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MSNBC "Hardball With Chris Matthews" - Transcript


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MSNBC "Hardball With Chris Matthews" - Transcript


With us now, Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois and Republican Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey.

You two are very civilized people. I‘m looking forward to a very civilized discussion, although, Chris Smith, you‘re going to vote against no matter what this guy puts forward. There‘s not a chance in a zillion you will vote for this guy‘s bill. But let‘s talk about the substance—substance.

Ms. Schakowsky, Congresswoman...


MATTHEWS: ... do you think you could possibly vote for a bill that comes back from House-Senate conference, a compromise, that included some other way to monitor, regulate tax, control the insurance industry, to keep them honest in offering accessible, affordable health care, without having a public option?

Is there any other way to bring the insurance companies into line with the public interest, any other way to do it?

SCHAKOWSKY: I‘m on of—I‘m one of many Democrats in the House who believes that, in order to really break the stranglehold that the insurance industry has had on our health care, denying coverage, denying care, that the best way to do it is to have a public option, and to—and it would also control costs.

I believe, at the end of the day, Chris, that, because it‘s the best way, not ideologically, but just—or politically, but it‘s the best way, that we‘re going to have that at the end of the day.

MATTHEWS: Well, the problem—well, you, Congressman, you‘re a conservative Republican from the Northeast. You‘re not that conservative. Do you think that a public option ends up being single-payer eventually?

REP. CHRIS SMITH ®, NEW JERSEY: Oh, I think it‘s inevitable.

MATTHEWS: Isn‘t that the...


SMITH: And many people, including Barack Obama and others, have said, we may not get there right way, but we are on a—on a mission to get there over five...


MATTHEWS: When did he say that?

SMITH: He said that—I watched it on a—YouTube. And...

MATTHEWS: Oh, a while ago.

SMITH: And it was a speech he made. Jan has suggested that the...

MATTHEWS: Do you think Barack Obama is a secret believer in—in single payer?

SMITH: Not secret. I think he‘s put it in plain view. People have not focused upon it.

And I think what‘s going to happen this coming week, frankly, is that all of what has happened so far in the House and the Senate and the...


MATTHEWS: So, you think he‘ a secret—secret national health care policy person?

SMITH: Not secret. Well, I think he wants it. He‘s said as much on numerous, numerous occasions.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you the congresswoman.

Are you ideally suited to someone who—are you secretly a believer in national health care, where the government basically runs the national health care system, and there‘s no insurance companies involved?


MATTHEWS: Is that your ideal?

SCHAKOWSKY: Well, no. Well, here—that—that...


SCHAKOWSKY: That is irrelevant. What I—what I believe in, that...


MATTHEWS: No, is that your ideal, though? It‘s not irrelevant, because I‘m asking.



MATTHEWS: Is that your ideal?

SCHAKOWSKY: I—I think—I think a single payer would be a good idea, but that‘s not where we‘re going and that‘s not the—what the president wants to do. And that is not what this is going to lead to.

If the insurance companies are willing to change their ways, they are willing to compete, they will be able to survive just fine. They may not have—make so many—such high profits, or their CEOs may have to cut back by a few million dollars, but I think they will absolutely be able to compete and lots of people will continue to choose them.

MATTHEWS: You know, the polling shows...

SMITH: Chris...



MATTHEWS: ... despite the president‘s not-great handling of this, to put it lightly—he hasn‘t been clear. He hasn‘t been strong. He hasn‘t made it clear what he thinks the country needs since the election.

But the polling still shows an overwhelming percentage of American people don‘t like the way things are right now. They want a national health care plan that fixes the problems of portability, of preexisting conditions. And they do want the people who aren‘t covered covered.

And the question is, are we better off—Congressman Smith, are the Republicans believing the country‘s going to be satisfied with a complete blowout here? In other words, come Christmastime, Thanksgiving, nothing gets done. The president goes down in defeat, like Hillary and Bill Clinton did. Is that good for the country...

SMITH: Well, I think...

MATTHEWS: ... total defeats of the Democrats? Is it?

SMITH: We need—we need to have a bipartisan plan.

