MR. DAVID GREGORY: This Sunday, Security breach: The leaking of secret Afghanistan war documents has enraged U.S. military officials who warn of serious consequences for the leaker and the man behind the Web site WikiLeaks.
ADM. MIKE MULLEN: Mr. Assange can say whatever he likes about the greater good he thinks he and his source are doing, but the truth is they might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family.
MR. GREGORY: But do the documents provide an unvarnished account of where the war strategy is failing? Our lead newsmaker interview this morning, the president's top military adviser, just back from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen.
Then, America's painfully slow economic recovery. Why does it feel so much like recession? Perspective on the outlook for growth, unemployment, the government's role, and your taxes from former chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan; mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg; and governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell. Finally, an assessment of the many political and leadership tests for the president from jobs to ethics charges against Congressman Rangel laid out this week. With us, author and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin and Time magazine's senior political analyst Mark Halperin.
Announcer: From NBC News in Washington, MEET THE PRESS with David Gregory.
MR. GREGORY: Good morning. July is now the deadliest month for U.S. troops in the nearly nine-year war in Afghanistan. With us, our lead newsmaker interview this morning, the president's principal military adviser, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen.
Welcome back to MEET THE PRESS.
ADM. MULLEN: Good morning, David.
MR. GREGORY: We just played for our viewers very strong comments by you this week about these leaks. You indicated those who are responsible for making these secret documents public may already have blood on their hands, a strong statement. What specifically do you mean?
ADM. MULLEN: These--the, the, the scope and the volume of these leaks are unprecedented, and, and the specifics of them, and I've been through some of them, but we've still got a lot of work to do to, to really put the details together. But I think the, the leaks themselves don't look clearly at the war that we're in. There is an ability to put this kind of information together in the world that we're living in and the potential for costing us lives, I think, is significant. I said, when it first occurred, I was appalled--I remain appalled--and that the potential for the loss of lives of American soldiers or coalition soldiers or Afghan citizens is clearly there.
MR. GREGORY: But how can that happen based on this?
ADM. MULLEN: Well, I would speak to--actually the Taliban spokesman has come out in the last day or so and said that they're looking at the names, and I think that's evidence of what that potential is. So...
MR. GREGORY: These are Afghans that they're looking at?
ADM. MULLEN: These are--there are Afghan names that are, that are listed in the documents and specifically the Taliban spokesman said that they're going to look at that. I think people that aren't...
MR. GREGORY: They could be killed is the point.
ADM. MULLEN: They--exactly. And people that aren't in, in a fight like this, that don't do this for a living, don't understand what the potential is for something like this in terms of the kinds of information. And a piece of information may seem very innocent in and of itself, and a lot of this is old information, but being able to net it together is--there's potential there that it could have a much bigger impact than just as is evident on the face of, of a piece of information.
MR. GREGORY: What endangers you as troops?
ADM. MULLEN: The, the fact that they would look at what our tactics are, how we report, where we're fighting, who's involved, the, the kinds of things that we do. And, and yet, there's--the volume is such that we really haven't put it all together to be able to say this is exactly what the potential is in terms of that.
MR. GREGORY: You are looking at a suspect, a private who you believe may be responsible for obtaining this information, ultimately leaking it. What should happen to those responsible?
ADM. MULLEN: I think anybody in our--in the, in the national security apparatus has, has got to take full cognizance of their responsibility for the safeguarding of classified information. I mean, I wouldn't go into the specific details of this investigation or of the case, the case of this private...
MR. GREGORY: But is it treason?
ADM. MULLEN: Again, I'll let the investigation run its course, and we'll see where it goes, specifically. But the concern, obviously, is for the leaking of classified information that is going to endanger people, operations and, potentially, depending on how serious it is, outcomes.
MR. GREGORY: There, there are some who have argued that the fixation about the leak perhaps is a distraction from the larger point of these documents, and that is that it goes in an unvarnished way to the core question of whether the strategy is actually working. The New York Times, as part of its reporting, made this piece of analysis--and I'll put it up on the screen--on Monday: "The documents--some 92,000 reports spanning parts of two administrations from January 2004 through December 2009--illustrate in mosaic detail why, after the United States has spent almost $300 billion on the war in Afghanistan, the Taliban are stronger than at any time since 2001." Don't you think the public gets a look at these documents, and the bigger concern here is, not the leak, but the fact that this war may be a lost cause?
ADM. MULLEN: I don't think that the Taliban being stronger than they've been since 2001 is, is news. I mean, I've been concerned about the growing insurgency there for a number of years. We really are at a time in Afghanistan, after the president's review, where we've got the right strategy, the right leadership, and the right resources. And, and we really are in the second year of that aspect of Afghanistan. I certainly understand it is the ninth year, it is a long time, the sacrifices have been significant, and yet, at the same time, I think the strategy's right. And the release of these documents, best that I can tell, have not affected the strategy. Many of them were very, very old. That said, it's still--I think we've got to work our way through exactly what the potential impact would be; and I think, from my perspective, we're headed in the right direction.
MR. GREGORY: But the reality is still the same, whether it's news or not, the disillusionment with the--among the American people about the fact that the Taliban is stronger and not weaker--go back a year ago, nearly, you were on this program, and I asked you about the mission, and here's a portion of what you said.
