'This Week' Transcript: Sen. Jim DeMint

The thing about that plan, it has two attractive attributes. One, again, it will move the needle on unemployment. And, two, I think it has the political plausibility, credibility, as the president himself just said, that in normal times these are programs that would garner bipartisan support. A payroll tax cut, an -- we've never failed to extend unemployment insurance, with the unemployment rate this high, repairing the nation's public schools. I mean, again, in normal political times, these would be widely embraced. But it...

AMANPOUR: And this is something you're pushing very hard, the repairing of the public schools?

BERNSTEIN: So -- exactly, FAST, fix America's schools today. And given -- and once the president articulates that plan, and if he is blocked by House Republicans, as he may well be, he then can go out to the nation and explain to people, in precise and clear language, who is standing between you and your jobs and your paychecks and your kids' career trajectories. And that's what I think we're looking at here.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you, Carol, you're in the White House, covering the White House.

LEE: Sure.

AMANPOUR: Do they think that this speech is going to be received well? Will they be able to say anything that gets past Congress?

LEE: Well, I think that, first of all, this is a really important moment for the president. This is arguably one of the most important moments that he's had in his almost three years in office. And not only are a lot of people still hurting and the economy is not getting better for them, but I think there's a sense that the president is lacking a narrative.

I think if you try to sum up Barack Obama's presidency right now, it's a hard thing to do. And so what you're going to see him try and do -- and that's a tough thing to -- tough position to be in going into a re-election campaign in an economy like this.

And I think what you're going to see him set out to do in his speech and with his plan is -- is several things. First, he's going to do -- put forward a number of policies, some of which Jared mentioned, and -- to deal with the long-term unemployed, to try and put teachers back to work. You'll hear several things that we've heard before, some new.

And, secondly, he's going to have to lay out how he's going to pay for those things, because of political environment in Congress, and so you're going to hear him talk about deficit reduction.

And then, thirdly, you know, he really is -- he has to inspire confidence in Americans and business. There's this sense out there, mood is really pretty dark in the country. There's a sense out there that the recovery is not happening. You know, it's stalled and it's not happening. And so that cycle sort of feeds on itself, and businesses pull in, and consumers stop spending, and then that leads to more fear. And so he's got to address that cycle.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask Doug. Paul talked about how basically, in his opinion, we've been focusing on the wrong problem, that it's deficit instead of jobs. Now, certainly the Wall Street Journal this week, on Friday, talked about how so much of this cut, cut, cut doesn't just cut programs, it cuts people. So a lot of people who've been laid off in the -- you know, from their jobs is a result of this.

HOLTZ-EAKIN: It will shock you that Paul and I will continue to disagree about this.

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