November 1, 2009

What do you know? John King decided to almost act like a reporter today when trying to get John Boehner to explain what the Republicans' alternative the Democratic House health care bill was. King held up the two page summary which is what the Republicans have available now on their web site. Boehner said they have eight or nine ideas which they are going to combine and send to the CBO to have scored and present on the House floor for debate.

What the GOP currently has posted on their web site is vague at best, but John Boehner made sure everyone understood one thing it would not do; attempt to cover the 46 million Americans who do not have health insurance. If the Republicans are serious about offering an alternative bill to what the Democrats have proposed, why didn't they put it together months ago? Will they have it posted on line for a few weeks so everyone can read it once it's done? Of course John King didn't ask him for any of those questions for a follow up.

KING: Let's move on to health care and I know you brought something with you, and it's more than 1,900 pages, and that is the House Democratic health care bill. Before we get to that, I want to hold up something else. This is the text of your radio address. It's two pages. Now, this was an effort by the Republican Party to say we have alternatives. It's not a bill, I want to be fair to you, but it lays out a number of things you would like to do in the Republican Party.

What it does not do, and what that does, even though you don't like it, in 1,900 pages, it lays out what they would do. It says how much it would cost. The Congressional Budget Office has said in the end what percentage of people would be covered.

Where is the Republican proposal where you can say to the American people, we'll spend this much over 10 years, it will do this to the deficit, and when we're done, X percent of the American people will have health insurance?

BOEHNER: You can go to and see our eight or nine ideas about how to make our current health care system work better.

KING: But they're separate pieces of legislation right now...

BOEHNER: There are separate pieces...

KING: But will you have something to stack next to that?

BOEHNER: What I'm hopeful for is to take these eight or nine ideas and put them together in a bill that's being scored right now by the Congressional Budget Office and present it on the House floor during this debate. And I'm hopeful that Speaker Pelosi will allow us to offer an alternative.

But what we do is we try to make the current system work better. We take a step-by-step approach, by allowing people to buy insurance across state lines, allowing small businesses and other groups of individuals to group together for the purpose of buying health insurance at lower costs, like big businesses and unions can.

We need to do something about junk lawsuits. I think that one of our proposals is to give grants to states who have innovative programs to help bring down the cost of health insurance. And 34 states today have high-risk pools for those with pre-existing conditions. We want to encourage all states to have these. And we put more money into these high-risk pools so that we can bring down the cost of health insurance. And at the end of the day, what we're doing with our proposal is lowering health care insurance premiums, lowering cost and expanding access.

KING: But the perception out there is, and the Democrats have fed this -- and I understand that, and I have read some of the separate proposals Republicans have, that you don't have a comprehensive plan.

Here's a question we had on Twitter. "Where's the magical Republican plan?" Mario asked. "Where is the magical Republican health care bill? I've looked on Google and nothing."

How do you deal with the perception out there fed by the Democrats that do not have -- you have several proposals, but you don't have one where you can say, let's go through all of the issues right here.

BOEHNER: Well, the Democrats don't have one either. I mean, we just saw this first bill, this is the first real bill, one bill, that we've seen from the Democrats in the House, 1,990 pages. That ought to tell you all that we need to know, that we're going to have 1,990 pages of legislation. The word "shall" exists in this bill 3,345 times. Shall, that means, you must do. The Republican proposals have been on since June. We've talked about them and we talked about them and we're going to continue to talk about them. But it's a common sense approach to make the current system work better. We do not attempt to cover 46 million more Americans.

KING: How many?

BOEHNER: We will cover millions more Americans, but we don't attempt to do this.

KING: But how many more? The American people want to know how many more.

BOEHNER: This is not -- what this is going to do is bankrupt America. It's going to cost millions of Americans their jobs and cut benefits for seniors. This is not what the American people want.

KING: Where do you --

BOEHNER: They want a more gradual approach to fixing our current system.

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