Skip to content

Transcript (with my notes) from March 7, 2010 (PART 2)

March 7, 2010

MR. GREGORY: We are back, joined now by The Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, former Democratic Congressman Harold Ford Jr., and Rich Lowry of the National Review.

Welcome to all of you.

OK, Senator Hatch, you just heard Secretary Sebelius. So what’s going to happen here? Don’t just be partisan, be analytical. Is this victory, defeat on health care or something in between?

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R-UT): Well, it may be, it may be any one of those three, and it depends on whether they continue to abuse the rules. You know, the filibuster rule has, has been around since, really, the turn of the last century. And one person could stop, could stop the whole Senate since 1806, and there were a lot of Founding Fathers who voted for that. On the other hand, the, the reconciliation rule, which they are going to use—in fact, I…

MR. GREGORY: Right.

SEN. HATCH: …just had this quote from Senator Durbin. He said, “We will be testing some reconciliation rules and provisions that have never been tested before.” And I think that’s exactly what they’re going to do…

It is interesting to see a sitting Senator as part of the roundtable…. especially since a Republican Senator of equal stature was the main, “exclusive” guest on Meet The Press last week. Weird.

MR. GREGORY: All right. You, you…

SEN. HATCH: …and it depends on whether they can pull it off.

MR. GREGORY: We’re going to get to…

SEN. HATCH: Sure.

MR. GREGORY: …reconciliation and that debate in just a moment.

SEN. HATCH: Sure.

MR. GREGORY: But E.J., where are we? Same question. Is this victory, defeat, or is there something in between that the president achieves?

MR. E.J. DIONNE: I don’t think there’s anything in between, and I do want to get back to this reconciliation argument.

MR. GREGORY: Yeah, we will. We will. Promise.

MR. DIONNE: But I think the bill is going to pass. I think that the bill will pass partly for political reasons. The Democrats have to prove they can govern.

MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.

Dionne predicts the bill will pass because Democrats have to “prove they can govern.” This will be exactly one-half of the political analysis on this topic until the vote happens.

MR. DIONNE: And if they—this is the centerpiece of their agenda. They’ve been fighting for this for generations. If they can’t get it now, I think they will get absolutely clobbered in the election. But they’re also going to get it passed because what underlies this are two things: One, this bill provides coverage for 30 million people, and that’s really important; but the second reason is lots of people with health insurance now are going to lose it if we don’t do anything. There was a report out of Wall Street last week that showed that insurance companies are jacking up their rates because, in a lot of markets, there’s no competition. And they’re willing to lose some people, drop people from coverage because they can make more profit with higher rates. If we don’t lose—if we don’t do something about this system, a lot of employers won’t be able to afford covering their employees anymore.

MR. GREGORY: Harold Ford, you’ve been in Congress. This is also a question of process, not just reconciliation, which again, we’ll, we’ll get to is that budget measure. How do the no votes become yes votes in the House? There were 39 no votes among House Democrats and there could be 11 more that become no over this abortion language, which you heard Secretary Sebelius suggest—address. How do they get the votes?

FMR. REP. HAROLD FORD JR. (D-TN): Two ways. First, you were—Democrats in the Senate were able to convince some Senate Republicans—Scott Brown, Voinovich, Kit Bond and few others—to vote in favor of a jobs bill that Senator Hatch and Senator Schumer played a key role in putting together. You’ve got to find those areas and those instances where you can bring people over. I think E.J.’s points are well-taken. The only challenges—I think if there are votes for reconciliation—I know we’re going to come to this in a few minutes…

MR. GREGORY: Yeah.

REP. FORD: …but if there were votes for reconciliation, it probably would have already been done. So the question is whether or not, if there are not enough votes to pass by reconciliation, do you reach out to those Democrats or do you begin to reach out to some Republicans? When LBJ and the Senate Republican Leader Everett Dirksen worked to pass civil rights legislation, they worked together. It may be that the president and the team now can find ways to bring a few Republicans over. And if you have to vote with the reconciliation vote, wouldn’t it be amazing if you lost a few Democrats but picked up a few Republicans? It might make it easier…

Ford is either totally crazy of politically brilliant. I am leaning toward crazy.

