Now that the deficit spending is for something like trying to get our economy out of the ditch George Bush put us into, Mitch McConnell is suddenly very concerned about that mounting debt we're accumulating, unless of course we accumulated more of it for some additional tax cuts. Endless wars and occupations, well that's alright in McConnell's world. Spending to try to get people back to work, not so much.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is a second stimulus package coming? Some Democrats, including House majority leader Steny Hoyer and Senate Banking Committee chairman Chris Dodd, are not ruling out the idea.
What are they saying on the other side of the aisle? Joining us live is Senator Mitch McConnell, Senate minority leader. Nice to see you, Senator.
MCCONNELL: Good to be back, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, first of all, before we get to this possibility of stimulus 2.0, second stimulus package, how much are we spending on interest on the first one? Do you have any idea?
MCCONNELL: About $100 million a day on interest on the first stimulus.
VAN SUSTEREN: One hundred million...
MCCONNELL: A day.
VAN SUSTEREN: ... each day that passes we're spending to support that original one.
MCCONNELL: Yes, and figures just out a few minutes ago, this fiscal year, we're spending -- we have an $800 billion greater deficit at the end of the third quarter of the fiscal year that we're currently in that ends September 30th than last year. We're spending like drunken sailors.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so 2.0, people are talking about. It's not a done deal, necessarily. I mean, there are some Democrats who are talking about it. They are not wedded to it, right? This is not a certainty, it's just a beginning point, a discussion about it.
MCCONNELL: Well, I sure hope not. I mean, we had a great saying down home in Kentucky that there's no education in the second kick of a mule. I mean, we passed the first stimulus on the representation the president made that it would keep unemployment from going above 8 percent. Well, we now know it's going to go above 10 percent. And we just discussed how much interest we're paying every day on this ill-begotten venture. To suggest that we want to do it again is truly astonishing.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is there any sign from that $875 billion stimulus package that was passed in February -- are there any positive indicators? I realize that unemployment is sort of a lagging indicator, but are there any signs that it's working?
MCCONNELL: Not yet. I mean, what's been done with most of the money, according to GAO, is states have used it to plug holes in their budgets. In other words, their revenues are down, too, because of the economic slowdown, so they just used our borrowed money to prevent them from having to make as many tough decisions as they would otherwise have to make. And of course, we're sending the bill to our children and our grandchildren.
VAN SUSTEREN: And which, of course, the whole point of the stimulus bill, if it were to work, if it worked, is that it creates jobs. It generates income. It's not to pay off what you owe. It's not to pay off back expenses.
MCCONNELL: Well, if you're going to do a stimulus, it ought to be timely, temporary and targeted. It's obviously not targeted. It's not temporary. And it's proving not to be timely. I think by any objective standard, the first stimulus was a failure. And now they're talking about doing another one?
VAN SUSTEREN: Is there -- when you talk to the senators on the other side of the aisle, when you're visiting or walking down the hall and you run into them, do you have some sort of discussion about this? Are they defending stimulus 1? They say, you know, Senator McConnell -- or I guess they call you Mitch or something, but do they say to you, you know, You're wrong, this is how it's working? Do they say that to you?
MCCONNELL: Oh, they're trying to defend it, but you saw the reaction of some of the Democrats, including my counterpart, Harry Reid, indicating a lack of enthusiasm for a second stimulus.
VAN SUSTEREN: If -- so -- so what's going to happen? Is there any -- is there any likelihood we're going to get a second stimulus?
MCCONNELL: Well, I sure hope not. The first...
VAN SUSTEREN: But is there any -- I mean, who -- are there any sort of real cheering this on?
MCCONNELL: Well, I think they're clearly floating a trial balloon. They're thinking about it. And you've got people like Larry Summers down at the White House, you know, throwing out the possibility. So they wanted to send up a trial balloon and see if it flew. I think, based on the evidence of the first one so far, I can't imagine they can pull this off.
VAN SUSTEREN: What would you do?
MCCONNELL: Look, what we would have done back in the beginning, at about half the cost, was to go straight at the housing problem and to put money directly back in the pockets of middle and lower-income people through tax relief, immediate tax relief. It would have shown up in their paychecks right then.
VAN SUSTEREN: So you mean withholding, get rid of withholding.
MCCONNELL: Yes. Not entirely, but I mean, we would have lowered the rates immediately, which would have been reflected in a lower withholding immediately, and gone straight at the housing problem, which is what started this whole economic problem.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why not -- why wouldn't you have just gotten rid of it altogether? Because, I mean, there's a -- as a threshold anyway? I mean, that would have been a really fast thrust of money.
MCCONNELL: Well, I mean, it depends on how much money you want to put back in. But you know, giving the -- putting the government in charge of the spending guarantees that it doesn't do anything quickly.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so now we're in this position -- I mean, I realize what you would have done in the beginning. We now have this $875 billion stimulus bill. What would you do now, if you were in the majority?
MCCONNELL: Look, I think the economy would be doing a lot better if the government were now running -- not running banks, car companies, insurance companies, student loans. And now, on top of all of this, they want to take over the American health care system, 16 percent of our economy.
VAN SUSTEREN: But we're already there with banks and automobiles. We're not there with health care. So what would you do right now?
MCCONNELL: Well, I would not be doing these things.
VAN SUSTEREN: OK, so but how do you reverse it? I mean, like, we're in this -- we're here!
VAN SUSTEREN: We're here, so we got to deal with it.
MCCONNELL: The way to reverse it is to put more money directly in people's pockets. We're a consumer-driven economy. Two thirds of our economy typically is consumer spending. Rather than, you know, borrowing all this money and having the government involved in so many areas of our economy, it would have been a lot simpler, a lot quicker and a lot more effective to put money straight back into the pockets of the American taxpayers.
VAN SUSTEREN: So we could still do that now, between stimulus 1 and the possibility of stimulus 2. That would be a better idea than (INAUDIBLE)
MCCONNELL: Well, in the meantime, we need to, you know, get out of the car business, get out of the banking business, get out of the insurance business, get out of the student loan business, and don't get in nationalizing health care.
VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you. Nice to see you, sir.
MCCONNELL: Thank you, Greta.