February 17th, 2009
09:50 AM ET

Obama Faces Growing Economic Storms

Program Note: Tune in to hear more from David Gergen tonight on the AC360° at 10 p.m. ET. And watch him on the CNN Money Summit on Friday at 11 p.m. ET.

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David Gergen | Bio
AC360° Contributor
CNN Senior Political Analyst

This is a good moment to look ahead at the extraordinary challenges facing President Obama and how he and his team will try to solve them. Based on what has appeared in the public press as well as personal conversations in Washington, here is my best take:

In winning passage of the stimulus package, the President managed his way successfully through his first storm but he and his team recognize there are darker, more treacherous ones ahead. The economy has been deteriorating at such an accelerating rate in recent months that the administration had to expand the size of the stimulus package far beyond what they originally envisioned. If the economy continues to sink – and signs around the globe point in that direction – even this package will not be big enough. And economists of almost every stripe complain that its impact was weakened during the political wrangling.

For now, administration insiders believe that the package will begin to help quickly in saving jobs that might have been lost (e.g., with infusions of fresh money, state governments will not have to fire as many people). But insiders are not really expecting the stimulus to start creating many new jobs - or at least those that will show up in statistics – until early next year. Moreover, they recognize that they may have to come back for additional installments of stimulus in the months ahead. No future package should be as large, but there is likely to be a clear need to expand unemployment benefits again. So, look for more stimulus down the road – we just don't know how much.

Here, in a nutshell, is a take on other issues rushing at the administration:

The auto crisis – As General Motors and Chrysler send their reports to Washington, scheduled today, there is a sense in the administration that no good choices lie ahead. The options are likely to boil down to a big, new infusion of money from the feds or a structured bankruptcy of the companies. Either way, there will be pain for auto workers, creditors, shareholders and others. In contrast to a few weeks ago, when the Obama team seemed extremely reluctant to allow a structured bankruptcy, I sense that they may be more open to the idea today. The fact that the President did not appoint a "car czar" suggests that they are not looking to have the tough medicine administered by the administration – as Democrats, do they really want to slice wages and close plants? – but rather, they might prefer to have it done by the courts or some other independent force.

The housing crisis – The President is scheduled to announce a relief plan this Wednesday in hard-hit Phoenix. The first question will be whether it has enough details to judge what it will do – something sadly lacking in the bank bailout "plan" announced by Treasury Secretary Geithner a few days ago. (He got badly hurt in that episode but can still rehabilitate the policy and himself.) The other issue is how the administration will provide mortgage relief to homeowners – if it is through cash infusions, that will be expensive, but if it is through judicial interventions, that could send up interest rates. My bet: more money. One good thing about a housing solution: it adds to stimulus.

The banking crisis – This is the lollapalooza. The cost of a banking bailout will be at least three times as big as the stimulus package. In the estimate of many experts, much of the banking industry (not all) is insolvent – its liabilities now exceed the value of its marked-down assets. So far, the government is ducking the question of how to get those toxic assets off the books of the banks. There is a growing sense in Washington and on Wall Street that we are moving toward nationalization of some major banks. That's not what the administration wants, but experts believe that is where we are heading – and overseas, there is a growing chorus that the sooner the better. This is a very, very tough problem for the administration.

Federal deficits – Toward the end of February, the administration will announce its budget forecasts. My bet is that the predicted deficits will be eye-popping in size and longevity. That is partly because the Obama team will introduce more truth in budgeting, showing – unlike the Bush administration – what the real costs will be of Iraq and Afghanistan as well as other looming domestic initiatives. The White House clearly wants to move full steam ahead on health care reform and reform of energy policies this year – both costly. The hard political question in the country will soon be: how much more can we really afford? Is bailout fatigue going to set in, too?

Nobody knows the answers to all the questions just over the horizon. What insiders do recognize is that President Obama will need the political skills of an FDR and the tenacity of a Lincoln to help the country navigate through the storms that are coming.

Filed under: CNN Money Summit • David Gergen • Economy
soundoff (225 Responses)
  1. Marian N

    The banks did not just get a bailout. They sold preferred shares to the US government. Wells Fargo just announced a $371.5 million dividend on the 25,000 shares it sold, payable Feb 15, 2009.

    Some of these shares will make a killing, and some will be a loss. Overall, it has not cost taxpayers the $340 billion we have heard about. It could, but it may even make a profit for the taxpayers, as a similar plan did in Europe a few years ago.

