This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 1, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight: Now, hold your breath and count to 3.8 trillion! ... Are you dead yet? Well, that is President Obama's proposed budget for fiscal year 2011. Now, the budget contains a $100 billion jobs package and runs up a deficit of about $1.3 trillion. Now, how does he sell it to Capitol Hill? Big problem or done deal?
Joining us live is former White House press secretary Dana Perino. Dana, the bill -- president doesn't actually pass the bill, he has Congress sign the -- do the bill, right?
DANA PERINO, FORMER BUSH WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY-FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Right. I think of this exercise every year as increasingly an exercise in futility.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why?
PERINO: Because presidents -- it's instructive in that it tells us a little bit more about what the president's priorities are for the year, maybe how they've changed direction on a couple of things, where they might want to try to make some emphasis. But then he turns it over to Congress, and the Congress figures [out] what they want to spend the money on. And for the last couple of years, they haven't even passed a budget. So I just -- I think this is a little bit instructive, but it might be a little bit more hype than it is reality.
Watch Greta's interview with Dana Perino
VAN SUSTEREN: Explain to the viewers what it means that they haven't even passed a budget in the past couple of years.
PERINO: Well, because the budget committees -- they are not able to get things done on a day-to-day basis, so basically, they just continue to pass continuing resolutions, getting things done. We have some pretty tough decisions to make, right? So we do have two wars that we need to fund, make sure our troops have what they need. We have a lot of entitlement spending from Social Security and Medicaid. We also have just the everyday running of the government. It's extremely expensive. And we have to protect ourselves from terrorists.
And so we have conversations about, Where are you going to cut in the budget, some really tough decisions to be made. I laud President Obama for trying to find some, but it's, like, $20 billion. It's a drop in the bucket.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now, this bill -- I mean, if this -- I assume that this is much like the one that President Bush would send up to the Capitol Hill. Is that sort of the end of it, or does the president send emissaries up there to sort of lobby for different things? I mean, you know, what happens after it leaves the White House?
PERINO: Well, I think what they'll probably end up doing is -- they had a lot of briefings today for the media. The next thing is the committees up on Capitol Hill will invite members of the administration and testify, to lay out their case for what they think should be funded and what shouldn't be funded. And I think that what we'll find, especially in an election year with a lot of high stakes and wins by Republicans in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts, that this process is going to be a lot more interesting this year.
VAN SUSTEREN: You say interesting, is that code for political?
PERINO: I think it will be pretty political. And -- but you also have to remember, you have members -- part of the thing that they like to do is take home money. Think of the "Louisiana purchase" in the health care bill, what happened in Nebraska during the health care bill. At the end of the day, a lot of members, Republicans or Democrats, like to bring money home.
There's not a lot of money spare, as we can see in these budgets. Plus, you know, this budget goes -- it's an increase of 35 percent of the deficit in one year. Now, I know that one of the things the administration does is point back to the previous president to blame him. But at some point, they're going to have to take responsibility, and the budgets that they're proposing in here for 2012, 2013 and 2014 -- there's going to be no one to blame but themselves.
VAN SUSTEREN: And I guess you could say, too, is that it's part of the job. I mean, you -- you can say that the other guy left you a mess. However, you accepted the job and you said you could fix it.
PERINO: Right. And you know, every president accepts a lot of things on their plate. In fact, President Bush inherited a recession, as well, obviously not as severe in any way as the one that we're dealing with now. But every president has to deal with something like this.
VAN SUSTEREN: Health care -- dead or alive?
VAN SUSTEREN: Why?
PERINO: Because I think -- well, one, I think that President Obama has already said that -- you know, it was the 53rd paragraph of his State of the Union speech, we have a new senator in town from Massachusetts. The writing's on the wall for Democrats, that they know that a big, comprehensive bill won't get done.
It is possible, although I think it's a small possibility, that they might be able to work with Republicans and get some important things done, like eliminating the discrimination against people who have a preexisting condition and allowing people to take their health insurance with them from job to job. Smaller things like that, I think they'll be able to do, but the big bill is done.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why do you say that? I mean, what -- why can't they just start over? Or is it just -- is it because...
PERINO: There's not enough time.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I mean, time -- I mean, what's the end point? I mean, what's the -- I mean, you know, they have enough time because what's the rush? They've got plenty of time.
PERINO: I don't think you're going to see a lot of members of Congress who want to spend much more time in Washington, D.C., after about the spring. They're going to want to be home and they're going to want to be campaigning.
VAN SUSTEREN: So it's -- so it's members of Congress who decide that we don't have enough time. The American people are sort of sitting there...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... looking for some sort of relief or improvement in the health care. They're now stuck with the fact that members of Congress say, We don't have enough time...
PERINO: ... have enough time, and I don't think that they're willing to necessarily come to the table. We'll see. I mean, President Obama going to the Republican retreat last week was, I think, an important first step, but the follow-through is even more important. I think that remains to be seen on whether or not they'll be able to do anything big this year.
VAN SUSTEREN: What -- you know, in terms of the members of Congress, though, when they -- when they look at health care, do they think that this is a huge defeat that they're unable to -- I mean, Democrats, that they couldn't pass it?
PERINO: I think so.
VAN SUSTEREN: Or do they -- I mean, it -- the problem is it is so enormous. I mean, it's so complex, it really isn't an easy task to try to fix these problems.
PERINO: No. And it's -- everything -- one thing that was great about being press secretary is that I realized that everything is a lot more complicated than it looks like even on the surface. I do think that they have to look at it as a defeat. But they might figure -- they're going to blame different factions or people for the defeat.
But it certainly is a huge deal that if you came into office knowing that the unemployment rate was what it was, you signed a $787 billion jobs bill that arguably did not create any jobs, and then you ram -- try to ram health care through on a very partisan basis, and you have no results. You have no more jobs. You have no health care. And now you're talking about a $100 billion jobs bill in the new budget, in this budget.
What's interesting to me, and I think that your viewers have played a role in this -- last fall, the administration was talking about $600 billion to $700 billion for that stimulus, for the next stimulus...
VAN SUSTEREN: For the...
PERINO: This budget says $100 billion. I think that Washington in some way has heard the American people's hue and cry about spending.
VAN SUSTEREN: As much as we pick on the government, it's a tough job, isn't it.
PERINO: It's enormously tough.
VAN SUSTEREN: It is (INAUDIBLE) of course, all we do is poke at everybody who -- who does it and so that...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... and point out the...
PERINO: So a document like this -- again, a lot of bull (ph), but it's not reality.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Dana. Thank you.
PERINO: Thanks for having me.
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