZ: Not recently . But.
PAUL: Maybe I‘ll ask Alan to do that. Grayson probably has some friends over there.
SCHULTZ: But doesn‘t that have some merit? I mean if you‘ve got 313 people on board in the House who want to audit the Fed, it would seem to me that the White House might want to take a stand on this one way or another.
PAUL: Yes, I wish they would but I know where they would come down on it.
PAUL: I would think there‘s less than 1 percent chance that he would support this, even if it overwhelmingly passes the Senate and the House, I believe it would be a veto on this because this is big stuff. I mean—and Bernanke, when you get him going, what he really, really doesn‘t want us to know is all the agreements he makes with other governments.
He can literally go into like treaties with other governments like promise them money. They get involved in business transactions with companies. They can get involved in other central banks.
SCHULTZ: Well, you‘re not.
SCHULTZ: Congressman, you‘re not describing the president—or you‘re not describing the United States of America when you say that. You mean to tell me that you think the Fed chair is going out and doing deals and putting us in a box without the Congress weighing in on any of this stuff?
PAUL: Yes, I think we‘ve been very derelict in our duty. But I would have argued with many who argued in 1913, you know, they agitated throughout our whole history, I mean, from the time of Jefferson and—back in—
Jefferson and Hamilton argued this.
But yes, I would have argued it was unconstitutional to create it. And then the Congress creates it then they neglect it. But finally we‘re getting their attention because people are looking at the right place for the source of the problem that‘s at the Fed, they create the bubbles, they create the bursting of the bubbles, they allow that to happen.
They cause the unemployment. They‘re responsible for the unemployment. So anybody who cares about poor people and the middle class should be very much concerned about the monetary issue and the Federal Reserve.
SCHULTZ: And I want to give you a chance in a different subject to go on the record tonight, Congressman. Afghanistan. The president‘s decision the other night. I know you‘re against international intervention. Where do you stand on this?
PAUL: Oh, I think it‘s just terrible. You know, we had hearings on this yesterday, and Hillary Clinton was there, and secretary of defense.
SCHULTZ: You‘re not impressed?
PAUL: And I asked them, I said are you in support of the Bush doctrine of preventative war? And they really didn‘t give me a straight answer. I think they do support Bush‘s doctrine on preventative war which I consider one of the most egregious policy changes in our history and I believe that principle is going to be used to expand the war into Pakistan.
They talk about Pakistan right now.
PAUL: So I think it‘s very, very dangerous. I think the principle here is the idea that we have this right—moral right and constitutional right to just assume that some day somebody might be our enemies that we have an obligation to invade them and occupy them.
That spells nothing but trouble for us in the political.
PAUL: In the international and political sense. But it contributes to this deficit.
SCHULTZ: No doubt.
PAUL: I mean that‘s where our money is going, so there‘s a lot to be said about the deficit, the Federal Reserve and these unwise wars that we pursue.
SCHULTZ: Got to run, Congressman. Appreciate your time tonight. Thanks so much.
PAUL: Thank you.
SCHULTZ: Ron Paul from Texas here on THE ED SHOW.
Coming up, tea party senator, Jim DeMint, needs a serious attitude adjustment. I‘ll give him one on “Psycho Talk.” Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: And in “Psycho Talk” tonight, Senator Jim DeMint, South Carolina revealed he‘s a little bit jealous of his fellow congressional member down there, Joe Wilson. Now you remember Joe. He‘s that idiot who thought it was appropriate to heckle the president while he was addressing the joint session of the Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The reforms I‘m proposing would not apply to those here illegally.
REP. JOE WILSON ®, SOUTH CAROLINA: You lie!
OBAMA: It‘s not true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Yes. What a Republican highlight, classic act. But now, you see, at first, DeMint was worried that his buddy would really be in trouble politically. But that concern turned to envy when he saw how much campaign cash that old Joe was racking up.
DeMint was talking to a group of tea partiers last night and he had this to say about the whole deal. Quote, “When I heard this “you lie” comment, the president turned and looked at me and I said, oh no. They think it‘s me. But a couple of days later, after he raised a few million dollars off it, I was thinking, why didn‘t I say that?”
So it‘s OK to be completely disrespectful to the president of the United States as long as you can raise money off it? Well, maybe that stuff works in South Carolina, but I think most Americans would quickly put that in “Psycho Talk.”
Coming up, John McCain has found a new warpath. He‘s targeting vulnerable Democrats on health care. And I want to know why no one has the guts to stand up to him. I‘ll get into that with Senator Arlen Specter in just a moment.
