Transcript: Thom Hartmann & Brian Hughes - Is it Obama's bad economy now...majority of Americans still say Bush to blame. August 29, 2011

Thom Hartmann: And greetings my friends, patriots, lovers of democracy, truth and justice, believers in peace, freedom and the American way, Thom Hartmann here with you. Broadcasting live on commercial stations from coast to coast, with, via Dow Global, on Pacifica Radio stations, non commercial stations all around the United States, Europe and Africa. On American Forces Radio all around the planet. On Free Speech TV as televised simulcast as television on Dish Network and DirecTV both satellite channels, welcome to our program.

Brian, actually there’s a lot going on, before I introduce Brian, there’s a lot going on in the news today that isn’t just about the hurricane that sort of happened in some places and sort of didn’t in others. And you know, I want to get into that as we go on through the day, in particular, Rick Perry’s most recent thoughts on social security, Michele Bachmann has a message to us from God, this is very interesting. The Islamophobia machine is running full tilt boogie. Darrell Issa is screaming that he has been defamed, let’s take a look at that. And so. Anyhow.

That and this idea that who’s responsible for this bad economy? Why is it that basically since 1981, ’80 or ’81 until today, while household income has gone up, it’s gone up in large part because two people are working in households. Individual income has stayed flat in fact over the last nine, ten years it’s actually gone down. What could be accounting for that? Brian Hughes on the line, he writes for the Washington Examiner, the Washington and Maryland politics reporter. The website,, which, Brian, you know I’ve, it comes to the TV station where I do the, the studio where I do the TV show in the evening and it looks to me like it’s a fairly conservative publication. Do you describe yourself that way?

Brian Hughes: Sure, I would say that on the commentary side, but now I cover the White House as a straight news reporter, so it’s right down the middle. But I appreciate your reading.

Thom Hartmann: Yeah. So you wrote a piece here saying “Many Americans still blame President George W. Bush for the dismal state of the economy, according to a poll released." You think, however, that Mr. Obama should take the blame. Do I take that right?

Brian Hughes: Well, no I wouldn’t say that. I would say the White House isn’t exactly doing back flips over the results of the poll as it notes more than 6 in 10 Americans say, you know, that they are unhappy with Mr. Obama, more specifically they say that he responsible, or not responsible, but that he’s not handling the economy in the right way. The silver lining to the White House in this however is although people are unhappy, when you ask them who is most responsible, more than half still blame President George W. Bush while less than a third say it’s President Obama is primarily to blame.

Thom Hartmann: And what I find most interesting, when you drill down to these statistics, and I don’t know about the details of this poll, but I’ve seen seven over the last eight or nine months that actually ask this question and that is what should be done to stimulate the economy and the vast majority, I mean we’re talking well over 60%, in some cases well over 70% of Americans, suggest that going back to some variation on Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. In other words, government hiring, putting money in people’s pockets, extending unemployment benefits, figure, even if you have to borrow to do it. Figuring out a way to get money into the hands of the real job creators, the people who go out and buy things, creating demand so that factories can be built to make that demand and people will be hired to fulfill that demand, that that’s the way to stimulate the economy. And somehow that always gets overlooked, particularly in the conservative press.

Brian Hughes: Well, you know, I think you’re going to see that message from President Obama around Labor Day when he releases his new job plan. It’s likely going to include things like funding for construction through an infrastructure bank, that type of thing. But I mean that’s the debate you’re going to see, it’s similar to what you saw with the debt ceiling. Republicans are going to say they don’t want to induce spending. You can attribute whatever you want to both the right and the left but you know that’s the message Obama will keep hammering in the weeks ahead.

Thom Hartmann: Is there, so you don’t want to get into an opinion style debate on this topic.

Brian Hughes: No, no.

Thom Hartmann: You want to hold your…

Brian Hughes: I’ll leave that up to you.

Thom Hartmann: You’ll hold your integrity as a straight down the middle news reporter. In that case…

Brian Hughes: I hate to disappoint.

