'This Week' Transcript: Goolsbee and Rauf

Transcript: Goolsbee and Rauf

ByABC News
September 12, 2010, 5:00 AM

September 12, 2010 — -- AMANPOUR: Welcome to our viewers here and around the world. I'm Christiane Amanpour, and at the top of the news this week, as the global economy recovers, is the United States falling behind?


OBAMA: It's understandable that people are saying, what have you done?


AMANPOUR: The president proposes new spending and allowing the tax cuts for the wealthy to expire. But is it good economics, good politics? Questions this morning for President Obama's newly appointed chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, Austan Goolsbee.

Then, remembering 9/11, and nine years, the growing hostility towards American Muslims.


(UNKNOWN): We are treated and talked about today as if American Muslims are not Americans.


AMANPOUR: An exclusive interview with the imam who wants to build an Islamic center near ground zero.


AMANPOUR: If you thought it would have provoked this kind of reaction, what would you have done?


AMANPOUR: And three leading figures on faith discuss religious tolerance and Islamophobia in America. Plus, analysis of all the week's politics on our roundtable with George Will, Arianna Huffington, Kate Zernike of the New York Times, and ABC senior congressional correspondent Jonathan Karl.

And the Sunday Funnies.


(UNKNOWN): The economy is so bad that Florida preacher Terry Jones now wants to burn his (401)k. That's how bad!


AMANPOUR: Hello. The world economy once looked to the American consumer to pull it out of recession. Not anymore. Now the world is looking to China and emerging economies where growth is taking hold. At his news conference on Friday, President Obama admitted that economic progress here was, quote, "painfully slow."

Joining me this morning, the president's top economic adviser, Austan Goolsbee, who's just been appointed chair of the president's Council of Economic Advisers. Thank you for joining us here. Thank you very much.

I want to ask you what's just happened. The House Minority Leader John Boehner has said that the only -- that he would consider extending the middle class tax cuts, "if the only option I have is to vote for some of those tax reductions, I'll vote for it," he said on "Face the Nation" this morning. What is your reaction to that?

GOOLSBEE: Well, I obviously haven't seen the comments, but I noticed the qualifier, if my only choice is. If he's truly saying that we can, as the president called for, get a broad consensus to extend the middle class tax cuts, we should do it.

AMANPOUR: And he's obviously saying...


GOOLSBEE: We shouldn't hold that hostage for the argument about the tax cuts just for the very, very highest income people. So if he's for that, I would be happy. In the past, we have seen some of these circumstances in which what appears to be the offer of doing this -- the sensible thing, in the light of day there was a little bit of a feeling, well, if the president is for it, I'm against it, and then it falls apart.

AMANPOUR: All right, well, he does obviously go on to say that he's obviously going to do everything he can to fight to make sure that all the tax cuts are extended. But if this does happen and he is going to vote for an extension of the middle class tax cuts, how do you think that those Democrats who oppose what the president wants to do will be brought on board? In other words, will they also go for just the middle class tax cuts and get this done by the midterms?

GOOLSBEE: Well, I certainly hope so. I believe -- I'm not a political expert, but I believe there is a broad consensus, a middle ground if you will, that Democrats and Republicans, business people and workers can agree on, to get this -- the economy growing faster, getting people back to work. It's exactly what the president tried to do and is trying to emphasize with the policies he outlined this week. And we ought to do that. We ought to come together.

Now, I have noticed in Congress there is a bit of a different philosophy, I think, between what Representative Boehner is putting forward and what the president is putting forward. So the president is saying, let's reach out and find this middle ground of what things can get the economy growing, let's have incentives for small business, for investment, so people want to build factories and employ people in this country, and we give tax relief to the middle class. I would point out that Representative Boehner has a different view and is calling for repealing the rest of the stimulus, which would raise taxes on 110 million middle class people.

AMANPOUR: Let's take a few of these step by step. It looks like Representative Boehner is, if you take him as what he just said, that he says he will vote for it if that's the only option he has. But I want to ask you, because the president does say this week that he wants to extend the Bush era middle class tax cuts, but allow those for the wealthy to expire. Now, one of your former colleagues, Peter Orszag of the OMB, he had an op-ed in the New York Times in which he suggested that higher taxes now would, quote, "trim consumer spending." In other words, that it would sort of harm the economy at this point. And extend them all for the next two years. Is that a go (ph)?

GOOLSBEE: I obviously know Peter Orszag very well. His column was not an economic column. It was a political column. He made the political argument that if we extended them all for two years, then the Republicans could be convinced to agree to get rid of the higher income tax cuts after the two years.

AMANPOUR: So would you do that?

GOOLSBEE: I don't think that politically is correct. I think Representative Boehner made clear he wants to go back to the tax policy and budget policy of the Bush administration.

AMANPOUR: But he did make the economic argument that at this time, it would trim consumer demand.

GOOLSBEE: Well, the president does not need to take lessons in tax cuts from anyone. He cut taxes for hundreds of millions of people. We have cut taxes across the board. We cut taxes for small business eight different times. And the president now has a small business bill sitting in Congress that is behind held up by some Republicans in the Senate, that would cut them eight different more times.

