'This Week' Transcript: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN)

Secondly, we want to close the donut hole for seniors. This is really an important mistake that was made when the Republicans passed the prescription drug bill. And we want the seniors to have the comfort of knowing that in this bill the donut hole will be patched. And it's a technical -- a slang term for something that means the seniors pay more...

VARGAS: But if you get that, will you...

PELOSI: The seniors pay more, and we have more (ph). We want to eliminate the Nebraska fix and have equity for all of the states. And that, in terms of some of the investments, there are more, but those are the three -- three of the main ones.

But one of the biggest differences is the -- how the bill would be paid for. We -- we cut waste, fraud, and abuse, over half a trillion dollars in the bill. But we still needed more of a pay-for. The Senate bill had a tax that we did not like in the House. And I think the president's proposal addresses that concern.

So now we will -- it's a question of when you go down to legislative language, you -- you need the clarity, and that's when you find out what everything means.

VARGAS: But you know that the polls show that the American people are deeply divided on health care. Many of them are opposed to it. Even though they are supporting certain -- specific pieces of it.

(CROSSTALK)

VARGAS: What do you say to your members, when it does come to the House to vote on this, who are in real fear of losing their seats in November if they support you now?

PELOSI: Well, first of all, our members -- every one of them -- wants health care. I think everybody wants affordable health care for all Americans. They know that this will take courage. It took courage to pass Social Security. It took courage to pass Medicare. And many of the same forces that were at work decades ago are at work again against this bill.

But the American people need it. Why are we here? We're not here just to self-perpetuate our service in Congress. We're here to do the job for the American people, to get them results that gives them not only health security, but economic security, because the health issue is an economic issue for -- for America's families.

VARGAS: Do you wish, though, that the president had posted his bill before this week, that six months ago it might have been more helpful for you, that maybe six months ago you knew that the public option was something he was going to drop before you fought so hard for it?

PELOSI: Well, we -- we still fight for the -- what the public option will do. Whether it's in the bill or not, its purpose must be recognized and that is to keep the insurance companies honest, to keep them accountable, and to increase competition. And I think in the summit on Thursday it became very clear that what the president was proposing was regulation of the insurance companies.

Left to their own devices, they have done harm to the American people. They need to be regulated. And that is one of the biggest differences between the Democrats and the Republicans.

Another one, for example, is -- an example of it is ending the denial of -- of coverage to those who have a pre-existing condition. The Democrats have that in their bill; the Republicans do not.

VARGAS: But would you...

PELOSI: But that's a major insurance reform that has to take place.

VARGAS: But would we still be debating this if the president had put his plan out six months ago?

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