'This Week' Transcript: Two Powerhouse Roundtables

HENSARLING: Well, I must admit, I didn't know the president could surprise me once again, but to say that he no longer wants to have a debt ceiling -- in other words, we no longer need even a speed bump on the -- on the highway to bankruptcy -- I mean, let's look at Greece. Greece has been very adept at increasing their debt ceiling. And now they have 25 percent unemployment, 50 percent youth unemployment.

There are people who can't even finds jobs in cities who are having to move out, according to press reports, into rural areas to subsistence agriculture. I mean, that -- that -- that could be our future.

And as Tom said, if you gave the president every job-harming tax increase that he's asked for, it's about 3 percent of the spending. And the president himself has said that the drivers of our debt are Medicare, Medicaid, and health care. Nothing else comes close.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, Senator Stabenow pointed out...

HENSARLING: I give him an A for honesty, but an F for effort. You can't get it done, George. You can't take us off the road to bankruptcy unless you deal with the structural reforms to our entitlement spending, protecting current seniors, but helping ensure that my 10-year-old son and -- my 10-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son that these programs are around for them.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Senator Coburn, what about the point that Senator Stabenow made before, in the -- President Obama's health care act, $716 billion in Medicare savings, which a lot of Republicans -- not you -- but a lot of Republicans in the last campaign, including Governor Romney and his presidential campaign, ran against.

COBURN: Well -- well, George, first of all, the $700 billion in savings doesn't save the government a penny, because what it does is it takes that $700 billion and it spends it on other people. So what -- it's really important that people look -- the government's twice the size it was 11 years ago. We've all -- we've seen the president demand that we're going to solve 7 percent of this problem, but he's totally inflexible on the other 93 percent.

It doesn't really matter what happens at the end of this year, because ultimately the numbers and the bondholders throughout the world will determine what we'll spend and what we won't. So we can play the political game that is being played out in Washington right now or we can actually be absolutely honest with the American people and say, Medicare is going bankrupt, Social Security bankrupt -- disability would be bankrupt in two years, Social Security trust fund will be bankrupt in five years, Social Security total will be bankrupt in probably 16, 17 years. Those are worst-case scenarios by the trustees of both those organizations.

So we can play the game. And that's what we're facilitating this morning. But the fact is, is we're spending money that we don't have on things that we don't absolutely need and there's no grown-ups in Washington that will say, time out, stop the politics, let's have a compromise rather than continue to play the game through the press and hurt the country. We're already going to get another debt downgrade just from what's happening now because nobody in positions of power are willing to do what is important and necessary for our country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Stabenow, go ahead.

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