Published December 30, 2009
This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," December 29, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SHANNON BREAM, FOX NEWS GUEST HOST: Many governors want nothing to do with the Senate health care bill or the massive costs it could shift to their states. In fact, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is even taking major heat in his home state of Nevada. Nevada's governor, Jim Gibbons, is taking aim and firing away! Quote, "We have read the bill, and I still firmly believe Senator Reid is wishing Nevadans a merry Christmas with a smirk on his face and a knife in our backs." Yikes! What's the problem?
Well, Governor Jim Gibbons joins us now live. Governor, great to have you tonight.
GOV. JIM GIBBONS, R - NEV.: Shannon, good to see you.
BREAM: Tell us about your primary concerns with this bill.
GIBBONS: Well, Shannon, this bill, like no other bill, at a time when the state of Nevada is suffering the worst economic recession in a lifetime, as we try and rebuild and build our way out of this, this bill assesses Nevada with about $613 million in costs, additional costs to the taxpayers of Nevada. It is literally making the Grand Canyon out of this recession. We're going to have a tough time building our way out of it. Every Nevadan is going to suffer from it. Working families are going to be crushed by it. Seniors are going to lose in Medicare because the costs are coming out of their service and their care to pay for this bill. This is a terrible bill for every Nevadan!
BREAM: And it essentially has been authored by one of your own, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. How do you explain to your folks there in Nevada who don't like this bill that, you know, it comes from a hometown guy, essentially?
GIBBONS: Well, Shannon, if you and I had done the back room deals and the payoffs that this bill took to get passed for every one of those votes, you and I would be guilty of corruption. We would have been arrested for corruption. But the vote didn't have to be bought in that case. So Nevada didn't get what Nebraska got -- free Medicaid in incremental increases for a lifetime. Didn't get a $300 billion deal for Louisiana, the Louisiana payoff or Louisiana purchase. Those are deals that Nevada has never been in line to get because we didn't have somebody that had to have our vote bought off. They had bought into the bill long before it was ever up for question.
BREAM: And of course, you mentioned a few states that are receiving special funding measures and things through this bill. But your state, as you mentioned, is not one of them. I've got to ask you, are there some other governors out there, your cohorts and compatriots in this, who realize we're getting saddled with the price that bought a few other votes elsewhere? It's got to make it sting even that much worse.
GIBBONS: Well, just look at the latest news. Governor Schwarzenegger, California, a large Democratic state, just wrote a letter to Nancy Pelosi saying he cannot afford the billions and billions of new taxes that this bill will create for his constituency, like Nevada. New York, as well, said, No way, no how do we want this. You've got states of Mississippi, Georgia, New Hampshire, Louisiana, for example, all saying this is going to cost their states enormous amounts of money. This is a bad bill. And it's a bad bill for Nevada, $613 million in new costs for every Nevadan.
BREAM: And Governor, you've used some really strong language. We talked about your quote, "knife in the back." You've said that Harry Reid has cooked the books. You've used the word corruption. Can you back that up?
GIBBONS: Well, all you got to do is look at the backroom deals, the sweetheart negotiations, the payoffs. I mean, this is the Bernie Madoff of the federal government now controlling your health insurance. This is the worst thing. The federal government should never, ever, ever be involved in the decisions between you as a patient and your doctor in health care decisions. But yet the federal government is going to have that ability to make those decisions.
They should never be taking money from our most vulnerable seniors, but it's going to be paid for with reduced compensation to doctors caring for Medicare patients. These are the wrong things. These are the things that other states are having to be bought off on in order to vote for. This is wrong. It's the wrong kind of government to have. And this is not the future of this country. I'm so very worried about it. But it says that if you've got to pay off every senator to get a vote for it, something's wrong inherently with the bill.
BREAM: And of course, there's been such a spotlight on Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska. That has continually been brought up in the $300 million that will be funneled that way. You've mentioned that maybe Senator Reid would like to move to Nebraska and experience the benefits firsthand. Of course, we've got the midterms coming in 2010. Do you think he may have an opportunity to move elsewhere?
GIBBONS: Well, you know something? As a Republican, I'm always excited about Republican opportunities in the reelection of every elected office here in Nevada. I think this year is going to be a bellwether. It's a firestorm for Democrats right now. They've got to worry about what the impact of this health care bill is going to have on every voter, every taxpayer, every working family in Nevada. And Senator Reid is up for election, as well.
BREAM: Are you going to join with other governors or encourage other states and the attorneys general across the board to mount any kind of legal challenge to this particular bill, should it pass pretty close to what it is in its current form?
GIBBONS: Well, we've asked for the state of Nevada's attorney general to look at the constitutionality of this. First of all, it's an unfunded mandate down to the state of Nevada, changing Medicaid qualification standards, forcing us to raise taxes, whether or not the federal government can be actually in charge of the delivery of health care as an insurer in competition. Those are issues that I think outstrip even the commerce clause and the Founding Fathers' beliefs in the Constitution.
We want to look at, make sure that there is, you know, every legal opportunity to challenge this. And the state of Nevada is no different than many states who believe that this is an unconstitutional law created by the federal government in the back room.
BREAM: All right, Governor Gibbons, we thank you so much for your time tonight.
GIBBONS: Thank you, Shannon.
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