(Videotape, August 23, 2009)
MR. GREGORY: We're rebuilding this nation?
ADM. MULLEN: To, to a certain degree, there is, there is some of that going on.
MR. GREGORY: Is that what the American people signed up for?
ADM. MULLEN: No, I'm--right now, the American people signed up, I think, for support of getting at those who threaten us, and, and to the degree that, that the Afghan people's security and the ability to ensure that a safe haven doesn't recur in Afghanistan, there's focus on some degree of making sure security's OK, making sure governance moves in the right direction, and developing an economy which will underpin their future.
MR. GREGORY: The problem with that a year on is that, again, the Taliban is stronger and there appears no evidence that they're willing to do the core thing, which is to turn their back on al-Qaeda. Isn't that the case?
ADM. MULLEN: Well, I think, again, that is the main mission is to make sure that, that Afghanistan can't become a safe haven again. They are indeed stronger. And yet the president approved additional forces, most of which are there, but there are still additional forces yet to come this year. So we've said for many, many months this would be a very difficult year; you pointed out the, the losses that have occurred in the month of July, the highest ever. We recognize that this is a tough fight, but we think we've got the resources right, the strategy right. There's also a regional piece of this, a lot of effort gone on the Pakistan side, a significant effort on the part of Pakistani leadership, Pakistani mil to address that--military to address that as well. But we're not there. We're at a point now where, over the course of the next 12 months, it really is going to, I think, tell the tale which, which way this is going to go.
MR. GREGORY: But another problem area, in terms of achieving the goal, is indeed Pakistan. I've talked to people who say the strategy, in effect, boils down to this, with General Petraeus on the scene: Bloody the nose of the Taliban to the point that they are willing to turn their back on al-Qaeda, Pakistan can broker a deal where there is some power-sharing in the country where the, the Taliban have a seat at the table and control some part of that geography, and in return, al-Qaeda's out of the picture. That's still a big "if," and here's one of the reasons why: Look at Pakistan's record; start with this Pew Research Center survey poll from this week: "How do Pakistanis view the U.S.?" Nearly six in 10 see the United States as an enemy. We know that the Taliban is operating from within Pakistan, from safe havens, and escalating their attacks. David Cameron, the conservative leader now of the U.K., prime minister said this, as reported by the Financial Times on Wednesday: "The U.K. prime minister used his first public appearance in Bangalore to warn Pakistan to stop `promoting terror' or face isolation in the international community." And these, these documents demonstrate what a lot of people knew, which was the intelligence service for Pakistan was helping the Afghan Taliban. Is Pakistan working against our interests there?
ADM. MULLEN: I've said for a long time, clearly the--a, a critical key to success in the region is going to be Pakistan and our relationship with Pakistan, which was one that was broken in the late '80s and which we've worked hard to restore. That there are elements of the Pakistani intelligence agency that are connected or have had relationships with extremists is certainly known and that has to change. I just came back from, I think, my 19th trip to Pakistan since I've been in this job, spending time particularly with military leadership, General Kayani. And he has, he has actually directed his military to take on the, the insurgent threat in his own country. We--and he's made great strides. We recognize that part of that is to focus on the Haqqani network and--as well as the other Afghan Taliban.
MR. GREGORY: They operate in that tribal area?
ADM. MULLEN: They do. And they, and they have a safe haven there, and that causes us great problems in Afghanistan as well. That we are anxious to have that addressed is, is well known to him. So this isn't going to turn overnight. And you, you laid out one possible outcome. I think it's a little early to say exactly what the outcome would look like specifically. Suffice it to say, I think we have to be in a stronger position in Afghanistan vis-a-vis the insurgency overall. We have to continue to develop this relationship and evolve this relationship with Pakistan. There's a regional approach here, and certainly India, which is where Prime Minister Cameron spoke from, India is certainly more than just concerned with the overall outcome here.
MR. GREGORY: But true or untrue, the big fear is that Pakistan's working against us and not with us?
ADM. MULLEN: In many ways, Pakistan is working with us. I mean, their, their military, their intelligence agency. I mean, we've got a very strong relationship in the positive sense with, with their intelligence agency. That doesn't mean there aren't some challenges with some aspects of it.
MR. GREGORY: They are actively supporting elements killing U.S. soldiers.
ADM. MULLEN: But they have, they have shared intelligence with us, they've killed as many or more terrorists as anybody, they've captured them. And certainly, the, the focus on changing the strategic shift, if you will, in that agency so that that doesn't happen at all, is a priority for us.
MR. GREGORY: Fair to say that among the outcomes you would look at would be a scenario where the Taliban would have some power in the country?
ADM. MULLEN: I think in any of these kinds of insurgency over history, in the political solution, those who have been insurgents at some point in time have been in a position of political influence at some point down the road. But I think we're way too early to say how--what that looks like or when it might happen.
MR. GREGORY: It--it's--it seems to be an important point, if you look at the cover of Time magazine, which has a pretty striking photograph of a young woman whose nose was cut off by the Taliban, a--just one indication of how brutal and horrific these people are. And, and they've done this when they were in power and, indeed, even when they've been out of power. The grim reality, if that's an argument for why the U.S. should not leave, is that our central mission, the central mission of the United States is not to protect the women of Afghanistan. Is that fair?