    It is easy to do some heavy accusing. Are the real criminals those who bought houses they could not afford? How about the investors who keep demanding higher returns, when companies cannot deliver them?

    February 17, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  2. Kevin T. Connelly

    For the past 20 years Washington has promoted Free Trade. We require our manufactures to compete against countries with no environmental rules , no OSHA safety and no wage standards.1000's of manufactures have left the US and we have lost 5 million manufacturing jobs. Free trade was supossed to increase our exports and create jobs. If Free Trade is working is working- then why are we running a $800 Billion trade deficit? Fair Trade now!!

    February 17, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  3. Sal

    The economic storms are coming; and there is no one better equipped to be captain of the United State's ship than Pres. Obama. Imagine if the McCain/Palin duo would have been incharge. SCARY

    February 17, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  4. L Carilo, H.R. CO

    RE: Your comment on issues pertaining to “The auto crisis – As General Motors and Chrysler send their reports to Washington, scheduled today, there is a sense in the administration that no good choices lie ahead.”

    There’s no denying that it’s a shaky issue. However, I'd like to comment on: Development and Improvements to local and national transportation systems based on knowledge, information and verifiable facts with respect to solutions already in place(?).

    I’d like to hear about mass transit systems going the way of Palm Desert, CA’s Sunline Transit Agency with its Hydrogen Electric Hybrid and Hydrogen Fuel Cell Hybrid Electric buses, or conversion of shipping & distributing companies eighteen wheelers and big rigs to similar fuel efficient systems, or construction of wind turbine farms (admittedly ugly, but smart) like the ones near Palm Springs, CA.

    There’s transportation and energy solutions already out there all over America that are waiting for expansion. I hope they get money sent their way, just as expected by Namaste Solar Panel Company's, Mr. Blake Jones after today's bill signing by President Obama.

    Just putting it "out there." ~ L.C.

    February 17, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  5. Mike M.

    After reading most of these comments I had to chime in. I listen to Rush Limbaugh. I am a republican. I also think we need to give Obama a chance to fix what is wrong. Once it is fixed and it will be. The people who caused the problem need a good butt whoopin. These would be the greedy banks making loans they knew were going to go bad. Also the individuals who took the money. My wife was a loan officer but quit when these ARM loans were being pushed. Look in the mirror did you really think you could pay $1000 a month for 3-4 years and be able to pay $2500. You were fooling yourself you bought too much house and you knew it when you signed at closing. So we had two idiots screw this up. The banks and the people that took the money. Look in the mirror people we ALL helped make this mess. Please dont give me the "well they should'nt have loaned it to me". Everyone of us budgets our money. Where did you think the extra $1500 was gonna come from? I now await the replies of the people who would sue McDonalds because the coffee's too hot. The people who jump trans am's over ravines because we saw it in a movie. You are responsible for yourself. It is not somebody elses fault. When we all wake up from the liberal politically correctness we are living in and realize it is not everyones elses fault you are where you are then we can truly get this right.

    February 17, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  6. Susan Desgrousilliers

    President Barack Obama has turned fearmongering into an art form. He has repeatedly raised the specter of another Great Depression. First, he did so to win votes in the November election. He has done so again recently to sway congressional votes for his stimulus package.

    In his remarks, every gloomy statistic on the economy becomes a harbinger of doom. As he tells it, today’s economy is the worst since the Great Depression. Without his Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he says, the economy will fall back into that abyss and may never recover.

    This fearmongering may be good politics, but it is bad history and bad economics. It is bad history because our current economic woes don’t come close to those of the 1930s. At worst, a comparison to the 1981-82 recession might be appropriate. Consider the job losses that Mr. Obama always cites. In the last year, the U.S. economy shed 3.4 million jobs. That’s a grim statistic for sure, but represents just 2.2% of the labor force. From November 1981 to October 1982, 2.4 million jobs were lost — fewer in number than today, but the labor force was smaller. So 1981-82 job losses totaled 2.2% of the labor force, the same as now.

    Barack Obama Job losses in the Great Depression were of an entirely different magnitude. In 1930, the economy shed 4.8% of the labor force. In 1931, 6.5%. And then in 1932, another 7.1%. Jobs were being lost at double or triple the rate of 2008-09 or 1981-82.

    This was reflected in unemployment rates. The latest survey pegs U.S. unemployment at 7.6%. That’s more than three percentage points below the 1982 peak (10.8%) and not even a third of the peak in 1932 (25.2%). You simply can’t equate 7.6% unemployment with the Great Depression.

