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The McLaughlin Group
Host: John McLaughlin
Panel: Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist; Eleanor Clift, Newsweek; Rich Lowry, National Review; Mort Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report
Taped: Friday, July 22, 2012
Broadcast: Weekend of July 23-24, 2012
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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
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JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Bleak Bernanke.

BEN BERNANKE (Federal Reserve Board chairman): (From videotape.) We are looking very carefully at the economy, trying to judge whether or not the loss of momentum we've seen recently is enduring and whether or not the economy is likely to continue to make progress.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, in his Senate testimony this week, sketched a gloomy outlook for the U.S. economy. The chairman offered no hint of further government money.

Here are the economic stats. Item: Unemployment, 8.2 percent last month and over 8 percent for the last three and a half years. Item: Job growth slows from 226,000 per month, January through March, to 75,000 per month, April through June. Item: The Eurozone crisis, which Barron's Weekly says should be resolved by this formula: One dollar should equal one Euro.

Chairman Bernanke chided Congress for failure to act on fiscal policy. He warned that without help from Congress, we would face a double-dip recession, with 1.25 million fewer jobs created next year.

Question: How grim is the economic news and the economic forecast? Pat Buchanan.

PAT BUCHANAN: It's grim, John. The American economy looks like it is headed into a stall, as does the Europeans. And look what we've done to try to get it moving over four years. I mean, the Fed has tripled the money supply. It's refinanced the banks. It's zero interest rates. You've got the stimulus package and, what, four straight trillion-dollar deficits to pump it up, and it's still not moving. And it's not moving in Europe.

And John, it's hard to know what is going to get it going, because -- and also I think we're headed for the fiscal cliff in January. There just is no good news right out there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

ELEANOR CLIFT: Well, it's a global phenomenon. It's not just Barack Obama and his policies. I mean, I think this is something that all economies are facing. And I think Bernanke's prognosis is very grim. I think the best that we can hope for over the next few months, it appears, is if it just doesn't continue to get worse, if it just kind of holds its own. And that's not very cheery news.

And I thought Bernanke's message to the Congress really was please do your job. The fiscal cliff is a man-made phenomenon. They don't have to go over the fiscal cliff. They can raise the debt ceiling. His message was do your job. And I don't know whether that's going to get through. You would think saner heads would prevail. And we will have an election. Somebody will win. There will be a lame-duck session, and that will be an opportunity to confront some of these issues. But it's not good news for the American people in the months going forward.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Rich.

RICH LOWRY: I think all that's absolutely right. I mean, he said unemployment is going to be 7 percent or above by the end of 2014, which is an astonishing number. And it was basically a cry to help to Congress. He basically said we've done all that we can.

Now, there might be a little more tricks in his bag, but Congress should avoid the fiscal cliff. If we don't, there'll be a recession and about a million fewer jobs than would be projected, which is a sign to me Congress should get together right now and extend all the Bush tax cuts for another year. And doing the Patty Murray plan of letting them all expire would be fiscal insanity.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MORT ZUCKERMAN: Well, the economy is very weak. I mean, all of the major numbers in the economy have really rolled over. They've really tilted. And the economy now is much weaker than anybody expected, given the fact that we have $5 trillion in total fiscal stimulus, the lowest monetary rates we've ever had, the most fiscal stimulative monetary policy, and it's still not working.

So something fundamental is wrong in the economy. Frankly, a lot of it is because we have too much debt. And there's still deleveraging going on, particularly for the American family. They've lost 40 percent of their equity in their homes, which is a huge number. We've never seen that kind of a number except for the Great Depression.

And the policies that we have followed simply were not properly structured, in my judgment, to do whatever we could. Nevertheless, we are where we are. We have to do something, because we face the problem of a long, long period of a very, very weak economy.

