Health Care Battle: More About Ideology Than Policy?

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 9, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Republican congressman Paul Ryan, uncut and "On the Record."


VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, nice to see you, sir.

REP. PAUL RYAN, R - WIS.: Good to be with you. Thanks for coming over.

VAN SUSTEREN: I can't help but notice over your right shoulder a Green Bay Packer helmet.

RYAN: I wanted to make you feel comfortable and make you feel at home.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, indeed, it does. All right, health care -- are we any closer? Have you heard anything in the last 24 hours to indicate that it's any closer to being resolved?

RYAN: They are still anywhere from 5 to 15 votes down. So let's say it's around 10 votes down. Lots of horse trading taking place. Speaker sent out that -- she might bring this up as early as Thursday. She'll do that if she thinks she has votes.

They might even come to the floor without having the votes locked in because what they typically do is announce the vote to try and get the fence sitters off the fence and on board. And so they're putting huge amounts of pressure on their members to vote for this.

Abortion is obviously a big part of it. It's very clear to us that even if they try to fix what we call the Stupak language in this reconciliation thing, that's not going to survive the Senate. So this bill -- if that Senate bill goes into law, it will federally finance abortions, no matter what any House Democrat who doesn't want it to do says so.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, you say horse trading. What are you hearing is being offered to members to try to get votes?

RYAN: We're not involved in these meetings.

VAN SUSTEREN: You don't get any word? You have no idea?

RYAN: They're not letting us in on these kind of things.

VAN SUSTEREN: I take it you're not being offered anything.

RYAN: No, I'm not!


VAN SUSTEREN: Not a thing.

RYAN: My position has been really clear a long time ago.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now, when you went to the health care summit, you brought along an idea, a program, and you proposed it. Have you heard from the White House or from the leadership or any Democrats to say, you know, We're thinking about considering it?



RYAN: No. No, actually, we got on the bus after the Blair House summit, went back to the Capitol, had a vote, went to the floor. I went up to one of the senior Democrats who was at the Blair House summit and said, Well, what's next now, now that we've had this discussion? He said, We're going to reconcile this thing and jam it through and we're going to -- he didn't say "jam," but he said, We're going to reconcile this and move it through, and we're going to be passing this within a week or two.

Watch Greta's interview with Rep. Paul Ryan

VAN SUSTEREN: So were you just a prop, the Republicans at...

RYAN: That's the impression I got. I said, Well, what was the whole point of this thing we did today? He gave me one of these, said, We're moving forward. We're going to do reconciliation.

VAN SUSTEREN: So no one has contacted you at all about any of your ideas?

RYAN: No. Not at all.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Now, you're worried about the money...

RYAN: It's been like that all year, by the way. I mean, Tom Coburn and I and Devin Nunes and Richard Burr sent letters to the president last May with the new alternative, last October with some ideas, and just last January with some new idea, and we have not heard anything back from them.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Your concentration or your opposition has primarily -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- has been the financial impact of...

RYAN: That's a part of it, yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: A part of it. Has anyone said anything to sort of ease your thought on the financial pressure of this?

RYAN: No. Actually, we've learned more information that makes it even more troubling in our minds. So we realize that this is really a fiscal train wreck. Look, hiding behind the Congressional Budget Office -- the Congressional Budget Office, they analyze what you put in front of them. But if you manipulate legislation, cook the books in the legislation to predetermine the score they're going to give you, the CBO has no choice but to give you that score.

And so what is happening here is they are changing this legislation to make it look as if it lowers health care costs, lowers the deficit, when a real world view of it very, very clearly shows you it doesn't. This thing explodes deficits. We're creating a brand-new, open-ended entitlement at a time we don't have the money to pay for the ones we already have on the books.

VAN SUSTEREN: What's your level of certainty of that? Because, you know, the Democrats say that this is -- this is something that's smart, fiscally smart.

RYAN: I'm absolutely certain about this.

VAN SUSTEREN: No doubt about it?

RYAN: No doubt about it in my mind whatsoever. All you have to do look at is the president's chief actuary, who he does not -- at Medicare -- he does not have to look at these kind of parameters that the CBO looks at, and they're telling us, based upon their view, the president's own chief number cruncher, this thing's a fiscal nightmare.

VAN SUSTEREN: So why do you think the president and Democrats are pushing this, if, indeed, it is, as you say, a fiscal nightmare?

RYAN: I think this is more than just about health care policy. I really believe this is more about ideology. They have the courage of their convictions, clearly. The president and leaders in Congress, they really believe that this is the right thing to do. Whether the American people want this or not, they think it's right to do this.

And I really think it comes down to their political philosophy. And they believe in more of a political philosophy that's more of a cradle to grave social welfare state, kind of like what you see in Europe, versus the American idea that we have known and loved and grown up with. And so really, what this is more about is ideology than health care policy because if this was about health care policy, we can get a bipartisan agreement tomorrow. It's not about health care policy.

They're trying to ram it through as fast as they can before their power slips away from them, and that is why they're trying to create this brand-new entitlement which really does have the government take over 17 percent of our economy.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you have any indication that Congressman Stupak and his group will agree to the language in the Senate bill because that is one of the hold-ups?

RYAN: No. They don't -- I don't think they will agree to the language in the Senate bill. What I worry about is they will fall prey to a false promise in what we call this reconciliation bill, which is if they put the Stupak language in this reconciliation bill, that gets them to vote for the Senate bill, which finances abortions. What we know is very clear is that abortion language, the Stupak language in the reconciliation bill will fall in the Senate. It won't go into law, thereby making taxpayer funding of abortion legal for the first time in a generation.

VAN SUSTEREN: So you're saying they'll be hoodwinked.

RYAN: They'll be hoodwinked.

VAN SUSTEREN: The Democrats supporting Congressman Stupak will be hoodwinked.

RYAN: That's exactly right.

VAN SUSTEREN: What do you think is the likelihood that Speaker Pelosi is going to get the votes?

RYAN: I think it's 50/50, and -- and look...

VAN SUSTEREN: What did you think yesterday?

RYAN: 50/50. I mean (INAUDIBLE) over last weekend -- I talked to Joe Lieberman for a while the other day about this, and he and I kind of basically agreed the same thing. It's about 50/50. The reason I say that is you can never count the Speaker out. On cap-and-trade, she was down 24 votes the night before, but she muscled it through and passed it by eight. She's very good at cutting deals, at muscling votes and using the carrot and the stick to get the votes she needs. She's been very successful so far this year.

No vote has been scrutinized like this vote, though. And Democrats, basically, are deciding, do they believe in this so ideologically that they're going to throw away their seats to vote for this, or are they just listening to the president, listening to the Speaker and just following the party line and voting against their constituents on this? It is just that kind of a crunch time.

And the point I would simply make is, the American people have a huge role to play in this. This will be decided this week or next week, and the American people can make a big difference. There's a pool of about 20 Democrats they're looking at to flip their votes, and their constituents can make a determination as to whether or not they do that or not.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you, sir.

RYAN: You bet. Thanks for coming.


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