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'The Ed Show' for Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

Guests: Bernie Sanders, Arlene Holt Baker, Jonathan Alter, Robert Reich, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Sam Stein, John Feehery, Rep. Peter Defazio

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

Lots going on at this hour.  Senators are behind closed doors trying to meet a deadline for health care reform. 

Just moments ago, the Senate voted 54-45 to table the Nelson/Hatch abortion amendment.  That‘s been under review.  This kills all hope of further discussion of this amendment. 

We‘ll have more on this in a moment. 

Also tonight, we have the latest on the death of the public option, because that‘s what it is.  And the Democrats are just furious about it, those who are fighting for it. 

There‘s been talk of the Senate bill getting ping-ponged to the president‘s desk.  That means the House would vote on whatever watered-down nonsense comes out of the Senate.  Then the president would sign it without any changes.  But, of course, progressives aren‘t taking this sitting down tonight. 

Congressman John Conyers accused President Obama of bowing down to nutty right-wing health care proposals.  And the president of the United States apparently called the congressman.  I guess you could say the president‘s got a case of rabbit ears, or maybe he‘s getting thin-skinned in the middle of all this. 

Conyers said the president called him up and said, “Why are you demeaning me?” Whatever that means. 

Another hero, another flash in the Senate that‘s going back and forth, is coming from Senator Jay Rockefeller.  Now, usually in the Senate we get all this fraternal talk about how they love one another and how well they work together.  Well, Senator Rockefeller of West Virginia let something slip out last night that I think was pretty bold and to the truth. 

He questioned whether his North Dakota colleague, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Kent Conrad, has the best interests of the nation at heart.  Rockefeller said, and I quote, “It‘s always about North Dakota and it‘s never about any other part of the country.  And I thought that, you know, that‘s what we‘re trying to do.  We‘re trying to do the best thing for the country.” 

Of course Conrad has been against the public option because of Medicare reimbursement rates.  It just goes to show how intense all of this is getting in the final hour. 

Now, I want to know what you think about all of this tonight, folks.  We‘re doing a telephone survey.  A telephone survey.  Get ready to dial: 1-877-ED-MSNBC. 

My question tonight for you is this: When it comes to health care reform, have you lost confidence in President Obama?  Press 1 for yes, press 2 for no. 

Again, the number is 1-877-ED-MSNBC.  I‘ll bring you the results later on in the program. 

Joining me now is Independent Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders. 

The 10 senators are locked behind closed doors tonight trying to hammer out this public option.  And Senator Sanders is kind enough to join us tonight. 

Senator, first I want to talk about this Nelson/Hatch amendment that went down in defeat and it‘s been tabled.  Explain to our audience tonight just what that means. 

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT:  Well, it means it‘s dead.  And it means that we have done the right thing by millions of women in this country who have fought off right-wing Republican attempts to limit their freedom of choice with regard to abortion, and we said that with Democrats controlling the White House, the House and the Senate, we‘re not going to let that happen to them.  It is a good step forward. 

SCHULTZ:  Is this public option still a public option, ,in your opinion?  What they‘re talking about that‘s going to be run by the Office of Personnel Management would be somewhat of a co-op that would work into the private sector...

SANDERS:  Ed, Ed, Ed—Ed, it‘s more complicated than that.  That‘s only one small part of what people are talking about.  And what people are talking about is still in flux. 

Let me be very clear. 


SANDERS:  I have said, and let me repeat, my vote on this overall legislation is not yet certain.  This is not a particularly strong bill. 

I believe that the only way you‘re going to provide universal, comprehensive, cost-effective care to all Americans is through a single-payer Medicare for all.  This is far from that.  This is not a great bill. 

Now, if we do not have a strong public option giving people the choice to choose a public plan, versus a private plan, if we don‘t have competition with the private plans to control escalating premiums in this country, that ain‘t a strong bill.  That‘s a pretty weak bill. 

So what‘s going on right now is they‘re looking at a number of different options.  One of them, which does make sense to me, is a Medicare opt-in. 

If you‘re 55 years of age or older, you will be able to get a Medicare premium-based plan.  That‘s pretty good. 

There are other provisions that we‘re looking at, giving states options to rate stronger pieces of overall health care legislation.  So you‘ve got a situation in flux. 

SCHULTZ:  So would you go along with that?  Would you go along with—would you go along with the Medicare opt-in, 55-plus, and then also go ahead and take the co-op for younger people in this country to get health care insurance?  Would you go along with that? 

SANDERS:  Can‘t give you that answer because you don‘t have anything firmly in front of us.  But what I have said and repeat again, I am not going to be voting for this bill unless we have in one way or another a strong public option that represents the needs of working Americans. 

SCHULTZ:  Where do you think this leaves Ben Nelson‘s vote?  He has threatened to not vote for it now that his amendment has gone down. 

SANDERS:  Well, that‘s fine.  And I‘m threatening not to vote for it if it‘s a weak bill.  So that‘s what Harry Reid is paid to figure out. 