MS. CLIFT: Well, both --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Chairman Bernanke says there's no more money the government's going to give out, no more stimuli.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, he's saying -- what he's saying is the
Fed aren't going to do anything more, but there's very little that they can do. At this point they've got the lowest interest rates we've ever had, and not just short term but long term. Interest rates are phenomenal, but it's not stimulating the economy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was there something wrong in the way he gave the money out or the amount that he gave out?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I don't think -- I don't think anybody faults the Fed with the monetary policy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean for TARP and the stimuli.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah. The real question is, could we do things at the level of the federal government? I'll give you a few of them. We should have put a lot more money into infrastructure, which, A, is a real asset that will help the economy. We should put a lot more money into -- well, two things.

One is we should --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you mean by infrastructure?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Infrastructure is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean highways --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Highways.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- sewers and so forth?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right -- bridges; our whole --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why didn't he do that?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't know.

MS. CLIFT: Well, we could still do that, but there's political --

MR. LOWRY: Because --

MS. CLIFT: There's political paralysis. There's a jobs act up on the Hill that they're not passing. There's an infrastructure bank they're not passing. We're at political gridlock, and both sides are looking for advantage here. And Rich is saying, oh, just go ahead and extend all the Bush tax cuts. That's not going to happen, Rich. (Laughs.)
And what the Republicans can't stand is that Patty Murray has actually come up with a very clever idea. The Bush tax cuts expire at the end of this year, and they're scheduled to do that. Then you free the Republicans of their --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.

MR. LOWRY: So after all --

MS. CLIFT: -- promise to never raise taxes.

MR. LOWRY: So after all the wailing --

MS. CLIFT: And you come back -- excuse me -- and you come back in January and you cut taxes --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let Rich in.

MS. CLIFT: -- for the middle class.

MR. LOWRY: After all the --

MS. CLIFT: And the --

MR. LOWRY: OK, we got it.

MS. CLIFT: -- clouds part and the sun comes out.

MR. LOWRY: We got it, yeah.

After all the wailing and shouting over the fight over the debt limit, how Republicans are supposedly holding the economy hostage, here you have liberals and Democrats turning right around and saying what we need to do is hold the economy hostage to a tactic that Ben Bernanke says would throw us into a recession.

MS. CLIFT: No, he didn't.

MR. LOWRY: And that's where you're at.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, note the pronunciation.

MS. CLIFT: He learned the lesson.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Note the pronunciation: LIBOR pains.
(Pronounces it "LEE-BOR.")

MR. BERNANKE: (From videotape.) The LIBOR system is structurally flawed. I would like to see additional reforms to the LIBOR process, assuming that LIBOR will continue to be a benchmark for financial contracts.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: L-I-B-O-R -- an acronym. It stands for London Interbank Offered Rate, L-I-B-O-R. The LIBOR rate is calculated daily. That rate becomes the standard interest rate -- the London Interbank Offered Rate, L-I-B-O-R. LIBOR adopted by banks worldwide.

The U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee is now investigating whether banks distorted LIBOR's key rate. The committee is noting that three Barclays top executives have already resigned for manipulating the rate. Barclays was fined -- get this -- $450 million and has agreed to pay to settle the rate manipulation accusation.

Successful manipulation of LIBOR would reach down into student loans, mortgages, financial derivatives, all of which rely on LIBOR as the safe and operative rate.
Why is the head of the Fed refusing to sign on to what I pronounce as LIBOR? The rest of the world, I guess, pronounces it LIBOR. (Pronounces it "LIE-BOR.")

MR. LOWRY: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm not moving. I'm not budging.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I understand.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'd like to see the rest of the world prove that it's LIBOR. (Pronounces it "LIE-BOR.")

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.

MR. LOWRY: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But to get on to this, what about this LIBOR? What about it? This is a place where the banks are supposed to go so that they're not at odds with each other on interest rates, which can be used to -- believe it or not -- corrupt each other.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I don't know anything about LIBOR (pronounces it "LEE-BOR"), but let me talk to you about LIBOR (pronounces it "LIE-BOR"), if I may. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, please do.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: You have a real issue here. The banks get together and they agree on what is the rate on the basis of which every other bit of financing is priced. So, for example, my company did a bond issue recently, and it was based on, say, 125 basis points or one and a quarter percent above LIBOR for that period of time. They measure it for 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, six months, a year, two years, three years. And everything gets priced off of that.
So the real issue is, now we find out they've been manipulating this for several reasons. One of them is they're actually hedging. In effect, they're gambling on where interest rates are going to be. And so if they want the interest rates to go up, they frankly play around with what the LIBOR is. And if they want it go down, they play around in a different way. So that's going to be a huge scandal.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. Are the banks playing with each other?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes. The people -- the banks were playing with each other.

