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JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Pawlenty's Quest.

FORMER MINNESOTA GOVERNOR AND 2012 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE TIM PAWLENTY (R): (From videotape.) Let's grow the economy by 5 percent instead of the anemic 2 percent currently envisioned.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The announced Republican presidential candidate, Tim Pawlenty, has high hopes for the U.S. economy. He wants it to grow by 5 percent -- $700 billion growth per year.

This week Governor Pawlenty unveiled his economic plan to get that 5 percent growth. One, cut corporate taxes from 35 percent to 15 percent, permitting more capital for investment and for hiring.

Two, create two tax brackets -- 10 percent bracket for family incomes up to $100,000, 25 percent for all other income.

Three, eliminate three existing taxes -- on capital gains, on dividends and on inheritances, thus yielding more spending money.

Four, balanced federal government with a constitutional amendment requiring that budgets carry no deficits.

Question: How can Tim Pawlenty combine cutting taxes and balancing the budget? I ask you, Pat.

PAT BUCHANAN: Well, you do it, John, with 5 percent growth a year, which throws off $700 billion in new GDP every year. The unemployed go back to work. They start paying taxes. They get off the unemployment rolls. And it's called, you know, the magic of Reaganomics, John. It's morning in America again all of a sudden after -- this is Reaganomics plus.

I think basically he's got some good ideas. You flatten the tax rates, reduce the tax rates, and then broaden the base, get rid of deductions, exemptions, all those things. I think that's a good idea. This looks to me like a little bit -- a little but utopian.

But he's got a good strategy, and that strategy is he's going all-out to win the Iowa caucuses and the Iowa straw poll in August. And if he does, he explodes, and he thinks he can become the rival to Mitt Romney, who's running strong in New Hampshire, when they get to South Carolina. He's got a good strategy, I think, and he's got the bold idea. And he's being tougher, more aggressive. And I think he's doing a pretty good job.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Consumer spending. That's what he wants.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, consumer spending is 70 percent of the American economy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right. He wants to generate more.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, I don't think that's exactly what we need. But, quite frankly, if you got 5 percent growth in the economy, after a while, John, the budget begins to go into balance.


ELEANOR CLIFT: Well, yes. And we have only briefly had 5 percent growth in the economy, and they came in spurts after some pretty deep downturns. And they didn't last very long. So his plan counts on 5 percent growth for 10 years. It's total fantasy. And he's out there presenting himself as a truth teller, and what he's giving us are lies dressed up as truth. His tax cuts double what President Bush put out there. They're completely unsustainable. You can't pay for them. And then he would put a clamp on all kinds of government spending.

And he has a Google test. If there's a service that you can find on the Internet, then the government shouldn't be doing that. You interpret that literally, you get rid of the FBI, you get rid of the Pentagon. You can just do it all over the Internet. It's a gimmick.


MS. CLIFT: And I think he's in a good position because there's nothing sort of objectionable about him and there aren't -- he doesn't have the flaws that some of the other candidates have. But this is a plan that --


MS. CLIFT: -- should be ridiculed and will be ridiculed.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think the story is Pawlenty, or do you think what Pawlenty is throwing into bas-relief -- namely, Obama -- where is the Obama plan for getting us out of this recession?

RICH LOWRY: That's part of it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that what is coming into play?

MR. LOWRY: That's part of it. The other part of it, John, is I think congressional Republicans are so politically over-invested in austerity, it makes a lot of sense to have a presidential candidate who's going to be over-invested in growth. And the 5 percent -- he's said this over and over again -- it's an aspirational goal. As a goal, it's a good one. If you don't believe we can hang some 5s and 6s on the board coming out of this recession, you are implicitly accepting American decline.

MS. CLIFT: Not --

MR. LOWRY: And we could -- hold on, Eleanor. And one thing we know, if you get a Republican president with this Republican Congress, you will see austerity like you won't believe. Eleanor will be howling every day of the week about these vicious budget cuts. So this is an approach that makes sense politically and substantively.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think? And welcome, by the way, Michelle.

