April 19, 2009 — -- STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning and welcome to "This Week."
More change from Obama. On Cuba.
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PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The United States seeks a new beginningwith Cuba.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Terrorist interrogations.
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(UNKNOWN): The president moved swiftly to end that practice.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: And the economy.
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OBAMA: We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand.We must lay a new foundation for growth and prosperity.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: As the president rounds out his first 100 daysand the new Congress returns from its first recess, what's next on theagenda? We'll ask our exclusive headliners, White House Chief ofStaff Rahm Emanuel and House Republican Leader John Boehner, only on"This Week."
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(UNKNOWN): No more bailouts!
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Tax day tea parties. Boom or bust? That andthe rest of the week's politics on our roundtable, with George Will,Cokie Roberts, Sam Donaldson and Peggy Noonan.
And as always, the Sunday funnies.
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(UNKNOWN): Nothing shakes a politician up like a complimentarybag of tea.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Hello again. Ninety days into his term,President Obama's wrapping up his second overseas mission today andcoming home to his next set of challenges in Congress. That sets thetable for our exclusive headliners this morning, beginning with thepresident's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel. Welcome back.
EMANUEL: Good morning.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you could not have been happy when you got upand saw the New York Times this morning. Headline talks about thepresident's softer stance. The first paragraph says he's shown awillingness to capitulate on some early initiatives. Then it goes onto quote Leonard Burman of the Urban Institute, and he says that -- hesays, "the thing we still don't know about President Obama is whathe's willing to fight for. He likes giving good speeches, he likesthe adulation, he likes to make people happy, but it's hard to thinkof a place where he's taken a really hard position." Your response?
EMANUEL: Well, George, let me approach this from two sides, if Ican. As you noted, we're into only 90 days. What have we gotten donein those 90 days? First, we passed the largest recovery act to putAmericans back to work. We've gotten in place the financing to helpstabilize the credit system throughout the financial system. Ahousing plan so people can keep their homes, and millions of Americanscan refinance. We started the ending -- we started the process to endthe war in Iraq, put in place a policy in Afghanistan and Pakistanarea that will change that area and take the fight to the terroriststhat exist there. We also started the credit flowing to smallbusinesses.
So in the first 90 days, a lot has been done both to get theeconomy moving again and change America's foreign policy and itsobjectives...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is that the easy part, though?
EMANUEL: Well, if you think that's easy, George, and you've beenin the White House, I would suggest in the fist 90 days, it's quite alot to take on, but the American people asked for us to roll up oursleeves every day and get to work on behalf of them.
Second, let me squeeze it from this side, or address the questionfrom this side. You could not report on the challenges of the fightswith the special interests if it wasn't for what we've initiated underPresident Obama. A, taking on the banking industry as it relates tothe student loan. We basically said we're going to cut you out, put$94 billion that we subsidize you with, and we're going to give itdirectly to the students who are trying to go to college.
In the area of healthcare reform and getting costs under control,we said to the insurance industry, we're eliminating your subsidiesand only going to pay you what basically 100 percent on the dollar,but not 115 cents on the dollar, and you're going to compete for thatmoney. And that saves the taxpayers about $170 billion...
EMANUEL: George, George, finally, on the oil and industry, weeliminated their taxpayer subsidies and put that money intoalternative energy. So every one of the fights that you're engagedover the next six to nine months were ones that we initiated in takingon those special interests.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, you had two important ones, healthcare andenergy. And when you look at those issues, what the president hasdone in his first 90 days, achieved a lot of his major initiatives, asyou pointed out, but with very little Republican support. Only threeRepublicans on the stimulus package; none for the president's budget.
To get healthcare, energy, regulatory reform, the president isgoing to need Republican votes. What adjustments is he willing tomake to get them?
EMANUEL: Well, you just said adjustments. The first questionwas we're compromising too much and now are you saying how are yougoing to compromise to get those done? We set the goals. The goalsare getting healthcare costs under control. The goals are having anenergy policy in which America is independent of its tie to foreignoil and having a policy in which America basically has an energypolicy that frees itself from exporting $700 billion of wealth to theMideast. Those are the objectives. Now, he's open to different roadsto get there, but what he's not open to is compromising on the...
EMANUEL: ... healthcare costs under control and ridding us ofour dependence.
