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

ROBERTS: They want something, and the Democrats just have to, you know, say their prayers, and vote for a bill, and hope it works for them.

DONALDSON: But, Cokie, it's true. I think in the short run they're going to lose seats, because they dropped the ball... (CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: They're going to lose seats anyway.

DONALDSON: They dropped the ball last summer. The Republicans brilliantly picked it up. It probably won't be reversed by November. But this is the only chance in how many years to do this?


DONALDSON: And I think history will show that they were right if they get it done.

VARGAS: George?

WILL: Two things. First of all, Sam, you want the president to be Ulysses Grant, who won the war by his wonderful indifference to his own casualties, and I think some members in the Senate and in the House would not approve of that.

DONALDSON: Did I not just say that they may lose some seats? Were you listening?

WILL: By the millions. Now -- second, now, Paul says that, in fact, the Republicans have no ideas. They do, cross-selling across state lines, tort reforms, all those. Just a second, Paul.

Then you say they're telling whoppers. That was your view about Lamar Alexander when he said, for millions of Americans, premiums will go up. You said in the next sentence in your column, I guess you could say he wasn't technically lying, because the Congressional Budget Office says that's true.

KRUGMAN: No, it's not what it says.


KRUGMAN: Can I explain? This is...


WILL: Wait. Let me -- let me set the predicate here, because you then go on and say the Senate does say the average premiums would go up, but people would be getting better premiums.

KRUGMAN: Look, let me explain what happens, because you actually have to read the CBO report. And what the CBO report tells you -- in fairly elliptical language -- is that what it will do, what the bill will do is bring a lot of people who are uninsured, who are currently young and therefore relatively low cost, into the risk pool, which will actually bring premiums down a little bit.

It will also have, however, let -- lead a lot of people to get better insurance. It will lead a lot of people who are currently underinsured, who have insurance policies that are paper thin and don't actually protect you in a crisis, will actually get those people up to having full coverage. That makes the average payments go up, but it does not mean that people who currently have good coverage under their policies will pay more for their -- for their insurance. In fact, they'll end up paying a little bit less.

WILL: One question. If the government came to you and said, "Professor Krugman, you have a car. We're going to compel you to buy a more expensive car," but it's not really more expensive, because it's a better car, wouldn't you tell them to get off your land?

KRUGMAN: It's not -- Catherine Rampell did a very good piece in the Times blogs recently which said that the main obstacle to the people who are uninsured is not that they are choosing not to be insured. It is income.

It is, in fact, young people who are not buying insurance because they're not being able to afford it, will be brought in through the subsidies. And that will end up being better even for the people who are currently insured.

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