Transcript: Robert Rubin Interview

RUBIN: I think it's an interesting — I think it's an interesting comparison, George. We spent about eight hours with Senator Kerry after the primaries, and — the general election portion of this campaign begun, the primaries were still technically going on, but he had won the nomination and now what was in effect a general election phase.

There were about five of us there, including Gene Sperling and Roger Oleman and when Gene and I left, Gene turned to me and said, "You know, discussing these issues with Sen. Kerry is just like we used to do with President Clinton. He's serious. He understands the issues. He wants to see them from all sides. He's thoughtful. And then once he does all that, he makes a decision." So I think in the respect of both understanding, Kerry is very good on the economic issues, and the thoughtfulness, try to see all sides and make a decision, I think he's very, very good at.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But then why are you having so much trouble — you talked about going from $5 trillion in surpluses to $5 trillion in deficits. That seems like a pretty simple story to tell?

RUBIN: George, that problem of fiscal policy, enormously important fiscal policy has and sound fiscal policy has. It affects jobs, income and our economy. It's been difficult, and difficult for Pres. Clinton to explain and it's difficult for Senator Kerry to explain. It's an inherently difficult problem to explain because it's complicated. But I think that as this campaign unravels at time goes on.

As time goes on, and the campaign moves ahead, I think you're going to see a lot of focus on economic issues from Senator Kerry. And I think that he will make a concerted focus on communicating with the American people about this very important issue.

STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the hottest issues in the presidential campaign this year is the issue of outsourcing. Senator Kerry has said he will take away the tax breaks that allows a lot of companies to not pay taxes as long as they keep the income overseas … will that stop the outsourcing problem?

RUBIN: No. I think that outsourcing's part of a much larger issue. It's a part of trade liberalization and trade liberalization as Kerry said, and President Clinton used to say, is very much beneficial to the economic well-being, but in putting in place trade liberalization you have to include providing assistance to those that are dislocated and also, and I think this is critically important at this time George, effectively promote our competitive position to global economy when China and India are developing such large numbers of well-educated workers, and we have to have sound fiscal discipline so we have the low interest rates for investment and we have to invest in education and basic research and infrastructure and all that will make us competitive. If you do, you can have a very good economy.

RUBIN: We're on the wrong track right now in virtually every one of those strengths.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It sounds like what you're saying, outsourcing isn't that big of a problem in the economy.

RUBIN: I think outsourcing is partly — I don't think outsourcing's a phenomenon unto itself. I think outsourcing is part of a much larger phenomenon, a much larger phenomenon is trade liberalization and I think trade liberalization has been good for our economy and I think trade liberalization will continue to be good for the economy.

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