Guests: Ron Wyden; Bob Shrum, Robert Reich, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, John Feehery, Nancy Giles, Rep. Alan Grayson, Danny Thompson, Bill Press.
HOST: Good evening, Americans, and welcome to THE ED SHOW tonight from New York, where it‘s snowing. Take it from a guy from the Dakotas and Minnesota, we‘re going to get through it. It‘s going to be OK.
But these are the stories that are hitting my hot buttons tonight.
The Republicans go on the war path against John Brennan, painting the career CIA officer as a political hack and even a czar. So much for respecting and honoring our intelligence officials in this country.
And the Republicans, they‘re backing off their ultimatum and accept an invitation to discuss health care on live television with the president. This really could be a real chance for the president to get aggressive and prove to his base he‘s with him.
And why in the world is President Obama defending multimillion-dollar bonuses for Wall Street? Or is he? That‘s what the American people want to hear, that he‘s not. Congressman Alan Grayson will be here in the “Playbook” later on.
And I‘ll also have commentary tonight on Harry Reid. Just how vulnerable is he in his state of Nevada?
But first, this, of course, is a story that has us all fired up tonight. The Republicans, they don‘t turn the pages very fast. They‘re a little slow, aren‘t they?
They were told on Christmas night that the alleged bomber was being interrogated by the FBI. I don‘t know why that didn‘t register, but it took them more than a month for them to come out and start crying foul about the whole thing.
On Sunday, President Obama‘s top counterterrorism chief simply pointed out that the Republicans didn‘t object what they were told. Now three days later, the Republicans have decided that Brennan, well, let‘s see, he‘s a liar, he‘s making the country less safe, and, oh, by the way, he ought to be fired.
Two of the Republicans who were briefed on Christmas Day, Congressman Pete Hoekstra, and also Senator Kit Bond, are calling for Brennan to get the boot 47 days after the interrogation of the alleged bomber started? Now, if you have any question about whether the Republicans are just playing politics with all of this, just consider Mr. Hoekstra‘s comments.
Here‘s what he said after Brennan appeared on “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “I don‘t Brennan is lying. I think what he is saying is that he gave us some info, and based on that kind of info, we should have figured out something else. That‘s an unfair characterization.”
All right. Now, that quote was in “The Hill” newspaper.
Well, let‘s fast forward to Hoekstra and what he said on the right-wing network today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. PETER HOEKSTRA ®, MICHIGAN: This is an individual—he‘s a staffer. He is a White House staffer. He‘s kind of a mini czar.
I‘m not sure that he resigns. I think this is really a decision that the president has to take. This guy is poisoning the well. I think the president probably should fire this guy because he‘s off base and inconsistent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Inconsistent is changing your tune from Brennan‘s “not lying” to Brennan‘s “poisoning the well” in just 72 hours. And Hoekstra had to attack the righties‘ favorite buzzword, “czar,” to help make his case in front of the right-wing audience.
Senator Kit Bond went on MSNBC‘s “DAILY RUNDOWN” this morning to talk about his call for Brennan to resign, but Bond really couldn‘t produce any proof that the interrogation had been botched.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When Richard Reid was Mirandized, treated in the civilian court system, the same with Zacarias Moussaoui, the 9/11 co-conspirator, did you call for anyone‘s resignation because of that? Because essentially, it‘s the same policy at work.
SEN. KIT BOND ®, MISSOURI: It‘s a lot different time, number one.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How is it different?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Well, I‘ll tell you how it‘s different. Bush was the president then.
Here‘s the rest of Bond‘s tap dance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOND: All right. Number one, we now have military commissions.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were military commissions then.
BOND: We‘ve set up military commissions. It turns out that mirandizing Richard Reid and trying him in the civilian court was a bad idea.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, in fact, he‘s serving a life sentence right now. He will never get out.
How is that a failure?
BOND: You don‘t get the information you need.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: I don‘t know. It must be the weather in Washington. They just make up all kinds of stuff. Don‘t they?
Bond has no clue what he‘s talking about. That is proof that the Republicans, they have nothing.
There‘s no substantial criticism here. It‘s—well, it‘s just the same old tired thing that the Democrats just can‘t keep you safe and they won‘t protect the country garbage. We‘ve heard it before.
Get your cell phones out, folks. I want to know what you think about all of this.
Tonight‘s text survey is: Do you think that the Republicans are more interested in your safety or scoring political points?
Text “A” for safety, meaning yes, and text “B” for political points no to 622639. We‘ll bring you the results later on in the program.
Joining me now is Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon. He‘s a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Ron, great to have you with us tonight. Thanks for coming over in a snowstorm.
SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: Thank you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: All right.
Well, you‘re from Oregon. You know how to shovel out. You know what that‘s all about.
All right, Senator. Let‘s talk about Mr. Brennan. Should he go? Has he done something seriously egregious and incompetent that he needs to be removed from his position?
