AMANPOUR: So is that good political advice, vote against us all? Is that what President Obama will take, that advice? Will you say that to people?
AXELROD: Well, President Clinton is a -- is a great politician, and I'm not in any way going to quarrel with him. I think people in 2012 will vote on this. I don't think they need an invitation to do so.
I think the -- the crux of what he's saying is absolutely right, though. When you look at that Pledge to America, it is a complete echo of what was done before. It would borrow $700 billion to cut taxes for the very wealthy, add trillions of dollars to the deficits. It would unleash the special interests to be writing rules here on Capitol Hill again.
And it would cut things like -- there's a 20 percent cut in there for education. We're talking about our economy. Education is the defense budget of the -- economic defense budget of the 21st century, and they're basically talking about disarmament. Eight million kids would have their college aid slashed under this budget. This isn't a prescription for economic growth; this is a prescription for surrender. We can't do that.
AMANPOUR: What about one of the things that the president has been talking about for so long, and that is the tax breaks? Why did the Democrats decide to push that aside before the midterms?
AXELROD: Well, look, here's where we are, and you can talk to your next guest about it. What the Republicans have said -- and they've said it again in this pledge -- is what we've said is we want to extend tax cuts for people up to $250,000 of income. That would cover 98 percent of the American people.
They say, no, we won't do that alone. We want to borrow another $700 billion over the next 10 years to give tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires. And we're saying we can't afford that, not in our fiscal condition.
And so -- and now they want to hold those middle-class tax cuts hostage until we -- unless and until we agree to that, and that's something we can't do.
AMANPOUR: But if you can't do it now and you're not going to do it now, how are you going to do it after the elections, when you might have less of a majority?
AXELROD: Well, here's what I believe. I believe, when these Republican members return to their districts, they're going to have to explain to their constituents why they're holding up tax cuts for the middle class. And I think it's an untenable position to say, "We're going to allow your taxes to go up on January 1st unless the president agrees to give tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires."
AMANPOUR: But does he want...
AXELROD: This is exactly how we got into the jam we were in before. This is how they quadrupled the national debt and exploded the deficits and squandered the surplus that Bill Clinton left them.
AMANPOUR: People are very upset about the national debt and the -- and the deficits and all (inaudible) right now.
AXELROD: Yes, well, they should be.
AMANPOUR: But also, the president talked about extending the middle-class tax cuts. Can you do that after the election?