January 16th, 2008
03:30 PM ET
9 years ago

Blitzer: How quickly things change

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/01/16/art.blitzeriowa.cnn.jpg caption= "CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - It’s amazing how quickly things can change. It wasn’t that long ago when the war in Iraq and terrorism were the number one issues on the minds of Americans. Now, according to the latest polls, it’s back to the economy.

I suppose that’s the result of serious recession fears and the reduction in casualties in Iraq in recent months. New government numbers show that inflation last year in the United States was at a 17-year high. That’s disturbing enough. But when coupled with the other recent economic woes – loss of jobs, mortgage failures and home foreclosures – the news is even worse.

Economists have a technical definition for a recession – two successive quarters showing negative economic growth. That definition has not been met, since there has not yet been even one three-month period showing negative economic growth.

But many economists believe we already are in a recession, even if the technical numbers have not yet caught up with it. And they say all this talk of a recession makes matters even worse: people begin to act as if the country already is in a recession – meaning they may limit their purchases. That, in turn, can further slow down the economy.

There is now plenty of talk here in Washington about the urgent need for a new economic stimulus package. President Bush is said to be considering some options to unveil during his State of the Union address to Congress on January 28. And House and Senate leaders from both parties are talking to each other about possible steps.

Let’s see if they can actually get their act together and do something constructive. There are many people out there who are having trouble paying for their energy needs, staying in their homes, and even putting food on the table.

- CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer


Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (62 Responses)
  1. sam navy

    Hillary has the vision for this country,she has demonstrated that over and over at last night's debate.she was over the fray she completely took command of the debate.It is all about rhetorics verus action.We need to move this country in the right direction the candidate who has the experience and leadership is Hillary Clinton.For those Obama fans tone down the rhetorics we will all be one happy big family after Hillary wins the nominaton we are all democrats we need to push our progressive agenda balancing the budget,restore America's credibility in the world and finally build a strong middle class."GO HILLATY 08"

    January 16, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  2. Mary

    We need to get people back to work in this country, not send all of our manufacturing, call centers, etc overseas. Also need to get the pork in congress stopped or at least limited to necessary spending. People also need to start depending on them selves more, we can't expect the govenment to take care of us completely. Afterall, guess who ends up paying for other peoples bills.

    January 16, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  3. Moderately yours

    I don't think we're talking about the war as much, simply because everyone knows it's going to end with this president's term. At last night's debate the Democrats were in virtual agreement. There isn't a lot to argue over anymore. Most Americans, Democrat and Republican, agree it was a mistake, it was badly managed, and our involvement will be ending soon. It's too bad Bush can't see it. How many more people, Americans and Iraqis, will die before he leaves office?

    January 16, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  4. shaun

    When will the american people realize that every thing in washington for the last 8 years has been a lie. The weapons of mass destruction..a lie...The reasons for having the terrorist alerts scrolling across every major news channel screen..a a lie
    The reasons for why our gas prices are sky high..a lie..The reasons for why the numbers that represent our economy as being strong not acknowledging the recession were heading towards..everything is a lie. This administration has a track record of lying and the reason we have this type of leadership is because we voted for it. We allowed the karl rove jr tactics of 2004 (swift boat etc.) to take our eyes off the issues and revert to elementry school thinking (he said she said garbage). This is what HIllary is doing. She knows she can't beat barack in a fair fight, so she's has to revert to nasty smear tatics, and lies hoping the american people are dumb enough to eat it up. Everybody welcomes the idea of change, but like the outcome in N.H., we know that people will still fall for anything. Everyone seems to want bush gone, but if you vote for hillary your gonna get just what you had with him. Someone who has an ideology of how things should be done, but doesn't listen to anyone else. Someone who's gonna be pushy and bossy, which will divide and not unite. Please have good judgement when you vote this year, and don't fall for the childish tactics that have worked for some many years...

    vote for change

    January 16, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  5. FRED SPRAGUE

    Politicians seem to be having rouble deciding whether we have a recession or depresion. i is really a matter of semantics. but, i prefer an old definition: "if lyour neighbor is ou of a job, it is a recession. If you are out of a job, i is a depression.

    January 16, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  6. aware

    I agree that the opposite of experience is inexperience, not change (the common ground mantra of all). That is why Hillary won the debate. Barack seemed hesitant at times and unsure of himself. Debates are not Barack's strength. Again, I agree he is much better in front of a crowd with a teleprompter. However, much of the work of diplomacy and reaching across the aisle is up close and personal – no notes or teleprompter. He will improve but not on the job as president.

