Bob Barr Weighs In on Health Care Debate

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," September 23, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: No time to whine. Just sign. Democratic leaders in a mad dash to avoid what some are fearing could be a health care reform crash, and they are really putting the legislative pedal to the metal today, continuing to go after health care insurance companies for scaring seniors, even though some of them were proven right, as Nancy Pelosi scares off debate in the House, hours ago, nixing a vote on a bipartisan measure demanding Congress wait 72 hours to review any bill before voting on it, and all of this as Massachusetts' Democratic governor gets set to announce a temporary replacement for Ted Kennedy's seat, to ensure that Democrats have another yea vote in their health care pocket.

My next guest says something has got Democrats fidgety. And he says it's fear.

With me now, former Libertarian presidential nominee Bob Barr.

Bob, what do you make of all this?

BOB BARR, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Well, this is a — what we call here in the South being hoisted on their own petard.

The Democrats, all summer long, have been talking about the historic opportunity that we as a nation have to reform health care, and this is why we need to seize the moment. Well, now they have been shown to be the emperor with no clothes.

The real reason for the rush to judgment on getting health care legislation through has nothing to do with a historic opportunity, but has everything to do with the fact that the body blows that they have been suffering in recent days with — with evidence that the plan will be much more costly than they are saying, that information is coming not from the Republicans, not from the Heritage Foundation, but from the Democrats themselves, the CBO and Democratic staffers.

And that is why they are absolutely terrified of what's going to happen if they don`t get this thing through in a matter of days.

CAVUTO: In other words, they want to — you argue they want to contain this.

We should just remind folks the Congressional Budget Office top guy was saying that, when it came to those participating in the Medicare Advantage program, they would likely see their benefits cut under reform as it is presently envisioned.

Now, Joe Biden was saying today, Bob, as you probably might have heard, look, we're going to fix this, not a big deal — I'm paraphrasing here — that no one`s benefits will be cut.

But then it comes to the administration vs. the CBO, right?

BARR: It does. And I think all but the most die-hard partisans on the Democratic side realize that, when it comes down to a dispute between the so-called — the — the ostensibly nonpartisan head of the Congressional Budget Office and the very partisan vice president of the United States, clearly, people are going to buy the CBO numbers before they buy the vice president`s.

But, also, a senior Democratic staffer recently had to admit that the plan to tax these so-called gold insurance benefits that some would get will, in fact, be hitting people of more modest means than the Democrats were saying.

CAVUTO: Right. We are going — we are going to get to — we are going to get to that, but there was something lost today that I think was just as significant.

And that was Olympia Snowe, of all folks, the — the main Republican, independent-minded Republican, whose support is crucial, even if it means only a single vote for a so-called bipartisan measure, who was wondering today why the rush. This was from Olympia Snowe earlier, Bob. Listen to this.


SEN. OLYMPIA SNOWE, R-MAINE: This is about doing our jobs. If it takes two more weeks, it takes two more weeks. I mean, we are talking about trillions of dollars, in the final analysis. I do not understand it. What is the rush? What is happening in two weeks? Is it the Columbus Day recess? What is it? Because I'm not quite clear.


CAVUTO: I think it is the Columbus Day recess.

But I — I don't know. But what do make of that? Because the argument could be that, you know, you lose someone like Olympia Snowe, who — who, up until now, has been considered to be leaning toward voting for reform, or at least the broadest aspects as envisioned by the president, and now she is getting antsy.

What do you make of that?

BARR: It's — it's certainly important and worrisome for the Democrats if they lose Olympia Snowe, who is one of two of three liberal or moderate Republicans that they want to have these in order to give the facade or the patina of a bipartisan bill here.

Much more problematic, though, are the Blue Dog Democrats that they stand to lose if sufficient outside pressure comes to bear from senior groups and families in the neighborhood making of $150,000 to $200,000 income. If they start to lose their support and the support of Blue Dogs, then they are really in trouble, because that puts them below the 60 percent — the 60-vote threshold.

CAVUTO: All right, so, the way things stand now — I have talked to a lot of people who are crunching these numbers, including John Boehner and others, who they say that they are not at that 218 votes in the House.

So, the one area where they probably could have counted on more support certainly than they could in the Senate is looking dicey, huh?

BARR: It is looking very, very dicey.

These Blue Dog Democrats are men and women from across the country, many of them in the South, which is kind of dicey, as you say, for the Democrats anyway. And if — if the president and the Democrat Party starts to lose them — which I think they will, now that this information is coming out — they are in deep, deep trouble.

CAVUTO: Congressman, always good seeing you. Thank you very much.

BARR: My pleasure, Neil.

CAVUTO: Bob Barr. All right.

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