I don't know how many banks were involved, but a number of them were. Barclays was one. It wasn't the only one. The question is, who was involved with it and who knew about it?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, now --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: So you have --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- Bernanke has taken a position for the United States with regard to LIBOR -- you say LIBOR -- with regard to this institution, OK? He says we're not going to sign on. We're not going to be bound by it. Because of what?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, because he doesn't want to have the interest rate -- whole interest-rate structure of the United States fixed by a group of people in London who fix these rates, and fix them for their own personal purposes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, how can he integrate us into the institution of LIBOR/LIBOR? How can he do that if he wants to, you know, take this hallowed course, this sacred course?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The market will determine what interest rates are, OK? They have been using that as a reference point. There's just going to be another reference point, which is probably going to be where the market in the United States is actually trading.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Well, I don't have a company that's done a recent bond offering, so I don't have first-hand knowledge of this.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Your day will come.

MS. CLIFT: And I found -- I found this quite complicated to understand, but I figured out it's actually quite easy. The traders colluded with the bankers and they adjusted the interest rates so that the traders would make more money and the bankers would make more money. And the people who lost were the people who had the pension funds and the investments in there, the regular consumer who didn't have their own fixer. And so it's pretty easy. And they even put the evidence in emails and they traded bottles of champagne.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, I'm intrigued --

MS. CLIFT: It's pretty shocking.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think your point is extremely well taken, but I am intrigued by the fact that he's holding out and he does not want to get involved in this institution in an integral way.

MR. BUCHANAN: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm talking about the head of the Fed.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, look, this is the London banks. Quite frankly, people got the benefit of it because the London banks were reporting lower interest rates for their borrowings to make themselves look good, and that lowered the LIBOR. So that helped consumers and that helped mortgage lenders.

But larger issue: This is a horrendous scandal of the bankers in London. They're all looking at people as crooks and liars, some of the most distinguished men in finance. You look across Europe to southern Europe, John, and eastern Europe. Democratic capitalism is now under fire.
You look at these parties of the right and of the left that are rising up, saying throw the whole darn system out. They're all crooks and they're all liars. And this is what is coming if what Mort has predicted -- you go two, three, four more years and you will find some real right-wing and hard left-wing governments --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How do you think Joe Six-Pack --

MR. BUCHANAN: He thinks they're all a bunch of crooks.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- evaluates his banker in the United States and his bank? Don't you think they approach a banker, especially if there's a principal at the bank dealing with him or her, with a measure of respect and belief?

MR. LOWRY: Perhaps in their community. But this is more evidence to go to the perception that the entire system is rigged. In this case, it was rigged.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Rigged.

MR. LOWRY: And let's not forget --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MR. LOWRY: -- Mort was asking who knew about it. The regulators knew about it. Tim Geithner knew about it.

MR. BUCHANAN: Right.

MR. LOWRY: And it's somewhat shocking that Geithner just wrote a polite memo saying I'd like to call your attention to the fact --

MR. BUCHANAN: The New York Fed.

MR. LOWRY: -- that this system is rigged.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who'd he send it to? Did he send it to the president?

MR. BUCHANAN: He's the New York Fed.

MR. LOWRY: The British --

MR. BUCHANAN: New York Fed, 2008.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: To the governor, Bank of England, because this is actually a price that is fixed in England, in London. They do it. And there are about 18 banks that participate in this, and it's what they -- the rate at which they loan to each other.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think --

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, Geithner --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- that in view of the world publicity on this, that they've straightened out their act over there --

MS. CLIFT: No.

MR. BUCHANAN: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and it's going to be like an altar boys' picnic? (Laughter.)

MS. CLIFT: No. (Laughs.) No.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'm not going to comment on altar boys' picnics either, because that's not my strength. But I will just say this. There is definitely going to be a level of supervision the way these rates are determined, period, by the government, not just by the bankers.

