Goolsbee: Unemployment 'Going to Stay High'

Chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers Austan Goolsbee appears on ABC?s "This Week with Christiane Amanpour."
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Unemployment in the United States is "going to stay high" Austan Goolsbee, Obama's chief economic adviser, told Christiane Amanpour this morning on "This Week."

"This recession is the deepest in our lifetimes, the deepest since 1929," said Goolsbee, who was just appointed chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

"More than 8 million people lost their jobs. It's going to take a significant push on our part -- and time -- before that comes down," he said. "I don't anticipate it coming down right away."

Goolsbee Refuses to Say How Many Jobs Obama's New Stimulus Will Create

President Barack Obama spent last week rolling out new plans to help America's struggling economy -- $50 billion in infrastructure spending and about $200 billion in tax cuts for companies' investments in research and development. But just how many jobs will these pricey proposals create?

Amanpour asked Goolsbee the tough question of what effect it would have on unemployment, which currently stands at 9.6 percent.

"It obviously depends on how you do it," he said. "It could have a significant impact on trying to get investment in factories ... by small businesses in buying equipment, research and development and job creation in this country."

"Do you have sort of a target number?" Amanpour asked.

"I do not want to speculate on that," Goolsbee said. "The point of those policies, they aren't spending -- they're the government giving tax cuts to businesses to invest in this country, that's what they are."

Goolsbee Tackles Bush-Era Tax Cuts

If Republicans were willing to accept an extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for just the middle class, Goolsbee said "he would be happy," but he has his doubts.

"In the past we have seen some of these circumstances in which what appears to be the offer of doing the sensible thing -- in the light of day, there is a little bit of a feeling, 'Well, if the president's for it, I'm against it,' then it falls apart."

Goolsbee was responding to comments made by House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, on CBS News in which he said that if he was forced into a corner, he would support extending the Bush-era tax cuts just for people making under $250,000 a year -- what Obama calls the middle class.

"If the only option I have is to vote for some of those tax reductions, I'll vote for it. But I've been making the point now for months that we need to extend all the current rates for all Americans if we want to get our economy going again, and we want to get jobs in America," Boehner said today in a pre-taped interview airing on "Face the Nation."

But will wavering Democrats get on board with extending tax cuts just for the middle class? On "This Week," Goolsbee said they likely would.

"I'm not a political expert, but I believe there is a broad consensus, a middle ground if you will, that Democrats and Republicans, business people and workers can agree on, to get this economy growing faster, getting people back to work," he said. "We ought to come together."

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