MR. DAVID GREGORY: This Sunday: the August heat over health care.
Unidentified Man: One day, God's going to stand before you and he's going
to judge you and the rest of your damn cronies up on the Hill.
MR. GREGORY: The president tries to regain control of the debate.
PRES. BARACK OBAMA: So I need you to keep knocking on doors, talking to
your neighbors, spread the facts, fight against the fear.
MR. GREGORY: This morning, a special hour-long discussion making sense of
health care. What are the issues at the center of the debate? How would
reform affect your health care? Separating fact from fiction in the
fight. And what does it mean politically for President Obama? With us:
former House majority leader Republican Dick Armey, now the head of
FreedomWorks, a major organizer of protesters at town hall meetings;
Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, a medical doctor and member of
the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; former Senate
majority leader, Democrat Tom Daschle, an informal adviser to the White
House and author of "Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care
Crisis"; and Rachel Maddow, host of MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show."
Plus, additional perspectives from around the country: the chairman of
the House Ways and Means Committee, Charlie Rangel of New York; Bruce
Josten, executive vice president of the Chamber of Commerce; and
Democratic Governor Bill Ritter of Colorado.
MR. DAVID GREGORY: But first, making sense of healthcare reform, for the
entire hour. And welcome to our panel here. You know, the president wrote
on the op-ed page of The New York Times today that this is the great
debate for America right now. And I think what the public also wants is a
civil and informative debate, which is what I think we're going to have
this morning. I want to talk in just a few minutes about three major
areas of contention in this healthcare debate. But first I do want to
talk about the anger, the emotion and the fear that is out there.
And, Senator Daschle, let me begin with you. All of these town halls,
have they altered or derailed the chance for reform this year?
FMR. SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD): David, I think it's actually been a good
thing. I think that it's drawn even greater focus on the issue. You've
got President Obama out there in places all over the country talking and
trying to set the record straight. Obviously, these are emotional issues.
This is the noise of democracy. You ask 300 million people what they
ought to do about health care and you're going to get a lot of different
ideas, some of them very deeply emotional. But the bottom line is I think
this really does help a lot, goes a long way.
MR. GREGORY: But it helps, it doesn't hurt. You really believe that it
SEN. DASCHLE: I--well, obviously there are--the misinformation hurts.
Obviously if you, if you provoke fear, that hurts. But the opportunity
that we have to set the record straight, to keep the focus on the issue,
to recognize that there are millions of people out there who don't have
health care, to recognize that there are so many people out there that,
that are left out, 12 million people have been, have been discriminated
against because they have an illness. We've got huge cost problems, huge
quality problems. And this is our opportunity really to lay the record
straight, to put the focus where it belongs and to, and to get this job
done for the first time in 70 years.
MR. GREGORY: All right. But let's talk about the tone of the debate.
There have been death threats against members of Congress, there are Nazi
references to members of Congress and to the president. Here are some of
the images. The president being called a Nazi, his reform effort being
called Nazi-like, referring to Nazi Germany, members of Congress being
called the same. And then there was this image this week outside of
Portsmouth, New Hampshire, a town hall event that the president had, this
man with a gun strapped to his leg held that sign, "It is time to water
the tree of liberty." It was a reference to that famous Thomas Jefferson
quote, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the
blood of patriots and tyrants." That has become a motto for violence
against the government. Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, had
that very quote on his shirt the day of the bombing of the Murrah
building when 168 people were killed.
Senator Coburn, you are from Oklahoma. When this element comes out in
larger numbers because of this debate, what, what troubles you about
SEN. TOM COBURN (R-OK): Well, I'm, I'm troubled anytime when we, we stop
having confidence in, in our government. But we've earned it. You know,
this debate isn't about health care. Health care's the symptom. The
debate is an uncontrolled federal government that's going to run--50
percent of everything we're spending this year we're borrowing from the
next generation. You...
MR. GREGORY: That's--but wait, hold on, I want to stop you there. I'm
talking about the tone. I am talking about violence against the
government. That's what this is synonymous with.
SEN. COBURN: The, the--but the tone is based on fear of loss of control
of their own government. What, what is the genesis behind people going to
such extreme statements? What is it? We, we have lost the confidence, to
a certain degree, and it's much worse than when Tom was the, the, the
leader of the Senate. We have, we have raised the question of whether or
not we're legitimately thinking about the American people and their
long-term best interests. And that's the question. The, the mail volume
of all the senators didn't go up based on the healthcare debate, the mail
volume went up when we started spending away our future indiscriminately.
And that's not Republican or Democrat, that has been a problem for years.
But it's exacerbated now that we're in the kind of financial situation
and economic situation.
MR. GREGORY: Congressman Armey, FreedomWorks, your organization, advocacy
organization getting together a lot of folks, coordinating a lot of the
efforts to get people out for the protests. Do you bear some
responsibility for the tone of the debate?
FMR. REP. DICK ARMEY (R-TX): Not, not whatsoever. Not when you see the
kind of extreme thing you just saw, the--you know, I had my differences
with President Bush, George W. Bush, there's no doubt about it. They were
well aware of that. But when moveon.org ran those ads that compared
President Bush with, with Adolf Hitler, I thought it was despicable.
MS. RACHEL MADDOW: They never did that.
REP. ARMEY: They did do it. I'll show you the ad.
MS. MADDOW: They didn't do that. They never ran an ad that compared...
REP. ARMEY: All right. Anyway. All right.
MS. MADDOW: MoveOn never ran an ad that compared Bush to Hitler.
REP. ARMEY: All right.
MR. GREGORY: Well, hold on, hold on. Finish your thought and then...
REP. ARMEY: What, what, what, you're going to get your chance to talk.
Well, I, I, I just looked at the moveon.org ad again this morning, and
it, it was a horrible thing. You know, it's horrible to see this. But I
have had town hall meetings since 1984. There are always a lot of
colorful people that show up with town hall meetings, a lot of people
with a lot of colorful statements. When FreedomWorks encourages people to
go to town hall meetings, we encourage them to go and make their points
clearly, assertively and with good manners. So I'm not--I don't know who
these folks are. We certainly bear no responsibility for...
MR. GREGORY: But you say good manners; the, the House speaker, Nancy
Pelosi, wrote an op-ed this week during which she said, "Drowning out
opposing views is simply un-American. Drowning out the facts"...
REP. ARMEY: Well...
MR. GREGORY: ..."drowning out the facts is how we failed at this effort
for many decades." Un-American, Rachel?
