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Welcome to you both, gentlemen.
Let me start with this question that steered so much interest at the end of the week, which is a new -- a set of new possible waivers by the federal government of work requirements under welfare reform. This would appear on the surface to be simply a case of the states getting some more flexibility in how they administer the work requirements for receiving welfare benefits.
Let me start with you, Governor Branstad. How do you see these waivers? Some people are saying that it's going to gut the law.
GOVERNOR TERRY BRANSTAD, R-IOWA: Well, unfortunately, I think this is a huge step in the wrong direction.
I was governor along with Tommy Thompson from Wisconsin, John Engler from Michigan, when we worked with the administration back when Bill Clinton was president, to get the welfare reform passed, to move it from an entitlement program to a program that focused on job training and work. And we helped to move millions of people off of the welfare rolls into permanent employment. We reduced the cost of welfare and Medicaid as a result of it. It was very successful.
And now, we see this administration trying to gut it. I think it's illegal because it is in the law. I don't think they have a right to waive it. I know Tommy Thompson is saying he's thinking about suing them over it. I think it's absolutely wrong and a move in the wrong direction. The focus needs to be on helping people to move from welfare to work, not making people permanently dependent on the government welfare program.
We know that didn't work back in the '70s, '80s. And, finally, we changed it in the '90s. This program has worked.
It's absolutely a terrible step in the wrong direction.
HUME: But, Governor, isn't it unusual for a Republican like yourself to be arguing that the federal bureaucrats in Washington, with the rules they have laid out for this, know better than the governors in the states across the country and their subordinates about to how best to implement the law?
BRANSTAD: Well, actually, the governors are the ones that wrote the law in the first time. We're the ones -- I mentioned, Tommy Thompson, John Engler, you can talk to those governors that helped to pass this law and we saw it work effectively in our states. Welfare rolls went down substantially. We helped a lot of people moved to a higher standard of living and more opportunity.
And this guts it. This goes back to the kind of entitlement mentality, and that's --
HUME: Well, Governor, they haven't limited the work requirement that there be activity underway that lives to it to work. They are simply allowing the states to have more flexibility in how to implement that, aren't they?
BRANSTAD: Well, I would like to see more flexibility on the Medicaid program. I chair the health and human services committee for the national governors. We'd like more flexibility instead of these maintenance of effort requirements that the federal government has imposed us on Medicaid.
HUME: Governor, forgive me --
BRANSTAD: If you want more flexibility, do it under Medicaid.
HUME: I'm going to -- I'm going to come to Medicaid in just a moment.
Let me turn to Governor Scott.
Governor, how do you see this adjustment in the government's rules -- federal government rules on the work requirements for welfare?
GOVERNOR RICK SCOTT, R-FLA.: Well, Governor Branstad is right. I mean, first off, it'd be great if they gave us more flexibility on Medicaid, because that's just killing our state's budgets. With this, I mean, personality responsibility is very important. In our state, unemployment -- the number of people on unemployment in the last 18 months has gone from 568,000 to 321,000. And part of it is personal responsibility. People need to be going out and looking for a job.
If we -- we don't want people to stay on welfare. We want them to get back to work and that's what governors want. We want our states all busy and more jobs.
HUME: But, Governor, aren't you now in a position with the flexibility granted to you by the federal government to set the welfare to work requirements pretty much however you want it done?
SCOTT: Sure. We'll look at this, but we're going to keep the responsibilities in our states. I mean, I just wish they'd do this for everything. Do this for Medicaid.
Medicaid in our states is growing three and a half times our general revenues. Give us more flexibility on Medicaid. Give us a block grant. That's what they ought to be doing.
But this, we believe in personal responsibility and we're going to continue to have personal responsibility in our state. We want people to go look for a job and get back to work.
HUME: I assume, Governor, you'll do the same thing in Iowa -- keep the requirements similar to what you go, correct?
BRANSTAD: Absolutely. And I've got Chuck Palmer running the Department of Health and Human Services for us again. He helped me. And he ran it back in the '90s when we were able to dramatically reduce the welfare rolls and keep Medicaid under control.
