'This Week' Transcript: Stimulus Debate

Chuck Schumer, D-NY, Lindsey Graham, R-SC, Peter King, D-NY, Maxine Waters, D-CA

ByABC News
February 15, 2009, 8:46 AM


FEBRUARY 15, 2009






STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, and welcome to "This Week."

The president gets his plan.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF., SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We have donesomething today that is transformational for our nation.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But at what cost?

REP. JOHN A. BOEHNER, R-OHIO, HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Whathappened to the promise that we're going to let the American peoplesee what's in this bill for 48 hours? But, nope, we don't have timeto do that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And his strategy for sick banks...

SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY TIMOTHY F. GEITHNER: This program isgoing to require a substantial and sustained commitment of publicresources.

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... falls flat on Wall Street.

(UNKNOWN): We wanted real guts and details to this, and wedidn't get it today.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Will the Obama's plans confound the skeptics andfix the economy? Senate, House Democrats and Republicans square off.Our "This Week" debate.

Then, one more pick for commerce secretary bows out.

SEN. JUDD GREGG, R-N.H.: I said yes. That was my mistake.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is it one more sign that bipartisanship has itslimits? That debate and the rest of the week's politics on ourroundtable with George Will, Cokie Roberts, Sam Donaldson, and DonnaBrazile.

And, as always, the Sunday funnies.

JAY LENO, TALK SHOW HOST: The economy's so bad, Barack Obama'snew slogan, "Spare change you can believe in." That's how bad it is.


ANNOUNCER: From the heart of the nation's capital, "This Week"with ABC News chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos,live from the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue.


When President Obama signs his $787 billion stimulus plan intolaw on Tuesday, he'll set a new record. It will be the single mostexpensive piece of economic legislation ever in our history, and itpassed without a single Republican vote in the House and only three inthe Senate.

So the voting is done. Let the debate begin.

For that, I'm joined today by four key players from Capitol Hill,Senator Chuck Schumer, the vice chair of the Joint Economic Committee.


Congresswoman Maxine Waters, she's a senior Democrat on the HouseFinancial Services Committee.

Senior Republican on that committee, Representative Peter King ofNew York.

And Senator Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Senate BudgetCommittee.

And I'm going to begin with your governor, Mark Sanford.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Big opponent of the stimulus legislation. And Iwant to show everybody what he wrote in this morning's State newspaperin South Carolina. He says that, "For every job the bill creates,American taxpayers will spend $223,000. If we add the costs of thisbill to the previous efforts of the federal government to deal withthe financial crisis, the American taxpayer is on the hook for $9.7trillion. If the stimulus bill were a country, it would be the 15th-largest country in the world."

Senator Schumer, he says it's going to be a waste, it's not goingto work, and we're going to be paying for it for generations.

SCHUMER: Well, you know, it's easy to say no. We have the worsteconomy we've had since the Great Depression, half a million peoplemore losing jobs every month. The economy's hurdling southward. Yes,this is a big, strong, bold package.

It's going to do three things. It's going to keep or create 3million to 4 million jobs. It's going to put money into the hands ofthe middle class so they spend it in the stores and restaurants andget the economy going. And it's going to create an infrastructurethat not only puts people to work, but leaves something after, Godwilling, we get out of this. To do nothing risks a depression.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So what's wrong with that?

GRAHAM: Well, I wanted to do something. I think we do need astimulus package with a focus, and that's create jobs in the nearterm. Eleven percent of the appropriated money in this bill hits in2009. Most of the money in this bill is in entitlement spendingthat's not going to create jobs.

Twenty-seven percent of the bill is now tax cuts. That's downsignificantly. And of those tax cuts, most of them, only $3 billiongoes to small business.

Seventy-five percent of the people in this country work for smallbusiness. Of a $787 billion bill, $3 billion is directed to small-business people. I think we missed the mark a long way. We increasednew government; we did not increase new jobs.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Congressman Waters, when this bill came outof the Senate at the end of the week, your speaker, Nancy Pelosi, hadto quell a mini-revolt among House Democrats who actually take anopposite view from Senator Graham. They thought the bill wasn't bigenough, and they didn't like the cuts, particularly in state aid,education aid, that came in the Senate.

WATERS: Absolutely. We worked very hard on that bill in theHouse. And as you know, many well-known economists say that thisshould be a trillion-dollar bailout bill, that we need to put moreinto our economy.

And we worked very hard on education, as you know. Our schoolsare in great disrepair in this country. We have children going toschools in deplorable conditions, and so we wanted more money inschool construction. We thought, not only does that create jobs, it'san investment in the future.

And so those kinds of programs we really, really wanted to fightfor. As it turns out, we have through the conference committeeaccepted the amendments from those Republicans who were willing tostep up to the bat and at least do something for the people of thiscountry. And so we lost on some of it, but it's a big win for allfamilies and all Americans.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Only three Republicans, Congressman King, in the-- in the Senate, zero in House. And I have to say, it -- itsurprised me that zero Republicans in the House went along with this.And, for example, I know that you support infrastructure spending. Iknow you support Medicaid aid to the states, yet you -- you vote no onthis. Was this more taking one for the team so the Republicans couldbe unified?

KING: No, not at all. First of all, I do support the Medicaidprovisions in the bill. But as far as the infrastructure, less than9.5 percent of the bill goes to infrastructure on transit and highwayconstruction. That was a key part to me, which was really severelydiminished.

As far as taxes, actually, Lindsey says 27 percent. Really, it'sonly 18 percent in new tax credits, because the fact that the AMT wasput in, which would have been factored in anyway. So it's really only18 percent in tax relief. We give more tax relief to the arts than wedo to small businesses.

And, you know, obviously, we have to do a lot. I supportedstrong infrastructure, strong tax relief. We didn't do it. Andthat's why you have people even like Alice Rivlin, who was BillClinton's budget director, testified against the stimulus bill, MartinFeldstein, who had -- had been for it is now against it, and the CBOsays, over a 10-year period, it's going to diminish the economy, bringdown the GDP, and actually cause a reduction in wages.

SCHUMER: Yes, the bottom line is, first, there's good -- goodhelp for small business. The NOL provision is kept in forbusinesses...


SCHUMER: ... below 15 -- it allows businesses that have hadlosses to take those losses now so they don't have to pay tax instead,can put people to work. And there's going to be more for smallbusiness in the economic plan that the president is announcing.

The bottom line is this: This -- the -- when you ask people whatyou need to do about this economy, the number-one thing all economists-- Martin Feldstein, who wanted a bigger package -- he wanted adifferent one, but a bigger one, he didn't want no -- all of them saythe great danger we face, George, is what they call a deflationaryspiral, prices keep going down.

And once you get into that spiral deeply, you don't know how toget out. That's what the Great Depression was. To a lesser extent,that's what happened in Japan for 10 years. And we need to get out ofit. And this is a jolt to the economy. It's a strong jolt.