Interviews

Paul: My ObamaCare replacement plan is the conservative plan

The lawmaker says the GOP establishment's position to keep parts of the health law is not the right idea

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," February 15, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST:  All right.  The easy part is repeal for Republicans when it comes to ObamaCare.  The tougher part has been replacing it.  

An early advocate of trying to do so simultaneously is with us right now, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.  

Senator, where does your plan stand?  And it's -- because I understand, with some, it's popular, with others, not so much.  Explain.  

SEN. RAND PAUL, R-KENTUCKY:  Well, you know, I think the replacement plan that we put forward is now the conservative plan. The House Freedom Caucus has endorsed it, which means they will officially endorse it today as their plan.  

It's being introduced by Congressman Sanford of South Carolina.  And, basically, it does three things.  It legalizes the sale of inexpensive insurance.  That means it gets rid of the ObamaCare mandates that added expense to insurance.  

It also expands health savings accounts, so people can save to buy their insurance, to pay their deductible, to have weight loss, exercise, vitamins, preventative care, whatever you want, in an HSA.  And then it also lets individuals join an association, so they can get leverage to get cheaper price.  

The goal is to have and ensure the most amount of people at the least amount of cost.  

CAVUTO:  Now, this is a division I didn't -- update me on.  What happened with Speaker Ryan's people and then the Freedom Caucus?  Was there some division here?  What?  

PAUL:  I think maybe that might have been over-reported.  

I think I might have been having a grumpy day.  But I really wasn't upset so much about any kind of interaction.  I think we had very polite interaction about differences over ObamaCare.  

I would say that the Republican establishment position is that they're going to keep parts of ObamaCare.  I don't think ObamaCare-lite is what we should do.  The House was elected Republican in 2010, the Senate in 2014, and then the White House in 2016 on the promise that we would repeal ObamaCare root and branch.  And I think we should do it.  

We should keep our promises.  Repeal the whole thing.  Let's give more freedom to the individual, more freedom to the states, and let's try to make insurance less expensive and help people to buy it by making it less expensive.  But let's don't have another big government program or keep any bit of ObamaCare.  

CAVUTO:  But what was the reception you got from Speaker Ryan on that?  
 
PAUL:  You know, I got the perception that many people think that they have decided without the rest of us.  

And my point was that conservatives are not on board.  We said that we were for the repeal we passed a year-and-a-half ago, two years ago.  The last time we voted on ObamaCare repeal, we voted to repeal as much of it as was legally possible.  That's what most of the conservatives are for now.

The House Freedom Caucus voted to say that their caucus, the official position of all 40 members is that they're not for ObamaCare-lite.  They're for repealing the whole thing.  

And so my message to the speaker was, I think he is going to need to talk to the conservatives.  My message to the Senate Republicans, they need not to ignore Senate conservatives.  It's a very narrow margin.  And I don't want to get to the last minute where something gets shipped over from the House that has ObamaCare-lite and they're saying, that's all you get.  You can't amend it.  Either vote for it, or you're a renegade.

I'm just not voting for partial repeal.  I'm telling them now I'm not voting for partial repeal.  I want to vote on the whole repeal.  We already did it once.  Virtually every Republican supported it when we did it the last time.  

Why are we now weak-kneed and saying we're not going to vote for the whole thing?  Vote for the whole thing.  That's my message.

CAVUTO:  But when you say vote for the whole thing, Senator, does that include repealing and then replacing it with would be your thing, your idea?  

Because the president seems to be closer to that mind-set, maybe after listening to you some weeks back.  I'm just wondering, where will this ultimately go down, that apparently everybody agrees on repealing.  I guess the only issue is how quickly they replace it, right?  

PAUL:  Well, yes and no.

I don't think we agree on repeal any longer.  I'm for repealing, the same bill, the same vote we had a year-and-a-half ago.  Now many Republicans are saying, well, let's just partially repeal.  Let's keep the taxes, or let's keep the Medicaid expansion.  

CAVUTO:  Oh, I see what you're saying.  I see what you're saying.

PAUL:  There's a lot of disagreement now on repeal.  So conservatives are trying to get our message out that we're not going along with a partial repeal.  We either say we're going to vote on the previous repeal or we're not voting for it.  

