Published February 27, 2010
This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 26, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Before the Democrats ram a health care bill through Congress they might want to listen to this. Earlier, Charles Krauthammer went "On the Record."
VAN SUSTEREN: Charles, a poll prior to the summit yesterday said that if President Obama can't work out a compromise at the summit, what should he do? And 59 percent say start over.
So let me ask you this question -- when we send people to Congress, do we ask them to vote their conscience or ours? And is there a point in which the numbers are so skewed they need to vote the people's way?
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST/FOX NEWS ANALYST: Well, that's the great question since Edmund Burke. He thought you should represent your conscience or your conception of what the national need is.
I don't think there is an answer. If I think if you are President Obama, you came in and promised health care reform. And now for political reasons your entire presidency hinges on coming back with something, because if he comes back with nothing, I think he's wounded beyond repair.
I think he's allowed to go ahead. Is it undemocratic? We don't govern by polls. Let's take President Bush when he ordered the surge. There was public opinion way against him, all the Congress was against him, and he was right.
And so even though I think it's a mistake to go ahead this health care, I respect the president's right or ability or notion that he needs to act in the national interests as he sees it, even though I think it is a terrible mistake.
VAN SUSTEREN: In terms of conscience, do you agree the vote on health care is a little bit different, like a vote on war seeking to change, it's life or death for people, that this is a vote of conscience more so than a political vote, or it should be?
KRAUTHAMMER: Yes, I think it should be. But there's also another aspect to this. There isn't a rule, but there is sort of a sense, a custom in all democracies, that when you do something really large, even though you can legally do it with 50 plus one, you shouldn't.
I mean, for example, if you do a treaty, you need two-thirds of the Senate. There are a lot of things that are constitutional amendments. You have to have two-thirds of the two houses, three quarters of the states.
Now, there's nothing that says that health care has to be with a supermajority. But when you want to reform, revolutionize one-sixth of the United States economy, you shouldn't do it, meaning merely as a matter of I would say constitutional decency to do it with a pure party line vote and by a majority of one or two or three.
VAN SUSTEREN: As I look through this bill, I try to think of the different proposals whether it is a bill of conscience or whether it is political.
There's something that caught my attention. The tax on the Cadillac plans under the president's bill doesn't go into effect until 2018. So even if he gets a second term it's the next president has to impose it.
What would be the justification? If it is a good tax, meaning one we must do, why not do it now? Why eight years and push it off on to the next president. Is that political or is there justification for that?
KRAUTHAMMER: That is political to the extreme. And one of the reasons there is so much public opposition -- because you could have argued until mid-December the bill being put together in the two houses was largely trying town understand the national interest and trying to act on it.
But in December when they were scrambling in the Senate, Harry Reid, to get every vote, then he started to horse trade. There's no way you can say in the national interest to have the Nebraska deal, the corrupt kick- backing, which it got an exemption. Then you had you an exception for Louisiana, for seniors in Florida, another example.
Remember, the Cadillac exemption started out as a carve out for union members which is scandalous. Why should a union member be exempt and his next door that neighbor who works in the same kind of job have to pay?
This is even worse because now we are abolishing it essentially until 2018, and you and I know no Congress is going to enact it eight years from now if a Congress today is not going to enact it.
So it is not going to happen. It's purely a way to purchase one or two or three votes in the Senate and the House, and that's corrupt. And that's why people have a sense that this is longer about reforming this in the name of the nation. It's about getting a win for the sake of a win.
VAN SUSTEREN: That may be unconscionable.
KRAUTHAMMER: Unconscionable, but conscience isn't a big item here in Washington, so I'm not surprised this is going on.
VAN SUSTEREN: Charles, thank you, sir. Thank you.
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