CBS: Americans 'Angry' Over Bad Economy, 'Taking It Out On' Obama

Harry Smith and Bill Plante, CBS At the top of Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith proclaimed: "Angry Americans. A new report declares the recession officially over. But many of us are not feeling it. Even taking on the President himself." Later, he seemed to portray the President as a victim: "...a lot of Americans are still suffering its [the recession's] effects, and are taking it out on President Obama."

In a report that followed, correspondent Bill Plante noted how "numbers may be going in the right direction" but touted "frustrated" Obama supporters speaking out at a Monday CNBC town hall. In between clips of those voters, Plante sympathetically remarked: "On the defensive, the President responded by outlining some of his administration's accomplishments, but admitted that things aren't where they need to be." He concluded the report: "So the reality is that improving statistics aren't very convincing to voters who are worried about jobs, and that is the reality the President and his party face going into the November elections."

Introducing a brief report on the stock market reaction, co-host Maggie Rodriguez looked for a silver lining: "The average American may be skeptical about an economic recovery, but the reaction on Wall Street to the end of the recession shows that investors are optimistic." Business and economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis declared: "...yesterday, stocks responded positively to the news that it is now behind us. The Dow ended higher by 145 points, putting it on track for the best September in 71 years."

Smith later interviewed Obama economic advisor and new head of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, Elizabeth Warren. He lobbed softballs to her, starting with: "...you've spent a good time of your professional career studying the middle class, and quite frankly, worrying about the middle class. As we get this kind of news that we got yesterday that the recession was over, so many people in the middle class are saying, 'it doesn't feel like it at my house.' When do you think it might feel like it at our house?" A headline on screen read: "Anger Over the Economy; Despite Recession's End, Americans Frustrated."

Smith fretted over Warren not being able to enforce enough new regulations on business: "Can these industries really be regulated? But regulated in a way that – I mean, there will be so much pressure from them for you to do as little as possible. This will be a giant tug-of-war in the days going forward, to see who really does get control." Warren replied that her job was "to start pushing back," adding "I intend to do it as hard as I can."

Only at the end of the interview did Smith touch on Warren's controversial nomination process: "By charging you with creating this agency, is this the best compromise possible? Because a lot of people wanted you to head the agency, and they said, 'well, you're not confirmable.'" Smith did not challenge Warren on whether her backdoor appointment broke the administration's promises of transparency.

Here is a full transcript of the September 21 segment:
7:00AM ET TEASE:

HARRY SMITH: Angry Americans. A new report declares the recession officially over. But many of us are not feeling it. Even taking on the President himself.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I'm one of your middle-class Americans, and quite frankly, I'm exhausted. I'm exhausted of defending you, defending your administration.

SMITH: We'll talk live with one of President Obama's closest economic advisers.

7:02AM ET SEGMENT:

SMITH: Now to the economy. A new report says the 'great recession' is over. According to a nonprofit research group, the recession began in December of 2007, and ended in June of 2009. But a lot of Americans are still suffering its effects, and are taking it out on President Obama. Senior White House correspondent Bill Plante has more. Good morning, Bill.

BILL PLANTE: Good morning, Harry. The numbers may be going in the right direction, but if there was any doubt that most of America doesn't yet feel things improving, listen to what a frustrated voter had to say to President Obama at a CNBC town hall meeting.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Fed Up; Voters Confront Obama On Struggling Economy]

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I'm one of your middle-class Americans, and quite frankly, I'm exhausted. I'm exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for, and deeply disappointed with where we are right now. I have been told that I voted for a man who said he was going to change things in a meaningful way for the middle class. I'm one of those people, and I'm waiting, sir. I'm waiting. I don't feel it yet.

PLANTE: On the defensive, the President responded by outlining some of his administration's accomplishments, but admitted that things aren't where they need to be.

BARACK OBAMA: As I said before, times are tough for everybody right now. So, I understand your frustration. But what I am saying is, is that we're moving in the right direction.

PLANTE: But the President knows that the only real answer is providing jobs. And that saying the recovery takes time doesn't play well with voters.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: And what I'm really hoping to hear from you is several concrete steps that you're going to take, moving forward, that will be able to re-ignite my generation. Re-ignite the youth who are beset by student loans. And I really want to know, is the American dream dead for me?

OBAMA: Absolutely not.

PLANTE: But that disillusionment is echoed on main street, on both sides of the aisle.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN B: I've been disappointed. Unbelievably disappointed.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Yeah, in what?