MR. RICH LOWRY: It would be amazing. It would literally be amazing.

MR. GREGORY: It would really…

REP. FORD: It would make it…

SEN. HATCH: How about a miracle?

REP. FORD: But, but, but I don’t, I don’t, I don’t put amazing, I don’t put amazing out of reach. Warren Buffett was on one of our sister networks, one of NBC’s sister networks this week, and said, look, if plan A, meaning the status quo…

MR. GREGORY: Right.

REP. FORD: …is what we would have to accept, he’s not for that; if plan B is the only option, he would take it, which is the Senate bill. But really, a plan C is needed. It might be that a plan C, which is a reconciliation approach, could be adopted if we found ways to win some Republicans over, hold on to the core of Democrats, and pass a meaningful health reform here.

MR. GREGORY: The problem for Democrats here, Rich, is what I said to Secretary Sebelius. The president said it, “Everything’s been said.” We know everything we need to know about this.

MR. LOWRY: Yeah.

MR. GREGORY: The public opposes the reform writ large.

MR. LOWRY: That’s right.

MR. GREGORY: And that is what they’re dealing with, they have a massive reform bill. They can’t pick it apart just yet. What happens?

MR. LOWRY: So they, so they have to try to force it through just on sheer partisan muscle. They’re going to come down with the full force of the party and, and the president on every single one of these members. And Nancy Pelosi’s going to channel Ataturk and his famous order of the battle of Gallipoli: “I don’t order you to attack, I order you to die.” And Democrats, they seem to think that if they pass this they’re going to put it behind him. They’ll really put it right back in front of them again. This will be a debate for years because this bill has serious legitimacy problems. It—the partisan nature of the votes, the rotten deals that have been part of the process, now reconciliation on part of that—on top of that, and then the sheer unpopularity of it. And Tom Daschle said long ago, “Do this in a bipartisan way.” And I think he cited the example of Australia, where they had very narrow votes for healthcare reform, and then it was repealed and they went back and forth and back and forth again until they got some sort of consensus.

Lowry speaks in stark terms and lays out the other 50% of the political analysis we will hear from now until the vote. “The Democrats have crammed this down the throats of America.”

MR. GREGORY: All right. So let’s get to this whole business of reconciliation, which budget reconciliation means you, you have a separate bill here that would only need a simple majority, that would just deal with some of the spending provisions of health care.

You two, Senator Hatch and E.J. Dionne, had some words about this on the pages of The Washington Post, and let me—Senator Hatch, let me put a portion of what you wrote about reconciliation on the screen: “This use of reconciliation to jam through this legislation, against the will of the American people, would be unprecedented in scope. And the havoc wrought would threaten our system of checks and balances, corrode the legislative process, degrade our system of government and damage the prospects of bipartisanship.”

The Hatch quote Gregory reads, on the other hand, is not stark at all. It is just chicken-little alarmism.

E.J., your response on the pages of the Post included this: “I’m disappointed in Hatch, co-sponsor of two of my favorite bills in recent years. One created the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. The other, signed last year by Obama, broadly expanded service opportunities. Hatch worked on both with his dear friend, the late Edward M. Kennedy, after whom the service bill was named.

“It was Kennedy, you’ll recall, who insisted that health care was a `fundamental right and not a privilege.’ That’s why it’s not just legitimate to use reconciliation to complete the work on health reform. It would be immoral to do otherwise and thereby let a phony argument about process get in the way of health coverage for 30 million Americans.” Discuss.

The “phony argument about process” line seems to ring true.

