Here's another prime example of those wonderful compassionate conservatives for you. Bill Bennett on CNN's State of the Union just can't seem to get himself to endorse extending unemployment benefits right now, not because he doesn't care about the unemployed, of course. That would sound uncaring, now wouldn't it? He's just concerned that "they have already spent so doggone much money". When Donna Brazile points out that you didn't hear these complaints from Republicans when Bush was giving away the bank with tax cuts for the rich, war spending and giveaways to the drug companies, check out the look on Bennett's face. He doesn't have to say a word. That expression says it all.
They end up on a hard break, so we never do get to hear just what Bennett's compassionate conservative reply would have been, but I'm sure sure it would have been more of the same similar to his earlier remarks. I just wonder if Bill Bennett has ever had to want for anything in his entire lifetime? From the condescending look on his face while she was talking, I would guess not.
YELLIN: Let me ask you about that today because there are indications that there could be, at least the Treasury secretary is not ruling out the possibility of middle class tax increase. How would that play, politically, for President Obama, if that had to happen?
BRAZILE: Well as we know, that 95 percent of the tax relief that was offered in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act went to middle class Americans. So I would hope at a time when middle class Americans and others are feeling the squeeze from the state governments and the local governments and now the federal government with the debt, I would hope that this would not be an issue right now. But if he's talking about putting this in the mix in terms of how we pay for health care reform, we need to take a look at it.
YELLIN: Bill, does that make you think, oh, this is going to look good in 2012 for the elections?
BENNETT: I'm really not thinking about that, but the interesting thing is, it's not so much President Obama and the Democrats versus the Republicans at this point. In many ways, it's President Obama and the American people. And the more they're hearing, the more skeptical they're becoming. Thus you see his polls going down. I don't want to be gloomy, I want to be upbeat. It's always morning in America as far as I'm concerned.
But the problem is, when people look at these various proposals, like health care or like cap and trade, what they're getting is, they may have additional burdens on them, additional taxes or additional costs. And that doesn't, A, encourage them, B, it doesn't encourage a long-term recovery.
YELLIN: Let's listen for a moment, though, to Larry Summers. He was speaking this morning. There are 15 million Americans currently unemployed. The unemployment number is expected to jump by the end of the week. Here's what he said the administration is thinking.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUMMERS: We'll work with Congress to make sure that unemployment insurance continues to perform its basic function of protecting the unemployed. That was an important element in the Recovery and Reinvestment Program. It's helped people who have become unemployed. It also helped the economy by maintaining spending, and we'll do what's necessary to make appropriate unemployment benefits available.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YELLIN: Bill, I know you're worried about the deficit and the debt. Do you think that unemployment benefits is worth extending? That's a cost worth incurring?
BENNETT: Yes, actually, by itself, I do. The problem is, they have already spent so doggone much money. That has put them in a bind with this stimulus package. When you start with -- when your down payment is $780 billion, that does not give you a whole lot of room. And if you notice what the American people are saying, their first concern is not any of these things.
Their general first concern is spending and deficits.
BRAZILE: President Obama inherited $1.3 trillion, came into office. The Bush administration doubled the national debt and it did not help the middle class with the basics of their everyday living. So we're all concerned about the deficit, but this is needed investments to ensure that we give Americans who have lost their jobs a lifeline, whether it's providing food stamps, whether it's giving states to continued the Medicaid funding, or giving these American workers the ability to go out there and retrain and retool themselves.
But you know, we spent $1.3 trillion on tax cuts for the wealthy that we could not afford. We spent trillions on a war that we could not afford. We spent trillions on Medicare with the expensive program that give money to the drug companies, and nobody raised a peep about the deficit. He's spending money right now, the president and his administration and Congress to ensure that every American can get a head start and a healthy start in life.
YELLIN: Bill, can it wait until after the break?