WOMAN B: From both sides. I feel like nothing changes. And so there's no point, really. Everything will stay the same. No matter what I do, I could for or against and it'll stay exactly the same.

PLANTE: So the reality is that improving statistics aren't very convincing to voters who are worried about jobs, and that is the reality the President and his party face going into the November elections. Harry.

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: I'll take it here. Bill Plante, thank you very much.

SMITH: Alright, Maggie.

RODRIGUEZ: Thanks, Harry. The average American may be skeptical about an economic recovery, but the reaction on Wall Street to the end of the recession shows that investors are optimistic. Let's go to CBS News business and economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis, she's at the New York Stock Exchange this morning. Good morning, Rebecca.

REBECCA JARVIS: Good morning, Maggie. And we all know how much the 'great recession' battered down stocks. Well, yesterday, stocks responded positively to the news that it is now behind us. The Dow ended higher by 145 points, putting it on track for the best September in 71 years.

But still, as we all know, the struggles on main street, they do persist, and we're seeing that in the issues that the 'great recession' raised for all of us. It wiped out 7.3 million American jobs. 21% Of our net worth was wiped out between December of 2007, and June of 2009, the official end of the recession. And economists believe it will take significant amounts of time just to regain the pre-recession levels on the employment front. In fact, some economists believe it will take as long as 2013 just to get back to normal employment levels in this country.

Another key in all of this is housing prices, and Wall Street will be watching a bunch of data this week on that. Maggie.

RODRIGUEZ: Alright, Rebecca Jarvis at the stock exchange. Thank you, Rebecca. Back over to Harry.

SMITH: Alright, Maggie. Joining us from Washington with more on how the White House plans to turn the economy around is the new head of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Agency, Elizabeth Warren. Good morning.

ELIZABETH WARREN: Good morning.

SMITH: Let me ask you, before we get to the particulars of your job and the creation of this agency, I just want to ask you a philosophical question. Because you've spent a good time of your professional career studying the middle class, and quite frankly, worrying about the middle class. As we get this kind of news that we got yesterday that the recession was over, so many people in the middle class are saying, 'it doesn't feel like it at my house.' When do you think it might feel like it at our house?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Anger Over the Economy; Despite Recession's End, Americans Frustrated]

WARREN: Well, we have to remember that we have a problem in the middle class that didn't just start in the fall of 2008. We have a problem that's been under way for 30 years, of squeezing, chipping, hitting on the middle class. Flat wages, rising core expenses, families reached a point where they really couldn't save, they turned to credit, and the credit industry has drained billions of dollars out of their pockets.

So, it's a – it's going to take time to rebuild the middle class. I mean that – that really is part of the problem here. We're starting now with this new credit, Consumer Credit Bureau, and that's going to be one piece of it. I hope it's going to patch a big hole in the bottom of the economic boat. But there's still work to be done in a lot of areas. On wages, on housing, on student loans, on retirement security. It's not just one thing that went wrong, and it's not just one thing that's going to fix it.

SMITH: Can these industries really be regulated? But regulated in a way that – I mean, there will be so much pressure from them for you to do as little as possible. This will be a giant tug-of-war in the days going forward, to see who really does get control.

WARREN: You know, I'm not a Washington person. I never really wanted a job here. I had this idea for this agency, and thought, that's it, you know, other people will take care of it. The President asked me to come here, and to start to work immediately. Not to worry about titles, not to go through all that business, but to start to work to set up this agency, to start pushing back. And that's exactly what I intend to do. And I intend to do it as hard as I can.

SMITH: By charging you with creating this agency, is this the best compromise possible? Because a lot of people wanted you to head the agency, and they said, 'well, you're not confirmable.'

WARREN: You know, I don't know the politics. But I don't see this as a compromise at all. There was one option, and that was to go the confirmation route, and I'm told that would take about a year, during which I couldn't do any work on the agency. And this is the part that amazes me, I wouldn't be allowed to talk about it. Or, I could not have that title, and I could get to work right now. And so, I said to the President, I want to go to work right now. I don't care what you call me. Let me go to work and let me try to help. And when I'm no longer any help, I'll leave.

SMITH: Elizabeth Warren, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with us this morning.

WARREN: Thank you.

SMITH: Do appreciate it.

RODRIGUEZ: So important to point out that the organization that deemed the recession officially over also was very careful to say, it may be over, but the economy is not recovering. That was a 'by the way' that's important, as Americans are realizing.

SMITH: A slow recovery. Yeah, right.

RODRIGUEZ: A slow recovery and we could still dip into another recession. Which we all hope won't happen.
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC