'This Week' Transcript: NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander

From my perspective, our most important job is defending this nation. We follow the laws and we defend this nation. And I would tell you, when you look at, on balance, over 50 cases that we've help disrupt terrorist plots and contributed information to those, zero times have we come up with a place where we have failed the public's confidence or Congress' confidence in these -- in these laws.

I think that's pretty good.

I think that's what we've got to do, is we've got to move this debate from a political debate to a debate on national security, because that's what we're talking about and the security of this country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And the head of the director of national intelligence, Mr. Clapper, has said that cyber threats are the top national security threat.

You are the head of the U.S. cyber command, so you preside over elements of the Navy, the Air Force, the Army, the deal with cyber warfare operations. And in your testimony to Congress you said that this involves both defensive cyber warfare, but also offensive operations. Here's what you said.

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ALEXANDER: This is an offensive team that the Defense Department would use to defend the nation if it were attacked in cyberspace. Thirteen of the teams that we're creating are for that mission set alone.

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STEPHANOPOULOS: And one of the documents leaked by Mr. Snowden, the PPD 20, I believe, elaborates on that authority. He also says you have emergency authority to act on your own in circumstances, including anticipatory action against imminent threat.

So that's a preemptive capability, preemptive authority for you.

Can you help explain under what kind of circumstances you would be authorized on your own to launch an offensive act of cyber warfare?

ALEXANDER: So to be clear, what I can do on my own right now is within our networks to launch offensive measures to stop somebody from getting into the networks.

Anything that I want to do outside the networks that is offensive in nature, we would have to call the secretary and the president to get their approval.

So there are things that we can do to stop packets in flight. But from our perspective, any actions that's offensive in nature would require the policymakers. This is no different than if you think about the nuclear situation.

If somebody comes in and attacks the country, what we would do is immediately stand up a set of communications with the secretary, the president and the policymakers and say here's what's going on. Here's what we're doing to defend the networks right now and the actions we've taken.

And those are described in that as the defensive cyber effects operations. And here's what we'd recommend to secure the nation. Here's the steps we need to take.

And the president would have several options. He could take diplomatic. He could take military. He could take intelligence. He has a range of options. We would present some of the options. And then the president and the secretary would choose what to do. They may just call the offending country or actors and say stop.

Or they may choose else. But that's a policy decision.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers, was on this program a short while ago. And he said we're losing the cyber war to China.

Is he right?

ALEXANDER: Well, I think our nation has been significantly impacted with intellectual property, the theft of intellectual property by China and others. That is the most significant transfer of wealth in history.

And it goes right back to your initial question: who's taking our information? Is one of the things I believe the American people would expect me to know. That's one of my missions. Who's doing this to us? And why?

So when you asked your initial question, why, there's part of the answer. Who's coming after us? We need to know that so we can defend this nation.

STEPHANOPOULOS: General Alexander, thank you very much for your time this morning.

ALEXANDER: Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's get more on this now with Martha Raddatz, ABC's chief global affairs correspondent, Dan Senor, cofounder of the Foreign Policy Initiative, and Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, also author of a new book, "Foreign Policy Begins at Home."

And, Richard, let me begin with you, because you put out a pretty powerful tweet this morning saying that by releasing Snowden, China has thrown away the chance to invest in relations with the United States.

HAASS: (inaudible) George, just a couple of weeks after this summit, where China talked about a win-win relationship, to be a model of relations between major powers of the day. And instead, they've gone for a short-term gain. Plus, it raises real questions whether China is prepared to enter into any sort of regulation of what could be the great area of international competition for the next couple of decades...

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STEPHANOPOULOS: So you have no doubt that this was the government of China telling Hong Kong what to do?

HAASS: There's not a lot of freelancing going on in China. The idea that the Hong Kong authorities did this independently (inaudible) inconceivable.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you agree that this complicates the relationship?

