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'The Ed Show' for Wednesday, December 9, 2009


December 9, 2009



Guests: Katrina vanden Heuvel, Wendell Potter, Scott Garrett, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Sen. Ron Wyden, Roy Sekoff, Rep. Joe Barton, Michael Medved, Bill Press

ED SCHULTZ, HOST: Good evening, Americans. And welcome to THE ED SHOW tonight from New York.

Now, on the Internet, the headline, it reads, "Democrats are praising the health care reform compromise," and I read that a little while ago, and I went, "Wow."

Folks, this is not reform. And I have to say this right off the top tonight.

My wife and I moved to New York because I wanted to be in this fight, and a fight to the finish for the people who don't have health insurance in this country. I mean, we live on a lake in Minnesota. It's a beautiful log home. Life is good. I love to hunt and fish.

But last night, when I left MSNBC and I was walking down Sixth Avenue, when the breaking news was that the Democrats had given up on the public option, I felt gut-shot, because I know-in my heart, I know that this is the right thing for American families. And if I didn't believe that, I wouldn't take on the president the way I have. If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't take on the Democrats and the establishment.

It's changes. It is changes, but it's not reform.

The latest health care compromise, in my opinion, is a cave-in, plain and simple. It scraps the public option.

Now, you're going to say, well, gosh, that only would have helped six million people. That's true, but it would have opened the door, because I think that those six million people would have had tremendous success and better outcomes, and the political will would have taken us to something much greater down the road. I agree with the Republicans, it is the first step to single-payer.

Now, the majority of the uninsured are going to be forced into private insurance. It will allow a very small group of Americans, people over 55 without insurance, to buy into Medicare, but that choice would only be available for about three million people. The rest of us are stuck. If you've got insurance, you're stuck, and you are going to be at the mercy of the insurance companies and you're going to have to pay those rates.

Now, I want Medicare for all. I've been up front for nine months on that. I want to see single-payer. I want Medicare for all.

So, you know, this should be a good first step. But here's the problem-if this first step fails, we will never move the ball forward again. I mean, heck, we haven't had the White House, the House and the Senate for 30 years, not in our lifetime.

Now, the plan is designed to fail, folks. I'm not here to bring you bad news tonight. I'm here to bring you the truth. I have no downside, no downside by telling you the truth.

It's a gift to the insurance industry. They are going to be getting 40 million new customers. The insurance companies, they are high-fiving behind closed doors tonight. A lot more customers at a very little risk.

That's not being anti-Obama, that's not being anti-Democrat. That is what's happening here.

You're handing the gun to the people who want to kill reform. We've gone from having a robust public option discussion to a weak Medicare buy-in that isn't going to start until 2011.

Democrats, they're trying to put a spin on this.

Here it is.


SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: This is a consensus that will help ensure that the American people win in a couple of different ways. One, insurance companies will certainly have more competition. And two, the American people will certainly have more choices.



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Senate made critical progress last night with a creative, new framework that I believe will help pave the way for final passage and a historic achievement on behalf of the American people. I support this effort, especially since it's aimed at increasing choice and competition and lowering cost.


SCHULTZ: OK, I'll take everybody's word for it, but I will venture to say that if President Obama-candidate Obama-had told his supporters on the campaign trail that, "I'm going to give the insurance companies 40 million new customers and force people to buy insurance from those very companies," I'm not so sure that would have worked well on the campaign trail.

Now we know why President Obama didn't mention the public option when he went to Capitol Hill on Sunday. He knew that the Senate Democrats would bargain it away. He knew the public option was history.

And I'm telling you tonight, folks, the truth, as I always do, there is no way this compromise plan is going to keep people's premiums from going down, and that has been my fight on this show for the last nine months. I don't think it's going to help the economy. Good luck running in 2010.

And that is really the focus that I have had on this program, is that it's for the middle class. And there's going to be a bunch of people that are going to be caught in the middle on this deal, and I guarantee you-this is December 9, 2009, and December 9, 2010, I'll be right back here and we're going to be talking about what has happened to your insurance premium over the last year and when is this health care reform going to take place. And gosh, now the Republicans have the majority.

I hope I'm not saying that, but you never know what's going to happen.

We have had a chance to stand up, Democrats, and say, OK, you're over here or you're over here. They didn't want to do that. They didn't want to do that.

Political pragmatists, that's what the Democrats with the majority are. They're going to take what they can get.

I want you to get your cell phones out. I want to know what you think about all this.

Our text survey tonight is: Did the insurance companies win the battle over health care reform?

Text "A" for yes and "B" for no to 622639. We'll bring you the results later on in the show.