REP. ARMEY: Well...
MS. MADDOW: I--well, I, I think that anytime you're trying to stop
discussion, I think that's un-American. But I, I mean, I take issue with
the idea that the government has done anything to earn the kind of
threats of violence that we have seen.
SEN. COBURN: I didn't say that.
MS. MADDOW: Well, you--well, David, I...
SEN. COBURN: What I, what I said is what--it is indicative of the loss of
confidence. And when people are afraid, they do all sorts of things that
they normally wouldn't do.
MR. GREGORY: All right.
MS. MADDOW: I don't think...
SEN. COBURN: And we have undermined, by our actions--whether it be
earmarking and corruption and, and disconnection between integrity and
character in what we do and what the people expect, and this--these are
MS. MADDOW: But whether...
SEN. COBURN: ...of a lack of confidence in what we're doing.
MR. GREGORY: Go ahead, Rachel.
MS. MADDOW: Whether or not, whether or not the government has acted in a
way that you feel is defensible, I don't think the government has done
anything to earn, in your words, the, the, the threat of--that the blood
of tyrants must run in the streets, which is what the literal threat was
from that man with the gun strapped to, strapped to his leg in New
Hampshire. I also don't think that, that there is an equivalence between
what moveon.org has done and with the comparisons of the president to
Hitler that we've seen so often in this debate. I mean, some of the major
organizations who are organizing these events, like Americans for
Prosperity, a group that has some similarities to FreedomWorks but
definitely a different group, they've had speakers going around the
country not only comparing healthcare reform to Hitler, but comparing
them to Pol Pot and Stalin, saying "Put the fear of God into your members
of Congress." I don't think the government has done anything to earn
MR. GREGORY: Congressman:
REP. ARMEY: Well, first of all, I don't know what Americans for
Prosperity has done. But if in fact they deserve to have fire on their
bunker, please, put your fire on their bunker. I don't want it on my
bunker. The fact of the matter is we had Nancy Pelosi, within the last
six months, stand up before a very vocal and ruckus group and say, you
know, "I love disrupters." Here's the speaker of the House saying, "I
love disrupters." So the fact of the matter is there's been some
provocation by officially elected people, and that is not, that's not a
happy thing. Moveon.org has been a very aggressive organization. What we
believe you should have is people show up, people assertively answer the
very difficult questions and for people to be well mannered.
Now, I'd like to go on something that Doc Coburn...
MR. GREGORY: All right, but that--just, you have to admit, the notion
that people are being well mannered is not happening.
REP. ARMEY: That, that may not--that may be with some people.
MR. GREGORY: All right.
REP. ARMEY: I'm appalled by what I see, too, by some people.
MR. GREGORY: All right.
REP. ARMEY: But for anybody to say that Dick Armey is...
MR. GREGORY: So, so you repudiate the Nazi imagery. The Nazi imagery and
all of that, you repudiate that.
REP. ARMEY: Absolutely, I repudiate it.
MR. GREGORY: That has no place in the debate.
REP. ARMEY: I--as I said, I repudiated it when moveon.org did it to
George Bush. Did anybody here at this table repudiate it?
MS. MADDOW: You remember a...
REP. ARMEY: We've just heard that it was all right when MoveOn did it.
MS. MADDOW: That's not true. They never ran an ad that said it.
REP. ARMEY: But it is not all right when anybody does it.
MS. MADDOW: The Tea Party Patriots is an organization that your
organization is a member of a coalition with. It's called the Tea Party
Patriots Health Care Freedom Coalition partner. That's what Freedoms
Work***(as spoken)***is, that's what Americans for Prosperity is. If you
go to Tea Party Patriots right now, what they've got on their front page
of their Web site, the top item, is a video showing the violence at the
town hall in Ybor City, in Tampa, Florida, essentially promoting that as
if that was a good thing that happened, that showed what the Health Care
Freedom Coalition wants to have done in the healthcare debate.
FreedomWorks is part of that coalition.
REP. ARMEY: Right.
MS. MADDOW: You can say that you denounce it, but the organization that
you head is part of it.
REP. ARMEY: Listen, this--one of the fascinating things, by the way,
about the Tea Party, Tea Party movement, it is, it is an enormously
impressive grassroot uprising across the country, loosely affiliated
people, and there's probably a hundred, 200 different Web sites by
different people. Somebody in Oregon's got one, somebody in Illinois.
We've got a situation with somebody in Connecticut that we did not know
and who did not know us put out something that was mischaracterized and
then attributed to us by somebody who obviously didn't have enough
diligence in their ability to do their research to get their facts
straight. These things happen.
MR. GREGORY: Right.
REP. ARMEY: People get blamed for what other people do.
MR. GREGORY: Beyond, beyond the...
REP. ARMEY: But the fact is, that just causes further aggravation.
The--especially when you start talking about elected officials, people
that have the privilege of having news shows under the license granted by
the federal government. They should at least have the adult discipline to
get their facts correct.
MS. MADDOW: Are you a member of the Tea Party Patriots Health Care
REP. ARMEY: I'm a member of FreedomWorks, and FreedomWorks works with
many people who fight for and, and argue on behalf of individual liberty.
MR. GREGORY: All right, I want to move on. One of the issues here is
inaccuracies, myths in the debate. What has dominated this week is this
idea of death panels being part of the healthcare reform effort, the idea
that somehow the government would countenance euthanasia against older
Americans who are close to death. And even Chuck Grassley, senator from
Iowa, a Republican senator from Iowa who is negotiating healthcare reform
on the Senate Finance Committee, said this during an event on Wednesday.
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): In the House bill there's counseling for end
Offscreen Voice: That's it.
SEN. GRASSLEY: And from that standpoint, you have every right to fear.
You should--you shouldn't have counseling at the end of life. You ought
to have counseling 20 years before you're going to die. We should not
have a government program that determines you're going to pull the plug
MR. GREGORY: "Pull the plug on grandma." That's not part of this debate.
It's not in the bill, Senator.
