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The Ed Show for Monday, April 4th, 2011

Read the transcript to the Monday show

Guests: Jesse Jackson, Baxter Leach, Elmore Nickelberry, Rep. Karen Bass,

Joe Madison, Wendell Potter


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

The late word tonight that Republicans have an outline for a third continuing resolution, this after Eric Cantor said that there would be no more.  That‘s our lead story on the table tonight.

On the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., how far have we come in this country fighting for workers‘ rights?  That‘s our lead story.  Reverend Jesse Jackson to join us from Madison tonight on that.

And rising gas prices are due to Wall Street speculation.  But John Boehner says the solution is, drill, baby, drill.  That‘s in “The Takedown” tonight.

And the biggest offshore oil drilling disaster in the United States cost 11 men their lives, but the company that owned the rig calls this their best year ever when it comes to safety?  That‘s coming up.

Forty-three years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his life fighting for the rights of 1,300 striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee.  This is what Dr. King told the striking workers the night before the assassination.



DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., CIVIL RIGHTS ICON:  You are reminding not only Memphis, but you are reminding the nation that it is a crime for people to live in this rich nation and receive starvation wages.



SCHULTZ:  Well, almost a half century later, those words still ring true.  Republican governors and the right wing media have been attacking the dignity of working men and women at a record level—but now, there is pushback.  We Are One protests were held in roughly a thousand locations across the country today, including one protest theme, Memphis to Madison.  Working class Americans are trying to continue Dr. King‘s dream of civil rights, social rights, and economic justice.

The lead hate merchant across the street attacked the protesters for using Dr. King to promote the pro-labor movement.  Here‘s Beck.


GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS:  Is there a person within the sound of my voice, outside the union halls, that I could ask and say, why did someone kill Martin Luther King?  Why?  They would say, wow, good thing you asked me, collective bargaining rights, of course.  That‘s absurd.  Is there one person besides Richard Trumka that could actually answer that other than AFSCME?  Why has it become so acceptable for our press to allow the hijacking of the life and the message of Martin Luther King?


SCHULTZ:  Beck has hijacked King‘s legacy more than any other member of the media, and he‘s completely wrong about King‘s support for collective bargaining.  If you don‘t believe me, take it from Martin Luther King III.


MARTIN LUTHER KING III, DR. KING‘S SON:  I think about what he would be doing and I‘m looking at what is going on in our nation today as we are attacking teachers, public workers, collective bargaining.  And so, today, we‘re engaged in continuing the work.  His dream is not fulfilled yet.


SCHULTZ:  It certainly isn‘t.  And a guest column for the AFL-CIO, King went on to say, “My father would be joining with millions of other Americans today in supporting public employees in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio, and other states, where collective bargaining is now under attack.”

Republicans and their friends in the media have turned America upside down.  Conservative policies have bankrupted almost every state in this country.  But governors, like Mr. Walker, Mr. Kasich, and also Chris Christie in New Jersey, they just put the blame right on their teachers, the firefighters, and the sanitation workers.

The battle for collective bargaining rights has major similarities to what Dr. Martin Luther King was fighting for in Memphis, Tennessee, back in 1968.

A little history for Beck: in February of 1968, 1,300 Memphis sanitation workers—you see, what they wanted to have was safer working conditions.  They wanted wage increases because they hadn‘t had them for a long time.  But most of all, they just wanted to end discrimination.

Twelve days after King was murdered, the sanitation workers finally got most of the rights they were fighting for.

The night before King died, he said this: “I just want to do God‘s will.  And he‘s allowed me to go to the mountain, and I‘ve looked over, and I‘ve seen the Promised Land.  I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.  And I‘m happy tonight, I‘m not worried about anything.  I‘m not fearing any man.  Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

Would it work today?  Absolutely.

For more on this, we do not have Reverend Jesse Jackson.  He was going to join us tonight to do this program, but, apparently, he is late to the live shot.

This is undoubtedly a situation in American history which we can point back to a very tragic event and we can see exactly the fight that is going on today in this country.  The tough thing that Americans have to do is, remember, because we have short memories, and then when we don‘t really remember what the heck happened back in 1968, we have people who go on the air and we have people who tell us things that simply aren‘t true.  They try to rewrite history.