Plus, the Tiger soap opera is getting crazier by the minute. Gloria Allred is backing away from the cameras. How often does that happen? Tiger is said to be renegotiating the prenup. I bet this guy, all he wants to do right now is play golf. You know what I mean? All right, we‘ll touch on that. There are so many legal issues. Dan Abrams is going to be joining me later. We‘ll talk about it in the playbook. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Now, I have been accused by some in the Senate of being too hard on the Democrats. I reject that. I‘ve fought for health care as much as anybody, anywhere. But I‘m not going to stand up and cheer, with a cheerleader‘s outfit on, to a handful of Democratic traitors when they‘re out there gutting this bill, when it comes to the public option. Yes, I‘m talking about Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln and Joe Lieberman. They‘re out of step with the country. The polls show that. And they‘re out of step with their constituents.
But no one in the Senate is calling them out on it. Last night on this program, I did with Senator Barbara Boxer and she got after me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: I listened to your—how could I say—tirade or your frustrations spilling over. And I don‘t agree with you that the Democrats are the worst enemy of the president on health care. I really have to say, I don‘t agree with you.
SCHULTZ: Respectfully, progressives in this were told in this country 60 votes. Progressives in this country were told we were going to have real reform if we could just get the majorities and the White House. Now, progressives in this country have done this.
What have we done now? We‘ve seen single payer taken off the table. We‘ve gone from a robust, to an opt-in, to an opt-out, to a trigger, to a hammer. Mark my words, you can‘t trust Ben Nelson. You can‘t trust Blanche Lincoln. The Democrats, in my opinion, are causing the problems in all of this.
BOXER: You‘re too hard on us. You‘re too hard on us. You ought to look at the other side.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: OK. In the meantime, let‘s look at the other side. The Republicans are on the offensive. With who? John McCain, cutting robocalls aimed at independent voters in Arkansas and Nebraska, where they‘re vulnerable. McCain got creamed by Obama, at least I thought he did, who campaigned on health care reform. Will Lincoln and Nelson really stand with the president? Or are they going to stand with John McCain and use him as back up in their own backyard trying to get reelected. They might consider it a badge of honer if they go down that road and can kill health care reform.
Let‘s go to Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter, who told me on this program about a month ago that he was for a strong public option. Those are words I would love to hear tonight. Senator, great to have you with us.
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Thank you, Ed. I continue to be for a strong public option. You‘ve raised so many issues in the last couple of minutes that I‘ve heard standing here waiting for my turn. And I‘m told I have four minutes on this segment. There‘s a lot to respond to.
Let me start at the beginning. We‘re working on a health care bill. And the people whom you have identified have views of their own, and they‘re entitled to their views. But we‘re trying to work it out. And I believe we will end up with a public option.
Can I guarantee that? No, I can‘t.
Now, you have what Senator McCain has done, and is trying to take credit for it, on his campaign for re-election. And let him do whatever he chooses to do. But the cold fact is that the AARP, the most prominent spokesman for the senior citizens, rejected John McCain‘s amendment. He makes the contention that 500 billion dollars is being cut from Medicare benefits, and it simply is not true. There are projected savings on Medicare to maintain this financial stability, but those savings are on over-payments by insurance companies, on programs which have not worked. And the AARP has flatly said Senator McCain is wrong. And they‘re the best objective viewer that you can look to as to what the facts are.
SCHULTZ: How about the fight back on this, Senator Specter? I appreciate your position on this. Do you think the Democrats should do robocalls in states where maybe we can get a Republican on the public option?
SPECTER: Well, it‘s a free country. Robocalls are permitted. Let them do whatever they choose to do.
SCHULTZ: Would you do one?
SPECTER: It depended on the circumstance. If I thought I was being unfairly attacked by a robocall—it‘s lawful. It‘s done. I prefer to be on your show, Ed.
SCHULTZ: I like that.
SPECTER: Where people see me, and you have an opportunity to question me. People are accustomed to robocalls. This is not exactly something that‘s new. So when people hear this voice on there, they‘re forewarned. The American public is pretty smart, Ed. Talk television is doing a great deal to bring the facts to them, when you invite me on, of course, that is.
SCHULTZ: No doubt about it. Senator, I‘ll be the bad cop in this. I think we got to push all Democrats to a public option. And I have to say I have no confidence in Ben Nelson or Blanche Lincoln or Joe Lieberman. I don‘t know how you‘re going to get a public option—and this is heresy for me to say this, because I‘m going against my own philosophy. I know what the American people want. How are you going to get this done? You‘re working on it. But how are you going to get it done?
