'This Week' Transcript: Economic Roundtable

But until the country does a better job of -- and you've said it very well. There's localized pain, diffused benefits. Until you relieve the localized pain better, the average American will block things like trade, like outsourcing that you think we ought to do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is that a bargain you could sign on to?

SMITH: Yes, but do it for a period of time. Somehow the government only does permanent things. This whole stimulus discussion is about a two-year period. Let's get the government, the one source of real liquidity, to help people get going again.

America's an amazing country. We have tremendous innovation. We have all sorts of new ideas, people just waiting to get new products out. Their customers are not buying, because they cannot get loans. They're getting laid off. Let's get that behind us. You'd much rather be in America than, for example, in Europe, where it will take 10 years to work this through. We can do this very quickly, get to the other side of this, and get back to business.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do we have a deal here?

DEMINT: Well, the quickest way to -- to get money in the economy is not to take it out in the first place. And it's interesting, as we talk, like buy-American. We all -- we all want to buy American.

But then we have the highest corporate tax rate in the world. We've got a regulatory system that makes us less competitive. So we -- we actually put these people out of work, ship jobs overseas with bad policy, and then we want to put our hand up and stop our imports from coming in.

And this is a government-managed economy which doesn't work. It's inefficient. We obviously have to help people. But the quickest way to get a stimulus is -- is not to be taking so much money out of the economy, for particularly what Fred is -- is saying.

If we could expense -- if companies like FedEx could expense buying an airplane immediately, instead of over a number of years, a lot of companies would make those capital equipment purchases now rather than waiting.

And so it really comes down to a basic argument: Do you want a government-directed plan or do you want the free markets to work?

FRANK: Well, yes, I do want -- I want highways. I want better medical care for people laid off. This notion -- and the one thing I would most disagree with is you say we overregulated. It was the complete absence of regulation in the financial area that led to the crisis we're in today.

DEMINT: It was bad policy.

FRANK: Jim, can I please?

DEMINT: OK, sure.

FRANK: The policy was, yes, to put no restrictions on people outside the banking system who are extending themselves in the financial area into instruments which they couldn't back up. It was even within the banking system, letting people go with things that were off the balance sheet.

The complete absence of regulation in the financial area has, I think, been a disaster. And I think we're back to where we were when Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson stepped in or Franklin Roosevelt.

But beyond that, the notion that everything is solved by a tax cut, of course there are sensible tax policies you could have. But there are public needs we have in this society...


FRANK: ... that cannot be accomplished by a tax cut. No tax cut builds a road. No tax cut puts a cop on the street. No tax cut educates a child in -- in the way that it ought to be done.

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