The McLaughlin Group
Host: John McLaughlin
Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist;
Eleanor Clift, The Daily Beast;
Guy Taylor, Washington Times;
Mort Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report
Taped: Friday, October 25, 2013
Broadcast: October 26-27, 2013
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JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Website Woes.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) There's no sugarcoating it. The website has been too slow. People have been getting stuck during the application process. And I think it's fair to say that nobody's more frustrated by that than I am.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Affordable Care Act has been the law of the land for three years, since 2010, midway through President Obama's first term. The law requires all Americans to be covered by health insurance. All U.S. citizens have until the end of March 2014, five months from now, to buy health insurance unless they already have it.
If uninsured Americans do not buy in, they will be penalized by the IRS. The penalty for the first year is $95 per adult, or 1 percent of family income, whichever sum is greater, plus an annual penalty hike for those who don't buy in.
This year, 2013, enrollment for the uninsured began on October 1, four weeks ago, utilizing an "Obamacare" website called HealthCare.gov. The portal is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services, headed by Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and was set up with the assistance of private IT contractors, notably the Canadian company CGI.
That's when the disaster struck. Technological glitches stonewalled millions who tried to access the health insurance website. The rollout has been disastrous, a technical nuclear bomb. And this occurred after contractors had assured the U.S. House of Representatives that everything was on track for the "Obamacare" launch.
But the launch was when the "Obamacare" Titanic hit the iceberg. This week the president enlisted -- get this -- a, quote-unquote, "technology surge" of experts to fix the website. But don't hold your breath. You don't have to. The deadline for enrolling and avoiding an IRS penalty has been extended by six weeks, to March 31, 2014.
The angelic press spokesman calmed everyone's fears.
WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY: (From videotape.) The law is clear that if you do not have access to affordable health insurance, then you will not be being asked to pay a penalty because you haven't purchased affordable health insurance.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: On "Obamacare," the president was keeping tabs and had direct control over what the start-up of "Obamacare" entailed. So what does this rollout tell us about President Obama?
PAT BUCHANAN: John, in about three years in World War II the United States devised, tested, built, constructed an atom bomb and dropped two of them on Japanese cities in the Manhattan Project in three years. In three years these folks, with half a billion dollars, couldn't get a website up and running.
It is a blow to the competence of the Obama administration. When it's coming down the road, Ms. Sebelius is going to lose her job over this. I think they're going to kick the individual mandate down a year. It is a very big problem.
But the key question is, is this just a problem with the website that can be corrected and will pass away, or is the whole program in deep trouble across the board? And if it is, it's going to be a real problem next November.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, wasting $500 million. What do you think of that?
ELEANOR CLIFT: I don't know that they've wasted $500 million. They did a call with reporters Friday at noon. They have brought in a contractor to oversee QSSI. I now know more about codes and overseeing websites than I ever thought I should or would know.
And Jeffrey Zients, the gentleman who's a systems engineer, really, is doing a great job. And he told reporters that by the end of November the overwhelming majority of people who use the site will be able to complete the process smoothly. He also said that when they started out, it was like three out of 10 could get through. He acknowledges that it was a pretty big disaster.
They've got a punch list, and they are punching through this to correct all the aberrations. And he seems confident, by the end of November, it's going to be OK. And I must say, this is not unusual in the world of websites. You know, I often go on --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. (Acknowledging.)
MS. CLIFT: -- Twitter, and the little bird comes on and says, you know, sorry, we're not up right now; come back another time. When the Affordable Care -- not the Affordable Care Act, but the prescription Part D went online during the Bush administration, there were lots of problems. And a lot of the Republicans today who are screaming about "Obamacare" said at that time, hey, it's computer glitches.
So, I mean, I think you're going to have to give this a little time. People have the better part of six months to sign up. I think it's going to be all right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it may be more than that. It may be a hex. The NSA has a $1.4 billion Utah data storage facility that keeps burning up due to electrical surges. There have been 10 meltdowns in the past 13 months.
