'This Week' Transcript: David Axelrod

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, exactly. But the president-elect in all of his policy speeches over the last couple of weeks keeps on saying it's going to get worse before it gets better. What -- and obviously that's based on briefings. What exactly do you know and what should people expect?

AXELROD: Well, look, we -- obviously the reason that he came here two weeks early was to begin work on an economic recovery package. But any economist will tell you that even if we move rapidly, it takes a little while for this to move through the system and to put the brakes on what is the most serious economic downturn we've had in many, many generations.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So are we talking doubt-digit unemployment, a year-long recession, another year?

AXELROD: That's what we're trying to avoid, George, is double- digit unemployment. We're trying to take some measures that will create 3 million to 4 million jobs the next couple of years, to put -- to try and slow down this plummeting employment.

And I think we can do that. But I think it's fair to say that it's going to take not months but years to really turn this around.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, some Democrats have some doubts about the job creating potential of this plan. Senator Kent Conrad, the chairman of the Budget Committee was on Bloomberg News just the other day. And he said he doesn't think you're going to be able to create the kind of jobs you're talking about.

Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KENT CONRAD, D-N.D.: I have my doubts. I don't think, you know, the -- most of the assessment is that this will reduce unemployment from what it would otherwise be by 2 percent. My people's analysis suggests maybe only have of that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you over-promising?

AXELROD: Well, look, I don't think, first of all, his people and our people may have some dispute and we'll find out what the truth is. But here is where we are. We have to act. We have to try. It's not enough to be a doubter. It's not enough to question, not when we're in the situation we're in.

We believe that this is a well-conceived approach to the problem we face. It's extraordinary and it's painful to have to do in terms of our debt. But it's something we have to do or we run the risk of that scenario that you suggest, double-digit unemployment.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Conrad is still signaling that he's going to support the plan. But Republicans are expressing even more doubts and more criticism even though I know the president-elect wants to get significant Republican support.

The House Republican leader, John Boehner, was out the other day, and he said that his side was not even consulted on the preparation of the package that is going to be put forward in the House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN A. BOEHNER, R-OHIO, HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Oh my God, I don't even -- my notes here say that I'm disappointed. I just can't tell you how shocked I am at what we're seeing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: He says this is going to lead to another era of borrow and spend, and not going to produce the jobs you talk about.

AXELROD: Well, with all due respect to Congressman Boehner, we do want to work with him and we do want to work across the aisle. But one of -- there is a Congress...

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