WYDEN: I certainly don‘t think so. And it seems to me, Ed, he is a policy adviser. And what this debate ought to be all about are policies that are going to protect the American people in a dangerous time rather than politics.
That‘s what I‘m interested in. And I‘m particularly interested in making sure that these terrorists don‘t get propaganda points.
For example, in a number of instances they would like to be tried in military tribunals. They want this special status. They want to be called soldiers at war.
We ought to make sure they don‘t get that special status. Let‘s make sure they‘re terrorists. Let‘s try them in a place where we‘re going to make sure the American people are protected.
And I‘m glad that people like Moussaoui and Yusuf and Richard Reid, I‘m glad they are never going to see the light of day. They are in that maximum security facility. They aren‘t getting out today, tomorrow, or ever.
SCHULTZ: This is all about Miranda rights, isn‘t it, Senator? And this is all about whether we are just too soft on people who want to hit this country.
Take us through the weeds. What should we do? Should we Mirandize these folks that try to hit this country? Where do you stand on that?
WYDEN: I think you can certainly debate whether there ought to be a better-defined process for dealing with a terrorist who is captured in our country. But what I believe I ought to be doing as a member of the Intelligence Committee is making sure that our military officials, our intelligence officials and our law enforcement officials have the tools and the flexibility to make these decisions where timing can be critical.
I‘m not going to, in effect, second-guess them. I think we‘ve got the best in those fields. I want them to have the tools and the flexibility to protect our people.
And Senator Wyden, do you think that it was a courtesy call to the leadership on both sides of the aisle on Christmas night? And when Mr. Brennan said the FBI has him in custody, should the officials that he was speaking to, the elected officials, have known that Miranda rights were going to be read?
WYDEN: I think it‘s obvious what he was trying to do was share all of the information that he had. And that‘s what I think the relationship between the executive branch and the members of Congress ought to be. So, what you‘re trying to do is offer up information, and everything that I have been able to pick up on this is what he did was professional.
So, in your opinion, do the Republicans have a legitimate gripe here, or are they just still throwing the same old stuff at us, like, hey, if you‘re not torturing them, you‘re not getting the job done?
WYDEN: I think what we ought to be doing in the intelligence arena is working together against al Qaeda. Essentially, that‘s what they want.
They think it‘s great when you can have these debates about politics, and Democrats and Republicans slugging each other up on Capitol Hill. Let‘s team up to make sure we get sensible policies.
I think, for example, there shouldn‘t be a hard and fast rule whether you try people in civilian court or in military tribunals. There is a good argument for trying a number of cases in military tribunals, especially if you capture a terrorist in the field of combat. But there shouldn‘t be a hard and fast rule. Let‘s make sure that military officials, intelligence officials, law enforcement officials have some flexibility.
SCHULTZ: Senator Wyden, good to have you with us tonight. Thanks so much.
WYDEN: Thank you.
SCHULTZ: Ron Wyden from Oregon on the Select Senate Intelligence Committee, with us here on THE ED SHOW.
Let‘s turn now for more on this story to Democratic strategist Bob Shrum.
He‘s also a professor at New York University.
Bob, good to have you on tonight on this issue, because it just appears to me that the Republicans are trying to make terrorism an issue, security an issue, because they really have offered nothing up in any other part of the agenda within the last year and have tried to obstruct everything.
Your thoughts on that? Is this their play for 2010?
BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, it‘s one of their plays, and it‘s an ugly play.
John Brennan is a career CIA guy, former deputy to the director of the CIA under George W. Bush, the first head of the National Counterterrorism Office. This person has done more to protect America and America‘s security, I would dare to say, than most politicians who serve in Congress.
They went after him because he exploded their lie. Their lie was that because the underwear bomber was given his Miranda warning, by the way, just in accordance with the Bush rules that had been established and inherited by this administration, and the same as the warning that was given to Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, they assumed that some how or another—and they went out and said we lost all sorts of valuable information.
It turns out we‘re getting all sorts of valuable information. That‘s coming from lots of different sources. His parents came over here and helped persuade him to cooperate. You know, I don‘t think waterboarding would have gotten him to do that.
SCHULTZ: I don‘t think so either.
A “Washington Post”/ABC News poll asked folks, “Who do you trust more on terrorism?” The president outdistanced the Republicans, 47 percent to 42 percent.
Do you think the president should address this, or is this over with?
SHRUM: I think it‘s largely over with, and I think Republicans are transparent. I mean, look, Newt Gingrich, who‘s an occasional buffoon, is also sometimes a serious man.
He got on television today—or this morning or last night—and said that Richard Reid got his Miranda warnings because he was an American citizen. That‘s a lie. He got a Miranda warning—he was a British citizen.
