Guests: Anne Thompson, Virg Bernero, Nina Turner, Chris Hayes
ED SCHULTZ, HOST: Good evening, Americans. And welcome to THE ED SHOW tonight from New York.
Our lead story: the very latest on the crisis in Japan.
And coming up later in the program tonight, the bitter struggle right here in the United States that may be in desperate need of a leader, as the right wing assault on the middle class continues, unabated in Michigan, and Ohio.
President Obama‘s team is looking for new ways to fire up the base. If the president wants to fire up the base, he should stand with the wage earners who are fighting the good fight in those states.
But, of course, the first story tonight is just how dangerous is the nuclear crisis in the country of Japan. That is a big question mark at this hour. U.S. officials warn if the situation is not under control within the next 24 to 48 hours, the country could be facing an ordeal that will, quote, “be deadly for decades.”
One official tells ABC News it would be hard to describe how alarming this is right now. The situation, that‘s what it‘s all about. The United States Nuclear Regulatory Agency says one of the spent fuel pools has boiled dry. The Japanese are denying that assertion. But if that information is true, that means there is nothing stopping fuel rods from heating up, then melting down.
Just an hour ago, in a desperate attempt to do something, helicopters managed to drop water on reactors number three and four. Earlier attempts had been thwarted due to radiation. President Obama has been briefed on the situation by nuclear experts. Earlier, the U.S. embassy urged Americans within 50 miles of the nuclear plant to evacuate. A much stricter advisory than what the Japanese government is telling its own citizens.
The head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Gregory, Jaczko, testified before Congress today, warning the situation at Fukushima is worse than what Japanese officials are letting on to the people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREGORY JACZKO, NCR CHAIRMAN: We believe that secondary containment has been destroyed. And there is no water in the spent fuel pool. And we believe that radiation levels are extremely high.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: And just hours ago, Mr. Jaczko doubled down on those comments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACZKO: We believe that there is no water in the spent fuel pool, known as number four. The information I have is coming from staff, people that we have in Tokyo, who are interfacing with counterparts in the nuclear industry in Japan. And I‘ve confirmed with them that they believe the information they have is reliable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: And to add to the troubling scenario, the IAEA says temperatures in units four, five and six have been rising.
Japan was warned about this very scenario back in 2008. The IAEA cautioned authorities that earthquakes would present, quote, “a serious problem for nuclear plants.” And how do they know this? State Department cables made public by WikiLeaks.
These satellite photos show how bad the current damage is.
The last line of defense preventing a full nuclear meltdown are 50 workers who remained. They are working in small groups, and in short shifts, to avoid further exposure to radiation. Two are still missing, 21 injured, and one suffering from serious radiation exposure. A U.S. official told the ABC News tonight, there is a recognition this is a suicide mission.
Meanwhile, thousands have been scanned for radiation. Some believe they‘ve been contaminated but can‘t get a hospital to test them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We can‘t see the radiation. And even the tiniest amount could affect our health. So, no matter how far away I go, I don‘t feel safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: In an effort to calm the Japanese people, Japan‘s emperor addressed the nation, an event so rare it seemed to have an opposite effect, increasing fear and uncertainty.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NOGUCHI KUNIKAZU, JAPANESE SCIENTISTS‘ ASSOCIATION (through translator): Maybe the government isn‘t telling us everything, because they are worried the country will panic. But people aren‘t stupid. If they were given a full explanation of what‘s happening, then they could make informed decisions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Meanwhile, another battle is being fought on a different front. Freezing temperatures and snowstorms in the hardest hit areas are not only threatening rescue and relief efforts, but there are thousands of Japanese homeless. And they are in need of food, fuel and kerosene—the basics. Many are willing to settle for some blankets. A British television crew, they were the first on the scene to see this destroyed village the tsunami struck.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just look at it. There is no way you could get a vehicle anywhere near this village. Walking in is bad enough. There‘s no footprints in the snow. There are no footprints in the mud for that matter.
If the buildings or any vehicles here had been checked by search and rescue teams for bodies, there would be spray signs, aerosol on them to indicate that. There‘s nothing like that here at all. It‘s pretty clear this village has not been reached.
And I have to tell you, there is a fairly strong smell of decay.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Joining me now from London is NBC News correspondent Anne Thompson.
Anne, thanks for your time tonight.
So much is fluid in this situation. What is the very latest information that you have tonight?
ANNE THOMPSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, the very latest is that those Japanese military helicopters have managed to dump four loads of seawater over the reactors.
