Killer Politics: How Big Money and Bad Politics Are Destroying the Great American Middle Class


The middle class, where the greatness of this nation is rooted, is under siege by an increasingly unethical system, managed by economic vampires who are sucking the lifeblood out of the American family and ripping the heart out of democracy itself. Big money-and the politicians who are swayed by it-play both parties against each other, using this false battle to distract most of us from the real war, which is a war against the American family.

This is it, folks . . . the moment ...

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The middle class, where the greatness of this nation is rooted, is under siege by an increasingly unethical system, managed by economic vampires who are sucking the lifeblood out of the American family and ripping the heart out of democracy itself. Big money-and the politicians who are swayed by it-play both parties against each other, using this false battle to distract most of us from the real war, which is a war against the American family.

This is it, folks . . . the moment of truth. This will be the moment historians will look back upon and either say it was the moment this great ship of state corrected its course, or the moment it sailed completely away from its democratic ideals.

To succeed, we have to reach back and rediscover our greatness. Progress may not come as fast as we, in our impatience and impertinence, demand. But if we are patient and persistent, it will come.

All good things in life require a heavy lift, so roll up your sleeves. We are not done yet.
--from Killer Politics

According to a 2008 Pew Report, more than half of all Americans self-identify as middle class--but the actual number of Americans with middle-class incomes is declining. The middle class is going away. As increasing numbers of Americans are faced with obstacles to education, health care, jobs, and equity, the middle class as a financial bracket is being replaced by the middle class as little more than a state of mind. The richest Americans are growing exponentially wealthier, while the rest of us struggle to bear the financial and emotional burdens of an increasingly broken system.

In Killer Politics, Ed Schultz pulls the wool back from our eyes, shows us what the state of the middle class really is, and gives us the tools we need to fight back.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781401323783
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Publication date: 6/1/2010
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 9.54 (w) x 6.46 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Ed Schultz
Ed Schultz was the first Progressive talker to hit 100 affiliates, both satellite networks and the Armed Forces Radio Network. Schultz has won three Eric Sevareid Awards and has managed and been lead talent for a broadcast team that has won two Marconis and a prestigious Peabody Award. Ed has been named one of the top ten radio hosts in the country by Talkers Magazine in each of the last two years. In 2007 Ed Schultz was nominated Syndicated News/Talk Personality of the year by Radio & Records. Schultz is a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead, and he and his wife Wendy have six children.
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How Big Money and Bad Politics Are Destroying the Great American Middle Class
By Ed Schultz


Copyright © 2010 Edward A. Schultz
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4013-2378-3

Chapter One


The Big Ed Story

PINCH ME. SERIOUSLY. I SEE THE FIRST RAYS OF DAWN RISING OVER the Hudson River, and I am twenty-seven floors up-at the top of the world really-and looking down at New York City. After I shower and shave, Wendy and I will take a short taxi ride to NBC Studios-30 Rock, home of MSNBC, from where the broadcast of The Ed Show originates. The place Saturday Night Live calls home. Legends have walked these halls. Legends still do. Me? I'm still new around here. I still look around with a real sense of wonder and a great appreciation for where I am, how far I've come, and who I've become.

You may know me as that guy from North Dakota because that's where I built my career, first as a television sportscaster and then as a regional radio talk-show host at one of the truly great radio stations in America, KFGO in Fargo. When we launched my national radio show, I took great pride in launching it from North Dakota.

Eric Sevareid, who came from North Dakota, once said the state was "a rectangular-shaped blank spot on the nation's consciousness," and I think North Dakotans are a little sensitive about that. This beautiful state and its beautiful people take tremendous pride in hometown boys and girls like Roger Maris, Peggy Lee, Angle Dickinson, Phil Jackson, Louis L'Amour, Lawrence Welk, and others who "made good."

Like Teddy Roosevelt, who ranched in the spectacular Badlands and fell in love with the place, I did, too, and was molded by the people and my experiences in North Dakota. We have a small getaway in Mott, in the southwestern part of the state, where pheasant and deer are plentiful. It helps me stay in touch with my adopted home.


I grew up in Norfolk, Virginia, in a middle-class household. My dad was an aeronautical engineer for the government-and my mother was an English teacher who might well have been horrified by my occasional abuse of the rules of grammar in this book. They're both gone now, but when I look in the mirror I catch glimpses of them in myself. You know, I think the Lord only gives us two parents because we could never go through the loss of a third. After they were both gone, I felt like an orphan.

