February 6th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Can government head off depression?


A man waiting at a breadline in San Francisco during the Winter of 1933. (PHOTO CREDIT: DOROTHEA LANGE/NATIONAL ARCHIVES/NEWSMAKERS)

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The U.S. economy is in its worst shape since the recession of the 1970s, and perhaps soon it will match the Great Depression. So says the CEO of General Electric.

Jeff Immelt says that unlike other downturns, this one is faced with limited liquidity. He stressed that governments around the world have gone "all in”… "firing as many bullets" as they can to stimulate their economies, and eventually "government always wins". Immelt says it's more important to move forward quickly with a large stimulus package than to worry about the details. Congress - are you listening?

And there's more. Another top economic mind, the co-chief investment officer of Pacific Investment Management Co – or PIMCO – says the U.S. might head into a "mini depression" unless government spends trillions of dollars. That's trillions, with a "T." Bill Gross told Bloomberg TV "there is a potential catastrophe if the U.S. government continues to focus on billions of dollars". While Congress bickers about mere hundreds of billions, a couple of the brighter bulbs in the private sector suggest it's going to take much, much more.

Gross says that the Fed is going to have to buy Treasuries. That's because some believe that as China's economy slows, it may start buying less of our debt. Goldman Sachs estimates that government borrowing will reach $2.5 trillion this fiscal year.

Meanwhile, these grim assessments came right before today's report that employers cut another 598,000 jobs in January – the worse job loss since December 1974. It brings the unemployment rate to 7.6%. Happy Friday.

Here’s my question to you: Is the U.S. government capable of heading off a full-blown depression?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Paulette from Dallas, Pa. writes:
Yes. The government needs to reign in these banks and make them start to lend. Pump monies into the middle class who will in turn spend it - if provided a financial stimulus package. Fund a jobs program such as the DPW in the 30's and the CETA Program in the 70's. Put people back to work. American people are resilient and proud. They don't want to be unemployed and on welfare.

Barbara from Michigan writes:
The government could do a lot to help get the economy moving in the right direction but it will take some political courage for the Republicans to act in a bipartisan way and support Obama's efforts to fix the mess. Humility and cooperation are not big on their list of character traits.

Jay from Brownwood, Texas writes:
No, the government is the cause of the coming Great Depression #2. Funneling trillions of dollars into the hands of this country's super-rich corporate elitists will not solve anything. The giant banks, who received the first bundle, gave a good example of what will happen to the rest of the bailout cash. They will sock it away so they will not be affected and the rest of us can go to hell as far as they are concerned.

Jackie in Dallas writes:
No, the government can't head it off, Jack, but they can cushion the effects it has on the citizens of the country. Eventually, when more of the rich become poorer, things such as universal health care can be instituted without screams of socialism.

Ian writes:
I don't think the government is capable of putting the right shoe on the right foot, never mind saving the economy.

Filed under: Recession • US Economy • US Government
soundoff (109 Responses)
  1. Venia PA

    Yes, if given the chance they can stimulate the economy and avoid a depression no matter how much the republicans try to put us in one. And I have the perfect idea on how the Democrats can get this accomplished – tell the republicans its a tax cut for the rich and corporations and then add that there is off shore oil drilling involved and they will approve it wholeheartedly.

    February 6, 2009 at 1:16 pm |
  2. Charles, Lansing, MI

    It's too late here in Michigan. We have been in a full blown depression for quite some time due to the greed of the auto companies and union and our previous governor who stripped the state before leaving. I believe the rest of the country will join us regardless what the government decides to do.

    February 6, 2009 at 1:18 pm |
  3. Ian

    I don't think the government is capable of putting the right shoe on the right foot, never mind save the economy.

    February 6, 2009 at 1:25 pm |
  4. Kevin in Dallas, TX

    We can't even define what a depression is, how are these hacks suppose to head one off?

    February 6, 2009 at 1:26 pm |
  5. Debbie in Warrenton, OR

    No, because I believe that we are already in a depression. Can the government mitigate the current situation by fixing the broken system and creating jobs through the stimulus-YES. But the way the Congress is acting, these clowns either don't believe that people are really hurting or don't care. To avoid a more severe situation, they are going to have to quit playing politics and spend some money. Giving us back our money is the only hope we have. Tax cuts for someone not making any money or businesses that are losing money (no capital gains) is stupid.

    February 6, 2009 at 1:26 pm |
  6. Jeff, Oregon State University

    They cannot prevent it, alone, but yes. The willingness of the people to have the necessity to succeed, and the government giving them the helping hand will prevent another depression from occurring. Many will argue this, but the stimulus is a necessity. There is no way around. If we do not act now, our economy will fail and we may possibly have a complete government collapse for not doing anything.

    By boosting the economy through spending, we can have faith that we will pull out of this soon.

    February 6, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
  7. Ron San Diego

    Hi Jack:

    No I don't think the government could avoid an economic depression. Looking at what is happening now. It is more likely it will happen. I just hope it isn't real bad. The economy has already had a profound negative effect on our citizens. Giving more money to the banks and large corporations will only make things much more difficult.