Now, as President Obama said when asked by a congressman at oneof the task force on healthcare -- not on healthcare, on fiscaldiscipline. You know, the Republican congressman said we're being cutout.
EMANUEL: He says, well, you should be included; that's fair, butyou have to come constructive.
And when you're the party of no; when you're the party of never;when you're the party of no new ideas, that's not constructive.
So my recommendation is, we'll work with people of all sides'ideology to get things done. And I think you'll see this on Tuesday.The president will sign a landmark legislation for national service.
And the sponsors are President -- Senator Kennedy and SenatorHatch, a Republican.
EMANUEL: And if you go through the process on kids' health care,national service, as well as getting resources necessary forstabilizing the banks, every one of those votes has been bipartisan.
The challenge will be, will the Republicans come to the tablewith constructive ideas?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about the big issues. On healthcare, on Republican idea on health care is to tax employer benefits.The president blasted Senator McCain for that idea during thecampaign, yet it's now being joined by some Democrats as well.
Is the president willing to consider that as a way to pay for hisplans to expand coverage?
EMANUEL: George, the goal -- well, remember, first of all,what's the objective?
The objective is getting...
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... I want to know if he's willing to considerthat as a way to pay for it.
EMANUEL: Well, first of all, what we have to do is squeeze outall the basic costs in the system, before we talk about any other typeof revenue. There's a lot that has to be changed.
Unfortunately, I know a little about health care reform from myfamily. The fact is, we had all the wrong incentives in the health caresystem. And if you change the incentives toward medical I.T., whichwe put in place the resources to start basically having a way tocontrol costs there; if we change the way the doctors are paid -- so,rather than fee for service, for outcomes; change the way -- in fact,rewarding people who take care of themselves and get their healthtogether.
All those are what you have to consider...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But all of that is only going to get you afraction of the place where you need to be in order to cover everyoneas the president has said is the goal as well.
And he laid out a plan, a reserve package of about $600 billion;the plan he laid out to pay for it, shaving deductions for wealthyAmericans.
Democrats and Republicans alike on Capitol Hill say, no way,we're not going to do it. So how is the president going to fill thegap?
How is he going to pay for the programs?
EMANUEL: Well, (inaudible) George, it's not just the president.It's what we work with Congress. That process is beginning. I think,in this next five weeks, you'll see tremendous progress at the -- atthe committee level, to getting that done.
And he does not believe that's the first step. And what you haveto do, as he believes, is make the cuts in the system that we havetoday because we're overpaying for a lot of things; and second, ischange the incentives before you get to immediately going to a defaultposition that you have to raise taxes.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But is he open to taxing employer benefits?
EMANUEL: He -- he has said he opposed that, as he said in thecampaign. And that's what he believes, and believes is, before youget there, you have got to address the priorities.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So he won't sign a bill that includes that?
EMANUEL: George, I'm not going to do any absolutes on your show.That's not my right to do that. If there's (inaudible) then we'll tryto arrange that...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's move over to energy. The president made amajor announcement -- the EPA made a major announcement on Friday,giving the EPA the ability to regulate greenhouse gases.
It drew some sharp opposition from our next guest, CongressmanBoehner.
Here's what he had to say. He said, "This decision is nothingmore than a back-door attempt to enact a national energy tax that willhave a crushing impact on consumers, jobs and our economy. Theadministration is abusing the regulatory process to establish this taxbecause it knows there are not enough votes in Congress to forceAmericans to pay it."
EMANUEL: Well, first of all, let's take a step back. Thatdecision was an outgrowth by the EPA -- went through scientificreview, but it was an outgrowth of a Supreme Court decision in 2007.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So it doesn't have much choice?
EMANUEL: Well, the -- what EPA just announced, the EPA had to gowhere it was. Let me also note -- and I think it's important -- bothon that decision, George, as well as on the stem cell rules and regsthat were just put out, once again, science is where it should be,giving us all the data we need. Now we have to decide how we're goingto handle that information.
And I think, on this case, this EPA has said, here's what we have-- here's what the data says; here's what we think about it.
Now, we have to make the decision, which is what the president'salways said, it is better, on an issue of this size and magnitude, andin an effect on the economy, that Congress and the White House come upwith a set of policies that deal with greenhouse gas emissions and ourenergy policy.