I hear their voices in mine from time to time, and I realize that many of my values are things they held dear. When I am faced with a tough decision, I still think about them and what I think they would do. You realize as the years pass how much of them is in you, and it makes you want to do as well for your own children.

Only time and experience can open your eyes to the importance of family as a stabilizing and guiding force in your life. I had terrific parents, and I didn't experience the generational schism so many parents and teens wrestled with in those days. Their values became my values. Their work ethic and sense of patriotism became mine. I grew up with a sense that I was required to make a difference.

Even when he was in his eighties, my father was thinking about and promoting energy independence. He was a patriot-loved his country-and he was so ethically grounded. In the 1980s, when executive pay began spiraling to obscene levels while the workingman was left behind, I remember my father saying, "I wonder how they sleep at night."

The times I grew up in shaped me, too. Like all teenagers in those days, I lived with the cloud of Vietnam hanging over my head, wondering if I would be drafted, wondering about the morality of the war itself.

My little league football coach Bill Bazmore died in Vietnam, and it profoundly affected me. He had always seemed so old to me, but a few years ago when Wendy and I found his name on the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., I discovered he was just twenty-one when he died. Not many high school freshmen go to funerals, but I went to that one. It was a sobering experience, and I think that's part of the reason I became such an advocate for veterans. They are true champions for America.

I grew up aware of the civil rights movement and experienced the changes it brought about when I was bused to the slums of Norfolk, to a black school of eighteen hundred students. And that changed my life. While I was a minority there, no one made me feel like one. When I was just the third-string quarterback, my backfield coach, Joe Thornton, put a sign on my locker that still inspires me today: "Hustle is the Key to Survival."

By the time I was a senior in 1972, I was the starting quarterback and a team captain. My friends and teammates were black, but the only color that counted was the color of our jerseys. We trusted and loved one another like brothers. I cherish the memories and friendships from those days.


What I learned in Norfolk allowed me to play college ball for Moorhead State University, in Minnesota, which was just across the river from Fargo.

I led the nation in passing one year, but local sportscasters-one in particular, Jim Adelson-discovered I could talk a pretty good game, too. Adelson was a real showman and loved me because I was brash, and he loved a good controversy! He also took me under his wing and urged me to consider broadcasting as a career.

Of course, I had other dreams ...

My senior year, NFL scouts began to show enough interest to give me hope. Former Green Bay Packers quarterback Zeke Bratkowski put me through a pretty good workout and was impressed. I could throw the ball. The Packers hinted that I might be taken in the third or fourth round of the 1978 draft, but it didn't happen that way. They poured salt into the wound by calling me during the eighth round to tell me that they wouldn't be drafting me and that no one else would be either, but they did want to sign me as a free agent. It was business, I realized later. Nothing personal.

But I was young and my pride was hurt, so I told them to kiss off. How many people get the chance to sign with the Green Bay Packers even as a free agent? Yeah, I probably made a mistake. Pride goeth before a fall. No shit-eth! I was devastated, but that was just one of the hard knocks and setbacks anyone experiences in life. My coach Ross Fortier kindly pulled a few strings and got me a tryout with John Madden and the Oakland Raiders, but I wasn't a good fit, and I got cut without playing a down. I was always grateful, though, for what Ross did for me.

Ross Fortier has been more than my coach. He has been like a father to me, especially alter my own father died in 1992. Time and time again, the best advice I ever got was from Ross. What is it about guys who spend some time in life sweating together for a common goal? I guess that residual of hard work and effort never leaves you.

I think about my lost sports career from time to time. I would have been a good fit for the Packers, and I think I was as good as the guys they had that year, and maybe better, but that's life, isn't it? How can I regret the decisions I've made when I see all the wonderful places they have taken me?

I built a solid career in Fargo both in sportscasting and in conservative talk radio. Yes, I said conservative. I don't think I realized it then, but in some ways I had blinders on.


After I met Wendy, my blinders began to fall away. Man, she was something and still is. She's beautiful, super smart, and the kindest person I know. She's also a trained psychiatric nurse, which has its obvious advantages! For our first date, Wendy asked me to meet her at a homeless shelter where she volunteered. A homeless shelter? It hadn't really dawned on me that homelessness could exist in Fargo.

In my mind, a homeless person was a slacker, someone who just wasn't trying hard enough, and I said these self-righteous things on the air. I didn't know then that one in four homeless people is a Vietnam veteran.

