This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 16, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Congressman, nice to see you again.
REP. PAUL RYAN, R - WIS.: Thanks for having me.
VAN SUSTEREN: I take it since the last time we spoke, you haven't changed your opinion, your vote.
RYAN: No, no. I have not.
VAN SUSTEREN: It's still a no.
RYAN: It's still a no.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, have you some sort of sense where the vote is? Because we're all trying to sort of do this voodoo of counting heads.
RYAN: We all do that. And we all do it by just conversations we have with our Democratic friends on the floor. We still think they're 10 down. So we know that Bart Stupak and others with his group are staying where they are, they're staying put. There's been a lot of confusion on that issue. The Catholic hospital said one thing, but the Catholic bishops, which really matters with respect to the Catholic church, is still against this bill. So there's lots of confusion being thrown around on the pro- life, pro-choice issue.
We know what this law does. We know the legislative consequences, and Bart Stupak and others are standing firm. The question is, can they get others who were no before to vote yes? And that's what they're going down the list. And they're still about 10 votes down.
VAN SUSTEREN: How about peeling off some yesses to the Republican no category? Have you seen any of that, someone who voted yes last time and suddenly changes his or her mind?
RYAN: We think that's a dynamic that's happening, but we're not being told of that. We're not having Democrats come up to us and telling us that they're going to be yes or no. We're just hearing from talking to all of our Democratic friends that they don't have the votes, that they're not there yet. And so the estimates where I say 10 votes, that's just what I'm getting repeated to me from some of my friends.
VAN SUSTEREN: What are they saying when you run into them in the hall? Are they say, like, you know, We're in a full-scale panic, or, We're going to get it, we don't have any problem? I mean, what's sort of the vibe in the hall?
RYAN: Well, I've been saying, Are you really going to "deem" this thing? I mean, are you really -- do you think you can fool the American people with this deeming strategy?
VAN SUSTEREN: You say that straight up to them?
RYAN: Absolutely. Oh, are you kidding me? We -- we were in -- we were -- we had eight hours of debate on this last night on the Budget Committee, so we had plenty of time to talk to our Democratic friends about this stuff. So we really do push it to them, put the screws to them.
VAN SUSTEREN: Needle them a little off the...
RYAN: Needle them a little, and also talk to them substance. I spoke to a freshman last night, a freshman Democrat, who actually asked me my opinion of the bill. So I walked him through, and he's getting perspectives from us that he would never get in a Democratic caucus.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is he from a Republican McCain '08 district?
RYAN: It is. It is.
VAN SUSTEREN: So that's why he wants to talk to you a little bit because -- to see which way the wind is blowing.
RYAN: And just how we think this will play (ph) out. He doesn't get our perspective from his caucus.
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, you had a mark-up last night? What is that? Many viewers, they hear these...
RYAN: Right. Right.
VAN SUSTEREN: ... language -- you know, reconciliation...
RYAN: We have more vernacular that we use here. A mark-up is when you draft a bill in committee to be ready to go to the floor. So I serve as the top Republican on the Budget Committee. What we did in the Budget Committee last night is they started this whole process going of reconciliation. That means start this budget bill, which will go to what we call the Rules Committee, where Speaker Pelosi will parachute in her language that she's using to cut the deals to get Democrats to vote for this Senate-passed legislation.
There's only one reason, Greta, why this reconciliation process started last night in Budget Committee, why it's going through. It's because one guy won one election, and his name is Scott Brown. The only reason they're doing it this way is because they can't legislate the normal way. And that's why reconciliation because they can't go back to the Senate. They got to get the House to pass that Senate bill intact, and then afterwards, they're going to try and clean it up here and there in some small areas. And that's the price of getting Democratic House members to vote for the Senate bill, if they can get them to do that.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, last night in the mark-up, anything change?
RYAN: Nothing changed. We went at the bill with lots of what we call "motions to instruct." There are versions of amendments to try and change the textness (ph) of the bill. The Democrats did the same thing.
One thing that they did do, which I found was telling, is they added a motion to say, Let's put a new price control entity in this law. This is what President Obama is saying he wants to add to the Senate bill. Give the government, in addition to having one person, the Health and Human Services secretary, be the regulator of all health insurance in America, he wants to give that person the ability to price control
What that is another way of saying is that's basically the back door public option. It gives the government the ability to run insurance, private insurance, out of business so that the government is the only player left. They want to try and insert this language in this bill in the Rules Committee, at reconciliation.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, if I'm correct, then to sum it up is that some Democrats (SIC) think that the reason why there's an adherence to the Senate language on abortion is because the Democrats want to sort of push federal funding into abortion, whether it's true or not. Is that partial thinking (ph)?
RYAN: That's right. That's right.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. And those who are sort of concerned about the economic aspect to this bill think that what's happening is the Democrats are trying to sneak public option through the back door.
RYAN: That's right. That's right.
VAN SUSTEREN: Whether that's right or wrong, those are the two sort of thoughts about that.
RYAN: That's right. That's right. So liberals in the Budget Committee brought this rate-setting authority, which is basically a public option in sheep's clothing, and they're trying to put it back into the bill.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Now, there are some things about the bill you like?
VAN SUSTEREN: Pre-existing -- the...
RYAN: There are aspects that I think are intelligent policy, but the entire architecture of this is so bad that you can't perfect or improve this bill. You have to start over.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. How rugged is this debate?
RYAN: I've been here 12 years. This is the biggest issue Congress has dealt with in a generation.
VAN SUSTEREN: Except war. I mean, you -- I mean, the -- I mean...
RYAN: On domestic policy.
VAN SUSTEREN: On domestic policy. OK. But I mean...
RYAN: This is the biggest social legislation in 40 years that Congress has dealt with. It's huge stakes, and that is why this is rugged. That is why this has high stakes. And they're trying to muscle it through by the end of this week. And they want -- they're even contemplating a vote process where they don't even take the vote, where they actually "deem" this thing to have passed. And I just...
VAN SUSTEREN: The so-called "Slaughter Rule"?
RYAN: The Slaughter solution. I mean, it's as if the American people aren't paying attention to this and they think they can sneak this thing by and go home to their constituents and say, No, I didn't vote for that Senate bill. Well, I mean, people aren't stupid. And they're treating the American people like children when they really want to be talked to like adults.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you ever talk to Speaker Pelosi or Leader...
RYAN: I talk to Steny fairly often, yes. I don't speak to -- I've only had a couple -- two or three conversations since I've been here with Nancy Pelosi. I don't really know her.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why not? I mean, she's the leader. I mean...
RYAN: She doesn't talk to us.
VAN SUSTEREN: At all?
RYAN: At all.
VAN SUSTEREN: But Steny Hoyer, Congressman Hoyer, does?
RYAN: Steny Hoyer does.
VAN SUSTEREN: And when was the last time you spoke to him about this bill?
RYAN: About two weeks ago.
VAN SUSTEREN: Has anyone in the leadership, Democratic leadership, come to you, or do they just figure, well, you're a lost cause.
RYAN: They write us off.
VAN SUSTEREN: They write you off.
RYAN: They decided a year ago, they're going to do this their way, the highway. Look, they had 60 votes in the Senate, a huge majority in the House. Charlie Rangel, who was the chairman of Ways and Means Committee, which I sit on, told us over a year ago they're going to pass this bill. They're going to do it their way. They'd like to have our support, but they don't need it because they're going to do it their way.
VAN SUSTEREN: When was the last time you spoke to President Obama?
RYAN: Blair House summit.
VAN SUSTEREN: No contact since then.
VAN SUSTEREN: How about Rahm Emanuel, chief of staff?
RYAN: I see him fairly often.
VAN SUSTEREN: See him or talk to him?
RYAN: Talk to him and see him. We -- he works out in the gym here in the morning, and we...
VAN SUSTEREN: We've heard about that!
VAN SUSTEREN: Believe it or not, we've heard about that!
RYAN: I know we have. But he -- he's in the gym every morning, and I'm a work-out guy, I'm in the gym every morning. And so I run into Rahm every now and then and we have, you know, quick conversations.
VAN SUSTEREN: So the statement by the Democratic House whip that says he's the votes, you don't buy it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is it bravado or what is it?
RYAN: It's a common strategy that's employed, especially these days, called the inevitability strategy. Make your team think you're winning, and if you're to vote again the team, then it's your fault for bringing the team down, and get the defense -- get the opposition on defense. Get the American people, who are upset about this bill, demoralized so that they don't pick up the phone and call their congressmen or some other congressman.
So the whole idea of this inevitability strategy is to try and win through bluffing. They are bluffing. They don't have the votes. And they've got about seven days -- not even that -- where they are just trying -- and try and muscle this thing through before the president gets on a plane to Indonesia.
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, there's much more of our interview with Wisconsin Congressman Ryan, so check out the entire interview tomorrow at GretaWire.com.
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