SHRUM: I guess there‘s a whole part of the Birthers movement that believes Obama wasn‘t born here and Richard Reid was.
SCHULTZ: Well, you know, Mr. Gingrich was on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart. Here‘s that exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON STEWART, “THE DAILY SHOW”: The only thing I would say to that is, didn‘t they do the same with Richard Reid, who was the shoe bomber?
NEWT GINGRICH, FMR. HOUSE SPEAKER: Richard Reid was an American citizen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: That, of course, is not true. He‘s a British citizen.
What does that tell you, that they are just trying to confuse the American public? And do you think Newt Gingrich is a flat-out liar, or did he just misspeak there?
SHRUM: Most of the time I think Newt Gingrich is very smart and knows what he‘s talking about. I can‘t tell you whether or not he intentionally did it, but I will tell you that what he did was a lie.
And the Republicans have done pretty well lying so far in the last year. Death panels caused a whole uproar about a health care reform bill in which there are no death panels. So I think it all comes from the same playbook.
The tragedy here is, it‘s one thing, it‘s a horrible human injustice to obstruct health care. But it‘s quite another thing when it comes to national security and the safety of this country in a potential terrorist attack to use it as a political football. I salute John Brennan and I think the people who are attacking him are shameful.
SCHULTZ: All right. We‘re going to talk about health care a little bit later on in this program, because the Republicans, of course, are backing off, saying that they‘re going to show up at this televised hearing coming up on February 25th.
But I want to ask you finally, Bob, isn‘t this an opportunity for the president to go on the offensive in front of the Republicans and the country to make sure that people know exactly where he stands and how obstructionist they have been, or is this going to be a love-in? What do you think?
SHRUM: What, you mean the health care panel?
SCHULTZ: Yes, the health care summit coming up later on? Don‘t you think?
SHRUM: Look, I think the Republicans are lying about the health care summit, too. They‘re saying either we won‘t go, or we‘ll go if he throws away the whole bill. We‘re really interested in starting over and reforming health care.
And the sum total of the proposals they put on the table would get health insurance to three or four million Americans and leave tens of millions without health care. It‘s the same old page from the same old playbook. They want to destroy Obama. They hope the economy goes bad, and they‘re playing politics with national security.
SCHULTZ: Bob Shrum, great to have you on.
SHRUM: Thank you.
SCHULTZ: Always like your insight on things. Thanks so much.
Coming up, first Eric Cantor folded, and now other Republicans are starting to buckle on their bluff of the president‘s plan to televise the health care debate.
And the boys on Wall Street, well, they‘re still raking in big bonuses, and it doesn‘t seem to be bothering the president. Or does it? I‘ll ask Congressman Alan Grayson how he feels about that.
All that, plus right-wing media is just absolutely pelting Al Gore with snowballs, but they better duck, because I‘ve got him in “Psycho Talk” with the facts.
You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.
Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: And in “Psycho Talk” tonight, the righties. They‘re just falling all over themselves to seize on this—what they say, massive opportunity, massive snowstorms in D.C., as real proof that global warming just doesn‘t exist.
Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, his family—isn‘t it cute—they built an igloo on the National Mall and called it Al Gore‘s new home.
Senator Jim DeMint from South Carolina tweeted that, “It‘s going to keep
snowing in D.C. until Al Gore cries ‘uncle.‘”
And then, of course, there‘s these bozos on the tube.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: It‘s the most severe winter storm in years, which would seem to contradict Al Gore‘s hysterical global warming theories.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This administration is obsessed with global warming.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: While we‘ve had these big snowstorms, the federal government, the Obama administration talking about creating a new federal office to study global warming.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It‘s interesting, though, given the fact that the weather is so rotten right now and people are going, how could there be global warming if it‘s snowing and it‘s bitterly cold?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Now, we know that all of those people went to “An Inconvenient Truth,” which was just absolutely filled with factual information. I‘m sure all of them studied that. That‘s a lot of hot air from folks who don‘t believe in global warming at all or climate change.
Let me clear this up. Global warming is a gradual process. Class in session from Fox.
So, you have to look at the long-term trends, not individual storms.
The last decade was the warmest one on record. And global warming doesn‘t mean no more snowstorms. In fact, we may see stronger storms.
Global warming means the air is getting hotter. Hot air can hold more moisture. So, any given storm system can hold and then dump more snow.
Let me point out that the two major storms in the D.C. area this winter are among the 10 heaviest snowfalls ever recorded there. And they both happened within a few months of each other.
So, for right-wingers to use two snowstorms to completely discount global warming is ignorant “Psycho Talk.”
Coming up, while the rest of Washington whimpers, the president, he isn‘t taking a snow day. He‘s working hard to create jobs. I‘ll ask the man who helped Bill Clinton create 22 million of them for advice next.
Robert Reich joins me in just a moment.
Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.