MICHELLE BERNARD: Thank you. You know what? I like the plan. I think that if the message were being delivered by someone that had the personality of Barack Obama, the entire nation would be cheering. The messenger is a little bit boring. But when you talk about growth, again, I mean, I agree with Rich, it's a target.

It's a goal.

Any person who's setting up a business has a mission, and they look for it and they say, "Where do we want to be in the future? How do we get there?" The problem is that he has not yet talked about the spending cuts that are going to have to come along with doing that, cutting -- you know, his budget cuts would be even more drastic than Paul Ryan's. He's talking about 18 percent of our gross domestic product rather than 20 percent in the Paul Ryan plan.

MR. BUCHANAN: But you do --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Remember, in connection with Reaganomics, which you brought up, do you remember what George H.W. Bush described Reaganomics as? Voodoo economics. Voodoo economics, Ronald Reagan's economics.

MR. BUCHANAN: That was David Gergen's voodoo economics -- (laughs) -- who we worked with. But you're right, John. Look --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean his speechwriter.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah. But our friend has got a basic point. What he's talking about is growth. He's talking about jobs. He's breaking out of this terrible box Obama is in where Obama has run out of options what to do, and there's no program to get the economy moving, which you've got to do.


MR. BUCHANAN: And so he's filling a huge national vacuum.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, the Pawlenty plan this week drew the support of a major American business leader, 20-year chairman and CEO of General Electric Jack Welch.

JACK WELCH (former General Electric CEO and chairman): (From videotape.) Everything I see Tim Pawlenty say in the last month appeals to me. If you look at what he says in his vision for America and that plan he put out in the last 48 hours, every time I see him in an interview, on your show or somebody else's, the guy makes sense. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is Jack Welch jockeying for a Cabinet position in a Pawlenty presidency? (Laughter.)

MS. CLIFT: I think --

MR. LOWRY: You can't even ask the question with a straight face.

MS. CLIFT: I think not. I think not. And when President Reagan was in the White House, marginal taxes were at 70 percent. Tax revenue today is at its lowest point since 1950. This is a plan that eliminates the capital gains tax. It eliminates the estate tax. It's a huge handout to the, you know, upper income and the corporate interests. Of course they're going to be cheering.

But if it doesn't produce the 5 percent growth, then what? I don't think he's going to get to the White House to prove this plan. But I think it should be exposed for what it is. It's giving away candy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can we talk about the percentage of federal spending that Pawlenty wants this government to bear, which is 15 percent versus Obama's 25?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, 18 percent.

MS. BERNARD: Eighteen percent.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eighteen versus 25.

MR. BUCHANAN: Obama's got 25 percent and he's got 18. I don't really think honestly you can get down to 18, given the entitlement program.


MR. LOWRY: But if you aim for 18, maybe you actually end up at 20.


MR. LOWRY: So it's the right goal. And we've also got to give him credit. He is taking on entitlements. He says he'd block-grant Medicaid, raise the retirement age on Social Security, means-test Social Security. And also he won't go quite where Ryan has gone on Medicare, but he'll be pretty aggressive on Medicare as well. So he's doing the right thing.

When he tries to be interesting and exciting and inflammatory on the stump, it rings false. When he's bold and creative substantively, that's where his sweet spot is.

MS. CLIFT: This is not bold and creative. This is just pandering to the same politics that brought George W. Bush to the White House and left us with these huge deficits. MR. BUCHANAN: But Eleanor, Reaganomics works.

MS. BERNARD: But, see, I don't think it's -- I think somebody has to give us --

MR. BUCHANAN: Reaganomics works.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on. Let Michelle in.

MS. BERNARD: Someone has to give us something positive. The nation is in this perpetual sense of purgatory. What is going to happen? The Democrats, the Obama administration -- there's not enough people out there saying, "Here's what we're going to do. Here's the road forward." What we talk about instead is a bump in the road. And, you know, I'm a supporter of President Obama --


MS. BERNARD: -- but when it comes to economic policy, the nation is looking for hope.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Newt Gingrich --

MS. CLIFT: He's running around the country --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Eleanor -- Newt Gingrich three weeks ago.

FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER AND 2012 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE NEWT GINGRICH (R-GA): (From videotape.) I am running for president because this country needs very dramatic change. I'm going to outline a program of very dramatic change.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: This week Newt got his drama, but it wasn't what he had in mind. What happened, Rich Lowry?

MR. LOWRY: Well, unfortunately, there's no more inevitable headline in the 2012 primaries than "Gingrich Campaign Implodes," although I think everyone was surprised at how quickly we got that headline. There was a dispute over strategy. Basically, would Newt run a serious campaign or not? And when you go to the Greek isles on a vacation with your wife after the story breaks about the Tiffany expense account, you are not running a serious campaign. So all the serious political professionals got out of there.

MS. CLIFT: It's an aspirational campaign. (Laughter.) He just wants all of us to imagine we can have revolving accounts at Tiffany's and go on cruises off the Greek isles. He wanted to --

MS. BERNARD: Can I -- MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. He wanted to run a campaign where he just shows up at debates and does social media. And he has a lot of hired guns, professionals, working for him. They want to run a real campaign. And so they've exposed him for the charade he is.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. And he wanted to do TV. He didn't want to do ground.

MS. CLIFT: That's right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And that didn't go over well with his campaign squad.

Exit question: Does Tim Pawlenty now have the momentum, the big mo? Is the force with Pawlenty? Yes or no.

MR. BUCHANAN: He's got the big mo in Iowa, which he has to win. And he could win it.


MS. CLIFT: He doesn't have big mo. (Laughter.) He may be the last man standing.

MR. BUCHANAN: He's got some little mo. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: Right. Exactly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you laughing at your own candidate, Buchanan?

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: Mitt Romney is still the putative front runner.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's about as far as you can go.

MS. CLIFT: That's right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does he have the force with him?

MR. LOWRY: Yeah, I would say some mo. He has some mo.


MR. LOWRY: Some mo.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not the force.

MR. LOWRY: Not big mo, but some. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK.

MS. BERNARD: He's in a better position than Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin. He's got some mo. He's getting there.


MS. BERNARD: Some mo.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I would say reasonable mo.

Issue Two: Afghanistan Exodus.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) These additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This was the president's statement at West Point in December 2009, a year and a half ago. And the transfer of power in Afghanistan has begun. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a veteran of 28 missions to Afghanistan, elaborated on the commander in chief's decision.

DEFENSE SECRETARY ROBERT GATES: (From videotape.) They're making substantial military progress on the ground. I also reiterated my belief that these gains could be threatened if we do not proceed with the transition to Afghan security lead in a deliberate, organized and coordinated manner.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee echoed the decision to withdraw troops at his full committee hearing this week.

SENATOR JOHN KERRY (D-MA): (From videotape.) Our current commitment in troops and in dollars is neither proportional to our interests nor sustainable.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: John Kerry is a Democrat. And even Republicans on the committee are open to the withdrawal of troops.

SENATOR JAMES RISCH (R-ID): (From videotape.) And if they don't want what we're trying to give them, it's not going to work.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is Afghanistan a vital strategic interest to the United States? Michelle Bernard.

MS. BERNARD: I absolutely feel that Afghanistan -- that entire region is a vital security interest to our country. And I think many Americans -- as much as we want our troops out there and we don't want to lose any more American blood, a lot of people have to sit back and ask themselves, are we going to be safe as a nation if we pull out of Afghanistan? The other thing that I want to raise, John, that I think is something that people tend to leave out of the equation is what kind of country is Afghanistan going to be for women when we pull out of that country? You cannot have a democracy, you cannot have a civilized nation, when half of the people that live in your country are treated as sub-human beings.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about that, Pat? Is Afghanistan a matter of vital national interest?

