Interviews

Sen. McConnell: ObamaCare is bigger than a website

Can ObamaCare itself be fixed?

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," December 10, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, call him Mr. Fix-It, or at least Democrats hope he still is, because John Podesta did wonders for President Clinton as his chief of staff after the whole Monica Lewinsky mess.

Now this president is hoping he will do the same for him after this whole health care mess, the White House just hiring him on as a top adviser.

Senate Majority Leader and Republican Mitch McConnell on what he makes of all of this.

Senator, good to have you.

What do you make of all of this?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY., MINORITY LEADER: Well, Neil, I don't think Albert Einstein could fix the ObamaCare problem.

I wish them well, but their problem is the substance of ObamaCare and how it's impacting America in all kinds of negative ways.

CAVUTO: Now, as you know, President Clinton has already said, give this four or five months, we will -- we will -- we will get this up and running, people will forget about this.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: What do you think of that?

MCCONNELL: Yes.

Well, they will get the website fixed sooner or later, but the problem is, if people like their health care and they can keep it, and they -- they were told by the president if they like their health care, they could keep it. That's not going to be true. If they like their doctor, they can keep him or him. That's not going to be true.

This can't possibly work. Sooner or later, they will fix the website, but you have the substance of the problem, over a trillion dollars of impact on the providers of health care, cuts to hospitals and hospice and nursing homes, taxing -- excuse me -- tax increases on medical devices and insurance premiums.

And then on the consumer side, the consumers of health care, rising insurance premiums, jobs being lost, and you don't get to keep the doctor or the insurance policy that you like. This is bigger than a website.

CAVUTO: All right, so when -- when the administration says, all right, then let's work with Republicans and fix it, Tom DeLay was on this show not too long ago, Senator, the former Republican leader in the House, saying, don't, don't do that. Let this fall of its own accord. Don't do anything to fix this monstrosity.

I'm paraphrasing, but that's pretty much the gist of what he said.

Do you agree with that?

MCCONNELL: Yes. I mean, it's not fixable.

And, actually, the president said he doesn't want to change it anyway. Now, he said he's going to spend the last three years of his term in office defending the legislation. So, he is not interested in changing it either. We're going to be experiencing the impact of this monstrosity for years to come --

CAVUTO: Now --

MCCONNELL: -- until --

CAVUTO: Go ahead.

(CROSSTALK)

MCCONNELL: -- until the American people decide to change the government.

And if they decide to change the government, we will pull it out root and branch, and go in a different direction, and work on the problem of cost, which could have been dealt with in an entirely different way, through competitive models, than this big government, big spending takeover of American health care that is ObamaCare.

CAVUTO: What did you think of the approach then that Ted Cruz had? Do you think that he -- he -- that mission was a misguided one?

MCCONNELL: Well, we certainly were not going to get ObamaCare defunded by shutting down the government with a Democratic Senate and a Democratic president.

We would all love to get rid of ObamaCare. We have got a problem. It's a math problem. In the Senate, we had 55 Democrats and 45 Republicans and we have a president who thinks it's a wonderful thing.

CAVUTO: Well, did you tell Senator Cruz --

MCCONNELL: So, the way to -- the way to -- the --

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: -- that at the time, that it was a wasted effort, if that was your feeling?

MCCONNELL: Yes. I -- I said this back in July quite publicly. It couldn't work, didn't work. We agree on the goal.

But the way to get rid of ObamaCare is to change the government, change the Senate in November 2014, and change the White House in November 2016. That's the way you get rid of ObamaCare.

CAVUTO: Some interpreted that, Senator, as being anti-Tea Party at the time.

And they said some of your recent statements seem to double down on that notion. You said recently that "The Senate Conservatives Fund is giving conservatism a bad name." You went to say: "They're participating in ruining the Republican brand. What they do is mislead their donors into believing the reason we can't get as good an outcome as we'd like to get is not because of a Democratic Senate and a Democratic president, but because Republicans are insufficiently committed to the cause, which is utter, utter nonsense."

Now, that sounds a like lot what John McCain told me pretty much word for word, but do you risk and do you mind it sounding like you're what Tea Parties call a RINO?