We have a bill that's working, right now, dealing with our energyindependence.
What would be helpful is if your next speaker, John Boehner,who's a friend, has his ideas put forth on how he wants to deal withgreenhouse gases -- emissions, and how he wants to deal with ourenergy independence...
EMANUEL: And we're going to have -- the Congress is beginning towork...
STEPHANOPOULOS: I will ask him about that, but meanwhile, thepresident's plans to cap-and-trade carbon emissions is getting a lotof resistance, not only from Republicans but Democrats as well, who dobelieve -- who are fearful that this will be a broad-based taxincrease.
EMANUEL: I would -- well, I -- of course, when you havesomething of this magnitude, there's going to be people that raiseobjections, because it's a big change.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you believe it's a broad-based tax increase?
EMANUEL: No, what I believe is we're going to -- we're going toalter how we deal with our energy policy. And what I think is goingto happen is that Congress will deal with this part of the energypolicy; they'll deal with the resource investments into alternativeenergy.
They'll also deal with the way we bring more efficiency into thesystem. And they're going to look at that.
I do know this. At the end of this first year of Congress, therewill be an energy bill on the president's desk.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That includes cap-and-trade?
EMANUEL: Our goal is to get that done. We will see. You'reasking me right before the legislative process starts to make thatprediction.
I do think this, that even those who object to particulars knowthat we have to deal with this part of our energy policy and that --the challenge now is, rather than to criticize and rather than say no,rather than to say never, is to provide ideas. And that has yet tohappen from the other side.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You believe that both health care, then, andenergy will get through the Congress this year? At the same time, areyou confident that you can get those through before you have to comeback to the Congress and ask for more money for the banks?
We all know these stress tests are coming up at the end of themonth. We've seen some positive reports from the banks in recentweeks.
How confident are you that the banks are going to be able to getthrough this period without having the government come in andtemporarily take over?
And will you be able to get through this next period withoutcoming back to Congress for more money?
EMANUEL: George, let me take a step back. I want to address theparticular, at the end, on the resources. Remember what the stresstest is about. It's very important. You needed a clear demarcation.
For the last year and a half, the credit markets have seized up.It was filled, in the financial system, with fear and confusion.Nobody was lending to each other and, therefore businesses, familiesthat were trying to buy a home, kids who wanted to go to college,people that want to buy a car could not access the resources they needto do that because the banks were filled with fear and confusionbetween each other and weren't lending.
And then, at the end of the day, the economy and the consumer goteffected. The purpose of the stress test was to have a cleardemarcation between that confusion and fear with...
STEPHANOPOULOS: And also figure out how much more money they'regoing to need from the federal government.
Are you confident you will not have to come back to Congress...
EMANUEL: Well, first of all, I haven't seen -- as you know, Ihaven't seen the stress test yet. What we do know is, in the firstquarter, banks and the financial institutions, the major 19, are doingbetter. And I think we're all pleased that they're reporting profits.
But that doesn't take away that some are going to need resources.We believe we have those resources available in the government as thefinal backstop to make sure that the 19 are financially viable andeffective.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Without coming back to Congress?
EMANUEL: Right. The resources that we have on hand, we believe-- and it's not just that, George, is that we have those resources; wehave a facility to buy these troubled assets off their banks. If theyneed capital, we have that capacity. We have what we're doing on thehome front. I'm basically helping homeowners basically access and buya home and stay in a home and refinance their home.
And we also believe, as you see in April, consumer confidence isup.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you don't believe you're going to have tocome back? Do you believe now...
EMANUEL: I'd say that -- you know, I want to be careful here,George, because you're dealing with stuff -- and a lot of people arewaiting in the next three weeks. It's a big issue. I believe wewon't, but I haven't seen the stress tests, so it's -- I want to put acautionary note there. I do think, based on everything, you know, inour discussions...
STEPHANOPOULOS: You are well-informed.
EMANUEL: I understand I'm well-informed. But that doesn't meanI've seen the stress tests. I do believe we have the resources tohandle what the results will be.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And you will avoid any kind of temporarynationalization?
EMANUEL: I think we will be able to avoid that. STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me ask you a final question on...
