Rep. Anthony Weiner joined Ed Schultz to talk about both Alan Grayson and Eric Cantor's recent remarks on health care reform.
SCHULTZ: Joining me now is Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York.
Congressman, good to have you with us tonight.
REP. ANTHONY WEINER: My pleasure.
SCHULTZ: I want to talk at Eric Cantor with you. He is saying that the Democrats aren‘t with the people. Can you respond to that?
WEINER: Well, I like Eric Cantor. If he had a plan for dealing with health care, maybe he would come on the show and debate it with me. But he doesn‘t have one, nor do his Republican colleagues.
Look, the fact of the matter is people say they want this problem solved, not only people who are not insured, but people who are having their rates go through the roof. Right now, every single year, our insurance rates go up 1,000 dollars a year. Most Americans see that as a Republican tax that they‘re paying because of their inaction on health care.
SCHULTZ: Congressman, did I hear you say you‘d like to debate him on this program? Can we organize that? Can you and I make an invitation to Mr. Cantor‘s office? I will give both you guys, face to face—we‘ll go an hour. I‘ll dedicate an hour with you, Mr. Weiner, and also Mr. Cantor to go at it about health care. You OK with that?
WEINER: Listen, I would certainly love to do it. I like Eric Cantor. And frankly, feel a little bad for him that he has to go out and shop around some of these ideas. When he says at a town hall meeting that if you‘re uninsured, you just go to the hospital, and they‘ll take care of you he must think that the bill fairy pays those bills. I‘m not quite sure what he thinks.
But, look, I admire the idea that someone like Eric Cantor, after six years having Republican control of the House and the Senate and the White House, and still this problem gets worse—I admire him saying anything at all. If he wants a debate, as we say in Brooklyn, bring it on, Chickie.
SCHULTZ: Let‘s get it on. Let‘s talk about what happened over on the Senate side yesterday. There is some conversation. I was in conversation with Harry Reid‘s office today. There‘s a real possibility that the Senate may end up with a bill without a public option, and then rely on all of it taking place in the conference committee in the final stage, when the legislation is actually written.
If that‘s the case, Congressman Weiner, does this not put pressure on the House to make sure a strong public option comes out of your chamber?
WEINER: A hundred percent. I think that Nancy Pelosi has already said that very clearly, that there‘s going to be a public option in it. But not just for those of us who think there should be choice, but for all of my budget hawk colleagues. The only way to contain costs and the best way to reduce that CBO score is to have competition, because the Congressional Budget Office, who is nonpartisan on these things, say, if you want to save money, you can‘t just leave it to the insurance companies.
We‘re going to have a strong public option. There‘s going to be a conference committee. President Obama is going to say he wants a strong public option. And that‘s what the American people are going to get.
SCHULTZ: The White House has given the Democrats backup as well on this. This is Robert Gibbs on how the GOP does not have a plan. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Let me tell you, there are a series of two-way streets between here and Capitol Hill. There are plenty of ways to—there‘s plenty of ways to be constructive. We‘d be happy to evaluate their comprehensive proposal, and provide health care reform to the American people. If you want to get it from them, I‘ll be happy to take it over to Leg. Affairs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: It‘s interesting that the White House is aggressive on that point, Congressman Weiner, because your colleague, Alan Grayson, went to the floor last night and called them out, and said the Republican plan is to die quickly. Do you go along with that? Do you agree with him?
WEINER: I like this guy, Grayson. Usually, we don‘t let freshmen speak their first term. We have to get this guy out there more.
Look, he was only being slightly ironic. If you look at what many of the Republicans are saying, essentially, don‘t do anything. Don‘t do anything is a formula for more people dying prematurely, for more people being bankrupted in their homes, and we the taxpayer paying a much higher bill.
So Congressman Grayson had it exactly right. I also like the idea he used the same over-heated language that the Republicans have been using at town hall meetings all around the country. Frankly, what this is about is not just the people who are uninsured. It‘s about the rest of us who have insurance, who are paying too much for it in higher premiums, and too much for it in it for higher taxes.
SCHULTZ: So you have no problem with what he said on the floor last night?
WEINER: Frankly, the type of language he used, saying the Republicans are this or that, I‘ll say it right here. The Republican party is a wholly owned subsidiary of the insurance industry. I guess they‘ll want to bring me up on charges next.
SCHULTZ: Congressman Weiner, good to have you with us. Thanks so much.
WEINER: My pleasure.