'This Week' Transcript: Speaker John Boehner

BOEHNER: I wouldn't -- I wouldn't describe it as a impasse.

AMANPOUR: You think it'll work?

BOEHNER: This is hard.


BOEHNER: If it was easy, the president and I could have solved it. If it was easy, Congresses over the last two decades would have solved it. It's hard.

AMANPOUR: Do you think it'll work?

BOEHNER: But -- but it has to work. And I am committed to ensuring that it works.

AMANPOUR: Because as we all know, if it doesn't, there are automatic, rather draconian cuts. Would you be able to live with those, including half of those cuts might come from the Defense Department?

BOEHNER: I think it is important for our government to solve our deficit and our debt problem. And -- and we need to take a big step in the right direction. So I'm going to do everything I can to ensure that the super-committee is successful.

AMANPOUR: You talked about the $800 billion or so that you were trying to make an agreement with President Obama, in terms of revenues. It didn't work. You've said that that's one of your biggest regrets. Is that -- could that happen again? Could you get back to that point?

BOEHNER: Well, I think it's hard to put Humpty-Dumpty back together again.

AMANPOUR: How much revenue, when we were talking about room for revenue, how much revenue do you think you could -- you could get?

BOEHNER: Well, that's the $64 million question. Nobody knows.

AMANPOUR: You talk about fairness. And, of course, obviously, a lot of the conversation in this country over the last year or so has been about spending cuts, getting the deficit under control. But it's sort of shifting, as you know now, to the whole big disparity in income, the income gap, the income inequality that people are talking about.

Latest reports say that something like 1 in 15 Americans live in extreme poverty, which is defined as something like $11,000 per year for a family of four. Are you concerned that these budget cuts are going to hurt the people who can least afford it?

BOEHNER: No. No one here in this Congress, Democrat or Republican, wants to do anything about putting holes in the safety net for Americans. There are Americans who are poor. And I think it's the responsibility of the rest of us to ensure that they have food in their stomachs and they have a roof over their head.

You know, John Kennedy said some 50 years ago, a rising tide lifts all boats. We have to get our economy moving again. And until we get our economy moving again, we start producing more jobs, we're going to have all kinds of uncertainty, concern, and, frankly, fear about the future.

AMANPOUR: You talk about a rising tide lifting all boats, and, of course, that is the American way. That's what all of us look to America for. And yet, not just income inequality has expanded, but also the idea of social mobility is kind of slowing down. It's even slower than in some other parts of the world. And clearly, the Republicans are being portrayed as the party that doesn't really care and are really, quote, unquote, "the servants of the rich." Does that need to change?

BOEHNER: Well, I think that's -- I think that's very unfair. Listen, I come from a family of 12. My dad owned a bar. I've got brothers and sisters on every rung of the economic ladder. What our job here in Congress is to do and the reason I came here 21 years ago was to make sure that the American dream that was available to us is available for our kids and our grandkids.

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