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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Kathleen Sebelius, Mitt Romney Discuss Health Care Reform Bill
Aired March 23, 2010 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, historic health care overhaul is now the law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are a nation that does what is hard, what is necessary, what is right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: But 14 states are fighting back and suing the government. Mitt Romney is here in his first interview since calling this "an unconscionable abuse of power."
Is he pushing for President Obama to be impeached?
Plus, he'll tell us what he thinks about Sarah Palin, her chances for the top job in 2012 and his own.
And Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, is with us, too.
And then, Vice President Biden drops the F-bomb.
Next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Mitt Romney is here. He's got a lot to say about the new health care laws and what he intends to do about them now. You can Tweet your questions for him or send them to our Facebook page.
But first, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius joins us.
She was at the signing ceremony today.
Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: That our generation is able to succeed in passing this reform is a testament to the persistence and the character of the American people, who championed this cause, who mobilized, who organized, who believed that people who love this country can change it. It's also a testament to the historic leadership and uncommon courage of the men and women of the United States Congress, who've taken their lumps during this difficult debate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: All right, joining us from Washington, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius -- secretary of Health and Human Services.
He used 20 pens.
Did you get one?
KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, HHS SECRETARY: I understand I do. I -- I don't have it in hand, but I saw the list that the White House put out and it had my name on it. I'm thrilled.
KING: He said the public image of health care reform efforts had been hurt by attempts to confuse and scare Americans.
Who -- who are you blaming for that?
SEBELIUS: Well, I think, Larry, over the course of the last year, there have been a lot of, frankly, intentional misinformation put out, trying to scare seniors, trying to scare people who had health insurance that they liked about losing what they have.
And I -- I think we've got an attempt now -- the great news is the bill has been passed. The president signed it into law. It's a big step forward for the American people. And we now need to go out and explain to people what actually is in the bill, how this will make their lives better, how it can help improve the health care for our whole country.
And I think that's going to be a -- a very positive sell.
KING: You are, governor and secretary, a defendant in a lawsuit in your official capacity as secretary. The -- a dozen states -- now 14 states are suing the federal government, claiming the new health care reform law is unconstitutional.
Are you concerned about a legal challenge?
SEBELIUS: Well, I've talked some to the lawyers and I'll -- I'll let the courtroom folks talk to one another.
What I want to do is, is talk to the American people, who have been contacting me across this country for not only the year I've been in this job, but years of being a governor.
People who are furious that insurance companies get to pick and choose who's covered in this country and who's not; parents who are terrified that their child is going to fall on the playground or something will happen. I had my own experience with our sons when they graduated from college. They went off our plan. Neither one of them was in a job where health insurance was provided. They were lucky. They are healthy and we're blessed to have some resources. But some of their friends weren't so lucky.
So this happens to people day in and day out. And today is the end of an era where people will no longer have the kind of health security that members of Congress have, that governors have, that we've been blessed to have. And I think that's a big step forward.
KING: Are you surprised that -- that they couldn't get one Republican vote?
SEBELIUS: Well, I'm frankly, disappointed, because there are lots of Republican ideas in the bill. The idea that we'll sell insurance across state lines is part of the bill. The idea that kids will stay on their parents' plan until they're 26 is in the bill.
You know, there are lots of Republicans who, frankly, tell me they regretted having voted for the Medicare drug plan that left a big donut hole for seniors, who now struggle when they use up their prescription benefits and have to pay 100 percent out of pocket. This bill closes that donut hole.
There are lots of Republicans who say they really wanted a system that focused on health and wellness, more preventative care. That's in this bill.
So there are lots of ideas. And -- and cracking down on fraud and abuse certainly is something that has a lot of bipartisan support. Unfortunately, this -- this conversation got very partisan from the outset. And I am disappointed that not a single Republican voted for the bill, even though their ideas are part of the law of the land now.
KING: How about the millions who still don't have health insurance?
What do they do?
SEBELIUS: Well, Larry, over the course of enacting this bill, what people have to understand is this is a gradual process. We will now have affordable coverage for everyone. So this year alone, there will be kind of some stopgap measures -- a high risk pool for those Americans who have preexisting conditions and -- and right now are often locked out by insurance companies or priced out. They'll be able to have a safety net of services.
In 2014, when the new exchanges -- the new insurance market gets set up, not only will people have choices among private plans with competing companies, but the lowest income working families will have some help paying for their health insurance. So people who have insurance right now will see some gradual decrease in their premium costs, according to the Congressional Budget Office, because insurance companies are going to have to cut out a lot of the overhead, be more efficient. But those who don't have insurance, for the first time ever in the history of this country, will have a chance to be part of the health system.
