'This Week' Transcript: Two Powerhouse Roundtables

CUTTER: Which is great, and what it should be. I just want to take one note on the inaugural address. You know, it has been described as a speech with a list of progressive ideas, but if you actually look at what the president talked about, that's not progressive. That's actually the center of the country right now, whether it's gay marriage or climate change. Immigration, you've seen how far we've been able to move the immigration debate. That's where the country is. And I think as Republicans are trying to remake themselves and brush up on their talking points, they need to realize where the country (inaudible) critical issues.


STEPHANOPOULOS: I think you're right about where the country is, but one thing we've also seen in those issues like guns and immigration, climate change, very low on people's priorities now, economy front and center. That's what the president going to be focused on. You've all mentioned this sequester that is coming up, as well. I want to dig into that just a little bit, because it seemed like when this sequester was proposed back in 2011, it was proposed because no one wanted or expected it to happen. Take a look.


OBAMA: The whole idea of the sequester was to make sure that both sides felt obligated to move off rigid positions.

BOEHNER: The sequester is ugly, it was designed to be ugly, because we didn't want anybody to go.

LEVIN: The very idea of those automatic cuts is that they are so unacceptable that few of us will want to see them enacted and most of us will be willing to compromise in order to avoid them.


STEPHANOPOULOS: What a difference a year makes. Congressman Cole, it's gone from irresponsible to what seems like inevitable right now.

COLE: Well, I think it is inevitable, quite frankly. Look, for the -- this was a presidential suggestion back in 2011, an idea, and yet the president himself hasn't put out any alternative. Republicans twice in the House have passed legislation to deal with it, once as early as last May, again after the election in December. Senate's never picked up either of those bills, never offered their own thing.

Now we're at three weeks out, and folks are worried. They ought to be worried. On the other hand, they're -- these cuts are going to occur. Now, the real choice here is simply, do you want cuts to be redistributed in other ways, which is the sensible thing to do, or do you want to let this happen? I think Republicans are quite prepared to negotiate on redistributing the cuts.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you're saying all cuts. No -- Republicans are accepting absolutely no revenues?

COLE: No. Look, absolutely none. The president's accepted no spending cuts back in the fiscal cliff deal 45 days ago, so you get all -- no spending cuts back then. Then you're going to get no revenue now.

ELLISON: Well, Tom, the problem with saying this is the president's idea is that you voted for the Budget Control Act. I voted against it. We wouldn't have ever been talking about the Budget Control Act but for your party refused to negotiate on the debt ceiling, something that has been routinely increased as the country needed it. You used that occasion...

COLE: That's not the case.


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