    Ron San Diego

    February 6, 2009 at 1:41 pm |
  8. Larry Houston, Texas

    Jack – a "depression" is defined : 25% unemployment....
    certainly not 7 or 8 or 9 %......

    (that's what it was in 1929)

    February 6, 2009 at 1:45 pm |
  9. Tom, Bradenton,FL

    I am afraid we are seeing the ingredients that lead to the Great Depression and I think we are already close to one. Maybe this is what we need to get back down to Earth and reality. You can not live like a CEO on a modest salary. However, I hope it is not necessary. I don't want people to suffer.

    February 6, 2009 at 1:51 pm |
  10. John from Alabama

    Jack: It can if it reads the economic signs quickly enough and moves to shore up the financial and durable goods structure. In 2007, the Bush Administration missed the boat over the present recession. It was not until late summer 2008 when Henry Paulson walked into then President Bush's Office and said "holy cow, the sky is falling". This is why the word, depression, is used today to sometimes describe our sick economy. I believe that if Obama and Congress move on the stimulus package it might only be a deep recession, rather a depression.

    John from Alabama

    February 6, 2009 at 1:52 pm |
  11. Jay King

    Its possible Jack, but I believe they lack the competency.
    Last year's bail-out was OVERPAID by $78 BILLION. I don't see the sense in making rash decisions to throw good money after bad.

    Thanx –

    >>> Jay King; Fridley, MN

    February 6, 2009 at 1:52 pm |
  12. jeff, Jefferson, Ga.

    I believe we can head it off through the stimulus plan, the brightest people on the subject says it will work, our president believes in it and I believe in him.

    February 6, 2009 at 1:55 pm |
  13. Joe in DE

    I hope we find out and not just let it continue due to inaction. We should fear inaction more tahn anything else.

    There are not doubt a lot of things in the Stimulus that one or another thinks not worthwhile. If all controversial items were eliminated, very littlke would be left. The political pros & cons are in the eyes of the partisan. The critism are more p[olitically based and the proposals. The typical cynical comment is, "how many jobs does that create", I doubt that the questioners have any idea.

    February 6, 2009 at 2:05 pm |
  14. Tony from Torrington

    First of all, I wouldn't take anything Jeff Immelt says to heart. He has taken GE from over $40.00 a share to about $11.00 a share. He is useless. GE does business with Iran and allows MSNBC to spew hatred from 8:00 pm through 10:00 pm daily. This is not a great example of a smart CEO.

    The government is spending billions of dollars for nonsense, when they could easily do something to get the economy rolling again. Every person that receives a paycheck knows what the answer is....TAKE LESS MONEY OUT OF THEIR CHECK. Let the WORKING PERSON who puts his or her time in every week, KEEP THE MONEY THEY EARN. Then they could buy stuff. Done.

    February 6, 2009 at 2:18 pm |
  15. Rich Monk

    Hey Jack,
    The USA is already in a Deprssion. 600,000 jobs lost in January 2009 alone. The Banks, and Wall St. have lied and are in much worse shape then we are to know. We have two wars going on at the same time that cost $13 Billion a month. The 3 Auto makers can't sell a thing. The Bush administration dismantled the FDA and now we have poisonous food. There is little to no Border and Port security or immigration policy. But hey, I live in San Diego and it is nice beach weather here to be without a job and a home.

    Thomas, Carlsbad by the Sea

    February 6, 2009 at 2:19 pm |
  16. odessa

    i don't know..we will wait and see..if the government can secure their jobs, they should help all americans who are seeking help now for finding a job, keeping their homes, receiving affordable healthcare and paying college tuition bills..it is time for the government to do their job and stop playing games now..people are worried and don't know what their future is going to be..we don't want to be going into another great depression; we need help now.

    February 6, 2009 at 2:23 pm |
  17. TE from OK

    Government in this instance is now the only thing that can help. The Republicans offer more of the same and we cannot afford to keep going down this same old road.

    February 6, 2009 at 2:24 pm |
  18. Nancy, Grand Ledge,MI

    Our government? Capable? You're kidding! The ability to head off a depression is there, but only if they act quickly! The economy is like a snowball rolling downhill, it progressively gets bigger and faster. When a person loses their job they buy less. Because sales are down, more people lose their jobs.The snowball is fast becoming an avalanche. And we're dependent on the swift action and wise judgement of our government to save us? Lord help us all!!

    February 6, 2009 at 2:39 pm |
  19. Terry from North Carolina

    I believe we are too far gone, and it will definately get worse before it gets better. I also believe that Obama didnt know how bad it really was until he took office. Unemployment is the mark we should be measuring this by and until we can lower this number we will continue this downward spiral.

    February 6, 2009 at 2:54 pm |
  20. Jan, Idaho

    Dear Jack,

    Can the government depress us any more than they already have? Just ask the homeless family who lost their house, their job, and their insurance. I'll bet they are plenty depressed–what do you think?

    February 6, 2009 at 2:56 pm |
  21. Alex

    The government can not head off depression. However, it can easily start a depression.

    February 6, 2009 at 3:01 pm |
  22. karen-phoenix

    YES! If they would just listen to President Obama and his team!!!!

