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Rep. Weiner Defends Stimulus Bill

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Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y.FNC

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," February 17, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: First the signing, now the sell-off — the president's rush to stimulate failing to stimulate stocks today, at a new bear market low.

Welcome, everybody. I'm Neil Cavuto. And this is "Your World."

And if this massive $800 billion stimulus the president signed into law today was supposed to ease market angst about the economy today, the markets had a very funny way of showing it, hit hard on growing concerns this rush job might be more of a snow job, but hardly a partisan one. After all, Republicans started this spending rush with a financial rescue that did not rescue and bailouts that themselves needed bailing out.

So, is Wall Street now figuring out, enough with the rush? Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner says no.

Congressman, good to have you here.

REP. ANTHONY WEINER, D-N.Y.: Thank you for having me back.

CAVUTO: You know, we have something that, since we first kicked around the $700 billion financial rescue, we are down close to 4,000 points. That was since last September.

Video: Watch Neil Cavuto's interview

WEINER: Right.

CAVUTO: So, is it that, every time we try to rush, and sense of urgency, that people just are not buying it?

WEINER: Well, I do not know.

I mean, look, the stock market is an indication of what is going on in the economy. The economy is in a very rough spot right now. And I think, to some degree, the stock market might not be the best indicator. They're a short-term feedback.

But you have got to realize how deep this hole...

CAVUTO: Yes, but I'm going back to September.

WEINER: No, I think we have got to realize — and I think the president pointed this out at the bill-signing today — this is a deep hole that we are in. This is the worst problem we have had in three-quarters of a century.

And the question is how you take a short-term and long-term...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait.

Worse than the '81-'82 recession?

WEINER: Yes. I...

CAVUTO: You and I are young enough to remember that.

WEINER: Yes. The answer is, I think so. And I think, frankly, most of the indicators are.

But whether it is the worst or the second worst, it is bad. And the question is, how do you start to dig out of that? And, to some degree, it's true. What we are trying to do is get money into the pockets of individual citizens, trying to get money into of building things that creates jobs.

It might not be the kind of thing that has perfect feedback from the stock market. But the most important thing is, does it get America back on a path to stability? And I think that it does.

CAVUTO: All right. But, again, you're right. One day does not a judgment make. But I would say, over many months, you can make some conclusions that when they look at this stuff — that is, folks in general — they start picking it apart and seeing all the problems.

And we had a rush, Congressman, with that financial rescue, remember? Sign here. Sign here. Paulson was, sign here. Sign here.

And then we had the stimulus: Get this done. Get this done. Get this done.

And now a lot of people who signed on to this, they didn't even read the damn thing. Now, I know it is over 1,000 pages. But maybe people are picking this apart and realizing, you know what? This — this — this dog don't hunt.

WEINER: Well, we certainly do have an environment where things are getting picked apart. And that is why I think what we need to do is frame it the way the president did.

Does it do the big things? Does it try to get tax relief for the middle class? Yes. Does it have money to do job creation?

CAVUTO: But how does $13 — $8 to $13 a weeks give you tax relief to the middle class?

WEINER: I don't know. I think a lot of people in my neighborhood like getting $800. I think that is — you see...

(CROSSTALK)

WEINER: You're the perfect example of...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: No, no, I am not saying from a rich or poor — I'm just saying, in the scheme of things, someone getting that much, regardless of how little they make, is it going to change their buying behavior?

WEINER: I think that, if the idea is to ease the tax burden on the middle class — and, frankly, that's something you advocate, easing the tax burden on the middle class — we are doing it.

We are creating an infrastructure plan that is like what Eisenhower did with the national highway system. You know, the problem is, we are in an environment now that it is very easy to find five or 10 people who think that any specific thing is the wrong thing to do.

But I think the American people like the basic framework: reduce taxes...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Well, actually, they don't. Wait. No, no. I mean, we have a Rasmussen poll, Congressman, where over 50 percent don't like it.

WEINER: Well, I...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: They have serious doubts it will be helpful.

WEINER: I have no — it is no mystery to me that people have that framework, if you listen to the way people, as you said, are picking it apart.

But if you frame it this way, do you want tax relief for the middle class, do you want job creation, do you want us to start to get back on the road of trying to stabilize what is going on, I think people say yes to that. That's what we're trying to do.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Congressman, here's what they look at.

Yes, people, everyone wants tax relief. Everyone wants jobs. But these are promises in a plan that many argue does not deliver that.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: The tax relief seems tepid. And you are arguing that it is going to create these jobs. There is nothing that says it will.

WEINER: Look, it's funny.

The same people — the tax relief is tepid, and we're not doing enough on infrastructure, and these are the same people who say the bill is too big.

(LAUGHTER)

WEINER: I think, frankly, the bill should have been more muscular on some fronts. We should have more for mass transit for my city, for example.

But I think part of what we have is, there, of course, people — and I think they're relatively small — that say, you know what, just anything that is proposed here, we are going to nitpick it to death.

I think the American people kind of get this. That is why so many governors, for example, Republican governors, outside the beltway, say, yes, we need this kind of help, because we are having the floor fall out.

CAVUTO: Well, who would deny free money, right? I mean...

WEINER: Well, no, because they also realize they don't want to have to slash their budgets locally. You know, we have a billion dollars...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: But that is my point, right, is, if you know manna is coming from heaven, or Washington in this case, you could be a Republican, Democrat, liberal...

(CROSSTALK)

WEINER: No, no, that's wrong. There still are going to be very deep cuts.

The question is, are they going to be the kind of cuts that accelerate the recession or depression that we are heading into? And the answer is that if the federal government, which is always hearing complaints from people who say, we have all these unfunded things that the federal government is giving states to do. Let's help them out. Medicaid is the classic example of that.

CAVUTO: So, you have faith in this, that this is going to work? How so?

WEINER: I have — I have — I don't know if it's faith, but I think that we are doing the right types of things in the face of an unbelievable challenge that we have.

CAVUTO: OK, real quickly, you're only a few points behind Mayor Bloomberg in the latest polls for the mayor of New York.

What will be your signature issue?

WEINER: Well, I have got to tell you something.

Right now, my signature issue is helping getting everything we can for New York City. You know, we got over $2 billion in aid for New York City to help Mayor Bloomberg, ironically, be a success dealing with the balance — the budget.

I think, right now, people are not eager to jump into campaign 2009. They want us to do us our jobs right now.

CAVUTO: Yes, but you are competing with a billionaire.

WEINER: Well, I am thousandaire. And...

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: And you have got 8 to 13 bucks more a week to play with.

WEINER: There is — look, there is — there's something to be said for the middle-class ethos of this town. And I'm going to be a spokesman for that.

CAVUTO: Congressman, always a pleasure. Thank you very much.

WEINER: Thank you, sir.

CAVUTO: Congressman Weiner.

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