The following is a transcript of an interview with Cecilia Rouse, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, that aired Sunday, April 4, 2021, on “Face the Nation.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: Friday there was good news in the jobs report, as more than 900-thousand jobs were added back in March–overall we’re still at 8.4 million fewer jobs than a year ago. Dr. Cecilia Rouse is chair of the White House council of economic advisers, and says that improvement is due to the acceleration in vaccinations–and schools reopening which allowed some women to re-enter the workforce. We spoke with her Saturday.
CHAIR OF THE COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS DR. CECILIA ROUSE: What we saw in the last month is that there was an improvement in labor force participation that was entirely due to women. And at the same time, when we look at the job gains, it was widely- it was widely shared. So it was- there were gains across the economy.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So inside this jobs bill that the Biden administration is pushing, there’s about $25 billion for building or upgrading child care centers and expanded tax credits to incentivize child care centers being built by private employers. How is this supposed to work?
DR. ROUSE: What the jobs plan recognizes is that care is an important part of our infrastructure if workers are going to be able to go back to work. So the idea is to provide incentives for people- for child care centers to be built where there are none, and also for employers to develop their own child care systems so that it makes it that much easier for their workers to be able to drop off their children, know that their children are being well taken care of while they’re able to also work outside the home and do the kind of work that they find fulfilling or that they want to do.
MARGARET BRENNAN: This $2 trillion ask, only about 5% of the funding goes to infrastructure. Viewers can take a look at the breakdown here of all the programs that are called for funding on. But of the $620 billion for infrastructure upgrades, it includes incentivizing purchases of electric cars. Can you honestly call this a focus on building roads and bridges?
DR. ROUSE: I think it’s important that we upgrade our definition of infrastructure. One that meets the needs of a 21st century economy. And that means we need to be funding and incentivizing those structures that allow us to maximize our economic activity. So incentivizing electric vehicles is really important because we need to be addressing climate change. If we think about the opportunity cost of not doing so, we’re just going to keep paying for it. And we know that we need to be encouraging our industries to be tilting towards, you know, greener production, greener technologies.
MARGARET BRENNAN: President Biden is throwing around this projection that the entire bill will create about 19 million jobs. What does that number come from? Which industries are going to do that hiring?
DR. ROUSE: So that’s an estimate from Moody’s Analytics, and it’s- we know that those- those jobs are going to be coming from the- the traditional infrastructure. We can just call it traditional, the roads and bridges. So the pipefitters, the electricians, those who will be paving the roads and building the bridges. But we also know that some of it’s going to be coming from research and development. So the scientists and engineers will be thinking through the innovations that will ensure that our economy is being, you know, is- is being smart and is developing solutions to the knotty problems that we need to solve if we’re going to really address climate change and be prepared to, you know–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
DR. ROUSE: –continue to flourish as we go forward. But now that men and women are in the labor force, we need for our- our loved ones to be taken care of. Otherwise, women cannot go to work, as this pandemic has highlighted.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That Moody’s analysis says, though, in terms of jobs with the infrastructure plan, the economy recovers the jobs lost in the pandemic by early 2023. But it’s not much different than without the plan. The president has said raising taxes on corporations won’t hurt the economy. But a slew of employers disagree. I’m sure you’ve seen these statements. Chamber of Commerce called this proposal dangerously misguided. They say the tax increases will make the US less competitive. National Association of Manufacturers says it will fundamentally undermine our ability to lead this recovery. These are the employers that you need to create these jobs.
DR. ROUSE: The president believes that, you know, everybody should be paying their fair share in taxes. In those- that Moody’s analysis that you cited, looking over a 10 year plan, the analysis incorporates both the investment parts of the president’s proposal, but also the corporate tax com- components as well. And on net, we see that there is an improvement in our economic growth. We see that there’s an improvement in labor force participation. We see there’s an increase in the number of jobs and a decrease in the unemployment rate. So net net, we think that the president’s proposals are good for the American economy, even including the corporate tax cuts- so even including, oh my gosh, the corporate tax increases.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The corporate tax rate, as you’re indicating it, would go up to 28%, probably even higher than that. And taxes and corporate income earned overseas would also increase. This is 15 years of higher taxes to pay for eight years of spending. Can you really say that’s not a cost?
DR. ROUSE: Typically when one makes an investment, one pays for an investment up front and there are returns that gather over time. And I would say that the reason why the president is proposing these corporate tax increases is because that’s just the right thing to do. He believes we should be, you know, we should be en- encouraging these corporations to pay their fair share. They all use the roads and bridges and the public goods that are going to be created by these investments. And they should be paying their fair share of the taxes in order for us to be able to do so.
MARGARET BRENNAN: This past week, we had a number of corporations weigh in on this controversial move in a number of states to change voting rights laws. The president said that he would like to see the All-Star game move out of Georgia. And then the very next day, Major League Baseball did just that. Is the White House urging corporations to use their economic power to take political positions?
DR. ROUSE: Well, look, the president has said very strongly that he is opposed to the state laws restricting voting rights. He’s called them the Jim Crow of the 21st century, just, you know, period in terms of these companies. They are exercising their right to vote with their feet. It’s a little early to judge what the economic impact will be, but they have a right to to vote with their feet and to and to express their dissatisfaction with the laws.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But for a popcorn stand worker in Atlanta who just learned he’s not going to be hired in July. I mean, this comes at a cost, does it not?
DR. ROUSE: There is undoubtedly going to be a cost, I think that was the point that the- Major League Baseball was trying to make. Major League Baseball will, however, move its- its game and workers at another place will benefit. You know, that is exactly the message that Major League Baseball was trying to send. The president opposes these laws. He believes that they are restrictive, they are discriminatory. These businesses- these companies have the opportunity to vote with their feet and they’re using their economic power to just express their dissatisfaction.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Understood. Dr. Rouse, thank you for your time today.
DR. ROUSE: You’re very welcome. Thank you for having me.
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