    February 6, 2009 at 3:02 pm |
  23. richard a. winkler

    I don't think so. Maybe we need a depression and start over again. Americans are too soft and too spoiled.

    February 6, 2009 at 3:08 pm |
  24. Deb I , Nauvoo, IL

    Not by throwing money at billionaire bankers, it can't. One of your competitors said giving money to the middle class was a waste because we would only try to save it for a rainy day This all became a deluge many months ago. Extra money given to most of us goes immediately into the economy, in the form of groceries, mortgage payments, gas, medical bills. You can't cure a depression by the "trickledown theory". Over and over, we see that trickle down is trickle stop. All those first billions never made it to the credit market, or to the retailers or to construction companies. Until the money goes where it will be used , the US government just might as well save it, like for the rainy days that are surely coming soon.

    February 6, 2009 at 3:15 pm |
  25. lynnej from lattimore, nc

    It can be done, but we're all going to have to take a big pill to swallow what has to be done which is forgivining all debt.

    The banks have to eat what they've done. They loaned folk more money than they needed and are still charging outrageous interest rates on credit cards.

    This should be a one time get out of jail free card for all, starting over in a new with folk knowing their limitations. And for folk who didn't get in a financial mess and want things to stay the same, look at this way, illness, like it did me, could put you in the same place, barely making it with one disaster away from falling over the cliff.

    February 6, 2009 at 3:15 pm |
  26. Barbara from Michigan

    The government could do a lot to help get the economy moving in the right direction but it will take some political courage for the Republicans to act in a bipartisan way and support Obama's efforts to fix the mess.

    Humility and cooperation are not big on their list of character traits. If the Republicans would cooperate, they would see their popularity rise. I hope individual Repbulicans will "go maverick" by doing what is best for the country.

    February 6, 2009 at 3:35 pm |
  27. Thomas - Yo.town, OH

    NO. The government's too fat. They don't have a clue as proven by the first bale out bill with it's 25% PORK. The American Citizen is relying too much on these jerks. It's time for a D.C. Pork Party and ride 'em all out on a rail.

    February 6, 2009 at 3:36 pm |
  28. Jeff C. - Cleveland Ohio


    It has become obvious to me that Congress is not even capable of heading off the current recession. Government clearly would be inane in the face of a depression.

    This recession is far worse than Congress realizes. I get the feeling that Obama is reticent to articulate the full extent of our economic woes.

    The elitists, like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, should be banished from representing the electorate. Their nepotistic attempts to pass tax reduction measures for the benefit of the wealthy are mortifying.

    Jeff C. – Cleveland, Ohio

    February 6, 2009 at 3:36 pm |
  29. John

    Looking the daily digets of the US Senate I wonder if they can do it without adding unnecessary pork on the end. I see that they have voted down 65 nays to 32 yeas "to provide greater accountability of taxpayers' dollars by curtailing congressional earmarking and requiring disclosure of lobbying by recipients of Federal funds"
    When are they going to take the economic health of the nation and their constituency first and push partisan politics aside.
    If you judge their proabable success on the ability of the SEC and FDA to regulate and protect the investments and health of this county, then I would have to say no.

    February 6, 2009 at 3:39 pm |
  30. Nancy, Tennessee

    The essay question for Friday is a little heavy, but here's what I think about a depression. We have some of the greatest minds working on this problem and giving us advise even if they may be 81 years old. The government is going to do everything possible to keep history from repeating itself. I think the present administration willl keep us from going under in spite of the Republicans who still think tax cuts are the solution. President Obama has seen what the tax cuts and wall street greed has done for us. He will not sign into law enormous tax cuts for businesses and the wealthy. If you ask someone who lived through the first depression what happened, they will tell you that all the money got in the hands of a small percentage of rich people and they held on to it. More tax cuts for the wealthy will be our demise.

    February 6, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  31. Charles-NJ

    It is really sad to see these types of articles/commentaries.
    Journalists seem to love the word DEPRESSION. If you keep printing things like this, people will be running for the hills !!!!!!

    Enough already !!!!

    February 6, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  32. Sam Fairview, Texas

    I don't see how the government can stop a depression no mater how much money that it throws into it. The government has no money to begin with. We are in debt up to our eyeballs to foreign countries and they own a great part of our treasury as it is. This has been brewing for years of government mismanagement and now they want us to believe that they have the solution? I find that very hard to believe.
    The sooner the depression comes the sooner it will go. Sometimes bad things happen to good people and when greedy morons are in charge of the government it is bound to happen eventually. We are all products of the governments environment. We elect them but we can not control them and that is a very dangerous game to be in. We will all certainly be the losers.

    February 6, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  33. jim Toronto

    Unfortunately not....
    As job loses continue to grow by the month, those who have been unemployed for any period of time will exhaust all of their savings and all hope of finding a suitable good paying job. As peoples disposable incomes diminish, less and less are buying goods other than basic food items and paying fuel costs for shelter. (That's again for those who can afford even the basics). It is a domino and it started last year, and continues. The last 'great depression ended as a war began.
    Let's hope that this time some twist of fate will prevail to get us out of this mess without a WWIII.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  34. Dan Huebner

    The US can avoid a depression but only with massive government spending. This was done with the advent of World War 2, but instead of building tanks and planes, we will modernizing infrastructure and putting America on a path toward energy independence. Funny this argument is as old as the American republic with the argument between Jefferson and Madison vs Washington and Hamilton on a strong central government in regulating the economy. The more things change the more they stay the same.

