Blue Dog Democrat Votes Against Health Reform

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

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Costs the biggest reason my next guest voted against the House bill. He's now taking heat back home for it. Does he regret it?

With us now, Democratic Congressman, chairman of the so-called Blue Dog caucus, Jim Matheson.

Congressman, you're in — in deep mud, I guess, over this, but — but why did you take your stand?

REP. JIM MATHESON, D-UTAH: I don't think I'm necessarily in deep mud, Neil.

But I will say this. All along, I have said, if we're going to do health care reform, it's actually got to be real reform. And I have got to be convinced that it's going to reduce this excessive growth in our health care costs in America.

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And, just a week ago today, I met with the head of the Congressional Budget Office, Doug Elmendorf, and he said the House bill doesn't move spending in a trajectory where it's lowering increases in health care costs.

CAVUTO: He told you that?

MATHESON: In fact, it was the opposite.

CAVUTO: Elmendorf told you that?

MATHESON: Sure. Sure. He said it also in a letter to Senator Baucus a couple of weeks ago.

So, it's out there, that the trajectory of health care costs under the House bill goes up in the out years. That's not reform. And I will tell you, we can't sustain the path we're on. But, if we're going to pass a health care bill, we ought to try to change that path.

CAVUTO: Well, then you're saying, Congressman, that they're not.

Now, Nancy Pelosi says they are. So, one of you is — is misguided.

MATHESON: Well, I will tell you what. There are two issues here.

One is the measure of how much it affects the federal deficit. Let me tell you something, Neil. Even with costs growing at a huge amount, if you raise taxes enough, you can cover it so it doesn't add to the deficit. That doesn't sound so good to me.

What we need to talk about, beyond...

CAVUTO: So, you're convinced that much of the ways to pay for this, Congressman — I think half of it roughly comes down to savings that would be realized — I don't see how that happens, but that's the line — and the other half from hiking taxes. You don't see the latter doing it?

MATHESON: Well, what I'm suggesting is, there are two issues. One is whether it's deficit-neutral. Sure, that's an important issue. But we really ought to look at reforming the system, so costs aren't growing so much greater than inflation. That benefits both the federal budget, but it benefits the private sector as well, if you really reformed our health care system.

And I just don't think the House bill did that.

CAVUTO: Does Nancy Pelosi now just ignore you? If she passes you in the hall, she doesn't say anything to you, or what?


MATHESON: I — I — you know what? I — she — I think she will at least say hello to me.

CAVUTO: Really? So, if she has a closed-door meeting, are you ever allowed behind the closed door?

MATHESON: I have had a number of meetings, as head of the Blue Dog Coalition, expressing the issues that I have raised with you right now.

CAVUTO: And what does she say?

MATHESON: Well, there's a difference of opinion about this bill.

CAVUTO: Does it ever get nasty?

MATHESON: I mean, I think that, at the end of the day, you know, there are a couple of big objectives that people are trying to pursue in this bill. And one is coverage for everyone that's uninsured.

CAVUTO: Right.

MATHESON: But the other objective is, do we really get a handle on these out-of-control costs?

CAVUTO: No, no, I hear you, Congressman.

MATHESON: I — and — and...

CAVUTO: I'm just asking you that, has it ever got nasty between you and the House leadership over this issue?

MATHESON: Oh, has it ever gotten nasty? No.

CAVUTO: Nasty. Mean.

MATHESON: Oh, no, no, no, no. I have been very respectful. So they have.


MATHESON: No, not with me.

CAVUTO: OK. Well, you're always a gentleman.

Congressman, thank you very much.

MATHESON: All right. Thank you, Neil.

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