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ABC "This Week" - Transcript


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AMANPOUR: And we're joined now by Republican Congressman Mike Pence. He's from Indiana. He's a Tea Party favorite and who we saw earlier vowing to shut down the government if Democrats wouldn't agree to steep budget cuts. And also we're joined by Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee. He's dealing with some angry colleagues this morning. Congressmen, thank you both for coming. Welcome to "This Week."

You've been all over the air for the last 12 minutes talking about shut it down if it didn't go right. Will you vote for this deal?

PENCE: Well, first, Christiane, let me say, I've been battling runaway federal spending under both political parties ever since I arrived in Congress. I, for one, want to celebrate the fact that we are now debating on Capitol Hill less spending...

AMANPOUR: Will you celebrate with your vote?

PENCE: Well, less spending, instead of more spending. And what I was saying repeatedly at the rally that you just clipped and on the floor of the Congress, was that House Republicans needed to pick a fight. And I think John Boehner fought the good fight. I think he drove a hard bargain here. I want to see the details. But from what I know, it sounds like John Boehner got a good deal. Probably not good enough for me to support it, but a good deal nonetheless.

AMANPOUR: You won't support it?

PENCE: Look, this country's in trouble. We've got -- we were asking for a 2 percent cut in the budget. And that ended up being too much of a cut for this administration and for liberals in Congress.

AMANPOUR: But you say you won't support it, yet Speaker Boehner did a good job. I mean, what happened, do you think he's -- he folded too early?

PENCE: Well, I said -- I said John Boehner -- well, look, I cannot bring myself to be critical of a basketball player that gets two on one all night. I can't bring myself to be critical of John Boehner, who has squared off against the White House and liberals in Congress, who couldn't accept a 2 percent budget cut, and who dug in and were willing to shut down the government to continue to send $1 million a day to the largest abortion provider in America.

AMANPOUR: We're going to get to that in a second. Let me ask you, if Congressman Pence is not going to vote for it, are you going to vote for it? Do you think it will pass on your side?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, Christiane, you may not be surprised to hear this, but they're still sifting through the areas where they are going to make cuts. You can't find anybody today, actually, who knows exactly what cuts we're proposing until probably the end of the day today, maybe early next week. So I'm going to reserve judgment.

But the unfortunate part about this entire situation is that Mike and his colleagues threatened to shut down the entire federal government, which would have huge economic dislocation and disruption in the country, in order to pass a bill that, at the end of the day, doesn't create one job.

Now, there is some good news in the deal. The good news is that the Republicans have demanded deep cuts in education. They've demanded cuts in cancer research and other research to find cures and treatments to diseases. And instead of focusing just on a narrow slice of cuts that they were demanding, we were able to expand the area of cuts and prevent some. So that's good news.

But even today, while they say we've got a deficit problem, and we do, and we need to do something about it, they don't want to get rid of the subsidies to the oil and gas companies, and they continue to want to give the folks at the very top big tax cuts.

AMANPOUR: So you've described it. But the bottom line is, I mean, you have come close and you have basically said you're not going to support it. Right?

PENCE: Well, look, I want to see the language in the bill. I think John Boehner got a good deal, but it's probably not good enough for me to support it. Right.

AMANPOUR: OK. So I think you're saying you're not going to support it. What are you saying? Are you going to support it?

VAN HOLLEN: I'm going to look, Christiane. We don't know yet what the cuts are. In other words...

AMANPOUR: How long is this going to take?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, the vote will come up this week. They'll probably put the cuts on the Internet, I hope, so that everybody can see them.

AMANPOUR: Will it pass, do you think?

VAN HOLLEN: I think this will pass. And I'm very determined to work with my colleagues to prevent a government shutdown, because it will have huge disruption in the economy. That's the seesaw that we're living with here. But, look, these guys took this to the brink, not only to do something that won't create a job, but to impose their own right-wing policies on the country.

No, we can disagree about a very controversial issue, and we do. But using this budget process to impose that position on the country, and threaten shutdown to shut down the government.

AMANPOUR: I was going to ask you that question. Why did you need to do that at this time? Why muddy the water, since you were really about money and about spending cuts?

PENCE: Let me say, first off, it's nonsense to say that Republicans were willing to shut down the government over this. Speaker John Boehner made it clear that the policy issue, including my amendment on abortion providers, had been negotiated, at the time that -- I think it's in The Washington Post this morning.

What was clear here, this administration, and liberals in Congress were willing to shut the government down to continue to fund abortion providers in this country. And that's the bottom line. Why would I fight for it? Let me explain.

