Top Voices on Economy Tackle Unemployment

Sen. Bob Corker says Washington needs to "calm down."

August 15, 2010, 11:51 AM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 15, 2010— -- Ask four top economic minds how to get the economy back on track and get four different answers.

On a powerhouse economic panel, Christiane Amanpour asked four top analysts to tackle the biggest issue in the United States today: unemployment.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., had stark advice for his fellow legislators in the Capitol: calm down. Corker said that the sweeping laws passed by Congress recently have led to "an air of unpredictability." He insisted that if Congress pulled back, company and family "balance sheets … [would] get back to where they need to be."

"What's happening is businesses are sitting on the sideline. They don't know exactly what the lay of the land is," Corker, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, said. "And I think the best thing we can do in Washington at this time is really just to calm down and quit … making sweeping changes," he said from Chattanooga.

Jon Corzine, the former governor of New Jersey and the CEO of MF Global, said that the looming question of whether the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts -- which are set to expire at year's end -- would be extended is causing "major" economic uncertainty.

The issue of the Bush tax cuts "needs to get addressed and it needs to get addressed relatively quickly, because that does create uncertainty while that is yet to be resolved," Corzine said.

"I would hope that the Congress and the president would either say, 'We're going to get to a conclusion about the long term,' or, 'We're going to extend this for a year and we'll come back and debate this at another point in time,' because that's a major uncertainty overhanging the economy," Corzine, who lost his re-election bid in New Jersey last November, said.

While Corzine did not take a position on whether the tax cuts should be extended, the chief economist at the Chamber of Commerce, Martin Regalia, said the tax cuts needed to be extended.

"There ought to be an extension, at least a temporary extension, and that would help to ease both the consumers' fears and the business fears," he said.

Regalia also bemoaned what he saw as a broken tax system stifling private sector investment.

"When you don't have the kind of laws and the kind of tax structure that facilitate and encourage investment, you get a lot less of it," he told Amanpour.

"We tell our people, go out and export, and then we tell them, we're going to tax you more than every other [country] you have to compete with in the global economy," he said.

Laura Tyson, a member of the president's Economic Recovery Advisory Board and a former Clinton economic advisor, said that more stimulus and more spending was the way to get the economy moving faster.

"We have to continue to do everything we can to stimulate demand in the economy," she said, mentioning a payroll tax credit and infrastructure spending.

Tyson also emphasized investment in education and also research and development.

"Invest in people. Invest in infrastructure. Invest in knowledge," she said. "We, basically, are trying to get the research and development spending in this country up to 3 percent so we can again be leaders in the world in that. Invest, invest, invest is really what we must do."