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Should U.S. Military Use Ground Troops to the War in Afghanistan?; Should Democrats and Republicans Compromise on Economic Stimulus?

Aired November 4, 2001 - 18:30   ET


MARK SHIELDS, HOST: Welcome to a special edition of CAPITAL GANG. I'm Mark Shields with Al Hunt, Robert Novak and Karen Tumulty of "TIME" magazine. Our guest is former Republican vice presidential nominee Jack Kemp.

Thank you for being with us, Jack.


SHIELDS: Good to have you here. On television this morning, the U.S. commander for Afghanistan was asked whether he would rule out the use of U.S. ground troops.


GEN. TOMMY FRANKS, U.S. COMMANDER: I think at this point, we'd be foolish to take anything off the table.


SHIELDS: The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff taught more U.S. special forces to fight the Taliban.


GEN. RICHARD MYERS, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: The more teams we get on the ground, the more effectively we'll bring air power to bare on the Taliban mines and we'll continue to do it.


SHIELDS: General Franks expressing no interest in occupying cities, cited the goals.


FRANKS: The destruction of a terrorist network inside Afghanistan and the support architecture around it.


SHIELDS: General Myers laid down self-imposed bombing restrictions.


MYERS: The Taliban like to park some of their air defense assets and some of their more precious assets near mosques and so forth. And we're not going to -- we're not going to hit those.



SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I don't think you should rule out any targets. One of the great tragedies of war is that civilians are killed and injured.


SHIELDS: Al Hunt, what more do we know about how the war in Afghanistan is being fought, will be fought?

AL HUNT, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well, Mark, it's tougher then we thought it was going to be and it's tougher than they are telling us that it is. I think there's a big debate in this government about whether we ought to expand the war. But there's a consensus that we ought to topple the Taliban and get Osama bin Laden.

And I think John McCain is right. If you're going to do that, civilian casualties are apparent but they're inevitable. And I think we've been too candid. We have been too calculating. And I think it's much better to take the short run and hit there. But I also think there's a question of the government leveling with us in a lot of this, Mark.

Sy Hersh had a piece in the "New Yorker" this weekend in which he said those special forces, the Delta Forces that went in two weeks ago, we're much less prepared than we lead everyone to believe, that there were far more problems, that three were seriously wounded. The Pentagon denies that right now. This is the same Pentagon that told us a couple of weeks ago that they were going to eviscerate the Taliban. Now, they say they may have misspoke on that.

When it's a case of Sy Hersh and the Pentagon, I know who I believe. And I think there's some people there, Mark, who still believe the lesson of Vietnam, the so-called "credibility gap," was that we gave out too much information when in fact, we didn't tell the truth. We better not get in that rut now.

SHIELDS: Is it true, Bob? Is there actually a credibility gap going already?

ROBERT NOVAK, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": Well, it seems to growing. The -- what the government -- what the military says is that the people who were injured were injured in the crash. They weren't hurt -- there was no -- they were not wounded by the Taliban. What happens -- and we have no idea because there was no reporters -- the -- there's no question that the Taliban know what's going on on the ground there because we're fighting them.

So what they're trying to keep the information from is not from the enemy but from the people. And of course, some of the mistakes that were made in Vietnam were uncovered because reporters were roaming around. They don't want that to happen or I guess the American people don't want it to happen.

I think what we learned from today's programs -- and what I learned -- the most thing -- was General Franks, again said, we're not in the business of occupying territory, not in the business of going into Kabul, going into Kandahar, getting real estate. This is -- he didn't say it -- but it's an attempt to get Osama bin Laden. He said the infrastructure of the Taliban. And that is a very tough proposition to do particularly when you're relying on these kind of rag-tag indigenous horses.

SHIELDS: Karen, your own reaction.

KAREN TUMULTY, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well, there's a reason we're not in the business of occupying territory and that's because the Soviet Union was not particularly successful at doing just that. To the degree, we had any chance of going in there; it's in these sort of Special Forces type of operations, these hit-and-run kinds of operations.

And what I found troubling about the Sy Hersh's story is that it also might answer what's been one of the great mysteries, which is why we heard about one engagement of our special forces a few weeks ago and we haven't heard of anything since. Either it's happening and they're not telling us about it or we're holding back. And if we're holding back, that's probably more troubling than anything else.

SHIELDS: Jack Kemp, more and more, we hear about troops on the ground, troops on the ground.

