'This Week' Transcript: Axelrod

AXELROD: Well, he's been fully briefed on a -- on a daily and more than daily basis on this. And our scientists have met and -- at some length with BP, and their technicians and scientists on this, and we have confidence that this is the right decision, because once this cap is on, we believe it will allow the capacity to -- to -- to collect all the oil that's leaking, and it'll make it easier to kill the well when those relief wells are completed in August.

So there is some short-term back step here in order to get a much more secure situation.

TAPPER: So he's confident it will work?

AXELROD: Well, yes, we have every reason to believe that this will work. You know, this is obviously uncharted waters. Everything about this is uncharted waters, no pun intended.

So -- but, you know, we think there is a very, very good chance that this -- this will provide the kind of relief that we need.

TAPPER: This week, the president recess-appointed Dr. Don Berwick as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, responsible for roughly $800 billion in health care spending. Republicans had wanted to give Berwick a hearing, and the chairman -- the Democratic chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Max Baucus, said in a statement, quote, "Senate confirmation of presidential appointees is an essential process prescribed by the Constitution that serves as a check on executive power and protects Montanans and all Americans by ensuring that crucial questions are asked of the nominee and answered."

Aren't you setting the stage for a future Republican president to bypass the Senate's constitutional requirement of advise and consent just because that future Republican president doesn't want a political fight, which is -- seems to be the reason why you guys recess-appointed Don Berwick? He -- he could have had a hearing. You didn't want one.

AXELROD: Jake, you're a student of history, so you know that recess appointments have been a part of -- of administrations, Republican and Democrat, for a very long time.

TAPPER: Yes, but not because you want to avoid a hearing, usually because there's some other reason.

AXELROD: No, look, the hearing is not the issue. The issue is that we've had nominees who have had hearings and then have waited months and months and months for a vote. And the fact is...

TAPPER: Not Berwick.

AXELROD: ... the Republican Party -- the Republican Party has made it a policy in the United States Senate to hold up...

TAPPER: I grant you all of that.

AXELROD: ... as many nominations...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: I grant you all of that, but that's not -- that's not Berwick.

AXELROD: But this is too -- this is -- but this is too important. This -- this position is too important. In the midst of implementing health -- health reform, it is too important to allow that kind of game-playing to go on. And the president needed to act, put someone in place, and get the -- and get policies in place that will make -- make the reform a success.

TAPPER: But Republicans were not delaying. Grassley wanted a hearing two weeks ago. The only game-playing...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: ... you could say is that they were maybe going...

(CROSSTALK)

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