GUY TAYLOR: Fine, there are big website problems with "Obamacare." But I think what's refreshing right now is that the critics of this "Obamacare" Affordable Care Act are actually starting to look at how do we fix it rather than focusing all of their energies on let's defund this thing; we can't accept it as the new law.
And we should remember that as this mirror program was originally rolled out in Massachusetts in 2006, it took roughly three years before major problems with the system began to get fixed.
So I think insurance companies involved with this and analysts that I've talked to this week are going to tell you that the insurance companies want to wait until -- they're not going to rush to judgment in the first three weeks based on whether or not there were Web glitches.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Thirty-six states are affected by this. What do you think?
MORT ZUCKERMAN: Yeah, listen, I think, call it what you will, whatever you think about the whole concept and idea of "Obamacare," the execution of it has been disastrous. And this has really undermined a lot of confidence in the program, undermined confidence in the administration and their competency.
Jeff Zients happens to be an extraordinarily talented person whom I happen to know, and he may be able to cure it. I don't think it's going to happen in the next week or two weeks or three weeks. It's going to take quite a bit of time.
And people are now really hurting because a lot of their existing health insurance programs have gotten all bollixed up because they've tried to process this thing through this website. So there is a lot of confusion and a lot of problems going along with it, and it's a real black mark for the Obama administration.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's getting close to being a laughingstock.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes.
MR. BUCHANAN: You know, again, and as Eleanor would say, if they clear it up, this will all pass away.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, and if --
MR. BUCHANAN: But if this affects the program itself, as Mort is saying, and you're down the road, this is going to be a permanent stain on the Obama administration and the whole idea of government as efficient, effective, and really being able to do the job.
MS. CLIFT: Funny that that didn't happen after the prescription Part D had problems.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, it was cleaned up.
MS. CLIFT: And nobody's given up on -- I believe Twitter had problems. I believe the rollout of the iPhone, Apple had problems. You know, people are not --
MR. BUCHANAN: So did the Edsel, and we don't have the Edsel anymore.
MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. People who are going on this website, most of them would crawl over broken glass in order to get health coverage. And when they're not sitting home --
MR. BUCHANAN: That's what they've got to do.
MS. CLIFT: -- waiting for the cable guy to come -- (laughs) --
MR. BUCHANAN: Larry the Cable Guy?
MS. CLIFT: You know, people put up with -- people put up with inconvenience in a lot of areas.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did anybody --
MS. CLIFT: And it's going to get better.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did any buy insurance --
MS. CLIFT: It's going to get better.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- through the exchanges?
MR. BUCHANAN: Me?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did anybody?
MS. CLIFT: Seven hundred thousand people have completed the --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Out of how many millions who weren't able to get through?
MR. TAYLOR: One of the very troubling things here, John, is that the online Web-based exchange is really the heart of this program.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.
MR. TAYLOR: And the fact that the heart is not working the first few weeks scares everybody involved.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but, you know --
MR. TAYLOR: The second thing is --
MS. CLIFT: -- you can use the phone. (Laughs.)
MR. TAYLOR: -- that the mantra -- you can use the phone.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, I mean, it's not the end of the world.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's high tech.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: You could also walk over to the --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, here's the data. What are the hard numbers? Delaware had one enrollee as of October 24th; Alaska, seven; Wisconsin had 50; Oregon, none; South Dakota, 23; North Dakota, 20. The White House had expected 494,000 signups in October and 2 million by December the 15th. That speaks for itself.
MS. CLIFT: But it's not --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Does the flawed rollout of "Obamacare" vindicate the GOP's demand for delay? Yes or no, Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: Not only that; there are five Democratic senators who were going to go for it. We're going to get a delay, and it's going to vindicate the tea party's second position.
MS. CLIFT: They put in a six-week delay. There's already time built in; no penalizing, no mandate to pay the penalty until after March. It's only October. There is time here.
MR. BUCHANAN: (You've ?) got one more year.
MS. CLIFT: Take a deep breath, Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: And look at some of the coverage around the country.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. (Acknowledging.)
