Transcript: Axelrod

But the state jobs numbers are going to be much lower, and they know that they have a problem here, because $143 billion, even though that's ahead of schedule, that money, because this stimulus was to go out, and -- throughout the two years, and not just one big chunk, they know that there is an impatience among the American people and even among Democrats on Capitol Hill that want more jobs more quickly.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But they can't, George. They're not going to come out with huge new proposals. I think E.J.'s right. They're going to go for piecemeal proposals after they expect, they hope, passage of -- of health care. Are you as confident as Paul is that this is done for this year, this is going to get done, health care reform?

WILL: No, I'm not. I'm very puzzled by the argument about how we're going to pay for this, which seems to be the big problem right now. This is a government that right now is borrowing 43 cents of every dollar it spends. We're going to pay for this the way we pay for everything. We're going to borrow the money from the Chinese.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The president says we're not. He says if it increases the deficit, he's not going to sign it.

WILL: I know...

(CROSSTALK)

WILL: ... sentences that begin, "The president says," are not as impressive as they used to be. They're going to -- they're supposed to pay for this by taxing the Cadillac plans, the rich insurance plans. They're not going to do that, or at least they're going to scale it back a great deal. They're going to increase access to Medicare. They're going to increase access to -- to Medicaid.

What's going on now is the Baucus bill is being melded with the Dodd bill, and all the melding moves it to the left, makes it more expensive.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But...

DIONNE: But moving it to the left does not automatically make it more expensive. In fact, what a lot of the progressives want to do is to figure out how to hold down the costs by holding down what you pay out to the insurance companies.

Secondly, if they weren't paying for this, this would be a whole lot easier. It was a lot easier to pass a prescription drug benefit under President Bush, because they never paid for that, adding $800 billion to the deficit. One of the big problems they're having is to figure out, who is going to pay for it? So you've got the fight about the Cadillac plans. Or do you do it by taxing the rich or various other proposals? So they are paying for this thing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The complaint about the Cadillac plans -- it's true. But I think, in some ways, that's the most important fight right now, $200 billion. It not only helps gets your deficit number, but it also is probably one of the biggest drivers of actually controlling costs over the long term.

Yet, Paul Krugman, it is clear that when you've got every single major union and 178 House Democrats saying they're not going to go for it, then it's not going to pass.

KRUGMAN: So they'll adjust it. It'll -- you raise the threshold at which that tax cuts...

STEPHANOPOULOS: So it doesn't hit the middle class.

KRUGMAN: That actually -- that exempts a lot of people, while not cutting the amount of money you raise that much. That's one of those things where you just look at the way it works.

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