MATTHEWS: Is that good for the country, total defeat?

SMITH: Well, if it‘s a bad plan, hopefully, that is the outcome.

We need a good plan. Jan Schakowsky said on April 18 -- and I watched her speech. A man told her that the public option puts private insurance out of business. And she goes, he was right.

There‘s no doubt it will happen...


MATTHEWS: Let me ask her that.

Is that what you said, Congresswoman? Do you say it‘s good that the -

the public option puts the private out of business?


SMITH: ... watch it.




SCHAKOWSKY: Actually, the man next to me said that it may be hard to compete. That is not what that—that is not what that gentleman said. And that is not what—what I believe.

SMITH: Watch it on YouTube.

SCHAKOWSKY: But it‘s the—look it, I didn‘t take an oath to protect the profits of the insurance industry.


SCHAKOWSKY: I think we have set up a system where they can compete, if they want to, and they don‘t have to go out of business. But they are going to have to change their ways.


SCHAKOWSKY: They have a stranglehold right now, and millions of people left out of the system because of them.

SMITH: Chris, what we need now—you know, Barack Obama will come in as if he‘s been apart from this process. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We know Rahm Emanuel and his whole White House has been engaged in health care reform.


MATTHEWS: Do you think Rahm Emanuel has been advocating a particular plan?

SMITH: Oh, I think he—the intricacies of this, of course, he has been. This has not happened in a vacuum. Are you kidding?


Here‘s my—OK, here‘s my option. I want to ask you, Congresswoman Schakowsky. You vote in the House. You‘re a very impressive member. So, let me ask you the question. If you had to choose in the end between a bill or no bill, what‘s better?

SCHAKOWSKY: I don‘t think that I have to choose, but—but I do believe we will have a bill.

Don‘t underestimate Barack Obama. He may be reaching out to the Republicans, but he has a steely spine. We‘re going to get a bill. It‘s going to be a good bill...


SCHAKOWSKY: ... and I think with a public option.

MATTHEWS: Will the Senate—will the House pass a bill before the Senate does? Will the House pass a bill before the president says he‘s for a single—for a public option? What do you folks need to pass a bill, with your majority in the House?

SCHAKOWSKY: Well, I—I—I think, as Nancy Pelosi has said...

MATTHEWS: What do you need for him to say to get it passed?

SCHAKOWSKY: I think, as Nancy Pelosi said, that we‘re going to pass the bill and it‘s going to have a public option.

And I think it would be good for the momentum...


SCHAKOWSKY: ... of the—the whole bill for us to pass it right away, as soon as we can.

MATTHEWS: And you don‘t expect—you‘re not—in other words, your party is not saying in the House, Madam Speaker‘s not saying, wait until the Senate acts; you‘re willing to act first?

SCHAKOWSKY: I—that‘s my thought. I believe that‘s true, yes.

MATTHEWS: OK. OK. Thank you.

Let me go to you.

SMITH: Thank you, Chris.

First of all, Americans are awakening to what this bill will actually do. They will be forced to become part of health care. They have to do it, or else they get hit with a 2 percent tax.

Employers will be...

MATTHEWS: Well, I‘m with that. I support that.

SMITH: OK. Well, I don‘t. The employers will be forced...

MATTHEWS: I think every grownup ought to be responsible for their health care.

SMITH: ... will be forced—it‘s all about force, to force this, force that.

MATTHEWS: We have to have a—we have to have car insurance to drive on the highway.

SMITH: The health care...


MATTHEWS: I can‘t get on the Jersey Turnpike...


SMITH: The Health Care Advisory Committee...

MATTHEWS: I can‘t get on the Jersey Turnpike or the Garden State Pike...

SMITH: Chris...

MATTHEWS: ... without insurance.

SMITH: OK. You‘re asking questions. And I‘m trying to answer it.

The Health Care Advisory Committee will say what the parameters are for health care. Rationing is a very real concern. found that the president was mistaken—hopefully, he wasn‘t deceiving by design, but was...


SMITH: ... mistaken when that he said abortion will not be covered. It is covered in both the premiums that will be paid when people get these affordability credits or premium subsidies, and it will be in the public option as well.


