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Economy Loses Another 651,000 Jobs

Aired March 8, 2009 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, it's historically bad. Unemployment, a 25-year high -- 12.5 million Americans out of work.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't need to tell the people of this state what statistics like this mean.


KING: Can President Obama's economic plan succeed or is he in over his head?

If you're holding onto your job, how do you keep it?

If you're out there looking, where do you find something?

People who can help are waiting for your calls. So stop worrying and start dialing and survive financial disaster, next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Hard times demand good people. And we've got four good people to talk about all this with us to kick things off tonight.

In New York, is Tory Johnson, CEO of Women for Hire, a regular on "Good Morning America's" workplace contributor.

In Chicago, Mary Delaney, president of Career Builders talent consulting division.

Here in Los Angeles, Dr. Lois Frankel, president of Corporate Coaching International and author of "Stop Sabotaging Your Career."

And in New York, our own Gerri Willis, CNN personal finance editor.

The numbers are awful.

Tory, how bad is it and can you turn it around?

TORY JOHNSON, CEO, WOMEN FOR HIRE: Can I turn it around?

I don't know if I personally...

KING: Can we turn it around?

JOHNSON: Yes, I think we can turn it around. I'll tell you, you know, yesterday I was in Dallas for a job fair. And there was so much optimism. There were fewer employers than were at the same job fair just six months ago. But there was so much optimism among the people there. And all of the companies were hiring. And I work every day with companies that are hiring. And they are harder to find, but they do exist.

KING: Dr. Frankel, you're watching. You've got a job, it's shaky.

How do you hold on?

DR. LOIS FRANKEL, PRESIDENT, CORPORATE COACHING INTERNATIONAL: Yes. The main thing is, it's all about personal branding. It's all about understanding that you are a brand in the workplace. And if you go to work every day and do your job and do it well, it's not enough. It's only table sticks. You've got to be doing more than that. You have to distinguish yourself from the person next to you.

KING: No matter what the job?

FRANKEL: No matter what the job. You distinguish yourself from the person next to you. You can do it in a couple of ways. The most important way is understanding your management and your corporation's agenda and making sure every day you're contributing to that.

KING: Mary, is the stimulus -- the whole concept of the stimulus bill, do you like it?

Is it going to work?

MARY DELANEY, PRESIDENT, PERSONIFIED: I think it will. It's going to take some time. I think you'll see construction recover first with a few hundred thousand jobs added. And then you'll see some of the Green energy areas. And next year, I think, is when you'll see the major effect of the stimulus package.

KING: Gerri, if you know you're going to lose your job -- all the hints tell you that, what do you do?

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Well, there are a lot of things you do. First, of all. You might want to roll your 401(k) over to an IRA so you can get access to it, A; maybe make emergency withdrawals from it. You do that specifically to help you pay for health care.

You also want to make sure that you savings on hand. It's so important to have six to nine months worth of savings on hand. Make sure you can take care of that. And before you leave that job, make sure you use every little bit of health care you can. Go see the doctor. Go see the dentist. Make sure you're having the company pay for all of that.

KING: Good idea.

Let's hear from a single mother of three who just lost her job in Los Angeles today. This is a king Cam.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like I've been dumped -- dumped. And I didn't see it coming or maybe I found out that my husband was cheating on me. And it's just like a punch to the stomach. And I feel bewildered because of this. And I don't know where to go from here. It's just -- it's just horrible. And I just -- I hope something comes my way.


KING: Tory, what do you do with helplessness?

JOHNSON: First, you know, it's OK. To have that feeling. You know, when I was fired from a job, I had myself a big old pity party. And it's natural to feel that way. So it's OK. Give yourself that time.

But also recognize that something's not going to come your way automatically unless you really get out there and make it happen. And I think that's one of the most important things. Get resume ready.

You know, figure out what is my Plan B?

All of us should know what that Plan B is -- not so much that we should go around panicking every day that we're going to lose our job.

But we should all know the what if, what would we do?

And, you know, get your resume ready, brush it off and start networking, because some of the best job leads are going to come from connecting with other people.

KING: Lois, can you brand when you're out of work?

FRANKEL: Absolutely. That's the time to do it. If I were speaking with this woman, I would say can you tell me in 25 seconds or less why should I hire you?

What is it that you do?

What do you bring that's different?

So you really have to prepare that kind of communication and be able to deliver it with confidence. And I understand that it's difficult to do when you feel like you got kicked in the gut. But it's really about having that kind of confidence so that employers say, if she overcame that, you know what, she'll be great here.

KING: Gerri, the president has a 72 percent popularity rating, this morning, according to a "Newsweek" poll.

Does having faith or confidence in him help?

