'This Week' Transcript: Timothy Geithner

PHOTO: Timothy Geithner on This Week with Christiane Amanpour

AMANPOUR: This Week, a ticking time bomb. All eyes on the exploding national debt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Doing nothing on the deficit is just not an option.


AMANPOUR: And that looming threat which could force the United States government to default.


REP. JOHN A. BOEHNER, R-OHIO, HOUSE SPEAKER: There will not be an increase in the debt limit without something really, really big attached to it.


AMANPOUR: Tough questions for President Obama's point man on the economy, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.


GEITHNER: The people who would take this to the edge, to the brink, they'll own responsibility.


AMANPOUR: And then the leading edge of the opposition, the Tea Party. Key members join us, 100 days after a revolution swept them into office. How far are they willing to push the president and their own party to fulfill their promise to balance America's checkbook?

And later.


DONALD TRUMP: We have to take our country back.


AMANPOUR: What to make of this surprise Republican frontrunner? Plus, Hillary Clinton warns the Arab spring may melt into a mirage in the desert. But will it? A special reporter's notebook from Terry Moran at the heart of the revolution that is still unfolding.

Welcome to our viewers here and around the world. President Obama hits the road this week on a mission to sell his brand of fiscal responsibility to the American people. This just days after House Republicans approved their dramatic plan to tackle the debt crisis. At issue: A national debt that has ballooned to more than $14 trillion. The United States is now borrowing $2 million a minute.

As for the plans, President Obama wants to end the Bush tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, and he's calling for spending cuts, including at the Pentagon, and cost-cutting reforms to Medicare and Medicaid. Republicans are demanding steep spending cuts, no tax hikes, and a massive restructuring of Medicare and Medicaid that would fundamentally transform two pillars of the American safety net.

The plans are worlds apart, and the clock is ticking. In a month, the United States will reach its borrowing limit. In order to borrow more money to meet obligations, Congress must vote to raise the debt ceiling, and getting Republicans on board may not be that easy. I spoke with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner about the showdown and the stakes.


AMANPOUR: Secretary Geithner, thank you for joining us.

GEITHNER: Nice to see you.

AMANPOUR: The debt ceiling is going to be the next big battle, it is the next big battle. Can you really spell out in plain English for our viewers what is the impact, if it's not raised, for the United States and for the average American?

GEITHNER: Well, I want to make it perfectly clear that Congress will raise the debt ceiling.

AMANPOUR: You're sure about that?

GEITHNER: Absolutely. And they recognize it, and they told the president that on Wednesday in the White House. And I sat there with them, and they said, we recognize we have to do this. And we're not going to play around with it. Because we know -- we know that the risk would be catastrophic.

And it's -- you know, it's not something you can too close to the edge.

AMANPOUR: So what they say in private is not quite what they say in public?

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