VARGAS: You had said in your opening remarks at the health care summit, you quoted Senator Byrd when you said -- you called on the president to renounce using reconciliation to push the bill through the Senate with a simple majority vote, saying, quote, "It would be an outrage to run the health care bill through the Senate like a freight train with this process."
Why -- why are you so opposed to this, given the fact that Republicans have used reconciliation more often than Democrats in the past?
ALEXANDER: Well, the outraged words were Senator Byrd's words, not mine.
VARGAS: True, I said you were quoting Senator Byrd. ALEXANDER: You're correct. The reconciliation procedure is a little used legislative procedure. Nineteen times it's been used. It's for the purpose of taxing and spending and -- and reducing deficits.
But the difference here is that there's never been anything of this size and magnitude and complexity run through the Senate in this way. There are a lot of technical problems with it, which we could discuss. It would turn the Senate -- it would really be the end of the United States Senate as a protector of minority rights, as a place where you have to get consensus, instead of just a partisan majority, and it would be a political kamikaze mission for the Democratic Party if they jam this through after the American people have been saying, look, we're trying to tell you in every way we know how, in elections, in surveys, in town hall meetings, we don't want this bill.
VARGAS: Why political kamikaze, though? We know that Americans don't support health care in general, but when you start drilling down into the specifics, a lot of people do support some of those specifics.
ALEXANDER: Oh, they do support some of the specifics, but you put it all together, they don't like it. They don't want their Medicare cut. They don't want their taxes increased. They don't want their premiums increased. I mean, millions of Americans will have their premiums increased. The governors are up in arms about the new cost on states, so people have decided -- and -- and there's a sense that Washington is taking over too much.
So I was thinking this morning of President George W. Bush, when he tried so hard to have private accounts for Social Security. He thought he was right. He pushed, he pushed, and he pushed. If he'd stopped about halfway through and shifted, he could have probably gotten a bipartisan agreement on Social Security. I think President Obama could learn from that.
He has a lot of us who would like to help him write a health care bill, but not this one.
VARGAS: When you say political kamikaze, are you saying that if the Democrats push this through, they will lose all their seats in November? I mean, what are we talking about here?
ALEXANDER: Well, here's what I think. I mean, the people are saying, "We don't want it," and the Democrats are saying, "We don't care. We're going to pass it anyway." And so for the next three months, Washington will be consumed with the Democrats trying to jam this through in a very messy procedure an unpopular health care bill.
And then for the rest of the year, we're going to be involved in a campaign to repeal it. And every Democratic candidate in the country is going to be defined by this unpopular health care bill at a time when the real issues are jobs, terror and debt.