BIDEN: The OMB director, with a very sharp pencil. We're going to go through that budget line by line by line, eliminating those things that aren't productive, eliminating those things that aren't really needed now. So we have to -- at the same time we're investing more in the economy that creates immediate stimulus to the economy, but with a long-range positive consequence for the economy, we have to at the same time we're doing that be cutting spending in other areas.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But how do you balance out the economic need for a big, bold package, several hundred billion dollars, some in the Congress have said you need $700 billion just to keep the unemployment rate from going up, with this concern about a deficit of a trillion dollars -- could go to a trillion dollars?
BIDEN: That's a really good point. That's really important. Look, the -- we're going to inherit a deficit that's probably going to exceed a Trillion dollars to begin with if we don't do anything, nothing at all.
If nothing happens between now and the time we take office on January the 20th, we're going to inherit the largest deficit in the history of the country's...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But then you almost double it with the rescue plan.
BIDEN: No. Now here's the second point. The second point is, what do you do, you know you have to infuse money into the system now. Every economist, as I've said, from conservative to liberal, acknowledges that direct government spending on a direct program now is the best way to infuse economic growth and create jobs.
The question is, are you going to create jobs that are just going to add to the deficit, or are the jobs you're creating, are they going to be doing a task that can draw down the deficit in out years?
Let me give you an example. You know, because we've talked -- you -- I know you know this area really well, I don't mean to sound condescending. You know that the Rand Corporation and other independent research groups have pointed out, if we were to put all medical records on electronic -- be able to be electronically transferred, we could save, they estimate, I think it's $78 billion a year.
But it cost money to put the entire medical industry in a position where they can put all of those records on an electronic basis. So we're going to invest money in what they call IT, this new technology, that's going to create jobs that are needed to make this transition.
The end result, though, the money we're spending, we're going to get back three- and four-fold.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But in the short run, at what point…
BIDEN: There is no short run other than keeping the economy from absolutely tanking. That's the only short run.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And that's why as President-elect Obama said, we can't worry about the deficit in the short run. We can't worry about it…
BIDEN: Exactly right, cannot.
STEPHANOPOULOS: … right now. But at what point on Capitol Hill, you know the politics on Capitol Hill…
BIDEN: Yes, sure I do.
STEPHANOPOULOS: … does sticker shock set in? What is the upper limit to what…
BIDEN: Well, let me tell you, first of all, I'm not sure, but I've been -- it will not surprise you, I've been around the Congress a while, I've been on the telephone, not promoting any particular package, but asking my colleagues, including more than half a dozen senior Republican colleagues, folks, ladies, gentlemen, what do you think we're going to have to do here?