'This Week' Transcript: Sens Lieberman, Conrad and Hutchison

WILL: Well, yes. Yes, it's paid off in the following number. The percent of the American population that identifies the president as a liberal has declined 10 points in two months. That's astonishing. And it's a response to his big political problem that was revealed in 2010 elections, that is, Democrats have been losing blue-collar white voters since the 1960s. That's white voters with no college education, basically. In 2010, he lost them 2 to 1, and there was no gender gap, men and women alike, a record loss, and this is the way to get them back. AMANPOUR: You're seeing red, frankly, aren't you, Paul, over this?

KRUGMAN: Not exactly. It's kind of sad. I mean, it's -- the whole competitiveness thing is a bad metaphor.

AMANPOUR: Why? America is all about competition.

KRUGMAN: Because -- no, it isn't. The country is not a corporation. You know, a CEO who manages to lay off a large part of his workforce and increase profits is a success. Well, America has managed to lay off a large part of its workforce and profits are hitting new records, and that is not a success. So these are not similar.

The idea that we are reassuring blue-collar workers by appointing to a not very important, but still a symbolic government post the CEO of a company which has most of its workers outside the United States, earns most of its profits outside the United States, and is now these days more of a financial firm than it is a manufacturing firm, in reality, was a major recipient of bailout funds -- you know, it's -- now, all of this may be a way for Obama to find a more business- friendly way to sell more public investment, which is a good thing.

AMANPOUR: But is it more than just symbolism and looking business-friendly? I mean, Immelt, in a -- in an interview with the FT before he was named, talked specifically about manufacturing, how you just couldn't rely on services industry to -- to continue this bubble and burst sort of economy, that you really needed to make things in order to be competitive and to create jobs.

DOWD: Presidencies primarily are about perceptions of the American public and what you do with those perceptions communications- wise. This president, I think, has probably had the best 45 days of his presidency, his entire presidency. This is the only time in his presidency where he's actually been on the rise. Every other part, from Inauguration Day, he was falling. He's on the rise.

He's done a number of things that I think have told the business community and the economic community and people that make jobs he's going to be consistent, which he did with the tax cuts in signing (inaudible) extended them, and he's going to provide confidence.

And I think whether you like Immelt or not or whether you like Bill Daley or not as chief of staff, it did send a message to the business community that I'm going to give some level of competence on the economy. And what you do today -- he's done all the regulatory stuff. He's done all the policy stuff. It hasn't really moved the economy. What the country needs now is a sense of confidence that he's willing to do that, and I think that's what he's done.

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