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Interview with Rep. Steve Cohen

By Your World w/Neil Cavuto, Your World w/Neil Cavuto - October 1, 2010

Friday, October 01, 2010

Special Guests | Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn.

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," October 1, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: This is a Fox News Alert: a steal at 50 billion smackers, because TARP wasn't an expensive trap after all, at least not a hundreds-of-billions-of-dollars trap -- so, a deal.

So, Democratic Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen says people should be thanking the president.

Really, Congressman?

REP. STEVE COHEN, D-TENN.: Well, I don't know about thanking the president. I think they need to thank President Bush, who -- who put the TARP in place, and President Obama, who, as a senator, voted for it and then came up with the stimulus.

You know, Mark Zandi, who was McCain's adviser on economics, and Alan Blender, a respected economist, said the combination of TARP and the stimulus saved us from a Great Depression. Krugman says we didn't go far enough. He's a Nobel Prize winner for economics, but certainly would have said we should have done what the president and the Democratic Congress did, and a couple of senators on the Republican side who saw that 40 percent of the stimulus was tax breaks, largest tax breaks in years, helped -- saved over three million jobs and saved the economy.

So, I would go with them and respect their opinion, and -- and think that the president, both Bush with the TARP, and Obama with the ARRA, did a lot to save this economy from dropping off the precipice.

CAVUTO: Well, you -- you know, bottom line, we can argue about what could have been, should have been. We will never know. We will never know what would have happened had that money not been provided. We might have gone into a bigger meltdown. We might have crashed.

Of course, things were not all that hunky-dory then. They're not really...

(CROSSTALK)

COHEN: Well, we can respect a Nobel Prize-winning economist.

(CROSSTALK) COHEN: And we can respect Mark Zandi.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: No, we can't. No, we can't, because these same Nobel Prize winners missed the whole financial meltdown. So, let's look back at their track record. But leaving that aside, Congressman...

COHEN: Krugman -- Krugman is the Nobel Prize winner.

CAVUTO: Yes, I'm well aware of that. The same...

COHEN: He didn't miss it.

CAVUTO: Yes, he did. He did miss it.

But I'm not going to argue the point about who got what, when and where. I am going to argue about what's to brag about something costing only $50 billion? I mean, in this environment, I guess that's better than it used to be, but $50 billion is serious money.

COHEN: Well, if it saved us from a second Great Depression, it was a bargain.

CAVUTO: But we don't know that, Congressman.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: We don't know that.

COHEN: Well, you don't know it, but I respect the opinions of the economists, Zandi, McCain's economist, and Mr...

CAVUTO: But you're -- but, sir, you're arguing for something that you are still criticizing today, banks refusing to lend, banks that were rescued not doing what we thought they would once they were rescued.

So, yes, I guess a lot of them gave the money back to TARP, money that many of them did not even ask for. They gave it back. You got a profit on that. Touche to that. But if the goal was eventually to also get them lending and to reignite activity, so we would see it in home sales and the like, we have not seen that. Now, if that is a success story, show me a failure.

COHEN: I think we're seeing it more in community banks.

I had a community bank individual come up to me today and thank me in how much it did for community banks. You see more lending in small banks, banks with $1 billion or less in assets, than the larger banks.

CAVUTO: Where is it doing it? Where is this lending? I don't see this activity.

COHEN: But the small banks have been helped.

CAVUTO: Yes, but where are you looking, sir? Where are you looking?

COHEN: And the automobile industry, we saved a million jobs.

I'm looking at community banks here in Tennessee and community banks around the nation. They are starting to lend. The economy is moving. I have been telling you the Dow was going to do fine. We are at 10,828. And we have had a great September. And I see a good -- good end-of-the-year move.

CAVUTO: You don't think any of the Dow's performance is optimism, or so many investors hope that things change in another four or five weeks in Washington?

COHEN: Oh, I don't think so at all.

CAVUTO: OK.

COHEN: I think they see this economy is improving. It is getting better.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait a minute.

(CROSSTALK)

continued...

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Really, Congressman?

REP. STEVE COHEN, D-TENN.: Well, I don't know about thanking the president. I think they need to thank President Bush, who -- who put the TARP in place, and President Obama, who, as a senator, voted for it and then came up with the stimulus.

You know, Mark Zandi, who was McCain's adviser on economics, and Alan Blender, a respected economist, said the combination of TARP and the stimulus saved us from a Great Depression. Krugman says we didn't go far enough. He's a Nobel Prize winner for economics, but certainly would have said we should have done what the president and the Democratic Congress did, and a couple of senators on the Republican side who saw that 40 percent of the stimulus was tax breaks, largest tax breaks in years, helped -- saved over three million jobs and saved the economy.

So, I would go with them and respect their opinion, and -- and think that the president, both Bush with the TARP, and Obama with the ARRA, did a lot to save this economy from dropping off the precipice.

CAVUTO: Well, you -- you know, bottom line, we can argue about what could have been, should have been. We will never know. We will never know what would have happened had that money not been provided. We might have gone into a bigger meltdown. We might have crashed.

Of course, things were not all that hunky-dory then. They're not really...

(CROSSTALK)

COHEN: Well, we can respect a Nobel Prize-winning economist.

(CROSSTALK) COHEN: And we can respect Mark Zandi.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: No, we can't. No, we can't, because these same Nobel Prize winners missed the whole financial meltdown. So, let's look back at their track record. But leaving that aside, Congressman...

COHEN: Krugman -- Krugman is the Nobel Prize winner.

CAVUTO: Yes, I'm well aware of that. The same...

COHEN: He didn't miss it.

CAVUTO: Yes, he did. He did miss it.

But I'm not going to argue the point about who got what, when and where. I am going to argue about what's to brag about something costing only $50 billion? I mean, in this environment, I guess that's better than it used to be, but $50 billion is serious money.

COHEN: Well, if it saved us from a second Great Depression, it was a bargain.

CAVUTO: But we don't know that, Congressman.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: We don't know that.

COHEN: Well, you don't know it, but I respect the opinions of the economists, Zandi, McCain's economist, and Mr...

CAVUTO: But you're -- but, sir, you're arguing for something that you are still criticizing today, banks refusing to lend, banks that were rescued not doing what we thought they would once they were rescued.

So, yes, I guess a lot of them gave the money back to TARP, money that many of them did not even ask for. They gave it back. You got a profit on that. Touche to that. But if the goal was eventually to also get them lending and to reignite activity, so we would see it in home sales and the like, we have not seen that. Now, if that is a success story, show me a failure.

COHEN: I think we're seeing it more in community banks.

I had a community bank individual come up to me today and thank me in how much it did for community banks. You see more lending in small banks, banks with $1 billion or less in assets, than the larger banks.

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