Medicaid is growing dramatically in every state.
HUME: Let's talk -- let's talk --
BRANSTAD: And it's a program that we can't continue to afford.
HUME: Well, let's talk a little bit about Medicaid. The Supreme Court has ruled that the federal government cannot require you to take on additional Medicaid patients in order to get the new money that would be available for that. You now have the flexibility to say no to that.
What are you going to do, Governor?
BRANSTAD: Well, first of all, think of this -- the federal government has a $16 trillion national debt, 40 cents of every dollar they're spending is borrowed money. And what they want to do? Add another 15 million to 17 million people to the Medicaid rolls. It's unaffordable, unsustainable at even the federal or state level. And if we buy into it, then we have a maintenance effort requirement and when the federal government can't afford to do it, the burden gets dump on the taxpayers of our state.
HUME: So, what are you going to do?
BRANSTAD: What we're doing is -- well, I've already embarked on a goal to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation. We are working in a public-private partnership with private sector businesses like Wellmark, our the largest health insurance provider and with Hy- Vee, our largest supermarket chain, identifying ways to help people do health risk assessments and identify how they can reduce their risk factors.
And so, our goal is to partner with the communities, partner with the private sector to help reduce the health care cost. Not buy into a government program that's unaffordable and unsustainable.
HUME: So, you're not going to accept -- you're not going to expand your Medicaid program the way the health care reform law contemplates and, therefore, you're not going to get the extra federal money that at least for a while goes with it, correct?
BRANSTAD: Well, our concern is the federal government can't afford it and we don't think that the state of Iowa can do it. And I think if you look at it realistically and you look at what they ought to be doing, and quit digging in a deeper hole, we've got to reform this whole entitlement programs.
At the health and human services committee yesterday, we talked about things that can be done to manage the Medicaid better instead of expanding it. So, that's what I want to do. I don't want to embark on something that's unaffordable.
HUME: Governor Scott, what are you going to do in Florida about this?
SCOTT: We've got the same concern. The federal government can't afford this. We can't afford it. It doesn't make sense to do this expansion.
What they ought to be doing is -- what they ought to be doing is creating more choice, creating more competition. Give individuals the same tax breaks as employers so you own your own policy and reward people for taking care of yourself. Those are thing that help people to get back to work. So, they can afford their own health care.
This is -- this is just another government program where the federal government will run out of money and they'll put it on the states again.
We can't afford in Florida. Medicaid in our states is growing at three and half times our general revenue. And it's a big program. It's over a $20 billion program. We can't afford it.
Now, what we're doing in our state with Medicaid is we're going to statewide managed care program. But even with that, we are waiting on the federal government for a waiver.
So, you know, give us the flexibility to fix our Medicaid program but don't force us into a program that the federal government we know can't even afford.
HUME: Governor, you are knowledgeable about this as a former hospital executive. Hospitals are saying now what you're required in most states by law to accept whatever patients arrive, whether they have insurance or not, that if you don't have Medicaid expansion, uninsured people are going to continue to turn up in large numbers in hospital emergency rooms, expecting and by law required to get treatment. That money is going to come out of the people who do have insurance or out of the hide of the hospitals.
So, if you don't expand Medicaid, what are you going to do about that problem?
SCOTT: Well, the way to fix that is what we've already proposed -- we are waiting for a waiver from the federal government -- is a Medicaid expansion across the state where the Medicaid population will be taken care by managed care organizations which will help make sure they get to a primary care doctor, or get to a special, so they don't end up in emergency rooms.
That's the way to fix it. Don't take money from the federal government that we know long term they're not going to be able to give to us.
HUME: All right. Let me turn to one question. Let me start with you, again, Governor Scott.
I was looking at the latest Florida poll on the presidential race shows, it's a pretty -- it looks like a poll of 800 likely voters and it shows a very slight, well within the margin of error lead for President Obama.
