This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," August 17, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Health care reform may just be the new third rail in American politics. Now, brand-new polls are showing that the president's push for government-run health care may be responsible for the end of Obama-mania.
Now today's Rasmussen daily presidential tracking poll shows that the Anointed One's disapproval rating is now higher than his approval rating. And on health care, an overwhelming majority of those polled say that not passing health care reform this year would be better than passing the Democrats' plan.
Joining us to help us sort through all of this, columnist — you see him often on National Review Online, and he will be filling in for the great Rush Limbaugh tomorrow.
MARK STEYN, COLUMNIST: Yes.
HANNITY: Now, for people who don't know, that microphone is really gold.
STEYN: That is a real golden...
HANNITY: Golden microphone.
STEYN: As you well know, Sean.
HANNITY: Yes, my first five minutes filling in for him once, the microphone fell to the ground. I'm like, "Oh, no, my career is over."
STEYN: That's not good. I'll try not to do that.
HANNITY: Well, good luck. You've been filling in. You do a great job.
Let's talk a little bit about these polls. The president's approval rating, every reputable poll shows he's losing ground and health care is losing ground. What's your analysis?
STEYN: Well, his — his personal rating is coming down to meet the unpopularity of his policies. Basically it's only a few weeks since Newsweek was telling us that he's a kind of god who bestrides the world like a colossus.
STEYN: And the more he's connected up with these policies the more he's just another 50-50 president like his supposedly discredited predecessor. And I think that's because most people, a lot of people believed that he really was this post-partisan, centrist, pragmatic, fiscally conservative figure that he campaigned as.
And as you and a few others pointed out, he's not. He's — the extreme left-wing is where he's lived all his life, and he has a transformative domestic political agenda that people don't want.
HANNITY: What do you make of what was going on? We discussed this with Dick Morris. His floating this trial balloon about eliminating the public option, which I argue is still going to be government-run. They're still going to control costs, and they're still going to ration. What do you make of what they did?
STEYN: Yes, I agree with you. I think this is kind of a fame. What he needs to do is pass something. He needs to get across the river and burn the bridge because once you do, it won't be possible to go back.
So what he has to do is create the conditions for embryo government health care, because that's the fastest way to a permanent left of center political culture. That's true in Canada, and that's true in Europe. To guarantee a permanent left of center political culture, you need to get some form of governmentalization of health care through.
HANNITY: This is their holy grail of the left.
HANNITY: I mean, they have put a lot of political capital in this.
STEYN: Right, right.
HANNITY: The American people don't want it by a pretty large margin.
HANNITY: And so are they going to try to force it down America's throat?
STEYN: They've had to back off, but I think they will kind of force it down. You know, Sarah Palin got a lot of shtick for this — death panel. But that's absolutely what it means.
The — health authority in British Columbia has just announced that it's cutting back on senior services to eliminate its budget deficit, and it's going to cut elective surgeries by 15 percent. What that means is that you can elect to have the surgery, but the government won't elect to give it to you.
STEYN: That's what government health care, government bureaucrats inserting themselves between you and your doctor, that's where all this is.
HANNITY: Let me just hold up to our audience at home. A poll, 57 percent don't see the stimulus working. This was on the front page of USA Today in today's edition. Look, the government can't run "cash for clunkers."
STEYN: No. No.
HANNITY: Bank — Medicare is bankrupt, and Social Security is bankrupt. Why is there any American which has any confidence that they can run the health care industry?
STEYN: The little bit they do, this H1N1 flu vaccine they were supposed to have whatever it was, 120 million shots ready by the fall. But now they said it's only going to be 40 million. That is what — think of anything you like. Would you want it run by the government?
Would you like to go on vacation to a government-run hotel? No, you wouldn't. They have those in the Eastern block. Nobody wants government running anything that's important to them.
HANNITY: But look at the — look at the latest. Not only 57 percent don't think the stimulus is working here. We've got home prices declining. These are the latest headlines as it relates to the economy. Retail sales are down. Revenue to the government is down.
Last week we announced that the government in one year has quadrupled the deficit.
HANNITY: Foreclosures are up. The cost of the government day went to August 12 this year...
STEYN: Right, right.
HANNITY: ... which is nearly 2/3 of the year we work for the government. And they want to buy G-5s for politicians.
STEYN: Which is disgusting, by the way, and that's really what's driving a lot of the anger out there. Is people like Arlen Specter and Nancy Pelosi, they're our representatives. They're not our rulers, and they've forgotten that. And that's — that's what's driving a lot of this anger.
But you're right: this is all completely wasted. And that's why his approval rating has fallen, because people are saying, no matter how cool he is, if your home is falling in value, if your job is in jeopardy, if your health care is in jeopardy, what good is it to have a super-cool president? It's not enough.
HANNITY: What do you make of — we just had Katy Abram on the program. What do you make of the attacks against American citizens, and the names — the mobsters, the Tim McVeighs, the Nazis? What do you — why would the Democrats do that? What strategically and tactically is the benefit?
STEYN: I think they have to. They do it very effectively with individuals. They did it with Joe the plumber. They did it with Sarah Palin. Now, whether it's talking complete nonsense is if you think back a couple years to the anti-globalization summits — I went to the summit of Americas — all these people come in, these youthful activists, so-called come in. They trash the town. They throw bricks through McDonald's. They smash the street windows.
And everybody says, "Oh, well, they're just — that's just the idealism, left-wing idealism." Didn't matter how much you trash and destroy in the name of left-wing idealism.
HANNITY: Is this the Alinsky model? You know, isolate, polarize?
STEYN: I think it is. I think they can't afford — these are ordinary citizens. And what's interesting is they're not even Republican or right-wing, a lot of them. A lot of them are just seniors who are concerned about what's going to happen to Medicare. Yes, they're not agents of dark forces. They're ordinary citizens, confronting representatives who have forgotten that they are citizen legislators and not the Gulf Stream rulers.
HANNITY: We forget the term "public servant," Mark. They're supposed to be public servants. All right. Here's my final question for you. Look, they may be repositioning where they are. I don't believe they've given up their ultimate goal, which is the elimination of the employee benefit system, a single payer system. Obama is on record as even saying he wants.
Where does this end up? Do they now go back to the drawing board, come up with new talking points? Do they go through incrementalism? What do you think?
STEYN: No. They want an embryo plan that contains within it the seeds for a government health care system.
HANNITY: The co-ops. But is a co-op any different than the so-called public option?
STEYN: No, I don't think so. Because in the end if you have a government perspective on health care, it leads to rationing. The thing about a death panel isn't that it's a panel that actually says, "We're denying you this treatment," it's that the whole system is, in fact, a kind of death panel, because it has to make judgments about letting Mr. Smith live and Mr. Jones live. It's the nationalization of your body. They have the — the government says we have the right to decide whether you can have your hip replaced.
HANNITY: They have the right to decide that. They ration care. They dictate the price. They dictate the supply, and they run competition out of the market.
STEYN: That's right. That's right. It's happened everywhere.
HANNITY: All right. Will you be in for Rush tomorrow?
HANNITY: All right. We'll be listening. Mark, good to see you. Thank you.
STEYN: Always a pleasure, Sean.
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