Morning Joe | November 28, 2012
>> well, sitting down with lawmakers of both parties and working out an agreement, he's back on the campaign trail presumably with the same old talking points that we're all quite familiar with. look, we already know the president is a very good campaigner. we congratulate him on his re-election. what we don't know is whether he has the leadership qualities to lead his party to a bipartisan agreement.
>> all right. here with us now from the director of the national white house economic council former treasury secretary, president emeritus at harvard, lawrence summers back at the table. but can i say it --
>> where's the rest of him.
>> a lot less of you. you look fantastic.
>> thank you very much.
>> i can't help -- i have to say it because i'm sort of a health food person and i'm reading some of the things that you've said of recent about the -- what's going on with the cigarette industry and how perhaps it might even be something that we see with junk food industry. would you agree with me on that? just some of the concerns there?
>> look, i think there's no question that the way americans eat and what americans weigh is a big contributor to health problems and it's a big contributor to health care costs. i don't think -- it's not the agenda right now but i think at some point you're going to start to see tax measures and regulatory measures that are going to be directed at helping people be healthier and that's just going to happen and i think it's probably a good thing when it does. there's obviously some careful balances that are going to have to get struck with, you know, people's freedom and things like that but just as we have over time done things with respect to tobacco that are very constructive and that are saving hundreds of thousands of people's lives, that kind of agenda is going to come to other aspects of public health including the way people eat.
>> i have a specific interest in this because i'm writing a book about it, but what do you think of, for example, some of the mayors, mayor -- measures michael bloomberg has put in place or attempted to because he's certainly received a lot of criticism but yet i personally think he's on the cutting edge .
>> i think the impulse behind it is right whether the particularly limitation of 16-ounce servings are the right way to go at it, i'm not enough of an expert to say but i think the impulse that you should help people help themselves by structuring the incentives in a way that remove temptations to do things that work out badly and increase the attractiveness of doing things that work out well, i think that's the right thing. you know, should kidding be going hungry at lunch because they can't have good food any like in the schools? you could take it too far and have to be careful. but this is one of those issues where there's probably never going to be the climactic moment or a dramatic summit but when somebody looks back at the country over 20 years, they're going to think that what happened around these kinds of issues are very, very important.
>> so let's help washington help itself. mark mckinnon .
>> thanks. i've spent a couple of days with you recently analyzing the elections and what the future looks like and you were terrific. though much of -- there was a lot of sobering observations you have about the economic long-term future and i wondered if you could talk a little about was natural gas and fracking and how it might change our energy and we're look about bright lights . can you give us a bright light and perhaps that and why we should be optimistic.
>> the bright lights are here, one, you'd rather have america's problem as serious as they are in those than any of the major companies we compete with, certainly europe and japan. i would argue china, as well. two, we are the cutting edge of change in a knowledged economy. our universities are the best universities . we're the country that people from all over want to come to. think about any of the great entrepreneurs of this era and there's a very good chance you're thinking of an american. three, as you say mark, we have a remarkable competitive position in natural gas . we've got huge amounts of it that can be produced at very low cost . we had a very important economic decision to make. should we keep it captive and use the lower costs to support american manufacturers to support other american businesses? or should we allow it to be exported, improving our competitive position, getting export revenue, causing even more of it to be produced. i'm inclined as an economist to favor open markets and if people want to buy it, people from abroad want to buy our natural gas , i think that's a -- i think that's a terrific thing, but either way , this is a major natural resource and if you think about it, look, if you look at the consumer price indices in our country, the price of a television set is 1/16 of what it was 25 years ago. it's just getting easy to produce it. so where and where is value coming in today's economy? increasingly it's coming in knowledge, and increasingly it's coming in natural resources . and we've got a very strong position in both -- in both of those things, so we've got tough stuff we've got to work through with respect to the budget, with respect to the aftermath of the financial crisis , with respect to making sure everybody -- every american's ready to be part of an economy of the 21st century rather than the economy of the 20th century . but fundamentally in the things that are the future we've got a very strong position whether it's on the knowledge side or whether it's on the commodities and what you do with it side and so those give a lot of reason for optimism.
>> and talk about natural gas , "the wall street journal " and others supporting by 2020 going to be the number one producer of oil in the world which, of course, is going to have a great impact. i'm wondering, four years later, much has changed. there's still americans that are struggling out there. but let's go back four years ago, you and a lot of other people, we're in the middle of what they call in the army, a soup sandwich. you just had a lot of things coming at you. how wow grade how the obama administration handled in an extraordinarily unique crisis four years ago?
>> look, we got a rule at the university which is we never let professors grade their own papers because they're not likely to be objective. but i think --
>> let me ask -- why did you get --
>> i think the right thing -- i think basically the right things were done. the evidence that the right things are done comes from the way the united states looking compared to four years ago versus the way europe looks, versus the way japan looks. the evidence comes from looking at the fact that if you looked at the fall of 2008 on every important indicator, the stock market , jobs, industrial production , global trade , whatever you choose, it was worse than 1929 . and if you look at what's happened, it's not where we'd like it to be but this is nothing like 1929 to 1933 so i think you got to give a high grade, and it's because the president made the right basic diagnosis. the president said at the first meeting we had with him after he listened to a bunch of this stuff. he said, look, the right way to pull a band-aid off is fast and we have got to come in hard, try and fix this. and whatever you say, that's what any hundred billion dollar recovery act is like or an automobile bailout was about. that's what a major set of transparency and capital infusions from the private sector into the banks was. so i'd give us -- i'd give it a high grade. frankly, i think the strategy would have been even more effective if the politics had permitted more continuity. we needed to keep the infrastructure spending going more than we did. it was not right, not the best thing to have fiscal policy move towards contraction as early as it did. but that was what congress insisted on, so there were things president wanted to do to give confidence that he wasn't fully able to do but i'd give high grades.
>> one of the -- as we inch toward this compromise and seeing things come on the table from people that we didn't think were going to put those on the table. one of the things that came up is the mortgage interest deduction which is, sacrosanct and shapes behavior. what is your take on that? so many people say it benefits the wealthy, et cetera , et cetera but as much a part of our being as anything else. do you think it's something that should be on the table?
>> i think it should be on the table and particular way it should be. it should be being phased out and the advantage of the phase-out is frankly housing is coming back but it can use a bunch of help. and if we phase it out, then people have an incentive to buy their houses sooner rather than later and so you can give the economy an extra lift by riding off of the -- riding off the phase-out. nothing people like like a sale. the right way to move on the mortgage --
>> canter doesn't have a mortgage deduction.
>> larry summers , thank you so much. it's great to have you back on the show.
>> thank you, mr. secretary.
>> good to be with you.
>>> still ahead, two mans from today that spider-man turn off the dark plagued by scathing review and technical injuries and jordan roth takes us behind the scenes of the now thriving musical. we'll be right back. [ emily jo ]