WILLIS: Actually, I think so. And I think a lot of people do. And that's a good thing, because I think that will help people get through the situation.

But I have to tell you, when you're facing a mortgage and trying to get kids to school and put food on the table, it's easy to lose hope fast. And it's easy to lose sight of the fact that this isn't your fault if you've lost your job this week, last week, last month. You know, this is a terrible economy right now. And it could turn around faster than the economists predict. You do have to bring some hope to this. You do have to see that silver lining.

KING: Let's take a call.

Greensboro, North Carolina, hello.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. I was just wanting to know if all the illegals in the country, that if we did something about that, would that lower the unemployment rate?

KING: Tory?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we did something about the...

KING: I got you.


JOHNSON: I'm not quite sure. I don't think so. I think that the jobs that have been lost are jobs that either have to be replaced by corporations and I don't think that those jobs are being taken by people who are here illegally.

KING: We're going to take a break and come back with more.

We're going to deal with some individual cases and have our folks try to solve them.

How is all this affecting you?

You tell us at Click on the blog.

Next, two generations of G.M. workers here -- one's working, one isn't. Their stories after the break.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We lost 651,000 jobs in the month of February.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Unemployment jumped to 8.1 percent. That's an increase of half a percent...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Worse than expected -- 651,000 jobs were cut. That's the most in nearly 60 years.


KING: By the way, a reminder. Danny Gans, one of the greatest entertainers ever, will be our special guest tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE.

We welcome now from Lansing, Michigan, Mike and Rollin Green. Mike is president of UAW Local 85 -- 652. He works for General Motors.

Rollin is Mike's son and was laid off from G.M. in December and is currently unemployed.

Both were on our show in December. Multiple generations of the Green family have worked at G.M. since World War II.

And G.M. has requested an additional -- and Chrysler -- $21.6 billion to help restructure.

How did they tell you you were out, Rollin?

ROLLIN GREEN, UNEMPLOYED, WORKED FOR G.M.: Basically, it just went by seniority, about a week-and-a-half before Christmas. I'm the bottom of the totem pole, low seniority, so I was first out.

KING: What did someone come over and tell you?

R. GREEN: Yes.

KING: Mike, did you...

R. GREEN: Basically...

KING: ...expect that to happen to you -- did you expect it to happen to your boy?

MIKE GREEN, WORKS FOR G.M.: Yes. You know, he's one of the people that's entry level, which was put in place in the old seven (ph) agreement to help the company to be more competitive. And, unfortunately, the economy caught up with us and that didn't have a chance to take effect before we had to start laying people off.

KING: What do you think of what G.M. is asking for, Mike?

M. GREEN: Well, You know, we're still kind of waiting to see what's coming out of Detroit here. You hear a lot of things coming out of there. But hopefully, you know, they've been stable down there for three weeks now trying to put some things together so we can be more competitive, is what they are asking for, through some concessions. We're not hearing much out of that yet. Normally Ron Gettelfinger will get with the leadership and have us come down and take a look at it and roll it off to the membership. So we're still waiting for that to happen. KING: Rollin, do you know how many of your fellow employees lost their jobs?

R. GREEN: I don't know exactly. My dad would know that number a little better. There's quite a few. I believe in the 1,200 -- people here in the Lansing area, I believe.

M. GREEN: Just in our local alone, at Christmastime, when they cut the second shift, Larry, around 700 people at the Lansing/Grand River plant. But then you have the supplier plants that we also represent, Ryder, Android Industries, JCIM. There's another 500 people attached to that or so.

KING: All right, Dr. Frankel, what do you say to someone like Rollin?

FRANKEL: I say three things. Number one, it's a numbers game. What you really need to understand is that -- that in a good economy, there's what we call the rule of 21. That for every 21 resumes you put out there, you might get one positive response.

KING: But he's an assembly line guy.

FRANKEL: Well, but that's what I'm saying, is that it's going to be even harder. He needs to be resilient in terms of spreading out where he'd be willing to go.

Next, he really needs to understand that he needs to brand himself. He needs to be able to go in and say why should someone hire me rather than the other assembly guy that got laid off.

KING: Tory, what would you say to the Greens?

JOHNSON: I would also say to think about odd jobs that you can do while you're waiting for a permanent position to come back. Obviously, you know, if there are no terrific jobs where you are, I'm not going to tell you to -- you know, to apply for something that doesn't exist.

But certainly even in tough times, you know, figuring out a way to put your skills to use as a resourceful young man, to even do some odd jobs -- some of the things that you could even potentially find online.

If you're good on the computer, there are several Web sites that you could go to --, often have opportunities for somebody who is savvy with a computer.

