'This Week' Transcript: Economy Panel

AMANPOUR: Deep hole? Jobless recovery? Is he right? They have added jobs.

REICH: Look, 2 million jobs have been added, Christiane, but so many jobs have been lost that we still have 13.5 million Americans without work and another million who are too discouraged even to look for work. This is not business as usual. The president has got to come up with a jobs plan. Even if it doesn't get through a Republican Congress, he's going to be fighting for it and fighting for Americans. You can't go into an election year with this kind of unemployment...

AMANPOUR: Are you surprised that he's not...

REICH: ... and not have something substantial.

AMANPOUR: ... more sort of passionate on -- out in public about this?

REICH: I tell you, I am surprised about the silence coming out of Washington, deafening silence. Republicans talk about, again, with due respect, Senator, I mean, the same, old, cut taxes on the corporations. Corporations have $1.9 trillion dollars they are sitting on right now that they are not spending.

AMANPOUR: Why is that? Why are they not spending? This is something that...

(CROSSTALK)

SHELBY: People -- people are not spending because they're concerned, they're scared, whether they're a small medium-sized business or whether it's an individual. They see the real numbers out there, not numbers that people are hyping on either side of the aisle, but the real numbers.

They see anemic growth. And they see maybe problems in the future for their children. So that's why they're not spending and why -- and, also, a lot of uncertainty in America. There's a lot of money that's been on the sidelines right now that could have been invested, but we need certainty for investment. We need regulations that we know that are going to be there, or fewer of them. And we need a tax policy that means something.

KARL: I mean, a lot of uncertainty is coming from Congress and from the White House. I mean, there's uncertainty about, are we going to default on our debt? Where's the debt ceiling coming (ph)? There's all-consuming right now. There's uncertainty about taxes. Are the tax cuts going to be renewed? Or are we going to have to see tax increases to pay for all this debt? There's even uncertainty on the health care bill. I mean, is the Supreme Court going to overturn it?

REICH: Yes, there is that uncertainty. But, look it, the deficit fight, the deficit is important over the long term. But, right now, the issue is not the deficit. The issue is not the debt ceiling. The issue is jobs. And they're not the same.

Senator, what's wrong, if I may ask, what's wrong with a new WPA program or a Civilian Conservation Corps for the 6 million unemployed who've been unemployed for more than six months? Why not put them to work?

SHELBY: Well, first of all, I think we should do that, but we should do -- work it in the private sector. WPA did not bring us out of the depression. The war did. We look back at the stimulus, nearly a trillion dollars gone down the drain. We've got to create the conditions of certainty to get people to have confidence to create jobs.

AMANPOUR: Can I ask you...

REICH: But the war brought us out of the Great Depression because of that spending; 120 percent of the national economy was spending.

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