Weekly Jobless Claims Fall to 397,000

Rep. Jan Schakowsky on new numbers, president's economic plan


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," November 3, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF., HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: I will tell you this. If President Obama and the congressional Democrats had not acted, we would be 15 percent unemployment.

(END VIDEO CLIP) Nancy Pelosi just said that without President Obama or the congressional Democrats, the unemployment rate would be a lot higher than it is now, 15 percent.


My next guest could not agree more, Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky.

Congresswoman, do you believe that?


I was looking at the charts of Alan Blinder and Mark Zandi, Zandi from Moody’s and former consultant with the McCain campaign, and he has a whole -- we would be happy to send it to you -- predicting what unemployment would have been without the stimulus and other federal action.

Yes, I certainly do.

CAVUTO: Well, that is like trying to prove something that never was, though, right?

SCHAKOWSKY: No, no, exactly -- exactly not.

I will tell you what the greatest proof is, that a lot of those stimulus hypocrites who say that it created no jobs are often the first ones to show at the ribbon cutting, when that new police station is opened, or that road or bridge project begins. They will be out of mind in order to get up there and grin in front of the cameras.


CAVUTO: You might be right about that, but there is no way to prove something like this, right?

(CROSSTALK) CAVUTO: We know we are down a net 2.5 million jobs since the president took office. We’re down a net 2.5 million.

SCHAKOWSKY: Yes. Well, that...

CAVUTO: So, maybe it would have been a lot worse. You can argue it might have been a lot worse, but there is simply no way to know. All I know is your party, when the president, then George Bush, said things would be a lot worse in Iraq if we weren’t in there when we were, the criticism was, and it was a fair criticism, how can you prove that, Mr. President?

So I will ask you the same thing today.


SCHAKOWSKY: OK. Well, that is very easy, because there were big lies about whether or not there were weapons of mass destruction.

(CROSSTALK) CAVUTO: No, no, don’t mix it up. You know though I’m saying, that it would have been worse had we not gone in. There was no way to prove that.



CAVUTO: You are saying things would have been a lot worse had we not done stimulus. Prove it.

SCHAKOWSKY: Well, I turn to the Congressional Budget Office, I turn to the economists who talk about how many job would have been created, would have not -- would have been lost and would have been -- not been created.

We do know that there were jobs created. Yes, we can count those jobs that actually were created, sure.

CAVUTO: Yes, we can. No, no, you are right, you are right.

SCHAKOWSKY: Yes, we can.

CAVUTO: But here is what we cannot quantify, and nowhere in your research the CBO or Moody’s or Zandi or any of these other guys come to the conclusion you just did, that an unemployment rate... SCHAKOWSKY: Yes, they did.

CAVUTO: No, no, actually I just looked at this -- that is north of 9 percent would have been 15 percent without it.

SCHAKOWSKY: Well, that is exactly what Zandi and Blinder did. No, but that’s what they said.


CAVUTO: Do the math backwards, Congresswoman? Do the math backwards, that if you talk about, let’s say the two million jobs they are arguing were gained through stimulus, you cannot say, if you took that out, the unemployment rate would have been 15 percent without it.

SCHAKOWSKY: Well, that is exactly what -- that is exactly what they calculated using all kinds of economic models and saying that if we hadn’t put those people to work through the stimulus program and other government programs that, in fact, that would be it.

I am not an economist, you are right. And so I rely on these economists, almost all of whom, I think just about all of whom, who have said, yes, indeed, the stimulus program did just that. It created jobs and helped to stimulate the economy.

(CROSSTALK) CAVUTO: By the way, not everyone has said that. And I don’t need a calculator. I could use my fingers and toes to count some of these jobs because the fact of the matter is if you argue that you gained two million jobs, doing the math backward, Congresswoman, you would never be able to claim you shaved 6 percentage points off the unemployment rate.

You would have to get something in excess of 10 million jobs gained to have done that, so I guess what I am asking you is, leaving aside maybe the fact that you and I can disagree on the math involved here, you seem to be justifying stimulus per se, and that more stimulus, more spending will get this unemployment rate down even further, when, in fact, since stimulus, the unemployment rate is higher, not lower. It is higher.


SCHAKOWSKY: Actually, the unemployment rate had hit 10 percent. And so it is actually lower than it was.


CAVUTO: No, no, no, you know what I’m talking about. When this started, we were at around 8 percent, when right now we’re at around 9.1 percent.

That is what I am talking about. We have to deal with the numbers we have.

(CROSSTALK) SCHAKOWSKY: Neil, you don’t have to believe that. But economists are saying now -- and even the Simpson-Bowles commission, which I was on, said we do not want to cut the budget in order -- that that actually would cost jobs.

Again, Mark Zandi said the budget that was passed by the Republicans, the Paul Ryan budget if it went into effect would be about 1.7 million jobs lost, because it would make all kinds of cuts that would cause real job loss, and so -- let alone the destroying of Medicare.

CAVUTO: You see the box we are in, Congresswoman? If we are not willing to make any kind of substantive cuts -- and we are not even talking cuts, as you know, Congresswoman.


SCHAKOWSKY: Oh, we have. We have, Neil.


CAVUTO: No, you’re not. We’re talking about slowing the growth in spending. We’re talking about shaving $1 trillion in spending over the next 10 years. No one is cutting anything.


SCHAKOWSKY: But, Neil, what economists agree on that right now it is the federal government that needs to step in and help to jump-start the private sector, get those jobs going in the private sector, create some demand, so that people will go out and spend money and add customers, customers, customers, customers.


CAVUTO: How about getting the regulations off business’ back? How about getting taxes off their back? How about doing something that has nothing to do with Washington helping?

I talk to a lot of these guys, Congresswoman.

SCHAKOWSKY: You know what? That is not popular.


CAVUTO: Do you know what they are telling me? Stop helping. Stop it.


SCHAKOWSKY: You know what? That is not true. That is not true.

Even people who self-identify as Tea Partiers say that they would rather see jobs than budget cuts right now, that they want to see the kind of programs that are in the American Jobs Act -- 63 percent of Americans support the components of the American Jobs Act.

They don’t think that cutting the budget is the way to go right now.


CAVUTO: What they do tell me, from bakers to CEOs, from those that run small mom-and-pop concerns that sell Christmas ornaments to those who sell tractors, is just get Washington off our back. Get the regulations off. Get the taxes down.

Leaving the budget aside, what they are saying is, unfetter us, free us, leave us alone. What do you say?

SCHAKOWSKY: You know what? That is right.

In order to have dirty air, and dirty water, and fewer food inspectors -- that is not what people want to go back to. They don’t want to go back to epidemics of asthma.


CAVUTO: Maybe not, but I think what they are resenting is 10 new regulations a day, Congresswoman. Someone has to draw a line.

(CROSSTALK)SCHAKOWSKY: And the president drew the line and said that there are five regulations that they went through that they would cut as being too burdensome.

CAVUTO: OK. All right.

Congresswoman, I guess we can argue around and around, but I respect the fact you have a strong opinion on it. Good seeing you again.

SCHAKOWSKY: Good to see you, Neil. Thanks.

CAVUTO: All right.

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