THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; MONICA CROWLEY, SYNDICATED RADIO COMMENTATOR; KRISHNA GUHA, FINANCIAL TIMES TAPED: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2009 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF OCTOBER 17-18, 2009
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: The Bulls Are Running.
Really bullish. The Dow gored the great recession this week, climbing over the 10,000-point line. It's been a bull run since March, as the market soared 3,500-plus points in just seven months. This milestone brought glints of optimism in what has been the worst economic crisis since World War II. Other indicators are mixed, but on balance, bullish.
Banks. Good news: Big banks rebounding; JPMorgan, $3.6 billion in earnings, Bank of America up 400 percent, Citigroup up 375 percent. Less good news: Nearly 100 small banks have been rescued by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the FDIC, this year; hundreds still at risk. Unemployment. Good news: New jobless claims reached their lowest point since January. Less good news: Unemployment is at its highest in 26 years and is expected to break 10 percent.
Foreclosures. Good news: Down 4 percent in the last two months. Less good news: Foreclosures still way up from 12 months ago, 25 percent up.
Consumer spending. Good news: Up five-tenths of 1 percent for retail and food sales. Less good news: Consumer credit-card usage went down for the seventh straight month.
Question: The stock market rally, what's keeping the bulls running? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, the bears ran the market down more than 50 percent, from 14,000 to under 7,000, John. One of the reasons is the banks are doing well. The banks get money at zero percent from the Fed. They're doing a lot of trading. Their profits are high. And so it looks like they're doing well, John.
But, John, I happen to be one of the pessimists with regard to the market and where we're going. The reasons are these. People get no more money out of their homes borrowing. That's gone way down. You've mentioned all the foreclosures. Savings is at 7 percent of GDP, I believe, now. That's not going into consumption. And the unemployment rate, the real unemployment rate, if you take people out of work and underemployed, you're up to 16 or 17 percent.
Now, this is really good news in the market, but I'm one of those that's got my fingers crossed. I think we could hit the big W going back down.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In August, 76,000 homes were foreclosed on by the banks. In September, it was 88,000. Is that what you're talking about?
MR. BUCHANAN: That's what I'm talking about. And also there's no equity out there for people who used to go out and borrow on that and go in and buy the big-ticket items.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Well, Wall Street is feasting on taxpayer money. And there's a lot of anger and resentment in the country that the chieftains of Wall Street are doing well while working people are out of work. And Wall Street and corporations have discovered they can get along with a lot fewer people, and so the jobs are not coming back.
And the White House and Democrats are really worried about the midterm elections, because if they can't create jobs, that's an indictment on the Obama administration and a lot of Democrats. And so they're coming up with this crazy idea to send every senior $250 as an attempt to sort of buy off the seniors. They're not going to be bought off for $250. But it's the measure of the desperation in trying to recreate a new job structure for this country.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you going to get any optimism out of this rally?
MS. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, Eleanor is right that the primary reason why the Dow Jones is doing what it's doing is because of increased productivity. So many businesses cut back on personnel and inventory, down to the bare bones, that now they're starting to come back, but they have realized that through technology and these job cuts, they can have this productivity and drive up profits. I mean, their earnings were pretty much across the board relatively strong.
We are seeing some rebounds with the banks. But the banks also now still have significant problems. They are not lending. They are still weighed down by enormous defaults in mortgages, which is a direct result of the unemployment rate, consumer debt, credit cards, loans, college loans, car loans. All of these loans are increasingly defaulting. So the banks, while we've got some good news on that score, they still have a lot of problems ahead.
And when you look at the run-up in gold, John, the price of gold through the roof, setting record numbers here, it's because the dollar is so weak. And also it's a hedge against inflation. We might see, with all of this government spending, a $1.4 trillion budget deficit, that the ultimate result of this is going to be inflation. All of this is weighing on the economy.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The downsizing of personnel at corporations is 640,000 since January. What do you think of that?
