Meet the Press   |  March 28, 2010

Sen. Graham: 'Process that led to this bill was sleazy'

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R.-S.C. says the process leading up to passing of health care reform was "the worst of Washington," while Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., says that the bill will become more popular as more people learn about it.

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.



MR. GREGORY: Let me ask you about this legacy question. Senator Schumer , is it going to be that millions of additional Americans are covered with health insurance , or is it going to be headlines like we saw this week that AT&T and other companies will take a billion-dollar charge because of lost deductions as a result of this law and that ultimately they may provide fewer benefits to their, to their employees?

SEN. SCHUMER: Well, I think as people learn about the bill, and now that the bill is enacted, it's going to become more and more popular. And here's why, two things happen, David . First, the lies that have been spread, they vanish because you see what's in the bill. We had "death panels" in the summer. People are going to see there are no death panels. " Illegal immigrants are going to get health care ," it's clear that's not true in the bill. And the number one lie that bothers people is "You'll lose your insurance if you have it now and you're pretty happy with it." I had a firefighter come to me at the Rockville Centre St . Patrick's Day parade last Saturday, he was all upset, he said, "I'm going to lose my health benefits ." I said, "Where do you work?" He said, "I'm a New York City firefighter." Well, this bill isn't going to touch his benefits, which are very good. And, as we go through the next several months, he'll, he'll learn that and feel much better about the bill. Then, at the same time, the positives are going to start weighing in. Senior citizens will get much better opportunities to buy prescription drugs , which we know they care about. Small businesses will get tax breaks so they'll be either able to cover their employees -- many small business people want to but can't afford it -- or keep the coverage if they have it already. People will be less likely to be -- have their insurance policies canceled when they get sick. That's a big thing to people.

MR. GREGORY: All right.

SEN. SCHUMER: And then there's a little hidden one, just one final one. If you're up to 26 years old you can stay on your parents' health coverage. My daughter is graduating from law school . We told her the day after she graduates she's on her own. She has a job in September, but she was fretting what does she do for the four months? Does she buy health insurance for $ 1200 a month? Well, she called me up at midnight after the bill passed and said, "Dad, I'm covered."

MR. GREGORY: Senator...

SEN. SCHUMER: "I'm -- I feel great." There are going to be millions of calls like that. So I predict, David , by November those who voted for health care will find it an asset, those who voted against it will find it a liability.

MR. GREGORY: All right. Well, we'll go through this in greater detail. Senator Graham , the same legacy question for you, but here's the backdrop in terms of what people actually think about this. After all has been said and done, a 13-month pitched battle over this, whereas the president said, "Everybody had their peace on this. Every, every opinion was aired," and this is the polling from The Washington Post out this morning, 50 percent still oppose healthcare reform . What's the legacy?

SEN. GRAHAM: Well, I think it's going to be on the Medicare front that we're going to take $570 billion out of Medicare , which is already $34 trillion underfunded, and give it to somebody else. So the legacy for Medicare is going to be devastating. If you're a senior citizen in South Carolina and New York , you're going to lose your Medicare Advantage . The legacy on taxes is going to be enormous, from 2014 to 2023 a trillion dollars in additional taxes. The legacy for student loans is going to be terrible because, in this bill, the federal government takes over the student loan program; and if you think Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac did a good job with housings, wait till the government runs student loans , $9 billion taken out of the student loan program to pay for health care . So the process that led to this bill was sleazy. It was the worst of Washington , it was not transparent. The substance of this bill is massive in terms of taxes and compromising Medicare , and there's a bunch of tricks and gimmicks in the bill like -- you've heard about AT&T , it's going to come up and bite the American people . So we're going to have a spirited civil contest on the size and shape of government, and health care will be center stage .