KING: Thank you, Madam Secretary.
We'll be calling on you again.
Always good seeing you.
SEBELIUS: Nice to see you.
KING: We'll meet one of your former compatriot governors, Mitt Romney.
he's going to tell us why he's going to go to the mat against the new health care laws and if he wants the president impeached over this, next.
KING: He was a candidate for his party's presidential nomination in 2008. He's the former Republican governor of Massachusetts. And he's the author of the number one "New York Times" best-selling book in America, "No Apology: The Case for American Greatness." There you see its cover.
Are you surprised you're number one?
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, I am sort of surprised. I was...
KING: Just out.
ROMNEY: Yes, it's just out a couple of weeks and -- and a good response from a lot of my friends that are buying books and hopefully, some others, as well. And I'm -- I'm pleased that it's gotten such a warm response.
KING: We'll get into the book.
Let's discuss the news of the day.
You've called the passage of health care reform "an unconscionable abuse of power."
ROMNEY: Well, I -- I think that the decision to take the nuclear option, as the president did, to not secure a single Republican vote in -- in contravention of his promise during the campaign that he would reach across party lines, he'd work on a bipartisan basis, that was very, very disappointing.
KING: Well, if he's not -- if they're not going to vote for it, what was he supposed to do...
KING: -- scratch it?
KING: If he...
KING: If he liked the plan, he ran on it.
ROMNEY: Well, what he's supposed to do is have a plan which is bipartisan. We, after all, have a -- a reform plan in Massachusetts that I worked with Democrats on. We worked on a bipartisan basis. It's not perfect. It's a work in progress. But nonetheless, we worked together and, therefore, secured, I think, a better piece of legislation and more support in the community by virtue of doing so.
But in addition to that, he said that he was going to eschew the politics of special interests. And yet by paying off the unions with a special deal for union members and then also giving special deals to senators like Senator Nelson and others we'll find as the light of day continues to...
KING: The Nelson thing, he backed off, though.
ROMNEY: Yes. Well, but others have come -- have come to light and will come to light in the ensuing days. I think what you'll find is that -- that the process is one which violated the -- the principles which he laid out during the campaign and, frankly, was a -- a power push by a single party. And it says that no longer do you need more than 51 votes in the Senate. A simple majority can accomplish whatever they want. And it's a -- it's a dramatic change in the way that democracy will work.
KING: You also wrote that, "President Obama has betrayed his oath to the nation."
Now, Governor, you -- you're pretty scare -- careful with language.
That's -- are you saying he should be impeached?
ROMNEY: Well, no, of course not. But in the...
ROMNEY: -- in the following...
KING: -- what's betraying an oath?
ROMNEY: Well, the oath to the nation goes piece by piece, which is, one, he'd bring a new style of politics to Washington, and instead it's -- it's the Chicago politics of the past. He said he would work, as I indicated, on a bipartisan basis. He didn't. He instead put in place a -- a bill which has no support on the other side of the aisle.
KING: Yes. ROMNEY: And -- and these are, of course, are departures from what he said during the campaign. He also said the process would be open and transparent, the media would be invited. He didn't do that.
KING: All right...
ROMNEY: One issue after another has been...
ROMNEY: -- violated.
KING: Can we admit, Governor, that a lot of people in America who were hurt yesterday are not hurt today?
And if health care is a problem in America, at least it's something -- it's a step?
What on Earth is wrong with that?
ROMNEY: Well, what's -- what's wrong is that we could have had a step...
KING: There are so many who are sick...
ROMNEY: -- that could have...
KING: -- today can get help today.
ROMNEY: Well, they can't, because the bill doesn't -- it doesn't change...
KING: Nobody will be helped?
ROMNEY: It doesn't change that for a couple of years.
But the truth is...
KING: No, some are immediate.
ROMNEY: This that some elements in the bill are good and many are bad. And the Democrats want to talk about the couple of maraschino cherries that are on top of the pile of dirt. But let's talk, also, about the pile of dirt.
The Republicans were all in favor of the cherries. I'm a reform Republican. We've brought health care reform to our state. We have our citizens insured. Some 98 percent of the people in Massachusetts are insured. We also found a way to make sure that people don't have to worry about losing their insurance if they have a preexisting condition. And they don't have to worry about portability issues. They can keep their insurance with them as they travel.
KING: Well, that's...
ROMNEY: That's -- we did those things. KING: That's in this bill.
ROMNEY: Yes, that's in those bill -- that -- that's in this bill. Those are the good parts. That's the, if you will, those are the maraschino cherries.
