U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell appeared on the Fox News program "Happening Now' Monday afternoon regarding health care reform. The following are excerpts from the interview:
On the Problems in the Democrats' Health Spending Bill:
"It's bad news for the American people that this bill which would cut Medicare by half a trillion dollars, raise a half a trillion dollars in taxes, and create higher insurance premiums for everybody else seems like it may be on the way to clearing the Senate. But let me assure everyone that's not the final word. There are other significant problems with this legislation that the House may not accept. This debate is far from over."
On a Potential Conference:
"Well the White House was confident that it was going to pass before the August recess too. The House of Representatives will have to basically back down on virtually everything they passed for this to become law. It will be interesting to see whether there's any institutional pride over there. Whether they're willing to fight for their version, which is actually even worse, if that's possible, than the Senate version."
On the Democrats' Claim that the Bill Will Lower the Deficit:
"If it ends up being deficit neutral, which it will not be, the only way it could achieve that neutrality would be with these massive Medicare cuts, which is why senior citizens are overwhelmingly opposed to this bill. And the massive tax increase. It's a tremendous expansion of the federal government into all of our lives, in the most personal way, our own health care. I doubt that there's any chance in the world this will end being deficit neutral, that is not expanding the deficit. But if they manage to do that, it will only be on the backs of seniors and out of the tax pockets of virtually everybody in America."
On Sen. Ben Nelson:
"Yeah he cut a sweetheart deal for Nebraska that no other state in America gets. And interestingly enough, the governor of Nebraska and the other senator from Nebraska rejected it. They didn't think a decision like this, on all of the nation's health care, should be determined by some special fix for one state."
On the Lack of Transparency and Rush to Pass:
"I don't think a legislation like this, which affects every one of the three hundred million Americans and their own health care should be subject to this kind of special smelly deal-making in some conference room somewhere. That is not the way legislation of this magnitude should be passed. You know it's important to remember that major social legislation in our country like the passage of Social Security, the passage of Medicare, the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act was done on a broad bipartisan basis."
On Democrats' Ignoring Public Opinion:
"Here they've jammed through an effort to restructure the American health care system. To have the government take over one-sixth of our economy on a totally partisan basis. That might explain why the people are overwhelmingly opposed to it. They are very much opposed to it. And I think looking to the November 2010 elections, the Majority will pay a heavy price for ignoring the wishes of the American people."
On the Real Impact of the Democrats' Health Spending Bill:
"We know that insurance premiums are going to go up for everybody who currently has insurance, that's about eighty-five percent of America. We know under this bill that taxes kick-in in a few weeks, whenever the President signs it. Whatever benefits there are, such as expanded coverage that you mentioned are delayed for many years. This bill is a mess, a cobbled together, a special deal riddled package that just underscores what people tend to think of Congress anyway. And this certainly underscores that impression."
On New Taxes in the Health Spending Bill:
"It's also got another provision there related to long-term care, which is described by the Democratic chairman of the Budget Committee in the Senate as a ponzi-scheme. It basically starts raising taxes very early and the benefits will get paid out way on down the road. This bill is a complete mess and it should have been rejected last night."
On Senate and House Democrats:
"Well I think it's still got significant problems. For example the Senate bill allows tax dollars to pay for elective abortions and the House bill does not. This is very, very important issue. For thirty years in this country, we've had consensus that no matter how you felt about abortion federal tax dollars should not be paying for it. Those are very significant differences between the Senate and House bill and the Democrats are going to have to figure out how to wrestle with that one."