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CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcripts

Interview

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BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

BLITZER: If you had to name one Republican who makes Democrats downright nervous right now it just might be Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts. He single-handedly deprived the president's party of its filibuster-proof super 60-seat majority in the U.S. Senate. Now, what is he doing for an encore? One thing he is doing -- he's here in THE SITUATION ROOM -- Senator, welcome.

SEN. SCOTT BROWN (R), MASSACHUSETTS: Good to be here. Thank you.

BLITZER: Hope you will be a frequent visitor in THE SITUATION ROOM, not very far from Capitol Hill.

BROWN: Thank you.

BLITZER: And thanks for driving your pickup truck all the way from Congress here.

BROWN: It's how I get along; it's no secret.

BLITZER: Well it's a nice little truck. Let's talk about health care right now, a priority number one. What's wrong with giving 30 million-plus more Americans access to health insurance?

BROWN: Well part of the problem is after a year of doing this it still raises taxes. It cuts Medicare half a trillion dollars, cuts Tricare for military people. It's going to cost a trillion plus and while it is certainly important to provide care for those people, I believe that individual states could do it better and that we can do it better because the car votes and all the special interests issues that we were talking about that we all shook our heads about, a lot of those are still in that bill.

BLITZER: But let me -- I guess I should rephrase the question. What's wrong if spending money, the costs, if it winds up costing money, if it winds up raising taxes on multimillionaires or millionaires, or people even earning more than $250,000 a year if it is going to give access to 30 million Americans so they don't have to worry about getting sick? What's wrong with that?

BROWN: There's nothing wrong with that, but more importantly it does raise taxes and it does raise taxes for people who are earning less. It is going to affect businesses. It is also -- as I said before, I have felt, as we did in Massachusetts, we provide almost 98 percent of our people with insurance and individual states would like to have that right to do the same thing and ask the federal government, how can you help us do that? Can you incentivize us to do it better? Maybe they will do it better than Massachusetts and get costs under control, but this one-size-fits-all plan really hurting businesses and hurting individual citizens right now with all the carve-outs is not appropriate.

BLITZER: Because you do have nearly universal health insurance in Massachusetts for everyone. Did you have to raise taxes in order to do it?

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: No, it didn't raise taxes --

BLITZER: How did you do it?

BROWN: It didn't cut services. Well we provided a competitive plan with the so-called Cadillac plans all the way down to Commonwealth Care which is a fully subsidized plan. We are having trouble right now with costs because we involve mandates and a whole host of other things that we can do better --

BLITZER: Will you have to raise taxes to pay for it?

BROWN: No, I believe we can actually do some internal reforms --

BLITZER: You like what has happened in Massachusetts --

BROWN: Well I voted for it --

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: You don't want to change it --

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: Listen, it is completely different than what they are trying to do here. People say oh you voted for Romney-care, what about Obama-care? Two different things -- our plan didn't raise taxes. The plan that's being pushed right now, the biggest thing that the people have a problem with is the back room deals, the lack of transparency and the fact that they are using political chicanery and parliamentary maneuvers to ram this bill through when the people don't want it.

BLITZER: If they'd get rid of some of those back room deals, in the sidecar, as it is called, the separate reconciliation bill, it still wouldn't be good --

BROWN: It's not going to be good for a lot of people, not just me. And to put it all on me I think is inappropriate. This bill is really resonating throughout the country. Steve Lynch from my state said he's voting no, and I certainly commend him for that because that bill hurts our state and quite frankly the way they have done it, they can do better. They should do better.

BLITZER: How far are you willing to go -- when I say you, I mean the Republicans, in the Senate to try to block it?

BROWN: Well, I don't -- I don't speak for all the Republicans. I speak for Scott Brown. I'm a Scott Brown Republican as we've talked about before. And I'm going to look at each bill and every bill and be an independent voter.

And the way that they -- I think the House or maybe some members in the House think it's going to come over and through this magical form of reconciliation, it's going to be fixed.

It's not going to be fixed. They're going to go line by line and you're going to get a health care bill that's going to be challenged based potentially by the attorneys generals in the state on its constitutionality.

BLITZER: You think what is a good idea?

BROWN: I don't have an opinion on that. I'll leave that to the legal people. But I do feel that we can do better and we should allow the states to participate more instead of this one-size-fits-all approach that is not good for my state and potentially not good for the rest of the country.

