'This Week' Transcript: Larry Summers & Michael Steele

SUMMERS: The most important thing is to get this done for the sake of an economy that lost 600,000 jobs in one month alone. That's as many jobs as there are in the state of Maine. So coming together, making sure that the investments are as productive as they possibly can be, that's the president's priority.

STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know, the overwhelming majority of Senate Republicans and House Republicans are opposed to this bill. And the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, said the other day that Democrats have failed to learn the lessons of history.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY., SENATE MINORITY LEADER: The big- spending programs of the New Deal did not work. In 1940, unemployment was still 15 percent. What got us out of the doldrums that we were in during the Depression was the beginning of World War II.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: They say the president is repeating mistakes of the past.

SUMMERS: Those who presided over the last eight years, the eight years that brought us to the point where we inherit trillions of dollars of deficit, an economy that's collapsing more rapidly than at any time in the last 50 years don't seem to me in a strong position to lecture about the lessons of history.

We need an approach that's very different than the approach that we had that brought us to this point. That's what the president is providing. There are millions of people in this country who need work. There is a huge amount of work that needs to be done modernizing our schools, creating a green economy. And what the president's program does is give that needed work to the millions of people who need work.

That's why a very wide consensus of economists -- they may disagree about the details or which particular step you should take, but a very wide cross-section of opinion believes that this economy needs help quickly.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The president hoped for far more bipartisan support, a much broader bipartisan coalition to support this bill. Do you accept the criticism from some that what he should have done is weigh in harder when the House was passing their legislation to make sure that some of the spending that's been criticized wasn't in there or -- I guess I'm saying, was there a better way to do this? Or is the failure of bipartisanship a failure of Republicans?

SUMMERS: The president's walked a long mile. You know, in his first week as president, George, he went up to speak to the Republican Senate caucus and the Republican House caucus. Already he's asked me to be up with the Republican caucus twice. That's two more...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But they say he...

SUMMERS: That's two more times than I was there...

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... he went and talked to them, but didn't take any of their ideas.

SUMMERS: ... with the -- with the eight years. He's been open to a number of ideas. The president was very strongly criticized by many in his own party for the fact that the measure includes more than a third tax cuts, including several major tax cuts for business.

But it hasn't really been enough. And ultimately the president can't do more than walk a long way down the road towards bipartisanship. But if you look, traditional Republican areas, small business, support for business, business investment more generally, they're represented in this program. So we've been very open to the best ideas from all sources.

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