Transcript: Sebelius, Specter and Hatch

TAPPER: You've been on some winning sides, as well. Absolutely true.

GILLESPIE: But it does. And I'd, by the way, make a point about Palin's death panel comment. It's worth noting the Senate Finance Committee dropped the provision...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: They said they -- they dropped it weeks before, they said.

GILLESPIE: They came out and said we're -- made clear to the public that we're not going to have it in our markup, so I think she deserves, you know, should get a little credit for having moved the debate.

Let me go back to this, though. This does have a feel of -- it reminds me a little bit of President Bush's push for Social Security reform, by the way, in terms of town hall meetings. There were a lot of folks from MoveOn.org, a lot of folks from the labor unions, a lot of folks, obviously, from Code Pink who protested a lot of town hall meetings over time, didn't get as much attention as these are, but it does have that feel. They are having a hard time.

But I think it's not just a communications problem. I think it is a policy problem. People are concerned, as Ron pointed out, about the size of government, about the deficits, about the debt. It's not just the conservative base, by the way. Independents are showing real concern over that, and they're moving away from this White House as a result.

And they have a problem explaining how it is they're going to spend $1.6 trillion and bring down costs. They have a problem explaining to people how they're going to increase the deficit, according to the CBO, by over $250 billion, how they're going to get savings out of Medicare and not affect the quality for Medicare beneficiaries, so they've got a real policy problem that they're having to deal with here.

And they have to explain how it is that they're not going to end up transferring tens of millions of people, as Senator Hatch pointed out, from their private insurance that they're comfortable with into this government-run plan.

BRAZILE: But the CBO estimates, revised estimates is $1.045 trillion, not -- not $1.6 trillion.

GILLESPIE: I'm happy to debate $1.6 trillion versus $1 trillion in new spending.

(CROSSTALK)

BRAZILE: It's sausage-making. But -- but what's not in dispute is the fact that most Americans with health insurance are concerned about the rise in cost, the rise in premiums that exist. Most self-employed Americans are worried about whether or not they have more market options. So I...

TAPPER: So why is President Obama losing the debate?

BRAZILE: Because, in the sausage-making exercise that we all -- at least some of us who -- Hill staffers, he lost control of the debate. But he has an opportunity in September to not only regain control of the debate, but to really put forward his own principles that will guide the Senate. It may not be -- the final bill may not be as sweeping as the House bill, but I'm sure it's going to be a lot better than the Senate bill.

KORNBLUT: That's why Ron's point earlier was right. I mean, what they've lost control of just isn't the public message out in the country, it's up on Capitol Hill. And you have a Democrat in the Senate Finance Committee, and the White House was supposed to have a lot of juice with that particular Democrat, and it still hasn't come to fruition yet.

TAPPER: Max Baucus.

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