I turn to this person for insight and direction and counsel from time to time. I revere her opinion, the editor of "The Nation," Katrina vanden Heuvel, with us tonight.


SCHULTZ: Katrina, what is the progressive community going to say when this is all said and done? Is this a victory?

VANDEN HEUVEL: I think it's a bitter pill to swallow right now. It's a tough time to be a progressive who believed that a public option was an all-American option. It was about competition, it was about choice.

The progressive community, as you know, Ed, had already stepped back from fighting for Medicare for all, for single-payer. So, here we are, and I think, Ed, you raised the right question-you know, how did we get here?

And I think part of it is this dysfunctional Senate. It should not call itself a Democratic body. It is the least Democratic legislative body in the country calling itself a democracy.

And secondly, there's a difference between pragmatism and leadership, Ed. President Obama's very tepid leadership, tepid, on fighting for a public option, has led us in many ways-not solely, but has led us to this place we are at tonight, where we have seen the best possibility for taming profiteering insurance companies for giving people an honest choice, for taking the profit motive out of health care. That is now off the table and we're left with a kind of jerry-rigged option here, a menu of private insurance offerings.

The only good thing I would add, Ed, is tonight we're seeing a buy-in for Medicare. You talked about how it's only for three million people, but it is the largest expansion of Medicare in 44 years.

I think they should just keep moving, Ed. Let's lower Medicare eligibility down to 50, 45, 40. Let's get Senator Kennedy's-and what would he say if he were here with us? Let's get his great Medicare program for all plan. That's what this country really needs.

SCHULTZ: I just can't allow, Katrina, the conversation to get to a point that because we want to do something for American families, we're all of a sudden radical.


SCHULTZ: That just boils me in my soul!

VANDEN HEUVEL: Ed, this is common sense. This is all-American, the public option.

We wanted a robust public option because it showed the way.

What is it that these insurance companies are so fearful of the marketplace? Don't they believe in that? Let them compete.

So, here we are, and I think, you know, as I said, this is not radical. These are commonsense ideas.

And today, we talked earlier, Ed. You know, the polls, they show a majority of Americans, even after Republican attacks and conservative Democrats, and Joe Lieberman, who thinks he's the president of health care, holding hostage a public option that a majority of Americans support.

I think we need to end the grip of four conservative Democrats on what a majority of senators seek. This is anti-Democratic.

The use of supermajorities has been abused by the Republicans, and we now see a result here that ramifies. It's not just a procedural maneuver, it ramifies in people's lives.

Now, what's going to happen, I fear-but the fight's not over-is we're going to see all this melding and blending. The fight's not over, and I think we should keep fighting for that public option.

As I leave my office, MoveOn, the Working Families Party in New York which is always trying to push the Democrats in a more progressive direction, call Senator Schumer in New York, call your representative. There's more work to be done before this is over.

SCHULTZ: Katrina vanden Heuvel of "The Nation."

Always a pleasure.


SCHULTZ: Thank you for speaking the truth.

Wendell Potter is a senior fellow on health care at the Center for Media and Democracy. He's a former vice president for the insurance giant Cigna.

How do you call it at this hour, Mr. Potter? Good to have you on tonight. I thought you'd be the perfect guest after the news that broke last night and all these compromises that are being made.

Give us the winners. Give us the losers.

WENDELL POTTER, SR. FELLOW, CENTER FOR MEDIA AND DEMOCRACY: Well, you know, as I said really months ago, that if we weren't careful, what we'd see coming out of Congress would be the "Insurance Industry Profit, Protection and Enhancement Act," and that seems to be exactly what we're about to see here. And I think if Democrats don't step back and see what they are about to create here, that they will be wishing they had, because what we will see here is exactly what you described before.

We'll have, in the next few years, people being forced to buy private insurance companies, many of them having no choice but to buy it from for-profit insurance companies, knowing that part of their premiums and taxpayer dollars are going to right, straight into investors' pockets. They're not going to be happy about that and they're going to blame Democrats for it, and rightfully so.

SCHULTZ: Now, the public option isn't the biggest part of the bill, but if you're looking down the road, in future generations, it's huge. It has to be in there, because once you get three, four, five or six million people involved in the public option, they have positive outcomes. And that portion of reform works. It sets the table for real moving forward.

Right now what I believe we have is a lobbyist bill. Is it or is it not a lobbyist bill, Mr. Potter?

POTTER: No, it's absolutely a lobbyist bill. And you're exactly right, too. Undoubtedly, they're almost popping the champagne corks around the insurance industry right now because it is clearly written by the insurance industry. And the insurance industry, its strategy was to focus on four or five members of the Senate who could derail real reform, and they're getting really close to accomplishing that.