RADDATZ: I think it complicates it, but I certainly don't think it ends it. I don't think it's quite that serious. I think China will move on, Hong Kong will move on. What were they really supposed to do? They have domestic politics, as well, especially in Hong Kong. Snowden had created protests in that country, so I think, in effect, China really had to say, let's get rid of this guy, let's get rid of the problem. He might be here for months and months and months, and that would really complicate things.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Clearly, though, Dan Senor, this is also something the United States does every day, as well, they're working in China, as well.

SENOR: Right. And Snowden's, you know, interviews that he gave and documents he released to the Chinese press obviously puts us in a very uncomfortable position. But I think domestically the U.S., I think this further strengthens the center on national security. I think there was a real risk over the last couple weeks that there would be this left-right coalition that would backlash against the United States government, sort of libertarian uprising. And I think Snowden just traveling around the world, flying to these anti-American capitals, behaving the way he's doing further strengthens -- I think the center is holding right now in the U.S., and I think that's -- that's a positive development.

RADDATZ: How about the great irony here, that he's complaining about the United States and all these things the United States is doing wrong, and he might end up in Venezuela? Good luck, pal.

SENOR: Right.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But one of the stunning things from -- we just heard from General Alexander, Richard, is that, you know, he conceded, yeah, those alarm bells didn't go off. And I think a lot of people shake their head and go, how could this possibly happen, a guy -- a fairly low-level guy in Hawaii gets our top secrets?

HAASS: Well, what the general also said is true. We've got this system that depends upon millions of people, some full-time in uniform, some full-time civilians, some contractors, and there's always going to be a couple of weak links, and we're vulnerable to that, and there's no way to ensure the security when you've got all these individuals, particularly so many in the tech world, as Dan said, come at it with this libertarian ethic that big government is bad, individual privacy is paramount, no matter what. But the fact that, look, so many people in media and elsewhere called this guy a whistleblower. He's not a whistleblower. He's a felon. He has endangered the lives of Americans. I think this story is beginning to turn, and that's important.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And the majority of Americans, as you point out, do believe he should be prosecuted. Martha, I want to turn now. You're just back from Jordan, and we're learning -- where the United States has been in a training exercise for possible military operations in Syria, some kind of military intervention in Syria. It does seem pretty clear right now that the U.S. is committed to helping the rebels in a way that levels the playing field with Assad's forces.

RADDATZ: Well, I think what -- what has been going on for a while is the CIA has been helping train the rebels on heavier weapons. I think you'll see much more of that. That's a way for America to actually vet those rebels. There's still some concern who they would give heavy weapons to. I don't think the United States is going to give those heavy weapons.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Qatar, Saudi Arabia.

RADDATZ: Qatar, Saudi Arabia, but we'll help train them, so you can look the rebels in the eye and say, these are the guys that we trust. It's as much as we can do at this point to try to change the balance there, because the small arms will really not change the balance in any way. And you've got such a huge problem, which I saw, with the refugees, 500,000 in Jordan. That is unsustainable.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Question, Dan Senor. Is it too late?

SENOR: I don't think it's too late if we do more than just arming the rebels. The -- the big question will be whether or not the administration at some point is prepared to do some sort of bombing campaign of Syrian airfields. It's the air -- landing strips that enable Assad's government to move chemical weapons around, move troops around, receive arms from Iran. Unless those airstrips are taken out, arming the rebels I think will have limited impact.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But if you go that far, Richard Haass, is -- is there any way to limit our involvement once we begin trying to implement some kind of a no-fly zone or bomb the airfields?

HAASS: That's why I don't think we should go that far. But what we should do is do the max, if you will, on indirect help, and that's why we should be providing these guys serious anti-armor, serious anti-aircraft support. But I don't think we want to go beyond that into direct military involvement.

Syria is just one thing we've got to worry about. We've got a much bigger issue in the Middle East coming down the pike, which is Iran. Plus, we've got all sorts of issues in Asia with China, plus we've got the domestic challenges here at home. We do not want American foreign policy to be grabbed totally by events in Syria.