ROMNEY: But then there's the other part -- a half a trillion dollars of new taxes. I had a...
KING: But the Congressional Budget Office says we're going to be better off in nine years because of this.
ROMNEY: Oh, raising taxes is something that Democrats love. And the Congressional Budget Office just carries out the arithmetic and they say...
KING: Mostly on people with a lot of money, though.
ROMNEY: No, it's actually on -- mostly on the -- the suppliers of equipment and procedures that -- that go into health care. So, for instance, I read an article today about a company called ZOLL in Massachusetts. They make cardiac defibrillators. They made $9.5 million last year. They say that they think that they're going to have to be paying $5 million to $10 million per year in new taxes.
What that means to them is they can't keep on with business as the way they have in the past.
So it has a major impact on businesses. And, by the way, that will filter through to individuals who have to pay medical bills. Those prices are going to go up.
ROMNEY: So this bill -- let me tell you, the taxes are just one part of the problem. That's a big problem.
KING: All right. We'll pick some of the numbers...
ROMNEY: Number two, Medicare.
KING: All right, let's take the...
ROMNEY: Think about that.
KING: The book is "No Apology. It's number one.
Let's listen to some of what President Obama had to say about the new health care reform bill then we'll take a break and come back.
Don't go away.
Watch the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: This year, tens of thousands of uninsured Americans with preexisting conditions, the parents of children who have a preexisting condition, will finally be able to purchase the coverage they need. That happens this year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Mitt Romney.
His book, "No Apology: The Case for American Greatness," St. Martin's Press, a number one best-seller.
What's wrong with what the president just said -- right now, people are covered -- covered with preexisting conditions, right now?
ROMNEY: And that's true of Massachusetts and has been for three years. But it scares me...
KING: But it's now in Oklahoma.
ROMNEY: And -- and we did it in Massachusetts without raising taxes. And he...
KING: But he hasn't raised taxes today.
KING: He signed the bill.
ROMNEY: I'm sorry, his bill raises taxes on the American people, not just the wealthy, but everybody who is ever going to need health insurance or health coverage. He's raised taxes by $500 billion.
KING: How would you have covered preexisting conditions today?
ROMNEY: Well, yes. The way we did it is we said let's take the money we've been spending already giving out free care in our state and use those same dollars, dollar for dollar, to help people buy private insurance -- no government insurance, private insurance.
KING: With pre-existing conditions out?
ROMNEY: Everybody is in the system, so preexisting conditions are -- are no longer a deterrent from being able to get insurance. Everybody gets insurance.
KING: And that same thing could be done nationally?
ROMNEY: Well, my preference is for states to be able to have the authority that exists under the Constitution to create their own plans, to get everybody insured in the way they think is best, instead of a one size fits all federal plan that costs a half trillion in taxes -- oh, and, by the way, is going to cut Medicare by half a trillion.
Why should America's seniors in Medicare Advantage, the private side of Medicare, have to take a -- take a cut in their benefits in order to pass this advantage?
KING: Do you agree we have a health care problem in America?
ROMNEY: Oh, sure. And Republicans are in favor of health care reform, just not one that is attached with cuts to Medicare and huge taxes.
KING: We'll have another excerpt from the president's remarks. This one is about insurance companies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: This year, insurance companies will no longer be able to drop people's coverage when they get sick.
OBAMA: They won't be able to place lifetime limits or restrictive annual limits on the amount of care they can receive. This year...
OBAMA: -- this year all new insurance plans will be required to offer free preventative care. And this year, young adults will be able to stay on their parents' policies until they're 26 years old. That happens this year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Governor, are you -- are you a defender of America's insurance companies?
ROMNEY: Absolutely not. What I'm a defender of is the truth. And the president is telling part of the truth. He's talking about the maraschino cherries that a lot of Republicans, I, in particular, agree with many of those aspects.
But what he's not talking about is the unnecessary incursion of the federal government into health care. It's a 2,000 page bill. We accomplished what we got done in Massachusetts in 70 pages.
His is a massive new government bureaucracy, headed by Secretary Sebelius. Health & Human Services, according to Mr. Axelrod, will be the place where all of this is coordinated and governed. Look, health care is no longer going to be the purview of states and individuals and families, it's going to be governed by the federal government.
KING: But you admit, in the past, the Republicans have let the inmates run the asylum?
They've been against regulation in many areas, much to the cost to many Americans.
ROMNEY: You know, what -- what I would admit is that -- that regulation that's old, that's out of date and is burdensome is just killing small business in this country and many other enterprises.
KING: But you'd regulate insurance...