ADM. MULLEN: I think the central mission in Afghanistan right now is to protect the people, certainly, and that would be inclusive of everybody, and that in a, in an insurgency and a counterinsurgency, that's really the center of gravity.
MR. GREGORY: But you said a year ago our central mission was to get at those who threaten us. Our central mission is not to protect the women, who could still be brutalized if the Taliban comes into power in any fashion.
ADM. MULLEN: Well, the Taliban are incredibly unpopular with the Afghan people, even as we speak, and they have--as they have been for a long period of time. The mission--the overall mission is to dismantle and defeat and disrupt al-Qaeda. But we have to make sure there's not a safe haven that returns in Afghanistan. Afghanistan has to be stable enough, has to have enough governance, have to--has to create enough jobs, have an economy that's good enough so that the Taliban cannot return to the brutality of the kind of regime that you just showed.
MR. GREGORY: However, the United States could still withdraw and, and do so having achieved the mission, and yet women like, like those on the cover of that magazine could still be in danger.
ADM. MULLEN: Certainly, the, the, the long-term goal is to make sure that the--with respect to the population in Afghanistan, that there's a governant--governance structure that treats its people well. And I--but to say exactly how that's going to look and what specifics would be involved, I think it's just way too early.
MR. GREGORY: I just want to ask you a couple of questions about Iran, another threat that this administration is facing. The consequences of Iran developing a nuclear weapon are vast, and something that the administration certainly wants to prevent. This is what you said back in April of 2010, I'll put it up on the screen, at Columbia University: "I think Iran having a nuclear weapon would be incredibly destabilizing. I think attacking them would also create the same kind of outcome." Keen analysis, but my question is, which is worse?
ADM. MULLEN: Actually, when I speak to that, I talk to unintended consequences of either outcome. And it's those unintended consequences that are difficult to predict in what is a, an incredibly unstable part of the world that I worry about the most. What I try to do when I talk about that is, is identify the space between those two outcomes, which is pretty narrow, in which I think the diplomacy, the kind of sanctions, the kind of international pressure that, that is being applied, I am hopeful works. I, I, I recognize that there isn't that much space there. But, quite frankly, I am extremely concerned about both of those outcomes.
MR. GREGORY: But leaders have to make a decision. You're a leader, the president's a leader. Which is worse, Iran with a nuclear weapon or what could happen if the United States attacks?
ADM. MULLEN: Well, certainly for our country, the president would be the one making those decisions, and I wouldn't be one that would, would pick one or the other along those lines. I think they both have great downside, potentially.
MR. GREGORY: The president has said he is determined to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. He doesn't just say it's unacceptable, he says he's determined to stop it. Is force against Iran by the United States on the table in a way that it has not been even in our recent history, past six months, a year?
ADM. MULLEN: No, I, I think the military actions have been on the table and remain on the table, and certainly in that regard it's, it's one of the options that the president has. Again, I hope we don't get to that. But it's an important option, and it's one that's well understood.
MR. GREGORY: There was a concern among Israelis, among Americans, that there weren't very many good options when it came to attacking Iran, should it come to that. Is that still the case?
ADM. MULLEN: I think that's the case.
MR. GREGORY: There aren't very many good options.
ADM. MULLEN: No, no. I mean, there aren't--it depends on what you mean by that. None of them are good in a sense that it's certainly an outcome that I don't seek, or that, that we wouldn't seek. At the same time, and for what I talked about before, is, is not just the consequences of the action itself, but the things that could result after the fact.
MR. GREGORY: But the military has a plan, should it come to that?
ADM. MULLEN: We do.
MR. GREGORY: Admiral Mullen, one final question of something I'm sure deeply troubles you, and that is the rate of suicides in the military. And the concern is not just that they have been increasing, but that commanders in the field have not been attentive enough to the, the problems that are leading to the suicides. What should be done about that?
ADM. MULLEN: Well, I, I think it was addressed this week very well by General Chiarelli, specifically. I mean, the purpose of the review, which was widely reported on, was to understand as much as we could about what the problem was. It is not a problem that exists just in the Army, because the suicide rate is up in all our services. And we don't have the answers. I'm one who believes that the pressure of these wars and the repeated deployments is a significant factor, but there's a significant population that have committed suicide that have not deployed. So it's a, it's an incredibly complex, vexing problem. I think what General Chiarelli did was, was correctly focus on leaders to be all-attentive to this in every single way and know that we certainly, we're not even close to solving it. It's an enormously complex problem nationally for us, and certainly we are a microcosm of that. But our rates now exceed the norm in the country, and it's something we absolutely have to continue to focus on.
MR. GREGORY: Admiral Mullen, thank you very much.
ADM. MULLEN: Thank you, David.
MR. GREGORY: And we will continue our discussion with Admiral Mullen in our MEET THE PRESS Take Two Web extra, up online this afternoon. Plus, look for updates from me throughout the week. It's all on our Web site, mtp.msnbc.com.