At the shelter, some of the homeless welcomed me like a hero, a long-lost brother, and I began to feel ashamed of the things I had said. They patted me on the back, shook my hand. "You're the man, Big Ed," they said. Yeah, but why did I suddenly feel so small?

I fell in love with Wendy over a baloney sandwich on dry bread. She sparked an awakening, a new awareness in me that I didn't see coming. You don't know how narrow your vision has been until something or someone opens your eyes. I like to think she raised up the better angels within me. I don't think I was a bad person before and I don't presume to have become Mother Teresa since, but I'm a better person who thinks every day about being a better man. It's not like I was bathed in a heavenly light with the angels singing. I evolved. I guess I'm a Darwinian. I'm still a hard-driving competitor, but I think Wendy's influence helped me channel that energy in more positive ways. I can't imagine how much patience and understanding it took for Wendy to understand the "inner Ed."


After I "came out" as a progressive, conservatives scoffed and branded me an opportunist. An opportunist in a nation where conservative voices dominated radio nine to one? I guess I was an opportunist with a poor grasp of the odds. Meanwhile, some liberals viewed me with suspicion because on some issues I just wasn't liberal enough. Here's the deal with me. I don't march in lockstep with any party line quite simply because I don't believe in everything each party stands for. I'll take my politics à la carte, please. I'm about the truth. It's just not in me to support something I don't believe in.

About the time I met Wendy, there was an epidemic of farm foreclosures across the Midwest, and as I spoke with those good people who were being run off the land after generations, it became clear to me that as a Republican, I had been on the wrong side of some issues. I just could not live in a sink-or-swim world, especially when it became clear that the game had been so egregiously fixed, that many hardworking Americans were being driven into poverty through no fault of their own. Maybe it was a combination of a rigged game and a little bad luck-a hailstorm or a drought-that did them in, but I knew unfairness when I saw it.

As an enthusiastic capitalist, I have worked hard to succeed. But I also realize that I caught a few breaks along the way. And I recognized over time that some people were being left behind. Capitalism allows innovators to innovate, and it works-with rules in place-but we ought not to get too enamored of the "purity" of any one system. Socialism, in the right measure, has some advantages, too. A blend of the two is what works best. Getting the balance right-that's what the big fight in the halls of commerce, er ... Congress is all about.

I travel more than any talk-show host out there because I want to see for myself the way things are. Otherwise, it's easy to paint with a broad brush. And I take my shows on the road to address the issues from the places impacted by them.

I broadcast from Cuba during a trade mission. When the western Dakotas were in the midst of drought, we went on the road with truckloads of food and reported the sad fact that the proud farmers and ranchers could not afford to feed themselves. After Hurricane Katrina, The Ed Schultz Show went to New Orleans and helped relocate a couple of families to North Dakota to get back on their feet again. And I was in Washington, D.C., on September 11, 2001, in support of the nation's farmers who were lobbying for a better farm bill. Yes, I was in North Dakota senator Kent Conrad's office when the World Trade Center and then the Pentagon were hit, and I remember Laurie Boeder, the senator's communications director, saying, "This changes everything." My, how it did. Can you imagine being evacuated from the Hart Senate Building in Washington, D.C., in the United States of America? America lost her innocence that day.

Like most Americans, I supported President Bush during the crisis. I wanted very badly for him to succeed. In time, though, like so many other Americans, I lost faith in him and his administration. It became clear to me that they were leveraging the events of 9/11 for political gain. They were manipulating public fear to advance a private agenda and expand their political power. What they did was blatant, arrogant, and had nothing to do with democracy. With W in charge, the country was careening away from its ideals. The world that supported us on September 12, 2001, soon became disenchanted and frightened by the Bush administration's hubris and soon began to see George W. Bush as the most dangerous man on the planet. Sadly, so did many Americans. But publicly spoken opposition was too soft and came too late.

Even as I embraced the progressive movement in this country, I became frustrated by a lack of aggressiveness against an administration that seemed willing to shred the Constitution. The propaganda of right wing radio and Fox News was steering the country in the wrong direction. The docile mainstream media was letting them do it. And it was costing the Democrats elections.

I shared my opinions on this with the Democratic Caucus in Washington three times-once in 2002 and twice in 2003-and I told them point-blank, "You are not going to win unless you challenge the Right Wing Sound Machine."


