THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; MONICA CROWLEY, WASHINGTON TIMES; BILL PRESS, SYNDICATED RADIO TALK SHOW HOST TAPED: FRIDAY, MARCH 4, 2011 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF MARCH 5-6, 2011
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Who Ruled the Week?
(Videotaped clip of Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not Moammar.
CHARLIE SHEEN (Actor): (From videotape.) I am on a drug. It's called Charlie Sheen.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not Charlie.
BEN BERNANKE (Federal Reserve chairman): (From videotape.) Wage growth has slowed as well, with average hourly earnings increasing only 1.9 percent over the year ending in January. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes -- Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke rules.
MR. BERNANKE: (From videotape.) The combination of rising household and business confidence, accommodative monetary policy and improving credit conditions seems likely to lead to a somewhat more rapid pace of economic recovery in 2011 than we saw last year.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was guardedly optimistic this week about the current state of the U.S. economy. Testifying before the Senate Banking Committee hearing this week, the chairman noted that the real GDP, gross domestic product, will increase from 3.5 percent to 4 percent, about 1.5 percent higher than the Fed projected three months ago.
MR. BERNANKE: (From videotape.) The most recent economic projections by the Federal Reserve Board members and Reserve Bank presidents, prepared in conjunction with the FOMC meeting in late January, are for real GDP to increase 3-and-a-half (percent) to 4 percent in 2011, about one half percentage point higher than our projections made in November.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fed Chairman Bernanke also added that this Fed forecast is, quote-unquote, "broadly consistent with private forecasters."
Regarding unemployment, the chairman gave the Fed's forecast for the end of 2012 -- 22 months from now.
MR. BERNANKE: (From videotape.) It could be several months before the unemployment rate has returned to a more normal level. Indeed, FOMC participants generally see the unemployment rate still in the range of seven and a half to 8 percent at the end of 2012.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On rising gas prices, Fed Chairman Bernanke's projection grew dour, if not minatory.
MR. BERNANKE: (From videotape.) Higher gas prices take income out of the pockets of consumers and reduces their spending and their confidence, and so can also be a problem for recovery.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is Rosy back, Pat? By the way, who is Rosy?
MR. BUCHANAN: That would be Miss Rosy Scenario, John. She's back, all right. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is she Bernanke's daughter?
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.) She's a girl around town, John, for years. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Rosy Scenario. MR. BUCHANAN: Rosy Scenario.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, what's the story?
MR. BUCHANAN: But here's the thing. Friday there was very good news in the economy. If you take the revised figures from previous months, the new private-sector jobs -- of course, 30,000 public-sector jobs were lost -- the net gain of private-sector jobs is 280,000. That is very good news. Unemployment fell below 9.
John, but there are several clouds sitting over the top of this. One you mentioned, oil prices up around $104, $105 a barrel. Second, commodity prices are surging. China is raising interest rates. Japan is raising interest rates. The European central bank is raising interest rates. And the Fed may have to raise interest rates.
The third thing that's a problem over the economy is the stimulus is dying out. And if inflation appears, Fed Reserve Chairman Bernanke will have to end this qualitative easing, which is hosing $100 billion in cash into the economy every month. And then there's the possibility of the Irish basically defaulting.
So there are clouds over what is clearly, though, right now looks like a recovery.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: The McLaughlin Group is always very good at finding all those clouds.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: There was very good news for the economy, with job creation just under 200,000 in the private sector. And if that kind of robustness can continue, looking at an unemployment rate that may even drop a little below eight by November of 2012, is very good news for the American people, and also good for the president's re-election prospects.
But I'm going to find one cloud of my own too, and that is something else that Mr. Bernanke said that you didn't include, and that is if the Republicans proceed with the kind of cuts that they're talking about, that that could dampen the recovery, he said, by a couple of hundred thousand jobs. And Mark Zandi, who is an economist who advised John McCain in the '08 presidential campaign, said it could be -- mean as much as 700,000 jobs in 2012.
So I think the message here is to be cautious about cutting spending, because government revenue is still needed to goose the kind of recovery that we're beginning to see come alive.
