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'The Ed Show' for Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

Guests: Adam Green, Elijah Cummings, Roy Sekoff, Bill Shore, Darcy Burner,

Bob Shrum, Jack Rice, Ron Christie, Lizz Winstead

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

Less than 24 hours before the final Senate vote on the final health care bill, here we have President Obama—I think he‘s wordsmithing.  He told “The Washington Post,” “I didn‘t campaign on the public option”?

Mr. President, time out.  I know you don‘t want the American people to think that you‘re not backtracking on a promise, but your base, I think, is smarter than that. 

We realize that you didn‘t actually say those magical words, “public option,” on the campaign trail, but on the stump you did lead us to believe that you wanted a mechanism in place that would bring forth competition for the private sector.  Then, going out and getting elected president and, as president, you had no problems spitting out those two nasty little words. 


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I don‘t believe that government can or should run health care.  But I also don‘t think insurance companies should have free reign to do as they please.  That‘s why any plan I sign must include an insurance exchange, a one-stop shopping marking place where you can compare the benefits, costs and track records of a variety of plans, including a public option to increase competition and keep insurance companies honest. 


SCHULTZ:  Now, did I hear that properly?  Did I hear “public option” there?  I do believe I went 10 rounds with Linda Douglass of the White House on this program using that very sound bite. 

But now your defense, Mr. President, is that, well, you didn‘t campaign on it. 

Who are we supposed to listen to more carefully, campaign, candidate Obama, or President Obama? 

The bottom line, sir, is that, you know, we listen to what presidents say.  And whether you campaigned or the public option or not, to a lot of us, including this broadcaster, is flat-out immaterial. 

Progressives are furious at this hour.  They feel like they‘ve been duped.  The Progressive Change Campaign Committee released this ad today...


OBAMA:  Any plan I sign must include an insurance exchange, including a public option, to increase competition and keep insurance companies honest. 

If a mandate was the solution, we could try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody to buy a house.  The reason they don‘t have a house is because they don‘t have the money. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The Progressive Change Campaign Committee is responsible for the contents of this advertising.


SCHULTZ:  Now, they have a point here.  President Obama is now giving us a sell job on the bill without a public option and with a mandate.  Fair enough.

The president also said this to “The Washington Post” in the article:

“I‘m very enthusiastic about what we have achieved.  Nowhere has there been a bigger gap between the perceptions of compromise and the realities of compromise than in the health care bill.  Every single criteria for reform I‘ve put forward is in the bill.”

Folks, let me tell you something.  The White House, I think, is developing a very Bush-like characteristic.  They don‘t like being held accountable.  All they want us to believe is this is total victory. 

And for the record, it‘s not just the progressive base that feel this is burned on this issue.  There is a United States senator out there on record blaming the White House for why we have no public option.  Russ Feingold had this quote to say: “The lack of support from the administration made keeping the public option an uphill struggle.”

An upset on that.  Mr. Feingold now finds himself under pressure to be “the hero” tomorrow morning on the vote, to vote no on principle. 

Joining me now—I want you to get your cell phones out first on this, folks.  I want to know what you think about this. 

Tonight‘s tech survey is: Do you believe President Obama broke a promise on the public option?  Text “A” for yes and “B” for no to 622639.  And we‘ll bring you the results later.

Now, before we go to our guest, I just want to be very clear here.  Some of you watching might think, gosh, Ed is really going after Obama tonight.  No I‘m not.  I‘m going after what the majority of progressives have been fighting for so long. 

If we, as liberals as Democrats, are afraid to hold people accountable and to their word, what are we doing this for?  I thought we did all this work to hold people accountable because the Bush administration was never held accountable on anything.  And I‘ve gotten a ton of e-mail on this. 

If we cave in on this and give up the fight all the way down to the finish, is it going to be this way when it comes to education, energy, the environment, tax cuts, doing some stuff for the middle class?  Are we going to see the purchasing of senators and votes on other key issues? 

If we don‘t fight now on this one, when are we going to fight?  Why give up? 

No, I‘m not anti-Obama.  No, I don‘t want Bush back or anybody like him in office again.  But doggone it, if we‘re true to our roots and we‘re true to who we are, then we have to have this very tough discussion. 

Joining me now is Adam Green, the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.  And you can find them at 

Adam, I have to ask you a personal question tonight.  You don‘t have to answer it.  But, OK, I‘m in my 50s.  I‘m not going to tell you exactly how old I am. 

But are you in your 20s or 30s?  And I want to make a point on this tonight. 


my mid-30s. 

SCHULTZ:  You‘re in your mid-30s. 

GREEN:  Yes. 

SCHULTZ:  My friend, it doesn‘t matter whether you‘re in your 20s or 30s. 

This, Americans, this is exactly who put Barack Obama and the progressive movement in the majority in the last election.  Let‘s not forget that. 

