This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", March 5, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Let’s check out our ups and downs.
DOWN: West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd (search). President Bush’s judicial nominations reach Capitol Hill this week, prompting hysterics over a proposed Republican plan to break a likely Democratic filibuster (search). Here’s Byrd on the floor Wednesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
U.S. SENATOR ROBERT BYRD (D), WEST VIRGINIA: We, unlike Nazi Germany or Mussolini’s Italy, have never stopped being a nation of laws and not of men. But witness how men with motives and a majority can manipulate law to cruel and unjust ends.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KONDRACKE: As you, Fred, have often pointed out, anybody who applies the Nazi image to U.S. politics ought to just be dismissed. I mean, it’s off the charts. Now, the important thing that’s going on here is that the Democrats and the Republicans in the Senate are about to engage in a dangerous game of chicken over these judicial nominations.
Now, if the Republicans are able to get 51 votes in order to change the Senate rules to allow, to disallow filibusters of judicial nominations, the Democrats claim that they’re going to shut down the Senate for the rest of the rest of this year.
I think that the end of this is that the Democrats lose.
FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Yes.
KONDRACKE: Just as, in 1995-96, when the House Republicans (search) shut down the government over President Clinton’s budget, I think the country will react bad, against the party that shuts down the business of the government.
BARNES: Yes, absolutely. And in this case, the, the Democrats, if they do that, would be taking the position like on judicial nominees, Republicans are trying to do this horrible thing, they’re trying to impose majority rule, you know, 51 votes in a Senate of 100.
I think the public’s in favor of majority rule, and they’re not going to back some Democratic shutdown that is an effort to block majority rule.
Now, let me return to Senator Byrd. You know, he’s a complete phony on this issue. He, he’s been one in the past who has proposed curbs on filibusters, didn’t scream and yell about minority rights back in those days. And he’s also, and, and he’s also a fountain of misinformation about this whole subject. He says, for instance, Why, these judicial nominees that the president has sent up, they were rejected by the Senate before. They weren’t rejected by the Senate. A vote was blocked by Democrats so there was no up-and-down vote.
So, and then he had, he had some really ludicrous interpretations of the Constitution.
Senator Byrd is up for reelection in 2006. I think he’s 87 years old. He is ripe for defeat, if Republicans could come up with a good candidate.
DOWN: the nation’s governors. They left Washington empty-handed after meetings with President Bush and members of Congress on ways to ease the ballooning Medicaid (search) crisis in their states. Medicaid has become a monster, that’s for sure, that’s completely out of control, and the way to deal with this monster is not to feed it more and more, which means more spending on Medicaid.
Now, President Bush, I think, has proposed the right thing, and it’s not a radical reduction, it’s a 2 percent reduction in Medicaid spending by the federal government over the next 10 years, something that might inspire the states to tighten up their programs and do a better job on prescription drugs and so on.
But governors, their idea of a solution is to have the federal government just spend more and more, give them more and more money. Mort, that’s not a solution.
KONDRACKE: Well, I’m with the governors on this one.
BARNES: You’re against the solution.
KONDRACKE: Look, health costs, and, in fact, the lack of health insurance for people, which feeds the cost rises, is a national problem. It’s not just a state problem. And it ought to be addressed by the, by the federal government, and the president, and the president is not addressing it adequately. He’s, he’s got a very small, a very small of attention paid to, to health care.
Now, one thing that both the federal government and the states ought to cooperate on is to end this horrible scam whereby wealthy seniors transfer their assets to their adult children, thereby on the books impoverishing themselves and making themselves eligible for Medicare. Medicaid.
Now, that, that is something that ought to be declared illegal.
BARNES: I agree. I agree.
UP: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (search). Move over, Rummy. Rice is the newest rock star of Bush’s cabinet, complete with buzz about a potential presidential run in 2008, with several Web sites popping up to promote her candidacy. What I want you to do, Fred, is to buy me a bumper sticker that says, "I’m a Condiista," "I’m a Condiista," longstanding Condiista, as you well know.
BARNES: Well, it’s probably going to be easier to, yes, to read on a bumper than for you to say.
KONDRACKE: Right. Well, I, I think this business about her running for president in 2008 is, is nonsense. Vice president? Very good possibility.
BARNES: Now, look, Condi Rice, I think all America should be delighted that she’s secretary of state. She’s making a secretary of state in the Bush administration who actually agrees with Bush policies, so that, that’s a novel idea. Anyway, look, she’s had a chance to run for governor and the Senate, she’s passed it up. I don’t think she’s going to run for president, and probably shouldn’t. She’s not experienced in that particular type of thing.
You know, what is, I mean, she’d have to come up with the positions on abortions, guns, gays. She’s better doing what she’s doing.
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