And as you said, Ed, the big question tonight is: what is really happening at unit four. It is at that unit that the head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the United States says the spent fuel pool is empty. And that is really bad news. Because when those fuel rods are exposed, then they can start to melt—and when they start to melt, they will release their fuel inside and they‘ll release radioactivity. And that is a very, very bad situation.
So, you see those helicopters going over there. They‘re trying to get the water there. There‘s also a report that they are close to hooking up a power line, to restore electricity to the Fukushima one plant. And that certainly would be very good news, because it would get those pumps, those electric pumps going again to make sure that water is circulated around those reactor cores and spent fuel pools.
So—but there is no idea, or no sense of when that electricity may actually be hooked up. I think the bottom line here, and what you‘re seeing with the comments from the chief of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and then the denials from Japan, is there‘s just a crisis of the confidence about the information coming out of Japan. Nobody is quite sure what the situation really is. And there is—you know, with every hour that this goes on, there is less and less confidence in Tokyo Electric Power Company, which is the company that owns the nuclear power plant, and to a certain degree, in the Japanese government to handle this situation.
And tonight, we‘ve seen not only has France suggested that its citizens leave, but Germany, Britain, Croatia. There are—you know, the number of countries saying, look, it‘s not a safe place to be, come on home. They‘re saying that because they just really don‘t know what‘s going on inside that plant.
SCHULTZ: And when we see the videotape of the helicopters doing what they‘re doing, we can only think that this is a last desperate attempt to contain the situation. This can‘t be standard operating procedure. If this doesn‘t work—
THOMPSON: Well, no.
SCHULTZ: Yes. If this doesn‘t work, where are we?
THOMPSON: Well, if this doesn‘t work, we‘re in big trouble. I think that‘s what everyone is recognizing tonight. I mean, you have to get water over those fuel rods. And if they—if—that‘s all you have to do. That‘s the thing you absolutely have to make sure happens.
And if you don‘t achieve that, then you risk a meltdown. And that‘s what they‘re trying to avoid. But—I mean, I don‘t know, if we thought, you know, flooding the reactors with seawater was a Hail Mary, I don‘t know what this is, because this is absolute sheer desperation I think that you‘re watching.
SCHULTZ: We‘ve heard, as you mentioned, conflicting reports, information, who to believe, what‘s accurate, what‘s not. One thing is very interesting, how the United States is telling its citizens to stay further away than what the Japanese government has told its citizens.
THOMPSON: Well, and the reason for that is, what they‘re saying is, look, if this had happened in the U.S., these are our standards for evacuation. And so, you would need to stay within 50 -- in an area 50 miles outside of the plant.
And it was interesting the way they couched that. They said, you know, we‘re giving them the advice we would give if it happened here. So, please take that advice if you‘re living in Japan.
And that is a change from what they said just a day ago, which is, follow the advice of the Japanese government. So, again, I think it‘s—you know, it all goes back to this fact that the—the source of the information. And clearly, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission thinks it has better and different information than what the Japanese government is putting out.
SCHULTZ: Reporting from London tonight, here on THE ED SHOW from NBC News, Anne Thompson. Thank you so much for joining us. I appreciate it.
THOMPSON: Thank you.
SCHULTZ: And there is other news, obviously, tonight. We will keep you up-to-date on whatever happens in Japan.
But for the rest of the hour, here‘s what‘s on the table tonight:
Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh mock the victims of the catastrophe in Japan. That‘s going to be in “The Takedown.”
Republican governors—America, are we paying attention? Rick Snyder of Michigan, John Kasich of Ohio make unprecedented moves to seize power over collective bargaining and enact draconian budget cuts—just like in Wisconsin.
And Republicans in the United States House of Representatives—I want you to hear this, they held an emergency hearing today. With all the real problems in this country, wait until you hear what this emergency hearing was all about.
Stay with us. We‘ll be right back.
SCHULTZ: And be sure to check out our new blog at Ed.MSNBC.com.
There, you‘re going to find links to WeGotEd.com, Twitter and Facebook.
Sign up with us.
Coming up: Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is staging a government takeover of nearly every mayor‘s office and school board in the state of Michigan. Are you for that? One Republican is calling it “financial martial law.”
You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW and thanks for watching tonight.
A lot of other news on the home front in dealing with the attack on workers in this country, and I can‘t let this story go. The right-wing attack on the middle-class workers has moved to the battleground state of Michigan. Governor Rick Snyder is about to sign a bill which will give him unprecedented power to potentially take over every city government in the state of Michigan.
Earlier today, thousands of Michigan wage earners marched on the capitol in Lansing to protest this whole thing that some people are calling the financial martial law bill. Well, the bill will give expanded powers to state-appointed emergency financial managers who can do—who can go in and replace the mayor, the city council or the school board in financially struggling cities.
