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Hannity

Cantor 'Taken Aback' By 'Partisan Nature' of Obama's Health Care Speech

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," September 9, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Now, tonight, the president did his best to sell Americans on the idea that the government should control their health care. And while trying to position himself as a neutral and fair arbiter of Capitol Hill's petty partisan disputes, he delivered an attack speech that could have been written by James Carville!

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: What we've also seen in these last months is the same partisan spectacle that only hardens the disdain many Americans towards their own government. Instead of honest debate, we've seen scare tactics. Some have dug into unyielding ideological camps that offer no hope of compromise. Too many have used this as an opportunity to score short-term political points, even if it robs the country of our opportunity to solve a long-term challenge.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: All right, but this president would never do that, right? Now, President Obama both lectures and Americans and hypocritically attacks those who disagree with him. Hope and change gave way to cynicism and intimidation tonight, for this president lives in a world where only he tells the truth and everyone disagrees with him — well, is either a liar or a thug.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Some of people's concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost. The best example is the claim, made not just by radio and cable talk show hosts but by prominent politicians, that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens. Now, such a charge would be laughable if it weren't so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie, plain and simple.

(APPLAUSE, CHEERS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: Oh, it's a lie? So when was the last time that a president of United States called a joint session of Congress to speak in prime-time and deliver what amounts to be a campaign speech full of partisan hackery? Now, President Obama sounded less like the president of the United States tonight and more like a primary candidate standing on a soapbox at the Iowa State Fair, flailing wildly at his opponents in the desperate hope that one of his charges will get, you know, replayed on the 10:00 o'clock news in Dubuque!

And joining me tonight to discuss the president's address is somebody who was there to hear him deliver it live, House minority whip Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor. Congressman, good to see you. Thank you for being with us.

Watch Sean's interview

REP. ERIC CANTOR, MINORITY WHIP, R-VA.: Sean, good evening.

HANNITY: Well, according to the president, only he has the facts. He said, quote, "nobody disputes them," so there's no dispute on the issue of abortion funding, there's no dispute on funding illegal immigrants, no dispute of whether he was supporting all summer Medicare cuts, no dispute on end-of-life counseling or how we're going to pay for this, no disputes at all?

CANTOR: Well, listen, I mean, obviously, this was, for an Obama speech, something that I was taken aback by in the partisan nature of the speech. I mean, listen, we all know that the status quo is unacceptable, and the president says the status quo is unacceptable. But when he goes and starts pointing fingers and casting blame, I think it's just a smokescreen, Sean.

Listen, it's not just special interests or Republicans that stand in his way. The Democrats are firmly in control of both bodies in Congress. He's the president. They've just been unable to lead in terms of the type of reform that the American people want to see.

HANNITY: All right, now, one charge — before we get back to health care, he says he's pulled the economy back from the brink. Now, he said if we passed the stimulus, unemployment wouldn't go above 8 percent. It's now 9.7 percent. He's quadrupled the deficit in one year, quadrupled the debt. We've got foreclosures now on the rise. And we also have the Senate having to raise the debt ceiling above $12 trillion. Is the economy back from the brink and I just didn't see it?

CANTOR: Absolutely not. And I think you will see in the chamber there, there was broad disagreement on that notion that somehow the economy is back from a collapse. We have so much work to do. People are so worried about their job. Unemployment is at historic levels, and frankly, intolerable, given what this Congress and the president has gone about doing. And you're right, we have piled more debt on our children in the last eight months than we — this country has in the last 200 years. It is unsustainable, and frankly, it's false to say the economy is back.

HANNITY: All right, at one point in the president's speech tonight, Congressman, he says, "Instead of honest debate, we've seen scare tactics." And then later in the speech, he goes on to say — and this is specifically — "Everyone in this room knows what will happen if we do nothing, that the deficit will grow, families will go bankrupt, businesses will close, more Americans will lose their coverage when they need it most, and more will die as a result."

Is that a scare tactic by the president?

CANTOR: I mean, you know, again, I really sat there aghast with those kind of claims and the hyperbole that was used. I mean, we need some adult sense of responsibility here. We need to try and produce the reforms that we know that the American people want.

And really, Sean, it starts with a few guarantees. You know, the public wants, number one, a guarantee that the decision making between patients and their doctors won't be taken over by the government. Secondly, the public wants to make sure that there won't be any kind of government rationing or forced discrimination on the part of the government at all. And thirdly, I think the public wants to know that this body in Congress and the president will be responsible and that we're not going to break the bank. And by his claim tonight that it only costs $900 billion - - and as we know, will be upwards of a trillion dollars — on top of the debt that we've already amassed, I don't see how those claims are even reasonable to even assert.

HANNITY: Let me ask you this, because — when it goes down to that he wants the government option, and he doubled down on this tonight because he's being torn within his own party. He's got some members saying they won't support it if it doesn't have a government option, some saying that they — it's unsustainable, they don't want it. So he's got a fight within the Democratic Party.

Here's my question. If you offer that government option, and you do, so — and the government decides for a private company, you know, what they must cover, what they can charge, what, you know — in every sense of the word, they're taking away the free — free competition, free market, isn't that really taking away the opportunity for any private company to compete?

CANTOR: Listen, Sean, that is — that is just intuitive. The American people know you can't have a government that sets the rules and then go compete under those rules. That is worse than the fox guarding the henhouse. So any notion that there can be a functioning government option without a replacement by the government of the existing health care system is just a false claim. So that's why I think that we've stood up on the Republican side of the aisle in the House, said, Look, no government option, no government co-op, no government trigger. We just cannot. We've got to scrap this whole notion of the government in competition because we know it will lead to replacement and start over and work together on things that we can agree on.

HANNITY: All right, Congressman, we'll wait to see this unfold. There's a lot to get to.

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