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

Interview

By:  Lindsey Graham
Date: March 24, 2010
Location: Unknown

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Well, whether you love it or hate it, the health care reform bill the president signed today is a big deal. So what happens now? Republican Senator Lindsey Graham went "On the Record."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, nice to see you, sir.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R - S.C.: Glad to be with you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it seems like there are a lot of ruffled feathers over here. In fact, even Senator McCain came out with some strong language...

GRAHAM: Yes!

VAN SUSTEREN: ... saying there'd be no more cooperation until the end of the year.

GRAHAM: Well, the well has been poisoned. People are upset at the process used to pass this bill. Basically, reconciliation is being abused. And when you think about, it's nullifying Scott Brown's election. If they had gone through the normal course of business, where you pass a bill in the House, you pass a bill in the Senate, there's differences, you work it out in conference, you send it back to both bodies, you got a 60-vote hurdle in the Senate. Scott Brown said if he went to the Senate, he would vote to kill this bill.

Reconciliation avoids the conference system. So basically, we're going to be passing the Senate bill with changes without using a conference. And Scott Brown never gets to vote on health care, and that's made a lot of us mad.

VAN SUSTEREN: So were the Republicans outsmarted in the procedure?

GRAHAM: No, they just used something that no one's ever used before.

VAN SUSTEREN: Crooked? Cheated? Sleazy?

GRAHAM: Well, I think -- I think it is sleazy and I think it's inappropriate and it unleashes some unhealthy forces. Senator Byrd objected to the reconciliation process being used to pass the Clinton health care. This is one sixth of the economy. They're stopping the Senate from having a say on the differences between the House and the Senate by going to 51 votes.

Republicans are being dealt out of the game. Scott Brown never gets to vote on the health care legislation he campaigned against. And this will come back to bite them in the butt.

VAN SUSTEREN: Let's pull off one aspect of it, the student loan program.

GRAHAM: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: Explain to me -- a lot of Americans wonder what do student loans have to do with health care.

GRAHAM: Sure.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why is this part of -- why is this in the mix?

GRAHAM: I'm wondering that, too.

VAN SUSTEREN: Oh, good! We're both wondering! We're both asking the question!

GRAHAM: The price tag of this bill is over a trillion dollars. They're raising taxes by...

VAN SUSTEREN: They say it's $940 billion.

GRAHAM: Well, when you add in interest and everything else, it's going to be well over a trillion dollars. So how do they pay for it? They cut Medicare by over $500 billion -- not to save Medicare but to take money out of Medicare, senior citizens, to pay for the uninsured. They raised taxes by $600 billion. But that's not enough. That doesn't get you there.

So they're taking the student loan program that 19 million students have access to, they're giving the student loan program completely to the federal government. You want government takeover? Well, then, your ship has come in. Every student in the country can get their -- has to go to the federal government to get their student loan. So what the federal government has done is dealt out the private sector, and they're lending money at 6.4 percent, we're borrowing it at about 2.6 percent. The difference the federal...

VAN SUSTEREN: The spread, the 4 percent spread or...

GRAHAM: Goes to the federal government. And guess what? Nine-point- one billion dollars of money created by the student loan takeover by the federal government is going to pay for health care. So it's not enough to increase the taxes on these students when they get a job because that's what will happen to them under this health care bill. It's not enough to pass on $2 trillion of debt. That's what happens when you look at this bill in perpetuity. You got to hit them while they're in school. This stinks.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now, this 4 percent spread, was this something that before was being paid into the private sector, or I mean, is the cost to the students still the same, it's just a question of where the 4 percent goes?

GRAHAM: The average student will be spending $1,700 to $1,800 more during the life of their loan because of this surcharge. From the students' point of view, it's going to cost you $1,700 to $1,800 more to pay your student loan off, and all the money goes to the federal government. At the end of the day, they took the student loan business over to generate income for the federal government and they've applied it to paying for this health care bill.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are you going to have an amendment on this?

GRAHAM: You better believe it! And the one thing I want students to do is speak up. Your student loan rates are going to change. You're going to have one place to get your student loan from.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are the Democrats saying they're doing this to help finance the health care reform bill, or do they say that there is another reason? Is there more...

GRAHAM: They're...

VAN SUSTEREN: What's their explanation for it?

GRAHAM: They're saying that the banking system doesn't work, that the private lenders ought to be taken out of the equation, no private sector entity should make money sending kids to school. So we're going to have a federally government run student loan program. You know, it's not enough to own a car company, we got to take over all the student loans in the country. So they're saying this is better for the students.

The truth is that the spread between what we borrow the money and we charge the student is about 4.2 percent, maybe a little bit higher. It generates money for the federal government to be used not to retire the deficit, not to help students go to school, but to pay for this health care bill. So this is another example of a government takeover of the private sector that will cost the average person more money. And why they're doing it? To pay for a health care bill that they can't afford unless they start robbing students.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, sir.

GRAHAM: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)