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FOX News "Greta Van Susteren" - Transcript

Interview

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Senator DeMint, what's wrong with the co-op? I know you don't like the public option, but what don't you like about the co-op?

SEN. JIM DEMINT, R - S.C.: Well, Greta, Barney Frank and the president and the Democrats didn't think the American people were going to look under the hood on this bill, but we have. And now it sounds like the president's on the run. He is trying to use rhetoric to keep people a little confused, but the fact is, we know that the Holy Grail for Democrats for years has been government-run health care. So they may call it a public option, they may call it co-ops, but one way or another, they're trying to move us towards government-run health care.

But just as in Barney Frank's meeting and all over the country, Americans are upset about the direction here, and they're speaking out. And I think we have a chance to stop it, as long as the American people are engaged.

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm a little bit curious about this whole bill. Now, as a practical matter, the president doesn't need you, doesn't need one Republican vote. He's got enough in the House. He's got enough in the Senate. But in the drafting of this bill -- and I've got it sitting here on my desk, and the viewers just saw a picture of it -- have you seen lobbyists going up and down the halls of the Senate? I mean, who wrote this thing?

DEMINT: I don't know who wrote it. I'm carrying around the House version, with a lot of pages marked that refute just about everything the president is saying about the plan. We don't know what's going to come out of the Senate, but they can't pass it without any Republican votes. And I think a few Democrats are going to come back from August break with a different mindset about it because what they say is in the bill is not there. People will lose their private health insurance. There will be higher taxes. We will cut Medicare.

Greta, it's just not adding up for the American people, and I think we see it in the polls almost every week. The President's approval rating is going down. People don't want a government-run plan. And the shame of all of this is that there are good ways that we can get people insured and lower the cost of health insurance, but they're not even willing to talk about it unless we're talking about a government plan.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, explain to me why you say it has to have Republicans because if he got all the Democrats in the House and all the Democrats in the Senate, he won't -- are you telling me that he's not going to get those, that he can't get them within his own party and so he's got to reach across the aisle and get -- and pluck off a couple of your Republicans? Or are you saying that just as a practical matter, it wouldn't look right?

DEMINT: Well, I'm not sure all the Democrats will be in attendance, for one thing. I mean, they do have 60, but Senator Kennedy is ill. Senator Byrd has been irregular. I think they're going to have to get a few Republicans. And any Republican that goes along with this idea of, Let's pass something in the Senate and send it to conference with the House is really betraying everything we're hearing right now from the American people.

They don't want a government plan. They want us to fix what's broken and not replace what's working in health care. So I'm encouraged, Greta, as I travel around South Carolina, people are coming out to my town hall meetings. They've been very positive about standing up and fighting against what the president is trying to do and hoping that we can stop him on this so that we can sit down and talk about some real reform. I think the same thing's happening all over the country.

VAN SUSTEREN: Can he pluck off a few Republicans on the co-op? I know it seems unlikely on the public option, but it's almost, like, for lack of a better description, the co-op is a little bit sort of like public option lite. Can he pluck off any of your colleagues -- can he pluck off any Republican colleagues, do you think, to go for the co-op?

DEMINT: Well, a co-op is like a "Fannie Med" in every state. I mean, this is a government-sponsored enterprise. If any Republican falls for that, I hope they won't be voted back into office, Greta. I don't care which party they're in, if they support government-run health care at this point and continued spending at the rate we're going right now, it just doesn't make any sense. Washington needs to catch up with where the American people are, and they're concerned about this. We need to fix health care. We don't need the government controlling health care.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, was there a time when you would say our health care system worked, a time in the last 50 years that we sort of model, you know, our next path on? Maybe things have changed so dramatically, but when -- when did it, in your opinion, work?

DEMINT: Well, it works now to a large degree. It just -- it costs too much. There's not enough competition between insurance companies. And we don't...

VAN SUSTEREN: When did that happen?

DEMINT: ... give people don't have enough...

VAN SUSTEREN: Was there never enough? Was there never enough competition among the insurance companies, or is that something new?

DEMINT: We really have not had enough competition between insurance companies for a long time. And when the government passed a law that gave employers incentives to offer health insurance that they would not give individuals, we began to move towards an employer-based system, which means if you don't get health insurance at work, you're basically getting ripped off in America today.

I mean, we can fix that, and it won't cost anywhere near what the president is talking about with his plan. But the problem, Greta, is this, is this is not about getting people insured or lowering the cost of health care. I mean, we see that is how the Democrats have been voting. And the ones that demand a government option, they want government control of health care. And if they'll back off of that, we can fix the problems with health insurance and health care within a few weeks, and we can do it in a bipartisan way.

VAN SUSTEREN: And maybe not with all these pages that nobody can seem to read or understand. Senator, thank you, sir.

DEMINT: Hey, thanks, Greta.


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