And if we don‘t put up the fight, if we don‘t hold folks accountable, we stand to lose a demographic of Americans that believed in hope, believed in fight, and were never told about Senate purchasing of votes and special backdoor deals with corporations. 

So, I think it‘s very important that we know who we‘re talking about here.  The 20-somethings and the 30-somethings right now are sitting on the fence, in my opinion, in this country saying, what?  What‘s going on here? 

GREEN:  You‘re absolutely right about that.

SCHULTZ:  All right.  Mr. Green, good to have you—well, if you want to follow up, maybe you disagree with me. 

What do you think? 

GREEN:  I do agree with you.  And, you know, one thing that we‘re experiencing is that there‘s this visceral sense of betrayal felt by a lot of young people right now, by a lot of everyday voters, Independents and Democrats, and a lot of the people who worked hardest to get President Obama elected. 

You know, there can be no doubt that when people went to the polls in November, 2008, they thought they were electing change you can believe in.  They thought they were electing a guy who said that he would not let insurance lobbyists write the rules, that he would stand up for the little guy against these entrenched special interests. 

And what we saw this week was essentially the ditching of the most popular part of health care reform, the part that would truly hold these big interests accountable, the public option.  And Democrats are plotting themselves for passing something that has 33 percent approval rating, which is a mandate requiring that we buy these broken insurance policies. 

So, you‘re right.  It‘s time for accountability. 

SCHULTZ:  Yes.  Adam, why do you think the president even gave that quote in an interview to “The Washington Post”?  It sounds rather defensive to me—I never campaigned on the public option.  It‘s like he‘s catching a lot of heat and wants to redirect the interest of Americans and the attention somewhere else, like this is really not a big deal, I never campaigned on it. 

What do you make of that? 

GREEN:  Yes.  You know, I think you‘ve put your finger on it on prior shows, which is this D.C. bubble. 

I think a lot of people in the White House have a checklist, and they have either a “W” or an “L” for “Win” or “Loss” next to some line item.  And they don‘t actually—I think they are losing a little bit of touch with what people are actually feeling. 

I had a fascinating conversation just a couple nights ago with a former Obama team leader on the ground in Wisconsin, in the heartland.  She was responsible for a bunch of volunteers during the campaign.  She said, “We worked our tails off.  We beat our vote goals.” 

And what motivated people every day to get up for Barack Obama was we thought he was on our side fighting for us.  And she said, “Let me tell you, I am on Russ Feingold‘s steering committee right now.  I‘m in charge of organizing volunteers for him.”  And it is really hard to motivate people to go out there and campaign for Democrats right now when Democrats in Washington, D.C., are throwing the public option under the bus and seeming to side with corporate interests. 

That‘s not change we can believe in.  And this will have a dramatic impact on 2010. 


Adam, tell us what you are doing in Wisconsin.  You‘re putting pressure in the last 24 hours on Russ Feingold to vote no tomorrow morning. 

What are you doing?

GREEN:  Right.  Well, actually, our main goal is to get him to promise right now that he will vote no on any bill that comes out of the House/Senate negotiations if there is not a public health insurance option.

What are we doing?  Several things. 

We are organizing people like this lady I just talked about in his home state to speak out.  There‘s been a ton of media coverage over the last couple days of these local people speaking out encouraging him to be a hero.  We‘re doing robo calls into Wisconsin, organizing other people to join our fight and go to and sign our petition for these leaders saying we need them to fight.  And we‘re also doing online ads and other tactics.

It‘s time to organize the grassroots and make sure Democrats don‘t go into this blindly thinking that Democrats aren‘t paying attention on the ground.  This will really hurt Democrats in 2010 if we ditch the public option.  We need to pass it. 

SCHULTZ:  Thank you, Adam Green.  Appreciate your time tonight.  All the best to you. 

Want to turn now to Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland, a member of the House Progressive Caucus. 

Congressman, great to have you on tonight. 

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND:  It‘s great to be with you, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  You bet.

Does it matter that President Obama campaigned on the public option? 

Yes or no?  What do you think? 

CUMMINGS:  I think it matters, but, Ed, I‘ve got to tell you that when the president spoke before the Congress in joint session, he said—and I remember taking notes on—he said, I‘d like to have a public option, or give me something that will help control the costs, something to that effect.  And I‘ve got to tell you, we‘ve got to keep in mind—let‘s keep our powder dry here for a moment.

For Russ Feingold to vote against a bill tomorrow, I think that sends us in the wrong direction.  We‘ve come a long way. 

Now, the president still has an opportunity.  Keep in mind, now, we seem to be forgetting that the House bill has a public option.  And Nancy Pelosi and we in the House are determined to get as much as we possibly can to control the costs and have that public option. 

So. we‘ve still got some more work to do.  But the last thing we want to do is send a bill back, because we may never see it again, at least not during my lifetime. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  Now, I really want to...

