CLARKE: I think the good thing from the two senators is neither one of them tried to score huge political points one way or the other, which is kind of the norm, and I thought was very responsible and even-handed, which is good.
But here's the failure of policy, I think. What will really get the private sector humming and hiring a lot of people is if they have predictability and certainty about things like regulatory regimes and are some of these trade agreements going to go through that we really need? Because it is a global picture, not just a domestic one.
And I know there's a lot going on, but nobody seems to be focusing on that, not the administration, not Congress. And Paul is laughing.
KRUGMAN: Because that's not -- the reason businesses are not investing is they have tons and tons of excess capacity. There's a very clear relationship historically between the amount of unemployment and the amount of business investment. When unemployment is high, when capacity is low, investment is low. There's nothing -- all of this stuff about uncertainty is just a myth being made up to blame this on Obama.
CLARKE: No, it's not. Money is a coward. Money is a coward. It's not going to go unless it knows it can make money.
KRUGMAN: There's nothing in there. There's nothing in there. It's exactly what you expect.
AMANPOUR: Torie mentioned reform. And tax reform is one of them. I mean, it looks like this week, there was this whole issue with Jeffrey Immelt, the president's adviser, and you know, allegedly paying actually no tax on having made billions of dollars in profit, the company. It was OK. He took advantage of the system. But is it right? Does that need to be conformed (ph)? GE?
WILL: It's an old axiom that what is alarming in Washington is not what's done that is illegal but what is done that's legal. No one is accusing GE of doing anything other than taking advantage of the baroque tax code that we have produced over time. Mitch Daniels, the governor of Indiana, says, wouldn't it be wonderful if we had a tax code that looks as though someone designed it on purpose? They designed a tax code that has produced the following interesting number. According to Investors Business Daily, 975 people work in the tax department of GE, just trying to mine the tax code for advantage.
AMANPOUR: That's true (ph), but it doesn't look good, though, does it? The optics of this?
KRUGMAN: No, I have to say that Obama has got a pretty bad record now. He picked Alan Simpson to co-head the debt commission, which turned out to be given to making some rather strange remarks. As his adviser on the economy, he managed to pick the head of a corporation that is managing not to pay any taxes.
And look, we do need tax reform. But the biggest obstacle to tax reform right now is that any reasonable tax reform is going to raise taxes on some people. Because you're going to close some loopholes. And what we have is the right wing of the Republican Party, the Grover Norquist types saying, no taxes on anybody should ever go up. And we can't have a tax reform that consists solely of cutting taxes. We have to have one that levels the taxes. So at the moment, tax reform is just not on the agenda, realistically, because we have no agreement on that.
AMANPOUR: Do you think President Obama is as involved in, for instance, the budget battles that are going on in Congress as you would like to see him?