Appearing as a guest on Friday's Last Word to discuss Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman's plan to simplify the income tax code, MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe saw extremism in the Tea Party movement as he asserted that Huntsman's plan was "moderate when you compare it to where the Tea Party extremists want to take this."
As the discussion turned to the current anemic job growth numbers and Texas Governor Rick Perry's views on economics, Wolffe claimed that President Jimmy Carter had created more jobs that President George W. Bush as he blamed Bush and Republicans for the current economic slowdown:
Most voters understand that this economy, this bad economy, is the result of Republican policies and the Bush administration. Poll after poll after poll has said that, and if you want to go into the details, over eight years of President Bush's policies of deregulation, of tax cuts, all things that Rick Perry says has created jobs, actually George Bush created a net three million jobs in eight years.
Even Jimmy Carter created more jobs in one term than Bush did with these policies in two terms, so once we get into this debate, once we get beyond the superficial headlines of Perry's positioning, we're going to have this played out and people will recall, as they already in polls, that the Bush policies weren't too good.
Below is a complete transcript of the segment from the Friday, September 2, Last Word on MSNBC:
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL: Talking to reporters this morning from the bottom of the polls, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman tried to use colorful language to energize his colorless campaign.
JON HUNTSMAN, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our nation's economy is sucking wind big time, and we need a plan, we need a bold proposal. The President has had two and a half years to get something out there. He hasn't. We've been out there two and a half months. We've got, I think, the boldest of proposals, something that this country desperately needs.
O'DONNELL: Huntsman's economic plan received a rave review from the Wall Street Journal editorial board today. The Journal said Huntsman's plan is "better than anything so far in the GOP presidential field." The plan is called "Time to Compete: An American Jobs Plan." Which is really just a tax-cutting and deregulation plan. Joining me now is the author of Revival: The Struggle for Survival Inside the Obama White House, MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe. Thanks for joining me tonight, Richard.
WOLFFE: Either that or the Bill Bradley campaign, who also had a great health care plan.
WOLFFE: Great plan, and it went downhill from there. Here's the thing: It says something about the Republican Party when the Wall Street Journal editorial board is actually somewhere in the middle of Republican politics, that actually Huntsman's plan is moderate when you compare it to where the Tea Party extremists want to take this. And, you know, there's a lot to be said for Huntsman's plan. It actually is very similar in some degree to the Bowles-Simpson committee, which was actually set up by the President that the Wall Street Journal editorial board hates so much. There simplifying the tax code is great, and you just cannot get anyone in Congress to vote for ending the mortgage interest tax relief.
O'DONNELL: Right, his plan in some specifics calls for lower tax rates across the board, income tax rates, just leaving us with only three, an eight percent rate for the lowest, a 14 and a 23. But to get there, he eliminates every single deduction and credit in the personal income tax code, so he eliminates the biggest one, the mortgage deduction, as you've said. It means it would also eliminate the deduction for health care that if you receive health care through your employer, that would be treated as taxable income, and so it's a very easy thing to rip apart. If a plan like that made its way into the general election, running against someone who wants to take away your mortgage deduction is running against someone who wants to, in effect, destroy the current dollar value of your home because the real estate market would sink on something like that.
WOLFFE: Right, hits the middle class and hits the housing market, which has been one of the biggest drags on this economy. And this is he kind of big irony here, which is that these Republican candidates, and Huntsman is the most reasonable of them, but in general they're saying we get the economy more than this crazy Democrat who loves big governnment, we know what business wants, and yet, and yet their economic plans would either hurtsthe housing market, which this reasonable plan from Huntsman would do, or it would cut those government jobs that have done so much good for Rick Perry's job record in Texas or it would just kill jobs in general because there is no growth in anything other than the public sector right now because the private sector has been spooked by the Republican tactics over things like the debt limit.
O'DONNELL: Of course, there's the mandatory, you know, defang that horrible EPA, that Environmental Protection Agency that's ruining the country and killing jobs. Never mind that job growth and wealth in the country has exploded since the creation of the EPA to levels uncontemplated before, especially top end wealth. But now to Rick Perry: Is today, like most campaign days so far today for Perry and the Rrepublican campaign, the really good day for Rick Perry since he's the job king at this stage of the Republican campaign, zero job growth number lets him trumpet everything he's done or claims to have done in Texas on job creation.
WOLFFE: Look, this should be the best day of any of the Republican candidates' news agendas, news moments, because they're terrible numbers for the White House, and the President has a bad record on jobs that he's got to go out and defend. When you look at Rick Perry, though, there's the Texas echo that's a problem. Never mind if you strip aside the headline numbers and get into all of that, most voters understand that this economy, this bad economy, is the result of Republican policies and the Bush administration. Poll after poll after poll has said that, and if you want to go into the details, over eight years of President Bush's policies of deregulation, of tax cuts, all things that Rick Perry says has created jobs, actually George Bush created a net three million jobs in eight years. Even Jimmy Carter created more jobs in one term than Bush did with these policies in two terms, so once we get into this debate, once we get beyond the superficial headlines of Perry's positioning, we're going to have this played out and people will recall, as they already in polls, that the Bush policies weren't too good.
O'DONNELL: We now have projections that the jobs picture a year from now in the presidential campaign is going to look pretty much like the jobs picture does today. If that holds, if that is true, and if Perry is the emerging nominee for the Republicans, it seems like it will clearly be a jobs campaign at that point. What does the Obama campaign think it's going to be able to do against Perry on jobs?
WOLFFE: Well, I think the, what they're expecting is that this is not just going to be about jobs, it's going to be about the role of government when times are tough. And if you assume that the economy is the same - and, by the way, that's a big assumption. You know, in 2007, Barack Obama thought the whole campaign would be about Iraq, and by 2008 it wasn't about the war at all, it was about the economy. So a year is an extremely long time in politics. But the debate here is: What can government do when times are difficult? Should government be cut? Will that create jobs? Or is government the last best hope? That's how this is going to play out - at least that's how the White House hopes it's going to play out. And judging by what the Republicans are saying, they think small government means more jobs. Well, let's take it to the people and see what they think, too.
O'DONNELL: Richard Wolffe of MSNBC, thanks for joining me tonight, Richard.
WOLFFE: You bet, Lawrence.