'This Week' Transcript: Axelrod

TAPPER: Well, let's talk about those decisions, because -- because obviously there is what Democrats on Capitol Hill call spending fatigue on Capitol Hill. How can you and how can the president create jobs without there being any willingness on Capitol Hill to spend money to do so?

AXELROD: Well, I think it's true that there's not a great -- there's not a great desire, even though there's some argument for additional spending in the short run to continue to generate economic activity. There's not a great appetite for it.

But I do think there are some things we still can accomplish. I do think that we can get tax -- additional tax relief for small businesses. That's what we want to do, additional lending for small businesses. They're an engine of economic growth. We're hoping we can persuade enough people on the other side of the aisle to put politics aside and join us on that.

Unemployment insurance, we ought to extend unemployment insurance. People are suffering.

TAPPER: You can't get the votes, though.

AXELROD: Well, we'll see. We'll see. But at a time when there's one job vacancy for five unemployed workers looking for jobs, clearly we have a responsibility to do it. The Republicans met that responsibility each time under President Bush, when he asked for -- to extend unemployment insurance. They ought to do it now. Let's not play politics with this issue.

But we also -- there are many other things that we can do. One of the things that's driving us in a positive direction is exports. And the president talked last week about how we expand exports and steps we can take to -- we are very committed to innovation in our economy and to spurring innovation.

The president went on Friday to a plant in -- in Missouri that is producing electric cars, and that -- that -- that plant would not be there but for the actions we took. The investments that we have made have leveraged four times on some of these clean-energy projects, four times private investment, and that's going to create jobs.

He's going on Thursday to Michigan to a plant that produces battery -- advanced batteries for electric cars. We had 2 percent of the global market when he started. We now have 16 percent, headed to 40 percent by 2015, because we helped spur and leverage private investment, and that's what we want to do.

TAPPER: Why do you think 7 out of 10 Americans don't think the stimulus had a positive economic effect?

AXELROD: Because we're still coming out of a very deep recession. Remember, it took years to dig the hole that we're in, and the president was clear from the beginning it was going to take a while to come out of this. Plainly -- plainly...

TAPPER: You spent more than $400 billion. Obviously, according to every economist, the unemployment rate would be higher would it not for -- would it not be for the stimulus bill.

AXELROD: Of course.

TAPPER: But the American people don't believe that.

AXELROD: But, Jake, we are still in the midst of a very difficult economic time. The fact that it's much better than it was when we took over does not mean that it's good. And we don't accept it that way. We accept the challenge of moving this economy forward, and we're going to keep launching initiatives, and they don't all involve spending.

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