SPECTER: I‘m working on it by persuasion. I talked to Senator Lieberman today. I talked to Senator Blanche Lincoln today. We had a meeting of a number of Democratic senators this afternoon. We were briefed on Afghanistan by the national security adviser. And then at 5:30, late this afternoon, a group of Democrats sat down to try to find an answer to keep a public option.
SCHULTZ: Senator, great to have you with us. I appreciate your time. Isn‘t an open microphone just a wonderful thing? I‘ll continue to be the bad cop, okay?
SPECTER: I think you advertise as the bad cop, but you‘re a pretty good guy, Ed. Thank you.
SCHULTZ: All right, senator. Thank you. I want that public option.
The country wants it. Thank you. Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.
Look, I don‘t understand why there are some Democrats out there who think that public option is such a hard sell. A new poll shows that 60 percent of the people support a government-run health care plan. That includes 86 percent of Democrats, 57 percent of independents, and a third of Republicans. The people want the option. They want to be able to go into some kind of government plan to compete with the private sector.
For more on this, let‘s bring in Brent Budowsky, who has also been a warrior on the Hill and columnist for “The Hill,” and former congressional aide. Tell me, Brent, where are we at at this hour? And does this poll mean anything? There‘s a lot of them out there.
BRENT BUDOWSKY, “THE HILL”: Well, nobody ever asked me to do a robocall, Ed, but if anybody does, I‘ll be glad to do it, number one.
Number two, we‘re fighting the fight of our lives right now. It‘s a big deal. There are major attempts, including by some of our friends in the White House, including Lieberman and the usual suspects, to water down the public option or eliminate it one more time. When we have a poll that shows that 60 percent of the American people support the public option; 57 percent of political independents support the public option; and even 33 percent of Republicans --
SCHULTZ: so why is this so tough for the Democrats to belly up to the bar and buy?
BUDOWSKY: It‘s called campaign money from the insurance industry. Here is what I would suggest progressives do: if they try to water down the public option anymore, it costs the deficit money. It hurts the economy. Because our proposal for a public option lowers the deficit. Their proposal to eliminate or cut it back raises it.
Why don‘t we take the money that we would save on the deficit and give it to wounded troops, homeless veterans, post traumatic stress. And let‘s let Senator Lieberman and Nelson and the others make a decision, do they want to have a lower priced public option that helps consumers, and use the money to help heroes serving our country, or would they rather eliminate the public option and help the insurance companies. Because, Ed, what this is all about, in the bottom line, this is about money from the insurance companies.
SCHULTZ: No question about it. It‘s still there. And I don‘t trust the Democrats. And I think they are the problem. There‘s a handful of them that are going to screw this thing up, all the way down to the end. We got to keep on them and ask the progressive movement in this country to keep the pressure on. Brent, thanks so much. Brent Budowsky of “the Hill,” he writes some great stuff.
For more, let‘s bring in our panel tonight, Joe Madison, XM radio talk show host, and Earnest Istook, former congressman out of Oklahoma, distinguished fellow at the Heritage Foundation. OK, Ernie, I got a new poll for you here. What do you think about that, buddy?
EARNEST ISTOOK, FMR. CONGRESSMAN: If you look at what Reuters did, they just asked people do you believe in a public option? That was it. And that means different things to different people.
SCHULTZ: That pretty much cuts to the chase, doesn‘t it?
ISTOOK: No. That means different things to different people. It was a very strange wording. But the point is still if you look at what the Congressional Budget Office reports, they say that insurance coverage through this government-sponsored entity would cost more than if you bought it through private health insurance companies. That‘s not exactly what America is looking for.
SCHULTZ: What do you think, Joe?
JOE MADISON, XM RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: What is so difficult to understand about a question that says, do you support public option? It‘s not strange language. It‘s very clear. As my grandfather used to say, it‘s putting it where the goats can get it. That‘s why the American people get it.
The reality is, we keep talking about insurance that people can afford. We forget there are literally millions, tens of millions of people out here who can‘t afford any insurance. And that‘s what this addresses.
SCHULTZ: Joe, let me ask you, is it the Democrats that are having all the problems on this, watering it down? Heck, the Republicans have been against it from day one.
