The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

March 29, 2004

Steve Friedman, Director of the National Economic Council, Appears on WJR Radio


Paul: Pleasure to welcome in advance of his visit at the Southfield Westin Hotel-you might still be able to get some tickets at the door at the Detroit Economic Club-as they'll be welcoming in Steven Friedman, Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Director of the National Economic Council. Steven Friedman, welcome to WJR.

Friedman: Good morning Paul, your welcome, thanks for having me.

Paul: Who knew when you were in this position you'd be in maybe the hottest seat going right now with the economy being such an important part of what's happening all around us and the concern, again-it's the economy stupid-that all eyes are on.

Friedman: Well, we have a good, strong recovery going on in most respects, Paul. The part that's highly unsatisfactory is the job growth. It is not where we would like to see it. It turned in the right direction in the last six months; it's heading in the right direction, but not with the size of the job creation. I think the signs are promising, and the President's program is very, very much focused on jobs; that's his highest economic priority.

Paul: I fear that outsourcing has become the devil here, and it's being talked about an awful lot, and yet I was stunned to find that there's no real figure out there yet for jobs lost due to outsourcing. Wall Street Journal last week said anywhere from 250 to 500 thousand but they don't know. If you go by the ALF-CIO they say 2 million jobs, and on top of all of that because jobs are becoming the issue and outsourcing becoming the issue with people not fully understanding it, Senator Kerry told us earlier this morning he wants to create 10 million new jobs if he becomes President. Try to make some sense of all this for us.

Friedman: Paul, first of all, we take it very, very seriously when jobs aren't available for everyone who's looking for one and wants one whether they lose it from outsourcing or whether they lose it from automation, or whatever. With respect to outsourcing, which people particularly talk of when it's white collar jobs or services jobs, the thing that's important to know is the United States is actually a very strong leader in the services industry. We have insourced to the United States a large number of jobs and we actually have a very sizeable surplus with the rest of the world-something like 60 billion dollars-where the United States is supplying services to other countries, a range of services. Now as to how many jobs have moved to India and Asia in recent years, you're right; no one knows the numbers. The range the Wall Street Journal has is the same range I see from a bunch of sources that are, at best, guestimates. But, as I say, bear in mind that international trade is a two-way street and services is something we're very strong in.

Paul: Well, I'll tell you something else-Steven Friedman, Director of the National Economic Council with us on WJR at 7:46-negatives always get the attention. Nobody's talking about the insourcing-

Friedman: Yeah-

Paul: That is-the people who are bringing jobs the United States because of the environment that's been created here that's good for business. Take Toyota for example: thousands of jobs that have been insourced here in these United States.

Friedman: Well that's exactly right, Paul. There is something in the order of six-and-a-half-million Americans today working for U.S. subsidiaries of foreign corporations, and there are many, many more millions whose jobs are dependent on international trade. Something like one in five factory jobs, I think, relates to trade. And trade-related jobs pay more than other jobs, and it's just a vital part of the prosperity of the United States and we-we being President Bush's administration-really believe that prosperity comes from doing those things that are necessary to make the United States the best place in the world for people to build businesses, invest, hire folks, make capital expenditures, and create jobs for the people who build those machines and run them. So that's why we work very aggressively on his six-point agenda for growth.

Paul: Well Steve Friedman, enjoy your visit to Detroit a little later at the Southfield Westin Hotel at the Detroit Economic Club, and as I mentioned, there might be a limited number of tickets available at the door. Nice talking with you, sir.

Friedman: Thanks a lot, Paul. Bye-bye.

Paul: Bye-bye. Steven Friedman, Director of the National Economic Council, Assistant to the President for Economic Policy. And a hot topic of course, jobs. 7:48, 12 minutes away from 8:00.

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