SEN. HATCH: Well, Democrats—this is not a fight between Republicans and Democrats in a real sense, it’s between Democrats and the people out there. Fifty-eight percent of the people are against this bill and very few are for it. The fact of the matter is they’re going to abuse the reconciliation rules. And let me tell you, the reconciliation rules have never been used for such sweeping social legislation like this. This is one-sixth of the American economy. It’s sweeping in, in effect. There—and, and, and there have been three sweeping social bull—not sweeping, but social bills that have been approved through reconciliation. One was, of course, the, the welfare reform. That had 78 positive votes, but—huge bipartisan vote. Another one was the SCHIP bill, my bill with Senator Kennedy. That had 85 votes. The third one was college tuition, and that had, I think, something like 78 votes. The fact of the matter is, is that it has never been done before, it’s never been used before. To do this is just very, very dangerous. It’s going to cause an awful lot of problems. And in the end, in the end, you’re going to—and let’s, let’s look at one other thing. The Senate bill was passed. Now, E.J. seems to accept the fact that the House bill was passed, but they’re two different bills. Now they’re going to take the Senate bill, they say. But if they had the votes, it would already have been voted on. They don’t have the votes. So I suspect they’re going to manipulate the rules even further in ways that were never contemplated in order to get this dog through…

Everyone looks like they are falling asleep while Hatch is talking. All the energy just left the table. (This is an indicator that if the Republicans are just going to fight this one on “process,” they will have a tough time.)

MR. GREGORY: E.J….

SEN. HATCH: …this 2700-page—2711-page dog.

MR. DIONNE: Where to begin? First of all, I find it astonishing that so many Republicans who, when President Bush surged troops into Iraq against the polls, said, “This is a courageous act.” And when President Obama tries to push a healthcare bill against the polls, “This is a terrible thing.” This is not a consistent argument. Several points. First, the health bill that with—President Obama will sign got 60 votes in the Senate, because that’s the bill the House would pass. The only thing that’s being talked about here are amendments that would be passed through reconciliation dealing with money, which is in the tradition of reconciliation.

Second, Senator Hatch keeps saying this is unprecedented in scope and that, you know…

SEN. HATCH: It is.

MR. DIONNE: …you need bipartisan support. There’s a big chart in New York Times today put together by Tom Mann of Brookings, Norm Ornstein, and their colleagues. In the—there are seven instances where reconciliation was used in cases where the bill got less—fewer than 60 votes, five of those were done by Republican Senates. And I didn’t hear Senator Hatch complain about that. Two of those involved President Bush’s tax cuts, which added $1.7 trillion to our deficit.

SEN. HATCH: It never…

MR. DIONNE: Now, if that isn’t significant policy change, I don’t know what is.

SEN. HATCH: And if ever…

MR. DIONNE: And there was no complaint about that. So is Senator Hatch saying it’s OK to use reconciliation to pass tax cuts for the wealthy, but it’s just terrible to use it if you’re going to extend healthcare coverage? I say let’s not talk about a phony process argument, let’s talk about the problems people have with health care. If he wants to argue about health care…

Dionne asks basically asks Hatch to engage on substance. And Hatch declines.

MR. GREGORY: All right. Quick response, Senator, and then let me get the others in on this.

SEN. HATCH: In every case except two they were—they, they had bipartisan votes. In two of them—in 1993, Clinton’s bill, yeah, they got a reconciliation bill on a purely partisan vote that Congress changed to Republicans. The Republicans did the same thing in I think it was 2005, got a bill through just on a totally partisan vote, and it changed to Democrats. The fact of the matter is you can’t…

MR. DIONNE: Are you talking about bipartisanship or you talking about reconciliation?

SEN. HATCH: You can’t—no, wait, wait, wait. You can’t…

MR. DIONNE: These were reconciliation bills…

SEN. HATCH: That was reconciliation.

MR. DIONNE: …that picked up one or two Democrats.

SEN. HATCH: You cannot ignore the fact that we’re talking about the first time in history, sweeping social legislation will be passed, if they get their way, by a totally partisan vote. One-sixth of the American economy. If we do that, Katy bar the door, I got to tell you.

