'This Week' Transcript: Plouffe, Pence, Van Hollen


PLOUFFE: Well, first of all, the president, as I said, in his budget for next year, laid out with great specificity how we're going to reduce the deficit over a trillion dollars in the next decade, bring spending down to the lowest levels since Dwight Eisenhower, at the same time protecting critical investments in things like education and research and development.

So the president has led. I mean, sometimes here in Washington, when people accuse you of not having leadership, what they mean is you're not leading a political fight. And the president's view is the country needs leadership that's focused on where do we find common ground so that we can win the future and continue to move the economy forward, not to look at every issue first through the prism of how do we get political advantage over the other party. The American people are sick and tired of that.

AMANPOUR: Talking about that, many of these big issues, whether it's the debt ceiling, whether it's real deficit reduction, will require huge -- real bipartisan coming together, not at the last minute to negotiate a deal like this time.

So what is his plan for that? And can he actually do that?

PLOUFFE: Well, you're right, Christiane. On any issue, whether it's going to be more deficit reduction, which we have to have, education reform, new energy policies and investments, nothing is going to happen unless it has got the support of members of both parties.

So we're not going to move forward together as a country unless we do it together, Republicans and Democrats, on behalf of all Americans. So I do think that should give us some confidence that this is the first big test of this divided government.

And, you know, the speaker, the president, the Senate majority leader were able to work together. Yes, it came down to the finish line. But you couple that with what happened in December on nuclear weapons, on tax cuts for the American people, and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," it should give us some confidence that when our leaders really put the American people first, they have the ability to work together.

AMANPOUR: You know, you talk about specificity. And certainly Congressman Ryan has come out and put down a very specific plan for budget cutting. And, indeed, when it comes to the whole war of ideas, some in your own party are very concerned that it is the Republicans who have and are setting the agenda right now.

Look at what Congressman Anthony Weiner tweeted just now: "Our fight can't be just to stop their horrible ideas," he says, "don't we need to have our own agenda?"

So who is setting the agenda? It looks very much like they are right now. Would that be accurate?

PLOUFFE: No. That's not accurate. And, again, I think a lot of times in Washington people view this through the prism of political fights. So, you know, if you embrace spending cuts at all...

AMANPOUR: But this is a big substantive program that the congressman is talking about.

PLOUFFE: If you embrace spending cuts at all, somehow you're, you know, defaulting to Republican orthodoxy. We need spending cuts, we need deficit reduction. Listen, the president's State of the Union was a blueprint for the future, how we're going to win the future in this country.

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