Meet the Press   |  April 07, 2013

3: Roundtable tackles jobs and the economy

CNBC’s Jim Cramer, Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, GOP strategist Mike Murphy, Politico’s Maggie Haberman and NBC's Andrea Mitchell discuss the fight over taxes and spending in Washington.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we're back with the roundtable and jim cramer is here. great to have you in washington and to talk about the economy. let's look at the numbers here, the unemployment right now 7.6%, only 88,000 jobs created. you look at the context in terms of recent months, we have that chart as well. you have much fewer than we've seen. what's going on?

>> this is stunning. stunning. i think a lot of it had to zoo with fear mongering , remember we had peggy noonan on. the president did make people feel everything is going to shut down in the country because of the sequester. ceos were scared, the small business people held back, bankers would tell you that. only ben bernanke , fed chief, got this right. he seemed to understand that the k country's hiring is really coming back down.

>> but why? is it the sequester?

>> yes. it was fear that the sequester would cause massive layoffs. go back in time, a month ago, what was the rhetoric of the white house ? it was, look, this is a really big deal . everyone has to just stop and consider how bad this is going to be for the economy. the ceos have considered it and said, you know what, we have to hold back.

>> so what's happening with the consumer? is we know that the housing market is doing better. we know the stock market is going gangbusters. you look at those three things, what's holding back the animal spirit of economic recovery? had.

>> i think a lot of what we're worried about is just the sense that if we spend any money on commercial real estate , oil and gas had been going strong . that pulled back. these are the big projects. these are the things that put lots of people to work, and they're just not happening. i have to tell you when you speak with the bankers in this country, they all want to lend, they say they want to lend, but they're afraid they'll lose money on every loan. we know this economy is anemic. the only thing that's really helping is overseas money. people don't want to have their money in europe. rich people don't want their money in europe. japan this week, are people pulling all their money out of the local markets and coming here, and that's got to be harnessed.

>> and the debate about what the fed does now? the fed is not likely to change easing. it's going to keep its foot on the pedal here and make sure rates are low and that it's buying assets.

>> there was a parlor game about when the federal reserve chief will end this because the economy is so strong. only the fed chief seems to know that it isn't. if president obama wants to do something that would please wall street , please main street , please small and large businessmen, this week, reappoint ben bernanke . say he is our guy because he gets that there's very bad unemployment in this country. he has a heart, too. bernanke is an amazing man. he does not get enough credit.

>> what about the budget, mike murphy ? you heard lindsey graham say he see as grand bargain in our future. he's putting revenues on the table. how much of an effect does that have on the economy?

>> the psychology has been all wrong. the message of build a bunker is not how you change the psychology of a troubled economy. two things, i think. let the republicans keep pulling him right to spending cuts because that's the policy solution the country needs and i'll give him credit. he's read the clinton handbook and started to triangulate. a symbolic offer has begun. the more heat he takes on the left the closer he is to a real deal . that's a win for everybody. second, put the white house behind the keystone pipeline . no a.m. big ut. just go. those two messages that the president is going to become a fiscal center on energy policy .

>> there is a mixed message. if they are too tight on spending cut side they reinforce the problem jim cramer has diagnosed, at least, in terms of the sequester having frozen things up and also in the job number and jobs numbers month to month bounced around but the participation rate is at historic lows which means people are giving up long-term unemployment.

>> maggie , the other thing we know what the president wants is more spending.

>> right.

>> he'll talk about cuts but he wants more spending in infrastructure, to restore some of the education cuts. he wants to become a jobs president, let's not forget.

>> yes, that's correct.

>> we're talking hillary clinton , if she's coming off an obama administration where the jobless recovery is, in effect, taking place, that's not what she wants.

>> and that gets to a point i wanted to make before. i think if the economy does not turn around, i don't agree that hillary clinton is 100% running. if the economy is not great in two years, two and a half years, it's much less likely that she runs. it's harder to sell herself on that. that is a tougher road for her. i agree in terms of what the president wants, absolutely.

>> i think, david , if the president gets immigration reform and it looks like it might happen sooner than later, and he has come forth with a serious budget proposal angering his democratic base with by saying, you know, we're ready to look at medicare and social security reductions and cuts, and then saying that he is somebody that wants to bring people together, he's going to have a very good year, and it's going to be a good year for democrats. i see -- i'm out in new mexico, the economy is getting a little better, slowly. there's more confidence, better housing, more investment. and then hopefully we look at an energy policy which i think is desperately needed.

