To Ann Curry's Surprise, CNBC's Jim Cramer Rejects Obama Fearmongering

On Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Ann Curry touted President Obama trying to scare the American people into supporting his debt ceiling plan: "He called for public activism, so much so that we hear that Capitol Hill web sites were crashing last night because so many people were trying to e-mail their representatives. It looks like he spooked main street...will he also spook Wall Street?"

Curry directed that question to CNBC Mad Money host Jim Cramer, who promptly rejected such doom and gloom: "No, not at all. Frankly, Wall Street's very calm. The markets are looking pretty good today....No one's buying the panic, no one's buying the skyrocketing interest rates economic crisis scenario."

Curry still fretted: "That said, hedge funds are preparing for a default." The normally dramatic Cramer again toned down the alarmism: "Look, there's a possibility that we could default. It will be short term. I'm urging people to stay the course. I think that we have to remember that we've had ups and downs every time since 1776, this will be no different. And I urge people not to panic, despite the President's call for things that would normally panic people."

Later, Curry wondered: "So bottom line, is it too late to reach a deal by August 2nd?" Cramer concluded: "I think, first of all, August 2nd is going to turn out to be a not that important date. I think you can manufacture dates. Those bills will get paid. Second, this idea that interest rates are going to skyrocket, mortgages, make it harder to go to college, it's just not panning out. That's the wrong tactic. It ain't happening."

A surprised Curry turned to chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd: "Okay, a lot of optimism from Jim Cramer, Chuck. What's your take?" Todd actually acknowledged the President's use of scare tactics: "I have talked to some House Republicans who say in order to get some of their folks on board on something that is a big deal, that would include tax hikes, they would have to actually see the default....if you look at the President's strategy here, it's like, 'Look, if they see a default and they see these possibilities, then maybe they'll come to the table for the bigger deal.'"


Here is a full transcript of the July 26 segment:

7:05AM ET

ANN CURRY: Jim Cramer is the host of Mad Money on CNBC, Chuck Todd is NBC's chief White House correspondent and political director. Good morning to both of you.

CHUCK TODD: Good morning.

JIM CRAMER: Good morning.

CURRY: Chuck, this wasn't a speech to soothe the American public, so what did the President hope to gain?

CHUCK TODD: Well, I think what the President hoped to gain was try to create a new sense of urgency to see if there is a chance to get – to put this big deal back together that he and Speaker Boehner were very close to having this deal last week. But in many ways this speech was almost a post-mortem, almost setting up the blame game for the fact that no big deal is going to happen and no matter what happens here at the end of the day, the debt ceiling is probably going to go up, but nobody's going to be happy about the deal. I can tell you this, Ann, I had a bunch of Democrats that said to me, 'Would have been a good speech to give two weeks ago.'

CURRY: I know that he called for public activism, so much so that we hear that Capitol Hill web sites were crashing last night because so many people were trying to e-mail their representatives. It looks like he spooked main street, Jim. Did he – will he also spook Wall Street?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: One Week to Go; When Will Wall Street Start to Get Worried?]

JIM CRAMER: No, not at all. Frankly, Wall Street's very calm. The markets are looking pretty good today. We had a blip down in the indicators between 9:05 and about 9:20, then they came right back. No one's buying the panic, no one's buying the skyrocketing interest rates economic crisis scenario.

CURRY: That said, hedge funds are preparing for a default.

CRAMER: They're – look, there's a possibility that we could default. It will be short term. I'm urging people to stay the course. I think that we have to remember that we've had ups and downs every time since 1776, this will be no different. And I urge people not to panic, despite the President's call for things that would normally panic people.

CURRY: Chuck, I want to ask you this. Both sides have agreed to deep cuts. Is it fair to say that the big disagreement is on tax increases for the wealthy, specifically people earning more than $250,000 a year?

TODD: Well, there's two parts of the disagreement. Yes, that was the big disagreement at the end of when the – when Speaker Boehner walked away from the talks last Friday, right? That was the sticking point, which was this extra part of revenues. But there was some – they had come to an agreement on some tax revenues going up. On some taxes going up as you lower rates and do the tax code.

The current sticking point, the big difference between the Reid and the Boehner plan that's sitting in front of us today is this issue of another debt ceiling vote in nine months. And That was another point of the President's speech that he was trying to make, which is, 'Hey, this is not good for the economy to have this hanging over us for another nine months.'

CURRY: So bottom line, is it too late to reach a deal by August 2nd? You want to take this first, Jim?

CRAMER: I think, first of all, August 2nd is going to turn out to be a not that important date. I think you can manufacture dates. Those bills will get paid. Second, this idea that interest rates are going to skyrocket, mortgages, make it harder to go to college, it's just not panning out. That's the wrong tactic. It ain't happening.

CURRY: Okay, a lot of optimism from Jim Cramer, Chuck. What's your take?

TODD: Well, I can tell you this, I have talked to some House Republicans who say in order to get some of their folks on board on something that is a big deal, that would include tax hikes, they would have to actually see the default, and that's the issue here. And so that is – might explain why there is some – if you look at the President's strategy here, it's like, 'Look, if they see a default and they see these possibilities, then maybe they'll come to the table for the bigger deal.'

CURRY: Alright, Chuck Todd, Jim Cramer, thank you so much. Chuck, by the way, I have actually never seen you look this sleepy, and so I want to thank you for getting up this early in the morning because you were up late working.

TODD: Sleepy?

CURRY: Well, just – no, just because you look like you were up late watching a speech.

TODD: Ouch. Alright, thanks Ann.

[LAUGHTER]

CURRY: No, I'm trying to give you a little – it is now 7:09. Now here's Matt.

MATT LAUER: She means that in the best possible way, Chuck.

TODD: Thanks, Matt.

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