Transcript: Reps. Van Hollen, Pence on 'FNS'

Written by Chris Wallace / Published November 09, 2009 / Fox News Sunday

The following is a rush transcript of the November 8, 2009, edition of "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace." This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: Joining us now to discuss the battle over health care reform and to look ahead to the 2010 elections are two top members of the house, Democrat Chris Van Hollen, who is running his party's campaign for the next Congress, and Republican Mike Pence, the GOP's number three man in the House.

And, Congressmen, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, D-MD.: Thanks, Chris.

REP. MIKE PENCE, R-IND.: Good to be with you.

WALLACE: Congressman Van Hollen, what's the message from the vote last night? The House, for the first time in history, passing a major overhaul of health care reform, but with only one Republican voting for it and 39 Democrats voting against it?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, the message was clear. It's time to begin to fix what has been a broken health care system for millions of Americans. Between the year 2000 and 2008, we saw premiums double for Americans during that period of time.

Insurance company profits were over 400 percent. So we've had a great system for insurance companies. They get to say no to you based on your pre-existing condition. They get to dig into the fine print of your insurance policy when you need it the most and say you're not covered. They've enjoyed an antitrust exemption that we eliminated.

So this is a message to the American people. It's time to bring down your costs, which will allow more people to afford health insurance.

WALLACE: Congressman Pence, what's the message from last night? And what about those Democrats from conservative districts who ended up voting for the bill? Are you going to make them pay in the next election?

PENCE: Well, Chris, I think the message from last night is that the Democrats didn't get the message in August or last Tuesday.

I think from this past summer we saw the American people express overwhelming opposition to a government takeover of health care. They attended town hall meetings, rallies across the country, and then this last Tuesday.

I mean, the historic reversals that Democrats saw in just 12 months in New Jersey and Virginia, again, was an effort by the American people to send a message to this party that they're tired of the borrowing, the spending, the bailouts, the takeovers.

But last night on a narrow partisan vote the Democrats put their liberal, big government agenda ahead of the American people.

WALLACE: So are you going to go after those conservative Democrats, moderate Democrats, in Republican-leaning districts who voted for this bill?

PENCE: Well, look. I don't — I don't know if it's about — I think the American people are deeply frustrated with a liberal establishment in Washington, D.C. that is ignoring their will.

Nancy Pelosi last night said that they were answering the call of history. Well, I — I've got to tell you, if Democrats keep ignoring the American people, their party's going to be history in about a year.

WALLACE: Congressman Van Hollen, I'd like you, first of all, to respond to that, but also — yes, you did pass a bill, but the Senate is considering a very different bill, with a very different public option, and very different taxes — a number of measures.

So how much have you really moved the process forward?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, first, just in response, the message from the last election was loud and clear. The American people were tired of us pushing big issues under the rug, not dealing with the major challenges...

WALLACE: You're talking about 2008 or 2009?

VAN HOLLEN: I'm talking about 2008 election, the 2008 elections, when President Obama and the larger majority went into Congress. You know, with all due respect to Mike and his party, when President Bush — and they had a lock on the Congress.

They did nothing about these issues, these rising costs, the fact that insurance companies could essentially abuse consumers. They did nothing about it.

And people back in 2008 said it's time to step up on some of these issues. And that's what we did last night.

And I would point out that in terms of the elections last Tuesday, there were only two races in the country where what we're doing in Congress at the federal level was at the center of debate, and those were the two congressional races. Both members of Congress won. Both of them voted yes last night on health care reform, so...

WALLACE: How about this question of the Senate, though, the fact that the Senate bill is a very different bill, very different on the public option, very different on the taxes to pay for all this?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, as you well know, this is just one step, a very big step, on a long journey. And we're going to have to work with whatever the Senate comes up with to reconcile the differences, and we will.

I know the Senate's committed to moving ahead and we will put the pieces together. As you know, Harry Reid on the Senate also proposed a public option as part of the bill he intends to bring to the Senate floor - - again, a voluntary option to try and hold insurance companies accountable.

