Uygur preceded this statement with a rant on how ridiculous it is for Obama to express concern about the ever-growing deficit when "60 percent of Americans favor additional government spending to create jobs and stimulate the economy." Uygur and liberal guest Ryan Grim of “The Huffington Post” could not understand President Obama's rationale for focusing on deficit concerns.
Grim argued that, "when people say they are concerned about the deficit" they are just really saying that, "they are nervous about the economy. That's all they mean. So if you solve the economic problems, you're going to solve the deficit concerns."
Of course, Uygur and Grim agreed that the only way to improve the economy was for the president to spend more, neglecting the fact that President Obama has already spent some $3.5 trillion in his first year in office, which more than exceeds any other first-year president.
If Obama were a truly fiscally responsible statesman, he would recognize that our nation has a spending problem. However, with unemployment close to double digits, and in need of a scapegoat, the hosts at MSNBC are growing restless, asking, "when will our president stop adopting Republican talking points and start giving us real change instead of pocket change?"
A transcript of the July 7, 2010, segment is available here:
CENK UYGUR: Concentrating on the deficits, I didn't realize we voted for a Republican president. Obama seems to have bought into the Republican talking point on deficits when Americans are definitely more concerned with jobs right now. Polls show that the public wants more government spending, not less. According to the recent "USA today"/Gallup poll, 60% of Americans favor additional government spending to create jobs and stimulate the economy. The only people who oppose more stimulus spending by the government, Republicans. Once again, I thought they lost the election. Why are they still in charge in D.C.? In all, the federal budget deficit comes in fourth in terms of the most important problem facing the country behind the economy and jobs, the oil spill in the gulf and health care. Only 5% say that the deficit is our biggest problem. Why is Obama in that 5%? Yet 14 out of the 18 people on the president's deficit commission are fiscal conservatives. Why? Why did a Democratic president stack his commission with conservatives? Because Obama loves giving them the queen. He's like a chess player who gives his opponent his most important piece in the beginning of the game in an attempt to get the other player to like him. I'm not much of a chess player but I don't think that's a winning strategy. Obama did the same exact thing with offshore drilling. Before negotiations really began, he conceded that had we should drill, baby, drill and then BP oil disaster happened in the gulf, so instead of being on the winning side of the issue, he was on the losing side because he had conceded to the GOP position before the fight even began. Does that seem smart or strategic now? So when will our president stop adopting Republican talking points and start giving us real change instead of pocket change? Joining us now is Ryan Grim, senior congressional correspondent for "The Huffington Post" who penned an article called "Mayberry Machiavelli's" on the president's political team and their economic recovery strategy. Ryan, thanks for joining us today.
RYAN GRIM: Thanks for having me.
UYGUR: Ryan, first, how has Obama stacked the commission with conservatives? Are we sure that it's true? Because that seems so unbelievable. Why would he do that?
GRIM: Well, Firedog Lake, the liberal blog, has done an excellent job of going through the backgrounds all these 18 commissioners and the ones where we have some idea of where their politics are fiscally, they are very hawkish. Even the Democrats who you have on there. You have John Spratt from the House, Kent Conrad from the Senate side. You even have the - the CEO of Honeywell. Why would you have the CEO of Honeywell on a commission overseeing how you're going to do public spending? They get billions and billions of federal dollars in order to prop up their company, so they are in direct competition with seniors for federal money, and so you're going to put - you're going to put the CEO of Honeywell on this commission to decide our federal policy is towards spending that. That doesn't make any sense if you're coming from a progressive perspective.
UYGUR: Well, I hear you on that...That's what I was saying in the beginning. Help me answer the question. Why is he doing it?
GRIM: It seems like the administration's political team has bought into the idea that deficit concerns are going to really damage Democrats in the mid-term. That's the only explanation that I can come up with, that they think that they have to address these deficit fears or else they are going to get whipped out. But, you know, the story that I wrote yesterday, analyzed a lot of the polling data, and when people say they are concerned about the deficit, they don't really mean that you should, you know, shovel - cut Social Security for seniors and shovel money to Honeywell. They don't mean you should lay off fire fighters or teachers or cops. You won't get credit for that. Deficit concerns are actually kind of a proxy for a general anxiety about American decline, about joblessness and about the economy in general, so when people say are you concerned about the deficit? When they say yes, on one hand and they are answering because it almost feels weird to say you're not concerned about the deficit.
UYGUR: I hear you on that, Ryan, but, look-
GRIM: On the other hand, they are saying they are nervous about the economy. That's all they mean. So if you solve the economic problems, you're going to solve the deficit concerns.
UYGUR: I understand. What I can't understand is why they can't read polls, but apparently maybe they can. Let me give you two quick quotes from David Axelrod. As you pointed out in your piece, He said I've made the point that as a matter of policy and as a matter of politics we need to focus on this, referring to the deficit, and the president certainly agrees with it. That's what he said now. Look at the quote he gave earlier. I'm very much allied with the economic group on stimulus and job creation because even as a political matter it would be very shortsighted to take steps that would send us backward. Why did Axelrod flip-flop and think all of a sudden it's a bad political and policy idea to do job stimulus in the middle of this enormous problem with jobs and go in the other direction?
GRIM: Right. That's the bizarre part because he clearly recognizes that you don't solve the economic problem that you're going to get wiped out politically, so he recognizes that. He still gives the - you know, he still says, look, we need to handle the deficit and still highlights these deficit concerns, and the very act of highlighting fears about the deficit undermines the effort to stimulate the economy. So you - it's almost like a doesn't matter if he believes that there should be more government spending to get the economy going if he's also going to say that we have all this, you know, that we have problems with the deficit because saying that have you problems with the deficit undermines your ability to get - to get money through Congress.
UYGUR: Yeah. It's a terrible idea. David Axelrod was right in the beginning, not at the end or not currently. All right. Ryan Grim from "The Huffington Post," thanks so much for joining us.
GRIM: Thanks for having me.