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Location: Tennessee

MR. SMITH: And Congressman Jim Cooper is a Democrat from here in Tennessee. He's with us now inside the big tent at Belmont.

REP. COOPER: Good to be with you, Shep.

MR. SMITH: Good to have you here. Thank you.

We were just talking to Lamar Alexander, and he said, you know, you can't change the subject from the economy, but what you can do is start talking about leadership. And it's the kind of thing that the McCain camp hopes work for them. It has seen mud flying back and forth of late.

REP. COOPER: Well, nice try by the McCain campaign. But when the stock market drops 300 points again today, people are worried about their retirement. They're worried about their IRA, their 401(k). A lot of folks' retirement plan isn't a 401(k) anymore; it's a 201(k). So nobody is going to be able to change the subject from the economy.

MR. SMITH: Well, I want to put a quote up that we have from you. This was from the -- the Huffington Post is where we got it. "On November 5th, Barack Obama's first day as president-elect, I hope he'll put on his exterminator gear and begin a thorough inspection of our fiscal house because it's been rotted by termites." I wonder how we missed these termites.

REP. COOPER: (Chuckles.) Well, there was a report put out by Hank Paulson, secretary of Treasury, but he doesn't want you to see it. It'll come out December 15th. It uses real accounting to describe our economy. And President Bush has never mentioned it in his eight years as president, despite the fact the president has a Harvard MBA. This has the real numbers for America, and they're frightening, because the real debt, the real deficit are much larger than the public's been told.

And this isn't me saying it, this is Hank Paulson signing this report. He signed one last year, too, but he issues no press release with this report. It's called The Financial Report of the United States Government. You look it up on the web. It's on the Treasury website. It's on the GAO website. And this is some of the stuff that the Bush administration does not what you to know about. A lot of termites --

MR. SMITH: Well, why don't you tell me about it?

REP. COOPER: Well, the real deficit for America is probably along the lines of $2.5 trillion, but they don't want you to see it.

MR. SMITH: But you know what, all these numbers, they don't mean anything. I mean, we gave a trillion today, we gave ($)700 billion yesterday, we give the auto industry ($)25 billion, we gave AIG ($)85 billion, it's like, I guess we just print more.

REP. COOPER: Numbers do matter. This is a crushing burden for average families all across America, and the Bush administration has been hiding this. It's close to $455,000 per average family, and this is on top of all the tax you're already paying. And again, these are not my numbers. This is from the U.S. Treasury, the document signed by Hank Paulson. It uses real accounting.

And this is a crazy world we live in because you get your favorite company's annual report, but why aren't you getting your favorite country's annual report? Because the Bush administration has systematically hidden these number for eight years, and the numbers are grievous. Like, what's the real debt for America? Congress just recently raised it to ($)11.3 trillion. The real debt is closer to to $54 trillion, if you care about vital programs like Medicare and Social Security and things like that.

So John McCain has a lot to hide in this debate. He doesn't know these numbers. He doesn't know the real economy. Barack Obama does.

MR. SMITH: Well, you know, the secrets are everywhere because, you know, people came out of Capitol Hill the other day after that big meeting at a late night in the White House and they started telling us how -- we have all of these numbers but we can't tell you what they are, and if we told you exactly what was said in that room over there people would freak out. I don't want to hear that. I mean, I think Americans want to hear you say nothing or tell us what the heck is going on.

REP. COOPER: That's why I'm citing a real document people can look up on the web put up by the U.S. Treasury Department. Again, it's called The Financial Report of the United States Government. It's available on the web. It's about 150 pages total. It's just like a real financial document, real accounting. And it's the only audited set of numbers for the American government. Audited: David Walker, comptroller general.

MR. SMITH: Congressman Jim Cooper.

REP. COOPER: Thank you, Shep. Appreciate it.

MR. SMITH: It's good to see you. (Inaudible.)

REP. COOPER: Thank you.

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