'This Week' Transcript: Economy Panel

TAPPER: I think there's an understanding that there will be a giant, and whether it's Mitt Romney or -- George and I have talked about this -- probably more likely Tim Pawlenty, because Romney really alienates a lot of the Tea Party conservatives, and Pawlenty -- there's a real opening for him there, assuming Palin doesn't run.

I think there's an understanding that there will be a formidable Republican opponent. The way they say it is President Obama, you know, he got every break he could possibly get in 2008 and still 47 percent of the country voted against him. They do not expect that 47 percent opposition to go down. They think it will go up. This could be a 1- or 2-point race, and a lot of it hinges on the economy.

And right now, the president does not have a strong economic message. You saw the highest disapproval number for him when it comes to the economy, 59 percent of his presidency. That is a disastrous number, and it could really spell trouble for his re-election.

WILL: In the first quarter, housing values in this country went down 4 percent. Another 10 percent decline on housing values will mean that one-third of all the Americans with mortgages will be underwater, that is, they will owe more on their homes than their homes are worth. That is terrifying to people. You add that to the jobs numbers and Goliath, as The Economist calls the president, Goliath is very vulnerable.

AMANPOUR: Well, let's talk about Pawlenty quickly, and then we'll get to what you wanted to say, but he made a speech today on the economy. Let's just put up a little bit of what he said. I want to get your reaction to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAWLENTY: Let's start as a nation with a big, positive goal. Let's grow the economy by 5 percent, instead of the anemic 2 percent currently envisioned. Such a national economic growth target will set our sights on a positive future. It'll inspire the actions needed to reach it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: So I know you're considering Pawlenty as a real viable candidate. Do you think, though, that's a bit fanciful? I mean, a lot of economists have said that 5 percent today is -- I mean, it's great, it would be great, but not really possible.

WILL: A man's reach should exceed his grasp, and that certainly does. Steady 5 percent growth probably won't happen. Also, his pledge to get federal spending down to 18 percent of GDP is very hard to do with an aging population and a welfare state that exists to transfer wealth to the elderly.

That said, he's avoiding the austerity trap. He's avoiding the green eyeshade, root canal kind of politics that Ronald Reagan avoided. Reagan said we're going to get out of this mess with growth. At this point, by the way, in the Reagan recovery, after '81-'82, the economy was growing at 7 percent.

BRAZILE: Well, I don't know if we'll ever get back to 5 percent. One would hope that we could get back to 5 percent. We haven't seen 5 percent steady growth since John F. Kennedy. And the only countries now with -- producing 5 percent, 6 percent are the BRICs, Brazil, India and China.

So the goal right now -- the president must get Congress to focus on raising the debt ceiling, going forward with some kind of budget solution so that we can stop having these endless conversations on deficit, deficit, deficit.

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