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CBS's Rodriguez: Dick Morris Anti-Obama Book 'Alarmist,' 'Screams At You'

On Friday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez interviewed commentator Dick Morris about his latest book critical of the Obama administration, Catastrophe. After reading the book's full title, Rodriguez observed: "This title, though, Mr. Morris, can't you see a lot of people dismissing it right off the bat as alarmist? It screams at you."

In response, Morris pointed out the dire state of the economy: "9.5% unemployment, four quarters of negative growth, our car companies in receivership, our health care program about to be taken over, and banks being nationalized, and I'm alarmist?"

Rodriguez replied by citing recent media spin that the recession is over: "Well what about the positive indicators? Because not so long ago, it was on the cover of every magazine, the topic of every cable show and Sunday morning show, that we were kind of digging out of the recession. We saw three straight months of rising home sales, the stock market up more than 40% since March. Ford beat expectations. Doesn't that count?"

Morris pointed out that things were not quite so rosy: "Consumer demand, which is three-quarters of our economy, has actually tended down, and I believe what's going to happen is a 'W.' We went down. We're going up a little bit. And then I think we're going to go down again before we go up. And I think that second 'W' because of this huge budget deficit that Obama has created."

Rodriguez turned to the topic of the President's health care reform plan, which Morris criticized as being a plan that would lead to rationing of care. Rodriguez defended the controversial proposal by citing Obama's rhetoric: "But yesterday, the President guaranteed that this would not only pass, but that it would pass without reducing [increasing] costs, without cheating anyone of care that they deserve, and by not adding to the federal deficit....he said - and I remember in July, I looked back at my notes this morning - he said it would not affect Medicare benefits."

Morris wondered: "How is he going to cut $200 billion from Medicare without cutting Medicare?" He went on to explain: "And then when you say, 'okay, who's going to not get the medical care here?' It's the elderly, because they're the ones that aren't, quote, 'fully entitled' to it. They don't benefit from it as much as a younger person. And I think this is just a catastrophe."

Here is a full transcript of the segment:

7:01AM TEASE:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: And coming up, now that President Obama yesterday guaranteed that health care reform will pass. There's a warning that Dick Morris wants you to hear. You'll remember he is a Republican strategist who famously advised Bill Clinton after his defeat on health care. He has a new book out, and we will speak with him in just a moment.

7:03AM SEGMENT:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: President Obama has gone on the offensive in his campaign for health care reform, after weeks of playing defense. CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante has the latest this morning. Good morning, Bill.

BILL PLANTE: Good morning, Maggie. The President took his case to the liberal grass roots activists who helped him get elected and who are now very worried about conflicting statements from the administration on health care reform.

BARACK OBAMA: Yes, we can.

CROWD: Yes, we can! Yes we can!

PLANTE: The President took his case to the liberal grass roots activists who helped him get elected.

OBAMA: We don't know yet whether we've got any Republican support.

PLANTE: And if there is no Republican support, top Democrats confirm they're preparing for a go-it-alone approach. This would mean splitting health care reform into two parts. Into one bill would go reforms on which there is bipartisan agreement, such as making health insurance portable and requiring companies to take customers despite preexisting conditions. The second bill, which Democrats could pass with a simple majority and no Republican votes, would include more expensive and controversial changes, such as the public insurance option, which many Democrats consider non-negotiable.

NANCY PELOSI: There's no way I can pass a bill in the House of Representatives without a public option.

PLANTE: But there's very likely no way that any bill out of the Senate will include the public option. So this battle will heat up. Meanwhile, the President takes off for Camp David and Martha's Vineyard today, and you can look for this to continue when he and the legislators in Congress come back from their vacations next month. Maggie.

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: CBS's Bill Plante. Thank you, Bill. Dick Morris is a political commentator and former strategist for Bill Clinton. He is also the author of a new book, 'How Obama, Congress, and the Special Interests Are Transforming A Slump Into A Crash, Freedom Into Socialism, and A Disaster Into A Catastrophe.' Good morning.

