CBS's Smith: How Can Government 'Unleash the Economy And Not Spend Any Money'?

On Thursday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith saw Republican goals to limit government spending as antithetical to improving the economy: "How do you unleash the economy and not spend any money, oh, by the way, because that's the other mandate, is don't increase the deficit and don't – don't – 'I don't want one more cent of tax on me.'"

Smith put the question to Time magazine Washington deputy bureau chief Michael Crowley, who was equally skeptical: "I think it may be impossible, frankly. What Democrats would like to do is they would say you actually have to spend more money, have the government put money into the economy to get it moving again." He warned against conservative policies: "Republicans say we're spending too much, maybe cut taxes, but tax cuts aren't free, either, tax cuts increase the deficit. Maybe you could loosen regulations but you saw what happened on Wall Street when things were deregulated. It's really not as simple at this point as doing any of those things without taking a big risk that comes along with it."

Smith began the segment by asking Crowley about President Obama's post-election press conference: "...he looked beaten, unbowed, perhaps, chagrined would be another word to describe it. But, the other question that I think some people would still be asking this morning is, does he get it? Do you think he gets it?" Crowley explained:

I heard in Obama's words there yesterday a lot of 'I inherited an economic mess, people are hurting for reasons that are not my own fault, and I'm not going to go back and revisit my big policy decisions like health care' and really a suggestion that Republicans have been standing in his way and that's the bigger problem. So, if you mean by get it, is he about to turn on a dime and change his policies, I'm not sure that's what you should expect.

Smith remarked: "I love that analysis." He then turned to his other guest, Republican strategist Kevin Madden, with the same question. Madden argued: "I saw a president who for the last two years has been very good at the pageantry of bipartisanship. He's been very good at the rhetoric of centrism and bipartisanship but when it comes to actions, has failed....what he's done is spent the last two years in a very partisan manner."

At the end of the segment, Smith asked Madden about what kind of Speaker of the House John Boehner would be: "You worked for him. A lot of people are saying was this '94 all over again, is he Newt Gingrich II? Explain the difference." Madden replied: "...what you have to remember about John and what's made him a great Republican leader and what's going to make him a great speaker, is that first and foremost, he is a very good listener. He's going to listen across his Republican conference, but most importantly, he's going to listen across the whole House of Representatives and recognize what the will of that body is."


Here is a full transcript of the November 4 segment:

7:06AM ET

HARRY SMITH: Here now to talk more about what comes next is Michael Crowley, deputy Washington bureau chief for Time magazine and in Washington this morning, Republican strategist Kevin Madden, a former press secretary to Congressman John Boehner. Good morning to you both.

KEVIN MADDEN: Good morning, Harry.

MICHAEL CROWLEY: Good morning, Harry.

SMITH: Alright, my question to you, Michael, to start with. We watched this press conference yesterday with President Obama and at some points, he looked beaten, unbowed, perhaps, chagrined would be another word to describe it. But, the other question that I think some people would still be asking this morning is, does he get it? Do you think he gets it?

MICHAEL CROWLEY: I think he gets how serious this is, how upset the public is. But, I'm not sure he's prepared to really dramatically change his direction. I mean, this is the big open question. Bill Clinton, when he went through a similar shellacking in 1994 wound up moving to the center, really upsetting a lot of liberal Democrats, finding common ground with Republicans on things like welfare reform. I heard in Obama's words there yesterday a lot of 'I inherited an economic mess, people are hurting for reasons that are not my own fault, and I'm not going to go back and revisit my big policy decisions like health care' and really a suggestion that Republicans have been standing in his way and that's the bigger problem. So, if you mean by get it, is he about to turn on a dime and change his policies, I'm not sure that's what you should expect.

SMITH: That's – okay, this is – I love that analysis. Kevin Madden, as you watched yesterday, what did you see? Did you see the same thing?

KEVIN MADDEN: I did. Look, I saw a president who for the last two years has been very good at the pageantry of bipartisanship. He's been very good at the rhetoric of centrism and bipartisanship but when it comes to actions, has failed. He has not really gone out there and tried to work with Republicans or sought bipartisan compromise. Instead, what he's done is spent the last two years in a very partisan manner, taking it directly at fighting the Republicans. And I think, also, he very directly went over the will of the American public and that was his biggest mistake. And if you look at the way John Boehner has accepted these election results, he's talked about listening to the American public and bringing the House of Representatives closer to the will of the public. And I think that is going be an interesting dynamic to watch because John Boehner clearly gets it. President Obama, it's not clear yet.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Political Power Shift; Can Anything Get Done in Split Congress?]

SMITH: Here's what's interesting, because if anything happens from this election, was this notion that it's got to be about the economy, it's got to be about job creation.

CROWLEY: Right.

SMITH: How do you do that? How do you unleash the economy and not spend any money, oh, by the way, because that's the other mandate, is don't increase the deficit and don't – don't – 'I don't want one more cent of tax on me.'

CROWLEY: Well, I think it may be impossible, frankly. What Democrats would like to do is they would say you actually have to spend more money, have the government put money into the economy to get it moving again. Republicans say we're spending too much, maybe cut taxes, but tax cuts aren't free, either, tax cuts increase the deficit. Maybe you could loosen regulations but you saw what happened on Wall Street when things were deregulated. It's really not as simple at this point as doing any of those things without taking a big risk that comes along with it. One other note I would just say, the reason the stories in the papers today about how Republicans set out party of no to stop Obama's agenda, I think the non-bipartisanship was what two-way process. I respect Kevin but I think it came from the Republicans as well.

SMITH: And Kevin, last but not least, a lot of people – John Boehner is just now really coming on the national radar screen. You worked for him. A lot of people are saying was this '94 all over again, is he Newt Gingrich II? Explain the difference.

MADDEN: Well, I think, you know, what you have to remember about John and what's made him a great Republican leader and what's going to make him a great speaker, is that first and foremost, he is a very good listener. He's going to listen across his Republican conference, but most importantly, he's going to listen across the whole House of Representatives and recognize what the will of that body is. And again, when he says he wants to bring it closer to the American public, I think that that means that he recognizes that there are pockets in this country that haven't supported Republicans but do care about the big issues and that in order to get votes and provide – and push legislation that is going to have public support, that he has to listen to everybody.

SMITH: Alright. Kevin, thank you very much. Michael, do appreciate it. We shall see.


      

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC