'This Week' Transcript: Karl Rove and David Plouffe

LOTT: I've tried every way in the world to try to get us to have a bipartisan bill out of the Finance Committee. That was denied. Tried to get something done before it got to the floor, working with the centrist groups, that was denied.


KARL: Those are two former Senate leaders nearly a decade ago sounding an awful lot like the current Senate leaders, and they are both here with us on the roundtable.

We have, of course, George Will, former Majority and Minority Leader Trent Lott, former Majority Leader and Minority Leader Tom Daschle, and my friend, Sam Donaldson.

So, George, put this day, this vote, its significance in a historical context.

WILL: Here's the context. Today, as happened yesterday and as will happen tomorrow, and as will happen every day for the next 20 years, more than 7,000 baby boomers will retire, going on the Social Security and Medicare rolls, increasing the pressure on our Ponzi system we call our entitlement programs.

This at a time when we're -- we're now about to -- probably right up the street from here today -- going to add 32 at least million more people with a middle-class entitlement involving subsidizing health care insurance purchases for families of four up to $88,000 a year.

Now, Democrats who will vote in the House today for this think they're going to put it behind them. The odds are very good, after the reconciliation procedures are done in the Senate, that it will come back to the House, so we're going to be wallowing in health care for a long time to come.

And, finally, once this is passed, the American people will look at the health care system and say, "This is the system the Democrats wanted," so every complaint they have is going to be a complaint about Democrats.

DONALDSON: Can I jump in before the majority leaders?

KARL: Sure.

DONALDSON: That is the weakest argument for keeping 32 million Americans still off of health care, for making them go to the emergency rooms, shifting the cost to the rest of us who have some sort of insurance, the fact that we can't help our fellow citizens because we're not a rich enough country to pay for it. That's silly, George.

KARL: But before we get to the leaders, let's take a look at the entitlement programs, the two other big votes this has been compared to. OK, we have 1965 and the Medicare vote. It passed the House 313-115, with a significant portion of the Republican caucus voting yes, and 1935, Social Security, 372 yes, just 33 no, the majority of Republicans joining Democrats and voting yes. What happened this time, Senator Daschle?

DASCHLE: Well, I think, in part, it's a different Republican Party than it was. I mean, it's a Republican Party that really doesn't have the same commitment that the same Republicans had in other -- other decades.

I mean, I -- I -- I had the good fortune to work with two Republicans -- Howard Baker and Bob Dole -- who worked very constructively over the last 18 months to come up with a bill that they endorsed, very similar to the plan that we have before the Congress today.

So I think, in part, it's just a much more rigid, far more ideological party than -- than before. And I think that's been playing itself out now for the last couple of years.

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