MR. GUHA: Well, the difficulty here is these productivity drives that you're talking about just now that are helping to support profits and helping to push up the stock market are also, of course, meaning people losing their jobs, wages growing very slowly. And that's keeping consumption weak.
And the first leg of this recovery we can get through some government intervention. We can get through businesses building up some inventories again, some pickup in foreign demand. But if this thing is going to have legs, we need the U.S. consumer to come back at some point. As Pat was saying, you can no longer use your home as an ATM machine. The home equity has gone down. Banks are being much fussier about who they lend to. So it's going to have to come out of earnings. And household income is still pretty weak right now.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me ask you this, Krishna. Do you fear deflation? MR. GUHA: Much less than I did six months ago. I don't think we can completely rule it out at this point, but that's less of a concern than it was. The economy is growing again right now, and not just here; in other parts of the world too.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, the word deflationary would be more severe than inflationary, correct?
MR. GUHA: You know, deflation is a --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Prices go down.
MR. GUHA: -- (very difficult ?) trap, because you can't essentially cut interest rates low enough to catch up with the falling prices.
MR. BUCHANAN: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you found -- do you have any contemporaries in the economic sector who are journalizing to the effect -- there's a new word for you, Pat -- (laughter) -- journalizing to the effect that deflation is what is to be watched?
MR. BUCHANAN: No.
MR. GUHA: I don't think so. I think that was the big concern --
MR. BUCHANAN: Bernanke --
MR. GUHA: -- six months or so ago.
MR. BUCHANAN: Bernanke six months ago. Take a look at the price of gold, John. Actually, it's not at an all-time record. I mean, when it was at $800 before, it was worth much more. It's over $1,050 or $1,060 now. But that is saying that there's a warning of inflation. But the bond market, as we were talking here, the bond market and all these other things are not saying inflation. But the Fed's doubled the money supply out there.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why hasn't anybody saluted the stimulus bill of Barack Obama?
MR. BUCHANAN: Because no jobs have come back.
MS. CROWLEY: Right.
MR. GUHA: I actually happen to think, you know, that there is some evidence that government spending is supporting demand at present. I mean, you can see this in the sort of breakdown of the data provided by, you know, (BEA ?) and so forth.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They promised to create or keep 3.5 million jobs. So far it's about 35, what, million?
MS. CROWLEY: Thirty thousand, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Thirty-five thousand? But that doesn't include what we're getting from the states, at the state level. MS. CROWLEY: The whole point of the stimulus was to keep unemployment to 8 percent. We're now closing in on 10 percent. And when you look state by state, the three top states with the highest unemployment -- Michigan, Nevada and Rhode Island -- you know how many jobs were, quote, "saved" or retained? Four hundred in Michigan, 159 in Nevada and six in Rhode Island.
MS. CLIFT: Okay, this is -- excuse me -- this is very --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Twelve-point-eight percent unemployment in that jewel of a state, Rhode Island, where I come from.
Exit question --
MS. CLIFT: This is very hard -- this is very hard to measure. And there is another study that says they have saved a million jobs. But in fairness, since I slammed the idea of the $250 checks to seniors, the reason they're doing that in part is because this is the first time in 30 years that senior citizens will not have gotten a cost-of-living increase because of the fact that there's no inflation.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question --
MS. CLIFT: They need to look at --
MR. BUCHANAN: There's no rise in the cost of living.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does the Wall Street rally show that the U.S. is better poised for a resumption of growth than, say, the European Union?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, I think we're about -- I think we're almost last in line. The Chinese are rolling along. Maybe the Japanese are at about the same level as we are, John. But I don't think we're poised or we're that far forward in the queue.
MS. CLIFT: The European Union is ahead of us, but we should be grateful that there's still 60 percent of that stimulus money that was designed to kick in over two years. We're going to need every penny of it.