The EFM will have authoritarian power to terminate union contracts held by schoolteachers, and local government workers. This—it is—it‘s a government takeover on steroids. Governor Snyder is paving the way for non-elected officials, non-elected officials, to take over every city in the state. Could it get that extreme?
The governor‘s financial plan will push every local government towards bankruptcy, according to some. Snyder‘s budget—well, it‘s going to cut schools, universities, local governments by $1.2 billion. And, oh, let‘s not forget, he‘s going to give—give -- $1.8 billion in tax cuts for businesses. So, you‘d be the judge.
The governor‘s draconian cuts will create a financial crisis in every city in Michigan. Then his union contract-busting dudes—they‘ll go right in, sweep in and take charge and do exactly what they want to do, attack labor. The Republican Party basically seems to want a select society of those who operate and make good decisions in America and then just—control just about everything, and concentrate the wealth and then just turn to the people and say, you know what? You don‘t have to worry about anything. We‘ll take care of you.
We just think that the American people need to know more about all of this. And, of course, them having less of a say in their local government, that‘s bad. Think about your hometown. Think about your home town—think about how the Republicans have always talked about local control, your local taxpayer. You can make your own decisions. Can‘t you?
Snyder‘s plan flies in the face of everything conservatives have ever stood for.
In—if you‘re in Michigan and you‘re a Tea Partier, and if you support this, I just want you to know, you‘re lining up with a communist party, in case you didn‘t know. This is what they did in the old Soviet Union. It‘s heavy-handed, dictatorial stuff. Is that what you want?
Joining me now is Virg Bernero, mayor of Lansing, Michigan. And we should say that Mr. Bernero lost to Governor Rick Snyder in the last election.
So, it is a matter of choices and elections have consequences.
Virg, good to have you with us tonight.
Who decides? I think this is the curious question a lot of folks are wondering: what makes up a financial crisis in a city? Who decides that?
MAYOR VIRG BERNERO, LANSING, MI: Well, the legislation is very broad, Ed. The criteria—you know, it‘s so broad. It‘s so vague. I mean, from my office, I can see the governor‘s office. I mean, this stuff is so vague that if I sneeze loud enough, that could qualify me to be replaced basically.
These triggers are the broadest—it just blows a hole in the previous law where it was very specific. You had to really be in bankruptcy for the state to take over. Now, if you have a BBB credit rating, that could trigger an EFM.
If you have a deficit in any city fund, this isn‘t a permanent deficit, but a deficit develops in one fund that maybe could be covered by another, that could qualify you for an EFM.
If you‘re late making a payment, not qualify you.
If you have a 5 percent projected deficit in the current fiscal year -
which has happened because the state sometimes gives you cuts in the middle of the year. And so, all of a sudden you have a deficit by law that you have to deal with, we‘ve had to close some of those deficits. So, that could trigger an EFM.
So, it really becomes almost a matter of choice. So many cities will fall into this criteria that they‘re going to have to—you know, I don‘t know what they‘re up to.
And let me be clear, Ed. You know, you mentioned I ran for governor.
I did. And I want to cooperate with this governor.
You know, I‘ve got my mayor‘s hat on. I want to do my job in the city of Lansing. I‘m proud of the job I‘ve done as mayor.
But the problem is: so many cities are on the brink. And, you know, they‘ve given us a one-two punch with the cuts that they‘ve given to the cities—the cuts to revenue-sharing—
BERNERO: -- and reduction in our incentives to be able to attract new business, that, really, they‘re setting us up for failure. It‘s like shooting us in the leg and calling us lame.
SCHULTZ: So, the very clear—these emergency financial managers are appointed people. They‘re not elected officials in any way, shape or form. And they would be able to come in under the governor‘s director and have unyielding power on the local folks?
BERNERO: This law gives really kingly powers to the governor and—
BERNERO: -- to the legislator. It‘s an incredible overreach.
This is the biggest power grab since the Supreme Court elected George Bush. It would abrogate the mayor, the council could be fired. The city taxpayers would be obligated to pay for the financial manager, whatever consultants he hires. It really is taxation without representation.
And again, with such weak triggers in the law—you know, it used to be, it‘s like you said, you know, the Republicans were supposedly for local control and less central government. But this really aggregates the rights of local taxpayers and local governments and gives all the power to state government.
BERNERO: So, you know, some states—some local officials would be afraid to speak out.
This might be the last time you hear from me as mayor. But I just feel I‘ve got to speak out about it. It‘s an incredible overreach. We‘re looking at it legally to see if it doesn‘t violate the Constitution.
