20081118 kevin hassett 18
Kevin Hassett, director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute - 

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Steve Chiotakis: Over the past few weeks, we've been asking folks "What's the Fix" for our ailing economy. Today, it's Kevin Hassett's turn at the mic. He's the director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute and Senator John McCain's top economic policy advisor during the presidential campaign.

Kevin Hassett: I think that when we're in a tough time like we are right now, then it's actually something of a good thing if your fiscal policy, if your government policy, is a little bit out of control. Because it gives you an easy thing to fix that can help move the economy in the correct direction. So imagine if there were two worlds -- one world where we were headed into a deep recession and we had perfect tax policy, and another where we're headed into a deep recession and we have terrible tax policy. Well, you'd rather have the latter world, because in that world you can adjust some things easily and make the economy better. It's kind of like if someone shows up at the emergency room and you know exactly what they have, it's kind of good news, because you know how to fix it.

Chiotakis: But you have this ideology in Washington of bailout, and we're talking about both parties, not just Democrats but also Republicans as well. Do you believe that the government has any business bailing out any industry, any company?

Hassett: No, in fact, I am not sure, even in the beginning with the Bear Stearns bailout, that the government did any good at all. And I think that indeed, historians will likely look back at this episode and blame Bernanke and Paulson to a good extent for making the matter much worse. And the reason is that they've been playing from a play book that changes every day, and it makes it impossible to predict what the government's going to do next.

Chiotakis: Kevin Hassett, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Thanks for being with us.

Hassett: Thanks, it's been great.