Coming up in the next half hour, we‘re going to be talking about Harry Reid. Is he still the man for the job?
But first, let‘s talk jobs.
Come hell or high water, or 25 inches of snow, the president and his party are plowing ahead on a jobs bill. African-American leaders braved the elements to meet with the president today and talk about jobs at the White House. And Senate Democrats are saying that they‘re going to go ahead with their meeting on jobs and work on the jobs bill tomorrow.
Joining me for more on that is former labor secretary Robert Reich, professor at UC Berkeley and author of the book “Supercapitalism.”
Mr. Reich, we know how many jobs that the Clinton administration created when you were there, 22 million jobs. And you pretty much—I don‘t mean to discard that, but you were a beneficiary of the dot-com boom. And I think a lot of people right now want to know, what is the next boom? Is it rebuilding the infrastructure of this country?
And once we do that, if that is the answer, where do those jobs go? I mean, what do you think we need to do to create long-lasting, sustainable jobs in an economy where over the next five to 10 years we can bounce back?
ROBERT REICH, FMR. LABOR SECRETARY: Well, Ed, it is rebuilding the infrastructure. It is not just the fancy things like new high-speed rail. It‘s also our water and sewer systems, our highways. The entire infrastructure has deteriorated substantially over the last 10 to 15 years. We need to rebuild it for our future productivity, not just for our jobs.
We rebuild the infrastructure. We get a modern infrastructure for the 21st century, and that generates more jobs because it means that transportation and communication systems and sanitation systems are up to the—basically where we ought to be as a nation.
SCHULTZ: So what has to be in this jobs bill? There‘s a lot of states out there that can‘t make their budget. If they get money allocated to them, there‘s going to be a real appetite to take that money and run their state operations and meet commitments—fire, police protection, education, higher education, all of the things that have been shortchanged—No Child Left Behind, federal payments haven‘t shown up.
What has to be in this jobs bill?
REICH: Well, not only the infrastructure stuff, but also, Ed, as you just suggested, a lot of states right now, if they can‘t pay their firefighters, if they can‘t pay their police officers, if they can‘t pay their teachers, I mean, the communities of this country at a time of enormous need, when people need those kinds of public services more than they even normally do, those communities are not getting them. So, obviously, part of the jobs bill has got to be to help out local communities and help out our states.
Now, it may be in the form of a loan. I mean, the states could get a loan and say, look, we commit to paying it back when times get better. But most states and most localities cannot run deficits according to their own constitutions and bylaws and provisions. And therefore, the federal government has got to step in. This is a real emergency situation, and the emergency continues.
SCHULTZ: Yes. And let‘s talk turkey on China. They are eating our lunch. The trade deficit was much greater than expected in December, over $40 billion.
Unless we address these trade agreements, Mr. Reich, how is this going to change?
REICH: Well, over the long term, Ed, it‘s not going to change. We‘ve got to make sure that China appreciates its currency, lets its currency go up, because otherwise we‘re not going to have any access to that Chinese market. It‘s a huge market, it‘s a growing market. That‘s the future market in terms of rapidly growing middle class.
But if we can‘t get in there, and if China refuses to raise its currency, then we are going to be stuck. Those trade imbalances are going to continue.
So, one aspect of our foreign policy has got to push China, use everything we have at our disposal. Now, it‘s a problem because we owe China money. But, by the same token, China is our largest creditor, and they are going to be left holding an awful lot of American dollars that are not going to be worth all that much if we can‘t get out of our current slump.
SCHULTZ: We‘ve got to make stuff in this country.
Mr. Reich, great to have you with us tonight. Thanks so much.
REICH: We‘ll see you, Ed. Bye-bye.
SCHULTZ: The president says he wants to increase exports, double exports within the next five years.
Coming up, after 10 months of Waterloo, the Republicans will finally have to face President Obama on health care. I‘ll ask The Nation‘s Katrina vanden Heuvel what she thinks of all of that and how the president should handle it.
And President Obama is calling multimillion-dollar Wall Street bonuses just part of the free market system. Really?
I‘ll ask populist crusader Alan Grayson what he makes of all of that in the “Playbook.”
And Harry Reid is on the ropes big time in Nevada. I‘m going to give him a standing eight-count tonight.
That‘s coming up here on THE ED SHOW.
Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Thanks for watching tonight. House Minority Whip Eric Cantor is backing off his ultimatum. Today on the right wing network he accepted President Obama‘s invitation to discuss health care live on national television.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You‘re showing up to this televised thing, right?
REP. ERIC CANTOR ®, OHIO: Absolutely. Republicans have always said we stand ready and willing to work with this president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Hmm. Cantor did not repeat his demand the Democrats throw out the existing health care bill in order to get Republicans to the meeting. Now on February 25th, Americans, all of us are going to be able to finally see which side has solutions and which side is sincere about getting something done for the American people.