MS. CLIFT: Geithner --

MR. LOWRY: But why should there be --

MS. CLIFT: Geithner --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her in. Let her in.

MS. CLIFT: Geithner's reputation is going to get nicked in this too, because he did know something.

MR. BUCHANAN: New York --

MS. CLIFT: And so did Bernanke. They're already asking what did Bernanke know, and when did he know it? Now, in fairness, when he became aware, it was in the middle of the big meltdown in `08 and early `09.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And?

MS. CLIFT: And it was basically like being told there's a bomb going off on the edge of the city while he had 400 missiles raining down on him. He couldn't deal with it.

MR. LOWRY: But --

MS. CLIFT: And so he just overlooked it.

MR. LOWRY: -- so many institutions are dependent on this rate --

MS. CLIFT: But he has feet of clay --

MR. LOWRY: -- and it's been going on for years.

MS. CLIFT: He has --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him in.

MR. LOWRY: And he knew about it then.

MS. CLIFT: He has feet of clay, Bernanke does.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's not true.

MS. CLIFT: And we --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's absolutely untrue.

MR. BUCHANAN: Hey, John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely not.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- he currently has feet of clay?

MS. CLIFT: I -- yes.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That is totally untrue.

MR. LOWRY: There's a major --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's answerable to -- he's answerable to the Congress. He's answerable to the American people. He's answerable immediately to the president.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Let me put it this way.

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MS. CLIFT: Like his mentor --
(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. Let him in.

MR. BUCHANAN: Let me take the phrase -- the phrase "banker's trust" has become an oxymoron, an inherent contradiction. People -- you're right about the local bank; fine. People look at these people running the show in Washington, running it at LIBOR, running their governments. They're all failing them, John, all over the world.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Isn't there something about Bernanke, though, that is totally innocent, almost agrarian about him?

(Cross talk.)

MR. BUCHANAN: I agree.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You agree.
(Cross talk.)

MR. BUCHANAN: I agree about Bernanke.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's the perfect man for the job because he's not that way.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: John --

MR. BUCHANAN: He's an honest guy, but he's a boring guy.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's not the case. He was a brilliant central banker, if I may say so. He saved the banking system. He did things no other banker has ever done to save our banking system, OK? He's done an amazing --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was he reappointed by this president?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: He was --

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.

MS. CLIFT: He was basically --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Doesn't he get a nine-year term over there?

MS. CLIFT: He was basically Alan Greenspan's understudy, and he has the same flaws and strengths that Greenspan has. And basically they're an arm of the big banks.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that Bernanke is under the lens as closely as we are trying to indicate, I think, or suggest by the flow of this conversation? Is he that -- you know, is he being examined this closely by the American people and the editorial press?

MS. CLIFT: No. No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No?

MR. LOWRY: Well, he is under a lot of scrutiny. He's trying to --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does Obama escape this kind of scrutiny --

MR. LOWRY: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- if he has a role to play here?

MR. BUCHANAN: No.

MR. LOWRY: No. I mean --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We are the dominant nation in the world in economics and in military strength.

MR. BUCHANAN: Let me say, John, Bernanke, I think, as of now, looks cleaner than anybody around.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.

MR. BUCHANAN: And Obama is under horrendous fire because it's a campaign.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he seems to be --

MR. BUCHANAN: People are not --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He seems to be moving away from him.

MR. BUCHANAN: They're not attacking --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He has the magic non-touch.

Issue Two: Buckeye Bruiser.

FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY (R, Republican presidential candidate): (From videotape.) In the last six months, he has held 100 fundraisers. And guess how many meetings he's had with his jobs council -- none, zero; zero in the last six months. So it makes it very clear where his priorities are. His priority is not creating jobs for you. His priority is trying to keep his own job.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mitt Romney lashed out at President Obama this week in the crucial state of Ohio, also known as the Buckeye state. Ohio is unpredictable, meaning Ohio swings both ways in elections. Ohio is populous. It has 18 electoral votes. Ohio is a bellwether, meaning Ohioans have voted for the winning candidate in every presidential election since 1964. That's 12 presidential elections.
On Wednesday, before a ginned-up crowd in Bowling Green, Ohio, Romney also attacked this Obama statement. Quote: "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Someone else made that happen," unquote. The president was referring to costs of infrastructure and the role played by government in business infrastructure development.