KEMP: Yes.

SHIELDS: I mean that's become -- I mean there was an early optimism that somehow this would topple by itself, that there was indigenous oppositions of the Taliban, which would join us, the Northern Alliance or whatever. But now, we're talking about American troops going in there.

KEMP: Well, I'm -- like everybody else, there's an armchair quarterback and we face a huge dilemma. We are the freest society and the freest press, thank God, in the history of mankind and here; we're trying to conduct a war to make sure that we don't give away certain information to the enemy.

Having said that, winter's coming on. It's extremely cold right now. Freezing rain making terrible problems for those indigenous forces of the Northern Alliance. Some good news is that the president has been able to keep that fragile coalition together. Turkey is beginning to train some of the Northern Alliance. And it seems to me that we have to reflect some patience here. And my hope is that over time we're going to be able to create the environment in which we can have people to go in and ferret out this Al Qaeda, as it's called.

But I'm like everyone else, an armchair quarterback, unable to predict what will happen, praying to God that we don't lose our coalition, that we don't lose some of the fragility of the modern Arab states that are with us and that we can make sure that we end this terrorist threat that's emanating from Afghanistan.

NOVAK: But that's just the point, we don't have a definite open- ended time factor, Jack. It's -- you see, you've got to patient but the coalition is fragile, extremely fragile.

SHIELDS: Let me just ask Jack one quick question. I just wondering -- we're following the same script here that we did in the Cold War, we're kind of teaming up with some repressive, anti- Democratic, despotic regimes for the short-term that could come back to haunt us.

KEMP: Churchill said in World War II that if Hitler were to invade hell, he would have a good word to say about...

NOVAK: What regime are you talking about?

KEMP: Of course, we have...

SHIELDS: We're talking to some of the former Soviet states up there, Bob.

NOVAK: Oh, come on. Come on, Mark.


SHIELDS: We're talking about putting 7,000 people in jail for doing nothing but going to church.

TUMULTY: The Northern Alliance is not exactly a bunch of eagle scouts either, which is one reason why it's dangerous for the president to be couching this entire conflict in terms of good and evil.

NOVAK: Well, I don't like the good and evil stuff so much myself. But I mean I think it's a miracle that these former Soviet states are hospitable to our troops. If we're going to fight this war, Mark, we can't do it with us and Israel against the world. I guarantee you this.

HUNT: Well, I am not a pessimist about our ability to achieve our objectives in this. And I think we do have to have some patience. But I think part of the reason the American people are so willing to go along is because we make the assumption the government is going to tell them what's happening. And if it reaches a point when the government doesn't tell them that, I think that's a problem. KEMP: Could I make one more point?

SHIELDS: A quick point.

KEMP: Some of the good coming out of this, not only Turkey entering in our side and taking a risk, is Putin of Russia suggesting that he wants to help bring down the price of oil, cooperating with us. And I don't see men wanting to cooperate with us. We do have a chance to take this coalition, as fragile as it might be, to another level posed, Al Qaeda.

SHIELDS: The last word, Jack Kemp. Jack Kemp and the Gang will be back with a battle over economic stimulation.


SHIELDS: Welcome back, with consumer spending down and unemployment up, President Bush asks Congress to put an economic stimulus bill on his desk by the end of the month.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need to work together to prevent further loss of jobs by passing an economic stimulus package that in fact, will cause the job base to firm up and expand.



SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MAJORITY LEADER: We will fight with all that we've got to ensure that unemployment compensation and health benefits are covered in any economic plan that the Congress passes and sends to the president this year. In fact, I think I would go so far as to say we will not pass a bill that does not address those two critical needs.


SHIELDS: On television this morning, the second ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, John Breaux of Louisiana, called for a compromise.


SEN. JOHN BREAUX (D), LOUISIANA: Most people in the country have already counted on us getting a stimulus package. If we only do our base, we're not going to get a stimulus package and I think that would be tragic.


SHIELDS: Bob Novak, is John Breaux correct?

NOVAK: Well, John Breaux takes the Democratic proposals and says a compromise, as you've said, what they want and that is the story with what the Republicans want. The president has already compromised a great deal. He's gone for this tax rebate for people who don't pay income taxes so they can -- how stimulating the economy is for people who go out and buy cigarettes and beer and lottery tickets. I'm not quite sure how that's going to stimulate the... HUNT: A new high, go ahead.