MS. CROWLEY: The European Union is ahead of us now because they stopped outrageous government spending and they stopped pushing in their own stimulus. Angela Merkel in Germany stopped it. The British now are putting the brakes on it. That's why they're growing. This is all about job creation. It's about moving back to the private sector and creating the economic environment for the private sector to create jobs --
MR. GUHA: You see how well that handoff works.
MS. CROWLEY: -- not the public sector. MR. GUHA: That's the big question moving forward.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what do you think? Do you think the EU is better off than we are, as far as recovery?
MR. GUHA: I think, in the long run, the U.S. still has advantages in terms of productivity, in terms of the deregulation, the dynamism of this economy, still outranks that of pretty much all the European economies. But getting out of this hole is going to be tricky. I wouldn't be surprised if, for periods in the next year or so, the U.S. at times looks like it's behind.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Krishna, you're right on the money, as is appropriate, being with the Financial Times. (Laughter.)
When Barack Obama said he would accept the Nobel Peace Prize, he pointed to the documents of the Founding Fathers.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) I also know that this prize reflects the kind of world that gives life to the promise of our founding documents.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two: The Monroe Doctrine.
(Videotaped clip of Marilyn Monroe singing "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend.")
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, not Marilyn Monroe -- James Monroe, the fifth president of the United States, 1817 to 1825. The Marilyn Monroe doctrine is "Diamonds are a girl's best friend." The James Monroe doctrine is "Beware of foreign entanglements." This echoes the warning of the first president, George Washington.
Well, if diamonds are a girl's best friend, then military global power must be America's best friend. In 39 countries, the number of U.S. military installations climbs to 820, with a worldwide dispersion of over 300,000 American soldiers. The total military budget this year exceeds half a trillion dollars, a figure that is greater than the total wealth of over 200 countries. Is that entanglement, entanglement writ large?
Question: Has American engagement in world affairs lurched into needless entanglement with, say, Afghanistan being a prime example? Eleanor Clift.
MS. CLIFT: I believe we got involved in Afghanistan because of somebody named Osama bin Laden and the attacks that were launched from there that basically were an act of war against 3,000 Americans. So I don't think you can lump Afghanistan under your heading here. And I would argue that going into Iraq was an unnecessary war and that President Bush did us an even worse favor by letting the war in Afghanistan drift for six years. And we are now engaged in that part of the world, rightfully so, because there are two powers there that have nuclear weapons and there is a staging area for jihadists and extremists that is a threat to this country and to many other countries. So I think legitimately we're there, not for humanitarian reasons but for legitimate national- security reasons.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hey, Monica, if Marilyn Monroe were alive today, would she pick gold over diamonds, krugerrands over De Beers?
MS. CROWLEY: I think -- no. And to even ask a woman that question, John, shows you know nothing about women. (Laughter.) Diamonds, always -- always.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Diamonds are faltering, but gold is way up there, as Pat Buchanan said.
MS. CROWLEY: Diamonds will never lose their value, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the issue at hand?
MS. CROWLEY: Well, look, the United States, from the very beginning of this country, has always been engaged in the world, starting from the engagement with the Barbary pirates in the Mediterranean under Thomas Jefferson, 1803, and certainly in the 20th century, when the United States had a great boom of military production --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of the military spread on over 800 installations?
MS. CROWLEY: Yes. Well, it's the United States' ability to project power around the world. And it's not just to defend United States' interests, which include the sea lanes, which include the Persian Gulf and the oil lanes and our oil interests around the world, but also to protect the interests of our allies around the world, which also rely on the United States for protection, including the Japanese, Western Europe, and so on.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Maybe World War II has a role here. What did Dwight Eisenhower warn the country against when he left office?
MR. BUCHANAN: Against an enlarged military-industrial complex.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Military-industrial complex.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, these -- yeah, these 800 bases -- you've got a very good point. This is the residue of the Cold War. When it ended, the Soviet Union tore down -- or let the wall come down, took their troops out of Central Europe, let the Soviet empire break apart, and we started moving NATO right into their backyard and their front porch.
