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Public Statements

Medicare

Interview

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Date:
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HARRY SMITH: We turn now to the newly-elected chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, Congresswoman Debbie-- Debbie Wasserman Shultz who is in Fort Lauderdale.

Good morning.

REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SHULTZ (D-Florida/Chair, Democratic National Committee): Good morning, Harry.

HARRY SMITH: So you heard what Congressman Cantor said about the Democratic response to this victory in New York 26. He called it demagoguery. Would you classify it as demagoguery?

REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SHULTZ: Well, coming from the majority leader who was part of the architect of the 2010 elections focusing on scaring seniors a-- about what Democrats were-- were doing with Medicare, he would know. What-- what we're doing is making sure that we can prevent the Republicans from ending Medicare as we know it. And
that's what Kathy Hochul ran on leading up to her vic-- victory this Tuesday in New York 26. We need to make sure that we won't continue to reform Medicare in the way that the Democrats have done under the Affordable Care Act, Harry. The trustees this week for Medicare said that we actually saved in the Affordable Care Act we reduced costs in Medicare by-- by twenty-six percent.

HARRY SMITH: Mm-Hm.

REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SHULTZ: We-- we made sure that we added eight years of solvency in the Affordable Care Act to Medicare and gave us room to sit down at the table like Eric Cantor has been with the vice president--

HARRY SMITH: Right.

REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SHULTZ: --to really negotiate some long-term reforms with Medicare.

HARRY SMITH: But the trustees also said just what-- a couple of Fridays ago that this thing could be insolvent in the next decade. Doesn't something really dramatic have to happen and as the congressman suggested the Republicans have a plan. Do the Democrats have a plan?

REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SHULTZ: Like I said, the-- the Republicans have a plan to end the Medicare as we know it. What they would do is they would take the-- the people who are younger than fifty-five years old today and tell them you know what you're on your own.

Go and find private health insurance in the-- in the health care insurance market. We're going to throw you to the wolves and allow insurance companies to deny you coverage and drop you for preexisting conditions. We're going to give you "x" amount of dollars and you figure it out. And
these are people who have paid for their whole life into the system, are counting on that safety net. Americans sent a very strong message not just in New York this week--

HARRY SMITH: Hm.

REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SHULTZ: --but in Jacksonville Florida last week when they elected a Democratic mayor for the first time in twenty years in a state House race in New Hampshire, same issue. Americans support Medicare and the structure that we have for Medicare.

HARRY SMITH: Mm-Hm.

REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SHULTZ: They want us to sit down together and work on some long-term reform--

HARRY SMITH: Right.

REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SHULTZ: --which is what the-- the Republicans and Democrats are doing with Vice President Biden right now.

HARRY SMITH (overlapping): All right. Would you--

REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SHULTZ (overlapping): That's the direction we need to go.

HARRY SMITH: One of your colleagues has suggested that Medicare puts the House back in play in 2012. Would you go as far as to agree with that?

REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SHULTZ: Well, I think American voters have-- are making it clear that they have seen a preview of what the Republicans would do to Medicare, do to the direction that this country is-- would go. And they-- they're-- they're rejecting it. They're saying they don't like it. And so if-- if Republican candidates cling as my Republican colleagues
in the House have to the Ryan plan to end Medicare, to what-- focusing on tax cuts for the wealthiest and insisting on that and balancing all the pain that we-- that-- that-- they're imposing on middle class and working families, then I think that Democratic candidates for Congress and President Obama and other Dem-- Democrats up and down the ballot are going to find some
success.

HARRY SMITH: Do you think the Tea--

REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SHULTZ (overlapping): What we need to do is sit down together and work on our nation's problems.

HARRY SMITH: Do you think the Tea Party is losing some of its appeal?

REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SHULTZ: I-- I think Tea Party activists and Republican candidates elected to Congress by the Tea Party are finding that governing is hard. And that, you know, it's easy to, you know, to-- to throw bombs and-- and to be incendiary. Not so easy to sit down and actually govern. And-- and what we-- what we need to try to do is what
the President called for, sit down around the table and deal with our long-term issues. And engage in shared sacrifice, Harry. That-- we-- we can't do what the Republicans want to do which is pile all the pain in terms of the cuts we need to make to our long-term deficit problems on the backs of people who can least afford it and the middle class and still preserve tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires.

HARRY SMITH: Hm.

REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SHULTZ: Americans don't think that's fair. And they're sending that signal in elections.

HARRY SMITH: Well, you've got this big new job now. And it's very interesting. This presidential election is going to be upon us before we know it. The Republican presidential field is starting to take shape a little bit. Who would you prefer they nominate?

REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SHULTZ: Well, I mean, I'll leave who they nominate to the Republicans. We-- we certainly expect that they will have a vigorous primary. And the-- the-- the eventual Republican nominee will be battle tested. And we expect it to be a significant election like every presidential election is.

HARRY SMITH: The President's approval numbers have improved significantly in the last month or so. But if the unemployment numbers stay the same and the economy doesn't start catching fire, is President Obama re-electable?

REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SHULTZ: Well, I think that the-- the President's approval numbers are improving because Americans like the direction that he's been taking this country. In my home state of Florida just a couple of days ago--

HARRY SMITH (overlapping): They showed don't-- his numbers on the economy still aren't good. They're quite bad, quite frankly.

REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, you-- what Americans want us to do is focus on creating jobs and turning the economy around. They don't want us to focus on an extremely radical social agenda, which is what the Republicans have been proposing since they took the majority back in the House. They don't want us to-- to engage in-- in an imbalanced
approach to dealing with our long-term deficit reduction needs. Both parties, Harry, have said, you know, we need about four trillion dollars in deficit reduction. But we don't need to be doing Americans have said, is doing that by slashing education, by slashing health care, by ending Medicare and hurting seniors.

HARRY SMITH: Mm-Hm.

REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: They want us to sit down together and take a balanced approach. And-- and-- and that's what we're pushing for. That's what President Obama has been pushing for. And Republicans seem to be pushing back against that. And Americans see it. I think that's reflective in the President's numbers.

HARRY SMITH: Right. And-- and you heard Eric Cantor say-- say just a couple of minutes ago, raising revenue is not-- is not going to be part of any package that they're going to agree with.

Do you-- do you feel absolutely--

REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (overlapping): At the same time, he was saying everything's on the table.

HARRY SMITH: --well and-- do you absolutely feel that raising--

REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (overlapping): Typical.

HARRY SMITH: --taxes has to be a part of-- of getting this thing back in sync.

REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Like I said I think both parties under President Obama's leadership and the-- the Republicans have said, you know, about four trillion dollars in deficit reduction is the right number. What we need to sit down and-- around the negotiating table and agree on is that there needs to be some shared sacrifice.

HARRY SMITH: Mm-Hm.

REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: The Democrats acknowledge under President Obama, you know, he said, look, there's-- there's things that we think are important that are going need to be cut--

HARRY SMITH: Right.

REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: --that that we can't afford right now.

HARRY SMITH (overlapping): Congressman--

REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (overlapping): Republicans need to make the same sacrifices.

HARRY SMITH: We have about twenty seconds left.

REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (overlapping): That-- that-- that and they're not-- they don't seem to be willing to do that.

HARRY SMITH: All right. We're going to leave it at that then. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the brand new, newly-elected chairwoman of the Democratic Party.We thank you very much for your time this morning.

REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you, Harry.

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