MCCONNELL: Well, you see, Matthew, it's about the bill. It's about the policy. Not about the president, not about Senate and House Democrats and Republicans. It's about the bill. The American people are focused on this like a laser. Everybody is interested in health care. Obviously, when you get older, you're more interested in it, but everybody is interested in it. The American people have been deeply involved in this debate. What did they see? They see a bill that cuts Medicare by half a trillion dollars, that raises taxes about half a trillion dollars, and that almost certainly will raise the cost of insurance for those on the individual market.
They also see the way it was passed, the cornhusker kickback, the Louisiana purchase, the gator-aid behind closed doors. They look at this whole package, both in terms of the policy and the process, and they say they don't want it.
And so what you see now, if I may just finish on this point, is an argument not between Democrats and Republicans but it's between Democrats and their own constituents.
DOWD: Well, I think Republicans have obviously put up a blockade to try to keep this from happening at all, even while the Democrats have had a majority in the Senate.
But I, sort of, want to focus on, what Republicans do to change that message in where they get some benefit out of this?
Right now, it's as if the country says "a pox on everyone," including the Republicans, who, as the graph shows, are in third place.
What can Republicans do to affect that and get -- have a better place in the American public?
MCCONNELL: Well, look, you're talking about the election in November. I'm talking about the policy in the country now. What the American people would like us to do is not make this gargantuan mistake, in spite of Secretary Sebelius's best efforts. What we're talking about here is a $2.5 trillion spending program, brand-new entitlement.
We are drowning already in a sea of debt. The Congressional Budget Office numbers just came out Friday. We're looking at $10 trillion in new debt in the next 10 years, Matthew.
People are very, very skeptical about starting a whole new government program when we're drowning in a sea of debt.
DOWD: Well, you know, if you take a look at what the American public's perception on this is, it's hard for them to trust either side on debt and on the deficit and on spending.
They saw the deficit rise dramatically during President Bush's presidency and while you were majority leader. And they see it rise even more today. And in their view, neither party can be trusted on this.
So what makes it -- what makes you seem to feel that they'll trust the Republicans when they talk about the debt as opposed to the Democrats?
MCCONNELL: Well, again, you're talking about what may happen in November. I'm talking about what's happening now. We are -- we are spending -- we are on a gargantuan spending spree. The American people would like for us to stop, quit doing it, quit spending this massive amount of money and racking up these tremendous debts.
That $10 trillion figure added to the debt over the next 10 years -- half of it, over $5 trillion, will simply be interest on the debt.