ROMNEY: But the regulation...
KING: -- wouldn't you?
ROMNEY: But regulation has to occur. We need modern, up to date regulation. Look, no -- no free market can work in the absence of laws and regulation. What Republicans need to do -- and I -- I'm one of those that probably falls prey to this now and then -- is not just give the short answer, but to say, look, we're not against all regulation, we're against all regulation that's unnecessary, bloated, overwhelming, burdensome. We want to get regulations up to date and streamlined.
And that's what we should have in the financial services sector. It's what we should have in health care. But this bill, with 2,000 pages, with a massive new government bureaucracy overseeing health care, is frightening to the private sector, to doctors, to families. It's an incursion into the rights of citizens and -- and of states, unlike anything, frankly, I've seen during my lifetime.
KING: A lot of doctors groups like it, though.
ROMNEY: A lot of doctors' groups may...
KING: They've (INAUDIBLE).
ROMNEY: A lot of the -- the bureaucrats at the AMA may. But I haven't found a single doctor who's come up to me and said, you know what, I love this. This is going to be great.
What I've found is that in our state, with our plan, nine to one, doctors prefer our plan and like our plan over what they had before. So it can be done. You can get this done. You can get health care reform done...
KING: Are you calling...
ROMNEY: -- but you...
KING: Are you... ROMNEY: -- you can do it without new taxes and without cutting Medicare.
KING: Are you calling the AMA a progressive liberal organization?
ROMNEY: I -- I'm not sure what I'm calling the AMA...
KING: Are you saying (INAUDIBLE)?
ROMNEY: I'm not sure what I'm calling the AMA, but I -- I don't think it speaks for all the doctors in America, I'll put it that way.
KING: We'll be back with more.
Mitt Romney, the author of "No Apology."
Don't go away.
KING: We're back with Mitt Romney.
One more clip from President Obama's comments about the new health care reform law and then we'll discuss some other things.
This one takes on the issue of money.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: This legislation will also lower costs for families and for businesses and for the federal government, reducing our deficit by over $1 trillion in the next two decades. It is paid for. It is fiscally responsible and it will help lift a decades long drag on our economy. That's part of what all of you together worked on and made happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: Simply unbelievable. There's no...
KING: You think he's not telling the truth?
ROMNEY: I don't think anyone believes that you can give health insurance to everybody in the country -- 30 million people that weren't insured -- you can give them all health insurance and it's not going to cost anything; as a matter of fact, we're going to make money.
The only way that works if he taxes the American people and the American health care system a lot. And, of course, if he taxes the system a lot, those costs get passed on to everybody who uses the system or who has insurance.
ROMNEY: So it's obviously a very expensive plan. It's going to be a -- a back-breaker on the U.S. economy.
KING: We have a question submitted to LARRY KING LIVE Facebook page: "Please ask Mr. Romney if he thinks the lawsuit filed by 13" -- see, I think it's 14 now -- "challenging the Constitutionality of this new law has any chance?"
ROMNEY: I do think it -- it has merit. And we'll see exactly how the -- the framers of that particular suit bring their action.
But I think in this case, you can go to Article -- or, excuse me, the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, in which it says that powers not expressly given to the federal government are reserved to the states. And -- and this is a violation of that in that the federal government is taking over something...
ROMNEY: -- which has classically been the responsibility of states and something we as a -- as an example -- were able to deal with in our state.
KING: OK, let's touch some other bases.
John McCain, who you're supporting in his primary battle with a former talk show host who is far right -- or far right than him...
ROMNEY: I've got to keep guys like you from getting into politics, Larry, but...
KING: Well, I'm just asking -- I'm just asking...
KING: OK, Rush Limbaugh said your support of McCain over Hayworth is tone deaf and warns that you're risking your entire political career, that you're quaking and you're (INAUDIBLE).
Anyway, here's what McCain said. This is what he said: "There will be no cooperation for the rest of the year. They have poisoned the well in what they've done and how they've done it."
Why would he say no cooperation?
What if President Obama proposed a bill he liked next week, he would not cooperate?
ROMNEY: Well, clearly...
KING: Well, why say... ROMNEY: Clearly, if there are things that we like then...
KING: But why...
ROMNEY: -- then some of the...
KING: -- why make that kind of statement?
ROMNEY: I'm not going to speak for Senator McCain. But -- but, clearly, those people who are watching what's happening in Washington recognize that the reason that I would support Senator McCain is not just because he's a national hero and someone who people around the country feel is a spokesman for our party -- a leader of our party -- but he's also a lion in the Senate. He's one of those guys that's able to move things and make things happen.
