This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," March 18, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Democrats are falling all over themselves touting what they say is a nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office score of their health care bill. However, as we will explain over the next hour, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her colleagues aren't telling you the whole story.
And that is our headline this Thursday night. "Numbers Game." And we begin first with the latest FOX News Opinion Dynamics poll. It shows that 55 percent of those polled oppose the reforms currently being considered, and only 35 percent say they favor the Democrats' plan.
Now meanwhile this was the scene on Capitol Hill this morning after the CBO released its preliminary findings on the reconciliation bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF., SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. Well, a number is worth a lot, too. I love numbers. And today the numbers from the Congressional Budget Office, that this health insurance reform legislation will save $138 billion in the first 10 years and $1.2 trillion in the second 10 years speaks very eloquently to the deficit reduction that is in our package.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: Now unfortunately, the San Francisco speaker declined to mention that this is by no means the final scoring of the bill. Now even the director of the CBO released a statement earlier today noting that these numbers are still very preliminary and very tentative in nature.
And Republicans are speaking out against the Democrats' tricks, as well, pointing to the massive tax hikes and huge spending cuts included in the legislation.
Now here's what Senator Orrin Hatch had to say just a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ORRIN HATCH, R-UTAH: These preliminary numbers are still based on a bunch of gimmicks that we all know will never happen. Double conning Medicare savings, delaying the spending until 2014 and beyond, rating Social Security, et cetera, et cetera.
Remember, if CBO's told to score gimmicks then they have to score gimmicks. That's what happened today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: Now this afternoon Democrats finally posted the text of the bill on the House Web site. Now that means that the 72-hour clock is now ticking and a vote could occur as early as Sunday.
But the big question on everyone's mind tonight is, do they have support to pass this bill? Well we now go to somebody who knows a lot about counting votes. He is the House minority whip, Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor, and he joins us tonight from Washington.
Congressman, welcome to the program.
REP. ERIC CANTOR, R-VA., HOUSE MINORITY WHIP: Sean, good evening.
HANNITY: All right. We've got to start with the vote count. This is what you do for a living. I'm told it's very, very close. What are your numbers?
CANTOR: You know, it is close, Sean. But they don't have the votes because if they did, we'd be voting right now. But it's really changing by the hour. As you know, there are reports that come out that they are switching from yes to no and she is twisting arms from no to yes.
You know the end of the day, though, we've got to keep our eyes focused on the fact that this bill is a bill that the American people don't like. That's why Nancy Pelosi and her colleagues are trying every trick in the book to ram this bill down the throats of the American people and across the floor of the House of Representatives.
HANNITY: All right, but with that said, are you concerned about the numbers? One of Nancy Pelosi's whips Steve Lynch, I mean, he was brutal in condemning the Slaughter House rule. And then he voted for it today.
And Jason Altmire.
HANNITY: I mean, he was condemning it as well. He voted for it.
CANTOR: I mean, listen, this is what we're seeing. All kinds of conflicting evidence. I think the other side is their arms are being twisted. Deals are being cut. You know, and the reason is, no one likes the Senate bill.
Certainly the majority of the American people don't and if this Senate bill were to come up on its own and Nancy Pelosi were not to be trying to hide the vote, it would go down in flames.
HANNITY: Yes. One of the things, I read your comments on the CBO scoring of this bill and you rightly point out that it expands entitlements by a trillion dollars, half a trillion in tax hikes. But you go into specificity about the budgetary gimmicks and tricks.
Now we're talking about parliamentary maneuvering, but there's also a lot of budget tricks that they are using here. For example, you're going to pay taxes for 10 years but the bill isn't implemented until four years in. So you pay taxes for six years of benefits.
Can you explain some of this?
CANTOR: Yes. I mean this is all trickery. You know we have now this reconciliation process that they've decided to use because they don't have the votes to pass the bill on an up-or-down vote. And in order to go and comply with the requirement that there needs to be deficit neutrality, that's what they're doing.
They're cutting off the benefit and increasing taxes in order to comply with that rule. And remember, Sean, this CBO estimate is just that because there are deals being cut as we speak and that will only add to the bill and the only way that they paid for those additions is to reduce seniors' health care benefits on their Medicaid or raise taxes.
