This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 3, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Our next guest is a very popular guy here in Washington. Why? You'll find out. Earlier, Democratic congressman Frank Kratovil went "On the Record."
VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, nice to see you, sir.
REP. FRANK KRATOVIL - MD.: Nice to see you. Thanks for having me.
VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, you are thought of -- and you may correct me if I'm wrong -- as a fiscal conservative, and you are a Democrat, of course, and you voted no last November to the health care bill in the House.
KRATOVIL: I did.
VAN SUSTEREN: And your bill -- your vote now is going to be what?
KRATOVIL: Well, just as when I was a prosecutor, I like to look at the facts and the merits of the bills first before saying which way I'm going to go. I mean, one of the things that I've -- has been very interesting to me as a legislator is folks that say, you know, We expect to you vote one way before you even look at the bill. The answer to that is, I don't know what the final proposal is going to be. The president just released that today. We obviously were hearing rumors that they're going to come with the Senate version. If that's the case, I'm not likely to support that
VAN SUSTEREN: OK, so it'd be vote no to the Senate version and the jury is out, so to speak, on the president's because you haven't seen it.
KRATOVIL: I haven't seen it. And again, I -- you know, when I pushed back against bringing that vote to the floor in August, you know, I said that I didn't think it was appropriate to be taking a vote when people hadn't had an opportunity to review it. I had a lot of Democrats say, you know, Why are you pushing back against that? And my answer was, We ought to have time to review it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, obviously, the Democrats are -- they really want your vote. Have you spoken to the president?
KRATOVIL: I am receiving -- certainly receiving discussions with leadership, with the president. My preference...
VAN SUSTEREN: When's the last time you spoke to the president?
KRATOVIL: I was actually just there on a pay-go issue. We were there talking about the pay-go bill that passed, which the Blue Dogs are very excited about. But...
VAN SUSTEREN: Did he pull you aside and say, Hey, you know...
KRATOVIL: Well, he said to the whole group that, you know -- and it's the same pitch that I've certainly heard before. And you know, I -- in many ways, I agree that we need to do something. I do think the system is broken. I think most people agree with that. My particular view is I think we ought to look at some of these issues where we have consensus and build on it.
VAN SUSTEREN: One of the things that sort of I always find sort of curious is that in sort of the numbers, the CBO scoring, whether it's $850 billion, or whatever it is. One thing that's left out of the scoring is the so-called "doctor fix," which anywhere from $250 billion to $350 billion. Do you think -- since doctors deliver health care, do you think that should be considered in the overall price when we look at this?
KRATOVIL: I do. And as a matter of fact, it's an issue that I raised. And I -- it wasn't just me. I mean, I think The Washington Post raised that, as well. The original bill, obviously, according to CBO, the original House version, was going to -- CBO said was going to increase the deficit substantially. The new bill that was filed removed that doctor fix out of it.
VAN SUSTEREN: It's a gimmick, a little bit, to pull it out.
KRATOVIL: Well, listen, I mean, I think both sides do that. My point is, I think...
VAN SUSTEREN: Maybe we should stop it.
KRATOVIL: We should stop it. And I think we need to make sure that we're making decisions, as I said, based on the merits of the bill. One of the things I do do is I look at the CBO, I look at the Congressional Research Service, Congressional Quarterly, trying to find that neutral information that sort of cuts through the propaganda really on both sides.
VAN SUSTEREN: What will it -- what will it take for to you vote yes?
KRATOVIL: Well, again, I mean, there -- if the vote -- if the initial vote is going to be on the Senate, I've got -- obviously...
VAN SUSTEREN: That's the easy one for you.
KRATOVIL: That's an easy one. I didn't like some of the deals that were cut. I thought that was inappropriate. I think it's one thing to talk about supporting projects in your district. I think it's another to cut out completely, you know, your state's responsibilities.
VAN SUSTEREN: So are you saying that as long as Nebraska is out and Florida gets rid of their deal and Louisiana, it's more attractive to you?
VAN SUSTEREN: Or it's a done deal or still bothers you?
KRATOVIL: It still bothers me. I think, ultimately, I want to look at the same things I looked at before, and I haven't had an opportunity to do that, but cost, impact on deficit, and does it bend the cost curve?
VAN SUSTEREN: How do you decide what the job of the congressman -- is it to represent what the people back home want, or do they send you here to vote your conscience? Which is it?
KRATOVIL: I think it's both. I mean, I think...
VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, but what if they conflict with each other?
KRATOVIL: Well, I think you have a set of core principles that you believe in and that you should hold onto. And I think that guides you in most of the decisions you make. At the same time, I think the concerns and opinions of your constituents matter, which is again why, although August was ugly -- it perhaps was the best and worst of democracy at the same time -- I thought it was necessary because I thought the American public and people of my district should have a right to express their concerns related to that bill.
And when I got back from that August break, I sent a letter, along with 10 other freshmen Democrats, to the leadership saying, Here are some of the legitimate concerns that have been raised by the people of my district, setting aside some of the more extreme issues that I didn't think were legitimate, including "death panels." But there were legitimate concerns that were raised, and I thought that we should try to incorporate some of those into the bill. Now, some of those have, some of those haven't.
But the answer is, clearly, part of democracy is representing the concerns and views of your constituents. And we need to do that in this bill, as well.
VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, sir.
KRATOVIL: Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: There's so much more of our interview with Congressman Kratovil. Check out the entire interview tomorrow on GretaWire.
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