According to the new “Washington Post”/ABC News poll, Americans are split over who is doing too little for bipartisanship? Fifty eight percent blame the Republicans, but 44 say President Obama isn‘t doing enough to work with the GOP. Folks, it‘s the stated goal of the Republicans to make sure that this president fails on everything. Bipartisanship is no exception. They want him to fail on that as well.
Republicans know that if they keep refusing to work with him, the voters will say that Obama failed to make Washington work, and, of course, who knows where civility will be when nothing happens between now and the midterm.
Joining me now is Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor, part owner of “The Nation.” Katrina, great to have you on with us tonight.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, “THE NATION”: Thank you.
SCHULTZ: There‘s going to be a great deal of anticipation coming up to this televised event on February 25th. But I also—from the progressive left perspective, where I am and you are, I‘ve got expectations of President Obama. I mean, I want him to go in there and sock it to them, because they‘ve been nothing but obstructionists. he can always listen and still stick it to them. Your thoughts on how he should handle this?
VANDEN HEUVEL: I think President Obama, after a year of essentially being knifed by the GOP, understands that bipartisanship is not working. Bipartisanship—true bipartisanship takes two to tango. And this is a Republican party which has profited too much -- continues to profit from obstructionism. And there‘s no sign that they are going to from mugging the president‘s agenda to a kumbya moment at this summit.
I do think President Obama has a strategy to smoke them out, and to begin to place the blame on the failure to govern responsibly at a time when this country has so many crises on this party, the party which doesn‘t have any solutions, which, as you‘ve said, Ed, has really worked hard to cripple the president‘s agenda, with the larger purpose of that Waterloo Senator Demint of South Carolina talked about ages ago.
So I think part of it, Ed, is to redefine bipartisanship. It‘s not about left or right. It‘s which party can put to the top of their priority lists the needs of working class, middle class Americans on job creations, on ending foreclosures, and on dealing with mounting credit card debt, and health care, Ed. That is still central to the economic security of the country.
SCHULTZ: It‘s only getting worse. We had a story on here with Kathleen Sebelius. She wrote a letter to Anthem of Blue Cross. People are still getting stuck like crazy all over the country with high premiums.
They say it‘s the sausage making and legislation is tough and everything else. I think the American people want to see the president call these guys out and say, back on July 9th, you said Waterloo. Tell me if you really believe that. The American people need to hear where you‘re coming from. You‘ve obstructed every appointment. You‘ve obstructed 200 bills. What do you want to do? We‘ve got some things in this bill that you‘ve requested, that is in your solutions package. We don‘t have single payer. We don‘t have public option. Where is the give and take going to be?
VANDEN HEUVEL: I hate to speak for the American people. This is a country that is polarized. It‘s polarized partly because of forces which want to polarize this country. But I do think there‘s a common ground and there is leadership and there is common-sense reform that this president can lead on. And he needs to re-mobilize a base that put him into office, that wanted a mandate for change.
The crisis of our institutions is a longer conversation, not tonight. But we have an anti-Democratic super majority system. We have a Senate that isn‘t working. We have a House that has worked pretty well. And President Obama, rightly, in his State of the Union, called out the House for some good legislation. But let‘s smoke out those, and not just the Republicans—but they are the Republicans and the conserva-Dems, as I call them, who have obstructed the possibility of common-sense reform that will help millions of Americans achieve the opportunity this country is supposed to be about.
SCHULTZ: One final point I want to make with you, Katrina—I want your thoughts on this. There‘s been conversation on my talk show and others as well that maybe it‘s time to march on Washington, that the Tea Partiers have got to be answered, that they are in the minority, that the majority of Americans in this country want health care reform. Is there merit to a march, in your opinion?
VANDEN HEUVEL: I think there is. I think over the last year as Americans, I know people have said to me, why aren‘t people marching? Where is the outrage? I think this country is at a tipping point, where you need all of the Internet, and you need people mobilizing in their communities. But a big march, an organized, strategic march I think is something to show these Tea Partiers that they‘re not the silent majority at the moment. They are getting all the media attention. Come on. There‘s another majority that must speak. In the streets is one place, if it‘s strategic and organized.
SCHULTZ: Katrina, great to have you on. Thanks so much. Let‘s turn to our panel tonight. Nancy Giles is a social commentator and John Feehery, Republican strategist. Great to have both of you with us.
John, I‘ll start with you first because you made the comment previously that you think it‘s a bad idea for the Republicans to show up at this televised event with the president. You still feel that way? Now I see Mr. Cantor and Republican leadership has reversed course on this. Your thoughts?
JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: No, what I said is this is tricky for the Republicans. They have to be very careful. I think they have to lead with their ideas, and I think Eric Cantor and John Boehner are going to lead with their ideas.
