Meet the Press   |  October 20, 2013

Lew optimistic on economic future

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew visits Meet the Press to elaborate on his assertion that the "cloud of economic uncertainty has been lifted."

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> good to be with you.

>> you said this week with the crisis over, the cloud of economic uncertainty has been lifted. how is that possibly the case when in just a couple of months we could be right back to the brink again?

>> david, first, it's important to remember that what we just went through was a political crisis, not an economic crisis . i think that having come through it, what we saw on wednesday night, that admittedly at the 11th hour, a strong bipartisan majority in the house and the senate stood for the principle that is so important, that you cannot take a risk with the full faith and credit act.

>> does that mean there was no economic damage done, in your opinion?

>> no. unfortunately, we learned in 2011 that when you get close to the edge , it does do some damage. we have a resilient economy. i'm confident our economy can recover. the american people have worked hard to come back from the worst recession since the great depressi depression. we need to make sure the government doesn't go through another round of brinksmanship. this can't happen again.

>> what damage was done?

>> they'll be looking through the economic data for weeks and months to come, both in government and out of government. we did see our borrowing costs go up in the short term. we know that from the shutdown there was a loss of economic activity . i can't give you a number today of what it is. i know the direction. the direction is it took an economy that is fighting hard to get good economic growth going to create jobs for the american people , and it took it in the wrong direction. our job in washington is to move things in the right direction. this one was a little bit scary because it got so close to the edge . and i think what i heard from them was that they have confidence in our economy, much as the business people i talked to have confidence in our economy. i think what we need to do here in washington is to go from the coming together on wednesday night where we saw a strong bipartisan majority do the right thing and make progress from there, show that we can work together.

>> so one more economic question. a lot of republicans are calling about the fact that whatever drama was here that the sequester cuts have been locked in place, these automatic spending cuts that have kept spending down at a historic level. do you think that has hurt the economy, hurt economic growth , the fact we've had this lower spending level?

>> david, i think there is no question but that the deep spending cuts that are part of sequestration are holding back the economy. there are competing ranges, whether it's a half percent or more, up to a percentage of gdp. the president has made clear that we think you should replace some of the sequestration cuts with sensible, balanced entitlement and tax reforms to put us in the right direction for the future.

>> who do you blame for the inability to do what you've done in the past?

>> obviously, there was a faction, particularly in the house, that took control of some of the direction of this debate. i would just look to what republican leaders have said themselves about how inadvisable it is and how it can't happen again. i think the message going forward is there was a turning point on wednesday night, and this won't happen again. it can't happen again.