SCHULTZ: The Democrats are ready to take whatever they can get.

One other issue that is being discussed today is the amendment by Senator Dorgan, the importation of prescription drugs, something that President Obama, when he was a senator, supported. And now the FDA has written a letter to all senators saying that they have some security issues with all of this.

This would save this country billions of dollars in terms of saving the consumer a bunch of money, and now it looks like there may not be enough votes for that. This is another victory for the insurance and big pharma, is it not?

POTTER: Well, it really is. I mean, just look at Europe. I mean, those countries there have figured this out. It's not something that is causing great harm to the European community.

It's just total nonsense. It's just something else that special interests have been able to do to keep the profits high. And that is exactly what is going on here.

SCHULTZ: Mr. Potter, good to have you on tonight. You've been a real resource through all of this battle. I appreciate your time.

And you're a man of courage. You have come up and spoken against the industry, talked about your past experiences, and told the truth to the American people. We need more like you. I appreciate your time.

POTTER: Thank you very much, Ed.

SCHULTZ: I want to say this about President Obama in this show, and the Democrats. I carried a lot of water for this president on the radio. I did as much as I could to-I did town hall meetings all over the country. And does this mean that I'm going to say, well, now, he's not the answer and we've got to move on, got to find something else, third party time? No, it's not.

Am I disappointed? Yes. But I will say this-the president, in the next phase of health care reform, once we get this, if there's a successful conclusion in the midterm in November and we get more seats, I would like to see this administration make a commitment on the campaign trail saying we're not done, that this is just a start.

And if we get more seats in the Senate next year-and there are 38 races-that we're going to do a lot more than what we're starting with right now. I want to hear that.

So much more coming up.

Senator Tom Harkin was right when he asked, "Ask not what America can do for Wall Street, ask what Wall Street can do for America." My next guest is against the idea of Wall Street helping out Main Street when it comes to a small tax.

We'll get to the bottom of that in a moment.

And "The Drugster" has suggested that Democrats want seniors to die because they know too much? It puts him in "Psycho Talk."

Plus, a fight over the BCS broke out on the Hill today.

And I'll bring you the latest on a Swedish supermodel who rejected Tiger.

It's all coming up on THE ED SHOW.

Stay with us.


SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

I think it's time for Wall Street to pay their fair share when it comes to economic recovery. And some Democrats in the Congress are on point.

Congressman Peter DeFazio and Senator Tom Harkin are sponsoring legislation that would impose a very small tax on stock transactions. And not yours, I might add.

They say that just a quarter percent tax could raise $150 billion a year. That's money that could be used to help resuscitate Main Street and reduce the deficit.

Of course, not everybody's excited about the idea.

Joining me now is Republican Congressman from New Jersey, Representative Scott Garrett.

Congressman, good to have you on tonight.

REP. SCOTT GARRETT ®, NEW JERSEY: Good to be with you on this day.

SCHULTZ: There's a historical, you know, ledger here. We had this tax back in 1919, and then when the depression was going, after the stock market crashed in '29, that tax was doubled in 1934. And then it was a sunset clause and they lived by that. They went on the sunset, and it was done in 1966.

If it's worked before, why wouldn't it work again?

GARRETT: Well, OK, you have all the statistics as to when it was placed and when it came out, but where's the statistic that it's actually worked? You know, your opening statement on this was one saying that, well, it's not a tax on you-I mean, you and me and the viewers and what have you.

Well, sure it is. It's a tax on anybody, in essence, who are making these transactions, and that falls as with all taxes, right? It eventually gets down to you and I, the basic consumer.

SCHULTZ: Well, not really, Congressman, because this would ultimately go to the houses and the people that are doing tens of thousands of trades on Wall Street, and it would not hit the middle class at all. In fact, it really wouldn't even hit a lot of rich people in this country, but it would generate $150 billion. Main Street wouldn't feel this at all.

Who are you protecting?

GARRETT: Well, I'm not-well, actually, I'm trying to protect Main Street, because so many times when we think that we're doing something good to help Main Street, at the end of the day, it's not. And so all these big trades that you're talking about that are being made, well, they're not being made for one real rich guy down on Wall Street, they're being made on behalf of a whole bunch of other people, whether it's pension funds or other investment funds, or sovereign funds or state funds, or what have you.

And who makes up all those things? Well, it's the people in the pensions, it's the retirees and all the rest. So, you're right, it's the big guys who are making the trades, but it all winds its way down to the retirees and the pension funds and everybody else as those trades are all done on their behalf.