KING: Well, he's a lion who doesn't want to cooperate the rest of the year.
KING: And then...
ROMNEY: By the way, when the president executes the nuclear option and says we're going to change the way democracy has been run over the past decades; we're going to say that no longer do major pieces of legislation require the support of both parties, including the minority party; instead, we're going to say a 51-vote majority makes all the decisions, that's such a dramatic departure. It's a...
KING: A majority rules, though.
ROMNEY: Of course...
KING: It's pretty basic...
ROMNEY: No, actually...
KING: -- in every organization.
ROMNEY: -- actually, it's not basic in the -- in the -- the democracy of the United States government, where we have checks and balances and where we do have a filibuster, where there is a requirement. As the president said, he said, look, I'm not going to get health -- during his campaign. I'm not going to get health care reform without having it bipartisan, being able to get people across the aisle to work with me...
KING: But why...
ROMNEY: He -- he chose...
ROMNEY: No, he chose -- he chose not to endorse, for instance, the plans put forward by Senator Biden -- excuse me, Senator Wyden and Senator Bennett, a bipartisan plan, Republicans and Democrats. He said, no, I'm doing it my own way.
KING: Are you saying you endorse what McCain said?
ROMNEY: I -- I'm -- I -- I don't have a comment on what he said. I haven't seen it specifically. But I can certainly understand...
KING: Well, he says he will not cooperate.
ROMNEY: I certainly understand why Republican senators in Washington are going to say that this president has -- has so violated the -- the operating trust that goes between these parties and the way the Senate works that -- that there are, of course, going to be consequences of that.
KING: Any comment on that Limbaugh said, that you're risking your political career?
ROMNEY: You know, I risk my career all the time. This book of mine, I lay out answers to issues that people call the third rail of American politics. I talk about Social Security and Medicare, Medicaid, dramatic changes in education. There are a lot of people who say you can't talk about those things in -- in this country and have any political future.
If that's the truth, so be it. These are critical times. We've got to tell people the truth.
KING: The number one Twitter Tweet we're getting is, are you going to run?
ROMNEY: That's not a decision I have made yet. Anne and I and our -- our boys and daughters-in-law will -- will probably consider that after the November elections, maybe some time into the new year. I haven't set a timetable that...
KING: But you're not closed to it?
ROMNEY: I'm not closed to it. It's something that's open at this point.
KING: Back with more of the author of the number book in America, Mitt Romney. The book, "No Apology".
Don't go away.
KING: We're back with Mitt Romney. His book "No Apology." Let's get to some other issues. Sarah Palin, what do you think?
ROMNEY: Energetic, positive force in the Republican party, a leader in our party, and having a positive impact on bringing out -- a lot of folks that were in the silent majority are finding they're not silent anymore. That's a good thing.
KING: Think it could be you against her for the party nomination?
KING: It could be. You have won the C-PAC presidential straw poll. This year you lost it to Ron Paul. I mean, you're certainly a figure in the party.
ROMNEY: There are a number of figures in the party. And I can't speculate as to who is going to be in. I don't know whether I'm going to be in. Time will tell.
KING: What do you make of the Tea Party?
ROMNEY: I think it's a good thing. I think it's a good thing to see people becoming more involved in the political process.
KING: But don't you think they're going a little far?
ROMNEY: But all people go a little far, people on the left, people on the right. I make mistakes, over-state from time to time on an issue. And people say, that's a little too much, isn't it? And you say well, yeah. You hear people apologize from time to time.
And sure, there will be folks in the political spectrum that will say something that is over the line. But overall, the Tea Party movement is about reasonable men and women who are very concerned about the excessive growth of government, the massive spending of government, the fact that, if you will, China has given us a credit card, and we're just rung up bigger and bigger bills.
KING: Where do you think it's going, this Tea Party? They're not Republican, they say.
ROMNEY: No, they're not one party or the other, although I think my party's basic core philosophy is much more attuned to them than that of the Democratic party. My party wants to see smaller government, lower taxes. We want to reform health care, making sure that people have insurance that's low cost, portable and can't be taken away from them because you get sick. But we don't want to raise taxes.
KING: It seems if a Republican agrees with them 90 percent, if they don't 10 percent, they hate them, or they take off on them. It has to be a my way or the highway.
ROMNEY: Well, as I think we get closer to the November elections and people look across the nation and see congressmen and congresswomen and senators running for office, they're going to say, let's get behind the people who can make the changes to Obama-care that are necessary, take out the bad parts, keep the few good Maraschino Cherries, if you will, but take out the bad. I think we come together to get the job done.
