Dick Armey on Whether Illegals Will Get a Free Ride If Health Care Is Reformed

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," July 22, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, this is raising some eyebrows.

Law-abiding Americans have to pay a fine if they do not accept health care coverage under this plan, but illegals do not. It's true — Democrats just shooting down a GOP amendment that would have prevented this.

Count Dick Armey furious. Of course, he's the former House majority leader.

So, we have checked into this. The illegal immigrants in this case would get a pass. You know, maybe that is something they address down the road, but that is a little weird. What do you make of it?

Video: Watch Cavuto's interview

DICK ARMEY, FORMER REPUBLICAN HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Well, it is weird, but, of course, that is the kind of confusion you get when you have a government takeover of a major sector — sector of the economy, in order to serve some sort of whimsical notion of social justice.

You take the whole question of illegal aliens and recognize, at the outset, the Democrats have used them to inflate the number of the uninsured. But then they have turned around to we American citizens and legal residents and said, health care now has been promoted from a right to an obligation, and, if you don't fulfill your obligation to the government and enroll in their government-run health care, even if you are a Christian scientist, you are going to get a fine.

But the illegal immigration has the privilege of being...

CAVUTO: Yes, we should stress here that that is the quibble — right. That is the quibble over this math, 46 million, 47 million uninsured. Some reports have it upwards of 14 million to upwards of maybe 20 million of those are illegals.

What do you think?

ARMEY: Right. Well, we have studied on this, and we know this to be the case. And that truth is coming out, somewhat to the embarrassment of the Democrats. But their point still remains the same.

You have to understand something. This is going to a harsh thing I am about to say, but I believe it, altogether believe it. They don't care about health care in America. They care about the government running health care in America.

And, if you don't think they will use all kinds of coercions to force people into their program, and punish them should they dare to say no, look at what they already do with Medicare. There is nothing voluntary about this. This is about the government having the control of a major sector of your life, a major sector of the economy, and you complying, or paying a gruesome cost in terms of punishments meted out by the federal government.

CAVUTO: But then giving a pass — but then giving a pass to illegals?

ARMEY: This is about power for politicians in Washington.

CAVUTO: You know, compelling everyone but illegals?

ARMEY: Well, you know, it was kind of embarrassing. You know, it's hard for them to admit that we can't — we can't find the illegals in order to send them out of the country, but we can find them in order to impose the fine.

So, they accept the fact that the illegal immigrants...

CAVUTO: You know, that's a very good point. That's a very good point.




CAVUTO: Dick Armey...

ARMEY: Well, the problem is that, how do we do a major takeover of the government without people finding out what it is, in fact, we are really up to?

CAVUTO: That's pretty good. Yes, you could — we can find them if we want to give them a benefit, not if we want to punish them.

Dick Armey, thank you very much. Good seeing you again.

ARMEY: You bet.

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