SCHULTZ: This is Congressman DeFazio and Senator Harkin on the proposal.

Here it is.


REP. PETER DEFAZIO (D), OREGON: It's time for Wall Street to return the favor to Main Street. We saved them in their time of dire need. It's time for them to repay that, help rebuild the real economy of America.



SEN. TOM HARKIN (D), IOWA: We need a shift in priorities in this country to this-ask not what America can do for Wall Street, but ask what Wall Street can do for America.


SCHULTZ: Congressman, what's wrong with that logic? The American taxpayer did bail out Wall Street. Why can't it turn around the other way at a quarter of a percent on transactions that won't affect the middle class?

GARRETT: Yes. Well, as you know, I was not one who supported the bailout of Wall Street. I was one that was speaking out against it-I guess that goes back to the prior Bush administration-and continued to speak out against it when President Obama's administration said let's keep going along with the Bush doctrine and continue to bail out Wall Street.

I said no. I thought those proposals, both the past administration and this one, were wrong, because it really wasn't doing enough for Main Street. And I think it would be also wrong now to say, and because of all those bad decisions of the past administration and this administration is making, now we're going to have an additional penalty that will, as I explained before, actually come back and hit Main Street again.

What we need to be doing is just the opposite. We need to be making...

SCHULTZ: But Congressman, seriously now...

GARRETT: Yes, I'm serious.

SCHULTZ: The numbers are quite clear.


SCHULTZ: The first 100,000 trades would be exempt. How many American families have 100,000 trades a year?

GARRETT: Well, how many American families are part of a pension fund? How many American families are part of mutual funds? How many American families are part of other investment vehicles?

The number of investors out there, individuals who are just making their own investments, you know, calling up TD AMERITRADE or one of these other houses and saying, hey, buy 10 shares of this or 15 shares of that, they're actually a very small percentage of the entire Wall Street market, if you will. The vast majority of the trades that people have are through these other vehicles.

We just had a hearing today with regard to the Madoff situation. And what do people do? They take their life savings, they don't want to make the decisions themselves as to where to put all their money in retirement. They place it with other investment advisers, who then, in turn, place it through feeder funds and the like and that sort of thing. And then they're all combined and you make these hundreds of thousands of trades.

That all comes right back down to both the big, which I understand what you're talking about, but also the small at the end of the day.

SCHULTZ: Yes. Well, the small would not be affected, but...

GARRETT: Yes, they will. Yes, they will.

SCHULTZ: No, they won't. It's a philosophical call.

Scott Garrett, appreciate your time tonight. Thank you, Congressman.

GARRETT: OK. Thanks a lot.

SCHULTZ: Appreciate your time.

GARRETT: Thank you.

SCHULTZ: I think we could use $150 billion in the Treasury, and that's a modest number of what they're projecting of what it would do.

Coming up, the king of fearmongers, Rush Limbaugh, says that Democrats are totally on board with our senior citizens dying? I'll throw him overboard in "Psycho Talk" coming up.

Stay with us.


SCHULTZ: And in "Psycho Talk" tonight, Rush Limbaugh has a new spin on an old righty conspiracy theory.

"The Drugster" started off with some good, old-fashioned fearmongering about how Medicare cuts in the health care bill mean that Democrats want to set up death panels for the elderly. And then he went on to say that the reason the Democrats want to kill off old folks is because their memories are too good.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The Democrat Party is totally on board with the elderly passing away because they represent a problem. They're informed. They're educated. They have a memory of a better time in this country.

They can remember what gets us out of recessions. They can-and they remember, thus, that what we're doing now is not ever going to work.

They're essentially saying that, elderly people, we're just not going to treat you. We're just not-we don't have the money. It's not worth it. You're too old. And besides, you know too much.



SCHULTZ: Classic "Drugster" right there, huh?

Democrats don't want to get rid of grandma, and Republicans are the ones that should be worried about their memory. The elderly were around during the Great Depression, so they remember that a Democratic president used the government spending to get us out of it. That's exactly what Obama is doing right now.

"The Drugster's" conspiracy theory is just plain "Psycho Talk."

Coming up, no, I'm not on board. Stark-raving mad about this health care deal the Democrats struck last night, but if anyone can sell me on this bill, it's one of our next guests. Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ron Wyden are in the house tonight.

Plus, I'll tell you just who pulled an ad featuring Tiger Woods.

And the House of Representatives is cracking down on the BCS. We're going to be talking about that in the "Playbook."

Stay with us. We're right back.


SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Thanks for watching tonight. Senator Ben Nelson's effort to hijack health care reform with a strict abortion amendment has been shot down, but that's not stopping Nelson at this hour. He's told the "Lincoln Journal Star, quote," my position has not changed. I've drawn a line in the sand. I'm not going to compromise principle by abandoning abortion funding concerns."

It's all about him, isn't it? The majority doesn't matter. Nelson has also said he wouldn't back a public option. That's why he was asked to be put on-to be part of the gang of ten. And when it comes to the new health care compromise, without a public option, he goes on to say, "I'm anxious to get the best bill, even if I can't be supportive of it at the end of the process."

So, let me get this straight, we're gutting this bill to win the votes of conservatives like Ben Nelson, except Nelson might still filibuster with the Republicans? Seems to me it's pretty tough to negotiate with people like this.

But we move forward. Joining me now is Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski. Senator, nice to have you on tonight. Appreciate your time.

SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI (D), MARYLAND: Hey, Ed. Good to see you.

SCHULTZ: You bet. Sixty votes; based on what has transpired in the last 24 hours, is it attainable?

MIKULSKI: Oh, yeah, I think it absolutely is. First of all, we've made tremendous momentum in being able to help women. We have legislation in here that will end the gender discrimination against women, where we pay more for our premiums and get less. I had an amendment that passed that guarantees preventive health services for women. They will get their mammogram. They will get their pap smear.

And we've eliminated co-payments and deductibles. And we defeated the strident amendment of Nelson yesterday on abortion. So, we've now got, I think, momentum with women. And I also think now we'll be able to move more of the fence-sitters, because we're making progress with cost containment.

SCHULTZ: OK, now tell us about the process of ping-ponging this bill, where the abortion issue would not come up again, that the bill would stand as it is right now, so you wouldn't have to have this hurdle over in the House. Tell us about that.

MIKULSKI: Well, when the bill passes the Senate-and I believe it will pass the Senate-we've got big hurdles. We will have three major votes on process in which they can filibuster, which means that after all is said and done, more will get said than get done. But if we can then win that, we will then go to conference and resolve where we are in enabling women to determine their own destiny.

But right now, we've got to get through the Senate. This whole idea that we have 60 votes, Ed, is both a blessing and a curse. We have 60 on a piece of paper. But in reality, we have about, on any given day, 58 or 55. Remember, 60 Democrats, two independents, and some who act independent-they say no matter what. So, we have to bring them into the fold or pick up other votes in order to do it.

But that's all about process. We've got to focus on the fact that we are trying to-and this is where the American people need to be calling us, demanding that we pass this bill. It would guarantee universal access to over 40 million people. It will end the punitive practices of insurance companies, like with pre-existing conditions and gender discrimination. And also, it will make sure that Medicare is safe and solvent.

SCHULTZ: It will do a lot of good things, there's no doubt. But it appears, on the surface, that there really isn't anything else that the progressives can cave in on, that this bill has been written by the lobbyists. You've mentioned some very good things, as far as the gender issues are concerned. And I don't know how anybody could vote against that.

But it appears that all of the things that the progressives really wanted when it came to a public option, when it came to direct competition for the insurance industries, these are things-and single-payer-these are things that the progressive movement has had to cave in on. Can we agree on that?

MIKULSKI: Well, first of all, I agree that I too am very disappointed that the idea of a public option is either fading or diluted. I wanted a public option because I felt that it would guarantee competition to the private insurance companies and show that you could offer insurance at reasonable cost with a benefit package that would make a difference in your lives.

But we're not through that. We might be able to expand Medicare to take care of people 55 to 65, and also include more people with incomes under 35,000 dollars a year. So, we're not giving up.

I have to reiterate, though, we're very proud of the women. Why?

Because we were un-bought and un-bossed, in the words of Shirley Chisholm.

So, we're inviting the guys to join with us and show that we have backbone.

We have verve, and we can get the votes.

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

Appreciate it. Senator Barbara Mikulski with us tonight.

For more, let me bring in Roy Sekoff, founding editor of "The Huffington Post."

There are positive things in the bill. But, as I've said all along, Roy, and she just-the senator just backed me up on-there's no guarantee of competition for the private sector. So, we might as well go to Vegas and roll the dice to see if this is going to work or not. What do you think?

ROY SEKOFF, "THE HUFFINGTON POST": Ed, I'm so torn. I'm hearing what you have to say, because the idealist in me knows that this is a Frankenstein bill. You know, all these pieces stitched together. And they don't go together and they're destined to wreak havoc on our village, right?