SEN. DASCHLE: Well, David, it's hyperbolic, it's fearmongering, it's
actually politics at its worst. That's the kind of thing that generates
the kind of anger and fear and anxiety that people have today. You know,
it's, it's amazing to me that a very good idea, one I'm sure that maybe
even all of us agree with, that there ought to be some consultation, some
opportunity to talk about these things outside of that moment when you're
at your most emotionally vulnerable state in life. And, and, you know,
the amazing thing is--and Johnny Isakson, a, a member of the, the Health
Committee, actually offered as a mandatory requirement that there be this
mandatory counseling. He--as it turns out, it, it was, it--they, they
persuaded him to offer it as a voluntary measure. But that voluntary
counseling is something that we ought to be encouraging, not
MR. GREGORY: And in fact, Senator Coburn, the prescription drug bill that
the Republican Congress passed back in 2003 had a similar provision, did
SEN. COBURN: I don't know. I wasn't in Congress in 2003, so I'm not
familiar with that. But I was adamantly opposed to the prescription drug
bill, mainly because it added $10 trillion to our grandkids' debt.
MR. GREGORY: Right.
SEN. COBURN: Look, the, the idea that we ought to talk about our future
health and what our family and what we want done is a good idea, it's
legitimate. What is not legitimate is having government even weigh in on
it. It is intensely personal; your health care, your plans, your family.
There is no role for government in that. And where we've seen a
role--and, and this happens all the time, which goes to one of the things
that never gets talked about in health care--is we have statements,
living wills. We have people who have made those very tough decisions.
And then, because they've made them, but because of the malpractice
situation and liability, they're ignored. And we still intubate and put
people onto ventilators that never wanted it because a family member
threatens through a situation, even though you have that end of life
counseling there. So the--we need to get down to the basics of what's
really wrong with health care, and there's a lot. And it's not the people
who are complaining about it and it's not the people who are debating it.
The fact is, is we--everybody wants to see some change. Republicans want
to see change, we just want to get there in a different way. But the fact
is, is we have a way too expensive healthcare system. It is one of the
best in the world, and we ought to see about changing.
MR. GREGORY: And you want a reasonable debate?
SEN. COBURN: Absolutely.
MR. GREGORY: You said, however--this was a headline from The Washington
Times, July 16th: "Coburn: Dem health plan will kill Americans." Really?
SEN. COBURN: It will. Absolutely.
MR. GREGORY: Is that reasonable?
SEN. COBURN: There's--yes, it is reasonable. That is--look, who--I still
practice medicine almost every Monday, David. I see patients. How many
people that are involved in this debate are actually in the healthcare
system? Very few. The fact is, is if you create a comparative
effectiveness board, which there's no question 70 percent of the people
it will help, and it will help control costs, but 30 percent of the
people it's going to hurt.
SEN. DASCHLE: David, we can't...
SEN. COBURN: Because we're not--we're not going to use...
SEN. DASCHLE: That's--you cannot, you can't--Jim, you can't make that
SEN. COBURN: We're not going to use the art of medicine. We're not
SEN. DASCHLE: You just can't allow that assertion to be made, because...
SEN. COBURN: Well, we can. Let's look at the NICE system.
SEN. DASCHLE: Listen, this is the recommendation.
MR. GREGORY: Well, let's end it...
SEN. DASCHLE: Mayo Clinic--you're saying Mayo Clinic, 30 people, 30
percent of the people at Mayo Clinic are, are disadvantaged because they
have comparative effectiveness?
SEN. COBURN: No, they, they--no, they do not.
SEN. DASCHLE: Yes, they do.
SEN. COBURN: Yes, they do. But they don't apply that in the same way that
SEN. DASCHLE: And they, and they--and same with Intermountain, same with
Geisinger. The best institutions in the country, David, use comparative
effectiveness and everybody benefits. And to Jim's point about the fact
that, that we can't have government involved with some kind of
consultation, government runs the Medicare program. The Medicare program
covers virtually every senior in the country today. If you're not going
to have the government do it through Medicare, who is going to do it? You
can't simply just say go, go try to find a way to do it. We know the
status quo is a disaster. What Jim is arguing for is more status quo, and
we can't accept that.
MR. GREGORY: Senator, Tom; you keep calling him Jim. You mean Tom.
Senator Tom Coburn.
SEN. DASCHLE: I mean Tom.
SEN. COBURN: Jim, Jim's my brother.
MR. GREGORY: Yeah, right.
SEN. DASCHLE: Sorry.
MR. GREGORY: Let me take a break here, because I mentioned we're going to
have some outside perspectives in this debate. And I want to bring in
Governor Bill Ritter; the governor, of course, of Colorado. He was
the--with the president, who was doing a town hall last evening in Grand
And, Governor, I want to ask you about the president's effectiveness
right now and whether he is winning this argument. That's certainly been
a motivation for him being around the country, doing his own town halls.
This is the Gallup poll on the president's handling of the healthcare
crisis: approval at 43 percent, disapproval at 49 percent. Those are the
similar numbers that President Clinton had back in 1993, 1994. What do
you think he's doing wrong?
GOV. BILL RITTER (D-CO): Well, I don't, I don't know that you can blame
the president for this. I think a good part of this has to do how you
opened the show, David, it's, it's the sort of partisan wrangling. And
maybe that's even too nice of a word for what's been happening with these
town hall meetings. They're capturing the attention. Americans listen to
where the conflict is, where the swords are crossed. But they're not, I
think, getting all of the information about this. My time yesterday with
the president and my time at the town hall meeting leads me to believe
that people who even are wondering about it but hear him speak about it,
hear him speak about what this really does entail, they're impressed by
how, I think, by his vision for how we go forward with respect to
healthcare reform. It was, it was a very good town hall meeting. He took
questions from people who, I would say, disagreed with him coming into
it. Maybe they disagreed with him as they all left. But I would also that
for those folks who were sort of on the bubble, they, they have to
respect that we need to do this and that he has a vision for how to do
MR. GREGORY: Governor Ritter, what do you hear most? The Rocky Mountain
West is a key area for independent voters in the country. The president
successfully courted and won their vote in the election last year. But
it's those independents who have a real concern about the role of
government, about the mounting debt that could be associated with this
healthcare plan. What are you hearing?
GOV. RITTER: Well, I think that's the right point, David. What I hear is
this, that the healthcare system is broken. So while there is this
concern about a mounting deficit, there's also this real concern about
the fact that the system's broken, that people view it as unsustainable,
that people don't view their health plan as something that's really
secure for them. They could lose it tomorrow if their employer takes it
away or if they lose their job. They want it fixed. So they want it
fixed, but they also are concerned about federal spending, they're
concerned about the deficit. And they want to know, can you reform health
care and at the same time do what's necessary to control federal spending
or to bring down the deficit? The president actually addressed this
yesterday in his town hall meeting in a very effective way.
MR. GREGORY: All right, Governor Ritter from Colorado, thanks, as always.
Always good to talk to you.
