The Baucus Bill: It Passed But Doesn't Really Bring Reform

Published October 14, 2009

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This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 13, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTHA MACALLUM, FOX NEWS GUEST HOST: Moments ago, Republican Senator Mike Crapo from the Finance Committee -- he went "On the Record." Take a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MACCALLUM: Senator Crapo, good to have you with us tonight.

SEN. MIKE CRAPO, R - ID, FINANCE COMMITTEE: Thank you very much.

MACCALLUM: So you voted against the Baucus bill today. Tell me why.

CRAPO: Well, first of all, most people in America want health care reform for one of two reasons. First to control the skyrocketing cost of health care, their own health insurance and their costs, and second, to get greater coverage for those who are uninsured or don't have adequate access to health care.

This bill does neither very well. In fact, with regard to the cost of health care, we'll actually see the cost of our health care go up. And in addition, we see about a trillion dollars of new federal spending offset by $400 billion of cuts in Medicare and a new $500 billion worth of taxes, the majority of which will fall squarely on the back of the middle class, who President Obama promised would not be taxed.

MACCALLUM: You know, I think a lot of people hear that, and then they hear the other side tell them that, Oh, over time, it's going to actually save money. The CBO seemed to go on the side of this Baucus bill. And then we had the report that we got from the insurers, which said, Whoa, you know, hold on, it's actually going to cost you a lot more. But a lot of people looked at that report and said it was too self-serving for the insurers. So which side? How do people know which numbers they should believe at this point?

CRAPO: Well, you got to be very careful to listen to what people say when they say, We're going to bend the cost curve. That's a very popular phrase around here. When you're talking about the cost of health care to the American people, like the cost of their insurance, the cost of procedures and medical devices, and so forth, that's the real cost of health care.

Those who are saying that this bill is balanced and that it really does pay for itself are talking about the cost to the federal government. And what they are saying is not that it's going to control the spiraling cost of health care. It won't, and it's going to drive it up. What they're saying is that we've got $500 billion of taxes and $400 billion of cuts in Medicare that are going to offset an expansion of federal spending of about $820 billion or $850 billion.

MACCALLUM: Yes, I heard Orrin Hatch say something very interesting today. He said, you know, a couple years back, we tried to cut something - - some money out of Medicare, and Democrats screamed and yelled about it. Now they want to cut, you know, hundreds of billions of dollars out of Medicare, and they're saying, you know, this is great tax efficiency. You know, what are people to make of that? You know, it's a good point.

CRAPO: Well, it's an excellent point. I remember that debate. I was here when we had it, and we were trying to just pare down the level of -- the rate of increase so that we would reduce -- I think it was about $30 billion of increase over the next 10 years. And you would have thought that we were ending the world as we know it.

Now this bill is going to cut $400 billion out of Medicare, and as I just said -- and I think people should focus on this -- in addition to that, we are going to see taxes and penalties go up to the tune of $500- plus billion.

MACCALLUM: You know, I interviewed Congressman Weiner today, from New York, and he said, Well, this Senate bill is one thing, but when this gets back into the House, the public option will be in this bill. Do you believe that?

CRAPO: I think the odds of that are increasing because today the labor unions came out against this bill. They want something that's different. Nancy Pelosi has said she'll take nothing but the public option. And a number of the key senators in the Senate and a number who voted today in the Finance Committee for this bill said they were doing so only to move it forward to the floor of the Senate so that there or in conference with the House, they could add the government option. So I think you can very much expect a push to try to get that accomplished.

MACCALLUM: You know, so what are Republicans -- you know, what are you going to do about this debate now? I mean, in the Senate, you should have a stronger voice than Republicans are going to have in the House. It's going to be even tougher for them. So for people who agree with you out there, what hope do they have of having any real voice in what's going to happen to their health care?

CRAPO: Well, you know, right now, I think it's very close because the American public for months and months has been weighing in very strongly. And even those who would like to vote for a government option, or even those who would like to vote for the taxes and spending in this bill, are getting nervous about it.

And I really believe that if the American people will pay attention now and not let the game be changed -- you know, this bill that we voted on today is literally being rewritten in some places behind closed doors in the Capitol as we speak. And then it's going to be merged again in the House. And if people will pay attention to that and weigh in, I think it can have an influence on how the votes are taken.

MACCALLUM: You know, is it your belief that this is going to -- you know, that the effort of Republicans will to be mitigate the impact of this? And the president wants to sign something, most likely. So are you folks going to be working to sort of just, you know, keep pushing the ball as much as you can so that you water it down, I guess?

CRAPO: Well, I think our main objective right now is to make it clear that there actually are some very bipartisan and well-supported ideas that can bend the true cost curve down and can help us get a handle on better coverage for those who are undercovered, and we need to make sure that people understand that.

I believe that if we can once get to the point where we stop this effort for a government takeover and we stop the effort for a massive expansion of government spending and government taxing, then we can get to some middle ground that the American public will support. But it's going to be a long, hard fight until we get there.

MACCALLUM: Yes, indeed, it is. And as you say, people need to stay engaged if they're interested in the outcome in all of this, and we're trying to help them do that here. Senator Crapo, thank you very much for being with us tonight. Good to talk to you, sir.

CRAPO: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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