But, at the same time, the realist in me says that there are a lot of good things, especially the expansion of Medicare. I mean, that's a very big thing, Ed. I mean, this is something that progressives have been talking about for a long time, the idea of Medicare for all. So, if we can expand it to the 55 and up, don't you think the next thing will be the 50-year-olds going, what about me, and then the 45-year-olds going, well, we want a piece of that, too.

So, I think there are good things in there, including the extension of the CHIP for the kids, and also the fact that 90 percent of the premium money has to go to patients, you know, as opposed to overhead. So, part of me says maybe it's good enough, particularly, Ed, looking at the reviews. This is like a book where we look at the table of contents, and we don't know what's in it. We can't tell if it's going to be a best-seller. But looking at the reviews, Anthony Weiner seems to like it. Howard Dean seems to like it. Bernie Sanders seems to like it, Paul Krugman. These are all people that make me think maybe I should take a breath and at least take a look at it.

SCHULTZ: OK. You've got a lot of reporters at "The Huffington Post" that are following this. Do they feel comfortable? Do your researchers at "The Huffington Post" feel comfortable that this will be accepted by the progressive community as reform? And I guess I'll be the last red-headed dog standing barking at the moon on this?

SEKOFF: No, there's a lot of other ones barking right next to you, Ed. There's a lot of howling going on. But at the same time, you know, we've got to look at it and say, maybe this is as good as we can do. Let's not forget, this weekend, you talked about it yesterday, when President Obama went to the Hill, made the speech to the caucus, and didn't even mention the public option.

SCHULTZ: He knew it was going down. If he had mentioned a public option when he knew it was going to be bargained away, it would have made him look like he had got a loss on this thing.

SEKOFF: Well, yeah-

SCHULTZ: They, of course, want to portray themselves as they've got a victory. But the Medicare expansion, to be very clear, this is for people 55 and older if they don't have insurance, OK?

SEKOFF: Right. Yeah.

SCHULTZ: So, this expansion isn't like anybody over 55 can say, hey, now I've got some competition. I can either go Medicare or I could get stuck by Blue Cross or whoever else I'm with.

SEKOFF: But Ed, to go right back to you, the public option that we were pushing so hard for, by the time it got to what it was, it wasn't going to cover very many people, either. It wasn't going to cover the 100 million people it was originally envisioned to cover.


SEKOFF: So, there's compromises all along the way. Here's the thing:

I think that if progressives actually jump aboard and say that they're happy with some of these things in the compromise, I think that's going to be the signal for Joe Lieberman to find another reason to say no. Because that seems to be his mission.

SCHULTZ: I don't know how he can say no. The conservatives have won on just about every front here.

SEKOFF: He's already saying that if it has any trigger, he doesn't want to have anything to do about it.

SCHULTZ: OK. Roy, good to have you on. Always a pleasure. Bill Press, nationally syndicated radio talk show host, is with us. Also Michael Medved, radio talk show host and author of "The Five Big Lies About American Business: Combating Smears Against the Free Market Economy."

Gosh that should have been a health care book there, Michael. Michael, where do you see it at this hour right now? Has this been a victory of sorts for the conservatives?

MICHAEL MEDVED, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, yeah, there have been lots of victories for the conservatives and there have been lots of victories for the other side. The one thing, Ed, that I don't fully understand is what is the all-fired hurry? I mean, except for the fact that the American people are more and more and more turning against this particular massive, top-down remaking of our health care system?

I mean, the truth of the matter is, the most recent polls show 38 percent support for this. I can't think of any other occasion in American history where you've had such a massive change in our whole economic system, where only 38 percent of the American people say they back it.

SCHULTZ: What poll was that, Michael?

MEDVED: It's a recent Rasmussen? If you take a look at the Gallup polls-what's the hurry?

SCHULTZ: A Quinnipiac poll came out today that had a different number to it. Bill, I'm sure you're aware of that.

BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: No, absolutely. If we followed polls, America would never have entered World War II. Thank God Roosevelt didn't follow polls with Social Security.

MEDVED: Pearl Harbor?

PRESS: Let's talk about this. Ed, we got sold down the river, Ed. I'm barking at the Moon with you. This is no public plan option. I don't care what Harry Reid says, because there's no competition in it. The heart of this whole thing-Obama talked about this all the time-is we've got the cut the cost in health care reform. And the reason the cost is up is the insurance companies have had the field to themselves. Under this so-called compromise, it's just creating another choice of more private insurance plans. There's no competition.

So, I think it's just a total sellout on the part of the Democrats, let me tell you.

SCHULTZ: Well, it's 40 million new customers going to the insurance industry.

