New Poll Finds Americans Would Prefer Unused Simulus Money Be Returned to Taxpayers

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," August 13, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, well, stimulus shock? Can't spend it? Then give it back.

This is amazing. In a brand new FOX News poll, a whopping 72 percent of Americans say returning the unused portion, the unspent portion of that roughly $800 billion stimulus to taxpayers would do more to boost the economy than have the government spend it.


CAVUTO: And, by the way, it is not just Republicans saying it. This is a majority of Democrats, a majority of independents.

Democratic Congressman Chaka Fattah joins me right now.

Congressman, what do you make of that?

Video: Watch Cavuto's interview

REP. CHAKA FATTAH (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, look, I saw the unemployment numbers go down to 9.4 percent. I saw the trade deficit improved. We have seen the market come back 50 percent over the March lows.

This is a business show, Neil. And when you look at the business side of this, things are improving dramatically in our country. And now that we have got the patient stabilized, the last thing we want to do is not proceed with really healing what needs to be addressed here.

And, so, we are going to keep going forward. The tax cuts that are part of the stimulus — we have provided tax cuts to 95 percent of every single person in the country. And I heard Steve Moore on earlier talking about the Reagan tax cuts. These tax cuts are driven in — to 95 percent of income-earners over $200,000 — under $250,000. That is a significant part of the stimulus.


CAVUTO: You know, you realize, Congressman, that Ronald Reagan's tax cuts went to 100 percent, right? It was everybody. Everyone got it.

FATTAH: Well, look, let's — let's — let's be clear. With — with the selective amnesia at times, we keep forgetting about the Obama tax cuts. And I'm pointing out to you, I think that even conservatives...

CAVUTO: Are these the same tax cuts — Congressman, are these the same tax cuts the president said you are getting 14 bucks a week for?

FATTAH: I assume even conservatives would like those tax cuts to go forward.

CAVUTO: OK. All right. Well, I leave that...

FATTAH: These are tax cuts that are in place now...

CAVUTO: I hear you.

FATTAH: ... based on the stimulus plan...

CAVUTO: All right. Then — then, the American people...

FATTAH: ... in the payroll tax and other taxes.

CAVUTO: Congressman, I hear you. I'm saying the American people are looking at this and saying, all right, we're — we're — we are doing OK now, we're improving. Give the rest back.

FATTAH: Well, let me just tell you this. What we are going to do is give this economy a chance to really come back.

We have seen GM come out with a new car, 230 miles per gallon. I know you have got to be excited about that, Neil. We have got the banks stabilized. We are going to make sure that we get the employment rolls up. And we're going to keep pumping these stimulus dollars. It's an important part...

CAVUTO: So, you need more stimulus money? But if — if the stimulus is working, Congressman — I'm going to give the benefit of the doubt to you, and say the stimulus is working, that the 10 percent or so of it that has gotten out there has done the trick.

And I see, if I have done the trick at home with renovations that are costing 10 percent what I thought they would, you know what I do at home, Congressman? I don't spend the other 90 percent. I don't need it. I put the rest into food. That's me.

But my — but you know what I'm saying? That why — why...

FATTAH: Well, all I can tell you...

CAVUTO: Why do we have to spend the other 90 percent?

FATTAH: All I can tell you is full steam ahead. President Obama's administration, this economic recovery effort is full steam ahead. We are going to get this economy roaring back. We have seen improvements in the markets.

You can't point to a number that is poor. You can look. The stocks are up. Employment is down. The deficit...


CAVUTO: Well, then — then — then, Congressman, I'm going to agree with everything you — sir, I'm going to agree with everything you are saying, and I'm going to say, all right, we're firing on all cylinders — which, by the way, we are not — but we're — we're — we are doing better, and you are absolutely right to say we are doing better.

So, now I'm going to keep my power dry. That $700 billion or so that has not been spent, I'm just going to just put aside, just in case I need it, see how this recovery goes, because we don't have much more money behind it. And, if it doesn't work out, then I might take some more out, but why blow it all now?

