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MSNBC "The Ed Show" - Transcript

Interview

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Joining me now is Sherrod Brown, Senator from Ohio on the Senate HELP Committee.

Senator, what are we going to do for the four million people? I think it"s great. There"s going to be a vote tonight. You"re going to get 2.5 million people helped, an extension, because they are on hard times right now.
What about the other four million? Is it time for a public employment program?

What do you think?

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: Yes. I"ve introduced legislation to do that, as some others here have. Senator Harkin is working on money and more money into education for teachers and teachers aides and all that.
I"ve introduced legislation on putting money into local governments so they don"t have to lay off police and fire fighters and mental health counselors and librarians and all that. And that will do the same kind of stimulus to the economy, getting people back to work, that will create more demand so that private sector wants to, instead of husbanding their cash reserves as they have been doing, so that they will invest it in job creation because they will have more demand for their products.

SCHULTZ: Senator, what about staying for the first week in August and doing something about the 99ers?

BROWN: Sure.

SCHULTZ: I mean, the Democrats can do this. The Democrats can call the shots right now and the president can do something to help four million Americans.

What do you think?

BROWN: I agree with that. As you know, Ed, I go down to the Senate floor almost every day and I read letters from individuals in my state, similar to the e-mail you read that people--you know, they worked 10 or 20 or 30 years. They have worked in the same industry, often the same employer.
They lose their job through no fault of their own. They are people that want to go back to work. And some of my colleagues of the 40 that voted no consistently on extending unemployment benefits say they think it"s unemployment welfare when it"s unemployment insurance.

I mean, the people are paying into this. It"s insurance.

I mean, you don"t want to collect on your health insurance. You don"t want to collect on your car insurance. You don"t want to collect on your unemployment insurance. You pay in just in case something happens, and that"s what"s happened to, as you say, literally millions of Americans, all of whom had jobs, all of whom have to continue to look for work, sending out resumes.

They can"t afford their gasoline if they don"t get unemployment to drive to a place for an interview, for God sakes.

SCHULTZ: And is the unintended consequence of this we"re really finding out who the Republicans are in all of this? Are we not?

BROWN: Yes, we are. And, I mean, the most amazing thing is when they say these tax cuts for the rich, the Bush tax cuts for upper-income people, that we shouldn"t have to pay for those, just for theses--just for workers.

But, you know, I really do think it"s important that we keep telling individual stories because I just don"t know in f my colleagues know people or have conversations with people that have lost their jobs. You know, you think about--

SCHULTZ: No. They"re over at the country club. They"ve got--they"re over at the country club. That"s the crowd they"re hanging out with. They"re not with the working wage earners in this country.

BROWN: Well, apparently they"re not. And it"s not just--you know, we"re going to pass this, and people are going to get their unemployment back from when they lost it June 1st. But think of the anxiety.

People have waited week after week after week wondering if they"re going to be able to--they"re now two months behind in their mortgage. They"re now a month behind in their utility bill.

SCHULTZ: It"s anguish.

BROWN: They put money on their credit cards. And the anxiety they feel and the pressure on these families, on these--on marriages, on children, on where are we going to school, are we going to lose our house, it"s just unforgivable, the pain here.

We didn"t fix this by finally passing it when we do, because the pain has been inflicted on millions of Americans. And the anxiety--and frankly, my colleagues who voted no on this, who walked down the Senate floor and go like that when their name is called, they need to understand the pain they inflicted.

SCHULTZ: They are heartless is what they are. Senator, good to have you with us tonight.

BROWN: Thanks, Ed.

SCHULTZ: Keep up the fight.

BROWN: Sure. Thank you.

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