MADISON: And the Democrats that you‘re talking about are allowing those Republicans to just sit back and not really have to do anything, because those three are doing the work. You‘re not being difficult on the Democrats. I heard that interview with Senator Boxer. And the reality is, look, they‘re not the worst enemy. I understand, I think, what she was trying to say. But they clearly are a problem. And they‘ve got to be—somebody has to take them to the wood shed, as they used to say, and let them know that, look, you‘re going to undo us because the reality is, if the Democrats fail on this, then you‘re going to see a sea change after this election.
SCHULTZ: They can‘t fail on it. I agree with you 100 percent. Ernie, finally, I want you to know that Ben Nelson is your best friend when it comes to defeating the public option, because now he‘s talking about bringing up an amendment that would parallel that of the Stupak amendment over on the House side. That, of course, is going to put him at odds with Barbara Boxer, who thinks that the Democrats are going to be able to work through this.
So Ernie, this is a point where you don‘t have to say anything on this.
ISTOOK: Do you expect me to sit here and be quiet? Why am I here then? Quick thing on the public option; government has been taking over car companies, been taking over banks—it takes over health insurance, life insurance is next.
SCHULTZ: Those are loans, Earnest.
ISTOOK: Sure. But what you were talking about on the Stupak amendment, remember, if you read it, the Stupak amendment just parallels current law. It‘s the same law that‘s already in place for government sponsored health insurance for federal employees. It‘s the same law already in place for federal coverage for—
SCHULTZ: Got to run, fellows. Thanks for joining us.
Coming up, after promising to be the most transparent White House in history, the administration lets its social secretary dodge the Congressional hearing on the party crashers? Come on! We got to talk about that. The crashers were no shows as well. We‘ll get to that at the bottom, coming up here in our playbook. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: In my playbook tonight, today, the Homeland Security Committee starting hearings on how this DC couple got into the White House at the dinner last week, the state dinner. Administration official says it was a separation of powers issues, as to why their witness from the White House didn‘t have to show up in front of that today. For more on that, let‘s bring in Dan Abrams, NBC News chief legal analyst.
Everybody is dodging all the fun on Capitol Hill. Can they get away with this?
DAN ABRAMS, NBC NEWS CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: You know, probably. I don‘t think they‘ll be able to force her to testify. I‘m curious—I saw in your tease before. You were sort of suggesting you wanted to hear from her. What can she really add? They‘re now changing the whole policy, which is now there‘s going to be a social secretary posted with the Secret Service. What? The Secret Service can‘t read lists? What is that person going to add?
They weren‘t invited. They weren‘t on the list. What would a social secretary have been able to add to the Secret Service, apart from the fact that they‘re not here?
SCHULTZ: So what—what could happen to this couple through the legal process?
ABRAMS: Well, first of all, they could get subpoenaed to testify in front of this House committee. That‘s not the worst of their concerns.
The question is whether they will be charged with any crime down the road. And I think, based on the e-mail exchange that occurred, they‘re kind of admitting that they treated this like it was a party at the opening of a store, right? They just decided to kind of show up, and see if they could get in, which of course is absurd when you‘re talking about the White House.
But that‘s not a crime. So if that‘s what‘s going through their heads, and that‘s what their e-mails say—basically, they went there, figured, you never know, maybe there are extra seats at the White House. Stupidity is not a crime. So they show up. If they didn‘t lie to the Secret Service, if they didn‘t change their names, then I don‘t think they can be charged with a federal crime.
You can try on trespassing, except, again, that generally means that someone was there, they were asked to leave and they didn‘t when it comes to the federal crime. So I think it will be tough if they didn‘t tell any lies. But there‘s going to be that ambiguity as to what does a lie mean. Meaning, if they said yes, we were invited, that may be a lie because there‘s nothing in that email that says you‘re in.
SCHULTZ: Dan, quickly, let‘s talk Tiger Woods. Gloria Allred is not known for canceling press conferences. She, of course, represents one of the alleged mistresses. Could we assume some checks are being written on this deal?
ABRAMS: We can assume that there‘s been what they‘re calling unforeseen circumstances. The bottom line is, to me, that means something wasn‘t told to Gloria Allred, meaning that her client didn‘t tell her the truth and the whole truth, and some things have changed since that original press conference was going to happen. So while this may be good for the woman, it‘s bad for Gloria Allred.
SCHULTZ: Here‘s Jesper Parnevik on the whole situation. He‘s a professional golfer who actually set Tiger Woods up with less wife.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JESPER PARNEVIK, PGA GOLFER: I kind of feel sorry for her, since me and my wife are at fault hooking her up with him. And we probably thought he was a better guy than he is. I will apologize to her, and hope she uses a driver the next time, rather than a three iron, I would say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: OK. I think both of them would hurt. How does Tiger mop this up and go play golf and get it behind him?
