Meet The Press: Rahm Emanuel Schools David Gregory On Democratic Spending Proposal

[media id=7131] After David Gregory reads a quote from John Boehner bashing the Democrats' plan to clean up George Bush's mess and get the economy go

After David Gregory reads a quote from John Boehner bashing the Democrats' plan to clean up George Bush's mess and get the economy going again, Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel forcefully defends the proposal and beats back the bogus criticism.

NBC:

MR. GREGORY: But an additional $700 billion?

MR. EMANUEL: President Obama's been very clear, you cannot have a strong economy that does not have a strong middle class. And the, the approach has been to provide the middle class with a tax cut, and also to start getting the economy moving again by making critical investments. That's why we want to create three and a half million jobs.

MR. GREGORY: Right.

MR. EMANUEL: The--it is no doubt you have to couple it, which has been very clear, which is why the President-elect Obama has called for an--a summit on fiscal responsibility to change the way we spend money, to do it in a more efficient way, to get rid of waste and fraud, but also to deal with the challenges that for too long have been kicked down the road.

Rahm Emanuel was Obama's first and perhaps wisest choice. Chief of Staff requires a certain skill set and Rahm fills the role perfectly. It's no wonder that GOPers went berserk when it was announced.

Full transcript below the fold.

MR. EMANUEL: And that's the change we want to bring to Washington as president.

MR. GREGORY: But an additional $700 billion?

MR. EMANUEL: President Obama's been very clear, you cannot have a strong economy that does not have a strong middle class. And the, the approach has been to provide the middle class with a tax cut, and also to start getting the economy moving again by making critical investments. That's why we want to create three and a half million jobs.

MR. GREGORY: Right.

MR. EMANUEL: The--it is no doubt you have to couple it, which has been very clear, which is why the President-elect Obama has called for an--a summit on fiscal responsibility to change the way we spend money, to do it in a more efficient way, to get rid of waste and fraud, but also to deal with the challenges that for too long have been kicked down the road.

MR. GREGORY: Let's talk about spending. This is what the minority leader in the House, John Boehner, said on Thursday: "The plan released ... by congressional Democrats ... appears to be grounded in the flawed notion that we can simply borrow and spend our way back to prosperity." You have said that the top priority is jobs, jobs, jobs when it comes to the stimulus plan. This is what Jerry Lewis had to say. He was the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, and this is what he found in this package, we'll put it on the screen: "Before we pass this Pelosi-Obey legislation," his release says, "the costliest in history, Congress has a duty to ask this basic question. ... Are these items `stimulus'? Fifty million dollars in funding for the National Endowment of the Arts, $15.6 billion" increase in "Pell Grants, $200 million to `encourage electric vehicle technologies' in state and local government motor pools, 1.9 billion in funding for high level physics research, 650 million to extend the coupon program to allow analog TV owners to continue to watch TV." One more. "Four hundred million to the Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration for `habitat restoration.'" What do these expenditures have to do with creating jobs?

MR. EMANUEL: Well, I'm--David, I'm surprised that you would say that about college education, in this sense: you wouldn't be here and I wouldn't be here if a college education was not provided to us. And the Pell Grants, one of the things that--the largest one you pointed to, helps people go to college. Now, is more--is it--important as it is to build our roads and bridges, our electric grid, our new health care IT so we can control costs, the ability to provide people the, the opportunity to go to college in a era where you earned what you learn is human capital investment.

MR. GREGORY: Right.

MR. EMANUEL: It's the most important thing.

MR. GREGORY: That's an investment, though. Is that a shovel-ready job?

MR. EMANUEL: No.

MR. GREGORY: Is it a shovel-ready project that creates jobs?

MR. EMANUEL: David, as you know, the president said very--two things: create three and a half million jobs and lay the foundation for long-term economic competitiveness so America, when it comes out of this recession, is a stronger economy to lead the world. For too long critical investments in this country, both physical and human, have been denied. And the things that were pointed there, I do believe investing in our basic science research is good economic competitiveness and does create jobs today and lays the foundation for competitiveness. Investing in people, in their college education in a era where you're competing against people in China, India, money well spent. And those are critical areas. We hope everybody will go through it, identify things, will--as the president said, "I welcome ideas, but what I will not challenge is the ability to produce three and a half million jobs." That's why this--what's adjacent to this...

MR. GREGORY: Rahm...

MR. EMANUEL: ...and the, and the numbers you put up is--the fact is that's economic plan and recovery plan does produce three and a half million jobs.

MR. GREGORY: OK. But what do you say to critics who say under the guise of stimulus and job creation is really the Democratic social agenda?

MR. EMANUEL: Well, it's very clear this is a, a balanced approach. It has critical investments in both energy independence, education and health care cost control, as well as making the essential investments to make sure the middle class also get a tax cut. And I think that is a good approach to getting this economy moving and laying the foundation for long-term competitive economic competitiveness. That's what this does. And what I find ironic, it just--it's interesting, there are those who are now saying that, you know, it borrows too much. Not something we would want to do, but everybody agrees that economists say, both on the left and right, you must do something like this to get the economy moving. This is the worst challenge we are inheriting as a country...

MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.

MR. EMANUEL: ...the single worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and that the way to deal with that is to do something that you wouldn't normally have to do, which is make big investments to get the economy moving.

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