'Blue Dogs' Become Lap Dogs

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," July 29, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Congressman Conyers, are you listening to the president? Congressman Conyers had complained the health care bill was too long and too complicated.


REP. JOHN CONYERS, D-MICH.: I love these that get up and say, "Read the bill." What good is rebuilt if it is 1,000 pages and you do not have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you have read the bill?


VAN SUSTEREN: But now, president Obama is saying no, reassuring people there is time to rebuild.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: This bill, even in the best-case scenario, will not be signed. We will not even vote on it probably until the end of September or the middle of October. We are just trying to get all of these different bills out of committee.

So that means that anyone of the senators, if they want to take this bill home with them during August recess, they would have more than enough time to read it.

I just want everyone to know Congress will have time to read the bill. They will have time to debate the bill. They will have all of August to review the various legislative proposals.

When we come back in September, I will be available to answer any question that members of Congress have. If they want to come over to the White House and go over line by line with what's going on, I will be happy to do that.


VAN SUSTEREN: Perhaps we should give them an "On the Record" pop quiz on the contents of the bill before they vote?

Speaking of health care, there is new tonight House Democrats, including the conservative blue dog Democrats strike a deal. The deadlock in the House Energy and Commerce Committee is over.

The negotiations agree including agreeing to cut $100 billion from the bill, revising the government options, and reducing the employer- mandate requirements. This all-important deal paves the way for the House to vote on the bill in September, October.

Now, will these concessions get any Republicans on board, too? Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele joins us from San Diego. Welcome, Chairman.


VAN SUSTEREN: A couple things first -- how are you? The president says if the members of Congress want to take it home and read it, they have enough time. "If"? Do we not expect them to take this home and read this before they vote, or is this just going to be blind voting and guess?

STEELE: No, I think it's going to be blind voting. But Greta, I am stunned, I am stunned to hear the president's saying, "Of course, they will have time to rebuild. They have all of August and part of September."

Excuse me, Mr. President. You were the one you wanted to get this signed by the end of this month, this Friday. When would they have had time to do all this reading that you're talking about.

I mean the disingenuousness and the arrogance of it to me is just mindboggling to sit there and now play it off like, of course, you will have time to read the bill.

You were the one you wanted to rush this thing along and have it signed by the August recess. So do not give me this we have time to do it stuff when the reality is your agenda was to push this bill down the throats of the Congress, to push this bill down the throat of the American people.

And but for the American people standing up and saying, "No. Read the bill. Slow it down. Take time." This would never been a very different bill this week had the president had had his way.

Number two, the fact that they haven't read the bill, in fact, the president himself has not read the bill tells you everything you need to know about the seriousness with which they are taking this debate.

And until the members take the time and sit down and sit down, study, articulate, and understand exactly what's in this thing, the American people should view them all suspiciously.

VAN SUSTEREN: I thought it was interesting -- we are having a beer summit tomorrow night that I will not ask you about. We'll talk about that later, not with you, maybe.

But the beer summit is tomorrow night, but if you listen carefully at what the president said, we can have a reading summit in September, because he said that he will invite them over to the White House and read it line by line by line.

I'm game. I hope they go have a reading summit and that they all read it. I don't know if it's a good bill or a bad bill, but at least now we know. The reading summit will start.

STEELE: The reading summit will start, and I hope there is no beer is being served so that when they read it, they will understand what it is they're reading.

We need people to take this debate seriously. The American people right now are crying out for serious actors in this thing. The politics of it is too much to behold.

And then today, to have the blue dogs come out and try to make us feel so warm and fuzzy and good that they had eked out a compromise. A compromise on what? The only thing they have compromised is themselves. They are now lapdogs of Nancy Pelosi and the president.

I'm sorry, but that's exactly what it is, because you still have the tax consequences, you still have the spending consequences, and you still don't have clear answers to exactly what this means to someone who currently has health care with the high potential of losing that health care should this become law.

So the fact is, the lap dogs may be dancing, but the American people, again, should be in been concerned about the direction this administration, whether they read the bill or not, wants to take this country.

VAN SUSTEREN: There have been some negotiations, some agreements that has moderated the bill or at least moved the bill to the satisfaction of the conservative Democrats.

Do you anticipate that any of those modifications that the conservative Democrats have now agreed to will peel off some Republicans that were not otherwise likely to vote for the health care reform?

STEELE: Well, that's a fair question, and it remains to be seen exactly what the compromise is. You can compromise on a lot of things and still not deal with the meat of the problem.

I want to hear what the compromise is. I want to know exactly what the tax consequences are, what the spending consequences are, whether or the government will insert itself as it plans to do between me and my doctor, between my daughter and the insurance companies.

I want to know exactly what that relationship is going to look like, and, once it is all done, employers will or will not offload their employees to a public plan because it's cheaper for them because the government has come in and competed with them in the market and undercut their ability to provide that service.

There are a lot of questions that have not been answered, and I think it is about time for us to stop this, oh, gee, come on over and we will have a reading session and deliberate lay out the direction your going to go with this and tell us exactly what it means.

We just don't have time for the games anymore, and it's just amazing to me that these lap dogs who were sitting around a few weeks ago barking about how bad the bill was have suddenly found religion at the heels of Nancy Pelosi to come out and say, "Yes, we have to work at out a compromise." Well, what is it? Tell us what it is.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I have to go, Chairman Steele. Always nice to see you. Thank you, sir.

STEELE: All right, Greta, thank you.

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