So think a little bit beyond what your comfort zone is and what you've been doing now.

KING: Mike, the Auto Task Force is coming to Detroit on Monday to meet with G.M. and Chrysler executives and tour the facilities.

Does that give you hope?

M. GREEN: Absolutely. I mean that's what has been going down in Detroit there. And, hopefully, they'll roll out what they've got done and it will be good for everybody.

KING: What keeps you going, Rollin?

What keeps you up?

R. GREEN: Well, I mean at the beginning of a layoff, there's always things to do around the house and that keeps you busy.

And I'm at the point now where it's -- it's time to start looking for something, because unemployment is not going to last forever. And there's still going to be a mortgage payment. And there's, you know, still going to be all the bills, so.

KING: Mary, what would you add for the Greens?

DELANEY: Well, I would ask them to think about how they can transfer their skills into other areas, as well. So with construction looking to have an up tick in the next few months, after the stimulus package takes effect, as well as looking at some of the government areas. There are some transferable skills from manufacturing that you could apply.

KING: Thank you all.


Good luck to the Greens. We'll be checking with you again.

Next, Gerri Willis maps the job picture, tells us who's hiring and where, in 60 seconds.


KING: There are jobs out there despite the grim figures we've been talking about.

Gerri Willis has answers to those questions everyone is asking -- Gerri, who's hiring and where?

WILLIS: Hi, there, Larry.

Yes, this map behind me highlights what parts of the country are hiring. The folks at Career Builder put this together for us. Now, the dark blue areas show you where the most jobs are in relation to population. Orange areas show you where the fewest jobs are.

Now the South leads all regions in job creation.


Well, older people are moving to warmer climates, demanding more services. And the nation's oil and gas industries are still strong.

Let's dig down here. Health care is a huge job creator in Arizona, Florida, Nevada and Georgia, as boomers retire and migrate south. Engineering jobs in the energy industry are making Texas a big area of growth.

Let's take a look at the West. Technology is a big job creator here. In Washington State, biotech, health care are still strong. In California, recent lay-offs are believed to be a short-term trend. Software engineers, system analysts and Web-related occupations are still in demand.

And natural resources, mining and agriculture, are creating employment opportunities in Wyoming, Colorado and Idaho.

All right. Now, let's head back east. You may think there are no jobs growing there. But in fact, there are. We're seeing a lot of government jobs -- defense contractors, education and insurance in Washington, D.C. Maryland and Virginia. They're getting a boost from government hiring.

And while New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts are suffering from financial industry losses, collection agencies and insurance companies are still hiring there. That tells you a lot about this economy and what's going on -- Larry.

KING: Yes. Thanks, Gerri.

The puzzle continues.

I guess you can almost look at that map and figure out why they are there.

WILLIS: Exactly. That's exactly right. You know, you can really see it's really connected to the old industries that used to be in the Northeast and used to be in what we used to call the Rust Belt. Those are gone. There are areas there that are not generating jobs. It's all the Sun Belt, where people are moving to -- the West Coast, where we see such an emphasis on technology.

And now that we have the stimulus bill, of course, Washington is a growth area.

KING: OK, Ger.

Return to the panel.

WILLIS: All right.

KING: And we'll return next, with another firsthand account -- one of the faces behind the jobless figures. You'll meet her right after this.


KING: Joining us now here in the studio is Tamara Rice of Los Angeles. She is unemployed.

A couple of facts about Tamara. She had a major health issue last year and wracked up debt. She had chemo and a double mastectomy. She has two children, applied for unemployment and was denied. Her home value has dropped. Interest-only loan ends this year -- in danger of losing that house.

What are you doing?

TAMARA RICE, UNEMPLOYED: Well, trying everything -- looking for jobs constantly online, consulting, trying to figure out, you know, do we wait and refinance?

Do we go with a loan modification -- you know, go about it with loss mitigation?

You know, do we want to pay a lawyer or do we want to wait and refinance and...

KING: The we being you and your husband?

RICE: Me and my husband, yes.

KING: What does he do?

RICE: He is a camp director outside Los Angeles.

KING: You have to be a two income family?

RICE: We do. We do. We can't really get by on just one income.

KING: Was it the health issue that crippled you?

RICE: It was. It was -- I was diagnosed with cancer last May. And, you know, just living on disability during that time cut into our income and we, you know, depleted our savings. We started to wrack up more and more credit card debt just paying hospital co-pays at the time.

KING: How many -- you have how many children?

RICE: Two children.

KING: How old?

RICE: Ten and 7.

KING: Can someone take care of them if you got a job?

RICE: Yes. They're -- well, they're in school most of the day. And I -- in the afternoon, they have Kids Club that they could go to. They could. So I'm willing to work full-time.

