October 1, 2009

This is quite a change from the days where the Republicans were threatening to blow up the Senate filibuster rule isn't it?

MATTHEWS: Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah. He is a member of the Senate Finance Committee.

Well, there is Senator Schumer putting the best face on a 13-10 loss. Three Democrats joined your party in opposing a public option. Five Democrats joined you on another vote. Where does it stand, the public option, right now?

HATCH: Well, it‘s going to be very difficult. Look, the Democrats are going to do everything they can to pull every trick they can to try and get all of the Democrats lined up to go with a public option.

But, look, if you pass a health care bill that involves one-sixth of the whole American economy and you don‘t get at least 70 votes, meaning bipartisan votes, you‘re not doing what‘s right for the American people. And I can tell you right now, Doug Elmendorf said that it‘s virtually next to impossible to be able to have a public option which would be a level playing field.

There‘s no way it would be level, and that‘s one of the problems. And I think the people out there realize that. And they also realize that you know they promised the same level playing field for Medicare back in 1965. It wasn‘t long until they realized they couldn‘t keep up and had to start setting prices.

Today Medicare pays less than 20 percent to doctors, less than 30 percent to hospitals, and by the way, Medicare‘s $38 trillion in unfunded liability, that‘s what you get when you just have the federal government involved.

MATTHEWS: Do you think there‘s any chance—let me ask you if you would be open to it. If this thing looks like a draw, if it looks like the Democrats are not going to get enough of a bill by Thanksgiving that they can claim victory with and they see that coming, is there any chance they‘re going to sue for peace like I guess we did with Laos back in the ‘60s when Kennedy said, we can‘t win the war, let‘s get together and go to Geneva?

Is there any chance that your party would want to help this president get anything through, or do you want him to lose, period?

HATCH: I can tell you how to do it right now, I mean, there—in a bipartisan way. And there are some Democrats who really literally would like to work with us and get this done. There are ways of doing this, and ways of—but we‘re a long way from that right now.

And I have to tell you, the Democratic party has gone very far to the left. Some of our party has gone pretty far to the right. And to be honest with you, I don‘t know many moderate Democrats. There are a few, but certainly not like Chuck Schumer has been talking.

MATTHEWS: Well, there aren‘t many moderate Republicans left either. Let me ask you, Senator, as you know the Northeast is withering. Let me ask you, do you—would you sign on to any health care bill this year, any bill?

HATCH: Well, yes, if we could do it right. You know, to be honest with you, they want to do this public option or what I call a government option, and yet they want to take $500 billion out of Medicare. And.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I know. Well.


HATCH: Well, suppose they drop the public option and put in tort reform. Would you sign on? Right on that trade, right there. Get rid of the public option and go to tort reform.

MATTHEWS: Well, tort reform would be a way to go. I just read an article where.

HATCH: Well, would you be on the bill? Would you be on the bill then, or is it just a stupid negotiation? Are the Democrats negotiating with themselves? If no Republicans will join, why should they compromise with nobody?

HATCH: Well, personally, I believe what we ought to do is what we did with the original CHIP bill that everybody said worked beautifully. What we did is we block-granted it to the state, let the states set their own standards and work it out in the states according to their own demographics.

We have 50 states. We have 50 state laboratories. We can look and see what really works and what really doesn‘t. Pick and choose from the other states. But the fact of the matter is if we did something like that, there‘s about 80 percent of health care that I think we could bring both sides together on.

The problem is when you get to the money, Democrats are—they want to spend and they think everything can be solved by spending. Well, we can‘t spend the way they want to. If we do that, we‘ll bankrupt the country and we won‘t get a very good health care bill to boot.

You know, the federal government isn‘t the last resort. It isn‘t the last dance in everything.

MATTHEWS: I understand.

HATCH: In fact, it‘s a problem.

As our own Jon Perr noted Hatch, along with Grassley and Enzi, has been pushing the “superfilibuster” hurdle on health care for over a month-- GOP: Health Care Needs More Senate Votes Than Social Security, Medicare.

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