    Other economic statistics also dispel any analogy between today’s economic woes and the Great Depression. Real gross domestic product (GDP) rose in 2008, despite a bad fourth quarter. The Congressional Budget Office projects a GDP decline of 2% in 2009. That’s comparable to 1982, when GDP contracted by 1.9%. It is nothing like 1930, when GDP fell by 9%, or 1931, when GDP contracted by another 8%, or 1932, when it fell yet another 13%.

    Auto production last year declined by roughly 25%. That looks good compared to 1932, when production shriveled by 90%. The failure of a couple of dozen banks in 2008 just doesn’t compare to over 10,000 bank failures in 1933, or even the 3,000-plus bank (Savings & Loan) failures in 1987-88. Stockholders can take some solace from the fact that the recent stock market debacle doesn’t come close to the 90% devaluation of the early 1930s.

    Mr. Obama’s analogies to the Great Depression are not only historically inaccurate, they’re also dangerous. Repeated warnings from the White House about a coming economic apocalypse aren’t likely to raise consumer and investor expectations for the future. In fact, they have contributed to the continuing decline in consumer confidence that is restraining a spending pickup. Beyond that, fearmongering can trigger a political stampede to embrace a “recovery” package that delivers a lot less than it promises. A more cool-headed assessment of the economy’s woes might produce better policies.

    Mr. Schiller, an economics professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, is the author of “The Economy Today” (McGraw-Hill, 2007).

    We republicans do not support this spending bill because it will not stimulate the ecomony, the only thing this bill will stimulate is debt, and in the process will devalue our dollar and ultimately will bankrupt the nation. Further, no one, including Obama can tell the American people where he is going to get the money to pay for this pork fest that the Democrates and Obama have created. And for Mr. Schumer, who indicated the American public didn't care about the pork in this bill, you are completely WRONG!

    February 17, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  7. Ted Cape

    Why was it a priority for the Democraps to get this voted on??? OBAMAnation sat on it four days before he signed it...Because the LIB's didn't want to give the American public four days to read the BS that the LIBS were cramming up our A_S.

    February 17, 2009 at 3:56 pm |
  8. mark

    Nancy Pelosi and Obama running the country? Im scared!

    February 17, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  9. Brian

    Bill M

    Sorry to burst your bubble but $300,000,000 would only get every citized a whopping....$1. There are 300,000,000 citizens.

    You want to give everyone $1 Million? That would cost $300,000,000,000. That is $300 TRILLION dollars. Might be a bit pricier than the current package.

    Take a math class.

    February 17, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  10. Pat Gibason

    I remember hearing my parents and grandparents speak about the depression and how tough things were and thinking that that could never happen again. Well it is happening now and I think we all need to take a moment to look back to that chapter of our past because we came out the other side and we need to learn from the past. We need to stop pointing fingers at where the fault lies and about Republicans and Democrats and really pull together. We need to learn from the "greatest generation" about how to pull together as a nation and as neighbors to neighbors. During the WWII people sacrificed for the good of all. They collected metal and rubber and gave up much for the good of all. None of us are in this alone. We all are or know someone who is out of a job or struggling. This isn't a problem for the President alone to solve and everyone else gets to sit back and second guess him. We need him to guide the country and he needs us, all of us. The politicians aren't going to solve this anymore than they solved other things in the past. It is WE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE who need to band together, help one another, help our President, sacrifice if we must, turn to your neighbor and help them out. It may seem like a small gesture to loan someone $30 to get gas, but add all those small gestures together and we can do this! Stop whining and pointing fingers...let's just Suck it up, Buttercup and get moving forward!!!

    February 17, 2009 at 3:50 pm |
  11. Marion Light

    Mr. Gergen, I live in a small town with approx. 4800 residents. We are faced with a "state mandated" sewer renovation costing approx. $8.4+ million, which we will be hard pressed to fund without the benefit of the stimulus package. This will mean several construction jobs and in turn additional sewer-related positions for the town. I realize the magnitude of the stimulus funding is well beyond anything attempted by the Federal Government. However, right now anything for us, at least for now, will help our Town off -set the additional service fees that will burden our tax payers for the length of time required to service the additional debt.

