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Notes From the August 7, 2011 Broadcast of Meet The Press

August 7, 2011

Today’s broadcast began with Senator John Kerry (D-MA) reacting to the horrible loss of American lives in a helicopter shot down over Afghanistan. As we continue to withdraw troops, there is a real uncertainty about what we are leaving behind.

Later, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) added that President Obama’s decision to withdraw is not based on military advice and it will increase risk to our troops. He also said we should not condemn the Afghan people to Taliban rule.

On the Standard and Poor downgrade of the US credit rating, Kerry called it “the Tea Party downgrade” because there were much bigger deficit reduction deals on the table (deals which might have avoided the credit downgrade) but they were all rejected solely because the Tea Party would not accept them. He added that there were even some people in the Republican Party who actually wanted to default (“shoot the hostage”).

Kerry says that to grow the economy we need infrastructure programs, patent reform, regulatory reform, waste cutting, and more. And many of these things have bipartisan plans in the Senate ready to go.

McCain followed and he put more of the blame for a lackluster deal on the deficit and debt ceiling on the president. He suggests buying up and restructuring peoples’ mortgages as a way to provide some economic relief.

In the roundtable portion of the show, former federal reserve chairman Alan Greenspan predicts markets will go down this week due to the credit downgrade. But he says we should remember that the US can always pay its debts, even if it means just printing more money. He added that the real impact of the downgrade is a blow to America’s self-esteem.

Austan Goolsbee, the outgoing head of the president’s economic advisors, criticized Standard and Poor for their 2 trillion dollar mathematical error in the downgrade calculations. He also quoted Warren Buffet who said that if a AAAA credit rating existed, he would give it to the United States. Goolsbee said that, on the other hand, we just went through a month where some members of Congress said out loud that maybe it would be OK if the US defaulted. This is deeply unsettling and it contributed to the credit downgrade.

The comments by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Republican advisor Alex Castellanos showed how the right and left will spin the Standard and Poor’s downgrade statement. The right says this is even more evidence that we are spending too much. The left will say Standard and Poor explicitly said they were more spooked by the political failure of Washington, DC to compromise, the brinksmanship which toyed with default, than by the financial problems.

Goolsbee comes back to the things (mentioned earlier by Kerry) which seemed to have bipartisan support at some point and could help the economy. These include infrastructure, payroll tax cuts, patent reform, and more. Doing these things would not only help the economy, they would also send the message that DC really can do something.

Greenspan wraps up by saying there is no way to solve these problems which won’t cause pain.

A programming note… next week’s Meet The Press will be live from Ames, Iowa the morning after the Ames Straw Poll for Republican presidential candidates.

Today’s Meet The Press transcript will be here.

Also follow the show on the MTP Facebook page, track Twitter feeds from host David Gregory, Meet The Press, and Executive Producer Betsy Fischer, watch the midweek PressPass interview, and don’t forget Gregory’s blog.

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