'This Week' Transcript: Rep. Paul Ryan


RYAN: You know, I don't really think about it. I sleep well at night.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): At the end of the day, Congressman Ryan and I sit down to talk about the bottom line.

(on-screen): People who've been studying your numbers very carefully and -- have been saying that the numbers don't add up.

RYAN: Well, the Congressional Budget Office Says they do.

AMANPOUR: Well, it also says that two-thirds of the savings that you want to make in the spending cuts come at the expense of programs designed for the poor, for the disadvantaged, and this is reverse Robin Hood-ism, if you like, take from the poor, give back to the rich again.

RYAN: Yeah, sure, I've heard that. Yeah, I would disagree with that. First of all, spending increases in this budget. Spending on the safety net increases, but it increases at a more sustainable rate. Here's the problem, Christiane. The safety net we have right now is going bankrupt. It's tearing apart at the seams.

AMANPOUR: What you're proposing seems like it's going to put a lot of the burden on the seniors. They're worried that they're not going to be able to afford the cost of health insurance.

RYAN: So we're saying give the most vulnerable people more money to cover their expenses and don't give wealthy people as much money to cover their expenses because they're wealthy and they should be able to afford more. But we're also saying is, you've got to get at the root cause of health inflation. Even President Obama is saying slow the growth rate of Medicare.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): For now, the president and the congressman seem far apart. And as we crisscross his Wisconsin district, I ask Paul Ryan if some grand budget bargain could be in the offing.

(on-screen): Do you think that these massive issues that you're dealing with, the budget, let's say, can be done only by one party?

RYAN: No. No, I don't. I think it's going to have...

AMANPOUR: So you have to negotiate?

RYAN: Oh, yeah, absolutely, yeah.

AMANPOUR: You have to work together? RYAN: Yes, I think so.

AMANPOUR: Is that atmosphere available...


RYAN: No, not right now.

AMANPOUR: It's not, is it?

RYAN: Look, we're probably not going to get some grand-slam agreement that fixes all of these problems. My now hope is to get a single or a double, you know, to get something done that gets us on the right path.


AMANPOUR: Congressman Ryan says that he expects Republicans and Democrats to agree on some fiscal controls to lock in spending levels, but he says a big-picture deal on the debt crisis probably won't happen before the 2012 election. And it's what the treasury secretary, Tim Geithner, said also on this program a couple of weeks ago.

So the big question remains: Can the United States afford to wait that long? Our powerhouse roundtable tackles that and weighs in with their reviews of the president's stand-up act, as well, at last night's White House correspondents' dinner.


OBAMA: Tonight, for the first time, I am releasing my official birth video.


Let's take a look.




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