SENOR: Well, I agree with that. The risk, however, is if the Iran-Hezbollah-Assad, Russia-backed proxy prevails, the kind of momentum and shot in the arm that will give to the regime in Tehran could give that ultimate fight that we're dealing with, that ultimate -- that ultimate conflict, Iran, give the Iranians the upper hand.

HAASS: That's why, again, we should be arming these guys much more heavily.

RADDATZ: But I still -- I still don't know what comes next. I still want that question answered, what comes next? What's our strategy in Syria? If they start taking out airfields and that doesn't work, or if you arm the rebels with heavier weapons or train and assist or do anything and that doesn't work, then what happens?

HAASS: I think what we have to be prepared for, no matter what we do, let's be honest and bleak about this. We're looking at years and years of prolonged fighting in Syria. There's not going to be a quick ending. There's not going to be a happy ending. Even after Assad may be ousted from power, then the rebels will turn on one another.

RADDATZ: It'll never be the same there.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Dan, none of that is going to happen -- and we saw the president with President Putin this week. None of that is going to happen unless the Russians change their attitude.

SENOR: I agree, which is why we have to at some point move past the Russians. We have to understand that there's not going to be any -- you know, peaceful transition of power, because it seems to me Putin has vetoed three U.N. Security Council resolutions on Syria. He's watered down many more. The idea that we're going to get cooperation from Putin is unrealistic.

I think Richard is right in that we haven't had a real discussion in this country about the stakes in Syria. And the president at some point has to address this issue, because for all the things that Martha has just seen on the front lines, this becomes a real regional mess, that someone needs to talk through the American public on.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Martha, we only have 30 seconds left. I have not seen any indication from the president that he's willing to go out there in a big public way and make the case for intervention in Syria.

RADDATZ: He doesn't want to, because once you put that giant toe in the water, that -- he's in.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Martha, Richard, Dan, thank you all very much.

SENOR: Good to be with you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Up next, a messy week on Capitol Hill and Wall Street. And a big week ahead at the Supreme Court. The roundtable weighs in on all that when we come back.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The roundtable coming up. First, the Sunday funnies.

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FALLON: More political news. A new report predicts that the Senate immigration bill will reduce the deficit by $200 billion. When they heard that, even Republicans were like, "Hola."

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LETTERMAN: Let's see the picture -- let's put this up, Obama and Putin. They were at the G-8 summit. Look at that. Look at those guys. Wow. It's like Thanksgiving with your relatives, isn't it?

(LAUGHTER)

Yeah, see the problem there, they have nothing to say to one another, because they've been bugging each other's phones.

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H. CLINTON: Let me say this. Hypothetically speaking, I really do hope that we have a woman president in my lifetime. And whether -- you know, whether it's next time or the next time after that, it really depends on women stepping up and subjecting themselves to the political process. Then the country, our country, has to take that leap of faith.

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STEPHANOPOULOS: Not the first, probably won't be the last hint from Hillary Clinton. Big week in politics, both leaving and coming up. Let's get to that with our roundtable, starting out with, from the Congress, Republican Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania, Democrat Joaquin Castro from Texas, Amity Shlaes, director of the Economic Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute and author of "Coolidge," and financier Steve Rattner, former counselor to the Obama Treasury Department, and ABC's chief business and economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis.

Welcome to all of you. A lot to talk about. I want to begin with immigration, because it seems like we had kind of a tale of two worlds in Washington this week, a lot of progress in the Senate on immigration. It appears that they're set up for a vote tomorrow that could lead to an overwhelming majority. But things seem to be getting bogged, continue to get bogged down in the House.

And I want to start with you, Congressman Castro. If, indeed, the Senate is able to pass this immigration bill with the 70 votes that some Democrats are saying is possible, does that mean you can get it through the House?

