December 17, 2009

Ed Schultz pretty well lays it in the line with what a whole lot of the progressive community thinks about President Obama right now. Katrina Vanden Heuvel from The Nation weighs in on how "angry, infuriated and heartbroken" the base is and that they need to stand up if they don't want things to be very ugly in 2010. As Ed notes, the President needs to quit listening to Rahm Emanuel and the insurance lobby and start paying attention to those that got him elected.

Transcript via Lexis Nexis.

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

Mr. President, pull that chair up in front of the fireplace here. What you say we sit down and have a little talk here tonight? What do you think, huh?

The base is restless. They are wandering in the wilderness, Mr. President. They are looking for your GPS coordinates.

They want to know, where are you? They think we can do a heck of a lot better. Liberals and progressives think that they`re not being treated properly.

Right now, Mr. President, your base thinks you`re nothing but a sellout, a corporate sellout, out that. I know it`s tough audio, but I`m your buddy Ed. I`ve got to tell you this. I don`t think anybody else is.

You aren`t listening to the very people who put you in office, Mr. President. This isn`t about your legacy. It`s about the people in America who need health care now.

Mr. President, I don`t know if you`ve noticed or not, but you have carved out the most important elements of reform. The only people who like this current bill right now, Mr. President, is the insurance industry. They get a bunch of new customers.

Here is what Wendell Potter, a friend of mine, told me on the program last night.


WENDELL POTTER: The Senate bill is full of loopholes, and the insurance industry knows that. In fact, they`ve made sure that they are in there.

One in particular will allow employers to charge certain workers thousands of dollars more just based on health factors. And it can be obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol.

The insurance industry will be able to write the rules. They are not being set in the legislation as currently written.


SCHULTZ: Mr. President, don`t leave the room. We`ve got some more talking to do. You can`t make it?

Apparently none of that matters. You see, at the White House, not long ago, the president told liberal Democrats to suck it up and listen to Joe Lieberman`s version on health care.

Now, here`s what gets me. The guy standing behind Obama is the biggest taker from big pharma and the insurance industry. Our old buddy, Max Baucus, chairman of the Finance Committee, is taking $3.4 million from the health industry over the last six years, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That`s an average of $1,500 a day to Baucus from big health care.

Now, the travesty continues. Last night, 30 Democrats voted against an amendment that would help you and me, the consumers -- the drug importation bill.

It would let consumers buy prescription drugs from overseas at a fraction of the price that we pay right now. But you see, voting for it would have really endangered the deal that the White House cut with big pharma.

Mr. Personality, Rahm Emanuel, he must have gotten a hell of a deal. So, the Democrats got together and they killed it. So much for change we can believe in.

I have to ask the question tonight to our listening audience, if you`re a liberal, tell me -- send me an e-mail at

Why do you support President Obama after the way he`s been coming down on all of this? Does he deserve your support at this point? Rahm Emanuel is nothing but a turncoat. They are not listening to the base at all.

The Republicans -- I know this is heresy, but they do deserve credit. See, they know how to close ranks, and nobody does it better than them. It`s kind of like they still have the Tom DeLay effect. The Democrats are always looking for a hero.

Now, Howard Dean finally did it today. The Democrats just don`t know how to get tough.


HOWARD DEAN: You know, if we are Republicans, we would ram this thing through the way we want them to. They wouldn`t have hesitated to do that. And we`re not tough enough. The Democrats aren`t tough enough. We don`t have to be mean like the Republicans can be, but we have to be a lot tougher if we`re going to get anything done.


SCHULTZ: OK. So we`ve got this list of progressives who are starting to line up. Let`s see -- we`ve got Howard Dean, we`ve got Arianna Huffington. We`ve got Markos Moulitsas of "The Daily Kos." We`re going to have a very interesting guest here in just a moment.

Is this the change that we all talked about, a gift to the insurance industry? Change is not back-door deals with big pharma and sticking it to the consumers. Change is not Joe Lieberman calling the shots on health care reform.

Mr. President, before you leave the room, listen to your buddy, Big Eddie. Your base is leaving you, and you need to listen to your base, because we`re the ones that put you in office.

Joe Lieberman didn`t put you in office. None of the Republicans put you there. In fact, they are still trying to defeat you at the water`s edge. They won`t give up.

Folks, get your cell phones out tonight. I want to know what you think on this.

Do you think the White House has sold out to big pharma? Text "A" for yes and "B" for no to 622639. We`ll bring you the results later on in the show.

Joining me now is Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of "The Nation," tonight.

Katrina, nice to have you with us.


SCHULTZ: The base, is it in trouble with President Obama? I`m listening to those and the progressive talkers. The blogosphere is wild. This is a new set of dynamics for the president. We`ve got some poll numbers coming up in a few minutes.

How do you see it at this hour?

VANDEN HEUVEL: Well, I think the base -- I mean, the people who put Obama in office, angry, infuriated, heartbroken. This is not the change that we voted for.

I think Representative Anthony Weiner put it well just the other day. The compromises are all going in one direction. And so people who work very hard, not just the base, a majority of Americans who support a public option or a Medicare expansion, are looking at a White House which has emboldened the conserva-dems, people like Joe Lieberman, who not only worked for McCain, but is now holding hostage a bill that would really serve millions of Americans.

Instead, we`re getting this watered-down, diluted plan, and I think it`s not too late. I think progressives can stand and fight.

There is another day. Congress has two houses. It`s going to go to the House, which has some spine, and we need to give it spine moving forward, because, otherwise, it`s going to be very ugly in terms of 2010, and very ugly in terms of what emerges as a bonanza for the insurance companies.

SCHULTZ: Well, it`s just not the base and it`s just not the progressive media that`s out there. It`s members of Congress. John Conyers, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee...

VANDEN HEUVEL: Absolutely.

SCHULTZ: He says this: "The president keeps listening to Rahm Emanuel. The insurance lobby is taking over."

Here`s Dave Obey, who is the chairman of House Appropriations. "The White House has been useless."

It`s ridiculous. And the Obama administration is sitting on the sidelines. That`s nonsense.

What do you make of this?

VANDEN HEUVEL: Well, I mean, you have in the House people like Obey and Conyers. You have a Progressive Caucus, 83 strong, which stood firm, tall, with spine to counter these Blue Dogs who don`t represent much but the insurance companies. And the Progressive Caucus will need to do some work moving forward.

So, you`re going to head in -- Steny Hoyer, majority leader, said today you`re looking at January. You`re going to need to meld the Senate bill with a House bill that is a lot better, including, obviously, a public option or Medicare expansion, but better on affordability, better on any trust exemption for these insurance companies.

So, I think there is work to be done. And in this period, progressives and citizens who don`t want to be held hostage by the insurance companies moving forward need to do some hard work and tell this White House that, yes, we`re not naive. Compromise in politics is inevitable, but you want compromise that opens opportunities and takes into account those who have worked so hard for something, and not something that forecloses opportunity and is an insurance bonanza.

SCHULTZ: Katrina, good to have you on tonight.


SCHULTZ: Thanks so much. Always the truth coming from you and "The Nation."

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