Look, at the end of the day, I believe that the United States has got to join the rest of the industrialized world and not be the only country guaranteeing health care to all of our people.  On the other hand, if this bill simply becomes a bonanza to private insurance companies and drug companies, who now have the mandate forcing people to get health insurance with no cost containment, you know what?  That may not be in the best interest of the American people. 

So you‘ve got a situation which is really in flux right now.  And some of us are fighting to make sure that this bill is worth supporting. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator Sanders, thanks for the update tonight on Capitol Hill.  I really appreciate it.  Keep fighting for us. 

SANDERS:  Thank you, Ed.  Thank you.

SCHULTZ:  Another group that‘s upset about the sorry state of this health care bill is organized labor.  The AFL-CIO is mounting the biggest assault on Capitol Hill since the health care debate started. 

They‘re sending 175 labor leaders to the Hill, spending almost $2 million to jam the House and the Senate.  You see, union folks aren‘t real happy.  And they have a right to be a little upset. 

They put aside the Employee Free Choice Act for the president of the United States.  You see, they had a meeting with the president back this spring, and the president said, what do you say we just get this health care thing done and you guys hold on to this other issue? 

Well, now he‘s given up on a public option, it seems.  He never mentioned it on Sunday. 

Barack Obama, is he the same guy that ran for office?  The union folk are questioning that tonight.  Has he been Washingtonized?  After the unions put boots on the ground in 2008 in the way that was unprecedented, it looks like a slap in the face by the president on health care to the unions of this country. 

For more, let‘s bring in the executive vice president of the AFL-CIO, and that is Arlene Holt.

Ms. Holt, good to have you on tonight. 


Good to be with you. 

SCHULTZ:  I think you could call this a labor surge on Capitol Hill that you didn‘t anticipate you were going to have to make. 

Tell us about it. 

BAKER:  Well, listen, Ed, we always know we have to fight for what‘s right for not only workers in this country, but all Americans.  And we are geared up and ready for this fight. 

We‘ve made it very, very clear that we believe the strongest health care bill is one that has a public option, one that makes sure that employers pay their fair share, and one that doesn‘t tax workers.  So, bringing in 175 workers and labor leaders from around the country tomorrow is just a part of what we‘ve been doing out there in the field. 

Let‘s be perfectly clear -- 11.5 million members is what we have, and 70 percent of them tell us that a public option, a strong public option, is what they want.  Now, we‘re going to hold the president accountable for that, and the House.

SCHULTZ:  What‘s that mean, you‘re going to hold him accountable? 

BAKER:  We‘re going to do everything we can to impress upon Congress and the president this is what constituents are saying.  This is what members are saying of our organization—strong public option.  Make no doubt about it, we‘re very clear on this and we‘re going to fight for what we think is right, for the strongest parts in that bill. 

SCHULTZ:  Arlene Holt Baker, it doesn‘t look like there is going to be a strong public option.  So where does that leave organized labor with the Democrats? 

BAKER:  Well, again, 60 percent—more than 60 percent of our members, and, quite frankly, more than 55 percent of the American public say that in 2010, they aren‘t likely to vote for a Democrat if they do not pass a strong health care reform bill.  We‘re not giving up hope.  And as I said, we are going to continue to fight to make sure that this bill is strong. 

Those same boots that we put on the ground to make sure that we had a Congress and a president that said that they support the working family agenda and health care reform as a part of that agenda, those same boots on the ground are going to do everything they can to make sure that they hear us.  And...

SCHULTZ:  Will you work against candidates?  Will you work to get Democrats out that don‘t side with you this time around, after the ‘06 and ‘08 elections and all the resources that you put into it?  I mean, is this a big enough issue where unions would turn on Democrats and work against them to get more progressive people in office? 

BAKER:  Well, Ed, we hope that they are enlightened and we hope that they understand that they need to be enlightened and do the right thing here.  Our members will not be satisfied—and I will repeat, our members will not be satisfied if we do not have a health care reform bill that has a strong public option, one that does not tax workers, and one that does not have strong employer mandates in it.  So we‘ve been very clear on the three points that we think are necessary, and we will continue to stand our ground there. 

SCHULTZ:  Arlene, good to have you with us tonight.  I think the Democrats are going to be making a serious political miscalculation if they don‘t listen to labor. 

BAKER:  Well, Ed, let me just add something here.  In the beginning of the program you said we had set aside the Employee Free Choice Act for health care.

SCHULTZ:  Well, you did.

BAKER:  Again, listen, we have not set aside the Employee Free Choice.  We‘re going to be fighting hard for the Employee Free Choice, and we‘re going to hold the president to his word when he says that workers having unions is part of the solution, not the problem.

SCHULTZ:  It is, but at the time there was a meeting, previously, this spring, and the president did ask organized labor, let‘s put this aside for a little while.  We‘re still going to try to get it done, but we‘ve got to get this health care thing done. 

BAKER:  Health care, jobs and the Employee Free Choice is our priority agenda in the house of working people. 