KING: What are you looking for?

RICE: You know, I'm looking for something more that I could do from home, which was what my previous job was. But at this point, you know, I've kind of lowered my expectations. I've been applying for jobs that are making, you know, 60 percent less than what I did before. And I'm still not getting those jobs.

KING: You lost a job where you could work at home? RICE: Yes, I did. I did. I wrote for a magazine. And when I came back from disability, I was told I was laid off.

KING: And before we get to the panel and give some quick thoughts, what happens when you apply for jobs?

RICE: Mostly I just don't hear anything back. I don't know if they're just overwhelmed with applicants. But I don't -- I don't hear from them.

KING: Tory, is this a typical case?

JOHNSON: Yes, it's definitely a typical case. And I would say that you are probably better at selling yourself than your resume is at selling you, especially with a gap in employment. And when I'm just listening to you and looking at you on the monitor, you're somebody who comes across as really charismatic.

KING: Yes, you do.

JOHNSON: And I would say that you should really get out and do a lot more networking versus applying online and hoping and waiting that somebody calls you.

I'm going to be in Los Angeles next month and I would love to be able to meet you in person and see what we could do. I only -- the little thing I know about your skills is that you've written for a magazine. And so being a good writer, having great communication skills...

KING: I'll tell you what...

JOHNSON: ...could move into other areas.

KING: Tory, we'll set that up so you meet Tamara.

JOHNSON: I'd love it.

KING: Mary, what do you say to Miss. Rice?

DELANEY: Well, I think there's a couple of things. One is I would make sure that not only am I applying online, but then I'm using social media to be able to network and find people who are within the companies for which you desire to work.

And I'd get an internal reference. It makes such a difference today.

The other thing is now there's technology that screens all the candidates -- all the applicants that apply to companies. So it's important to be smart about that technology and make sure your resume shows up on top. And so that's understanding what key words are in the job -- what key words and skills.

KING: Lois...

DELANEY: ...and then make sure that you put those key words into your resume to assure that you're -- you'll be on top.

KING: Lois?

FRANKEL: Yes, first of all, I say congratulations on being a survivor.

RICE: Thank you.

FRANKEL: And second of all, I say, again, what I would like to see for you is, you know, here was an opportunity to speak very crisp and clear about what kind of job do you want.

Why should somebody hire me?

And you are charismatic. You just have to have those words that spring right out of your mouth at the right time, because everything everyone else said is absolutely true.

KING: Gerri, isn't Tamara a pretty good symbol of the unemployed person?

I mean look at this.

Why should she be out of work?

WILLIS: Yes. Well, and she is fantastic and has a lot of skills. But if you know anything about magazines, that industry is really facing hard times. So you've got to translate those writing skills to somewhere else -- online, possibly; you know, maybe in P.R. -- public relations.

KING: Yes.

WILLIS: You need to be using those writing skills some other way.

Because what is good writing?

Good writing is good thinking. You can do that for somebody else.

KING: Tamara, good luck.

RICE: Thank you.

KING: You keep in touch.

We'll put people in touch with you.

RICE: Thank you very much.

KING: We're going to make you our job object.

RICE: OK. Thank you.

KING: Coming up, what are you saying about this?

We want to know at The blogs are next. And our guests will answer more of your questions.

Don't go way.


KING: Time now for the blogs. And they're busy tonight.

David Theall is here to tell us what you're saying -- David?

DAVID THEALL, LARRY KING LIVE PRODUCER: Larry, we -- as you talk to the experts there, we're talking about this online on the blog. And there is some talk happening on this blog -- which is, by the way, at -- about jobs going overseas.

Some -- said somebody in their comments: "The jobs have gone to India, Mexico and China."

We're also getting a lot of personal stories on the blog tonight. A lot of people looking for jobs. Says somebody: "I've been trying for six months to find a job."

Another says: "It's sad to think of America like this."

Yet another says: "All this money being thrown at the problem won't mean anything."

This is the conversation that is happening at We invite to you jump in the conversation.

Larry, I've also got a question tonight from the blog for the experts. It comes to us from Matthew. And he asks: "What career field is currently the strongest and what career fields are likely to be the best in a few years?" -- Larry.

KING: Tory -- thanks, David.

Tory, what's your response?

JOHNSON: Health care, health care, health care. And, you know, though I say that with a bit of an asterisk, because I don't know what this young man is interested in. If he has absolutely no interest in health care and anything connected to health care, then that kind of information is not going to matter all that much to him.

And so it's not only important to look at what industries are going to be hot and have growth potential, but it also matters what you want to do -- where your passions, interests and expertise lies.

