Sen. Coburn Angry Over Closed-Door Meetings About Health Care Reform Bill
This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," October 20, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, this is a Fox News Alert. We have nothing to alert — on the biggest proposed spending initiative in American history, no news, just a door, a closed door.
Welcome, everybody. I'm Neil Cavuto.
And forget empty podiums. Going live to them for breaking news seems so, I don't know, yesterday. We have got a door, my friends, a big, fancy, wooden, looks like at least 10-foot, not your Home Depot garden variety cherrywood door.
And here's the thing. This thing, well, it ain't exactly the door, just the closest we have been able to get to the actual door behind which Senate negotiators are huddling at this hour to reconcile two bills that will likely fetch at least a $900 billion bill.
But, again, it's hard to say, because they are not saying, are they? And that door certainly ain't talking, even though you will be paying. Let's just say we're all on a need-to-know basis. And guess what? We don't need to know. And, apparently, we don't even need to hear, because no one is getting behind that door, not Carl Cameron with a glass, or Peter Barnes with a stethoscope. So, we scope out a door closed to the very folks who paid for it. Count Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn sick of it. He's a senator, for God's sake. And even he can't get in.
Senator, you are angry. What do you make of this?
SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: Well, I think, first of all, it contrasts what President Obama had to say to us, is that it would be an open and transparent process, even covered by C-SPAN, and the fact that we're having these negotiations between a select few in the Obama administration, rather than including the American public on what is going on and how we're going to do it.
There is no question lots of times, things work in the dark to get — come to a conclusion. But we have two bills. You know, this ought to be a good process. The American people ought to be able to see what is going on.
CAVUTO: All right.
This isn't unusual, I'm told, when you want to reconcile two bills in — in let's say the Senate in this case, on health care, and you want to hammer out one final crafted bill. But they are not leaking anything out. They're not talking to anyone even beyond the core group that is in there.
What is going on?
COBURN: Well, I don't know what is going on, because I am not in the room, unfortunately. But no — no Republican is in the room. We are uninvited guests. And...
CAVUTO: Well, Senator, is — let me ask you this. Is the door locked? Like, if you walked up to it, everyone says, oh, well, this is Tom Coburn. He can just walk right in.
Could you walk right in, or is it physically locked? Do you know?
COBURN: Oh, I doubt if the door is locked.
The point is, the symbolism is, this is exactly — you know, health care is a big deal in our country. It's a large component of our GDP. It's one of the things that, if we don't get the costs under control, it's going to limit our ability to be competitive.
But, as important as this is, as large a segment of our economy, one- sixth of our economy, this ought to be an out — out — out-front, forward-looking, transparent process, where the American people can see what we are doing.
You know, we are going to have trouble making sure we're going to even understand what is in this bill once we get language. If you take the health bill, plus this bill, you got 2,300 pages now. When they combine that, it's going to be something around that, maybe slightly less.
CAVUTO: Whoa. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute.
You — this is now over 2,300 pages? We were just at 1,500 a couple of minutes ago.
COBURN: That's what — that's — well, 1,500 is what the Finance Committee put out, 1,502.
CAVUTO: So, the two together — OK.
COBURN: But that committee...
CAVUTO: So, the two together are going to be over 2,300 pages? There are no Cliffs Notes version of that or...
COBURN: Well, maybe — let's say 2,000 — probably going to be around 2,000 pages. I am sure they — they are going to do everything they can to keep it under 2,000.
But, remember, this has to be written and then has to be scored. And after it's written, you know, it might be good that all of us get a chance to take a look at what is written for an extended period of time, so we can actually digest it and see what is going on.
The real dangers with this, Neil...
CAVUTO: Are you a speed...
CAVUTO: Senator, are you a speed-reader?
COBURN: I am a pretty fast reader.
CAVUTO: That is a lot of pages to read, Senator.
COBURN: Yes. Well, it is, but I will have my staff break it down. And the stuff that's anything other than absolutely clear, we will look at and try to dig in.
Remember, all the unintended consequences, plus some of the hidden intended consequences are not going to be obvious...
COBURN: ... when this bill comes to the floor.
CAVUTO: All right. It looks like a guy bringing water passed the door, but he goes to a side entrance, I guess.
CAVUTO: But, if that door opens up, Senator, or they unlock it, or maybe you can wiggle in there and let us know what is happening. But....
COBURN: Well, one other — one other point that ought to be made...
COBURN: ... not only should there be transparency in the process. There ought to be transparency in the health care that we all get.
We ought to know what quality we're getting.
COBURN: We ought to know what the prices are we're about to pay.
CAVUTO: You're right.
COBURN: So, there is no transparency in their bill for both price and quality, and there's no transparency in the process.
CAVUTO: Weird stuff. Senator, thank you.
COBURN: You're welcome, Neil.
CAVUTO: But, Frankie (ph), can we take a look at the door again? I want to show this.
Doesn't it remind you of — of the setup and the attic shot in the Amityville house? That's just me, but that was such a memorable shot. And that didn't go well in that house. That's a whole digression, but just my quick knee-jerk read on that.
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