So the very first Congressman to endorse Donald Trump back in the primaries is now the House Liason to the Trump Transition, which apparently means speaking convincingly of full approval in whatever Trump wants. And when Rep. Chris Collins is questioned about Trump's total flip-flop on "draining the swamp" - actually hiring Goldman Sachs employees to run our economy again? Let's not look to the past, let's look to the future! 4% GDP growth! Perfect trade deals that make every American rich! Hooray!
ANDREA MITCHELL: New York Congressman Collins was the first member of the House, first member of Congress to support Donald Trump. Thank you very much. I don't think I've seen you in person at least since the convention. Good to see you. Thanks for joining us.
REP. CHRIS COLLINS: Good to be with you.
ANDREA MITCHELL: Let's talk about some of these hires. You come from Buffalo, a blue-collar area of upper New York State. What about Goldman Sachs, which was demonized by the Trump campaign during the general election campaign against Hillary Clinton. Now you see these Goldman Sachs millionaires and billionaires coming on board.
COLLINS: Well, I will say this, and I said this many months ago. Donald Trump is going to assemble the best cabinet I think we've ever seen a President assemble. He's already doing it. Certainly, there are those who want to pick at any one of these successful individuals who are with Donald Trump putting America first, so I have no qualms about bringing in an experienced person who knows how things work, who is signing on to the Donald Trump agenda of putting America first and making sure we have the jobs and the economy with 4% GDP. So, these individuals who do endorse that growth agenda of 4% GDP, tax policy is a big part of that, certainly trade is a huge part of that, I think he's assembling the best and brightest.
It's about tax cuts for billionaires. Got it.
COLLINS: The fact that someone was successful, made a lot of money as an entrepreneur, private sector business guy, should be celebrated. These aren't folks coming in to be part of the revolving door of after they've served four years to go out the door and make a lot of money making speeches for being a lobbyist. I think it's healthy to bring in successful people who are doing this for the right reasons, not to line their own pockets. They don't need to do that. And I fully supported all of these appointment picks so far by the President. And I think you're hearing others as well. As you mentioned that weren't supportive of Trump saying, you know, he's doing a heck of a good job here.
ANDREA MITCHELL: Well, let me just play devil's advocate for a moment. There's a long tradition of Goldman Sachs executives that goes back decades in both political parties, when they make their money, the CEOs or top-ranking people coming out of Wall Street and believing in public service. The question is, the disconnect between the way Donald Trump campaigned as a populist and some of these people, Wilbur Ross making money on the mine, and Steve Mnuchin with the deals that he made with the bank as selling the mortgages, buying some of those mortgages and selling some of those mortgages after the collapse in '08. So, it's the way they made some of their money that does -- could not resonate with some Trump supporters in the rust belt, where he is today.
COLLINS: But it goes back to tomorrow's the day that matters. As long as these individuals believe in doing what we've got to do to get 4% GDP growth, and in doing that, you'll see wages increase because there's going to be demand for more labor and in that supply and demand chain, people are going to be paying more. There's going to be more jobs. As long as these individuals, and they do subscribe to putting America first and on the trade agenda, getting jobs back and making sure we hit our growth numbers, that is a Secretary of Commerce, that is a Secretary of the Treasury, that will be a Secretary of State that all play an integral role in these kind of issues. Sure, you could go back and find some transaction that maybe somebody didn't like but, you know, I think it's more important and I think America is looking into the future, as we should, and we're seeing a lot of people that didn't support Donald Trump now saying, Mr. President, Mr. President-elect, I'm here to serve to make sure this nation does become great again and we put America first. I'm not going to dwell in the past, Andrea. I think it's time to look forward and make sure these individuals subscribe to Donald Trump's vision. It's a vision for the middle class, for the working men and women, and as you called it, the symbolic victory with Carrier, with United Technology, is still a great start since it's 50 days before he takes the oath of office.
ANDREA MITCHELL: Congressman, I want to ask you about Secretary of State. There's been a public, you know, competition, if you will, among very different people. Rudy Giuliani, whom you know well, Mitt Romney was so critical of Donald Trump during the campaign, David Petraeus, perhaps others, Senator Corker. Where do you stand on the possibility of Mitt Romney coming in as Secretary of State, the most important job in the cabinet, because it is in the line of succession, given all of his criticisms? Do you agree with Kellyanne Conway and her criticisms on Sunday on "Meet the Press"?
