• With: Karl Rove

    VAN SUSTEREN: And now if he tells us that he -- you know, like -- is that he didn't even -- the shovel-ready really weren't shovel-ready and if consumer confidence is so poor, then now we find out the guy who wanted this $800 billion stimulus and who had the ability to get it, and now he has some -- And he's admitting it didn't work...

    ROVE: Right.

    VAN SUSTEREN: ... that -- that...

    ROVE: Well...

    VAN SUSTEREN: ... decimates consumer confidence.

    ROVE: Sure. Look, his numbers prove it. In this document I referred to earlier, it says that by the -- that unemployment at this point, they anticipate it would be 6.8 percent. They said unemployment would top out at no higher than 8 percent by the end of the summer of 2009 and decline rapidly thereafter.

    We're at 9.1 percent unemployment today. We got 13 -- more than 13 million people unemployed, two million more than the day he signed this bill! So the president has to be judged not by some anonymous standard, not by somebody else's standard, he needs to be judged by his own standard, and by his own standard, this has been an utter failure! It has not produced the kind of economic growth that he said, the kind of jobs he said. And it was because it was not what he sold it as, quote, "shovel- ready" projects.

    VAN SUSTEREN: This isn't working. He needs to change his strategy. And the problem that we run into is if he deals -- if he digs his heels in the sand and won't budge and wants to -- and wants to continue along this path. I hope that he has the courage to say, Look, you know, this isn't working. We're -- unemployment is climbing, and we need to -- we need to change course.

    ROVE: The question is going to be on the debt ceiling, is he going to dig his heels in and either settle for little in the way of spending cuts, or is he going to agree to big spending cuts that are robust and are front- loaded, sooner rather than later, and are not -- are not -- are real spending cuts, not fake ones, and are not gimmicks but real spending restraint and not tax cuts but spending cuts.

    VAN SUSTEREN: And has a political cost.

    ROVE: Yes, look...

    VAN SUSTEREN: Has a huge political cost.

    ROVE: Exactly. But look, there's also political advantage. This is what mystifies me. If President Obama came out, had come out a month ago and said, Let's get this deal done, and it's going to be robust and we're going to get a lot votes for it because it's going to be strong and effective, the guy would get reelected.

    As it is, we'll end up with a deal and it will be a robust deal, but he's going to look like he's being dragged kicking and screaming all the way there, saying one thing in public, but resisting it in private. So I - - I -- I frankly admit I'm mystified.

    And frankly, also, look, it was a bad joke. But where's his -- is this man politically tone-deaf? And what about those people sitting up there on the podium with him laughing at it? You know, this was not funny to 13 million Americans!

    VAN SUSTEREN: You know, indeed, it wasn't. But I -- but as I -- I noted is -- you know, I think what is more terrifying is getting it wrong than having...

    ROVE: Sure.

    VAN SUSTEREN: ... being sort of boorish and laughing...

    ROVE: Look, they had to...

    VAN SUSTEREN: ... at a bad joke.

    ROVE: They had to get it wrong. They knew right from the get-go that out of the $830 billion in the stimulus bill, $47 billion dollars of it went for -- went for shovel-ready projects. And some of those shovel-ready projects are the high-speed rail projects that are not being built and won't be built. So not even all of the $47 billion has been spent. Not all the $47 billion has been obligated. And certainly, we haven't gotten the kind of jobs that we were led to believe we'd have.

    VAN SUSTEREN: 9.1 percent. That's bad. Anyway, Karl, thank you.

    ROVE: You bet.