Guests: Leo Gerard, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Keith Jones, Byron Dorgan, Ron
Christie, Todd Webster, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Mike Papantonio
ED SCHULTZ, HOST: Good evening, Americans, and welcome to THE ED SHOW tonight from Portland, Oregon.
These stories on the table, hitting “My Hot Buttons” at this hour.
Labor unions are punching back after a senior White House official trashed them for backing a challenger to corporate Democrat Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas.
The head of one of the most powerful unions in the country, Leo Gerard, will join me in just a moment.
BP is dragging its feet in paying desperately needed damage claims, so Congress is taking action to make sure they can‘t weasel out of paying up.
Senator Byron Dorgan, he‘s leading the charge at the bottom of the hour on that issue.
And O‘Reilly and “The Beckster” dish out a double dose of “Psycho Talk” in a blistering attack on progressives. They land in the “Zone.”
That‘s all coming up on THE ED SHOW tonight.
But this, of course, is the story that has me fired up right away.
The backbone of the American workforce, labor, is firing back at the White House in the aftermath of Tuesday‘s election in Arkansas. This has the potential to be a political oil slick which could hurt the Democrats in 2010 and could potentially make President Obama a one-termer. It‘s that big.
Gerald McEntee, the president of AFSCME, said this: “We worked like hell to
get the Senate and we worked like hell to get the White House, and our
people are saying, ‘What the hell are we getting out of this?‘”
An unnamed labor leader told Politico, “The Obama people think they‘re going to look independent by throwing core constituencies under the bus. I don‘t know anyone who has ever won that way.”
Chuck Rocha, who spent 10 weeks in Arkansas working for the vote, said this last night, here on THE ED SHOW.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK ROCHA, NATIONAL POLITICAL DIRECTOR, USW: The reason you have a majority in the Senate, the reason you have a majority in the House is because of organized labor. Without organized labor, you would have had none of this. And we are not an arm of the Democratic Party, we are not an arm of the Republican Party. We‘re an arm of the working people of this country, and we will stand with them lock, stock and barrel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: So, Mr. Obama, please don‘t allow your White House to make a fatal mistake that will cause these folks not to play a role in your re-election. Maybe some political experts over at the White House can tell us how they‘re going to get it done without the help in Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania, without the help of the American worker.
This idea that labor has nowhere else to turn is nothing but a myth. The White House needs every wage earner it can get in the next run. And as it stands right now, there is an appearance that this White House doesn‘t even respect labor. And believe me, this is more than just cable chatter.
Late this afternoon, the White House sent two officials over toto the AFL-CIO headquarters. They made no apologies, according to Sam Stein at “The Huffington Post.” “Top White House advisers, Patrick Gaspard and also Jen O‘Malley, said the comment was poorly made and was wrong to suggest that the president thought unions should simply do the Democratic Party‘s bidding.”
I don‘t think the White House gets how important this all is. President Obama needs to address this himself and prove he respects the American worker and acknowledges their political power.
Tell me what you think in our telephone survey tonight, folks. The number to dial is 1-877-ED-MSNBC.
My question tonight is: Do you believe President Obama can win re-election without the support of organized labor?
Press the number 1 for yes, press the number 2 for no. I‘ll bring you results later on in the show.
Joining me now is the president of the United Steelworkers International, Leo Gerard.
The USW has 1.2 million members. It‘s not a group the president of the United States should be taking for granted.
Mr. Gerard, good to have you with us tonight.
And I think at this hour, that really is the top question. We asked our viewers last night in a poll question, “Do you think the White House is taking labor for granted?” And 80 percent of our people responding to that said yes.
How do you feel in the wake of this controversial remark that was made by a senior White House official about labor spending that much money in Arkansas? What‘s your response?
LEO GERARD, PRESIDENT, UNITED STEELWORKERS INTERNATIONAL: Well, first of all, I‘m extremely disappointed that the individual would make that comment and not have the courage to let us know who said it. Anonymous comments shouldn‘t be given the kind of attention that they‘ve been given, and I‘m both disappointed and angry.
He‘s entitled to his opinion, but I don‘t think he or she is entitled to be anonymous if they want to articulate that. We have an obligation—
SCHULTZ: Given that—
GERARD: Yes, sir?
SCHULTZ: Well, given that, you‘ve got a number of labor leaders, including yourself, coming out, not real happy where the White House stands on labor right now.
How big a rift is this? How big a problem is it?
GERARD: Well, I think it‘s one that could fester if the president doesn‘t clear it up, because our obligation, Ed, is not to be the Democratic Party‘s ATM machine. Our obligation is to represent our members.
And dealing with Arkansas, we went to Arkansas because it was clear to us and our members. And we‘re the largest private sector union in Arkansas, let me say that.
