It's bad enough that the weekly Sunday political talk shows are dominated by Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats week after week, but we also get treated to the "reporters" on those shows spouting Republican talking points as well, as ABC's Jonathan Karl does here.
The entire segment was a mess with Christiane Amanpour cutting off Reich in the middle of trying to make some of his points on the need for more government spending to get our economy moving again and in the segment above, Karl scoffs at the notion there's any more that the government can do to stimulate the economy.
Alabama Senator Richard Shelby inadvertently explains what the real problem is, and that is the Republicans refusal to admit that economic stimulus does any good at all and there's no way they're going to allow the Congress to pass any, regardless of the obvious fact that more is needed, as Reich rightfully pointed out.
Transcript below the fold.
AMANPOUR: So that comedic set-up had you all laughing. What is the reality? Has one been hit by a truck? Is it a headwind? Let me ask you first. You've dealt with labor and -- and the job market. Is this cyclical? Or is this a real structural hole?
REICH: Christiane, the central problem is on the demand side. Seventy percent of the U.S. economy is consumers, and consumers are hit with the equivalent of a truck. I mean, their housing prices are dropping like mad. Their wages, adjusted for inflation, are dropping. Their jobs are disappearing, and almost everybody knows somebody or has somebody in their own family or themselves are worried about losing a job.
Under these circumstance, consumers are pulling in. They are not spending. And if they're not spending, then jobs are not going to be created. There has got to be -- in fact, the jobs program we need is a way of putting money back in people's pockets and creating jobs even directly is considered.
AMANPOUR: So we sort of know, but is there a plan -- is there a plan to get Americans back to work, not long term, but now?
SHELBY: Well, I believe that stimulus basically doesn't work, for the most part. We've tried that. I think what we've got to do is create the conditions, tax reform, which we could do and we haven't, incentives for manufacturing. We've lost millions of jobs in manufacturing. And say this a new day. We've got to do it. We've got to be buoyant about where we're going. We've got to grow this economy. The market grows the economy. Government -- we've grown the government, but we haven't grown the economy, and we better be mindful of that.
AMANPOUR: You're shaking your head. You know, obviously, the debate right now is about how much government intervention. Even people who don't want to see government intervene say that sometimes that's what a government has to do in an emergency.
REICH: Look, Christiane, I really -- I deeply respect the senator and the senator's position, but it's just sheer logic. When consumers and private-sector investors are pulling in because there is not enough economic activity, because consumers are scared, because consumers are 70 percent of the economy, then government has got to fill the gap. I mean, we've done this for the last 75 years.
KARL: But look what we've tried. I mean, look what the administration's tried. We've done $800-plus billion in economic stimulus. We've done tax cuts, the big, you know, tax cuts passed in December. And the Fed has kept interest rates at virtually nothing.
REICH: Yes, but there's...
KARL: And there aren't many tools left.
REICH: Look it, the scale of the crisis was much larger than anybody anticipated. This was the worst since the Great Depression. Exempt the first $20,000 of income from payroll taxes for the next year. Redo the bankruptcy code so people can declare bankruptcy on their primary residence and, therefore, have enormous bargaining leverage with their lenders if they are trouble. Have a WPA, a direct employment program.
KARL: But do you really think a new spending plan is going to pass muster in Congress? I mean...
AMANPOUR: It won't politically, will it?
SHELBY: First of all, no -- I don't believe any new stimulus is going to pass in Congress. I don't think it has any credibility. We have seen what the past stimulus did, for the most part. What we need to do is create some certainty, some conditions for people to invest, to grow, to have some confidence. There's not a lot of confidence in the economy right now all over America.