TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Steve Chiotakis: First, President Obama had plenty to say about deficits in his first official State of the Union address last night. Marketplace’s Mitchell Hartman is with us live with a recap of what the president had to say. Good morning, Mitchell.
Hartman: Good morning, Steve.
Chiotakis: So polls show Americans are concerned about rising deficits.
What’s the president proposing?
Hartman: Well he fiercely defends the trillion in stimulus spending so far. He
insists it prevented Great Recession from becoming Great Depression. But he says it’s time to start trimming. So what he proposes a freeze next year on programs. These are the ones that Congress controls — things like education, farm programs, national parks. What it doesn’t include is the biggest budget sponges — that’s defense, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
Chiotakis: So Mitchell, are Republicans and deficit hawks buying it?
Hartman: Well they generally welcome a freeze, but as sort of a baby step. Here’s Scott Bittle of Public Agenda:
Scott Bittle: Certainly it’s a step in the right direction, but it’s not touching 70 percent of the budget.
Chiotakis: Is there anyway at this point, Mitchell, who thinks we should be increasing the deficit?
Hartman: Well, liberals generally think we need to keep up spending on
things like infrastructure and green energy projects — really anything to get Americans back to work. And in fact president Obama seems to be on the same page:
President Barack Obama: Some in my own party will argue that we can’t address the deficit or freeze government spending when so many are still hurting. And I agree, which is why this freeze won’t take effect until next year, when the economy is stronger.
So, rail against deficits this year, hold down spending next year.
Chiotakis: There you go. Marketplace’s Mitchell Hartman joining us this morning. Mitchell, thanks.
Hartman: You’re welcome, Steve.