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CNN "State Of The Union With Candy Crowley" - Transcript

Interview

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BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

CROWLEY: First of all, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

PELOSI: My pleasure. Congratulations to you.

CROWLEY: Thank you. Thank you.

I want to ask you the first post-summit question that I have gotten and many of them since. What now?

PELOSI: What now? We go from here. We are focused on substance. The president has put forth on the Internet what he thinks is the best thinking, House, Senate. And may I remind you that those bills have over 100 Republican amendments in them, and then some of his own ideas. After listening yesterday, on Thursday at the summit, now we will see what other ideas we can expand to taking some of the Republican suggestions if that works for the American people. And when we have the substance, then we will see where we go from there. But right now, it's about policy.

CROWLEY: I want to play you something that happened yesterday, and then just ask you a question about the next step in the procedure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCONNELL: I expect all of you are expects on what the people in your districts think. They have followed this debate like no other, and they have rendered a judgment about what we have attempted to do so far. The solution to that is to put that on the shelf and to start over with a blank piece of paper and go step by step to see what we can agree on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: So let's get real here. You are not going to get Republican support for this bill. You may, as you say, have Republican amendments in there, but you are not going to get it. So it comes down to you and what can you do. Right now, if you had to vote on the parameters of the president's bill, do you have the votes?

PELOSI: Well, we don't have the substance of our bill yet. When we have the bill, we'll see what the Senate can do, and then the House will act upon that.

But let me just say that yesterday was the bookend. One year ago, March 5th, the president had a summit, a bipartisan summit. We were all very hopeful that we could come to consensus. At that time, we were advocating a public option, as the president said at the time, to keep the insurance companies honest and to increase competition, which would be good for the consumer. A year later, we are closer to what the Republicans were suggesting at that time -- an exchange, and not a public option. So this legislation has accommodated many of their views. Even though we may not get their vote, it may -- accommodates many of their views.

CROWLEY: But has it accommodated too much? And I ask you this, on the abortion language that is in the Senate, which is pretty much mirrored by the president's proposal, you signaled a couple of times you can live with that. But you know that you have Congressman Stupak and others who can't live with that, which cuts into your ability to get together a majority, doesn't it?

PELOSI: I don't like the Senate language because I am pro- choice, and -- but it meets the test, and the test is our law says there is no federal funding of abortion, and we will not have it in this bill. Any representation to the contrary is not a fact.

Secondly, that we will not diminish or increase the opportunity for abortion, and this bill does not do that.

And third, we are going to pass a health care bill. So the compromise language -- the language in the Senate bill I don't think makes everybody happy, but the fact is, it honors those principles of no federal funding of abortion, no expansion or diminution of abortion rights, and it moves us toward passing a bill.

CROWLEY: But you will lose some Democrats on that language if it stays the way it is.

PELOSI: We don't know. We don't -- we will see what the substance is. You know, there are many aspects to this legislation. This bill is not about abortion. This bill is about innovation, it's about prevention, it's about all kinds of things that are very positive as we go forward. Quality health care for many more Americans, holding the insurance companies accountable. It's -- it's -- when the public sees what is in this bill, because they by and large approve of each of the provisions, and when we show them what the priorities are that have been boiled down to -- this is a much smaller bill than we started with. What it's been boiled down to, what it means to them as they sit around their kitchen table rather than us sitting around a table at Blair House, I think that we will have a very positive result, and it will be great for the American people. CROWLEY: But you know, because you have heard from some of these House members, I am sure, who come to you and say I can't live with this or I am getting nailed back in my district for this, that it's going to be a bit of a chore, isn't it, to bring both the left and the moderate side of your party together for this?

PELOSI: Candy, every bill here is a heavy lift. Every bill is a heavy lift. There has not been one easy vote.

CROWLEY: Would you vote for the president's outline of the bill right now as he put out on the Internet? Would you vote for it?

PELOSI: I like what the president has done. I want to make sure that we have -- we have three criteria for us in the House. Affordability for the middle class, and I think we can do a little better on the affordability. I don't know, we'll have to examine the language very carefully. Accountability of the insurance companies, and the president is very good on that. And accessibility to many more people, and he certainly is there. So we just want to make sure the affordability language is as strong as it needs to be.

But let me say what I think was important about yesterday in relationship to your question. Yesterday it became clear that the Democrats and the president were for holding the insurance companies accountable, for more regulation of the insurance companies. Left to their own devices, they had behaved very poorly and hurt the American people. And the Republicans are not.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you about bipartisanship, because a lot of people did look at the Thursday bipartisan summit and say, well, why didn't they do this a long time ago? Because while they did meet, it wasn't like this. And now it's really pretty much too late. I mean, they can amend, but it wasn't -- why didn't you at the very beginning say, come on in here, Congressman Boehner, come on in here, Congressman Pence, let's sit down. Where do we start on the health care bill?

CROWLEY: Not to kind of present a package, and then say, well, amend it if you want?