    Dan from Nebraska

    February 6, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  35. stan

    No, I don't think so. Consumer confidence is still failing, inventory building will stop, more will lose jobs, deepening consumer confidence.
    I believe there is no amount of money controlled by government that can stimulate consumer confidence. consumer confidence can be connected to confidence in its government, which is dropping as the fighting, and posing continue.
    adding all the special interest spending to the "bail out" is speeding the loss of confidence in our congress.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  36. Lynn, Columbia, Mo..

    It has the capability, but will they use it? I don't think so. Ideology seems more important to Congress than the country itself. And what good is ideology without a country? If we don't learn from history, we will repeat it.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
  37. Natalia, Albuquerque, NM

    Yes, but only if all of our elected representatives SUPPORT OUR PRESIDENT and put OUR COUNTRY FIRST! It is obvious that the policies of the last eight years did not work. Look at the mess the Republican ideology created. The Republicans need to understand what Gov. Crist of Florida stated earlier this week. As a governor, he sees the benefits of Obama's stimulus bill. Crist clearly stated the Republicans need to put our country first, put their party's ideology aside, and support President Obama in this economic crisis. Crist stated rather proudly that Obama was his president.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
  38. S K Brown

    Our economy is in such a shape, we the people need to do what other companies have had to do and lay off our workers......we need to lay off our Congressmen and Senators and send them back to their district and put them in the unemployment line and the food stamp line. We need to allow the Governors of each state go and represent us in Washington and explain what our needs are and what it would take to get our states headed back in the right direction. Just like other companies, we hate to see our employees layed off but we have to do what we have to do.......

    February 6, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
  39. Mrs. Kessler

    I don't believe they can. Especially not by spending 87.900 billion on government programs. When you look at the stimulus bill it is not doing anything to "stimulate" the economy. In fact one of the smallest numbers I found in there was the 1 million to the small business administrator? That seems backward to me. Small business should be the ones recieving the MOST of the stimulus. How else can they create more jobs? This stimulus package is a joke. If they really want to stimulate the economy they would not have all the other ridiculous pork that is in there. It would be more straight forward. How about cutting the government jobs and giving us all a break from paying taxes for the next couple of years. that would help get the economy going.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:35 pm |
  40. Mike


    I'm not convinced that we will experience a depression, however, I also believe that anything the governments attempt will be ineffective at changing the natural economic cycle. For all the good the stimulus package will do, we may as well try to stop the tides in the ocean. The market is going to do what the market is going to do. We're along for the ride.

    Mike, Pueblo, CO

    February 6, 2009 at 4:42 pm |
  41. Anne in NJ

    I think we're already in a full-blown depression!

    February 6, 2009 at 4:47 pm |
  42. Bee

    It will take more than government to head off a serious economic crisis. Citizens will have to take their share of the blame because they have not been spending. We all need to work together in order to keep America above water.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:52 pm |
  43. John Soutar

    Head off another depression? You've got to be kidding. In my oppinion congress is trying to create one. The Republicans are purposely trying to make the president look bad and stroke their own egos while the democrats are trying to do something. Nobody can do it alone. Something is better than nothing when it comes to trying to help a failing economy. Remember, John Q public didn't cause this mess but we are expected to bite the bullet and sacrifice. How about congress forgoing any pay until this is cleaned up. Where is their pain?

    Walton, N.Y.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:53 pm |
  44. Mark, Warwick RI

    Since there is no agreed upon economic definition for a depression, as there is for a recession, the question lies almost entirely on the mindset of the population. And since the only institutions less capable of assuring the world that we're not going to hell are being bailed-out by that government – no, not a chance. We're going there because we think we're going there, even if we don't know where there is. It falls on America to turn it around, not it's politicians.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:00 pm |
  45. Natalie Ohio

    Government can head off depression but the question would be whether or not that would be prudent...depressions are part of a cycle and while no one wants to appreciate the dark days brought on by them, depressions are what causes economies to "right themselves".

    February 6, 2009 at 5:02 pm |
  46. paul

    Did you see how well the TARP money was used by the government.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  47. Lucky

    No government can prevent a full blown depression. The coming economic tsunami is global in scale, and the best any nation can hope for is a government that is compassionate towards the people.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  48. erica p san antonio, tx

    No I don't thinks it possible with congress still bickering partisan politics over spending. The fact is that a sinificant amount of the public still believe government spending money to stimulate the economy is the wrong thing to do. This is illustrated by the republican congress who feel they can be obstructive because their constitients still support them. It is my belief that until this country hits rock bottom and we haven't yet despite dire reports becuase everyone still has the luxury of debating the philosophical economic differences. It like feeling pain after a traumatic injury the pain just grows to the point when you just want the pain to go away and you dont care how any more.Thats when a bi-partisan congress will actually exist who can take decisive committed decisions.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  49. Dave in Pa

    I don't think anything can stop the spiral. The same greed that started the great depression got us into this one. Not just in the financial markets but in our homes. "We have to have it now" creates in alot of american households a micro-cosum of the over all "neo-american way" Borrow , borrow borrow. God help us all in whats coming.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  50. Purnell K3 IL.


