Phony Offers from Obama? Or Just Bad Manners?

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," January 12, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: "On the Record" has been following this story for months. First President Obama extends an invitation to go over health care line by line. Republican Congressman Phil Roe immediately fires off a letter saying "I accept." And then the White House simply ignores him, flat out ignores him.

And guess what? It just happened again. We went to Capitol Hill and Congressman Roe went "On the Record."


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

Video: Watch the interview

REP. PHIL ROE, R - TENN.: Great to be back here in Washington.

VAN SUSTEREN: I bet it is indeed.

We were in your office before last fall because in late July, early August the president said he would go line by line through the health care reform bill with anyone who wanted it. You took him up on the offer and wrote him a letter. Have you heard back?

Flashback Video: Rep. Roe 'On the Record' with Greta (2009)

ROE: We have not. We talked about this before. We contacted his office on multiple times to sit down and go over this, the most important piece of social legislation in the last 50 years in this country.

VAN SUSTEREN: They don't even respond?

ROE: We haven't heard anything at all, which makes you think, and as we've talked about here before, that maybe there's a closed door deal. And I think people at home over the holidays, I spoke to hundreds, if not thousands of people, and they are really concerned. They are afraid of what this government, of what it's going to do to them.

VAN SUSTEREN: In terms of the health care bill, you wrote one letter or two letters?

ROE: Actually three contacts. And we used e-mail and snail mail, as we call it. We used multiple times, and phone calls.

VAN SUSTEREN: Fast forward now to December. And the president said that he is, this is December 10th, he's quoted as saying "I'm absolutely committed to working with anybody who is willing to do the job to make sure we rebuild our economy." Do you know he wrote that, or said that?

ROE: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK, did you do anything in response to that?

ROE: We did. We commented on that, too.

We wrote a letter also about legislation we want to bring forward to help rural communities in hiring people. Greta, you need to go -- people need to go out in this country and see what's going on.

Small businesses are failing. Banks can't lend money. They tell you they are, but I met with bankers this past week, and they can't lend money because the regulators have got the boot on their neck.

And they're afraid. I met with a franchisee owner this weekend, 18 Burger Kings that he has. And he's afraid. He said if this health care bill goes through the two in my community will close.

VAN SUSTEREN: With the comment he made about the economy, did you send him a letter?

ROE: We wrote a letter.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did you get a response?

ROE: We have not.

VAN SUSTEREN: When was that letter sent?

ROE: Back in December. No response at all.

VAN SUSTEREN: No phone call?

ROE: No phone call.

VAN SUSTEREN: They didn't say, Congressman, this is the second time you have written us, we're too busy?

ROE: We haven't her one thing.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are you willing to work with the president, because he said he's looking to work with anybody willing to job to make sure we rebuild our economy? Is it a stunt or are you willing to work with him?

ROE: This is not a stunt. I've been a physician, as you well know. I have had a career in small business and in medical practice. I came to work on these important issues.

And jobs -- Greta, our people need work across the country. I've talked to people in Oklahoma, Ohio, North Carolina, in town hall meetings, and the questions are exactly the same -- where are the jobs?

VAN SUSTEREN: We have got issues with the economy, we have issues with health, we've got the issues of bad manners, not even responding to your letters at all or any staff contacting you.

So what's up? Is this really not any give-and-take? Is this Republican are sitting here and the Democrats are doing the whole thing?

ROE: I think there is no bipartisanship. That was my biggest shock when I came here to D.C. Two things surprised me -- one was the spending, and two was the partisanship.

And this is not -- jobs are not a partisan issue. Health care is not a partisan issue. Greta, I've never soon a Democrat or Republican heart attack in my life. It's everybody's problem.

We need to sit down on both sides. You would think on health care with over 10 physicians in the Congress that someone would have sat down with the doctors and said what do you think about this legislation? Not one peep.

VAN SUSTEREN: You've made gestures to the White House. Has the White House except and apart from the two letters, has the White House reached out to you at all?

ROE: No.


ROE: Never.


ROE: Not one time. We did go to the birthday party on the lawn that all the congressmen went to.

VAN SUSTEREN: That's all?

ROE: That's it.

VAN SUSTEREN: That's the only time?

ROE: That's the only time at all, Greta. We haven't had any contact at all.

And I am very sincere. We want the president to succeed. It is important for all Americans for him to succeed. Our country is in trouble right now economically, and hopefully we are pulling out of it.

But this health care bill right now -- I've spent a career in health care and in the practice of medicine. Here we have a bill that adds new unfunded mandates.

Let me give you an example of what is going on in Tennessee. We have 50 less highway patrolman than we had in 1977, we have two million more people. And Nebraska doesn't get the bill, maybe Vermont, maybe Massachusetts, maybe Florida with Medicare advantage, but Tennesseans do, Ohioans do, other people do. Nebraskans are not going to get that.

They are embarrassed about that also. I would be if I were from Nebraska.

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor Schwarzenegger said last weekend that if you try to buy a vote in Sacramento that it's a crime. And he was critical of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid getting the vote, buying the vote for $300 million dollars from Senator Ben Nelson. What is your thought?

ROE: We speak to Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan about clean up your corruption. Turn it around and let him look at it this way. And when the person looks this way and says, here, you can get my vote if you will exempt my state and save all these hundreds of millions of dollars.

But somebody has to pay that bill. And we can't pay the unfunded mandated bills in health care in Tennessee right now. And if you add more, it will bankrupt our state.

What do we do? We have no capital projects for our colleges this year. Do we cut K-12? Do away with our state highway patrol? What do these states do that are already broke?

VAN SUSTEREN: Would you use the word corruption?

ROE: I don't know it is corrupt. But I think it is immoral to do what they did.

VAN SUSTEREN: Will you let us know if you hear from the White House on your second attempt to reach them on the economy?

ROE: I can guarantee you will be the first call I make.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, good. Thank you, congressman.

ROE: Thanks for dropping by the office, thanks.


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