Fox News "Fox News Sunday" - Transcript

Interview

By:  Paul Ryan Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Date: March 21, 2010
Location: Unknown

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: Joining us are two key House leaders, Paul Ryan, top Republican on the House Budget Committee, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democrats' chief deputy whip.

And welcome back to "Fox News Sunday," both of you.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, D-FLA.: Thank you.

WALLACE: Congresswoman, let me start with you. As the whip, you're one of the nose counters. Do House Democrats have the votes? Will you pass the Senate overhaul and reconciliation fix-it bill today?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Yes, I think we will. Between the members that have publicly committed and the members that we've been talking to whose questions we've been answering, I think we will have the 216 votes when we vote later this afternoon.

WALLACE: Now, when I asked you just before we went on the air, you said the whip count is in flux. Really?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, the whip count is always in flux. We don't have a hard 216 right now. So I mean, I couldn't tell you which 216 members we will have, but I believe firmly that we'll have 216...

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: And is there the possibility that if you get 216 you may say to some of the members in tough districts, "If you want to vote no, you have political cover, you can go vote no?"

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I think there's also the possibility that when we get to 216 we will also have some members say, "You know, if it's passing, I want to be on top of this important, significant piece of legislation," and we might go beyond 216.

WALLACE: Congressman Ryan, is she right? Do Democrats have the votes? And if so, what is the role for the Republicans today?

REP. PAUL RYAN, R-WIS.: Well, she's right that it's in flux. They've been saying they had the votes all last week when we knew as early as yesterday they didn't have the votes.

I know they want to get beyond 216 because if you get 216 then every Democrat casts the tie-breaking vote to make it go into law, so I know they want to get to 217 so that talking point is taken away from them.

What we Republicans do is move on from there and try and fix the damage that we believe is about to be done to the health care system.

WALLACE: Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz, there is talk -- and I want to pick up on what I was discussing with Major Garrett -- about the president signing an executive order reaffirming that no taxpayer funds will be used for abortion, to try to pick up some of the pro- life Democrats who voted yes last time, are talking about voting no now. Is the president going to do that?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: As far as I understand, there's been no decision to do that right now. It doesn't appear that -- and what we've been underscoring to my colleagues who are concerned about that language -- this bill does not provide federal funds for abortion at all, there -- it does not change current law at all, and that this bill is absolutely status quo when it comes to abortion coverage.

WALLACE: Have some of your members said, "Boy, that executive order from the president would make it easier for me?"

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, there are some members that still would like, you know, some more comfort and for the emphasis to be underscored about that federal funding, and we're working with them on ways that we can provide them with that comfort.

WALLACE: Congressman Ryan?

RYAN: I would simply say I couldn't disagree with Debbie more. It does fund abortions.

But on an executive order, that is not the rule of law. That's the rule of man. One man can sign an executive order and one man can repeal that again, the president of the United States.

So for those of us in the pro-life movement and the -- and my Democrat friends who are pro-life, that doesn't cut it. A executive order is not something that is permanent law like the Hyde Amendment. So we just do not see that as something sufficient to actually permanently prohibit taxpayer funding of abortions.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I'd argue it isn't even necessary to add that language because the bill absolutely is status quo on the Hyde Amendment, does not provide federal funds. In fact, the -- that's why the Catholic Health Association, the nuns, significant Catholic groups have all endorsed health care reform.

RYAN: The bishops are the authority, and the bishops say...

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well...

RYAN: Take it -- I'm a Catholic. Let me tell you, the bishops are the authority, not the hospital administrators.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I'm sure the nuns would be...

RYAN: And they say this funds abortion.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I'm sure the nuns would be surprised to learn that they don't have the right to weigh in on health care reform.

RYAN: Hospital administrators are not the -- are not the keepers of the doctrine. The bishops are.

WALLACE: I'm curious about Wasserman Schultz and Ryan arguing about the Catholic Church, but as they say, politics make strange bedfellows.

Let's talk about money.

Congressman Ryan, the Democrats say that when you take the Senate bill and then you add to it the reconciliation fix-it bill that's also going to, they hope, be passed today -- $138 billion in deficit savings over the next 10 years. You're a money man. That's pretty impressive.

RYAN: Let me see if I can break that down for you, because we've seen some...

WALLACE: You brought your Ross Perot...

RYAN: I brought my Ross Perot chart for you, because we've gotten letters from the Congressional Budget Office subsequent to those analyses.

And what they -- what the Democrats are saying is this thing gives you a plus 138, no deficit. But when you take all the double counting, the double counting from the CLASS Act, taking those premiums to this new program, taking $53 billion from Social Security for this new program, the $71 billion it's going to take to cost this, the $398 billion that are being taken out of the Medicare trust fund to pay for this new program -- give a $454 billion deficit. The speaker two days ago said...

WALLACE: This is over the first 10 years.

