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REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Good to be with you, as always, Ed. Thank you.
SCHULTZ: Isn"t it a good thing to be able to go home and say that we are saving lives with this health care reform that we passed? Isn"t this a historic move? Yet, are there some Democrats that are running from it.
Steny, why is that happening?
HOYER: Well, I think that the American people express concern about health care. However, as you know in the debates, both McCain and Obama said, if elected, they needed to reform the health care system. They"ve changed their opinions. Senator McCain has seemed to have changed his opinion.
However, we know that 50 million Americans without health insurance is costing our nation and is putting risk--lives and health care at risk. We"ve adopted a system, Ed, that for some reason, people say is smacks of socialism. It"s an interesting thing.
What we did was: we created market so that private sector insurance companies can transparently offer their products and services to the American people. It seems to me that"s pretty much the American way. And what we"re ensuring is that all Americans will have access to affordable health care. And if they have trouble, we"re going to help them.
And what CBO says is that we"re going to save $175 billion through that program over the next decade. And the decade after that, save $1 trillion. And as I point out on--
SCHULTZ: All of the things that you"re talking about, you"re absolutely spot on. But there are some Democrats who are going back to their district and they seem to be afraid to say that. In fact, there are some who"ve taken out ads saying that they didn"t have anything to do--they didn"t support the health care reform and they"re actually running from it.
SCHULTZ: What is--what do you make of that?
HOYER: Ed, the fact of the matter is, obviously, each candidate campaigns on what they believe. But clearly, our party and the president has put forward a plan, which we believe was--is good for the country, good for the health care of our people and--
SCHULTZ: No doubt.
HOYER: -- it will save us money. So, from all of those standpoints, we think it"s a program that will work.
Now, we have three years to make it better before it fully goes into effect. But let me tell you, there"s nobody that I"ve talked to that doesn"t want to make sure that insurance companies can"t tell them, "No, sorry, we"re not going to insure you and your family because your child has diabetes or asthma," or you"re not going to be precluded from changing and going into business and creating a business of your own and jobs simply because you have a pre-existing heart condition and won"t be able to get health care.
HOYER: We think this is a very significant, positive step forward, and we think over the years, Americans are going to come to that conclusion as well.
SCHULTZ: And the case has to be made, undoubtedly, to the voters, that the Republicans--if they get the majority--are going to reverse all of this and wipe it right out. This legislation saves lives. They want to wipe that away all for the god almighty dollar. Now, let"s talk about the money. Why--
HOYER: Ed, can I just say something on that? Let me just say something because an awful lot of the Republicans are campaigning. They want to repeal. The American public, however, have made it very clear--they don"t want to repeal. They want to make it--
HOYER: -- as good as they can, but they don"t want repeal.
SCHULTZ: What about the Bush tax cuts? Why are so many Democrats caving in on the Bush tax cuts? Why isn"t it a strong strategy to go home and say, we think the super wealthy needs to pay more and the middle class folks deserve the tax cuts? Why is that such a hard case to make? Yet, there are so many Democrats that are caving in on this.
HOYER: Well, (a), I"m not so sure how many Democrats are taking the opposite position. But we"ve made it very clear in the House and in the Senate, among the leadership, and the president"s made it very clear, we"re going to make sure that the middle class workers do not get a tax increase. However, the deficit is looming large. That is a significant concern of ours and those who can help pay and bring that deficit under control need to. And it"s not going to adversely effect the economy.
The president of the United States--and this is frankly been Republican policy since I got to Congress 30 years ago--Republican policy has been to cut taxes on the wealthiest in America.
HOYER: And they would grow jobs. In fact, they opposed a program in "93 that Clinton plan, and said that it was going to blow a hole in our economy because it raised taxes on the upper 1 percent of America. In fact, as you know, that was the best job creating period in our lifetime under President Clinton"s economic program.
SCHULTZ: Congressman, now, there"s been a lot of conversation about the suggestive political strategy to go out there and connect the Tea Partiers with the GOP. Do you agree that that is the right way to go, or would you shy away from that?
HOYER: Let me tell you, the GOP is connecting itself for the Tea Party positions. So, we don"t have to connect them ourselves. The Republican candidates are doing that already.
And when you have people saying, we ought to do away with Social Security, that, as you just pointed out Mr. Miller, unemployment insurance is somehow unconstitutional, that we want to go back to the policies that failed so badly, not only in the last administration, but previously, to bring our deficit--
SCHULTZ: So the GOP and Tea Party--so, Steny, the GOP and Tea Party are in the same sentence? You can"t parcel them out?
HOYER: I think it"s clear that you see the Republican Party being very closely aligning themselves with the positions of the Tea Party--
HOYER: -- and their candidates.
HOYER: And very frankly, it"s clear that those candidates are having great success in their party.
SCHULTZ: And, finally, what are you going to do to get the base out? There"s conventional wisdom out there that the Democratic base is somewhat deflated because the majority didn"t go far enough.
Now, I know you guys in the House passed a bunch of bills, you passed a bunch of bills in the House. The Senate is a totally different animal. It"s bane record number of filibusters.
What are you going to do to motivate the base to show up? Because if they don"t show up in droves, you stand to lose the House in the Senate. What do you say to the base?
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HOYER: There"s no doubt that our base needs to come out. And our base needs to come out because we"re really at halftime here. We"re not at the end of the game.
The president rightfully says, we found ourselves in a very, very deep ditch, the deepest ditch that we found ourselves in our lifetime, Ed. And the president and the Congress have been trying to dig out of that ditch.
And as you pointed out, we"re making progress. The stock market is up 60 percent, that means, retirement savings are up--
HOYER: -- 60 percent. You pointed out in all but one of the last eight months, we gained jobs in the private sector.
HOYER: We gained more jobs as opposed to 3.8 million jobs being lost in the last year of the Bush administration. So, yes, it was a deep hole and we"re digging out, but we still need to keep on focused on creating jobs.
SCHULTZ: You got the base to come out, don"t you? You have to ask--
HOYER: We have to ask our base to come out.
SCHULTZ: Steny Hoyer, great--
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HOYER: And very frankly, let me tell you another thing that I think is happening, Ed, because I think the independents, the Gallup Poll came out today. Democrats are now 1 point up in the Gallup Poll.
HOYER: And I think what"s happening in this country is independents are looking at the alternatives, whether it"s Tea Party candidates or Republican policies, with respect to privatizing Social Security.
HOYER: Retreating from regulation of the banking industry--
SCHULTZ: I think they"ll figure it out, congressman.
HOYER: I think that they"re figuring it out and I think they"re coming our way.
SCHULTZ: I think that they"ll figure it out. Great to have you with us, Steny Hoyer.
HOYER: Always great to be with your, Ed.
SCHULTZ: You bet. Appreciate your time.
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