SCHULTZ: Well, that‘s what I was going to ask you because Think Progress gave their legal analysis of it today. They say it is unconstitutional. Who‘s challenging this in the state of Michigan?
BERNERO: Well, it‘s just the beginning. The governor hasn‘t signed it yet. We hope he won‘t sign it.
So—and I‘m not a lawyer. We‘re looking—we‘re having our lawyer look at it very carefully. You know, Ed, we ought to be empowering our cities. You know, 85 percent of the gross domestic product in Michigan happens in the cities.
And our cities need to be empowered. They need help. They need encouragement.
What this does is we‘re cutting them, we‘re setting them up for failure and then coming in and whacking them, having this financial czar come in and make decisions. Who knows whether it‘s for the good of the community or not? And again, that‘s 85 percent of our GDP relies on cities. You‘re not going to be able to grow the state and leave the cities behind.
SCHULTZ: So, let me—let me just put these dots together, if I may. The Chamber of Commerce, which is anti-labor, could have a chapter in a town maybe of Lansing, Michigan, could call the governor and say, you know, there‘s a couple of union contracts here that we just can‘t get around, we don‘t like. Why don‘t you come in and straighten this situation out?
For some reason, they might come into your city, make an analysis and say, you know what, we‘re going to put in one of our emergency financial managers and we‘re going to get rid these union contracts.
What about that?
BERNERO: I‘m sorry to say, that could happen, that these—the rules are so vague. You know, we ran a deficit in our golf fund because golf wasn‘t making money. I‘ve closed two golf courses.
We may have to close the other ones, two more, we‘re looking to two—maybe move to another government. But we had a deficit. We had to move some funds from one to another. But—
SCHULTZ: So, what does Rick Snyder say about this law? Does he say this is what he wants to do? Is he doing it because he thinks that, you know, there are mayors, maybe yourself, that are irresponsible with money, that don‘t know how to run cities? What is this? What is he saying about it?
BERNERO: The governor says very little. And I‘m not here to beat up on the governor. Again, I want to work with the governor. But he says very little.
This is an overreach. Right now, this is, you know, far right Republicans in the legislator that have pushed this through. I don‘t know if they really know what they‘ve done. I think they are going after the unions, these legislators that passed it.
I think it‘s an attempt to break the back of the unions because many of the local governments—even our unions have taken plenty of concessions. You know, they‘ve worked with us to balance the budgets. We‘ve balanced five straight budgets with no tax increases. Right now, we are looking—voters are considering a tax increase for police and fire. But things are very difficult.
But our unions have helped us. They‘ve worked with us. But this really would allow an all-out attack on the unions. A lot of people think it is politically motivated.
You know, I‘m trying to say, we want to work with the governor. We want to empower cities. The governor ran. I ran on empowering cities—the fact that cities need to be the hub of the wheel instead of the hole in the donut.
You‘re not going to grow a state while your cities are falling behind.
Virg Bernero, mayor of Lansing, Michigan—great to have you with us tonight. And thanks for speaking up.
BERNERO: Always a pleasure.
SCHULTZ: Michigan is just the latest state to see workers‘ rights destroyed by a Republican governor. And tonight, the White House is once again nowhere to be found. I‘ll have something to say about that later on.
And they never let a crisis go to waste. We‘ll show you how Glenn Beck and the Drugster took to the airwaves to mock the victims of the Japan disaster.
“The Takedown” is next. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW, time for “The Takedown.”
Jerry Falwell said 9/11 was a punishment from god. Pat Robertson said about the same thing about Hurricane Katrina and the earthquake in Haiti.
And, now, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are laughing over what they is God‘s payback to the people of Japan. “Media Matters” highlighted these clips.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Our caller Chris with a great question. The Japanese have done so much to save the planet, he‘s right. They‘ve given us the Prius. Even now, refugees are still recycling their garbage, and yet, Gaia levels them, just wipes them out. Wipes out their nuclear plants, all kinds of radiation. What kind of payback is this?
GLENN BECK, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: What God does is God‘s business. And I have no idea. But I‘ll tell you this, whether you call it Gaia, or whether you call it Jesus—there‘s a message being sent. And that is, hey, you know that stuff we‘re doing? Not really working out real well. Maybe we should stop doing some of it. I‘m just saying.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
SCHULTZ: I‘m just saying—the old famous line.
