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MSNBC "The Rachel Maddow Show" - Transcript

Interview

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Joining us now is Vermont Democratic Congressman Peter Welch.

Congressman Welch, thank you very much for being here. It`s nice to have
you here tonight.

REP. PETER WELCH (D), VERMONT: Thank you.

MADDOW: As Republicans continue to do the symbolic votes on repealing health reform, more Americans are starting to like this law. Right after the Supreme Court confirmed the constitutionality of it, we talked about a window opening up in which the administration and Democrats could again try to sell the American people on the idea of health reform.

Do you think that window exists? Is that window open?

WELCH: It`s getting open. I mean, what you`re seeing as you say, 33 times of fake repeal, is that there is lost in the hearts of Republicans to beat this issue. They want to do it, but there`s no passion to provide any alternative.

One of the challenges they face aside from doing these pointless exercises is that what they`re trying to repeal is what Governor Romney passed in Massachusetts. And you know what, it`s very popular in Massachusetts.

So you`ve got this upside down situation where what Governor Romney
could trumpet as a contribution to health care and a success in his administration, he`s running from, even as Americans are starting to say,
you know, this is pretty good. We keep our kids on health care until age 26.

Pre-existing conditions, we can still get health care. If you`re a senior on health care, you can get free preventative health care.

And another thing that happened is the insurance companies that have been ripping us off, if they are getting more than 20 percent of your premium dollar going into fat CEO salaries, that has to be rebated to the rate payers. That has been a tremendous success in arresting costs in health care.

So, you know, I think this is time for Democrats to stand their ground and every time Republicans do this pointless thing, they hit number 34, they`re going to maybe hit 50 before we`re out of it, that`s going to be something we can use and ask the American people whether this is a serious problem or a run for political cover.

MADDOW: It was the Senate campaign arm of the Democratic Party today that floated this idea that Republicans in the House took this vote today who might be trying to run for the Senate this November, people who might be trying to move over to the other part of Congress, those will be the Republicans against whom this vote could pop up in an attack political ad from the Democratic side. Do you think it`s possible even in red states, some of these 33 symbolic votes against health reform would resonate against Republicans who took the votes?

WELCH: If we can stand the ground and say this is what we did, this is why we did it, and we defend it, and then we contrast that with this do-nothing approach the Republicans are taking, repealing something repeatedly. People know that`s not a policy, and when we start putting the question to our Republican colleagues, where is your plan A? Where is your plan to provide coverage for folks, kids until age 26, and to provide preventative care and to claw back these excessive fees?

So people want us fundamentally to get things done. The folks who are not just ideologically blinded on either side but have as a goal that America make some progress, that we revive our economy, that yes, we have personal responsibility, but we understand that we`re all in it together, those folks want us to get things done.

And when there`s one side that`s trying, making an effort, trying to improve things that need to be corrected and there`s another side that says, you know what, we have done it 33 times, let`s go for a 34th, people get it. That`s just -- that`s beyond gridlock. That`s just obstructionism.

MADDOW: Your state of Vermont has taken an aggressively progressive position on health reform, Vermont has talked about pursuing single payer at the state level. On the other side of the ideological number line, I guess, you`ve got Texas with Governor Perry there saying that his state is going to opt out of Medicaid even to the extent it`s going to cost them money, put them at odds federally -- put them at odds with the federal government, potentially, in legal breach of what their responsibilities are.

Do you think we`re entering into a position where the red states and blue states are going to diverge fundamentally on what it`s like to live there -- whether or not you have health care based on whether or not your governor is a Republican or Democrat?

WELCH: Well, Vermont is different than Texas. And Governor Shumlin is certain different than Governor Perry. So, yes, so there`s a diversion.

And, you know, the decision in Vermont, when we embraced essentially the effort, to move towards Medicare for all, that was bipartisan. And why were able to move ahead is a lot of the Republicans were arguing, you know what? We`ve got to get the cost down.

Democrats traditionally argue we`ve got to have access for everyone, then we`ve got together and we said, you know what? We`re both. The only way we`re going to have sustainable access for all Americans is to have lower cost health care and we achieve that by trying to have accountable care organizations, better delivery of care, best practices -- things that improve the delivery of the health care system.

So that`s the approach that Vermont is taking, many states are taking, Governor Perry is headed in a different direction. I`ll take the Vermont approach.

MADDOW: Congressman Peter Welch, Democrat of Vermont -- thank you very much for your time tonight, sir. It`s nice to see you.

WELCH: Thank you.

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