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Public Statements

MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript

Interview

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Let"s go right now to Congressman Jack Kingston, a Republican from Georgia.

Sir, you"ve been in Congress a while now. I"ve always watched your career. You"re tough.

Is this too tough to handle, this Ryan plan? I mean, older people vote like bandits. Nobody doesn"t vote after 65 and nobody turns down Medicare after 65.

REP. JACK KINGSTON ®, GEORGIA: You know, Chris, one of the things the Democrats don"t say and I don"t think it"s their job to say it, but as you know, the Ryan plan doesn"t affect anyone over 55. Medicare trusties have said that if Medicare is going broke in 12 years. So, if you"re under 55, it"s not going to be there for you anyway.

The Republican Party is trying to look forward and move forward in doing something. Now, I want to point out something also, the president"s budget did not get one single vote. While it"s true the Ryan budget plan only got 40 votes, the president of the United States budget got zero. And so, when Debbie, good friend she is, says we want to sit down an talk, you have to have an alternative. They haven"t offered anything.

So, if she and other Democrats are so concerned about seniors who are on the program now, they should do something to protect and preserve the program like offering their own alternative. And they"re not there at all. And I think that"s extremely important.

MATTHEWS: Well, what"s going on? Just take it on the point here, because I think most people, we poll them, anybody polls them wants to see deals made. That"s why you folks are in Congress. Not to argue all the time. But to reach a deal on programs that matter to people.

My question is this: isn"t Joe Biden, vice president, isn"t there people like Saxby Chambliss, all involved in these efforts to try to find a compromise right now?

KINGSTON: You know, Chris, I"m glad you brought that up, because the gang of six, now the gang of five, has been talking and meeting and talking and meeting. And Joe Biden also is working with a working group of 14, again talking and meeting. And in order for us to sit down with Democrats which we absolutely want to do because Medicare should not be a partisan issue. And that"s why Paul Ryan"s budget doesn"t affect anybody 55 or older. He is trying to protect and preserve it for future generation. But we need to have an alternative that the Democrats offered. And so far, they"re not doing anything.

And I think the Democrats should listen to what President Clinton said. Don"t misread the election in New York as a reason not to do anything on Medicare. That would be negligent.

And the other thing Democrats need to keep in mind is you had a third party Tea Party candidate, Democrat himself but he ran under a Tea Party, who spent $3 million of his own money and siphoned off 9 percent of the conservative vote which would have tipped the election in the other direction.

So, I don"t the Democrats truly believe the New York race was a mandate on the Ryan Medicare proposal.

MATTHEWS: We"re getting 47 percent for a D in that district. It"s still pretty good.

Let me ask you about the Ryan plan. What bugs me about the Ryan plan is--you know, when you are 65, you can take care of yourself in most cases. Some people have bigger health problems. Some can.

By the time you are 75, it"s pretty precarious. By the time you"re in your late 70s, early 80s, your health costs are a big part of your life, meeting them. Then the Republicans come along with the Ryan plan and say we"re going to give basically this voucher. It"s not going to cover all your premium because you"ll probably have to pay a little more.

How do you tell a person we will give you some money to take care of your health but we"re not really going to take care of your health, you"re going to have to meet your end of it?

KINGSTON: Well--

MATTHEWS: That gets pretty hard to do when you don"t--most people have about $14,000 in income when they get older, about $14,000 is what they"re living. They have a house if they are lucky. How do they pay health care out of that, out of $14,000 a year?

KINGSTON: Well, Chris, remember, there is a sliding scale that it"s a heavier subsidy if you"re lower income. I think that is the right thing to do, that it is sort of a means test on Medicare which Democrats bring up.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

KINGSTON: And, remember, there was a 1999 proposal of Democrat Senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska and Senator John Breaux, Democrat from Louisiana, endorsed by two of the Clinton era Medicare trustee. So, this isn"t some radical think tank from the Heritage Society.

MATTHEWS: I know.

KINGSTON: And that"s what is so frustrating in this town, is you know what, Chris, I said it many times--this is like skinny dipping. Somebody has to be the first one in the pool and it is real lonely when you"re the only one in the pool. Paul Ryan is in the pool. We want the rest of the town to come along. You know, put a proposal on the table.

The president"s "Mulligan" budget which Debbie just alluded to, you know there were no proposal in there. It was total rhetoric. There was nothing to it.

MATTHEWS: All right.

KING: If the president lays down a plan, absolutely, we will negotiate. That"s what we want to do.

MATTHEWS: You"re the best arguer for this situation I"ve seen. And by the way, it"s got to be a deal.

I appreciate that. Have a fine weekend, Congressman. Thank you so much for coming on HARDBALL.

KINGSTON: Well, thanks.

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