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ABC "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" - Transcript

Interview

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STEPHANOPOULOS: Hello again, and how about that Michael Phelps? What a stunning capper to his Olympic career last night, 18th gold medal, sealing his place as the top Olympian ever. We're going to have more on that coming up.

But politics first, and a face-off with the party chairs after a surprisingly packed first week of August. Debbie Wasserman Schultz here for the Democrats, Reince Priebus for the Republicans.

And Congresswoman Schultz, let me begin with you and begin with that unemployment report that came out on Friday. The good news, 163,000 jobs created. The bad news, unemployment up to 8.3 percent. That makes 42 straight months of unemployment above 8 percent. No president since FDR has been elected with numbers even close to that, so how do you respond to Americans who say that 8 percent unemployment just isn't good enough?

SCHULTZ: Well, we know that we need to keep pressing forward and continue to fight for new jobs and getting this economy turned around. But what we do also know is that we have had 27 straight months of job growth now in the private sector. This month, that Friday's job report, 172,000 new private-sector jobs were created. We have had a surge in the growth of the manufacturing sector. More than 500,000 jobs created in manufacturing. That's the first time that we have seen job growth in manufacturing, George, since the 1990s.

We're moving in the right direction, and the president has proposed the American Jobs Act. It would be great if my colleagues on the Republican side in Congress would actually care more about getting the economy turned around and working with this president to pass that plan and create the million jobs that would be created.

STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know, Congress has gone home, Congress has gone home. So that's not going to happen this year.

SCHULTZ: Well, we shouldn't have gone home before passing the American Jobs Act. They care more about defeating this president than they do about working with him to pass a balanced plan and continue to get the economy turned around. The ball is in their court.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Mitt Romney also says in an interview this morning that he doesn't want any more intervention from the Federal Reserve between now and election day. Do you agree with that?

SCHULTZ: I'm sorry, I missed your --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Mitt Romney also said that he wants, in an interview out today, that he wants no more intervention for the Federal Reserve between now and the election day. Do you agree with that?

SCHULTZ: Well, I think that's up to the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve is an independent financial institution. It's important that we not dictate from the White House, or certainly from candidates for president of the United States, what the Federal Reserve should be doing. That's why they are an independent institution.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The Democratic Senate Leader, Harry Reid made a pretty explosive charge this week, he said Mitt Romney hasn't paid taxes in 10 years. Here he was on the Senate floor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REID: The word is out that he hasn't paid any taxes for 10 years. Let him prove that he has paid taxes. Because he hasn't.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Now, you know, Senator Reid's only source there, according to him, is an anonymous Bain investor whose identity he won't reveal. Is it appropriate for the Democratic leader in the Senate to make a charge like that with no more evidence than an anonymous source?

SCHULTZ: George, I don't know who Harry Reid's source is, but I do know that Mitt Romney could clear this up--

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's the point, isn't it?

SCHULTZ: -- in 10 -- I do know that Mitt Romney could clear this up in 10 seconds by releasing the 23 years of tax returns that he gave to John McCain when he was being vetted for vice president. Or even 12 years of tax returns that his own father said were what was appropriate. Because one year of tax returns, like he's released, could just be for show. And let's not forget--

STEPHANOPOULOS: But it's one thing to say--

SCHULTZ: -- that a week ago, hold on a second, George, a week ago, Mitt Romney said in response to a reporter's question when asked if he had ever paid a rate below 13.9 percent, that he would check and get back to us. And you know, I'm glad I wasn't holding my breath waiting for Mitt Romney to get back to us on answering that question, because he still hasn't responded whether he's paid a lower tax rate.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He hasn't, but he has denied that he didn't pay taxes for 10 years. And I take your point that it would be right to show more tax returns. At the same time, I don't believe that you believe that it's OK to make a charge like that, 10 years of not paying taxes, with no evidence.

SCHULTZ: Like I said, I don't know whose Harry Reid's source was, but I do know that this is a question that has swirled around Mitt Romney for this entire campaign. I do know that he could clear it up just like that, lickety-split, by releasing his tax returns, which every major candidate for president of the United States has done except for Mitt Romney. I do know that there are massive questions about why he has a Swiss bank account, why he has investments in the Cayman Islands and a Bermuda corporation that he has transferred to his wife's name one day before he became governor of Massachusetts.

Those are questions that when you're running for president of the United States, that the American people deserve answers to. Why is Mitt Romney refusing to answer them? Why is he refusing to show the American people what he was willing to show John McCain 23 years of information on? There's got to be a reason.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I take it from your answer you're not going to repudiate Senator Reid's charge.

SCHULTZ: Everybody is responsible for saying the things that they have information on. Harry Reid says that he has a credible source. I know that this question is not just generated by Harry Reid. It's been asked by countless reporters, by voters that want to know--

STEPHANOPOULOS: On that question, Congresswoman, do you stand by Harry Reid's charge?

SCHULTZ: -- about -- more about Mitt Romney's finances. What is he hiding? I stand by the fact -- George, I stand by the fact that I believe, like the overwhelming majority of voters believe, because the polls all show, that Mitt Romney owes us more than one year of tax returns. Owes us answers to questions about his overseas investments, owes us answers to questions about why he's decided to invest in foreign countries, as opposed to investing in the United States. Owes us answers to questions about why as head of Bain Capital, he shipped jobs overseas. Why did he have a tax plan that actually continues tax incentives for shipping jobs overseas, when President Obama has a plan to incentivize companies to bring jobs back here. Those are the questions that need to be answered, and they weren't raised by Harry Reid. They were all raised by voters, and reporters, and people who have a right to ask, and Mitt Romney has yet to come clean on the answers on any of those questions.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So it's clear you are not going to repudiate that charge from Harry Reid. One final question, President Obama celebrating his birthday. He got a little present from the RNC, was sent to the Democratic National Committee over the weekend. I want to show it. Birthday cake saying, "you didn't bake this. Happy birthday, Mr. President." Do you think the president is going to be able to shake "you didn't build this" line?

SCHULTZ: I think that it would be great if Republicans would make sure that they weren't supporting cuts in investment like education, like infrastructure, like all the things that we know help businesses thrive. President Obama has always been committed to making sure that small businesses have an opportunity to thrive, large businesses. That's why he pushed through 18 different tax breaks for small business owners.

But I know President Obama has also backed up that support with action by supporting investments in infrastructure, education, the Internet and the economy, so that businesses have more of an opportunity to thrive, while Republicans support slashing, and Mitt Romney supports major cuts in those kinds of programs, which would harm businesses' ability to thrive.

That's the choice we have got in this election. Do we want to continue moving in the direction that President Obama has taken? 29 straight months of job growth in the private sector, a president who wants a balanced approach to deficit reduction. Asked folks to pay a little bit more who can, so that we can make sure we can make those investments in education and the economy.

We're all in this together. This election should not be about defeating Barack Obama. It should be about getting the economy turned around, and that's what Barack Obama is committed to.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's get a response now from Republican National Committee. Thank you, Congresswoman. Reince Priebus, the chairman of the RNC.

SCHULTZ: Thank you, George.

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