NBC's Gregory Frets Greece-Like Rioting if U.S. Makes 'Draconian' Spending Cuts

On NBC's Sunday Meet the Press, host David Gregory took on an alarmist tone as he worried that any significant attempts to address the nation's enormous debt could lead to violence: "Look at the images that came out of Greece this week as you've got...big cuts in public spending. And this is the result, rioting in the streets....Could we have that kind of reaction here?"

Gregory posed that question to Senators Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham early in the program, further fretting: "Are we headed in this direction with the kind of actions we're talking about in terms of cutting public spending?...Is there a risk...that these draconian cuts in spending that so many Americans think are necessary may actually halt what we're still...seeing as a very fragile, very weak economic recovery?"

Later in the broadcast, Gregory again brought up the subject to his political panel: "We showed the pictures from Greece. We can show them again, demonstrations in the streets as a result of draconian cuts being made by the government there....are we being too aggressive about tackling deficits at a point when the economy still needs so much help?" Liberal historian and author Doris Kearns Goodwin quickly agreed: "Absolutely....you've got to deal with the economy first, get it going, and then you make promises about getting that [the deficit] down."

Fellow panelist, Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot, presented the conservative side of the argument: "I think, philosophically, from an economics policy point of view, you cut spending, you're going to help the economy, in my view. Because every dollar the government spends is a dollar that's taken out of the private sector, which is the only place, the only place you're going to drive growth."


Here is a transcript of the June 19 exchange:

10:35AM ET

DAVID GREGORY: To both of you, and I'll start with Senator Durbin, look, what's going on around the world is something that we're debating here in America. Look at the images that came out of Greece this week as you've got governments that are defaulting in Europe potentially, big cuts in public spending. And this is the result, rioting in the streets. There are union members and there are just citizens who are saying this is way too much. Senator Durbin, are we headed in this direction with the kind of actions we're talking about in terms of cutting public spending? Could we have that kind of reaction here?...Senator Graham, let me get back to this other point, which is what we're seeing going on in the Eurozone right now, potential defaults. Is there a risk, from your side of the aisle, that these draconian cuts in spending that so many Americans think are necessary may actually halt what we're still seeming – seeing as a very fragile, very weak economic recovery?

(...)

11:10AM ET

GREGORY: Doris, we, we showed the pictures from Greece. We can show them again, demonstrations in the streets as a result of draconian cuts being made by the government there. The same question I asked to Senator Graham, are we being too aggressive about tackling deficits at a point when the economy still needs so much help?

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN: Absolutely. I mean, it seems to me the rational answer right now, we've got to get the economy to grow, and then get some problems which we agree on both sides that we will have targets for cutting the deficit. I mean, most economists would argue that. But somehow the deficit has become – it's the same way it became with Perot, it's become that lady in the closet. We have to deal with it, we do have to deal with it.

GREGORY: Right.

GOODWIN: But you've got to deal with the economy first, get it going, and then you make promises about getting that down.

GREGORY: But even – I've spoken to House Republican leaders who say, you know, this is – even our zeal to cut the debt...

GOODWIN:  Mm-hmm.

GREGORY:  ...is hurting our ability to have a jobs agenda...

GOODWIN:  Yes.

GREGORY:  ...to have some positive ideas to say how do we actually get people back to work?

PAUL GIGOT: Yeah. There's a little bit of an accountant's mentality that comes across, I think, and that's a problem. But I – I think, philosophically, from an economics policy point of view, you cut spending, you're going to help the economy, in my view. Because every dollar the government spends is a dollar that's taken out of the private sector, which is the only place, the only place you're going to drive growth. But the problem for the Republicans is a little too much talk about budget balancing and not enough talk about growth and jobs and getting growth back up to 3 and 4 percent.

GREGORY: Who's hiring? Can I-

ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA: Or investment in infrastructure.

GREGORY: Yeah.

VILLARAIGOSA: Or investment in education or investment in workforce development. I mean, there is no conversation from that side of the aisle. And don't get me wrong, I'm not here to defend Democrats. I think your point was a good one. People are tired of the gridlock, the partisanship, the polarization, the shrill debate. I mean, we're, we're excited that the President and the Speaker are on some, you know, golf tournament day. You know, the fact of the matter is, they should be talking on a regular basis, and they're not talking. All they're doing is screaming at one another.

(...)

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