KING: Some other things. Gays in the military, where do you stand? ROMNEY: My view is that the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy should be kept in place until conflict is over, at least until that time. And when -- we're in the middle of a war. I don't think it's time to be experimenting with a new social policy. I think that would be potentially difficult for our troops. Let us consider those changes when we're at peace.
KING: Because what would happen at war? What would happen if someone in Afghanistan said I'm gay?
ROMNEY: I think it's complicates the fulfillment of our mission in the various theaters to change a policy of that nature in the middle of wartime. And that's something that I think can wait until after a war is complete.
KING: Are you surprised that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs disagrees with you?
ROMNEY: People can have different views on issues. I'm not terribly surprised. I've just had that view for some time and I'm sticking with it.
KING: You are regarded as a true conservative. Where are you, politically, in the labeling business?
ROMNEY: My dad used to be asked that question. I liked what he would say. He would say, I'm conservative as the Constitution and as progressive as Lincoln. And you can look at my positions. Many of my positions I believe are very conservative, all of them, frankly. I know some people say, gee, your Massachusetts health care plan isn't conservative. I say oh, yes it is.
Because right now in this country, people that don't have health insurance go to the hospital if they get a serious illness, and they get treated for free by government. By plan says no, they can't do that. No more free riders. People have to take personal responsibility. I consider it a conservative plan.
So what is my view? I'm a conservative, through and through.
KING: Always good seeing you, Mitt.
ROMNEY: Thanks, Larry. Good to be with you.
KING: Mitt Romney, the book "No Apology, the Case for American Greatness," number one best seller.
We have others waiting in the wings to debate the new health care laws, and issues of current interest. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We don't shrink from our responsibilities. We embrace it. We don't fear the future. We shape the future. That's what we do. That's who we are. That makes us the United States of America. God bless you and God Bless the United States of America. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's meet our panel. Kevin Madden was a spokesman and senior adviser to Mitt Romney in the 2008 presidential campaign, currently senior vice president of the Glover Park Group, a company that advises clients in the health care field. He is a partner and executive vice president of public affairs for Jim Dike and Associates. Marc Lamont Hill is professor at Columbia University and contributor to the Root.com. Stephen Baldwin, the actor, author and political activist. And Aisha Tyler, the actress and comedian.
Kevin, what did you make of the president today and what did you make of your former boss tonight?
KEVIN MADDEN, VICE PRESIDENT, GLOVER PARK GROUP: Well, I thought the president today took advantage of what was a historical moment. And he definitely went out there and talked what was good in the bill and where Americans are going to benefit. It did feel like a political rally a little bit at the White House, but I think the president ought to be afforded that opportunity given the historic nature of the moment and the simple fact that he is finally had a signature legislative accomplishment.
But I think there is -- the selling really has to begin now. You know, he spent a year trying to sell the American public on this particular bill, and his popularity has declined as a result. The more people learned about this legislation, the less that they seemed to like it.
I think, as far as my former boss, Governor Romney -- I think what I'm always struck by when Governor Romney talks about health care is that he sees this debate as not just one that is driven by costs. It's not just a cost-driven debate, but instead it is also a value- driven debate.
What are Republicans for when it comes to health care? How are we going to guarantee greater access to care? And how are Republicans going to help drive down costs for many Americans that right now feel that they're being squeezed by their health care costs?
KING: We'll pick up on that. Marc Hill, does he still have to sell it?
PROF. MARC LAMONT HILL, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: He still has to sell it, but not to the extent that some may think. Most American people were not upset about the actual features of the legislation. They disgruntled with the process. When you went point by point in polls, most people agreed with the reform offerings. What people didn't agree with was the process. As such, they didn't agree with the overall process.
What he needs to do now is calm down a disgruntled minority. He needs to bring people back together and start the healing process that he has always talked about throughout his career. I think he can do that. One of the challenges, though, is that you have many opponents on the right, like Mitt Romney, who are positioning themselves for 2012 by over-stating the amount of disagreement, by over-stating the low points of the bill, and by making it seem like it's a much more fractured political moment than it actually is.
KING: Stephen Baldwin, the vice president dropped the F-bomb earlier today at the White House signing ceremony. He may have meant it as a private comment. It was caught on audio and video. Let's check it out and get your comment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States of America, Barack Obama.
BIDEN: This is a big (EXPLETIVE DELETED) deal.
OBAMA: Thank you, everybody. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Did that offend you, Stephen?
STEPHEN BALDWIN, ACTOR: Well, you know, Larry, the Bible says "out of the mouth comes the things that are within our heart." So I'm not surprised that the vice president's a potty mouth. And quite frankly, I think it's official today, Barack Obama is the greatest gangster to ever come out of Chicago. I just think it's amazing.
