This Week Transcript: Peter Orszag and Eric Cantor

ORSZAG: But let's be clear about the health reform. Health care is the key to our fiscal future. We are going to make sure that it is not only self-financing over the next 5 to 10 years, which means if that revenue stream isn't available, something else will have to be.

And in addition, those reforms to health care, making the system more efficient, will help bend the curve over the long term and vastly improve our long-term fiscal future.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So that's an important point. Just to be clear, then, you're saying you will not increase the deficit more than we have right now in order to pay for that health care? If the revenues don't come in, then you will not go forward with the health care?

ORSZAG: We need some other proposal. No, no, that's -- we're going forward with health care. We're going to get health care reform done this year. I think this proposal will get enacted. But if it -- if it doesn't, then we're going to need to come up with some other offset.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Congress will have to fill the hole. But what if they don't? ORSZAG: Look, we want to get health care reform done this year, and we want to do it in a way that doesn't add to the deficit and that also helps bend the curve over the long term.

STEPHANOPOULOS: A lot of people I talked to on Capitol Hill say, you know, they look at the scope of this, and they worry that you're going to overload the circuits in the House and the Senate in Congress. Can you really go forward with the kind of health care proposal you're talking about here, a more than $600 billion reserve fund, and go forward with the energy proposals, more than $600 billion in revenue? Can you do both this year? And if you can't, which one takes priority?

ORSZAG: I think we can. We face big problems, and we've got to -- we've got to tackle them. Clearly, this budget is changing course. It's, like, you know -- and the GPS system is recalculating the route and people are getting used to that. But we -- we have these big problems, and we need to tackle them.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And in order to get it, though, you saw how difficult it was to actually spend money, give benefits with the stimulus package. You're scrapping for those three Republican votes. Some key Democrats on Capitol Hill are saying, if you want to do all of these big projects this year, you're going to have to follow what is called the reconciliation process, put health care, put energy inside the reconciliation process so that the effect of it is you only need 51 votes, not 60. Is that the administration's intention?

ORSZAG: I think it's premature to be figuring out the legislative strategy exactly right now.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you're not ruling it out?

ORSZAG: It's not where we go first, but we have to keep everything on the table. We want to get these -- these important things done this year.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How about on the bank bailout? The president was pretty clear on Tuesday night that more funds might be needed for the banks.


OBAMA: This plan will require significant resources from the federal government and, yes, probably more than we've already set aside. But while the cost of action will be great, I can assure you that the cost of inaction will be far greater.


STEPHANOPOULOS: You've put a $750 billion placeholder in the budget for the banks. Is that what you're going to be requesting from the Congress?

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