'This Week' Full Transcript: Dec. 13, 2009

STEPHANOPOULOS: Right now, right here on the roundtable, I'm joined by George Will; Ed Gillespie, former counselor to President George W. Bush, former chairman of the Republican National Committee; April Ryan of the American Urban Radio Networks, covers the White House for them. John Podesta, former chief of staff to President Clinton, now president of the Center for American Progress, and Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post. Welcome to all of you.

And George, let me just begin with you on this debate we just saw. Every single major issue dealing with the economy has been a partisan issue this year. Both sides are basically all in. All in on the economy.

WILL: They all understand that it's job creation is issue No. 1, two, three. But I think, George, there are probably three reasons why we're not creating jobs. First is, why lend? If you're a bank and you're getting money free from the government, you can turn around and invest in government bonds or blue chip equities or risk-free corporate bonds, why lend to small businessmen who have entrepreneurial dreams but are risky? Second, the economy normally has one great engine, consumer spending. It has one fuel for that. It's debt. But the American people right now are deleveraging, and that's probably over time a good thing to shed that.

Third, people disagree as to why the New Deal failed to cure unemployment, but a plausible explanation is uncertainty paralyzed the business sector. That is, they didn't know what the rules were going to be. Today, we have health care, that's an uncertain mandate for the future. You have cap and trade in the offing. You have contracts being shred as in the Chrysler bailout. You have Congress just this week saying, well, maybe judges should be able to rewrite mortgages. The pandemic uncertainty is freezing business activity.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Any way to come back?

PODESTA: Oh, sure. I think that you quoted Mark Zandi at the beginning of the program who was John McCain's top economic adviser. He said that what the president has done, the interventions he's made, has caused 1.1 million jobs from being lost, that unemployment would be over 11 percent. I think what the president needed -- what he did at the beginning of the year, what he needed to do was stabilize the economy. You see it coming back, as Mr. Summers said. You'll see job growth coming this spring. The question is, you know, when that will come, how robust it will be.

The one thing I think I agree with George on is the president, tomorrow, has to find a way to get credit flowing, particularly to small business. I'm not sure he's meeting with the right people. He's meeting with the big bankers. He needs to be meeting with the regional bankers, community bankers, and find ways to get credit flowing to those small businesses (inaudible) engine of growth in the economy.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It is unclear, and Larry Summers didn't quite answer it, it doesn't seem like there's much more -- much beyond the bully pulpit that the president can do right now on this.

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