Health Care vs. States' Rights

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," March 18, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, ANCHOR: Meanwhile, first to the Republican governor who just signed an executive order threatening to sue if this health care bill passes. I’m talking about Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter, joining me now, first on Fox.

So, Governor, this goes through, you sue. Why?

GOV. BUTCH OTTER R-IDAHO: Well, obviously because I think it’s a violation, not only of our state’s rights, but it’s a violation of their own oath that they took, when — including Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, that pretty well enumerates the powers and the responsibilities of Congress.

And there is nowhere that we can find grounded within Article 1, Section 8 an authority to actually write a health care bill that the state of Idaho and the citizens of Idaho are required to take care of.

CAVUTO: All right, so, this passes, you do this the very next day? What?

OTTER: Well, this passes — obviously, Neil, we’re watching a lot of our sister states around the United States, because, right now, I think there’s something like 36 other states that are taking a look at it.

And that’s Constitutional mass. And that’s, of course, one of the things that we’re the most excited about, is, as the other states take a look at it — and, as you know, Virginia had already passed theirs. The Commonwealth of Virginia passed theirs, and the governor let it become law without his signature.

And, so, in fact, we were the first state where the governor actually signed it. But there’s a lot of other states that are considering this. And, like I say, if we get 36, 37 states, Neil, we have got Constitutional mass.

CAVUTO: Indeed you do. Virginia’s attorney general is looking, as you indicated, sir, to do just that, to negate right this from the get-go. But what would be the issue you would — you would rest this on to try to spearhead this case?

OTTER: Well, for instance, I already mentioned Article 1, Section 8. And it pretty well outlines what the Congress is responsible for doing.

CAVUTO: Well, we got — no, we got — I know, Governor, and you know — you know this inside and out. But I’m just saying, the biggest thing is, you argue Congress is overstepping its bounds and forcing something on states that they can ill afford to pay. But it’s not just what-you-can-pay issue; it’s an intrusion on, basically, states' rights, right?

OTTER: Well, it’s an intrusion on states' rights, but, Neil, remember, it’s also an intrusion on the uniform requirement that’s in Article 1, Section 8 that says, if you’re going to do something, it has to be uniform across the United States.

And what they’re asking me to do is tax a person in Idaho to pay for a gimme, a vote purchase in Nebraska, in Louisiana, in Florida, in other states, and with the unions.

CAVUTO: So, when the other side comes back, Governor, and says, well, this is oftentimes how a lot of bills become law and — and how people are bought and, shall we say, cajoled to get laws, you would say, in this case, that’s going too far?

OTTER: I’m saying it’s going — there’s no authority grounded in the Constitution for the Congress to do what they’re trying to do. That’s what I’m saying.

And I’m also saying that the police power still belongs to the states. And if you’re going to require citizens to do certain things, it’s up to the state to do that.

CAVUTO: So, with the best of intentions, Governor, are you afraid what the other side charges you of being, creating havoc? In other words, 50 states start getting the idea that they cannot follow federal law or programs, be it maybe extended to Medicare, to Medicaid, to even our military, then it gets to be dangerous, that you are the one inciting danger?

OTTER: Well...

CAVUTO: What do you say to that?

OTTER: Well, Neil, let me tell you, the military is a proper responsibility for the United States Congress and the United States government.

What we’re looking at, the things that other states are — and it’s not limited to just health care, but the things the other states are looking at, obviously are the bills that have been signed into law by Montana, and Wyoming, and South Dakota yesterday, by Utah, who is considering it today, and many other states in the West, relative to their Second Amendment rights, other states that are looking at — for instance, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Virginia, their legislatures just passed laws saying, hey, we ought to be operating our National Guard, not Washington, D.C.

CAVUTO: Fascinating stuff. Governor, you could be a trailblazer here, but we will be watching it very closely.

Thank you very much for joining us.

OTTER: Well, thank you very much. Thanks for the time, Neil.

CAVUTO: All right, fair and balanced, the other side here.

A Democratic Governor who supports the president’s health care plan, doesn’t plan on suing anybody that I know of, Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania.

Governor, what do you think of your colleague in Idaho, what he’s doing?

GOV. ED RENDELL D-PA.: Well, I like Governor Otter, and he’s a good governor, but this is a total waste of time and a waste of the taxpayers of Idaho’s money.

CAVUTO: Why? Why is it?

RENDELL: Because the suit has absolutely no chance of success, and it will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, maybe millions of dollars, to prosecute the suit. It has no chance of success because of what is called the federal supremacy clause, Neil.