KING: OK, let's get a call.

Washington, D.C. hello.


KING: Yes, go ahead.


I'm trying to understand -- I understand what your panel is saying.

But what about the mass of people who don't have college degrees, who only have on-the-job experience?

KING: Well, OK...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, and I happen to have one of those that has massive experience, but don't have degrees. I have applied for mail room positions, which I'm overqualified for. I've applied for desk clerks, customer service -- which customer service now wants you to have a four year bachelor's degree.

KING: Wow!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, and it's -- it's hard to get a job when they're -- with the way that these jobs are advertising. They want you to have, a minimum of at least five to 10 years experience with (INAUDIBLE)...

KING: OK. I got it.

Marie -- Mary, what does the non-college student do?

DELANEY: Well, I think...

KING: Non-college experience?

DELANEY: Tory started to talk about health care. And health care I think people think are clinicians. But there's plenty of health care jobs in food service and in many of the first level trade areas.

The other area is government. And the key area that grew last month is in local government. And local government has all assortments of job opportunities.

The key is to go down and take the test and get a high grade, so that they call you up when there's eligible openings.

KING: OK. Lois, you wanted to say something about unemployment.

FRANKEL: Yes. I think too many people get the unemployment insurance and then wait till it runs out to look for a job because they say I make more on unemployment. But psychologically, that is not good for you, because the longer you stay home unemployed, the less energetic and enthusiastic and on top of things you're going to look.

Second of all, an employer's going to look at that. They're going to know, you stayed home on unemployment, because you could make more doing that, as opposed to going back into the work force. So I think it's critical that when people are laid off, they immediately start their job search, whether you're a blue-collar worker or a white-collar worker, educated or not. KING: Gerri, we have about 30 seconds. How long before we come out of this?

WILLIS: Well, it's going to be a while, at least a year, maybe longer, before the jobs market turns around. But for people like the fellow was just describing, who have only a high school degree, you've got to get some more educated. can tell you about colleges that are offering online programs that are accredited, actually make sense, doesn't cost you a lot of money. Community colleges are also in touch with employers locally. They know who's hiring locally. You can get in a program, maybe a couple of semesters, maybe a two-year degree.

I've got to tell you, long term in this economy, you have to have some education. You're going to need extra education.

KING: Thank you. Great panel. Tory Johnson, Mary Delaney, Dr. Lois Frankel and our own Gerri Willis. Is President Obama's economic stimulus working? We'll put it under the mike stone and ask Virginia's Governor Tim Kaine to comment about it after the break.



OBAMA: Just this morning we learned that we lost another 651,000 jobs throughout the country in the month of February alone, which brings the total number of jobs lost in this recession to an astounding 4.4 million.


KING: Joining us now from Richmond, Virginia, an honor to present him back with us, Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia, chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Terrible jobs numbers today, governor. Do you think the president can turn this around?

GOV. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA: Larry, I think he can. It's going to take a while, but I think the stimulus package that's now coming out to the states is already starting to have an effect. I know it's having a positive effect here in Virginia.

KING: How long before we start seeing somewhere we can say, hey, here's some results from this plan?

KAINE: Well, let me tell you, in Virginia we've seen it already. I had to write a budget and present it to the legislature in December with no stimulus money. I cut 2.9 billion dollars out of our 80 billion dollar budget. And then by February, the revenues were worsening. And I was going to have to cut another 800 million dollars out. The stimulus package meant that I did not have to cut 800 million dollars. That saved 7,100 state jobs, people that I would have been making plans to lay off right now had the stimulus package not passed.

So we're the first state to have finished a budget since it passed. And I can tell you, it has saved 7,100 people and their families from being turned out to face the toughest job market in the last 25 years.

KING: Do you think the public will stay supportive of the president?

KAINE: Well, the question is, you know, yes, what is our -- our patience level? But I detect a resolve. You know, in Virginia, people here, they understand adversity. And we're pretty good at dealing with it. The thing that's a challenge is we don't know how long it will last. I've also been traveling around the United States and talking to folks in the last month, especially on the phone, in my new role as DNC chair. I think the people are pulling for the president to succeed. Very few people want him to fail. We want him to succeed and I think we're going to stick with him and we'll start to see improvement is my belief.

KING: He's taken on so much, banking, mortgage crisis, health care. The fear the possibility he might be spreading himself too thin?

KAINE: Well, you know, I hear that concern. But what the president has said is that the two big domestic issues, health care and energy, are very related to our economic woes. You know, we can't keep spending an ever-increasing percentage of GDP just on health care. We've got to control those costs better so that businesses can be more successful.