FATTAH: Well, look, Neil, we have the patient stabilized. We are still in the O.R. There's still work to be done. And we're going to make sure that the — the tax cuts that are part of this stimulus get paid down in full. Those are reductions go to everyday Americans. They need that money.

There are — in this bill, there's employment — unemployment compensation. That is needed for the people who are still jobless. We're going to keep that in place, the COBRA benefits.

CAVUTO: Well, how is that stimulating — but, Congressman, how is that stimulating anything?

FATTAH: Well, there are parts of the bill that are stimulus. There are parts of the bill that are to help people through tough times.

And I know that we don't want to talk about the full concept of the bill, but it was to help people through tough times. That's what the unemployment compensation, the COBRA extensions, the food stamps...

CAVUTO: Do you think any of it, though, Congressman — now, let me just add a curious — I know. And you are pitching this package. And God bless you. You voted for it. You support the president, as you — as is your right.

But let me ask you this.

FATTAH: And it's working.


But you know things go in cycles, right? The average recession in this country lasts 18 months, this one a little more than 20 months. So, maybe we are just cycling out of this, and, no offense to the president or anyone else, this is just, you know, a cycle event, it has nothing to do with your stimulus or the money it's going toward unemployment compensation, none of that.

FATTAH: Hey, look, all I can tell you is that, if you were listening to business shows like your own five months ago, or in September, when this thing — the bottom fell out, the world was coming to an end, you saw what was going on in our markets, right? You saw the banking collapse.

This was — these were needed help, and we are going to follow through on this program. And Democrats will be glad...

CAVUTO: Well, you know, Congressman, I'll tell you what. I will tell you what, my friend. I'll tell you what. If you are...


FATTAH: Democrats will be glad to take all the credit or all the blame at the end of the game.

CAVUTO: You know what? You are a very — Congressman, you are a very smart, patriotic American, so I take it at your word that, if you were watching this show five or six months ago, you would hear that we were saying then that very little of this stimulus would get out, and that we would probably cycle out of this recession.

And, if you were listening to the show six months prior to that, at the start of the financial crisis, when we had a different president in office, and he was bailing out and rescuing banks and later auto companies, we said then, as we later said under this president, that it would be a mistake.

So, if you had been listening then and even before then, you would have realized that we would have trusted the markets and the economic cycle to get out of this mess, and not the government, right?

FATTAH: Well, look, if look at the Bloomberg survey of economists, right, you see that there's a general consensus now that we are headed in the right direction.

CAVUTO: Right.

FATTAH: We are not going to pull back. We are going to go forward.

And we will be held accountable. And — and let — let the Democratic Party be held accountable for our stewardship of the economy.

CAVUTO: And you also know — now, wait a minute. You also know from that survey, not — not a one — not a one credits that stimulus, right? OK.

FATTAH: Look at — let...

CAVUTO: All right.

FATTAH: Let the Republicans be held accountable for the Bush economy.

CAVUTO: You are right.

FATTAH: We will be glad to be held accountable...

CAVUTO: You are right, Congressman.

FATTAH: ... as we recover and move forward...

CAVUTO: A — blame on both sides.

FATTAH: ... under the Obama administration.

CAVUTO: All right. But you...


FATTAH: And you are always right, Neil.

CAVUTO: No, you're always right. I had no idea.

FATTAH: You're on the right. I'm on the left.


CAVUTO: You're so smooth, you're so smooth that I don't understand what you're saying, but you're so smooth at saying it, you leave me in awe.

No, I'm kidding. Congressman...

FATTAH: All the numbers are headed in the right direction.

CAVUTO: All right.

FATTAH: We have more work to do. We're going to keep the stimulus plan in place.

CAVUTO: All right. Congressman, you're a great guest. Great fun having you on. Thank you very much.

FATTAH: Thanks.

CAVUTO: All right.

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