RYAN: This is over the first 10 years, and the speaker said two days ago she's passing the doc fix, which prevents that cut to doctors to doctors' payments in Medicare. If you add that, then according to the Congressional Budget Office the deficit is $662 billion over the first 10 years.

This isn't Paul Ryan saying this. This is the Congressional Budget Office analysis when you look at the actual details of this bill and you take the gimmicks and the smoke and mirrors and the double counting out.

WALLACE: Congresswoman?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: No. What that is is what -- Paul Ryan asking the Congressional Budget Office to put a bunch of stuff into this bill that isn't in the bill.

The bill is the bill. And at the end of the day, Paul knows full well that there's no double counting. We haven't done anything differently budgetarily than any traditional process that we've used. Every president has used the same budgeting mechanisms. There's nothing different here.

And while Paul is in the weeds on economic theory, I'd like to get in the weeds on how health insurance reform impacts everyday lives. And I'll tell you, honestly, folks that I talk to, the 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in America, that I am one of, understand that we're done with insurance companies dropping us or denying us coverage because of -- because we have a preexisting condition.

Women in this country are done being treated like being born a woman...

WALLACE: OK, I -- I -- I...

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: ... is a preexisting condition.

WALLACE: No.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Those are important things to understand.

WALLACE: Please. No, I understand that, but -- but the money is an important thing.

And I want to -- I'm not going to use Paul Ryan's numbers. I'm going to use our numbers. And let's put these up on the screen.

RYAN: Mine are CBO numbers, just so you know.

WALLACE: OK. First of all, almost all of the added savings -- 138 -- so $20 billion more than the -- than the Senate bill -- come from the sticking the student loan reforms into the health care reform bill. It isn't from health care savings. It's from the student loan being lumped in.

Also, because you've added spending and cut revenue from the Senate bill, Democrats actually increase taxes in the reconciliation bill another $50 billion, to $569 billion, and you cut Medicare another $66 billion to $523 billion. So, Congresswoman, if people have already been complaining that the Senate bill raises taxes and cuts Medicare too much, you're doing even more of that in the House bill.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: No. What the bill that we'll vote on...

WALLACE: That's not in the weeds. That's -- those are legitimate questions to ask.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: What the bill that we're voting on today does, Chris, is it provides the largest tax break to small businesses to make sure that they can provide insurance coverage to their employees in history. It makes...

WALLACE: But you do raise taxes more. You raise taxes another $50 billion.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: There are both tax increases on the wealthiest Americans to make sure...

(CROSSTALK)

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Excuse me. Well, if we're going to talk about tax increases, we should talk about your proposal which actually cuts the legs out from under Medicare and raises taxes on 75 percent of Americans and cuts taxes for the wealthiest few, all the while undermining Medicare, ending it as an entitlement and privatizing Social Security. So you're not on...

RYAN: That's absolutely...

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: You're not on firm ground, Paul, when it comes to the proposal.

RYAN: Can I get into this?

WALLACE: Sure.

RYAN: OK. First of all, it's a net tax increase, according to the Congressional Budget Office, of $569.2 billion, tax increase on everybody.

If you -- everybody's being mandated to buy this, and therefore you're being backed up by the tax. The IRS is the agency in charge of enforcing this new mandate, backing it up with a tax.

So everybody's paying a tax here. It's 500 -- it's a half a trillion dollars in new taxes, $523 billion of money taken from Medicare not to expand its insolvency but to raid it to pay for this new government program.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: That's definitely not...

RYAN: Those aren't my numbers. That's what the Congressional Budget Office is telling us.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: No, those are the Congressional Budget Office numbers that Paul asked them to manufacture...

RYAN: No, those are your spreadsheets.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: ... given his -- given his...

RYAN: We got these from your...

(CROSSTALK)

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: ... assumptions -- given the assumptions that...

WALLACE: Well, you agree that it does increase taxes because the fact is that you have more generous subsidies -- there are a variety of things you -- you've pulled back on the tax on "Cadillac" health plans, so...

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: We have.

WALLACE: ... you've had to find taxes in other places.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: We have a balance of tax increases on the top 2 percent of Americans, balanced by significant cuts in making sure that we can provide tax breaks to small businesses...

WALLACE: Let me ask -- let me ask you about a...

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: ... so they can provide that coverage.

WALLACE: ... let me ask you -- and I'll let the congressman speak about this as well. There was also a lot of complaint about special deals in the Senate bill, and the fact is the "Cornhusker kickback" and "Gator- aid" for Florida -- "Cornhusker kickback" for Nebraska -- were taken out of the bill.

But let's take a look at what's still in the bill, special deals for Connecticut and Montana still in the bill, $100 million for Tennessee hospitals added to the bill, $8.5 million for New York and 10 other states added to the bill, and more water supplies for farmers in central California.