Ed, there was a very interesting poll today in the “Washington Post.” Sixty percent of the American people think the current bill, health care bill is too expensive and too complicated. The GOP is with the American people on this. And if they can go to Mr. Obama and say, this is our problem with this bill; let‘s start over; let‘s start from scratch; here are our ideas; here are your ideas; let‘s fix it in a way that is not costly and not expensive and we can get this done—I think this will be good for the Republicans.
SCHULTZ: Nancy Giles, what‘s the best play? What do you think?
NANCY GILES, SOCIAL COMMENTATOR: Number one, I think that Cantor and Boehner and all of the Republicans who were around for George W. Bush‘s two terms—I wonder where their outrage was with the budget deficit, and where the outrage was about any kind of health care plan, because they have no plan. What really kills me is that the Democrats have already adopted major, major suggestions that the GOP has made, and even thrown out single payer and the—Medicare being extended to people age 55 and up.
We‘ve made so many compromises in order to try to be bipartisan.
What‘s the use? The republicans just keep lying.
FEEHERY: Nancy, the reason the Democrats made compromises was not for the Republicans. It was for the Democrats.
FEEHERY: Nancy, believe me, that‘s exactly the fact. They did not
make these compromises for Republicans. They made them for Democrats. And
SCHULTZ: Hold on, the president spent the summer and a good part of the fall, John, trying to get Olympia Snowe on. And the big question was would she go along with the trigger?
FEEHERY: They weren‘t talking to Republican leaders. They were trying to pick off one or two Republicans.
GILES: You know what, John, in the end, you‘ve got a president who‘s a leader, and is trying to lead the entire nation. And, of course, he‘s going to try to be bipartisan and listen to what the GOP has to say. But you guys have only said nothing, been obstructionist, or plain old lied about the facts.
SCHULTZ: John, let me ask you this: do you think that the Republicans have been obstructionist? Isn‘t it unusual? Senator—Vice President Joe Biden said the filibuster is now standard operating procedure. He‘s never seen that before. Aren‘t they overboard of being against about everything?
FEEHERY: Ed, they had 60 votes in the Senate.
SCHULTZ: I‘m asking about the Republicans, John.
FEEHERY: But I tell you what, they can‘t be obstructionist if the Democrats have all the votes. And the Democrats cannot get their own people on board.
SCHULTZ: John, they haven‘t wanted to work with the president on anything. It‘s my way or the highway.
FEEHERY: That‘s not true. Afghanistan.
GILES: I‘ve got to interrupt. Where was the GOP in terms of any ideas for health care while George W. Bush was president? And where was their outrage? Where was their outrage about the expenditures of George W. Bush and his administration? It wasn‘t there. This is just to stop any idea that President Obama has.
SCHULTZ: Final question. John, I want to ask you, have the Republicans gone overboard when it comes to obstructing at all?
FEEHERY: The American people believe that the Republicans are doing great because they are getting more and more support. They‘ve not gone overboard. They‘re defending issues for the American taxpayer.
SCHULTZ: Wow. Nancy and John, great to have you with us tonight.
Coming up, President Obama has been a populist—has been on a populist roll as of late. But I think he just slid a little bit off the road with this one, in dealing with the massive bonuses on Wall Street. Congressman Alan Grayson will try to get him back on the straight and narrow and find out where he stands on all of this in the play book. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: And in my playbook tonight, President Obama fumbled on this one. Yesterday, in his drive to win back his populist base, which he‘s been doing really well as of late with—in an interview with “Bloomberg Business Week,” he was asked about the massive bonuses recently awarded to the CEOs of JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs. The president responded with this quote, “I know both of those guys. They are very savvy business men. I, like most of the American people, don‘t be grudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free market system.”
I think that might be the most disconnected thing the president has said since taking office. He used the wrong method to explain that he is pro-business. you see, the Republicans for a long time have always tried to paint the Democrats as not business friendly. And I think the president kind of served something up for them there.
For more on this, let me bring in Florida Congressman Alan Grayson.
Mr. Grayson, great to have you on tonight.
REP. ALAN GRAYSON (D), FLORIDA: Thank you.
SCHULTZ: What do you make of the president‘s comment? Why is he warming up to Wall Street bonuses? Or is he?
GRAYSON: Well, he analogizes to what ball players make. You know, Wall Street people make millions. Ball players make millions. I guess I see his point. I mean, ball players entertain us, and Wall Street steals from us.
SCHULTZ: OK. But please don‘t tell me—and I‘m not saying this to you—but that the president, on the heals of a five to four vote by the Supreme Court that corporations can now just give unlimited cash in campaigns, that all of a sudden he sees it‘s kind of important to say, maybe I better let these guys know that they are not making too much money. Or is that too—
GRAYSON: What I think people are missing, Ed, is this: we had a national tragedy, an economic disaster that took place barely a year ago. In the last 18 months of the Bush administration, America lost 12 trillion dollars on its net worth. That‘s 40,000 dollars for every man, woman, and child in this country. I cannot think of a single person who has been held responsible for that, nobody in government, nobody on Wall Street, nobody nowhere. That‘s the fundamental problem right now.
