Video: Emanuel: We must create jobs

  1. Transcript of: Emanuel: We must create jobs

    MR. GREGORY: Let's talk about the economy . And as the stimulus or recovery package takes shape, the era of big government is back in a big way. And I want to ask you about spending. We have put together a rather staggering chart of the federal bailout and stimulus spending since February of 2008 . The first stimulus , $168 billion; the money allocated for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac , 200 billion, only about 14 billion of that has been drawn down by Freddie Mac ; the bailout of AIG , the insurance company on Wall Street , 122.8 billion; the bailout money known as the TARP , you've now got the second half of that authorized, that's $700 billion, some of that for the auto, Bank of America , Citigroup ; the proposed stimulus -- or recovery plan , as you put it, $825 billion. That is $2 trillion from February of '08 and, if it's passed in the middle of February, to February of '09. Now, we wanted to put some of that in perspective here, in some context for the American people . In terms of the debt burden that Americans are going to facing, per household that's $17,000 worth of debt. That's an enormous burden on the backs of the American taxpayers.

    MR. EMANUEL: Yeah. Well, as you probably know, that there -- over the last decade, the last eight years there's been actually a -- there was a surplus at one time, and now we've added in the last eight years $4 trillion of debt to the nation's obligations. What you see here -- and the president has always said that we must have an approach to spending money differently and respect for the taxpayers' dollars, and do it in a more efficient way and in a different way. And most importantly, we must deal with the long-term challenges that face this country. So while he has talked about the need -- and everybody I think from economists on the left to economists on the right realize that we must make critical investments at this time. And yes, they'll add to our obligation. It has got to be coupled with a serious attack about putting our fiscal house in order. And for too long that hasn't happened. Challenges that needed to be met, responsibilities that needed to be met have not. So from the era -- from the area of, let's just say, in the defense area.

    MR. GREGORY: Hm.

    MR. EMANUEL: On an annual basis we have about $300 billion in cost overruns . That must be addressed, and we will be addressing it. Area of subsidies to corporate America , that must be addressed. And then also, dealing with the bigger obligations of health care costs and their -- and what they have done to the federal budget . So all of that must be done. But it is essential that -- and that's why it is so important to put the economic recovery act in place, that you must begin to invest in creating three and a half million jobs and make sure that America 's long-term economic competitiveness, that the things -- the foundations play.

    But here is what that chart can't tell you, that we have not yet approached to date in this economic crisis , the worst that we've ever had since the Depression , on a two-front basis; one, dealing with the financial stabilization fund to get credit flowing again and to get the system rolling again. Too many of those things you pointed to were dealing with institutions. What we have got to do and what we're going to approach the second dollars with that we just -- the Senate just approved,

    is an attempt to get banks again lending both to consumers and businesses. In addition to that, on the other side of the ledger is making sure people are going back to work, building this country and building up its new schools, its new infrastructure...

    MR. GREGORY: OK.

    MR. EMANUEL: ...it's new hospitals. So the economy is in such a state that you can't just approach it with one hand tied behind your back. Both things must be done simultaneously, and done well.

    MR. GREGORY: But Democrats were always critical of the Bush tax cuts , for instance, which were the first time that, that taxes were cut during a war. There's a $1.2 trillion deficit forecast for 2009 , as you well know. There's a political element to this as well, and that is that the president- elect campaigned on a middle class tax cut . Now, the projections are if this were to become permanent tax cut beyond two years that would be part of the stimulus , that could be a $710 billion tax cut at least, at least.

    MR. EMANUEL: Mm-hmm.

    MR. GREGORY: Is that the responsible thing to do on top of the debt burden that we talked about, on top of the deficit I just outlined?

    MR. EMANUEL: Look, first of all, let's be clear that the middle class didn't really participate in the tax cuts that you talked about in the last eight years; that they have worked harder, earned less and are paying more. And the middle class have the fundamental different approach .

    MR. GREGORY: Right.

    MR. EMANUEL: And that's the change we want to bring to Washington as president.

    MR. GREGORY: But an additional $700 billion?

    MR. EMANUEL: President Obama 's been very clear, you cannot have a strong economy that does not have a strong middle class . And the, the approach has been to provide the middle class with a tax cut , and also to start getting the economy moving again by making critical investments. That's why we want to create three and a half million jobs.

    MR. GREGORY: Right.

    MR. EMANUEL: The -- it is no doubt you have to couple it, which has been very clear, which is why the President-elect Obama has called for an -- a summit on fiscal responsibility to change the way we spend money, to do it in a more efficient way, to get rid of waste and fraud, but also to deal with the challenges that for too long have been kicked down the road.

    MR. GREGORY: Let's talk about spending. This is what the minority leader in the House , John Boehner , said on Thursday:"The plan released ... by congressional Democrats ... appears to be grounded in the flawed notion that we can simply borrow and spend our way back to prosperity." You have said that the top priority is jobs, jobs, jobs when it comes to the stimulus plan. This is

    what Jerry Lewis had to say. He was the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee , and this is what he found in this package, we'll put it on the screen:"Before we pass this Pelosi-Obey legislation," his release says, "the costliest in history, Congress has a duty to ask this basic question. ... Are these items ` stimulus '? Fifty million dollars in funding for the National Endowment of the Arts , $15.6 billion" increase in " Pell Grants , $200 million to `encourage electric vehicle technologies' in state and local government motor pools, 1.9 billion in funding for high level physics research, 650 million to extend the coupon program to allow analog TV owners to continue to watch TV ." One more."Four hundred million to the Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration for `habitat restoration.'" What do these expenditures have to do with creating jobs?