SCHULTZ:  Arlene, good to have you on. 

BAKER:  Thank you, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  You bet.

Now, we‘re down to the wire, folks, on the public option and the final details of this health care reform.  They‘re behind closed doors at this moment. 

I just can‘t get it through my head that the president of the United States went to Congress on Sunday and he never mentioned anything about the public option.  I don‘t think the president has been clear in this critical hour of decision on the public option.  But I find his e-mail campaign to raise money today very interesting. 

It reads, “As we head into the final stretch of the health care reform, big insurance company lobbyists and their partisan allies hope that their relentless attacks and the millions of dollars can intimidate us into accepting the status quo.  So I have a message for them, from all of us:

Not this time.  We‘ve come too far.  We will not turn back.  We will not back down.”

“But do not doubt—the opponents of reform will not rest.  So I need you, the members of Organizing for America, to fight alongside me.”

Now that‘s an e-mail that the president sent out to his supporters today. 

Let me get this straight.  You want us to send in more money, Mr.  President, so you can fight for reform.  I don‘t see what you‘re fighting for. 

You already surrendered on the public option.  There was never a line in the sand, and your administration has allowed a handful of conservative Democrats to shape health care reform for millions of Americans.  But yet, we‘ve got to give more to the campaign so we can fight reform. 

This is the moment of truth for the Democratic Party.  This is the moment of truth for progressives.  It‘s part of the party platform, universal health care, which was never on the table.  Single payer was never there.  And so now we‘re down to this watered-down public—whatever the hell it is—option. 

Maybe I‘m wrong, but I know one thing.  I speak for millions of Americans who listen to my radio show and who have called me for months on end saying it‘s this. 

And now you‘ve got the unions on Capitol Hill saying, this is what we want.  I need to know, who‘s listening to labor in this country? 

Let me bring in Jonathan Alter, senior editor and columnist at “Newsweek” magazine. 

What are we seeing unfolding here, Jonathan, tonight?  Are we seeing just total compromise and the White House and the Democrats are going to be the political pragmatists here and take whatever they can get? 

JONATHAN ALTER, SR. EDITOR, “NEWSWEEK”:  Yes, that‘s about it.  But what they can get ain‘t bad, Ed.  And I think you‘re misrepresenting the totality of the bill. 

Look, I am strongly for a public option, but it doesn‘t look like it is in the cards.  That‘s the nature of politics.  You have to deal with the world as it is, not as we would like it to be. 

This is sausage-making time.  That‘s what they compare passing legislation to.  Nowadays, we get a camera right into the sausage factory.  We‘re seeing it unfold.  It has never been a pretty process. 

When Social Security went through, the liberals were so angry at Franklin Roosevelt because less than half of senior citizens were going to be eligible for Social Security.  They said Roosevelt‘s a sellout.  How could he do this? 

Roosevelt understood that politics is the art of the possible.  The same thing is true on this bill, Ed. 

It‘s a 2,000-page bill.  Republicans have been complaining about that. 

In that 2,000 pages is a tremendous amount of fantastically important stuff

·         ending discrimination against sick people, which has Harry Reid quite rightly says, is a civil rights issue of the first order; insuring more than 30 million additional Americans; adding all kind of preventive care. 

We don‘t have time on this broadcast to list all of the important things that are in this bill. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, that‘s why I...

ALTER:  Because you‘re making it sound...

SCHULTZ:  Now, now, wait a minute now. 

ALTER:  You‘re making it sound like the whole bill is the public option.  That‘s preposterous, Ed.  Preposterous. 

SCHULTZ:  No, wait a second here.  No, this is why I didn‘t interrupt you, because I let you go and tell me what‘s so good about it. 

Just so I‘m not misrepresenting the sausage-making here, this is nothing but a handout to the insurance industry...

ALTER:  Oh, please.  That‘s preposterous. 

SCHULTZ:  No, it is not preposterous.  It is not preposterous.

What you‘ve got is tax dollars that are going to be subsidizing lower-income people, they‘re going to be mandated to go over to the insurance industry and purchase insurance.  If there is going to be 40 million new customers, Jonathan, 40 million new customers to the insurance industry, why the heck wouldn‘t they take that on? 

They love it.  It‘s new customers.   

ALTER:  Well, that‘s how they got the buy-in from the...


SCHULTZ:  There is—my friend, there is no mechanism in place...

ALTER:  That‘s why at a minimum—and this is what they‘re behind closed doors talking about.  They‘re talking about—now, I don‘t favor a trigger.  I‘m for a public option.  But just to explain what it is...

SCHULTZ:  I know what it is and our audience knows what it is.  It‘s a watered-down—there is no mechanism in place. 

ALTER:  Well, we don‘t mow what the trigger is yet. 


SCHULTZ:  Jonathan, there is no mechanism in place on the table that is going to give private industry any competition to force down rates.  That‘s the way it is. 

ALTER:  Well, that‘s not true. 

SCHULTZ:  It is true!

ALTER:  No, there‘s a lot of insurance regulation that‘s in the bill. 

