From the April 4 edition of CNN's CNN Newsroom with Carol Costello:
POPPY HARLOW (HOST): Art, to you. Big headlines over the weekend about what Donald Trump told The Washington Post in terms of the economy. He said the U.S. economy is heading towards a very massive recession. He said the U.S. is sitting on a financial bubble. He said that he would be able to eliminate the $19 trillion national debt in eight years in office. To do that he would have to cut the annual budget of $4 trillion in half. How realistic is this?
ART LAFFER: Well, that's not true, Poppy. He would not have to do that. He could reduce that --
HARLOW: Then how does he get to that number?
LAFFER: By asset sales. I mean, you have all these properties, you have the post office. You have Camp Pendleton, who's worth $65 billion there, all sorts of asset sales.
HARLOW: Who are you going to sell it to? Who are you going to sell it to?
LAFFER: Oh, you're going to -- Southern California beachfront property is still going very nicely. You've got the oil reserves you've got sitting there, you've got gold in Fort Knox, you've got of all these assets that can probably bring down the national debt.
HARLOW: I'm asking, but who are you going to sell it to, to eliminate $19 trillion in national debt?
LAFFER: Well, you couldn't eliminate the whole $19 trillion with asset sales. But if you brought the budget back in, you got economic growth, you wouldn't reduce it to zero, but you could make a huge hit. I mean, the tax amnesty program by itself, Poppy, if with a good tax plan, it could probably bring in $800 billion. I mean, just past taxes being paid.
HARLOW: But he wants to cut taxes.
LAFFER: You know, he wants to cut tax rates, Poppy. He does not want to cut taxes. He wants to cut tax rates to bring economic growth back in. He wants to bring jobs back into the United States by having a corporate tax of 15 percent versus the highest tax in the OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development], and he is completely right on that. And by the way, so is Ted Cruz, completely right on that. Everyone else is missing this.
HARLOW: Jeffrey Lord, to you. When it comes to unemployment, another headline from this Washington Post article, 96-minute interview with Trump, is that he said unemployment is not at five percent, it's in the 20s. But if you just go to the Labor Department statistics, and even if you count in all the people on the margins who are out of work but not looking for work, so they are not included in the formal unemployment rate of five percent, last month it was less than 10 percent. What -- I know you support him, but telling the American people unemployment is something that it's not, how can you do that?
JEFFREY LORD: Well, Poppy, I don't think the American people need to be told. I think the American people are experiencing this. I think, frankly, this is one of the reasons why Donald Trump has such rocket fuel in his political tank here. As I may have mentioned yesterday, I know somebody personally who's been looking for a job for three years and only found one in the last couple weeks. I mean, people are really suffering out there, and they're really mad about it.
HARLOW: There's no question they're suffering, but the numbers are what the numbers are. Art, can you jump in here, as Reagan's former economic adviser?
LAFFER: Sure, I would love to jump in. Yeah, if you look at employment, we're worried about employment, not about unemployment, not about participation rates. If you go back to employment during Clinton's era, at the end of Clinton, employment as a share of population was about 64 percent, 64.5. We are losing about 13 million jobs compared to where it was with Clinton. Now, that is both [George] W. [Bush] and Obama contributing to all of that. But we have a terrible employment recovery. We are losing so much potential output in employment. And while Donald Trump's numbers may not be exactly right at five or 10 percent, he is completely correct in the spirit of this, as are all of the Republican candidates. This is a terrible, terrible recovery, the worst in U.S. history. So anyone who claims that this is a good economy just doesn't know the facts.