EMANUEL: And again, obviously -- I want to be careful, George,because this is very important, and rightfully so. I believe we havethe resources. I believe, -- not only -- I believe we will not haveto deal with nationalization, and that's not the goal, nor do we thinkthat's the right policy objectives here.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Fair enough. Final question on the president'sdecision, this week, to disclose the documents dealing with terroristinterrogations.
A series of officials who served with President Bush have comeout and blasted it, including the former homeland security secretaryMichael Chertoff, the former CIA director Michael Hayden. Here's whatthey had to say.
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FORMER SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY MICHAEL CHERTOFF: One isthat you're giving terrorists insights into the things they need toprepare for, and they do prepare. And the second thing is you'resending a message to our allies that we are not reliable in terms ofsafeguarding confidential information.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. Hayden added that fully half of theinformation the government has gotten about Al Qaida came from theseinterrogations. They say that the president's decision has put theUnited States at risk.
EMANUEL: A couple things, George. First of all, we've bannedthese techniques and practices -- banned them. Because we didn'tthink they were consistent with America's security...
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you don't believe we got this informationthat Michael Hayden believes we got?
EMANUEL: First let me address the question, OK? Second is,we've enhanced America's image abroad. These were tools used byterrorists, propaganda tools, to recruit new terrorists. And the factis, having changed America's image does have an impact on our securityand safety and makes us stronger.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How do you answer the argument, though, that(inaudible) that this gives them a roadmap to how to resist?
EMANUEL: It's kind of a -- let me say this. One of the reasonsthe president was willing to let this information out was that alreadythe information was out. So if they're saying that you basically haveexposed something, it's been written. Go get the New York Review ofBooks. It's there.
So the notion that somehow, we're exposing something -- it'salready been out. In fact, President Bush let -- allowed -- let it --allowed a lot of this information out. So the notion that somehowthis all of a sudden is a game changer doesn't take cognizance of thefact that it's already in the system and in the public domain.Therefore, it's not new. So the notion that that is something we'vebuilt in -- it's already been there.
Number two, it's one of the key tools Al Qaida has used forrecruitment. There has been a net cost to America. By changing theway America is seen in the world, which means banning this techniqueand practice, we have actually stopped them and prevented them fromusing it as a rallying cry.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Final quick question. The president has ruledout prosecutions for CIA officials who believed they were followingthe law. Does he believe that the officials who devised the policiesshould be immune from prosecution?
EMANUEL: What he believes is, look, as you saw in that statementhe wrote, and I would just take a step back. He came up with this andhe worked on this for about four weeks, wrote that statement Wednesdaynight, after he made his decision, and dictated what he wanted to see.And Thursday morning, I saw him in the office, he was still editingit.
He believes that people in good faith were operating with theguidance they were provided. They shouldn't be prosecuted.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What about those who devised policy?
EMANUEL: Yes, but those who devised policy, he believes thatthey were -- should not be prosecuted either, and that's not the placethat we go -- as he said in that letter, and I would really recommendpeople look at the full statement -- not the letter, the statement --in that second paragraph, "this is not a time for retribution." It'stime for reflection. It's not a time to use our energy and our timein looking back and any sense of anger and retribution.
We have a lot to do to protect America. What people need toknow, this practice and technique, we don't use anymore. He bannedit.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Rahm Emanuel, thank you very much for joiningme.
EMANUEL: Thank you, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We turn now to Congressman Boehner. And let meget you right on there, Congressman Boehner. What is your response tothe president's decision this week? And also, we just heard from Mr.Emanuel that the president wants to move forward, no prosecution forofficials who devised the policy.
BOEHNER: Well, I think that's one area -- area that I can agreewith the president on. But I think the release of these memos isdangerous, and I agree with what Leon Panetta had to say, when he madeit clear that he thought that this would hamper our ability to getinformation from terrorists and get other countries to work with us.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And let's look at this more broadly, then,Congressman Boehner. You heard what Mr. Emanuel had to say about thepresident's approach towards this next set of challenges facing theCongress, especially healthcare and education. And he says thepresident's willing to work with Republicans, but Republicans have tocome to the table with ideas. Let's take each issue in turn.
Are you prepared to come forward with a plan to cover allAmericans and control healthcare costs?