But let me say this, John. You're wrong in your history there. Monroe Doctrine says to the Europeans, "Stay out of the Western Hemisphere, no more colonization." But his secretary of State, John Quincy Adams, said, relevant to your point, "America goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy."
Eleanor is dead right. The Iraq war was a war of intervention. It was a war of choice, as Obama said. It was an unnecessary war.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Has any contemporary presidential candidate took up the theme of avoiding unnecessary entanglements? For example, Ross Perot did. You did.
MR. BUCHANAN: Sure. It was the central part of my campaign. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who's the libertarian? Paul did. Ron Paul did. The three of you.
MR. BUCHANAN: Paul did. But, John, the empire is coming down.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Isn't that the mood of the country right now, as you perceive it?
MR. GUHA: Well, but the tricky thing is, whether we like it or not, we live in a globalized world today, where some guy --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, are we the world policeman? Are we the world bully?
MR. GUHA: But some guy plotting out in Pakistan or in Afghanistan, with access to the Internet, who can download information about the U.S. --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you ever hear of the phrase --
MR. GUHA: -- they can pose a threat.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you ever hear of Henry Kissinger's phrase "the sphere of influence," which he adopted from, I think, a German tribunal -- "the sphere of influence"?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, the sphere of influence --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We have a sphere of influence in the United States. Is it worldwide?
MR. BUCHANAN: No.
MS. CROWLEY: Yes.
MR. BUCHANAN: No.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where is Obama on this whole issue? MR. GUHA: But one thing you have to remember is that for a long time the dominant power in the world has taken on the responsibility for, if you like, policing the global --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think we are the world's only superpower?
MR. GUHA: This is what Great Britain did.
MS. CLIFT: No.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think we're the world's only superpower today?
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, we're the world's sheriff, John.
MR. GUHA: Today that is true.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Today?
MR. BUCHANAN: We are. But here's what's coming, John. You're right here, and economics is going to dictate it. The United States is not going to extend NATO any further. They've taken down the missiles. We're coming out of Korea. The United States is in a long retreat from empire. It has just begun. We're coming out of Iraq. And eventually we're going to come out of Afghanistan.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Is the era of American engagement -- some would say American entanglement -- across the globe drawing to an end? Yes or no.
MR. BUCHANAN: There's no doubt American power is starting to recede for economic, military, diplomatic reasons.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about for reasons of consolidation?
MR. BUCHANAN: Look, we --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about thinking in terms of the hemisphere?
MR. BUCHANAN: We don't need to defend all of Europe anymore. Let them defend themselves.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There you go.
MS. CLIFT: We may be reducing the number of troops in Europe, but American intervention, from a diplomatic point of view and an economic point of view, continues to be unparalleled.
MR. GUHA: Maybe what we can --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to hear from --
MR. GUHA: -- (inaudible) -- focus on where the challenges are rather than just be everywhere, right? MS. CROWLEY: Well, look, American strength -- there's such thing as Pax Americana for a reason. American strength is the best deterrence to violence and chaos in the world. American weakness is the best invitation to those things. I do not think we're seeing the kind of retrenchment that Pat is talking about. There are other powers that, relative to us, are gaining in terms of economy, military strength. But the United States remains the global superpower --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the mood of the country?
MS. CROWLEY: -- on which all freedom-loving people are relying, John, to keep relative peace and stability.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's no sign in either the Democratic or the Republican Party that either leadership is thinking in terms of retrenchment.
But where is the country?
MR. BUCHANAN: The country is very much in favor of it.
MS. CROWLEY: The country --
MS. CLIFT: The country doesn't want to spend --
MR. BUCHANAN: The country is in favor of it, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The country is concerned about --
MS. CLIFT: -- more lives and resources.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- overextension.
Issue Three: A Matter of Fat.