Thom Hartmann: That’s quite all right. Is there any reporting in the Washington Examiner or any other publications, on the widely spread, you know wide spread belief, that I think has been exacerbated by several statements, Mitch McConnell has famously made but others have been made by people like Eric Canter and Paul Ryan less famously, that the republican game plan between now and 2012 is to prevent the president from doing anything that might stimulate the economy. Well Rick Perry came right out and said it would be treasonous if the fed did anything to stimulate the economy. Because basically they plan on running on a bad economy and they want it to be as bad as possible in November of 2012.

Brian Hughes: Well you know talking, I don’t know if I’d use that exact language, but talking to analysts, people here in town, they do openly question, you know, if republicans are unwilling to see ground on the verge of government default. Why they would all of a sudden compromise as it gets closer and closer to an election. I think you would find very few people who would say they’re all going to coalesce and sing Kumbayah around whatever Obama releases in about a week or so.

Thom Hartmann: Well I’m not even suggesting that. I’m, what I’m saying is that it certainly appears to me, and this is my opinion, that the game plan, the primary game plan, you know just like you know Reagan ran against Carter’s inability to get the hostages out of Iran, the game plan here is the inability of President Obama to get the unemployment rate below 8%. And you know the fact of the matter is we have 25, 24 excuse me, states with republican governors that have cut spending, cut taxes, seen an average 5/10 of a percent, half a percent drop in their GDP, and those 25 states have laid off almost a half a million employees. If that had not happened, unemployment right now would be 7.7%. So, and then you’ve got 25 states where non republican governors, or in some cases republican governors but not under republican control, where they’ve increased taxes, increased spending, they’ve seen their GDP go up an average of 6/10 of a percent, and there’s been no cuts in government workers. Had that been nationwide we’d have decent unemployment numbers. This is just, you know, looks to me like an organized republican strategy.

Brian Hughes: Yeah. I mean you could say a variety of things in terms of motive. Obviously as you get closer to 2012 they’re going to harp on the fact that Obama said with my stimulus package unemployment’s going to be below 8%, obviously we’re not seeing that.

Thom Hartmann: Actually he didn’t say that, he didn’t say that. He was, it was, two of his advisors said that.

Brian Hughes: Okay, well the Obama administration, the advisors, I was speaking vaguely. But …

Thom Hartmann: He never said that.

Brian Hughes: …advisors for President Obama. And the fact that you know President Obama said himself if I don’t turn this thing around I’m going to be a one term president.

Thom Hartmann: Yeah.

Brian Hughes: Those are things you’re likely to see them harping on. You can say they’re doing it for political reasons…

Thom Hartmann: But harping on it and causing it to happen are two different things.

Brian Hughes: Yeah, no, I would agree.

Thom Hartmann: And it looks to me like they’re trying to cause it to happen.

Brian Hughes: You know I’m not going to, you know, I’m sure they would resist that narrative and I’m not going to say they’re doing it one way or another. But…

Thom Hartmann: Right. How, you know you talk to republicans all the time. How do they rebut this suggestion that there’s never been an example in history of a country that cut it’s way to prosperity. There’s hundreds of examples that spent their way to prosperity. I mean we did in the 1950s after World War II for example. We had a debt that was 126% of GDP. You know, a 1/3 again larger than our debt right now. And we didn’t cut anything. Eisenhower went on a spending binge, you know the Eisenhower highway system, hospitals, schools, buildings, bridges, dams, and we grew3 our way out of it.

Brian Hughes: Yeah. They would counter that, you know, as the mid term elections showcase that, you know, especially with a lot of the freshman law makers that were sent to Washington directly with the imperative to cut spending and that you know it just wouldn’t make political sense for them to all of a sudden abandon that.

Thom Hartmann: Even at the risk of increasing joblessness.

Brian Hughes: Well, according, I’m sure they would dispute that, but according to those on the left, yeah, I guess you could say that.

Thom Hartmann: Okay. All right. Brian, thanks for dropping by.

Brian Hughes: Thanks for the time.

Thom Hartmann:, you can read Brian Hughes’ columns over there. And a fine publication it is. We’ll be back. I’ve got to tell you what Michele Bachmann is up to. It’s amazing. And Rick Perry, wow.

Transcribed by Suzanne Roberts, Portland Psychology Clinic.

Part 1 - Is Economic Disaster About to Hit & Are You Prepared?

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