And then we've got to have a better energy future, or we're going to be in a world of hurt, as we rely more and more and more on higher- priced energy from other countries. So he is taking on a lot, but that's -- I don't think that's necessarily by choice, Larry. I think it's because the world has put all these issues front and center on the desk. And it's all hands-on-deck time. We have to deal with these serious issues in a serious way.

KING: He was in Ohio today. He's been in six states since the stimulus bill passed. It passed. Why does he have to keep visiting?

KAINE: Well, I think it's just important for Americans to see him. You know, I've learned as governor, you know, you don't do your best work on Capitol square or inside the bubble. You actually do your best work being out with people, and especially when times are tough. Then a leader particularly needs to be out hearing stories, showing that he gets it, and committing to use all of his efforts, energies and the resources of the federal government to try to deal with these problems.

So I think the fact that he's out in states -- he came to Virginia a couple weeks back. The fact that he's out in states is actually something that's going to help us get through this tough time.

KING: Why this flak with Rush Limbaugh? Your RNC counterpart takes him on. You call Limbaugh the Wizard of Oz this week. Why butt heads with somebody whose popularity rating is 20 percent or under? KAINE: Well, I think the thing that happened that caused us to want to just point out, hey, wait a minute, most Americans don't feel that way is when Rush Limbaugh said that he was rooting for the president to fail. With the issues that we have in this country and in this world right now, we ought to be praying for our president to be successful. And anybody who's rooting for failure is really irresponsible. So that was what brought it, you know, to everybody's attention.

When the chairman of the RNC, I think correctly, criticized Rush Limbaugh for those statements, I thought, you know what? That's a very courageous thing that he's done. But then he went right back and apologized, and that really showed that, you know, Rush is really, as I said in a joking way, kind of the Wizard of Oz of the party right now. We need Republicans working with us hand in hand to get this economy turned around.

KING: Governor, is it hard to wear two hats, governor and chairman of the DNC?

KAINE: Well, it's not easy, but, Larry, I'm sure you know what I'm about to say. You can just about do anything if you pick wonderful people to work with you. And I have the best chief of staff and staff here in Virginia. I have a wonderful team that I've put in place at the DNC. And if you have great people working with you, you can get an awful lot done.

KING: I have the same here at CNN. Good seeing you again, governor. Look forward to it again soon.

KAINE: Thanks, Larry.

KING: Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia, also chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Is President Obama taking on too much? You heard what the governor said. David Gergen may have a different take. He's next.


KING: Welcome back. With us in Boston, David Gergen, CNN senior political analyst, in Washington, Hilary Rosen, CNN contributor and Democratic strategist, and in New York, Steve Malzberg, the radio talk show host with the WOR Radio Network. David, your overall reaction to the comments of Governor Kaine.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I thought Governor Kaine -- he's obviously a very effective spokesman for the Democrats. You know, Larry, had he not been so much like President Obama, there was a real chance he might have been on the ticket. The two of them click very, very well.

KING: I was thinking the same thing. Hillary, what did you -- he's an effective guy, isn't?

HILARY ROSEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: He is. You know, but what he said was important. It wasn't just sort of the party line of the DNC. We've seen polling over the last couple of days, even as these jobless numbers are going up and the economic news is bad, America is still extremely supportive of this president. They believe that this is a problem he inherited, and he's working hard to fix it.

KING: Steve, "Newsweek Magazine" today has a 72 percent popularity rating in their poll. Are you surprised?

STEVE MALZBERG, TALK RADIO HOST: yes -- well, I'm unfortunately not surprised. I think the media hasn't given enough scrutiny to exactly what's going on here. I think, you know, Barack Obama has now taken the advice of Rahm Emanuel. And by the way, Hillary Clinton said it overseas today, never miss an opportunity. And now, all of a sudden, we'll never get out of this economic downturn if we don't fix health care; we'll never get out of it if we don't change our energy policy; we'll never get out of it if we don't guarantee a college education for everyone.

He's masking everything around the economy and he's going for the gold.

KING: Are those things bad, what you just said?

MALZBERG: Yes, because, you know what, each and every one should be judged on its own merits and let's debate them. Don't mush it all together and say, we have to do it now or the economy won't turn around. That's not fair to the American public. It's another stimulus bill. Don't read it, just vote for it and let's hurry up. That's not how you run this government in a recession that's headed worse.

KING: I've heard also the people that voted against it didn't read it. David -- David, do you -- is Steve right in some respects?

GERGEN: Well, no. I disagree with him in one fundamental respect, and that is Barack Obama campaigned on these issues. He pledged that if he were elected, he would try to reform health care. He would try to overhaul the energy industry and be more -- address climate change. And he promised educational reform.

