DONALDSON: Well, he comes up with a bill that the Congressional Budget Office says over 20 years will save billions of dollars. You can argue it if you want, but that's what they say.
The thing that the summit demonstrated -- if there was any doubt in anyone's mind -- is the Republicans are not going to play on anything. It's not a question of, "Let's meet in the middle," or even, "You're the majority party, so you're going to get most of it, but give us something." They're not going to play.
So what the Democrats have to do now is pass the bill, put back the public option, since it's their bill, and pass it. And President Obama...
ROBERTS: But you can't pass it with the public option.
DONALDSON: Well, oh, wait a moment. If 51 votes in the Senate, they can.
ROBERTS: They can't get it.
KRUGMAN: Unclear even then. But...
DONALDSON: Let me just finish here, because I want to say the final thing. The president has to drop his George B. McClellan mask and become Ulysses Grant. Be ruthless. That's what a Franklin Roosevelt would have done. That's what Harry Truman would have done. VARGAS: And, Sam, that's a good point, because, Paul, you've been arguing that the president should be more ruthless, that he should be...
KRUGMAN: Well, yes, I mean, I think the summit actually served its purpose, from his point of view, which was to demonstrate that the Republicans are not going to give on anything, that they're not going to -- you know, they're going to make every possible claim, they're going to say things that aren't true, like premiums are going to go up under this bill, which isn't -- isn't going to happen.
And, yes, I mean, I prefer -- I mean, and George and I actually have the same view, but I think the better metaphor is it's a three- legged stool. You have to have guaranteed issue. You can get -- you know, pre-existing conditions are covered. To make that work, you have to have universality. You have to have a mandate.
And to have that work, you have to have large subsidies. So the bill has to be more or less what it is. It has to be a comprehensive reform. And the Democrats, you know, from their own point of view, they actually have to do this. They have to -- they can't go into November elections...
VARGAS: And that's the big question, Cokie.
ROBERTS: That's the big question. That is the big question. There's no certainty at this point that there are 217 votes in the House and 51 in the Senate, no matter what procedure they use. So that is still where they are hung up, which is where they've been hung up all along.
Now, the White House did a couple of smart things in terms of what people were upset about. You heard Senator Alexander talk about, in the dead of night, 2,700 pages, Christmas Eve. Those are the talking points. And -- and so the White House puts it up on the Web, has a, you know, seven-hour meeting, and takes out the special provisions, particularly for Nebraska.
And so that -- they're trying to fix the things that they see are -- that the public has had problems with. And it is true that you can -- you can sing it round or flat, George, about whether the public's for this bill or not.
In a recent poll that we came out with, 58 percent -- a Kaiser poll -- 58 percent said they would be angry or disappointed if a bill didn't pass. So I think that that is what the Democrats are going with.
VARGAS: They want something. They're just...