PRESS: Exactly, yeah.

SCHULTZ: -- that are going to be mandated to take a subsidy and buy it. This is handing the gun to the very people who want to shoot down reform!

PRESS: Totally.

SCHULTZ: I understand compromise. I understand give and take and what not. But this really still leaves the fox guarding the hen house.

PRESS: Here's the problem, I think. In this town, the operative word is politics is the art of the impossible. Well, I don't believe that-

SCHULTZ: I heard that last night. I didn't buy into it.

PRESS: I don't buy it. I think politics is the art of the impossible. It's what you can do, what you can achieve with real leadership. You can really turn things around. This doesn't do it. We just-we got screwed.

SCHULTZ: Michael, is there anything you can buy into, what you've heard in the last 24 hours?

MEDVED: Well, what I've heard in the last 24 hours, again, is this desperation to get any kind of bill. And I think that that desperation is all political. It's not based upon the substance of this reform. And that is a gigantic problem. I spoke today to Congressman Adam Smith, who is a Democrat from Washington State. And he's saying that if this bill comes forward in the current form, he will vote against it after reconciliation.

SCHULTZ: Well, that's why they're talking about the ping pong, because they don't want it to go back to the House because of the abortion issues on it. They don't want to give Stupak and the rest of those conservative democrats a chance to water this thing down and cause more problems. They ping pong it, Bill Press-it's obviously going to be a fast track to passage.

PRESS: Yeah, it is. And you know, look, I'm not giving up the fight here, because we're going to go to conference. Whatever comes out of conference-we've got to keep the pressure on until, you know, the damn thing is over, and then just pick ourselves up and fight all over again.

MEDVED: Bill and Ed, you're both sincere guys. You're for real patriots. What is the hurry here?

PRESS: Michael, come on.

MEDVED: Why does this need to be done right now? Why not continue the process in 2010?

SCHULTZ: Michael, we haven't done anything for 50 years!

PRESS: Exactly. You know when this whole fight started? In 1912 was the first movement to start universal health care in this country.

MEDVED: OK, there are reasons-

PRESS: Michael, I don't think you can say we've been in a hurry to get anything done.

SCHULTZ: Gentlemen, great to have you with us tonight.

Coming up, a Republican congressman wants to get between you and your favorite college football team? He'll tell us what Congress just voted in favor of doing to the Bowl Championship Series. It's billions of dollars on the line. It's coming up next on THE ED SHOW.


SCHULTZ: In my playbook tonight, a House panel just approved legislation that gets the ball rolling towards a possible college football playoff system. The House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection voted in favor of a bill that prohibits a BCS Bowl game from being called a national championship game unless it is, quote, "the final game of a single elimination post season playoff system."

Wow. Joining me now is Republican Congressman Joe Barton of Texas, who sits on the subcommittee that approved the bill. Congressman, good to have you with us tonight.

REP. JOE BARTON ®, TEXAS: Glad to be with you.

SCHULTZ: Why is Congress getting involved in something like this?

What do you think?

BARTON: Well, BCS has been in existence for 11 years. And that 11-year period, out of 120 schools that are eligible each year, only 11 have actually played in the so-called championship game. I think that college football ought to be more open. It ought to be more competitive. And since they have playoffs in every other collegiate sport, I don't see why we can't have a playoff in college football.

SCHULTZ: What do you say to those Americans who say, what is Congress doing getting involved in something like this?

BARTON: Well, we've waited for 11 years for the BCS to do the right thing, and they seem to be entrenched in doing the wrong thing. They don't really defend the current system. They simply ask why people like me are trying to change it.

SCHULTZ: Well, I'm a TCU fan, OK?

BARTON: Good for you. Go Frogs.

SCHULTZ: They're undefeated. In fact, I think they're better than Texas.

BARTON: It'd be nice to find that out on the field, wouldn't it?

SCHULTZ: OK, but what would it do financially for college football if there was a playoff system?

BARTON: Well, they'd make more money. When you talk to the television networks, especially off camera and off the record, they prefer a playoff because every game would mean something. Every game would go to the ultimate championship game. And they think that the advertising revenue would be more, so the schools and everybody would actually get more money.

SCHULTZ: Well, we do have March Madness, a basketball playoff. I don't know why we don't have a December decision on who's number one. Here's the president of the United States just before the election. You've got an ally here.


OBAMA: I think it is about time that we had playoffs in college football! You know, I am fed up with these computer rankings and this and that and the other. Get eight teams, top eight teams right at the end. You've got a playoff, decide on a national champion.


SCHULTZ: Have you got the official word from the White House on that, congressman?