What I do think, Larry, is that even as he maintains this enormous popularity with the country, and people do want him to follow through, I think the economy is collapsing on him so much more rapidly than anybody could have imagined that it seems to me it's increasingly in question, and I would argue that he ought to focus on the economy and stop the bleeding, and then get to health care reform and energy reform.

MALZBERG: That's my point. That's my point, David.

GERGEN: No, no, no.

KING: Let him finish, Steve.

MALZBERG: No, a different point you made. And it seems to me, I think we've got to stop the bleeding. We are in a very deep situation, as these unemployment numbers illustrated today. And it's going down very fast. And Larry, even as the public continues to support him overwhelmingly, one finds -- I'm finding increasing discontent in the business community. They feel that the administration is too hostile to them, that it's not supportive of the whole profit-making exercise.

And I think that's beginning to be reflected to some degree. I do not think he's responsible for this -- for the stock market, but I do worry that by trying to do all this at once, and by sort of sending out signals that are alienating the business community, it's adding to the downward pressure. And I think he needs to get on top of that.

KING: I'm going to let Hilary get in on this. More on the economy right after this. Stay with us.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Also, this morning, the Dow is opening, unfortunately, at its lowest level since April of 1997.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: I think that we have to take the attitude that we will get through this, and we will.


KING: Back with David Gergen, Hilary Rosen, Steve Malzberg, and our discussion about the goings-on today. Hilary, you want to get in on this, on what Steve and David said?

ROSEN: Yes. The point that they made was that maybe too much is going on right now and that the president needs to focus just on one thing, on the economy. And I think that David is right, that the economy is continuing to sink in a way that probably has taken the administration more by surprise than they had thought. Although, it is important to note that actually the decrease in the Dow has slowed in the last 45 days, compared to where it was in the fall.

I think, though, that we're looking at emergency measures. Secretary Geithner this week asked Congress to pass a bill to increase the FDIC's ability to protect depositors, should a big bank fail. So I think they are looking at sort of emergency measures. But when President Obama says we are going to keep going on our agenda, because when businesses talk about what they need, they're saying that their health care costs are too high, that their wages are stagnant. They can't hire more people, and overwhelmingly because they have costs like health care and energy.

And I think it's really important that we stay focused on fixing some of those structural problems that we've been facing for the last several years. Otherwise nothing's going to get better.

KING: Steve, we know the other side has been critical. But what are -- what are your ideas, for example?

MALZBERG: First, let's fix the banking situation.

KING: Like?

MALZBERG: Well, Tim Geithner has been -- Tim Geithner was confirmed, Larry, because even though he's a tax cheat, the Senate said he's the only man who could possibly handle this.

KING: By the way, Republicans said that, too.

MALZBERG: And the market tanked 500 points.

KING: What would you do?

MALZBERG: What would I do to fix the banks? I'm not the genius. I'm not the financial genius. What have they done?

KING: But you're critical.

MALZBERG: Yes, Larry, because they've abandoned that aspect of it and they're concentrating on health care, saying that's going to fix the economy. The banking system needs to be fixed first and foremost.

ROSEN: It's not being abandoned. What they're saying is they can walk and chew gum at the same time.


ROSEN: Geithner is focused every day, looking at investments and new banks. They're going bank by bank, business by business, looking at what's required to shore up that capital.

KING: Would banks be first for you, David?

GERGEN: Housing would be first, Larry, but banks would be a very, very close second. This problem started with housing and we've got -- almost 20 percent of the people in this country today have their houses under water. And with the prospect that it could go up -- I heard last night up to 40 percent of homes if this continues. You've got to shore that up.

It does seem to me the president has put forward a much better plan than what we had in the last administration, but even this seems insufficient. I think the stimulus package we're going to find was too small. We're going to look at a second stimulus package.

But they have been too slow in solving this bank problem. One of the reasons I'm saying focus on this is Tim Geithner is almost home alone at the Treasury Department. He's the only person at the Treasury Department nominated by this president and put in place. Here we are, we are in March.

KING: Why?

GERGEN: He's having to do -- I think in part because they haven't focused the way they should. And secondly, I think they've got -- they set standards for their people that are so darn high now that good people are pulling away, saying I'm not going to do this. If you are in the business community, it's hard to get through the vetting of all this, because your finances are complicated. People are going to look at you and say, there's something here.

If you worked for one of the companies that took Tarp funds, right now, the Treasury Department apparently won't even hire you. I don't understand that. I think they're setting their standards too high, frankly.

KING: Hillary, what do we have, a one-man Treasury Department?

ROSEN: No, there are plenty of senior people at Treasury, new faces, new talent that's been brought in.

