CLARKE: You know, I'm going to keep with the Oscar themes that you've started. Do you guys remember the movie "Ishtar?" Warren Beatty, Dustin Hoffman. They spent millions and millions and millions of dollars on it, you heard so much about it. And then when people actually started seeing it, they said, this is terrible. And the longer it hangs out there, the harder it is. Politically, Republicans and Democrats are looking to say the best and worst thing that can happen for the Democrats is that they pass this. They pass it, they can say, ah, we got it done after 60 years. And then they have to defend it from now until November. And I think it will be very tough to defend a lot of the things inside that bill.
DOWD: Well, Robert, do you think this is a political problem for them? They haven't been able to talk about jobs. Or do you think once they have passed this bill, they can quickly turn to jobs and the economy, which is what the American public seems to care about?
REICH: You know, Matt, it is possible to talk about two things at the same time. And the American public is capable of thinking about that, and two things.
Look, jobs is certainly the issue of this year and maybe next. But health care is the issue of our time, our era. And this is the opportunity to finally do something about it. The health insurers are not -- George, you said that they're popular and every likes their health insurer. They like their doctor. They hate their health insurer. And health insurance is going up in terms of rates, 20, 30, 40, 50 percent in many states. In fact, Goldman Sachs just this past week has said to its many of its investors, invest in some insurance companies because they don't have competition, and they are -- they have -- they are exhibiting huge profits.
That's money directly out of the pockets of Americans.
WILL: A, you say they have huge profits. As you know, confiscate all the profits of all the health insurance companies, with those profits, you could finance our health care for 48 hours. What you do for the next 363 days, I don't know. Second, you say there's not enough competition? Fine, let them compete in a national market across state line.
REICH: Yes, let them compete across state lines. Fine. But not a race to the bottom. Set minimum federal standards. Because we've seen over and over again, that the recipients of health insurance don't know what they're buying, very often. Until there are common standards, minimum standards, then people are going to--
REICH: And that's what's happened over and over again.
WILL: There you have the premise of this legislation and the core of today's liberalism. The American people are such dopes, they can't be counted upon to buy their own insurance.
REICH: They're not dopes. They've been taken. It's just like finance regulation.
DOWD: Donna, on insurance companies, do you think what the president and Kathleen Sebelius has done in the last week, is this purely politics? Everybody hates insurance companies, let's beat up on them? Or is there policy involved here?