'This Week' Transcript: David Axelrod

STEPHANOPOULOS: Why not consult with them on a package that... AXELROD: Well, there have been consultations, George. And there will continue to be consultations. But let's remember why we're in the mess we're in. Part of it is that when the Clinton administration left office, we were running record surpluses and the policies that were put in place doubled our debt in a matter of a few years.

And I didn't hear some of the voices who are speaking out now moralizing about that then. So we ought to put all of the politics aside and do what's best for the country. Right now the country is in an economic emergency. And we need to act.

And I don't think people are going to have much tolerance for the kind of customary Washington. Now having said that, I think that there are legitimate discussions to have.

The president-elect has said, you know, he's not delivering these ideas to Capitol Hill on stone tablets. I mean, he is coming there to have a consultation and to come up with the best possible program.

So we're going to consider all of these facts. But let's not engage in the kind of political back and forth that has bogged us down so much in the past.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The other substantive point that Boehner makes, he circulated a fax sheet, he says, if you look at $825 billion piece of legislation, 3 million jobs, that's $275,000 a job. Is that the most efficient way to create jobs?

AXELROD: George, he's missing the fundamental point. We're not just spending money to create jobs, we're investing money to strengthen this economy. We're investing in areas like energy independence. We're investing in creating the classrooms of the 21st Century for our kids to give us the kind of education system we need.

We're investing in computerizing the health care records of this country so that we can reduce costs and improve care. These things will pay long-term dividends to this country. And we've been very careful about that.

We're not being frivolous. We're being thoughtful about how we make these investments.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you would concede, $275,000 a job is a high price to pay, isn't it?

AXELROD: Well, I'm not signing on to that particular figure. I think preventing this country from sliding into as deep an economy emergency as we've seen since the Great Depression, preventing double- digit unemployment, and laying the groundwork for the future in these areas that mention and others I think is a worthy thing to do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The president-elect has called for a National Day of Service tomorrow. And some of your allies have said you can really put some meat behind that at about $25,000 a job by greatly expanding public service opportunities like AmeriCorps, the way FDR did with the Civilian Conservation Corps. Why not put that in the package?

AXELROD: Well, we will be expanding service programs...

STEPHANOPOULOS: In this legislation?

AXELROD: Well, I don't know if we're going to do it in this legislation, but we're going to do it and we're going to greatly increase our efforts to involve people at the local, grassroots level in service projects.

But this is a situation where the impetus has to come from the government. Only the government can marshal the resources to really blast us out of the morass we're in right now.

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