Is the Health Care Bill DOA?

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This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," January 21, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: The stunning Massachusetts upset gave the GOP much more power than it's had in a year -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's filibuster-proof Senate smashed. So what happens now? We went to Capitol Hill, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell went "On the Record."


VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, nice to see you, sir.

MCCONNELL: Good to be back.

VAN SUSTEREN: And of course, it's always fun to be in the U.S. Capitol. It's a gorgeous building, as I always note every time we start these interviews.

MCCONNELL: Yes, the most important symbol of democracy in the world.

VAN SUSTEREN: Speaking of democracy, you have a new member, or you're going to have a new member as soon as he's sworn in, Senator-elect Brown from the state of Massachusetts. Did you meet him today?

MCCONNELL: Yes. He was here for a meeting in my office on Thursday, and we took him to a lunch that we have every Thursday that includes all the Republican senators. I can't recall the arrival of a new Republican senator that was more happily greeted than this one.

VAN SUSTEREN: So what, everyone -- applauds or...

MCCONNELL: Absolutely. We stood up and applauded. I mean, you know, this was significant in every way, not only a Republican being elected in the most -- arguably the most liberal state in America, but being elected in large measure on the health care issue. I think Brown's election mean the end of the health care proposal as currently constituted that the Democrats are trying to jam through, that they did jam through the Senate, thanks to the "Cornhusker kickback" and the "Louisiana purchase" and the other tactics that they employed. I think that's over. The American people have been saved from that by the election of -- of the new Massachusetts senator.

VAN SUSTEREN: Of course, though, he has said that he's not a Reagan Republican or any other kind of Republican, he's a Scott Brown Republican. So there's still, I imagine, some level of uncertainty, at least, for the Republicans as to where he's going to fit in line here.

MCCONNELL: Well, we have a lot of diversity in our conference anyway. I can tell you a senator from Maine doesn't necessarily see things like a senator from Mississippi. So we have broad philosophical diversity, and the Northeast Republicans are not exactly like a Southeast or a Western Republican. But on the health care issue, we were together, all 100 -- all -- 100 percent of us, every single one thought that this was a bad deal for America.

VAN SUSTEREN: How enthusiastic -- I mean, outside of Massachusetts -- I mean, I -- we saw the level of enthusiasm in Massachusetts because we took our show there. But did you talk to people outside Massachusetts?

MCCONNELL: Yes, people were coming up to me in Kentucky, saying, Do you think Scott Brown's got a chance? And last week, I was flying back from Kentucky to Washington, and of course, there were a bunch of people on the plane that wanted to talk about health care and Scott Brown. They view these as sort of indistinguishable. Got off the plane, a lady came up to me and said, I'm a constituent of yours. I live in Kentucky. Meet my husband, who lives in Massachusetts, and we're going up to Massachusetts so he can vote for Scott Brown.

VAN SUSTEREN: So he cared enough to travel to buy a ticket to...

MCCONNELL: Yes, they bought a ticket for no other purpose than to get him up to vote in that special election.

VAN SUSTEREN: Health care -- so now what? Speaker Pelosi has said today she does not have the votes in the House to adopt the Senate bill, which of course, puts a little bit of a wrench into any plans that might have been that the House would simply adopt the Senate bill. Is health care as we know it in these over?

MCCONNELL: Well, let me tell you this. The 2,700-page monstrosity that took a half billion out of Medicare, raised taxes a half billion dollars and raised insurance premiums for everybody else, is dead.

VAN SUSTEREN: We'll start over. We're going to start over from scratch?

MCCONNELL: We need to start over, as we've been advocating -- my side has been advocating for some time, start over and go step-by-step to fix the problem...

VAN SUSTEREN: All right...

MCCONNELL: ... which is cost.

VAN SUSTEREN: That's what you want to do. Is that what's going to happen, do you think, or are there -- is there still -- you think the Democratic members of the U.S. Senate are still going to proceed with the existing bill minus some adjustments?

MCCONNELL: Well, as long as they try to restructure one sixth of the economy by cutting Medicare, raising taxes and raising premiums, I don't think it's going anywhere. I think there's a lot of nervousness on the Democratic side. The leadership marks (ph) them out right off the cliff politically, trying to get them to pass a bill the American people hated. I don't think they're going to have any stomach for that one more time.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think there's any division within the Democratic side of this now? I mean, with the election of Senator-elect Brown, have you seen any sort of changes within the Democratic senators here, or too early to tell?

MCCONNELL: I think the attitude is they would like for this issue to go away for a while.

VAN SUSTEREN: The Democratic senators, some of them?

MCCONNELL: Democratic senators, many of them, would like for this issue to go away for a while.

VAN SUSTEREN: How about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid? Do you think he wants this to go away?

MCCONNELL: I think -- you'll have to ask him, but my guess is, further efforts to jam this wildly unpopular bill through this Congress would be very counterproductive for them in next November's election.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Big decision across the street, the United States Supreme Court today...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... a decision that actually -- I think you tried to challenge the law once before having to do with campaign finance reform. Your thought today?

MCCONNELL: Important. I mean, the core of the decision was now a corporation that owns a media outlet, which has been free to speak, will be treated no differently from a corporation that doesn't own a media outlet. Every corporation and every union will be able to speak freely at any time, whether they own a media outlet or not. Free speech for everyone.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Is free speech is what drove Justice Kennedy's decision today -- he wrote the 5-4 majority opinion -- would you opposed, as a -- as a possibility, as an option -- having everybody who contributes, including corporations or unions, instantly go -- instantly be recorded on line so that the American people could see who's giving what and when?

MCCONNELL: Oh, sure. I mean, the Court upheld disclosure of sources of campaign spending. But basically, what they did was equalize the playing field and say every entity -- union, corporation, corporation that owns a media outlet -- all are treated the same under the 1st Amendment. Everybody can speak freely at any time without government restriction.

VAN SUSTEREN: Any thought for Governor McDonnell, who's going to be giving the response to the president's State of the Union next week?

MCCONNELL: Well, I think he was a great choice. Leader Boehner and I...

VAN SUSTEREN: You chose him!


VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you ought to like the choice...


MCCONNELL: ... like the choice! Of course. You know, he's an example of a new Republican governor, just sworn in a week ago, fresh face with new ideas, and the American people need to meet him.


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