MS. CROWLEY: Well, the jobs picture that we got on Friday is encouraging. It's an encouraging report. Unemployment is still very, very high. But there's another pillar to all of this -- it's all interrelated, but something we haven't talked about yet, which is housing. And the housing market remains very weak. Housing prices continue to fall.
So when you add that with, okay, the private sector is starting to get some juice back, starting to rehire people, but you've got a housing market that's incredibly soft and prices still falling. You have inflation that is now coming into play, and we see it in food. We see it in energy, gas prices. Just go down the street; try to fill up your car. That's taking discretionary income out of the pockets of Americans.
And also there's something else. This massive government intervention in the economy that we have seen over the last two years in the form of stimulus, in the terms -- in the form of new regulations, in the form of "Obamacare," is forming a huge overhang over this economy, over the private sector, as well as the huge debt this government has amassed over the last couple of years -- $5 trillion over the last two to four years, $5 trillion in national debt. That debt overhang is also enormously suppressive on the private sector and on the economy as a whole.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are we in a recovery?
MS. CROWLEY: We are in a recovery. But the question is, is it going to be the kind of recovery that we saw in the last month's job picture, which is an accelerating recovery, or is it going to be more of a middling recovery because we have all of these other weights hanging on the economy?
MR. PRESS: John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Bill.
On Friday, the Department of Labor announced that the unemployment rate fell by one tenth of 1 percent, from 9 percent for January to 8.9 percent this month, for February -- from January to February. We're now in March. That's the lowest unemployment since 2009, 22 months ago. The economy in February gained 192,000 jobs. That's 130,000 more jobs than January. That would seem to be a pretty strong indicator that this economy is in recovery. Could it get off track?
MR. PRESS: Sure, it could always get off track. But the other point about it is this is the 13th month in a row that there has been positive job growth. It's been -- it started out slow. It was like 20,000, 30,000. But now, when you get up close to 200,000, that is incredibly robust in terms of job growth. If it keeps at that pace, that unemployment rate is going to be far below what Bernanke predicted.
But I want to go back to what Monica said, because, look, we're in a recovery. It's a slow recovery. We would not be where we are today if it were not for the TARP, if it were not for the auto bailout, if it were not for the stimulus, if it were not for the Obama health care legislation. They pumped the money out. They pumped the jobs out. They kept the factories alive. They brought us back.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of this? Even if the economy added 192,000 jobs every month, as we're getting the report this month, it would take three years to recover the 7.5 million jobs that's lost since December '07. Nor would we create enough jobs for new entrants to the workforce.
MR. BUCHANAN: That's the key.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We need in excess of 200,000 jobs monthly for a strong market recovery.
MR. BUCHANAN: That is the key, John. The key you're talking about --
MR. PRESS: That's true. That's true.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to hear Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: The key you're talking about is, look, this is a very good job report. And frankly, they revised the figures upward for the last two months by 50-some thousand, which is good.
But the point you make, John, 200,000 private-sector jobs, terrific. People are -- this country is growing very rapidly. People are entering the labor force. You not only need the same number of jobs you had a few years ago; you're going to need an awful lot more to get to --
MS. CROWLEY: Right.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- 4 or 5 percent unemployment.
MS. CLIFT: But you have to invest --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, but these people that are now in jobs are going to begin to spend. Correct? MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. PRESS: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And that spending is really going to be the engine of the recovery.
MR. PRESS: Yes.
MR. BUCHANAN: But to Monica's point, the people aren't borrowing on their houses now. They can't do it anymore. They used to go out and spend that. They would spend more than they earned.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, that money is gone.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's gone.
MS. CROWLEY: Gone.
MS. CLIFT: But if you want to create --
MS. CROWLEY: No equity in their homes anymore.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on. Let her in, Eleanor.
MS. CROWLEY: You have to create about 200 (thousand) to 250,000 jobs a month just to absorb the new people coming into the employment force. Remember, during the Reagan recovery, John, we were generating 400 (thousand), 500,000 jobs a month in terms of job creation. We're nowhere near that now. So that's something to think about.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is this going to be --
MS. CLIFT: It's 100,000 a month to keep up with population. Anything above that begins to cut into unemployment.