Rachel Maddow, does the president bear some responsibility? Does he
undermine his credibility when he makes some claims like, if you like
your insurance you can keep your insurance, when a lot of people have
said not really; employers could drop people from insurance if they
wanted to move people into a public plan, if that existed? It may be an
aspiration, but he can't guarantee it.
MS. MADDOW: It's the way--what he has suggested would guarantee it.
What's happening, I think where the, where the president has some more
responsibility is to give the Congress more direction. I find it strange
that we have--the American people have decided that there will be a lot
more Democrats in Congress than Republicans. The Democrats have a huge
60-seat majority in the Senate, and therefore they've got big majorities
on every committee, too. But Max Baucus, who is a Democratic senator, has
decided on the Senate Finance Committee, which has this key role in what's
going to happen next, that they won't have the whole committee do it.
It'll just be three Democrats and three Republicans who are going to make
that decision. One of those Republicans is going around the country
giving out copies of Glenn Beck's book and saying that healthcare reform
will pull the plug on grandma, Senator Grassley. So for, for, for, for
the Democrats in Congress to be essentially giving up their majority,
deciding the way this is going to pass, I think is something that the
president ought to weigh in on. There's a reason that Democrats have a
60-seat majority. The American people voted for it, and I think they'd
like a Democratic bill.
MR. GREGORY: Congressman Armey, Dan Balz wrote this in The Washington
Post on Saturday about the political tactics involved here. He wrote:
"The president and his team are receiving lots of advice from allies
frustrated that the White House has not been more aggressive in firing
back at reform critics and in attacking a strategy they believe is
designed to bring down Obama's presidency." Do you think that's what
conservative opponents of his healthcare reform have in their gun sights
REP. ARMEY: Absolutely not. I mean, this is the, probably the most--it's
certainly the, the highest, largest hostile government takeover in the history of
the country, one-sixth of the entire economy. And it's the most intimate.
I mean, you have people on the streets today, real people that are
saying, "Am I going to in fact end up with a decision regarding how my
liver infection is going to be treated in the hands of somebody in a
bureaucracy with a degree in sociology?" And it is--if you read this
bill, which is a frightening thing, by the way; I was reading it again
yesterday. It is unnerving to read this bill because of the growth of
bureaucracy. And the idea that--and I'll give you an example. I got a
contact the other day, a fellow got in touch with me. He has been on
Social Security disability for about seven years. And all of a sudden,
out of the blue, he is in--he receives a letter saying, "We're taking you
off of disability and you need to send us $21,000." He doesn't have
$21,000, and he can't even figure out who made that decision. He calls
his congressman. His congressman says, "I don't know what I can do about
that." He tries to call his senator, he can't get a call through. So he
calls me, for crying out loud. And this guy doesn't even leave in Texas.
MR. GREGORY: Senator Daschle, a hostile takeover of government?
SEN. DASCHLE: Look, David, that, that argument suggests that Dick
obviously enjoys the status quo. The status quo eliminates 50 million
people from insurance today, 12 million because they are discriminated
against because they have disabilities. Eighteen thousand people last
year died because they didn't have insurance. That's the status quo. And
rather than have government do it, apparently Dick would rather have the
insurance companies do it, because that's who's doing it now. Jon Stewart
and others call it the American lottery. You send in your forms and you
hope you get something back from the insurance companies. That, to me, is
why the American people want to see change. They want to see change
because of the costs, they want to see change because they understand the
quality is going down in this country and they want to see change because
so many people aren't covered. That's the status quo and
SEN. COBURN: Let me, let me dispute the question on quality.
MR. GREGORY: All right, but...
SEN. COBURN: There...
MR. GREGORY: Senator:
SEN. COBURN: There is no indicator anywhere in this country that the
quality of medicine has declined. There's every...
SEN. DASCHLE: Oh, that's not true. That is not true.
REP. ARMEY: Absolutely.
SEN. COBURN: That, that--no, that is...
REP. ARMEY: Absolutely...
SEN. DASCHLE: That is not true.
SEN. COBURN: That is absolutely true.
SEN. DASCHLE: What are we ranking in life expectancy in this country?
SEN. COBURN: The--no, you--life expectancy is not an indicator when you
have a society that's built our way.
SEN. DASCHLE: It's not an indicator?
SEN. COBURN: Look, let me finish, Tom.
SEN. DASCHLE: What about, what about...
SEN. COBURN: Let me finish, Tom. We, we talk about neonatal mortality.
Where's the neonatal mortality? It's not in the private insurance plans,
it's in Medicaid. Well, here's the government-run program that is failing
us in terms of neonatal mortality, and yet we use as an indicator
neonatal mortality to say we need more government rather than less.
MS. MADDOW: That is so disingenuous, that's unbelievable.
SEN. DASCHLE: Every...
SEN. COBURN: The, the question--let me finish, let me finish, let me
finish. There--the very fact that the president would suggest that
doctors take tonsils out to make money rather than because it's an
indicated procedure is ludicrous. Most people who get a referral to an
ENT have already had one opinion that they're worried.
SEN. DASCHLE: This is, this is...
MR. GREGORY: All right, quick comment...
SEN. DASCHLE: ...totally off the mark.
SEN. COBURN: It's not off...
MR. GREGORY: ...then I'm going to get in a break in. Hold on, I'll let
SEN. DASCHLE: The Commonwealth listed us as 19th; out of 19
industrialized countries, we rank 19th overall. World Health Organization
listed us 37th, just below Costa Rica and above Slovenia. I mean, you
don't--you can rationalize all you want. The fact is, the quality in this
country--we have islands of excellence.
MR. GREGORY: All right.
SEN. DASCHLE: But we have a sea of mediocrity, and we've got to address
MR. GREGORY: All right. Let me, let me get in here. We're going to take a
break here. We're going to come back and we're going to talk about those
three most contentious areas. I want to get through all of them...
REP. ARMEY: Right.
MR. GREGORY: ...so we can really debate it. We'll come back. More of our
discussion after this brief break.
MR. GREGORY: More with our panel on healthcare reform; Armey, Daschle,
Coburn and Maddow after this brief commercial break.
MR. GREGORY: We are back to continue our discussion on health care with
Dick Armey, Rachel Maddow, Tom Daschle and Senator Tom Coburn.
All right. As I mentioned, I want to get to the three most contentious
issues of the debate. If we can try to get to it all, we're going to try.
There's obviously a lot more to discuss even than just this.