    Barack Obama VP 08 and Hillary Clinton President 08

    I look forward to the next debate. Go CNN

    January 16, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  7. Duncan, Richmond, VA

    "I recently read an article where Iraq said they would need US troops until 2013. With Obama they will be out well before 2013. With Clinton, though will say they will be out before then, they will end up being there longer.

    You see, Clinton fans, that's what HRC does. She'll say what you want to hear, cry when you want tears, have tissy fits when "the boys" club won't leave her alone, and promise to mandate healthcare for everyone (which is impossible and still you believe her)."

    Oh come on.. are you really that ignorant? Obama is no different than Clinton. He 'says' one thing, but we have no clue what he will actually do. Obama has a very similar health care plan to Clinton. I do not believe a word out of any of the candidates mouth except Ron Paul. He is the ONLY honest person running.

    If you drill down into Clinton's or Obama policies, they are wishy washy BS statements with no substance. There are no details on who, what, when, how and how much.. and where the money is coming from..

    January 16, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  8. Brenda-Minnesota

    There is only one democratic candidate that is for the every day middle class worker. That candidate is John Edwards. He has everything that is needed to run the country in the way it needs to be in the coming years. He also has values and really cares. He is not getting as much media attention because he is the average looking man that runs for president. Clinton and Obama stand out because of her being a woman and him being a black man. If people would really listen to John Edwards they will understand that he is the right person for the job of president. People tend to pay more attention to the person or people that the media covers, therefore Clinton and Obama is always on everyones minds. Please listen to John Edwards and you will be convinced.

    January 16, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  9. DICK MARTINEZ

    Dear Wolfe,
    You need to go deeper in the questions you ask the candidates in order to achieve a meaningful response. Questions such as:
    1. Tell the voters how you would specifically attack the problem of "climate change". What is the urgency of this problem to you? Are you willing to allow our planet earth to lose its polar ice caps, our sea shore city's.. Are you aware of how critical the next two years are is stopng what is now happening? How specifically would you stop our country's pollution by our automobiles and indusry?
    2. Are you aware of how inadequate the current laws mandated by congress are that allow our auto industry 10 to 20 years to increase their minimum gas mileage to what is not being achieved by Japanese companies? How many U.S. automobile manufacturers do you think we will still have by then? Is it cheaper to go out of business then to swallow the costs for retooling now?
    3. Immediate stopping of illegal imigration. Would you be willing to pass laws that require that every young adult over the age of 18 serve two years in a BORDER PATROL ARMY to stop illegal immigration.
    4. Would you be willing to spend as much per day as the war in Iraq is costing us by updating our electric power grid, highways and bridges, port security, demand that all coal usage be achieved with clean (expensive) coal? Are you willing to start a new WPA, that is, a new AFP (America First Program)? It would certainly help our ailing economy.

    January 16, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  10. paul

    wolf:
    This country, as it always has at least during my time, has been reactionary rather than being proactive. Do you think the problem with the economy just came about in the last couple of months? No, it's been tanking for the last four years. Yes there are lots of companies showing huge profits that gives everyone the economy is booming but you can't lose millions of manufacturing jobs overseas, have gas and energy prices spike upward and not have a slowing economy. did you notice that Christmas sales started begore Thanksgiving this year? Even with that head start, retail sales were down for both november and December. Why, because people don't have extra money to spend. It's even affecting the rich as Tiffany reported a sales decrease of 11%. I agee with one of the postings here that Ron Paul, from day one, has been talking about the economy and ways to improve it. What is the stimulus that the other candidates are now rolling out. Closing the door after the horse has left. Where will the $150 billion come from that Edwards is preaching. Tax receipts from new taxes to pay for the gift. as usual, a band aid approach. Everyone might think Ron Paul is a nut as they did with Ros perot but both of them expressed ways of getting our economy back on track with long range plans and not band aid sound bites to try to get themselves elected.

    January 16, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  11. John

    All the candidates are falling over themselves to feed even more money at lower interest rates into the economy, the Dollar is already in free fall and inflation and unemployment rising fast. The treasury is all ready 11 trillion dolars in debt projected to be 15 to 18 trillion by the end of this fiscally ignorant Bush administration. This has to be paid for by economic growth combined with increased income tax take the Huckabee plan is cloud cookoo land if tax on incomes is abolished and the spending taxes increased the consumers will reduce their spending turning a recession into a depression. heaven help us

    January 16, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  12. Chaunda

    The war has been one of the most damaging things to happen to our economy. We continue to pour money into a bottomless pit called Iraq. All that money could have educate Americans saved failing businesses and heal people desperate for healthcare.