CUMMINGS:  And that‘s real.

SCHULTZ:  OK.  Well, I want you to explain that because, why not come back the next session of Congress with something—with more Democrats getting elected in the midterm, pick up some more progressive seats in the House, and come right back in the next session of Congress and do it again? 

I mean, if the people want it, if the American people really want reform, what‘s the loss of waiting one more year?  I have to tell you, maybe I‘m just way too naive.  Maybe I‘m not smart enough.  But what do you mean we can‘t bring it back for a lifetime?  I think a lot of Americans don‘t grasp that. 

CUMMINGS:  Ed, you are brilliant, but let me tell you—and I wish I did not have to say this.  But you‘ve got to keep in mind the American public expects us to get a meaningful health care reform bill through. 

They realize that every 12 minutes somebody is dying because they don‘t have insurance.  But they also realize that this was the number one issue that President Obama ran on. 

And all I‘m saying to you, Ed, is that we are like on the five-yard line.  And we‘ve just got to take this ball across five yards after coming 95 yards.  And keep in mind, nobody else really even got on the field in the past. 

And so we are there.  But what I think we need to be doing is encouraging President Obama to get in—to get even more involved with Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid and actually sit down.  And when these two bills come together, to push for the very things that we are looking for.

But again, I mean, we have made tremendous progress.  We‘ve got a situation now where people who had pre-existing conditions will be able to get their insurance, 31 million people being able to get insurance. 

That‘s major stuff.  That‘s nothing to sneeze about.  And I do not want to lose that momentum, Ed.  I just don‘t want to do it.

And you will find more forceful with regard to the public option.  But at the same time, I want to make sure that we come together, that we‘ve got this moment.

The president talked about the urgency of now and this point being our moment.  This is the president‘s moment to shine and to be that great orator and that great convincer that he was during the campaign—and that‘s on principle—and remind all of us, as we sit down to bring these two bills together, of the moral issues that are involved here. 

This is a moral issue.  It‘s greater than—I mean, I want to make sure we save those 45,000 people who die every year because they don‘t have any insurance.

SCHULTZ:  Congressman, great to have you on.  I love both sides of the story on this program.

CUMMINGS:  Thank you.

SCHULTZ:  It‘s the fun part about doing this program. 

CUMMINGS:  Thank you, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  I guess maybe more I‘m more of a riverboat gambler on this.  I really believe—and I understand exactly what you‘re saying, there‘s a political reality to this.  But I just wonder what it would be like if the strength of Obama, his political prowess with the 20-somethings, the 30-somethings, if he were to go out on the campaign trail and take it to the Republicans in 2010 and say, I need more seats, you‘ve got to get me more seats? 

You know what I want.  We‘ve worked hard for this.  Change takes a long time, and we‘ve just got to wait just a little bit longer and we‘ll get it done, help me out. 

I think he is that strong of a politician.  I think he is a generational leader. 

CUMMINGS:  I do, too. 

SCHULTZ:  And I believe it‘s dice worth rolling.  I really do.  I believe that.

CUMMINGS:  But everything you just said, Ed, we‘ve got right now. 

This is his moment.  This is the president‘s moment right now. 

And all we have is control over now.  We don‘t know whether we‘ll be here next year.  Do you understand? 


CUMMINGS:  This is our moment, and this is his moment.  And by the way, you served a great purpose by giving—by coming—making sure that the progressive force has been heard.  I think you‘ve had more impact that you‘ll ever imagine. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, thank you, Congressman. 

CUMMINGS:  Already.

SCHULTZ:  We‘re here to try to make it happen.  I appreciate your time.  Have a great holiday.  Thanks for joining us. 

CUMMINGS:  Thank you. 

SCHULTZ:  Coming up, if AIG had a stocking, I‘d stuff it with, right from the top to the bottom, nothing but coal.  I mean, they‘re trying to pull another fast one on us, and I‘m not going to let them get away with it.

“Huffington Post” founder and editor—that would be Roy Sekoff, the founding editor—is going to be joining us to blast off on that in just a moment.

And, of course, “The Drugster” has coughed up one of the biggest lies of ‘09.  I‘ll play it for you in “Psycho Talk.”  

All that, plus “Daily Show” co-creator Lizz Winstead is in the house with me tonight. 

You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.  Stay with us. 


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

Just in time for the holidays, another outrageous example of Wall Street‘s greed.

Now, earlier this year, AIG paid out more than $165 million in bonuses, even though the company was on taxpayer life support.  It sparked a massive outcry, and AIG pledged that at least, well, a chunk of the bonus money would be returned.

So far, $19 million has been given back.  Cut me some slack.  And AIG is slated to—get this—dole out another $200 million this spring.  Don‘t screw with the schedule now. 

AIG is 80 percent owned by you and me, the taxpayer, the government.  The Obama administration, I think, needs to put their foot down on this, or at least send out a press release saying you don‘t like it. 

