STEPHANOPOULOS: The other big concern of Republicans, and many Democrats as well, is preventing a huge increase in the long-term debt of this country.
What can you do to assure that there will be come kind of fiscal responsibility at the back end?
For example, will you institute pay-as-you-go rules for new programs? And at one point will they take effect?
DURBIN: George, we're facing a terrible dilemma, at this point. We have a national debt that is going to haunt future generations, and we have to deal with it.
But, at this moment in time, I think everyone agrees, economists both Republican and Democratic, that we need to stimulate this economy and spend money, despite this national debt, but spend it in a thoughtful way, investing our future, making sure that the decisions we make today can be justified in the long term, investing in this country in terms of good-paying jobs, right here at home; in terms of our schools, our health care and energy, so that, in the long term, we can say that was an investment worth the additional debt that it incurred.
But to do nothing and to hold back and to be meek in our approach may have the opposite effect. We may spend a little money and not really turn this economy around. And that would be a disaster.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. Senator Durbin, thanks very much for your time this morning.
DURBIN: Thank you, too.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And now I have, here in the studio, the Republican leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell.
You heard Senator Durbin, there. Have your concerns been calmed down?
MCCONNELL: Look, I think everyone knows that half the American public is represented by a Republican senator. And all we're suggesting, here, is that we be a part of the process.
The president has said he wants to create 3 million new jobs, presumably as a result of this economic stimulus package. We want to make sure it's not just a trillion-dollar spending bill, but something that actually can reach the goal that he has suggested.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So how do you do that?
MCCONNELL: Well, let me make some suggestions. First of all, the president, incoming president, has said he would like for 80 percent of the jobs created to be in the private sector.
Well, do we really want to create 20 percent of the jobs in the public sector?
That would be 600,000 new government jobs. That's about the size of the post office workforce. Is that a good idea?
That's something that strikes us that we ought to take a look at.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You don't think it is?
MCCONNELL: Well, it may not be, but I think, at least, hearings, and some kind of bipartisan considerations would be helpful.
There is a bill, ready to go right now, George, that would spend $400 billion. That's the nine appropriation bills from last year that have already been vetted, been looked at by both Democrats and Republicans, could pass, on a largely bipartisan basis, very quickly.
We could pass that bill. Much of that spending is related to the kinds of items that may well end up in the trillion-dollar spending package.
So that's a place to start. Another example of something that I think ought to be considered: We could do a middle-class tax cut immediately. Right now, the middle-class tax rate is about 25 percent.