And our members, to a person in leadership in Arkansas, said that Blanche Lincoln had turned their back on them. We have an obligation to stand up for our members, and I don‘t apologize for that.
And I‘m also disappointed with President Clinton, let me say, that he went out and used his influence to say that we were trying to manipulate people‘s fears and votes. That‘s not true.
We were standing up for working people, and we were standing up for our members in Arkansas. And I don‘t apologize for that. And given the same results, I‘d still do it again, because we have to stand up for the values of working people.
SCHULTZ: So, how does the White House make this right? Today, obviously, there was the weekly meeting between labor and the representatives of the White House. Does that go far enough, some of the statements that were made today by the White House?
How does the White House make it right?
GERARD: Look, I think it‘s important that the president tell us where he stands. I don‘t believe that these comments represented the president‘s views.
I know him. I love him. I respect him. I know his feeling for working people. I know what he did with steelworkers when he was in Chicago.
I know his belief in the labor movement, and I think he ought to clear that up, because we know that this doesn‘t represent his true feelings. And it doesn‘t represent the true feelings, Ed, of the Democratic leadership.
Look, the Democratic House of Representatives has passed good legislation, whether it was the right of workers to join a union, whether it was a public option and a health care bill. Our problem is with a couple of corporate Democrats in the Senate who continuously make tag team matches with the Republicans, and they‘ve cost the progressive agenda.
And Blanche Lincoln is only one of them. There are others. And given the opportunity, I‘m willing to do the same thing with others.
SCHULTZ: But the bottom line here is, all of that very true, Mr. Gerard. But if this is the prevailing thought process in the White House, that union leadership is throwing money away against Democrats that the White House supports, that creates quite a problem, which leads me to my next question.
Do you think President Obama can get re-elected without organized labor on his side? Yes or no?
GERARD: No, I don‘t think he can get re-elected without organized labor on his side. But let me say this—I‘m not going to be one that says this is President Obama‘s view. This is the view of somebody in the White House who ran their mouth, who, quite frankly, didn‘t think it through.
We don‘t represent just Democrats. We represent people who want us to stand up for them. And we didn‘t flush the money down the toilet, as he said. And we intend to spend even more, if we have to, in the upcoming elections to elect progressive Democrats, Democrats who will stand up for working families, not just the labor movement, Ed.
Working families have been taking it on the chin. You know, we had an economic collapse. We bailed out the banks. We bailed out Wall Street.
These guys are running around as if nothing happened while working families are losing their homes, while 27 million people don‘t have jobs. And we‘re now having these same Wall Street Democrats talking about having to switch the deficit.
I‘ll tell you what—the best way to reduce the deficit is put people back to work. The best way to help reduce the deficit is get health care that isn‘t costing people an arm and a leg.
The president had the right agenda. We have got to get Democrats that are going to help him elect—or get elected—that got elected—I‘m sorry, I‘m so angry. We‘re going to have to have Democrats get elected who want to help pass his agenda, not more of these corporate Wall Street Democrats.
SCHULTZ: Mr. Gerard, good to have you with us. Thanks so much.
GERARD: Glad to be there. And if I sound angry, it‘s because I am.
SCHULTZ: For more, let me bring in Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of “The Nation.”
Katrina, great to have you with us tonight.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, EDITOR, “THE NATION”: Thank you.
SCHULTZ: This obviously is a sparring match the White House doesn‘t need.
You just heard Mr. Gerard says the president needs to get engaged.
How do they mop this up? What do you think?
VANDEN HEUVEL: Well, first of all, there‘s no question that this White House is divided. And I think that what progressives need to do is build power, and build power in this country to hold accountable those politicians inside this White House, inside the Congress, who are on the side of corporate interests in this country, not on the side of working people.
I think the president needs to make a statement. But what we need to do as part of the progressive movement—part of the progressive movement, by the way, Ed, which built political power in Arkansas. I think whoever said something about how labor lost—flushed money down the toilet in Arkansas drew all the wrong lessons.
I think we saw in a very tight race a pro-corporate incumbent nearly got beat. And she became a kind of born-again populist as part of a movement of labor, of net roots activists, of community groups, of faith groups, of environmental groups. And that is what we need to focus on, Ed.
And there is no question that the central lesson of American history—and you know it—is that real change comes about through organizing, through recruitment, coalition-building, and social movements. And that‘s what progressive need to focus on to wake this White House up.
SCHULTZ: But doesn‘t the White House, Katrina, clear the table, so to speak, and let progressives know that they‘re not as arrogant as they sound? I mean, they are Monday morning quarterbacking what progressives want in this country after going down and actually trying to get President Obama a better liberal in the Congress and in the Senate. I mean, that‘s really what this was all about. And now, in the wake of victory, of course, they throw out an arrogant comment, and now we‘ve this spat going on.