And conservative broadcasters are at a loss for the truth and facts when they twist the legacy of a man who fought so hard for human rights, social justice, equal justice, as Dr. Martin Luther King did for the United States of America.  This man was under surveillance by the FBI.  This man was being called a communist when all he wanted to do was fight for the workers.

Now, can you parallel that with what is happening in America today?  You can.  It makes you wonder just how far have we come as a nation.  Not very far.  Not very far at all.

And the fact is that we are now living in a media culture where people don‘t pay attention to history, that allow people like Beck to be irresponsible and rewrite it and to put their spin on it.  Even when members of Dr. King‘s family come out and say, no, this is what he was really doing on that day in Memphis, and this is what led up to it.

It‘s really sad.  It is sad that we have now become a country so critical, so critical and so cynical that we will try to rewrite history as to what great people were trying to do to change the lives of workers.  I find it disgusting.

And when you look at where—and you could look at our election cycle of running up to the election in November, to where we were, to where we are right now.  Was there all this campaigning by these right wing governors that they were going to go after collective bargaining?  And the simple answer to that is no.

They pivoted and they pivoted strong to move against labor.  This is the biggest attack on labor that we have seen in the history of this country.  It is undoubtedly a fight for justice.

And as we look at Wisconsin, which is ground zero, we have to say that it really is the rebirth of American workers‘ rights.

The scary thing in all of this is that if these recalls don‘t take place and if the legacy of Dr. King is rewritten, who knows what the future holds for the middle class in this country?  And this is not only about the middle class.  It‘s about the lower middle class and the working poor in this country.

And with no political voice, they‘re going to get run over.  And we‘re going to be a different country.  And if we allow people to go on the air and repeatedly say things that simply aren‘t true, that aren‘t well-intended, by those who are actually there doing it decades ago, we do a severe disservice to this country.

I‘m proud to speak up tonight.  And we will do that on Sunday, April 10th.  Reverend Jesse Jackson, Baxter Leach and Elmore Nickelberry will join us when we return here on THE ED SHOW.


SCHULTZ (voice-over):  President Obama launches his re-election campaign.  The first ad is out but the tone is all wrong.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don‘t agree with Obama on everything.  But I respect him and I trust him.


SCHULTZ:  Team Obama could learn something from this guy.

The trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed headed to Gitmo, not a civilian court.  Attorney General Eric Holder not happy about bowing to political pressure.


ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL:  I know this case in a way that members of Congress do not.


SCHULTZ:  And the plan to kill Medicare, vouchers for the elderly—

Paul Ryan‘s drastic budget proposal for 2012.


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS:  Aren‘t you playing into the Democrats‘ hand?

REP. PAUL RYAN ®, WISCONSIN:  We are.  We are giving them a political weapon to go against us.


SCHULTZ:  Sure hope the Democrats heard that.



SCHULTZ:  Reverend Jesse Jackson, Baxter Leach and Elmore Nickelberry will join us when we return here on THE ED SHOW.


SCHULTZ:  Forty-three years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King lost his life.  A man who was there with him on that balcony: Reverend Jesse Jackson joining us tonight on THE ED SHOW. He is in Madison, Wisconsin.

Reverend, good to have you with us tonight.  I appreciate your time.

What did—what did Dr. Martin Luther King mean the night before he was killed when he said, “I may not be there with you, when the time comes, to get to the mountain top”?  How did you take that?

REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW PUSH COALITION:  We had no idea of the level of threat he was under and the kind of pressure.  But his point was: whatever it is, I do not fear it.  I will affirm my fears with my faith and my courage.  And so, the struggle must continue.

And that‘s why I think (INAUDIBLE) he was killed but do not allow one bullet to kill the dream or to kill the movement.

SCHULTZ:  Reverend Jackson, do you see a parallel for what he was fighting for back in 1968 with those sanitation workers and generally speaking what we‘re seeing workers in America go through today?

JACKSON:  Well, his case was too much concentrated wealth on one hand and too much war, not enough concern for the working poor.  And today, we have these high—more billionaires than ever before.  We have three wars.  And we have more poor and the shrinking middle class.

He felt the need to focus on jobs and justice for working class and the poor people.  I have with me two sanitation workers that were there in Memphis in ‘68 who are still fighting for workers to have a place at the table, to have collective bargaining.

