'This Week' Transcript: David Plouffe and Lindsey Graham

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So we have to live within our means. And I think the president has been clear that he is willing to do some tough things, because the only way to reduce the deficit is to get out of your comfort zone. You're not going to do it without some smart entitlement reform in the long term, but you're also not going to do it without significant tax reform.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You keep saying smart entitlement reform. Does that include Medicare cuts? Are Medicare cuts back on the table as part of this congressional committee's mandate and as part of the enforcement mechanism's mandate?

PLOUFFE: Well, again, there's various, George, enforcement mechanisms that would have different constructs. In the initial set of spending cuts, obviously, these are just domestic spending cuts, and they would be both defense and non-defense. The committee's charge then -- before we get the enforcement mechanism -- will be, how do you fill in the rest of the details? The truth is, we will have cut a lot of domestic spending. So there's not going to be much more room there.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So that drives you to Medicare and Medicaid, perhaps Social Security?

PLOUFFE: Well, and tax reform. And the president was pretty clear. He laid out -- he was willing to do Medicare reform. Our view on this is, if we can strengthen Medicare, if we can strengthen Social Security, as opposed to what the House Republicans wanted to do, which was largely to dismantle it...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you keep talking about tax reform, and what we've just seen in the House all week long is there are not votes in the House of Representatives -- there's not a majority in the House of Representatives for the kind of package you're talking about.

PLOUFFE: Well, it's hard to get a majority of House Republicans, it seems, to even support their own plan. But here's what I'm convinced of. The shame of it is, if the, quote, unquote, "grand bargain" that the president had been working with the speaker on, I'm convinced, had that come, it would have been the easiest to get the votes for, because it would have been deficit reduction on such a grand scale that even though there was component parts in it that are really tough political votes, people would have been willing to accept it.

Well, now we're going to do it in two stage, but ultimately we need the same outcome, which is we need significant deficit reduction, $3 trillion or $4 trillion over 10 years, really begin to reduce the deficit in the years after that, and it's got to be done in a balanced way.

AMANPOUR: You keep saying it has to be done. If it's not, what is the administration going to do? I mean, the specter of U.S. soldiers fighting for this country in Afghanistan, asking their commander whether they're going to get paid is really shameful.

PLOUFFE: Yes.

AMANPOUR: What are the choices that are going to be made if this doesn't come through as you hope?

PLOUFFE: Well, it's really unthinkable. And I think the specter you raised is one of the reasons I think there's so much urgency on Capitol Hill this morning.

AMANPOUR: What are the tough choices? And what's going to be paid?

PLOUFFE: Well, first of all, our focus now is on solving this. You know, we don't have much time left, a little over 60 hours, I guess. We've got to get this solved.

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