'This Week' Transcript: John Brennan, Sens. Cornyn and Menendez


MENENDEZ: We reached out to Republicans from the very beginning. It's not about being at the back of the bus. But when President Obama came to Capitol Hill when we were trying to get this economy moving on the Recovery Act, before he got to the Capitol, Republican leaders were saying dead on arrival, before he even got to engage them.

So I thought the No. 1 job that we had was not to make Barack Obama a one-term president. I thought it was about creating jobs and growing the economy.

AMANPOUR: So the Democrats, it seems, the people are saying, simply have not succeeded in removing people's suspicions about what exactly is health care, what exactly is the stimulus, all of those policies that they still are not quite sure about. The Republicans, on the other hand, have basically said no and moved on. But this has been a very specific-free, substance-free, content-free election. For instance, you talk about moving the economy. But there are no concrete proposals on, for instance, how to slash the deficit.

You look at Britain. They have, whether you like it or not, or agree with it or not, put out a really severe austerity program, chapter and verse, dollars and cents. None of that has happened here.

CORNYN: Well, there will be on December the 1st a bipartisan debt commission report that I know that we're waiting to see what they come up with. But there will be very specific proposals dealing with debt and spending and to try to get the American job engine -- get the people back to work again. Those are the three issues that concern folks the most.

And I submit that even if we have a good election, which I think we will on November 2nd, that unless we address those three issues, then we're going to have another election in two years where people will throw out those of us who haven't been part of the solution but who have been part of the problem.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about taxes, because presumably that's going to be an immediate issue. People are talking about taxes and the battle for taxes starting right after this election. Is there any way, Senator, that Congress will agree with President Obama's plan to raise taxes on the wealthiest and preserve them for the middle class?

CORNYN: I don't believe we ought to raise taxes on anyone during a fragile economic recovery, and I think there is an increasing bipartisan support for that position. So I hope we'll continue the current tax policy for the near term, perhaps the next couple of years. Perhaps there's a bipartisan solution there.

AMANPOUR: Well, is there a bipartisan solution? There have been reports, for instance, Senator Menendez, that the White House realizes that there will not be any compromise on what the White House wants to do, and that perhaps one would preserve the tax cuts for the middle -- for the wealthiest temporarily while preserving them for the middle class.

MENENDEZ: Well, first of all, we had an opportunity to preserve permanently for the middle class tax cuts that Democrats proposed, and ultimately Republicans held that hostage to giving the wealthiest in the country a tax cut.

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