The first issue has to do with funding. How do you fund reform? It's
going to be expensive. Fifty million without healthcare insurance, a
price tag of around a trillion dollars to be able to do that. I want to
bring in Charlie Rangel, congressman of New York, of course, chairman of
the House Ways and Means--Manes--Means Committee.
Congressman, welcome. I want to take you to Montana, this was the town
hall debate that the president had, and listen to Rondy--Randy Rathie,
what he had to say.
MR. RANDY RATHIE: Max Baucus, our senator, has been locked up in a dark
room there for months now trying to come up with some money to pay for
PRES. OBAMA: Right.
MR. RATHIE: And we keep getting the bull. That's all we get is bull. You
can't tell us how you're going to pay for this. You're saving here,
you're saving over there. You're going to take a little money here,
you're going to take a little money there. But you have no money. The
only way you're going to get that money is to raise our taxes. You said
you wouldn't. Max Baucus says he doesn't want to put a bill out that,
that will. But that's the only way you can do that.
MR. GREGORY: Congressman, isn't he right?
REP. CHARLIE RANGEL (D-NY): I can't believe that our democracy is so
fragile that people who have no answer to a very serious problem would
just try to create animosity and hatred rather than to sit down and first
find out what is the problem, how costly is it, and then what does it
take in order to stop it? There's no question that most everyone
listening to this show have known some horrible story where someone has
lost their home, their, their job, their, their, their--they, they--as a
result of not being able to be able to cope with the cost of present
health care. And it's getting worse, and more and more people are losing
MR. GREGORY: All right.
REP. RANGEL: ...and the people who have it don't have it. We're going to
have to pay for it, but it's going to be less in doing something right
now than if we just let these things turn over to people...
MR. GREGORY: How--but--OK, but how are you going to pay for it?
REP. RANGEL: ...who have scripts.
MR. GREGORY: You're, you're for a surtax on the wealthy.
REP. RANGEL: We got to pay for it by cutting...
MR. GREGORY: Is that going to work in the Senate, Congressman?
REP. RANGEL: First of all, when we start talking about how you pay for
it, you got to stop the hemorrhage. And we can do that. Much of the
things that we're doing out there that is the cause of the problem that
we--we're in can be taken care of by having the, the right procedures
given to the right people, and making certain that we cut down on health
care. And when the people of the industry can tell you that they can save
tens of trillions of dollars by working with the president, then you know
that we can resolve most of this by stopping what we're doing wrong.
MR. GREGORY: But, Congressman, I want to...
REP. RANGEL: And yes, it does take some money.
MR. GREGORY: All right, but I want to focus on that.
REP. RANGEL: It does take some money to kick this off.
MR. GREGORY: My, my question--Congressman, my question to you is whether
REP. RANGEL: We're talking about less than 1 percent...
MR. GREGORY: Wait a minute, Congressman. Can the surtax survive in the
Senate? You want to raise $544 billion of this price tag through a surtax
on the wealthy. Can that prevail in the Senate?
REP. RANGEL: I don't know what can prevail in the Senate. All I know is
this, that people are trying to use hatreds as a substitute for
discussion. We should be talking about how much does it cost, is it
costing too much, what is the Senate going to do, what is the House going
to do? But when people are paid to work up our town hall meetings, it's
clear they're not looking for a solution, they're looking for a political
out of this serious question.
MR. GREGORY: Congressman, the long...
REP. RANGEL: And so we should be talking with the Senate. We should be
talking with them now. They don't even have a bill.
MR. GREGORY: Congressman, if you look at the longer term picture here,
beyond 2019, the 10-year window for this plan, the Congressional Budget
Office has said that healthcare costs will go up at such a rate that
proposed tax increases and other savings cannot keep pace and that the
deficit will rise. Can the president keep his promise to not raise taxes
on those making $250,000 or less?
REP. RANGEL: Yes, he can and he will. The problem that we have is, is
what do you score, what does the Congressional Budget Office count as
being a savings? Is it people--what happened to the last few years of
someone's life? Is it the overcharging that the pharmaceuticals and
doctors have? Is it the number of people that go in and out of hospitals
and we don't reward those who do the right thing? These are questions we
should be talking about. But what is happening now is a building up of
hatred, and I am so surprised that our churches and our synagogues and
our mosques are not coming here and saying they want the right thing done
by poor folks who can't afford health care, working people that don't
have health care and should have it, and people who do have health plans
that really are hemorrhaging in increases in costs. This is not a
Republican or Democratic issue, this is an American, humane issue, and
we're not dealing with it with these type of town hall meetings.
MR. GREGORY: Congressman Rangel, always good to have you. Thank you very
much for joining the discussion.
Senator Daschle, the savings that the president talks about; there can be
some tax hikes on the rich, and then he talks about two-thirds of this
program being paid for by other kinds of savings within Medicare. Is that
realistic, or are these just theoretical saving options?
SEN. DASCHLE: Well, David, keep in mind that over the next 10 years our
country's going to spend $35 trillion on health care. That's the
projection today. That $35 trillion dwarfs the trillion dollars we're
talking about as up-front costs that we have to, have to, to construct in
order to put this new infrastructure in place--including, for the first
time, covering 50 million new American insured. So I don't think there's
any question that we can find, within $35 trillion, the savings necessary
to come up with part of that cost for the new infrastructure. And I think
the president's plan is, is, is, is about right. It's, it's the balance
between revenue on one side and cutting costs on the other.
MS. MADDOW: I, I think the policy about what we actually do makes a big
difference in terms of how much we have to spend and how much savings we
get. One of the reasons that I think a lot of liberals and Democrats are
in favor of a strong public option is because the administrative costs
are so much lower in a government program, frankly, like Medicare, than
they are in private insurance. We waste so many billions of dollars on
the administrative costs of having the private insurance-based system
that we have now. When you compare us to other industrialized country
that don't have that much of a reliance on...
MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.
MS. MADDOW: ...all these different thousands of insurance companies,
we're wasting a lot of money just moving paper around. Ask healthcare
professionals how frustrated they are...
SEN. COBURN: You know, it's...
MS. MADDOW: ...with how much paperwork they have to for these insurance companies.
MR. GREGORY: Hold on, I want to get Congressman...
SEN. COBURN: ...the numbers.
MR. GREGORY: I want to get Congressman Armey on the tax question.
REP. ARMEY: Right.
MR. GREGORY: Are taxes going to go up beyond just the wealthy?
REP. ARMEY: Of course their taxes are going to go up. And, and, and
what--one of the things about how to pay for it that I think is really
causing a lot of distress and anxiety, especially among seniors--and
where you want to talk about a real miserable instability I've observed
the last couple of weeks, seniors today are captured by Medicare. They
have no choice, they can't get out of it if they want to without being
punished by the government. And it's got $46 trillion worth of unfunded
liability. They're seeing the baby boomers coming in, they're scared to
death for themselves right now, and this bill says they're going to cut
Medicare by $500 billion. And the senior goes to a town hall meeting and
he is frightened by this, and he says, "Leave your hands off my
Medicare," and he's mocked by people in the news and he's made a joke of
by the president of the United States. It's no wonder these folks are
frustrated and angry.
MR. GREGORY: Rachel...
REP. ARMEY: They're scared to death of what the government's going to do
MR. GREGORY: OK. Rachel:
MS. MADDOW: Do you really think that there's a major uprising of seniors
wanting to get out of Medicare? I know you're suing the government for
your right personally to get out of Medicare.
REP. ARMEY: Right.
MS. MADDOW: But do you really think that's the problem...
SEN. COBURN: Is it...
MS. MADDOW: ...that Medicare--that seniors hate Medicare and they want
REP. ARMEY: No, I didn't say that. Most seniors--I was talking to my
minister the other day. My minister says, "Dick, I'm so fortunate I'm in
Medicare." I said, "Bless you, my, my friend that you get to be in it if
you choose to be so." But if you give a government program and you let me
choose to be in or choose to be out, that's generosity. If you force me
in, irrespective of my desires, that's tyranny. Now, if Medicare's $46
trillion in the red, with no idea how we're going to pay for it, why, why
do they not let people who don't want to be in out?
MS. MADDOW: This is...
MR. GREGORY: Let me--I want to get it...
REP. ARMEY: I mean, that's...
MS. MADDOW: Just--I--very briefly.
REP. ARMEY: This, this, this defies logic.
MS. MADDOW: This is a really important point. The anti-healthcare reform
lobby thinks that Medicare is tyranny, OK?
REP. ARMEY: I did--I said...
MS. MADDOW: This is an--I mean, you said in 1995 that "Medicare is a
program I would have no part of in a free world."
REP. ARMEY: Right. Absolutely right.
MS. MADDOW: You said in 2002, "We're going to have to bite the bullet on
Social Security and phase it out over a period of time."
REP. ARMEY: And I'm going to enumerate exactly what I'm talking about.
MS. MADDOW: Americans need to know this is your position and this is the
position of the anti-healthcare reform lobby.
MR. GREGORY: I'm going to, I'm going to stop this...
REP. ARMEY: This is the Medicare law that was written and...
MS. MADDOW: It's very important to understand.
REP. ARMEY: The Medicare law that was written by the chairman of the Ways
and Means Committee and the chief lobbyists of Blue Cross/Blue Shield,
voted on without amendment as an amendment to Social Security, first
imposes severe sanctions on physicians and medical providers that don't
comply with its requirements, and it says to seniors at the age of 65 you
can no longer buy the insurance that you bought prior to 65. And now by
virtue of an internal memo--not a regulation, not a law--they tell
MR. GREGORY: All right.
REP. ARMEY: ...if you don't sign up for Medicare you'll lose your Social
MR. GREGORY: I want to...
REP. ARMEY: Now, if--you tell me what, what, what that has to do with
anybody's notion of liberty...
MS. MADDOW: Tell me what that has to do with healthcare reform.
MR. GREGORY: All right, I'm going to stop there.
REP. ARMEY: ...freedom, the right to buy your own insurance...
MR. GREGORY: Hold on. I want to move on...
REP. ARMEY: Even in Canada...
MR. GREGORY: Congressman...
REP. ARMEY: One final point. Even in Canada, just last month the supreme
court of the--of--in Canada said--ruled that the Canadian government
cannot deny the Canadian citizen...
MR. GREGORY: All right. I want to...
REP. ARMEY: ...the right to buy private citizen...
MR. GREGORY: I'm going to move on. I'm going to move on.
REP. ARMEY: ...private insurance.
MR. GREGORY: Another big area of contention, as if that's not contentious
SEN. DASCHLE: Resolve that one.
MR. GREGORY: ...is the issue of the public option. This is the idea.
Well, I--still talking about overall costs--we'll get to the public
option in just a moment. The overall sense of costs.
Senator Daschle, is it appropriate for the president to be singling out
the insurance companies when he's not also talking about hospitals,
hospitals who are losing money over Medicare, also losing money over
Medicaid, are then charging people with healthcare insurance more for
some of those procedures, those costs that can--passed on to consumers.
Should he be talking about hospitals as well as the insurance companies?
SEN. DASCHLE: Well, David, I--if you listen to his entire town hall
meetings, I mean, every one of the different stakeholders come into the
debate. And as--and they should. Obviously, there are very big concerns
with regard to quality across the board. But when we talk about
insurance, we're talking about too many people today who are the victims
of our current system, who above and beyond anything else want to have
the confidence in knowing they can buy insurance. They want to know that
they're not going to be prohibited because they've got a pre-existing
condition. They want to know they can afford the premiums. They want to
know they're not just one illness away from a bankruptcy. They want to
know, in other words, that we've got more stability and more, more
ability to deal with the problems we're facing in our healthcare system
through, in part, the insurance system that we create. That's what the
MR. GREGORY: All right, but what about that specific point about
hospitals vs. the insurance companies?
SEN. DASCHLE: Well, obviously, he's talking about hospitals. He's talking
about the need for comparative effectiveness, he's talking about the need
for major change in the way we deliver health care, he's talking about
chronic care management and recognizing the importance of prevention;
many of the things that, that hospitals are going to have to be a part of
as well. So I think it's really, it's, it's imperative that you look at
the entire context of, of this debate. He's going to single out insurance
companies, he's going to single out doctors, he's going to single out
drug companies. He's done all of that. But I think everybody's so, at
least so far, of a mind that we've got, we've got to fix this system
because the status quo's unacceptable.
MR. GREGORY: Senator Coburn, isn't a big problem here an era of personal
responsibility, and that is that you talk about healthcare costs, there
is no consumer sentiment involved here. It's not like buying a car, when
you know how much it costs and what it means to your bottom line.
Three-quarters of Americans get their healthcare benefits from their
employers. Most people do not pay their own--pay the bills for their
health care. They don't know what it costs. Look at this. This is the
average healthcare premiums provided to a, a family, this is from the
Kaiser Family Foundation, $12,000-plus worth of premiums. Your employer
pays $9,300 of that, the individual worker pays about $3,300 of it. People
don't know what the costs are.
