This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 2, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Is it checkmate? Did the president just checkmate Republicans? Now, here's what's going on. President Obama has a revised health care plan that he says he's going to unveil tomorrow. In the meantime, today the president sent a letter to congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle. In that letter, the president says he's open to some Republican ideas about health care reform. True bipartisanship or is it a political trick?
Republican congressman Paul Ryan joins us live here in Wisconsin. I should add -- I mean, in Washington -- I should add is from the great state of Wisconsin.
REP. PAUL RYAN, R - WIS.: That's right.
VAN SUSTEREN: Indeed. All right, this new program that the president is -- we expect he's going to unveil tomorrow, bipartisan or gimmick?
RYAN: Well, we got the letter from the president today, and it's a nice letter. And basically, what I get out of this is he's going to take the 2,700-page bill that he's been trying to pass all year long and add maybe 30 or 40 pages of Republican ideas to it. It still has the 2,700 pages in it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Does that mean it's going to be extra more expensive than when we started, 30 or 40 pages more, theoretically, expensive, or is this going to get cheaper for us?
RYAN: Well, when we look at the actual legislation, which we haven't seen yet, what we're getting, basically, is they're using sort of Republican labels but not Republican substance. So there'll be talk about tort reform but not a real tort reform provision in here.
So we really have not seen any change in game plan whatsoever. So you might see a rhetorical shift, a rhetorical checkmate, so to speak, but not a substantive shift in the legislation.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I guess the reason why I say checkmate -- I use that terminology -- is because he -- I assume now that the Democratic Party will say, Look, you know, we incorporated some of your ideas.
RYAN: That's right.
VAN SUSTEREN: So you know, what's with it? You know, you -- that's what you wanted. We gave it to you. And now you're complaining and now you won't vote for it.
RYAN: Look, we tried to make our point very clear at Blair House, and I think we did, which is this entire bill is the problem. The entire architectural framework of this legislation, which represents a government takeover of health care, is what we have a problem with. So we want to take this entire piece of legislation, all of its 2,700 pages, put it on the shelf and start over with a clean sheet of paper. And then let's start talking about it.
Don't add a few decent ideas on top of a horrible structure, which is, from our perspective, what this is. This thing is going to break the bank. It's going to have the government take over health care. It's going to make health care more expensive for people who have it and it's going to make it worse for people who don't have it when they get health care. The problem we have with this bill is it is a fiscal nightmare. It ultimately, at the end of the day, leads to a rationing kind of a scheme. And we don't think the answer is to have the government take over the health care system.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, the two questions that -- you know, in terms of whether it's a gimmick or not -- and I pose this to Republicans and Democrats -- two issues that I have, is -- is one is that the Cadillac tax, which is supposed to drive much of the funding for it, doesn't go into effect until 2018. Well, that's a long time off.
RYAN: That's right.
VAN SUSTEREN: Everybody's going to be -- we're all going to be gone, probably, by that point. And I'll probably be gone, as well. All right, that's the first thing. The second thing that bothers me is that the doctor fix under the Medicare...
VAN SUSTEREN: That is -- that is estimated to be about $214 billion or $215 billion, give or take $10 billion. That's not included in that.
RYAN: That's right.
VAN SUSTEREN: And so it's a little -- it seems a little shifty, all these numbers that are coming at us. And will we ever get sort of a true CBO good score, or is it -- or is it gimmickry?
RYAN: No, because the CBO scores what legislation you put in front of them. So you can cook up legislation. You can put smoke and mirrors and budget gimmicks inside the legislation. The CBO has to score what you place in front of them. So anybody can manipulate the score you get, based upon the legislation you write.
The doc fix -- the president's budget says that's $371 billion. They're sweeping that outside...
VAN SUSTEREN: So (INAUDIBLE) my estimate.
RYAN: So they're pushing that outside of this bill. Then they're double counting some revenues from Social Security, revenues from this new CLASS Act program, and they're double counting their Medicare cuts.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, are they right -- are they right in saying, though, that if they cut down on fraud -- and I don't -- I mean, we should be cutting down on fraud regardless of what happens.
VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, that -- that seems -- we should have been doing that for years. Is there a way to sort of quantify if we can, at least, have a determined effort to cut out fraud, which I can't figure out why we wouldn't, anyway, abut...
RYAN: Medicare fraud's already illegal. We've been trying to get at Medicare fraud for 40 years. It's still escaping us. I think that's another example of why we shouldn't have the government take over this sector of our economy because this program itself wastes a lot of money, has a lot of fraud, grows at 8 percent a year, which is double or triple the rate of inflation or our economic growth. And so what we're showing is, we've already proven that the government doesn't do a very good job of running health care programs. Why should we have it take over the rest of the health care sector?
VAN SUSTEREN: What did you gain or what did you get out of that summit, or did you waste your time?
RYAN: No, we didn't waste our time. The way...
VAN SUSTEREN: What'd you get, then?
RYAN: We got the chance to put our ideas on the table. We got the chance to tell the American people...
VAN SUSTEREN: They're not going to be implemented. What good is that?
RYAN: But the point is, they've been saying the Republican Party has been the party of no all last year, all this year. That's not true. We've been sending bills to the president. Tom Coburn, Devin Nunes and Richard Burr and I sent him a very comprehensive Republican alternative last May, last October, three weeks ago. And so what we got was, we said we have good ideas on how to fix the problems in health care. We want to fix what's broken without breaking what's working. And what we also got to do was point out a lot of the problems and the flaws...
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so you...
RYAN: ... in their legislation.
VAN SUSTEREN: So you make them look bad, in theory, but do you actually achieve anything other than that? I mean, are you getting any traction towards the Republican position, which essentially was scrap the bill and start over?
RYAN: I think we are in the public. In the public's eyes, we're getting traction. I think the public does not want this bill. I think that's very, very clear. Now, I think what the Democrats were hoping to achieve with this summit, so to speak, was to basically say Republicans aren't offering any ideas and they're just against this, so we have to push them aside and move forward. No, that's not true. We offered lofts of different ideas on how to fix what's broken in health care without breaking what's working in health care. And we've given very principled and very specific problems as to why this is not good legislation, and why this shouldn't pass.
And so I think what the public got was a better understanding of really what's at stake here, the imperfections and the flaws of this legislation and how there are better ideas that have been offered but that are being rejected time and again last year and this year by the Democratic majority, and they're still trying to jam this through right now.
VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you, sir.
RYAN: You bet.
VAN SUSTEREN: I hope you'll come back.
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