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CNN "Lou Dobbs Tonight" - Transcript


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DOBBS: Well, major huddles still ahead for health care legislation. In tonight's "Face Off" debate, that's our subject. Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (ph), Democrat of New Jersey joins us who says the big hurdle -- the biggest hurdle is clearing up what he calls the misconceptions about the plan. Good to have you with us, Congressman.

And Congressman Marsha Blackburn (ph), Republican of Tennessee who says the biggest concern in her view is the so-called public option -- good to have you with us.

Well, Max Baucus, Senator Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, as you both know, is expected to move ahead without support of the so-called gang of six bipartisan. Congressman Pallone, just how will that affect the way in your judgment your Democrat colleagues in the House will proceed? REP. FRANK PALLONE (D), NEW JERSEY: Well I think the fact that he's moving is significant because obviously, we would like to see movement in the House and the Senate. We have the bill out of committee in the House but not in the Senate, so I think it shows that we're going to move forward and that I think it has a positive impact on the House because now I think they'll be willing to take the bill to the floor.

DOBBS: What do you think of your colleague? They say they have not walked away in the Senate. Senator Enzi and Senator Grassley. The idea that they would walk away. Three Republicans senators make -- do they really make bipartisan legislation, those three?

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: Well, I guess the way the Senate operates, they feel they do, but I feel the thing to watch is what is happening with the American people. The poll you showed earlier, 60 percent of the American people think that this health care is on the wrong track.

So if Senator Baucus brings a bill forward, most American people are going to say, he's bringing something out, but it's the wrong thing and it's on the wrong track and it's not done in a bipartisan manner.

DOBBS: Congressman Pallone, the -- what is the single biggest hurdle? I mean this president is going to -- six weeks pushing his so-called health care plan. The numbers have worsen for him over that, almost week to week. This is a Congress that is dominated by Democrats, led by Democrats in a Democratic White House.

What is going on here?

PALLONE: Well, as I said before, I think the problem is misconceptions. You know you still have people who think it's euthanasia or that, you know, the public option, for example, is going to be mandated. They don't understand that there's choice and competition.

The whole purpose of this legislation is to provide more choice and competition and make health insurance more affordable, but a lot of those misconceptions continue. And I think that's indicated in some of your polling.

DOBBS: I -- you may well be right, but the Congressional Budget Office, the Congressional Research Bureau, they have contradicted in principle the president of the United States for his statements on efficiency, for his statements on cost, the savings that would be generated through on an initiative of preventative care.

He's been contradicted three times by a Democratic-led, nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

PALLONE: Well, you talk about the cost. You know one of the things, one of the points that I continue to make is the cost to this system as a whole will go down, but the government, because, you know, they're covering more people under Medicaid. They're providing subsidies to people who are in the health exchange so that insurance is more affordable.

It actually is additional cost to the government, but it is paid for, and that's the difference. It's paid for through savings and also through new revenues. But I think that there is again a misconception that somehow the government is going to be paying less. That's not true.

This cost $1 trillion or maybe a little less than that, but it's paid for. It doesn't create debt. And it is paid for through a combination of savings in existing programs, as well as new sources of revenue. So I think that's, again, part of the misconception.

BLACKBURN: The problem is the American people don't buy into the concept of the public option. They don't want government-run health care. There is no example where a public option has actually brought down cost and has increased access.

When you have a public option like we did in Tennessee, what you see is you move toward rationing and restricted access, and your cost goes up. Always does. Then they'll say, well, Medicare is our public option.

You talk about savings. They're saying they're going to get a half trillion of savings out of Medicare? What they forget, Medicare is not an option. It is a mandate. And individuals have had that money coming out of their paycheck. That is an obligation that government has.

And if you have savings in that program, if goes back to those that are in that program, not to another program.

PALLONE: But I disagree with Marsha on the savings from the public option. I mean the bottom line is the public option because it's essentially nonprofit, in other words, there's no -- they're not making money on it because it's a public option. I think if you have that in competition with these private plans in this health exchange, you will bring down insurance costs.

BLACKBURN: But it doesn't work. You can look at...

PALLONE: Well, I...

BLACKBURN: ... TennCare in Tennessee.

PALLONE: I know TennCare, but...

BLACKBURN: It doesn't work.

PALLONE: TennCare is a little different.

BLACKBURN: And that is a public option.

PALLONE: Because they cut back significantly on the program.

BLACKBURN: To get the costs down because they had to remove people from the roll. (CROSSTALK)

PALLONE: I don't agree. I think there's no way that a public option doesn't bring down costs.

BLACKBURN: You can look at TennCare's example that we had in Tennessee. It -- well, there's not an example where it has. It always drives up the cost. You can look at Massachusetts. You can look at Tennessee.

PALLONE: Well, we don't have it in Massachusetts.

BLACKBURN: You can look at Maine.

PALLONE: There is no public option in Massachusetts.

BLACKBURN: You can look at all these different proposals that have been tried. There's not one to bring down cost.

DOBBS: Thank you both.

BLACKBURN: Thank you.

DOBBS: I wish we had more time. And as the saying goes, the debate continues. Thank you very much, Congressman Pallone. Thank you very much, Congresswoman Blackburn.

BLACKBURN: Thank you.

DOBBS: Thank you.

Well, still ahead, who is the president calling a jackass? Also, ACORN under fire. Why should that be? New allegations spell even more trouble for the left-wing activist group and potentially the Democrat Party. If not this president.

Disturbing video as well tonight of a vicious attack on a suburban St. Louis school bus.



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