MR. DIONNE: If the Republican Party were not sitting there being obstructionist—what Senator Hatch is saying is, if Republicans unite and say, “We won’t vote for this,” and you need bipartisanship, he’s saying Democrats can’t govern. And if $1.7 trillion…

SEN. HATCH: Well, they can’t.

MR. DIONNE: …in tax cuts isn’t significant, I don’t know what is.

MR. GREGORY: All right, let, let me…

SEN. HATCH: One very…

Wow. Real fireworks.

MR. GREGORY: Hold on, hold on.

Rich Lowry, the question here is whether this, this amounts to petty politics on either side, depending upon your point of view, or whether this is a leadership issue.

MR. LOWRY: Process arguments like this are always festivals of partisan hypocrisy. No one is so concerned as—with protecting the rights of minority unless they’re in the minority themselves. And some of the same liberal pundits who are saying reconciliation was—is a great process were defending the filibuster up and down during the Bush years. So I, I think the most important thing to know here, they no longer have 60 votes in the Senate, so they have to do an end run around this process. And if reconciliation isn’t so important to this, fine, let’s do a conference committee, let’s work out the differences and have the House pass it and the Senate pass it. They no longer can do this—do that because the bill was rejected by the public, as demonstrated in Massachusetts, which took away the 60 votes majority. So they need the end, end run.

Lowry makes sense on process.

MR. GREGORY: Harold, final, final point on this piece of it, which is doesn’t the president have a bigger problem if he doesn’t get the reform he’s after than on taking a hit politically for the process?

REP. FORD: You’re right, results are more important than process. The only ideology a majority of Americans are concerned about right now is the result. Two, reconciliation is a rule that can be used and invoked in the Senate. If Democrats have the votes, they should move forward with it. What Senator Hatch is saying is very simple, that if you do that you run the risk of political backlash. When Democrats did it in ‘93—it actually was the right thing when Clinton passed that ‘93 budget, because it helped us grow. Republicans did it in 2005, and there are other examples. There might be a political switch. But what I hear E.J. saying is that that’s a risk that they’re going to have to take.

MR. GREGORY: Right.

REP. FORD: At the end of the day, the country could care less about all of this. They want an answer. And at the end of the day, jobs will decide this midterm election more than anything.

But Ford is also correct that results are more important than process. I think history proves this.

MR. GREGORY: I—E.J., I’m going to take a break, and we’re going to come back and talk about some of the political fallout. But I want to ask a substantive point that I brought up with Secretary Sebelius. Number one goal in healthcare reform was to bend the cost curve to bring down costs. The likes of Warren Buffett and others have said, “It’s just not doing it. They should have really done a cost issue first, expand access later.” What’s truth, what’s fiction on this?

Gregory has a good question pitting control of costs against expansion of coverage.

MR. DIONNE: Look, there are a lot of measures in this bill to hold down costs. Some of them are painful, which is why it’s hard to assemble votes for this. There will never be enough cost controls for everybody, and the more you put in the more votes you lose. I think—the CBO says that—Congressional Budget Office, says that over time this bill will reduce the deficit. That’s the evidence we have, and you can postpone insuring—you know, providing insurance for the uninsured forever if you just say, “Well, we got to fix everything else and then we’ll get all these people insurance.” Rich’s point about process, I went back and looked at all the columns I wrote criticizing the Bush tax cuts. I never made a process argument about reconciliation. I argued about the merits of the tax cut, and I think instead of talking about process we ought to talk about the merits of the health plan.

Dionne answers… but then swerves right back to process.

MR. LOWRY: But you really, you did, E.J., you did write a very stirring column about the nuclear option in defense of the Senate…

MR. DIONNE: That was…(unintelligible).

MR. LOWRY: …as an anti, as an anti-majoritarian institution.

MR. DIONNE: That has nothing to do with—I believe…

MR. LOWRY: And look, just one last thing…

SEN. HATCH: I’ve got it right here.