    And all those who say the surge was a success sorry you are very wrong. The surge was not just to quell violence, it was to stimulate progress in the government and military in Iraq. That did not happen. Now there is fear that when we began removing the extra 30,000 sons and daughters (lets speak it true) the violence will resurge. I do not think anyone thought that dropping extra people in would not supress the conflict while they are there but we cannot be conned into calling this a victory until those extra troops are removed. That will be the telling. If Iraq can stand the same WITHOUT the extra troops.

    January 16, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  13. Paul C, Palmetto Bay, FL

    Americans are more concerned about the economy than Iraq because the economy affects them directly.
    Violence is down in Iraq primarily because there are less Iraqis to kill. The estimated Iraqi death toll ranges from 151,000 to 600,000 with unknown hundreds of thousands maimed. More than 2.5 million have fled to other countries. Simple math..less people...less violence.
    Bush and his gang has seen to it that they fight the war in Iraq with only a very small fraction of Americans involved. In fact, we saved money with his tax break to sell the war. The fact that we are borrowing every dollar spent in Iraq doesn't seem to bother anyone. The brown stuff will hit the fan when the bill comes due. Then you will hear the anguish and gnashing of teeth. For some reason I get the impression that the country don't really consider it a debt and really never expect to have to pay the money back.
    We can certainly be proud of the past 7 years. We really showed them they can't attack us and get away with it.

    January 16, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  14. steve wilmington

    Wolf. You said it correct. What is Congress doing?
    All we hear about is the entertainment tonite Clinton/Obama saga....race here...gender there...what about the course of the country?
    Good reporting. Keeping everyone on the ball.

    January 16, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  15. Bill Culver, Covington,LA

    Brenda-Minnesota, I would take issue with all your unfounded love for John Edwards. How could you possibly know anything about him living in that God awfull place you live in. Be carefull, he wil reach around and stab you in the back while shaking your hand. He is dangerous.

    January 16, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  16. Nuria Coe

    Just because the economy is listed as number one it does not mean that the war in Iraq is no longer important. The problem is this need to "rank" all these issues, so there has to be a first, and a second... but all these issues are important and all should be addressed.

    January 16, 2008 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  17. S. Tuttle, Overland Park, KS

    McCain has made a big deal over Clinton's "1M dollar Woodstock Museum". This just goes to shows how he and most of the Presidential Candidates are out of touch with reality! One million bucks will buy you ONE MINUTE of interest on the mounting U.S. National Debt, which will be TEN TRILLION before Bush leaves office.

    Why is it that I can discern this fact with only a high school education? We had better talk to the GAO and do some substantive cutting of this behemoth bureaucracy before we see the fall of this empire, suffering the same fate as the economically failed Soviet Union!

    Wake up people!

    January 16, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  18. charlotte

    Wolf, please leave the "R" letter off you lips, it is not a good letter right now.
    Recession
    Race
    Religion
    Republican
    rove (no cap. on purpose)

    January 16, 2008 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  19. Stephen

    Clinton knows nothing about the economy, any success of the 90s was the dot-com boom and the ever increasing stock market.

    The fed needs to increase the interest rates, to help control inflation, the faster the inflation rate goes down the faster this economic downturn will turn around.

    Cutting rates will just make things worse, putting more money in circulation, making the dollar even weaker.

    January 16, 2008 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  20. Chris - Buffalo, NY

    It is not surprising that the war is not a big issue with voters. The Bush Administration has ensured that no one must sacrifice except members of the armed forces and their families. By rejecting clean energy, Bush encourages oil consumption (he's over in Saudi Arabia now begging for lower prices – how pathetic); by lowering taxes for the wealthy and ensuring a massive deficit, he reduces opportunities for returning soldiers to receive adequate health care. He will go down as one of the worst presidents this nation has ever seen.

    January 16, 2008 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  21. Vito

    There is only one candidate who has worked tirelessly his entire career for actual results - http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1704117,00.html

    January 17, 2008 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  22. Ken-Caldwell

    Your getting annoying too.

    January 17, 2008 05:38 am at 5:38 am |
  23. Mike Gates

    For more than a decade I have been predicting to family and friends that late 2007 and early 2008 would be the beginning of a lengthy reversal in the US economy, based on three key points.

    First and foremost, the front edge of baby-boomers get the first whiff of moving into retirement when they hit the age 59 1/2 mark and could get into their retirement monies without a penalty for early withdrawal. More recently the scent has strengthened as the first ones realized that having hit age 62 they are now eligible for Social Security benefits for the first time. What was a future prospect is becoming a harsh reality. A life on a fixed income is staring them right in the face. So, what do they do? They sell the second home at the beach or mountains, or they try to downsize the house they are in now. And, they stop spending so dang much money on "discretionary items."

