Minn. Gov. on Health Care; 2012 Run?

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," September 10, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, the full-court health care press continues, the president talking to nurses today, heading to Minnesota on Saturday for a huge rally at the Target Center. Is he targeting the guy that runs that state.

Governor Tim Pawlenty, a rising star in the Republican Party, he's getting tons of buzz on a possible presidential candidacy in 2012. But that's year off.

The governor joins me right now.

He's coming to your neck of the woods. Is this just by design or accident or what do you suspect?

GOV. TIM PAWLENTY (R), MINNESOTA: Well, I don't know, Neil. I doubt he's coming here because of me. I think he's probably coming because he's traveling the country trying to sell a bad product.

His speech last night was essentially the public policy equivalent of leftover cold pizza. It was the same thing that the country's already rejected with a few minor exceptions. So I don't think he's advancing the ball.

CAVUTO: Well, you might feel that way, and, you know, who am I to second guess polls, but most of the polls afterwards seemed to indicate that more people felt comfortable with what he was talking about than they did before.

You think that's going to be at best short lived, right?

PAWLENTY: Well, I think the American people are reacting to the notion of the federal government, first of all, busting the budget again with this proposal. I think they're increasingly concerned about a White House and a Congress that has no boundaries when it comes to spending.

They're concerned about programs that they're going to take over, not be able to afford, and then potentially ration care in the future, and things like that.

Those are not irrational concerns. Even though his speech last night was soaring rhetoric, it's going to come into collision with reality, and the reality of it is it's a bad idea and the country can't afford it.

CAVUTO: Governor, I know you don't want to talk about politics or 2012 and all the buzz about you, nor will I. I know you suffered through those questions.

But I have actually thought about how Republicans then would try to take on someone as popular personally certainly as the president, when even Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, is saying, we can't keep being — I'm paraphrasing here — the party that says no to health care, the party that says no to this, we have to come up with ideas of our own.

So if those ideas are no to more government spending and more to the kind of things that — everyone likes the idea of a free lunch and getting another program and not seemingly having to pay for it — how do you counter that argument?

In other words, what do you present as a more appealing alternative to that?

PAWLENTY: Well, Neil, that question has the right premise, which is we should all acknowledge, Republicans, Democrats, independents, something else: that the current system is broken, it is unaffordable and has other problems.

So we need to fix it, but we need to set aside those things that we can't agree on and focus on the things we can. They include these.

We got to take — make reform so that doctors aren't afraid of getting sued to the point where they're ordering all kinds of unnecessary procedures.

We need to prohibit preexisting conditions.

We need to have portability of health care so you don't risk it every time you change jobs, and people are changing jobs a lot.

We need to require or encourage electronic prescribing and electronic medical records.

We need to have tax equity so the tax treatment of your medical care is the same whether you get it through your employer or you buy it individually.

We got to quit paying for volumes of procedures and pay for performance.

We shouldn't limit choices in purchasing to three choices, like in Minnesota.

CAVUTO: Well, you know, Governor, I don't want to interrupt your train of thought...


CAVUTO: ... because that is something I heard from a lot of Republicans yesterday while I was in D.C. And the problem is, you guys are vastly outnumbered in the House and the Senate, so you're not going to get what you want. And you're only going to go down in the record, as the president tried to frame it yesterday, as the party that just rejected everything he said.

PAWLENTY: Many of those things are in his — some of those things are in his plan, Neil. So I don't think he's rejecting e- prescribing. I don't think he's rejecting electronic medical records. I don't think he's — he's at least opened the door to medical malpractice reform. He talks about paying...

CAVUTO: So you think you still have a shot in the debate there with him?

PAWLENTY: Here are the flash points for Republicans.

CAVUTO: Real quick.

PAWLENTY: We can't — we can't have the federal government take this over. It can't bust the bank.

CAVUTO: All right.

PAWLENTY: And we want private sector choices and consumer choices, not the government taking it over.

CAVUTO: Governor, thank you very much.

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