But Romney said the president intended something else, namely, to attack entrepreneurs.

MR. ROMNEY: (From videotape.) He divides us. He tries to divide America, tear America apart. He tries to diminish those who've been successful in one walk of life or another. It's simply wrong.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Romney camp also has a new ad that attacks what Mr. Romney calls the president's, quote-unquote, "crony capitalism."

ANNOUNCER: Where did all the Obama stimulus money go? Friends, donors, campaign supporters, special-interest groups.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: How successful are Romney's lines of attack? Eleanor Clift.

MS. CLIFT: I think the crony capitalism is weak. The Republicans really tried to gin up Solyndra. I don't think it gets them any votes. They really didn't find a smoking gun.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How much did Solyndra cost?

MS. CLIFT: I don't know. I don't --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Five hundred million dollars, a half a billion dollars.

MS. CLIFT: Oh, horrors, horrors.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Am I right? Am I right?

MS. CLIFT: Horrors, horrors. I think there's more --

MR. LOWRY: It's just taxpayer money. Don't worry about it.

MS. CLIFT: There's more --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's only taxpayers money, Eleanor.

MR. LOWRY: (Laughs.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Five hundred million here, five hundred million there.

MS. CLIFT: You asked if I thought that was --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Solyndra is --

MS. CLIFT: -- a good line of attack.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is Solyndra?

MS. CLIFT: I don't think it is.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is Solyndra?

MS. CLIFT: I think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is Solyndra, for those who have --

MS. CLIFT: It's a solar-panel company --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- maybe like Mort --

MS. CLIFT: -- that got government money, and the solar-panel company failed --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MS. CLIFT: -- as some companies fail --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead.

MS. CLIFT: -- which is -- Mitt Romney would make that argument as well.

Much more effective is his attack on the president's comments that if you build a business, you don't build the whole thing; you build it with the support of roads and the creation of the Internet by the government --

MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible.)

MS. CLIFT: -- and all of that. (Laughter.) And you're already giggling away, but Romney has taken it -- the comment astoundingly out of context.

(Cross talk.)

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. But it's an effective line of attack --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.

MS. CLIFT: -- because most people are totally unaware of the benefits they get from government.

MR. LOWRY: That's not --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's not the case.

MR. LOWRY: It's not out of context.

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)

MR. LOWRY: What he said and what he meant to say is that if you're successful --

MS. CLIFT: Oh, I'm glad I got you all worked up.

MR. LOWRY: Hold on, Eleanor. Let me get a word in here. He says if you're a successful entrepreneur, it's not so much your individual initiative -- that's part of it -- but it's these roads and bridges. That's like saying John might be a good TV host, but what really is responsible for his success --

MS. CLIFT: You're really straining.

MR. LOWRY: -- is the guy --

MS. CLIFT: You're really straining.

MR. LOWRY: -- who built the chair.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.)

MR. LOWRY: And that's ridiculous.

MR. BUCHANAN: Hey, John --

MR. LOWRY: That's not what made Steve Jobs or Thomas Edison --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I didn't build it. I own it.

MR. LOWRY: -- or anyone else.

MR. BUCHANAN: What makes this crucial, John, is, look, this is the heart of this campaign. Obama identifies himself as a creature of government. Government is the creative force, the great force --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- the indispensable force.

MS. CLIFT: He doesn't define himself as that.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's not individuals and it's not entrepreneurs.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'll tell you --

MR. BUCHANAN: It's not small business.

MS. CLIFT: He doesn't define himself like that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor --

MR. BUCHANAN: Small business guys know who created their small business, Eleanor.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Eleanor. I want to get this in in the 45 seconds that remain --

MS. CLIFT: Right. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- for this particular part of the show. In this New York Times poll -- which is excellent, by the way; it was published on Tuesday of this week -- excellent -- it says, who do you think would do a better -- who would do a better job on economy and unemployment? Obama gets a 41 and Romney gets a 49 for doing a better job on the economy.

