Mitchell Reports | February 13, 2013
>>> the president appealed to the middle class with a litany of proposals last night. programs that he claims will not add a single dime to the deficit. joining me now with economic fact checking is "the new york times" david leonhardt and author of the new book "here's the deal." david , your response to the economic side of those proposals?
>> let's do one positive and one negative. the positive i would say, if you look at history, i think there's a lot of evidence for the idea that certain basic investments that if the government doesn't do them, the private sector won't do them are crucial to growth. which the president returned to. i think history supports that idea. education, science, research. if the government doesn't do it, no one will. and it's crucial to growth. and i think he's right about a lot of that. if you're going to make critique, i think he boasted about a number of things that are the product of a weak economy than any policy. he boasted about the idea that carbon admissions are down. he boasted about illegal immigration is down. health care costs have slowed. all of those are a mix of things but also that there's a weak economy and he's sort of taking credit for them.
>> in particular, the drop in foreign oil imports as the economy slowed, obviously, there was less need and more production on the natural gas side.
>> let's talk about "here's the deal" and some of your proposals and how you thing those can be tailored for the political realities of what we're facing. gridlock in washington . the sequester, the failure for any meaningful dialogue between the two political parties .
>> democracy is messy, right, this idea that they're going to be fine is misplaced. you hope you go three steps forward and two steps back. rather than two steps forward and three steps back. i think one of the real problems here is is that ordinary people look at washington and they say, what's going on? one of the things i try to argue is part of what's going on, washington is reflecting us. we want low taxes. we want medicare and social security that doesn't change. we want a strong military. and you put all of these things together and you end up with the deficit. so it's not just politicians that make choices, but we have to make choices about what kind of government do we want. we have to have one that adds up which two sides of the ledger balance .
>> where do you think the president stands in terms of entitlement reform? he says he can do it, there can be meaningful reform. is he really meaning on taking it on because that means taking on medicare ?
>> what he's done, he's put to the side medicaid. he thinks medicaid is krascratched. with medicare , he says he doesn't want to raise the retirement age, at least in the immediate term. he said he's open to two things. he didn't talk about it in the speech. but negotiations. one, he's changing the technical formula for social security . a lot of republicans favor that. and through his health care bill, he's in favor of trying to tweak medicare in little ways to try to have less waste and health care that doesn't make you healthier that the government pays for. basically, his attitude is, they could make some changes now. as we get down the road should we make more of them or fewer. and do the republicans want to get into medicare , given how incredibly popular it is.
>> david leonhardleonhardt. thank you.