NOVAK: Can I -- can I (UNINTELLIGIBLE) please?

HUNT: Yes.

NOVAK: I don't know how that stimulates the economy but he's already agreed to commend the spending. And now, the Democrats want to, in the name of stimulation, to put in a cobra provision that is for people whose health insurance has run out. They're putting all their pet projects in there. So it's a difficult -- and also, they're running up the spending tremendously. So it's a very difficult proposition for the president. The tax bill by the Republicans actually wasn't very good. And he's supposed to give that away. I don't know exactly what he should do, but I do know that this isn't compromise they want. They want surrender.

SHIELDS: Karen, welcome to the NFL. Come on in.

TUMULTY: Thank you. I don't though -- on this one, I do not think that compromise is a virtue because compromise is all about splitting the difference. So the Democrats can throw in some of their class warfare stuff and the Republicans can throw in some of these rewards for their campaign contributors. And you end up with a bill that doesn't do a thing for the economy.

I think that they need to sort of go back to the drawing board and start looking at something more creative than the types of things they've been talking about.

Pete Domenici has been quietly circulating one idea that could get money in people's pockets by the Christmas spending season, which is a November and December holiday on payroll taxes. That's something that would actually do something.


HUNT: Well, I think Karen makes a great deal of sense, which is a stark contrast to...

TIMULTY: It happens every now and then.

HUNT: No, you start contrasting the first person that spoke in this segment. Mark, I think there ought to be just two standards for -- if you want to have a stimulus package, that's what they're -- everyone's calling it -- there ought to be two standards. Number one, it ought to get money quickly to people who are going to spend it and number two, it ought to be temporary. That's what a stimulus package ought to do. And if they can't agree on something that will do that and provide a real shot in the arm, short-term and if it hurt the economy in the long run, they're better off doing nothing.

SHIELDS: Jack Kemp, you always had a deserved reputation as a capacity conservative. You know and I know when people who are working at a level of substance level get money, they buy food, they pay rent, they don't -- it isn't cigarettes and beer -- and maybe Novak knows people who might...

KEMP: They need jobs.


KEMP: They need jobs. They need jobs to pay income. And with all due respect, we don't need a stimulus; we need a pro-growth both temporarily and permanently.

NOVAK: It's a bad name, isn't it?

KEMP: You've got to lower the cost of labor and lower the cost of capital, a couple of good ideas, I think. Accelerate the rate reductions, lower the rates across the board immediately for labor and capital. Number two, not withstanding Al Hunt's vehement opposition, cut the capital gains rate. The last time we did, revenues went from 50 billion to over a $110 billion. You want to get some stimulus and get capital off the sidelines in an economy, cut the capital gains rate.

Thirdly, have the Federal Reserve Board ease not only temporarily but permanently -- we need permanent ease by the Federal Reserve...


SHIELDS: Now, Al gets a chance...

NOVAK: No, Al said something -- he mentioned me. He said I didn't make any sense. Well, I tell you whether he makes any sense or not. It's very interesting that every time Al says something, it's always the Democratic Party line. The Democratic Party line is redistribution of income and make it short-term. That's right out of Tom Daschle's mimeograph machine.

HUNT: When Bob doesn't have anything to say substantially, he's an ad-hum in the pack. So I don't blame him.

Jack -- let me say something to Jack Kemp, who I think was serious tonight.

SHIELDS: Yes, go ahead.

HUNT: Jack, I have admired you for years. I have heard so many obsequious kisses about you and you know, something, you were so good even when I didn't agree with you, the old days. You were talking to that Buffalo truck driver and that waitress and a steelworker and you said, tax cuts for the past save everything.

Jack, you've made it big. Now, you spend all your time in the corporate suites and the slopes of ale and (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

KEMP: Now, you're going at how to...

HUNT: No, no.

KEMP: Yes, you are. HUNT: No, I'm...


HUNT: I'm happy for you. The people you're talking to now, Jack, they don't believe that tax cuts solve everything.

KEMP: It doesn't matter whether they believe it or not. It's the right thing.

HUNT: I'll tell you, a truck driver and a waitress knows that tax cuts don't solve everything from poverty to hemorrhoids. I'm sorry, Jack, that stuff will not...

KEMP: The American people are not under taxed, as you think they are. They're overtaxed. They're over regulated and they're...

HUNT: Working class people are. Working class people are. You're right.


