Sen. Rubio: ObamaCare is 'eviscerating' the American economy

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," July 31, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Tonight, the battle to defund ObamaCare is getting heated with some members of the Republican Party calling the idea dumb, others saying it is exactly what this country needs.

Now, a majority of House Republicans want to block funding for the president's health care law on October 1st, the point at which government funding must get renewed by Congress. Now, that could lead some say to a government shutdown. Others in the party are saying, it's too politically risky. Senator Tom Coburn said, quote, "It is not an achievable strategy and it's just wouldn't work." Senator Richard Burr called the threat of a government shutdown, quote, "The dumbest idea I've ever heard."

But a dozen Republican senators have backed to push to defund this including Senator Ted Cruz.


SEN. TED CRUZ , R-TEXAS: The question I have asked of my republican colleagues over and over again is what is your alternative. If we simply sit here and meekly do nothing or if we cast another symbolic vote like the 39, 40, 41 votes in the House to repeal ObamaCare that never go anywhere, we will be acceding, we will be surrendering to ObamaCare being a permanent feature of the economy.


HANNITY: And that line of thinking reminds me of the advice of another republican, a message that was in fact delivered nearly 40 years ago.


RONALD REAGAN: I became a republican not because the parties were the same but precisely because they were different. More than half of those who didn't vote have been polled and say it no longer makes any difference which party wins. Now, some have taken another course. There are some among us -- and I respect their views -- who suggests that means the end to the Republican Party, that we should form a new third party. May I suggest an alternative to that. Let's have a new first party. A Republican Party raising a banner of bold colors, no pale or pastels, a banner instantly recognizable as standing for certain values which will not be compromised.


So, will the color of the Republican Party be remembered for bold colors or pale pastels? Joining me now, Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Senator, welcome back. Good to see you.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FLA.: Thank you, Sean. Thanks for having me.

HANNITY: Is this the moment that Reagan was describing back then?

RUBIO: It is. It is because if we're not willing to draw the line on the sand on ObamaCare, what issue are we willing to do that on? I can't think of a single thing that's affecting our economy negatively more than ObamaCare is right now. This is not about shutting down our government as our opponents claim.

This is very simple. This is about whether we're going to continue to pour money into a program that is basically eviscerating the American economy. It is forcing people to go from full-time work to part-time work, it's costing people the health insurance that they have and they're happy with, it's costing them their existing relationship with the doctor that's been seeing them for years, it's hurting businesses from growing. I mean, this is -- it's so damaging that even the employees union for the IRS, the very people in charge of enforcing this law, are begging to be let out from under this law.

This is a critical moment. And for my fellow Republicans, I respect them all, but look, if we're not willing to fight on this issue, what issue are we willing to fight on?

HANNITY: I kind of feel the same way as you do about it, Senator. Senator Coburn by saying, it's not an achievable strategy, it just wouldn't work. I think parts of his remarks were dealing with the fact that the continuing resolution, some of the spending would be mandatory. As a matter of fact, a significant portion. And only a small percentage of ObamaCare funding would be discretionary. Is there a way around that?

RUBIO: There is. The House needs to pass a short-term budget that has attached to it the bill to defund ObamaCare and its totality. Now, the argument he would make and others is that Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats will never go for that. But the reality of it is, that once that bill come over, we shouldn't go for any budget that doesn't defund ObamaCare, and then the only budget out there for us to consider would be the one that came over from the House.

Beyond that, I would say to you that is part of our continuing resolution, we can defund, for example, setting up the exchanges. We can defund the additional IRS workers. There's a lot we can do. But at the end of the day, how can I go back to Florida and my fellow colleagues go back to their home state and look at people with a straight face and say, we did everything we could to keep this law from hurting you? How can we say that to them if we vote for a budget that funds this? And that's the fundamental choice before us.

HANNITY: Well, Mike Lee described it on this very program. He said this is not about a government shutdown. Because our debt, our obligations, Social Security, our military, everything would be funded except this, so.

RUBIO: That's right.

HANNITY: So at that point if there's a government shutdown, who would be responsible?

RUBIO: Well, the one who's threatening to shut down the government is the President and his democratic allies. What they're basically saying is, unless the budget funds ObamaCare, they won't support it. They're basically saying that, unless we fund ObamaCare, they are willing to shutdown the government. And I would submit to you that ObamaCare is not more important than our country. ObamaCare is not more important than our economy. And it's their insistence on continuing to pour money into this broken and failed experiment that is threatening a government shutdown, not us.

