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Public Statements

MSNBC "The Ed Show" - Transcript

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I`m joined tonight by members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and that is Congresswoman Donna Edwards of Maryland, Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota, and chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri -- great to have all of you with us tonight.

Congressman Cleaver, let`s talk about the jobs fair that you folks have been going to all summer long. Did you hear the president get the message and did he return it the way it need to be sent to the American
people on the jobs issue?

REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D), MISSOURI: There`s no question about it. We went all over this country. We drew attention to lack of jobs by Americans. There`s no question about what happened this summer. We drew or attracted the attention of the president and of this nation for that matter, so I am very satisfied with the direction the president is moving.

I think that this is a jolt to a jittery unemployment situation and a jittery, sometimes uneasy economy. And the president stepped up to the plate and did it in a very strong way.

SCHULTZ: Congresswoman Edwards, the Congressional Black Caucus at times has been rather critical of President Obama for not going far enough. He did mention black unemployment tonight, the youth of America that`s struggling in many respects.

Does this bill have a chance? Do you think it will ring with Republicans and get them in gear and get them into action?

REP. DONNA EDWARDS (D), MARYLAND: Well, I always thought the president didn`t have to throw a Hail Mary pass, but he needed to go long and he did that. What he said to the American people, for those of you
that are long term unemployed, we need to focus our energies on you. We need to invest in research and development and innovation and manufacturing. That`s about job creation. Looking at our nation`s
crumbling infrastructure, that`s about job creation.

And so, I actually feel like the president really spoke to the American people, all sectors of the American public. But particularly those that are among African-American communities among some of the highest
unemployed.

SCHULTZ: Congressman Ellison, there`s no question about it that the president offered up some caveats to the Republicans tonight -- reducing the corporate tax rate, telling the base that they have to take a haircut
on Medicare and Medicaid.

How is this going to play -- how is this going to play in the middle of the country, and do you think Americans that have been hit so hard in the middle class are willing to go even farther?

REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA: Well, I really like the speech tonight, and it did reflect what we in the progressive caucus heard all summer as well. But those things I thought undermined what I thought was a very good speech. By the end of the day, I think that closing corporate loopholes, asking the military to give more, to get Americans back to work, other ways to go and to say that we have to take it out of Medicare and Medicaid I thought was unfortunate. I don`t think it will play well.

But at the same time, he started a national debate.

Last point, I think it`s important to reform Medicare by allowing Medicare Part D to negotiate for drug prices, which is something that the V.A. does now. Perhaps there are some savings there.

SCHULTZ: What did you hear that really impressed you, Congressman Cleaver, when it comes to putting Americans back to work? The word infrastructure was not in the speech tonight. But there was a lot of talk
about redoing schools, 35,000 schools, making sure veterans had an opportunity to get a job when they came home.

What about all of that? What did you hear? What was most appealing when it came to creating jobs?

CLEAVER: Well, the president was very targeted in his method of addressing unemployment. He targeted veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, saying in this bill there would be tax breaks for corporations that hired them. He targeted young people, summer jobs. He targeted the long term unemployed. He targeted small businesses and people who are in desperate need for a little more money.

SCHULTZ: Do you think he felt pressure from your caucus, Congressman Cleaver? I mean, do you think he felt I got to step up, say something strong tonight to the African-American community in this country?

CLEAVER: Well, I think he obviously heard what we were doing and saying, but he stepped up to the plate. But he didn`t do it in a nasty way. He understands clearly that he can`t -- he`s going to have difficulty
getting things across in a cross way. So, he did it in a very pleasant way, but he was tough and I liked that.

SCHULTZ: Well, there was no mention of the wars tonight. And if you want to go to the money and if you want to find spending cuts, there`s no better place than Iraq and Afghanistan.

Congresswoman Edwards, what do you make of that?

EDWARDS: Well, I mean, I agree with you, but I do think it is going to be incumbent on Congress to be focused on how we actually move a jobs package forward. I mean, what the president was saying to us tonight is -- I`m going to layout these ideas, and Congress, you have to act on them. And, you know, one of the ways we can act on them I`m sure we can agree, one of the ways to act on them is getting ourselves disengaged from Iraq and from Afghanistan. I mean, that clearly has, in my view, has to be part
of the picture.

But what I like that I heard from the president is that he`s saying he`s going to go around the country and fight for this. We need the president to fight for this package so we can do our jobs in the United States Congress. And talk to Republicans frankly about some of the Republican ideas that will help move the country forward. And it`s actually should be bipartisan, always has been, to rebuild our roads,
bridges and all our infrastructure.

SCHULTZ: And, Congressman Ellison, do you feel confident that this might be a new beginning with John Boehner, with a conciliatory statement he released after the speech tonight? I mean, is this possibly a new day dawning and the Republicans are actually willing to do something within the next window of 14 months before the election?

ELLISON: You know, Ed, I`m an eternal optimist. And I believe there is a way to do this. I think we`re going to need the American people as Donna just pointed out.

But, you know, look, some of these ideas were brought from both sides of the aisle. There`s absolutely no reason for them to reject out of hand and so far, they haven`t done so. So, at this point, we`re just going to
push hard, hope for the best from the other side of the aisle.

SCHULTZ: I appreciate all three of you joining us tonight on the program.

I must say that I think the president knocked it out of the park tonight. He had the right tone, said all the right things, hit all the right bases and he challenged the Republicans. But just give it a few days.

I don`t think the Republicans are going to do anything. Their stated goal is to defeat this president. I hope this is the last olive branch, and I hope the president does go out on the road and take it to the people,
run against this Congress. I don`t trust the Republicans.

Congressman Cleaver, Ellison, and Edwards, thank you for being here tonight.

We`ll look at weather the president said what he needed to say to the workers of America. The president of the Communication Workers of America will join me next.

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