You know, the president yesterday said on his radio address, he said a firm foundation -- a lot of people will be singing that phrase in churches this morning -- he said his firm foundation of spending on energy and education and health care, well, the firm foundation in this country is our faith in God, our economic freedom, and our natural resources, and the American people know it.
BERNSTEIN: George, let me respond to that by -- by telling you what happened last Thursday. A couple of days ago, Vice President Biden and a number of cabinet secretaries, along with Senator Amy Klobuchar, your colleague, took us out to Saint Cloud, Minnesota, for the -- a meeting of the White House task force on the middle class.
Well, we had a town hall meeting of middle-class folks who did not represent anything like what we just heard from Representative Pence, respectfully.
What these folks stood up and said is, "Tell us about the recovery package and how we can get a hand up, not a hand out, from that package. Tell us ways in which this can extend unemployment insurance for those of us who have been involuntarily unemployed for week in and week out, looking for jobs in a labor market that is shedding hundreds of thousands of jobs. Tell us how this can free up some capital, free up some investment capital so we can expand our firm."
We heard that verbatim from...
PENCE: I don't doubt that he heard that. When you called for me to be on this show, I was at a kitchen table in a farm in Rushville, Indiana, with eight small-business owners and farmers. And every single one of them were desperately concerned about the fact that half of the people that are going to pay higher taxes under the president's budget are small-business owners. They're desperately concerned about the...
PENCE: CBO just said every American household is going to pay $1,600 more a year in energy costs under the president's cap-and-trade proposal.
CONRAD: Well, first of all, the place where I would diverge from Congressman Pence is, if we didn't take these extraordinary steps, we'd be back to Hoover economics. I mean, the prescription that he just provided is exactly what Hoover economics represented at the time of the Great Depression.
If we did not take these aggressive steps to give lift to the economy at this time of significant contraction, we could have faced an economic collapse. And that wasn't just my view. That was the view of the head of the Federal Reserve. That was the view of the Republican secretary of treasury. That was the view of the Republican president of the United States.
So I think, again, respectfully, where I would strongly disagree is short term. Where I would actually strongly agree is longer term.
We have got to get back to a more sustainable fiscal circumstance. We cannot have debt pile on top of debt. We cannot run budget deficits in the out-years of over $1 trillion a year. So we're going to have to...
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... how do you both make the investments that you and the president say need to be made now in energy and health care and education without adding to the deficit in an unsustainable way over the long term?