MR. BUCHANAN: Afghanistan was never a vital interest of the United States, John. But we've been there 10 years. We've put in 100,000 troops, got 15 (hundred), 1,600 dead; cost almost half a billion (sic/means trillion) dollars. If the United States now pulls out and this thing collapses and is ceded to the Taliban, the Americans would be perceived as a superpower that lost a war in which it committed itself and will cease to be a superpower.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, here's the --

MS. CLIFT: We're not --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Eleanor. Here's the arithmetic. It's now nine years and 300 days, practically 10 years old. It's the longest war in American history, longer than the American Civil War, World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War. U.S. military dead, 1,602. U.S. dollars spent in Afghanistan, $444 billion, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Well, we're not pulling out precipitously. What they're talking about is beginning a withdrawal. And there are 100,000 U.S. troops there. The surge that this president ordered is 30,000 troops. And you have the hawks on Capitol Hill, led by John McCain, saying we can only pull out 3,000. You have Democrats wanting to pull out the whole 30,000 surge, which would still leave 70,000 troops in Afghanistan. And knowing President Obama, who likes to split the difference, he'll probably begin with a withdrawal of some 10,000.

But you cannot keep justifying this continued presence beyond 10 years. You're going to have to wind it down. There are talks going on with the Taliban. And, you know, I don't see a happy ending. I don't know if there's winning and losing. But I don't think this president is going to totally walk away from the U.S. obligation.


MR. LOWRY: There's no reason to pull out troops this July. We've made gains in the south, taking away safe havens that they have had for years and where we have never been. You want to hold that ground. And I object -- I think this Washington debate is disconnected to what's happening in Afghanistan. I think since the surge we're pointing in the right direction on key things. The goal is clear -- an Afghan government that's stable enough to patrol and police itself in the south. And the end point is clear; we're out at the end of 2014.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, but you're out at the end of 2014. What happens then? Let me add a report in The Washington Post, which basically said if we pull out, the whole bottom will drop out of this thing. It was produced by the United States Senate.


MS. CLIFT: The economy would drop. They say the economy is dependent on U.S. aid. I don't know that we're going to continue --

MR. LOWRY: They have been focusing on --

(Cross talk.)

MS. BERNARD: Yeah, what happens with the Taliban, al-Qaida, their relationship with Pakistan? The area is so critical to our safety at home.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think you're saying it's going to be a disaster, and I think you're right.

MS. BERNARD: I do. I do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Afghanistan theater is not a theater in which our national security interest is at stake. We should pull out, and pull out right away -- slowly, but pull out.

Issue Three: Underwear Bomber II.

REPRESENTATIVE ANTHONY WEINER (D-NY): (From videotape.) I am deeply sorry that I lied about this. But at the end of the day, I lied because I was embarrassed. I lied because I was ashamed of what I had done and didn't want to get caught. To be clear, the picture was of me and I sent it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: New York Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner this week admitted to sending an underwear anatomy photo of himself to a woman via his Twitter account. Congressman Weiner also admitted that he had five days earlier lied when he claimed that the photo was sent by a hacker who broke into Weiner's Twitter account.

Here's the congressman's original mendacious language.

REP. WEINER: (From videotape.) The main question that a lot of people are asking is, did I send the photograph? I did not. This was a prank, a hoax. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that, quote-unquote, "prank" may have cost Congressman Weiner the support of the Democratic Party. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says that she will refer the matter to the House Ethics Committee to review whether Mr. Weiner broke chamber rules, including using official resources to communicate with six women.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid appears to be turning his back on the congressman.

(Begin videotaped segment.)

SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID (D-NV): I'm not here to defend Weiner.

Q: What advice would you give him if he asked you?

SEN. REID: Call somebody else.

(End videotaped segment.)


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: A recent poll shows that 56 percent of voters in Congressman Weiner's district -- where is it?

MR. BUCHANAN: It's up in Queens --

MS. CLIFT: Queens and Brooklyn.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- Queens and Brooklyn, yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Queens and Brooklyn.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's Eleanor Clift territory.

MS. CLIFT: That's my neighborhood. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- do not think he should resign.

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So will Weiner survive? I ask you, Rich.