I would point out that Consumers Union and Consumers Reports, those reports that everybody looks at — they endorsed this bill because they understand it will provide more...

PENCE: Chris, if I could — Chris...

WALLACE: Let me just ask you...

PENCE: But I think this really illustrates the fact that Democrats didn't get the message. Republicans — I mean, let's be honest here. You know I fought against members of my own party in these battles.

Republicans doubled the national debt in the first six years of this decade, and the American people showed them the door in 2006 and again in 2008.

But the Democrats took runaway federal spending under Republican control and put it on steroids, and the American people are tired of the borrowing, the spending, the bailouts, the takeovers.

And I think — you know, I appreciate Chris pointing out the congressional elections, but the truth is a Republican running on a third party ballot almost beat the Democratic candidate in New York.

And when you look at New Jersey, the president won New Jersey by 16 percent 12 months ago. He won Virginia by 7 percent 12 months ago. Republicans won in a landslide in Virginia, won narrowly in New Jersey.

Now, I'll stipulate, Chris, that all politics is local. People are voting on local issues in those races. But every single one of those voters were also Americans who were responding to the profound frustration...

WALLACE: Let — let me...

PENCE: ... the American people feel with the liberal...

WALLACE: Let me...

PENCE: ... establishment in Washington.

WALLACE: Let me as you about another factor in all of this, and that is we learned on Friday that unemployment is now 10.2 percent — almost 16 million Americans unemployed.

Let me start with you, Congressman Van Hollen. Can we afford a trillion-dollar health care reform bill with billions of dollars in new taxes and new mandates for small business when we've got 10.2 percent unemployment?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, let me first point out, in response to both what Mike said and your question, that the Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, who we've all been looking to for the numbers, looked at the bill that passed the House and said it reduces the deficit over a 10-year period by more than $100 billion.

In fact, it reduces the deficit over that period of time more than the alternative that the Republicans put on the floor, and also reduces the deficit over the following 10-year period.

When it comes to health care and economics, one of the things we've got to do is make sure that we reduce the costs of health care. They're eating businesses and individuals and families alive. And so for our own economic competitiveness, we've got to address this issue.

Now, with respect to the economy, when President Obama was sworn in, as we all know, the economy was in total collapse, free fall. Seven hundred thousand people lost their jobs in January. Last month we saw about 150,000 people lose their jobs. Unacceptable.

We need to get the economy going forward again, but we did see positive economic growth last quarter, 3.5 percent, for the first time in a long time.

WALLACE: But — but — but Let me, Congressman Pence — hundreds of billions of dollars in new taxes, new mandates on small business — is that what you want when you've got 10.2 percent unemployment?

PENCE: Well, the truth is, you know, when you're in a hole, Chris, first rule is stop digging. Chris is absolutely right. The economy was in shambles when this president came to power.

They passed a so-called stimulus bill that was nothing more than a liberal wish list of spending priorities that has now taken us from 7.5 percent unemployment to a heartbreaking 10.2 percent unemployment nationally.

But they're — the Democrats in Washington are still, again, ignoring the American people. They're unwilling to reconsider this approach. They think we can borrow and spend and bail our way back to a growing economy.

But on top of this, they drop a massive national energy tax they passed along party lines. But to your point, $729 billion in tax increases — Congressman Boren, one of his Democrat colleagues, said, quite, "The last thing you do in a recession is raise taxes and that's just what this health care bill does." It was the wrong thing to do and the American people know it.

WALLACE: Gentlemen, we're going to have to cut it off there. I want to thank you both for coming in, Congressman Van Hollen, Congressman Pence. Thanks for coming in. It was a long day and night on the House floor, and there's going to be lots more to debate as this process continues forward. Please come back, both of you gentlemen.

PENCE: Thanks, Chris.

VAN HOLLEN: Thank you.

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