    Because the Republicans see any help that goes to middle and lower class Americans as a total waste of money, so they will allow the country to fall completely apart so they can get back in office and buy up everything for pennies on the dollar, making themselves far more richer in the process! And so we can go back to Lords and Serfs!

    February 6, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  51. Donna from New York

    Depends on who you are talking about when you say government. If we are talking about allowing the new President and his team to try out some new ideas then maybe. If we are talking about the idiots in Congress who care more about sticking to ideologies and getting re-elected then get ready to join the soup lines.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  52. Silas, Frederick, MD

    No Jack, its too late. This stimulus should of went through back in July to head off all this stuff. We can all thank the Bush administration for the idiocy that created this mess and not doing anything before everything hit the fan. The worst part, is Obama will get blamed for it, because he is in office. I'll always remember that it was Bush that caused this though. Sorry Mr. President, its too late. Doing this stimulus is just going to delay the depression from hitting us by a couple of months. Its time to realize that your claims for change during the campaign need to become a reality and reform everything in government before another civil war breaks out.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  53. Fay Uyechi

    Doubt anyone can head off a depression, especially if THEY are helping to get us into one. i.e. having their meetings at swanky spas, at our expense. Don't you know the American is getting fed up with our government, congress, etc. By the way, Ackerman was 'right on' with his attach of the SEC. Now what about FBI, CIA, defense department, etc. Just who can we trust???

    February 6, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  54. Roy Lovell

    From what i see from the senate debate i dont think the republicans really care about this country. All they care about is the next election.And there willing to sabotage this country to win it.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  55. Deborah, Los Angeles

    YES...government can head off a depression if we can boot the well-paid obstructionist republicans out of the way and get President Obama's stimulus package passed right away. The nerve of these failed naysayers fiddling while our homes and jobs burn is the height of treason and arrogance!

    February 6, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  56. Chet Volpe

    I don't think so... I have all the faith in the world in the Obama administration, but I just don't think anybody has the guts to go far enough and with the added dead weight on the other side of the asile, well, 'nuff said...

    Chet from Tucson for the winter.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  57. Joe

    Charlotte, NC
    Can the Govt head off a depression? Not as long as Republicans remain more interested in being Republican than in being American. Mr Obama is right: Get this ball moving NOW; review it as it plays out and enhance what needs to be enhanced, eliminate what needs to be eliminated. But we are ALL depending on the Govt to get its act together NOW. Please.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  58. Liz in Los Angeles, CA

    The government, remember, is made up of people. People have egos, and egos are in full flutter just now, it's called "preening for popularity." That said, I'm none too hopeful. I mean, really, are the Nancy Pelosis and Harry Reids of the world suffering financially like the rest of us? Hell, no. I don't believe they're even capable of bipartisan EMPATHY. And that's pathetic.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  59. Trish Kenny

    Only, and I mean only, if our Senators and Representatives have economic intelligence and guts to be true leaders and communicate to their constituents the reality of preventing depression: government spending, government spending, and more government spending.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  60. Andrew

    Let's take that question and turn it into a mandate.

    It's not a question about if the government can stop a depression...
    THEY MUST stop the downward spiral. This country has come too far since the problems of the 1940's. We must move forward – not backwards.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  61. Chris Eagle Colorado

    I think we can head off depression by:
    1. Congress unite and provide us with hope not childish, selfish bickering
    2. Provide mostly money for jobs in the Stimulus Package – I am unemployed and willing to work hard for my money, just give me a job not a hand-out or tax break on money I am not making!

    February 6, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  62. Gayle Gerson

    Yes, I believe that the US is capable of heading off a major depression if there is bipartisan support for a very strong stimulus plan. I agree with the economists who believe that unless trillions of dollars are infused into our economy, we are in for a very deep depression. The Republicans didn't do enough during the Hoover era, and the Republicans again are trying to follow Hoover's polices. Tax cuts are not the panacea today. We are in much worse trouble for that to work. We need to get Americans to work. Repairing our infrastructure is the best way to do this! Yes, we NEED to spend money to get this country back on track. No wonder the Republican Party is in trouble. They keep doing the same stupid plan for every economic crisis. If they don't want to be part of the solution they need to shut up and step out of the way!!

    February 6, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  63. Chandra, LAX

    Anything is possible when the govt. put its mind to it! But will the congress approve it? The republicans are into tax cuts, pretty soon there wont be much to tax on!