Imagine the uproar—now, think about this—imagine the uproar if General Motors had come out and said you know what?  What do we say we dish out several million dollars in bonuses to our workers?  What do you think the right wing would be saying? 

Think any talkers across America could fill their shows with that kind of garbage?  No, but, you see, these would be workers.  These wouldn‘t be front office paper shufflers.  These would be workers, and we sure can‘t give a bonus to a worker in America, can we? 

Joining me now is Roy Sekoff, founding editor of “The Huffington Post.”

Well, Roy, you smiling face tonight, I mean, this is business as usual.  Merry Christmas, my friend. 


Merry Christmas.

You know, here‘s the thing though, Ed.  I woke up this morning and I read this story, and I got angry like you did.  And then for a minute, I said, well, wait a minute.  Are we getting distracted by the really big outrage?

Because when we did the math, they only promised that the were going to give back $45 million.  They‘ve already given back $19 million.  So we‘re talking about $26 million.

Yes, I‘m upset about it, but not when we compare it to the $38 billion

that‘s with a “B”—tax break that the IRS just gave to Citibank, or the fact that we just found out that the four biggest banks have cut loans by $100 billion over the last six months.  Remember?  Isn‘t that why we bailed them out, so we could keep the loans going?

You know, this is what I‘m talking about, Ed.  I think we‘ve gotten into this habit, Ed, of where we‘re getting really mad about the little things and then we lose the big outrages, like the fact that they‘ve gutted all the financial reforms that would make sure that another AIG didn‘t happen again. 

The derivatives, where is that, Ed?  Amendment after amendment being voted down, being voted down by the Democratic House.  It‘s outrageous. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, Roy, you know that they are just too big to fail, and you also know that if we don‘t hand out all these bonuses on Wall Street, we‘re going to lose some of the good people because nobody else can do this kind of work.  I mean, you know, it‘s business as usual.  It really is.

SEKOFF:  It‘s retention pay, Ed.  What‘s going to happen to these people if we don‘t retain them?  Where oh where are they going to go?


SCHULTZ:  All right.

SEKOFF:  Go ahead.

SCHULTZ:  Go ahead.

SEKOFF:  No, I was just going to say that with AIG, let‘s not forget, the real thing that has to happen was the American people got royally screwed with this whole bailout and there has never been a full investigation.  Remember the transparency?  That we haven‘t gotten.

So, yes, I‘d like to get this bonus money, but what I‘d really like to is get down to the facts of what really happened so we can prevent it from happening again.  And that‘s what we‘re not getting, Ed.  We‘re getting the lobbyists—can you believe, this Ed?  Four million foreclosure notices went out this year, and yet the Democratic House voted down, crammed down legislation that would have let people rework those?

Those are the outrages that I think we really should be getting upset about right here before Christmas. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, the people have got to know that it‘s still business as usual, and we‘ve still got a lot of mopping up to do.  It‘s going to take a big, dry mop to deal with this one. 

Roy, great to have you on.  Have a great holiday.  We‘ll see you next year.  Thanks so much. 

SEKOFF:  We‘ll see you, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  You bet. 

Coming up, we know this country has an obesity problem, but what may shock you is how many kids go to bed hungry every night.  I‘ll tell you what you can do to put a stop to all of this by 2015. 

Can we do that? 

That‘s coming up next on THE ED SHOW.  Stay with us. 


SCHULTZ:  And we go to the “Playbook” at the bottom of the hour tonight.

And before you sit down for that big meal over the holiday season, I want to you think about a couple of things. 

According to the USDA, nearly one in four children in this country, the United States of America, struggle with hunger.  Three weeks before he was elected into office, President Obama set a very lofty goal to end child hunger in this country by 2015.  Since then, we haven‘t heard a whole lot about this. 

So, I wonder, is it getting better, is it getting worse?  The fact is, child hunger is an epidemic in our country and it might be getting better or worse.  Where does it stand right now? 

Joining me now is Bill Shore.  He is the founder and executive director of Share our Strength, a nonprofit organization committed to ending child hunger. 

Mr. Shore, nice to have you with us tonight. 

And during this holiday season, many of us in America are able to sit down with friends and family and have enough to eat.  And when I read this story, I thought, is this for real?  Is it getting worse or better, the last five years?  Give us a picture of what it‘s been like the last five years.

BILL SHORE, SHARE OUR STRENGTH:  Well, Ed, we‘re dealing with an issue of hunger right now which is at crisis levels unlike anything we have ever seen.  And what we have learned just in the last six weeks is, as you said, one in four kids are hungry.  The United States Department of Agriculture tells us that 49 million Americans are struggling with hunger, and that includes 17 million kids. 

