'This Week' Transcript: Economic Panel

AMANPOUR: Senator Corker, what about that? We were talking about Congress, and you just heard Mr. Regalia talking about Congress fighting with each other and not getting these things done. What do you think can be done? You said chill out, calm down, perhaps until after the election. What can be done to fix this, do you think, in a bipartisan way?

CORKER: Well, I think one of the things we need to do -- I've heard Laura talking about investment -- is as a country, we need to decide, how much should the federal government spend? On average, it's been 20.3 percent over the last 50 years. I heard Erskine Bowles the other day say 21 percent. But I think much of our debate goes to little issues that really divide our country, but that needs to be the first issue. How much should the federal government take in from the private sector?

Once that decision is made -- I might say 18 percent. Erskine may say 21 percent. Maybe the right number is someplace in between. But after that decision is made, what is the appropriate tax policy to generate economic growth?

And I think that some comments have been made about our lack of -- the way we tax. We do tax investment. We encourage people to go into debt. I think our tax policy in this country certainly needs to be looked at, and it needs to be looked at in a way to encourage investment, to encourage growth.

Obviously, if our gross domestic product grows, then the whole issue of debt diminishes, the kind of things that Laura's talking about are more able to be done. So I think we -- we need to move to that big picture first, look at what's appropriate. I think most people in America would rather determine what to do with their own money versus let 535 people decide for them.

But the fact is that -- that we get mired down in these little issues that divide us when really we ought to focus as a country on this bigger issue first.

AMANPOUR: So let me go to you, Governor Corzine. You lost an election -- re-election in your state when you were governor. When you took office, unemployment was at 4.7 percent. When you left, it was 9.9 percent. Is that why you lost? And you've talked about how it was painful, but in 20/20 hindsight, what could you have learnt from that, do you think?

CORZINE: Well, I think that any time the economy is weak, incumbents are going to have challenging re-election on most instances, and that certainly was the case when you have unemployment rise that much. We were in the midst of the financial meltdown and the aftershocks of that in 2009. I think we'll see some of that this fall.

But I want to go back to, we have been successful in this country in driving investment with higher tax rates than what we have today. I think the issue about setting those and making sure that the expiring tax cuts that are actually on the table at the end of this year, that needs to get addressed, and it needs to get addressed relatively quickly, because that does create uncertainty while that is yet to be resolved.

I would hope that the Congress and the president would either say, "We're going to get to a conclusion about the long term," or, "We're going to extend this for a year and we'll come back and debate this at another point in time," because that's a major uncertainty overhanging the economy.

AMANPOUR: Let me...

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