And if people on Wall Street are going to continue to get great bonuses in good times and in bad times, we can kiss this economy good-bye. It‘s not going to work. In capitalism, winners have to win and losers have to lose. And nobody has been held responsible for that enormous erosion, 20 percent of our accumulated wealth over the course of two centuries gone in 18 months. Nobody has been punished for that. That‘s the problem.
SCHULTZ: And how do you feel about these bonuses these CEOs are getting?
GRAYSON: They are playing with other people‘s money. It‘s heads I win, tails you lose. In this case, you is America. They‘re taking other people‘s money, sweeping it up and using it to gamble. When they win, they keep it. When they lose, you lose.
SCHULTZ: Will the president and the Democrats pay a political price if they fail to get financial reform on Wall Street? Is the populist angst out there so strong that somebody is going to politically pay?
GRAYSON: I don‘t know and I don‘t care. I will tell you this:
America will pay the price. We‘ll all pay the price, because those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. Now we‘re talking about history that is barely twelve months old. We‘re going to be doomed to repeat another Great Recession, another Great Depression if we don‘t begin to find out who is responsible and hold them accountable.
SCHULTZ: Congressman Grayson, great to have you on. Thanks for your time tonight.
One last page in my playbook tonight, the Winter Olympics kickoff this Friday in Vancouver. But one key component of winter sports is in short supply. N BC‘s Natalie Morales has the details.
NATALIE MORALES, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Let the games be begin. OK, maybe not just yet. This is not the usual scenery you‘d expect right before the Winter Olympics. While the rare sunny day here and mild winter weather is a blessing for the every day athlete enjoying Vancouver‘s great outdoors, for the Olympic athlete and organizers, the warmup is the one hitch in the otherwise very well executed plans for these games.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the mountains behind me, there‘s only about three feet of snow. Last year at this time, there was ten feet of snow. Normally, we get periods of warm and colder weather alternating. But this year, since January 1st, it‘s been all heat.
MORALES: Cyprus Mountain, the venue for snow boarding and free style skiing, remains the only problem area.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We‘re dealing with a fairly freaky situation, but we‘re dealing with it. And our team has spent a lot more time on that mountain than off it in the last three or four weeks. They are doing a great job. It‘s an heroic effort. And the courses, I think, will be great.
MORALES: Hundreds of truckloads and air drops of snow continue in a race against time before Saturday‘s free style mogul skiing competition.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We compete on the first day. So we‘ve got to start getting our training ready. But I‘m really excited to get up there. And I think that they‘ve dealt with these conditions before. So they are going to do what they know how to do best. That will allow us to do what we can do best.
MORALES: Her teammate, Nate Roberts, also is not too worried.
NATE ROBERTS, OLYMPIAN: This is what we do. We compete. You have to adjust to every single condition, you know, if it‘s icy, wet, powdery. Everybody is here in this position because they are mentally tough. The most mentally tough person out there is going to come home with the gold.
MORALES (on camera): Meanwhile, the snow boarding venues, we are told, are still a work in progress. But they are nearly complete, and they will be ready by the time the competitions begin there on Monday the 15th.
SCHULTZ: And be sure to tune into NBC to watch the opening ceremonies this Friday, February 12th, at 9:00 pm Eastern time, 6:00 pm Pacific.
Coming up, Harry Reid is in deep trouble in his home state of Nevada. He might go down in history as one of the worst Senate Majority leaders ever. My guest doesn‘t see it that way. And we‘ll talk about it next on THE ED SHOW. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid showed some teeth last night, lashing out at Republicans after they blocked the confirmation of yet another Obama administration nominee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: What is being done to this president is unfair. It‘s never been done before.
We‘ve had to file cloture on many presidential nominees that President Bush never had to do. It‘s disgraceful. The Republicans are holding these people up for reasons that have nothing to do with the background, morality, competence of these people. They‘re just holding them up because they want to hold them up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Harry Reid hasn‘t backed up the tough talk. He‘s been, I think, somewhat of a week leader down the stretch, wasted the majority, as we‘re still waiting here for some changes on health care. And it‘s looking like his own Senate seat may be in Jeopardy this November. For instance, Senator Reid‘s approval rating in the Nevada Mason-Dixon poll is at 33 percent, unfavorable 52. AS for the Senate race, put him up against Mr. Tarkanian at 53 percent, Harry Reid at 31 percent.
Let‘s go to Danny Thompson, who is the executive secretary treasurer of the AFL-CIO of Nevada. Mr. Thompson, are the numbers as bad as they seem?
DANNY THOMPSON, NEVADA AFL-CIO: What those numbers don‘t say, Ed, is that elections are about choices. And there is a wide field of Republican candidates, none of whom have been defined as of yet. And I have a lot knowledge—I‘m a native Nevadan, and I have known Harry Reid my entire life. I know of his commitment to the people of the state of Nevada. That‘s not in question. Those other people that have filed are going to have to get through a tough primary. They will be defined on their records.
SCHULTZ: So you think Harry Reid can win re-election?
THOMPSON: I do. Absolutely. Absolutely. Like I said, none of these other candidates have been defined. Once you start talking about what they stand for, and what they have done in their own records that they all have, then it‘s a different story. When you‘re only hearing one side of the story—you know, elections are about choices.
SCHULTZ: So Nevadans are only getting one side of the story so far? There‘s a lot of consternation among Democrats because it appears that Harry Reid hasn‘t been able to get anything done for the majority.
THOMPSON: Harry Reid—his commitment has never changed. What has changed is the math in the Senate. On health care, for example, he couldn‘t get 60 votes, so it didn‘t happen. That‘s not Harry Reid‘s fault. That‘s an issue problem. But the reality is those other candidates have records that they‘re not talking about. Right now, it‘s all feel good commercials, you know, all of the great things that they have done. What needs to be talked about are the other things they‘ve done. And once people see that, you get both sides of the story. It‘s a different equation and those numbers change.
SCHULTZ: Mr. Thompson, good to have you with us tonight. You think Harry Reid still has a real good shot to get reelected.
For more, let me turn to nationally syndicated radio talk show host Bill Press. Bill, has Harry Reid been strong enough? A lot of people are starting to lay the blame at his door step for not being aggressive enough. True he hasn‘t had the 60 votes, but it‘s time to count heads and get this thing moving and find out who is on board for change. Isn‘t it?
BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Yes, Ed, look, you and I agree, Harry Reid is a good man. He‘s a very strong Democratic vote. He‘s pro labor. He always has been. He‘s helped us a lot in progressive talk radio, big supporter of it. But he‘s also a nice man. He‘s too nice of a man, which I think has made him a very weak leaders. He‘s let the Republicans run rough shod over the Democrats. He‘s let them take the filibuster, which used to be an exception, and make it the rule for every single vote. He‘s let them get away with putting a hold on all these nominations.
And he hasn‘t called the Republicans out. I got to tell you, I agree with your guest from Nevada. I think Harry Reid could turn this around. But what he‘s got to do is grow a pair, Ed, and start showing some strength. If he does that, I think the people will see that this guy‘s got some fight after all. But right now, he just rolls over.
SCHULTZ: Why doesn‘t he go for it, Bill? If his numbers are that bad in Nevada, and if there‘s that many Democrats in this country that feel disenchanted because the Obama White House hasn‘t delivered change—it‘s been a year. Enough of the Republicans. Let‘s start counting heads and get it done, cut some deals and move on. Why can‘t Harry do that?
PRESS: He can do it, Ed. He‘s got to do it. He‘s got to show the American people, expose these Republicans for the obstructionists that they are. Then Is ay, use reconciliation, right?
SCHULTZ: He seems like he‘s afraid to use it, Bill.
PRESS: Make the filibuster—make them filibuster. Call their bluff. Get them up there. Make them read the phone book, and show the American people what idiots they are, and then do some recess appointments and really show some guts and spine. That‘s what the American people want.
And you know what else, Ed, I think he can do? He could put Dick Durbin out there more as an attack dog, or Chuck Schumer out there as an attack dog. The guy‘s got 60 votes. He had 60 votes. Now he‘s got 59. He still can‘t deliver. It‘s pathetic.
SCHULTZ: Bill, the Democrats have to realize that Ted Kennedy is not in the house anymore. I mean—
SCHULTZ: Meaning—he‘s in the Senate obviously, but he‘s not around anymore. OK? He‘s not working in the house—in the house of cards of the Democrats, which is falling. And it‘s—and this lack of guts and this lack of determination—look, what you see is what you get. I don‘t want to hear any more boxing stories about Nevada. I want some freaking health care in this country. I don‘t think they are being tough enough down the stretch. And this February 25th is going to be the calling card. You‘re either in or you‘re out.
PRESS: Absolutely. And, again, you can‘t accept this 60 votes. It destroys majority rule. It is un-Democratic. It is un-American. And Harry Reid just lets Mitch McConnell get away with it.
SCHULTZ: Bill Press, you‘re a good man. Go shovel some snow, will you.
PRESS: I‘ve been doing it all day.
SCHULTZ: Text question tonight, I asked: do you think the Republicans are more interested in your safety or scoring political points. Five percent of you said safety; 95 percent said political points. That‘s THE ED SHOW. We‘ll see you tomorrow night. “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews is next.
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