(INAUDIBLE) the states rights forces have been resurrected to fight civil rights yet again, whether it‘s fighting teachers, students needing classrooms, or fighting workers‘ place at the table, now fighting voter ID to make voting more difficult.  It‘s really a kind of a Confederate movement without the flag.

SCHULTZ:  Baxter Leach and Elmore Nickelberry are also with us tonight from Madison, Wisconsin.  They, of course, were sanitation workers back in 1968, who Dr. King was advocating for.

I‘ll ask you first, Mr. Leach.  What brings you to Madison, Wisconsin?

BAXTER LEACH, MEMPHIS SANITATION WORKER:  Jesse Jackson came up here to help the people at the march and, you know, for their rights and to vote and all this.  And we appreciate him for bringing all that and people, to help them out with the strike.

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Nickelberry, what do you remember from 1968, that sanitation strike?  And can you put it in perspective as to what workers are going through today in a sense?

ELMORE NICKELBERRY, MEMPHIS SANITATION WORKER:  I remember when we were going through the strike, we had to fight our way down different—fight our way to—down main street.  We got hit the side of the head and different things and I think it‘s—they should fight for what they want.

SCHULTZ:  Well, the fight was quite a struggle, no question about that.

Reverend Jackson, when you were on that balcony the night that assassination took place, this is a famous picture, has this been nightmarish for you over the years?

JACKSON:  It‘s always painful.  Martin Luther King was so innocent and yet so determined, killed at age 39.  I was actually on the ground level talking with him when the bullet hit him.  And then we all dashed toward the balcony and you see Andy Young and some other person, I didn‘t know pointing in that direction.

The reason was Dr. King was against the wall, hit this way, and knocked back.  The bullet came from that way.  We were saying, you come to us withdrawn guns, go where the bullet came from.  That was what made that picture what it was because we were saying you‘re coming toward us withdrawn guns.  Go toward where the bullet came from.

SCHULTZ:  If he were alive today, would he be in Madison, Wisconsin?

JACKSON:  I‘m convinced the idea of workers having their right of collective bargaining, the right to the voting rights access being secure.  Here in Wisconsin you have the one in Milwaukee that according to the latest—the most segregated city in America, number two New York, number three Chicago.  You have resegregation.

You have number four poorest city in the nation.  You‘re cutting jobs not adding jobs; you‘re cutting teachers not adding teachers.  We need more teachers and more coaches and getting more police and more jail wardens.

He says the budget crisis—he is sending $800 million back to the federal government, choosing more highway and less rail.  So, this is not about the money really.  It is a pretext to strip workers of collective bargaining and the kind of revive the right to work laws.

SCHULTZ:  Reverend Jesse Jackson, Baxter Leach and Elmore Nickelberry

good to have you with us tonight.  Thanks for your time.


The Obama campaign officially launches with an ad that says nothing about the president‘s accomplishments.  Tonight the president is talking to the troops.  You‘ll hear the audio anywhere.

According to House Republican rules, they have just 24 hours left to sign a deal avoiding a government shutdown.  But has Speaker Boehner already struck a deal to sell out the Tea Party?  The inside story from a congressional Democrat.  That‘s coming up.

Stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Thanks for watching tonight.

We are just four days away from a government shutdown unless both parties can agree on a deal to cover spending levels from Friday through October.

Under Republican House rules, they have to post the bill three days in advance which means they really only have 24 hours left to get this done or shut down the government.

And here‘s the best part: Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer says Speaker Boehner has already cut a deal.  He hasn‘t told the Tea Party any of that yet.  The news came after President Obama spent the weekend trying to head off a shutdown, calling congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle.  Today, the president invited them to the White House tomorrow to hammer this out.

Republicans led by Boehner, the speaker, respond with a battery of press releases today.  Here‘s what Boehner said about reports of a deal to cut $33 billion.  He said, “I‘ve made clear the $33 billion is not enough.  If the government shuts down, it will be because Senate Democrats failed to do their job.”

Not long after that, Schumer had a statement of his own.  He said Boehner‘s running a con on the Tea Party.  Quote, “The speaker has already agreed to this number, $33 billion, privately.  As long as he continues to negotiate privately it‘s OK by us if he needs to strike a different pose publicly.”

