This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," December 18, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight: Paralyzed! We are live in Washington, D.C., a city about to be paralyzed. Snow, and lots of it, is rumored to be headed this way with one intention, to strangle Washington. And what a time to do that. Right now, the Senate is embroiled in a huge fight over the health care bill. The Senate intends to work, fight all weekend. But how is this going to happen with what we think is coming this way within hours? This is going to be one wild and unpredictable political and weather weekend here in Washington.
Joining us live is Republican senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. Nice to see you, Senator.
SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON, R - TEXAS, GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Greta. Great to be here.
VAN SUSTEREN: And you're doing double duty. You're also running for governor of Texas and you're also here representing the people of Texas in the United States Senate. So you're busy.
HUTCHISON: Truly. Truly, we are.
VAN SUSTEREN: And you're going to be busy all weekend.
HUTCHISON: Yes. It's just amazing. You know, we've worked all weekend for the last three weeks, every Saturday, every Sunday votes, and now here we are again, just before Christmas, and -- but you know, I have to say we're doing all of this, but it's the most important vote that we'll probably ever make in our lifetimes.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it's right down to the wire. At least, it -- I mean -- I mean, but does it have to be? I mean, like -- I mean, I realize that your party is pushing to sort of -- to extend this out into the new year. But what -- if I was talking to one of your Democratic colleagues, what's the rush?
HUTCHISON: Exactly. That is exactly the point. This is so huge. It affects every person's quality of life, every family, and it's one sixth of our economy. To rush it through -- and Greta, amazingly, the bill that they're negotiating right now behind closed doors that we haven't seen...
VAN SUSTEREN: It's a secret, in essence. It's a -- I mean, like -- I mean, it's...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... the word secret. There are portions of it that are just flat-out secret tonight.
HUTCHISON: We have no idea what they're negotiating. They're trying to get the last votes, so they're negotiating behind closed doors. They're going to present it probably sometime tomorrow, and then expect us to vote on it in two or three days. It's...
VAN SUSTEREN: I'll tell you...
HUTCHISON: It's really outrageous.
VAN SUSTEREN: I'll tell you something that sort of bothers me from a personal standpoint. And I realize that this is -- you know, this a matter for Senator Byrd. But Senator Byrd is an older gentlemen. He's been in the United States Senate for a long time. And this city is about to get pummeled with snow. And I understand you have a vote -- what time tomorrow morning?
HUTCHISON: At 7:20.
VAN SUSTEREN: OK. If the idea is -- because they need his vote so much, to get there -- they need all his votes. They got him out here 1:30 in the morning -- is that to get -- I mean, to put so much of a push on it, we're going to drag this poor man -- who wants to, apparently -- but to come here for a vote tomorrow morning in a snowstorm.
HUTCHISON: I just don't think anything about this is right, rushing it through, for the American people not to know fully how it will impact them is just wrong. And of course, the personal side with Senator Byrd is also very tough. And it's not necessary. That's what I think is the key. It's really not necessary to go to these ends. And I think that we ought to slow down.
VAN SUSTEREN: What thing I don't understand is that -- Senator Bill Nelson of Florida has been on our show and he said that this will not cut Medicare. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has been on our show. He says it will cut Medicare. I talk to Republicans and -- and these are people I've known for years and respect and like. Either it does cut it by $500 billion, as everybody says, or it doesn't? What is it, and how do we know?
HUTCHISON: Well, of course it does cut it $500 billion. And it cuts the services. It cuts Medicare Advantage, practically annihilates Medicare Advantage, which hundreds -- millions of people have in our country. Hundreds of thousands in Texas have Medicare Advantage. It cuts hospital reimbursements that bring your provider reimbursements back up. Doctors and hospitals are under-reimbursed in Medicare and Medicaid. And there are payments that come back in to raise that up, and those are cut out. So what happens is more and more doctors refuse to take Medicare patients.
