Transcript: Sebelius, Specter and Hatch

We have to be careful here not to let those town meetings dominate the scheme and influence what we do on health policy. There are a number of issues here. One is that, while they were organized and have a right to be organized, as John Podesta has pointed out, there's real effort here to make this the president's Waterloo. That was stated specifically by a Republican senator.

And we also can't allow these kinds of town hall meetings to dominate the political process. That would be destructive of what we need to do to figure out, what is the best approach?

TAPPER: And, Senator Hatch, let me go to you. Speaking of dominating the political process, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin referred to a provision in the House bill as a death penalty -- as a death panel, rather. Your colleague, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, said this in response to Senator -- to Governor Palin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MURKOWSKI: It does us no good to incite fear in people by saying that, you know, there's -- there's -- these end-of-life provisions, these death panels. I'm so -- quite honestly, I'm so offended at that -- that terminology, because it absolutely isn't.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Senator Hatch, who's right, Governor Palin or Senator Murkowski?

HATCH: Well, Jake, I don't think I'm going to make that decision. You know, there are many different people who have many different opinions on what is meant by these programs.

But what I do know is that the Democrats want a government plan, where the government will take over health care. They want to cut Medicare in order to pay for that plan, even though Medicare has $39 trillion in unfunded liability. They want to -- to do a number of things that -- that I find objectionable, such as an employer mandate, a job-killing employer mandate that hurts -- hurts people on the lower spectrum who really are low-income wage-earners.

They want to move, according to the Lewin Group, up to 119 million people into Medicaid. If that happens, it would destroy the -- the health insurance programs throughout the country. Eight of ten Americans really -- really want their health insurance coverage. They don't want to lose it.

In fact, 64 percent would prefer health insurance to the 19 percent who say that they would like a government plan where the federal government -- nameless, faceless bureaucrats -- set what the terms and conditions are of our health care system.

Having listened to Arlen, I have to say that I thought Arlen handled his town meetings very, very well. I disagree with Arlen that they're not representative of the American people. I think they are. I've found people just up in arms everywhere I've gone on health care.

On the other hand, I compliment Arlen for the way he handled it. He showed respect for the folks who were there. And, look, there are people on both sides who are attending those meetings. Don't think the unions don't have everybody they can get there, and the Democratic National Committee, they're encouraging people to get there, as well as, I'm sure, Republicans.

The important thing is, is that we handle it well. And I want to compliment Arlen on that.

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