CAVUTO:  Yes.  

PAUL:  And that needs to be a strong message, a loud message to leadership that we ran on a policy of repeal.  We're not supporting partial repeal. And if that message doesn't get through, we're going to have a big fight as this thing moves forward.

CAVUTO:  But are there enough who share that view, or could this get stymied here?  There are a lot of folks who are saying, we really shouldn't have made this our signature issue going in, maybe tax cuts, corporate tax reform, something first, but not this.  

PAUL:  There are 40 House Freedom Caucus members.  They're on record as being for a complete repeal.  And now they're on record as supporting a version of my replacement bill.  

So, I think that's plenty to say to leadership, you know what?  You're not going to roll over the conservatives.  You are going to have to talk to conservatives.  Conservatives are closely aligned with the grassroots.  

I traveled the country.  I was in Republican primaries, at least talking to Republican primary voters, in 40 states.  Not one of them said, will you please repeal part of ObamaCare?  They want less expensive insurance in a market-oriented replacement, but they don't want a federal program.  They don't want ObamaCare. They want us to repeal the whole thing.  

CAVUTO:  Switch gears a little bit, Senator.  

You said that it makes no sense for Republicans to investigate the president over this whole retired General Flynn situation.  And Democrats immediately seized on that as saying, well, he was all gung-ho on going after Hillary Clinton.  Not so when it's someone in his own party.  

You say what?  

PAUL:  The point I was trying to make is, I don't think there needs to be a political or a politicized investigation.  

Law enforcement is always free to investigate people they think broke the law.  So, if someone broke the law here -- and I'm not still aware of what law was broken or who broke it -- but if they did, we have mechanisms for trying people in the courts.  We have law enforcement that indict people and prosecute people.  

But I don't want a politicized investigation here that detracts from doing the things that we need to do.  

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO:  But a lot of your colleagues would say, sir, that that's what Republicans did to Hillary Clinton.  I mean, the goose-gander thing, I understand, but that it's very different now that the shoe is on the other foot.  

What do you say?  

PAUL:  I think that the question probably was more of a political question with Hillary Clinton.  And I don't think it was one of indictment or non- indictment.  

There also was a corresponding or a linear track that was a legal investigation.  The FBI were investigating her at the time.  So, my views might be different if you tell me tomorrow that the FBI is investigating certain individuals.  

But until I know that there's some sort of legal investigation, I don't think we need a political witch-hunt.  I don't think we need political demagoguery.  Why don't we let the law enforcement people who actually do real investigations, why don't we let them do the investigating?

CAVUTO:  Do you find it odd, though, that after we know that we certainly had General Flynn talking to the administration about this issue, and that weeks ago, it knew that -- more than it was saying it knew, that that alone says he shouldn't have been in these high and top security meetings?

PAUL:  Well, I think the thing that worries me most is that we have high- ranking officials who are listening to phone calls and then revealing highly classified information to the media.  

They should be in prison.  They should be in prison for a long time, because it's very, very sensitive to be recording the phone calls of our high-ranking officials talking to other government officials.  

They may say, we're investigating them.  But you know what?  Somebody needs to let me know, was there a FISA warrant gotten?  Did they have a specific warrant to listen to anybody's conversation?  But it's never legal to release that to the media.  All these people...

CAVUTO:  Well, maybe those agencies were turning on the very people who were going to be running them.  

PAUL:  Say that one more time.  

CAVUTO:  Maybe the agencies were turning on the very folks who were going to be running them.  

PAUL:  Well, and that's a real problem.  

CAVUTO:  Yes.  

PAUL:  Because Flynn had been a critic of the intelligence community and the intelligence agencies.  

And so are we going to let unelected people secretly reveal top-secret -- I mean, a conversation with the NSA director to the Russian ambassadors, I think, would have to be top-secret.  And I don't understand how someone can just get away with revealing that.  

And if we catch whoever did it, they need to be prosecuted.  That's probably more important than anything else, is that you can't have a government that is going to use people releasing secret information to try to pressure, blackmail or remove people from office.  

CAVUTO:  Senator, we will watch it closely.

Thank you very much, Rand Paul, in Washington.  

PAUL:  Thank you.  

END

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