'This Week' Transcript: WH Sr Adviser Valerie Jarrett

Transcript: Valerie Jarrett

ByABC News
January 22, 2010, 2:35 PM

March 28, 2010 — -- TAPPER: Good morning and welcome to "This Week."

A health care victory for the president.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Health insurance reform becomes law in the United States of America.


TAPPER: While Republicans vow to overturn it in Congress or the courts.


(UNKNOWN): President Obama signed away another share of Americans' freedom.


TAPPER: The president says, bring it on.


OBAMA: My attitude is, go for it.



SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: Right, Mr. President. We're going to go for it, and we're going to repeal this bill.


TAPPER: Is this the final nail in the coffin for bipartisan cooperation in Washington? And what's next on the president's agenda? Questions for our exclusive headliner, the president's senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett. Then, states sue to block health care reform. Two key governors on opposite sides of the fight, Mississippi Republican Haley Barbour and Pennsylvania Democrat Ed Rendell, a "This Week" debate.

Plus, a standoff with Israel and (inaudible).

That and all the week's politics on our roundtable, with George Will, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.

And as always, the Sunday Funnies.


DAVID LETTERMAN, TALK SHOW HOST: Congress passed the health care reform bill. Well, that was easy.


TAPPER: Good morning, everyone. Thank you so much for joining us. We are joined now by senior adviser to the president, Valerie Jarrett. Valerie, welcome to This Week.

JARRETT: Thank you, Jake. Good morning.

TAPPER: Good morning. I want to get to the president's big accomplishment in a second, but first, front-page headlines right now about Iran. What can you tell us about the reports that Iran is suspected of preparing to build two nuclear sites, defiantly against international law, and what is the Obama administration prepared to do about it?

JARRETT: Well, what I can tell you is what the president has said consistently, which is that we're going to continue to put pressure on Iran. The fact that the president and Russia are about to sign the START Treaty is a good sign that we're making cooperation and good progress with countries such as Russia. We're going to have a coalition that will really put pressure on Iran and try to stop them from doing what they're trying to do.

TAPPER: You're talking about we're going to have a coalition that will do that. The President Obama set a deadline for President Ahmadinejad of Iran of the end of 2009. We're now about a quarter of the way through 2010, still no major international cooperation putting pressure on Iran. You know a little bit about Iranian culture. Don't you think that this in some ways conveys weakness or the inability to rally international support?

JARRETT: Quite the contrary. In fact, over the last year, what we've seen, when the president came into office, there was a unified Iran. Now we're seeing a lot of divisions within the country, and we're seeing steady progress in terms of a world coalition that will put that pressure on Iran. So no, I think that we have a strong force in the making, and Iran will back down.

TAPPER: When are we going to see sanctions in the United Nations?

JARRETT: Well, we'll see. As I said, we have a START Treaty that's good progress. We have a number of countries, 44 countries coming to the United States at the request of the president to focus on nuclear proliferation, and as we begin to forge those relationships and they strengthen, that will enable us to put the pressure we believe is necessary on Iran.

TAPPER: OK. Turning to the president's big achievement of the last week, health care reform. Let me show you some numbers from today's Washington Post. Indicates that 50 percent of the American people oppose this new law; 46 percent support it. Those can't be numbers that you're happy about for the president's major domestic legislation.

JARRETT: Well, look, the fact of the matter is, this has been a long and challenging process. There has been a lot of negative rhetoric that we've heard around the country. But what we are sure of is that this is as the American people begin to understand what's in this package, when they begin to see the benefits, when small businesses are able to take tax deductions and hire new employees as opposed to having to struggle to make ends meet; as mothers who have children with preexisting conditions are now going to be covered and not be discriminated against by their insurance companies; as we begin to put in more practices so that the premium costs don't escalate and the out-of-pocket costs come down; not to mention the enormous way that we're going to bring down the national deficit as the result of health care reform, we are confident that the American people will support this. It's good for them. As you go around and you start talking about the individual components of this bill, we're seeing overwhelming support.

TAPPER: Let me show you some other numbers, because in recent days, some companies have announced they're going to have to take significant write-downs because of the new health care law, specifically the change in what companies can deduct because of the Medicare prescription drug benefit. AT&T says they're going to have to take down a write-down of $1 billion. Deere & Company, $150 million. Caterpillar, $100 million. 3M, up to $90 million. AK Steel, $31 million. Are you concerned at all about the impact this could have on job creation?

JARRETT: No, and let me tell you why. And I'm glad that you brought it up. First of all, what they're going to have to write off is nothing compared to the enormous financial benefits to those very same companies by health insurance reform that will bring down their costs substantially.

The Congressional Budget Office says so, as well as independent consultants that have been hired by the same companies that you just mentioned.

But let's talk about what that is, exactly. Companies are allowed to deduct the amount that they spend on prescription drugs. So if you spend $100, the company does, they're allowed to deduct it. In 2003, Congress passed a law that said we're going to provide a subsidy to those very same companies 28 cents on the dollar for every dollar that they spend, but we still allow them to deduct the entire dollar. And so what we're saying now is that you're not going to be able to both take the 28 cent subsidy from the federal government and deduct the entire amount. And so, I think it's fair. And I think if you look at the other ways that they're helping business, there's going to be a $5 billion pool for reinsurance. We're taking a number of measures that will dramatically reduce the cost of business. So on balance, business will come out way ahead, and that was one of the president's objectives.