OTR Interviews

Rove: Maybe Harry Reid is really 'the 'D' who is dumb'

Karl Rove on Pres. Obama's hard sell of the Affordable Care Act to his disappointed young base and Harry Reid's hypocrisy on ObamaCare


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," December 5, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: The Democrats must think that Americans are stupid or something. Why else do they keep saying these things they know simply are not true and would not think they would worry about getting caught? Karl Rove joins us. Nice to see you, Karl.


VAN SUSTEREN: Karl, so what -- I mean, what is this? What's with them? Why do they keep saying this stuff? There is no contest that it's wrong?

ROVE: Look, Harry Reid, in particular, is way out there. I mean, look, people have lost their policies between 5.4 million and 6.2 million policies have been canceled. That represents 10, 12, 14 million people. They didn't get a renewal letter. They got a cancellation letter and the president acknowledged it. He apologized and said he had mislead people and he apologized for it and yet Harry Reid comes back and says, you know, the president was right.

Was he right when he was telling people they could keep their policies or was he right when he apologized and said I'm sorry for misleading you? Reid's problem is this. This is out of a new Fox poll, 38 percent of the people think the administration has been honest with them about the Affordable Care Act and 55 percent believe they deliberately deceived people.

VAN SUSTEREN: I think, you know what, Karl, I think they are lucky in light of the tape that we just ran. Lucky they got those numbers.

ROVE: Exactly. Did they know in advance that people were going to get kicked off? Fifty nine percent said yes, 35 percent said no, but Harry Reid continues to sit there and say things that people know are absolutely not true. Look, normally Senator Harry Reid would be identified as the "D" from Nevada. Maybe he is really the "D" who is dumb. This is really stupid on his part to say oh the president was right when the president said I was wrong. I apologize.

Was he D? Who does he think that we are that he can go on television and say those kinds of things? Maybe it's D who are you going to believe, me or your cancellation letter? I mean, it was an extraordinary performance. And Harry Reid is capable of really extraordinary performances this topped them all.

VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, but I don't understand even the president though saying the GOP has no alternatives. He may not like the alternatives. He may think they are lousy, stupid whatever ideas. He says in a national speech. The Republicans they do have alternatives. You may not like them so that just flat out wrong.

ROVE: Well, think, remember, this president falls back in moments of tension and when he guess under stress he falls back in the habit of offering up straw men. Of saying -- of suggesting that his opponents are in favor of something which they're not in favor of. All they want to do is go back to the old system. Look, why is he -- has he not been paying attention?

I can't believe that a man as smart as President Obama has not heard about the ideas like allow small businesses to pool their risks or increase the ability of people that save for out-of-pocket medical expenses tax free or medical liability reform. In fact, he talked about that in one of his speeches to the Congress.

He said I know some of you on the Republican side are in favor of that. He knows about these proposals. He knows about these ideas and when he gets into a corner, he going to say things that he knows aren't true to build a straw man.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know what though, Karl? This is not a game. I don't need it to tell you or lecture or you anything. This is about people's health. People worried about chemotherapy and they are going out and saying this stuff that's flat out not right. We are trying to sort through what going to work and what going to not work. It is really disheartening.

Bring you to another topic. Listen to this. Called forget about the price tag. That's the name of the song that just won the grand prize in the HHS Obamacare video contest and we're not joking. Here it is.

You know, Karl, this actually enrages me. I think it this sort of playing on TV radiation unit in a hospital or hospital unit or chemotherapy. Big game and big joke and contest and don't worry about the price tag.

ROVE: Yes, don't worry about the price tag. I thought it was ironic that a young woman would be singing a song and lecturing her peers saying don't worry about the price tag. Remember, at the heart of the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare is a provision called community rating, which says in essence younger healthier workers shall pay a higher premium than they would otherwise be charged in order to subsidize the premiums paid by older, less healthy people.

She is saying basically young people don't care that you are getting a raw deal that you are going to have to pick up a bigger tab than you would if the market were not so regulated by Obamacare. Older, less healthy and may have a less healthy life lifestyle. The second thing they have got me on this is that this woman talked about fairness, this was -- it's all about being fair.

Well, it ought to be about allowing people, giving people access to quality healthcare. Not about, quote, "fairness." This once again is this mantra of the Obama administration that some people have too much and some people have too little. The purpose of government is to take from them that have in order to give to them that don't.

We are going to have free cell phones for some people or we are going to have this and going to have that increasing dependency on government whenever government decides that the system is somehow not fair. If you got more than the government decides is fair we're going to give it to people who have less than we think they ought to have.

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't know and I guess I would add to that aspect. I think they sort of cheapen the seriousness of this issue for people living in fear that they are getting cut off, worried about serious medical things and here you have HHS running a singing contest as bad as the guy in the bathtub with the two glasses of wine. Just shows, just cheapens it but such an important national dialogue we should be having about this.

ROVE: Look. I must admit I'm a little unsettled by the idea the government organizing Whitehouseyouth.org in order to collect young people in support of the White House and go out in a contest like this using tax dollars in favor of the public policy that is obviously very divisive. It is just a little unsettling.

What would have happened if in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 with Medicare Part D if the White House under George W. Bush had organized whitehouseseniors.org as support group for the administration's policy? I suspect some of the Democrats who voted against the president -- President Bush's proposal would have been out there screaming and yelling saying this is really an inappropriate thing to do.

Look. I understands we have got to find ways to get the government wants to find ways to implement this program but this just struck me as just a little bit --

VAN SUSTEREN: You know what? I can set up with one part about they talk about how important it is to healthy people. Provide medical care and we need to fund. This and then they spend a million dollars on a piece of art at the end of September to put in an embassy in London. Do we really need that when we are trying to find healthcare for people who are seriously ill and don't have money in this country? I don't buy it when people tell me how important this is when they are doing stupid things like that.

ROVE: Greta, how about having a $650 billion website that doesn't work well and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars to go to so-called quote "navigators," communities, community groups, a lot of them on the left of American politics. Who have signed up very few people in some states have signed up zero people.

Many of these groups have signed up a handful of people and they are getting large amounts of money each month from the federal government for their help on this program and you are right. This was not well thought out. And we are spending a lot of money to do things that don't allow people to get quality health care.

VAN SUSTEREN: Karl, thank you.

ROVE: You bet. Thank you, Greta.