    February 17, 2009 at 3:50 pm |
  12. Not Quite

    Steve February 17th, 2009 3:28 pm ET

    I wish people would stop making the suggestion that we give every person in this country 1 million dollars. I think the people that make that suggestion either don’t know how to do arithmetic or they are certifiable, since it would involve paying out $300 trillion dollars, not $300 million unless we were to give everyone a dollar, which I think we can all agree would not do anything for the economy. To put it in perspective, our national debt is somewhere around 3 trillion, and that didn’t happen overnight, so to increase it 300 times in one distribution would be insane if not impossible, since the country is already essentially bankrupt.

    Actually, the National Debt is around $10 Trillion and the Deficit is around $2.7 Trillion. I think you need to do more research.

    February 17, 2009 at 3:49 pm |
  13. frank gallina

    Everybody has a comment. Everybody seems to have a solution. Everytime I hear about a way out of this mess there are many opposing arguments. Does anyone really understand whats going on? Does anyone understand what's at the root of the problem. I certainly don't and
    I think others are just guessing, They will poke and prod, tweek and tamper and the problem will work it's way out and very little of the so called solutions will have been effective.

    February 17, 2009 at 3:46 pm |
  14. Mike Brooks

    You left out the "state and local government crisis". These government entities have, for years, over compensated public sector workers with wages and benefits that are presently wrecking public services. California and Kansas are essentially bankrupt. So is Oregon. To find out why, just consider Oregon's state employees. There are 23,000 of them. All have, in addition to a public employee retirement account – which the taxpayers are on the hook for, they all have a "stock investment" fund. The average account has slightly more than $100,000. Now, those accounts are guaranteed by the taxpayer. They also have a guaranteed minimum annual return of 8%. Now, the stock market has collapsed, and those accounts have lost an average of 35%. Add in the 8% guarantee and the taxpayer is on the hook for more than $43,000 for each account. $43,000 * 23,000 = $989,000,000.... actually slightly more than billion dollars. A similar system exists across the country, or state employees. The debt, a hug black hole, actually, is more than $100 billion. And that's just for state employees. Add in city, county, and other government employes and the debt is $300 billion. Then, ad in lifetime medical insurance, "free" medical insurance for dependents, their regular retirement benefits, and the ***unfunded*** debt for state and local public employees is in excess o $3 TRILLION dollars. It is very close, in size, to that other black hole, the financial services industry toxic debt load.

    February 17, 2009 at 3:45 pm |
  15. Tom

    Well, maybe I can land one of those "six-digit" jobs resodding the National Mall?

    February 17, 2009 at 3:43 pm |
  16. MJ

    Just want to thank Obama and the idiots in Congress for mortgaging the futures of my children, grandchildren, and yes alsomy great grand children. Not to mention probably really screwing up my future retirement.

    February 17, 2009 at 3:43 pm |
  17. Albert W

    Feel SORRY for tax payers in Calif. paying tax for a woman in welfare to keep having more kids as she wanted.

    Feel SORRY for all tax payers in US (me included) paying tax to rescue Calif. government which abusing the welfare system for years.

    Feel SORRY for Mr. President who faces such huge mess and can do nothing but keep printing money.

    Feel REALLY SORRY for our next generations.

    Let's face it....US will be the next Britain soon if we can't turnover quickly from living in debt!!!!

    February 17, 2009 at 3:42 pm |
  18. bill shuman

    We are all now legitimate victims of bad decisions by those of us who chose to participate in the fallacious notion that easy credit/money equated with equal outcomes. In the pointless effort to ensure equal outcomes we will all share equally in the pain of recovering a knowledge of individual responsibility for our own well-being. To depend on a government of any stripe (or its figurehead) to elevate our personal success is a foolish pursuit espoused by liars and believed by the historically ignorant.

    February 17, 2009 at 3:40 pm |
  19. Ak4US

    I do have great revenue making idea
    that'll be a huge economic panacea!

    It is the best of all possible resolutions –
    we simply tax all campaign contributions!

    February 17, 2009 at 3:38 pm |
  20. Theon

    The problems with Wall Street, businesses, Gov't and the American people are all the same, none of them save money. Now Wall Street, the gov't and businesses all tell the American people to save money but none of them do it themselves. At the end of a good fiscal year none of the money is set aside for a bad one, no; instead the board members and top executives get BONUSES.. The same very thing everyone is mad about now was not a problem when things were going good but now everyone wants to point fingers. It's too late now. Accountabilty needs to be taken around the board because it's not just one industries fault, it's all of them because when America was on top no one prepared for the hard times.. America forgot one important thing about being on top.. there's only one place to go..... DOWN

    February 17, 2009 at 3:37 pm |
  21. Nate

    What's happening now is what I was afraid would happen. The new president takes office and people expect him to snap his fingers and make everything ok. Folks, this is a global crisis. It was a long time in coming, and it'll be long and painful in going too. It IS severe and it WILL get worse. We've never seen anything like it because the causes were different than what caused the Great Depression, and the fix will have to be unique too. The point is, give the man some time, give congress some time, and understand that it WILL be painful. There will be more bankruptcies and more foreclosures before it's fixed. It won't be fixed in the president's first year, and possibly not even in his first term. That's just realism.