MR. LOWRY: …E.J., the point you’re saying if Republicans are united, the Democrats can’t govern, is what they’re saying. It would have been relatively easy—and Senator Hatch would be an expert on this because he worked so closely with Ted Kennedy on health issues—to get 65 or 70 votes for a major healthcare bill in the Senate. Not this, but $100 billion, $200 billion more for Medicaid, for SCHIP, maybe some version of this Plan B we’ve seen reporting about that the White House—after Massachusetts came up with a plan where they’d cover just 15 million people at a quarter of the cost. You do something like that and you would have picked off five or 10 Republicans in the Senate, but they didn’t want to do it.

MR. DIONNE: Senator Baucus spent months holding hand—Senator Baucus spent months holding hands with Senator Bauc—with Senator Grassley and Senator Enzi and got nowhere.

SEN. HATCH: I, I, I…

That looked like a real flash of anger from Hatch.

MR. GREGORY: OK, quick final point then I’m going to take a break. Senator:

SEN. HATCH: I was a member of the gang of seven. He was so restricted by the Democratic process that he couldn’t really do anything for Republicans. So I had to leave just out of honor because I couldn’t—I’d walk out of there and, and trash everything they were doing, so I left out of honor. The other Republicans gradually left, too. There has been no real effort to try and get together on all the things we can get together on. It’s just been “take it or leave it,” and that’s been their attitude.

MR. GREGORY: All right, we’re going to, we’re going to leave, we’re going to leave it there. We’re going to come back, talk more about the politics with our roundtable for 2010 after this brief station break. Don’t go away.

I don’t know that there was anything new in this segment. But it sure did crystallize where things stand.

(Announcements)

MR. GREGORY: We are back to continue our roundtable discussion with a lively bunch this morning.

Harold Ford, a lot of headlines politically out of New York this week, and one had to do with you in that you decided not to take on Senator Gillibrand and challenge her Senate seat this fall. And you wrote an op-ed defending your decision, and part of it I’ll put up on the screen. “The cruel twist, of course, is that the party bosses who tried to intimidate me so that I wouldn’t even think about funning against Senator Gillibrand … are the same people responsible for putting Democratic control of the Senate at risk.” Talk about a shot across the bow. What are you talking about?

REP. FORD: My party needs to understand that there is growing, if not a crescendo of concern about jobs, taxes and the economy. There’s great concern even with 36,000 jobs being lost, which is far less last month than months before. But there’s a concern if the platform, the growth platform going forward that will create new jobs and provide economic security for families is not there. I, I want everyone to have health care, but I can assure you as someone who has spent two months traveling a state that is vital to the nation’s economy, I would argue the global economy in New York City and, of course, New York State, voters are more concerned about their own checkbooks, their pocketbooks, and their wallets. I hope whatever happens on health care that we get it done. And if the focus can shift to how America grows going forward, how we maintain our leadership position globally, and, more important, how you give the next generation of Americans a chance to compete and win in a global economy. That’s being voiced and articulated

MR. GREGORY: But…

REP. FORD: …all across the state and…

MR. GREGORY: …who are the party bosses who are endangering the majority in the Senate?

REP. FORD: I think there’s been a unilateral focus on one or two issues that, again, don’t necessarily rank at the top of where a majority of New Yorkers, I’d say an overwhelming majority of New Yorkers what they’re concerned about. And second, David, this restoring faith in government is often used in political campaigns, but in New York, with the dysfunction at the state level, with the concerns, legitimate concerns about the governor’s ability to govern, the concern that many in New York have even about members of Congress, and then when you couple that with a backdrop, which is a massive backdrop of what’s happening here in Washington, as much as I appreciate the conversation here this morning, it’s intellectual, it’s informed, frankly it’s the right kind of conversation, but for most Americans they tune it out.

Gregory can’t help but ask Ford about dropping out of the New York primary. But really, I am not sure this primary is of interest or even consequence to most Americans. Yet this is the second time it has been given a lengthy exchange on MTP. Is it really worthy of all this?

MR. LOWRY: Oh, stop, Harold. You’re just buttering us up.