HUNT: People in your income bracket or not.

NOVAK: I didn't know there was a working -- I didn't know we had a Marxist society.

HUNT: We don't have working people?

NOVAK: Working class, you said.

SHIELDS: OK, Karen, under President Bush's compromise plan, as I understand it, the couple struggling along on a million dollars a year with two kids, gets an $85,000 cut over the next -- over the next four years while the cop, the firefighter, Jack Kemp's friend in Buffalo, making $66,500, there's no rate cut. Now, I mean is that class warfare?

TUMULTY: Well, certainly, the president is going to -- it's going to come back and they are going to be changing that plan. And one of the things that they're going to go for is something that Bob is going to hate, which is extending unemployment benefits beyond even what the president has talked...

NOVAK: And so...


NOVAK: And so doing -- if I could just respond to that because that means, I think, they'll sit around and start looking for a job when they get the extra...

SHIELDS: That is not true! That is not true! People who are knocked out of work don't do that, Bob Novak. And you're wrong and you are mean!

Next on CAPITAL GANG, a preview of Tuesday's off-year elections.


SHIELDS: Welcome back. And the contests that are attracting most national attention among Tuesday's off-year elections, not Bob Novak. The latest poll shows Democrat Jim McGreevey in New Jersey with a 17-percentage point lead over Republican Brett Schundler for governor.

In the other governor's race in Virginia, the latest poll has Democrat, Mark Warner six points ahead of Republican Mark Earley. And the latest survey for mayor of New York City shows the 40-point lead, once briefly held by Democrat Mark Green over Republican Michael Bloomberg, has trumped to just five percentage points.

Green, the city's elected public advocate has stepped up his attack on media mogul, Bloomberg.


MARK GREEN (D), NEW YORK MAYORAL CANDIDATE: Now, a billionaire Republican comes along who joined four, white male-only clubs and then denied discrimination was a problem, who's trying to racially divide Democrats in the city. Are we going to let him?




MIKE BLOOMBERG (R), NEW YORK MAYORAL CANDIDATE: And will promise right now to stop this politics of personal destruction that you seem to do every time you get close in an election.


SHIELDS: Karen Tumulty, will results from these scattered elections across the country tell us anything on Tuesday?

TUMULTY: You know, Mark, they should. We're coming out of the most tragic event that probably any one of us, God hope, will ever see in our lifetime. But we're looking at in New Jersey and in Virginia, are four lack luster candidates who took at two-week break and went right back to the campaigns they were running. Turnout's going to be terrible and the results are not going to tell us a thing about what kind of a country we are now.

Then you go to New York and you've got essentially two cranky white guys from the upper east side, both of whom have voted Democrat their entire lives and both of whom who call themselves liberal, running against each other. I mean if there's ever been an election where you could just toss a coin, this is it.

SHIELDS: Jack Kemp, in 1993, the Democrats held the governorships of Virginia, New Jersey. Mayors' jobs in Los Angeles and New York City lost all four and we were told that Bill Clinton was dead meat. Now, George Bush at 90 percent and the Republicans are going to lose all four that they hold and it doesn't mean anything?

KEMP: Well, I don't think they will. But I think September 11 changes the mix and changes the ground. And I don't think it's going to be a blow at George Bush. I think his popularity remains very strong.

I don't know what's going to happen. I was kind of disappointed to see the races that have run both in Virginia. It's no secret that I'm very much for Brett Schundler, the fine mayor of Jersey City. He is behind his tightening. He was 19 points down the first time he ran and he won. That's no prediction but it's my hope. I think he'd make a great governor.

I think Bloomberg will win. I think Mark Green -- not Mark Green...

SHIELDS: Mark Earley?

KEMP: No, Green.

SHIELDS: Mark Green in New York.

KEMP: Yes, Mark Green, excuse me.

HUNT: He's forgettable.

KEMP: Mr. Green is to the left of John Lindsey. And I think New York deserves better and I think Giuliani's endorsement of Bloomberg will be very helpful here at the last minute.

SHIELDS: John Lindsey went two terms in New York, right?

KEMP: Yes.


KEMP: You can win by being elected in New York City.

NOVAK: You know, 1993, Mark, was a precursor of 1994 because it did show some weaknesses in the Republican Party, which led to one...


