BAIER: You have said at least four times in the past two weeks: "the United States Congress owes the American people a final up or down vote on health care." So do you support the use of this Slaughter rule? The deem and pass rule, so that Democrats avoid a straight up or down vote on the Senate bill?So far, nothing but nonresponsive filler.
OBAMA: Here's what I think is going to happen and what should happen. You now have a proposal from me that will be in legislation, that has the toughest insurance reforms in history, makes sure that people are able to get insurance even if they've got preexisting conditions, makes sure that we are reducing costs for families and small businesses, by allowing them to buy into a pool, the same kind of pool that members of Congress have.
We know that this is going to reduce the deficit by over a trillion dollars. So you've got a good package, in terms of substance. I don't spend a lot of time worrying about what the procedural rules are in the House or the Senate.I don't care how much time he spends on it or whether the time he spends is spent worrying (or dithering or fretting or musing or calmly analyzing). The question is: Does he support it? If he means to say I have no position on the proposed procedural moves, then that's the answer. Say it!
(CROSS TALK)Let you finish obfuscating? This is all very Anne Elk ("Well, you may well ask what is my theory... you may well ask what it is, this theory of mine, well, this theory, that I have, that is to say, which is mine,... is mine.") So there will be a vote, but what kind of vote? Obama falls back on assertions that the bill will pass. Based on the current whip count, it looks like it won't, but he boldly characterizes those who are predicting failure as the pretenders. (He is The Great Pretender.)
OBAMA: What I can tell you is that the vote that's taken in the House will be a vote for health care reform. And if people vote yes, whatever form that takes, that is going to be a vote for health care reform. And I don't think we should pretend otherwise.
OBAMA: Bret, let me finish.
If they don't, if they vote against, then they're going to be voting against health care reform and they're going to be voting in favor of the status quo. So Washington gets very concerned about these procedural issues in Congress. This is always an issue that's — whether Republicans are in charge or Democrats in charge — when Republicans are in charge, Democrats constantly complain that the majority was not giving them an opportunity, et cetera.Yeah. Et cetera, indeed. As if procedure is a frivolous sidetrack that only trivial or devious people care about. Barack Obama was a constitutional law professor. Much of constitutional law is about procedural rights and structural safeguards that check power. Justice Felix Frankfurter famously wrote: "The history of American freedom is, in no small measure, the history of procedure." Law professors are seriously engaging with the constitutionality of the "deem and pass," and our erstwhile law professor Barack Obama would imperiously wave procedure aside as a distraction not worthy of his time. Let's concentrate on the end and pay no attention to the means. When the most powerful man in the world says that, we should feel revulsion and alarm.
BAIER: Let me insert this. We asked our viewers to e-mail in suggested questions. More than 18,000 people took time to e-mail us questions. These are regular people from all over the country. Lee Johnson, from Spring Valley, California: "If the bill is so good for all of us, why all the intimidation, arm twisting, seedy deals, and parliamentary trickery necessary to pass a bill, when you have an overwhelming majority in both houses and the presidency?"Ha! He won't answer the people's questions, because there are just so darned many people, and the questions they ask are so annoying. And Bret got 18,000 emails but Obama got 40,000 pieces of mail a day, so Obama's
Sandy Moody in Chesterfield, Missouri: "If the health care bill is so wonderful, why do you have to bribe Congress to pass it?"
OBAMA: Bret, I get 40,000 letters or e-mails a day.
BAIER: I know.Good short jab by Baier.
OBAMA: I could read the exact same e-mail —
BAIER: These are people. It's not just Washington punditry.
OBAMA: I've got the exact same e-mails, that I could show you, that talk about why haven't we done something to make sure that I, a small business person, am getting as good a deal as members of Congress are getting, and don't have my insurance rates jacked up 40 percent? Why is it that I, a mother with a child with a preexisting condition, still can't get insurance?Yes, the question is the procedural device (and why you need it if the bill is as good as you say).
So the issue that I'm concerned about is whether not we're fixing a broken system.
BAIER: OK, back to the original question.
OBAMA: The key is to make sure that we vote — we have a vote on whether or not we're going to maintain the status quo, or whether we're going to reform the system.Why not a straight vote — a normal vote — a transparent vote — a vote people can understand? Why make it seem that you are pulling a fast one? And right now, in this interview, you seem to be pulling a fast one about pulling a fast one.
BAIER: So you support the deem and pass rule?And so Bret Baier never gets an answer to that question. Barack Obama — who acted like he didn't want to waste his time on the deem and pass — wasted our time evading the questions about the deem and pass. His aim is to put us to sleep. We may be asking questions about the procedure now, but eventually we'll let it go and ultimately we will look at the substance what we got and decide whether we like it. So quiet down and wait, the most powerful man in the world tells us. He knows what's good for us. Don't look while he prepares the medicine that will make you very very happy.
OBAMA: I am not —
BAIER: You're saying that's that vote.
OBAMA: What I'm saying is whatever they end up voting on — and I hope it's going to be sometime this week — that it is going to be a vote for or against my health care proposal. That's what matters. That's what ultimately people are going to judge this on.