FEINGOLD: Well, I think we should be figuring out a way to do what many have suggested -- and even the secretary of defense suggested in this interview with you -- which is, there is a way to go after these extremists -- particularly the Al Qaida operatives anywhere -- by cooperating with the Afghan government, by cooperating with the Pakistani government. This is what we have done in the past in Somalia and other places to get Al Qaida operatives. But the idea of huge troops on the ground doesn't seem to advance that interest whatsoever.
I guess the way I'd look at it is this, George: You know, if -- if -- if we never invaded Afghanistan and we knew what was going on there now, we looked at it, we saw the problems with the government, we saw the -- the fact that there are so many people who are -- who are having a problem with -- with our presence there, if they saw that -- that, in fact, Al Qaida was based in Pakistan and other places, if they saw the enormous economic problems in our own country, who would advise that we invade Afghanistan at this point? Nobody would.
So the question should be, if we wouldn't do it on those facts, why would we continue it now?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Except that's where the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were launched from.
FEINGOLD: That's right. And that's the only argument. But, you know, we chased these guys over into Pakistan. So why would we continue something that we wouldn't even initiate today? It doesn't relate directly to our fight against Al Qaida in any way like it did in 2001.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is there any way you can stop this?
FEINGOLD: Well, that's difficult. And what's going to happen here is that it's probably going to be difficult to stop it now. We'll do whatever we can. We're already working with members of both parties in both houses to question whether this funding should be approved. We're going to fight any attempts to use sort of accounting gimmicks to allow it to be funded. If there's an attempt to have an emergency supplemental, I think that's something we're going to oppose, not only on the grounds of it being an unwise policy, but also being fiscally irresponsible.
But in the end, George, what's going to happen is, if we continue this policy and build up these troops, there's going to be more and more members of Congress who aren't comfortable with it, and it's not just going to be Democrats.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you grant that the funds are there right now, but if they come back in the spring for $30 billion or $40 billion, that's where you'll make your move and try to block it?
FEINGOLD: I don't grant that the funds are there now. We are operating at huge deficits in this country, and the idea of continuing to spend for this war goes -- flies right in the face of the American people's priority to bring spending down.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me ask you a question also on health care. Senators in session this weekend, President Obama coming up this afternoon, and you've been reportedly part of a small group that is trying to work on a new compromise on this public health insurance option. It's based on the -- the plan that members of Congress have, the federal employee health benefits plan. Are you making progress? Do you believe a compromise can be struck? And what will it be?