On Sunday, United States Treasury Secretary Jack Lew spoke with David Gregory on NBC’s “Meet the Press” to discuss jobs and the economy, according to the Washington Times on Sunday. In the process, he was quite critical of the United States Congress.
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In discussing a possibly shut-down of the United States government in coming months, Lew said that he thinks the American people are tired of the kinds of problems which he believes Washington has created for itself and for Americans. Therefore, he said, having seen how much harm the government has caused the country in 2011 with its non-actions, he strongly believes that Congress shouldn’t put the nation through those types of times again.
He said the fight over the debt limit in 2011 hurt the economy – regardless of the fact that it gave us an extension of the debt limit – due to a drop in confidence in the economy. He believes Congress needs to finish its work on appropriations bills and pass a debt limit.
Sequestration – cutting expenses across the board – is unacceptable because it hurts our future. On this, he said that President Barack Obama won’t sign such legislation. Of Obama, Lew said that the president has made it clear in the past week that he is not going to play games of brinksmanship this time around because it’s not about who wins or who loses. Yet, Lew insists it has to be Obama’s way: the debt limit has to be extended. He says it has to be extended in a way that it doesn’t create a crisis for the middle class.
Lew claims that the United States is not where it was in 2011 because there has been some legislation that has reduced the deficit to some degree. He also claims that the government is outperforming expectations in terms of how quickly the country is reducing the deficit.
When Lew claimed that, in his travels, he sees other governments around the world seeing the United States as a nation that is coming back strong, economically, host David Gregory cited a recent NBC-Wall Street Journal poll which reveals that the vast majority of Americans – 61 percent – feel the nation is headed in the wrong direction. Lew, without citing examples, said the government has economic data which shows that confidence is improving.
When confronted with the facts that most Americans finding employment these days are finding temporary – not even part-time employment and definitely not full-time employment – and other economic domestic issues, Lew – like so many other members of Obama’s inner circle – had to go on the defensive again. Again, without citing data, Lew said that the nation’s job creation is more impressive than host Gregory described. In general, however, he said there are more manufacturing jobs. When Gregory stated that in spite of the economy and job market supposedly improving – according to the Obama administration – the number of food stamp recipients has doubled in the past six years, Lew spoke at length but never answered that ongoing question which many Americans have asked in recent times.
When asked if Lew thought we were having a strong economic recovery, he said that he believes the core of the economy is growing. He repeated that the “who’s winning” debates in Washington need to stop, and the lawmakers need to get back to dealing with the challenges that the middle class families want the government to deal with.
One can assume that “doing what the middle class wants and needs” was at the top of Lew’s talking points list when he came to the interview. Whether or not this interview convinced anyone that the economy is improving will have to wait until the next poll. Again, the last poll by NBC and the Wall Street Journal, released just this past week, says nearly two-thirds of the nation believes the United States is on the wrong track.