But I want to go back to my original point. What they're looking at on Capitol Hill -- this is not the time to cut the kind of programs that invest in the future that will create the jobs -- education, infrastructure, research and development.
MR. BUCHANAN: The cuts are peanuts, Eleanor.
MS. CROWLEY: And they're government --
MR. BUCHANAN: Four billion dollars. That's not even one tenth of 1 percent of the budget.
MS. CLIFT: I'm talking about -- I'm not talking about the $4 billion. That is nothing. That's basically earmarks. That's smoke and mirrors. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor --
MS. CLIFT: The kind of cuts they're talking about going forward, you don't want to choke off the economy.
MS. CROWLEY: But the --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You can be sure that Bernanke studied the exact language of what he had to say. He's very precise in what he says.
MR. BUCHANAN: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he backs up and he fills, and so forth. Do you think that this was right on the mark, what he said --
MR. BUCHANAN: I think --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- that it was measured, it was not too much?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think he's right on the mark, John. I think it was measured. And I think he's accurate. But when he says three and a half, 4 percent, he realizes that all this money he has poured into the economy and flushed out there is what is responsible for it. Is it a solid recovery when that money starts to come out of the --
MS. CLIFT: But now the private sector --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're talking about the liquidity layer.
MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question --
MS. CLIFT: Now the private sector is taking over.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: With consumers getting hit with rising food costs, rising gas costs and rising clothing costs, everything is rising except job opening. When will this recovery finally feel like a recovery? Name the month and name the year when it will feel like a recovery.
MR. BUCHANAN: I think it will by May or June of this year, if you get three more months of what we're doing, John. But I'll tell you, those numbers you pointed out, inflation is rising. If the Fed has to start raising interest rates, this stock market, everything could flip right away. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: I do think the recovery will look significant. I think job growth is really going to start picking up in May. But you've got a decade where the wages of working people have been basically flat and they've been losing ground. We've had a huge income transfer from the middle of the country to the upper top, and you're not going to reverse that in 12 months.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Obama spent too much?
MS. CLIFT: No. He didn't spend enough.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: He should have spent more, and we would have had --
MS. CROWLEY: I'd like to answer that question.
MS. CLIFT: -- a quicker recovery.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A liquidization of the economy --
MR. BUCHANAN: If he'd spent more, we'd have --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- is what has prevented it from -- stopped it, and we're now back --
MS. CLIFT: It prevented a full-class collapse and a full-scale depression.
MR. PRESS: Absolutely.
MS. CROWLEY: Look, you had a tea party grassroots movement. You had a Republican near-sweep last November on the very question of how much Obama has spent.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean the debt.
MR. PRESS: That doesn't answer the question.
MS. CROWLEY: He has spent way, way too much. Yes, well, the annual deficits, which have been $1.4 (trillion) to $1.65 trillion annually since he got into office, a nearly $14 trillion national debt. And Eleanor would like to see more government spending. You know, we were promised with the stimulus and with all this government spending and intervention that unemployment would stay at 8 percent. It sailed over 10 percent.
MS. CLIFT: Well, Monica --
MS. CROWLEY: But government spending has a real track record, and it's called failure. MR. PRESS: Look, we would have gone off the cliff if it weren't for the TARP.
MS. CROWLEY: Oh, come on.
MR. PRESS: We would have gone off the cliff --
MS. CROWLEY: We would have recovered a lot sooner.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's TARP? What's TARP?
MR. PRESS: The Troubled Asset Relief Program -- the Wall Street bailout, if you will -- which was --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How much was that?
MR. PRESS: Seven hundred billion.
MS. CLIFT: Seven hundred sixty-seven billion.
MR. PRESS: And it was a George Bush plan. He put the first half out. Barack Obama put the second half out. Then there was the auto bailout. Our auto industry is stronger than it ever was today. It was a George Bush program, continued by Barack Obama. If he had not continued those two programs, we'd be in the toilet still today.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're saying the auto industry is stronger than it ever has been?
MS. CLIFT: Yes.
MR. PRESS: Yes, it is.
MR. BUCHANAN: No, it is not. Come on. We used to sell --
MR. PRESS: GM reported their first profits, John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I know that. I know that.
MS. CLIFT: Well, General Motors now has a nice fat share of the market in China. They have recovered.