MCCONNELL: Well, you're mixing things up a bit. Let me -- let me make it clear. I'm a big fan of the Tea Party movement. I think it's been extremely important in helping us regain the House and do well in the Senate in 2010. There is one particular organization that I was talking about which I think has been counterproductive, but I think the movement in general has been very positive.

CAVUTO: Well, that Senate Conservatives Fund --

MCCONNELL: Yes.

CAVUTO: But that Senate Conservatives Fund is --

MCCONNELL: That --

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: -- is -- has a lot of big Tea Party backing. Right?

MCCONNELL: Yes. It's one of a number of different Tea Party groups.

CAVUTO: Right.

MCCONNELL: It's the one that I think has engaged in outrageous behavior that has cost us seats.

I'm a big fan of the Tea Party writ large. I think the whole movement devoted to trying to do something about government spending and debt has been very, very helpful to the conservative cause.

CAVUTO: In the meanwhile, Senator, you have been very alarmed by something that has been going underneath the surface that the media has been missing, all of these appointments on the part of the president, including beefing up the NLRB and elsewhere, that's gone either unnoticed or now, with them blowing up the whole filibuster thing, under-reported, if not reported on at all.

What's your concern?

MCCONNELL: Well, a couple of years ago, the president made what is called recess appointments when the Senate was still in session.

We are in court on that. It will be before the Supreme Court in the early part of next year. My lawyer is in fact -- the lawyer for the Senate Republicans have been given 15 minutes of the oral argument.

We think the court is going to -- going to slap the president down for assuming that he got to decide under the Constitution when the Senate is in session. In addition, you mentioned, Senate Democrats have now made it easier for Obama judges and Obama executive branch appointees to be steamrolled through the Senate.

And it's perfectly clear, Neil, that since they lost the election in 2010, they're now trying to achieve what they can't achieve legislatively through the courts and through the regulators, the bureaucrats. It's a -- it's a government that will do anything.

The president said, if you -- if you have your health insurance, you can keep it. Senator Reid said at the beginning of the year, we have settled the Senate rules question. Obviously, neither one of those observations and neither one of those commitments were true.

They knew it at the time.

CAVUTO: Well, do you think they lied at the time, Senator?

MCCONNELL: They --

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: There's the back and forth as to whether the president was just ignorant or whether he deliberately misled. What do you think?

MCCONNELL: Yes.

Well, let me put it this way. I think the president had to know that that was not accurate. Let me put it that way. He had to know that that was not accurate. And we said it back during the debate in 2009. It was perfectly apparent that if the government took over the health insurance market, things like that couldn't possibly be true.

And the reason I equate that to what the Senate Democrats did a couple of weeks ago, the Senate majority leader, Senator Reid, said at the beginning of the year we had settled the issue of what the Senate rules were going to be for the next two years, until he decided to do otherwise. It became inconvenient for him. They wanted to exercise power. They wanted to pack the courts and pack the bureaucracy with little or no oversight from the Senate, which, under the Constitution, has exactly that responsibility, to advise and consent, that is, to determine whether or not appointments are going to be confirmed.

CAVUTO: Well, let's -- let me ask you this. Then let's say Republicans take the Senate next year, and you hang on and fight off a party, intraparty challenger and win, and then are reelected leader of the Republicans.

Would you as then majority leader keep this rule in effect, or would you move to put the kibosh on it?

MCCONNELL: Well, that will be a big discussion to have a year from now as we're about to take over the Senate.

There's a great likelihood we will get to take over the Senate, and we will have to decide whether we want to act like they did when they were in the majority. I don't know what our view will be 12 months from now if we're about to be given the governing responsibility for the Senate, if I'm about to be given the opportunity to set the agenda, instead of Harry Reid. This will be an important discussion. I don't know what we will conclude a year from now, Neil.

CAVUTO: But it would be a good tit-for-tat. Right? Now, this is what you wanted.

MCCONNELL: It will -- it will certainly be discussed, I can tell you that.

CAVUTO: Would you be leaning too keep it or kill it if the Republicans are the majority?

MCCONNELL: I would be -- we'd be talking about it a year from now.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: All right.

Senator Mitch McConnell, it's always a pressure, sir.

MCCONNELL: OK.

CAVUTO: Thank you very, very much.

MCCONNELL: Thank you, Neil.

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