CASTRO: Well, it's certainly a precondition. It's got to pass with strong momentum in the Senate to have a chance in the House. Nothing really original I think is going to originate in the House of Representatives. So that's really a precondition. If it does that, I actually think it has a good choice. I still believe that we can pass it in 2013.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But your colleagues -- many of your colleagues, Congressman Kelly, seem to think that that's -- the 70 votes doesn't make a difference, one way or the other. The House is going to do what it's going to do.

KELLY: You know, and I think if you look through history, we don't do big things very well in Washington, so I think it's better to break it apart, do smaller pieces, have a heavy debate about it. And I'm not talking about a conversation. I'm talking about a heavy debate.

This is a serious, serious issue. We talk about a sovereign nation and its ability to protect its borders. That's number one. If we didn't learn anything from 1986 up until now, it's that we've got to look at this carefully and go through it.

I don't understand the rush. We saw what happened in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Any time you rush anything through that big -- this was up to 1,100 pages -- I doubt that anybody's really read it and been able to really get through every -- every piece of it. Border security is still a huge issue in northwest Pennsylvania...

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STEPHANOPOULOS: Even with this $30 billion new dollars being put into border security?

(CROSSTALK)

CASTRO: ... and I would point out, George, that the border is more secure now than it's ever been. For example, in 2004, there were 10,000 Border Patrol agents along the border. Now there are 21,000. The amendment in the Senate, the Corker amendment, would take that to 40,000 Border Patrol agents. The number of crossings was zero -- with Mexico is at net zero now, the migration with Mexico. So if there's any time to do it, it's now.

JARVIS: The CBO took a look at this, this week, and they put out a report that has a little something in it for everyone.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The Congressional Budget Office.

JARVIS: Yes, the Congressional Budget Office took a look at this, this week, and they found that there's going to be deficit reduction, net savings, $175 billion, and that it would help aid growth, 3.3 percent more GDP growth over the next decade. But for opponents of the bill, there was also something in it for them, because it showed a very minor downtick in average wages and also a minor uptick in the near-term in the unemployment rate.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How does that play out, Amity?

SHLAES: On balance, the growth is more important. The uptick is so minor vis-a-vis the wages. And what's very exciting about these reports is they do dynamic analysis, a more sophisticated form of analysis, that shows how much growth we're going to get.

I think, generally, with immigration, we get bogged down in the law part and forget that whether we have new border guards or not, probably this will be good for the economy. If we -- if we settle on immigration and rutinize (ph) it -- at the George Bush Center, we have a book about immigrants and growth, a whole book that shows almost all the time they help, even with jobs.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you've -- you've written going all the way back to Coolidge in your book about Coolidge that this is a debate that has -- the Republican Party has always struggled with.

SHLAES: Yes, that's right. I mean, the Republican Party can be sour. And that's -- that's -- you know, one of the sour parts of Calvin Coolidge was, he didn't always appreciate immigrants. But what he did appreciate was, once they were here, the whole process of Americanization, they said, or becoming part of America, whatever words we would use now, he said, whether we came over on the Mayflower, George, or in steerage just a few years ago, we're all in the same boat here. And what I emphasize in that book and, indeed, in this conversation is that immigrants make the economy stronger. That's the number-one -- that -- it's there. It's true.

RATTNER: There's no question. I think every mainstream economist agrees that, as an economic matter, immigration is a positive for this country. Obviously, it was built on immigration. As Rebecca and Amity pointed out, this issue about it pressing down on wages has been studied and is viewed to be a minor effect, if at all. So the opposition to immigration reform was really more of a social and a political issue. It's not -- it shouldn't -- and it shouldn't -- and I don't believe it is, really, an economic issue.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And one of the things we saw, Congressman Kelly, this week, you talk about breaking it up, is that there was a big debate on the farm bill this week in Congress, as well, and you had a coalition of some conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats bringing the bill down. A lot of people looked at that and said it means that Speaker Boehner is going to have a hard time getting anything through Congress on immigration, and he said this week that he's not going to do it -- and do you believe him, do you take him at his word -- that he's not going to do it unless a majority of Republicans support the legislation?

