New economic chairman: Unemployment rate 'going to stay high' in near term

President Obama's new chairman of the Council of Economic Affairs (CEA) said Sunday that the national unemployment rate will not decrease significantly anytime soon.

Austan Goolsbee, who Obama announced on Friday will replace Christina Romer as head of the CEA, told "Fox News Sunday" that the president is doing all he can to help the economy, but the recession was so deep, it will take some time for employment numbers to recover.

"I don't think the unemployment rate will be coming down significantly at any time in the near future," Goolsbee said.

Unemployment for the nation reached 9.6 percent in August, and Goolsbee and other White House officials regularly concede they expect it to get worse before it gets better.

Goolsbee echoed that forecast on ABC's "This Week" Sunday. "It's going to stay high," he said of the unemployment rate. "This recession is the deepest in our lifetimes, the deepest since 1929. If you take the people thrown out of work in the 1982 recession, the 1991 recession, the 2001 recession, not only is this bigger, this is bigger than all of those combined. So more than 8 million people lost their jobs.

"It's going to take a significant push on our part and time before that comes down," he said. "I don't anticipate it coming down rapidly."

Goolsbee, in his first interview since Obama named his as chairman of the CEA, defended Obama's handling of the economy, specifically the president's call for ending tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

Goolsbee rejected the Republican argument, put forward by host Chris Wallace, that raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans would hurt small businesses and further stunt hiring.

Goolsbee called that argument "highly misleading," saying that 97 percent of small businesses are "totally unaffected" by letting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire.

On ABC's "This Week," Goolsbee said that if there is the GOP will to extend the middle-class tax cuts, "we should do it."

"We shouldn't hold that hostage for the argument about the tax cuts just for the very, very highest income people," he said.

Goolsbee pushed back against the arguments on the tax cuts by Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), saying that the GOP leader's call for repealing the rest of the stimulus "would raise taxes on 110 million middle class people."

"The president does not need to take lessons in tax cuts from anyone," Goolsbee said. "He cut taxes for hundreds of millions of people. We have cut taxes across the board. We cut taxes for small business eight different times. And the president now has a small business bill sitting in Congress that is behind held up by some Republicans in the Senate, that would cut them eight different more times."

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