ABRAMS: Now, that the criminal side of it is gone, this helps him enormously. Meaning, if they were still investigating him or his wife for a possibly crime, you have to be very,very careful about saying anything. Now that the authorities have said we‘re done, it does becomes a purely personal matter. But when you‘re a high profile figure like Tiger Woods, as you well know, nothing is purely private, meaning their sponsorships, endorsements.
I think he is going to be able to overcome this. I don‘t know if he‘s going to say anything else. I knew he had to say something beyond his first statement. He did that. He‘s now effectively admitting that he did some things that he regrets. I don‘t know that he has is going to have to talk more than that.
SCHULTZ: Dan Abrams, thanks so much.
ABRAMS: As always, Ed, appreciate it.
SCHULTZ: You bet. Coming up in the main event, I‘m breaking from progressives on Afghanistan. Our next guest, Pat Buchanan. Can‘t wait to hear what he has to say about that. That‘s next.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. A new poll shows that after President Obama‘s announcement that we‘re going into Afghanistan with more troops—he said that on Tuesday night—a slim majority of Americans, 51 percent support his strategy. I‘m one of those folks. MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan. Pat, did the president do the right thing, in your opinion?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he certainly did the right thing according to General McChrystal, and according to some Republicans, in giving them the 30,000 troops. But at the same time, Ed, he said we‘re going to be drawing down those troops after 18 months, after they get in there. And I think that‘s bad news in Afghanistan, to the government there, and certainly to Pakistan, who are looking at that and saying the Americans are coming in for a while and then going home.
SCHULTZ: Pat, didn‘t he politically set himself up to have to do this after being out on the campaign trail, getting the nomination, and winning the election, saying he was going to draw down in Iraq and beef up -- go after the terrorists in Afghanistan? How could he walk from that?
BUCHANAN: You‘re right, I don‘t think he could. He appointed General McChrystal. He said, this is the necessary war. This is the right war. Iraq was the wrong war. He put in 21,000 troops earlier, and McChrystal says, I need 40,000 more. He couldn‘t have said no. So I think he did what he believes is the right thing.
But Ed, you can take a look at the president. His heart and soul are not in this war. When you say, as he did up there at West Point, the security of the world, the security of NATO, the security of the United States are involved here, our vital national interests, the safety of the people, and then you say, OK, I‘m going to give 30,000 troops for 18 months, it doesn‘t parse. I agree with you politically, he did what he had to do. But in terms of policy, it is hard for me or anyone to believe that in 18 months, when we‘ve topped out and start down, that the Afghans are going to be able to defeat a Taliban resistance that 100,000 NATO troops haven‘t been able to defeat.
SCHULTZ: McChrystal has gone along with the deadline. We have never had a military commander in charge, in that theater, say I can get it done in 18 months; you give me these guys, we‘ll get it done. This changes a lot of stuff. If we can‘t get it done in 18 months, it really says a lot. But if we can—we beat them in, what, eight weeks when we had that big surge back in 2001, and then we underfunded it and we under-resourced it. Why wouldn‘t it be successful this time?
BUCHANAN: Because you‘re not overthrowing a government. You‘re fighting a guerrilla army, which is all over the country, which has grown in strength for eight years. You need something like a 10 to one ratio. McChrystal‘s got a lot of confidence. He‘s a great soldier, Ed. But I‘m telling you, when you get to July of 2011, he‘s going to say, you can‘t start drawing them out. We need more time.
SCHULTZ: So did Obama put his presidency on the line with this decision?
BUCHANAN: He did put his presidency on the line. And there‘s going to come a day in July of 2011 when he‘s going to have to make a decision. I‘m sorry, I can‘t start pulling them out or maybe we need more. Or he‘s going to start pulling them out, and I think put at risk what he calls the security of the world. So he‘s going to have a hellish decision coming up in mid 2011.
SCHULTZ: We‘ll have a lot to talk about, my friend. Thanks, Pat.
Appreciate your time.
Tonight, I asked the folks what do you think, has President Obama done enough to create jobs? Twenty percent of you watching Said yes; 80 percent said no.
That‘s THE ED SHOW. For more information on THE ED SHOW, go to Ed.MSNBC.com or our radio website at WeGotEd.com. HARDBALL with Chris Matthews is next on MSNBC. We‘ll see you tomorrow night.
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