February 27, 2010

Well here's something you don't see every day. John Thune getting called out on Fox News for lying about the health care bill raising premiums and for mindlessly repeating Republican talking points. That said, this is Fox and the interview wasn't that harsh. Smith started out pretty well and then let him go. Smith of course plays the all-sides-are-equally-bad game, which you would not know from this shortened version that Media Matters posted. By only showing part of the interview, Media Matters gives Smith a bit too much credit for taking Thune.

SMITH: What are we getting accomplished here?

THUNE: Not much that I can tell. I think...

SMITH: Here's what Politicos said today Senator. By the lunch break -- I'm quoting from Politico.com -- by the lunch break it was growing clearer that the pre-summit pessimism on both sides of the political, of the political aisle they mean -- that there was little or no hope of grand partisan compromise was absolutely on target. In fact both sides spent the bulk of the three hours of the session trying to score tactical points rarely veering from their scripts and extending a hand to the other side. I don't know if the people see anything bipartisan about any of this. It just feels like a bunch of politicians getting their talking points in.

THUNE: I think the only way could have been bipartisan and actually meaningful constructive is if they had taken all the previous talking points in the previous bill and set it aside and started over and say okay let's start over...

SMITH: Why do Republicans want to throw this out and start over Senator? Why do they want to do that? Nobody buys that. Everybody sees that as here's how we win. Our side wins if we get you to throw your thing out even though you're the majority. And the majority goes we win if we get you to come along with it. You're not going to come along with them any more than they're going to throw their thing out. It seems silly to talk about it.

THUNE: Well it's not just Republicans though Shep...

SMITH: I know. I said both sides.

THUNE: Well... I'm just saying... I know you said both sides but I what I want to say too though is the American people clearly have rejected this bill in its current form (crosstalk)

SMITH: (inaudible) what's in this bill?

THUNE: When you start on that foundation... well that's part of the problem. Its 2700 pages long. How do most people including members of congress get acquainted with something that's that complicated. I think this could have been a lot easier. But the way you make it a lot easier to sit down and say okay what are the things that we can agree upon. And if you want bipartisan support for this that's what it's going to take because Republicans are not going to buy into a bill that cost two and a half trillion dollars, that raises taxes on small businesses and individuals, that cuts Medicare and at the end the day raises premiums for most Americans. I mean one thing the President can't get away from...

SMITH: That's not true Senator. That is not true. That's not what the CBO said. I know your talking points. I know the other side's talking points but they can't we just say look; we've got to do something in this country. This is going to bankrupt us. And you people up there who are supposed to be representing us are making it perfectly clear you're going to sit in your corners with your own talking points and we're going lose. We're going to get nothing and it's clear we're no. So when this is over the President will be able to say I tried but we couldn't get anything done it comes reconciliation. Fifty one votes in and away we go. Then we've got a real mess on our hands and everybody's mad at everybody else the country falls apart. It just doesn't seem fair.

THUNE: Well if that bill becomes law that would be true. It would be a real mess and that's what we're trying to avoid. But remember one thing, I mean you can we can debate whether which people are going to see higher premiums which ones are not. But the CBO also said as did the actuary for the center for Medicaid and Medicare services that health care costs would go up not down. I mean it's clear that that the cost curve gets bent up. The amount of money that we spend in this country on health care as a percentage of our gross domestic product increases from about 17% today to 21% under the bill. We spend more on health. The point of this is...

SMITH: As if it's not going to go up without the bill. Senator it's going to go up without the bill...

THUNE: Sure.

SMITH: ...and you know it. The CBO says that. It's going up.

THUNE: It's going to go up, but what CBO said was it's going to go up more if the bill passes. If we do nothing the increases would be less than they will be under this legislation. That’s that's the point we've been trying to make all along and that's what the Congressional Budget Office and the actuary for the center for Medicare and Medicaid services and most of the outside experts are saying about this. And that's why fundamentally we are not going to be part of something that that drives health care costs even higher than they otherwise would be if Congress did nothing. That's not what the American people are asking for and that's why I think you see this universal rejection of this plan.

SMITH: Senator John Thune Republican of South Dakota great of you to be here. Thank you and go enjoy the rest of this thing with all the rest of us. We're going to have a Democrat in here to talk about this and I'm going to ask him look, when this is over and you accomplish nothing because you're clearly not accomplishing anything, I mean you name something they're accomplishing and I'll put it up on the screen and let it sit there all day long, but there's nothing. So if they don't accomplish anything and then what are they going to do then. Democratic Senator what are you going to do. Are you going to go through reconciliation and here's the rule now. Fifty one is it and we're going to pass this thing through here and you're going to get this health care legislation. Is that what's going to happen?

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