NOVAK: ... in the Democrat Party, which led to one of the great turnovers. I think there are weaknesses in the Republican Party right now for the 2002 elections. I think that the issues that could be brought up in next year in the Congress could be Democratic issues. So this could be a precursor, even though these are very odd elections.

But I really don't think whatever happens, that Mike Bloomberg, if he wins, can be called a great victory for Republicanism. I mean he -- who can you can -- he may be more business-oriented than Green but he's hardly more conservative or more Republican. SHIELDS: But Al, let me just ask you, looking at a president with 90 percent approval, does it show that he -- that there's no coattails, that Mark Earley, in a statement -- Lyndon Johnson was the last Democrat to carry Virginia and that was 37 years ago for president.

HUNT: Yes, it does show that but that shouldn't be a surprise. And I've heard many people have coattails in American politics now. And I don't think it would have made a bit of difference. Of course, you campaign for those people in New Jersey or Virginia.

I think it also shows that September the 11th changed the country dramatically, but it didn't change the budding politic necessarily, that people are referring to their natural, political inclinations. And I think that's what's happening in both Virginia and New Jersey. I do think that for the Republicans, the tax cut and the union faction hasn't worked in either state. That may be a harbinger for the future.

And in New York, I really think it's as simple as that if people want a Giulianiesque type successor, they got a better shot with Mike Bloomberg than they do with Mark Green. I think it's as simple as that.

SHIELDS: But would he be confused with Rudy Giuliani, Frank with Mike Bloomberg?

TUMULTY: Well, he's got an explosive temper. He has not run a very smooth campaign. You know, he's not got -- he has no experience in government. Who knows? He's a big question mark here.

NOVAK: Let me see (UNINTELLIGIBLE) New Jersey, Brett Schundler is really a very interesting person. I think he's the most interesting of all the people that were running in any of these three races of the six. He's innovative. He was a very good mayor of Jersey City. And the campaign against him was all on Democratic wedge issues -- on abortion, on guns, on school vouchers -- all tossed them against him. And it really does show -- and maybe he didn't run a very artful campaign. I guess he didn't. And he had a lot of Republicans snipping at him, but it really shows that in politics, that the nastier and the meaner you can get are sometimes more successful.

SHIELDS: Do you think Mark Earley has run an elevated campaign...

NOVAK: No, he has not.

SHIELDS: OK, let's go around -- let's go around and make our predictions then right now. Who's going to win these races?

NOVAK: You go first.

SHIELDS: OK, and we're -- I'll go with the governor's race in New Jersey and I will say that Jim McGreevey will win. Small in stature but he'll have a giant lead on Election Day, Bob Novak, after you're cheap shot in your column. Who are you picking?

NOVAK: I think McGreevey is going to win.

KEMP: Schundler, an upset.

TUMULTY: I'm with McGreevey.

HUNT: McGreevey wins big.

SHIELDS: OK, how about Virginia governor? Mark Warner against -- the Democrat against Mark Earley, the Republican? Mark Warner will win, the Democrat.

NOVAK: It's hard to imagine how -- Mark Warner has run a very masterful, tricky campaign.

SHIELDS: Tricky...

NOVAK: A very tricky campaign, but I think Earley is going to sneak through.


KEMP: Well, it looks like Warner will win. Too bad.


TUMULTY: Warner and it'll be interesting to see what the Democratic Party does to declaring victory with a candidate who courted the NRA.

HUNT: You know, it'll be close but Warner will win.

SHIELDS: All right, and we go to New York City, the Big Apple. The Democrats have always captured the City Hall. Mark Green, a great urban statesman, will be -- will prevail and be the next doctor of Gracie Mansion if he get Rudy's girlfriend out.

NOVAK: Well, you know, I'm very soft on Green. We were on "CROSSFIRE" together.

SHIELDS: I know you were.

NOVAK: And you know, the last thing that she had on "CROSSFIRE," he's brought to politics. So I like "CROSSFIRE" hosting politics. But I think Bloomberg is going to win.

KEMP: Bloomberg with Giuliani's help.

TUMULTY: I think Bloomberg will win, another Democratic victory.


HUNT: Michael Bloomberg wins the next trip to New York.

SHIELDS: OK, Jack Kemp, thank you for being with us, Jack, once again. This is Mark Shields saying good night to the CAPITAL GANG.

Coming up next, Donna Kelly will take a look at the latest developments, then "CNN PRESENTS: AIRPORT INSECURITY."




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