So, don‘t you think that the White House has to make it very clear that these efforts are somewhat appreciated? And you heard Mr. Gerard say that President Obama can‘t get re-elected unless he has organized labor on his side.
VANDEN HEUVEL: I think the White House knows what it needs to do, Ed. I think they see the political future.
I think the White House knows that the rising American majority, those who put President Obama in the White House, deserve to be listened to. But what we need to do is hold the White House accountable.
That is power politics. That is pragmatic politics. And we need to be as tough and cold-eyed about this White House as it is about us progressives. And that is how power is built in this country.
And we can all try and sing “Kumbaya,” but the guy who made that anonymous quote in the White House is not singing “Kumbaya” to the progressive movement. So, build power, focus on those structural issues—good health care reform, labor law reforms, financial reforms—that built the middle class and the working class in this country, and fight for those as best as we can, as we showed we could in Arkansas.
SCHULTZ: Is Bill Clinton a liability to progressives right now? You heard Mr. Gerard say that he didn‘t appreciate Bill Clinton‘s comment. And I had a number of people down in Little Rock the other night who were with AFSCME tell me that they really thought that this was a double and somewhat mean-spirited, that President Clinton went around campaigning, accepting on behalf of his wife, the endorsement of AFSCME, and then turning around and sticking it to them in this battle between Bill Halter and Blanche Lincoln.
What do you make of that?
VANDEN HEUVEL: I am not shocked. Listen, I mean, Bill Clinton is the best old southern-style politician. He is an establishment politician, Ed.
So, I think what he said about labor though is really hypocritical, because they speak on one side, they speak on another, but labor has put so many Democrats on the side of working people into power in this country, and they deserve a better hearing. The fight in this country at the end of day is not between left and right, but between top an bottom, between the working middle class in this country and the corporate interests.
And the Clinton White House, as the Obama White House, is divided as to where it‘s going to stand. And we need to hold this White House accountable better than we did with the Clinton administration, have to say.
SCHULTZ: Yes, no doubt.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Thank you.
SCHULTZ: Katrina, always a pleasure. Great to have you with us tonight.
And, of course, the plight of the American workers is really the backbone of what I write about in my new book, “Killer Politics: How Big Money and Bad Politics are Destroying the Great American Middle Class.”
Folks, for the last couple of weeks we‘ve been on the road traveling the countryside and hosting my radio town hall meetings, the American Workers Town Hall, and book tour signing events that are taking place.
Last night, we were in Seattle for a great town hall meeting. They are about jobs, they are about health care, and they are really hot on outsourcing and what we‘re going to do to rebuild the American middle class. And it definitely is going to be an issue coming up in the midterms.
Tonight, I‘m here in Portland, Oregon, at the Bagdad Theater. Tickets available at the door. And I‘ll wrap up the tour in Denver next week, then back to New York City after that.
For more information, go to Ed.MSNBC.com, or to my radio Web site, at WeGotEd.com, for the full schedule.
Coming up, BP leadership, they need to shut their mouths and open their wallets. Shrimpers, oystermen, tour operators need the guarantee that they‘re going to get paid and made whole.
And “Bubba” headlines for Harry Reid in Sin City. We‘ll see if what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
All that, plus what the heck is going on between John McCain and Snookie?
Details in the “Playbook.”
You‘re watching THE ED SHOW, live from Portland, Oregon, here on MSNBC.
Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW, and thanks for watching tonight from Portland, Oregon.
Families of the 11 workers killed on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig met with President Obama at the White House today to discuss rig safety concerns and other issues.
Keith Jones was in attendance. He lost his son, 28-year-old Gordon Jones, in the explosion.
Mr. Jones, great to have you with us tonight, and thanks for coming back on THE ED SHOW.
Tell us, how did the meeting go today and what did the president have to say?
KEITH JONES, FATHER OF OIL RIG WORKER KILLED: Well, It went very well, I thought.
The president was very gracious and very generous with his time. Each family of each victim was seated at a separate table around the dining room, and the president went and spoke with each family separately, answered any questions they had, and had conversations with them, was not in a hurry.
It was a very nice event.
Of course, when he came to our table with not just my son, Chris (ph) and I
it was also Gordon‘s mother, Missy (ph), and his sister, Katie (ph) and, most importantly, his wife, Michelle, and their two little boys—we talked to the president about the Death on the High Seas Act, something you and I discussed before. And he said that he discussed it last night with Speaker Pelosi, that he was well aware of the issues, that he was certainly receptive to what we had to say.
He made no promises as to what he would sign, but I don‘t know of any presidents to make promises before they ever see a bill.