BOEHNER: I think we believe, along what Democrats believe, thatall Americans should have access to high-quality, affordable healthinsurance. We're working on a plan that preserves the doctor/patientrelationship, rewards quality and rewards innovation. We're not for aplan that puts the government in charge of our healthcare, decideswhat doctors ought to be paid, or what treatments ought to beprescribed.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So that means -- so that's a no to thepresident's plan?
BOEHNER: We haven't seen the president's plan as yet. I cantell you what our plan is beginning to look like and the types ofthings that we will oppose.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me ask you then about energy. We showedyour statement on the president's decision through the EPA to regulategreenhouse gases. Also, you've come out against the president'sproposal to cap-and-trade carbon emissions.
So what is the Republican answer to climate change? Is it aproblem? Do you have a plan to address it?
BOEHNER: George, we believe that our -- all of the above energystrategy from last year continues to be the right approach on energy.That we ought to make sure that we have new sources of energy, greenenergy, but we need nuclear energy, we need other types ofalternatives, and, yes, we need American-made oil and gas.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But that doesn't do anything when it comes toemissions, sir.
BOEHNER: When it comes to the issue of climate change, George,it's pretty clear that if we don't work with other industrializednations around the world, what's going to happen is that we're goingto ship millions of American jobs overseas. We have to deal with thisin a responsible way.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So what is the responsible way? That's myquestion. What is the Republican plan to deal with carbon emissions,which every major scientific organization has said is contributing toclimate change?
BOEHNER: George, the idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogenthat is harmful to our environment is almost comical. Every time weexhale, we exhale carbon dioxide. Every cow in the world, you know,when they do what they do, you've got more carbon dioxide. And so Ithink it's clear...
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you don't believe that greenhouse gases are aproblem in creating climate change?
BOEHNER: ... we've had climate change over the last 100 years --listen, it's clear we've had change in our climate. The question ishow much does man have to do with it, and what is the proper way todeal with this? We can't do it alone as one nation. If we got India,China and other industrialized countries not working with us, allwe're going to do is ship millions of American jobs overseas.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But it sounds like from what you're saying thatyou don't believe that Republicans need to come up with a plan tocontrol carbon emissions? You're suggesting it's not that big of aproblem, even though the scientific consensus is that it hascontributed to the climate change.
BOEHNER: I think it is -- I think it is an issue. The questionis, what is the proper answer and the responsible answer?
STEPHANOPOULOS: And what is the answer? That's what I'm tryingto get at.
BOEHNER: George, I think everyone in America is looking for theproper answer. We don't want to raise taxes, $1.5 to $2 trillion likethe administration is proposing, and we don't want to ship millions ofAmerican jobs overseas. And so we've got to find ways to work towardthis solution to this problem without risking the future for our kidsand grandkids.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you are committed to coming up with a plan?
BOEHNER: I think you'll see a plan from us. Just like you'veseen a plan from us on the stimulus bill and a better plan on thebudget.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, also this week, we saw these TEA partytax day protests coming out across the country. Yet, one of theorganizers of the protests, one of your predecessors, Dick Armey,former Republican leader in the House, said even as he was goingforward with the protests, that the taxes of the United States are nowat a good level. Do you agree?
BOEHNER: I think the taxes in America continue to be too high,and if you talk to the people I talk to at the taxpayer protests outin Bakersfield, California, they didn't believe their taxes were toolow or about right. They thought they were too high.
George, when I talk to people at these rallies, it was prettyclear people are scared to death. And they're scared to death aboutthe future for their kids and their grandkids, and the facts that theAmerican dream may not be alive for their kids and grandkids. That'swhat really scares them.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But on the issue...
BOEHNER: They understand that you can't borrow and spend yourway to prosperity.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But on the issue of taxes, I think it's 43percent of people who file taxes pay no income tax at all. For themiddle fifth of taxpayers, they're paying just about 3 percent infederal income tax this year.
BOEHNER: Well, you want to go out and explain that to thehundreds of thousands of people around America that showed up forthese rallies. They understand that they're paying too much in taxes.But they're really concerned about the amount of spending that's goingon in Washington and the amount of debt that's being piled up. Theyknow that you can't have trillion-dollar deficits for as far as theeye can see without imprisoning the future for our kids and theirs.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Congressman Boehner, thank you very much foryour time this morning.