PELOSI: That isn't the way it happened. The president called us together last March 5th, and we left that room very hopeful. We went into the legislative process. Hundreds of hours of hearings and bill- writing and all the rest where the Republicans made their suggestions.

We know that one of the reasons we did not have a bill in the fall is because the president wanted to give the Senate more time to arrive at bipartisanship in the Senate bill, which he thought might be possible then. The house had said right from the start they were never going to vote for any bill. But he thought there was some prospects in the Senate.

And so what we've had is the year of trying to strive for bipartisanship. As I say, over a hundred Republican amendments in the bill, and the Republicans placed their own bill on the floor here in the House, which insured 3 million. Our bill insures over 30 million. So we have a different value system here.

But they have had plenty of opportunity to make their voices heard. And if they wanted to truly have -- bipartisanship is a two- way street. But let me say this, the bill can be bipartisan even though the votes might not be bipartisan. Because they have made their imprint on this. As I say, we were all for public option. We are now going with a Republican idea, an exchange. That's a very big, a very big difference.

CROWLEY: Right. But a lot of Democrats were against the public option on the Senate...

PELOSI: Not a lot. Not a lot. The insurance companies...

CROWLEY: ... enough to kill it on the Senate side.

PELOSI: The insurance industry was against the public option. The insurance industry was against the public option.

In any event, there is no public option on the table now.

CROWLEY: When we looked at our polling numbers just from yesterday, we had almost three-quarters of Americans who said they need to drop this bill, just stop talking about health care and move on to something else or they need to start new. So don't the Republicans have a point? PELOSI: The point is, is that we have a responsibility here, and the Republicans have had a field day going out there and misrepresenting what is in the bill, but that's what they do. That's what...

CROWLEY: So it has been messaging thing?

PELOSI: ... they do. No...

CROWLEY: You think people don't understand the bill?

PELOSI: No, I don't think -- there isn't a bill. When we have a bill, which we will in a matter of days, then that is the bill that we can sell. Our bill, the House and the Senate bill, had some major differences which we're hoping now to reconcile.

And then when we have a bill -- as I say, you can bake the pie, you can sell the pie, but you have to have a pie to sell. And when we do, we will take it out there.

I feel very confident about what is in there, because if you are concerned about having access to health care, as most Americans are around their kitchen tables, then they will have access to health care.

CROWLEY: Let me talk politics one more time. And this comes from that health care summit as well. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KYL: We do not agree about the fundamental question of who should be mostly in charge, and you identified this question as central. Do you trust the states or do you trust Washington? Do you trust patients and doctors make the decision or do you trust Washington?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Bottom line, that's a good message in an election year. That -- you know, I know you will argue with this not about a government takeover, but just the message itself at a time when people are quite angry with Washington, the populist message, the message of a big government takeover, we are now looking at a political situation that we were not looking at a year ago, the possibility that has been out there that perhaps you won't be speaker after next November, perhaps there will be a Republican takeover.

How likely is that? And why is that?

PELOSI: Well, first, let me address the comment that was made there. This is about a doctor and patient making a decision over Washington. That's not the choice. Right now the choice is a doctor and patient making a decision or the insurance company making a decision. And we are saying the doctor and patient should make the decision and the insurance company should not come between that. That's what this is about. It's about regulating the insurance company and their role in all of this. Our members have a proud record of achievement starting with the recovery package last year which created jobs in their district, a first bill to -- if you are a woman, to end discrimination in the workplace; if you are a child, to have access to quality health care. The list goes on and on.

CROWLEY: Do you think that you will lose seats?

PELOSI: Well, the election is not today. I expect...

CROWLEY: Just looking at the landscape.

PELOSI: Let me just say it this way, the Democrats will retain the majority in the House of Representatives. We have a huge -- we have, what, 54-, 55-vote majority. We had a swing in the last two elections of 110 seats. We will -- I am not yielding one grain of sand. We are fighting for every seat.

But we are ready. And in the past when there have been these swings, it has been when people have not been ready. We've won our elections. We've won our special elections. We just recently took a seat that had never been Democratic since it was created at the time of the Civil War.

So Democrats are ready. We are confident about what we have done for the American people. We have to get out there. We have been working hard, now we have to go out. We said we were going to do certain things, we did them, and now we have to go talk about what we have done.

But it is -- we inherited a terrible mess from the Bush administration and their failed economic policies. And so we have -- now we are in charge, fully in charge, we have to create jobs. That's a four-letter word, we use it around here all the time, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs. Provide access to quality health care for all Americans and stabilize the economy so that we don't have these swings.

So I'm very proud of our members. We have a very, very diverse caucus, and that's the beauty of it. I say the beauty is in the mix. We respect the views that they all bring to the table. We bring our consensus and soon what that consensus will result in: quality affordable health care for all Americans and more job creation.

CROWLEY: And like the president had said Thursday, that's what elections are all about.

PELOSI: What they're about.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Thank you so much, Madam Speaker, I really appreciate it.

PELOSI: My pleasure. Thank you.

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