KELLY: Yeah, and I do. But I've got to tell you, from my experience -- I've only been there one term and part of a second term now -- I've never met anybody that's more open to the debate on the floor than Speaker Boehner. He has really been a champion of having an open floor, let everybody talk.

The ag bill is a good example. This is something we should have been able to get done and, in the past, we were always able to get done. Now, we went through a very lengthy process, heavy debate process, heavy amendment process, I was disappointed that it didn't go through. It wasn't strong enough to the right for some of my colleagues and wasn't strong enough for the left for some other folks. And I don't understand that, because at the end of the day, the idea was to put something forward that gave certainty for the next five years as to where we were going. It's the uncertainty that's driving all the problems in the country right now.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman, do you think the bill passes if Speaker Boehner insists on only bringing it to the floor with majority Republicans?

CASTRO: If the speaker insists on using the Hastert rule, which essentially says that you've got to have the support of a majority of the majority, which means a majority of Republicans, that means that 25 percent of the body can control 100 percent of the agenda and the legislation. It will not pass if he uses the Hastert rule.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to move on to the economy this week. It was a big week. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke came out and -- and gave his outlook for the next year or so on the economy. Here's part of what he said.

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BERNANKE: Generally speaking, financial conditions are improving. The main drag -- or the main headwind to growth this year is, as you know, is the federal fiscal policy. You know, given that very heavy headwind, the fact that the economy is still moving ahead at, at least a moderate pace is indicative that the underlying factors are improving.

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STEPHANOPOULOS: Rebecca Jarvis, the Fed chairman emphasized mostly good news.

JARVIS: Mostly good news.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Qualified good news, but, boy, Wall Street didn't like it one bit. You saw a 500 point drop in two days.

JARVIS: And this is the irony, that Wall Street has become dependent on the Federal Reserve and its economic stimulus program. They've been pumping $85 billion into the markets, the overall economy, for more than four years now on a month-to-month basis. And those trillions of dollars, some on Wall Street are calling them a Hotel California, because you can check out, but you can't necessarily leave. You could never leave.

(LAUGHTER)

STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Steve, you know, the Wall Street and the New York Times rarely agree on things, but they both used the word "addiction" to describe Wall Street's reaction to this quantitative easing, these funds that the Fed has been -- has been putting out. Even when the Fed chairman said, listen, I'm not necessarily saying it's all going away, you still see this negative reaction.

RATTNER: I think there's two -- two important points. The first point is that what Ben Bernanke did, I believe, saved the economy. You can -- you can call it by a lot of funny names, you know, crack cocaine and all this stuff, but the fact is, the economy was collapsing in 2008. He took important steps. And I think they were critical to the economic recovery. So I believe that this was a positive program, one we needed.

Secondly, what Wall Street is also worried about is the fact that when you take the training wheels off the bicycle, it's not clear the bicycle keeps going. They are worried about the future of the economy. We still have 7.5 percent or 6 percent unemployment. We still have slow growth. And, frankly, most importantly, we still have a Congress that is basically doing nothing. We have a Congress that has passed fewer laws -- the last one -- than any Congress, including President Truman's do-nothing Congress.

And as important as immigration and guns and climate and all these issues are, the American people say the economy is the most important issue, and yet Congress is doing nothing on the economy.

SHLAES: Well, Coolidge would say fewer laws is good. I want to mention that. You know, one of the things concerning Wall Street is that there's not enough growth to power the bicycle, if we're sticking to the bicycle metaphor. It's the absence of fiscal freedom that's there. Even Chairman Bernanke alluded to it. He said it's a fiscal drug (ph). So why is he our hero? Why are we listening to him?

RATTNER: But Chairman Bernanke actually said the opposite. Chairman Bernanke said that the fact that the federal budget deficit has been coming down has been restraining growth and causing the economy to grow more slowly than it otherwise would.