Well, it would be bad enough if you stop there. But Beck continued the ignorance marathon, claiming the world has never seen a really bad nuclear disaster.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BECK: The worst nuclear disaster in human history is Chernobyl. The U.N. says 4,000 people died because of that. That‘s the “I hate nukes” people that have adjusted that number. So, what are the confirmed dead from Chernobyl? Was it 40?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe it was—estimates were between 55 and 70.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: So, not only does Beck think the Japanese disaster is a message from above, he also thinks we really shouldn‘t worry about the nuclear aftermath. After all, Chernobyl wasn‘t really that bad.
According to the Chernobyl Forum Report, the meltdown resulted in 56 direct deaths, and up to 4,000 cancer-related deaths. Those are the numbers Beck said were cooked up by the “no nukes” people. But the truth is: those estimates are low compared to other reputable studies.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer estimated 16,000 deaths from Chernobyl. The Russian Academy of Sciences: 200,000 deaths. The Ukrainian National Commission for Radiation Protection: 500,000 deaths.
Beck should stick to making insensitive comments with his buddy Rush. At least those remarks don‘t involve things like facts or history. That prove he‘s a liar.
That‘s “The Takedown.”
Republicans—get this—held an emergency hearing in Congress today
an emergency. Was it on jobs? Was it on the Japanese nuclear disaster?
Oh, no, it‘s a lot better than that.
Plus, Ohio‘s governor wants to slash budgets for—yes, children‘s
hospitals and adoption programs, and give tax cuts to his -
SCHULTZ: Oh, no, it‘s a lot better than that.
Plus, Ohio‘s governor wants to slash budgets for, yes, children‘s hospitals and adoption programs, and give tax cuts to his corporate buddies. But he‘s not the only Republican governor trying to squash the middle class. We‘ll tell you who they are, next. Stay with us. You‘re watching THE ED SHOW.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Thanks for watching tonight. If you want to see exactly what kind of war Republicans are waging against the middle class, look no further than the budget plan created by Ohio Governor John Kasich. The former Fox News anchor calls this his, quote, “jobs budget?” OK.
It looks awfully familiar to anyone who‘s been paying attention to what the heck is going on in Wisconsin and New Jersey. This jobs budget comes right out of the Scott Walker-Chris Christie playbook. Cut corporate taxes and go after the working folk of America in your state.
Here‘s Kasich unveiling his budget yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JOHN KASICH ®, OHIO: This budget is woven with one reform after another. It is, I would guess, the most reform oriented budget presented in modern Ohio history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Republicans use the word reform because they really don‘t have the guts to tell you exactly what the heck they‘re talking about. Here are the reforms Kasich is talking about. He plans to cut funding to Ohio public schools by 25 percent. The budget slashes 12 million dollars from children‘s hospitals, nearly 16 million from an adoption program for children with special needs, and one million from the food banks. I tell you, those food banks are a huge problem.
How about some shared sacrifice from the wealthy. No, can‘t go there. The budget includes tax cuts for oil companies, a tax cut for the rich, and a repeal of the estate tax. We can‘t let that one get away.
But Ohio must be broke. That‘s why they have to do this wrong. Governor Kasich, his own policy director told the “Columbus Dispatch” newspaper, quote, “even if there weren‘t an eight billion dollar deficit, we‘d probably be proposing many of the same things.” So I guess it is ideology.
So we‘ve got Ohio and Michigan, New Jersey and Wisconsin, they‘re in the game, making it harder for the middle class, and a hell of lot easier for the rich folk. And that‘s not—really only the beginning. I would say it‘s just only the beginning.
Here are some budget proposals from other GOP leaders around the country, if you don‘t think they‘re out of a playbook. Governor Rick Scott, Florida, wants to slash corporate income tax in Florida while cutting education funding and Medicaid by around four billion dollars each.
Georgia House Leader Larry O‘Neil pushed a budget that cuts corporate taxes 33 percent while increasing health care costs for state workers by more than 20 percent. Nice guy.
Iowa Governor Tom Branstad, you see, he wants a corporate income tax cut and a freeze on school spending, not quite as radical, but radical.
Governor Sam Brownback—from the Senate to the governor‘s chair in Kansas—he favors eliminating the corporate income tax all together, while cutting 50 million dollars to education. So much more rural schools.
Tea Party Governor Paul Lepage, well, you see, he wants a tax cut for Maine‘s richest one percent and a property tax hike, meaning moving up on the pay list for the state‘s middle class.
Let‘s go to Pennsylvania, where Governor Tom Corbett, he is proposing a corporate tax cut, along with a freeze on teachers salaries. Governor Nikki Haley, she wants to end corporate income tax in South Carolina and cut physical education from schools, along with Medicaid reductions.
And if this isn‘t happening in a state near you, just stick around. It will. Go ahead and let the Republicans take control of the legislative session or the governor‘s mansion and this is the kind of government you‘re going to get.