>> that's what you're shaking your head about as well. not shaking, you're nodding.

>> you want to put 60,000 people to work in this country in four weeks because these jobs are there, keystone pipeline . but this is a fossil fuels debate. why do i say the pipeline works? these pipelines have been the creators, the largest creators of jobs in the last four years. you may hate fossil fuel . you may think it's ridiculous to have it so that oil and gas are in charge of hiring in this country, but we've got tons of oil and gas in the wrong places. you put people to work on pipelines $60,000 is the minimum that you pay a pipeline worker, you put people to work all over this country. that's what needs to happen.

>> the bottom line question before, jim, as well, are we out of recession? are we in the midst of a real robust recovery?

>> we are in a profits recovery. you're going to start hearing companies report earnings beginning this week. many of the companies won't have great top line , won't do a lot of selling but because they're not hiring -- i'm doing a study right now of 30 stocks on the dow jones -- you are going to see negatives, literally they've done -- they had more people working four years ago than now. that's a big problem in the country. we need big business to bring the jobs back and one of the secrets is that oil and gas so cheap in this country that it pays to manufacture here, not in china, not in vietnam, not in thailand. bring the jobs back. the president has to help them.

>> if the president can inokay wait himself on the environmental movement because john kerry , who has sterling credentials with that movement, is the one who not only has to make this decision. this is a state department decision even though it will obviously come out of the white house . so kerry, if he's the one making this decision, it's tough for him, will at least help the president with that part of the debate.

>> unemployment thumbs so much better six months from now if they would say we have to make a bargain on fossil fuels .

>> he's heading to a legacy of economic failure. we've been in this for five years. but if he wants to have a great second term, the price, which i think is a small price, is to do what most pragmatic politicians do, lose your base and go big. energy, big fiscal deal, a lot of painful medicare cuts. the bottom line , the fiscal -- the entitlement reform is not a bargaining chip. he has to address that.

>> speaking of that, governor, he's meeting with republicans again this week. two weeks ago he met with a group of republican senators. he'll do it again. he'll want to, no doubt, talk about the budget. talk about immigration which is a budding deal and about guns. do you think there's anything to cutting the base loose?

>> no, he won't cut the base loose. i think the base really recognizes that the fiscal situation is a dominant issue in our country, and that we have got to find ways to not just reduce spending but deal with this entitlement reform. at the same time i think the president is going to move forward on an immigration bill which, you know, is economically a jobs driver.

>> true.

>> and so what we have here, i think, is a scenario where a grand bargain is possible. we reduce the deficit. i don't think the sequester, getting $85 billion out of the economy has been at least out in the hinter lands that devastating. it is the federal workers who were great, et cetera . i think a grand bargain, a successful second term in the offing, now some foreign policy initiatives, latin america , mexico, north korea , iran, i just think he tackles those and he's going to have a very strong second term.

>> maggie , the other thing coming to a head, of course, is the gun debate. i spoke to jim messina for press pass this week who ran his campaign, and he recognizes it would be a tough vote but he put both democrats and republicans on note for 2014 . here is a portion of what he said.

>> look, i understand there is real -- this is a tough political vote. i'm from montana. we're an organization that says we change the politics on the ground and say to members of congress, look, there's real support for these things and, david , there's a political price to be paid if you oppose it. i understand tough political votes in washington but, look, if i was a member of congress, i would not want to go home to my district and in 2014 election, defend voting against 90% of my constituents. david , what issue do you and i work on --

>> he's finishing up saying what issue do you get 90% approval on? is this a 2014 issue, democrats and republicans, depending on how they vote here?

>> i think it is absolutely and if the white house really wanted to move on this would have capitalized after newtown. there's a general feeling they missed their window.

>> is it missing the window or going for too much? the assault weapons ban , magazine clip ban.

>> dianne feinstein started playing that record, fast, one bullet, right the issue of the gun show loophole and background checks . they got greedy. when you win a big election, you get cocky and greedy. i think that's the mindset of the white house . the new chief of staff may be changing that. i think they blew an opportunity. they are looking -- maggie is right. they have trouble in 2014 in the senate. it's a different electorate. a lot of republican states. people like max baucus . you're not going to hear that spaech for baucus. and so they're looking for wedge votes. the so the debate may move back to politics.

>> do you see it passing?

>> at this stage they are at risk of not even getting the straw purchasing piece and the background check which is so surprising and the american people are so far in front of the legislators, this is the fact of redistricting and the fact that these are congress people for life and they don't feel