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Schieffer: Gov't not Santa Claus this year

Last Christmas season, as the economy fell into a tailspin, Washington filled the stockings of suffering companies - and not always checking whether they'd been naughty or nice.

President Bush offered up $17.4 billion in loans to troubled U.S. automakers, and Congress OK'd the administration's request for a $700 billion bailout of troubled financial institutions (with nearly $1.6 billion going to top executives in salaries, bonuses, and other benefits.)

This year, CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer says, Washington is not Santa Claus.

And with Afghanistan, a struggling economy, and a battle over health care reform, there doesn't appear to be much under the tree for the Obama administration, either.

Discussing yesterday's "Jobs and Economic Growth Forum" hosted by President Obama, Schieffer told "Early Show" anchor Harry Smith, "As the president talked to people during this jobs fair, he was saying, you know, in the end, it's going to be up to private enterprise to find the jobs to get us out of this. That's another way of saying there just isn't any more money that the government has even to try to stimulate this economy.

"Later today, I think you'll hear the unemployment figures come out. We're going to be in double digits again. The president's going out of Washington to try to get in touch with what's happening on the jobs front, but the fact is, he knows what's going on on the jobs front: People are out of work and that is what's driving so much of this discontent right now. But where does this go? I mean, we now have this trillion dollar deficit this year. We're $1 trillion in hock to the Chinese government as far as the national debt. These are not very good times right now for this administration, or for the country."

And not very good for a certain Washington socialite couple, either, and Schieffer recommends a big lump of coal for them - or worse.

"I don't think it's a tempest in a teapot," Schieffer said of the brouhaha over Michaele and Tareq Salahi, who crashed security at a White House state dinner, claiming they were invited. [One invitation they chose to ignore was to a Capitol Hill event, yesterday's House committee hearing where they were requested to testify about their party-crashing escapade.]

"I think the government ought to prosecute these people. If that means sending them to jail, so be it. This is not only a security issue - people being able to get into the White House and get up close to the president, and who knows where that kind of thing goes - but this is also sort of an insult to the American people.

"State dinners are part of the symbols of our democracy, like the White House itself, like the pledge of allegiance and the national anthem. And when people are making fun of those things, when they're doing what these people did, that's an insult to awful all of us. And if these people go to jail, that will be just fine with me."

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