This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," April 7, 2004, that was edited for clarity.
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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Senator John Kerry attacking the president for his lack of fiscal responsibility, and all but saying the current administration is spending like a bunch of drunken sailors. Is the Kerry plan better for our country? Let’s ask the commerce secretary of the United States, who I think would probably disagree with the statement.
Secretary, good to have you.
DON EVANS, COMMERCE SECRETARY: Thank you, Neil. Always good to be with you, my friend.
CAVUTO: The senator essentially saying we’re going to hell in a handbasket. How do you answer that?
EVANS: Well, Neil, I’d answer it by saying that I spent 30 years of my life in the private sector creating jobs, and I’ve never seen an economy any stronger than this economy is today.
I think that clearly the results are in. The president’s policies are working. There is not an indicator that you can point to now that is not headed in the right direction.
Unemployment was the last indicator that we continue to see lagging. But unemployment, in fact, has come from 6.6 percent to 5.7 percent.
We have seen strong job growth in the first quarter of this year, some 500,000 -- more than 500,000 jobs created in the first quarter. We have seen -- according to the Household Survey, we have seen about a million jobs created since the president’s jobs and growth package was passed into law in the summer of 2003. Since then, we have created some one million jobs.
CAVUTO: But, you know what he is saying, Secretary?
EVANS: And so the president’s policies are working.
CAVUTO: I’m sorry. But you know what he is saying, that this is job growth that is better, but not nearly enough to make up for all the job losses in the president’s prior years. I’m just at a political standpoint here. Are you worried that unless we do see 300,000 job gains a month, you guys are in trouble?
EVANS: No, Neil. I’m not worried because I think the American people clearly see that this economy is headed in the right direction. And I think the American people will clearly understand that those jobs they were talking about that were lost, 1.8 million of them, about 80 percent of the jobs they talk about, were in the first year of the president’s administration.
We were handed a recession, we had to deal with 9/11. And in that year alone, 1.8 million jobs were lost. Since the end of that year, beginning in January of 2002, according to the Household Survey, we have created 2.4 million jobs.
We have been creating jobs since January of 2002, and I think the American people will see beyond a lot of this political rhetoric and see that, yes, once the president’s policies were enacted and had a chance to work their way into the economy, we have a very, very strong economy.
CAVUTO: But do you worry, Secretary, that surveys seem to indicate otherwise? That, yes, you are right, a lot of economic numbers have steadily improved, the job pickup is measurable, as you said, but when people are polled on these subjects they don’t seem to buy that?
EVANS: Well, you know, Neil, we just need to continue to get out across America and talk to the American people. That is indeed what I have been doing. And explain to them that this economy is headed in the right direction.
It is a very strong economy. I mean, when you look at the fact that we are growing and we grew in the last six months of 2003 at the highest rate in over 20 years, when you look at many of the indexes that maybe you are referring to, the ISM Manufacturing Index, it is at a 20-year high and has been hovering around that for the last number of months. The ISM Services Index, it’s at a 20-year high -- or it’s at a record high right now.
And so the economy is very, very powerful right now. And I think will continue to show strength and continue to see more job creation in the months and quarters ahead.
CAVUTO: All right. Don Evans, secretary of commerce, appreciate it, as always. Thank you.
EVANS: You bet. Thank you, Neil.
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