This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," January 5, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
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PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA: We are in a very difficult spot. The economy is bad. The situation is getting worse.
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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: FOX on top of stimulus that may be over the top, because the president-elect's assessment of the economy is beyond the pale, 775 billion smackers, $300 billion of that in tax breaks the president says we need now because we are really hurting now, and likely hurting a lot more soon.
Welcome, everybody. I am Neil Cavuto.
And a lot of money to fix an economy that might — might — already be improving on its own? Just today, news that construction spending was hope. Home re-financings are way up, and all after hundreds of billions of dollars already spent to get the economy fired up. So, maybe is this time to just hold up?
My next guest says no way.
New York Democratic Congressman Gregory Meeks says, this is no time to be penny-wise and pound-foolish.
Congressman, always good to have you.
I guess my concern is that we are spending like crazy, and we might already be seeing some benefits from money already spent. What do you say?
REP. GREGORY MEEKS, D-N.Y.: Well, I am saying that president- elect Obama is looking at the unemployment numbers of last month — dismal — and predictions for January even worse.
And, so, therefore, when you look at the number of individuals that are unemployed, you look at not only the Big Three, whether you're talking about GM, Ford, or Chrysler, but if you look at the Honda numbers, they were down 35 percent as far as sales were concerned. So, I know, just using my district, a number of individuals are being laid off. We have to do something to stimulate the economy and to get people spending and to move our economy forward. And that is what the president-elect is talking about. And I think that's what we're going to ultimately do in Congress.
CAVUTO: So, why — why then — why then are building some bridges and an $80 million pool in Florida part of something that is going to stimulate jobs in Detroit? How does that jibe?
MEEKS: Well, I do not know about an $80 million pool in Florida. I know that what — the president-elect Obama, if that is the case, it is not on his watch.
CAVUTO: Well, that is part of — that is part of the planned stimulus. Part of the stimulus we are looking at, it's for projects like that.
MEEKS: What he has talked about — what he has talked about are projects that are good for the environment, green projects, bridges, tunnels, roads, schools. Those are the projects that I have talked — heard him talking about, as well as tax cuts for the middle class, which I think that would help stimulate the economy, as he had talked about.
That is what I hear him talking about. Tax cuts for the middle class — I don't know whether you're against or for that — building roads, improving bridges, creating better infrastructure, because our infrastructure in a number of cities are old, which will help create jobs.
He is talking about incentives for small business that create jobs here for people, for American citizens...
MEEKS: ... as well as those that — you know, to prevent people from being fired. To me, that is the kind of stimulus package that we're looking for.
CAVUTO: But what if we have already done a lot of the things that are near and dear to you, Congressman. You have led the effort to see a lot of relief provided to the economy. And you're one of the big reasons why we have spent the hundreds of billions we already have.
Now, why don't we just see if that works before we start digging deeper into Americans' wallets, because, ultimately, Americans are paying for this, right?
MEEKS: Well, what we are looking at is two — two sides.
One, we had with President Bush. We're trying to make this — and I have been trying to make this a nonpartisan issue. But President Bush and the Bush administration, they said the failure of the financial institutions, which would have an imminent effect on all of Americans.
MEEKS: So, we came to aid to try to make sure that we worked not — you know, worked with the president. Now we have president-elect Obama who is looking at the other side of it, where we have talked about, we have got to also make sure that we save the economy and we help Main Street.
Here is a way of which we can do that. And, basically, it is talking about reducing taxes, a large part of this, for the middle class. And I don't think that — you know, I didn't hear necessarily you, Neil, or anyone else talk about when Bush made the tax cuts for the wealthiest of Americans. So, now we have got to focus on the middle class.
CAVUTO: Well, to be fair, he cut taxes — wait, no, no. No, no, this is a canard we always push here, but he cut taxes for everybody, didn't show a discretion toward one group or another.
MEEKS: Well, you know, but you look...
CAVUTO: Nevertheless, nevertheless, nevertheless, do you think, then, that, in order to get the middle-class tax cut approved, would you approve of a deal with very leery Republican members in Congress to at least stall the hike in the upper-income tax rate a couple of years, in other words, to let them expire on their own in the end of 2010?
MEEKS: Well, I think that, if you listen to what vice president-elect Biden has indicated — I listen to Senator Reid. I have talked and listen to my speaker, Nancy Pelosi. I do not think that there has been any talk about, you know, not allowing the tax cuts just to go out on its own in 2010. So, I think that the whole talk...
CAVUTO: Well, they have not unequivocally — they have not unequivocally.
MEEKS: Well, the only talk...
CAVUTO: But you say that they have — they have established that position, that they are going to wait until they expire?