'This Week' Transcript: Bonuses, Bailouts and Budgets

CONRAD: This is -- I will present a budget that I think begins to move in that direction. It acknowledges in the short term, yes, we have got to have added deficits and debt to give lift to this economy, but longer term, we have got to pivot. We have got to have fundamental reform of our entitlement programs. We've got to have fundamental reform of our revenue programs, because we've got a tax system that was really built 50 years ago...

BERNSTEIN: But, George, can I just make one point on this?

CONRAD: ... and is no longer relevant.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I've got to -- I want to bring in Senator Collins...


STEPHANOPOULOS: ... on a question related to this, because there's also the question of how the Congress is going to do this. And the debate over -- starting in the House this week over whether the budget will try to be passed with the reconciliation process. It means simply it gets through on a majority vote, rather than has to break a filibuster.

Here's what Senator Gregg had to say about that this week.


GREGG: You're talking about something that has nothing to do with bipartisanship. You're talking about the exact opposite of bipartisanship. They're talking about running over the minority, putting them in cement, and throwing them in the Chicago River.



STEPHANOPOULOS: Bitter words from who was meant to be President Obama's commerce secretary. But, Senator Collins, it's seriously being debated now in the House putting at least the health care provisions on this fast track that would only require a majority vote. Can you go along with that?

COLLINS: No. It would be a big mistake. I agree with Senator Gregg, if not his metaphor, but he's absolutely right.

You don't make major changes in policy using a system that shuts out the Republicans, that limits debate, that prohibits amendments. And I know it's not just Republicans who are concerned about this, the centrist Democrats who are very concerned about this.


CONRAD: Well, look, I have said for weeks, I don't think it would be wise to use the reconciliation process to write major legislation, reform legislation. That's not what reconciliation was designed for. It was designed for purely deficit reduction.

And the problem is, if you try to use it here, not only does it deeply offend the minority, but, more than that, it doesn't work very well, because...


BERNSTEIN: Let me just stipulate -- let me stipulate that I -- we agree with -- with Senator Conrad on this point. But I want to say -- and it's very important for -- for folks to hear that I think that, in an important way, the Obama budget is getting a bad rap in this discussion in the...


STEPHANOPOULOS: ... move on to that. You said you agree with Senator Conrad, yet the White House has been working with House Democrats on moving this whole notion of going on a fast track on the table.

BERNSTEIN: I don't think he took it off the table. I think it has to stay on the table. But it's something we would rather avoid. We'd rather have the...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Would you take it off the table or not?

CONRAD: Well, I'll put it this way: It is not included in the budget that I will present to my colleagues. I have said for weeks, I don't think it is the right way to write substantive legislation, because if you get into the details -- and we won't do that here -- it just doesn't work very well.

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