VANDEN HEUVEL: ... to put people back to work. But to put people back to work, not to spend on wars we don't need. ROBERTS: Well, we just -- you just heard two senators agree on extending unemployment, extending health care under COBRA and extending the tax credit for housing.
VANDEN HEUVEL: And that is great.
ROBERTS: So that's all stimulus money that would be more debt.
VANDEN HEUVEL: But we -- this is a national emergency in this country, and we need to -- we need to think about this, not just dance around the good edges of extending unemployment benefits. STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's press that point, because that brings up a strategic question that the White House answered at the beginning of this year, saying, no, the way to address it is to do everything at once. The president said yesterday, Matthew, that his principal focus is going to be jobs. He opens the door to looking at other ideas, although White House officials say that doesn't mean anything, is imminent. The question is, how -- does he pursue that now or wait for health care? I think they've answered it, but is that the right decision?
DOWD: Well, they keep saying what -- the president and the administration does, they keep saying what their priority is. And it seems to change every other week what their current priority is. And you have to maintain a priority for at least some period of time, maybe a couple of months for all of the people to believe it is a priority. So if it is a priority, then we're going to have to see that reflected in how he acts with Congress and how he doesn't. My thing about the stimulus package, which I think goes back to what FDR did, in my view, is when he accomplished it -- when he pushed a jobs package, people actually saw things done, they saw bridges getting built, they saw farms getting mowed over, they saw roads getting built. Nobody sees any activity done by the stimulus package that actually is producing jobs. Nobody can see it. (CROSSTALK)
ROBERTS: Yes, but also, it's the dog that didn't bark. You know, there are jobs. I mean, you're quite right that it doesn't convince people to say, well, that job wouldn't be there if we didn't do this. But particularly at the state and local government level, there were all kind of cutbacks that were headed to happen, particularly with police and teachers and all of that, that didn't happen. STEPHANOPOULOS: And it's so bad, but again, it would have been far worse. VANDEN HEUVEL: Far worse.
DOWD: Well, I don't know, OK, I'm going to go back to that point, they said that if we pass a stimulus package, unemployment would never go above 9 percent. They said X would -- Y and Z would happen. All that has happened in spite of the stimulus package, so that's an argument that we're making in some sort of fiction fantasy land, that "but for this."
STEPHANOPOULOS: No, but that could show that just the economy was in far worse shape before. (CROSSTALK)