Hatch: Obama Health Care Summit Photo-op for Reconciliation

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 26, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: All right, it's time for an "On the Record" field trip. We went to Capitol Hill, where Republican senator Orrin Hatch went "On the Record."


VAN SUSTEREN: Nice to see you, senator.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH, R - UTAH: Nice to see you, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: After yesterday, are we farther towards a bill that is bipartisan or not?

HATCH: Well, I think what's established (ph) yesterday was that the president is a very intelligent man. He did a good job of questioning and also making statements. But it also made it very clear that Republicans aren't dolts, that they raised a lot of issues that, really, the Republicans think have to be in any health care reform bill, and that they're willing to work with him on it.

But the third thing is, is that he basically is going to go to reconciliation. And I think this was photo-op in order to get them so that they can go to reconciliation, which would be an abuse of the Senate rules like I've never seen before.

VAN SUSTEREN: Photo-op seems like a nice word for a joke.

HATCH: Well, it isn't meant to be a joke. I don't...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, why isn't it a photo op, then? If -- I mean, if...

HATCH: Well, it was a photo opportunity for the president to demonstrate that he at least, is articulate in this area. It was a photo op for some of the Republicans, too, so that they could say what they wanted to, and Democrats who were there, members of Congress.

VAN SUSTEREN: Then were we -- then were we sort of had, though? Because the American people thought that the whole purpose of this -- and - - and maybe -- was that both sides were at least going to sit down in the same room and consider each other's viewpoints. If that was not the intention but it's just a photo op -- obviously, the word "joke" is mine and that's a crude word, but I mean -- but I mean, it's, like, was there -- do you think people really didn't go into this thinking that there might be something, some common ground...

HATCH: Well, it was apparent that the Republicans there really were saying, Look, we don't agree with your approach. Here's what we would do. We would certainly involve the states. Look, if the president had a set of governors there, they would tell him, Look, let us handle it. We have different demographics. We have different needs. Utah is not Massachusetts, although both states have what's called an exchange, but they're different.

And Utah is considered the number one managed state in the union right now. And one reason is because of some of the health care approaches we have. And there are other -- three or four other states that fit in that category, as well. But no, what happened there is I think Republicans were expressing themselves -- and basically, in the end, I think it was set up so that the president could say, Well, we're so far apart, we're going to go to reconciliation in order to get this bill through. Now, reconciliation...

VAN SUSTEREN: So it was -- so the fix was in, going into this, you're saying, that there was no intention to do anything but to listen, to put a nice transparency program together for all of us to watch so -- but nonetheless, neither side gave. The president's considering -- not thinking -- going to take what you, the Republicans, say and he's going to reconciliation.

HATCH: Well, I don't know that neither side gave. I think the Republicans were saying, Look, if we could do this, this, this, this and this, we'd be very interested in working with you. But I think, at the end, the president said, We're going to keep the same bill that we have with my 11-page addendum, which adds another $75 billion to the total bill of $2.5 trillion -- I thought it was pretty interesting how some of the Republicans pointed out some of the gimmicks, budgetary gimmicks that they're using in this bill in order to get -- first of all, to get it to $950 billion in cost, when we know they start the taxes but they don't start the program, in many ways, until 2014. And they even put off the Cadillac plan to satisfy the unions until 2018!

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, that's...

HATCH: I mean, that's long after the president will be gone from the office, even if he's elected twice!

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, so what's the -- let me ask you about that 2018 tax. If it's such a good idea, that we should put a tax on the Cadillac -- what's the reason not to do it now?

HATCH: Well, there's only one reason, that is to get it out of his jurisdiction, out of his term in office, so that he's not going to be blamed for it. I mean, it's just...

VAN SUSTEREN: So political and not conscionable (ph).

HATCH: Well, sure, political. It's a gimmick. The gimmick of delaying the actual implementation of the bill until 2014 is a gimmick so that they can keep under a trillion dollars. But that's not what it is. Extrapolated over 10 years, it's at least $2.5 trillion, and that's if we're lucky. You know, our estimates back here have always amounted to more money in the end, and that's if we're lucky.

Now, look, I think it was -- it will be used as a justification to go to reconciliation because the president clearly does not agree with letting the states basically handle this with federal government help in accordance with their own demographics, in doing a lot of things that Republicans think we could get together on. And he made it very clear he's going to go to reconciliation.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did he -- do you think he made that decision before yesterday? And so that -- I guess I'm trying to get to the point where...

HATCH: The answer is yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: So this was -- so you say a photo-op, and we use -- my word's a little harsher. But so yesterday -- how about sham? Can we go in between?

HATCH: I wouldn't call it a sham. I think it was an exercise, a good exercise, but...


HATCH: Well, it's an exercise in talking back and forth and -- and...

VAN SUSTEREN: But if both sides have made up their minds ahead of time -- I mean, if -- let me just say -- if -- if he had already made up his mind ahead of time, then what's the exercise we got?

HATCH: Well, it was very clear that he was not going to start on a step-by-step basis, start over, work with Republicans on good ideas that the Republicans have that we think Democrats would accept, and that he was going to keep the very bill that basically went through the Senate, basically that bill, add $75 billion more to it, and play a lot of budgetary gimmicks, and then in the end, go to reconciliation anyway. And that was pretty clear.

VAN SUSTEREN: What's wrong with reconciliation? Because the American people are sitting there thinking -- like, they keep hearing this word "reconciliation." What -- what's the -- why are the -- why are the Republicans fighting reconciliation?

HATCH: Well, the difference between the House and the Senate -- the House is a fast-acting body. If they get a rule and they can get 51 percent of the votes on a given day, they can pass anything they want. The Senate is a more deliberative body. It was designed that way. That's why we have the filibuster rule, so that the minority is not trampled upon. And it has worked amazingly well over the years to stop all kinds of bad legislation that has gone through. Now, in order to -- because of the filibuster rule and because there are -- there have been budgetary difficulties in the past, the reconciliation rule was designed by Senator Byrd, basically...


HATCH: ... a Democrat, with the help of Republicans, designed to, on budget matters, concern with the deficit, to get the deficit taken care of by either increasing taxes or decreasing taxes and cutting, you could go to a vote within 20 hours of debate. That's a very limited time of debate. And you could do it by a 51-vote margin.

Now, look, we're talking about one sixth of the American economy! We're not talking about just budget deficits. We're not just talking about the budget. We're talking about really wrecking the country if we don't do it right!


VAN SUSTEREN: Now, there's so much more of our interview with Senator Orrin Hatch, and you can see the entire interview. Check out GretaWire over the weekend.

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