Yesterday, CBS Early Show co-host Hannah Storm asked White House aide Dan Bartlett about how most Americans think the economy is tanking: "Finally Dan, quickly, I know you came on to talk about the economy today, the President is going to address this today, there are some positive numbers but we have Americans shopping at discounters, they spent their money on gas this summer, they're worried about heating costs. What can you tell the majority of Americans who actually feel that the economy is getting worse?"
Today, MRC analyst Michael Rule reports, Storm was at it again, bringing on CNN anchor Lou Dobbs for what she called an "economic reality check." She began by asking, "You know, the president touted a lot of numbers, including these 215,000 jobs which were added in November. But is he on track? Is the economy strong? What's the bottom line?"
Lou Dobbs: "The economy is, in point of fact, strong, but with serious weaknesses, and it's one of the reasons, Hannah, as you suggest, that people when surveyed are really expressing a great deal of pessimism about the future of the economy. We have just seen the index on investor optimism, for example, just rebound from what had been a two year low. There are serious issues confronting this economy which the president did not focus on like the federal budget deficit, a soaring trade deficit, and a lot of people in the work force who are discouraged, just about 9 million Americans are still unemployed."
Hannah Storm: "What about these, because the president didn't address it, of these huge job losses incurred by the automobile industry?"
Lou Dobbs: "30,000 jobs announced to be cut by General Motors, a shrinking market share for the big three. Again, the face of foreign competition. We've had basically 25 years in this country to really come to terms with the market for Detroit to be competitive and they failed to do so. As a result, jobs are going to be lost in Detroit. And that's a very important part as you know, of our manufacturing capability, which has frankly been decimated over the past five years."
Hannah Storm: "Let me ask you about because gas prices, even though they've fallen considerably, they're still up 11% over a year ago. Oil has also dropped 20% since that post Katrina crunch, but there's really high anxiety about heating bills. How is all of this affecting consumer confidence? Are people still spending money during the holidays here?"
Lou Dobbs: "We've had some mixed reports, but overall the reports on holiday shopping seem to be positive. Some of the lower-priced retailers and discount retailers are facing some head wind but overall doing pretty well. And when you talk about energy prices, economists, you know, love to throw out the core inflation, throw out the energy and food prices and come up with something called the core rate. In point of fact, all of us use energy and all of us are eating. So we've seen inflation rise above 4%. Energy prices in point of fact over the past year have risen 30%. So, it's a very important aspect of what's happening to the economy and affecting consumer moods."
Hannah Storm: "You mentioned that Alan Greenspan played a bit of a grinch as he warned us about these, this federal deficit and just how serious that might be in the years to come. What's the bottom line? What are we looking at ahead in 2006?"
Lou Dobbs: "In 2006, we're going to see the trade deficit for this year rise above $700 billion. It's rising at a rate of somewhere near approaching 20%. We have a $4 trillion trade debt. We have an $8 trillion national debt. And this country has to come to terms with it. We can not continue to finance wars and maintain tax cuts without coming to terms with what we want the country to be."
No wonder Charles Simpson at the Free Market Project noticed how Dobbs has rejected the fair and balanced approach to the news.