SCHAKOWSKY: That is just not true.

SMITH: Then check

SCHAKOWSKY: It is just not true.

SMITH: They are a nonpartisan—oh, it is true, Chris.




MATTHEWS: Is there a fact difference here?

Do you argue, Ms. Schakowsky, Congresswoman, that abortion services will not be subsidized in any way by this bill; they won‘t be subsidized?

SCHAKOWSKY: That‘s exactly right.

Government funds, taxpayer dollars will not go to fund abortions.


SCHAKOWSKY: It will all be private dollars if they had—if they choose...


SMITH: That‘s not true.


SMITH: ... that‘s not true.

MATTHEWS: You guys, every time—men and women on the Republican side—and you have a right to your conservative views—obviously, it‘s part of the American debate. Every time the Democrats move to do something on health care, you say, well, there‘s a better alternative. It‘s a Republican alternative.

SMITH: Well, that‘s not true either.

MATTHEWS: It usually means tax cuts.

You haven‘t done anything since Abe Lincoln to deal with health care.



MATTHEWS: And now you‘re saying you‘re going to do something. Why do you always say you‘re going to do something when the Democrats are in power?

SMITH: Who created SCHIP? The Republicans in 1997, one of the most innovative programs to enfranchise children who don‘t have health insurance. I have proposed...


MATTHEWS: I thought that was bipartisan.

SMITH: It was Republican Congress, and it was signed by President Bush.

MATTHEWS: Well, Teddy was for that.

SMITH: Well, you said not since Lincoln. So, we have...

SCHAKOWSKY: And a Democratic president.

SMITH: We—right, in 1997.

SCHAKOWSKY: A Democratic president at the time.

SMITH: But we were the ones who supported that. And it came out of a

the controlled House by the Republicans.


So, you‘re saying, Congresswoman, that that was initially proposed by a Democratic president?

SMITH: Are you?

SCHAKOWSKY: That‘s exactly right.

SMITH: Well, let me ask—we had a “patients bill of rights” bill

that was pushed—I was one of the co-sponsors of it—which would help -

you know, there are—there have been excesses by the insurance companies. No one‘s going to say that they don‘t do it right all the time. I actually handled the expenses for my parents. They denied coverage on them numerous times. We fought...

MATTHEWS: Have you ever been in an emergency room?


MATTHEWS: Have you ever sat in an emergency room? Do you know how many people are sitting in there...


MATTHEWS: ... just to get basic health care...

SMITH: ... with my wife.

MATTHEWS: ... primary health care, just sitting in a room for hours and hours and hours because they don‘t have insurance?

SMITH: And you don‘t just sit...

MATTHEWS: Do you think that‘s good?

SCHAKOWSKY: No, and Chris...

SMITH: There are a large—there are millions people who could become part of Medicaid and SCHIP but aren‘t aware of their eligibility. We got to enfranchise those people...

MATTHEWS: OK. Last word, Congresswoman. Last word, Congresswoman.

I just wonder what the Democrats...

SCHAKOWSKY: I just want to make the point...

MATTHEWS: I just want a bill

SCHAKOWSKY: ... that we are already...

MATTHEWS: That‘s my view. I want a bill.



MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Congresswoman.

SCHAKOWSKY: We‘re going to get a bill. It‘s going to be a good bill. And just—people should just know, they are already paying, the average holder of insurance, $1,000 a year to pay for people who aren‘t covered, who aren‘t insured. We‘re paying for this system already.


SCHAKOWSKY: We‘re paying too much and getting too little. We can do better.

MATTHEWS: OK. While we watch you guys next week, as you sit in the House chamber...


MATTHEWS: I‘m going to see if you stand up to applaud anything. I want to see if you applaud anything. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois...

SCHAKOWSKY: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: ... U.S. Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey, the Garden State.

Up next: What Hollywood celebrity wins a poll that was just taken on line as to which Hollywood type would you like to see in the U.S. Congress? A friend of mine just won. The answer‘s ahead in the “Sideshow.”

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.



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