MS. CLIFT: There are a lot of positive stories in every state of people who are coming onto this exchange and grateful that insurance is available to them.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Technology is not President Obama's long suit.
MR. TAYLOR: I disagree.
MR. BUCHANAN: His campaign was phenomenal.
MR. TAYLOR: This is one of the most ironic things about this.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The same thing happened with Solyndra. Do you remember Solyndra?
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, but his campaign was phenomenal in terms of high tech and advanced.
MR. TAYLOR: (Inaudible) -- incredible amount of money.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There you are. That's the open sesame -- politics, right?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, yeah. But they did a phenomenal job.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Obama politics.
MR. BUCHANAN: How can they have failed there with their major program, when the campaign --
MS. CLIFT: There were 55 contractors, and it's a huge undertaking.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you finish your point?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Look, whatever it is, you can say how many contractors there are. It is --
MS. CLIFT: It's complicated.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- an enormous black eye for this administration. The way they presented this, nobody anticipated this, and nobody had any reason to anticipate it.
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: They screwed it up, and there's no other way of looking at it.
MS. CLIFT: Well, and they didn't --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think you summarized it very well, Mort. Don't forget, the McLaughlin Group --
MS. CLIFT: They did screw it up, but that doesn't mean the law's bad.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- has its own website, and you can watch us on the Web at any time from anywhere in the world at McLaughlin.com.
Issue Two: GOP Slippage.
Republicans hold the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives -- 232 Republicans to 200 Democrats. With an election year looming in 2014, next year, Republicans obviously hope to hold on to the House and to better reach groups that did not vote in high margins for them in the last election, 2012.
But new polling data taken following the 16-day-long government shutdown holds dire news for the GOP. When asked who was mainly responsible for the partial shutdown of the federal government, a solid 53 percent of Americans say congressional Republicans, compared to 29 percent President Obama.
Fifty-six percent of Americans now consider the Republican Party as too extreme, compared to 48 percent who said the same in March, only seven months ago. When asked if the election for the House of Representatives were held today, 49 percent say they would vote for the Democratic candidate, as compared to 38 percent the Republican candidate, an 11-point margin of difference.
Question: Why aren't Republicans doing better? And where is the soul of the Republican Party? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, John, the soul -- heart and soul of the party, I think, is really out in the country. It's at the grassroots. It's populist. It's conservative. It's traditionalist. It wants to fight. And there's no doubt, however, that the power -- a lot of the power is located here in D.C.
But in the long run, John, the Republican Party is facing inexorable demographic death. Ninety percent of Mitt Romney's vote came from European-Americans, white Americans. And they have now fallen to 73 percent of the electorate and 63 percent of the population. And it's getting smaller and smaller and smaller.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why?
MR. BUCHANAN: It's because of the mass immigration, the change in demography in the United States. If you take the three minorities -- Asians, Hispanics and African-Americans -- and bunch them all together, which are now about 40 percent of the country, they vote 80 percent Democratic. And that is growing gradually and gradually and gradually. And the inexorable -- I mean, the death of the Republican Party as we knew it is inevitable.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but you shouldn't --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah.
MS. CLIFT: You shouldn't have to be a white European to like the Republican Party. The Republican Party has appealed to people beyond that particular demographic throughout its history. Republicans today are so obsessed with their dislike of this president, their dislike of "Obamacare," and they're offering no positive ideas at all. They're dominated by just saying no to anything that the president wants to do.
And they're fighting among themselves. You have the so-called insurgent Republicans determined to kill off all of the traditional Republicans in the primaries. And so, you know, I think it's tempting for Democrats to just sit back and, you know, let the destruction continue. But we need two viable parties in this country.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. Guy Taylor, can you sort this out?
MR. TAYLOR: Away from the bluster and the politics in Washington and the mainstream media about this, the real question is which wing of the Republican Party can raise more money over the next year going into the midterm elections. Is it the tea party extremist wing that is calling for things like government shutdowns, or is it the more moderate, traditional center, the power base of the party in Washington? And that's an open question right now.