MR. LOWRY: I think he will. There are three things that could make him go: His conscience, his wife and his party. His conscience is not a problem. His wife is sticking by him. His party wants him to go. But there's a question of what mechanism they have to make him go. And I think he's just learning the Governor Sanford lesson, that if you just stay there, it doesn't matter how much people howl and pound on you and joke about you; you can stay. MR. BUCHANAN: It's the Clinton --

MS. CLIFT: Right. And his wife really is, I think, the only aggrieved party here. And I gather that she's following what I would call the Hillary strategy. Their marriage is in part a political partnership. And she wants him to stay in Congress, and she's sticking by him. And that is a huge plus in his corner to stick it out.

And, you know, the voters in Brooklyn and Queens may get the decision in their hands, and that's more than a year from now.

MR. BUCHANAN: You know, John, I think that Weiner -- I tend to agree; I think he's going to stay. First, he's committed no crime. He has lied publicly. But I don't think he's violated the ethics rules of the House. He's engaged in consensual sex, as they say. Under the new morality, some people are moving to -- some people are moving to his side. But he has damaged somebody else.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: His ethics --

MR. BUCHANAN: He's humiliated the Democratic Party. He's knocked them off their game. And people are laughing and mocking them and attacking Democrats, saying, "Weiner's one of yours. Why don't you demand his" --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Here's what --

MS. CLIFT: They're attacking the whole Congress, basically.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on. Here's what House ethics rule number one is: "A member, officer, or employee of the House of Representative shall conduct themselves at all times in a manner which shall reflect creditably on the House of Representatives."

MS. BERNARD: Yeah. And you know what is so sad about this? If we go back and we name all of the bad men who we've seen engage in improprieties in Congress over the last few years, not one of them could meet that standard. And what has happened, I think, is a crying shame, is that the country has become numb to it. "Well, Governor Sanford made it. He could stay."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Governor of where?

MS. BERNARD: South Carolina, former governor of South Carolina.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Argentina.

MS. BERNARD: And his Argentina, you know, lover. And we have become numb to it. I think it is an absolute embarrassment. And Pat, not only did he embarrass the Democratic Party. He has humiliated his wife -- MR. BUCHANAN: Right.

MS. BERNARD: -- and he has humiliated the child --

MR. BUCHANAN: But is this --

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but we don't want to criminalize --

MR. BUCHANAN: Where are the grounds for expulsion?

MS. CLIFT: You don't want to criminalize this kind of behavior.

MS. BERNARD: No, I'm not criminalizing it, but I'm saying that our elected members of Congress, just as the president, every single person that we elect, should have --

MS. CLIFT: They're a representative body.

MR. LOWRY: The point is --

MS. BERNARD: -- a moral obligation to uphold --

MR. LOWRY: The standard should be higher than the law.

MS. BERNARD: Exactly.

MR. LOWRY: That's the point.

MS. CLIFT: They're a representative body, unfortunately, of Americans, and they have a lot of human foibles. And I think that the Congress --

MR. LOWRY: I mean, lying through your teeth --

MS. CLIFT: When you talk about bringing --

MR. LOWRY: -- repeatedly like that is not a mere foible.

MS. CLIFT: How many members up there have lied on lots of things?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is one of the -- MR. LOWRY: Lying on TV serially like that --

MS. BERNARD: It's not just the lying; taking pictures of your body and emailing them to people --

MR. BUCHANAN: It's disgraceful behavior.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that that's going to stir a sexting craze on the part of average Americans?

MR. LOWRY: It already is.

MR. BUCHANAN: It already exists.

MR. LOWRY: He's at the tail of the phrase.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's already there. But do you think this is going to energize it and give it a new, rich dimension?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think it will, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Four: Job Angst.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) I'm not concerned about a double-dip recession. I am concerned about the fact that the recovery that we're on is not producing jobs as quickly as I wanted to.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The job market should be a major concern for President Obama, and ostensibly it is. The unemployment rate is 9.1 percent. No president since 1944, 70 years ago, has been re-elected to a second term when the national unemployment rate has been above 7.2 percent. And these job numbers this weekend, in almost mid-June, are still worrisome.

Item: Individuals unemployed, 14 million.

Item: Seven months or longer unemployed, 6.2 million people.