SCHULTZ:  Jonathan, don‘t tell me I don‘t know what I‘m talking about. 

It is true.

ALTER:  There‘s a lot of insurance regulation in the bill, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  OK.  Well, we will continue this discussion.  I‘m up against the clock, as you well know. 

I appreciate your opinion, but this sausage-making is not being misrepresented on this program.  I can guarantee you that. 

ALTER:  Got to take the world as it is.

SCHULTZ:  No, no, no.


ALTER:  Voting against the bill would be historic...

SCHULTZ:  You need to fight politically for what‘s right for the people. 

ALTER:  Yes.   Fight for it, but at the end, don‘t destroy history...


SCHULTZ:  Got to run to a break.  We‘ll be right back with more on THE


Stay with us, folks.  You‘re watching MSNBC.


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

Today President Obama spoke about how he plans to cut into the 10 percent unemployment rate.  He called for more federal spending in three major areas. 


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  ... small business, infrastructure, clean energy.  These are areas in which we can put Americans to work while putting our nation on a sturdier economic footing. 


SCHULTZ:  The president certainly has a big hole to climb out of.  He was dealt this, this unemployment, but his trademark, his oratory skills, showed.  He‘s staying hopeful. 


OBAMA:  These have been a tough two years.  And there will no doubt be difficult months ahead.  But the storms of the past are receding.  The skies are brightening.  And the horizon is beckoning once more. 


SCHULTZ:  Joining me now is former labor secretary and professor at UC Berkeley, Robert Reich. 

Mr. Reich, good to have you on tonight. 


SCHULTZ:  You agree with the president on that, are the skies brightening?  Are things getting better? 

REICH:  I don‘t see much brightening.  The stock market is doing better.  And certainly if you‘re around Wall Street or around some of the biggest corporations in the United States that have a lot of cost-cutting due to cutting their payrolls, things look pretty brighter. 

But most Americans are not seeing much brightness at all.  We‘re still deep in a jobs recession, and that 10 percent unemployment—yes, we went from 10.2 percent to 10 percent over the last two months, but that is nothing to write home about. 

SCHULTZ:  Could you go along with what the president wants to do for small businesses?  He wants to give small businesses more write-offs.  He wants to eliminate the capital gains taxes for small businesses.  And he also wants to free up the TARP money that was going to be used on Wall Street, some $200 billion.

Could you go along with those three things? 

REICH:  Yes, Ed, I think it makes sense to help small businesses because small businesses are where most of the new jobs are going to come from.  Traditionally, that‘s where the new jobs actually emanate from. 

SCHULTZ:  So the president‘s doing the right thing then? 

REICH:  Well, you know, here‘s the big problem.  The 3,000-pound gorilla sitting on the center of this table that‘s not being addressed is that state and local government are now mounting an anti-stimulus program.  They are very, very busily, to the tune of about $350 billion this year and next, they are cutting teachers, they‘re cutting police officers, they‘re cutting firefighters, they‘re cutting social workers, they‘re cutting contractors.  They are raising taxes. 

That‘s $350 billion.  It is a drag on the economy.  So if there is going to be a federal stimulus, it‘s got to at least counteract that $350 million. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, you don‘t sound too optimistic tonight, Mr. Reich.  I mean...

REICH:  Look, Ed, I‘m not a politician.  I am not in the business of happy talk.  I wish I could be more optimistic. 

I think that the president is certainly stepping in the right direction, but it‘s got to be much larger.  I mean, people are really hurting out there. 

The housing crisis is worse than it was before.  One out of four of our children in this country is now dependent on food stamps.  We have not seen anything like this and we have got to actually act in a much bolder way. 

SCHULTZ:  But you do agree that the president has got to do something for the private sector if we‘re going to turn this economy around, and that‘s where jobs are going to be created, in the private sector.  I mean, we can only do so much government infrastructure stuff.  And I do think—and I‘ve said it again and again, that you have got to loosen up the credit markets.  And if they‘ve got $200 billion laying around, if they can get that to small businesses, it would seem to me that in 18 months we‘d be well on our way to recovery. 

REICH:  Yes, Ed, it is the right thing to do.  I wish though that when we bailed out the big banks—one of the reasons we bailed out the big banks was so they would turn around and provide credit to small businesses. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, they didn‘t.  They bought banks. 

REICH:  But actually, nothing like that happened.  We bailed out the big banks, and now we‘re bailing out small businesses. 


Mr. Reich, good have to you with us tonight.  Thank you. 

REICH:  Thanks, Ed.  Good to see you.

SCHULTZ:  Coming up, you might want to sit down for this one, folks.  Orrin Hatch misses the golden years when Bush and Cheney were running the country.  That‘s right, when they were running it into the ground. 

He makes “Psycho Talk” next on THE ED SHOW.

And another twist in the Tiger Woods soap opera.  I‘ve got some advice for the number one golfer on the face of the Earth.  That‘s coming up in my “Playbook.”

Stay with us. 


