'This Week' Transcript: Two Powerhouse Roundtables

HENSARLING: Listen, the president, again -- if he would -- if he would do what he said before the election, as opposed to the bait-and-switch, what Republicans feel like is a little bit like Charlie Brown running to kick the football and Lucy pulls it away.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me bring...

HENSARLING: But ultimately it's a spending problem. That is where the problem is. The American people know it. And this talk of taxes is almost irrelevant to the size of the trillions and trillions of debt.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But not to -- but not to the president's negotiating position. Let me bring it to Senator Coburn, because you've signaled, Senator, that you could sign on to a tax rate increase, provided that the president and the Democrats come forward with significant spending cuts and entitlement reform. So what is it going to take for you to sign on to a tax rate increase?

COBURN: Well, significant entitlement reform. The real problem -- the president's proposing 7 percent of the solution. What we ought to be working on is the other 93 percent, because even if you do what he wants to do on tax rates, you only affect 7 percent of the deficit. What we have done is spend ourselves into a hole, and we're not going to raise taxes and borrow money and get out of it.

And so will I accept a tax increase as a part of a deal to actually solve our problems? Yes. But the president's negotiating with the wrong people. He needs to be negotiating with our bondholders in China, because if we don't put a credible plan on -- on the discussion, ultimately, we all lose.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, you've got your colleague, Senator Debbie Stabenow from Michigan, Democratic colleague in the Senate, right on the screen, as well. Can you just say quickly what it's going to take? Because I want to see if she can accept the kind of entitlement reforms and spending cuts that you're talking about.

COBURN: Well, we've got to quit playing the game, George. You can't continue to lie to the American people. There is no way to fix Medicare under the guidelines at AARP with our tax dollars are using to now advertise to say don't fix it. We need to fix it. And the way to fix it is to control the costs. And the way to control the cost is to have more individual participation. And there's a lot of ways to do that, but you can't play the game and hide.

Medicare and Social Security and Medicaid, if those aren't fixed, if we're not honest about how to fix them, and the fact that, yes, everybody in this country will have to participate in some discomfort if we're going to get out of this hole.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, Senator Stabenow...


COBURN: And as long as we continue to lie to the -- as long as we continue to lie to the American people...

STABENOW: George...

COBURN: ... that you can solve this problem without adjusting and working on those programs, it is dishonest and beneath anybody in Washington.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So Senator Stabenow, you heard it right there, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, all have to have significant reform, everyone's going to have to sacrifice. Can you accept that?

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