Goolsbee: 'We're definitely better off' than four years ago

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," July 31, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: The bad news keeps coming for team Obama on the economic front as new numbers show the consumer confidence in the economy is dropping yet again. According to Gallup's weekly survey, consumer confidence, which peaked in May of minus 16 has plummeted now to minus 29, that's the lowest it's been since January.

So headlines like that it's difficult to argue that the president deserves another four years in office. But here to attempt do that is one of the architects of the Obama economy, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Austan Goolsbee. Sir, welcome back.


HANNITY: All right, appreciate it. You are a good man. You are one of the few Obama people who have the guts to come on this program. They will usually only do shows that suck up to the president. I don't suck up.

GOOLSBEE: Well, look, I know you don't, but one of these days your bosses are going to come over and ask you why you keep having me back on here so you have to stick up for me.

HANNITY: Fair and balanced, Austin. You are here.

All right, let me start with a question that may seem a little off beat. If somebody makes definitive statements running for office, running for the office of presidency, should is matter if they fulfill their promises?


HANNITY: OK. Let's go back to the quote, the great sportscaster in New York, let's go to the videotape. This is then candidate, now President Obama.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, FEB. 23, 2009: That's why today I'm pledging to cut the deficit we inherited by half by the end of my first term in office.

OBAMA, MARCH 20, 2009: Because of the massive deficit we inherited and the cost of this financial crisis, we are having to go through the books line by line, page by page so that we can cut our deficit in half by the end of my first term and reduce it by $2 trillion over the next decade.

OBAMA, MAY 7, 2009: All told, by the end of my first term we will cut the deficit in half.

OBAMA, FEB. 15, 2011: When I took office, I pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term. Our budget meets that pledge and puts us on a path to pay for what we spend by the middle of the decade.


HANNITY: We are borrowing 40 cents of every dollar. He not only didn't cut the deficit in half, but he's given us the largest deficits of any president in the history of this country, over $5 trillion in new Obama debt. Is he a failure?

GOOLSBEE: No. Sean, what you left out is the primary reason that the deficit did not go down substantially in the last year, is that in a totally bipartisan way, Republicans and Democrats agreed in 2010 to extend all the Bush tax cuts, knowing perfectly well that the deficit was going to remain high.

HANNITY: Did the president himself sign that bill?


HANNITY: OK, now here's the point. What you are forgetting is for the first two years, and you were there, is that the president had Nancy Pelosi in the House and Harry Reid in the Senate. He got his budgets passed. He got his stimulus passed. He got his health care bill passed and we still have trillion dollar deficits --

GOOLSBEE: I'm not forgetting that.

HANNITY: Wait a minute. He failed! And we have fewer Americans working today and $5 trillion in debt and you are going to tell the American people that's a success?

GOOLSBEE: Sean, you are trying to switch it around. Let's go back to your first charge --

HANNITY: You have to focus here.

GOOLSBEE: Your first charge is that the president said he would cut the deficit in half, and he didn't. Now I remind you --

HANNITY: He broke his promise. He failed.

GOOLSBEE: No. It was off of the $1.3 trillion deficit that he was left with as projected by the Congressional Budget Office.

HANNITY: When I took office, I pledge to cut the deficit in half by the end of the first term. Our budget meets that pledge --

GOOLSBEE: From what he inherited. From what he inherited.

HANNITY: -- and puts us on a path to pay for what he spent by the middle of the decade.

GOOLSBEE: Yes. And that was the -- look, Sean, his budget that he proposed would do that and the Republicans and Democrats agreed at the end of 2010 that they were not going to try to cut the deficit because the economy was still hurting so they would extend the tax cuts.

HANNITY: That's like read my lips, no new taxes.

GOOLSBEE: Just the opposite. Read my lips, we won't have taxes go up. Sean, you are expressing surprise that the deficit remains high when in a bipartisan way they both agreed knowing perfectly well it would keep the deficit high.

HANNITY: In July of 2008, your president said that George Bush was --

GOOLSBEE: And yours.

HANNITY: Was unpatriotic and irresponsible and that we were taking a credit card to the Bank of China in the name of our kids and grandkids, and that's irresponsible. That's unpatriotic.

He has accumulated over $1 trillion more dollars in debt in three and a half years than George Bush did in eight years. Wait a minute. We have almost a million fewer Americans working, Austan, and you are going to tell the American people that that is success? You are going to say that on national TV.

GOOLSBEE: Sean, you are combining two different things and we can talk about them. We will do them one at a time. The point that he made with George Bush and said what undermines the country is when you are in an economy that's doing well --

HANNITY: Not what he said.

GOOLSBEE: -- it's not a time to be running big deficits. That was exactly the context of what he said at that time.

HANNITY: He said George Bush has taken a credit card to the Bank of China in the name of our kids and grandkids and he's -- and our deficit went up to $9 trillion and now it's $16 trillion.

GOOLSBEE: Sean, both parties knew perfectly well that we would continue to have large deficits because of extending the tax cuts.

HANNITY: He had two years he got his plan passed, two full years, all Democrats.

GOOLSBEE: I'm not disputing that at the -- at the outset when he steps in the middle of the deepest recession of our lifetimes that they engage in things that make the deficit bigger for a two-year period.

The question is why did it not come down by the end of his first term? And the answer, as you know very well, is that they chose in a bipartisan way to extend trillions dollars of Bush tax cuts. That's why.

HANNITY: You know, I will say I respect the fact that you come on the program. I know you are a good guy, but that's like blaming -- that's like blaming ATM machines --

GOOLSBEE: I'm not blaming anyone.

HANNITY: -- and kiosks and tsunami and earthquakes and Fox and Sean Hannity for his failures.

GOOLSBEE: Sean, if I say, why is there not -- why do we not have $50 between us? And yesterday you and I both went out --

HANNITY: The last question, are we better off than we were four years ago? Are we better off as a country, $5 trillion in new debt, Obama debt?

GOOLSBEE: We are definitely better off. Now, from the moment he took office it was like, you know, going up on the roof, the guy let's go and we are halfway falling before your pumpkin is going to smash on the ground.

So you are not allowed to say the pumpkin looked great when I last saw it because it was halfway to the ground when he stepped on to it. But, the fact is -- I realize that's a bit of a weird analogy.

HANNITY: That's kind of weird.

GOOLSBEE: The point being, if you do in a bipartisan way a tax cut knowing perfectly well that that's going to increase the deficit, it's not genuine and it's not appropriate to turn around and say how could the deficit be that big.

HANNITY: If we continue to spend by borrowing 40 cents of every dollar, we will be Greece, and Obama has spent more than any president in the history of this country. Matter of fact accumulated debt in more debt in his term than 41 presidents combined.

I've got to run. I'm out of time. We will invite you back. I know you love coming.

GOOLSBEE: OK, anytime.

HANNITY: All right, Austan Goolsbee, we do appreciate you being here.

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