This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 8, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Dick Morris goes "On the Record." And the CBO score is out. Total estimated price tag of the Senate Finance Committee health bill, $829 billion over the next 10 years. The CBO says the bill would reduce deficits by $81 billion in the next decade.
But is there small print? And are there hidden costs in the Senate bill that will affect you? Dick Morris says yes. One example, Dick says the Democrats want to tax the sick. Now, what does that mean? Dick joins us live. He's the author of the book "Catastrophe." Tax the sick, Dick? I mean, that just seems so extraordinary. But those are your words. Is there fine print or is there print that says the sick are going to get taxed?
DICK MORRIS, DICKMORRIS.COM: Absolutely, right in there in the bill. Currently, you can deduct your medical expenses if they're more than 7.5 percent of your income. They want to raise that in the bill to 10 percent. Now, just think about it. Someone who's spending 10 percent of their income on medical care has got to be sick, has got to be probably facing catastrophic costs, and those are the people they picked to tax.
Now, if you're making $60,000 or $70,000 household income a hear, well, that means that you lose 2.5 percent of that as a deduction, and that works out to a tax of about $600. So they are literally taking the sickest people in the United States, those who have to spend more than 7.5 percent of their income on medical expenses, and they are raising the tax on them. It's absolutely incredible!
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, it's -- you know, it's sort of interesting. I mean...
MORRIS: Oh, and by the way, Greta...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... it's almost sort of...
MORRIS: Greta, of the 8 million people who are affected by this, 6 million of them make less than $75,000 a year. So you're talking about middle-income people who are so sick that they have to give one out of every $12 for medical care, and they are going to have to pay $600 each extra on top of their catastrophic medical expenses.
VAN SUSTEREN: So in other words, where the Democrats are sort of probably jumping up and down and saying it's deficit-neutral and how great it is as to that aspect, or that it's $829 billion, which comes under -- comes less than what everyone sort of projected that the CBO would release (ph) to...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... is that while they're jumping up and down and praising that, maybe, you know, they ought to step back and take a look at this. And it's not deficit-neutral to these sick people who are going to be paying more...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... in terms of not losing -- not being able to deduct.
MORRIS: Darn right. And you know, this bill that is supposed to be providing health insurance for people and to encourage people to get health insurance imposes a 40 percent tax on health insurance premiums higher than $650 a month for an individual and $700 a month for a family.
And the bill takes effect in 2013, but by 2016, given the inflation of premiums, the average policy will cost more than that. So get it straight. It taxes the sick $600 each and taxes people that pay for their own health insurance 40 percent of their premiums. Great bill. And that's why the CBO loves it, because it's a deficit-neutral because that's where it's turning for its money. And then on top of that, $404 billion cut from the Medicare program! Unbelievable!
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you...
MORRIS: Almost as much as we spend each year on Medicare.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you agree that the health care system needs to be fixed, needs some sort of reform? Do you agree with that?
MORRIS: Yes. Yes, it does.
VAN SUSTEREN: OK.
MORRIS: And -- and I believe...
VAN SUSTEREN: All right...
MORRIS: Go ahead.
VAN SUSTEREN: I was going to say I take it you don't -- I take it you don't like the Senate bill, this one. I take it you don't like the other Senate bill with the public option.
VAN SUSTEREN: The House has a public option. You know, if you were in charge -- I'm picking everybody's brain on this -- How would you do this, in light of the fact...
MORRIS: I would do...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... that we need to fix it and we want people to have health, but we don't want to go bankrupt?
MORRIS: I would do two things. First of all, I would expand the number of doctors and nurses and hospital equipment before we expand the number of patients so that you don't create scarcity and you don't create rationing and you have enough medical care to go around.
And the second thing I'd do is I would not attempt to do this during the worst economic period we've had in the last 60 years, when we have a $1.4 trillion deficit and we have negative growth in our revenues. At that point, every dime that you have to squeeze out of here and squeeze out of there comes in sacrificing the quality of care. I believe you have to do it, but you don't have to do it right now, the worst possible time to do it.
