'This Week' Transcript: Economic Roundtable

ABC'S "THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS" FEBRUARY 1, 2009

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST ERIC SCHMIDT, CEO, GOOGLE FRED SMITH, CEO, FEDEX REP. BARNEY FRANK, D-MASS. SEN. JIM DEMINT, R-S.C.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, and welcome to "This Week."

The economy dives.

OBAMA: This is a continuing disaster for America's working families.

STEPHANOPOULOS: In the headlines this week, 5 million jobless claims, more than 100,000 jobs lost, the weakest economy since 1982. But does President Obama have the right fix?

(UNKNOWN): A trillion dollars is a terrible thing to waste.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That debate this morning on a special economic roundtable, with two of the country's leading CEOs and two members of Congress at the center of the action.

Then, will a faltering economy weaken us abroad? An in-depth look at that challenge and all the week's politics with George Will, Martha Raddatz, David Sanger of the New York Times, and Bob Woodward of the Washington Post.

And, as always, the Sunday funnies.

JAY LENO, TALK SHOW HOST: Starbucks announced today they're laying off 1,000 workers and could close more stores. Yes, they say, by the year end, experts predict we could be down to just two Starbucks on every corner.

ANNOUNCER: From the heart of the nation's capital, "This Week" with ABC News chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos, live from the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Hello again.

The lead story in today's New York Times magazine says that, for the first time in more than 70 years, the epicenter of the American economy is not Wall Street, not Silicon Valley, not the industrial Midwest, but right here in Washington.

No doubt that's a debatable proposition, but there's also no question that the decisions made by President Obama and Congress in these next few days and weeks will determine how and when the country recovers from our worst recession in memory.

We've assembled a plugged-in and opinionated panel this morning to debate those decisions. I'm joined by Republican Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Fred Smith, the chairman and CEO of Federal Express, Congressman Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google.

Welcome to all of you. And we do have a lot to cover this week.

And, Senator DeMint, let me begin with the stimulus package, because I think you've called the president's plan the worst plan since the 16th Amendment paved the way for the income tax. But polls show that a majority of Americans actually support what the president's trying to do. What are they missing?

DEMINT: Well, I think all of us support the fact that we need to do something. And all of us believe that the way to move our economy forward and protect jobs is to infuse more money so that consumers have more to spend, businesses have more to invest, buy capital equipment.

But there are two ways to do that, George. One is for the government to take it out of the private sector through taxes and then decide where it's going to go through political manipulation, as they've done in the House. The other is just to leave more money in the private sector for consumers to spend and businesses to invest.

And that's the American way. And that's -- that's the approach we're pushing. Unemployment is...

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