We also know that one in four children in this country are on food stamps as part of a universe of more than 36 million Americans on food stamps for the first time in the history of the country.  And Share our Strength just released a survey that (INAUDIBLE) did for us that showed that in schools, where this is a particular problem—we tend to think of hunger as a poverty issue.  It‘s also an education issue and a health care issue. 

In school, 62 percent of public school teachers have kids in their class who are hungry because they‘re not getting enough to eat.  And 63 percent of those teachers are buying kids food with their own teacher salaries.


SHORE:  So, it‘s a serious problem, but the one good thing I would say about this is that President Obama‘s pledge to end hunger by 2015 has made a huge difference.  And one of the reasons that we‘re optimistic is that kids in this country are not hungry because they lack food or we lack food as a society.  We have it in abundance, the meals that you were talking about we‘re all about to sit down and enjoy.

Kids are not even hungry because we lack food and nutrition programs. 

We have those too.

Kids are hungry because they lack access to those programs.  And there are governors today in this country who have taken Obama‘s pledge seriously, Governor O‘Malley in Maryland and Governor Ritter in Colorado, and said we‘re going to do this in our states first, and they‘re knocking down these barriers to access.

SCHULTZ:  So, it‘s not just about income.  It‘s about what we‘re doing as a society and our behavior as much as anything else. Do I hear that right?

SHORE:  I think it‘s both.  Most of the kids who are hungry in this country are obviously the poor kids, the lowest income kids.  They don‘t have access to these programs.  One of the reasons that they don‘t, though, is because they‘re among the most voiceless and vulnerable kids in their society.

SCHULTZ:  How do we change this?  How do we help?  How do we turn this  around?  What‘s the blue print to change this around? 

SHORE:  I think the blueprint is to take the programs that exist that have bipartisan support, programs like school breakfast, like school lunch, Summer feeding, food stamps, and make sure that kids are getting enrolled in these programs. 

So, for example, in a lot of states, in most states, the kids who are enrolled in school lunch, which includes most of the kids in a low-income community, less than half of those kids get school breakfast.  Those are things that governors can do something about, that school superintendents can do something about. 

An issue like hunger in America is an issue that everybody can play a role in.  A lot of this has to do with how this works on the ground at the community level.  That‘s what Share Our Strength has been trying to do with governors and local officials across the country. 

SCHULTZ:  Share Our Strength founding and executive director Bill Shore.  Mr. Shore, good to have you with us tonight.  We‘ll shed more on this subject, talk more about it in the coming year.  I think it‘s something that we‘ve just got to beat in this country.  We‘ve got to enhance the living conditions of a lot of young people.  And I know we can do it as a country.  Great to have you on tonight.  Thank you. 

SHORE:  Thank you for bringing it to light. 

SCHULTZ:  You bet. 

Coming up, one of Senator Ted Kennedy‘s closest friends is going to be here to tell us what the liberal lion would have really done, in the end, with the Senate health care bill as it stands.  Would he really go for it?

And somebody out there wants to give Shooter the man of the year award?  Better believe it.

Plus, Balloon Boy‘s parents, they are headed to the clink.  Lizz Winstead coming up in the Ed Club Comedy Central.   Stay with us.  We‘re right back with THE ED SHOW.


SCHULTZ:  Assuming there are no surprises, the health care bill will be a done bill in just about 12 hours.  But progressives are holding their ground on this.  This is a bait and switch by the White house.  You can‘t trade a bill with a strong public option for a Joe Lieberman version and call it reform, because it is not.  Many progressives, including my next guest, are going so far as to say, kill the bill. 

Joining me now is Darcy Burner, executive director of the  She calls the current bill a national disaster. 

Darcy, nice to have you on tonight. 


SCHULTZ:  It‘s a national disaster to cover 31 million people?  Is there anything in this bill that you can accept and move forward with? 

BURNER:  The extension of coverage is fantastic.  But the Lieberman version of the bill, rather than fixing the structural problems of our health care system, and putting patients ahead of profiteering, simply institutionalizes the worst problems in our system, and insures that private insurers are the only choose that the American public is going to have.  It doesn‘t do enough for choice.  It doesn‘t do enough for competition. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  How confident are you that the representatives coming out of the House that are going to be on the conference committee—we don‘t know who they are right now—are going to push hard enough to fight this in conference committee, and make the changes, after some of the things that Joe Lieberman and Kent Conrad have said about, you know, it‘s kind of got to come back the same way that the Senate has send it out.  What about that? 

BURNER:  It‘s certainly the case that there are members of the Senate

who have forgotten that the Senate is only half of Congress.  But need to

get 218 votes in the House as well.  And nobody that I‘m talking to on the

House side thinks that they have 218 votes for the Senate bill.  It‘s not -

frankly, the Senate bill is shameful compared to what came out of the House.  The House bill was deeply compromised.  But at least had the provisions in place for choice and competition that would have put us on the right track. 

The senate bill, all of that has been stripped out on behalf of Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson. 

