updated 2/23/2009 12:57:51 PM ET 2009-02-23T17:57:51

Happy Friday!

Hello everybody and welcome to the Shuster "Daily Briefing" for February 20, 2009.  This morning, I woke up to an astounding and frightening column in today's New York Times. Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman reported the minutes of the most recent Federal Reserve open markets committee meeting. Several members now believe we are headed towards a five year recession.

Can you imagine higher and higher unemployment rates for the next five years? Even in the Depression, when Roosevelt took over in 1933, his government spending efforts prompted unemployment to drop.  It was well above 20 percent in 1933 and then went down each year until 1937 when the government cut spending in an effort to balance the budget.

Anyway, if this recession continues for five years, we will be looking at 14 percent unemployment by 2014. And remember, our modern day unemployment figure doesn't count people who have stopped looking for jobs, or are working part-time and want to be working more.

Tonight, we will start with President Obama's guidance to our nation's mayors this morning at the White House.

They will soon receive the government stimulus funds. The President warned them to cut out the waste and to use the money as efficiently as possible. He also noted the new Web site that will enable citizens across the country to see where the money is supposed to go so they can keep a close watch on how everything is implemented. 

NBC White House Correspondent Chuck Todd will join us. He is reporting some sharp nervousness in the White House over the markets. The Dow dropped again today and is now at a level not seen in 11 years.

After Chuck, we will talk with Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. 

He is the author of "Common Wealth, Economics for a Crowded Planet."  Professor Sachs will give us the latest perspective on the economic problems our nation is facing. Are the economists at the Federal Reserve correct in their assessment about a potential five year recession? Sachs is one of the most reliable and trustworthy voices we know.

Also tonight, we will talk to one of the mayors who met with President Obama at the White House. 

David Cicilline is the Mayor of Providence, Rhode Island.  Nevermind the long term problem, Cicilline and his colleagues have a short term challenge in trying to inject these new government funds into their communities as quickly and efficiently as possible. Furthermore, a lot of people are worried about the potential for government corruption at the local level in all of this.

In our second block, we will revisit the awful cartoon this week by the New York Post. The Post has now issued a "conditional apology." It's causing even more alarm among people who were justifiably offended by the chimpanzee cartoon.  Cenk Uygur from the Huffington Post/Young Turks and Barathunde Thurston from will talk about this subject.

By the way, how many of you caught that interview we did last night with Heather Bennett , wife of Zimbabwe opposition party leader Roy Bennett?  Mr. Bennett has now been in jail 8 days and counting.  Today, there was more evidence that Zimbabwe's President/tyrant Robert Mugabe is treating a power sharing agreement as something to ignore and joke about.

In "Hypocrisy Watch" we are focused on a conservative group called "the American Issues Project."  They have an ad complaining about budget deficits and the size of the Obama spending on economic recovery.

Where were they when we were running up budget deficits under President Bush for things like the Iraq war?  Exactly.

In our back half, we will bring on a panel that features Chris Hayes, Nia-Malika Henderson, and Republican strategist Joe Watkins. There is a lot to digest tonight, including the economic news, President Clinton's advice to President Obama about showing "hope," and those GOP governors who are thinking about turning down the money allocated to them in the stimulus plan.

Thanks to all of you who are sending in your questions, suggestions, comments, story ideas, music recommendations, and etc. via Twitter.  We will be twittering during the show and posing some of your questions to our panel.  

"Quote of the Day" comes from  Thomas Edison:

"Be courageous. I have seen many depressions in business. Always America has emerged from these stronger and more prosperous. Be brave as your fathers before you. Have faith! Go forward! "

Thanks in advance for watching tonight.  "1600" airs each weeknight at 6 p.m. in Washington, D.C.; 5 p.m. in Chicago; 4 p.m. in Denver; and 3 p.m. in Los Angeles.



Discussion comments