HANNITY: All right. But why would the CBO — if you could see the budget gimmicks that they're using, why would the CBO not highlight this to give a truly educational, informational, you know, scoring of this to the American people?
CANTOR: Listen, Sean, this is not educational exercise on the part of —
HANNITY: That's a good point.
CANTOR: On the part of the speaker. I mean this has gotten to the point where they are really trying to hide the vote.
Again, this whole process in the House now trying to ram this bill through when they won't allow for an up-or-down vote, it is really a travesty.
HANNITY: Yes. All right, I mentioned the Fox News survey. Only 35 percent of those polled support this bill. But there was another interesting aspect of this poll, and that is, 53 percent think Nancy Pelosi is breaking the rules to pass Obamacare.
And I go a little bit further. I think they're bribing people on the one hand, they're buying off votes. And on the other hand, I think this is unconstitutional. Constitution, Article 1, section 7 clearly explains you've got to have an up-or-down, yea or nay vote, don't you?
CANTOR: Well, you do. And, Sean, you also have to have the House and the Senate acting in the same manner. And here what we're doing is we're going to take a vote, if they bring this thing to the floor, with the Senate provision having been deemed inside a larger rule, that is a different procedure than the Senate would have used, because the Senate has an up-or-down vote on this bill.
I mean the fact of the matter is, there has been a willful abuse of the legislative power here because they don't have the votes for a bill that the American people don't like and frankly a trillion dollar bill we can't afford.
HANNITY: All right. So then you had to use this procedure, the Slaughter rule, deem and pass, whatever, both the same — today because they didn't have the votes to pass this in the House of Representatives. OK.
So, assuming there's going to be a court challenge — I know Landmark Legal, my buddy Mark Levin is going to challenge this for one. That's phase one. Now Kent Conrad says this bill now, when they make the changes, they are going to send this off to the Senate.
Now he's saying because they're using the reconciliation process that it's unlikely the Senate is going to be able to pass it unchanged from what the House passes because of the challenges that will be made here, the Byrd rule, for example, and the Senate parliamentarian is going to rule and this bill is going to be very different and probably have to be sent back to the House again.
Is that a good understanding?
CANTOR: Well, that is very likely what may happen and that's where Speaker Pelosi is having the difficulty in convincing her members to go ahead and vote for the rule and start this process.
There's way too much uncertainty. I think senators on both sides of the political aisle are telling people, listen, we're not see clear that we can deliver on this. So that's the case. The only thing that results is that Senate bill with all those political kickbacks is going to make its way to the president's desk for signature.
And that's what this country will be left with. That's what's going on now, Sean. So we're having a bunch of budget gimmickry.
CANTOR: At work here because of the reconciliation process and we are having an obfuscation of the actual legislative process itself to hide the vote and confuse the public.
HANNITY: Look, I'm telling anybody that will listen to me. This is corruption. This is unconstitutional. They are circumventing the — not only letter of the Constitution, the intent of the Constitution, this is the rule of law. And I was stunned by the Bret Baier interview yesterday.
All right. So the president has postponed again, now indefinitely, this trip that he had planned for Asia. And I understand that he's begging members of the Hispanic Caucus, saying to them that his presidency is on the line.
Have you heard those reports?
CANTOR: I've heard reports. And I've also seen one of them — prominent members of the Hispanic Caucus now flipped what he said a few days ago —
CANTOR: — from being against the bill to now being for the bill. And again, you see, there are deals being cut. I mean why all this change back and forth? And so we really got to be very focused on making sure we understand what's in this bill.
And the 72-hour rule, as you suggested, Sean, was then kicked off today after the text was put up online. The real problem is, the text, as we're going to see — if it makes it to the floor — is not yet finished.
HANNITY: All right.
CANTOR: Because there's too many deals left undone.
HANNITY: Last question. Does this happen by Sunday? And your best prediction. Do you think they get to pass this?
CANTOR: Well, Sean, right now we are doing everything we can to bring down this bill in every legal way to make sure that it does not pass. Right now they don't have the votes. I don't think they get the votes.
The president has said he's not going to go abroad. I think that's a signal that they are having a lot of difficulty with their members.
HANNITY: All right. Eric Cantor, thanks for being with us, Congressman. Appreciate it.
CANTOR: Thanks, Sean.
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