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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: The big February 25th health care huddle is right around the corner. Can we expect big results or just one big show? We spoke to Senator Jon Kyl who will be at meeting.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, nice to see you sir.

SEN. JON KYL, R - ARIZ.: Hi Greta, how are you?

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm very well. Senator, February 25th, a lot of the American people have high hopes for this summit at the Blair House with President Obama. Should we be hopeful?

KYL: It is always a good idea to be hopeful, but whether that is realistic remains to be seen. A lot of that will depend upon whether the president just intends this for some kind of show or he's really interested in Republican ideas and will begin to consider what we've had to say on the subject.

VAN SUSTEREN: What direct indication do you have from him that he's interested in more than just a show, that he's interested in real ideas? Has he said send us a list over here, anything like that?

KYL: No. As a matter of fact there's one thing that is a little troublesome. He laid out agenda in the correspondence us to, including a definition of what he would consider successful, which was a comprehensive bill.

For those who know about this -- that's code for our bill. The Republicans have made it clear that after listening to the American people, there doesn't seem to be an appetite for a comprehensive, that is to say, a bill that would cover all things they want to cover with the $2.5 trillion expense, 2,400 pages in length, the amount of government takeover, spending, taxes, all of those things.

The American people have said, instead we would like to see a more step-by-step approach trying to solve specific problems but not trying to take away what we already have and frankly appreciate in terms of our health insurance in order to cover a few more Americans that don't have insurance right now.

So having seen that as part of the agenda, if that's his, in effect, his requirement for the negotiations, then obviously we have a disagreement going in.

VAN SUSTEREN: He has said that this meeting is going to be six hours. So do you expect him to be there six hours working with all of you, sleeves rolled up? Can you give me some idea? We are going to be watching on C-SPAN, what are we going to see?

KYL: I don't know exactly what the layout is. I'm sure he will be there the entire time we're there. It seems to be a rather long period of time. I saw from 10:00 in the morning to 4:00 in the afternoon. If people aren't bored by the end of that they are gluttons for punishment.

The question is will you have anything more than just prepared speeches justifying positions? If you have preconditions going into negotiations -- the president says if this isn't comprehensive, I'm not going accept it. That's a precondition. That's saying it is either my way or else we're not going to be able talk.

It is like Republicans saying unless medical malpractice is part of this, we're not go that talk. If both sides go in with preconditions, then that's not what the American people want here. We're not going to get an agreement.

It seems to me what we should do instead is go in with a blank piece of paper and say what are the biggest problems and what are some of the ideas about solving those problems, and not have these preconditions that appear to be part of the president's agenda.

VAN SUSTEREN: What do you anticipate the president's actual role? Let's go back to the last Democratic president. What would you expect, for instance, that President Clinton would be doing at this point to marshal this law in recognition of where it has arrived? And do you expect President Obama to follow that track?

KYL: I would think they would have totally different approaches, frankly. I expect President Obama to be the circus ring master, the moderator. The rest of us will be the props for the show. If that's the case I don't think it will be a productive session.

My guess is that Bill Clinton, on the other hand, would try to find some way to come together with some kind of compromise. He was always able to do that to the point that when he left office he had pretty high popularity despite his personal problems. You remember during the state of the union speech he said the era of big government is over.

President Obama seems intent on the other hand of ramming his agenda through, no matter what. One of the problems with that is that the American people have said that isn't what they want in health care reform.

So I don't think that he will be as popular at the end of the day as Bill Clinton might be because he's more intent on pushing his ideology forward than in reaching some kind of real compromise with Republicans.

VAN SUSTEREN: It is not just, I take it, the job of being president in these circumstances, not just the art of having an idea or position, but it's really knowing how to work the crowd to get a result. Is that fair or a crass way to say it?

KYL: I would put it a little differently. The real question is, is President Obama intent on ramming this through no matter what?

Speaker Pelosi has said they've figured out how to write the bill for reconciliation, the so-called nuclear option, for the House and Senate to ram through without Republicans votes and that's what they intend to do.

Her chief health care spokesman said there's a trick involved, but we're going to get it done. If that is the case then this meeting is pointless, because they plan to do it without any Republican votes. And so if that's the president goal here, I don't know what the point of the meeting is.

On the other hand, if he's willing to sit done with a blank piece of paper, no preconditions, it doesn't have to be a comprehensive bill, for example, then I think there's a real opportunity for some give-and-take and possibly some agreement on how to move forward.

I think you have to listen to the American people. One of the most recent polls said 75 percent of the American people have said either don't do anything or start over.

And so, will the president be willing to start over or will he insist as a precondition that we use the template that he's created that the American people have already rejected, which is this idea of comprehensive reform along the idea of the House and Senate passed bills?

VAN SUSTEREN: We are all going to be watching. We are waiting for this.

Let's say you guys lock horns, you don't get any agreement, and then Speaker Pelosi wants to do this reconciliation which you described as pushing it through.

Does President Obama have the political muscle or the ability to stop that, because that procedure might be -- the American people might not like it being done that way? Can he pick up the phone and stop it?

KYL: Sure. I mean, look the Democrats in Congress treat the president, rightfully, as their leader. He's taken a big lead on this health care. He has the ability to go out and speak to the American people about it unlike any member of Congress.

So if he says don't use the reconciliation process. That's another one of these procedural shortcuts that the American people have already said they don't like, this whole business of the deals that were made and the special procedures and so on, that is not the way to do something as comprehensive as health care could be.

And when you do something this big, you need a bipartisan group of people working on it and supporting it. You don't want to ram it through with only one political party in support.

VAN SUSTEREN: As you can imagine, we'll all be watching all six hours. I guess wear your best tie.

Thank you, senator.

KYL: Thank you, Greta.


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