    MR. EMANUEL: Well, I'm -- David , I'm surprised that you would say that about college education , in this sense: you wouldn't be here and I wouldn't be here if a college education was not provided to us. And the Pell Grants , one of the things that -- the largest one you pointed to, helps people go to college. Now, is more -- is it -- important as it is to build our roads and bridges, our electric grid , our new health care IT so we can control costs, the ability to provide people the, the opportunity to go to college in a era where you earned what you learn is human capital investment.

    MR. GREGORY: Right.

    MR. EMANUEL: It's the most important thing.

    MR. GREGORY: That's an investment, though. Is that a shovel-ready job?

    MR. EMANUEL: No.

    MR. GREGORY: Is it a shovel-ready project that creates jobs?

    MR. EMANUEL: David , as you know, the president said very -- two things: create three and a half million jobs and lay the foundation for long-term economic competitiveness so America , when it comes out of this recession, is a stronger economy to lead the world. For too long critical investments in this country, both physical and human, have been denied. And the things that were pointed there, I do believe investing in our basic science research is good economic competitiveness and does create jobs today and lays the foundation for competitiveness. Investing in people, in their college education in a era where you're competing against people in China , India , money well spent. And those are critical areas . We hope everybody will go through it, identify things, will -- as the president said, "I welcome ideas, but what I will not challenge is the ability to produce three and a half million jobs." That's why this -- what's adjacent to this...

    MR. GREGORY: Rahm...

    MR. EMANUEL: ...and the, and the numbers you put up is -- the fact is that's economic plan and recovery plan does produce three and a half million jobs.

    MR. GREGORY: OK. But what do you say to critics who say under the guise of stimulus and job creation is really the Democratic social agenda?

    MR. EMANUEL: Well, it's very clear this is a, a balanced approach . It has critical investments in both energy independence , education and health care cost control, as well as making the essential investments to make sure the middle class also get a tax cut . And I think that is a good approach to getting this economy moving and laying the foundation for long-term competitive economic competitiveness. That's what this does. And what I find ironic, it just -- it's interesting, there are those who are now saying that, you know, it borrows too much. Not something we would want to do, but everybody agrees that economists say, both on the left and right, you must do something like this to get the economy moving. This is the worst challenge we are inheriting as a country...

    MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.

    MR. EMANUEL: ...the single worst economic crisis since the Great Depression , and that the way to deal with that is to do something that you wouldn't normally have to do, which is make big investments to get the economy moving. But I find it ironic, since one of the questions and the criticism about the deficit spending is coming from people who actually in a period of time in the last eight years were responsible for policies that left America farther behind in, in, in the sense of deep, deep red .

By Msnbc.com contributor
updated 1/18/2009 2:36:50 PM ET 2009-01-18T19:36:50

Just days before the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama, incoming White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel — usually an advocate of uncompromising Democratic principles — appeared on "Meet the Press" and spoke of bipartisanship and respect for the outgoing Republican administration.

When moderator David Gregory pressed Emanuel on the war on terror, the combative lawmaker refused to critique the sitting president, saying, "I have my views. I'm here to reflect the views of the president-elect."

Instead, Emanuel stressed respect for the Bush years. "I thanked everybody from the outgoing administration for their patriotism, their sense of public service and what they did for the country."

Emphasizing a simultaneous spend-and-save ideology, Emmanuel called on Congress to match credit stabilization in the consumer sector so that the average American could borrow from institutions again.

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Emanuel highlighted the opportunity, via the stimulus plan, to create millions of new jobs through infrastructure development, education and technology innovation. "Obama's been very clear, you cannot have a strong economy that does not have a strong middle class. The approach has been to provide the middle class with a tax cut, and also to start getting the economy moving again by making critical investments. That's why we want to create three and a half million jobs."

Gregory pushed Emanuel on a number of high-profile issues, including the appointment of Roland Burris to Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat.

As one of the people who spoke directly to Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on the subject of filling the seat, Emanuel said that neither the governor nor his former chief of staff asked explicitly, or implicitly, for political favors.

"As described in the document we made public, we talked in general about the right type of person that could serve as U.S. senator. Those are the conversations you would have with the chief of staff, and they're all the appropriate conversations."

Asked by Gregory if he thought Blagojevich was a corrupt individual, Emanuel said, "The state Senate in Illinois is now in the middle of their impeachment hearings. You have an ongoing investigation. That's what the grand jury and the jury is going to decide, if it goes to trial."

When asked by Gregory about his reputation as a bare-knuckle political fighter, the incoming chief of staff offered his own version of Barack Obama's popular campaign message. "Hopefully ... I can help change the tone in which we have policy debates," he said.  "You'll be the judge if I continue to be a better person than I was 20 years ago.”

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