ANNOUNCER: (From videotape.) If you didn't pay your taxes, ignored ethics laws, would you get away with it?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Democratic Governor Jon Corzine of New Jersey is running for re-election. Corzine has been trailing Republican challenger and former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie through most of the year. New Jersey has had a tough economic winter -- unemployment 10 percent, the highest in 33 years; budget deficit, $8 billion; property taxes, steep and unpopular. That grim readout hurt Corzine's efforts at a second term. So Governor Corzine took the fight right to Christie with ads that some say focus too much on Christie's physique and on his (avoir du foie ?).
ANNOUNCER: (From videotape.) And even though it is required, under federal and state laws, Christie never reported the loan. Christie threw his weight around as U.S. attorney and got off easy.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about that language, Governor, "Christie throws his weight around"?
(Begin videotaped segment.)
NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR JON CORZINE (D): And when I went through my business career, people who flashed their credentials or used their offices to accomplish something, people said people threw their weight around.
Q Do you think Chris Christie is fat?
GOV. CORZINE: Am I bald?
(End videotaped segment.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What does Chris Christie think about the Corzine ad?
CHRIS CHRISTIE (New Jersey Republican gubernatorial candidate): (From videotape.) Listen, it's silly. But if you had Jon Corzine's record, you'd want to talk about anything but that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are the ads working? Well, a recent poll found that nearly 20 percent of voters said they were less likely to vote for Christie because of his weight, and the race is now a dead heat.
Exit question, since we're out of time: Will President Obama's campaign appearance in New Jersey next week turn the tables in favor of Corzine? Yes or no. And what do you think of the ad? Is it okay? Quickly, Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I think the people judge the ad. It seems to me a little crude, but I think people can judge that. But I do think this. Christie's problem, John, is not so much Corzine, who I don't think can get 51, 52 percent of the vote. There's a third-party anti-tax candidate in there who is siphoning off thousands of votes, which could cost Christie the election.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you see that statistic in there? Twenty percent of the New Jerseyites say they would vote against the opposition --
MS. CROWLEY: Christie.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- Christie by reason of his (avoir du foie ?). What do you think of that?
MS. CLIFT: Well, that is a very small percentage. I think it was 1 percent.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Twenty percent.
MS. CLIFT: Twenty? All right. Well, Corzine has succeeded in making Christie less appealing than himself, and I suspect he will win with the help of the president.
MR. GUHA: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Krishna. MS. CROWLEY: Well, you know what? Given the obesity rate in this country, I'm not sure it's wise politically for any candidate to pick on any other candidate's weight.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Obama going to help him?
MS. CROWLEY: No, Obama's not going to help him. Corzine is over 50 percent job disapproval, and people just don't like him. He is getting the benefit of that third-party candidate.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Krishna.
MR. GUHA: It would be good to have some serious debate about the state of the state's public finances, for instance, and what policies they have, what plans, if any, they've got to actually restore some job growth in that state. They've all been trivializing it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Corzine's going to win? The election is this November.
MR. GUHA: I'm not a political pundit. I can't tell you who's going to win. But I'd like to see some serious answers about getting the state back to work.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Four: Here's to Your Health.
SENATOR MAX BAUCUS (D-MT): (From videotape.) Americans want a balanced plan that takes the best ideas from both sides.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Congress's health-insurance reform efforts crossed a threshold this week. The Senate Finance Committee approved legislation called America's Healthy Future Act with a vote of 14-9. The act is also called the Baucus bill, so named for committee Chairman Max Baucus. The act is budgeted, over the next 10 years, at $829 billion. The bill is intended to expand insurance coverage to 29 million Americans.
Question: President Obama wanted this legislation voted out of the committee before the August recess. Has it cost him precious momentum to have to wait until mid-October? I ask you, Monica.
MS. CROWLEY: Yes, it has, because the longer period of time goes by, the more the American people understand what's actually being debated here, the more they are opposed to it. Fifty-seven percent of independents are now opposed to Obamacare. And 63 percent of senior citizens, which is the Democrats' biggest voting base, is now opposed to it. So the time lag has not been friendly to Obamacare. Will he get something? Yeah. But this is only the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor. MS. CLIFT: Well, wherever it is on your logarithm there, there is a sense of inevitability about this legislation. And Obama will be the first president in really 100 years to get health-care reform to this point. Presidents since Teddy Roosevelt have been trying to do it. So I think it's quite an achievement.