SCHULTZ: Mr. Jones, were there any questions that you went to the White House today with that you didn‘t get properly answered? Did you come away feeling like they‘re on top of it and headed in the right direction?
JONES: Yes, I did. There is a good deal of concern in this state that deepwater drilling is—has been placed under a moratorium. And I thought that the president addressed that issue very well.
It was a concern of a lot of these other families because they have other relatives and friends who are out of work right now because of that. But the president explained that it is not worth the lives of a single one of these men, let alone 11, that he allow this deepwater drilling until we know what went wrong this time and we know it won‘t happen again.
SCHULTZ: You have defended President Obama. You have gone on record as saying, “I don‘t know what people expect him to do, if they expect him to go down and clean pelicans.”
Is the president, in your opinion, emotionally touched by this? And are you satisfied with White House efforts to do everything to rectify this situation?
JONES: Well, there‘s no question in my mind that he‘s emotionally touched by this. He showed that very clearly at the White House today. I don‘t think there was a person in the room, even those that may have entered it with a cynical frame of mind, that could have thought when they left that the president was not very touched by this --
SCHULTZ: And with that, I have to ask you, Mr. Jones—with that part of your answer, I have got to ask you, does it bother you that you hear some of the criticism out there in the media about the president not being touched by this and the president not being engaged to the fullest extent?
You, the father of a victim, how do you feel about that?
JONES: Well, I think it‘s unfounded for the most part. I‘m not sure what they want the president to do.
I think that he is on top of the situation. He is a prudent man. He is not going to start making declarations until all the facts are in. And it is because, I suppose, in part that I‘m a lawyer, that I know we don‘t start reaching conclusions before we know what the evidence is.
But I certainly think that he is—this has his undivided attention to the extent that a president can give his undivided attention to anything. He is certainly well aware of the situation in the Gulf and the effect that it‘s had on the families of the victims.
SCHULTZ: Mr. Jones, obviously, we‘re sorry for your loss. But I want to ask you a question that really hasn‘t been out there very much.
You lost Gordon. How is his widow doing? How‘s the family doing? How are the kids doing?
JONES: Well, thank you for asking.
Michelle has a lot of family support. We‘re in Baton Rouge, and her parents live in Houston. They come to visit quite a bit. She‘s always surrounded by supportive family.
Both those boys are healthy and happy. Michelle asked for, by the way, and got photographs of the president holding Maxwell Gordon today. The president said he hadn‘t held a baby that size in nine years.
But that meant a lot, I think, to Michelle. It will mean a lot to Maxwell Gordon in the years to come.
They‘re going to be OK. They‘d be a lot better off with Gordon, as would we all. But they‘ll make it through this.
SCHULTZ: Our thoughts are with you, Mr. Jones. I appreciate your time tonight. Thanks so much.
JONES: You‘re very welcome. Thanks a lot.
SCHULTZ: And we are back with more on THE ED SHOW here on MSNBC after this.
SCHULTZ: And in “Psycho Talk” tonight, I guess you could say it was a meeting of the psycho minds on Glenn Beck‘s radio show when Bill O‘Reilly dropped by to say hello today.
Well, we all know about “The Beckster‘s” baseless, irrational hatred for progressivism. Well, today, O‘Reilly jumped on the progressive-bashing bandwagon.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS: The progressive agenda is basically do whatever you want. There‘s no such thing as God, so you don‘t have to worry about that. And society stabilization, we don‘t really want a stable society, the progressives don‘t, because we want everybody to do whatever they want.
They do want the power and they do want the control, there‘s no doubt about it. And they will do anything to get it. And I mean anything.
They will smear, they‘ll destroy people. You know, it‘s disgusting. The progressive movement in the United States is just flat-out disgusting.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Progressives are disgusting.
Now, this is coming from a guy who has compared liberal bloggers to Nazis and the KKK, who told an African-American professor from Columbia University that he looked like a cocaine dealer, and who, just the other day, equated gay people with terrorists.
For Bill O‘Reilly to say progressives are disgusting, it is “Psycho Talk.”
Coming up, just when you think South Carolina politics can‘t get stranger, things take a psycho turn. Congressman Clyburn thinks the Democratic primary winner is a righty plant? I‘ll have “Rapid Response Fire” on all of that.
And Senator Byron Dorgan is about to become BP‘s CEO Tony Hayward‘s worst nightmare. He‘s got a dotted line for toting the sign. That‘s coming up.
All that, plus Carly Fiorina. She hits Barbara Boxer below the belt, making fun of her hairdo. Is this what it has come to in California politics, along with all the money?
You‘re watching THE ED SHOW, live from Portland, here on MSNBC.
Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW, and thanks for watching tonight. The battleground story this evening, making BP pay for all the damages this oil spill has caused. Good luck. BP executives claim they‘ll take responsibility. I believe that when the check clears. The total cost to cover the cleanup and damage claims is expected to be in the neighborhood of 10 billion dollars. Senator Byron Dorgan doesn‘t want to take BP‘s word for it either. He is pushing for a legally binding commitment from BP that the company will pay every dollar in damages.
For more on that, we‘re joined by the senator from North Dakota on the Commerce Committee, Senator Byron Dorgan. Senator, good to have you with us tonight. What do you expect from BP? How do we make this right legally on paper, that we can hold them to it? And do you think they would sign it? Take us down that road.
SEN. BYRON DORGAN (D), NORTH DAKOTA: Well, BP has said, we pledge
we‘re going to cover these costs. But remember Cuba Gooding in that movie,
says “show me the money”? Pledges don‘t—Exxon pledged back in the
Exxon-Valdez—and a whole lot of people died before they stopped fighting
Exxon stopped fighting it and never got the money.
What I want to see is BP says we pledge; OK, let‘s sign on the line here, put 10 billion dollars just as a starter in a recovery fund, and have a special master that handles that fund. We will either see the American taxpayer stuck with this bill or we will make sure this company puts the money aside in a designated fund and makes this a binding commitment, which it is not now.
SCHULTZ: This is White House reaction on making BP pay the bill.
Here‘s Robert Gibbs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: If you‘ve got the wherewithal to pay a dividend, and you‘ve got the wherewithal to finance a fairly expensive ad campaign, then you certainly shouldn‘t, as the president has said, nickel and dime anybody in the Gulf that has seen, as I said earlier, their livelihoods damaged as a result of this disaster.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Senator, what do you make of the ad campaign and does that change the climate of this at all?
DORGAN: I‘m not interested in an ad campaign. I‘m interested in making sure the money is available. Tonight, as I speak, there‘s somebody down on a dock in a small town. They have a fishing boat there that‘s not fishing. And they have to make payments at the end of the month. And they‘re wondering who is going to help us? That‘s all over the Gulf. I‘m interested in making sure that BP does that.
Now, BP made 17 billion dollars net profit last year. They made six billion dollars net profit the first quarter of this year. I say take some of that money, put it in a fund as a starter to make sure we understand that pledge is a binding commitment. Sign on the line. I‘ve asked Eric Holder to begin that process. And at least some of the things the attorney general said today gave me some hope that that‘s going to be under way.
SCHULTZ: What‘s the timeline for that? What do you mean he gave you hope?
DORGAN: Well, he made some comments today, the attorney general did, that gave me some feeling maybe that he‘s going to push. Let‘s turn this pledge into a binding commitment, and put the money there, so the money‘s available to help the people that have been hurt.
This is a real disaster, a significant catastrophe. It is going to go on for years, as you know. We will get the oil spill stopped, the gusher stopped. Then the question is what about all those people who were hurt? Who is going to put the money up for that and who is going to handle the money? It‘s time, I think, to move this from a pledge to a binding commitment. Let‘s have BP sign on the line and put the money in the account.
SCHULTZ: Senator, in the midst of all this wrangling for the money and the conversation about deep water drilling, in your backyard in North Dakota is the back and shale. Put this into perspective as to why we can‘t get more oil out of there to make up for what we‘re losing out of the Gulf. Where do you stand on the deep water drilling at this hour?
DORGAN: Well, we‘re getting a lot of money—excuse me, I should say, a lot of oil—money, too, I suppose—out of the back and shale. We have nearly 120 rigs drilling, a new well every month up in North Dakota. So there‘s a lot of oil being produced up there. Onshore production is very important. We‘re doing a lot of it now. Offshore production is important as well, because one-third of our oil in this country, domestically, comes from offshore.
We do now understand that deep well drilling, you know, a mile or half mile under the earth, going down 30,000 feet below that, there are some risks and some problems that they don‘t have answers for. We need to get those answers.
SCHULTZ: Do you support the president on the moratorium?
DORGAN: Yes, it‘s moratorium, and he also said, through the secretary of the Interior yesterday, it‘s pause. We don‘t have much choice but to do that at this moment, to find out what happened. Let‘s find out what happened now to make sure it never happens again.
SCHULTZ: Senator, good to have you with us. Thanks so much.
You bet. Now let‘s get some rapid fire response from our panel on these stories tonight. Democrats are launching a new offensive to sell health care reform. What for? The DNC has a new minute long ad daring the Republicans to repeal the bill.
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina wants an investigation into whether the winner of the Democratic primary for Senate in South Carolina is a Republican plant? The Democratic nominee, Alvin Greene, doesn‘t even have a campaign website, and he‘s facing felony charges.
