This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," March 24, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: The verdict is already in on the health care overhaul that the president signed into law. To put it mildly, you the American people, you're not happy. And Democrats who thought the public's perception of the bill would magically change after ramming it through Congress? Well, think again. A stunning poll from Bloomberg News shows that only 38 percent of Americans actually favor the plan passed by the Democrats and half of those polled say they flat out oppose the overhaul.
Here's why: 53 percent of Americans say what the Democrats voted for this weekend amounts to a government take over of the health care industry. Only 42 percent say, they mostly or strongly disagree with that sentiment.
But Democrats aren't concerned with what you think in the Senate, they are blindly pushing forward with efforts to pass the reconciliation bill. Now sources tell Fox News that a final vote on that legislation is likely to take place on Friday that is unless Republicans are able to stop it.
Joining me now with the very latest on the health care battle heating up in the Senate tonight, we have New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg and South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint. Guys welcome to the show. I understand you almost didn't make it?
SENATOR JUDD GREGG, R-N.H.: Thank you, Sean. Yes, we are in the middle of votes right now every 10 minutes.
HANNITY: Just tell them you are on "Hannity," you're on the Fox News Channel. This is far more important.
GREGG: Well, our constituents pay us to vote.
HANNITY: Senator Gregg, why don't we start with you. What was that?
GREGG: Our constituents pay us to vote so that's a priority.
HANNITY: Why don't you explain what is going on right now in the Senate?
GREGG: Well, obviously Jim can explain it, but my take is that basically we are offering a series of amendments which are substantive, many of which restate the positions the president said, but are not in the bill such as nobody under $200,000 of income will have their taxes increased, people won't have their premiums go up. Special deals will be taken out of the bill.
We've offered all these types of amendments and they've been defeated on the party line vote which makes no sense to us because clearly this bill could be improved and should be improved and the constitutional process requires there be amendments and hopefully good ones will be passed.
HANNITY: Senator DeMint, you want to weigh in?
SENATOR JIM DEMINT, R-S.C.: Yes, I do. The important thing now, Sean, is to replace those who voted for the health care bill and repeal it when we get some new members here. I would encourage your viewers to go to repealitpledge.com and help us sign people up all over the country to support only candidates who are going to repeal this bill.
HANNITY: Right now, I spoke to Senator Mitch McConnell, the Minority Leader earlier today and that is the line of the Republicans. They want to repeal and replace this bill. You just mentioned the way that is going to happen is to vote these guys out of office.
Are you then conceding by that statement that it is going to be impossible through the Byrd rule, through reconciliation? We were told that process may allow the Republicans to cut out large portions of this. Senator Gregg is that not possible any longer?
GREGG: Well, they scrubbed this bill very aggressively and it's unlikely that a point of order will knock out a major critical section of it. It may impact it. We certainly haven't given up on the point of order attack. But primarily, we are focused on offering substantive amendments, which will replace this bill, which will make it a better bill. Instead of having a $2.5 trillion expansion of government which essentially taking over the health care industry we are proposing ideas that make health care better.
HANNITY: But are there any chances, Senator Gregg, that you can pass that, though?
GREGG: Well, so far we've lost almost all these votes. We are getting a couple of Democratic senators in each bill, but as you know we only have 41 Republicans. So Jim's point about electing more Republicans to the Senate in order to fix this is a pretty good one.
HANNITY: You know Senator DeMint a lot of people have been asking me about this and I thought it was interesting on the reconciliation side because they're supposed — it's not suppose to deal with major legislation, but with issues involving finances. You look at the votes, obviously you don't have the votes here.
John Boehner in the House actually said, and a lot of people said, well, if you have a Democratic president you are not going to be able to do anything any way because he is going to veto the bill and you won't certainly have enough votes to override the veto. So Boehner said, that Congress can defund Obama care if you take over the House and Senate next year. Is that something that you can do?
DEMINT: Well, we certainly can slow down the implementation, Sean. As you know, a lot of the parts of this bill don't go into effect for three or four years. So we need to have a good election this November. Slow down some of the implementation and then elect a Republican president in Congress in 2012 that can stop this.
Because I'm convinced, Sean, if this bill stands, it will bankrupt our country. It will destroy the health care system. We are already hearing from hundreds of doctors who say they going to take early retirement. I don't think the Democrats know how much harm they've already done with this bill. We've got to stay committed to repeal it if we want to keep the best health care system in the world.
HANNITY: Senator Gregg, what do you make of the polls that I just referred to?
GREGG: Well, I think they are accurate. I think the American people are implying their inherent common sense which says when you grow the government $2.5 trillion, when you cut Medicare by a trillion dollars when fully implemented and take money and create a new entitlement program, when you say to employers that it is cheaper to get out of covering employees than to actually cover their employees, you are going to fundamentally harm the health care system and more importantly you're going to create a situation where the federal government is simply unaffordable and will end up passing a government on to our children which is filled with debt and deficits that will overwhelm their capacity to have a quality lifestyle.
HANNITY: Senator DeMint, there's been a lot of focus on this program and elsewhere, talk radio certainly has been all over this the Cornhusker Kickback, the Louisiana Purchase, the exemption for states, the corrupt process, the bribery, the backroom deals, we went over all of that with a fine tooth comb. Now we find out that in the bill Obamacare, that Barack Obama isn't subject to this health care plan nor is Congress nor are their staffs. If this is good for the rest of us, why is it not good for them?
DEMINT: Well, I think congressmen are going to be forced into these exchange plans, but the committee staff who actually put the legislation together, exempted themselves at least as we understand it. But Sean, the fact is, the bill is passed. What we are doing here today is somewhat of a sideshow. Although it does include new power grab to take over the student loan programs.
Put 2,000 small businesses out of business and probably 30,000 people lose their jobs so the government can take it over and use heavy interest rates to help pay for health care bill. This has been the most dishonest and corrupt process I've seen in my 11 years in Congress.
HANNITY: And what about this gap in the law that was supposedly to protect children? Senator Gregg, maybe you can explain in more specificity, except for one bank I understand in North Dakota, they got their exemption as it relates to the student loan program. How the government will be taking that over which is going to mean a lot of loss of income for a lot of banks around the country.
GREGG: Well, that was corrected thank goodness, but the point here which Jim is making which is absolutely valid, is this is another nationalization of private sector activity by this government. They simply is nationalizing the entire student loan industry. Nineteen million students are now going to have to go down to the Department of Education to get their loan.
That's like going to the Department of Motor Vehicle to get your license. It can be a long, painful and very discouraging experience. Now you've seen the nationalization of the automobile industry. This is the quasi nationalization of the health care industry is the clean total nationalization of the student loan industry. This is a government that is trying to push us into a European model. They are doing it in an unfortunate way which is going to come back to haunt us as a nation and reduce our productivity and competitiveness in the world.
HANNITY: Senator DeMint, what about the attorney general around the different states that are going to challenge this and what about some of the constitutional challenges? Do you think they could be effective?
DEMINT: I really do and in fact, I think the states may be our only hope to stop this rampage of government takeovers at the federal level. If we had more states push back not only on health care, but on education, opening up their own energy supplies, on getting back their own transportation dollars, there are many things this federal government is doing that are outside the realm of the enumerated powers of the constitution.
And if we have a few champion governors who really push back, I think it is going to embolden their people to stand up and say we don't want the federal government running our lives and putting this debt on our children. So there are a lot of good things happening, despite the negative things we see from this Democrat majority.
HANNITY: Senator DeMint, thank you for being with us. Senator Gregg, we appreciate it.
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