    Jacqueline, nobody is looking down on you for working like you do. That's good, and just what everyone in the country needs to be saying. However, be a little realistic here. Air Force One flights to Colorado and back are expensive, but they certainly don't cost you, one single tax-payer, $30,000 an hour... you won't pay that much for all the AF1 trips in your lifetime. That is part of a set of measures necessary to ensure the security that any president requires and also ensure his timeliness in being where he needs to be when he needs to be there in order to run this country.

    February 17, 2009 at 3:37 pm |
  22. Chris - KC

    Question: What is the government gave every househoold, $100,000...and let them use it how they see fit...re-finace their mortage, buy a new car, etc. instead of bailingout the banks. I figure this would cost about $12 trlllion with about 120 million households., give or take a few. How much are we up to now in spending and it is not getting there quick and there is more to come.
    ...Would $100,000 not stimulate the economy or some piece there of?

    Food for thought!

    February 17, 2009 at 3:34 pm |
  23. David

    I was recently laid off from a small engineering firm in San Antonio, Tx.
    There was only approximately 8 employees at the time of my layoff and we had a health group program but, being smaller than 20 employees I have been informed that I can't receive COBRA. I can still receive a state continuation health plan from my ex-employee health group for 6 months as I am told. My question is, will the stimulus package help unemployed workers with the cost of this plan considering it is much higher because of no employer cash input? Or are there any other programs for health care for the unemployed this package may create.

    February 17, 2009 at 3:34 pm |
  24. Donna

    Don't forget that Obama flew to Illinois over the weekend costing the taxpayers $30,000 an hour to celebrate Lincoln's birthday!

    February 17, 2009 at 3:31 pm |
  25. Will-South Dakota

    I couldn't believe my ears sunday when Senator Lindsey Graham said he hasn't ruled out the idea of Nationalinzing the Banks....Did Rush approve that message?

    February 17, 2009 at 3:30 pm |
  26. Cathy Johnston

    If the Republicans continue to rail against this stimulus, there will be no consumer or market confidence. Tax cuts hae not been the answer and Republicans refuse to conced this. I was truly hoping to see some partisanship in facing the worst crisis in my 54 years. Unfortuneately soem people would rather be oppositional depite the fact that EVERY economist around have said there should be an even bigger stimulus and that atx cuts are NOT the answer.

    February 17, 2009 at 3:29 pm |
  27. Steve

    I wish people would stop making the suggestion that we give every person in this country 1 million dollars. I think the people that make that suggestion either don't know how to do arithmetic or they are certifiable, since it would involve paying out $300 trillion dollars, not $300 million unless we were to give everyone a dollar, which I think we can all agree would not do anything for the economy. To put it in perspective, our national debt is somewhere around 3 trillion, and that didn't happen overnight, so to increase it 300 times in one distribution would be insane if not impossible, since the country is already essentially bankrupt. The bigger issue surrounding this idea is that we should not be giving anyone anything. This country did not become the economic powerhouse it was before this crisis by handing out anything to anyone. It was the result of hard work and perseverance. The problems we have now are being perpetuated further by the fact that we are bailing everyone out, and no one has an incentive to succeed. So stop with the handouts. No one is going to get a million dollars from the government to sit on their butt, and Obama is not going to save you if you don't make your house or car payment. Stop relying on the government to solve your problems. That is a sure fire recipe for disaster in your life and not what the founders of this great nation intended when they drafted the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. The one truth I learned early in life is that you don't get something for nothing, and to expect the opposite does not agree with the laws of ecomonics. How many examples from history do there have to be to realize government is not the solution but rather the problem? It didn't work for the Soviet Union, socialized medicine does not work in any country that has tried it, and that kind of mentality is a guaranteed failure now. Please wake up people, and stop waiting for your check in the mail, get off your behind, and make something happen for yourself. That is the only way out of the mess we are in, and that is not my opinion, that is the fact of the matter.