So my answer to your first question, John, is I think it's a bit of a divided soul.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The job market is poor. Who bears most responsibility for that in the eyes of the American people, the Democrats or the Republicans?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, right now the Republicans, in my judgment, if they don't focus on the weak economy and the weak job market, they don't deserve to be in power, OK? This is an obvious (answer ?). There are 24 million people in America who are either out of work or have given up looking for work. We have the worst employment since the Great Depression. Somebody's got to be able to say, hey, the government, the Obama administration, is responsible for this at some level. And the Republicans can't make an issue out of it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who can lead the Republicans at this difficult time? Is it Ted Cruz of Texas?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: If they put Ted Cruz of Texas, they will be out of power for about a generation.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, absolutely.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why do you say that?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Because he is on the far right of the American public --
MR. BUCHANAN: Hey, John --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- and on the far right of the -- he's a very intelligent guy. He doesn't deserve to be --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's extremely popular in Texas.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't care where he is in Texas. He's not going to win the election for the Republicans.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, let me --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: The guy who can win the election is somebody like Jeb Bush of Florida, who's a moderate, very effective, very appealing governor.
MR. BUCHANAN: I think he's a little too vanilla. I think he's a little too vanilla.
Look, you're missing the problem, John. Look, we now have, because of the massive growth of the welfare state, half the American people are getting benefits directly from government, including old folks and everyone else, and a diminishing half is paying all the freight. There is less and less reason for that one half that gets benefits and pays no taxes -- why would you vote for a party that cuts taxes you don't pay?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Obama's -- hold on -- Obama's job approval has dropped for the past three months and is now 44.5 percent, hitting a low of 41 percent at the height of the shutdown battle. What does that slippage tell you? Does it tell you that neither GOP or Obama has escaped --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- the shutdown --
MR. BUCHANAN: That's good --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: What it tells you -- what it tells you, if I may say so, is that they do not think he is an outstanding leader. I'm not saying --
MR. BUCHANAN: Right.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- he's a terrible leader, but they don't think he's a real leader. And what they do know --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is this, psychoanalysis time of Obama again?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I think that's what happened.
MR. BUCHANAN: But Mort, he's far better -- far better than anybody else in the country. He's number one. Forty-four -- excuse me -- is not bad.
MS. CLIFT: And every program he puts up, the Republicans stand up and say no. Immigration reform is the next one out there. And if the Republicans say no --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No question --
MS. CLIFT: -- that's a political gift to Democrats and the president.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- the Republicans are to blame.
MS. CLIFT: That's right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: U.S.-Pakistan --
MS. CLIFT: I'm glad you see it that way.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- tango.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) We believe that if Pakistan is secure and peaceful and prosperous, that's not only good for Pakistan; it's good for the region and it's good for the world.
PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER NAWAZ SHARIF: (From videotape.) We also discussed a common vision to build a robust bilateral cooperation, a broad-based stable and enduring partnership founded on the principles of mutual respect and -- (inaudible).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: President Obama met with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif this week, the first time the two have ever met in person. Pakistan is a member of the nine-member nuclear bomb club. In recent years, the U.S.-Pakistan relationship has been proper, but to some extent strained.
Notably, one, bin Laden raid. U.S. Navy SEALs raided the compound of Osama bin Laden and killed him in May 2011 in the city of Abbottabad on Pakistani soil.
Two, friendly fire. A U.S. air strike in November 2011, two years ago, mistakenly struck a Pakistani army post on the Afghan- Pakistan border. The missile killed at least 24 Pakistani soldiers. Pakistan retaliated by closing a key military supply route for U.S. troops stationed and fighting in neighboring Afghanistan.
Three, Taliban ties. Pakistan has an historical connection to the Taliban. Islamabad helped the group gain power in Afghanistan in the mid 1990s. How deep those ties may still go is a source of watchful concern between the U.S. and Pakistan.
Four, drone strikes. The U.S. targets suspected militants in Pakistan's northwest tribal region near Pakistan's border with Afghanistan. Unfortunately, drones can mistakenly kill Pakistani civilians, as happened in Pakistan's North Waziristan area.
