'This Week' Transcript: Rep. Paul Ryan


OBAMA: He's taken some flack lately, but no one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald. And that's because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter, like did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?



AMANPOUR: A little light moment last night from the White House correspondents' dinner. President Obama taking a shot at Donald Trump. Funny stuff, and we'll talk about it a little later.

But across the country, passions are running high on a more serious matter, a Republican debt reform plan that would slash spending and revamp Medicare and Medicaid without raising taxes on the wealthy. Has Paul Ryan laid the roadmap to victory for the Democrats? Or will his party have the last laugh?

Joining me to answer that question, George Will, Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post, Chrystia Freeland, global editor at Thomson Reuters, and David Stockman, who served as budget director under Ronald Reagan.

Thank you all for being here. Some of us were at that dinner last night, but, first, George, you heard what I asked Congressman Ryan, asking him about some of the Republicans who seem to be running now from the plan. Is this an election loser for them? Will they stick with him?

WILL: They've clearly made a wager that this time the American people mean what they say about cutting government. His plan now for the budget is not the same as, but it's in the same general direction as the roadmap he proposed for entitlement reform and all the rest a few years ago (inaudible) pointing out the grand total of 13 cosponsors. People are not eager to embrace it. He now has essentially made them embrace it by making the running.

Republicans are somewhat emboldened by the example of Marco Rubio running for the Senate in Florida in 2010, when, in a state planted thick with seniors, the state known as God's antechamber, as a matter of fact, in the great state of Florida, he said we must raise the retirement age and perhaps, in some sense, means test Social Security. He said that volatile thing in that state and won in a landslide.

HUFFINGTON: (OFF-MIKE) starting to listen to this incredibly shrinking budget debate where we're basically discussing what we're cutting without discussing what's happening in the country with jobs, basically, despite the fact that supposedly, you know, we have a reduction in unemployment. We know this is really a statistical reason because of the shrinking of the actual labor force, but not any real creation of jobs. And that's really what is so outstanding, that we are not focusing on this.

And you go around the country, and there's this anxiety, this fear about kids graduating from college not being able to get jobs. The foreclosures are still rampant. Even Mitt Romney, you know, in New Hampshire actually took this on and sounded like a real populist, talking about the problems of people not being able to make ends meet.

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