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NORAH O'DONNELL: Joining me now, two top senators--Democrat Chuck Schumer who's in his home state of New York this morning; and Oklahoma Senator and medical doctor, Tom Coburn, author of The Debt Bomb: A Bold Plan to Stop Washington from Bankrupting America.
All right. Senator Schumer, you just heard Speaker Boehner say this needs to be ripped out from its roots. What's your reaction?
SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER (D-New York): Well, you know, I think if Republicans make as their number one issue the repeal of health care they are certainly going to lose the election in the House, in the Senate, and the presidency. Bottom-line is most Americans are not for repeal. If you look at all the polls, a little more than a third are for repeal, the rest are either for keeping it or changing it but not repealing it. And some of those who are for changing it want to make it tougher. And that's-- there's good reason for that, as you pointed out in your interview with Speaker Boehner, there are a lots of things people like in the bill. The obvious ones like your kids can stay on your health care till they are twenty-six, the doughnut hole, prescription drug, payments for seniors.
But there are others that even Republicans like, surprisingly, subsidies for people who can't afford health care, requiring employers to provide health care. So the bill overall, people do not want repeal that's number one. Number two, Mitt Romney's in a total pickle here. He prescribed this. This was his bill. Speaker Boehner's saying it's a tax increase. They have some ads saying it's a tax increase. So they are going to say that Mitt Romney would have the biggest tax increase in Massachusetts? Forget about it.
But most important, Norah, and finally, the number one thing people want us to focus on is jobs, the economy, and increasing middle-class paychecks. The Republican Party's in a box, the Tea Party's pulling them over to just talk about repeal. That's number six or seven in the polls. The economy, jobs, middle-class paychecks--number one. The week we get back to Congress there's going to be a great contrast.
NORAH O'DONNELL: I see.
SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: They are going to vote on repeal of health care, litigating a battle that's been going on for four years and the American people want us to move on. And we are going to put on the floor a small business jobs tax cut. You get a ten percent tax credit for every new employee you hire or when you increase people's salaries.
NORAH O'DONNELL: All right. What about that, Senator Coburn? Do you want to throw this whole law out or is that a distraction from the main issue, the economy?
SENATOR TOM COBURN (R-Oklahoma): Well, I think-- I think it's extremely intertwined with the economy. And I think it's an example of where Washington doesn't get it. One of the reasons we don't have significant job creation is the federal government itself. We haven't created the confidence, we haven't created the certainty for those who could invest and create jobs and what we've done is put up roadblocks to that. Look, we're-- we're approaching the health care problem the wrong way. As a practicing physician for over twenty-five years, the one thing you want to do is fix the real disease, not the symptoms; and the Affordable Care Act fixed a lot of symptoms but not the disease and the disease is this health care costs too much? And with the Affordable Care Act it's going to cost a whole lot more. Now the estimates with the Supreme Court ruling is about 1.9 trillion dollars. We don't have that money; 1.9 trillion dollars more over the first ten years is fully in-- in place.
NORAH O'DONNELL: No, Senator--
SENATOR TOM COBURN: So--
NORAH O'DONNELL: --Coburn but doesn't that--
SENATOR TOM COBURN: --our country is essen--
NORAH O'DONNELL: --the CBO has scored this as not just deficit-neutral but actually saving taxpayers a hundred billion dollars.
SENATOR TOM COBURN: No that--
NORAH O'DONNELL: Correct?
SENATOR TOM COBURN: Well, that's true but-- that is not true. If you go look at their latest scoring, they-- they scored as a cost, they also scored as a costing tremendous in number of jobs and-- and the other thing they have not scored since the-- the Supreme Court ruling which is going to markedly increase the cost of the exchanges. So that's not accurate. This bill costs 1.6 trillion dollars minimum. It's going to cost more than that with the changes that the Supreme Court made in terms of the optionality of Medicaid for the states.
NORAH O'DONNELL: I know you--
SENATOR TOM COBURN: So the-- the-- the point is is that we ought to fix the problem, not the symptoms and you're hearing all this politics about it. What-- what we should have is real access and real care for people without a insurance company or the government between the patient and the physician. And we've not done that with this bill and-- and a lot of the programs that are out there today don't do it and we need to change health care in America but what we've done is making the problem worse, not better.
NORAH O'DONNELL: Well, let me ask you about something you said this week to your Eagle Daily Investor about what this plan does. Let's play a little bit of that tape.
SENATOR TOM COBURN: What we're trying to do with the Affordable Care Act is sovietize the American health care system. And I want to tell you, it didn't work out well for the soviet system.
NORAH O'DONNELL: What did you mean by that sovietize?