SCHULTZ:  And in “Psycho Talk” tonight, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah makes the list. 

Now, he was talking to an anchor on the low-rated Fox Business Channel, and she asked him how to fix the country. 


ALEXIS GLICK, FOX BUSINESS CHANNEL:  What are your solutions to jobs, the unemployment situation, rising health care costs, energy costs that are rising, inflation that is still a concern?  How do we solve these issues right now?  Are we trying to do too much too quickly? 

SEN. ORRIN HATCH ®, UTAH:  Number one, I‘d get the arrogance of power by throwing the Democrats out of office and get the control back into conservative Republican hands. 


SCHULTZ:  Let‘s see—energy, the economy, health care—all that stuff.  Just put the Republicans back in. 

His solution is to put the power back in the hands of the Republicans? 

What was the question again? 


GLICK:  What are your solutions to jobs, the unemployment situation, rising health care costs...

GEORGE W. BUSH, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We will strengthen health savings accounts. 

GLICK:  ... energy costs that are rising...

BUSH:  The past 18 months, gas prices have gone up by $1.40 per gallon. 

GOV. SARAH PALIN ®, ALASKA:  The chant is, “Drill baby, drill.”

GLICK:  ... inflation that is still a concern?  How do we solve these issues right now? 

HATCH:  Get the control back into conservative Republican hands. 



SCHULTZ:  Orrin, for to you say that Republicans can solve all those problems, and for you guys to spend eight years screwing the country up, that‘s just plain old “Psycho Talk,” buddy. 

Coming up, Tiger Woods seems to be living in the middle of that soap opera, “General Hospital.”  His mother-in-law was administered advanced life support in the wee hours of the morning and his wife has bought a $2.5 million mansion halfway across the world. 

What‘s happening with that? 

Plus, the leader of Afghanistan wants U.S. troops to be there until 2029?  Congressman Dennis Kucinich, he‘ll tell you the truth when we come back on THE ED SHOW.

Stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Thanks for watching tonight.  Defense Secretary Robert Gates has made a surprise visit to Afghanistan today.  He met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai about President Obama‘s planned troop surge.  But it doesn‘t look like they got on the same page about a date for withdrawal.  Remember?  The president of the United States said that we‘re going to start getting out in July of 2011.  But Karzai‘s time line was a little bit longer.  He said they‘d need American troops for the next two decades. 


HAMID KARZAI, AFGHAN PRESIDENT:  For a number of years, maybe for another 15 to 20 years, Afghanistan will not be able to sustain a force of that nature and capability with its own resources. 


SCHULTZ:  Of course, Gates immediately did some back-pedaling. 


ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY:  We expect that this is a several-year process.  Whether it‘s three years or two years or four years I think remains to be seen.  But as the president—as President Obama has made very clear, this is not an open-ended commitment. 

The president has been very clear that we will begin this process of transitioning in July of 2011. 


SCHULTZ:  But Karzai‘s 15 to 20-year mark was already out there and the American people, they are going to respond to this big-time.  One person responding to it on Capitol Hill is Ohio congressman, former presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.  Congressman, I have to tell you that in THE ED SHOW production room today, that one didn‘t hit the edit floor.  We saw that and said 15 to 20 years?  What do you make of that? 

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO:  Well, maybe one possibility is that Hamid Karzai is planning on Afghanistan becoming the 51st state.  But other than that, I think it is a disaster.  We have an orgy of crime going on in Afghanistan.  It is a narco state.  And we are committing our brave men and women into this situation where they keep sliding the withdrawal date, even after the president spoke last week.  They keep sliding it. 

Look, we have to get out there.  This thing—the more you hear about it, the more is discussed about it, the crazier it gets. 

SCHULTZ:  Is the Congress just going to rubber stamp this?  Is the Congress going to do anything about this?  Are we on our way to Afghanistan? 

KUCINICH:  That would be the biggest rubber-stamp that we‘ve seen on Capitol Hill, because what‘s being proposed here is that we‘ll be sending at least 150 billion dollars a year, at the cost of many lives, to be able to subsidize a criminal undertaking.  Right now, U.S. contractors are paying the Taliban to be able to insure safe shipping of goods to U.S.  troops, which they then will be sustained to fight the Taliban.  The circularity here is stunning.  “The Nation” magazine did an expose on this.  Everything about Afghanistan is a nightmare.

SCHULTZ:  What are you going to do about it?  What can you do about it?

KUCINICH:  Well, tomorrow, I‘m going to be announcing an initiative which will involve re-empowering members of Congress to take a stand on this, take back our power under Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution, which relates to Congress the ability to decide whether a country goes to war or not. 

We really have—as the people‘s representatives, we have to take charge here.  We can‘t leave this to Hamid Karzai to decide if we‘re going to be there 15 to 20 years or, frankly, the president of the United States to decide we‘re going to be there another year to four years, if you listen to Mr. Gates. 

We have to be very decisive about this.  Tomorrow, I‘m going to  offer a path for Congress to do just that. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.  This is General McChrystal, in front of an Armed Services Committee hearing today on Capitol Hill. 

