March 23, 2010

Well there was one bright spot on John King's new show on CNN. Amy Goodman got a chance to give a quick pitch for Medicare for all even though no one is going to learn much of anything during these little rapid paced debate box segments, which I'm sure is CNN's intention. It's all about conflict and painting all sides as equally valid -- when they're not -- with them. We know Alan Grayson is pushing for a Medicare buy in so we'll see where it goes. Having Amy on almost made up for listening to John King and Erick Erickson's hackery.

KING: Time now to take "The Pulse" -- with us tonight CNN contributor Erick Erickson. He's the editor-in-chief of the conservative blog, actor and author Hill Harper and Amy Goodman, the host and executive producer of the progressive Web site,

KING: I want to start with just a simple question of how the conversation has changed in the last 24 hours, the health care bill passes the Congress, the president signs it into law, Amy, some people on the left didn't love this, but most are now saying it's the best deal we could get, time to rally. Is that right?

GOODMAN: Well, I think people are deeply concerned right now that the insurance companies are actually even given more power. Sure, people care about 30 million more people eventually getting health care who didn't have it. Sure people care that kids who have a preexisting condition should definitely be covered by insurance, as well as adults, and that will come in a few years. But the idea that you have these middlemen that are profiting like the big banks have, I think that's a deep concern not only to progressives in the United States, but across the political spectrum while there is a big call, still, for Medicare for all.

KING: And, Hill, in your conversations, do people view this as a good thing and something that will get them involved in an election year, at least maybe close to 2008, or is it a ho-hum?

HARPER: I -- it's definitely not a ho-hum. I think people definitely see it as a good thing because finally they see the government actually doing something moving the ball forward. You know at the end of the day, a lot of people I talk to believe that we should be on our fourth, fifth, sixth, tenth iteration of some type of health care and it's disappointing to hear talk about repeal. I mean amendments is what we want to see. Obviously we are a country that does great things. We make a big change and then we add amendments to it to make it better, to make it a more perfect union, so to speak, so I hope that this is actually allowing the ball to be kicked. It's certainly not a goal and it's certainly not perfect but at least it's a start.

KING: So Erick is there new energy on the right for the repeal effort or is there a bit of deflation that Obama gets a big policy victory?

ERICKSON: No, I think there's a lot of energy today. Already Senator Jim DeMint with his legislation (INAUDIBLE) 3152 (ph) is out, lining up co-sponsors all across the Republican spectrum to repeal this. In the House, you're seeing the same thing. John Cornyn, you know the RNC chairman, walked into it this afternoon and suggested repeal wouldn't happen, and was met by a buzz saw and immediately came back and clarified. There's a lot of energy on the right to get this thing repealed.

KING: I want some observations for you on what I saw today as the awareness of both sides of the current state of the political environment. At the White House, President Obama was saying, don't worry this won't cut your Medicare. You just heard Senator McConnell; he was in here saying that the fixed bill before the Senate would cut Medicare even more. Now why are they all talking about Medicare? I want to show you some polling.

Here's our new CNN polling. We asked everybody which party would you vote for if the congressional elections were today, and it was evenly split 46 percent Democrats, 46 percent Republicans. But elderly voters are the most reliable voters, especially in a midterm election year when it goes down. In the current poll, 53 percent Republicans get voters over the age of 65 would favor Republicans right now by a 10-point margin, 53 to 43. Back in the 2006 midterms when the Democrats came roaring back into power the elderly voters were split. Amy Goodman, if the elderly stay aligned with the Republicans like that by 10 points what happens come November?

GOODMAN: You know, I don't think that will happen because there's been such a discussion about process now that people are just terrified. They don't know what's going to happen. And I think it's the proof that Medicare is the answer for all. Older people know that Medicare is a good deal and they're afraid of losing it. That's why they're concerned. But as the discussion goes on about what people gain, about the fact that they'll be getting drugs, they can continue to get drugs and actually get a break on drugs.

No, I think they will be more supportive. But the bigger issue and I think the older folks are the wisest folks, this issue of Medicare, that it's something that works, that it's popular. I think they have something to teach all of us that that is the solution for everyone.

KING: And Hill, you mentioned how happy you were that Washington finally got something done. Independents, that's one of the things they watch. They don't like gridlock, they don't like partisanship. Here's our poll when you look at Independent voters, which party would you vote for today for Congress? Republicans have a huge edge, 49 percent to 35 percent and this is critically important because in 2006 when the Democrats came roaring back Independents favored the Democrats, 57 percent to 39 percent. What's happening out there in the middle of America?

HARPER: Well look, John, Amy's right in the sense polls reflect present-day fear, not future results and so as people get educated and start to see, you know, there's been a lot of fear mongering around this health care reform issue. Now that we actually have a bill in place, we have a law signed people can start to notice a result. When you're able to -- you have a son that's 21 years old that can stay on your health coverage until he's 26 or -- all these little things that folks will start to notice, their fears will start to go down, and I think you'll see the polls start to move because the polling data today reflects the fear mongering that's been going on for the past umpteen months.

KING: All right, we need to wrap it right there for now -- Erick Erickson, Hill Harper, Amy Goodman, thanks so much for being with us. We'll bring you all back at another time -- interesting conversation.

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