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SEN. ARLEN SPECTER, (D) PENNSYLVANIA: Nice talking to you, Ed.
Thanks for the invitation. Thank you.
SCHULTZ: Yes, yes, sir. There seems to be a narrative going around
right now. Hey, we"ve never done this before. Well, I thought I"d ask a
veteran. Have we done this before? Has the procedure that"s being
discussed right now, in the House and the Senate, has it been done before?
SPECTER: Yes. 22 times. I filed a statement today which is just
about a legal brief on the subject, pointing out where it has been done in
the past on similar circumstances. For example, Welfare Reform in 1996.
For example, Cobra, Changing Insurance Policies. For example, children"s
health. For example, Medicare advantage. And I have cited in this legal
brief the specific Republican Senators who used it and who are now
complaining about it.
It is well established. It is a legitimate way--look, Ed, we"re
really facing more than health care reform.
SPECTER: We are really facing the confidence to govern. You have 40
Republican senators saying no, all of them. You have 176 out of 177 in the
House saying no. We have to fight fire with fire. This is legitimate.
It"s a question of whether Washington can govern.
SCHULTZ: Well, it looks like the American people, the polling that"s
coming out, they"re disgusted with it. They"re politically exhausted with
this story. And they just want change, whether it"s Republican or
Democrat, it seems like right now. So how pivotal, in your opinion, is
this for President Obama"s presidency?
SPECTER: Well, I think it is very important. Look here, I crossed
the aisle, in fact, I may have crossed the aisle one time too much to suit
my Republican colleagues who were outraged when I voted for the stimulus in
order to avoid sliding into a 1929 depression.
Now President Obama"s on the spot, but Congress is on the spot to see
if we can legislate. If we get tied up in knots it"s really a suicide
pact. Justice Jackson said years ago that the constitution is not a
suicide pact. Well, technical rules are not a suicide pact. Especially in
the context where they"ve been used before. But this is a real test as to
whether President Obama can act, whether the Congress can act. I predict
we"re going to do it, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Yes and senator, for our viewers across the country tonight,
give us a sense of what it"s like in the halls of Congress right now.
Passing one another in the hallway. These demonstrations that are taking
place outside. The moment of history here and the angst amongst the
American people. What would you compare it to, Arlen?
SPECTER: Well, I would compare it to a hurricane. I would compare it
to a tsunami, to a volcano eruption. This is a question as to whether
government can function. And there"s a lot of anger that"s flowing both
ways. Look, I went to those town meetings. I went to Lebanon, the guy was
apoplectic waving his arms at me. America is furious and largely about the
gridlock and inability of Congress to govern. And it is more than health
care. It is more than a piece of legislation. It is more than any of us
who hold office about re-election. It"s a matter about whether our system
SCHULTZ: Senator I have to cut you off, I got to do you a favor. You
have to go vote. That"s what I"m told. Good to have you with us.
SPECTER: Okay. Thank you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania with us tonight.
America undoubtedly I believe is sick of the fight. The numbers are going
to be showing that. They want Washington to get this bill passed and just
to move on and let"s get to the polls.
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