    February 17, 2009 at 3:28 pm |
  28. Tommy Cornstubble

    Well our Congress and Senate have passed a very large Stimulus Package to bail out the very elite and rich on Wall Street, also our bankers, our auto makers, and today our President signs all of these dollars into their hands, what a blessing for this group. Not any concerns for the group of working People who have to work and pay the taxes to repay this Giant amount of money, except the chump change check the other administration gave us, and the four hundred dollar chump change this administration is offering. What an opportunity our Congress and Senate passed up to really help the citizens of the United States, they started at the top and they should have started at the bottom, because money in a clinched fist will not fall out, but in a hand that has needs it will be turned loose for what the good ole USA needs, products sold. All of these congress people always say they want to do what is good for their people in their areas, well for less than fifteen billion dollars they could repair Social Security for hundreds of years, repay Fannie Mae, Freddie Mack, College funding, food stamps, Hud housing, banking problems, and a bunch of other things, We as Americans need to learn to do addition again and not just take numbers that people throw at us for granted, or assume the numbers are true.

    February 17, 2009 at 3:28 pm |
  29. Steve El Paso, IL

    RJ, CA – Rush is not right about anything! If anyone thought that Obama was going to step in and everything was going to suddenly be perfect, well I have a bridge to nowhere I would like to sell you. This huge mess took a long time to develop and there is no quick fix. Americans have persevered thru some of the toughest times in the history of mankind so we should all put our noses to the grindstone, quit whining and bickering and remember the three most vital platitudes for humankind; 1) The Ancient Greek Ethic of Reciprocity (Golden Rule); 2) Voltaire's "I disagree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it"; and most importantly 3) Patience is a virtue.

    February 17, 2009 at 3:16 pm |
  30. Paul-Wisconsin

    Everyone looks for someone to blame...when the truth is that those who point the finger have only themselves to blame. When you agreed to take that job, so the business you work for could grow, so you could get more money, so you could spend more money, so you could have more, so you could have more to lose, so you could blame for your loss....maybe because you think you deserve it, you earned it, you are due it, or your neighbor has it....in reality, everyone on this earth starts with the same that they leave with, and everyone has the freedom to choose where they want their life to go (or not go)....that's the American Dream.

    It's not HAVING IT ALL so that when the bubble bursts you're still fat and rich and isolated from 'those below you' That's false security...and this nation is soon to find the consequences of that type of thinking.

    February 17, 2009 at 3:14 pm |
  31. sheila

    When it comes to SBA it is so true... They are not lending... Looked into the matter with quite a few other business owners. Each one of us was told come back around March.. In the mean time there is no salvation for most of us.. Laying employees off and finaly closing the business. At this point 3 of the businesses are gone and a total of 11 employees are out of work..
    I see that the SBA is not truly there for the small business owner. Big business seems to have made everyone suffer. Small business owners are the back bone of the country yet we are not being helped.
    So much for help from the SBA... I don't believe this stimulus package is going to help the people only those that sit in Washington.

    February 17, 2009 at 3:13 pm |
  32. Bill H

    David Gergen, You should give lessons to all your CNN colleagues aout how to conduct oneself as a news reporter and analyst. Your thoughtful, articulate, intelligent and non-confrontational style, consistenly devoid of malice and cynicism, brings great credit to the TV airwaves, particularly, unfortunately, CNN. The other stations are no better, there are just fewer involved.

    With much admiration and respect,
    a viewer

    February 17, 2009 at 3:11 pm |
  33. MJ


    Republicans aren't against a stimulus package, they (we) are against THIS stimulus package. It does very little to help the economy. Tell me, what are you going to do with your extra $8/week. Way too much money being spent on pet projects that will do nothing at all. Sad really.

    February 17, 2009 at 3:11 pm |
  34. Mark LaScola

    First, thank you David Gergen for a fine summary of what the new Administration is facing. I trust and appreciate your perspective.
    Secondly, much of what we are facing is new, unchartered territory. For those who claim to know all of the answers...you are largely misguided or misinformed. Thirdly, a big part of the problem is that as a country, we are pathologically split. There are many people who would rather see this President fail no matter what. Our social and political patterns die hard... Liberal or conservative - it doesn't matter. Until we unite, trust, resolve and pull together from the extremes, our recovery won't happen. In closing, to Mike in VA, you didn't get an SBA loan for some other reason that has something to do with your financials.. I have been in business successfully for 20 years... I have been approved for an SBA loan and I am a middle-aged white guy. Go figure.

