COLLINS: They would not have jobs were it not for taxpayer money going into AIG. I think that the proposal that the congressman has outlined makes more sense. It's more targeted. But, obviously, if Treasury had put provisions in the contract as a condition of receiving the funds, this never would have happened in the first place.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to -- I want to move on to the president's budget that's going to start to be considered in both the House and the Senate this week. And we all saw the reports on Friday from the Congressional Budget Office saying that the president's economic assumptions were a little too optimistic, according to the Congressional Budget Office. They say the deficit will actually be $2.3 trillion higher over the next 10 years than the president estimates.
And, Senator Collins, you supported President Obama on the stimulus package.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Can you support his budget?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Why not?
COLLINS: Because it brings our debt levels to an unprecedented level. It would double the public debt in 5 years, triple it in 10 years, the highest percentage of GDP since after World War II, CBO says, by the year 2019, 82 percent of GDP. That's the equivalent of the public debt.
That is not sustainable. It poses a threat to the basic health of our economy.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Conrad, you've had questions about the president's budget, as well, although you support the general approach. And I want to show a question we got from one of our -- our listeners. Let me put it up on the board.
It's Laurie Watkins (ph) of Rolla, North Dakota. The president in his budget has a plan to cap payments for agriculture subsidies at $250,000 and also no subsidies to farms making in revenues more than $500,000 a year. And here's what Laurie (ph) asks. She says, "You're opposed to President Obama's budget because it is not sustainable. Why, then, are you against cutting farm subsidies for farmers making $500,000 or more? Isn't this the same as the AIG bonuses?"
CONRAD: No, not at all. And that's not what the proposal does. They've just got it wrong. The president's proposal has -- does not relate to farm income. It relates to farm sales.
CONRAD: Farm sales. No one has ever, ever proposed limiting payments on that basis. That was just a mistake. So I could not support that.
Look, we just passed the farm bill last year. In the United States Senate, we got 81 votes. It did not add a dime to the deficit. It was fully paid for. And I don't think this is the time to reopen it.
On the other hand, I will propose a budget that does have savings in agriculture, because we're going to have to have savings across the broad spectrum in light of these new numbers.
Look, $2.3 trillion over 10 years is a stunning amount of money. In fairness to this administration, they locked down their forecasts three months ago. There's been a lot of bad news since.
So we've got a worsening situation. That requires adjustments, and it's going to have to be across a broad front, including agriculture.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And the president's prepared to accept these kinds of adjustments?