    February 6, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  64. Jim

    No, the government cannot spend it's way out of the problem. The only monty they should allocate is to build a fence. Just outside the D.C. beltway to protect us from them

    February 6, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  65. Brian

    Not the way our country is today. There are too many jobs that we had after the last depression that are now over seas. It would take getting those jobs back to save us.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  66. Nick

    Govt can stave off this depression IF individuals get tax refunds in excess of a thousand dollars. People don't have money to even go to a hair salon to cut their hair. A salon owner I am friends with, mentioned that he charges only $20. And his sales are down by 35%.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  67. John in Main Street America

    The government is fully capable of heading off a full-blown depression, they are just too caught up in miniscule amounts that in the long term will not make a difference. Without any private spending from the banks not lending out the money that they stole from the tax payers to fatten their own wallets, who else is going to spend? The government has to step up to the plate. People already know what good will tax cuts do if you're unemployed, only a few don't get it and those are the republican cronies led by the out of touch drug addict Limbaugh. It's time for Americans to get their representatives to wake up and vote for the bill.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  68. pamela wilson florida

    Act now, house and senate..

    February 6, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  69. Nick W.

    The American economy is sputtering. Money and jobs are increasingly becoming harder to come-by. Rich people feel these effects as well, because they do create jobs. The irresponsibility of American conspicuous consumption is effects every level of society. Taxing those with the ability to pay those taxes and forcing investment through government spending and programs will create jobs and change. We need to be thinking out-of-the box to turn this trend around. I support regional efforts to update American infrastructure (passenger rail, communication grids, education, housing and even streets). We can't sit idly as an island of inaction as the world is "firing all their bullets at once." Build those bridges to nowhere at very least, it will give unskilled laborers the chance to have some form of employment and even adventure.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  70. J.R.


    Yes, but only if it is looking to move away from what the banking industry is telling them.

    The U.S. government's economic structure is based on speculation, and unfortunately that speculation has run out. When the U.S. moved off the gold standard and moved to a fiat system through central banks that charge interest on the money loaned, it essentially started us on the path of exponential debt that we currently face today.

    The government is capable if it moves off the federal reserve system and moves our currency back to the gold standard. It also must not give in to the poor transactions of the large banks. The financial stimulus must be focused on industry development only. The financial sector's success used to be attributed to industry success, but unfortunately we have gotten away from that and it's become reversed.
    As the banks got into a poor situation industry got into a poor situation. It's time we right the ship by going back to basic principles. The government can do it, but they must remember that this is public service, not personal bank service.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  71. Richard

    Capable? I’m not sure that they are capable to finding their collective tushes with both hands! I blame both houses of congress and both parties. Neither is acting responsibly. The democrats have added all their pet projects to the stimulus bill and republicans are more interested in standing on warn out ideology than they are in getting things done. It seems they have no idea the extent to which people are in trouble. Maybe we should stop all of their paychecks until they can find a way to fix what they’ve broken. Perhaps then they’ll figure out a way to work things out and move on.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  72. San from Dallas

    I wish they could. Seems that the Republicans are still mad about loosing the election and want to do everything in their power to make sure this President fails. The Republicans want to be the ones to save America but they do not have a clue. We are all praying that President Obama finds a way around the craziness in Washington. To finally get help to the people, the towns and companies that need it most.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  73. Lydia

    If the Republicans would sing a new tune, it is possible. Unfortunately, they sound like a barber-shop quartet at a rock concert, crooning the same old tired tax-cut tune. Tax cuts might have been a hit in the old days, but these times need innovation and a remake of the same old song won't work.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  74. annette from ohio

    They haven't been willing to head off anything yet. They are too busy with political posturing, as usual, instead of doing their job. The Dems threw too many easy targets in and the Repubs are suddenly worried about deficits after having zero concern about it during their recent tenure. Maybe we should send them all "Economics for Dummies" as a last ditch effort.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  75. Beverly-NYC


    I wouldn't trust the members of the house or senate to plan a picnic.
    How long did it take for them to admit we were in a recession? They are only interested in being reactive and pointing fingers at the other guys. A dictatorship is looking better every day.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:25 pm |
  76. Sandra of PA.

    No Jack they can't do it. The Congress fiddles while America burns.
    The Republcans insult american citizens by wanting to give us twenty dollars more a week in our paycheck and they are determined to see President Obama fail. They are unified in that. They still believe they know what is best for us even if we do not. The Dems. should be ashamed to hold up their own party President just to show the Repubs. they can have what they want now. WE THE PEOPLE however have put our faith in Barack Obama. Cut the Repubs loose and let them take the fall and we will get rid of the rest of the failed Congress next elect.ions

    February 6, 2009 at 5:25 pm |
  77. Lila

    Hi Jack – I think this recession is different as we have so many multi-national companys that play a part in our economy and I believe that they would like to see us fail so they can pick up our intellectial property as well as physical assets and ship it all abroad.

    Thank you, lila

    February 6, 2009 at 5:25 pm |
  78. Melva

    Yes, if the Republicans stop playing games. Tax cuts can't help you if you don't have a job. In a month they have become experts on how to fix the economy. Maybe they can, they certainly know how to wreck it.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:25 pm |
  79. Roberta

    Heading off a full-blown depression? I don't believe politicians would know if we were already in a depression. Let's see, they were only a year late on admitting we were in a recession.