    February 17, 2009 at 3:07 pm |
  35. Jorge G. Martinez

    I am a small business owner. There's no need to hold your breath to see how this so called stimulus package will oil the economy. The process to approve it, it's content and potential future impact is already a disaster. President Obama will do a great disservice to this country by signing this bill. It's amazing that we spend so much money on education and special programs, but fail to instruct in the most basic understanding of financial responsibilty and budgeting principals.

    February 17, 2009 at 3:07 pm |
  36. jarrod Newark, Ohio

    i do not see were any tax cuts are going to help if everyone is unemployed and the fact that only part of this money is going to be spent/wasted this year why did we need such a big package. what is spent this year we could have reserved the vote on what to spend next year with the remaining money after we found out whats working and whats not working......I like the idea but i think we are heading into the wind with this package as it sits.

    February 17, 2009 at 3:06 pm |
  37. odysseus14

    Once again, it will be up to the professional sales people of america to get the economy going again.

    Don't laugh. This is not a joke posting.

    It's true.

    If you are a business owner, or have influence on purchasing, do not make things worse by freezing spending. Work with your professional sales person to find solutions to your problems. Your order does much to keep the economy going.

    February 17, 2009 at 3:06 pm |
  38. Melissa

    I am so tired of this insane American assumption that the abusers of the system are the rule rather than the exception.

    Do you people honestly think that anyone wants to be unemployed and that they don't deserve help until they are employed? Most people don't abuse the system.

    My husband doesn't WANT to be unemployed, he just can't find a job. And yet he's tried. Even to the point of starting to call around to companies asking if they're hiring. But for low level jobs they say he's overqualified (which he is) so they don't want to hire him (despite the fact that 4 months of unemployment means we're starting to get desperate) or that they aren't hiring.

    Do you honestly think that he's riding unemployment because he wants to? He's horrifically embarassed to be on unemployment and thats the truth. He was so embarassed that he wouldn't leave the house for the first week after losing his job as though he felt that people could see it on his face. Not to mention that he's getting depressed.

    Honestly, stop this arrogance. Gvt is NOT the enemy. They are helping which is what they're for.

    For the first time in a long time, there is a President that actually cares about all of the people he serves instead of just the rich ones. He's trying to make things better for all of us.

    Frankly I'd rather take the long term difficulty's in paying this off than have my wonderful husband be unable to find a job for yet another week.

    February 17, 2009 at 3:06 pm |
  39. Debra F

    To Michael K, I believe that you got your information wrong. The comment you were addressing said that he went to the SBA (Small Business Association) for a loan for his business. They said that he needed to be an illegal immigrant or a minority to receive any funding. What kind of nonsense is that? Why would an illegal immigrant have priority over a businessman from the US? You don't think that that is wrong? Then he went on to say that an illegal immigrant that lives near him got a grant for home improvements on his house. Why should he get any money from the US, he doesn't pay taxes (I'm not talking about sales taxes) on the money that he makes, why should he profit from our tax dollars. This is the biggest problem in this country, we want to help people that won't help themselves, or else they really are not citizens of our country, but are profiting from our tax dollars. We all need to wake up and take our country back to where we cared about what happened to the country and not every one else.

    February 17, 2009 at 3:00 pm |
  40. Jacqueline Kay Lamkin

    Why is no one reporting on the cost to fly air force one to Colorado and back? What a waste of OUR money. The election is over...where is the careful spending...going through everything line by line..he is acting more like a rock star...this is OUR money not his GRANDSTANDING money. I work very hard for my $10 and hour and he is flying a jet that cost ME $30,0000/per hour!!!! Give me a break. Where is the MSM on reporting this????

    February 17, 2009 at 2:53 pm |
  41. Simpliticus

    When you think about it, George W. Bush is like the fellow who leaves the burning package on the front porch containing filth and feces such that when the unsuspecting occupant of the house attempts to stamp out the flames, he nonetheless gets crap on himself. Bush new about the imploding economy long before it happened and allowed it to come about, no matter the consequences to the following president. Such pranks are well known in college but are repugnant in everyday life. But Bush's shortcomings which are many will only paint Obama is a greater than great president because he needs to be if he can succeed given what Bush has handed to him and given what Gergen has stated! George W. Bush, the man who keeps on giving as disgusting as it is!