Now, let me know if you see any difference. Joining me now from Ohio is Ohio State Senator Nina Turner. Senator Turner, good to have you with us tonight.
NINA TURNER, OHIO STATE SENATOR: Thank you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: It is amazing when you look at the plan that‘s coming out from all these different states, where Republicans just happen to be in charge. What should be the game plan in your state of Ohio, first, working against John Kasich?
TURNER: Well, Ed, as you laid out the—picture perfectly. And hopefully the 11 million citizens of the state are paying attention. Governor Kasich‘s budget is really a continuation of Senate Bill 5, which is an attack on our working class men and women.
And what Republican governors across the country are doing, which is create—to take us from the United States of America to the corporate states of America, really in Governor Kasich‘s budget is all about creating a low wage work force.
So, in my mind, you know, you have the have mores, the have somes and the have nots. And when the governor is done in the state of Ohio, you‘ll have the have a lots and the have nots. It is absolutely devastating.
SCHULTZ: How are you going to deal with these cuts?
TURNER: Well, we‘ve got to work hard, as you know. The Democrats are outnumbered in both the House and the Senate. But we really need the people of the state of Ohio to recognize this for what it is, an attack on firefighters, on teachers, on police officers. And if anybody for one second believes that just because they are not a public sector worker, that they‘re going to escape this, imagine that local governments have to lay off police officers, have to lay off firefighters. If you need the help of those public servants, who‘s going to be there to help you?
So we have to continue to fight. We have to take this message to the people. And they should understand very clearly that everybody is impacted by this.
SCHULTZ: This isn‘t, as I see it, looking at all the different states, really a left-right, Republican or Democrat issue. Look at the poll numbers of Mr. Kasich. He just recently got elected to the governor‘s chair. His approval rating, done by a University of Cincinnati poll, he‘s at 40 percent, 47 percent disapproval.
Now, it‘s not left or right. It‘s a priority list. And it seems that the priority list by those in power just don‘t believe in shared sacrifice. Do you believe that number? Do you think opinions are turning in your state?
TURNER: I do, Ed. I think people are beginning to see the picture very, very clearly. Teachers and police officers and firefighters, they are our neighbors. They are our friends.
And I think the public is smarter than we give them credit for. They get it. And they understand that this just will not work. It is an insult. It is devastating. Two billion dollars worth of cuts to local government, two billion dollars worth of cuts to K through 12 education, 450 million dollars worth of cuts to higher education. You have got to be kidding me.
We are in a downward spiral in the state of Ohio. And I think both—and folks get it. This is a human issue. And this is not about Republican or Democrat. But it‘s about the type of state that we want our families and our future generations to inherit.
SCHULTZ: Senator Turner, tell us about the stimulus package, what you know. The money that has gone to Ohio, there have been a number of governors who have not worked with the Obama administration, that have been tight with the dollar, that have not put the money into effect to create these jobs.
And obviously the conspiracy theory that I have is they don‘t want to see President Obama get any credit whatsoever. Have you seen the stimulus money get to work? Or is it being held back in your state?
TURNER: At least under Governor Strickland, he put the stimulus money that came from the president, which—by the way, we need to remember that if the president and the Congress had not acted, we would have been not in a recession, but in the Great Depression. So they had to act.
But the criticism that‘s coming from the Kasich administration about living within our means, you know, he‘s proposing to sell prisons at pennies on the dollar. It‘s almost laughable. It‘s almost a giveaway.
SCHULTZ: He wants to privatize the penal system? He wants to privatize the prisons in that state. Obviously people would come in and cut a fat hog on that. But what kind of product would you get?
TURNER: Absolutely, about five prisons for about 200 million dollars. I don‘t even know if you can build a prison for 200 million dollars. And again, any money that the state would get would be one time—would be a one-time money windfall.
So it absolutely makes no sense. And also, the prison guards that work there—private prison guards make about one-third less than public sector, again, creating a low-wage state, vilifying public workers, as if they don‘t work hard, as if they don‘t bring it every single day, as if they don‘t serve the constituents in the state of Ohio. It is absolutely unconscionable.
SCHULTZ: Senator Turner, I think we‘re going to have to bring THE ED SHOW to Ohio. You‘ve got a lot of things going on there. I don‘t like what‘s going on there.
TURNER: We would love to have you, Ed. And I want to say in closing, Councilman Fanny Lewis used to say it doesn‘t matter if you kill me by accident or kill me on purpose, dead is dead. And between the governor‘s budget and Senate Bill 5, we are creating an environment in the state of Ohio that will not promote death—excuse me, that will not promote growth, but will promote death.