Congresswoman, didn't Speaker Pelosi end up using a lot of taxpayer money to buy votes for this bill?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: No, those are not special deals. Those are all competitive programs that states that are eligible based on those programs...

WALLACE: $100 million for a hospital in Connecticut? That's not a special deal?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: That's not $100 million for a hospital in Connecticut. There are 13 states eligible to competitively compete for that program. That is not just a special deal for Connecticut. That has...

WALLACE: How about the one deal for one bank in North Dakota? Is that a special deal?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I don't even know that you're talking about.

WALLACE: That's about the student loan thing for Earl Pomeroy's district, where one bank would be allowed to continue -- well, I mean, you laugh about it, but these are...

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Earl Pomeroy...

WALLACE: ... these are the...

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Earl Pomeroy was for the health care bill before anything was added to the -- with the student loan bill.

We have an important bill here that is going to cut the budget deficit not by $138 billion but with the latest CBO score $143 billion, that is going to slow the growth rate of Medicare by 1.4 percent a year, that adds, on a very important issue for Paul, nine years of solvency to the -- to the Medicare program, and makes sure that we also cover 32 million Americans...

WALLACE: Wait a minute. No, I don't want to go back to -- I don't want to go back to the chart.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: ... and provides security and stability.

WALLACE: I do want to ask you, though, are there special deals or aren't there in this?

RYAN: There are special deals. This does not add to the solvency of Medicare. That's not me saying it. It's the Congressional Budget Office two days ago told us this does not expand...

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: That's just simply not right.

RYAN: ... the solvency. Read the letter dated...

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: This is from...

RYAN: ... March 19th from CBO.

WALLACE: Well, I mean...

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: This does get to the question -- this does get to the question of double counting. Aren't you using the Medicare savings twice? You're on the one hand saying you're going to expand the solvency, but on the other hand you're actually spending the money for -- to pay for your health care reform. You can't do both.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: We are doing exactly what every...

WALLACE: I mean, answer my question, if you will. Aren't you doing both?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: There's nothing different in the way we've budgeted this than President Bush budgeted, the way President Clinton budgeted...

RYAN: Actually, it's quite different.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: No, it is not.

RYAN: Clinton did it the right way. Bush did it the right way. They actually expanded the solvency -- 1997 extended the solvency of Medicare, so the Clinton '97 deal...

WALLACE: OK.

RYAN: ... is totally different than this.

WALLACE: We -- in a sense, we've been talking politics.

But let me ask you, Congresswoman, after a year of debate, clearly -- and I know you think it's because there have been misrepresentations -- there's a lot of opposition. How between now and November do you persuade Americans this is good for them?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, we're going to go out and talk about the huge benefits that happen right away through this bill.

We close the Medicare Part D doughnut hole and make sure that seniors don't continue to have the legs cut out from under them when it comes to covering -- buying their prescription drugs when they fall in.

We're going to make sure that we end the horrific insurance company practice of dropping people as soon as they become sick. That happens right away.

We're going to make sure that we can put young adults on their parents' insurance until they're 26 years old, and preexisting conditions for children immediately.

Over the next couple of years, phase out the denial of coverage for all people who have a preexisting condition. That's how we're going to do it.

WALLACE: Congressman Ryan, I know you have talked about making repeal the centerpiece of the campaign.

RYAN: And replace.

WALLACE: Pardon?

RYAN: Repeal and replace with something better.

WALLACE: But making that the centerpiece of the campaign between now and November for House Republicans. But the fact is there are some specific things that kick in and Americans, once they get it, tend to like their entitlements.

RYAN: What I would say is in three or four weeks when the speaker brings the doc fix bill to the floor, it wipes out any deficit reduction claims and according to CBO has a $58 billion deficit.

WALLACE: No, but speak to my larger issue.

RYAN: So -- what I think is going to happen is people are going to have a rude awakening as to all the things that are in this bill.

You talked about student loans. They're nationalizing the entire student loan industry, making the Department of Education the seventh largest bank in America, getting rid of all of the private student loan vendors except for one in North Dakota.

And there's so many things in this bill that I don't think people are just realizing what's going to happen.

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: It's going to encourage firms to dump their health care that they're providing for employees into the exchange. A new mandate. $10 billion to the IRS for 16,000 agents to police this new mandate. All of these gory details are going to be unfolding...

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: You have the final 10 seconds, Congresswoman.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: At end of the day, when this bill passes, I dare the Republicans, if for some reason power shifts sands, to take away making sure that we can provide that security and stability to those small business owners who are...

RYAN: There's a better way to do it.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: ... no longer going to have to be subject to skyrocketing premiums.

WALLACE: You know what? You can take this debate to the House floor.

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: We will. We'll be doing it all day today.

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: We'll be doing it all day.

WALLACE: Congressman Ryan, Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz, thank you both.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you.

WALLACE: Thanks for coming in. And this should be a very interesting day.

RYAN: Thanks, Chris.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thanks.