SEN. COBURN: There's a disconnect, David, there's no question, and so
therefore we don't--we don't have a transparent market to price and
quality, which I think everybody would like to see. We would like to see
it reconnected so that you have some personal responsibility. The, the
proposals before us really aren't reform though. What they are is more of
the same. Now, Rachel just mentioned about how efficient Medicare is.
It's not efficient. The fraud rate's anywhere from 15 to 20 percent. If
you add their true cost of overhead to their fraud rate, they're about 7
points above what the average 10-K report, including profit, is for
private insurance. Now, they have a different motivation. The point is,
is any bill that comes through that increases cost is a failure, because
we spend too much today. We ought to be getting more efficiency.
MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.
SEN. COBURN: In other words, that--reconnect that economic. We have
one--I think--and Tom and I, I think, agree with this, we have way too
much that doesn't go to prevent somebody from getting sick and doesn't
help somebody to get well. And how we redirect that? You can redirect
that with the government or you can redirect that by reconnecting, as you
suggest, the economic consideration of an individual. And we have a bill,
the--there's several senators in, that saves $70 billion the first 10
years and well close to a trillion dollars, plus $960 billion for the
states in terms of doing just that. In other words, we take Medicaid and
put it into private care, where we're really competing.
MR. GREGORY: We've just--in our remaining time here, I want everybody to
be heard on this. I want to get to this final area that's so contentious,
and that is the idea of the public plan. The idea here is that you'd have
a public plan, a government plan that would be sponsored, give consumers
choices alongside a private plan.
Senator Daschle, the president appears to be hinting that he'd be open to
reform without a public plan. Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of
Home--Health and Human Services saying he would be open to these idea of
a cooperatives rather than a public plan. Does a public plan have to be
in this reform effort for the president to sign it?
SEN. DASCHLE: Well, if you want to control costs most effectively, if you
want to make sure there's adequate competition, if you want to keep the
insurance companies accountable, if you want to do everything possible to
give the American people as much choice as possible; if you want to do
all of that, then a public plan should be a viable part of the plan.
MR. GREGORY: But will the president live without it?
SEN. DASCHLE: Well, I can't speak for the president. All I know is he
wants to get a bill done. He's going to go as far as he can to get that
public plan, because he's advocated it at every single stop. But whether
or not it's there at the end of the day is something that only Congress
MR. GREGORY: Congressman Armey, is a public option competition, or is it
an unfair fight?
REP. ARMEY: It's an unfair fight. If you read the bill, they've built in
taxes, regulations, administrations, requirements, fines, penalties that
discourage the private option. But we have 1300 private insurance
companies in America. If you want competition in the purchasing of
insurance, just listen, just listen in to Congressman Shadegg from
Arizona and let people buy across lines. Why can't I live in Texas, buy
my insurance in Oklahoma? What if I were--Michigan passed a law that says
if you live in Michigan you can't buy a car made in Alabama? You'd think
me silly. But what you have now--so the fact of the matter is, let us
have fair competition, my freedom to choose among the 1300 already
existing private companies. The government is what prevents that from
MR. GREGORY: Yeah. Go ahead.
MS. MADDOW: I don't know what state in the country has secretly more
awesome health care than every other state in the country. I sort of feel
like every state in the country is in the same pickle when it comes to
out-of-control costs, dissatisfying coverage and a huge number of
uninsured people. That's not going to be made better by allowing
insurance to be bought across state lines. I think that the private
insurance companies would be really, really, really excited if what came
out of this debate was a requirement that Americans buy more private
insurance that they were dissatisfied with, that allowed them to be
dropped for--precluded from pre-existing conditions...
MR. GREGORY: Right.
MS. MADDOW: ...all the other things they do. There needs to be serious
reform of private insurance, and the only way to get that is to have a
public option that people can choose if private insurance continues to
not insure our needs as a country.
REP. ARMEY: You know, it's...
MR. GREGORY: Let me bring in Bruce Josten. He's the executive vice
president of the Chamber of Commerce. They have a perspective on this.
Sir, your, your organization, the Chamber, has been buying ads opposing a
public option. The CBO, the Congressional Budget Office, has done a study
indicating that, in fact, the number of those in private health plans
would go up if there was a public option. They also say that about 11
million people would choose a public option, which is far fewer than
opponents say would be the case.
MR. BRUCE JOSTEN: Thank you, David. We do oppose a public option
because--in part because of what you just touched on earlier. We have a
long history of both Medicare and Medicaid under reimbursing doctors and
hospitals, 70 to 78 percent of what private payers do. Those under
reimbursements ultimately then are cost-shifted back to the premium
payers, which are the companies in America that you've pointed out in
your show are providing healthcare coverage to the vast majority of
Americans, over 160 million of them.
Now, with respect to the need for insure--insurance reform and healthcare
reform, the business community is one of the strongest proponents and we
have been for several years. We ran, in fact, ads last year calling for
reform and more choices and bending the cost curve on health care. But
when you under reimburse and it gets cost-shifted and you've got doctors
practicing defensive medicine out of fear of liability, we're corrupting
the system. So if we're going to have a level playing field, a public
plan is an uneven playing field. It'll destabilize private insurance. And
independent researchers in the healthcare analytical area, as well as
CBO, have expressed concerns that many employees could migrate away from
employer-sponsored cover because of that competitive cost advantage
initially with federal government backstopping.
MR. GREGORY: All right, Mr. Josten, thank you very much. Senator Daschle:
SEN. DASCHLE: Well, David, I guess the, the basic question is, are we
building this new system for the American people or for the insurance
companies? I mean, that's really the key question. How will they be
better served? We have a public option for Medicare Part D today, 6
percent of the people participate. I mean, there is a very small
percentage of people that for all kinds of reasons have chosen the public
plan when it comes to drugs. I think the argument is kind of interesting.
It is that, well, this is going to be so popular that people are going to
leave the private sector and go to the public sector. Well, that's what
choice is all about. But I think what we've got to do is to ensure that
we're going to level the playing field. We're going to make sure that the
competition is fair. But you've got a choice; either you've got to have
the competition, or you're going to have a regulatory framework, within
which the private insurance industry is going to have to work.
MR. GREGORY: Is it significant to you, Senator...
SEN. COBURN: But there's a big difference in what he said, though, on
Medicare Part D. You allowed nationwide competition of insurance.
SEN. DASCHLE: That's what we're doing with this.