SCHULTZ:  OK, so kill the bill.  You heard Elijah Cummings earlier in the program saying that this is Obama‘s moment; this is our chance to do something that hasn‘t been done.  Why not accept that, pass this and come back next year or the next session of Congress, and work on it to be even better?  What‘s wrong with that strategy?

BURNER:  Because it is unlikely they‘re going to revisit again.  I agree that this President Obama‘s moment.  And as somebody who was incredibly supportive of him while he was running, I want to see him live up to his potential.  He needs to demonstrate some of the real leadership that the American people have believed he was capable of and fix this bill, so that what we get for the American people is at least being on the path of a fixed health care system. 

Rather than simply handing more and more money to insurance companies, requiring that 30 million people buy insurance from private insurance companies without addressing the competition problems, without addressing the cost problems adequately. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.  And what do you make of his comment, I didn‘t campaign on the public option? 

BURNER:  He did campaign on the public option.  And it‘s very convenient for him right now to play politics.  I believe he‘s better than what we are seeing of him right now.  I believe this president has the ability to make the right things happen on this bill.  What needs to come out of conference is a whole lot closer to the House bill than the Senate bill.  And he needs to make sure that after it comes out of conference, it gets through the Senate.  He has the capacity to do that.  He needs to step up and do it for the sake of the people. 

SCHULTZ:  So you think the president did campaign on the public option? 

BURNER:  Yes. 

SCHULTZ:  Our NBC News political team—you know, their position is

and factually the president is correct when he tells the “Washington Post” that he did not campaign on the public option.  But after he became president, he did move forward and make numerous statements about his support for it. 

But does it matter?  I said in opening commentary tonight,  it‘s immaterial.  I think it‘s  very clear what the president wanted and now we don‘t have that.  So how does that sit with you? 

BURNER:  Well, I think that having it in his key position papers while he was campaigning, having it up on his website indicates some support for the public option while he was campaigning.  While he was campaigning, he was pro public option and anti-mandate.  Now we have a bill with a mandate, that requires every American to buy insurance, and no public option.

SCHULTZ:  Darcy Burner, thanks for being on tonight.  Appreciate your time tonight. 

I now want to turn to long time Democratic strategist and NYU professor Bob Shrum.  Bob, good to have you on tonight.  You‘re a master of campaign.  You‘ve been around them all your life.  What about this comment that President Obama made to the “Washington Post?”  He said he didn‘t campaign on the public option.  There are a lot in the progressive community that are kind of twisted on that one.  What do you think? 

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  I think that‘s probably factually true.  I also agree with you that it‘s irrelevant.  Where you and I disagree, I think—I spent 40 years being called a liberal and it‘s not always been meant as a compliment.  I think that the president is on the verge of an historic achievement.  If we walk away from covering 31 million people, banning insurance companies from denying people coverage for pre-existing conditions, preventing them from canceling people when they get sick—if we do that, we‘re not going to come back to this issue for six years, ten years, 15 years, 20 years. 

This country needs to move forward on health care.  I was listening to Darcy and I have enormous respect for her ideals.  Practically, I don‘t know what they think President Obama is supposed to do.  Is he supposed to mud wrestle Joe Lieberman?  The fact is, you‘ve got to get 60 votes in the Senate.  You‘ve got to get 218 votes in the House.  And if this is pulled off, and I think it will be, it will be a tremendous tribute to the president, to Harry Reid, and to Nancy Pelosi. 

SCHULTZ:  Where would the late Senator Kennedy—would he take this deal?  Would he move forward?  Would he view this as a big step forward, Bob?

SHRUM:  As Vicki Kennedy said in her op-ed last weekend, he certainly would.  He understood.  Last Summer, when I worked with him—and I know they spent a lot of time talking about the issue.  About six weeks before he died on a cover piece for “Newsweek,” right in that piece, he was insistent that we say that there‘s going to have to be compromise, that the bill was going to be imperfect, and that we‘d have to go back and deal with it in the years ahead. 

But to not move forward at this point, it seems to me, would not only waste an historic opportunity, but the people who believe in a progressive Congress, let me tell you, what you get next November will be the exact opposite of a progressive Congress.  You might even get a Republican one.  We went through this in 1993 and ‘94.  Let‘s not make the same mistake again. 

SCHULTZ:  What should the president do about a base that is somewhat disgruntled over this and pushing back, to the point where they‘re raising money, running commercials, doing robo calls.  These are the people who did believe in the change and believe in the hope and was there with the president all along?  How does the president deal with that, Bob?

SHRUM:  I think after this bill passes and he signs it into law, as we see the economy improve, as he moves ahead on issues like climate change, he‘s going to get a lot of support from the base.  But there‘s nothing new about this, Ed.  The technology is new, but the reaction is not new.  Franklin Roosevelt sat and waited until the Congress had sort of shaped Social Security before he actively intervened in that process.  John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson both came up with a civil rights bill that didn‘t cover voting rights, because they thought it couldn‘t be passed if it covered voting rights.  That bill did pass and then, two years later, voting rights passed. 

