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MSNBC "Hardball With Chris Matthews" - Transcript


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MR. MATTHEWS: Let me bring in a Republican senator, a man known for fiscal responsibility; in fact, has a great record. A lot of young people, including my kids, know all about this guy. Tom Coburn is from Oklahoma. He's quite a budget hawk, a deficit hawk. He believes in reducing the cost of government.

Have we got him ready yet? Is Senator -- we don't have him ready. We're going to have this guy here any second now, because the issue, of course, is the stimulus package and whether it has pork in it, whether it has elements in it that are simply on the Democratic agenda that are not devoted strictly to stimulus, to getting the economy back on its feet. They are, in fact, along the list of issues the Democrats have tried to raise before.

But here he is, Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

Senator Coburn, is this -- what percentage of the stimulus package are you happy with as true economic stimulus so far?

SEN. COBURN: Probably about 8 percent -- 8 percent that I think will truly do a stimulus. Some of the infrastructure, there's no question, will have stimulatory effect. But the buildout on that is long. Some of the military purchases will; some of the enhanced appreciation. Some of the carry-loss -- loss carry-back will truly have some stimulatory effect.

I don't see -- if you really go back and look at history, when we've done stimulus plans before, you have a hard time seeing where it's effective. And most of the time what happens is we end up getting the money spent after we're past the recession, and then we become highly inflationary with high interest rates.

MR. MATTHEWS: Well, are you against the whole Keynesian idea that when consumption goes down and business investment goes down, the government has to offset that with spending? Do you challenge that very concept?

SEN. COBURN: Yeah, I do generally, because one of the reasons we're in the trouble we're in today is because we've been spending money we don't have and we've created an incentive for people to buy things that they couldn't afford. And it just seems to me somewhat awkward that we would, by spending more money that we don't have on things that we don't absolutely need, is going to generate it.

The other point I would make, Chris, that I think is important, you can spend all the money up here you want. If you don't fix the mortgage situation and restore liquidity to the credit system, it's not going to have any impact, even that part that I think might be stimulatory.

MR. MATTHEWS: Okay, thank you very much, Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

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