Transcript: Health Care Debate

PHOTO Health care debate on "This Week" Nov. 22, 2009.

STEPHANOPOULOS (voice-over): Good morning, and welcome to "This Week."

(UNKNOWN): The motion is agreed to.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Sixty votes, and the debate begins.

(UNKNOWN): Doing nothing is not an option.

(UNKNOWN): These bills don't reform health care. What they do is grow government.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But are there 60 Senate votes to pass reform? Can there be agreement with the House?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: Bernie Madoff went to jail for this kind of behavior.

SEN. CHARLES E. SCHUMER, D-N.Y.: I have no doubt we will pass this bill.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And are those controversial new cancer guidelines the future of health care?

(UNKNOWN): This is how rationing began.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: This is an independent task force. It's not the government.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Those questions this morning to four key players from the Senate and the House, our "This Week" debate.

Then, as the president tours Asia, Sarah Palin tours the country. That and the rest of the week's politics on our roundtable with George Will, Robert Reich of the American Prospect, Republican strategist Liz Cheney, and best-selling biographer Walter Isaacson of the Aspen Institute.

And, as always, the Sunday funnies.

DAVID LETTERMAN, TALK SHOW HOST: They're having a big Thanksgiving dinner at Sarah Palin's house, and people say, "Well, is she a good cook?" And I said, "Well, sure. She cooked John McCain's goose."


ANNOUNCER: From the heart of the nation's capital, "This Week" with ABC News chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos, live from the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Both sides called it historic, but while Republicans insisted that yesterday's vote to break a filibuster is the decisive vote on health reform, several Democrats said there was nothing final about it, simply a vote to begin the debate.

And let me begin our debate this morning by bringing in our panel. I am joined by Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Republican of Tennessee, Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, Senator Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska, and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democrat of Florida.

And, Senator Nelson, let me begin with you on this -- on this overall question. You heard Senator McConnell, several other Republicans yesterday saying this is the vote. And -- and a couple of weeks ago, you -- you seemed to agree. You were talking to our Jon Karl, and you said, if you couldn't live with the bill, then you wouldn't vote to let the debate begin. So that does mean that you can live with this bill?

NELSON: No. What I -- what I meant by that is that, if I thought the -- the vote -- the bill couldn't -- this was before I saw the bill, but I thought the bill couldn't be amended and couldn't be corrected and improved, then I wouldn't move -- vote to move it forward and move the debate. But when I saw the bill, I said, "This can be amended. It can be improved." And the -- the debate should begin, and ought not to stop the opportunity to improve the bill when it...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Just to be clear: If this bill -- if there were a vote to end the debate today, you would not vote to end the debate, to get this...

NELSON: I would have voted no. I would have voted no. I would have voted to end -- not to end debate. I would have voted no on a cloture vote to end debate.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you wouldn't let it get off the floor?

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