SHLAES: So if they were spending more and more, the economy would be better?

STEPHANOPOULOS: That was his point, I think.

RATTNER: Yes, that's exactly his point.

SHLAES: Well, OK, so we'll -- we'll -- I'll disagree with him. If this is the situation that we're expecting the federal government, led by the Fed or by Congress, to power the economy, when the economy needs to be ready to power itself, so it's an inconvenient moment to take off training wheels or to cut off the IV of the drug to which the economy is addicted...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But one of the...

SHLAES: But it's a very -- it's got to happen eventually.

STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the points he was making, Congressman, is -- to pick up on it -- is the sequester is having some impact, as well. Do you see any prospect at all in the next several months that Congress is going to loosen this sequester?

KELLY: I mean, I'm hopeful, George. But honestly, it's very difficult with this Congress. The sequester was never supposed to happen. The Budget Control Act of 2011, super-committee that was set up was supposed to solve it. Obviously, that didn't happen. And it will have a negative impact on our economy.

But I would point out that, you know, despite the fit Wall Street, we've got to remember that over the last few years, Wall Street has done a lot better than the average American, so they're still doing pretty well.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And before you came to Congress, Congressman, you were a car dealer.

KELLY: Absolutely, yes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What are you -- what are you feeling out there right now in the economy?

KELLY: Well, I'll tell you what, I feel frustration. We're talking about the economy? You look at the economy, look at the potential that's there. Look at the squandered opportunities that we've had so far. Now, we keep going back to, well, Congress didn't do this or Congress didn't do that. If we had a really aggressive energy strategy, if we had a way to go ahead and lift people out of where they are right now, when you see the middle-income people have lost $5,000 a year in income, you say, why is that? In a country that has been so blessed for so long, the only thing missing right now is strong leadership and a strategy that improves the economy.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, I want to -- I want to get...

(CROSSTALK)

KELLY: I don't want to talk about...

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: So what -- what would an aggressive energy strategy be? Because the president's about to make a major announcement this week on climate change and energy, so I want to know, first, your view on what that would be.

KELLY: Well, first of all, I don't know that the president needs to make a statement on green energy. I'll tell you what, with all the other things, the list of priorities of what's going on in the world, if this is really his initiative, I think there's a lot more things on his plate right now.

To me, it's a pivot away from what's causing the distrust of this government. And I don't care. Any relationship that you have, whether it's you and I, you and your wife, any of us in a business relationship, when we lose trust in that person, then we don't have any faith in the future. And that's where we are right now. So I think the president will be better to talk about lifting the lower-income people and the middle-income people and let them get to where they should be...

(CROSSTALK)

KELLY: ... opportunities right now...

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: I think he's going to be making the argument. This is part of it. So let's look ahead to what the president is going to do this week. Yesterday, he put out a YouTube video (inaudible) making a major speech on climate change and energy on Tuesday. Here it is.

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OBAMA: In my inaugural address, I pledged that America would respond to the growing threat of climate change for the sake of our children and future generations. This is a serious challenge, but it's one uniquely suited to America's strengths. There's no single step that can reverse the effects of climate change, but when it comes to the world we leave our children, we owe it to them to do what we can.

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STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Steven Rattner, it appears that this is going to be the president's attempt to move around the Congress. He's going to use executive action, we're hearing, to have the EPA limit greenhouse gases from power plants, raise new efficiency standards, and have more renewable energy on public lands. Can it be effective?

RATTNER: Well, with all due respect to the congressman, I think the president has an energy policy. I think he stated it. It's an all-of-the-above policy. And what he's going to say on Tuesday is a part of it.

And I think it can have an effect. The Supreme Court has given him the authority to regulate greenhouse gases, as you say, and he has a bunch of other authorities. And remember one other thing. There's a decision coming on the Keystone XL pipeline shortly, and I wouldn't be surprised if this was all part of a packaging effort by the White House. You've got something for the people who care very intensely about the environment, you've got something for people who care intensely about more energy supply.