Up next, the economic outlook. If this is really recovery, why does it still feel like a recession? Three key voices weigh in: New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan, and Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell. Then, assessing the Obama presidency in this highly-charged midterm election year, analysis from Doris Kearns Goodwin and Mark Halperin. Only here on MEET THE PRESS.
MR. GREGORY: Slow growth and high unemployment, why does Recovery Summer still feel like a recession? New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, former Fed chair Alan Greenspan, and Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania weigh in right after this brief commercial break.
MR. GREGORY: We are back. The biggest challenge facing this administration by far is the deep economic hole this country is still in. This week, the government adjusted its economic growth numbers, illustrating that the economic recovery is slower and more fragile than previously thought. Here to shed some light on what the administration calls Recovery Summer, the former chair of the Democratic National Committee and governor of Pennsylvania, of course, Ed Rendell; New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; and former chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan.
Welcome to all of you. There is so much to discuss, and we'll get to as much as we possibly can.
Mayor Bloomberg, Recovery Summer is how the White House is describing this, and yet, we know that the recovery in the second quarter is slower, we know that unemployment is stubbornly high, that companies have a lot of cash but they're not hiring. So my question is, why is it that recovery feels so much like recession?
MAYOR MIKE BLOOMBERG: Well, you have the public not wanting any new spending, you have the Republicans not wanting any new taxes, you have the Democrats not wanting any new spending cuts, you have the markets not wanting any new borrowing, and you have the economists wanting all of the above. And that leads to paralysis. And paralysis, it leads to uncertainty, and uncertainty is not good. You don't make spending decisions, investment decisions, hiring decisions, or whether-you're-going-to-look-for-a-job decisions when you don't know what's going to happen. You pass 2,000-page bills, but the regulations are where all the details are. Everybody's got to lobby up with lobbyists and, and lawyers, and nobody knows what the future is. That's not good. We have to end the uncertainly, and until you do that, I don't think you come out of this recession.
MR. GREGORY: Dr. Greenspan, the Associated Press reported on a survey this week of economists, and we'll put a portion of it up on the screen. "A bleaker outlook for the economy into 2011. The U.S. economic recovery will remain slow deep into next year, held back by shoppers reluctant to spend, employers hesitant to hire." That's according to an AP survey of leading economists.
"The latest quarterly AP Economy Survey shows economists have turned gloomier in the past three months. They foresee weaker growth and higher unemployment than they did before." The current Fed chairman, Bernanke, said the outlook is "unusually uncertain." A little bit of newer generation Fed speak there. Does that mean--do you think that means the economy gets worse before it gets better?
MR. ALAN GREENSPAN: Maybe, but not necessarily. I think we're in a pause in a recovery, a modest recovery. But a pause in the modest recovery feels like quasi recession. Our problem, basically, is that we have a very distorted economy in the sense that there has been a significant recovery in a limited area of the economy amongst high-income individuals who have just had $800 billion added to their 401(k)s and are spending it and are carrying what consumption there is. Large banks, who are doing much better, and large corporations, whom you point out and the--and everyone's pointing out, are in excellent shape. The rest of the economy, small business, small banks, and a very significant amount of the labor force, which is in tragic unemployment, long-term unemployment, that is pulling the economy apart. The average of those two is what we are looking at, but they are fundamentally two separate types of economy.
MR. GREGORY: If you add in the housing crisis, which remains a crisis, do you think it's possible that we get this double-dip recession that a lot of people fear?
MR. GREENSPAN: It is possibly if home prices go down. Home prices, as best we can judge, have really flattened out in the last year. And while it is true that most economists expect a small dip from here, largely as a consequence of the ending of the tax credit, the data don't show that at this particular stage. If home prices stay stable, then I think we will skirt the worst of the housing problem. But right under this current price level, maybe 5, 7 or 8 percent below is a very large block of mortgages which are underwater, so to speak, or could be underwater, and that would induce a major increase in foreclosures. Foreclosures would feed on the weakness in prices, and it would create a problem. So that--it's touch and go.
MR. GREGORY: Governor Rendell, one of the things that Secretary Geithner said on this program last week is that we've reached a point, as he said, where we need to make a transition to a recovery led by private investment, led by the private sector. So, you know, government has to take its foot off the accelerator when it comes to stimulus. But here's a reality that we're talking about at so many states where, on the local level, on the state level, huge, huge cutbacks creating more unemployment in states. Governor Paterson telling The Washington Post earlier this month, we'll put it up on the screen, "We may be looking at a culture and lifestyle around this country that will start to remind people of the Depression, not a recession, if we cut through these budgets much more." That's the tension. Governor of New York, of course, saying, you know, government can't pull back when you have so many people still in need.
GOV. ED RENDELL (D-PA): Well, first of all, I, I want to piggyback on what the mayor said. I think the mayor's absolutely right about the paralysis. But I think the paralysis is driven mostly by partisanship and by the fall election. David Walker of the Peterson Foundation said it best. We should still be investing in things that stimulate the economy, and we can do that at the same time that we put together a long-term plan for deficit reduction. We can do both, and we have to do both. For example, and you've heard the mayor and I talk about infrastructure, well, the infrastructure part of the stimulus has worked. There's absolutely no question about it. We can demonstrate in Pennsylvania and other states around the union how it's produced good-paying jobs, both on the construction sites and back in American factories. It has worked. We should be investing more money in our infrastructure right now. We need it, number one, and number two, it's the best job creator.
