Transcript: David Axelrod and Sen. Charles Grassley

White House senior adviser David Axelrod and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Ia.

ByABC News
June 7, 2009, 5:58 AM


STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning and welcome to "This Week."


OBAMA: We're going to get it done. I won't engage in hypotheticals in which we don't.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Obama sells his plans hard.


OBAMA: I'm pushing my idea.

I can't stress enough the importance of this vote.

We have not drawn lines in the sand.

That's up to the Senate to take the next step.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Republicans stand their ground.


REP. JOHN A. BOEHNER, R-OHIO: I've seen some pretty crazy things, but I have never seen anything this ridiculous.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY.: This isn't the only Democrat claim about health care that's increasingly suspect.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Showdowns approach on energy and health care, but is bipartisan compromise still possible? We'll ask our headliners, the president's senior adviser, David Axelrod, and top Senate Republican, Chuck Grassley of Iowa.



GOV. MARK SANFORD, R-S.C.: I've been unfaithful to my wife.


STEPHANOPOULOS: A governor's strange confession. A superstar's sad end. That and all the week's politics on our roundtable, with Paul Krugman, Peggy Noonan, Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post and cultural historian Michael Eric Dyson.

And as always, the Sunday Funnies.


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Congress has gone home for their July 4th break and they had better rest up, it's shaping up to be the busiest summer in a generation: health care, energy, the Supreme Court, and the economy. And for the debate on where things stand right now, we're going to begin this morning with the president's senior adviser, David Axelrod.

Welcome back.

AXELROD: Thanks, George. Good to be here.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's begin with that vote Friday night in the House, this vote on climate change legislation, very close, 219 to 212. Democrats say it's a major step forward for energy independence, to create green jobs, to control global warming.

But you know the Republicans are saying it's going to cost Americans jobs, going to send jobs overseas. And most important, they say it is a huge tax. And on that they have some backup from one of the president's supporters, Warren Buffett.

Take a look.


WARREN BUFFETT, CEO, BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY: I think if you get into the way it was written, it's a huge tax and there's no sense calling it anything else. I mean, it is a tax. So it -- and it's a fairly regressive tax.


STEPHANOPOULOS: How do you answer that? Republicans say this is the defining vote of 2008. They're going to use that in the 2010 elections.

AXELROD: Well, you know, it's interesting. We're trying to solve a problem that has languished for a decade, the problem of energy that has bedeviled us for a long time. And they're talking about how they can use it as an issue inaction as somehow a strategy. And that's not a strategy.

As for the tax issue, you know, I have a high regard for Warren Buffett, and the president does as well. I think the Congressional Budget Office addressed this issue, and their conclusion was the way the bill was written, the impact on the average American will be negligible over time.

And I think it was written for...

STEPHANOPOULOS: About $150 a year.

AXELROD: ... that reason. In 2020, and for lower income people, it actually will be a net gain because they'll get some help with their energy bill. So I think this is a phony issue.

And the real issue is, what is the Republican strategy for creating jobs? This bill actually, they call it a job killer, it will create millions of green jobs, the jobs of the future. We've lost millions of jobs in the recession that began last year and continues.

What is their strategy for that? What is their strategy for reducing our dependence on foreign oil? And how are we going to deal with this issue of carbon pollution that threatens people's health and the planet?

STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know, you're also facing some resistance from Democrats though in the Senate on this bill as well, senators like Claire McCaskill saying they're going to need some major changes.

And I've been trying to get into the issue of legislative strategy a little bit. The president is also pushing very hard on health care reform. He said he wants the Senate to act on this energy bill as well.

Does he want them to take it up right away or wait until after they finish considering health care in the fall?

AXELROD: Well, I think this energy bill will probably be dealt with in the Senate in the fall.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So after health care.

AXELROD: Health care I think will be the first thing on the agenda. Both the Senate and the House are well down the road on that.

But, George, understand that both of these issues, energy and health care, have languished for a long time. And the president believes that we have to deal with these issues in order to build a stronger foundation for our economy in the future.

And so he is taking the long view about how we get our economy moving, not just in the short term, but the long term. And he is asking Congress to join with him in this effort.


STEPHANOPOULOS: ... with that, especially on health care, excuse me, is figuring out where the revenues are going to come from. And, you know, a lot of talk about taxes in the House and the Senate as well.

And I want to show our viewers something the president said during the campaign back in September.


OBAMA: I can make a firm pledge: Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase, not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Not any of your taxes, a firm pledge. Does that mean the president will veto any health care bill that includes a tax increase on people earning less than $250,000 a year?

AXELROD: Well, first of all, George, let's make a few points. The president has said whatever is done has to not add to the deficit. So that's one of the prerequisites for this bill. We've got issue with our budget. Everybody is aware that we don't want to add to our deficit.

So this is going to have to be paid for. Two-thirds of the expenses -- two-thirds of the expense of it under the president's plan and proposal would be done by transferring money within the health care system from Medicare on wasteful spending, giveaways to insurance and drug companies, and so on.