CNN's American Morning brought on liberal academic Jeffrey Sachs to analyze Speaker Boehner's jobs plan Friday. Instead of hosting a conservative critic of President Obama the morning after he unveiled his jobs plan, the network actually interviewed the President's economic policy assistant.
While Sachs went on-air and criticized the Republican plan as inherently flawed, Obama's director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling received a soft interview last Friday concerning the President's jobs plan. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor did appear on CNN shortly after that, but was pressed repeatedly about whether Republicans would compromise on the Obama's bill and was not asked to critique the President's plan.
Sachs, while not advertised as a liberal economist, was a self-professed Obama supporter in 2008. CNN's media critic Howard Kurtz identified Sachs as a "liberal academic" in a 2009 Washington Post column.
Sachs criticized both Obama's plan and Boehner's plan – although he saw the GOP plan as inherently flawed, while opining that the President's plan didn't go far enough. "The President talks a bit more about skills and infrastructure, but he wants a one-year plan," Sachs noted. "One-year tax cuts to be followed by tax increases later on. What's a one-year plan going to do?"
"So, the Democrats really do focus on a kind of gimmick of do something next year before the elections. The Republicans have a longer-term view, but a wrong one, in my view, which is just cut taxes," he noted."
Sachs also cast the Republicans and their corporate supporters as greedy, since the GOP wants to enact tax cuts for already wealthy businesses and corporations. "That's the problem with the opposition side. It's just greed at this point," said Sachs.
A transcript of the segment, which aired on September 16 at 6:39 a.m. EDT, is as follows:
CHRISTINE ROMANS: Let's talk about John Boehner's plan. I mean, less regulation and pro-growth policies, which we presume means tax cuts and not getting – smaller government in general. Is this the way to create jobs?
JEFFREY SACHS, international economist: I don't think that either side has it right. It's so sad they're arguing with each other viciously, actually, but neither side is focusing on some basic points. We have a lot of people, especially young people in this economy without the skills to be able to compete internationally. We've lost a lot of jobs abroad. We need better education, more training, the ability to mobilize technology to compete. Neither side is talking about that.
The Republican side just wants to cut taxes, give money to corporations but the corporations are filled with money now, but they don't want to invest in jobs in America. They're investing in jobs abroad. The President talks a bit more about skills and infrastructure, but he wants a one-year plan.
SACHS: One-year tax cuts to be followed by tax increases later on. What's a one-year plan going to do? So, the Democrats really do focus on a kind of gimmick of do something next year before the elections. The Republicans have a longer-term view, but a wrong one, in my view, which is just cut taxes. But that's not going to solve the structural problems that our country has.
ROMANS: But in this kind of political climate – I mean, real, meaningful tax reform, real, meaningful education reform, really focusing on retraining in a way that the right skills are given to the right people, that takes investments. I don't think you're going to – when can you ever see political unity on some of these big – these are big structural issues that need to be addressed.
SACHS: I think the sad part is that President Obama had that chance in 2009 when he –
ROMANS: When he did health care reform.
SACHS: He did health care reform but we never heard a longer term strategy and a budget that would go alongside it. So, he started with what I do agree – on the Republican critique, was a bit of a gimmick, that stimulus. One jolt and we're back.
But one jolt wasn't going to bring us back to competitiveness. The problem is that the opponents of this want an even worse gimmick, which is just cut taxes, give money to the rich, give money to the corporations. But if they look at what's really happening, it's not that the companies don't have money, they're filled with trillions -- billions and billions of dollars that are often tax havens, that are – they've already given the tax cuts. How rich can people be without saying, OK, we'll contribute something? That's the problem with the opposition side. It's just greed at this point.
ROMANS: And there's also just a lack of confidence. I mean, there's a lack of confidence from corporate CEOs who don't want to hire in this country because they don't see clarity, they say. And from Americans who are stressed. They don't have a job or they're afraid of losing their job and they're worried about their home value.
SACHS: These same CEOs are hiring, but abroad.
SACHS: And why is that? That's what we need to ask. Now, Republicans say it's because of regulation. But that's not really the change going on. When you ask a real business person, and I know from my own experience, because we hire people, also – finding skilled workers is the critical issue right now.
SACHS: Better skills, people with higher education, they're employed. The people with high school degrees only, they can't find jobs that keep them in the middle class. This is America's problem.