SEN. COBURN: It--No, no, you're not. You're, you're regionalizing it.
Look at the House bill, look at the Senate bill. You're
regionalize--you're making it a state base. The difference is, is in New
Jersey the same thing that costs $600 in Missouri costs $9,000. It's
because of mandates. And what we need--and we all agree, we need more
competition among the insurance industry. But the way to get it is to
open it up.
MR. GREGORY: All right, let me--I want to ask you about a point of news,
though, here today. If the president is willing to accept reform without
a public plan, without a public option, if he, if he can live with
strong, you know, cooperatives that allow some choice for consumers, can
that attract more bipartisan support? Will Republicans sign on?
SEN. COBURN: Well, I think, I think that there is potential for that. I
think the other thing that we need to remember is inside the House bill
and inside the Senate bill is 87 new government programs requiring well
over 150,000 new federal employees. We can't accept that, because that is
government management of health care and not individual management.
I want to make one other point on, on the comparative effectiveness. The
problem with comparative effectiveness is it divides the loyalty of the
physician away from the patient. It takes what is important for you as my
patient, and all of a sudden I'm looking over here because somebody
here's telling me what I can do rather than what I know...
SEN. DASCHLE: This is...
MR. GREGORY: Respond quickly, and then I want to...
SEN. COBURN: ...rather than what I know needs to be done in your best
MR. GREGORY: Let me get a quick response.
SEN. DASCHLE: Let me just say, this is just a Consumer Reports on best
practices. That's what we're talking about with regard to health care.
SEN. COBURN: Then why...
SEN. DASCHLE: And your question about bipartisanship, David...
MR. GREGORY: Right.
SEN. COBURN: Then why would they block a prohibition on rationing?
SEN. DASCHLE: Nobody is blocking...
MR. GREGORY: All right, hold on, I want to let Senator Daschle respond.
We're almost out of time.
SEN. DASCHLE: I just--just to, to your point about bipartisanship. The
Bipartisan Policy Center--Bob Dole, Howard Baker and I--put together a
plan that did exactly what we're talking about. They were very, very
supportive of it. And so I think there is, there's a very good
opportunity for us to produce...
MR. GREGORY: Let, let me...
SEN. DASCHLE: ...a bipartisan product in the Congress.
MR. GREGORY: You said, you said it was 50-50 whether he'd get reform. Is
that still your view?
SEN. DASCHLE: That's correct.
MR. GREGORY: It's still your view, only 50-50.
SEN. DASCHLE: Yeah.
MR. GREGORY: Rachel, let me ask you this question. What will
progressives, what will liberals, the president's base accept as reform?
Do the independent voters he's courting out in Colorado and Montana need
to be placated, a big part of his base, or not?
MS. MADDOW: I, I, I mean, I don't, I don't think liberals monolithically
feel one thing about this. I think most liberals would probably prefer a
single payer system, honestly. But ultimately, if the president decides
that he's going to go with a reform effort that doesn't include a public
option, what he will have done is spent a ton of political capital, riled
up an incredibly angry right wing base who's been told that this is a
plot to kill grandma, grandma, and he will have achieved something that
doesn't change health care very much and that doesn't save us very much
money and won't do very much for the American people. It's not a very
good thing to spend a lot of political capital on.
MR. GREGORY: Tactically--I know you're opposed to this philosophically,
ideologically. Tactically you were part of that fight in '93, '94. You
said it was crucial for Republicans taking over the House. Does the
president achieve something this time?
REP. ARMEY: No, I don't think he does. And I think the fact that he's now
signaling his willingness to back off on the public option and put in the
surrogate, which is the government-sponsored cooperatives, which is what
we probably will be calling them "Freddie Mad" or, or "Fannie Mad," as
GSCs, as we know in the finance industry, are a horrible exercise in
impudent practices. But it's interesting. When we argued for years that
we should have private cooperatives where associations could put together
these purchasing risk pooling things...
SEN. DASCHLE: Yeah. Associations...(unintelligible).
MR. GREGORY: OK.
REP. ARMEY: ...the--all the liberals were against that.
MR. GREGORY: Right.
REP. ARMEY: Now if we have government-sponsored cooperatives, they're for
it. But don't make any mistake about that government-sponsored
MR. GREGORY: All right. I'm going to let that be the last word.
SEN. DASCHLE: That...
MR. GREGORY: Thank you all. There's a lot more on this obviously to come,
and the challenge the president has is, is really making this a big issue
of the day.
We will be back. We'll have a special Take Two with MSNBC's Rachel
Maddow, ask her some questions that our viewers have submitted via e-mail
and Twitter. You can watch the MEET THE PRESS Take Two Web Extra. It's up
this afternoon on our Web site. Also, updates from me throughout the
week. It's mtp.msnbc.com.
And when we come back, remembering the remarkable life and legacy of
Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
MR. DAVID GREGORY: And finally here, in the heat of August and in the
heat of the moment of this healthcare debate, the country marked the loss
and celebrated the life of an inspirational woman, Eunice Kennedy
Shriver. She died this week at the age of 88. Shriver was well known to
many because she was a Kennedy, a strong sister to some very famous
Kennedy men: John, Bobby and Teddy. She will be remembered, however,
because of what she did for others. Shriver founded the Special Olympics
in 1968. She was devoted to helping those like her sister Rosemary, who
had intellectual difficulties, what used to be called mental retardation.
Here she was speaking to Special Olympians.
MS. EUNICE KENNEDY SHRIVER: The world said that people with intellectual
problems should not be seen in public. Tonight you are part of the year's
largest sporting event, and the world is watching.
MR. GREGORY: Her daughter Maria this week at her mother's funeral.
MS. MARIA SHRIVER: She was the real deal, a woman who did everything
women aspire to. She had a great husband, she had a great family, a deep,
deep faith in God; and she combined that with being a fearless warrior
for the voiceless.
MR. GREGORY: Tim Russert once asked Senator Ted Kennedy here whether his
sister Eunice would be a good president.
SEN. TED KENNEDY: That's what my brother Jack always said. She said--he
said that she was the, the best on it. I--and Jack was always right.
MR. GREGORY: But she never ran for office. Instead, she did what her
strong faith in God called her to do: She worked to make things better
for others. I thought her son Robert said it well in a 2004 interview:
"My mom never ran for office and she changed the world, period, end of
story." We'll be right back.
MR. DAVID GREGORY: That is all for today. We'll be back next week. If
it's Sunday, it's MEET THE PRESS.