This Week Transcript: Peter Orszag and Eric Cantor

ORSZAG: No, let's again be clear about this. The budget is intending to be responsible. We put a placeholder in there just as an insurance policy should additional financial stabilization efforts become...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But he was pretty clear you're going to need more money.

ORSZAG: It's not -- look, let's -- if additional efforts become necessary, we'll work with Congress on the scale and scope of them. We wanted to put a placeholder in just in case, because there's a lot of uncertainty, obviously, and, again, just to be responsible, we thought it was better to put a placeholder than -- than nothing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But the odds are that you're going to need something. The president was clear on that. We've gotten nothing but bad news out of the banks over the last week. And it was also clear from the last time the TARP, the bank bailout, was voted on that this is going to be a very tough vote. And I'm -- I know from my own reporting that, if this were put to a vote today, you do not have the votes in the House or the Senate. What's going to have to change to get congressional support?

ORSZAG: Well, again, we don't have a legislative proposal at this point. We have a placeholder just in case something becomes necessary. We would work with the Congress to craft a response, should one become necessary, that would pass.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The -- you've seen some bipartisan criticism over the long-term impact of this budget, real concern over the long- term increase to the debt from both the Democratic chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and the Republican ranking member, Senator Gregg. Take a look. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KENT CONRAD, D-N.D.: I'm concerned about the long-term build-up of debt. I'm especially concerned about the second five years of this budget.

SEN. JUDD GREGG, R-N.H.: This budget doubles the debt of the federal government in 5 years, triples the debt of the federal government in 10 years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: They want to solve the problem by creating a commission, similar to the base-closing commission, where Congress and the administration would come together, come up with a package of revenue increases, spending cuts, and then force an up-or-down vote in the Congress. The president told a group, according to the Wall Street Journal, of Blue Dog Democrats last month that he was for this proposal. Is he?

ORSZAG: Well, I think it's clear that we need some changes in the process, whether it's the one that Senators Conrad and Gregg have proposed or ones that are more focused on health care. And let's -- let's focus on that, because that is the key driver of those long-term deficits.

That's why we want to get reform done this year. We can make our health care system much more efficient, and that is the single most important thing we could do to get those long-term deficits under control.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So -- so to be clear on that, are you then, I mean, looking for a -- some kind of a commission for health care?

ORSZAG: Well, there are different ideas that have been out there on health care. For example, Senator Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has proposed a federal health board that would move a lot of the decision-making away from the Senate Finance Committee and the -- and the Congress in general towards a group of more politically insulated and technically skilled people.

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