The challenge will be, will the Republicans come to the table with constructive ideas?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about the big issues. On health care, on Republican idea on health care is to tax employer benefits. The president blasted Senator McCain for that idea during the campaign, yet it's now being joined by some Democrats as well.
Is the president willing to consider that as a way to pay for his plans to expand coverage?
EMANUEL: George, the goal -- well, remember, first of all, what's the objective?
The objective is getting...
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... I want to know if he's willing to consider that as a way to pay for it.
EMANUEL: Well, first of all, what we have to do is squeeze out all the basic costs in the system, before we talk about any other type of revenue. There's a lot that has to be changed.
Unfortunately, I know a little about health care reform from my family. The fact is, we had all the wrong incentives in the health care system. And if you change the incentives toward medical I.T., which we put in place the resources to start basically having a way to control costs there; if we change the way the doctors are paid -- so, rather than fee for service, for outcomes; change the way -- in fact, rewarding people who take care of themselves and get their health together.
All those are what you have to consider...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But all of that is only going to get you a fraction of the place where you need to be in order to cover everyone as the president has said is the goal as well.
And he laid out a plan, a reserve package of about $600 billion; the plan he laid out to pay for it, shaving deductions for wealthy Americans.
Democrats and Republicans alike on Capitol Hill say, no way, we're not going to do it. So how is the president going to fill the gap?
How is he going to pay for the programs?
EMANUEL: Well, (inaudible) George, it's not just the president. It's what we work with Congress. That process is beginning. I think, in this next five weeks, you'll see tremendous progress at the -- at the committee level, to getting that done.
And he does not believe that's the first step. And what you have to do, as he believes, is make the cuts in the system that we have today because we're overpaying for a lot of things; and second, is change the incentives before you get to immediately going to a default position that you have to raise taxes.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But is he open to taxing employer benefits?
EMANUEL: He -- he has said he opposed that, as he said in the campaign. And that's what he believes, and believes is, before you get there, you have got to address the priorities.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So he won't sign a bill that includes that?
EMANUEL: George, I'm not going to do any absolutes on your show. That's not my right to do that. If there's (inaudible) then we'll try to arrange that...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's move over to energy. The president made a major announcement -- the EPA made a major announcement on Friday, giving the EPA the ability to regulate greenhouse gases.
It drew some sharp opposition from our next guest, Congressman Boehner.