HANNITY: Karl Roverwas on the program last night. And he said it was the worst law that he's seeing in our lifetime, meaning the ObamaCare law. I also pointed out something that I've mention a lot, that it's predicated on lies. But he talked about this strategy versus he would rather use an alternative strategy. What is your reaction to that because I don't know what the alternative strategy could be.

RUBIO: Well, look, we're always open minded on alternative strategist that would work better. But right now there isn't any. Right now the only strategy that I know of with regards to ObamaCare is ours in terms of confronting this and using this opportunity in September to defund this horrible law and the impact that's going to have.

And I would say this, Sean. This is not about Republicans versus Democrats anymore. This is hurting all Americans. When you have labor unions coming out against this, when you have union for the IRS workers coming out against this, when you have the White House sending briefers up to Capitol Hill to calm down nervous Democrats, you realize how much this law is already hurting and how much more it's going to hurt our country after October 1st.

Look, for me this is the last best chance. We have to do this. If we don't at least try to do this, the impact that this going have on our economy, some of it is going to just be irreversible.

HANNITY: Well, and it's costing billions. The president already got rid of the employer mandate or delayed it for year, that's costing $12 billion I read. that's a lot of money.

RUBIO: Think about the people that have health insurance now and they're happy with it. They're going to lose that health insurance. They have a doctor they've been seeing for the last 15 or 20 years. They won't be able to keep going to that doctor. Think of working-class Americans who are right now are working 40 hours a week that because of ObamaCare are going to be cut back to 29 hours a week. Think about the small businesses that want to expand and grow but are afraid to do so because it would trigger the ObamaCare mandate.

I've met these people, I've talked to these people. These are not billionaires, these are not millionaires. These are hard-working-class Americans who are on the verge of being punished because as you said, this law was built on broken promises and promises that continue to break every single day.

HANNITY: And look at Sarah Murnaghan who didn't get a waiver from Kathleen Sebelius which was a death sentence, but for a judge intervening in that case.

Let me ask you this, Senator. Since the immigration bill was passed, polls shown your support among Tea Party members and conservatives have gone down considerably. You've taken a big hit in terms of your popularity because of it. Some people have remained very angry with you about it. What is your reaction to that?

RUBIO: Well, I didn't do it for politics for obvious reasons as you're just outlining. A lot of people are upset about it. I did it because I thought it's important for this country to solve this problem. As I described to you earlier, if I came on this show and told you that my immigration plan was to allow 11 million people to stay here illegally, we weren't going to give them any legalization but we weren't going to deport them, depending on where they work, they may or may not have to pay tax taxes, they're not going to get federal benefits, but if they show up at the Emergency Room, they'll get free medical care, that we're not going to do anything else for the border, anything on e-verify. If I told you that was my plan, you would say, well, that's a bad plan.

Well, I'm saying to you, that's what's we have today. That is what going to stay in place if we don't do something. And so my hope it continues to be that we can fix this problem. Obviously, I felt that in the Senate, we had to get the process started. We did the best we could. Certainly the bill isn't perfect but I think it was a good way to start this process. I hope the conservatives in the House will improve upon it and I think they deserve the space and the time to do it in a way they can support and I hope eventually we'll solve this problem.

Look, it's not the most important issue facing America, ObamaCare is more important for example, but it is an important issue and we can solve it, we should try to do.

HANNITY: If the House decides to do this incrementally where they would first secure the borders first, which I think is the most important thing to do and we should be doing it anyway regardless of what else happens.

RUBIO: That's right.

HANNITY: And let's say they decide after the borders are secured and verified, secured, that they would allow legalization but not citizenship, because people didn't respect our laws and sovereignty. Could you support that?

RUBIO: Well, first of all, I've always supported the incremental approach, it was my preferred approach, it's not the direction the Senate wanted to go, but if it was up to only me, that's the direction we would have gone. Because I think you get a better product as a result of that.

What you've outlined is complicated. Because, the problem is that, if you're going to legalize people but you're never going to allow them to ever access citizenship, even 20 or 30 years from now. The problem with that is you've just replaced one immigration issue with another immigration issue.

In the long term, I think that position remains unattainable, un-maintainable. I think you're just going to trigger a whole new debate on immigration reform all over again. My preference would be to deal with this issue in a way that actually not just has border security, but 40 percent of our illegal immigration are people that are overstaying their visas. You have to have a system to track them. And just today, we saw a report that there's a million people here from abroad, we don't know where they are.

HANNITY: We don't know where they are.

RUBIO: That's got to be improved. So, we got to do it all.

HANNITY: All right. Senator, good to see you. Thanks for being with us.

RUBIO: Thank you, Sean.

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