Drone strikes are highly unpopular, even hateful, to Pakistan's public. Watchdog groups like Amnesty International have questioned and sharply criticized the U.S. on their legality and their lethality. Prime Minister Sharif emphasized the horror of these civilian killings.
PRIME MINISTER SHARIF: (From videotape.) I also brought up the issue of drones in our meeting, emphasizing the need for an end to such strikes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Despite its rough spots, the U.S. needs Pakistan; e.g., in 15 months, U.S. combat troops will exit Afghanistan, and the shortest route out is through Pakistan to a seaport for troop transfer. And Pakistan needs the U.S., notably U.S. aid, $1.6 billion in aid, which, by the way, was released contemporaneously with Prime Minister Sharif's visit. In U.S. aid disbursements, Pakistan is the fourth-largest recipient, preceded only by Afghanistan, Israel and Iraq.
Question: Is Pakistan Prime Minister Sharif determined to turn over a new leaf when it comes to the drone attacks? Guy Taylor.
MR. TAYLOR: The answer is no, John. What's happening here is a very complicated situation that's influenced heavily by the domestic politics inside Pakistan, where people are pushing back against the very fragile civilian government.
This Nawaz Sharif government is new. It's the first democratically elected government they're trying to hold up. And there's a lot of criticism and backlash to U.S. drone strikes, having a foreign power all the way over on this side of the world kill innocent civilians with remote -- missiles from remote-control airplanes.
MS. CLIFT: The Washington Post had a major --
MR. TAYLOR: Just one more --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him finish. Let him finish.
MR. TAYLOR: At the same time, as Eleanor was just going to say, this week there was a big story about CIA and Pakistani intelligence collusion over the drone program, which suggests that Nawaz Sharif's people are very much working with Washington on these attacks.
MR. BUCHANAN: But John, there's no country in the world where America is more --
MR. TAYLOR: There is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him finish.
MR. TAYLOR: There is still more than meets the eye here.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What?
MR. TAYLOR: What is the strategic interest for the United States to continue having this relationship with Pakistan? The United States wants to get out of Afghanistan. The Obama administration wants it to happen. The Pakistanis are very paranoid that that's going to lead to a rise of influence of the Indians --
MR. BUCHANAN: Right.
MR. TAYLOR: -- in Afghanistan.
MR. BUCHANAN: They're going to be left alone.
MR. TAYLOR: The Pakistanis are a very close ally with the Chinese, and the United States are a very close ally with the Indians. There's a possible realignment happening in this whole relationship in the region now that Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaida leaders have been killed.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why should this be a matter of great concern to the United States?
MR. BUCHANAN: We're going to be coming home from Pakistan, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What?
MR. BUCHANAN: We're going to be coming home, and I'll tell you why. There's no country on earth --
MS. CLIFT: Not from Pakistan -- Afghanistan.
MR. BUCHANAN: There's no country on earth where the Americans are more hated than Pakistan, which was a loyal, reliable ally through the Nixon-Kissinger-Reagan years.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And what happened?
MR. BUCHANAN: They feel we abandoned them and we went to India, which was in the bag with the Soviet Union, and we left them behind. And after we did the number on the Soviets in Afghanistan, we walked away from them, and we always do. And I think we're going to do it again.
MS. CLIFT: Actually, this was a very positive meeting between these two leaders. And the bottom line is that what leaders say in public, whatever country they're from, and what they say in private are often two very different things. There's much more going on beneath the surface between these two countries --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Guess who's building --
MS. CLIFT: -- than the hostile public remarks would indicate.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Guess who's building two high-powered nuclear plants in Karachi? The Chinese.
MR. BUCHANAN: Sure.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Pat.
Issue Four: Economic Fright Night.
September's jobs report, released by the Labor Department a week before Halloween because of delays caused by the government shutdown, has thrown a gloomy spell over economic forecasts. The economy added a chilly 148,000 jobs in September. This anemic September number brings the average for the third quarter to 129,000 net jobs monthly, far below the red-hot average of 200,000 jobs earlier in the year.
