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Fox News "On The Record With Greta Van Susteren" - Transcript

Interview

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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: An ominous warning from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Senate Democrats are putting government-run health care in their bill whether you want it or not.

That is not all the senator says. Senator Mitch McConnell joins us. Good evening, sir.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Good evening, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, explain to me this whole business. I am a little bit perplexed, this idea of saying this is what the bill will be coming out of the Senate, we are going to have an opt out, and then after the fact sending it out to price it. Normally, you need to know what things cost before you make a decision.

Is this the way things are done?

MCCONNELL: It is not going to be done that way on this bill. We are going to make sure that it is on the Internet for 72 hours when there is a final product, which we have not seen yet. As you know, it was drafted in the majority leader's conference room, Democrats only.

And now it's over getting a cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office. Whenever that is finalized, that will need to be on the Internet 72 hours.

And then here in the Senate, you have to vote to get on a bill, and Senator Harry Reid is having a hard time getting his moderate Democrats to vote to get on the bill. They all remember that famous line from the 2004 election when John Kerry said that he was for it before he was against it.

And what Senator Reid will be asking them to do is to vote for going on the bill and telling some of them later you can oppose it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think that today was a little rougher for Senator Reid, that he has got Senator Ben Nelson, Senator Blanche Lincoln, Senator Olympia Snowe, who is a Republican, but now that he is trying to get that 60 number, how does he maneuver to get it? What can he do at this point?

MCCONNELL: It's a dilemma, because most Americans are going to view voting to get on the bill as voting for the bill. So Senator Reid will have a tough challenge here trying to convince his members who ultimately are going to oppose a bill that they have to vote on a bill that they will ultimately vote against. That's a tough sell.

VAN SUSTEREN: Suppose he cannot get the 60. Now he's out on a limb because he has this press conference that says we're going to have this opt out. Then he says were going to send it over to be priced by the CBO.

Let's say he discovers he does not have 60. What does he do at that point?

MCCONNELL: Well, I think we do the right thing, which is to go back and start over and not doing a 1,500 page bill that sought to restructure one-sixth of the economy.

We ought to go step by step, Greta, to fix the problems, step by step. Go after junk lawsuits after doctors and hospitals, incentivize wellness programs, have interstate insurance competition, equalize the tax code so an individual purchaser of health insurance have the same kind of tax benefits that companies do.

Those are the kinds of things that could fix the problems with what is already the finest health care system in the world.

VAN SUSTEREN: The sort of curious thing about this, and I realize that Democrats are in, the majority the Republicans in the minority, is that the Democrats are critical of the minority party for trying to block this bill.

Yet, as I understand it, you are not included in the discussion about the bill at this stage, and then secondly is that you do not even know what the bill is because it is being done in secret, so you are being accused of not going along with something that you do not even know what it is because you're not part of the discussion.

That seems rather an awkward position for the minority party.

MCCONNELL: I do not think it is awkward at all. Look at the numbers. They have got 60 votes. That is what it takes to do whatever you want to in the Senate.

If Senator Reid can get all of his 60 Democrats in line it does not make any difference how we feel about. We think it is the wrong way to go for America. But he's got the votes on paper. There are 60 Democrats, and if he can line them up, he can do anything he wants to.

VAN SUSTEREN: But even if it is the right way, we do not know because we have not even seen the bill and we have not even seen the cost, so it is hard to agree or disagree when it is done this way.

MCCONNELL: Well, it is not too hard to disagree, Greta. What we know about this bill, whether they have a government insurance company in there or not, we know it's close to a half a trillion dollars in Medicare, we know it's $400 billion in new taxes on individuals and businesses, and we know it will drive up the cost of health insurance for the 85 percent of Americans who have health insurance.

That alone strikes virtually all if not all 40 Republicans as the wrong way to go.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you, sir. And we look forward to seeing what the bill is and what the cost is, as well. Thank you, sir.

MCCONNELL: Thank you, Greta.


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