MAYOR BLOOMBERG: You know, if you look back in the 1930s, the money went to infrastructure. The bridges, the municipal buildings, the roads, those were all built with stimulus money spent on infrastructure. This stimulus bill has fundamentally gone, started out with a $500 rebate check, remember. That went to buy flat-screen TVs made in China. That didn't exactly help our economy. Then all of this other stimulus money that's been given out to governments, they're using it for operating rather than investment. And the monies that are going to, to the private sector, they're doing the pet projects for companies that happen to have some influence throughout this country. And the argument is, "Well, these people would get laid off if we didn't do that," but nobody's directing this money at the people who've already been laid off.
MR. GREGORY: Where do you see unemployment as we move through the rest of this year and beyond?
MR. GREENSPAN: I feel we just stay where we are. The--there is a gradual increase in unemployment, but not enough to reduce the level of unemployment.
MR. GREGORY: We're at or about 10 percent.
MR. GREENSPAN: Well, we're 9.5, and...
MR. GREGORY: Right. But I'm saying, is that where we remain, do you think?
MR. GREENSPAN: Yeah, yeah. I, I would say that there's nothing out there that I can see which will alter the, the, the trend or the level of unemployment in this context.
MR. GREGORY: Interest rates, how long before they start coming up? Do they need to stay low?
MR. GREENSPAN: Well, the problem there implies that the government has control over those rates, meaning the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department, in a sense. There is no doubt that the federal funds rate, that is the rate produced by the Federal Reserve, can be fixed at whatever the Fed wants it to be, but which the government has no control over is long-term interest rates, and long-term interest rates are what make the economy move. And if this budget problem eventually merges to the point where it begins to become very toxic, it will be reflected in rising long-term interest rates, rising mortgage rates, lower housing. At the moment, there is no sign of that, basically because the financial system is broke and you cannot have inflation if financial system is not working.
MR. GREGORY: Mayor Bloomberg, let me talk about the tax cut debate which is gripping Washington right now and will for some time. E.J. Dionne writes this in his column this week in The Washington Post. "Political stupidity, U.S. style" is the headline. "Can a nation remain a superpower if its internal politics are incorrigibly stupid?
"Start with taxes," he writes. "In every other serious democracy, conservative political parties feel at least some obligation to match their tax policies with their spending plans. David Cameron, the new conservative prime minister in Britain, is a leading example.
"He recently offered a rather brutal budget that includes severe cutbacks. I have doubts about some of them, but at least Cameron cared enough about reducing his country's deficit that alongside the cuts he also proposed an increase in the value-added tax, from 17.5 percent to 20 percent. Imagine: a fiscal conservative" who could--"who really is a fiscal conservative.
"That could never happen here because the fairy tale of supply-side economics insists that taxes are always too high, especially on the rich." And yet the administration says economic growth won't be affected if you let the tax cuts expire for the wealthiest Americans.
MAYOR BLOOMBERG: I don't think you want to run the risk that they are wrong. I would say let's go on with the tax cuts for another couple of years, but you couple it with long-term solutions. And you have to look at what's politically possible.
MR. GREGORY: Governor Rendell, that is not the position of the administration or Democrats, who want to make this a, a big midterm election issue.
GOV. RENDELL: And, and interestingly, I certainly agree with what the mayor said. It--what we've got to do is, I think Simpson-Bowles is very important. I think both parties have to get together...
MR. GREGORY: That's the debt commission's suggestions on how to cut spending.
GOV. RENDELL: The debt commission. Both parties have to get together and say, "We're going to do this together, we're going to make the changes. They're not going to be popular, but they're necessary." But you have to have increased taxes along with those reductions. And this fairy tale that increased taxes on the rich is going to hurt the economy, well, we don't have to look any further than 1993. What Bill Clinton did, without one Republican vote, is essentially the same thing. He raised taxes on the top 2 percent in, in America. That was combined with budget cuts that the president and the Republican Congress did together, and it produced 23.5 million new jobs in the seven years that followed.
MAYOR BLOOMBERG: OK, but keep in mind you had that virtuous cycle going. We did not have a war, and a lot of things went perfectly.
GOV. RENDELL: There's no question. But there's also no question that that's irrefutable. If it was going to hurt small business, you would have seen not anywhere close to 23.5 million jobs created.
MR. GREGORY: Well...
GOV. RENDELL: What I think we ought to do, sit down after the election, because it's our only chance to do this, everyone takes responsibility for cutting the entitlement programs which, as the mayor said, are absolutely necessary. We maybe phase in the elimination of the tax, tax cut for the rich over two or three years. I'd accept that. But taxes, as you said and Prime Minister Cameron did, you have to do both. You have to cut spending, and we ought to be doing that, you have to continue the short-term stimulus, as David Walker said, and you've got to raise some revenue.
MR. GREGORY: All right. Well, Dr. Greenspan, it's not often that you hear Democrats and liberals quoting you. But, in this case, they did when it come to--came to tax cuts because of an interview you gave recently with Judy Woodruff on Bloomberg television. Here was the question: "Tax cuts [that] are due to expire at the end of this year. Should they be extended? What should Congress do?" You said, "I should say they should follow the law and then let them lapse." Question: "So to those interests who say but wait a minute, if you let these taxes go my taxes go up, it's going to depress growth?" You said, "Yes, it probably will, but I think we have no choice in doing that, because we have to recognize there are no solutions which are optimum. These are choices between bad and worse." You're saying let them all go, let them all lapse?
MR. GREENSPAN: Look, I'm very much in favor of tax cuts, but not with borrowed money. And the problem that we've gotten into in recent years is spending programs with borrowed money, tax cuts with borrowed money, and at the end of the day, that proves disastrous. And my view is I don't think we can play subtle policy here on it.
MR. GREGORY: You don't agree with Republican leaders who say tax cuts pay for themselves?
MR. GREENSPAN: They do not.
MR. GREGORY: Couple of other topics I want to get to. Financial reform is a big one. A couple weeks from now a big sequel's coming out to movie theaters, and a lot of people like to watch the movies, and this is greed. This is the sequel to "Wall Street." And here was a clip from that original film, "Wall Street." Let's show it.
Mr. MICHAEL DOUGLAS (as Gordon Gekko in "Wall Street"): Greed, for lack of a better work, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.
MR. GREGORY: Today is Wall Street different, and will financial reform make Wall Street different?
MAYOR BLOOMBERG: The devil's in the details. A 2,000-page bill that very few people have ever read, but it basically turns over to the SEC and the Fed and other agencies the responsibility to write regulations. This is a dream piece of legislation for lobbyists and for lawyers. And nobody knows the answer to your question.
MR. GREGORY: Let me show something, Dr. Greenspan. David Brooks in his column writes about this bad blood between the Obama administration and the, the business community, which has only gotten worse because of financial reform. And I'll put it up on the screen, what Brooks writes in his column. "The psychological war between business and the Obama administration also is taking a toll. Business types think the administration is stuffed with clueless professors. Some administration officials think corporate honchos are free-market hypocrites prowling for corporate welfare." How did things get so bad? Because a lot of people in the business community say a big part of the problem is there's nobody who works in the administration that's actually run anything, that's actually run a business, and that's contributing to their attitude and their policies.
MR. GREENSPAN: I can't answer that question, and the reason I can't is I've never seen anything like this. I've been in and out of Wall Street since 1949, and I've never seen the type of animosity between government and Wall Street. And I'm not sure where it comes from, but I suspect it's got to do with a general schism in this society which is really becoming ever more destructive. We've got to change it.
MR. GREGORY: You see it firsthand, you see that animosity. Why?
MAYOR BLOOMBERG: The public is upset. If they haven't lost their job, they know somebody that has. If they haven't lost their house, they know somebody that has. What do you do? When something's wrong, it's government's job to fix it, it must be government that's responsible for causing it. Government wants to stay in office, they look for somebody else to blame. And it's much too simplistic to say the banks did everything wrong. We all wanted to expand the economy, we all wanted to expand home ownership. We all wanted Wall Street to create the money so we could have all these mortgages. And then invariably that leads to excess, and then invariably that leads to a correction, more violent with time. And then we have to look for villains. And we've got to stop all this. One of government's jobs is to promote the economy and to promote American commerce and finance and the arts around the world. And this constant tearing each other apart--we can sit down and we can say, "What did we do wrong?" and "How are we going to fix it?" But always pointing fingers and finding fault with everybody, we need to find solutions.
MR. GREGORY: But, Governor, you--when you are a president at a time of such high unemployment and, and recession, to have such a poor relationship with the business community is a very difficult thing, particularly when you have the Treasury secretary saying, "Look, it's got--recovery can only be led by the private sector."
GOV. RENDELL: Right. And it's got to be repaired, there's no question about it. But I, I think it goes to a fundamental question: Is regulation, per se, bad? Is better regulation bad? I think better regulation is good for the business community, and I think that's something we should get together on.
MR. GREGORY: I want to go around the horn on, on some final thoughts on, on key issues, and I'll start with you, Mayor. On immigration, what is the impact of what we've seen, the judge's ruling this week, the protests that continue on something that you feel strongly about, which is a more comprehensive solution?
MAYOR BLOOMBERG: Well, it, it--there will be a lot of litigation, I think there's no question about that. And whatever Arizona is allowed to do and does do is not going to have a great impact on the rest of this country. This is a national problem. We have to get control of our borders. You can only do that if you make companies obey the law and not hire undocumented or illegals. They can only do that is--if they have a Social Security card that has biometrics so they know whether the person is legal or not. We have to do something about the 12 million undocumented here. Yes, they broke the law, but we can't deport them. Let's get over this pointing fingers and do something about that, whether it--they have to pay a fine, learn to speak English, the history, you can do that. And then you have to give visas for the skills we need. Canada sets aside 36 percent of their visas for people with skills they think their country needs. We set aside 6 percent. We educate the doctors and then don't give them a green card.
MR. GREGORY: I'm, I'm almost out of time, so I just want to--Governor, I want to go to you on this point about high unemployment. When you were here some months ago you said, for the Democrats to keep control, if there's unemployment that's double digits, very hard to do. Do Democrats hold the House?
