Steele Stumps Stephanopoulos on 'Make Work' vs. Jobs

ABC's George Stephanopoulos was puzzled on Sunday's This Week when new Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele saw a difference between government-created temporary “make work” jobs and jobs created by the private sector: “I guess I don't really understand that distinction.” When Steele charged that “what this administration is talking about is making work,” Stephanopoulos interjected, “But that's a job,” leading Steele to explain: “No, it's not a job. A job is something that a business owner creates. It's going to be long term. What he's [Obama's] creating” are projects that “have an end point.”

Answering Stephanopoulos' confusion, Steele elaborated: “Well, the difference, the distinction is this. If you got a government contract that's a fixed period of time it goes away. The work may go away. There's no guarantee that there's going to be more work when you're done that job.” To which, Stephanopoulos retorted: “But we've seen millions and millions of jobs going away in the private sector just in the last year.” Steele tried again: “Yes, but they come back though, George. That's the point. They've gone away before and they come back.”

An incredulous Stephanopoulos characterized Steele's plan as “simply” to incentivize small business: “So your plan would simply be more incentives to small businesses?”

From ABC's This Week on Sunday, February 8:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But outside of Washington, some strong Republican voices have said the stimulus package is needed now. Governor Schwarzenegger, Governor Charlie Crist of Florida, he supports the package.

GOVERNOR CRIST ON MSNBC: This program will help us with education, health care, Medicaid specifically, infrastructure. These are the kinds of things that produce job. It could mean $13 billion to the Sunshine state. It comes at a time when we need it. People need jobs. It's about jobs, jobs, jobs.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He suggested you and Republican Party leaders here in Washington are on the wrong side of the biggest issue, jobs.

MICHAEL STEELE: You know, with all due respect to the Governor, I understand where he's coming from, having been a state official I know what it means to get those dollars when you're in tight times. But you've got to look at the entire package. You've got to look at what's going to create sustainable jobs. What this administration is talking about is making work. It is creating work.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But that's a job.

STEELE: No, it's not a job. A job is something that a business owner creates. It's going to be long term. What he's creating-

STEPHANOPOULOS: So a job doesn't count if it's a government job?

STEELE: Let me finish. That is a contract. It ends at a certain point, George. You know that. These road projects that we're talking about have an end point. As a small business owner, I'm looking to grow my business, expand my business. I want to reach further. I want to be international, I want to be national. It's a whole different perspective on how you create a job, versus how you create work. Either way, the bottom line is-

STEPHANOPOULOS: I guess I don't really understand that distinction.

STEELE: Well, the difference, the distinction is this. If you got a government contract that's a fixed period of time it goes away. The work may go away. There's no guarantee that there's going to be more work when you're done that job.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But we've seen millions and millions of jobs going away in the private sector just in the last year.

STEELE: Yes, but they come back though, George. That's the point. They've gone away before and they come back. The point is, the small business owners take the risks. They're the ones out there in the morning, putting that second mortgage on the house, taking the risk necessary so they can employ your kids and my kids and future generations. That's sustainable long-term growth. Otherwise, why do we need the small business community? Why don't we all just get a government job and call it a day?

STEPHANOPOULOS: So your plan would simply be more incentives to small businesses?

STEELE: Pardon me?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your plan would simply be more incentives to small businesses?

STEELE: More incentives to small businesses. At the same time, correcting those rules in the markets that have hindered and frustrated the banking process that have lent themselves to drying up the credit markets as we see them...
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center