'This Week' Transcript: Two Powerhouse Roundtables

The best way to get through this, I mean we can point fingers. We can get all through this. The best way to do it is just allow flexibility. If you allow flexibility you don't have to shut down the carrier...

STEPHANOPOULOS: I wanted to bring that to Congressman Engel, because the White House has been resisting having this flexibility.

ENGEL: Well, you know, I think the sequester was a stupid thing. I voted against it when it first time came up. Congress keeps kicking the can down the road. It's really a ridiculous thing to do.

The fact is that we need to do things that are smart, not take a meat cleaver and just hack cuts.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So should the White House accept this call from Republicans in congress to have more flexibility over where to hit with the cuts and when?

ENGEL: I think congress should sit down and avoid the sequester. And if the sequester kicks in, for a week or go, we should then fix it so it doesn't become a permanent thing.

GEORGE WILL, COLUMNIST: The Navy insists that they really did have no choice but to delay the deployment from Norfolk to the Persian Gulf of the aircraft carrier Truman. If so, if they have no wiggle room at all in that enormous budget to shift funds from one to another, that suggests to me that flexibility is what the administration does not want them to have, because they want to maximize the pain. They want disruptions in air travel and all the rest to push pressure on the Republicans to unravel the sequester.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But one thing that is certain to happen, Congressman Rogers, is that right now, at least, within a month, you're going to have these furloughs on the civilian employees of the Defense Department. That's a 20 percent pay cut.

ROGERS: Well, again, if we had flexibility, there's a big difference from a sailor on the Eisenhower out in the Mediterranean and the travel coordinator at the EPA. You can't treat them the same. And the way this is structured it treats everyone the same. You can't do that.

If you give them this flexibility, they can make the determination, yes, that second carrier group ought to steam to the Mediterranean, that's a national defense issue, I argue.

We have intelligence operations that could get slowed down or stopped. That's a problem. But if you sit down and talk to these folks and say if you had the flexibility can you find 2 cents on the dollar of efficiencies other than cutting the bone? They'll tell you yes we can.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And Christiane, I know you talked to a lot of sources overseas. They kind of scratch their heads...

AMANPOUR: They really do, George, honestly. It's here we go again. Government by crisis, lurching from left to right. And the military is sacrosanct in the United States is now in play as you are discussing. And it's not just the aircraft carrier and intelligence and the navy, it is also flight hours. You know, they're having to cut down what the air force personnel can do, what pilots can do. They might not be ready once they're allowed to go back to work. And even deployments for troops overseas. Unable to sort of, perhaps, transfer and transfer personnel out there. People would have to have longer deployments.

So the whole thing doesn't make sense when viewed from outside.

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