He went on—he did say that he did believe the July 2011 military is a major factor in my strategy, but I believe that the next 18 months are a critical period in this war, because it‘s critical in the minds of the Afghan people. 

Congressman, do you think that Afghanistan is just dysfunctional and it‘s not within our reach?  Or is it just better policy to get out of there and come home?  I mean, the president apparently has bought into what his generals have sold him.  He‘s bought into this.  He believes it will be safer and will be better to defend the country if we‘re in Afghanistan. 

KUCINICH:  There‘s a reason why the Constitution assumes the president will be commander in chief.  That is that he directs the generals.  It shouldn‘t be the other way around, because when it is the other way around, there‘s always the possibility that we lose grip of our policy. 

With all due respect to General McChrystal, he shouldn‘t be the one making the last call on whether or not we stay in Afghanistan. 

SCHULTZ:  What about the American people?  Let me show you this, the American people here—the war in Afghanistan is the right thing to do?  Right now, 57 percent of the American people are OK with this.  Back in November, it was 48 percent.  Also, 66 percent say that President Obama does not deserve the Nobel Peace Prize.  So—which I find rather interesting as well. 

So this is really a situation, Congressman Kucinich, where the president not only is taking advice from the generals and buying into their plan, but the American people seem to be swinging that way too. 

KUCINICH:  The American people want to support the president.  All of

us want to support the president.  But if our president‘s going in a

direction that‘s going to commit us to a long-term presence—and by all

accounts, anything more than a year is going to be long-term in Afghanistan

·         then we have to challenge that.  The people need to know that this isn‘t the president‘s decision alone to make, that the Constitution of the United States empowers Congress to make the decision as to whether or not we go to war and stay in a war. 

So I‘m hopeful that Congress is going to take back this power, and tomorrow I‘m going to describe a path to that.  We all want to support the president.  He‘s a lovely man.  But you know what?  This war is wrong.  We‘ve got to get out of Afghanistan.  We‘ve got to get out of Iraq. 

And frankly, Ed, we better start taking care of things at home.  We are not really dealing with the unemployment problem, with the foreclosure problem, with business failures.  The American economy‘s imploding, and we‘re talking about going to Afghanistan deeper?  What‘s this about? 

SCHULTZ:  For 15 to 20 years?  I‘m not about that.  Congressman, good to have you on tonight.  Thanks so much tonight.

For me—you bet.  Let me bring in our panel tonight.  Political reporter for the “Huffington Post” Sam Stein with us tonight.  And GOP strategist John Feehery is here.  Sam, 15 to 20 years, it would seem to me that the American people might not agree with that.  Is this going to be a problem for the White House, because now there‘s going to be a lot of people thinking, gosh, are they giving us the straight skinny on this? 

SAM STEIN, “THE HUFFINGTON POST”:  Yes, I think there is already a lot of problems surrounding the proposed date for a beginning of transition out of the country.  It‘s been sort of mixed messaging from the administration on this July 2011 deadline. 

You know, the Obama administration clearly found out that they needed to have a date by which they could tell the American public troops will begin coming home.  It is going to be conditions-based, so we‘ll see what happens in June of 2011, I suppose.

But the congressman is right in some respects.  We‘re really throwing a Hail Mary here to expect the Karzai government to be up and ready and running in securing of the country by 2011.  I just—no independent observer really thinks that is going to happen.  So the administration and the military have its tasks cut out for it. 

SCHULTZ:  John Feehery, it would seem to me that the White House would be cringing on that sound bite by Hamid Karzai, because I don‘t think the president could have gotten away with telling the American people that, hey, we‘re going to be there 15 to 20 years. 

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  You know, Ed, I look at different history here.  I think of how long we‘ve  been in Japan, how long we‘ve been in Germany.  If we‘re there for 15 to 20 years, it means that it‘s been a success, because we left the troops in and stabilized the region.  If we‘re out in a year, year and a half, that means we‘ve left because the American people said we‘ve got to pull out immediately, and it will probably be a big failure. 

So I look at it slightly differently.  I don‘t think that we can sustain a hot war in Afghanistan for more than another two years.  I think if that happens, where our troops are in harm‘s way and the situation is completely missed up, then we‘re going to probably pull out by then.  I hope that we are there in 15, 20 years, that we‘ve completely stabilized the region, like we stabilized Japan and Germany.  Remember, after the aftermath of World War II, no one expected us to be in Germany or in Japan for as long as we‘ve been there. 

SCHULTZ:  What about that, Sam?  Maybe this is just another expansion of U.S. military might and security.  Do you think the American people are going to go along with that?

STEIN:  I think we‘re dealing with apples and oranges here.  For one, Afghanistan is, by definition, a failed state.  Previous efforts at making it a firm nation have failed.  I think history‘s a guide to that. 

I think John‘s right; there are distinctions that you have to draw between armed forces.  If—the administration has been very clear that there are going to be personnel in the country well beyond July 2011.  Are they military forces?  That‘s a whole other bag. 