After I spoke to the Democratic Caucus in the fall of 2003, I received encouragement from my North Dakota senators, Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan, as well as from Tom Daschle (D-SD), Harry Reid (D-NV), Deb Stabenow (D-MI), and Hillary Clinton (D-NY) to go ahead and fight back on the airwaves myself-with my own progressive radio program. And I had pretty much decided to do it.

"Ed, do you really think you can do this?" Hillary asked, and when I told her I thought it was possible, she said, "I'd like to help-I'll do anything to help."

"Well, you could be a guest on the show ..."

And true to her word, she was. She's a great lady and a tremendous secretary of state.

As soon as Wendy and I started planning, the wheels began to turn, and a group called Democracy Radio, a nonprofit 501(c)(3), invested $1.8 million in seed money to launch the show. We had two years to make or break it, and the conventional wisdom in the business was that progressive radio didn't stand a chance.

When we launched with just two stations and me spouting blood from my nostrils, I wondered what the hell I had gotten myself into. There were days that the shows seemed endless because there were so few callers, and unlike other shows where the talkers pontificate and like to hear themselves talk, The Ed Schultz Show has always been caller driven. I go easy on the sermons. The callers make the show.

We needed advertisers even more. Again, the critics and the know-it-alls didn't believe we would find the support to survive. If pride has caused me to burn a few bridges in my time, it has also served me well at times like this. I got pissed at the very idea of failure. And when I was done being pissed, I got more resolute than I had ever been. If there is one thing I want to leave the kids, it's the memory that their dad never backed down, never gave up.

The number of callers increased and so did my audience. Advertisers soon discovered our show was an effective marketing tool. Because I know what it is like to build a business, I have a real admiration for small businesspersons. On Fridays for an hour, we do some "recession busting" by opening the lines to let entrepreneurs promote their businesses on nationwide radio. No charge. It started out as just something to do on a slow Friday, but it has grown into something I am quite proud of. We have helped businesses grow.

By the end of the first year of the national show, we had seventy stations. It was an incredible accomplishment for Team Fargo. But we were out of money. So I took out $600,000 in loans to keep the dream alive. Skin in the game, they call it.

By 2006, we had one hundred stations, and we were beginning to have an effect on the national discourse. You could feel the change in the air. Air America Radio, which launched shortly after I did, was out there, too, and my show was carried on many Air America stations. Suddenly, there were voices from the left being heard! Finally, someone was questioning the misinformation and propaganda coming from the Bush administration and their media supporters. I know we made a difference.


Excerpted from KILLER POLITICS by Ed Schultz Copyright © 2010 by Edward A. Schultz. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


CHAPTER ONE FROM FARGO TO 30 ROCK The Big Ed Story....................9
CHAPTER TWO THE FOUR PILLARS Let's Fly Ahead of the Plane....................24
CHAPTER THREE HEALTH CARE Your Inalienable Right....................64
CHAPTER FOUR RETHINKING ENERGY Another Fight for Independence....................89
CHAPTER FIVE CONTROLLING AMERICA'S BORDERS From Melting Pot to Meltdown....................103
CHAPTER SIX THE CHINA DRAGON The Rise of an Economic Superpower and What That Means for Us....................114
CHAPTER SEVEN CLEANING UP AFTER BUSH II How Reckless Fiscal and Foreign Policies Almost Sank Us....................124
CHAPTER EIGHT BAD TRADE Selling Out the American Worker....................140
CHAPTER NINE ECONOMIC SLAVERY How Debt Reductions and Unions Can Help Set You Free....................150
CHAPTER TEN THE TRUTH ABOUT TAXES Time for Mandatory Trickling....................162
CHAPTER ELEVEN KICK THE MESSENGER Become a Wiser News Consumer and a Better Citizen....................173
CHAPTER TWELVE TERM LIMITS AND A THIRD PARTY Stop Big Money from Trumping Your Vote....................183
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Interviews & Essays

What Will the Health Care Bill Mean for You? By Ed Schultz Author of Killer Politics: How Big Money and Bad Politics are Destroying the Great American Middle Class (Hyperion Books)

Now, our nation is wrestling with the ramifications of healthcare reform, which, when viewed from one side is an overreach of the government, and when viewed from the other side (my side, as it happens) is a basic right of citizenship in this great country.

Is the bill imperfect? Certainly.

