Katrina Vanden Heuvel: Danger For Health Care Reform Is That It Gets Weakened And Diluted Like The Recovery Package

Out numbered as usual like any actual liberal on the Sunday bobble head shows, Katrina Vanden Heuvel makes some great points about why job creation is
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Out numbered as usual like any actual liberal on the Sunday bobble head shows, Katrina Vanden Heuvel makes some great points about why job creation is so important right now for some actual economic recovery to take place, and she's right about the so called health care reform.

VANDEN HEUVEL: You know, John Kenneth Galbraith once said that astrology -- that economic forecasting exists to make astrology look good. In these conditions, Matt, it’s very hard to have predicted what we would see. And don’t forget, the danger of the health care reform is that is it weakened and diluted in the way that the recovery package was so as to address Republicans’ concerns.

That could have been a stronger recovery -- but not strong enough to do what you rightly suggest, which is, parks, bridges, tunnels, an industrial policy, which may make George go berserk because it sounds like socialism, which it isn’t, every advanced industrialized country has an industrial policy which would address the auto industry. Build light rail, buses.

Full transcript below the fold.

VANDEN HEUVEL: I think -- I think Matt made the wrong point. And in the absence of this weak stimulus program, the economic situation would be much worse. But where the political will is lacking in this town is for a targeted jobs creation program.

Former treasury secretary Robert Reich has spoken very clearly: we are fixed in this city on debt. This is a fetishism about debt. What we need to fix on is the human...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Not just the city; it’s the country.

VANDEN HEUVEL: In the country, but, at a time when government, when private businesses and spending, when consumers aren’t buying, when exports aren’t working, government is the last resort. We need to spend to stand to rebuild this country...

ROBERTS: But it’s not like...

VANDEN HEUVEL: ... to put people back to work. But to put people back to work, not to spend on wars we don’t need.

ROBERTS: Well, we just -- you just heard two senators agree on extending unemployment, extending health care under COBRA and extending the tax credit for housing.

VANDEN HEUVEL: And that is great.

ROBERTS: So that’s all stimulus money that would be more debt.

VANDEN HEUVEL: But we -- this is a national emergency in this country, and we need to -- we need to think about this, not just dance around the good edges of extending unemployment benefits.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s press that point, because that brings up a strategic question that the White House answered at the beginning of this year, saying, no, the way to address it is to do everything at once.

The president said yesterday, Matthew, that his principal focus is going to be jobs. He opens the door to looking at other ideas, although White House officials say that doesn’t mean anything, is imminent. The question is, how -- does he pursue that now or wait for health care? I think they’ve answered it, but is that the right decision?

DOWD: Well, they keep saying what -- the president and the administration does, they keep saying what their priority is. And it seems to change every other week what their current priority is. And you have to maintain a priority for at least some period of time, maybe a couple of months for all of the people to believe it is a priority.

So if it is a priority, then we’re going to have to see that reflected in how he acts with Congress and how he doesn’t. My thing about the stimulus package, which I think goes back to what FDR did, in my view, is when he accomplished it -- when he pushed a jobs package, people actually saw things done, they saw bridges getting built, they saw farms getting mowed over, they saw roads getting built.

Nobody sees any activity done by the stimulus package that actually is producing jobs. Nobody can see it.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: Yes, but also, it’s the dog that didn’t bark. You know, there are jobs. I mean, you’re quite right that it doesn’t convince people to say, well, that job wouldn’t be there if we didn’t do this. But particularly at the state and local government level, there were all kind of cutbacks that were headed to happen, particularly with police and teachers and all of that, that didn’t happen.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And it’s so bad, but again, it would have been far worse.

VANDEN HEUVEL: Far worse.

DOWD: Well, I don’t know, OK, I’m going to go back to that point, they said that if we pass a stimulus package, unemployment would never go above 9 percent. They said X would -- Y and Z would happen. All that has happened in spite of the stimulus package, so that’s an argument that we’re making in some sort of fiction fantasy land, that “but for this.”

STEPHANOPOULOS: No, but that could show that just the economy was in far worse shape before.

(CROSSTALK)

VANDEN HEUVEL: You know, John Kenneth Galbraith once said that astrology -- that economic forecasting exists to make astrology look good. In these conditions, Matt, it’s very hard to have predicted what we would see. And don’t forget, the danger of the health care reform is that is it weakened and diluted in the way that the recovery package was so as to address Republicans’ concerns.

That could have been a stronger recovery -- but not strong enough to do what you rightly suggest, which is, parks, bridges, tunnels, an industrial policy, which may make George go berserk because it sounds like socialism, which it isn’t, every advanced industrialized country has an industrial policy which would address the auto industry. Build light rail, buses.

WILL: Yes, the jobs numbers were the worst since the summer of 1983, 17 months later, Ronald Reagan came within 3,800 votes in Minnesota of carrying all 50 states. So this is not necessarily a political disaster, except the differences.

What Reagan was doing was lightening the burden on the economy, cutting taxes, cutting regulations. This comes with the president trying to increase the burdens, with higher taxes, with more regulations, with cap and trade.

ROBERTS: You know, right now, 40 percent, 40 percent of GDP is state, local, or federal money. I mean, that’s an incredible number. So that, you know, adding more to that, I think, is going to just make the -- distort things even more. And the public is so concerned about it...

(CROSSTALK)

VANDEN HEUVEL: But, Cokie, last point, and at the moment, when George said earlier, one out of six are unemployed or underemployed, I think the focus is on putting people back to work, and not on debt. I continue to resist this belief that debt is this animating feature of our political system.

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