'This Week' Transcript: Larry Summers & Michael Steele

SUMMERS: There are certainly good ideas in both versions, and we'll have to draw from those ideas in creating an ultimate vehicle, but the most important thing is that people come together and create the 3 million to 4 million jobs. You know, there's 90 percent overlap now.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, let's...

SUMMERS: We've got to get to closure on the last 10 percent, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Some of the critics of the Senate bill say that the most important elements have been -- have been brought down. Paul Krugman, writing on his blog this morning, said, "Some of the most effective and most needed parts of the plan have been cut." He's citing especially that $40 billion in state aid.

And he goes on to say that, "My first cut says that the changes to the Senate bill will ensure that we have at least 600,000 fewer Americans employed over the next two years."

SUMMERS: There's no question we need -- we need a large, forthright approach here. There are crucial areas, support for higher education, that are things that are in the House bill that are very, very important to the president.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But will the Senate bill produce fewer jobs? SUMMERS: There's no question -- no question what we've got to do is go after support for education. And there are huge problems facing state and local governments, and that could lead to a vicious cycle of layoffs, falling home values, lower property taxes, more layoffs. And we've got to prevent that.

So we're going to have to try to come together in the conference. And the president is certainly going to be active in sharing his views as that process -- as that process...

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's what I'm trying to get at. If he -- if he shares his views...

SUMMERS: ... goes on.

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... is he going to be saying, "Wait a second. Move this more to the House side, because I don't want this education and state spending cut, or move it more to the Senate side"?

SUMMERS: George, I don't think this is about the House bill or the Senate bill. It's about the best bill for America.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So which of the ideas are better?

SUMMERS: There are respects -- there are respects in which both bills can surely be improved, and the president's going to work as thoughtfully and aggressively as he can to move this process along, drawing on the -- drawing on the very important strengths that are contained in both these bills.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But it sounds...

SUMMERS: There are certain priorities -- education, health care, infrastructure investment -- that the president is certainly not going to want to lose sight of.

SUMMERS: At the same time, he has insisted that this not be Washington business as usual, no earmarks. We don't engage in wasteful programs just because they're a tradition or someone's prerogative.

So it's not going to be a matter of choosing between two products. It's going to be a matter of creating the best possible bill we can for the country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So it sounds like what -- it sounds like what you're saying is the president's overall message is, "There's great overlap here. I might as president prefer to have more education funding, but the most important thing right now is to get this done." That's his most important goal.

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