VAN SUSTEREN: What do you make of the numbers in terms of the approval rate of Congress? They sort of reflect today what they did in 1994, when there was an attempt to reform health care in the Clinton administration. That failed, and then there was this huge backlash and Republicans then seized control of the House. That 22 percent is about...
MORRIS: And the Senate.
VAN SUSTEREN: ... is now -- we got the same situation now.
MORRIS: Right. Well, I think that history could be about to repeat itself. It's astonishing to me, Greta, that this is a bill that is disliked by a 20-point margin by the American people, and yet the Democrats are blithely going ahead and they're going to pass it.
But you know, I haven't given up this fight. None of us should. There is still a chance to defeat this bill. It has not yet been voted out of the Senate Finance Committee. And there are really three key members of that committee who people should be focusing on.
First of all, if you're an elderly person and you live in the state of Florida, please write Senator Nelson, your Senate. He sits on that Finance Committee. And for a state that's 25 percent over the age of 65 to have a U.S. senator who votes to slice Medicare is unbelievable. And the other two states are Arkansas for Senator Lincoln and Maine for Senator Snowe, the Republican.
And just in case, in addition to writing that letter, if you go to my Web site, Dickmorris.com, we have a 15-second ad that says, Senator Nelson, please don't cut my Medicare by $500 billion, or $400 billion. I need my Medicare. And we need funds to run that ad all over the state of Florida, and I believe we can still turn this around.
But this bill -- and you know, Greta, the other part of this bill is it doesn't do what it's supposed to do. They said they're going to cover the uninsured, but half of the uninsured will remain uninsured under this bill, and I frankly think it'll be more.
What able-bodied young person in their 20s or early 30 in their right mind is going to want to buy a comprehensive, complete health insurance program that consumes 8 percent of their income, which is the amount you have to pay before the subsidy kicks in? Catastrophic coverage, sure. But that's not enough to satisfy the mandate in the bill. You'd be breaking the law if you just get a catastrophic policy. You need a soup-to-nuts policy because they need to take the premiums from you and use it to pay for the cost of this bill. And if you don't do it, you get fined a thousand dollars. Well, I think the average person is just going to pay the fine. Why would you pay $4,000 or $5,000 in premiums for a policy you don't need?
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, Dick, when I -- when I look at this, is I -- I have a little -- oftentimes one beat off, and I'm one beat off on this, is that -- is that I sort of jump ahead in my mind and think of when they have this vote on the bill finally, vote in the House and the Senate, and we're going to see this sort of -- you know, the somber chamber as they all go up and cast their vote. And the thing that bothers me is I know that everyone who goes up there -- or that -- I should say everyone -- most of the people who go up there and vote haven't even bothered to read it, you know, and will not have read it. So it seems a little bit of a fraud they're voting for something of which they are fundamentally uninformed about. That's the first thing.
And the second thing that they wouldn't put it on -- I don't mean to beat a dead horse, but that they wouldn't put it on the Internet so that we could at least see it. And to me, the whole project -- you know, I almost feel like I've been naive about the process and it makes me feel a little bit had. We need to fix the system, but we should do it with -- you know, with good intellect, good mind, and not this sloppy thing and pretend. That's -- so I'm one beat off on this.
MORRIS: Well, I think you're absolutely right. Do you realize the Senate Finance Committee voted not to put this bill on the Internet? I can't even think of an argument for not putting it on the Internet.
And by the way, the other thing is, you know when this bill takes effect? In 2013. You know when Obama has to run for reelection? In 2012. He'll be safely in the White House when the shortages hit, the waiting lists kick in, doctors start being told, No, you can't administer this chemotherapy, No, you can't let this person have a hip replacement, all the stuff we talked about in "Catastrophe."
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, I -- I...
MORRIS: It'll kick in after Obama's elected.
VAN SUSTEREN: I -- I believe everybody up there, Democrat, Republicans, wants to fix it and wants to do the right thing. But for the life of me, is that I cannot think how they can possibly justify, as you said, not putting it on the Internet or how they can possible vote for something that they are uninformed about because they haven't read it. But I'm taking the last word this time, Dick. You usually get it, but I'm taking it.
MORRIS: Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: I got to go. Thank you, Dick.
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