The federal government has the right to do this, just like they have the right to insist that everyone have a U.S. passport. We don’t have Idaho passports. We don’t have Pennsylvania passports. We don’t have Louisiana passports. The federal supremacy clause...

CAVUTO: But — no, no, well, Governor, you do have governors who are responsible for Medicaid disbursement within their states, yours included. And if this adds significantly to their costs, the states have a legitimate beef and argument that the federal government is flinging too much on them, and they have the right to, at the very least, protest it, and in extreme cases, maybe your Idaho governor colleague’s case, sue over it.


RENDELL: But they — they have a right to protest it, but they have no right to sue over it. The federal law...


CAVUTO: What if they can’t find a way in hell to pay for it?

RENDELL: Well, then they may have to raise taxes, Neil. I know that that’s something that boggles the mind.

But let me tell you about Pennsylvania. I have done a 10-year analysis, this decade, what’s in the Senate health care bill, because we assume that’s going to be the basic bill. And there are so many things that help us in reducing costs, like our ability to purchase pharmaceuticals in bulk, the Medicare Part D clawback, the increased money that we’re getting for our CHIP programs.

There are so many things that help us, the enhanced FMAP that President Obama has put in his budget, that over the course of the next 10 years, Pennsylvania actually gains money. We don’t lose money because of the health care legislation. We gain money.

And I dare say, if Governor Otter sat down and went through the health care bill at length, he would see a lot of things in there that will help his cost...


RENDELL: ... dramatically.

CAVUTO: Do you really buy anything, Governor, when someone tells you 10 years out?

RENDELL: Well, sure, because I can read the bill. And I...


CAVUTO: Yes, but this bill and the price of this bill has changed rapidly. And we just had a case this week, as you know, Governor, of a jobs bill that went from $15 billion one day when it was voted on to being signed off the next day at $18 billion, in one day, in one day.

So, I can’t even imagine what happens in 10 years.

RENDELL: Well, sure, but...


RENDELL: Well, but, of course, can a bill be amended? It always can be amended. It can be amended one way or the other.


CAVUTO: No, you’re assuming what you’re reading, Governor, the figures are etched in stone on that paper, and 10 years out, you’re going to save money and Pennsylvanians will do just fine.

I’m just here to remind you that most people barely know what they are going to have for breakfast tomorrow morning, let alone 10 years from now.

RENDELL: Well, I understand. But I also know, Neil, I will tell you this. In the first two years, we’re going to do real fine, because there’s no cost to the states for Medicaid.

And then it goes up to 95, 90 percent, and then it goes down to 90 percent over the course of the 10 years. But I know the money we will save by being able to buy pharmaceuticals in bulk.

CAVUTO: All right.

RENDELL: I know the money we will save by getting the clawback of what the federal government is charging us on Medicare Part D.


RENDELL: And Governor Otter is going to get those things, too.

So, look, this is not as one-sided as it sounds. And I will say this, Neil. And I don’t mean you, because I think you’re fair. But the Republicans and the conservative media have done such a great job spinning this, that people don’t have a clue of what’s really the truth of this bill. For example...


CAVUTO: I can’t find two liberals who have the same consensus on this bill, though, Governor, you know?

RENDELL: Well, I will give you an example.

I hear Republicans stand up at the Tea Party event and say, this bill will explode the federal deficit. Well, the Republicans always rely on the CBO when they want to do deficit projections. Well, the CBO rated the Senate bill as reducing the federal deficit over the course of the next decade by almost a trillion dollars.

So, if you quote the CBO for other things, rely on it for this.

CAVUTO: Well, you’re right about that.


CAVUTO: But, just stepping back from it — and I wish we had more time, Governor. I always enjoy having you.

But the fact of the matter is, that might be so over the period of that time, but we’re talking, over a same period, combined deficits are still going to be in excess of $10 trillion. So, let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. All right.

RENDELL: I agree. I agree. And that’s a problem. But don’t say that — I agree with you that deficits are a problem.

But don’t say that this health care bill is going to run up the deficit. It’s a lie. And I heard Republicans lie in front of the Tea Partiers.

CAVUTO: You don’t know. Bottom line, neither side knows, right? It’s a wish list.

RENDELL: No, but we have to rely on the CBO. It’s nonpartisan.

CAVUTO: All right.

RENDELL: Republicans rely on it. Democrats rely on it.

CAVUTO: Gotcha.

RENDELL: Thanks, Neil. Thanks for the time.

CAVUTO: Gov, always good to have you. Thank you.


RENDELL: Good to see you.

CAVUTO: Same here.

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