And just tonight, this in a few moments ago, a top GOP aide told NBC News Republicans have a new stop-gap spending measure ready to go to hold off a shutdown for one week.  You might remember it was House Republican Leader Eric Cantor who assured the Tea Party just last week there would be no more stop-gap spending measures.  They lie again.

With us tonight: Congresswoman Karen Bass, Democrat of California, who sits on the House Budget Committee.

Congresswoman, good to have you with us tonight.


SCHULTZ:  What do you think of the latest news NBC News is hearing from a GOP aide that Republicans have a new stop-gap measure to keep the country running?  What do you make of that?

BASS:  Well, first of all, I heard what you did but I have some additional information.  I heard that it‘s a stop-gap measure for one week, but they‘re going to put enough money in to fund the Defense Department for the rest of the year.  So, we will fund the Defense Department, but we‘re going to cut everything else, or we‘re only going to have the measure in place for one week.  I think it‘s pretty crazy.  It sounds like a caucus in disarray.

SCHULTZ:  So, Senator Schumer apparently is calling the bluff of Speaker Boehner over on the House side.  In your opinion, this puts Boehner kind of in a tight spot with the Tea Party, doesn‘t it?

BASS:  Well I think it absolutely does.  As you know, I am a part of the freshman class and 87 of my colleagues are Republicans and more than half of them are members of the Tea Party and you know they‘ve come under tremendous pressure.  You‘ve certainly covered it.

And so, the question is: will the Republican leadership act in a responsible manner and fund the government until the end of the year?  That is the appropriate thing to do.  We have many pressing issues to deal with.  We should stop this silliness frankly.

SCHULTZ:  What do you make of the $33 billion?  Boehner is saying out there today that $33 billion is not enough.

There‘s a lot of Democrats across the country that are saying why did you agree to $33 billion in the first place?  But if that—I don‘t know where you stand on that.  But if that is the number, what do you make of Boehner‘s position?

BASS:  Well, I think that it‘s ridiculous.  What has happened, and I know you know, that a number of the Republicans agreed, made a campaign promise to hold on to that number of $100 billion in cuts that they were going to have.  So, $33 billion I think what they really want is more like $71 billion.  It‘s really ridiculous because it‘s a number that‘s not based on anything.

And the top economic experts, including John McCain‘s adviser, says that if we actually did what the Republicans were calling for, we—you know, the economy is recovering.  We would slide completely back.  And it might even amount to 700,000 jobs that are lost.  So, it‘s a crazy thing to do right now.

SCHULTZ:  What does this signal to the American people when Cantor comes out and says there won‘t be any more stop-gap spending?  Yet you tell us tonight that the military spending is going to go to the end of the year.

BASS:  Right.

SCHULTZ:  And they‘re going to come up with more funds to run the government for a little bit longer.

BASS:  Well, I think it says that there is a conflict but I am certainly hoping that in the next 24-48 hours, that they will come to their senses, that they will have a deal that will take funding of the government until the end of the fiscal year, because as you know, Ed, we still have the overall budget to deal with—plus we have to make a decision about raising the debt ceiling.  So, we have three different levels that we need to be concerned about, and for us to be spending time or wasting time on this point alone, I think is really shameful.

SCHULTZ:  And why aren‘t the Democrats, and maybe you think they are, out there making the point that these cuts are about the worst thing you can do in a fragile economy in an economic recovery?

BASS:  Well, I actually think—and thanks to you and your show—I do think that the Democrats have been doing that al over the place.  Let me just give you a couple examples.  You know, Ryan is going to come—is going to call tomorrow for recalling the tax code, but yet they want to cut the IRS.  I mean, their cuts would result in compromising the safety of our water and our air.  You‘re talking about tens of thousands of teachers and firefighters that are laid off.

They create such disdain for the public workforce, but what they don‘t tell the public is you‘re talking about firefighters and teachers.  And so, I think Democrats have been all over the place on all different levels of the media, social media, TV, radio, talking about the cuts because we really need to paint a picture for America of the type of American that the Republicans want.  Not the country I want to live in.

SCHULTZ:  You bet.  Congresswoman Karen Bass—good to have you with us tonight.  Thanks so much.

BASS:  Thanks for having me.

SCHULTZ:  The Southwest jet that landed with a hole in the fuselage has now triggered a safety check into Boeing 737s worldwide.  That‘s coming up.

And wait until you see how the speaker of the House sweeps congressional testimony under the rug.  That‘s in “The Takedown,” next.

Stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  And it‘s time for the Takedown.  Testimony in the House last week shed light on the fact that the Wall Street manipulation is causing high gas prices.  That swishing sound you hear is House Speaker John Boehner sweeping the testimony under the rug. 

House Republicans called the hearing to highlight their desire for more domestic oil and gas production.  They weren‘t looking for an explanation on why unregulated speculation leads to rising gas prices.  In their attempt to destroy the Dodd/Frank Financial Reform Act, the House GOP already introduced a measure that would cut funding to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.   The CFTC is charged, of course, with regulating commodity speculation, which is taking place. 

Michael Fox, who represents the National Gasoline Retailers, told the House committee that the measure would be a disaster. 


MICHAEL FOX, NATIONAL GASOLINE RETAILERS:  The fastest way to six dollar retail gasoline prices is to not fully fund the CFTC and not impose the Dodd/Frank regulations.  That‘s the fastest way to get to six dollar gasoline. 


SCHULTZ:  OK.  Everybody got that?  Now was that on Boehner‘s website?  No.  And here is Don Shawkroft (ph) of the Colorado Farm Bureau—you know, good old boy, farmer kind of dude.  He was invited to the hearing by the Republicans.  Does he think the problem is because of supply and demand? 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Not only supply, but the reliability of that supply and reducing volatility in that supply.  You talk about speculation, it definitely influences that price. 


SCHULTZ:  Did he say definitely influence the price, that speculation has definitely influenced the price?  I thought I heard that right. 

What about former Republican Kansas Governor Bill Graves, who now represents those good old boys, those American truckers, the American Trucking Association?  Here is what he said when Congressman Dale Kildee asked about Wall Street speculation. 


REP. DALE KILDEE :  Do you agree that speculation is increasing energy prices? 


KILDEE:  Governor, would you agree with Mr. Fox that cutting funding for the CFTC to promulgate and enforce new regulations to rein in speculation could lead to higher prices? 

GRAVES:  I would oppose cutting the funding, yes. 


SCHULTZ:  Oppose cutting the funding.  Well.  You know, the only witness who didn‘t target speculation was Karen Harbor.  Now, she is the CEO of the Institute for the 21st Century Energy, which, of course, is affiliated to the United States Chamber of Commerce.  They‘re good buddies. 

So with bipartisan testimony supporting the need to regulate speculation, how did the highest ranking House Republican react to the hearing?  Well, he white washed it. 

John Boehner‘s website summarized this hearing but made no mention of any testimony having to do with speculation.  Instead saying the House will, quote, “reverse the Obama administration‘s job crushing policies and put us on a path toward expanding American energy production.” 

In other words, drill, baby, drill.  This is in spite of the fact that domestic oil production last year was at its—pay attention—highest level since 2003.  We‘ve been drilling, baby, big time. 

I want you to remember this moment if gas prices keep going up.  The Republican controlled House heard a solution, and then put their fingers on their ears and drowned out their nose.  I mean, they just said, no.  That that—we didn‘t hear that testimony. 

Remember that when you‘re paying six dollars a gallon at the pump. 

Remember that.  That‘s the Takedown. 

Congressman Paul Ryan has a plan for Medicare, basically just destroy it.  I‘ll talk about his proposal to gut health care for seniors. 

And coming up, the problem—the problem with Obama‘s first campaign ad.  Mr. President, let‘s go get them. 


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  And thanks for watching tonight.  There are some other big headlines today, all of them frankly alarming, in my opinion.  First, the Obama administration is forced to completely reverse itself on what was supposed to be a signature issue.  Khalid Sheik Muhammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, will be tried at Gitmo instead of a civilian court. 

Gitmo, you know, the prison that President Obama said would be closed within his first year in office.  But last year‘s Defense Authorization Act included a provision banning funds for transferring prisoners from Gitmo to the United States.  So no trial. 

So Attorney General Eric Holder basically had little choice.  But he said Congress had inserted itself into the decision that should have been left to the executive branch.  He said lawmakers created needless controversy over the prospect of a civilian trial. 


ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL:  The reality is though I know this case in a way that members of Congress do no the.  I have looked at the files.  I have spoken to the prosecutors.  I know the tactical concerns that have to go into this decision.  So do I know better than them?  Yes. 