COLLINS: Well, you know, I guess you could say I piled on her on that and you don't take back any of the comments I made, having been on the campaign trail for eight months, and in many cases having to react to the press because Mitt Romney took the opportunity to get in front of the cameras and denounce Donald Trump for one thing or another, So i'm certainly no fan of Mitt Romney, who I think was very self-serving in what he did. With that said, this is Donald Trump, President-elect Trump's decision. I would never say Governor Romney is not qualified. I think he is qualified, certainly qualified to be Secretary of State. It would be up to President-elect Trump to make sure he's comfortable Mitt Romney will take the direction from the President, not go rogue with his own agenda and understand who is calling the shots and that would be President Trump and that he will then be charged with making sure on a national policy level, international level, that he's implementing Donald Trump's vision and strategy and saying, "Yes, sir." So, we do have to save it. I'm going to leave that up to President-elect Trump. I did say what I said about Governor Romney. I don't take any of that back. I also said I will fully support President-elect Trump in whatever decision he makes. If it's Governor Romney, i'll be comfortable they've had that conversation and that Governor Romney will say, "Yes, sir," when President Trump says, "This is what we're going to go do?"
ANDREA MITCHELL: Would you prefer to see David Petraeus?
COLLINS: I'm going to leave that up to President-elect Trump. I know David Petraeus as well. I was in London with him in August at a terrorism seminar--he was a key speaker then. I certainly know Rudy Giuliani for a very long time. He's actually got four very good candidates from the standpoint of doing the job. It's just that I think loyalty does matter. I did express what I did about Governor Romney and might prefer to see someone else in that slot but I'm going to support President-elect Trump in his decision and it is his decision to make.
ANDREA MITCHELL: Thank you very much. ...
Shorter Chris Collins: Middle America shouldn't look back at all to the 2008 crash, the job they lost and never got back, their kid still living in the basement 8 years later in the house they were lucky enough to keep but will never pay off. And forget about the past behavior of Goldman Sachs bankers that caused the crash, because look at me, I'm going along with whatever Donald Trump wants, and predicting it will bring 4% growth in the economy!
It's not an accident that before he endorsed Trump, Collins was a big Jeb Bush cheerleader. That's where the 4% growth predictions come from. But nobody, NOBODY, believed Jeb Bush when he said he'd do it. And no one believes Trump, either. Not economists, anyway.
What I would say is that it’s unreasonable to assume growth over the next 10 years more than a fraction of a percentage point above 2 percent — say 2.5 percent at the upper end. Maybe we can do better, but we shouldn’t count on it.
And let me say that the great thing about a progressive agenda is that it doesn’t require big growth promises to make it work, because the elements of that agenda are good things in their own right. Conservatives need to promise miracles to justify policies whose direct effect is to comfort the comfortable (cutting taxes on the rich) and afflict the afflicted (slashing social insurance); progressives only need to defend themselves against the charge that doing good will somehow kill economic growth. It won’t, and that should be enough.
And Princeton economist Alan Blinder, via NPR, again, back when Jeb Bush was promising 4% growth:
No one foresees anything approaching 4 percent growth in the next few years. [Except servile Trumpist Congressmen, amirite?] The Federal Reserve's interest rate decision-makers, for example, mostly see GDP growth staying at or below 3 percent in the next few year and in the long run at just over 2 percent.
"....predicting above-trend growth would be hazardous," said Blinder, who also served on President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers. "To say you're going to do 4 percent per year for four years when the trend is only 2 is making a claim, I think, almost anybody would find outlandish."
It's a certainty that the Goldman Sachs bankers Trump is inviting to join him in the Celebrity Apprentice White House Swamp know that a 4% growth prediction is a bunch of bullish nonsense, as well. But hey, tax cuts for billionaires and deregulate fossil fuel interests, and everybody that is now in charge in Washington is happy.
Because that. is. what. Republicans. do.