REP. FORD: They tune it out because it’s all about, it’s all about a process that they want to know how does this process result in better opportunities and a better security and a better future for me? That’s what’s missing.

MR. GREGORY: Could you have won the primary, do you think?

REP. FORD: I believe we could have. But it would have been such a personal and ugly one, I did not want to find myself in the position of helping a Republican to win a seat in New York, which, at the end of the day, could determine the majority makeup of the United States Senate at the end of the year.

MR. GREGORY: But now that you, now that you won’t challenge her, do you endorse Senator Gillibrand? Will you campaign for her? Are you 100 percent behind her?

REP. FORD: There’ll come a time when all those questions will have to be answered. I’ve not been asked, I’ve not spoken with Senator Gillibrand, but I’m a Democrat, I’m an independent Democrat, as I shared at the bottom of the column that you, that you put up for the singular reason that I believe that when people give politicians jobs, it’s a very special responsibility. And if you don’t take it seriously, which is one of the reasons why I think Governor Paterson has to think very seriously about whether or not he can govern, because if you cannot govern, the very special responsibility voters have bestowed upon you, if you can’t live up to it, you should put it aside and move on and allow someone else to do it.

MR. GREGORY: Should the governor step down?

REP. FORD: If he can’t govern, which I don’t know how as I think about it, as I assess it, I don’t know how you govern in this, in this, in this arrangement, or for that matter in this climate. When you consider that not only the dysfunction, but the fact that the budget is due in less than a month, when you consider the fact that almost half the voters in the state believe he should step down, how do you govern in that kind of an environment? It’s a question he’ll have to answer.

MR. GREGORY: Well, let’s talk not just about Governor Paterson, who, of course, is the governor of New York, is facing a number of investigations on ethics issues and whether he intervened into a domestic dispute, you’ve also got Charlie Rangel, Rich Lowry, who stepped down as head of the Ways and Means Committed amid ethics probes and an admonishment from the Ethics Committee. And Eric Massa of New York will be stepping down as well because of an allegation that he harassed a male aide. What does this mean in this midterm year for Democrats in an already difficult climate?

MR. LOWRY: Well, it just adds fuel to the anti-Washington fire, obviously. And I agree with what Harold was saying. The, the very worst thing for a politician or for a political party is to—the appearance that they’re not listening. And I think that’s the risk now to Democrats on health care because they’re going ahead no matter what, and I think it’s the risk on the economy because they haven’t really pivoted the jobs, as President Obama put it at the beginning of the year. And on the ethics, you know, it’s beginning to, to look a lot like 2006, and I think Nancy Pelosi, she came in talking about the most ethical Congress ever, but really didn’t have any commitment to taking on the old bulls in her party, which have been very difficult. There’s the late John Murtha, who personified the unseemly practices around earmarks. And you have Charlie Rangel, who I think’s just a very sad case of someone who, who thinks he deserved a lifestyle beyond his congressional income and began to cut corners. So human nature is taking its revenge.

MR. GREGORY: Well, we’re talking about performance as well, among Democrats and the president.

And, Senator Hatch, the Republican National Committee, the finance director did a PowerPoint presentation to donors and the like, and I’ll put it up on the screen, and this is what it included. This was the imagery of how to run against the Democrats. It had this, this offensive picture of the president and socialism, where he’s the Joker from the film, and had other unflattering images of Democratic leaders. Is this the way Republicans are going to get back into power?

SEN. HATCH: There’s no excuse for that type of stuff. I, I just don’t agree with that type of thing. You know, I, I think if more Democrats were like Harold Ford, we wouldn’t have half the problems that we have today. They’re open—he’s open, he’s willing to discuss, he’s willing—he realizes it takes two parties on very, very important legislation to, to, to make things work. I don’t agree with that type of stuff and some—the way I understand it, some junior guy there raising funds tried that as a fundraising tool, and…

I am happy to see Hatch is genuinely disturbed by the Obama/Joker/Socialist imagery. He made a little news with this response.