Unemployment dipped from 7.3 percent to 7.2 percent, due in part to another 136,000 workers dropping out of the workforce. Counting those who want full-time work but can't find it, the unemployment rate is 13.6 percent. Over 90 million working-age Americans are now idle, up 10 million since President Obama took office. For every three Americans who have jobs, there are two working-age adults who are no longer looking for work.
This spooky jobs report, along with the effects of the 16-day government shutdown, caused economists to scroll back their forecasts for growth this year to barely 2 percent. These forecasts have sent shivers up the backs of retailers, whose (high ?) sales holiday season is now haunted by the specter of another round of budget negotiations between President Obama and the Congress, due to conclude in December.
Some analysts see this year's combination of decelerating job creation and accelerating policy uncertainty from Washington as a witch's brew for the economy for Thanksgiving and beyond.
Question: Mort, peer into your crystal ball and tell us what the latest jobs report portends.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, it does speak to the very serious weakness of the economy in the context of the largest fiscal and monetary stimulus in our history. Just to compare it, we aren't even growing at 2 percent. The economy is growing, but a good chunk of it is because of inventory accumulation. But if you take that out, we're growing at less than one and a half percent on average over the last few years. This compares to every previous recovery from a recession, where in four years the average rate of growth was 4.1 percent. For us, the four-year average is about 1.7 percent.
So we have had a huge, huge weakness, despite the fiscal stimulus. What's more, the money that we are spending is not going to build up the capital base, both in terms of intellectual capital and business capital, that's going to create a platform for future growth in the economy. So I think we have real things to worry about in this economy in a way that we have not seen.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So no tapering of the QE3 in the foreseeable future, even with the arrival of the new head of the Fed.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Quite the opposite. Janet Yellen, who is the new Fed chairperson, she is -- the two main objectives of the Federal Reserve, one of them is employment, or unemployment, and the other is inflation. She's not going to concentrate on inflation. That is not an issue. But unemployment is a real issue. So she's going to do whatever she can to stimulate the creation of jobs in this country.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: I'm all for those monetary policies and for pumping in the stimulus. But what's operating against that is the obsession on Capitol Hill with austerity. And austerity is not going to work in this country any more than it has or is working in Europe. They've just got to -- you know, it's fine to get the debt under control, but it's out in the future. Right now the focus should be getting America back to work and getting this economy up and running.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. (Acknowledging.)
MS. CLIFT: And the impasse between the House Republicans, primarily, and this president are really dragging down the economy.
MR. BUCHANAN: Eleanor may not --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The new normal of the workforce has declined to 62.2 percent of its potential, the lowest since the 1970s.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of that?
MR. BUCHANAN: You've got 78 million baby boomers who are marching into retirement, to Social Security and Medicare, in the next 18 years. As for the sequester, you're going to get the sequester whether you like it or not, Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)
MR. BUCHANAN: The key question is whether inflation pops up. And if it does and Janet Yellen pulls back on QE3, you're going to see interest rates pop up, and you are going to have a real problem in 2014 for everyone.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think the millennials are going to experience a grim future?
MR. TAYLOR: I think it's possible. I think it's going to take about 10 to 15 years for the United States to pull out of what was the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Depression.
MR. TAYLOR: But I also think that the doom-saying that goes on in the media these days is a little bit overbearing. The economy has stabilized from where it was three, four years ago, and we ought to look at the positives.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions, Pat. Five seconds.
MR. BUCHANAN: U.S. and Iran will reach a deal.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Terry McAuliffe wins big in Virginia, with a huge gender gap.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Guy.
MR. TAYLOR: Chemical weapons get used in Syria again before the war there is over.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Weak unemployment numbers will continue through the middle of next year and be the major issue in the campaign next year.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I predict that Edward Snowden's revelations of widespread U.S. eavesdropping on top European leaders will derail President Obama's U.S.-Europe free trade talks -- 35 of them.
(C) 2013 Federal News Service