Interviews

Brat: 'Once in a century' chance to reform health care right

House Freedom Caucus member still a no on the American Health Care Act

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," March 21, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST:  All right, we're continuing to this monitor this, folks.  And I don't want to be away too long from this.

But I would be remiss if I didn't mention, as I did at the start of the show, what is going on and what happened today, a big sell-off having to do with growing fears that Republicans might be in some disarray, certainly not on the Gorsuch nomination or his confirmation hearings, which, save this exchange, have been going fairly well for him, but on this health care repeal and replace effort that involve no less than the president of the United States visiting Capitol Hill to urge Republicans to stay on board, pass the measure, or risk losing control of the House and Senate as soon as next year.  

Virginia Republican congressman and member of the Freedom Caucus joins us right now, Dave Brat, the congressman and a former professor here on staking a ground that is not popular certainly with the president or some of the leadership here.  

But you are standing your ground that you're not keen on this measure.  Is that right, Congressman?

REP. DAVE BRAT, R-VIRGINIA:  Yes.  

No, that's right.  And, believe me, we're doing this for President Trump. He's a business guy.  And, as a business guy, do you want a product where the price is going up 15 to 20 percent next year, after it's gone up 25 percent under ObamaCare?  That's not a winner.  

Prices go up until 2020.  We got to get the price down.  And the only way to do that is to make sure the insurance regulations and the mandates from the federal government go away.  It's easy to do.  You put the second bucket into law, and it's a done deal, and we're all happy on Thursday. It's very achievable.  

And Paul Ryan, the thesis for the whole health care system is, we want to bend the cost curve down, right?  That's what Paul Ryan wants.  So, we're not asking for anything out of the mainstream.

CAVUTO:  But was anything Paul Ryan did, sir, that -- that eased your fears, and did all these fixes and sort of new pricing out, did that do anything to say, well, maybe I will support this?  

BRAT:  No, he -- they're making a few good moves on the Medicaid side, block-granting, do a little bit more federalism.  But none of that added together does anything to the price.  

And the person back home wants to know one thing.  What's going to happen to the price of my insurance?  If they look back at their premium 10 years ago, and compare it to today, I think they have a heart attack and they may need some health insurance.  The prices have gone up so high.

CAVUTO:  So, you're a no on this.  Now, do you know how many other no's are out there among your colleagues, Republican -- more conservative Republican colleagues in the House?  

BRAT:  Yes, there's 30 or so votes that are no among conservatives.  And then there's about 10 to 20 other moderates to folks in tough districts, yes.

CAVUTO:  So, this sounds like -- and you're closer to this than I am, sir -- this sounds like it's going to the down to defeat.  

And that was a concern that the president had.  Were you in any of the meetings with the president today?  

BRAT:  Yes.  Yes.  I was in some of those.  And he made a strong case. He's a good salesman.  

But also knows -- he understands, right, if we just make these changes through Secretary Tom Price, they're not permanent.  We have a once-in-a- century opportunity here, right, where you have the House, the Senate and the White House, to do the right thing, to get some free markets, and you're on a financial channel back into health care.  

We have had a disaster for the last eight years, where all we focused on was coverage and zero focused on price.  That's why we're in death spirals right now.  We don't want President Trump to find himself in the same death spiral in three years.  

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO:  No, you might make a good point.

BRAT:  Yes.  

CAVUTO:  I'm not here to judge the merits of your argument, sir.

BRAT:  Yes.  Yes.  

CAVUTO:  But, as you know -- and I want to just flash this but -- we have had the Dow tumble about 237 points today on fears that this is all falling apart...  

BRAT:  Yes.  

CAVUTO:  ... and maybe will affect the timing and even how doable it is to get tax cuts going this year.  

Do you agree with that, if this goes down to defeat, that that part of the agenda, cutting taxes, might be pushed back as well?

BRAT:  No, I hope not at all.

And both of these are the same principle, right?  If you don't have free markets and lower taxes, so that businesses can prosper, you're in trouble.  

I just met with a banker.  They have issues...

CAVUTO:  What does that mean, Congressman?  I'm sorry.

BRAT:  Yes.

CAVUTO:  Does that mean that, if this doesn't happen, you still think you can move on to tax cuts?  

BRAT:  Yes.  Sure.  And this can happen.  Right?  

We're not asking for a heavy lift.  All -- Pence has to get in the chair over on the Senate side, and there's no issue.  And we...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO:  You are talking about Vice President Pence.

BRAT:  Yes, Vice President Pence.

And Ted Cruz, Senator Cruz, went through this very meticulously.  There's this Byrd rule that is being used to obstruct, because the Senate doesn't want to do the heavy lifting.  Well, it's time to do the heavy lifting on behalf to American people.

If you don't reduce price, you haven't solved the problem.  

CAVUTO:  No, I understand that.  

BRAT:  Yes.  

CAVUTO:  And I'm sorry to keep badgering the same point.

BRAT:  No, no, you're OK.

CAVUTO:  But the president, apparently, Professor -- Congressman, I apologize.  

BRAT:  Yes.  Yes.  No, it's good.

CAVUTO:  Well, both are honorary titles.

BRAT:  No, it's good.

CAVUTO:  He said that, honestly, a loss is not acceptable, folks.  He said something like that to you and your colleagues.  

BRAT:  Right.  

CAVUTO:  That whatever merits to your argument, it's a sound argument, this goes down to defeat...

BRAT:  Yes.  

CAVUTO:  ... you can kiss your heinies goodbye.  

BRAT:  No, no, no, that's not -- they're closing.  They're making the hard sell.  If it takes a few more weeks to save one-sixth of the U.S. economy, nothing dire will happen, as we negotiate...

CAVUTO:  Well, I don't know if you caught Sean Spicer's press conference, sir, but he more or less said, well, it's the right thing to do to vote for this thing and hear what's going on and let your constituents know that they're not going to be too pleased to know that you passed up an opportunity to say yes to this.  

BRAT:  Yes.

No, I get the political pressure and the timing.  But if you vote for something that results in a bad product, that's the issue.  And I hope we get this thing right.  

CAVUTO:  All right, thank you very much.  

BRAT:  You bet.

CAVUTO:  The congressman is going to be one of the key conservative leaders not keen on this, one of the big reasons for the sell-off.

END

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