In the wake of John Boehner's pullout from the budget talks, Bill Daley came on Christiane Amanpour's show this morning to address the state of negotiations, where the Democrats stand, and what the president believes needs to be done to restore confidence in the economy.
It is the first time I've heard a clear message coming from the White House in ages. Whatever Daley's leanings are, he succeeded in getting these key points across:
- Democrats are not using Social Security as a deficit reduction tool
- Social Security and Medicare do need shoring up, but not at the expense of beneficiaries.
- Jobs are tied to uncertainty about the economy, which is why it's important to do something more than apply a bandaid.
- If corporate America wants certainty, they can step up and put some pressure on the DC lunatics to get this done.
Daley sent the whistle out loud and clear to Wall Street and the rest of the business community: If you want certainty and a deal, step on the people who are holding it up. (That would be the Republicans, in case you doubted that)
AMANPOUR: Your long-standing relations and your history of professionalism here is with the business community to a large extent. What are you saying to them? You were meant to be able to sort of convince them to start investing and hiring people. Instead, they're racking up profits, doing sort of cost-cutting and not hiring. And this is a problem for the employment rate.
DALEY: There's no question that there's a tremendous amount of profit on the company's books. But they are looking to see the signs of confidence for them to invest. Every major company does that. I talk to business leaders every day. They don't have as negative an attitude about the economic situation, that they know it's difficult, that Washington seems to have. On the other hand, they want to see leadership. What I say to the business community is, you complain and whine about the political system all the time. Get involved. Get involved and make the statement about the fact that you need a balanced approach to solve our fiscal problems. It is not going to be solved -- it should not be solved on the backs of those who have given and are having a difficult time right now.
AMANPOUR: So given what you say, their legitimate concerns, what is your prediction for employment next month and the month after?
DALEY: Well, I'm not a predictor, nor would I be stupid enough to try to guess what the numbers are going to be. I think there's plenty of signs. But whatever the numbers are, positive, we have come -- we are coming through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. When President Obama came in, there were almost 800,000 jobs a month were being lost. That's the size of Charlotte, North Carolina. Four million jobs have been lost the previous, 13 months before he came into office. This country was in a crisis like very few people had ever seen. And we are slowly coming out of that. Albeit, it is frustrating to this president that it's not coming fast enough. But a lot of that is based upon this dysfunction that seems to be going on in this town, and that gets felt throughout the country, and there's a lack of confidence in whether these political leaders in this town will have the guts to stand up and do the tough things.
I'm not sure I buy this notion of confidence being the barrier to economic growth, but I do like having someone actually stand up and put some pressure on these companies to quit sitting on their assets and start growing again. It was a pretty clear signal to business that they need to support a plan that involves taxing the rich as well as cutting budgets. Will they listen?