KING: Did you agree on the potty mouth thing when Vice President Cheney also used similar expression a while back?
BALDWIN: Sure, Larry, yeah. He is a potty mouth too. Yeah, he is a potty mouth too. But you know what's funny? I think it's interesting. I'll say what Mr. Romney wasn't willing to say. And that's that Mr. Obama's a liar. He is purely a liar. He's gone and done something, Larry, where half of the country didn't agree with it. So if you say when you're running you're going to do one thing --
KING: Stephen, to be fair.
BALDWIN: Go ahead.
KING: Many didn't agree because they thought it didn't go far enough. So it wasn't just the anti-against it on the right.
BALDWIN: But when you don't -- when you don't get one Republican vote? That's not -- remember I was on your show last time, Larry. We said is the government broken? The government is broken. This is clearly a definition of that. How can a broken government fix a broken health care system, Larry?
KING: All right. I'll get Aisha's thoughts, right after these words. Don't go away. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KING: Aisha Tyler, the actress and comedian -- by the way, she's the voice of Lana on the FX series "Archer," and her stand-up on DVD is Aisha Tyler on tour. It's called "Aisha Tyler is Lit." What do you make about what Mr. Baldwin had to say about your president?
AISHA TYLER, ACTRESS: I think a couple things. With regards to the vice president dropping the F-bomb, it was a big deal. I think we think about these guys and they're in office, we only let them be human when we want them to be human. And they've got to be this super human. Everybody drops a naughty word in a moment of ebullience.
It's just another example of Republicans wanting to spit in the punch. This is a great day for America. I think a lot of people feel like the bill didn't go far enough. I know the Republicans are fighting it. I think they should be happy because they're licking their political wounds now. Luckily for them, wounds will be covered under the new medical plan. So they can all go in and get treated. I think it's wonderful.
KING: Kevin, will you go as far as Stephen Baldwin went, to call the president a liar?
MADDEN: No, I won't. I am fully interested in persuading people that they're wrong. But I'm not interested in calling people names or trying to humiliate my opponents.
I think that in politics the most important thing you can do is argue not the volume of your argument, but instead the value of your argument. And I'm more interested in talking about that. I think the president is wrong on policy. I think the policies he is implementing are bad for America. That's what I'm going to focus on. And I'm going out and I'm going to persuade audience that are interested and still haven't made up their mind, that he's wrong and that the policies are bad. But I'm not going to offer sort of labels like that.
HILL: I was going to say, Larry, not just because it is uncivil or it's an inappropriate thing to do, but because, quite frankly, it is just not true. President Obama campaigned on health care reform. If anything, he has offered a bill and allowed into the public sphere a bill that is less progressive, that is less so-called radical than anything we talked about two years ago.
KING: What I was going to ask you, Marc, is, as a person on the left, were you one of those disappointed in this bill?
HILL: I was disappointed in the bill. Let me add, though, it would be intellectually dishonest for someone like Stephen to suggest that I'm part of the 50 percent of people who are upset or disgruntled or not in agreement with the bill. Do I like the bill? No. Would I have liked the president to go more? Of course. I would have like to have seen a public option. I would have liked to see insurance companies reigned in more.
What we have right now now is a piece of legislation that only pollsters insurance. We're putting 50 billion dollars of new revenue into their stream. That's a very troublesome thing.
But this is nothing short of amazing. This is one of the most significant domestic victories in the last 60 years. To suggest President Obama was dishonest on this, absolutely untrue. He may have been weak on this. This is a major victory.
KING: Do you want to reconsider your words?
BALDWIN: Absolutely not, Larry. Do you know what? The difference between me and everybody else talking is I'm not afraid of the repercussions of speaking the truth. You don't say one thing out of this side of your mouth when you're running for the presidency, and then do the opposite.
He said he was going to change the way he did politics in Washington. He is doing more and more of the worst, bad, horrible things that he campaigned against, doing those very same things.
HILL: That's a great -- that's a great talking point, Stephen. But this has been one of the most transparent processes we've ever seen. When has a health care debate or any domestic policy debate been this transparent? This is a complete change from the way we've done policy.
KING: You can get a word in.
TYLER: I think that Steven and other conservatives who are saying that the president wasn't being collaborative have forgotten the last year of trying to reach out across the aisle. They've forgotten about the health care summit. Saying that the president was not being bipartisan is like going to a basketball game, taking the ball and popping it, and then saying why don't you pass me the ball? They didn't play. They didn't contribute. Then, when they were frustrated, they pulled back.
