Obama's Empty Promise, Line-By-Line

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," November 20, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: This is a story we followed for months at "On the Record." Republican Congressman and Doctor Phil Roe is trying again and again to meet with the president. Why? Because of something the president said months ago.


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

REP. PHIL ROE, R - TENN.: Nice to see you again.

VAN SUSTEREN: I always like talking about health care with you because you're also a doctor. You're a congressman-doctor or doctor congressman? Which is it?

ROE: Both.

VAN SUSTEREN: Both, OK, good.

I assume because you're a doctor, you, like everybody else, have an enormous amount of interest in the health care bill.

ROE: Tremendous interest. And we spent the last 10 months obviously debating it, reading it, and as you know it's sitting here on my desk, and it gets bigger every time we see it.

But it is incredibly important out in the district to where I live. People are very worried. And I'll tell you those who are most concerned are seniors. They get it. And what they're concerned with is the $590 billion coming out of Medicare, and beginning in 2011, we add three million to 3.5 million baby boomers every year.

VAN SUSTEREN: Because of your interest and everybody else, we visited you once before to talk about a statement that President Obama made late July of this year. And first of all, what did the president say that got you sort of rolling?

ROE: Well, we were ankle deep in this process, and he was in Raleigh, North Carolina. He said he would go over this line by line with any congressman who wanted to go over it line by line.

VAN SUSTEREN: Meaning the bill.

ROE: Meaning this bill. And I said yes, I want to do that because I had 30 plus years experience in practicing medicine, and quite frankly the reason I wanted to go was because I was in a state that had tried a public option, Tennessee. And we're still dealing with it 16 years later.

And it's been -- I was just looking yesterday. The governor is going to have to cut nine percent of the plan this year again because of the economic downturn.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. So the day after, on July 30, you sent a letter by snail mail and by Fox -- I have a timeline here -- to the White House. What did your letter say to the White House?

ROE: It said we would like to accept your offer to come to the White House and in a nonpartisan way, because I really, truly believe health care should not be a partisan issue.

VAN SUSTEREN: On July 30 the White House Press Secretary Gibbs was asked a question by a "Washington Times" reporter about whether or not there would be any meeting between you and the president.

And he said -- he's quoted as saying "If you give me that letter I'll forward it to scheduling so we can get that done." OK. In the month of August, did you ever hear back from the White House?

ROE: No, we didn't. We did a lot of town halls, 40 of them, but didn't hear anything back.

VAN SUSTEREN: On the timeline that I have is that at the end of August that someone from your office called the president's scheduler about your request. What happened?

ROE: Not anything. We still didn't hear anything back.

VAN SUSTEREN: And it says here, the notes that you were told to email another request.

ROE: And we did.

VAN SUSTEREN: So September 1, you sent a second follow up letter via email, snail mail, fax. And any response?

ROE: No response.

VAN SUSTEREN: None at all?

ROE: None at all.


ROE: Not a peep.

VAN SUSTEREN: How about like we got it?

ROE: No.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did you fax machine -- it went through the fax machine?

ROE: It did get there.

VAN SUSTEREN: And also says in the timeline, I've asked your office to prepare this, the first week in September, that called the White House scheduler again, and you were told to email another request.

ROE: And we did.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK. September 17, it says here, a third follow up letter.

ROE: And we did.

VAN SUSTEREN: By fax and snail mail.

ROE: Like I said, maybe a carrier pigeon would work better, but we didn't get any response.

VAN SUSTEREN: And have you gotten any response at all from the White House that they even sent the letter?

ROE: We didn't hear anything. No response whatsoever.

The frustrating part is that we do have -- I do have something to offer. And we've seen things that work. And I've had 30 years to look at health care.

And you would think that someone would take the opportunity to sit down for half an hour, an hour, and say look, whether you accept it or not, at least you've heard a different version of what's going on.

This bill right here, this over 2,000-page bill, had very little input for medical professionals.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think that the president's statement at the end of July, that he would go over it line by line, was that a gimmick? You know, now you're doing likewise a gimmick back at him?

ROE: It -- I took him at his word. And then on the House floor, the president said my door is open for anyone with any ideas. That's when we contacted the office after his joint -- after the joint session in September. Still didn't hear anything.

VAN SUSTEREN: What is it? Is this a game, a lie, he's really busy, or he thinks you're trying to pull his chain or what's going on here?

ROE: I don't know. But I know the president's a busy person. I'm busy, he's busy. We all are.

But he had time to go to Bristol, Virginia, to a Kroger store for a photo op. And this is so important. This affects every American citizen. It's one of the reasons I worked so hard to get up here was to work on health care. And I think it was just blatant politics.

VAN SUSTEREN: I can't understand why you don't at least get a response that says hey, we got your letter. Tough luck, pal. We are not going to do this, but we got your letter.

ROE: I think that would be fair. If you brush me off and say we don't have time. I'm in China doing whatever, I can accept that. But he should have made a response. His office should have made some attempt to respond to us, I think.

VAN SUSTEREN: Will you make another stab at it?

ROE: I think we could. I think that now the Senate bill's out there, I see some things in the Senate bill that I think will work. And there are some things in here, Greta, that are good. This is not all bad. And I like to point those out and things that really won't work.

But we're in the situation where we're raising taxes $750 billion, taking $500 billion out of Medicare and trying to make -- to balance this thing without spending any money. And it's not going to work. It's going to break the bank. It did it in the state of Tennessee when Medicare first came out.

VAN SUSTEREN: You have five words to the president. He may be watching tonight. He likes Fox, I think.

ROE: He loves Fox.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you have five words to the president?

ROE: Invite me to the White House.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, thank you, sir. Good luck, sir.

ROE: Thanks, Greta.


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