Gene Sperling, President Obama’s chief economic advisor, criticized Republicans on Sunday for blocking key portions of the administration’s proposal last fall for an “American Jobs Act,” saying that if it had passed “we’d be knocking on the door of going under 8 percent, being into the 7 percent on unemployment and making much further progress.”
Speaking on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS show, Sperling also indicated that no one in the administration had made plans for handling the nation’s re-emerging debt crisis, and he defended the administration’s handling of tax reform by saying “you haven’t seen any of the major parties go overly [into] detail,” according to a transcript released by CNN.
On the jobs issue, Sperling said that if all of it had passed, the president’s $47 billion jobs act “would have added an extra million to 2 million jobs. Now it’s fortunate we got the payroll tax cut, the veterans’ tax cut, the unemployment insurance. And those are helping. But just think about how much stronger the job market would be if just two of the things he had proposed that the Republicans said no to had passed. One, [preventing] teacher layoffs. And secondly, construction jobs, and infrastructure.”
When Zakaria, the host, asked him about how the administration planned to address the next crisis over the debt-ceiling limit—likely to come to a head by the end of this year—Sperling, chairman of the National Economic Council, responded that “we will have to see how it goes.”
“I don’t think any of us know exactly when we hit the debt limit again,” he said. “I think whenever that is, I would hope that we, as a country, would agree that however we fight, battle and argue over deficits, that we are never, ever again going to see anybody using the default of the United States for the first time in our history as a budget tactic."
Challenged over whether Obama’s proposal for a “Buffett Rule” requiring millionaires to pay minimum tax rates is a mere political gimmick, Sperling said the president has not done more than “put out the principles” of tax reform “because I think, as we saw in 1986, at the end of the day when this happens, it usually happens because there’s a bipartisan negotiation where everybody works hard, you know, holds hands and jumps together with it. And that’s the kind of thing we would like to do.”