The question is, do we benefit as a country by spending whatever it is, billions of dollars a month, by having a forces stationed overseas, with the possibility that they do more to incite violence against us than to actually quell it?  That‘s what the Obama administration has to figure out. 

SCHULTZ:  Quickly, gentlemen, let‘s go to health care.  Medicare for 55 years of age and older.  John, is that a good compromise in your opinion? 

FEEHERY:  I don‘t really like that as much as the other thing they are talking about, with Office of Personnel Management managing a type of FEHB-type program.  I think that Medicare has some significant problems.  It‘s kind of skewed the marketplace on health care. 

Frankly, if you look at Medicare system, it is ready to go broke.  Adding more people to it will make it even more broke.  I have some significant concerns about that. 

SCHULTZ:  Will be more people paying into it, though.  AFL-CIO is making a labor push on the Hill, Sam Stein.  Is this going to get the message to the people that labor is not happy with what‘s coming down on this?

STEIN:  The AFL-CIO has been at the front of this fight from the very beginning.  I know Alan—Richard Trumka has been out there saying that the public option is, you know, the line in the sand.  More than any other labor institution, I think they‘re been at the forefront. 

In regards to Medicare, I just have to point out, for the past week, we‘ve heard Republicans utterly lament and dog Democrats for the gall of cutting administrative waste from Medicare.  Now that they want to have more people pay premiums into the system, all of a sudden it is a terrible idea.  It is just a politically inconsistent argument. 

SCHULTZ:  Good to have you with us tonight.  You bet.  Coming up, the last time Congressman Peter Defazio was on this show, he lit a wildfire when he called for Treasury Secretary Geithner to step down.  We‘ll see if he‘s got any matches left in his box.  He has some ideas about the economy.  That‘s coming up next on THE ED SHOW.  Stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  In my playbook tonight, the numbers don‘t lie.  American taxpayers, you and I have footed the bill for Wall Streeters to run what they had to do to bring our economy back.  Now some on the Hill are saying it is high time to help out Main Street.  Congressman Peter Defazio of Oregon is introducing new legislation that assesses a small tax on Wall Street security transactions.  The money is going to be used to generate and rebuild Main Street in America. 

The legislation‘s got some powerful support from economists, Wall Street investors, and consumer groups.  Joining us to talk about all of this is Congressman Peter Defazio of Oregon.  What kind of tax are we talking about, congressman?  Good to have you on tonight.  I want you to put it into historical perspective for our audience.  This is something that we had back in the early decades of the 1900s.  What happened?  How did that turn out? 

REP. PETER DEFAZIO (D), OREGON:  Well, Ed, when we built the greatest industrial power that the world has ever seen, particularly post World War II and World War II, we had this tax in place.  It was first enacted in 1916.  When we were in deep trouble in the Great Depression, 1934 --

Congress back then had a lot more guts and there were a lot fewer financial services lobbyists working the Hill.  They doubled the tax.  Wall Street predicted calamity and collapse.  Guess what?  From the day the tax was passed the stock market only went up, because we were rebuilding the real economy. 

They were investing the money that was raised in the WPA and CCC, that built a foundation under the real economy to put Americans back to work.  That‘s how you create wealth on Wall Street, not trickle-down from the top, not showering money on the speculators and the gamblers, but rebuilding that which benefits all the society and makes us a great power. 

So we have experience with it.  We know it works.  It was allowed to expire in 1966.  We want to reinstate it now and split the proceeds, which would be about 150 billion dollars a year, between 75 billion for investment in our crumbling transportation infrastructure, other true job creating activities,  and 75 billion to help pay for some of the debt and deficit that‘s been created by that collapse generated by Wall Street. 

SCHULTZ:  To be very clear, this isn‘t going to hit the average investor.  This is going to be in the multi-trade region.  Correct?  Those who deal in unbelievable—

DEFAZIO:  We exempt the first 100,000 dollars of trades you make a year.  That‘s most average Americans, or not even average Americans.  We exempt retirement accounts, health savings accounts, education accounts.  You don‘t pay when you go into a mutual fund.  So we‘re exempting those who are not involved in high-frequency trading. 

There are a lot of legitimate investors and financiers out there that say this would be a good idea.  This would get some of the fluff, the speculation, all of those dangerous things out of the market, because people are trading a stock 1,000 times a minute, under high volume trading, making a tiny margin.  They wouldn‘t bother to do that and create the volatility and jack up prices. 

SCHULTZ:  Is the White House with you?  Labor is with you.  AFL-CIO is with you. 

DEFAZIO:  Secretary Geithner has taken a dim view of it.  In fact, it was proposed by the prime minister of Great Britain.  By the way, they say all our firms will flee to somewhere else.  Guess what?  In London, they assess a tax that‘s twice what we are proposing, and none of the financial firms have left their cushy palaces in London because of the tax.  Maybe if we pass the tax, they‘ll move to India or some other place that doesn‘t assess the tax.  I don‘t think so.  I don‘t buy that. 