GOV. RENDELL: I think we hold the House. We lose significant seats, but we hold. And I think we hold the Senate only because the Republicans have made a slew of mistakes, PR mistakes like opposing unemployment compensation extension, like going after the president for the BP deal. There weren't 5 percent of Americans who didn't think that was a good deal.
MR. GREGORY: Dr. Greenspan, the Dow, an important barometer, as you've said before on this program, because there's real money there, there's real wealth. Are we out of the woods in the sense that Dow 10,000-plus you think is here to stay?
MR. GREENSPAN: I wish I could answer that one. It's a critical issue because, as you point out and as I've always believed, we underestimate the impact of stock prices on economic activity. Asset prices are having a profoundly important effect. What created the extent of the contraction globally was the loss of $37 trillion in market value. It collapsed the value of collateral in the system and it disabled finance. We've come all the way back--maybe a little more than halfway, and it's had a very positive effect. I don't know where the stock market is going, but I will say this, that if it continues higher, this will do more to stimulate the economy than anything we've been talking about today or anything anybody else was talking about.
MR. GREGORY: Final political point, Mayor Bloomberg. Congressman Rangel, do you think he should stay in his job or should he step aside?
MAYOR BLOOMBERG: Well, it's very sad. It's not good for New York. He was one of our representatives and was going to be a powerful one who could really deliver for New York. I'll let Congress worry about whether he did the things that he is alleged to have done. But the whole thing is, I think, symptomatic of we don't have the kind of disclosure, Congress doesn't have the kind of self-policing and openness and visibility that this country deserves.
MR. GREGORY: 2012 is still something that people speculate about, Mayor Bloomberg, and you said something interesting...
MAYOR BLOOMBERG: We are not going to get the Olympics for 2012.
MR. GREGORY: The Wall Street Journal reported this, thinking about your future, "[Bloomberg] suggested the main reason he's not seeking the White House" in 2012 "is because he can't get elected. His only supporters, he joked [in a speech up at Dartmouth]" in New Hampshire, "are Diana Taylor, his longtime companion, and his 101-year-old mother, Charlotte." God bless her.
"`Every one of my positions cuts out half the country,' Mr. Bloomberg explained. `I'm pro-choice. I'm pro-gay rights. I'm pro-immigration. I'm against guns. I believe in Darwin.'" Even with so, so many independents in vogue these days, you will rule out a run again?
MAYOR BLOOMBERG: I will rule out a run. I've got the best job that I could possibly have. I've got 1251 days more to do it. I'm looking forward to every single one of them. And I will call my mother to check on her political leanings.
MR. GREGORY: All right. We'll leave it there. Thank you all very much.
And up next, leadership tests for President Obama, ethics charges against Congressman Charlie Rangel, and all the attention over Chelsea Clinton's big wedding last night. Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin and Time magazine's Mark Halperin are next after this brief station break.
MR. GREGORY: And we are back. Joining me now, Time magazine editor-at-large and MSNBC's senior political analyst, Mark Halperin, as well as presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Welcome, both of you. We'll get to the, to the big story today, a lot of people paying attention to the Chelsea Clinton wedding. We'll have some of the pictures and talk a little about that in just a moment. But I want to talk about such difficult subjects, Doris, and the question of how the president is performing under the weight of a war in Afghanistan that is not going well, that has such significant challenges and that the public appears to be losing support for, and the economy. Alan Greenspan just saying tragic unemployment is the real challenge here. These are huge weights on the president.
MS. DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN: And the most important thing for a president, both in the midst of a war and a troubled economy, is to use that bully pulpit. You know, Teddy Roosevelt said it's the unparalleled platform to get your agenda across, and somehow the "Great Communicator" has to figure out the right way for him to do that. When he went to the auto companies, it really worked because he showed energy and feistiness and showed that there was success. You know, the incredible thing is, in 1934 FDR was in a similar condition with the economy. People were saying it hadn't recovered, that the economy was still stubbornly high unemployment, just like you said, it was 20 percent; yet, he persuaded the people that he was moving forward, he showed them where the successes were, and he gave them confidence in the future. He won the midterm elections in 1934.
On Afghanistan, we don't have a sense of any kind of progress over there, which is a real problem. Again, going back to my buddy FDR, the reason he invaded North Africa in, in 1942 was he had to show progress. Eisenhower didn't want him to do it, Marshall didn't want him to do it, but he said the--and Marshall finally later said, "I didn't understand in a democracy the people have to be entertained." Where's the progress that we're going to see in Afghanistan? You have to keep public support both on the economy and the war or these things will really become troubling.
MR. GREGORY: And I want to come back to the war in just a moment. But, Mark Halperin, on the point about the economy, and specifically the auto bailouts, because the White House really made a point of saying, "Look, there is some success here. We bailed them out, it was unpopular, and look, they have come back. We saved jobs. If we had walked away, it would have been so much worse." I was reading Ezra Klein's blog on washingtonpost.com this morning, he made the point that the White House doesn't lack for accomplishments, it lacks for popular accomplishments. The president was out in Michigan on Friday and tried to turn that around. I want to show a portion of what he said.