I have to tell you something. I don't understand why conservatives hate this bill. You can hate that it's not paid for, but the essence of the bill, the essence of the president's program was earnestly. It was like let's help families cover their children. Let's keep insurance companies from dropping people when they're sick. Why do conservatives hate children? Why do they hate sick people?
MADDEN: That does not contribute to the debate.
HILL: That's too far, right?
BALDWIN: Whoa! Whoa!
TYLER: That's what it sounds like. That's what it sounds like when you call the president a liar. That's what it sounds like. KING: Lets get some balance.
MADDEN: If I may. Look, every Republican up on Capitol Hill believes in health care. What we differ on is the fundamentals on how you do it. This was a trillion-dollar bill that was a mandate out of Washington, that was saying, Washington knows more, better than some of the states. That's where we disagree.
I think one of the other important point to remember is that Republicans disagree with the president on the process here, was that he mastered the pageantry of bipartisanship. When it came down to the details, he constantly -- and he did this throughout the entire debate -- this was why many conservatives were upset -- was that he assigned us false motives. He said that we were for the status quo. Others on the progressive of this debate side used words like, conservatives hate children, that we don't want health care. That is fundamentally not true.
Again, I disagree with you. My job is to go out and convince Americans that can be persuaded otherwise, and win on the value of my argument, rather than to use language like you did.
TYLER: I used extreme language to make a point. It was a rhetorical point that that's what it sounds like when you scream the president is a liar. When you scream that he he --
BALDWIN: That's what he sounds like to you.
TYLER: That's how crazy it sounds. I don't believe that conservatives hate children. My grandparents are both Republican delegates. I have a lot of very conservative friends who I think are as reasonable as you are, Kevin. What I'm saying is that when you say those kinds of hysterical things, it makes the reasonable --
KING: I have to get a break. More from Steven when we come back.
BALDWIN: It's the truth.
KING: Steven Baldwin, don't you think honestly that rhetoric like that doesn't help? It would be like saying George Bush was a liar when he said there were weapons of mass destruction. It don't work. It don't work that way. He had information given to him. How does it add to the debate? What's the difference?
BALDWIN: It adds to the debate, Larry, because right now, you have an administration that is trying to force a health care situation upon its people when half of the people don't agree with it, Larry. That's not American.
KING: But of those half, 13 per want it to be more. They're on the left side. And it hasn't been in practice yet. How do we know?
BALDWIN: Hey, Larry, I've been meeting a lot of people that voted for Barack Obama. Do you know what they're saying? That they're not getting what they voted for. Where is the hope and change, Larry? What about jobs? What about jobs? What about jobs?
HILL: Let me answer. We can't go by your head count, Steven. Let's go by the actual numbers. Let's let data intervene in this conversation a little bit. The bulk of the American people do support this bill. They do support the specific items in this bill.
The second thing is, there is something disingenuous about Republicans who constantly appeal to statistics and numbers when it benefits them. They said this is not going to be cost effective. They said this is going to raise the deficit. They say, look at the CBO. Look at the CBO.
Now that the CBO says this is actually going to save money, they say, oh, you can't trust the CBO. Every time there is something that tilts against their interests, they suddenly deny it.
KING: Kevin, does he have a point?
MADDEN: No. If you count the doc fix, which hasn't even come yet, that is going to be anything between 270 to 350 billion dollars that weren't counted in the CBO numbers. They also did a bunch of double counting there. A lot of economists would look at the CBO numbers and say numbers are -- don't add up. So, and I think --
KING: But they're not partisan.
MADDEN: That's right. They're nonpartisan. But there are a lot of holes in those numbers as well. The most important fact is that you don't include the almost 300 billion dollars, which haven't been counted yet for the doc fix.
Look, the American public is very anxious. The reason that this thing is unpopular -- and I would disagree with anybody who says the American people are behind this bill. We are looking at a bill right now that is spending a trillion dollars. And the American public feels like we don't even have it. Now what they're looking at are deficits as far as the eye can see, and a bill that just is not going to be --
KING: We're almost out of time. Do you want to add something?
TYLER: I think if you had a sick child and your child came to you and said I need help, you would not respond with, well, the family can't afford to get you well. We have -- the CBO has already shown that it's going to reduce the deficit. We're going to keep working to make sure that we don't over-spend. We have a lot of work to do.
It is a tough job. Americans are tough, man. We're tough as nails. We can get it done, because it needs to be done.
KING: We have not heard the last of this. We thank all four for being with us. Another edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Another quiet interlude in your daily respect for the media. We shall return tomorrow.