    I think government needs a huge layoff, as they seem totally out of touch with reality. I don't trust them to spend a dollar effectively. The money in the stimulus package would be better spent building tent cities for those of us who can't afford our real estate taxes if we lose our jobs.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  80. Trish Kenny

    Comment to Debbie of OR:

    As Mark Zandi, one of Sen. McCain's economic advisers during the campaign, just said on this show that giving money to people with the lowest incomes–those who don't pay taxes–is money well spent. They will put that money right out into our economy, buying products. They will not tuck it away into a savings account where it benefits the owner, but not this sinking economy. The answer to this problem is not just money in people's pockets (tax cuts) but that the money given to people is spent on products sold or leased.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  81. el from california

    Yes Jack, I think it is possible with a little humanity. Those in Washington who are in control of our future need to personally feel the needs of ordinary working people, instead of trying to get some $90, 000 for themselves.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  82. Jack Kiker

    What is the comparison of jobless people now compared to the
    "good times"? Is the present condition being exagerated?

    February 6, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  83. Ray Murray

    Have you ever heard of the song by the doors,this is the end?

    February 6, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  84. Jim in Plymouth PA

    Jack, as we see, asking the politicians to work together to develop a stimulus package is impossible. If we need them to work together in to head off a depression, heaven help us all. No, I don't think it's possible.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:28 pm |
  85. Tom in New Hope, MN

    Yes, congress can avoid a depression! To do that congressmen and women have to realize the election is over and stop making acidic comments that are intended to kneecap the person on the other side of the aisle. Avoiding depression won't happen without all of them working together. Now is not the time for pettiness. There will be time a plenty for them to play their political games, if they must, after the country is back on track.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:28 pm |
  86. John from Austin Texas

    I think our gov't is always capable of doing the right thing but is it ever willing? Can they get this stimulus package through in a timely manner? I think they can if they can refrain from adding all there pet projects to the bill. I think the attitude of "I'll help you if I get what I want out of you" has to go..our system can work when you take the selfishness and greed out of it....so much for wishful thinking..

    -John from Austin

    February 6, 2009 at 5:28 pm |
  87. Angelo

    When will the powers that be finally understand that what we are facing is NOT an issue of a free market vs intervention but a tangled and immovable financial infrastructure that needs the lubrication of an influx of enormous capital to get flowing again.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:29 pm |
  88. Jaime

    In the long run I think it can, but its going to take time. My fear is that the American people won't be able to stomach it. We have lived through our better years for decades and unfortunaly I don't think most Americans are ready to sacrifice to deal for what is coming our way. This is the price that we have to pay now for all the abuses our goverment allowed wall street to make for years. For years we have been lied to about our situation. Go shopping! Buy a home! Buy a car! Max out your credit cards! we were told! Banks were giving out credit cards like if they were candy on holloween. Now we are paying the price. Thanks W.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:30 pm |
  89. Bill Davis

    We're already in a depression. It's up to these guys to make it as short as possible. They won't.

    Bill D.
    Champaign, IL

    February 6, 2009 at 5:31 pm |
  90. Kay from Rockport, TX

    I don't think the Federal Government is capable to running the economy much less heading off a full blown depression. And no one is absolutely sure that will happen anyway. There is still a lot of money in these wonderful United States. How about partially financing the recovery by having a huge U.S. Savings Bond drive as was done during WW II. The citizens would be a part of the recovery rather than depending on borrowing money from our "friends".

    February 6, 2009 at 5:33 pm |
  91. Mike, FL


    Took massive destruction during and after WWII in Europe and Asia and our huge manufacturing base to bring us into the Fabulous Fifties and Sexy Sixties! Making all that steel and goods for the rest of the world. We had the money! No base for anything like this now!

    February 6, 2009 at 5:33 pm |
  92. Ann from Hampton, New Jersey

    Heading it off? We are in it up to our necks. Looking at the stimulus package has now made me depressed.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:33 pm |
  93. Michelle

    Absolutely not! I wasn't around during the depression, but I do know the amount of loss wasn't even close to where we are today, nor did so many people lose jobs at this alarming rate. I'm, in all places – California – helping a sick sister, and this is really scary how people are being forced out of work & business shutting down – Daily!

    I pray for President Obama that he can make something happen other than this mess. Shame on everybody on Capitol Hill that can't make critical decisions.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:33 pm |
  94. Don Alexander

    I don't think the United States Congress will be able to stave off a depression until the democrats and republicans decide to make decisions based on what is good for the country instead of party philosophy. Power of the party seems to be the same old politics as usual. The American people are fed up!

    February 6, 2009 at 5:36 pm |
  95. Joan

    Hi Jack,
    Loved your book. Now about the depression, I lived through one, thank you, and they are no fun. I watched Cable news all day, and every Republican they could get on gave the same old story that got us into this mess. We finally have a President that has some brains, but he has'nt been given a chance by congress or the news media.
    Poor John McCain is so afraid he won't get a tax cut, and could'nt care less if the rest of us starve. Well I for one believe in Obama, and know
    he can get our country back on track.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:37 pm |
  96. Mike, FL


    90 Million baby boomer set to retire, draw SS and medicare. They wont be buying homes, less cars , and everything else. What is left will go to the Casino's and stratch off tickets/State Lotteries. Less jobs means less money coming in to the govt . More spending, less coming in, yep , thats doesnt calculate to me!! Depression nope, Disaster Yes!

