Video: DNC chair tackles health care debate

  1. Closed captioning of: DNC chair tackles health care debate

    >> to see you.

    >> matt, good to be back with you.

    >> we'll talk about rahm emanuel in a second. let's talk about health care . it appears the democrats will have to go it alone in the senate, what we call reconciliation, what the republicans are calling the nuclear option. republicans are saying if this happens, they will bludgeon the democrats with this issue in the midterm elections . mitch mcconnell saying it will come up in every race across the country. is this really the best strategy?

    >> yes, it is, matt. i look forward to the republicans fighting against a health care reform that helps seniors with prescription drug costs, enables parents to keep their kids on their insurance policies until they're 27, helps small businesses with tax credits to buy insurance and curbs insurance abuses. if they want to run a campaign on bring back the day of kicking people off for pre-existing conditions, i relish it. the american people are entitled to an up-or-down vote and that's what they're going to get.

    >> it's a little more ironic than that, governor, because the republicans used reconciliation a couple of times during the bush administration to pass tax cuts , so how are they going to go around in the midterm elections and say this was an undemocratic procedure?

    >> right. matt, the reconciliation is every bit as much a rule of the senate as the filibuster is, and as you point out, it has been used numerous times over the last two decades for major legislation, for health care legislation, for tax cuts that are much bigger than the financial impact of this bill. so, these guys, they like it when they like it, but now they're complaining about majority rule . the american people understand majority rule and we're going to have an up-or-down vote on this bill.

    >> let's talk about rahm emanuel . this " washington post " article has angered some senior white house officials who think, perhaps, that rahm emanuel is behind the article, saying that the president should be listening to him more often. you know the key players here. is rahm emanuel a happy camper or are there some bruised egos in the white house ?

    >> well, look, it is a hard-working and incredibly intense bunch and they're all opinionated, but rahm 's a happy camper and rahm knows how to get the president to listen to him. the president respects him very, very deeply, and they hash issues out and then when the president makes a call, as i heard said earlier, rahm has no difficulty understanding who's the commander in chief. but look, in an opinionated and intelligent bunch like the white house , there's going to be different views. we're all pulling the oar the same direction to get the economy back on track and get health care to happen.

    >> right. governor, i've got two yes or no answers for you.

    >> okay.

    >> i'll give you two questions. i need yes or no answers. one, should charlie rangel give up his leadership role in the house ways and means committee ?

    >> you're going to give me the second one or --

    >> no, go ahead. take that one first.

    >> on that one, i'm going to leave it to him.

    >> that's not a yes or no.

    >> i know it but look, i'm not a potted plant. he is apparently going to make an announcement fairly quickly. it does need to be resolved after the ethics report and i think you'll hear something soon.

    >> and david paterson , the governor of new york . should he resign? is he damaging the democratic party by sticking around?

    >> i respect his decision not to run for re-election and i think once that decision is made, the issue about a resignation over the course of the next few months is not that critical. i think, you know, if he wants to stick at it to try to help new york work through those challenging budget circumstances, that's fine. i do respect the decision not to run next year.

    >> it's like trying to get a yes or no answer out of meredith, governor, but that's all right. governor tim kaine , thanks very much for your time this morning.

    >> you bet, matt. thanks.

    >> all right. 16 after the hour. here is meredith.

updated 3/3/2010 10:17:19 AM ET 2010-03-03T15:17:19

Democratic Party chairman Tim Kaine said Wednesday he expects the health care overhaul will be passed and he's not worried about Republican threats to make it a premier issue in this year's midterm elections.

In a nationally broadcast interview, the former Virginia governor said, "If they want to run a campaign of bring back the day of kicking people off because of pre-existing conditions, I relish it."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had declared Tuesday that Democrats will enact the medical system reset at their own political peril, vowing to make it an issue in every congressional race this fall.

Asked about this, Kaine said he considers the picture of "Republicans fighting health care" to be a political asset for Democrats as they try to retain their control of Congress.

Kaine, who has been a close ally of President Barack Obama and helped him carry the state in 2008, also defended the fast-track parliamentary process that majority Democrats in the Senate plan to use to get the health care bill passed.

"The reconciliation is every bit as much a rule of the Senate as filibuster," said Kaine, noting that Republicans relied heavily on the expedited procedure to muscle through a series of substantial tax cuts during President George W. Bush's administration.

Typically, Senate rules can require a supermajority of 60 members of the 100-member body to advance legislation to passage. In that scenario, 41 members can effectively stall legislation or even kill it.

Under the so-called "reconciliation" process, first devised principally to help facilitate appropriations and budget bills, a measure can be passed by a simple 51-member majority.

Kaine was interviewed on NBC's "Today" show.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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