MR. GREGORY: I don’t know how junior he was. He was the finance director.

SEN. HATCH: Well…

MR. GREGORY: Do you think Chairman Steele…

SEN. HATCH: That’s junior to me, but the fact of the matter is…

MR. GREGORY: Right.

SEN. HATCH: …that it shouldn’t have happened. I don’t want to condemn somebody, but the fact of the matter is that I’m, I’m ashamed of that.

MR. GREGORY: Should Michael Steele, should he—should Michael Steele remain as head of the RNC when this kind of thing is going on?

SEN. HATCH: I don’t think Michael Steele knew about that. If he did, I would be very concerned. I like Michael Steele. I think…

MR. GREGORY: You have confidence in him?

SEN. HATCH: I do. I think he’s a very fine guy. Yeah, there—he’s made mistakes like everybody does, but, but he’s a good face for our party. I think he’s articulate, he’s smart, he has a lot on the ball. He’s going to get criticized no matter what he does, but he was one of the first to come out and say that was, that was irresponsible.

Hatch says decent things about Steele. He uses the “articulate” word.

MR. GREGORY: E.J., healthcare reform, whether it’s success or failure, what’s it going to mean for the midterm race?

MR. DIONNE: First of all, I think when Harold Ford goes back to Tennessee and runs for the Senate, he’s going to use that endorsement from Senator Hatch.

REP. FORD: E.J., I’ll, I’ll—when I run again, it’ll be from New York, which is where I live.

MR. DIONNE: I think you’ve got a very powerful endorsement in Tennessee. Healthcare reform, I think, really is everything for the Democrats this year because I think…

REP. FORD: I agree.

MR. DIONNE: …you’ve seen a year in which they—the country’s discouraged by the economy. Any—I think any president would be in trouble—Ronald Reagan was in trouble with this level of unemployment. (Unintelligible)…it was very hard to get through this Congress. And that’s why I think it will ultimately pass because they’ve got to show they can govern. And my view also is once you have a health bill that does particular things, people can say, you know, there are no more rescissions immediately. Your kids can stay on the family health insurance policy till they’re 26. There are a lot of specific things in here that people can go out to defend. You can only defend a proposal once it’s out there. And I think it’ll be a much better debate when we can argue about a real thing and say what’s this doing for people. And yes, Harold Ford’s right, jobs is the issue.

MR. GREGORY: Right. Senator Hatch, I have 30 seconds. I do want to mention Iraq because it’s an important day where there’s elections in Iraq.

SEN. HATCH: Yes, sir.

MR. GREGORY: There has been some violence, as we’ve seen—we see the aftermath pictures of that. Still a very delicate democracy.

SEN. HATCH: It is.

MR. GREGORY: Do you think the United States should stick to its timetable for complete troop withdrawal?

SEN. HATCH: Well, let’s put it this way, I think there’s more evidence that this is working, more evidence that they’re now—they now have a government, more evidence they are interested in voting, more evidence that, that this country can survive. And we ought to do everything in our power to make sure that continues. And I’m for doing that, just making sure that continues. It’s a real good thing for the Middle East, and I am very supportive of it.

Hatch sees signs of progress in Iraq. Maybe this should be the headline from today’s show. But it will likely get little notice.

MR. GREGORY: All right. We’re going to leave it there. Thank you, everyone here, for this lively discussion. And we’ll be right back.

(Announcements)

MR. GREGORY: That’s all for today. I’ll be away next Sunday, but Tom Brokaw will be here in my place. Among his guests, former senior adviser to President Bush Karl Rove. He’s got the new book coming out called “Courage and Consequence” about his time as a conservative and his time in the White House. Plus a political roundtable, including New York Times columnists David Brooks and Tom Friedman. That’s right here next week.

Brokaw and Rove… should be interesting.

If it’s Sunday, it’s MEET THE PRESS.

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35727484/ns/meet_the_press/

The original transcript of this program is the property of NBC News and MSNBC.com.
© 2010 MSNBC.com

Advertisements

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: