'Nuclear' Explosion Looming in Health Care Battle

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 22, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Democrats say it does too little. Republicans say it does too much. The health care war is now in high gear, zeroing in on a bill proposed by the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Max Baucus. In all, senators have already proposed more than 500 changes to Senator Baucus's bill. And as the nasty fight continues, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid drops a bomb today, making an ominous threat. He may use nuclear option, reconciliation, to shove this bill through!

Earlier, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch went "On the Record."


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

SEN. ORRIN HATCH, R - UTAH: Hey, nice to talk to you, Greta. You doing all right?

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm doing fine, Senator. I know that you guys are busy, so let me ask you about the big thing you're about busy about, this health care reform bill. Do you believe that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is going to shove this bill through using the nuclear option? And if so, what does that mean for the Senate and for the country?

HATCH: If they go by the route of reconciliation, it will be the first time that a bill of this substance, one sixth of the American economy, is considered in reconciliation. What reconciliation was formed for is to take care of tax increases, tax reductions, budget cuts. It was to make it easier to do that by just a simple majority vote.

But what it means is that you'd be doing one sixth of the American economy in 20 hours, actually probably less than 24 hours, with limited amendments, limited debate. The American people would not be represented very well in that. And frankly, they think they can do that.

And why are they rushing this so hard? It took Ted Kennedy and me two solid years of hard work to pass the Children's Health Insurance Program, which everybody admits is a very good bill. But it took us that kind of time. Now, here we have one sixth of the American economy and they're trying to ram it through.

Makes you wonder why, doesn't it. Makes you wonder why the sudden hurry and rush. It makes you wonder just who -- what are they trying to pull off on the American people? And I think I can tell you.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, what is it, then? You've now given me the tease to ask you. What is that?

HATCH: Well, first of all, the president -- what the president promised, he can't keep his promises. First of all, they are going to sock taxes to the middle class, to people earning less than $200,000 a year. In fact, they're going to sock taxes to people who earn, you know, as low as $30,000, $40,000 a year. And the way they do that, there's a $300 billion excise tax on insurers, clinical labs and medical devices. All of that is going to be passed on to the consumer. Guess who's going to pay for it? Why, you and I and everybody else because it isn't well thought out.

Secondly, there's a $27 billion -- I'm just looking at it -- $27 billion in taxes on employers at a time when unemployment is 9.7 percent, going to 10 percent, double-digit, you know, unemployment. There's another $20 billion in taxes on people, you know, in other ways.

All I can say is, if you look at this bill and the high costs of it, they're not going to bend the cost curve. It's going to go up. You know, any time the federal government says that they're only going to charge you five bucks, you know it's going to be ten. And then you're going to be lucky if it's that.

They're going to actually assess -- for families that earn $66,000 a year or more, they're going to assess -- it was $3,800 in penalties if they don't get a government -- you know, a Washington-run plan. I think the chairman now says it's going to only be $2,000. That's $2,000 to an average family that's having a rough time getting by under the current circumstances. I got to tell you, why the rush? I think they're trying to pull the wool over us.

VAN SUSTEREN: But why? What do the Democrats get out of that? I mean, you say that they're trying to pull the wool over the eyes, but what do they get out of it?

HATCH: Well, everything is geared to try and get us to a single-payer system. If they can't do it automatically, they'll do it in increments. And if we get to a single-payer system, that means we're going to have a one-size-fits-all government-run health care program right out of Washington.

And if anybody believes that Washington can do a better job than your local and state governments and your local and state insurers and your local and state health care providers and your local and state doctors, I've got a bridge to sell to you.

The fact of the matter is -- you know, I made this quote the other day. I said that if anyone believes that Washington can do a plan that will cost close to a trillion dollars, cover all Americans, not raise taxes on anyone, not increase the deficit and not reduce benefits or choices for our families, then I have a bridge I'd like to sell to you. And that's what they're claiming they're going to do, and there's no way, if you look at what they are doing, that they can do that.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, we only have 10 seconds left. Is this going to pass in its current form or not, the Senate -- I realize it will go through some -- some amendments before it gets to the floor. But do you think that the Democrats are going to pass health care reform?

HATCH: Well, I don't know, but they are trying to steamroll it through. And Chairman Baucus has a lot of pressure on him to try and steamroll this through, and they're going to get it through any way they can. I hope we can stop it. If we do, then we can take a step back and then work together on a bipartisan approach that the American people can accept. This one, I don't think they're going to want to accept it when -- you know, if it goes through.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you, sir.

HATCH: You bet. Nice to be with you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Nice to see you.


VAN SUSTEREN: Senator Chuck Grassley is the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee. Now, he spent months negotiating with the "Gang of Six." They were all trying to write a bipartisan health care bill. Senator Grassley says President Obama is not keeping his word to you. Earlier, Senator Grassley went "On the Record."


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

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY, R - IOWA: Thank you. Glad to be with you, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, answer this sort of simple question on this health care reform. Is it possible to cover about 47 million more people while improving quality for less money? Is that at all possible?

GRASSLEY: Not with less money, but probably not with the full $900 billion that you're talking about. But here's the problem in trying to convince you or anybody else. The reforms that might be in a bill like this, assuming it can pass, is probably down the road five or six years. Changing the delivery system of health care is an example, in ways that are not really partisan, to be quite honest with you, and ideas that come from the medical field, not from those of us in politics.

But the problem is, all the controversial stuff is up front. And so from that standpoint, it's a very difficult thing to explain. It's a very difficult thing to sell.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now, the president says that he won't sign anything that's going to cost any more money. Is that -- I mean, is that your understanding of what he said?

GRASSLEY: That's what he said, from this standpoint. He meant that it would be offset so that the Congressional Budget Office would say that it didn't add anything to the deficit. In other words, raising some money, as this bill does and spending some more money, it doesn't add to the deficit, and that's what the president meant.

He also said another thing that's even much more important from the standpoint of anybody in this country, including those of us in Congress involved. And that is, we should really sharply downturn the inflation rate of health care, which, you know, is probably two or three times the normal rate of inflation. It would be ideal to get it down to a point where it's not more than 1 percentage point above the normal cost of living.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is what the president says, is it possible under the scheme that, for instance, the Senate bill that your committee is considering, or is it simply, you know, off the charts not possible?

GRASSLEY: Well, even if it's possible, here's where it goes against a lot of things that the president has said he wanted to do. You know, he said, you want to keep the health insurance you have, you ought to be able to keep it. Well, there's several things in here that's going to make that very difficult, maybe not in every case, but very difficult.

Another thing, he said that he wasn't going to raise taxes on people under $250,000. Well, there's fees in this bill. You know, when you call it a fee, but I got out of the joint tax committee today, and those are the experts here on the Hill, nonpartisan experts. And they will tell you that this fee that you -- or this penalty that you put on people that don't have health insurance -- because this requires everybody in the country to have health insurance, a mandate, an individual mandate -- and that is an excise tax. So that excise tax is going to hit people under $250,000, so the president's not keeping his word to the people.

VAN SUSTEREN: So why is it? Do you think the president simply doesn't understand that, or that he's trying to be a little bit slick or that you're wrong? Or you know, what's going on with this?

GRASSLEY: I think the president is being caught up with a lot of things that he promised during the campaign that weren't the real world but he was campaigning, and now he's got to stick by them and he's still repeating them. Two of them I just mentioned. You know, if you want to keep the insurance you have, you ought to be able to do it. Well, that's going to be very difficult under this bill. And then that he wasn't going to increase taxes on people under $250,000. But today, the joint committee says that this penalty is really an excise tax on people that don't want to buy health insurance, as an example.

So it might be that he doesn't understand, but he -- you know, you probably saw him on the Sunday shows. He got caught up in this business of what's a tax increase and what isn't a tax increase. And I think one of your counterparts on the Sunday shows made it very clear that this individual mandate and the penalty that goes with it is a tax increase.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you very much, sir. Nice to see you.

GRASSLEY: Thank you.


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