BLITZER: I have been told by some of your colleague, Republicans, that if the House passes it including the separate reconciliation part, making the fixes, the changes whatever you want call it -- they're going to introduce amendment after amendment after amendment in the Senate to try to delay it for as long as possible to change it as much as possible.

BROWN: Well, you know, once again, I said in the beginning it's been a year and we should be talking about jobs right now and we're not talking about jobs. We're doing this and we may be doing illegal immigration, we may be doing financial reform.

The people in Massachusetts, when we have unemployment almost at 10 percent and unemployment is rising or at least stable or rising in the country, we need to talk about jobs and we haven't done that now.

So I'm not interested in the political maneuvering and the parliamentary maneuvering right now. I'm interested in getting people back to work and this bill hurts Massachusetts jobs dramatically.

BLITZER: What has surprised you the most since you've come here to Washington?

BROWN: Actually being here with you.

BLITZER: Why -- why did that surprise you so much?

BROWN: Well, I mean -- I'm home -- I've been home forever watching THE SITUATION ROOM, I always wanted to see how big it was, and certainly participate in the process. And it's been a lot of fun and people -- I guess I'm surprised at the way people have been so receptive and respectful and that means a lot to me and my family.

BLITZER: I know you've met the vice president, and Joe Biden, he swore you in as a United States senator. Have you had a chance --

BROWN: He almost swore at me last night.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: You just told a few jokes, but have you had a chance to meet with the president yet and the first lady?

BROWN: No. Not yet. I certainly look forward to it. I haven't heard from them.

BLITZER: But on some of these issues, you're what they call a moderate Republican from Massachusetts. You're willing to work with them on some of these issues.

BROWN: Well, I've already shown that. I'm a fiscal conservative but -- for example, in the first jobs bill, I worked across party lines to get that passed, the president signed it today and for Massachusetts and for the rest of the country that creates jobs.

I spoke to Chambers of Commerce today and a lot of businesses from New England and they were very, very thankful for those opportunities, for those small tax breaks that will help stimulate their businesses and hopefully stimulate the economy.

So yes, I look at each and every bill in an independent manner and will continue to do so.

BLITZER: And so where else do you think, looking ahead on a positive side, where do you want to cooperate with the White House?

BROWN: Well, I've already worked with --

BLITZER: Jobs you want to cooperate. Where else?

BROWN: Yes. Job is the most important thing. Chuck Schumer and I will have an amendment on the FAA bill. We're working on that now. I think it's a good bill. Unless something strange happens, I'll be supporting that in a bipartisan manner.

I think terrorism and taxes are, our deficit, really the three most important issues behind jobs. So I'm looking forward to just solving problems because right now, Wolf, as you know, and you've reported it many times, the system's broken. People are angry. They want better, they want us to do better, and I feel my being here helps that as evidenced by my first vote, as evidenced by the fact that I'm willing to work and listen, and be respectful in doing so. And I'm trying to, you know, get the process moving because people are hurting.

They want jobs, they need jobs and they deserve and want better from us.

BLITZER: The vice president gave you a shout-out last night at the Radio TV Correspondents Association dinner here in Washington. Let me play that little joke.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT: You know, I -- I do have to defend our administration here a little bit here, especially the Recovery Act, which I have been put in charge of. Republicans keep saying it hasn't created a single job.

Well, tell that to Senator Scott Brown.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: You got a nice laugh out of that. But you were sitting at my table with your wife, Gail, you were laughing.

BROWN: Of course. Listen, the vice president, I saw him for breakfast. I was at the White -- his mansion --

BLITZER: The vice president --

BROWN: The vice presidential residence and he told me, I'm going to take a few cracks at you, I hope that's OK. And I said, yes, just remember what goes around comes around.

I have a sense of humor. I know that he does and I have enjoyed meeting him and I look forward to spending more time with him.

BLITZER: What about all this talk that Scott Brown has higher political ambitions?

BROWN: I just got my business cards last week. We just had our offices painted. I am up to my eyeballs in doing the people's business. I'm going to let the political pundits have fun and do that. But right now, I'm going to focus on doing my job.

BLITZER: That's the correct answer.

BROWN: It's the right -- it's how I feel.

BLITZER: Well, we hope you'll be driving your pickup truck here to THE SITUATION ROOM on a frequent basis.

BROWN: Thank you.

BLITZER: Good luck to you.

BROWN: Glad to be here. Thank you.

BLITZER: Scott Brown is the newest member of the United States Senate, Republican of Massachusetts. Hard to believe. Republican of Massachusetts.

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