MS. CLIFT: You found the one little --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think --

MS. CLIFT: -- ray of light in that --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's not --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, I have found --

MR. LOWRY: Romney's leading in that poll.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There are four.

MR. LOWRY: Romney's leading in that poll.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There are four. He also scores higher on taxes, handling taxes, the federal budget and the deficit and national security. He also scores higher on who would do a better job.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The dominant issue in this campaign is going to be the economy.

MR. BUCHANAN: The economy, right.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And on that issue, I've seen polls that show Romney in the high 50s compared to the president.

MR. BUCHANAN: Right.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: OK, this is going to be the dominant issue. We're going to see how it evolves.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the dominant issue?

MR. BUCHANAN: The economy.

MR. LOWRY: The economy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The economy.

MS. CLIFT: Breaking news. Breaking news.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The economy and jobs.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He had four years to straighten it out and he focuses on health care --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- which has increasingly become arguable.
(Cross talk.)

MR. BUCHANAN: John, if the economy goes south -- if the economy goes south, Obama's gone.

MS. CLIFT: I'm glad to --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What were you going to say? Quickly, quickly.

MR. LOWRY: I was going to say the more important thing is not whether Romney's attacks are working. It's that Obama's attacks aren't working --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MR. LOWRY: -- because economic conditions are overwhelming.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Good God! The God Particle.

PETER HIGGS (theoretical physicist): (Inaudible) -- really an incredible thing that has happened in my lifetime.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Peter Higgs is the renowned theoretical physicist. Higgs is largely credited with one of the greatest moments in scientific history. It's what's called the Higgs boson. That's b- o-s-o-n, boson, a type of particle. This astonishing subatomic particle -- get this -- quote-unquote, "confers mass on matter." It is named after Dr. Peter Higgs, age 83, who predicted that such a particle did exist nearly 50 years ago.

This history-making Higgs boson has been described as the God particle because of its centrality to physics and to our existence. The term God particle also conveys the extreme elusiveness of the Higgs boson. To nail it, firms utilized a one-of-a-kind atomic collider, the monstrous (dome ?)-shaped machine 17 miles in circumference named the Hadron collider, a product of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, also called CERN -- that's C-E-R-N -- in Switzerland.

The collider created what is described as a collision comparable to the big bang, which brought the universe into existence. In the collision, the Higgs boson appeared for a trillionth of a second. And get this: The collider marvel could lead to the discovery of other parallel universes.
The collider cost a lot of money, collected by CERN. CERN, by the way, is financed by 20 nations. They put together the $9 billion for the Hadron collider and made possible the discovery of the Higgs boson.

Question: The U.S. could have discovered the God particle years ago with our own supercollider located in Texas. It would have been three times stronger than the European collider and completed in 1999, almost 14 years ago. But it was canceled in 1993 because the U.S., quote-unquote, "could not fund the $12 billion for the project."
What are the consequences of the United States' failure to invest in science? Rich.

MR. LOWRY: Well, I'm not sure there would have been a huge benefit accruing to us nationally from doing -- from discovering this particle.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't?

MR. LOWRY: No. This is really --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When John Kennedy said we're going to be on the moon, and he said that very early, he was heehawed in the beginning. But then it came to be true. So there is some value to being scientifically at the top.

Predictions. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Assad of Syria will be gone by Labor Day, John. And by New Year's Eve, I think the Muslim Brotherhood will be the dominant force in Syria.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: It looks like Romney is going to tough it out and not release any more tax returns. But the pressure on him will not relent. And network interviews, debates, it will be a prominent issues.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Rich.

MR. LOWRY: Mitt Romney undertakes a major offensive on the economy, to include a lot of substance, right after the Olympics.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, he's going to have a lot to work with, because this economy is going to get weaker for the next two quarters at the very least. We are not out of the difficult times that we've been having.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I predict that the fast-food phenomenon, still popular in the U.S., will give way to a new powerful and enduring demand for natural food, fresh from the farm and from the ocean.

Bye-bye.