I'm pro life. I don't apologize for it. I also think it's morally wrong to take the tax dollars of millions of pro-life Americans and use it to fund abortion providers.

AMANPOUR: But you know the federal funds don't do that?

PENCE: Well, look, in February of this year, the Pence amendment passed on a bipartisan basis by 240 votes. It denied federal funding to Planned Parenthood of America. I've never advocated to reduce funding to Title X. They tried to make this about women's health. It wasn't about that.

Let me share with you, though, this fact. Planned Parenthood's clinics focus mainly on abortion. In 2009, Planned Parenthood performed 977 adoptions, 7,000 prenatal, 332,000 abortions.

VAN HOLLEN: Facts, facts.

AMANPOUR: Because I want to move on.

VAN HOLLEN: The facts are that not one penny of taxpayer money goes to Planned Parenthood or anybody else for abortion. And what Mike and his colleagues tried to do was use a funding bill, a spending bill, to impose changes in law that should be debated, but not as part of this...

AMANPOUR: No, I need to go forward now, because you made your position clear, sir, you made it clear. I understand where you stand on this. I understand this. What I want to know now, is you have a huge fight coming up. You have got the debt ceiling. You've got a potential catastrophe, if you believe Timothy Geithner, the Treasury Secretary.

What's going to happen there? What needs to happen for you to vote yes to raise the debt ceiling, the amount America can borrow?

PENCE: Well, look, I will not support an increase in the debt ceiling without real and meaningful changes in spending in the short-term and in the long-term. We've got to change the way we spend the people's money.

Again, we have a $14 trillion national debt. The president sends the budget to Capitol Hill that will double the national debt in the next ten years. And simply expanding the credit card is not the right answer.

AMANPOUR: On this issue, how will that fight be fought?

VAN HOLLEN: It will be hugely dangerous for the Republican colleagues to play a game of chicken on the debt ceiling. You would see an economic catastrophe if the United States defaulted on its debt.

Now, the budget proposal that they're bringing forth will require increases in the debt ceiling for years and years to come. So for them to say we're not going to support an increase in the debt ceiling on this. And then put a budget on the floor that will require it is just irresponsible.

AMANPOUR: One of the questions I asked David Plouffe was about who has the ideas. Congressman Ryan has put forth a budget that many people are saying is a good attempt to deal with this. When are we going to hear -- and are you frustrated that there isn't one detail on your side -- although, again, David Plouffe said the president is going to put more details out this week.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, the president had a budget. And we, the Democrats in the House, are going to have an alternative budget this week as we debate it.

The problem with the Ryan plan, the Republican plan is it's totally unbalanced. That's what the co-authors of the fiscal commission, bipartisan fiscal commission said, because what he does is he takes deep cuts, he ends Medicare. He ends the Medicare guarantee for seniors. He's going to require seniors to go not private insurance market and they'll have to eat all of the rising costs of health care, while they provide big tax breaks for millionaires, and the corporate special interest.

That is just not the priorities of the country. And I think it's wrong to do that.

AMANPOUR: Do you think, Congressman Pence, and this is the last question, there will be some bipartisan compromise? Because, on the big issue, it has to be bipartisan crafting.

PENCE: Well, let me say, House Republicans under Paul Ryan's leadership have offered a vision to put America back on a pathway toward a balanced budget. It deals with issues in entitlement. It reduces the national debt. For Americans 55 or older, we're not proposing a single change in Medicare. Chris knows that.

What we want to do for Americans under the age of 55 is make sure they can participate in the same health plan that members of Congress do.

VAN HOLLEN: That is not accurate.

PENCE: This is going to be a big debate...

VAN HOLLEN: Members -- no members of Congress...

PENCE: ...there's no repeal -- there's no repeal of the Medicare guarantee.

VAN HOLLEN: Members of Congress have what is called a fair-share deal. We do not bare the entire risk of increased costs. They are asking seniors to bear risks, they are not asking themselves...

PENCE: Members of Congress have the same premium support system, Chris knows that.

AMANPOUR: We will be watching this, debating it...

VAN HOLLEN: There's a fair share guarantee. And Mike should check the law, because they're ask seniors to absorb the entire risk of -- the higher risk of increased costs. Members of Congress do not bear that risk in the same way.

AMANPOUR: We are certainly going to bring this up with our round table. And we'll keep talking about it, because this will be the issue ahead. Thank you both very much indeed for joining us.

VAN HOLLEN: Thank you.


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