VAN SUSTEREN: But -- but see, this is...
HUTCHISON: So you're cutting their care. You're cutting their quality of care.
VAN SUSTEREN: But so this is another sort of peculiarity is that the Republican Party typically is thought of as the party that, you know, wants to cut costs and make small government. And here in this instance, it seems to be, under this theory, is that the Republicans are worried because benefits are being cut out of a public program, Medicare, and the Democrats are the ones who are saying that it should be cut out. So it's, like -- you know, I'm trying to sort of wrap my hands around this one, is that, I - - you know, at this point, I really don't get it.
HUTCHISON: Greta, the interesting thing is that the Medicare cuts, you would think, OK, we're going to cut Medicare down maybe to shore it up so that it lasts longer because it's on the brink of going under. 2017 is when it's supposed to go under. So we ought to be shoring it up and making it more sound. These cuts are to pay for another big government program that has nothing to do with Medicare. That's what is so incomprehensible in this whole bill that has been put forward.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so what's the plan? The plan is the Republican strategy is to fight tooth and nail at this -- continue to fight tooth and nail. Senator Ben Nelson seems to be, like, the go-to guy. Have you spoken to him at all in the last couple weeks?
HUTCHISON: Well, I seen him. I have not said, Hey, Ben, how are you doing about this bill? I haven't done that. But I do see him a lot, of course. We all do. He's a very nice person.
VAN SUSTEREN: So what's going to -- so -- so what's going to happen?
HUTCHISON: He's very conflicted right now. There's a lot of pressure on him, too.
VAN SUSTEREN: He has a lot of pressure back home and he's got the Democrats pounding on him here. I mean, he seems to be, like -- he's going to be the guy. I mean, if this bill passes and it's a roaring success, he's going to get a lot of credit. If this bill passes and it's a horrible failure, abject failure, he's going to get blamed.
HUTCHISON: Well, that's what happens when your one vote that seems to be not settled. And that's not unusual, but it is a lot of pressure for him because, of course, the president and the White House is pushing very hard in this. The president has gotten engaged. And it's very tough for him. But you know, he's very concerned about several parts of this bill. There's no question about it. And we know what they are.
But I don't think we ought to be doing it this way. You just said the Republicans seem to be fighting this bill all the way. Well, we are. But part of the reason is this is not a bill that we're writing on the floor together. It's not a bill where we've come together in a bipartisan way and we've said, Here are our principles, here are yours, what can we do that moves forward health care reform, which we all agree we need. We need to bring down the cost of health care, make it more affordable for more people. But we're not seeing that.
The Democrats are writing this bill with no Republican input and there are no Republican ideas that could even be accepted. And that's why the only avenue we have is to try to stop this bill so that we can start all over and do something that will help the American people but not a big government takeover of our health care system.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, the other thing that, too -- I mean, I don't know if this is a brilliant bill or a horrible bill, but the fact that it's -- that there are secret parts of it at this hour and that people are going to be called to vote on it is -- to me, is insane. I mean, we -- you know, is that people need to make a learned, studied decision. And if you don't know what's in it, you can't do that. That's the -- that's one of the most troubling aspects to me.
HUTCHISON: You're absolutely right. Absolutely. And something so complicated and something so big that's going to have such an impact should be very thoroughly done. And it should be bipartisan.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I don't know so much about the bipartisan, but at least we ought to know what everyone's voting on because, you know, as you say...
HUTCHISON: Pretty basic.
VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, it's not naming a post office. Let's put it that way.
HUTCHISON: That's right.
VAN SUSTEREN: This is very important and...
HUTCHISON: It's pretty basic.
VAN SUSTEREN: ... people are hurting in this country, but we ought to at least know what we're getting or not getting. Senator, nice to see you.
HUTCHISON: Great to see you, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: And you better get home. You've got an early vote tomorrow.
HUTCHISON: Yes. Thank you very much. Thanks for having me.
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