SCHULTZ: Senator Nina Turner from Ohio with us tonight here on THE ED
Now just listening to what you‘ve heard, folks, in the last few minutes on this program, documented out the cuts that are being made by the Republican governors across the country, and then, of course, we focused on Ohio tonight. Ask yourself the question, do you think that‘s an emergency?
Did you know that the Republicans held an emergency hearing on Capitol Hill today? The Republicans got together and they held an emergency hearing. It‘s about time they fixed all the problems that we‘ve just heard about. And I‘m going to tell you exactly what that hearing was all about and what it was for, next on THE ED SHOW. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Thanks for joining us tonight here on MSNBC. Now, this is a classic. OK. Now, we all know where the American middle class is right now. They‘re struggling, health care, education, energy, all that. The Middle East is fighting and dying for freedom. The world‘s third biggest economy is battling radioactive disaster, while trying to recover from a massive tsunami and magnitude nine earthquake.
Can we agree that there‘s a heck of a lot going on? So what did House Republicans rush to hold an emergency hearing on today on Capitol Hill? It was an emergency hearing. What was it all about? NPR. That‘s right. An emergency hearing—an emergency hearing of the Rules Committee on a bill to stop all federal funding of NPR forever.
Now, that‘s a Republican emergency. Not a hearing for jobs. You know, in fact, they haven‘t held a hearing on creating jobs yet. They haven‘t done that. Haven‘t gotten to it. It‘s NPR. That‘s a big thing.
No hearing on tsunami warnings or nuclear plants and security there. They‘re just cutting funding for all of that. Not a hearing on our nuclear safety. They just want more plants and less regulation. That‘s what they‘re all about.
Here‘s what Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn out of Tennessee said about the NPR emergency. “Now, if you can say, is it an emergency, is it a crisis? Is it this or is it that? It is what the American people have instructed us that they would like us to do.”
Are you kidding me? We really sent them to Washington to make sure that they defunded NPR? With all the stuff that we‘ve got going on in America right now? Now, according to Congressman Steve King out of Iowa, restoring funding for a tsunami warning center—oh, that‘s no emergency. You know what that is? That‘s an overreaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STEVE KING ®, IOWA: The tsunami warning center, that‘s—it‘s really—the timing of that is—puts attention in the subject matter. I don‘t know that I would go back and look at that. I would ask people to come forward with the facts on this, and how badly do we need them and why and do the events—the tragic events in Japan give us a different perspective.
I would look at it from a different perspective. I don‘t know that I would at this point say I would be willing to try to make that change. I think we often overreact to emergencies, especially natural disasters, before we assess the limit of the damage and particularly with the nuclear part of this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Do they have television in Iowa? I think they do. Has he seen any of the videotape? We don‘t want to overreact to any of this tsunami stuff, do we? We don‘t even want to take a look at it, or go back and re-evaluate what we could or could not be doing.
Because it‘s NPR. In fact, NPR is such an emergency, today‘s hearing was just a Rules Committee hearing. The full House is voting on this tomorrow without even holding a damn hearing.
And who suffers if NPR loses government funding? Well, not the big cities the right wing hates. You know, it‘s rural America, poor America, which gets a disproportionate amount of that federal money to provide remote parts of this country with the only free news they can get. Maybe that explains it.
The new White House road map for victory in 2012 has been unveiled. They are revealing this to everyone now. Unless I‘m missing something, it is not including standing up for American workers. And that story is next. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Finally tonight, as long as I‘ve been reporting on this show on the Republican assault on the middle class, I think I‘ve been pretty tough on President Obama as well. I‘ve called him out. I think he could be doing more to stick up for the working folk of America when it comes to collective bargaining.
Not only is standing up for the civil rights of Americans the moral
and correct thing to do. It‘s the right thing to do politically. Poll
after poll has shown Americans overwhelmingly disapprove of the union-
busting going on in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan and beyond. Now, outside of
telling a Milwaukee affiliate that governors shouldn‘t be vilified, and
shouldn‘t vilify public unions, the president—let‘s be honest about this
has been pretty much missing in action on this issue.
If the president was looking for a way to fire up his base, and that‘s the word, leading on this issue, man, this is it. So today I‘m reading this article. And I really thought this was interesting by the Associated Press.
The headlines said, “Obama‘s Team Seeks New Ways to Fire up His Base.”
Now, according to the Associated Press, the White House is going to urge young voters to hold roundtables, which administration officials actually might attend, to discuss priorities and offer feedback.