BARTON: It's one of the things that President Obama and myself agree upon. And go Obama. I'm for him all the way.

SCHULTZ: All right. Congressman, it's-now, what's the next step in this? And how much support do you have?

BARTON: Well, I have a lot of support when it comes to actually putting the votes up on the board. The next step is to go to the full committee. I talked to Chairman Waxman today. He's taking it under advisement. But Chairman Rush, the subcommittee chairman, and I have spoken, and we feel pretty confident we're going to get the bill up in full committee some time in this session of Congress, probably not before Christmas. And then we have to go to the floor of the House, and then we have to see what our friends in the Senate do.

So, it's not an easy process, but you know, it's worth it. And I think we'll get it.

SCHULTZ: You just want Texas to beat Alabama. I know what this is all about.

BARTON: My wife went to Texas. And we'll be rooting for the Burnt Orange over the Crimson Tide. But I went to Texas A&M, so I'm-

SCHULTZ: Congressman, I've got to run. good to have you on.

BARTON: Thank you for having me.

SCHULTZ: You bet. One final page in my playbook tonight; Tiger's problems just won't stop piling up. The Pac-10 Conference has pulled an ad featuring tiger Woods due to the controversy surrounding the golfer. Conference officials say they're unsure if they'll ever run that ad again. A new CNN/"USA Today" Gallup poll released finds that tiger's unfavorable rating has risen 16 percent since June. Now the latest report from a Swedish news website is that Tiger actually had another man try to recruit a woman for him, but the Swedish TV star seems to be the first to reject Tiger's request. Good for her.

Stay with us. We have much more on THE ED SHOW. We're talking health care with Ron Wyden when we come back.


SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Leaders say the Senate compromise on health care is a breakthrough, but a lot of liberals say it's a deal-breaker. Joining me now is Oregon Senator Ron Wyden. Ron, can you vote for this as it stands right now? What do you think?

SEN RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: Ed, we're waiting to see the details and waiting for the Congressional Budget Office to get us the information about their analysis. But here's the bottom line: here in the home stretch, the insurance lobby is pulling out all the stops to try to protect business as usual. And progressives here in the Senate and progressives around the country, we're all pushing back as hard as we possibly can.

I voted for the robust public option in the Senate Finance Committee. Obviously, we're not going to get something like that. But we're certainly not going to let the insurance lobby prevail, and in effect, take the status quo and plaster a public option sticker on it. That's just going to be unacceptable.

SCHULTZ: So, can you tell us tonight that the public option, some form of it, the way you and I know it, is not dead? There's conflicting reports. It was breaking news last night. Then Harry Reid came out and said it's not dead. What is it?

WYDEN: What I can tell you, Ed, is progressives are not going to accept anything short of real reform. I've been working on this issue for literally 30 years, since I was co-director of the Oregon Gray Panthers. I want to make sure that consumers in every part of this country can deliver an ultimatum to the insurance lobby. That ultimatum is treat me right or I am taking my business elsewhere. And we are going to stay at it until we get real reform.

SCHULTZ: OK. OPM is going to administer this through private insurers. And if they start jacking the rates up, then a trigger would kick in. Would you go along with that? Is that reform?

WYDEN: That alone is not enough for me. I've got to make sure that there's both choice and affordability. In much of this country, Ed, the insurance industry has been able to hotwire a competition-free zone. There really isn't any competition. There isn't choice.

That's not right. Members of Congress have real choices. Members of Congress are in a position to play hardball with the insurance industry. So we've got to have real reform that ensures that all Americans have the kinds of choices members of Congress have and can hold the insurance lobby accountable.

SCHULTZ: So, as it stands right now, it's not reform. It's changes, right?

WYDEN: As it stands now, we also have some progressive provisions on the table that we've fought for for years. For example, older people-older people get creamed by the insurance lobby. They're subjected to some of the most vicious discrimination on the basis of their age. Under what progressives have fought for, we would had many folks who, in many instances, have been laid off from their jobs; they'd be able to get help before they're eligible for Medicare, between 55 and 64. Progressives are fighting for key issues.

SCHULTZ: Good to have you on tonight.

WYDEN: Thank you.

SCHULTZ: Thank you so much. I asked our audience tonight, did the insurance companies win the battle over health care? Eighty nine percent of you say yes; 11 percent say no. Let's keep fighting.

That's THE ED SHOW. We're in Kansas City tomorrow night. We'll be covering the free health care clinic for thousands of people in need. "HARDBALL" is next with Chris Matthews. This is the place for politics, MSNBC. We'll see you in Kansas City tomorrow night.



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