    February 6, 2009 at 5:37 pm |
  97. Sam Fairview, Texas

    The bill will cost over $1.17 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office – $825 billion is the advertised price, but the finance charge in the form of the cost of borrowing the money will add $347.1 billion. The package is a far departure from the three "T" guidelines President Obama's chief economic advisor, Lawrence Summers, called for last year: Make the stimulus timely, targeted, and temporary. This has become nothing more then a slush fund and will not benefit Americans or ward of a depression.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:38 pm |
  98. Bob from Boston

    Government could head off depression and not incur other problems if they had the will, the foresight, the resources, perfect knowledge, suborned their egos to the common good, and were not influenced by personal gain. What do you think - could the government head off depression?

    February 6, 2009 at 5:40 pm |
  99. Arthur L. Nelson Jr.

    I don't think so. There's too many politicians who want their piece of the cake. There's only so many slices that they will let the American people have. Obama might be preaching "let them eat cake" but the House won't let us. I still think it will be another 12 or 13 years before we see any significant progress. If we're losing 3 or 4 million jobs between this year and last year then the 3 or 4 million jobs that Obama and the Democrats are promising really isn't all that it's cracked up to be, it's pretty much just a big apology to the people for being so patient. What about the 5 or 6 million people who couldn't get jobs before that, or what about the younger people who will be older when all this is supposed to be set in place? That's still about 8 or 9 million people without jobs. If we're talking 'change' here then we all need to be helped out. What about the inner cities? Enough about rural county Kentucky, we all need a hand (and not a finger). The heat is on and we the American people will bake them.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:40 pm |
  100. Bruce from Delaware

    No, government cannot head off a depression. I am told it cannot find it's buttocks with both hands and the lights on. We need to first force disclosure of the where the first TARP theft went. Or recall the money. Then we need to put back in place our manufacturing base and destroy all the NAFTA type treaties. All countries protect their busnisses with tariffs, and is OK for us to do the same. Lastly, shut down the Federal Reserve an stop putting those in charge of the collapse in charge of the recovery!

    February 6, 2009 at 5:41 pm |
  101. Raj

    Waking up this US economy is like attempting to feed 100 VERY hungry adult male LIONS. We can fed off the depression IF it pumps in a lot of money into the economy ASAP.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:42 pm |
  102. Danni

    We are already in a depression Jack, don’t you remember all the talk about "were in a recession", and how long it took them to actually officially announce it. Same scenario here. Give it a little time before we get the official announcement regarding this depression.

    Upland Ca

    February 6, 2009 at 5:42 pm |
  103. Barbara

    If we have to rely on Congress and Senate, probably not.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:43 pm |
  104. j/NJ

    Is the U.S. government capable of heading off a full-blown depression?

    Can't think of anything the US Govt is incapable of controlling, the question, however, is should it and to what extent...tax cuts favouring middle class Americans are absolutely essential but a prodigious spending bill of nearly 1 trillion is likely to include funding that will not create jobs, thus for the benefit of the American taxpayer those items should be eliminated in a bi partisan fashion...

    February 6, 2009 at 5:50 pm |
  105. Jim Handy

    YES! If they ever figure out a way to put thier egos aside and think like Americans instead of democrats and republicans. Our congress has been totaly ineffective under the leadership of Pelosi and Reid and I don't think that will change as long as they are in power, regardless of what party is in the white house.

    Jim Handy
    Inglewood, Ca.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:50 pm |
  106. Gustavo NYC

    Dear Jack: So far among the so call pundits I did not see one who knows what they are dealing. They never saw the Depresion, and older guys do not even want to remember. But, here is a clue. Deep recesions and depresetion come when the money become paper like now, and leaders give rain to popular abuses. In 1929 that was what happened. Everybody had big salarys, nobody saved, and the Economy simply stopped. Globalization and free trading, failed in 1914, Scuritization of bebt was traded in the Stock Exchange, and notes took the place of the dollar that brought the Economy to a halt in 1929.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:51 pm |
  107. Al

    How can they head off a depression when they use taxpayers money to go to a retreat? Maybe they will stimulate the economy by having a retreat each week in a different state. President Obama gets tough on CEO's but then he takes Air Force 1 to the retreat. Splurge baby splurge!!!

    February 6, 2009 at 5:51 pm |
  108. Kooksf from SF

    If we have to wait for 25% unemployment to do anything, has anyone noticed we are over 1/3 there and sinking fast? When it gets to that point, if you think a trillion dollars is a lot of money, you ain't seen nothing yet.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:52 pm |
  109. Pat

    After watching C-Span today I doubt it. The repubs want to wait and that is the one thing we don't have is time. All day long there was amendment after amendment being offered for pet projects and they still aren't done. This bill HAS to create jobs end of story. The rest will take care of itself. The housing issue is also very important but that was caused by Sen. Grassley back in 1999 when his bill deregulated the banking industry and things have gone downhill since then.

    Hazel Park MI

    February 6, 2009 at 5:53 pm |