This is a rush transcript from "Journal Editorial Report," June 16, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
STUART VARNEY, GUEST HOST: This week on the "Journal Editorial Report," with news that middle class families have lost 40 percent of their net worth, President Obama tried to reboot his campaign and retool his economic message. Will it work?
Plus, Eric Holder on the hot seat. With resignation calls growing, is it time for the attorney general to go?
And Europe right at the brink as Greek decides its Eurozone future and Spain and Italy creep closer to the economic abyss. Central banks prepare the mother of all bailouts. Will that work?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This election presents a choice between two fundamentally different visions of how to create strong, sustained growth, how to pay down a long-term debt, and most of all, how to generate good, middle class jobs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VARNEY: Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Stuart Varney, in for Paul Gigot.
It's a choice all right. And this week, President Obama tried to sell Americans on four more years of his economic policies, calling a vote for Mitt Romney a return to the failed approaches of the past, his retooled campaign pitch come just days after the Federal Reserve reported an almost 40 percent drop in the net worth of middle class families, putting most back where they were in 1992.
Joining the panel this week, Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger, columnist, Mary Anastasia O'Grady; and Washington columnist, Kim Strassel.
Kim, the big speech on the economy, was it really a policy reset?
KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: Yes, I think you could call it Obama campaign 8.0 or 9.0. Stuart, there is a lot of concern among Democrats that this campaign is faltering, that it's been running hither and dither, trying to find something that sticks and resonates with the American people. They've gone after Mitt Romney on Bain and his Massachusetts record. They've said the economy is getting better. They've said it could have been worse. So this was an attempt to reset. And the argument is now, as you've heard, there is a choice. implicit in this is the president's argument -- he decided he was going to retell history, argue that everything that's wrong in the economy today is the -- the Bush policies and Republican philosophy, and make the case that Mitt Romney, if he were elected, would take us back to that point. So it's yet another attack on Mitt Romney, but framed in a way the president hopes will be more positive.
VARNEY: It may have been a reset, Dan, but can he just change course, was it? But can he change course? Can he repudiate three years of policy and change direction?
DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: In theory, he certainly could, but he won't.
What Democrats are saying is that, like Corey Booker, the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, he should run on his record. Let's run through the record. The first thing he did was passed an $800 billion stimulus to stimulate the economy. We still have 8 percent employment. Then he passed the Obama health care law, the greatest thing the Democrats have wanted since the New Deal. He won't talk about that. Then he passed Dodd-Frank, which is too complex to talk about. He raised spending to 24 to 25 percent of GDP, which is not what the American people want to hear. That's the Obama record. And he won't talk about that. And there's nothing grand beyond that for him to talk about. He's locked into what he's done the last three years. And he's there in Cleveland trying to sell it any way he can.
VARNEY: How did the speech go? Did it fall flat?
HENNINGER: It fell flat. It got panned broadly by Democrats who think there's some magic new policy that Obama should announce to win the election. It isn't there.
VARNEY: Mary, how about the housing problem? Let's go back to that 40 percent drop in the net worth of middle class families reported by the Fed. That was largely due to the housing bust. What about housing with President Obama and the Federal Reserve.
MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY, COLUMNIST: It's more, Stuart, as if we needed it, that the Federal Reserve cannot reflate the housing market. It's tried and basically, the market has not repaired, even though Ben Bernanke has been putting out all this money.
And I think, beyond that, what's interesting this week is the increasing sense that we are either headed for another recession, or perhaps even in another recession. And you know, when you -- it tells you something, when the market rallies because you have bad economic news, and we had some discouraging news on the unemployment front this week. And why is the market rallying? Because it thinks, well, perhaps the Fed will get out there and print more money. And basically, I think, markets are saying, look, we want a change in fiscal policy and structural policy, and this is something that President Obama is not willing to do.
VARNEY: Are we headed for recession, Dan? Does it look like it?
HENNINGER: Yes, it looks like the economy is not growing. It's been -- both employment and economic growth have been going in a downward direction for the last two quarters. And that is part of his problem. There doesn't seem to be any lift out there at all for the president either in policy or in the economy itself.
STUART: OK --
O'GRADY: The real problem is that the president doesn't understand the relationship between risk taking and wealth creation. And investors are not going to take risks when they're in an environment where the government is so hostile to profits.
VARNEY: Are you saying he does not understand private enterprise?
O'GRADY: I have a hunch.
VARNEY: Kim, what's the politics of that speech. If he came across as a pure government man, a man who wants more government spending, not the rejuvenation of private enterprise, does that sell politically in 2012?
STRASSEL: Again, you know, this was -- make no mistake, this was another attack on Mitt Romney. Just done in a different form. One of the things that the president has struggled with, and you heard Dan say this, is that Democrats, a lot of people in this party, and even some of the polling suggests that his big problem is that he has spent so much time focusing on his opponent, that nobody has a sense of what he would do next. But this is where the president's in a bind. What can he do? If you're a Keynesian, they have spent all of their ammunition. The president was reduced in that speech to talking about a bill he had sent to Congress last year, which is says is a jobs bill. It's actually a stimulus by another name. So he doesn't have a lot out there to offer. You saw that failing in the speech, in the part of it where he talked about his own vision. It's a rehash what he's done the past three years.
VARNEY: Kim, could he not have compromised, offered a compromise to his Republican opponents and said, all right, maybe we won't tax the rich, but I want to spend more money. He put no sign of compromise at all. Why not?
STRASSEL: No, there isn't. I think the time for that, Stuart, was long ago. If this guy were Bill Clinton, going back to the 1990's, over the past year, he would have sat down with Republicans to have done some sort of big thing, whether it's corporate tax reform, looking at Bowles- Simpson, something to suggest he had gone to the middle and he was willing to work with the other side. He just isn't willing to work with the other side. That's another problem he's facing, that the whole hope-and-change thing, it hasn't proven out the last two years. and he can't run on that again either.
VARNEY: All right.
When we come back, new calls for Eric Holder to resign amid growing outrage over the intelligence leaks investigation, and allegations of Fast and Furious stonewalling. Can the attorney general survive?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN CORNYN, R-TEXAS: Mr. Attorney General, it's more with sorrow than regret, than anger that I would say that you leave me no alternative but to join those that call upon you to resign your office.