'This Week' Transcript: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

But let me tell you what won't be fixed. What won't be fixed is the half a trillion in Medicare cuts, a half a trillion in new taxes.

And also, you wanted to talk about the politics of this a minute ago. Let's turn to that. The argument, incredulously, that the Democratic leadership and the president seem to be making to the wavering Democrats is, the best way to deal with this politically is to pass it and get it behind us.

Well, look, the only way to guarantee that it's ahead of you is to pass it. That means that every election this fall will be a referendum on this bill.

DOWD: Well, yes, and I wanted to get to that. You're on record as saying that, if they pass this health care bill, that you and the rest of the Republicans are going to campaign on repealing it.

And will you message be, at that point, that we're going to take away health insurance from 30 million Americans that now have it, based on this bill?

MCCONNELL: Well, as you pointed out to Secretary Sebelius, the benefits don't kick in for four years. All the American people are going to be confronted with in the next four years are these massive cuts to Medicare, not to make Medicare more sustainable -- by the way, we all know Medicare, right now, is going broke in seven years, and they want to turn it into a piggy bank to start a whole new program for a different set of people.

The tax increases kick in immediately. So there's nothing -- just looking at the politics of it, there's nothing but pain here for the next four years. Why in the world would they conclude that that would be popular?

DOWD: Are you worried that what's going on out there in America is not necessarily anti-Democratic, even though they've suffered at the elections?

Your colleague, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, lost pretty dramatically in a primary, and lost primarily based upon her Washington experience.

So as senators and congressmen go out and campaign who are incumbent Republicans, do you think they're in danger as well?

MCCONNELL: Well, I think, you know, everybody knows who's running Washington. There's a Democrat in the White House, a Democrat House, and a Democrat Senate, by very large majorities.

I think the American people are clear about who's running up the debt, who's been on this spending spree for the last 12 months.

DOWD: Well, one of the things, I think, that's complicated it, that's come up in -- recently -- is what's happened with Senator Bunning, and his desire to, sort of, stop the unemployment benefits bill by standing alone in -- in the Senate and getting that done. He also (inaudible) abdicated on that.

What I'm trying to understand is, why, if that principle is a good principle, that we shouldn't add to the deficit, why was he basically told to stand down, by the leadership, and not do that, even though that is supposedly a Republican principle?

MCCONNELL: You obviously don't know Jim Bunning very well. Nobody tells Jim Bunning to stand down.


He had a good point. I ended up voting with him. His point was -- it wasn't against unemployment insurance. He thought we ought to pay for it, make it deficit-neutral.

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