AMANPOUR: What did the president mean when on Friday, he basically said, quote, "certainly there's going to be room for discussion," end quote, in extending those tax cuts for the wealthy if the Republicans and Democrats can first agree to extend them for the middle class? Has he opened an avenue of negotiation on those tax cuts for the wealthy?

GOOLSBEE: No, I do not think so. The president has been all along, through the campaign, through the administration, quite clear on what I believe the economics is also quite clear, that borrowing $700 billion to extend tax cuts that average more than $100,000 a year to millionaires and even billionaires is the least effective bang for the buck we have. He said we will be open for discussion, it was literally in a sentence where he said we should all be able to agree that what would give some certainty to the economy now would be extending the middle class tax cuts permanently. Let's talk about those other things after we do that.

AMANPOUR: Everything is about unemployment as it affects the people all over this country. So where do you think unemployment will be in the short term? I mean, is it going to come down to below 7 percent, when President Obama was elected?

GOOLSBEE: The CEA and Treasury and OMB issue an official unemployment forecast. So I'm not going to deviate from our official forecast...

AMANPOUR: (inaudible) is it going to stay high?

GOOLSBEE: It's going to stay high. This recession is the deepest in our lifetimes, the deepest since 1929. If you take the people thrown out of work in the 1982 recession, the 1991 recession, the 2001 recession, not only is this bigger, this is bigger than all of those combined. So more than 8 million people lost their jobs. It's going to take a significant push on our part and time before that comes down. I don't anticipate it coming down rapidly.

AMANPOUR: So this week, though, the president did announce some $200 billion in tax breaks, also the $50 billion in stimulus for infrastructure building. How many jobs, do you think, that that's going to create?

GOOLSBEE: Well, obviously depends on how you do it, but it could have a significant impact on trying to get investment in factories, in -- by small businesses, in buying equipment, research and development, job creation in this country. That's the key.

AMANPOUR: Do you have sort of a target number?

GOOLSBEE: I definitely do not want to speculate on that, but I will say, the point that we must have, the point of those policies, they aren't spending. They're the government giving tax cuts to businesses to invest in this country. That's what they are. And we cannot have a sustained recovery without the private sector standing up, so the president knows that and has said it many times.

AMANPOUR: And just briefly as we close, a new report is basically saying that the number of American people living in poverty is about to rise from something like 13.2 percent to 15 percent, back to the 1960 levels, which led to the national war on poverty.

What can you do in this climate to affect that?

GOOLSBEE: Look, I think the number one thing you can do to address poverty also is the way you address unemployment and the way you address the squeeze of the middle class, that is get the economy growing and get people back to work, so the kinds of policies the president is putting forward are quite different than what's coming from the other side. They are let's try to find this broad middle ground in which we have targeted incentives for people to do their investment in this country, not somewhere else. And part of that is infrastructure. Part of that is research and development, and part of that is just old-fashioned moxie, let's get the private sector stood up so that they can, you know, carry us out of this.

AMANPOUR: Austan Goolsbee, thank you so much for joining us.

GOOLSBEE: Thank you for having me.

AMANPOUR: Imam, thank you for joining us.

IMAM FEISAL ABDUL RAUF: Thank you, Christiane, for having me.

AMANPOUR: Tell me about your plans for the Islamic center.

Are you going to keep it at Park 51, where you proposed?

RAUF: The decisions that I will make -- that we willmake -- will be predicated on what is best for everybody.

AMANPOUR: How do you decide that?

RAUF: That's been very difficult and very challenging, because,unfortunately, the -- the discourse has been, to a certain extent,hijacked by the radicals.

The radicals on both sides, the radicals in the United States andthe radicals in the Muslim world, feed off each other. And to a certainextent, the attention that they've been able to get by the media haseven aggravated the problem.

AMANPOUR: 71 percent of New Yorkers say it should be moved. What is your main reason for not wanting to move it?

RAUF: My major concern with moving it is that the headline in theMuslim world will be Islam is under attack in America, this willstrengthen the radicals in the Muslim world, help their recruitment,this will put our people -- our soldiers, our troops, our embassies, ourcitizens -- under attack in the Muslim world and we have expanded andgiven and fueled terrorism.

AMANPOUR: Do you think that is a legitimate reason not to move it?

RAUF: It is an extremely important consideration.

AMANPOUR: . People are saying that because youintimated that it would cause great anger in Muslim countries around theworld, it could threaten the United States. And people are saying thatyou made a threat.

Is that -- was that your intention?

RAUF: I have never made a threat. I've never made a threat, neverexpressed a threat, never -- I've never -- I would never threatenviolence ever, because I am a man of peace, dedicated to peace.

We have two audiences. We have the Americanaudience and we have the Muslim audience. And this issue has rivetedthe attention of the whole Muslim world. And whatever we do andwhatever say and how we move and the discourse about it is being watchedvery, very closely. And if we make the wrong move, it will only expandand strengthen the voice of the radicals and the extremists.