Our tax would follow the trades.  If you‘re a U.S. citizen or U.S.  entity, you have to pay the tax.  You can‘t escape it unless you want to give up your citizenship and move to some third world country. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman, good to have you on tonight.  I hope it passes. 

We could use 150 billion dollars off Wall Street. 

DEFAZIO:  We would put it to good use, put real Americans back to work in the real economy. 

SCHULTZ:  Yes, we would.  Thanks so much.  One final page in my playbook tonight, believe it or not, I‘m going to come to the defense of a psycho talker.  That‘s right, she‘s been on this program a lot.  Yesterday at a book signing event at the Mall of America in Minnesota, some bonehead started hurling tomatoes at Sarah Palin.  Thirty three year old Jeremy Paul Olson missed Palin by just a few feet and it ended up hitting a police officer.  He was arrested on assault and disorderly conduct charges. 

Now I may not agree with Sarah Palin on anything, but this is not the way we should treat people in public.  Any time you pull a stunt like this, you got to pay the price.  And it doesn‘t make America any better for this.  Sarah Palin may be wrong in her politics.  She may be selling a lot of books.  But no American deserves to be treated like that.  It‘s just as bad, in my opinion, as taking a gun to a presidential rally than to show up with whatever he showed up with and start throwing it as what has become a public figure in America.

Coming up, Tiger‘s mother-in-law collapsed in the middle of the night. 

We‘ve go just gotten the 911 tape.  We‘ll play it for you next THE ED SHOW. 

Stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  The soap opera continues for Tiger Woods and his family.  The story is ending up like an episode on “The Bold and The Beautiful.”

Here are the latest developments.  NBC has confirmed that Tiger‘s wife, Elin, recently finalized the purchase of a 2.5 million dollar home in Sweden.  On a serious note, at 2:36 a.m. this morning, paramedics and police returned to the Woods estate for a second time in two weeks.  Tiger‘s mother-in-law was rushed to the hospital after she collapsed.  Here‘s a clip of the 911 call.  It is unclear at the time whether Elin placed the call or if it was done by her sister on the line. 




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Oh, my god, my mom just collapsed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Calm down, OK.  What is the address?  And is she breathing?  They‘re coming, OK?  Calm down for a minute, so I can understand what‘s happening.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  She collapsed in the bathroom.  What do I do?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Is she breathing? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I just ran to the phone.  Hold on.  Hold on. 

She‘s fine. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  She‘s fine.  Is she fine?  It‘s OK.  Calm down for me for a minute, OK? 


SCHULTZ:  For more, let‘s turn to NBC‘s Kristen Dahlgren on the scene at the hospital.  What is the latest on this, Kristen? 

KRISTEN DAHLGREN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Ed, we‘ve been told here at the hospital that Barbara Holmberg (ph) has now been released from the hospital.  She was brought here just after that 911 call, at around 2:30 this morning.  She was here for about 11 hours.  She came in with stomach pains.  Doctors did a series of tests.  Because of privacy laws, the hospital won‘t release what they determined the illness to be.  But they say she is in good condition now. 

She‘s home.  She‘s resting comfortably.  That‘s the latest on her condition.

But listening to those 911 calls, just the absolute fear in her daughter‘s voice.  Then how she came back and apologized to 911.  Operators saying, OK, it‘s not that serious; it‘s not urgent to get out here.  But obviously it was enough that when paramedics got there, they transported her here right away. 

SCHULTZ:  Have you seen Tiger Woods?  Has anyone gotten a glimpse of Tiger Woods?  Is he at his estate there in Florida? 

DAHLGREN:  No Tiger sightings whatsoever since that accident the day after Thanksgiving.  He has really been laying low.  Not even those celebrity websites have had any pictures or sightings of Tiger Woods. 

We‘ve only had the releases on his website, those statements, one where he

talks about the accident, and then about his transgressions.  But nothing -

·         so far, nothing since his mother-in-law was in the hospital here. 

SCHULTZ:  Kristen, what about the talk that Gatorade is dropping Tiger and what‘s the time line?  Is that in conjunction with all this adversity? 

DAHLGREN:  No.  This was actually reported first on October 25th.  So that‘s two days before that car accident, that Gatorade has decided to cease its production of Tiger Focus.  It was one of its specialized beverages.  Sales had dropped off I think 34 percent recently.  So it looks like that is a separate issue that Gatorade decided not continue making that beverage.  Doesn‘t look like it has anything to do with recent events.

SCHULTZ:  Kristen Dahlgren, thanks for joining us tonight.  Appreciate it.

In tonight‘s telephone survey, I asked viewers, when it comes to health care reform, have you lost confidence in President Obama?  Sixty six percent of you say yes; 34 percent said no tonight. 

That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Ed Schultz.  For more information on THE ED SHOW, go to or check out our radio website at 

“HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts now.  You‘re watching the place for politics, MSNBC.  See you tomorrow night right here on THE ED SHOW.



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