There's still a lot of compromising left. And it's been a chess game up to this point, with moves and countermoves, and the pieces have advanced very slowly -- too slowly. It's now a game of dominos. You've got to get this legislation -- and Olympia Snowe brings this number of people with her, and Joe Lieberman, and he brings --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, wait a minute now.
MR. BUCHANAN: Let me just --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That sounds logarithmic.
MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) Whatever the word is, it's looking good.
MR. BUCHANAN: Let me dissent from that. Here's the problem. This is not the Baucus bill. This is the Olympia Snowe bill. If she walks, they don't have 60 senators.
Now, what's going to happen is the liberal wing of the Democratic Party wants to put the public option back in and she says no. The Republicans have got a fixed target there that looks like a tax-cost bill. They're going to be hammering for weeks.
The insurance companies have bailed out. McEntee's union --
MS. CLIFT: They're a wonderful target, Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: But the point is, Eleanor, real hammering this thing, it could break --
MR. GUHA: There are some essential elements in this plan that really can't be compromised without breaking the entire -- particularly the finances. If you lose the tax on the Cadillac plans, this thing blows the budget. And there are a lot of unions who don't like that because it hits their health plans. If you keep cutting down on the forfeit for people who don't take out insurance, then the insurance pools are screwed, because only the sick people come in --
MS. CROWLEY: That's right.
MR. GUHA: -- and not the healthy people.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Cadillac plan is the upscale insurance health program.
Okay, the question of cost. The Baucus bill would slash the budget deficit over 10 years by $81 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. But that estimate is implausible, says Stephen Moore, senior economics writer for The Wall Street Journal's editorial page.
STEPHEN MOORE (Wall Street Journal): (From videotape.) You have to really suspend any sense of disbelief to think that we can create an $800 billion new entitlement program for health care, cover 20 million more Americans with a government-run system, and that somehow that's going to save money.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are there examples of government-operated programs that failed to be as thrifty as they were projected to be when they were adopted?
MR. MOORE: (From videotape.) How about Medicare and Medicaid? When those were first created in 1967, they were supposed to cost literally about one-tenth of what they cost today. MR. BUCHANAN: He's wrong. It was 1965. I remember writing editorials against it, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of the bloating of those bills.
MR. BUCHANAN: Here's the way they pay for it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does the government handle anything that doesn't go up enormously?
MR. BUCHANAN: They way they're paying for it in 10 years, John, is this. They're going to start -- the costs and the tax, all of the rest of it, starts right away, and the benefits are pushed down the road a little bit, which is bad politics, but it gets them to the 10- year line. This is another problem; this thing is going to be hammered.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, I want to ask you a question. The Republicans see this bill as the beginning of a long trail, and it's a trap. It's a trap laid out by the Democrats, and there have been warnings against it. Here's one.
SEN. PAT ROBERTS (R-KS): (From videotape.) We are riding hell for leather into a health-care box canyon full of spending quicksand, cactus tax hikes, policy briar patches, complete with CMS regulatory scorpions, rattlesnakes and bad-news bears.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He has a whole list, Pat Roberts does, of no purple prose, listing of the problems that's going to be created by this bill. Is it going to be endless?
MS. CLIFT: Substitute the word "government" for "insurance companies." The insurance companies are doing all of that now. The current system is unsustainable, both from a monetary standpoint and from a moral standpoint.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: Copenhagen summit in December on the environment -- a failure.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: There will be Republican votes for health-care reform on final passage -- more than one.
MS. CROWLEY: The U.S. Navy will move to allow women to serve on submarines.
MR. GUHA: The stock market's going to take a breather for a little while. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Vienna conference on this Monday will show that Iran will cooperate on not making the nuclear bomb.
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