    And millions are doing it at the same time.

    Second, the people who are supposed to buy those homes don't make enough money to qualify for the loans. Not only are the buyers just too young to make the income to pay for the loan, they are not interested in big houses because they were taught by the environmental community to think that "less is more".

    Put those two forces together and you have an instant housing glut.

    Then you throw in the third big whammy. We live in a service economy. No news there. But a service economy is almost a house of cards. People cut down on their trips to the barber and beauty shops, eat out less often, start mowing their own lawn, settle for the TV instead of the movie theater, one less trip to the mall, etcetera. Each person earns a little less from the system this month, and next month a little more off the top, and then a bit more gone the next month.

    At some point folks start to wake up and notice the trend is all one way. They panic and stop buying all that discretionary stuff, meaning just about everything, and the consumer part of the economy implodes.

    Oh, but there's more. In the old days it was "so goes the US economy so goes the world." Well, all those world markets we helped develop will do just fine without us, for the most part.

    All this was visible 20 years ago. So, where do we go from here? It's going to take a solid ten years, and probably more like fifteen, to wash all this through the system. We will repeat the period of the 1910's and 20's, hopefully without the multi-national wars in Europe.

    Outside a history class, folks don't realize the disparities in life style that existed in that period. The middle class was extremely small because we were still a predominantly agricultural nation, one that was building it's metropolitan industries. A majority of the country was close enough to the land to just get by. The jobs in newly created industries were just starting to take a firm hold. We didn't ship much of what was produced over seas. Food lines may return because hardly anyone lives on the land.

    My prediction is that, contrary to the supposed effect of the Internet to bring folks together, over the next two decades we will become much more insular as a nation. The phrase "Buy American" will return in earnest. Nationalism (differentiated from patriotism) will raise its ugly head for a while. At the lowest ebb, ethnic strife will actually increase as people compete for rare jobs. Government at all levels will be threatened with financial disaster.

    As the impacts begin to bottom out, Unemployment will hit 15-20% before heading back down with the return of American manufacturing, which is made possible by the declining wage scale of American workers. Land that has been so carefully bought up by the government will be dispersed in a new "land grant" system to spur the housing market to meet the needs of the burgeoning population. (When folks say home more they seem to have more kids.) Gardens will return even in apartments.

    We will pull out of this draconian phase, and the strangest twist will be the fact the economy is driven by our ability to start mining the moon and Mars because the "space elevator" is completed. (Okay, that may be stretch, but it will be something almost unimaginable today. Folks in 1910 could not foresee the full impact of the telephone just a couple decades away.)

    In conclusion, I am a long term optimist, but it's going to be a very bumpy ride.

    January 17, 2008 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  24. AJ; Montpelier, VT

    Anyone really believed that most Americans cares about the war in Iraq. If Americans cared, Bush wouldnt have gotten a second term. Americans are self absorbed spoiled people. If something does not directly involve them, they dont care.

    January 17, 2008 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  25. Anonymous

    Lou Dobbs talks alot about outsourcing and immigration, because these 2 issues are eating away our country and our economy from the inside, and people don't get it.

    The war and the money we've spent on it are one reason for the current economy, but other reaons have to do with the Clintons, and let's not forget it.

    1) Bill Clinton enacted NAFTA, the so called "free-trade agreement" which has cost the US millions of Jobs.

    2) Bill Clinton expanded the H-1 and L-1 visa programs to bring millions more workers to the US, mainly from India and China, but also from countries like Russia, Pakistan, and even Vietnam. These lower cost workers have taken millions of good paying middle class jobs away from Americans, and mainly in the areas of high-tech, computers, telecommunications, and technology. Enrollment in computer and tech programs in our colleges has fallen off dramatically, because kids can see there are no jobs there.

    3) Both Clintons favored outsourcing. Bill Clinton allowed and encouraged the outsourcing of millions of jobs during his presidency. Hillary Clinton, as Senator of NY, brought the #1 outsourcer of US jobs to India (TATA Consulting, look it up) into Buffalo, NY. They outsource $4 billion worth of US jobs annually, and they employ 10 people in NY.

    Combine this with the massive inflow of illegal immigrants taking low paying unskilled jobs, such as construction, and you can see why our economy is in the tank. Alot of people want to blame Bush, and much of it is his fault, but the Clintons also share much of the blame. After all, a Clinton or a Bush has been president for the past 20 years. Many kids have grown up seeing no other name as president.

    January 17, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
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