This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," August 18, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Griff Jenkins joins us live by phone from Dartmouth, Massachusetts -- Griff.
GRIFF JENKINS, FOX NEWS REPORTER (Via Telephone): Hey, Greta. (INAUDIBLE) Barney Frank, as contentious as it was, that cut our satellite communications off to you. But he was contentious, as you saw there. About 300 people showed up here at a senior citizens wellness center in Dartmouth, and as you saw, Greta, they were on both sides. They were supporters of the health care plan and certainly folks against it. More (ph) of what I talked about last week was that -- that, you know, (INAUDIBLE) Washington, that we don't want this deficit spending, that we don't want (INAUDIBLE)
But you know, the public option, Greta, has become the centerpiece. Will we have it? Will we not? The White House back-pedaling over the weekend about it, the Senate (ph) not pushing it, but Speaker Pelosi is saying, Yes, we're for it.
So I asked one of the staunchest supporters, Congressman Frank, tonight. I said, Could you support it? Here's what happened.
JENKINS: Congressman, could you vote for a bill that doesn't include a public option?
FRANK: I can't say that right now because we're in the process of negotiating, and I hope you won't be offended if I tell you that I don't negotiate with people who don't have votes, and you don't have one.
JENKINS: Hey, Greta, you know, let me tell you that, you know, it was interesting. The Iraq war came up. George Bush came up. I mean, you know, Barney Frank (INAUDIBLE) and he enjoyed as much the banter back and forth (INAUDIBLE) if anything. And so I'm not sure what was accomplished here, but it was certainly an exciting two-and-a-half hours of banter -- Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Griff -- Griff, in terms of the people that were there, did they walk away satisfied that their answers -- that their questions were answered? They may not have liked the answers, but that at least that Senator -- that Congressman Barney Frank answered the questions?
JENKINS: No, most people were not satisfied, I don't think. And that's a big generalization, I know, but I did speak with folks at a diner across the street. We went over to get a Diet Coke afterwards, and I talked to people on both sides said, I don't think he was really listening, and I don't think some of the people in the audience wanted to listen. It was just an airing of (INAUDIBLE) political picture of what this health care debate has become in August in the recess. Not a lot of questions answered, although in fairness to Congressman Frank, he did bring the bill and quoted from pages at various (INAUDIBLE) Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Griff, thank you.
OK, who would have guessed? The president blinked about the public option. Now, he still prefers the public option, but now he's talking plan B, a co-op. Senator Jim DeMint doesn't like that co-op plan. Why? Well, let's find out from him. Senator Jim DeMint joins us live. He is the author of the book, "Saving Freedom: We Can Stop America's Slide Into Socialism."
Senator DeMint, what's wrong with the co-op? I know you don't like the public option, but what don't you like about the co-op?
SEN. JIM DEMINT, R - S.C.: Well, Greta, Barney Frank and the president and the Democrats didn't think the American people were going to look under the hood on this bill, but we have. And now it sounds like the president's on the run. He is trying to use rhetoric to keep people a little confused, but the fact is, we know that the Holy Grail for Democrats for years has been government-run health care. So they may call it a public option, they may call it co-ops, but one way or another, they're trying to move us towards government-run health care.
But just as in Barney Frank's meeting and all over the country, Americans are upset about the direction here, and they're speaking out. And I think we have a chance to stop it, as long as the American people are engaged.
VAN SUSTEREN: I'm a little bit curious about this whole bill. Now, as a practical matter, the president doesn't need you, doesn't need one Republican vote. He's got enough in the House. He's got enough in the Senate. But in the drafting of this bill -- and I've got it sitting here on my desk, and the viewers just saw a picture of it -- have you seen lobbyists going up and down the halls of the Senate? I mean, who wrote this thing?
DEMINT: I don't know who wrote it. I'm carrying around the House version, with a lot of pages marked that refute just about everything the president is saying about the plan. We don't know what's going to come out of the Senate, but they can't pass it without any Republican votes. And I think a few Democrats are going to come back from August break with a different mindset about it because what they say is in the bill is not there. People will lose their private health insurance. There will be higher taxes. We will cut Medicare.
Greta, it's just not adding up for the American people, and I think we see it in the polls almost every week. The President's approval rating is going down. People don't want a government-run plan. And the shame of all of this is that there are good ways that we can get people insured and lower the cost of health insurance, but they're not even willing to talk about it unless we're talking about a government plan.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, explain to me why you say it has to have Republicans because if he got all the Democrats in the House and all the Democrats in the Senate, he won't -- are you telling me that he's not going to get those, that he can't get them within his own party and so he's got to reach across the aisle and get -- and pluck off a couple of your Republicans? Or are you saying that just as a practical matter, it wouldn't look right?
DEMINT: Well, I'm not sure all the Democrats will be in attendance, for one thing. I mean, they do have 60, but Senator Kennedy is ill. Senator Byrd has been irregular. I think they're going to have to get a few Republicans. And any Republican that goes along with this idea of, Let's pass something in the Senate and send it to conference with the House is really betraying everything we're hearing right now from the American people.
They don't want a government plan. They want us to fix what's broken and not replace what's working in health care. So I'm encouraged, Greta, as I travel around South Carolina, people are coming out to my town hall meetings. They've been very positive about standing up and fighting against what the president is trying to do and hoping that we can stop him on this so that we can sit down and talk about some real reform. I think the same thing's happening all over the country.
VAN SUSTEREN: Can he pluck off a few Republicans on the co-op? I know it seems unlikely on the public option, but it's almost, like, for lack of a better description, the co-op is a little bit sort of like public option lite. Can he pluck off any of your colleagues -- can he pluck off any Republican colleagues, do you think, to go for the co-op?
DEMINT: Well, a co-op is like a "Fannie Med" in every state. I mean, this is a government-sponsored enterprise. If any Republican falls for that, I hope they won't be voted back into office, Greta. I don't care which party they're in, if they support government-run health care at this point and continued spending at the rate we're going right now, it just doesn't make any sense. Washington needs to catch up with where the American people are, and they're concerned about this. We need to fix health care. We don't need the government controlling health care.
VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, was there a time when you would say our health care system worked, a time in the last 50 years that we sort of model, you know, our next path on? Maybe things have changed so dramatically, but when -- when did it, in your opinion, work?
DEMINT: Well, it works now to a large degree. It just -- it costs too much. There's not enough competition between insurance companies. And we don't...
VAN SUSTEREN: When did that happen?
DEMINT: ... give people don't have enough...
VAN SUSTEREN: Was there never enough? Was there never enough competition among the insurance companies, or is that something new?
DEMINT: We really have not had enough competition between insurance companies for a long time. And when the government passed a law that gave employers incentives to offer health insurance that they would not give individuals, we began to move towards an employer-based system, which means if you don't get health insurance at work, you're basically getting ripped off in America today.
I mean, we can fix that, and it won't cost anywhere near what the president is talking about with his plan. But the problem, Greta, is this, is this is not about getting people insured or lowering the cost of health care. I mean, we see that is how the Democrats have been voting. And the ones that demand a government option, they want government control of health care. And if they'll back off of that, we can fix the problems with health insurance and health care within a few weeks, and we can do it in a bipartisan way.
VAN SUSTEREN: And maybe not with all these pages that nobody can seem to read or understand. Senator, thank you, sir.
DEMINT: Hey, thanks, Greta.
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