Bill Clinton helped push Blanche Lincoln to victory Tuesday night. Today, the big dog is in Nevada stumping for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Joining us tonight, Democratic strategist Todd Webster and also Republican strategist Ron Christie.
Gentlemen, good to have you with us tonight. Let‘s start with Bill Clinton‘s involvement in Nevada. He‘s feeling pretty good after helping Blanche Lincoln get the victory. Ron Christie, isn‘t this somewhat unusual because the SEIU is very big in the state of Nevada. Here comes Bill Clinton, fresh off ripping the unions, and now he‘s headed out to stump for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. What do you make of all that?
RON CHRISTIE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think Bill Clinton has a long history with the labor union movement. They recognize that he needed to do what he had to for his home state candidate. He has a long history with Blanche Lincoln. I think he did what he felt was right. But I think they‘re going to look at the totality of his record when he was a president for two terms, and say, hey, Bill Clinton‘s with us. He‘s with Harry Reid. We want Reid to stay in. Let‘s not hold that against Bill Clinton. That‘s my take on it.
SCHULTZ: Todd Webster, is the language going to change when he gets out west?
TODD WEBSTER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, look, I think it was unfortunate what happened in Arkansas and the slap to labor from the former president. But he still does have some gas in the tank. The two candidates that he backed in the primaries, Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas, and Elizabeth Mitchell in Maine, both won their primaries. So I think he does have some gas left.
The reality of the Nevada situation is that Harry Reid got a very crazy right wing Tea Partying candidate in Sharron Angle, who thinks that fluoride in the water is a communist conspiracy to undermine western democracy. So it‘s hard to think that Harry Reid is going to have that tough of a challenge.
SCHULTZ: Gentlemen, i want to ask both of you again on this, how are members of the Service Employees International Union supposed to accept the things Bill Clinton said about union tactics in Arkansas and then turn around and say, you have to go vote for Harry? How does this work?
CHRISTIE: You know what I think? I think it‘s corruption. I think the unions squandered millions of dollars of their members‘ money trying to defeat Blanche Lincoln. At the same time, there are a number of people who are in the restaurant industry, the hotel industry, that re part of the SEIU and other unions, who say well, we‘d rather have a very powerful majority leader. We‘re rather have the power. This is all about power, Ed.
SCHULTZ: What about that, Todd?
WEBSTER: Well, look, I think the unions—the Halter challenge in Arkansas was very good for the Democratic party, was very good for the country. Without the Halter challenge, Blanche Lincoln doesn‘t vote for health care reform. You also get a much weaker financial regulatory reform bill, because it was her derivatives provision that is the toughest thing that‘s in there right now. Absent the Halter challenge, you have a much weaker Democratic party.
SCHULTZ: Todd, your former boss, Tom Daschle, is involved in now in an ad campaign to sell health care on the part of the administration and the Democrats, to set the table for reelection. Why do they have to do this?
WEBSTER: I think there‘s been a tremendous amount of misinformation out there about what‘s in the health care bill. You have Republicans like John Boehner saying they now want to campaign for the repeal of the bill. I think Democrats are saying, let‘s have that debate. Let‘s have the debate about whether you are going to get rid of prescription drug support, donut hole—
SCHULTZ: Ron Christie, are they nervous?
CHRISTIE: They‘re very nervous. I think there is a plurality in this country that wants this thing repealed. The more we hear about the bill, of course, as Republicans said, the more people aren‘t going to be able to keep their coverage, the more that they are going to have to spend billions upon billions of dollars to expand the Medicaid roles. They recognize this bill was a turkey. They recognize they lied and did a lot of deceitful things.
SCHULTZ: Todd, is that true?
WEBSTER: Absolutely not. Look, most Republicans voted against Medicare in 1965. You didn‘t see Republicans then running against Medicare or for repeal of Medicare in 1966. Republicans today, if they‘d like to, can run to repeal Medicare. They can run to repeal the health care bill. It just doesn‘t work.
The reality is this is a very powerful, very important health care reform bill. And the more that it is enacted and the more it starts going into effect, the better for the country.
SCHULTZ: Let‘s go to South Carolina, where the political mud slinging is not only on the Republican side. Now it‘s on the Democratic side. I don‘t know, maybe it‘s in the water down there or something. Now we have the Democrats wondering—you have Jim Clyburn, a very powerful Democrat, the majority whip, saying he wants an investigation because he thinks nominee Alvin Greene for Senate is a Republican plant. Let‘s clear the table. Ron Christie, is this guy a Republican plant?
CHRISTIE: Ed, this should have been in Psycho Talk, man. You have the wrong thing there in. Look, just because you have somebody who is a felon or at least is alleged to have committed a felony who said that he wanted to run. He was a democrat. He got the votes. And now it‘s the Republicans‘ fault? That‘s psycho talk, in my view.
