Interviews

Huckabee: GOP Punting on Medicare

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," May 13, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, this just in. It's worse than we thought, and Medicare and Social Security's day of reckoning is a lot closer than we fear. Try five years closer for Medicare, now expected to run out of dough by 2024, and a year closer for Social Security, now likely tapped out by 2036, yet both parties punting on fixing them in 2011 -- Republican senators saying, more like 2013, after the next election dust settles.

Mike Huckabee says, too late. And who knows? He could be part of that next election cycle. And, trust me, I will drag it out of him.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: The governor joins me right now. Governor, good to see you.

MIKE HUCKABEE, FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: Hi, Neil.

CAVUTO: Something happening on your show tomorrow night?

HUCKABEE: We are going to have quite an interesting show.

CAVUTO: Yes. Yes.

HUCKABEE: I hope people will watch. I'll be announcing to the FOX viewers what my intentions are. But it will be announced then, and not today.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: But the end -- like the end of "Dallas," "The Last Fight"?

HUCKABEE: Oh, I'm just -- yes, we will find out who shot J.R. and what I'm going to do all at the same time.

CAVUTO: All right. I'm looking at your eyes to get a sense, but it's steely-eyed here.

HUCKABEE: You know, to tell you this, if you read stuff today, just know that my executive producer does not even know what the decision is. I have not even communicated with members of all my family until this afternoon.

CAVUTO: Really?

HUCKABEE: Yeah.

CAVUTO: So, they know.

HUCKABEE: They might know. Yeah, they -- they know.

CAVUTO: OK.

(CROSSTALK)

HUCKABEE: But that's it.

CAVUTO: Well, actually, I think I have a number there.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Wait a minute.

(CROSSTALK)

HUCKABEE: So, if you -- you're going to hear people that will act like that they know all about it, and they don't.

CAVUTO: All right.

Now, I know there's a lot involved in that decision...

HUCKABEE: Yes, there is.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: ... personally. It's very difficult on families. And your kids are a little older here, but it's still tough.

HUCKABEE: Sure.

CAVUTO: It's a grueling process, too. You have got to raise money. It's a little -- it's a kind of demeaning process in that regard, because you have to go to, you know, like little restaurant openings to try to get -- nothing wrong with a restaurant, but...

HUCKABEE: No, but that's...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: But that's a tough part of it, right?

HUCKABEE: No, that's actually the best part of it. It is going out and meeting people of America.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Well, I'm talking the money-raising part.

HUCKABEE: Well, that's tough, because, sometimes, you feel that's all you end up doing. It is a very difficult part of it.

But the reason that a person does it is because, as you look at this country and the problems we're in -- you just mentioned Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security. These are programs that are going broke.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: And your party is punting.

HUCKABEE: They are punting. And it's unfortunate.

First of all, I think it's very important that they make it clear they are not going to rid of Medicare, they are not going to take grandma and put her in the street, because that's not the goal --

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Well, why are they on defense?

HUCKABEE: I think because they put themselves out as there as if they were going to tackle these programs, and it scared the daylights out of a lot of people.

And what they're going to have to do is to communicate, here is the protection that we guarantee for seniors that we're not going to do it. But here's -- here's the other piece of that. There are ways to change some of these programs.

Now, the one I'm most familiar with is Medicaid, because I ran a Medicaid program for almost 11 years as a governor. The problem with Medicaid is that the federal requirements for how you administer it are so stringent, that you end up spending a lot of money not necessarily in the best interests of the people who need the services, but you spend it according to the way the bureaucrats in Washington have designed it.

One way that would save Medicaid would be in the block grant approach, to give states the capacity to innovate. For example, if there was at least some co-pay and deductible -- the advocates go crazy on this. All the advocates on the left can't stand this.

CAVUTO: Right.

HUCKABEE: But if you get a medical service, you should have at least some participation in it.

I'm not talking about enough that would keep you from getting health care for your kids. Nobody wants to see a sick child not be able to get medication or an emergency room visit. But what we are talking about, that is, if you had to pay a $10 visit to the doctor, but if you took to the hospital and an emergency room in the middle of the night for the same headache and it cost you $100, guess what you'll do? You'll wait and go see the doctor in the office tomorrow for $10, not go to the emergency room for $100.

But here's the deal. What if it doesn't cost you a dime? Then, when you want to go, you'll just go to the emergency room.

CAVUTO: You don't care.

HUCKABEE: You don't care.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: All right. Regardless of whether you run or not, the frontrunner presumably right now, Mitt Romney, tried to explain the health care thing yesterday that he did in Massachusetts. Did he succeed?

HUCKABEE: I think he's got a real issue with that. And I'm not sure that he succeeded in explaining it.

If you read some very strong editorials -- for example, The Wall Street Journal...

CAVUTO: Right.

HUCKABEE: ... I think really took him apart and called him Obama's running mate. It's tough.

You know, I said months ago, Neil -- and I know a lot of people thought that I was being facetious or trying to gig him. I wasn't. I was actually being sincere, because I felt that, if Mitt Romney would come out and say, "Look, we tried this in Massachusetts; that's what states are supposed to do, is to be laboratories of democracy, and we attempted this, and it hasn't really worked out like we thought, so it's not a good idea to try it on the national level," that would have been a smart play.

It's not what he did. He -- it's going to be something he will have to deal with. He could have ended it yesterday. Now he's going to be dealing with it in every debate. He's going to be dealing with it in every confrontation.

CAVUTO: So, every debate with him when you're running for president, you will have to take this up.

HUCKABEE: If that's the announcement that gets made tomorrow -- and you will know tomorrow night at the end of "Huckabee."

CAVUTO: You will know right....

HUCKABEE: Then you will know. That's right.

CAVUTO: The end of "Huckabee."

(CROSSTALK)

HUCKABEE: It could be in the middle, could be at the beginning.

CAVUTO: This is like the final episode of "MASH."

"Huckabee" tomorrow night.

HUCKABEE: It might be during one of the commercials.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: I think it's the end of the show.