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Panel on Dems Wanting A More Aggressive Obama

Panel on Dems Wanting A More Aggressive Obama

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume - December 5, 2008

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARNEY FRANK, (D-MA) HOUSE FINANCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE: A time of great crisis with mortgage foreclosures and autos--he says we only have one president at a time. I'm afraid that overstates the number of presidents we have at the present time.

And I think we have got to -- I think we have got to -- he's got to remedy that situation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: That was the irrepressible Barney Frank, Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, joining a growing list of Democrats today who want Barack Obama to do more about the economy in the weeks before his inauguration.

All this after we learn the economy lost another half million jobs in November, the worst monthly job loss in 34 years.

Let's talk about it now with our panel, FOX News contributors Fred Barnes of "The Weekly Standard," Mort Kondracke of "Roll Call," and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.

It was interesting, Fred, because Barney Frank is joining a growing list of Democrats. He said that this president has to be more assertive, has to step up about the economy. What do you make of that?

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Well, I think he's right.

Nobody is asking Barack Obama as president-elect to run America foreign policy. It is just this narrow area, but a most important area, and that's the economy where it's going to be--whatever is done, whatever stimulus there is, bailouts, and so on, are going to be forged by Democrats.

And who is the leading Democrat, and who will be president in, what, five weeks or something? It's Barack Obama. So he really has to be a part of this.

Look, he's being really tested in about three areas. One, the auto bailout. What is he going to do there? Something is probably going to have to happen in December just to tide the auto companies and GM over until sometime early next year, when you will decide on how much more you want to do. But they need some cash quickly.

Then there is what kind of stimulus package you're going to have, whether it is something that really stimulates or not, or just a bunch of stuff that labor wants.

And you know what hasn't been talked much about is the guy he picks, or the woman he picks, for special trade representative, because that will send a signal.

He's considering a guy from California, Xavier Pasara(ph), who has a mixed record on trade, leaning now toward protectionism. If he picks somebody like that, that is a terrible signal to send to the world economy.

WALLACE: Mort, we were talking about this with Major Garrett at the top of the newscast, and he was saying one of the reasons the Democrats want a direct message, for instance, on the bailout from Barack Obama is to cover their political rear ends.

In other words, he's popular. He can get give the marching orders, and they can just follow him.

MORT KONDRAKE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "ROLL CALL": Look, the country needs leadership, and it's not getting it from George Bush, whose days are all too numbered.

WALLACE: It's also not getting it from the congressional leadership in congress.

KONDRAKE: Exactly. But Barney Frank's reference there to the one president we have -- actually, we have about a third of a president. And, you know, President Bush finally admitted today that we're in a recession after 533,000 jobs lost in November, more than 2 million this year.

And you know, I think an interesting question for us to start discussing, because it's going to be discussed sooner or later, is does George Bush go down in history as Herbert Hoover?

And you could make a case for that, that by doubling national debt and saying deficits don't matter, you create an atmosphere where everybody goes into debt, leverages like crazy, and the bottom dropped out.

Now, he's not Herbert Hoover in the sense that he didn't raise taxes in the middle of a recession, which Hoover did, or impose tariffs, but I think there's a good case that George Bush is going to have to fight against that charge that he's Herbert Hoover.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I disagree with Mort and the irrepressible Chairman Frank, who usually has a quip, often clever, often cheap.

We have had the most interventionist administration in the history of the American economy over the last six months, and that is the Bush administration acting through his treasury secretary. He's not going to act alone.

The fact is his administration has been, if you like, hyperactive-- intervening, saving, rescuing, letting go, pumping a trillion dollars into the economy.

This is -- to say we haven't had leadership, you can argue over the fact that it hasn't succeeded, but certainly he has led.

WALLACE: Could he have done more, though, Charles, about the recession. I'm talking about as opposed to the financial crisis and dealing with the tremendous downturn in the economy and this hemorrhaging of jobs now?

KRAUTHAMMER: Look, the Democrats have believed that had to have a massive countercyclical effort, pump the money in and save us on jobs. Republicans believe otherwise.

What Bush intervened in was the panic in finance because there was no credit. He sees it as a problem of a utility, like electricity, that goes down. The Democrats wanted intervention in the broader areas of the industrial economy.

That's why you've got stasis now. Democrats are still in opposition. The constitutional administration is a Republican one. It only wants intervention on the utilities, on the finance.

And that's why you don't have what you might call leadership on autos. But that's not a lack of leadership. It's because Republicans want to draw a line and say not everybody gets a bailout, only the big finance institutions.

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