    February 17, 2009 at 2:53 pm |
  42. Baze

    This just in, the President has a tough road ahead of him. Well thank you David Mr. Obvious Gergen. We can argue all of this money talk until we're blue in the face, but the bottom line that will determine success or failure is if Americans are going to rally behind whatever legislation is set and make the most of it. I don't care if the President tells us to go out and shovel manure, if we don't make the best of it then we're in deep doo doo indeed.

    February 17, 2009 at 2:52 pm |
  43. Nicki

    You need to ask yourself "What's going to happen to people's hope and their lives when this Stimulus package takes a flop"? Desperation does funny things to a person.

    February 17, 2009 at 2:44 pm |
  44. thomas

    Gergen for Commerce Sec!

    February 17, 2009 at 2:44 pm |
  45. Bill M.

    "why are we giving our tax dollars to these corporations, who clearly have no idea how to use it. here is my theory, there are @ 300million LEGAL american citizens..give every LEGAL american citizen 1 million dolars. people will spend, people will save.everyone will be happy"

    Now that's a great idea! Invest it, spend it, buy a house with it. That's what Americans need right now. The liquidy issue goes away, Jobs would be created to meet increased consumer demand, and people could pay cash for a new house. Note: $300,000,000 is only 30% of
    a billion!! Brilliant!

    February 17, 2009 at 2:40 pm |
  46. Barbara J.Garcia

    Our President has been in office less than 1 month and some people are ready to put him on the firing lne and he has only just begun.Let's give him support and help in anyway we can.I have never failed to vote since I became old enough.I have learned A few things so far,one is when we put A republican in office the democrates didn't do their job.And then it works the other way as well.The Republicans that voted you in should now stand tall and let freedom roll from their voices and hearts.Mr. President and Mrs.First Lady you have an enormious job ahead..Let us all stand tall and not waver in our faith in you and your family.God Bless you all each day and take care of each other.This is our only way we will be A success.When we were in war in the 40's we stopped making cars altogether for about 3 years.Let's do it again.No one can afford A new car or new house.Put the money back into our military and rebuild.We are in bad shape,this would create jobs galore.Build tanks,planes jeeps and let the women work and the men protect us as they are already doing.All for one and one gor all,Barbara J. Garcia ,8309 Petunia wy. Buena Park,Ca.90620 Ph#714-994-1126

    February 17, 2009 at 2:40 pm |
  47. Wayne

    Everybody is a expert right? The stimulus is not enough.There are not enough tax cuts. Left and Right, Up and Down. Pres. Obama is taking this MESS head-on, not making excuses, not being unprofessional and childish because they lost the election. ALL of CONGRESS should be together, the Republicans will see the country fall off the globe only to be able to say Obama failed, is that fair to America. Is it fair to be against the ONLY person willing to put any ideas on PAPER to help save the country. WELL LET"S HEAR SOME IDEAS INSTEAD OF BEING CRITICAL. So far, the Pres. Obama's stimulus is the only viable thing on the table.

    February 17, 2009 at 2:36 pm |
  48. Joan

    For the life of me, I don't know why anyone would have wanted this job. President Obama has been left unprecedented problems to deal with and he is certainly trying his best to solve them. He has not come unglued or frustrated, at least outwardly, and has stayed calm and reassuring which your country badly needs. He has been juggling so many important different issues and has been on top of them all. He is so clever and exudes confidence which is refreshing. Imagine if McCain had won and was trying to solve the economy with tax cuts for the rich and big business and VP Palin was giving foreign affairs speeches oversees. Very scary thoughts! I expect to hear the hypocritical Republicans criticizing everything he does but I am very disappointed with the media who is constantly picking at the little things, asking "gotcha" questions and being overly negative. Your country needs support and confidence right now from everyone, not backstabbing and negativity. If you concentrated more on the good things in the stimulus and how it can help ordinary people it could help to calm everyone instead of working them up into an unnecessary frenzy.

    February 17, 2009 at 2:29 pm |
  49. Debbie

    I hope I get somthing out of the Stimulus other than a bill. Really all I have to say right now. I pray they do something for the people who are in their homes and trying to keep them.

    February 17, 2009 at 2:28 pm |
  50. Alex

    "And economists of almost every stripe complain that its impact was weakened during the political wrangling"

    It is a little bit late for media and GOP to support President. A great damage was created in so called "talk shows", by so called "economic analysts" (I must say that CNBC was the worst) and by so called "patriots" who spent many times more for fun then President for Economic Stimulus and help to suffering American people. It is shame.

    February 17, 2009 at 2:27 pm |
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