Transcript: Newt Gingrich and Howard Dean

For most companies, that would be a net savings of 3 percent, 4 percent or 5 percent. One estimate by Lewin Associates (sic) is 131 million Americans will lose their private insurance and be pushed into a government plan.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Dean, those arguments seem to have taken hold, at least in the Senate, where even Democrats say you're not...

DEAN: Look, let's be fair. Lewin Associates is owned by a health insurance company. So let's -- let's -- let's -- the CBO, which I think is a more reasonable organization, says 5 million or 10 million people are going to end up there.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Depends on the amount of subsidy...

(CROSSTALK)

DEAN: Second of all, what the speaker didn't tell you is, let's just suppose you get forced out of your employer-based system, which I think is unlikely, but let's suppose that you do. You've got a choice. The government will pay your subsidy to either go into -- based on your income, either to go into the public option or a private option. Nobody is forcing you in to the public option.

Now, a third thing is that nobody talks about is this bill is terrific for small business, and the Blue Dogs made it a better bill, and I hope (inaudible) gets through, it gets even better.

Right now in the House bill, if you have a payroll, if you're a small business with a payroll of less than $500,000, you have no responsibility whatsoever to give your employees health insurance. That now becomes a subsidy based on your income, and then you can choose either a private or a public sector.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's...

DEAN: This is -- this is choice. This is real choice.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's in the House bills, but the Senate has made it pretty clear they're not going to include this public health insurance option, at least as contemplated in the House bill. The most they're going to get is co-ops...

(CROSSTALK)

DEAN: No, actually, the Senate Finance -- this has already passed four out of the five committees. The Senate Finance Committee has said that, not the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, but you need 60 votes to get it through.

DEAN: We need 51 votes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you're saying...

(CROSSTALK)

GINGRICH: But if you want to see why the -- why a substantial number of Americans are very frightened, that's a good example. The Senate rules on passing reconciliation were clearly designed for budget items.

If we're now going to try to rewrite 17 percent of the economy, life and death for every American, by pretending that massive health reform is a reconciliation item and ramming it through with 51 votes, first of all, I don't think -- I think a lot of Senate Democrats (inaudible) I think the idea of stripping the Senate of its ability as a Senate to operate with some sense of discretion and ramming through something on this size will go down very badly with many senators, will go down very badly with much of the country.

But I -- I talked to Senator Grassley as -- as late as yesterday, and he made quite clear that he believes there will be no government plan and there will be no rationing in any bill that the Senate passes and that he would certainly not in any way support that. And I think Grassley's very key to Republicans.

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