DICK MORRIS: Good morning's not part of the title. But 'How to Fight Back' at the bottom is.

RODRIGUEZ: This title, though, Mr. Morris, can't you see a lot of people dismissing it right off the bat as alarmist? It screams at you.

MORRIS: 9.5% unemployment, four quarters of negative growth-

RODRIGUEZ: What about-

MORRIS: -our car companies in receivership, our health care program about to be taken over, and banks being nationalized, and I'm alarmist?

RODRIGUEZ: Well what about the positive indicators? Because not so long ago, it was on the cover of every magazine, the topic of every cable show and Sunday morning show, that we were kind of digging out of the recession. We saw three straight months of rising home sales, the stock market up more than 40% since March-

MORRIS: Well, not so, not so any-

RODRIGUEZ: Ford beat expectations. Doesn't that count?

MORRIS: Not so any human being will notice. Consumer demand, which is three-quarters of our economy, has actually tended down, and I believe what's going to happen is a 'W.' We went down. We're going up a little bit. And then I think we're going to go down again before we go up.

RODRIGUEZ: Why do you think that?

MORRIS: And I think that second 'W' because of this huge budget deficit that Obama has created. I mean, literally - you know, I used to work for Bill Clinton. And Bill Clinton's approach to solving the crisis was to balance the budget and eliminate the deficit and lower interest rates. What Obama's done is to almost double the deficit. When he took office, federal spending was $3 trillion. Now it's $4 trillion. That's in seven months. And I think that this deficit is going to drive up interest rates, going to kindle inflation, and force the Fed to induce a second recession just like we had in '81 and '82. And that's what I call the catastrophe.

RODRIGUEZ: I'm curious what you think about his health care plan. Though, somehow I think that you're not for it.

MORRIS: No, I'm not for it.

RODRIGUEZ: Why?

MORRIS: I'm in favor of covering everyone, but I think the way to do that is first expand the number of doctors and the number of nurses. Expand the supply before you expand the demand. How is Obama going to cover 50 million new people without any more doctors or nurses? And the answer is he's not. And what that's going to mean is rationing, which primarily means that the elderly don't get the medical care they get now. And I take this personally. My dad's 99, and I can under - he's doing fine. But I can understand the rationale that says, 'well, he's 99 and so on and so on.' But-

RODRIGUEZ: Well, no, no, that's - he still deserves it.

MORRIS: Boy, those years - those months and years are precious to me.

RODRIGUEZ: But yesterday, the President guaranteed that this would not only pass, but that it would pass without reducing [increasing] costs, without cheating anyone of care that they deserve, and by not adding to the federal deficit.

MORRIS: Well, first of all, how is he going to cut $200 billion from Medicare without cutting Medicare?

RODRIGUEZ: Well, he said - and I remember in July, I looked back at my notes this morning - he said it would not affect Medicare benefits.

MORRIS: He's cutting Medicare by $200 million - $200 billion.

RODRIGUEZ: So we have to hold him to it is what you're saying?

MORRIS: Well, what he's saying is 'I'm going to cut reimbursement rates to doctors and to hospitals.' But if you cut reimbursement rates to doctors, you get shorter office visits and fewer office visits. And if you cut them for MRIs, you get fewer MRIs. And what this is going to ultimately lead to is fewer and fewer doctors, because their income is being cut, more and more patients, because the coverage is being expanded. And then when you say, 'okay, who's going to not get the medical care here?' It's the elderly, because they're the ones that aren't, quote, 'fully entitled' to it. They don't benefit from it as much as a younger person. And I think this is just a catastrophe.

RODRIGUEZ: Well, maybe he can compromise with the Republicans, as you encouraged Bill Clinton to do, back in the day.

MORRIS: I don't think he's - I don't think compromise is on his agenda there.

RODRIGUEZ: We shall see.

MORRIS: But Bill Clinton, I wish we had his economic policies back now instead of these.

RODRIGUEZ: That from a Republican. Thank you so much.

MORRIS: Thank you.

RODRIGUEZ: Dick Morris, appreciate it.

-Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center.