Transcript: Sens. Chris Dodd and Lindsey Graham

It appeared to me this week that you started to see that developing among the Republicans. Cokie's right, that you build up this sense of ownership the more you negotiate, but it seems like the last Republican negotiating now is Chuck Grassley.

WILL: That's right. And they're down to saying it's a $1.6 trillion bill, let's tax root beer. We're going to have a 3-cent tax on sugary sodas. They don't know what to do about the financing of this.

I still believe, Bob, drop your public option, drop the fiction that although we have 103,000 providers of health plans in this country, we need another one, a government program. We have a competitive market in computers without a government computer program, a competitive market in car insurance. Why do we need it here...


ROBERTS: The most popular health care plan in the country is Medicare, and it is a government-provided health care plan.

REICH: In fact, it's a single-payer plan, Medicare.

ROBERTS: Actually, one of my favorite stories about this is John Breaux when he was in the Senate being stopped at an airport by an elderly lady, who said, Senator, whatever you do, don't let the government get its hands on my Medicare!

REICH: This is the biggest fight, and it is really going to be the definitive fight in terms of health care. A public option. Not anything forced on the public, but a public option that keeps insurers honest by actually having the ability and scale to negotiate lower drug prices.

WILL: (inaudible) the idea that government is the lagoon of honesty, that it's going to bring honesty to other people. The fact is...

REICH: George, it's not a matter of honesty in terms of government being honest. It's a matter of competition that creates benchmarks against which the private insurers can measure themselves. Right now...


DONALDSON: ... poll in the New York Times, not only 72 percent want something done, but they like the government option.


WILL: Suppose that -- suppose the New York Times question had been, do you favor a government option, if it has, as the Lewin (ph) group suggests, the effect of driving the vast majority of people out of private insurance, into public insurance, to the degree that private insurance disappears in this country?


DONALDSON: ... and whether the efficacy of it...


KELLER: The interesting part of that poll was that majority said that they would be willing to take a tax increase to pay for universal health care, I thought.

But both of those, basically, just suggest that Obama has won the war so far at the bumper sticker level, you know, the slogan level. Once you get down to the, you know...

STEPHANOPOULOS: The actual taxes that are going to be increased.

KELLER: The actual taxes that are going to be increased and on whom. And once you get down to the actual makeup of a government program, it's not just that things start to come apart in Congress. I think public opinion starts to fracture.


ROBERTS: Public opinion on the question of the deficit. I mean, in all of these polls that have come out in the last -- in the last week, people are saying that they're very concerned about the deficit. They think that he has no coherent plan for dealing with the deficit.


STEPHANOPOULOS: ... the New York times poll, it shows -- I'll bring it up in a second. Go ahead.


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