WEBSTER: No, this is very interesting. There was an analog in South Carolina from 1992, a Republican operative named Rod Shealy (ph) recruited an African-American unemployed shrimp fisherman to run for Congress against Arthur Ravenal (ph) in South Carolina. He was prosecuted. He was convicted of campaign finance violations for recruiting that person and putting him up on the ballot.
If this is the same sort of case, it will be an even bigger problem, because it will be a federal case, because it is a Senate race, and you will have federal campaign finance laws violated. I think we need to watch and see, because there is precedent here.
SCHULTZ: Todd, I might have the black thing going here. So just because a black fellow decides to run on the Democrat side of the aisle, wins the nomination, now all of a sudden the Democrats—look, Jim Clyburn is playing the card. It‘s not you. It‘s Jim Clyburn. I think it‘s disgusting. This man made it on the ballot. He was qualified.
WEBSTER: He‘s collecting unemployment. Where does he come up with 10 grand for his filing fee.
SCHULTZ: It says a lot about the state of the Democratic party in South Carolina.
SCHULTZ: I think the whole state is screwed up. Throw everybody in there.
WEBSTER: Let‘s people away the onion and see where the chips fall.
SCHULTZ: Always a spirited discussion. great to have you guys with us tonight.
Coming up, I‘ve been saying it for years, China cheats when it comes to trade. We have to stop letting them eat our lunch. That‘s what they‘re doing. Senator Debbie Stabenow, she‘s seeing red. She joins me next with some pretty aggressive legislation on the table.
And the Maverick teams up with Snookie to bash President Obama over tanning. You can‘t make this stuff up. That‘s why we have it on THE ED SHOW, coming up. STay with us.
SCHULTZ: In my playbook tonight, the Senate is taking steps to save America‘s jobs by cracking down on China‘s unfair and dishonest trade policies. China has imposed taxes as high as 25 percent on some imports to protect its own companies. Some economists estimate China has deliberately undervalued its own currency by as much as 40 percent. These practices have cost millions of jobs to be lost in the United States when it comes to the manufacturing sector.
Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan is introducing legislation that would prevent the United States government from buying Chinese goods until they adopt fair trading practices. She joins us on THE ED SHOW. Senator good to have you with us tonight.
SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW (D), MICHIGAN: Great to be here.
SCHULTZ: This is, at least as I can recall, the most aggressive legislation that anybody has put on the table to deal with China to date. Are you going to get any help on this?
STABENOW: Actually, Ed, I think we will. This is bipartisan. I had a hearing today in the Finance Committee where Secretary Geithner came in to talk to us about China. There was brought support in the committee, people talking about the fact that we have a country that—in China that, as you said, gets artificial discounts on what they sell to us by devaluing their currency. They steal our patents.
And now they want to adopt this new policy called indigenous innovation. What that means is they want to say if you‘re not a Chinese business, if you don‘t have a Chinese patent, they won‘t do business with you, they won‘t buy your products. That shuts us out completely. This is a market where we want to sell.
I want to export our products. I want to export our automobiles, not our jobs. So simply this legislation, which is bipartisan, would say until they sign an agreement other countries have sized under the WTO, open up their government purchasing, we‘re not going to open ours. The federal government should not be buying their products.
SCHULTZ: Does this lead us to a trade war?
STABENOW: It shouldn‘t. It should not. Although, I guess, Ed, you know what I would say is? We have waited ten years, When they entered the WTO in 2000, they didn‘t sign this fair government procurement deal that they were supposed to, this agreement. They didn‘t sign it. It‘s been ten years. Now, instead of signing it, they‘re going in the opposite direction. We don‘t want a trade war, but what we want is fair trade. As we said, we want to export our products, not our jobs.
I was just over there at a global auto-leaders summit. I was asked to speak, I went to the Beijing Auto Show. I saw American made, Michigan made automobiles, great automobiles people want to buy. As you said, there‘s a 25 percent tariff on those automobiles coming in. Now, with this new policy, basically, they‘re saying our auto companies can‘t sell, if they‘re purchasing through the government. So, it‘s just not fair. We want fair trade.
SCHULTZ: You think this will change the manufacturing sector? Right now, they‘re eating our lunch.
STABENOW: Well, they are, in so many ways. All we‘re saying is that China, you have been in the WTO for ten years, That was supposed to bring you in and make you part of the rules. And yet you‘re still doing all those things. We‘ve lost millions of jobs, six million manufacturing jobs in the last decade.
I don‘t know about you, Ed, but I‘ve had it. While we‘re turning things around in clean manufacturing, and we‘re investing—we have an administration that understands we need to make things in this country. We can‘t get to where we want to go with unfair trade.
SCHULTZ: If you really want to shake them up, why don‘t we impose some tariffs?