STEPHANOPOULOS: (inaudible) Keystone pipeline...

(CROSSTALK)

RATTNER: I think -- it feels like there's a package coming.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And the business world's reaction to this move?

JARVIS: It's very mixed, George, because you have, on the one side, businesses that would certainly benefit from this, in the alternative energy, the green energy space, and then you also have the businesses that are going to probably have to increase their spending in order to meet these new standards.

But the U.N. just put out a report about the food business in particular, and that the food business, in light of some of the changes in our climate, has actually had to move around and move to new locations, and they've had to spend money in order to make up for crazy weather patterns.

SHLAES: What unites us this morning is that the people are talking about the economy. This is an area where what the president is saying is probably anti-growth. It might hurt coal, which is an important part of our economy, provides a lot of electricity. It suggests he should have more regulatory power. Regulation, not laws, is often what's dampening growth in the energy sector.

So -- so which do we care about more? There is an element of tradeoff, isn't there? Do we want a higher GDP and more labor force participation? Or do we want us to be about laws? Do we -- you know, regulating and moral idea, global warming, a moral idea, you know, in other sectors, in immigration, enforcing our borders, or do we want the growth? That's the unity.

RATTNER: Well, life -- life is about tradeoffs, and there's no question that economically there is some tradeoff between the environmental issues that Rebecca was talking about, as well as the economy, in which you're talking about. And you have to find a balance. And I think the time has come for the president to find that balance. I don't think he's -- he's not violating the law. He has the legal authority, and he's going to use it, and this is the kind of leadership that Congressman Kelly is asking for.

CASTRO: Well, and I do think that you can -- you can move towards alternative and green energies and still be successful and keep things efficient. You, in San Antonio, we closed two coal power plants down about 12 years early and moved over to natural gas and alternative energies, and we still have among the lowest rates in the country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, Congressman Kelly, I think Speaker Boehner said this week that implementing these new rules, what the president did, would be absolutely crazy, but is there anything you all in the Congress can do to stop him, if that's what you choose to do?

KELLY: I don't think -- you know, I don't know what we can do to stop it. I would say this. You know, the president talks about all-of-the-above, but then he leaves out everything that's below. We have tremendous and abundant, accessible and affordable way of producing energy in this country. We do not have to rely on anybody from outside our borders to supply us with a barrel of oil. We can do everything that we need to do right here.

The other things we have, George, we have tillable soil and potable water. Not the rest of the world has all the things that we have. So when you don't have to rely on other people for these -- for these things to get by, when you can lower your cost of energy, you can then compete in a global economy that allows not just to be part of it, but to dominate it.

I just don't understand why. The president's role should be as a uniter and as a guy who leads us forward. We can't constantly have this divisiveness. We also have a great opposition with nuclear. So my question is, so why are we concentrating on some of these other things and not using what's abundant, what's accessible, and what's affordable right now?

RATTNER: I'm not sure what -- what it is that you're referring to that's abundant and accessible. Are you talking about coal? Or what are you talking about?

KELLY: I'm talking about every one of the fossil fuels. And I'll tell you, in Pennsylvania...

RATTNER: But we're doing that.

(CROSSTALK)

KELLY: No, no, we're not. Steve, we're nt. We're shutting down coal plants.

RATTNER: We have a record...

KELLY: We're shutting power...

RATTNER: OK.

KELLY: Electric power -- coal-powered electric plants.

RATTNER: We are -- we are trying to reduce our reliance on coal because of the adverse economic effect. We now have an enormous surplus of natural gas, which will take its place on a very cost-effective, environmentally more sound basis. We have had an enormous increase in our oil production in this country, the fastest increase I think we've had in history in the reduction of our oil imports, so I'm not sure what it is that you want the president to do that we're not doing.

KELLY: Let's be -- let's be really honest about this. All of the growth has taken place in the private sector, not the public sector. The president was dropped in his lap...