However, if both conservatives and liberals are unhappy with it, the compromise may be just right. We need to give this law a chance.

What will it actually do and not do? Let's take a minute to look at some of the bigger points.

The Big Financial Picture

• For a start, the bill is fiscally responsible: The politically neutral Congressional Budget Office says it will save money and improve the economy by reducing the deficit $143 billion in the first ten years. And it keeps Medicare solvent for the near future with $500 billion in Medicare cuts over the next decade.

Who Gets Covered Now?

• Coverage will be expanded to 32 million previously uninsured Americans. (Very good news since, a Reuters news story linked 45,000 deaths annually to lack of healthcare.) An estimated 23 million people in America (many by choice) will not be covered, but, again, this is a start. If you are uninsured or self-employed now, and make $88,000 or less, you will get a subsidy to help you buy insurance. Those who chose not to participate face a $695 annual fine-with exceptions for low-income people. Illegal immigrants will not be allowed to participate under this plan-a mistake in my eyes, but one of political necessity, I suppose.

• Insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage based on a preexisting condition.

• Children will be allowed to stay on their parent's insurance plans until age 26.

• This bill expands Medicaid coverage to 133 percent of federal poverty level, which means that a family of four earning just under $30,000 will now be covered.

•It also requires states Medicaid to include childless adults. The federal government will bear all of the costs of covering newly eligible individuals through 2016.

Who Pays for This?

• Small businesses that don't have the buying power to get lower rates will be able to buy from separate insurance exchanges at more competitive rates.

• Employers with more than 50 employees must provide health insurance or pay a fine of $2,000 per worker each year if any worker receives federal subsidies to purchase health insurance. (I believe the impact of this mandate will be negligible since most large businesses already provide health benefits.)

• If you make more than $250, 000 a year (family income; not as a small business), you will be asked to pay more. The Medicare Payroll Tax will be expanded to include unearned income, a 3.8 percent tax on investment income for families making more than $250,000 per year. There will be other taxes-a 40 percent tax on Cadillac health care policies worth more than $27,500 and some luxury taxes, such as a 10 percent tax on tanning. (No wonder House minority leader John Boehner is so mad about all of this. Admittedly, this could break him.)

• The bill closes the Medicare prescription drug "donut hole" by 2020 (if you are a senior citizen, you know what I'm talking about; and you are pleased!), and it offers a $250 rebate to affected seniors until then. Seniors in the gap will get a 50 percent discount on brand name drugs.


This law will address many long-ignored health care needs of the middle class, a group whose wages have stagnated for the past 30 years, their earning and spending power diminished by an increased portion of the tax burden and by jobs lost to outsourcing. As I explain in my new book, Killer Politics, what's good for the middle class-the backbone of this country-is good for all of us and will help all of us to prosper again.

Yes, there's worry about meddling with the health care industry, because it is so enormous that it equals one sixth of our economy. But this begs the question: In any humane society, why would ONE SIXTH of the economy be predicated on profiting from sickness and disease? As imperfect as it is, this bill is a step forward toward a healthy America ? and toward justice and fairness for every American.

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Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 10, 2010

    Killer Politics hits the truth!

    I loved reading about Ed's early life and his dedication to the middle-class is awesome! We need more like Ed out there spreading the truth! Thanks Ed! This is a no-spin down to earth book about the middle-class struggles in today's political enviorment. I recommend it highly!

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 25, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    This guy is a knucklehead

    This man spews his liberal diatribe which belongs in his nightly psycho talk portion of his TV show. Don't waste your money.

    1 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 20, 2011


    I'm a political junkie so this book was an awesome read! If you love politics then you will love this book!

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  • Posted September 8, 2011

    Not usually an Ed fan but...

    This book came so highly recomended by a friend that I decided to give it a try even though I don't listen to his radio show or catch him on tv. I was pleasantly surprised by the refreshing, "every man" voice he gives to issues that concern us all. He has a decidedly liberal slant of course, but at no point does that slant lean too far or reach into nutjob territory. This is a very easy read that is tailor made for those who are less interested in political analysis and more interested in common sense narritive of today's pressing social issues.

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  • Posted February 23, 2011

    Ed Schultz is spot on. He know what hes talking about. Wondering why our country is such a mess. this important book.

    Well written in plain language. If you have not already drank the kool aid this will give you insight you probably crave. And if you HAVE done the kool aid. .... I dont think your mind is open enough to take it. Great book speaking truth to power!

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