MS. CROWLEY: We --
MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. And millions of jobs have been saved.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And they're making --
MS. CLIFT: Are you still opposed --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They're making their cars in Mexico and in China, right? MR. PRESS: They're making them here.
MS. CLIFT: They're selling them in China. They're selling them in China.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are they making them there?
MR. PRESS: And we got our money back.
MS. CLIFT: No.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, we have a huge trade deficit in autos, in trucks, of over $100 billion a year --
MS. CLIFT: And it would be worse --
MR. BUCHANAN: -- because we send our factories abroad, not our cars.
MS. CROWLEY: And keep plugging bailouts. Keep plugging bailouts, Eleanor, because that gets Republicans elected.
MS. CLIFT: Are you opposed --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is that Obama --
MS. CLIFT: -- to that auto bailout still?
MS. CROWLEY: Yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- Obama has to worry about a jobless recovery and how long that's going to last.
Issue Two: Joint Border, Joint Problem -- U.S.-Mexico.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) We're also deepening our cooperation against the drug cartels that threaten both our peoples. In this cause, Mexico has a full partner with the United States.
MEXICAN PRESIDENT FELIPE CALDERON: (From videotape, through interpreter.) I would like to thank President Obama for the clarity with which he speaks, the effects that the consumption of drugs has in his country. And I also am grateful for the clarity with which President Obama has recognized the great sacrifices that the Mexican society has had to make in view of organized crime and our fight of drug trafficking.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Felipe Calderon, the president of Mexico, met with President Obama at the White House on Thursday to discuss many problems that the two nations share. The U.S. and Mexico are separated by a boundary that runs from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. The nation's territories are clearly separated by border.
But some problems of each nation are the same. Problem number one: Mexican unemployment. For the U.S., Mexican unemployment creates illegal immigration. Officially, Mexico's unemployment is 5.6 percent. But the CIA estimates Mexico's true unemployment could be as high as 25 percent. High Mexican birth rates result in more people entering the workforce than Mexico's job creation can cope with. The resulting joblessness propels economic migrants to go north, across the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.
Problem two: U.S. war on drugs feeds Mexico's drug cartels. In 2010, 12,000 Mexicans died as the result of drug barons feuding over who controls the very lucrative smuggling market to the north. By the U.S. keeping marijuana, a recreational drug, illegal, the U.S. war on drugs creates and enlarges black markets in the U.S. and in Mexico. Since the U.S. demand for Mexican marijuana is huge, that means massive profits for the cartels.
Problem three: Drug cartels cross the border. Cartels like the Zetas, the Sinaloa Federation, the Cartel Pacifico Sur, and La Familia Michoacana have their bases in Mexico, but their roots cross the border and through migrant communities in towns and cities as far north as St. Paul-Minneapolis, Minnesota.
For every bundle of drugs that goes north, bundles of cash go south. So it takes personnel networks and product distribution networks to fuel the huge demand. So Mexico's organized-crime gangs touch practically every community in America.
Question: If marijuana were legalized in the U.S., what impact would that have on the U.S.-Mexican relationship? You got that, Monica?
MS. CROWLEY: I got that. Well, some states have actually legalized the use of medicinal marijuana. But in this country, you're never going to get the legalization of marijuana in any kind of national sense. It's not going to happen. And, by the way, it's not just marijuana that the drug traffickers are bringing across the border. It's heroin. It's cocaine. It's the whole range of drugs.
What's going on on the border? There are essentially three wars, John. There's the war between the drug cartels, there's the war between the Mexican government and the cartels, and then there's the war against the Mexican citizens and individuals by the criminals and by the cartels. The United States is doing its best to try to help Mexico, but our agents crossing the border there are not allowed to be armed. It's putting us at a huge disadvantage.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MS. CROWLEY: And, by the way, the murder of that ICE agent two weeks ago was a game changer. It changed the entire dynamic of our interests -- not only our economic interests, but our national- security interests along that border.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MS. CROWLEY: And it's going to give rise to --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to hear --
MS. CROWLEY: -- a movement for greater National Guard presence along that border.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well stated. I want to hear --
MR. PRESS: I just want to say, on the marijuana question, I think if marijuana were legalized, there'd be a lot happier people on this side of the border and on the other side of the border.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Smiling all the time?
