OTR Interviews

Is a Government Web Site Being Used for Health Care Propaganda?

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 21, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is suspicious. Is the government using your tax dollars to push propaganda, propaganda that is pro-President Obama? Earlier Senator Grassley went "On the Record."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, nice to see you, sir. You sent a letter over to the Secretary of HHS, Sebelius. What is your concern?

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY, R - IOWA: This is part of my oversight work, making sure that laws are followed according to Congressional intent.

Secondly, if you go on their Web site, you would find something like "Click here if you want to send a letter in support of health care reform." It sounds like something Speaker Pelosi was saying three or four years ago, when one of our secretaries was sending out information that she thought was utterly propagandistic.

And I guess there is taxpayer money being used, and I want to know what it is being used for, that it is not being used for partisan purposes.

And it is funny, this letter only allows you say you are in support of health care reform. It does not give you the opportunity to say you are opposed to it. It asks for your address. It asks for your email address. And I want to know if your privacy is being violated, as well.

But the most important thing is, is taxpayers money being used to promote a partisan policy objective.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK, and when you go to the HHS official Web site, if you go to the right upper hand side, that is where you can click to sign this petition, which is only in favor of the health care reform.

GRASSLEY: Only in favor, yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: And you supply your email address. Do you know what their intent is to use your e-mail address when you sign in?

GRASSLEY: I don't know. And I think we ought to know if privacy will be violated, that it will not be used for purposes that maybe political or elsewise.

And remember, taxpayers' money are paying for this, and I have questioned whether or not that is proper use of taxpayer money.

VAN SUSTEREN: And then there is the whole Hatch Act, which is the 1939 act which says that the government is not supposed to politick on the government's dime for a particularly position.

GRASSLEY: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: When did you send your letter out?

GRASSLEY: I sent it out yesterday. I do not have an answer yet.

VAN SUSTEREN: When would you expect a response?

GRASSLEY: On something like this, it is pretty clear cut. We have other political leaders speak out against, in the Bush administration, about similar things going on, and I think it would be pretty clear cut and that I would get an answer rather immediately.

VAN SUSTEREN: Today?

GRASSLEY: I would like to have an answer today. But we don't have one yet.

VAN SUSTEREN: How about tomorrow?

GRASSLEY: Listen, if I get one tomorrow, that will be soon. But I think there will be a tough time for them justifying, particularly when there were criticisms about the previous administration doing similar things.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you expect you will get a response back from the secretary? Is that protocol and good manner, or do you expect them to yank it down?

GRASSLEY: Obviously if they do like previous administrations have done when people of the other political party had raised the same objection, it did come down.

We had something recently that they found objectionable. They had the situation where they were putting out information, Humana was putting that information on health care issues on the Hill. And this very same administration said that was a misuse of a maybe tax-supported organization because they are involved in Medicare.

So that was a private sector organization that was trying to tell their members about how health care might affect them. And HHS quickly put a stop to that. And I would expect them to act just as quickly on this one.

VAN SUSTEREN: On another related issue, I saw the 1,500 page bill. Are all of the senators staying up reading that Senate Finance bill?

GRASSLEY: We should be, although it may be it is a waste of time to read that one, because that 1,502 page bill is going to be merged with a 1,000-page bill that came out of the Senate HELP committee.

So we might actually have the responsibility of reading a bill that is more than 2,000 pages, and that bill will have to be read, because, let me tell you, at my town meetings this summer, and I'll bet you heard it in other states, as well, people said "Are you going to read the bill?"

There are even some organizations that are asking members to sign a pledge that they will read the bill.

It is just common sense that you have to read a bill before you vote on it. Maybe members don't, and I know that some members have made excuses for not reading bills, but particularly when you are reshuffling one-sixth of the economy and you are affecting life or death issues of 306 million Americans -- Congress has never done something like this.

This bill needs to be studied. But member might not have to read it before the first day of debate, because I think that something this big will be discussed for several weeks on the floor of the United States Senate.

VAN SUSTEREN: Quick question. On this particular bill, would you be in favor of a pledge where everyone who votes on it, ultimately, the last bill, should sign a pledge to have read it or have not read it?

GRASSLEY: I think every member is on notice that if they have not read this bill, they will be in trouble with their constituents.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, Senator. It's nice to see you.

GRASSLEY: You bet.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

Content and Programming Copyright 2009 FOX News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2009 CQ Transcriptions, LLC, which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon FOX News Network, LLC'S and CQ Transcriptions, LLC's copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.