GERGEN: That's not true. He does not have a full team.

ROSEN: You're right, he doesn't have a deputy and they're still looking for under secretaries. But there are people there. The biggest problem is not that they don't have officials at the Treasury Department, the biggest problem is that each individual bank has very different criteria for why they're resisting lending and putting money back in the credit system. That's the piece they're working on.

They're focused on Citibank. They're worrying about AIG. There are individual problems that they have to work through.

KING: We'll pick up with Steve right after this. Don't go away. Gergen, Rosen and Malzberg, right after this.


KING: Touch a couple other bases, Steve, smart politics for the Democrats to take on your fellow talk show host Rush Limbaugh?

MALZBERG: Well, it's typical of the Democrats. They always need a boogie man. And you can't have the public concentrating on what Barack Obama is trying to do and radically change this country in every way we know it to be. So they concentrate on Rush Limbaugh. Emanuel speaks about Rush Limbaugh.

If you want an idea on the housing crisis, the Republicans had in the stimulus package, before it was taken out, 15,000 dollar credit for buying a home, doesn't have to be a first, no salary limitations on your income. The Democrats cut it in half to 750, and made all kinds of limitations. That would have encouraged people to buy homes.

And as far as the market slowing down, not going down as fast? Since Barack Obama was elected, the market has gone down almost 33 percent. And since he was sworn in, it's 20 percent, the most in history. Come on, Hilary, that is spin extraordinaire.

KING: Steve, it must boggle you that he remains popular.

MALZBERG: It doesn't make much sense. And I think once people wise up, they'll understand what's happening to them. KING: You don't want him to fail, though?

MALZBERG: I want his policies to fail. I don't want to live in his America. I don't want to live in a socialist/Marxist America. I want my kid to grow up in the America I knew.

ROSEN: This is a beautiful argument --

KING: Segregation and all that. I'm only kidding.

ROSEN: When Republicans are giving tax credits, somehow that's not government spending. But if you do a direct subsidy, that's government spending. It all comes out of the same place. I think that's the annoying thing. What we founds was years and years of George Bush's tax benefiting the wealthy did not stimulate the economy. We now have record surpluses and a terrible economic situation.

When it comes to housing, the answer is not to stimulate new buying for wealthy homeowners. The answer is, deal with those Americans who are working hard every day to stay in their homes, keep their payments up. That's the Obama plan, is to help those homeowners with a more reasonable workout on their mortgages.

KING: I want to get a call in for David. Naples, Florida, hello.

CALLER: Hello from sunny Naples. Social Security is going bankrupt and Medicare is going bankrupt. How will we ever fund a national health care program, which will cost more than double what Social Security and Medicare combined cost?

KING: David, are they growing bankrupt?

GERGEN: Medicare is in growing trouble, Larry, and is rapidly going towards bankruptcy. Yes, both are ultimately going bankrupt.

KING: So is his point good?

GERGEN: Well I think it's a separate point. Social Security and Medicare, President Obama has made it very plain that he does want to tackle these issues. His own aides would like to hold him back some on this. I think you have to give him credit on this one, that he's ready to tackle it when the moment comes. I think it's going to be in the next couple of years. He doesn't seem to be afraid of taking on Medicare.

By the way, on this health care issue, by proposing health care the way he's done now, and energy, one of the things that's happening is it's spending signals to an awful lot of people on more affluent Americans, your taxes are going to go up sharply. You're going to find that you're not going to be making as much money in the markets. Your mortgage deductions are going down.

At the time you're trying to stabilize the economy, it does seem to me it's not a good idea to be threatening people with higher taxes. Get the economy stabilized, let's stop the bleeding, and let's see where we are at the end, and then move on with some reforms.

MALZBERG: Amen, David.

ROSEN: There's a couple of points, though.

KING: Hilary, we only have 20 seconds.

ROSEN: OK, he is talking about savings and Medicare. He's willing to take that on. When it comes to taxes, he's talking about increasing taxes to where they were pre-George Bush days in two and a half years, is when they're going to go into effect. The economy has time to recover. And those savings long term will pay for health care.

KING: Thank you all. We're going to go have all of you back, because all of you are quite, quite good. The show may be over, but LARRY KING LIVE is open 24/7. Go to While you're there, check out our daily podcast, sign up for e-mail, text alerts, check out our blog. We're loaded.

Before we go, a good message for my good friend Ed McMahon. Hey Ed, happy 86th birthday. Here's to many. I know you're still getting over pneumonia. When you're up to it, we would love to see you sitting right here.

Tomorrow night, two incredible entertainers, Dolly Parton and Danny Gans. Right now, Anderson Cooper and "AC 360."