This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 16, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell accuses Democrats of something he calls "scheme and deem." Now, what does that mean? Well, we went to Capitol Hill to ask Senator McConnell for you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, nice to see you, sir.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY, MINORITY LEADER: Good to be with you.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now, there seem to be two primary issues with health care. One is the substance and the other is procedure. I want to talk for a second about substance. Are we all talked out -- meaning the Republicans and Democrats -- in terms of substance?
MCCONNELL: Well, the Republican -- you know, the public gets it. They know it's a half a trillion in Medicare cuts, a half a trillion dollars in new taxes, and higher insurance premiums for everybody on the individual market. They understand the substance.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, procedure -- are you -- I take it you're unhappy with the way you think the procedure's unrolling because you're a Republican, obviously.
MCCONNELL: Yes, but it's been outrageous. In the Senate, you had the "Cornhusker kickback," the "Louisiana purchase," the "Gator aid," the special deal for Florida. And by the way, all those special deals will still be in the bill over -- the second time around, except maybe for the "Cornhusker kickback." And now the House, incredibly, has cooked up the "scheme and deem" proposal, where...
VAN SUSTEREN: Which is what?
MCCONNELL: ... where as they pass the Senate bill and never vote on it. You think the public is angry about this now, they're going to be truly outraged when the House, with a straight face, tries to argue that somehow, the Senate bill cleared the House and no one ever voted for it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, isn't this sort of a way for the Republican Party to checkmate the Democrats? You want the Democrats to go back to their districts and say, Look, you know, I really didn't vote for the bill or I did vote for the bill.
MCCONNELL: Yes. Right now, this is not an argument any longer between Democrats and Republicans. It's between Democrats and their own constituents. How will they be able to explain to their constituents that a bill that has the government take over one sixth of economy cleared the House of Representatives and no one voted for it?
VAN SUSTEREN: Explain to me how you see this unraveling in the next couple days.
MCCONNELL: Well, I think they've got a heck of a problem here. You know, the Speaker is suggesting that they somehow clear this massive, 2,700-page that has the government take over one sixth of our economy and no one votes for it, no fingerprints on it?
VAN SUSTEREN: Meaning what, that they do the so-called "Slaughter Solution"? Is that what you're saying?
MCCONNELL: Yes. I mean, they're going to pretend that it passed and no one ever voted for it.
VAN SUSTEREN: So how does that happen? I mean, or is that -- that's a departure, I take it, in what...
MCCONNELL: Well, no. You know, I assume they can make it happen. But the question is not whether they can do it but how the public is going to receive it. You think they're angry about the special deals in the Senate bill, wait until they hear that the House of Representatives sent this bill down to the president for signature and they were all able to claim that they didn't vote for it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I suspect that you're not so magnanimous that you want to tip them off how they can keep their constituents happy, but rather that you're saying this so that...
MCCONNELL: No, no. They're --
VAN SUSTEREN: ... so that they vote differently or so that they take a different action.
MCCONNELL: There is a way to keep their constituents happy. They ought to shelve this bill, put it on a shelf, and start over and go step- by-step to work on the cost problem.
VAN SUSTEREN: Let's say it doesn't pass. And we just spoke with Congressman Ryan of Wisconsin. He says that his estimate is 10 short. I don't know whether he's right or wrong. But if it doesn't pass, is health care then over, health care reform over?
MCCONNELL: What we ought to do is start over, go step-by-step and do things like fixing the problem of junk lawsuits against doctors and hospitals, having interstate insurance competition, having small business groups be allowed to form to purchase insurance. There are a number of things we can do to target the cost problem that we could have done a year ago and we can still do now. And by the way, the president's now finally talking about waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare. We don't need to pass this 2,700-page bill to go after that.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, we should have been going after that for years.
VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, that's a given. I mean...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... we should always go after crime. We should -- we don't need a bill for crime. All right, now let's assume that it does pass, and now we're into a reconciliation period. What are the -- what -- what do Senate Democrats do here, willing to do for the House Democrats?
MCCONNELL: Well, if I were the House, I wouldn't count on the Senate to clean up the mess.
VAN SUSTEREN: And you're going to fight it, I take it.
MCCONNELL: Of course. Yes.
VAN SUSTEREN: How are you going to fight it?
MCCONNELL: Well, the second bill, the so-called reconciliation bill, is designed to clean up the mess. So the House Democrats will then have to count on the Senate Democrats to fix the problem. Well, there are a lot of problems with this bill that may or may not be fixable in the Senate.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, do you think that the Senate Democrats are giving them a nod and a wink and that they're going to sort of peel off and not help the House Democrats, or do you have the sense that the Senate Democrats are going to do everything they can to meet the needs and wants of the House Democrats, should they vote to pass this?
MCCONNELL: If I were a House Democrat, I wouldn't count on the Senate Democrats to fix this problem.
VAN SUSTEREN: At all.
MCCONNELL: No, because the bill the Senate passed will already go down to the president and be signed into law. The second bill only serves the purpose of the House...
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, let's...
MCCONNELL: ... to try to fix the problems the House didn't like in the original bill that's already gone down to the president for signature, under this hypothesis.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Have you spoken to the president of the United States in the last week at all about...
VAN SUSTEREN: They never contact you?
VAN SUSTEREN: Not at all.
VAN SUSTEREN: Have any -- anyone like -- have you heard from any leadership, the Democrats in the House?
MCCONNELL: This is a Democrats-only deal, at this point. They're trying to convince their own members to ignore the wishes of their constituents and pass it anyway. There's a certain arrogance in all of this. You know, we don't matter. They're saying to their members, We're smarter than the American people. Let's just do this anyway. Ignore their wishes. Look, there's only so often you can vote against your constituents before they start voting against you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you, sir.
MCCONNELL: Thank you, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, we didn't have room for our entire interview with Senator McConnell, so check out the entire interview tomorrow on -- you know where -- on GretaWire.com.
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