Transcript: Sens. Chuck Schumer and John Cornyn

KRUGMAN: But this one is on budget. I think that makes all the difference in the world. This is going to be a drain on the federal budget at a time when this administration, because of its very activism, really wants those dollars for things it really wants like health care.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Which brings it back to health care. I want to bring Gwen in on this. Ed brought up this idea of the public option, where there's going to be a public plan to compete with the private plans. That's a dividing line between Republicans and Democrats.

But so far, as this begins to be debated, this week, in the House and the Senate, that is still a dividing line between Democrats and Democrats.

IFILL: I'm quite interested, actually, in the atmospherics of all of this. Because one of this things -- on health care, on GM, on nationalization -- boo -- or whatever you want to call it...


... or even on the Supreme Court nomination, what this administration has shown its ability to do is step up to it, say, oh, that doesn't work; let's try it this way.

The difference between something like the public option or something like rescuing a major American industry is you can't walk away as easily as they like to walk away if they see something's not working.

Politically, there's something to be said for them saying, oh -- you know, they look -- these guys look backwards as much as forwards. And they say, ah, the last Democratic administration made this mistake; let's do it this way.

Their problem is that the things that they prize now, the domestic policies are things that they can't step away from once they get what they've asked for.

So it's -- it's very complicated. It's one of the reasons why people in this administration don't talk about it like it's a public option. They try very, very carefully to define it differently.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I think that's what -- I think the White House doesn't care whether they get it or not.

IFILL: They don't.

STEPHANOPOULOS: They just want to get something done. The bigger question faced, George, is how to pay for it. The OMB director, Office of Management and Budget director said this is going to be deficit-neutral; we're going to pay for every penny.

So far in these three months of debate in the House and the Senate, they've rejected every idea, so far on the table, to pay for it?

WILL: That's right. And in the process, they've been losing revenue. It's been leaking. They had a certain number written in from cap-and-trade. But in order to buy off certain states that were going to be injured by cap-and-trade, they gave away things they were going to sell and the revenues have declined.

KRUGMAN: Well, yes, it's a little hard. I mean, they can make a very good case that, long-run, the thing saves money. But CBO won't score it that way. So they have to do...

STEPHANOPOULOS: After 10 years?

KRUGMAN: Right. So they're going to have to do -- but, you know, it's not actually all that much money. All of the studies I know say that the cost of actually insuring the uninsured as part of this -- the only place where this costs money is actually in providing supplement to help the uninsured pay.


STEPHANOPOULOS: But that's between $600 billion and $1.2 trillion.

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