MR. PRESS: Smiling all the time and not -- but that's not enough. I think we have to move toward legalization of drugs.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think it ought to be legal.
MR. PRESS: Absolutely. But --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean it would really change the dynamic with Mexico and the cartels.
MR. PRESS: Absolutely.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But then there'd be worse crimes committed by the cartels, like kidnapping and so forth, to get their revenue.
MR. PRESS: No, I don't think so. You legalize it and you police it and you enforce it, just like you do for other legal products. But I'm going to tell you something else that's going on on the border that Monica didn't mention, which is the most serious problem of all, I believe, is that we're running guns into Mexico. Eighty to 90 percent of the guns used by the drug cartels to shoot law-enforcement officers in Mexico and American citizens and this ICE agent --
MS. CROWLEY: No, but that percentage is incorrect. MR. PRESS: Wait, Monica -- were bought in the United States.
MS. CROWLEY: The 90 percent is a myth. Our own government's statistics, Bill, show that the 90 percent --
MR. PRESS: I heard Obama say --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on. Hold on.
MS. CROWLEY: -- number is a myth.
MR. PRESS: I heard President Obama say the other day -- I was there with President Calderon -- we're doing everything we can to stop the flow of guns. But obviously we're not.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. PRESS: And the second problem is, in the Republican cuts to the budget, they cut --
MS. CLIFT: Border Patrol, right.
MR. PRESS: -- in the House 2,000 border agents --
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. PRESS: -- from the border, as part of their program --
MR. BUCHANAN: The great danger of Mexico, John --
MR. PRESS: -- which is insane.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let Eleanor in. Let Eleanor in.
MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) I've been waiting so long, I'm forgetting what I wanted to say.
MR. PRESS: (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: Monica said it's a game changer because our agent was killed. If it's a game changer, the Mexican president didn't learn about it, and neither did the president, because they both said that American agents will continue to be unarmed. If we start sending armed people into Mexico, that changes the whole terms of engagement. And I don't think we want another war -- a war on our border.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MS. CROWLEY: The war is already there.
MS. CLIFT: We --
MS. CROWLEY: You've got to choose how to fight it.
MS. CLIFT: It's internally -- well --
MS. CROWLEY: It's right there on our border, and it's spilling over into the United States.
MS. CLIFT: I don't think America wants to get engaged in a hot war inside of Mexico.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hey, Pat, where is the --
MS. CLIFT: We are supplying all of their guns --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, quickly, do you have --
MS. CLIFT: -- because they're assault weapons.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you have a closing comment? Where is the United Nations on this?
MR. BUCHANAN: Nowhere. This is an America-Mexico problem. The greatest threat to the United States today, John, is on that Mexican border. There's a war going on down there. It is not on the Korean border, where we've got 28,000 troops. It's not in Afghanistan. It's not in Iraq. They've killed almost 50,000 people in this drug -- excuse me -- 35,000 people in the last four or five years. And that's coming to the United States of America.
MS. CLIFT: They're killing --
MR. BUCHANAN: You've got a failed state on your southern border of 110 million people.
MS. CLIFT: They're killing people -- they're killing people with U.S. guns, and they're killing them over drugs that we demand in this country.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Libya's Revolt. Violence this week continued between Libyan anti-government rebels and Libyan government forces, led by head of state Colonel Moammar Gadhafi. During the joint press conference with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, President Obama was asked about the conflict in Libya.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) So let me just be very unambiguous about this. Colonel Gadhafi needs to step down from power and leave.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That was Thursday. The president is also said to be weighing the pros and cons of a no-fly zone over Libya. A no- fly zone would prevent Colonel Gadhafi from using aircraft to fire on anti-government rebels and from flying outside mercenaries -- that is, hired fighters -- into Libya.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) With respect to our willingness to engage militarily, what I've instructed the Department of Defense, as well as our State Department and all those who were involved in international affairs to examine, is a full range of options. I don't want us hamstrung.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Department of Defense, however, has made it clear that a no-fly zone is a decisive military intervention. At a minimum, it would require the destruction of Libyan military hardware on Libyan soil.