SENATOR TOM COBURN: Well, that means the bureaucrats and politicians are in charge of your health care. And that's exactly what this has done. There's not going to be individual choice. Remember-- remember the components of this bill. There's an iPad bill. There-- there is, in fact, the Preventive Services Task Force that is going to mandate what care will be given and what care won't be. There's the innovation council that will approve or disapprove of any new innovation. We have three agencies that are going to totally take away the options of your freedom about your care and what you and your physician decide is best for you. So it-- soviet sty-- the-- what I'm saying is--
NORAH O'DONNELL: And--
SENATOR TOM COBURN: --is you're going to have a bureaucracy. And I want to tell you, the bureaucracy at CMS didn't working. The bureaucracy in terms of HRSA didn't working. The government bureaucracies today is one of the reasons costs are out of control. They're not a reason that they're lower. They have actually raised the cost of health care.
NORAH O'DONNELL: All right. Senator Schumer, you know the Republicans say this is going to be a tax on individuals now and businesses.
SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: Yeah. Look, this is a penalty on free riders, when you talk about the mandate very simply. And what does that mean? It means that when someone who doesn't have health care shows up at a hospital or a doctor's office and needs treatment for an injury or an illness, who pays for it? The rest of us. The average family pays one thousand seventeen dollars more in health care cost to pay for those free riders and we say, yes, that they ought to pay a penalty and shouldn't be a free rider. It's the right thing to do. And let me just say this, Norah, it's lucky. There are very few of them. You know, you heard Speaker Boehner, Mitt Romney, ninety-five percent of Americans will be affected. One percent will be under this penalty because most other Americans, obviously, have health care.
NORAH O'DONNELL: One percent of individuals but what about one percent of small businesses?
SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: Well, as you said, small businesses under fifty don't have to provide health care. Those with under twenty-five employers get a subsidy to do it and those who are larger than that are going to find their costs going down and their bureaucracy going down once these exchanges take effect. And so, it'll be a good thing for everybody. Their-- you know, bottom line, health care was a mess, costs were going up. Everything-- people-- fewer people were covered, employers were kicking people, millions off the rolls. This is going to make it a whole lot better. It started to already and it's going to get a lot better in 2014 when the exchanges--basically free-market Republican idea which the President adopted in an effort to compromise--go into effect.
NORAH O'DONNELL: All right. Obviously, we got a lot more to talk about here what's next for health care and what about Mitt Romney's pledge to repeal it on his first day in office. We're going to be back in one minute with more of this conversation.
NORAH O'DONNELL: And we're back with Senators Schumer and Coburn.
Senator Schumer, let me start with you. Mitt Romney says he is going to repeal this on day one of his presidency. Can he actually do that?
SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: No. And this is-- again, he's just making the wildest statements here that don't have basis in fact. The bottom line is that for states to put in-- to not do the health care plan, they'd have to put in an alternative plan that meets even better and stronger criteria. Most of the states that want to repeal it don't even want to go as far as the health care bill, so he is not. And the author of the provision that allowed people to opt out, Senator Wyden, who's done a great job on this area, has said specifically that Mitt Romney is totally wrong on this issue.
NORAH O'DONNELL: All right. Senator Coburn, let me ask you. Now that the Supreme Court has said this is a tax, does that make it easier if Republicans gain control of the Senate to dismantle this law?
SENATOR TOM COBURN: Well, I don't know if it makes it easier but it-- you know, we-- we've said it was a tax all along and-- and it is a-- actually a rather huge tax. I-- I want to go back to one thing about the exchanges. What Senator Schumer didn't inform you of is there's going to be subsidies in the exchanges. Where are we going to get the money for the subsidies for the exchanges? Where's that going to come from? Talking about growing our deficits.
The-- the fact is, look, we all want to solve the health care problem and we're missing one key point is we're not going to allow any market forces to actually work in this bill because we are controlling them. And-- and until we actually have market forces work where we put individual responsibility along with an insurance project on purchasing of health care, we're going to have indiscriminate use both by physician and patients. And until we correct that flaw, we're never going to control the costs and we're never going to be able to afford-- we can't afford-- remember, Medicare will be bankrupt in five years. I don't care what any politician in the country says. We're not going to be able to borrow the money for Medicare. We took five hundred billion dollars out of Medicare in this bill and we need to be solving those problems. And we can get-- we can create access for seniors--
NORAH O'DONNELL: All right.
SENATOR TOM COBURN: --that gives them just as good a care by not ruining the economy and borrowing more money from the Chinese.
NORAH O'DONNELL: All right. That's all the time we have. Senators Schuburn-- Schumer and Senator Coburn-- I almost molded those two names together.
SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: Yeah. That was--
NORAH O'DONNELL: Yeah.
SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: --very bipartisan, Norah.
NORAH O'DONNELL: A good--
SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: Very bipartisan.
NORAH O'DONNELL: --a good dis-- a good discussion this morning. We'll be back in a minute.
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