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CNN "CNN Newsroom" - Transcript


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FEYERICK: Congressman Price, if I'm a senior, it feels to me that Republicans are trying to scare seniors into supporting this bill. What's your sense?

REP. TOM PRICE (R), GEORGIA: The president and his colleagues here in Washington has already altered Medicare permanently by removing $500 billion from the program and putting in place the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which as a physician, as I mentioned this morning at our press conference, is to deny the payment of certain care for seniors.

We believe it's absolutely imperative and what the actuary for Medicare will you tell you is that you have got to reform the system in a positive way. We think that can be done by allowing seniors to remain on Medicare if they so desire or to move to program, a health care coverage plan that may be more responsive to their needs.

It's imperative we do that so that we can save the kind of resources that will make it so that the country doesn't continue to spend hundreds of billions of dollars that it doesn't have.

FEYERICK: Sir, you talk about reform. Let me push back a little here. If we look at the polls, a recent Kaiser Family poll shows that when -- seniors trust Democrats more than Republicans to handle Medicare.

And what's more, 70 percent of those polled wanted Medicare to stay as is. We want to challenge you here, why change something that it appears Americans really do want to keep because they feel it's giving them what they need?

PRICE: We couldn't agree more.

And the problem is that what the American people have yet to understand and appreciate is that the president has already changed Medicare. As I say, he's removed nearly $500 billion from the program and put into place this unelected board of bureaucrats that will make it so that they are able to deny payment for services to seniors.

We don't believe that's the right thing to do. We believe we can positively reform the system, allow seniors that want to, to stay on Medicare, but also allow greater choices and higher quality care within the program. As a physician right now, one out of every three doctors in this country are limiting the number of Medicare patients that they're seeing. That's not right. We can fix it.

FEYERICK: Sir, the House Budget Committee also released a chart. We're going to put that up. It shows that U.S. debt as part of the economy over the next 70 years, and if you look at the chart, green is what Republicans on your committee say the new plan would do by cutting spending, but preventing tax increases. Red is the current path.

The White House is pushing back today saying that any budget should include spending cuts and raised taxes, calling for balance. Congressman Price, the White House says this is about balance. Why is that wrong?

PRICE: Well, because they don't have spending cuts.

To decrease taxes -- or to raise taxes on anybody, to chase ever higher spending is just wrong. And the American people understand that. We actually increased taxes in certain areas by closing loopholes. We believe it's important to close the loopholes that the American people are so disgusted with.

But we believe it's also important to broaden the base and lower the rates for everybody, so that we can get this economy growing again. The American people understand the economy is not as vibrant as it ought to be. You don't increase the vibrancy the economy by raising taxes.

You do it by decreasing spending and having the federal government live more within its means.

FEYERICK: And yet we want to go to Jay Carney, the White House press person, who said this earlier just -- let's -- in terms of balance, let's take a listen.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: What the Ryan plan fails to do is in any way meet the test of balance that every credible person in this debate has said must be met if we're going to deal with our fiscal challenges in the future.

There is no responsible way to deal with our budget challenges if we do not do it in a balanced way.


FEYERICK: So, clearly, a very different perspective.

But, Congressman Price, look, it's an election year. Do you see this budget as a solid platform for whoever your party nominates? It's very interesting that it would come out today, on the eve of a primary. Are you trying to define what the candidates should be talking about?

PRICE: Well, this is the normal budget season, which is what dictates when this comes out, because our budget in the House has to be adopted by April 15. And in order to get it done in that timeline, it has to come out this week.

I would remind folks that the Senate hasn't done a budget for three years. That's an irresponsible and reckless aspect of Senate leadership. And I would also remind folks that the chart that you put up previously that had the red numbers, the amount of debt for this country, is the path that the president and Mr. Carney are trying to defend.

That's a path that the American people know doesn't work. We believe there's a positive way to reform the system. We believe there's a way that ensures that Medicare is saved and is solvent and improved -- that Medicaid is saved and is solvent and improved. And we can do that without raising taxes and we can do that with decreasing spending at the federal level, with proper, responsible reforms.

FEYERICK: OK, Congressman Price, thank you so much. We will see whether that passes or not. We will stay with you.

Now another big story right now. Football star Peyton Manning just made a major announcement about his career with the Denver Broncos. We're going to hear from him right after this quick break.


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