BTS 12/4/09: Economic Policy; Afghanistan and Veterans

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On tonight’s program we begin with the economy. Unemployment figures are down a fraction, but still dangerously high especially when factoring in underemployment, furloughs and structural undercounting of those without jobs. Rob Johnson, Director of Financial Reform at the Roosevelt Institute and UN expert on Finance and International Monetary Reform joins us for a critical look at economic policy in this third year of epic recession, and continuing economic fragility a year after the banking panic. We’ll talk about what President Obama has done and what Rob Johnson thinks should be done to promote jobs and growth.

Then former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter joins us in studio to talk about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, drones in Pakistan, and the plight of veterans. We’ll ask Scott Ritter what he thinks of President Obama’s decision to escalate in Afghanistan, pushing us deeper into the mire – and whether he thinks it can work, and what it will do to our already over-deployed military.

Read More for info on tonight's guests:

1. Rob Johnson is the Director of Financial Reform at the Roosevelt Institute and is a regular contributor to NewDeal 2.0, which runs his "FinanceSeer" column. He serves on the United Nations Commission of Experts on Finance and International Monetary Reform. Previously, Dr. Johnson was a managing director at Soros Fund Management, where he managed a global currency, bond and equity portfolio specializing in emerging markets. He was also a managing director at the Bankers Trust Company. Dr. Johnson has served as chief economist of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee under the leadership of Chairman William Proxmire and was senior economist of the U.S. Senate Budget Committee under the leadership of Chairman Pete Domenici. Dr. Johnson was an executive producer of "Taxi to the Dark Side," an Oscar-winning documentary produced and directed by Alex Gibney. Dr. Johnson is a member of the Development Advisory Board of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., and is the former president of the National Scholastic Chess Foundation. He currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Economic Policy Institute and the Campaign for America's Future.

2. Scott Ritter is the author of Target Iran, Waging Peace Endgame, and Iraq Confidential, was one of UNSCOM’s most senior weapons inspectors in Iraq between 1991 and 1998, after having served for eight years as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. As a Marine, he conducted arms inspections in the former Soviet Union, and provided analysis of Iraq’s missile capacity to General Schwarzkopf in the 1991 Gulf War. As a chief weapons inspector for the United Nations Special Commission in Iraq, Scott Ritter was labeled a hero by some, a maverick by others and a spy by the Iraqi government. In charge of searching out weapons of mass destruction within Iraq, Ritter was on the front lines of the ongoing battle against arms proliferation.