AMANPOUR: Thank you so much. And Diane and the team will be continuing their made-in-America reporting in this next week and in the next several weeks.
And when we come back, my exclusive interview with Senator John McCain. I'll ask him about jobs, as well as the escalating violence in Libya and what can be done about it. Stay with us.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back. Senator John McCain has one eye on the jobs picture here in the United States and another on the unfolding revolutions in the Middle East. And he's just returned from a trip to the region, so we have lots to talk about today. And we're glad to have him here with us at the Newseum.
Senator McCain, thank you for joining us.
MCCAIN: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you first about the report that we just saw. What does it say to you about that empty house but particularly its impact on jobs here in the United States?
MCCAIN: Well, I think it's obviously a recognition of the reality and the trends, that cheaper, lower-cost labor products will usually prevail over the products made in higher wage and income countries.
But I would also point out that, if you'd emptied that house, if you'd left a computer there or an iPad or an iPhone, those are built in the United States of America. And as the president said, continuously, and I agree with him, innovation is the key to us being able to restore our economy.
And that's got to be exports. We've got to have free trade agreements. I'm glad the president is supporting the South Korea free trade agreement. We basically abandoned Colombia and Panama. All these other countries are concluding free trade agreements amongst themselves while we are being left behind. And that's very harmful.
Small statistic: two years ago, 40 percent of the imports of agricultural goods in Colombia were from the United States of America. They concluded free trade agreements. Now 20 percent is there. So we have the ability to outcompete any other country in the world and outinnovate.
AMANPOUR: Well, to that end, then, what do you make, and how do you react to the good job news over the last month, that 192,000 more jobs have been added and the unemployment rate has dipped below 9 percent?
MCCAIN: I think that's good. And I still worry about the housing situation. And my state of Arizona is one of those that suffered most from the collapse. And we still have nearly 50 percent of the homes are still underwater.
But you've got to look at it as good news. But you also have to recognize that we need to do more. Even at this present rate, we would not be able to see a significant drop in unemployment for a very long time. But it is encouraging news.
AMANPOUR: Well, what about the budget battle right now, the $61 billion in cuts, which even Mark Zandi, who was one of your advisers, has said could lose 700,000 jobs.
MCCAIN: You know, he's the same guy that said that, if we adopted the stimulus package, unemployment would never go above 8 percent. Please.
AMANPOUR: But do you think these steep cuts will affect the employment?
MCCAIN: I don't think so. But what I do know, that unless we get our fiscal house in order, we are facing a calamity. There is no way you can avoid that. So let's -- we did a $787 billion stimulus package. We went on a spending spree over the last 10 years, a lot of it -- some of it, at least, under Republican administrations, as well as Democrats.