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CNN "Newsroom" - Transcript: ACA and Government Shutdown

Interview

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COSTELLO: Congressman John Fleming of Louisiana joins me live now.

Welcome.

REP. JOHN FLEMING (R), LOUISIANA: Thank you, Carol.

COSTELLO: Thank you for being with me this morning. I appreciate it. I know you wanted to defund Obamacare, but you say tying it to the federal budget and possibly a government shutdown isn't the best strategy for Republicans. So you seem to be at odds with the more conservative end of your party and a lot of pundits say, you know, because you're not alone in that, the Republican Party seems to be in disarray. How would you characterize it?

FLEMING: Carol, I would say that the Republican Party is, I think, unifying on this issue. It's the White House that's in disarray over the implementation of Obamacare. And there are a couple of good strategies and we're going to apply both of them first to give the American people the opportunity to rise up and support a full defunding of Obamacare prior to implementation, connected with the upcoming -- COSTELLO: But, sir, the House has done that 41 times or something like that already.

FLEMING: Well, no, the House has voted to repeal in one way or another 41 times. To actually defund and connect that with must pass legislation, to my knowledge we've never done that. This is going to be the first opportunity, which is going to be, of course, this Friday, where we attach it to a continuing resolution to continue operations of government.

COSTELLO: Right, I understand that, but are you for that strategy or against it?

FLEMING: I am for the strategy. However, what I have discussed with leadership and many others, and I think that we're coalescing around this, is that should that strategy not come to fruition, that there's another one that may work even better, and that is to delay the implementation of Obamacare for a year -- President Obama has delayed big chunks of it already and it's not ready for implementation -- and attach that to the debt ceiling, where there is not an issue about shutting government down.

COSTELLO: So some people might say, you know, you're just playing games with the economy right at the moment. Why not separate the issues? Why not work to repeal Obamacare another way? Because you know that these things probably won't pass the democratically-controlled Senate and the president would veto it even if it did.

FLEMING: No, I think the president secretly would love to delay the implementation of Obamacare. Look, this should be renamed --

COSTELLO: Well, if that's true, then why tie it to the budget at all? Why not sit down and negotiate with the president and Democrats?

FLEMING: Well, that's - and that's what happens with must-pass legislation. We sit down and we negotiate these things. And again, remember that every new job today created, 77 percent of those jobs are part-time jobs as a result of Obamacare. We're having announcements by U.P.S., Delta Airlines, Walgreens, who are changing insurance in one way or another as a result of Obamacare in a negative way as a result of Obamacare. People who own businesses are rapidly converting many of their employees to part-time work instead of full- time, downsizing their businesses. This law should be named the unemployment and unaffordable act because that is the impact it's having on the economy. And our constituents --

COSTELLO: Well, it's true - it is true, there are a lot of - there are a lot of negatives, but there are also positives connected with Obamacare. But I'm just going to run these statistics by you. So the majority of Americans don't approve of Obamacare. That's true.

FLEMING: Yes.

COSTELLO: But almost 70 percent of Americans do not understand what Obamacare is, so they're for or against something they really don't understand.

FLEMING: Well - well, they - they --

COSTELLO: Whose fault is that?

FLEMING: Well, the supporters of this have had three and a half years to explain it. And the problem is, it is so complex that it can't be explained. That's the difficulty with the implementation. But they're about to get a lesson. October --

COSTELLO: But isn't that part of your job too, congressman, to make your constituents understand the bad and the good associated with this bill?

FLEMING: Oh, I - look, I spend a part of every day educating people about Obamacare, particularly on the digital media. And the news every day that comes out -

COSTELLO: Do you say anything positive about it? I'm just curious.

FLEMING: Well, if something comes out positive about it, I'll be happy to relay that to you, but, remember, October --

COSTELLO: Are you for the health care exchanges, for example?

FLEMING: October 1st, America is going to learn the steep rise in premiums that are going to happen. In my state alone, some people are going to get as much as a 400 percent increase in their premiums. On average, probably about 80 percent. So I'm letting people know about this. If you think that's good, Carol, tell me what's good about that.

COSTELLO: I agree with you, there's a lot of negatives connected to what (ph) I hear right now.

FLEMING: A lot of negative stuff, yes.

COSTELLO: But in other states, what you've just said is not true. It just depends on which state you live in, right?

FLEMING: No. No. Virtually all states will see a net increase. There are a few states that already have similar rules and they may see declines in certain areas, but those are spotty and anecdotal. That's not really going to be the case generally. And so, you know, the thing about this is, the way you expand health care to more people is first make it more affordable. Make the system more efficient. And this law fails to do this.

COSTELLO: But everybody agrees with you - everybody agrees with you, but we went through an enormous battle to get this health care law passed, right? And right now -

FLEMING: Not really.

COSTELLO: I know you want to repeal it, but what goes into its place?

FLEMING: No, Carol -

COSTELLO: Like, how do you solve the problems if it completely goes away?

FLEMING: Not one single Republican - not one single Republican voted for this law.

COSTELLO: I know. I get it. Trust me, I get it.

FLEMING: It happened to be -

COSTELLO: I'm just asking you, congressman -

FLEMING: It happened to be a point -

COSTELLO: I'm asking you --

FLEMING: It happened to be a point in time in history when Democrats had full control of Washington and they got their dream bill. But the problem is, America's not on board. Two to one Americans hate Obamacare, this whole concept of government run health care.

COSTELLO: But 70 percent of them don't understand it.

FLEMING: Well, they've had every opportunity. I mean the people who support it have had every opportunity to explain it to them. It's the complexity that makes it impossible to understand.

COSTELLO: I cannot disagree with you there, sir.

FLEMING: Yes. And -

COSTELLO: Congressman John Fleming. I have to go. I'm so sorry.

FLEMING: Great.

COSTELLO: But it's been a great debate.

FLEMING: Thank you, Carol.

COSTELLO: Thank you so much, congressman.

FLEMING: Yes. All right.

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