DEFENSE SECRETARY ROBERT GATES: (From videotape.) Let's just call a spade a spade. A no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya to destroy the air defenses. That's the way you do a no-fly zone. And then you can -- and then you can fly planes around the country and not worry about our guys being shot down. But that's the way it starts. But it also requires more airplanes that you would find on a single aircraft carrier.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: An attack on Libya could harm or even kill Libyan civilians. This would be exactly what President Obama says he does not want to happen.
Question: What has the U.N. done to stop Gadhafi from using violence against his people? I ask this question of Pat. You know, he can't even entertain the U.N. -- Pat.
MR. PRESS: Well, very little. We've done very little; you know, the sanctions, but we can see that it hasn't slowed Gadhafi down. But I think we ought to pay attention to what Robert Gates is saying. There's a lot of loose talk about a no-fly zone.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MR. PRESS: It's an act of war, and it means we go in for a third war on top of Iraq and Afghanistan, take out their air defenses, and then shoot down any of their planes that dare fly over that country. If we're going to do that -- if we could afford it, we're going to do it. I think we have a hell of a lot better to not do it by ourselves.
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We have to degrade their antiaircraft defenses.
MR. PRESS: To start with.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If we do that, we're going to kill civilians.
When we do that --
MR. PRESS: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- this is going to become a huge conflict -- huge.
MS. CLIFT: Well, that's why --
MR. PRESS: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Certainly most of the oil that's generated in that country goes to the Europeans. Where are the Europeans in this? Are the Europeans standing back, waiting for us to take this mess and try and clean it up with Gadhafi?
MR. PRESS: Well, of course they are, because they always do. But I'm not saying we should not be rushing in there. Also, if this becomes, in my opinion, a U.S.-led attack on Gadhafi, then we lose.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is this primarily a European problem?
MR. PRESS: It is a world opinion.
MR. BUCHANAN: It is a --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it primarily European?
MR. BUCHANAN: It's Arab.
MS. CLIFT: It's everybody's problem.
MR. PRESS: It's everybody's -- I agree. It's everybody's problem. But I think the Europeans should be taking the lead --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, why are we doing the heavy lifting?
MR. BUCHANAN: Because nobody else can do it.
MS. CLIFT: We're not. We're not doing the --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you mean by that? MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. We're not --
MR. BUCHANAN: Nobody else --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, give me a break.
MS. CLIFT: I want to speak, please. We're not doing the heavy lifting. No one is doing the heavy lifting. And if we do it, we do it in the company of NATO. And that may yet unfold, depending what happens in Libya. Right now we're standing by and watching bloodshed, and it hasn't reached the level where --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Brits --
MS. CLIFT: -- we feel like it's --
MR. BUCHANAN: The Brits --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Brits have been very cozy with Gadhafi. You know that.
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah. And then Cameron --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Their heads of state have.
MR. BUCHANAN: Cameron has and Blair has. And now Cameron was hawkish. Now he's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right. Where are they? Where are they?
MR. BUCHANAN: They were hawkish, and now they've backed off, John, because what you're talking about is a war on Libya that would kill Libyans and would get maybe some of the foreigners killed. And then the United States has got to go in and win the war, because you can't let him beat us.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why doesn't the United States deal with Gadhafi directly?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think, behind the scenes, sure.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why don't we talk to him? Why don't we even give him a safe haven?
MR. BUCHANAN: I'm sure, behind the scenes, it's been offered.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: The new Irish government will burn the bond holders. It will move toward a default on its debt rather than maintain austerity. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's a keen grasp of the obvious.
MS. CLIFT: Efforts to defund Planned Parenthood will fail on Capitol Hill and will rally women against the new Republican budget cutters.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Monica.
MS. CROWLEY: The spike in oil prices will have a direct effect on the already weak housing market, because it will affect home foreclosures, and you'll see an increase there as well.
MR. PRESS: Newt Gingrich, the first Republican in the 2012 presidential race, will be the first one to drop out, because he has so much baggage, it'll never get off the ground.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?
MR. PRESS: Absolutely -- sink fast.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I can't do any better than all of that.