Transcript: Sens. Kent and DeMint

This is not personal against the president. I like the president, but he is out of control and he has been leading a stampede of more spending and debt and taxes and government takeovers.

He has taken a bad economy and made it worse. He used a lot of false promises and bogus numbers and panic to push through the stimulus. And the promises have not panned out. And now he's trying to use the same strategy on health care.

And what I'm trying to do and I think even Kent has had reservations, let's slow down and get this right. My goal is to protect the right of every American to make their own health care decisions.

And if we can do that, we can come up with a bill.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Slow it down and get it right. Is there any meeting of the minds here?

CONRAD: Look, the critical thing is that we do get this right. This is going to affect every American. Very few legislative initiatives affect every single American. And it's one-sixth of the national economy. So it's critically important we get it right.

But that shouldn't be used as a pretext to kill it. I mean, Jim, I think, has been very clear. He wants to kill it. And I think that would be a tragedy, because we've got a crisis here for the country.

Not only are we spending one in ever six dollars in the economy, we're headed for a circumstance in which we'll spend one in every three dollars in health care. That would be a disaster for families, for businesses, and the government itself.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Both you and President Obama have really said that the number one priority has to be to get costs under control. And the president endorsed a proposal this week for an independent Medicare commission that would really look hard at and crack down on payments to doctors and hospitals.

But the head of the Congressional Budget Office put out a letter yesterday where he said the savings -- the 10-year savings for that proposal would be only $2 billion over 10 years. And he went on to say the probability is high that no savings would be realized.

So do you have to go back to the drawing board?

CONRAD: No, because in the plan that we're working on, you know, there are six of us on the Finance Committee, three Democrats and three Republicans who have been given the responsibility to come up with a proposal for our colleagues.

And in the effort that we're making, we've recognized that there would be savings in this area, but that they would be relatively modest. But the two big drivers are delivery system reform -- so we've got...


CONRAD: Well, we look around the country. What is working? The Mayo Clinic model, the Cleveland Clinic, Intermountain out in Utah. They are teams of doctors that are patient-centered, that share diagnostics, that share administrative staff. They save money. They get the best health care outcomes. That's what we've got to replicate all across the country.

The second big driver is the income tax subsidy to have health care, $2.4 trillion over the next 10 years, virtually every economist that has come before us has said, you've got to reduce that tax subsidy to health care to reduce over-utilization.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Now the president has taken that off of the table. But administration officials quoted in the Politico today saying that he is now open to taxing the "Cadillac plan," he calls them.

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