What's wrong with this picture when Pat Buchanan is talking more sense than Harold Ford Jr. or Lawrence O'Donnell? While Buchanan disagrees with the agenda set out by the Obama administration on getting health care reform done, at least he's got the sense to know that if someone says they're going to do something, they'd better stick with it and not worry about some poll numbers in Ohio. Harold Ford Jr. thinks maybe the Obama administration should think about some more tax cuts to stimulate the economy, and maybe hold off on reforming our health care system.
Thanks Harold. With Democrats like these.... And can these talking heads quit saying that the Obama administration's stimulus package was the first one? The first stimulus package was passed in 2008, by George Bush. With tax cuts. That didn't work and failed to stimulate the economy.
I'd also like to know why Lawrence O'Donnell or the Hardball producers think Harold Ford and Pat Buchanan should be their go-to guys on an economic debate instead someone like Paul Krugman who predicted what's happening now? Can we get some economists in the house instead of a milk toast DLC Democratic talking head and a Republican talking head, neither of whom are experts on the economy?
Transcript below the fold.
O'DONNELL: But we begin tonight with the challenges facing President Obama. Harold Ford and Pat Buchanan are both MSNBC political analysts. Harold Ford, what do you make of this poll coming out of Ohio showing that drop in support for President Obama?
FORD: I think three things. One, it`s a reason for real concern for the White House, not because they follow polling very closely, but Ohio, as was stated in the opening, is not only a bellwether state, but it`s representative in so many ways politically and from an economic sense on what this country does from our manufacturing and really domestic output.
Two, I think it raises concerns about health care. I think the White House has to think long and carefully about how hard are you willing to push for this. How much capital are you willing to expend?
And three, I think it leads to perhaps a second round of new spending, something for the states. It`s hard to make the case that states, be it Republican or Democrat, who are facing hardship because state constitutions require that they balance their budgets, not get some help. Unemployment benefits will have to be extended. And I think you may need some kind of payroll tax holiday.
You`ve got to give business and consumers some confidence in the short term that we`re doing the right thing, that money can be injected. And you got to do what the stimulus didn`t do from the outset, which is to put money right into the system. This stimulus will work, it`ll just take a little more time, the first one will. You need something that will put money into the system immediately.
O`DONNELL: Pat Buchanan, let me guess, the poll in Ohio is a disaster for Obama, right?
BUCHANAN: No, it`s not at all, and if I were him, I wouldn`t worry that much about the poll in Ohio. I mean, that`s generally a swing state and he`s sort of getting close to the swing position.
But what it should tell Obama to do is come home and sit down with his economic advisers and say, Look, we got a stimulus package which is 6 percent of GDP. We`re running at a deficit that`s 13 percent of GDP, which is twice as large as Reagan`s biggest. And this thing isn`t moving. Now, why isn`t it moving? And why did we make a mistake? And what went wrong? And correct it.
Look, the elections are 15 -- what is it, 16, 17 months off. I do agree with Harold to this extent. They should have done at the beginning -- you want a stimulus, you need a jolt. Cut the payroll taxes on businesses and individuals, Social Security and the rest. That puts money right into people`s pockets. They head down to the malls or they head out to the movies or they go down to McDonald`s. And so they feel better and the money is there.
Somebody`s got to -- should be made to answer, Lawrence, for this. I mean, this is 6 percent of gross national product, and it`s not doing anything? What went wrong?
O`DONNELL: Well, you know, Pat, there was that statement by Vice President Biden saying, you know, Maybe we misread the economy.
O`DONNELL: Chuck Todd put a question to Barack Obama in Moscow yesterday about this. Let`s listen to what the president had to say about how they gauged the economy when they were coming into office on Inauguration Day. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I would actually -- rather than say "misread," we had incomplete information. We came in January 20th. It was only after the first quarter numbers, as you`ll recall, that suddenly, everybody looked and said the economy shrank 6 percent. So it was happening much more rapidly at an accelerated pace than the projections that were out there at the time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Pat.
BUCHANAN: No, go ahead. I`m sorry, but look, that`s preposterous. He`s got -- he`s got Summers. He`s got Geithner. They`ve been on top of this thing since September. I would really call these guys in and say, Look, you guys have gotten me and our party and our administration in real trouble because you didn`t see it coming, and Biden says you didn`t see it coming. Now, why? I mean, really, he ought to be angry. He`s the guy in charge and he`s the guy that`s going to pay the price.
FORD: But Pat, these things happens. I think one of the great flaws and shortcomings of the Bush administration was an unwillingness to admit when a mistake was made and a change in course was needed. This president has showed a maturity and a dexterity that we`ve missed in the White House the last eight years. I hope the president and his team -- I don`t fault them. I take them at their word. I think that this economic hardship we face is tougher than many thought. As a result, it calls for a different set of approached.
I don`t mean to suggest to the White House that health care`s not important, that it should not be pushed, but we now have to sit back, take stock of the data that we have, take an inventory, understand what direction we have to move and how much political capital that will take. So I hope -- I happen to agree with Pat on the tax (crosstalk)...
FORD: ... because I think we need the unemployment benefit extensions, and you have to do something to help states that are struggling, not to help them spend money and cut taxes and do things that are not wise in the short term, but states that are making the tough choices should be rewarded in some ways.
O`DONNELL: Pat, let`s consider...
BUCHANAN: but you know -- you know, Harold...
O`DONNELL: Pat, let`s consider the numbers.
O`DONNELL: Let`s look at the numbers of where we stand as of now in the Obama presidency. The stimulus cost $787 billion. The deficit for 20009 is now at $1.8 trillion. The projected cost of the health care is going to be somewhere around a trillion. There`s a new estimate coming out under a trillion. There are other estimates going up way over a trillion.
Is there any room for the Obama administration to even begin to thinking about coming up with money for another stimulus?
FORD: I think so.
BUCHANAN: Look, here`s the thing. Let me say this. Of course, I`m on the other side. I would oppose it and I`d oppose health care. But I think what Harold is recommending for Obama is timidity. Didn`t he say, Health care, we`re going to do it? Reagan would say -- when he believes something -- Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.
However, I do agree that going to the well, especially if you`re going to have to raise taxes on small businesses or the health plans that people get from businesses, you`re going to have a firestorm in this country. But here`s the thing, Lawrence. What you want to do now is what`s going to look best down the road, what is best for the country, because that will be best for you. And you shouldn`t try to play politics now or worry, quite frankly, about some poll in Ohio.