SCHULTZ:  Republican Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, cheered the administration decision, but so did Democrat Chuck Schumer, the senator whose state was the most likely venue of a civilian trial, New York. 

And the latest surprise from a disaster that could have been prevented.  Last year‘s Deep Water Horizon explosion, with BP, Halliburton, and Transocean still under an investigation to determine if all three parties are responsible, but amazingly, with the investigation far from over, Transocean announced that it had its, quote, “best year in safety performance last year.”

And it‘s awarding its executive bonuses based in part on that safety performance.  Eleven workers died in that explosion last April.  Nine of them were Transocean employees. 

Meanwhile, two Transocean employees are refusing to comply with the federal investigation on the advice of their lawyers. 

Finally, in tonight‘s headlines, Southwest Airlines flight 812, you‘re free to move the country now.  The jet landed safely despite the hole that opened in the fuselage 20 minutes after takeoff on Friday. 

But now Southwest has voluntarily ordered checks of more than 100 planes of the same model, Boeing 737 300s.  Sub surface cracks—cracks in the fuselage were discovered on three of those aircraft. 

Southwest outsources up to 75 percent of its maintenance to places like Guatemala and China, according to PBS.  It is the industry norm.  Somebody else is checking the aircraft that you‘re going on, not an American worker. 

Concerned about that? 

Boeing Corporation will now recommend that every airline worldwide run checks on older 737s to look for similar fuselage problems.  That just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. 

The Paul Ryan budget: tax cuts for the rich at the expense of the poor, the very poorest in America.  But first we‘ll take a look at President Obama‘s first campaign ad.  Stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Let‘s talk about the president

because the paperwork was submitted today.  President Obama is running for

re-election in 2012. 


Over the weekend, his campaign sent out their first e-mail and text blast to supporters.  They also put out the first ad on the web.  It says nothing about the president‘s accomplishments.  Instead, it‘s two minutes of testimonials from young people, minority voters.  And then there is good old Ed from North Carolina. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I can‘t not be involved.  There‘s just too much that is fundamentally important right now that‘s going on.  I don‘t agree with Obama on everything, but I respect him and I trust him. 


SCHULTZ:  Don‘t agree with the president, but respect and trust.  That‘s all good.  But can you imagine George W. Bush putting that guy‘s comments in an ad?  How about taking credit for some of the accomplishments that this administration has been able to get? 

The president heading it all up. 

How about taking credit for—I don‘t know—rescuing the country from another depression?  How about saving the American automobile industry with a loan that‘s being paid back?  It‘s not a bailout.  It‘s a loan. 

How about drawing down the troops in Iraq and ending a confrontation that nobody is in love with? 

How about keeping the country safe?  That was always a good one for Bush.  We‘re going to keep you safe. 

You know, we have not been hit in the last two years.  Do you think President Obama should take any credit for that?  You know, 3,000 Americans weren‘t murdered on American soil during the last guy‘s term. 

And do you know what he did with that?  He ran on it. 

President Bush politicized those pictures from 9/11 and he still won. 

Now I get it.  What the Obama team is doing, this is supposed to be a soft launch.  But you get out your base by talking about your accomplishments, at least I think you do.  How about reminding Americans that you signed the greatest health care law reform in 50 years, because if you don‘t remind Americans the Republicans will.  Here‘s the new RNC ad out today. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Lights, camera, action.  You‘ve been enjoying yourself.  But now it‘s time to make them love you again.  You‘re cool, calm, collected.  You‘ve always gotten what you wanted.  But was it ever what we wanted? 


SCHULTZ:  Who plays hardball?  Is it the Republicans or is it the Democrats?  Because President Obama‘s health care reform ad—care reform -- no American can be turned down for health insurance because of a preexisting condition.  Now, to me, that‘s something that people ought to be talking about in the campaign in day one. 

If you let Republicans turn that into a bad thing, then it‘s going to be a very long campaign. 

Joining me now is Sirius XM radio talk show host Joe Madison.  Joe, the president‘s campaign thinks that they need to raise about a billion dollars.  This is the soft launch I guess. 


SCHULTZ:  What do you make of the soft launch? 

MADISON:  Well, you know, usually the two of us see eye to eye.  And I think you ought to just calm down.  Cool it for a while.  I don‘t have a problem with this soft launch, because the reality is it‘s early.  It‘s extremely early. 