(CROSSTALK)

RATTNER: ... private sector.

KELLY: Yes, of course I do.

RATTNER: So...

KELLY: But I also know there's a great potential in the public sector. There is an answer to every one of our problems. That is the dynamic and robust economy. And any other talk is just idle chatter.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I wish we had a lot more time for real talk, not idle chatter, but we're out of time right now. Thank you all very much. Rebecca Jarvis sticking around to answer your questions for our web extra. Check it out at abcnews.com/thisweek.

And when we come back, the surfer combat veteran who's now the youngest woman in Congress. Tulsi Gabbard is in our Sunday spotlight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: The Pentagon unveiled plans this week for how to fully integrate women into front-line combat. It is a topic that freshman Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard knows well. The 32-year-old Hawaii native is the youngest woman in Congress, the first Hindu, and one of the few who saw combat in Iraq. She's also this week's Sunday spotlight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GABBARD: As long as we've had a United States military in place, women have been raising their hands to serve our country. During my deployment, there were missions that I volunteered for and was not allowed to go on simply because I'm a woman. They said, "Sorry, no girls allowed."

If you can pull your weight and if you can do the job, you should -- you should be able to do it. So I think what we see in the policy change now that we're seeing starting to be executed is just a reflection of what women have already been doing in the military.

(UNKNOWN): If you want to make a combat unit ineffective, assign some women to it. It's uncivilized. And women can't do it.

GABBARD: I've seen women who are highly capable and who dispel every single word. Some of the so-called uncivilized parts of what occurs when you are in combat, when you're at war, that's the reality that we train for. This is not something new, and it's not something that any woman who raises her hand to serve in uniform finds as a surprise. We know what we sign up for.

MCCAIN: I cannot overstate my disgust and disappointment over the continued reports of sexual misconduct in our military. Last night, a woman came to me and said her daughter wanted to join the military, and could I give my unqualified support for her doing so? I could not.

GABBARD: The issue of military sexual assault and the skyrocketing numbers that we've seen reported, I think they've shocked all of us. When I was deployed to Iraq, we heard and saw incidents that were being reported or incidents that were occurring within our camp.

We got issued rape whistles, so that, you know, as we walk out of our tent, or walk out of our hooch, we've got our body armor, we've got our helmet, our weapon, and we've got our rape whistle. It was an eye-opening experience to have to consider that fact when we're serving overseas in Iraq. That just places a greater responsibility on those in leadership to do something about this. We have to do something about this now.

Aloha. I'm Tulsi Gabbard, candidate for Congress in Hawaii and a captain in the Army National Guard.

(APPLAUSE)

Someone asked me recently when I went back to Hawaii, they said, "So, you know, how's it going in Congress? Are you fitting in there?" And I told them, "Not fitting in is actually a good thing." Catching that 10 1/2-hour flight to Hawaii is my commute to and from work. You can smell the ocean breezes as soon as you get off the plane. Immediately, I feel my shoulders drop. The stress goes away. And it's incredible.

I hold on very tightly to my surfboard when I'm home and really hold onto the aloha spirit. I appreciate having the opportunity to not only be home, but to understand why I'm working in Washington. It's always a little bit sad when I have to board the plane again a few days later, but it is absolutely energizing, inspiring, and always gives a great sense of clarity.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STEPHANOPOULOS: And our thanks to Tulsi Gabbard. You can see more of the interview by going to "This Week" at abcnews.com. The congresswoman is also featured in the upcoming issue of "Vogue" on newsstands June 25th.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: And now we honor our fellow American who serve and sacrifice. This week, the Pentagon released the names of five soldiers and Marines killed in Afghanistan.

And that is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. And a special -- to our newest "This Week" viewer, Sean Evans Heath (ph), the new baby boy for our producer, Kendal Heath (ph), and her husband, Mike. He looks like he's paying attention.

Don't forget to watch "World News" with David Muir tonight. And I'll see you tomorrow on "GMA."

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