PRES. BARACK OBAMA: So the bottom line is this: We've got a long way to go, but we're beginning to see some of these tough decisions pay off. We are moving forward. I want you to remember, though, if some folks had their way, none of this would have been happening. Just want to point that out. Right? I mean, this, this, this, this plant, this plant and your jobs might not exist. There were leaders of the just-say-no crowd in Washington, they were saying, "Oh, standing by the auto industry will guarantee failure." One of them called it the worst investment you could possibly make.
MR. GREGORY: Mark, what strikes me is that the president is still trying to win the argument on some of these big issues.
MR. MARK HALPERIN: That--there's a two-part argument. You saw part of it there. Look, it's very hard to say--have your message be, "I'm not as bad as George Bush." That's not a rousing, optimistic message, particularly when, like George Bush, you're a president with a bad economy, an unpopular war, and a division in Washington. That message, to keep reminding people that he's made some tough decisions and he thinks they're going to pay off, is part of it. Part of it, though, he did at the auto companies last week, he's going back to do another auto event this week, is to say to the American people, "You've succeeded. The American people have worked hard through adversity. We're not out of it yet, but we've had success." He needs right track. He needs the country thinking things can be better. He needs some good news. And he's not the best messenger usually about other things than himself. He's good at talking about what I have done. That's what got him elected. He now is switching, and I think it's smart, to saying, "Here's what the country can do. It may not be morning in America, but things can be better because of the hard work of the American people." That's a, I think, a more effective message.
MR. GREGORY: And we know that, that some of the reporting this morning indicating the president's going to try to frame this message more from afar, it is striking, Doris, that you think back to the election of 2008, he was going into red states and blue states alike, and he was so popular in these districts. Now you've got these close districts for Democrats, and they may not want him there because he's more of a negative. And then you add to that the situation with Charlie Rangel, the New York congressman who's now facing an ethics trial, charges against him. The president was asked about, about Congressman Rangel, and he, he--to say the support was tepid was an understatement. This is what he said to CBS.
PRES. OBAMA: I think Charlie Rangel served a very long time and served his constituents very well. But these allegations are very troubling. And, you know, he's somebody who's at the end of his career, 80 years old. I'm sure that what he wants is to be able to end his career with dignity, and my hope is that happens.
MR. GREGORY: The last thing that Democrats need. They didn't get a lot of support there, Congressman Rangel didn't, from the president.
MS. GOODWIN: There's something about this chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee. When you think of Charlie Rangel, you think of Wilbur Mills and the "Argentine Firecracker," you think of Dan Rostenkowski. They were all there. And then Rostenkowski's seat is eventually taken by Blago.
MR. GREGORY: Yeah.
MS. GOODWIN: So anyway, I think that what needs to be done for the president, even if people say they don't want him in their district, he needs to go into those districts and show those jobs that have been lost. You know, he said on "The View" a very good thing. Maybe people say it doesn't matter if jobs are lost unless it's your job that's lost.
MR. GREGORY: Right.
MS. GOODWIN: Why not have the police guys out there, the firefighters, the teachers, visually show the success. He's got to prove that the stimulus worked where it did work. He's got to prove that the bank bailout is being repaid by interest. He's got to prove the positives of health care, and he's got to go into the districts, show the energy he did in the auto thing. He was great there. He should just do that again and again.
MR. GREGORY: Back to Rangel, though, Mark. Can he survive this?
MR. HALPERIN: Well, the president was giving him a little shove, it seemed pretty clear. Both congressional Democrats and people in the White House are hoping that Rangel thinks this through and realizes that this is not a good way to end his career. I don't think the White House--this is not the worst thing for the Democrats, the midterms, because they have bigger problems on the economy. But it does remind people about Washington not working. And I think there's no doubt there's a racial component to this, as well, that's not good for the Democratic Party and for the president.
MR. GREGORY: Finally here, it was back in 1992 we were introduced to the Clinton family with this image on the cover or People magazine at the governor's mansion in Arkansas in the backyard, the young family. Fast-forward now, young Chelsea Clinton is a married lady. Looks like a beautiful ceremony with the former president walking her down the aisle. Doris, as we look at these pictures, what strikes you about the, the, the interest in Chelsea's wedding?
MS. GOODWIN: Well, I think we've lived with this family in a very intimate way, given all the troubles and the successes that they've had. And in a certain sense, it shows how far we've come as a country. When Maria Monroe got married, 34 words in a Washington newspaper, compared to this incredible excitement. Whatever Democrats and Republicans may say about the Clintons, the legacy in this kid--well-balanced, smart, and, and seemingly in terrific shape--is a great legacy to have.
MR. GREGORY: And, and just a few seconds left, it's interesting, it really was about them. It wasn't about the Clintons and all of their friends and a big, a big to do.
MR. HALPERIN: Yeah. First politician I ever covered was Bill Clinton, and I thought, you know, this guys seems pretty interesting. The country is more fascinated with the Clintons, and the press is more fascinated with the Clintons, than anybody. And I'm glad that Chelsea got through her wedding with a fair amount of privacy and decorum because it could have been an even bigger circus than it was.
MR. GREGORY: Absolutely. All right, both of you, thank you very much.
We'll be right back.
MR. GREGORY: That is all for today. We'll be back next week. If it's Sunday, it's MEET THE PRESS.