Item: Average time unemployed, nine months. That's the longest time spent looking for a job since 1948.

As for the overall future, Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, says the economic trajectory remains positive, but uneven and slow.

BEN BERNANKE (Federal Reserve chairman): (From videotape.) Overall, the economic recovery appears to be continuing at a moderate pace, albeit at a rate that is both uneven across sectors and frustratingly slow from the perspective of millions of unemployed and underemployed workers. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The American people are less enthusiastic. Their overall view of the economy is much grimmer. Seventy-nine percent say that the economy is in bad shape. Nearly 50 percent of Americans believe we will face another great depression within the next 12 months.

Question: What was the good news about the economy this week, Rich Lowry?

MR. LOWRY: It escapes me, John. Maybe the stock market held up, but that's really not what people are worried about. If you look at the job market --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, do you want me to tell you?

MR. LOWRY: Please do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Beige Book says no double-dip recession.

MR. LOWRY: Oh. Well, that's good. That's good.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know what the Beige Book is?

MR. LOWRY: I don't.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's part of the arsenal of the Federal Reserve Board.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All of the individual eight or so entities that constitute the Federal Reserve, they call in and they give what the story is in their own environment. That's called the Beige Book. And the Beige Book says no double-dip recession, but a resumption of slightly higher growth for the rest of the year.

MR. LOWRY: But this is the problem, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Federal Reserve Beige Book.


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you familiar with that, Pat?

MR. LOWRY: This is the problem.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, I am familiar with the Beige Book. But let me say this. May's figures were horrible. You got -- jobs created, I think, went down to 55,000 rather than 250,000 expected. Manufacturing went down. Consumer sentiment went down. Two million homes are vacant.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. MR. BUCHANAN: You've got -- one fourth of all homes are underwater. John, it may be a bump in the road. I think we all hope it is, frankly, for the American people.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think --

MR. BUCHANAN: But if it's not, the president is going to have a horrendous time getting re-elected.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is this the ledge time? The ledge -- go out on the ledge now?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think -- start approaching it. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What were you going to say?

MR. LOWRY: If you --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He was in the middle of some --

MR. LOWRY: If you stay at 2 percent and you don't have a double dip, that's not very good news, because that's not enough to get the job market going. A third of the people who are unemployed have been unemployed for more than a year. And the longer you're unemployed, the more your skills erode and the harder it is to get a job. This is an unspooling catastrophe for the country.

MS. CLIFT: Well, I would like the president to get out there with a little more urgency in his discussions about what he would like to see happen. Even if he can't get things passed through Congress, he's got to let the American people know that he's working for them. And if the other side is obstructing, you know, point them out. I think we need --

MR. LOWRY: More deficit spending.

MS. CLIFT: Yes, we do.

MR. LOWRY: More deficit spending. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: There was not -- that's exactly right. All of this talk about cutting back spending is exactly the wrong thing to do when you're still in --


MS. CLIFT: -- a recession.

MS. BERNARD: Can I -- I mean, what I want to add is, as we talk about the unemployment rate, one of the things that this president really needs to look at also -- and there's no magic program; there's no magic panacea for how we get the government -- how we get our economy back on track. But the unemployment rate in this country for African-Americans is over 16 percent.

MR. BUCHANAN: Sixteen-point-two.

MS. BERNARD: And what he's got to worry about is do African- Americans give up and show in 2012 to try to re-elect him, or do they stay home?

MR. LOWRY: That is depression levels of unemployment.

MS. BERNARD: It is horrible.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's another problem. Harper's Magazine reports that research shows that American men forced to quit work prematurely who can't find replacement jobs have a 78 percent higher risk of early death. If unemployment remains elevated for the next five years, hundreds of thousands will die early deaths.

Will the commander in chief pull out troops from Afghanistan? And, if so, how many?

MR. BUCHANAN: Eight (thousand) to 12,000 in July.

MS. CLIFT: Ten (thousand) to 15,000 in July.


MR. LOWRY: Not more than five (thousand).

MS. BERNARD: I'm with Rich -- 5,000 in July.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'll say 10,000.