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

This Week

AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program. The government is up and running today, after a frantic 11th-hour round of let's make a deal. National parks are open, federal workers will get paid on time, and so will the troops. It's a big relief to people here in Washington and of course around the country.

But the budget showdown that drove Congress to the brink of the shutdown is puny compared to the battles that lie ahead. As one Republican senator is warning, prepare for Armageddon.

Where this fight was about billions of dollars, the next one will be about trillions. This week, we saw President Obama assume the role of mediator in chief. The big question now, will he build consensus around reforming huge budget-busting programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security? And does he have the will and the stomach for that fight?

Joining me now, the president's senior adviser, David Plouffe. He was the president's campaign manager in 2008 and now advises Mr. Obama on politics and policy from inside the White House. Thank you for joining us.

PLOUFFE: Good to be with you, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: So the president started this whole process a while back talking about spending increases. Friday night, he came out and called it a historic deal. But this cut so many billions, that must be a disappointment, a historic cut.

PLOUFFE: No, the president has been very clear that we need to reduce the deficit. And obviously because the last two years, we were on the brink of a great depression, that had profound impact not just on the economy and our people, most importantly, but also our fiscal situation.

So in order to -- because the president believes we still have to invest in things like education, research and development, technology, the only way to do that in this fiscal situation is to live within our means and to cut spending.

So it was a huge spending cut, as the president said Friday night, in some programs that he cares deeply about. But if we're going to compromise -- and by the way, compromise cannot be a dirty word, it's the way we're going to move forward in this country.

AMANPOUR: Right. But since he really was looking to, as you say, invest, and increase spending, why is he taking sort of a victory lap when this is something he didn't want to do in the first place, cut?

PLOUFFE: Well, if you look at his budget for 2012, which he announced around the State of the Union, it actually would reduce the deficit over a trillion dollars in the next 10 years. It would bring spending down to the lowest levels since Dwight Eisenhower.

So the president's commitment to spending cuts and deficit reduction is absolutely firm. But while we do that, we've got to make sure that we are not hurting our ability for our people to get the education they need to compete with people in Beijing and Bangalore, that we are investing in research and development, that we're investing in infrastructure.

So that's going to be his approach going forward. And I'll tell you, the president later this week is going to lay out in detail his approach for deficit reduction going forward. And I think his belief that it has to be a balanced approach, it has to be serious, it has got to put us on a firm fiscal trajectory that the country needs to grow economically.

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