Interviews

Brat on concerns health bill battle could delay tax cuts

Virginia congressman explains the process on 'Your World'

 

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

STUART VARNEY, GUEST HOST:  Now let's get back to Washington.  

Forget the president's tax return.  Are folks more concerned about their own, as the timeline for tax reform appears to be slipping further and further away?

Virginia Republican Congressman Dave Brat is a member of the Freedom Caucus and joins us now.  

Congressman, the message from a lot of people is, there's a lot of concern here about the slipping timetable for tax reform.  The message seems to be, can't the GOP put health care, that fight, to bed, and get on with tax reform?  

REP. DAVE BRAT, R-VIRGINIA:  Yes, we can, Stuart.  

We have a few major pieces we still got to get right.  The last segment you just had was on the great work Trump is doing on regulation.  And we still have not taken care of that when we're doing health care.  That comes in bucket two with Secretary Price.  

And that's my major problem.  As a free market guy, we're paying too much attention to coverage right now, almost exclusively, like Obama did back in 2008, but we're not paying attention to price and bringing down costs.

And the federal regulations and mandates are the primary cost driver.  

VARNEY:  OK.  

BRAT:  So, Trump is getting it right on bringing down the regs across the economy.  We have to put that in law.  

So, if they put that in law, if they put bucket two into this bill, you are going to get more people to yes.  And that's a total winner.  

VARNEY:  For years and years and years, we have been trying to bring down the ever-escalating cost of health care itself.  

BRAT:  Right.  

VARNEY:  Not insurance, health care itself.  

BRAT:  Yes.  That's right.  

VARNEY:  Nobody has been able to do it.  What will you do to actually bring down the cost of health care?  

BRAT:  Right.  

Well, you got it just right.  The health care is too intricately linked to health insurance.  It all started after World War II with the employer tax preference.  And that messed things up.  

So, there's your first distortion, and then you get other distortions.  So, what are we going to do?  We're going to get rid of the mandates coming from the federal government that do not allow a young person right now to go out and buy a cheap health insurance policy.  

If you allowed that, if you get rid of the mandates, they don't have to buy this rich silver, bronze, platinum package, that will dramatically bring down costs.  

And then what Trump wants is, he wants shopping across state lines.  So, you put those two together, and that's a winner.  

VARNEY:  Well, we hear the argument.  We see the argument.  

BRAT:  Yes.  Yes.  

VARNEY:  It makes a lot of sense.  But the argument drags on and on and on, which puts the tax reform package further and further away.  

BRAT:  Yes.  Right.  Yes.  

VARNEY:  Arguably, cutting taxes, reforming the tax code is more important for more people and the economy than fixing Obamacare.  Can you get a move on?  

BRAT:  Yes, I'm with you.  

(LAUGHTER)

BRAT:  And, yes, we can.  It all hangs on this parliamentarian over in the Senate.  

So, if President Trump goes over there with the TV cameras and says, hello, parliamentarian, Vice President Pence is going to sit in this chair for a minute, and when you counsel him, he's going to say, thank you very much, but we're going to put bucket two into this bill, and we're done.  

We're done next week.  If the president and vice president do that, we have got a good bill that is going to really reduce prices.  It will start with a free market premise.  And then the safety net is easy to take care of.  

VARNEY:  I have got to ask you this one.  

BRAT:  You bet.

VARNEY:  If you don't get your way...

BRAT:  Yes.  

VARNEY:  ... are you going to say no, no way at all, and it goes away, and health reform goes away?  

BRAT:  No, no, no, no, if I don't get the way of my 800,000 constituents who are telling me that they do not want this bill unless we get a free market solution that will actually bring costs down.  I represent them.  

So, it's not about me at all.  

VARNEY:  OK.  

BRAT:  I represent 800,000 folks.  They don't want it.  

VARNEY:  If you don't get that fix in phase two...

BRAT:  Yes.  

VARNEY:  ... you're out of here, yes?  

BRAT:  No, I'm not out of here.  

I mean, I will -- I'm open-minded.  We will look for a compromise.  We want to get done, like you say, because if you don't get the animal spirits moving -- I taught economics and I got my little Adam Smith tie going here.

So I'm with you on that.  That is the fundamental piece.  We have got to get economic growth going again.  And I'm with you.  

VARNEY:  OK.

Congressman Dave Brat, thanks for joining us, sir.  Appreciate it.  Thank you.  

BRAT:  You bet.  Thanks, Stuart.  

VARNEY:  Yes, sir.

END

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