And by the way, come Friday, the president may have a chance to really sock it to the Republicans, especially if they shut down the government.  But we‘ve got this spring to go through.  We‘ve got the entire summer to go through. 

This is a very, very long campaign.  And I think the strategy is really a good one.  Because guess what?  We‘re sitting here telling the people everything that he has done.  And there is a website out there --  I think the 212 things that President Obama has accomplished in just two years.  It‘s an amazing website.  And I think we‘re going to also see other organizations spend money talking about what the president has done.  But it‘s a—we‘ve got a long way to go, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  We sure do.  But this is a slow start and a very important election cycle.  We do see things differently here.  I am calmed down, Joe.  I think that the Obama team is too calmed down. 

MADISON:  They very well—you know, and I know your nature is pretty much like my nature.  We both like to go out and go get them right away.  But I think this strategy will work. 

SCHULTZ:  But, OK.  It might.  And I want it to.  I‘m an Obama fan and I want them to win.  But it‘s a stark contrast in how the Republicans play the game.  And that last ad that we just played proved that.  And the thing that bothers me is that this is on the heels of a huge sweep by the Republicans in the midterm.  And the strategy now is to come out and softball it from the start?  Not offend anybody? 

MADISON:  But wait.  Look at the clowns he is running against. 


MADISON:  But look at—why waste your best stuff on a bunch of clowns that are running, from Michele Bachmann to, what, Donald Trump? 


MADISON:  I mean, why bother? 

SCHULTZ:  Late tonight, President Obama spoke to supporters live on the web.  Here‘s what was said. 


OBAMA:  We have probably had the most successful legislative initiative of any president over the last 50 years.  I mean, think about it.  We passed historic health care legislation that provides help to millions of people. 

We brought an economy out of a depression.  We‘ve repealed Don‘t Ask Don‘t Tell.  We‘ve passed historic financial reform. 

So I think it‘s important to remind people of—A, what we have gotten accomplished. 


SCHULTZ:  You mean to tell me the Obama campaign couldn‘t find anybody to say that and put it in the first ad?  Where was that ad? 

MADISON:  Well, you know, Ed, now this is where we agree.  The first thing is it sounds like he just woke up.  They could have found a better time or a better delivery.  But, you know, I think when he starts hitting the campaign trail, we‘re not going to look at April 4th and say, oh, wow.  This was a slow start. 

I think once that he hits those campuses and the campaign trail and walks those—that rope line and starts getting in front of those people, like he did the last time, I think he will be candidate Obama.

And we‘ve got to remember something now.  He is not—now he‘s—he has to run as an incumbent, and at the same time govern.  And that‘s—because look what happened today.  He announces today he is running.  He needs a billion dollars.  And then this switch on Gitmo, which by the way, the sad thing is he didn‘t have a choice, because even the Democrats in New York wouldn‘t support him on this one. 

SCHULTZ:  Yes.  The president also told the supporters that he‘s not going to be joining the campaign for a few months. 

MADISON:  Yeah. 

SCHULTZ:  So it is a very interesting timetable.  Joe Madison, great to have you with us tonight. 

MADISON:  Always, Ed.  Thank you. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman Paul Ryan crunches the numbers.  I mean, he crunches them big time.  His 2012 budget plan has seniors paying more so millionaires can pay less, next.


SCHULTZ:  Finally tonight, the Republicans and their budget coming out tomorrow.  This congressman claims that the Republicans are just trying to save Medicare and Medicaid.  It‘s Congressman Paul Ryan out of Wisconsin. 

Now he offers the fine print.  No more guarantees for seniors.  No more basic health care for the poor.  His 2012 budget proposal comes out tomorrow.  Ryan‘s goal is to cut four trillion in spending over the next decade.  That means the end of Medicare as we know it. 

Instead, the Ryan plan offers a premium support system.  A what?  A premium support system?  You believe that?  The plan would shift more cost to seniors.  And while seniors 55 or older will continue on the current Medicare system, seniors in the future will get government money to use toward a private insurance policy. 

I bet they‘re excited about that. 

Meanwhile, Medicaid would be gutted and turned into a block grant.  States, of course, would get a lump sum of money with the freedom to spend the money how they see it.  Well, I wonder how they‘d spend it in Wisconsin with this crowd in charge. 