I‘ve got an idea for you. Why doesn‘t the president—why doesn‘t his team tell him to take a stand on collective bargaining? Don‘t you think that that would be probably a good fire up the base issue right now, with everything that‘s going on?
How about the Obama team telling the president to make good on a promise that he made on the campaign trail back in 2007?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain, when I‘m in the White House, I‘ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself. I‘ll walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: I mean, when you tell the folks you‘re going to put on a special pair of shoes, you know, the ones that are comfortable, that you‘re going to be out there with them, and then when all of this stuff is going down in Wisconsin and Michigan—you saw the story earlier tonight in Ohio. Mr. President, get some new advisers or get on the road.
If the Obama team is seeking a new way to fire up the base for 2012, how about showing them that sound bite over and over again? How about providing him with that comfortable pair of shoes he promised to wear? You know, you can take my shoes if you want to. Mine feel pretty comfortable. You can wear them in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana. You can wear them in Michigan.
How about Florida? The Obama team doesn‘t need any new way to fire up the base. You don‘t need any think tank. Just listen to what the people are saying. He just needs to back up that promise that he made during the campaign trail and get in the fight.
I‘m tired. I told the firefighters earlier this week when I spoke to them in Washington, at their national convention, I‘m tired of the political calculation that‘s being made by the White House experts about, well, politically it would be the wrong thing to do for the president to do this, because then it would be about him.
And I say, good. That‘s why we elected him. But Obama‘s people think he‘s playing the union issue just right. The Associated Press actually wrote this sentence today: “campaign aides say they think the president is walking the right line by supporting unions without appearing unduly beholden to them.”
Beholden to them? It‘s not the unions. It‘s the middle class. He isn‘t walking the right line, in my opinion. And he promised to walk the picket line. I want that videotape.
Joining me now is Washington editor of “The Nation,” and MSNBC contributor Chris Hayes. Chris, good to have you with us tonight.
CHRIS HAYES, “THE NATION”: Good to be here, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Massive power grab going on in Michigan. Where is the president? Fair question?
HAYES: You know, I think it is. I have to say, I am of two minds about this. One of the things that I think has actually been really good for the progressive base, for the people who have been organizing, who have been walking the line, who have been occupying the Madison capital, who were arrested today in Michigan trying to do the same thing there, is that this fight has been a fight that hasn‘t in some ways involved the president.
And it‘s allowed a lot of independent organizing to sort of organically emerge that isn‘t dependent on what the president says or doesn‘t say. One of the things that happened during the health care legislative battles, financial reform, is people were sort of hemmed in, particularly the progressives organizations in Washington, by what the White House did.
This is a place where you can draw stark lines. And nobody from the White House can tell you to start of ratchet it down. So my fear would be that there be a double-edged sword if the president did get involved. Because once he gets involved, once you‘re sort of mixed up with that, then you get White House advisers saying, no, take it down. No, accept this compromise, et cetera.
What‘s been so good about this is that you have a genuine grass roots movement on the ground in which people are making demands and they‘re pressing their case. And it‘s working politically. I worry about the consequences of the White House getting involved in that respect.
SCHULTZ: What about this? They‘re going to lose collective bargaining. They have lost it in Wisconsin. They may lose it in other states. And when they think about what they‘ve lost, they think about President Obama, well, he wasn‘t around when the fight was going on, but he told us he would be. How do you measure that?
HAYES: I agree. I think politically—I mean, one of the things that‘s interesting about what‘s going on in these states is going into this battle, if you pulled aside Democratic strategists from Washington, D.C., and you said will a fight over collective bargaining rights for public sector union employees be beneficial to the Democratic party and progressives, they would say, you‘re crazy. The public resents them. They don‘t like their defined benefit pensions, et cetera.
And what this—
SCHULTZ: But the polls are showing that the people don‘t want this union busting going on.
HAYES: That‘s exactly right. That‘s what is so sort of galvanizing about it, is that the conventional wisdom about that has been totally wrong. Right? The fact is that hasn‘t been what‘s happening. We‘ve seen the opposite. In Ohio, Sherrod Brown, who was looking like he was in very tenuous situation just a few weeks ago, is now up by 10 or 15 points in the latest polling out today.
So—so I think that people really do feel this issue. And it is a political winner.
SCHULTZ: Chris Hayes, always a pleasure to have you, thanks for your take tonight. Appreciate it. That‘s THE ED SHOW. I‘m Ed Schultz. For more information on THE ED SHOW, we‘d like to take you to our new blog, ed.msnbc.com. We‘ll see you back here tomorrow night. “THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O‘Donnell starts right now, all the latest in Japan and more coming up with Lawrence. We‘ll see you tomorrow night.
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