Transcript: Sens. Kent and DeMint

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, Senator Conrad, it seems pretty clear that one of the red lines that Senator DeMint is identifying here at minimum is that this idea of a public health insurance option, which matters so much to many of your Democratic colleagues, is something that is going to guarantee you limit Republican support to three or four, maybe zero, Republican senators. So are you telling your Democratic colleagues that is simply not going to happen?

CONRAD: What I am telling them is there is an alternative that tries to capture the best of both sides. I have put forward a cooperative approach, cooperative business model as successful all across America. You know, Ace Hardware is a cooperative. Land O'Lakes is a cooperative. We have group health out in Washington that's a cooperative. It's not government run, it's not government controlled, it's membership run and membership controlled and that is a model that would provide additional competition for for-profit insurance companies. And half the states in the country, there is no affective competition.

One place where Jim and I probably can agree is more competition is a good thing. More choices for consumers is a good thing. And that's what we're trying to provide, not a government run system -- a membership controlled, membership run that will provide additional competition.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What's wrong with that?

DEMINT: What the senator is talking about having a Fannie Mae or a Fannie Med type organization in every state, a government sponsored organization that decides what insurance you can have and what you can't have. It makes no sense when all we have to do is take these barriers away from interstate competition of insurance plans. We can have dozens and dozens of insurance companies competing for business and my children and his children. We don't need the government to take this over.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to have to leave it there, but very quickly, Senator Conrad, are you going to finish your negotiations by August 7th?

CONRAD: You know, we're going to finish when we're finished and we're going to do everything we can to get it right. We're moving with dispatch. We meet hours every day. We've got the best analysts in the country helping us. We'll be ready when we're ready.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK senators, thank you both very much. We're going to go straight to "The Roundtable" and as our team takes their seats, think about this question. On health care, whose fate will President Obama emulate?


LYNDON B. JOHNSON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, longer will older Americans be denied the healing miracle of modern medicine. No longer will illness crush and destroy the savings they have so carefully put away over a lifetime.

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I still believe our country has got to move toward providing health security for every American family. But I know that last year, as the evidence indicates, we bit off more than we could chew.


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