One wonders about this. This is a state that the president carried by a small margin against John McCain four years ago. It's a state with an unemployment rate of 8.6 percent unemployment. That's 4/10 of a percentage point above the national average. It's a state where you have a lot of elderly people who are presumably one age group that tends to favor the Republicans in the race.
Why is it that President Obama is doing so well in Florida?
SCOTT: Well, as you said unemployment rate come down dramatically. And we had the largest drop in the last 18 months of any state but one. But this race is going to be just like my race in 2010. It's 100 percent on who's got the right jobs plan.
I think President Obama is going to get hurt unless the economy continues to get better. I think Governor Romney, if he has the right jobs plan, he gets his message out, he'll be the winner here. It's going to be about jobs, who's got the right plan for jobs.
HUME: Governor Branstad, the state of Iowa suffered less than many states in the economic meltdown. The unemployment rate I guess got as high as 6.3 percent is down to 5.1 percent. That's well below the national average.
President Obama, in current polling averages out in Iowa -- we can perhaps take a look at one of those polls, yes, here were go -- is enjoying a 2.5 percentage lead. That's a Real Clear Politics average of a number of polls.
It strikes me that this state looks like a tough state for Governor Romney, wouldn't you agree?
BRANSTAD: Well, Obama carried it by 10 points last time. But he campaigned as somebody who's going to unite people and he's been the most divisive president. So, there's a lot of independents that voted for him last time that really feel betrayed. They feel that he has been -- he spends all of his time attacking other people.
Contrast that with Ronald Reagan. When Ronald Reagan ran for reelection 1984, his theme was "Good Morning in America". He talks about the things he's doing to revitalize the American economy and revitalize the American dream and reducing taxes and regulations. That's what I'm doing as governor. That's what Republican governors are doing all over the country.
Contrast that with Obama and his Illinois friends. He's from Chicago, and the Democrats control Illinois. What have they done? They've got the highest debt of any state in the country, per capita.
HUME: I know. But you don't.
BRANSTAD: We don't.
HUME: Your state is doing better, doesn't that help the president?
BRANSTAD: It helps Republicans because they can see with a Republican governor, we've turned it around, so has Wisconsin, so has Michigan, so has Indiana. But Illinois hasn't.
And Illinois is following the Obama rule of raising taxes on corporations and individuals and driving and attacking the very people that you need to invest and create jobs.
In Iowa, we're doing the opposite. We're reducing taxes and regulations.
HUME: Let me ask you both very quickly, one question. And that is the Obama campaign has mounted a very pretty intense attacks on Governor Romney on his record of Bain Capital and questions of whether he was still there when outsourcing was allegedly being done and so forth.
Does it appear to you now; based on the polling we're seeing with president ahead even in states like Florida and certainly in your state, that those attacks are having some effect, Governor Scott?
SCOTT: I think -- look, I think it's going to come down -- what Governor Romney needs to do is just keep talking about the plan he's got to get our economy back to work. When you go to the polls, and you decide in November, it's going to be -- who's going to help me get my job back? Who's going to help me keep my job? They're not going to worry about some attack on Bain. They're going to worry about who's got the right jobs plan.
HUME: All right. Governor Branstad, your thoughts on that?
BRANSTAD: Well, it's pretty pathetic when the president of United States, instead of running on his record -- as Ronald Reagan did with "Good Morning America" -- is spending his time attacking other people, attacking Romney, attacking the entrepreneurs and the businesses that we need to have the guts to invest in great jobs and grow our economy.
That's what Republican governors are doing. That's why our states are doing better than states like California and Illinois where the Democrats are continuing to raise taxes and regulations. That's the wrong direction. We need a new leader and new direction I feel.
At the end of the day, when the American people look at the choice, obviously, Romney with his experience in background in the private sector and having rescued the Olympics is a better choice than the president and incumbent --
HUME: All right.
BRANSTAD: -- it's the blame game. And that's the wrong thing to do for the president of the United States.
HUME: All right. Governor Branstad, Governor Scott, thanks to both of you for your time.
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