Steve Forbes on Whether Obama Can Use His Popularity to Sell His Spending Overseas

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," March 31, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, from clowns to rock stars, a message to the rock star: Watch out for the rocks — Barack Obama, personally very popular in Europe, Barack Obama’s message of a big New Deal decidedly less so.

Steve Forbes says our president would be wise to know the difference.

Steve, now, keep in mind, you are competing to a clown, who was phenomenal.


CAVUTO: So, the pressure is on.

You think that it’s going to be a whole different reception this time around?

STEVE FORBES, PRESIDENT & CEO, FORBES INC.: Well, they are going to be very polite. The Europeans are polite. And they will have a communiqué that will be very bland of talking about the need for regulation, stimulation, free trade, which is very important, and things like that.

But, in terms of substance, outside of Britain, nobody wants a spending binge. Japan tried that in the ‘90s. They’re trying a few since then, trying one now. It does not work.

CAVUTO: But, Steve, why are we the ones, the U.S., this great capitalist Mecca, the ones pushing to do something that they usually push?

FORBES: Well, it shows what happened with the election, Neil.

And this crowd came in. They did not run on this kind of platform of spend — spending binges, tripling the national debt in 10 years, massive new tax increases, including energy, taking over the health care industry.

And, so, I think opposition is beginning to build up. People are having a very queasy feeling about all of this. And, as they learn more, they become more opposed. You see it on card check with unions, doing away with — doing away with free elections for unions.

CAVUTO: Well, now I can understand why Grandma the clown was offended, because this gives a bad name to clowns. All of a sudden, now these guys are doing things for which there is no money, for which there is no endgame. And we keep pushing it.



Well, you see, Neil, the Big Apple understands the difference between professional clowns and amateur clowns in Washington. The professionals do it. They don`t get paid that much for it. But, in Washington, they are doing it with our money. And, so, it is not so funny.

CAVUTO: I’m wondering, though — let’s say they paper over their differences.

That is, the Europeans who are against the president and his spending push, maybe they like what he is doing with regulation. They like to do more with regulation. Are we going to end up, though, with a world where everybody is regulating like crazy, in other words, that — that all boats have to rise under this new regulatory water?

FORBES: Well, we have seen in Western Europe that regulation, especially in labor markets, high taxation, does not work in terms of innovation and job creation.

And, in this country, I think there’s going to be growing opposition to that. It is stifling. And we know it. We have seen it in other countries. We have seen here in the past.

So, it is not as if we have to — we have to relearn lessons.


FORBES: And I think when — President Obama is going to get a lesson, when his popularity, around Labor Day, goes below 50 percent. That will be the wakeup call for the White House.

CAVUTO: Yes, you have been saying that that will happen. Inevitably, every popular president comes back down to earth. But this will just be a gradual thing, right?

FORBES: Well, who knows?


FORBES: People want to cut a new president some slack. That is a good thing.

But, already now, his popularity is no better than it was with George W. Bush in his few weeks in office. These policies, tax and spend, people — people don`t like it, and rightly so.

CAVUTO: All right. All right.

Most popular president at this juncture was Jimmy Carter, at 70 percent. Can you believe that?


CAVUTO: It’s true, at this — at this stage.

Steve, great seeing you again. Thank you.

FORBES: Neil, good to see you.

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