OTR Interviews

The Argument for the New Health Care Law - From a Democrat's Point of View

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 23, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: You just heard from a Republican senator. Now to the other side of the aisle. We went to Capitol Hill, and Michigan's Democratic senator Debbie Stabenow went "On the Record."


VAN SUSTEREN: All right, senator, you voted for the Senate health care bill, right?


VAN SUSTEREN: So I take it you liked it.


VAN SUSTEREN: So what is your incentive to vote for the reconciliation bill, which is the House version, if you liked your own?

STABENOW: Well, this is going to make a good bill better because we're talking about provisions in there that are going save money for middle class families, save money for seniors on their medicine, and it's going to save money on the national debt because it actually brings down the deficit more than the original bill.

VAN SUSTEREN: So why didn't you do that to yours?

STABENOW: Well, at that time, there were different priorities being worked on. I was pushing affordability for health care for middle class families. We didn't quite get it all the way I wanted to go. And so this final bill does that.

VAN SUSTEREN: Any sort of ruffled feathers here, any, like -- I mean, do you know any Democratic colleagues who think, I'm not going to vote for that House bill, I liked mine -- the Senate bill fine?

STABENOW: Well, I think we have a couple of folks that may not support this particular bill. But the majority of people understand this really is making a good bill better. And I have to say, I'm a proud author of the tax cut for small business that takes effect right now, up to 35 percent for small businesses to help them pay for health care. This is a big deal. This is really important.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, when I hear the president speak today, it (INAUDIBLE) and I know you were there today.


VAN SUSTEREN: It sounded like an unbelievably magnificent transformation and the American people should be thrilled. Then we listen to the Republicans...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... and they say that, you know, this is really a very expensive, very dangerous, and people worried about the deficit, and your numbers are so vastly different. Can you convince me your numbers are right? Are you cutting Medicare?

STABENOW: Well, let me tell you first of all, overall, the Congressional Budget Office, which is extremely conservative, and 43 different economists have all agreed that we are cutting the deficit about $140 billion the first 10 years and over $1.2 trillion in the second 10 years.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let me stop you right there, though.

STABENOW: When you talk about -- yes?

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me stop you there, though, because one of the things that you're able to do that because we're collecting income to pay for it for 10 years for six years of services, is what the Republicans say. And the second thing is that you very cleverly not included the $200 billion doctor fix, which would have put you over the top of your number had that been included.

STABENOW: Well, first of all, I want to -- I'm the author of the effort to fix this medical payment issue for doctors, and so I want to see that get done. That's been going on for many years, and we're going to move forward and fix that in some way. But let me just say...

VAN SUSTEREN: Isn't that health -- that is health care, though, right? You agree?

STABENOW: That is health care.

VAN SUSTEREN: And should be on this...

STABENOW: That is health care.

VAN SUSTEREN: And should be on this price tag?

STABENOW: Well, I think that it's something that would have been good to include in this. But let me go to your question of only 6 years and 10 years worth of revenue. The second 10 years, it's 10 years of revenue and 10 years of spending, and the CBO says, and 43 different economists, that we will save $1.3 trillion. Now, you asked me about Medicare...

VAN SUSTEREN: That's the second 10 years. And of course, we'll have more...

STABENOW: Yes, the second 10 years, even bigger.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I take it the 30 million that we're adding in the first 10 years, those 30 million will have more children, we'll have more children to add on in that second 10 years, right?

STABENOW: Well, here's what we know. Here's what we know. We know that the current situation is not sustainable. In my state, we're losing jobs. We're losing manufacturing jobs because of health care costs going...


STABENOW: ... skyrocketing -- absolutely, 14 percent unemployment. Small businesses right now getting 30 percent increases saying, Well, do I keep people employed and drop the insurance, or do I keep the insurance and fire people? And so we're at a point where we have to do something.

This gives a tax cut to small business to be able to help them be able to provide health insurance. It brings down the cost of medicine for seniors. It brings down the deficit. And it's going to help people going forward to be able to get what they're paying for. Right now, with insurance companies, you know, you can get dropped. You can't get coverage if you have...

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let me ask you about...

STABENOW: ... a preexisting condition.

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me ask you about the small business. As I understand it, though, some small businesses, if you have 50 employees or more, you're going to have to provide insurance, which may -- I mean, I'm not saying that I'm opposed to people providing insurance...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... but that's going to create a small business hardship, not a help.

STABENOW: Well, actually, when you look at it, any business right now that currently provides insurance will not be affected at all. If someone is not providing insurance or chooses going forward not to provide insurance, they will be paying a fraction of what they would pay into a contribution towards what their employees are receiving in terms of taxpayer-funded health because people going into their large pool will get tax cuts. And so the business will contribute to that much less than if they were providing it themselves.

VAN SUSTEREN: What's your level of certainty, 1 to 10, 10 being the most certain, that this -- that the numbers and the accounting that you have in your bill are going to really save us money? Because there's an awful lot of numbers floating around there.

STABENOW: Well, here's what I know. I don't know if I'd put a number on it. Here's what I do know. What the Congressional Budget Office didn't count are things that I think are the biggest savings -- preventive health, making sure somebody can see a family doctor, rather than walk into an emergency room, making sure that we change the way we provide an incentive so the incentives are to keep us well, keep us healthy, rather than the number of different procedures. That's going to save a lot of money.


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