STABENOW: I‘m willing to do that. I think if they drop their tariffs, that‘s great. We ought to be doing a level playing field. If they want to put a 25 percent tariff on our automobiles going in, then fine, we can put one on theirs.
SCHULTZ: Senator, good to have you with us tonight.
STABENOW: Thanks, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Thanks so much. A couple pages in our playbook to finish it out tonight. Two days after becoming California‘s GOP Senate candidate, Carly Fiorina is already in a hairy situation? Take a listen to what she was caught saying about her opponent, Barbara Boxer, before a TV interview yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARLY FIORINA, REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR SENATE FROM CALIFORNIA:
Flouto (ph) saw Barbara Boxer briefly on television this morning, and said what everyone says: god, what is that hair?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Fiorina said her hair has been talked about by a million people and it sort of goes with the territory. Here‘s a little Big Eddie advice, Carly, always know when your microphone is wide open.
Finally, you can‘t make this stuff up. John McCain is reaching out to the “Jersey Shore‘s” Snookie. In a preview of her reality show, “Snookie,” she said, “I don‘t go tanning anymore because President Obama put a 10 percent tax on tanning. I feel like he did that intentionally for us.”
The maverick, well he just couldn‘t resist, taking a shot at President Obama. So he Tweeted to the reality star, writing, “Snookie, you are right. I would never tax your tanning bed. President Obama‘s tax and spending policy is quite the situation, but I do recommend wearing sunscreen.”
He‘s such a funny guy. I think Senator McCain should stick to his day job and leave Tweeting up to Snook.
Coming up, BP‘s chairman is being summoned to the White House. BP says they‘re going to pay up. I don‘t believe anything these guys say. The lawyer leading the class action suit against BP, Mike Papantonio, brings the straight talk next, right here on THE ED SHOW. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Finally tonight, I guess you could say it sounds like butt kicking time. President Obama wants to meet with the chairman of BP next week. For more, let me bring in Mike Papantonio, environmental lawyer whose firm is leading the class action lawsuits against BP. Mike, it‘s not going to be Tony Hayward, but it is going to be the chairman of the board. What do you make of this?
MIKE PAPANTONIO, ENVIRONMENTAL LAWYER: I think the chairman of the board probably is going to do a better job than Tony Hayward, as we have seen in the last couple days. As you have started calling him Tony Baloney, that seems to be the idea the American public has about him.
Look, this is a guy fighting for the company‘s life. He knows they have lost 80 billion dollars in the market value just in the last few weeks. They know they have a credibility problem they cannot overcome. No matter what the PR machine does, they can‘t overcome that PR problem.
They have become a target. They have become a target, a takeover target. That‘s the new mission for the talking points right now. They‘re never going to solve the credibility. They can solve themselves from being a target, at least that‘s what they believe. I don‘t believe it. I think they‘re a takeover target. I said four weeks, you may recall, there is a bankruptcy possibility.
Right now, what you have is you have a new face. I simply call it the newest sociopath on the block. They‘re all sociopath in the way they communicate, believability.
SCHULTZ: Mike, let me ask you, Senator Dorgan, earlier in this broadcast tonight, said he wants a legally binding commitment from BP. How hard is that to get?
PAPANTONIO: They are going to have to do it. Let me tell you, when the U.S. Justice Department says do it or else. Right now, there is a string of people that, they understand are probably criminal targets. They know who they are. They know clearly that they‘re more than just people of interest. They‘re actually targets. They know that right now, they better do almost everything the U.S. Justice Department asks them to do. That‘s why you have Holder talking with so much confidence.
They know they can ask them to post a bond of 15, 20 billion dollars. It‘s a company that can afford it right now. It‘s the only sure thing we have going for us.
Look, today, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—think about this, Ed. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who is nothing more than wholly owned by the petroleum industry, comes out and says taxpayers should pay for this. That‘s where the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who says they represent mom and pop organization—they don‘t. They represent the petroleum industry. Right now—excuse me, go ahead.
SCHULTZ: Well, we have to run. Time flies when we‘re having fun.
Way to stay on top of it. I appreciate your time tonight on THE ED SHOW.
Thanks so much.
The book tour continues tonight. Folks, the name of the book is “Killer Politics; How Big Money and Bad Politics are destroying the Great American Middle Class.” I‘m at the Baghdad Theater here in Portland, Oregon tonight. Tickets available at the door.
Tonight, in our telephone survey, I asked you, do you believe President Obama can win reelection without the support of organized labor? Fifteen of you said yes; 85 percent of you said, no. That‘s THE ED SHOW. I‘m Ed Schultz. We‘re back tomorrow night from Minneapolis. “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts right now on the place for politics, MSNBC. We‘ll see you tomorrow night.
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