So I think people have to understand that when you look back at sort of those who have defined progressive change in this country, those who have defined liberal progress, and moving forward, they too, when they‘re presidents, have been criticized.  Presidential leadership is not about dictating to the Senate or the House.  Presidential leadership is about being both realistic and idealistic. 

SCHULTZ:  All right, Bob.  I guess your red headed friend, Ed, would just be a greedy liberal then.  Is that right? 

SHRUM:  No, Ed, look, I understand people‘s frustrations here.  I‘m for single payer.  It‘s not going to pass.  I‘ve been in this fight for 40 years.  We‘re on the verge of winning this fight.  I think we ought to take the victory, celebrate it, understand its shortcomings, and, in the years ahead, see if we can make it better. 

SCHULTZ:  Bob Shrum, great to have you on.  Happy holidays.  Thank you for joining us.  All the best. 

SHRUM:  Thank you.  Bye. 

SCHULTZ:  For more, let‘s bring in our panel tonight, Jack Rice, radio talk show host, and former CIA officer, and Ron Christie with us tonight, Republican strategist.

I‘m going to lighten it up right off the top, because you guys are on this program quite a bit.  I appreciate you being here.  In the spirit of the holiday season, because tomorrow‘s Christmas eve, Ron Christie, what do you want for Christmas? 

RON CHRISTIE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  I want to spend time with my wife and my family down in Suffolk, Virginia, and just have a good opportunity to put politics aside, spent good, quality family time, and get charged up for the New Year.  That would be my great Christmas president, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  You know, I could take that in a heartbeat.  Jack Rice, how about you?  What‘s your holiday wish here?

JACK RICE, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  I‘m totally with you on this one.  Just back from Afghanistan.  I‘m just glad to come back with everything attached.  I‘m going to sit down on the couch with my wife and four daughters and look around at them, and let them mess with me for the next 24, 48 hours.  It‘s fantastic. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.  I asked both of you that question because I want our audience to know that I think you guys are good guys.  And all the people that we bring on this program are not just talking heads.  They have real lives and they mean a lot to us.  I appreciate your time and great to have you on.

Let‘s get to the meat of the issue here.  Let‘s pick up on what Bob Shrum was talking about.  Do you agree with him?  He was using some real strong verbiage about where we are historically, Ron Christie.  Do you believe that? 

CHRISTIE:  No, I don‘t.  I think this is an historic opportunity for the United States Congress to make a colossal mistake.  All of the promises that the president and the Congress made, that we were going to slow the rate of growth, that we were going to bend that cost curve, that we were going to cover these people, has turned out to be one of the most egregious examples of corruption that we‘ve seen in American history.  These buy-offs, the Ben Nelson buy-off, the Bill Nelson from Florida buy-off for Medicare, Mary Landrieu from Louisiana, her 300 million. 

This isn‘t about health care reform, Ed.  I think the people in the United States Senate saw it as their opportunity to take and grab whatever they could get for their home state, in the spirit of Christmas and the holiday season, not really do meaningful health care reform. 

SCHULTZ:  Jack Rice, your take at this hour?  The vote is tomorrow morning at 8:00.  What do you think? 

RICE:  I‘m thrilled that there‘s 31 million more people who are going to be covered.  I‘m thrilled that the caps are there, that the pre-existing issues are all there. 

The real problem is the structural failures here.  I like the House bill much more than the Senate bill.  What I‘m hoping is that when we get to committee, it‘s going to push that direction. 

But I do think this is historic.  And to somehow say this is unique, please, let me take you back to Medicare Part D.  Let‘s take a look at what the Republicans failed to do.  Ron and I disagree on most things.  On this issue, I think we can see the problems.  But this isn‘t the first time we‘ve seen these similar problems. 


CHRISTIE:  The only thing I‘d say to that; for the first time in American history, we‘re going to have an individual mandate, where the United States government mandates that Americans buy a particular good or service.  We can do much better than this.

SCHULTZ:  I struggle with that myself. 

RICE:  I know.  We actually all agree on that same point.  I‘m with you there. 

SCHULTZ:  And on that point, you guys have a great holiday season. 

Great to have you with us regularly on the program.  Take care. 

All right.  Coming up, the three stooges of the death panel, Rush Limbaugh, Dick Morris and Sarah Palin, they make it to Psycho Talk.  Actually, it‘s a Psycho Talk trio.  You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC. 

Stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  In Psycho Talk tonight, our friends over at Politi-Fact asked their readers to vote on, quote, the lie of the year.  It should be pretty easy to find out.  Overwhelmingly, they selected death panels.  On the same day that report came out, America‘s most—foremost expert in not telling the truth used it on his radio show.  Here‘s the leader of the Republican party, Rush Limbaugh.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  This will destroy the greatest health care system in the world, as you and I are aware.  This will forever change the relationship that you and I have with our doctors, because the government is going to be pay a very powerful middle man.  There are death panels in this bill.  And this is what Harry Reid says cannot be repealed. 


SCHULTZ:  And it‘s just this morning on Fox that Dick Morris just couldn‘t help but continue the lie of the year. 


DICK MORRIS, FOX NEWS ANALYST:  They are going to be saying, no, you can‘t give this person hip replacement; they‘re too old.  And no, you can‘t treat this person with colon cancer with the best drug available.  I know it increases the chance of them dying, but it‘s beyond the cost parameters that we‘re prepared to allow.  And this will be done by this federal board, which is really the death panel that Sarah Palin was talking about. 


SCHULTZ:  Well, Dick, Sarah Palin is still talking about it.  The originator of the death panel lie thought it needed a little reinforcement with a holiday Tweet.  And she Tweeted with the quote, almost like military language here, “merged bill, maybe unrecognizable from what assumed was a done deal.  Are death panels back in?  What is punishment for not purchasing mandated health care?” 

Republicans must be pretty desperate if this is the only thing that they can come up with during the last 24 hours of this debate.  This lie of the year trifecta is fraudulent Psycho Talk.

Coming up, this week, Tom Coburn prayed for a colleagues misfortune.  Michele Bachmann prayed for reform to die.  And Senator Inhofe better pray, because Lizz Winstead is in the house and she‘s coming up next in Club Ed.  Stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  It‘s time now for Club Ed.  Lizz Winstead, co creator of “The Daily Show” and the brains behind “Wake Up World.”  Lizz will tell you tonight that I am a very cheap act.  She got me for nothing here.  I‘m going to be doing a gig with her on New Years Eve here Minneapolis.  I just hope I don‘t have to talk very much.  How is that going to work, Lizz?  Is that going to be OK? 

LIZZ WINSTEAD, “WAKE UP WORLD”:  It‘s going to be great.  Basically, just sit there and we‘ll do the year in Psycho Talk.  It‘s going to be awesome.  Amongst other things in the evening, you just sit there.  You know the drill.  You‘re good and you‘re cheap. 

SCHULTZ:  That‘s right.  I‘m looking forward to it.  I notice that we‘ve got a lot of praying lately.  What‘s your analysis of what is going on? 

WINSTEAD:  Dude, it‘s so crazy to watch Michele Bachmann, the pied viper, leading, first of all, a conference call prayer, which is always horrifying, to see people calling in, and then Dobson pops in on the call to weigh in his two cents on praying and health care, and I guess just to get a jab in there about gay marriage or maybe they are going to reimport gay marriage into the country.  I really don‘t know why Dobson was on the call. 

And then Coburn prays for some Democrat not to mysteriously show up.  Here‘s one thing I hope, Ed; I hope that somewhere in the health care bill that there is full funding for a separation of church and state, because I think that‘s a procedure that we can all agree needs to be lanced. 

SCHULTZ:  What‘s happening with the health care bill?  We‘re hearing now that it‘s not going to be ready for the president to sign until after the State of the Union.

WINSTEAD:  I know.  Apparently the House is saying they won‘t be able to get to it because they are going to be on a scheduled retreat in January.  Ed, haven‘t they really been on retreat all year, so it seems to me?  It makes me really mad. 

SCHULTZ:  What about Dick Cheney?  I see the awards just keep coming. 

Somebody wants to make him the conservative of the year.

WINSTEAD:  Yes, “Human Events Magazine” has awarded Dick Cheney the coveted prize conservative of the year, which is sort of just below irritable bowel of the year. 

SCHULTZ:  OK, Lizz, always great to see you.  Have a great holiday. 

WINSTEAD:  Thanks, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  We‘ll see you on News Years Eve, absolutely.

Tonight, in our text survey, I asked our viewing audience tonight: do you believe President Obama broke a promise on the public option?  Seventy three percent of you said yes; 27 percent of you said no. 

I want to thank all of you for watching.  I also have a request.  Turn this off.  I‘m going to turn mine off for three days.  And I‘ll be back with you on Monday.  I‘ve got to get to work on Sunday, so I know what the heck is going on, so we know what we‘re talking about on Monday.  But I‘m going to turn this thing off—I think they call this a Blackberry.  It bugs me all the time.  I‘m going to turn it off for three days and enjoy my family, enjoy my wife, and also enjoy the fact that I went to the doctor today and he told me that all of my numbers are just fine.  So I‘m a very lucky guy. 

If you‘re healthy and if you‘ve got family, just remember in this holiday season, you can take whatever comes the next day.  That‘s “THE ED SHOW.”  Chris Matthews is next.



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