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AIG Bonus Outrage, Deficit Complicate Obama Agenda

With Washington still railing against more than $160 million of bonuses at insurance giant AIG, Mark Shields and Byron York consider the impact of the furor and the new estimates of the growing federal deficit on President Obama's agenda.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And to the analysis of Shields and York, syndicated columnist Mark Shields and Byron York, chief political correspondent for the Washington Examiner. David Brooks is away tonight.

    Mark, you take those stories, those two segments we just had back to back, the "House of Cards," at the very top, Bear Stearns, and those kids in Pomona, what have you got?

  • MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:

    Well, what you've got, Jim, in the Pomona piece, in particular, and William Cohan's book and explanation and insights, I think, are incredibly valuable, what we've got in Pomona is a reminder that unemployment rates don't bleed. You know, statistics don't cry.

    This put a human face on what was done by these "House of Cards" people and the consequences that people in their lives, and it's affecting families, it's affecting children. Just a ripple effect is just enormous, and I just wish every one of them who played a major role in this, in the public or private, I mean, who didn't regulate where they should have, who were doing things they shouldn't have done, have put the economy and the financial system in this country at risk, would sit down, as the president did yesterday, with those children.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Byron, do you have the feeling that that message that we heard from those kids is finally being heard by all these people who are — I'm not talking about, you know, necessarily just the people on Wall Street, but a lot of others on a lot of other streets are now finally getting the message here?

  • BYRON YORK, National Journal:

    Well, it is, because people are worried about their own futures. I think polling showed not — over the last several months, when the financial crisis first began, people were, of course, worried about their 401(k)s and their savings.

    And at some point in January, when unemployment figures began to go up and up and up, they're predominantly worried about losing their own jobs, losing their job, the story of losing a house, having to move in with a relative, take in some renters to try to make the rent, is a terrible possibility for people. And I think that everything we've seen shows that people who have jobs today are worried about losing them tomorrow.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    And just like we reported in the news summary, you know, just as you say, a figure, a piece of information, news story that over 115,000 postal workers' jobs are going to go…

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    That's right.