Analysts fear that states would limit enrollment and offer less coverage.  Needless to say, with all this cutting, Ryan remains a tireless advocate for the welfare of corporations. 


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  Do you eliminate tax breaks?  Do you bring in new revenue by eliminating, for instance, tax breaks for oil companies? 

REP. PAUL RYAN ®, WISCONSIN:  We don‘t have a tax problem.  The problem with our deficit is not because Americans are taxed too little. 


SCHULTZ:  Wasn‘t he just asked about taxes on oil companies?  He didn‘t answer that.  In fact, Ryan‘s plan would lower the tax rate for the wealthiest Americans from 35 to 25 percent.  And when we were going through the lame duck session of the Congress and talking about the extension the Bush tax cuts, I said, folks, this is just the tip of the iceberg.  They‘re going to be showing up looking for 25 percent. 

That‘s it from the wealthy in this country.  Ryan expects the proposal will be used against the GOP by the Democrats.  Do you think? 


RYAN:  We are giving them a political weapon to go against us.  But they will have to lie and demagogue to make that a political weapon. 


SCHULTZ:  Lie?  Lie and—is that what he said?  Lie?  But the Democrats don‘t need to.  You see, the public is squarely against all of this rhetoric.  And recent polling proves it; 76 percent say cutting Medicare is unacceptable; 67 percent say the same about Medicaid; while 17 percent find that taxing the rich is unacceptable. 

The numbers aren‘t with the Republicans on this. 

Joining me now is Wendell Potter.  He‘s the senior analyst at the Center for Public Integrity and a contributing writer at “Huffington Post.”  Welcome, Mr. Potter.  Good to have you with us tonight. 


SCHULTZ:  Under this plan, will seniors get the same kind of guarantees that they‘ve got right now under Medicare? 

POTTER:  No.  It‘s very, very scary for seniors or for people who would be looking to the future for Medicare benefits.  It would be—what would happen is that people who are on fixed incomes, who are not earning the incomes they had when they were working, would be faced with ever skyrocketing premiums.

And many people simply would not be able to afford affordable care. 

It would be just an absolutely devastating thing for many Americans. 

SCHULTZ:  So are the Republicans with this budget and this system of -

basically a voucher system—are they setting up just another big cash cow for the private industry, for the insurance companies? 

POTTER:  They are.  They wouldn‘t be doing this unless they felt that they had private industry behind them.  And I can assure you that they do.  They certainly will have the support of the insurance industry, the U.S.

Chamber of Commerce, and other allies of the insurance industry.

Because this would be an absolute gift obviously for the insurance industry in ways that the health care reform bill signed last year doesn‘t even begin to be.  So it would absolutely be something that we will see that the insurance industry will be trying to do, working with its allies to try to work people‘s—trying to get people to vote against their own self-interest. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, you have to give the Republicans credit.  It‘s a pretty clever and innovative idea to go after the New Deal, no doubt about that. 

POTTER:  Right. 

SCHULTZ:  But the block grant, I mean, I see states really starving seniors when they get tight on the budget.  What about that? 

POTTER:  Oh, they absolutely would.  We would see that people would be really starving, no doubt about it.  They would be making choices between putting food on the table and going to the doctor, as many people already do who have to buy insurance in the open market as they do today. 

It would be an absolute tragedy for so many Americans.  You know, they‘re calling this the GOP Plan to Prosperity.  It is that.  It is a plan or a path to prosperity for those who already are prosperous.  But it would be an absolute devastating thing for most American families. 

SCHULTZ:  Ryan says that he is giving the Democrats a political weapon.  Do you see this as a big opportunity for the Democrats to make hay on this?  I noted the polling numbers we put up before we got you on the air here? 

POTTER:  Well, it should be.  But what will happen is that the special interests have a very good track record of engaging in propaganda campaigns that get people off of where they are right now. 

SCHULTZ:  Sure. 

POTTER:  We saw support for the health care bill decline over the course of the debate.  That‘s what they‘re counting on. 

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Potter, great to have you with us.  Thanks so much for your time tonight. 

POTTER:  Thank you. 

SCHULTZ:  That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Ed Schultz.  For more information on THE ED SHOW, you go to our blog at  We‘ll see you back here tomorrow night. 

“THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O‘Donnell starts right now. 



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