'This Week' Transcript: WH Senior Advisor David Axelrod and Sen. Lindsey Graham

Transcript: Senior Advisor David Axelrod and Sen. Lindsey Graham

ByABC News
January 22, 2010, 2:35 PM

March 14, 2010 — -- TAPPER: Good morning, everyone. It is zero hour for health care reform. Democratic leaders are scrambling for votes so they can pass the Senate bill. A vote they said could come by next weekend. Well, tomorrow, the president heads to Ohio for another campaign-style event to sell his plan to the public.

Joining me now, senior White House adviser, David Axelrod. David, thanks so much for being here.

AXELROD: Good to be here.

TAPPER: So, David, by the end of the week, will you have the votes and how are you going to get them? House Democrats say they're not there right now.

AXELROD: Look, I -- I believe we will have them. It's been a long and arduous debate. It's a tough issue for members of Congress, because there is an enormous lobbying campaign going on the other side. Lobbyists from the insurance industry descending on Capitol Hill like locusts and trying to pressure people to vote against this bill. There is a lot of pressure on people. But I believe that we'll be there at the end of the day.

TAPPER: OK. Well, the man whose election in January changed the political scene here in Washington, Republican Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, over the weekend had this to say about health care reform.


BROWN: Somehow, the greater the public opposition to the health care bill, the more determined they seem to force it on us anyway. You know, their attitude shows that Washington at its very worst, and the presumption that they know best and they're going to get their way whether the American people like it or not.


TAPPER: David, pluralities, if not majorities of the American people do oppose this bill. Doesn't he have a point?

AXELROD: Well, first, let me note that Senator Brown comes from a state that has a health care plan that is similar to one that we are trying to enact here, and that people in his state are overwhelmingly in support of it. He voted for it and said he wouldn't repeal it. So we're just trying to give the rest of America the same opportunities that the people of Massachusetts have to get health insurance at a price they can afford.

This bill is important to the American people, Jake, and when you get underneath the numbers and you ask people, do you support giving people more leverage against insurance companies so that they -- if they have preexisting conditions, they can get coverage, so if they get sick, they don't get thrown off, so they don't have these huge premium increases of the sort we've just seen announced in states around the country, they say yes. When you say, do you want to give small businesses and people who don't have insurance through the job the chance to get insurance in a competitive marketplace where they can get it at a price they can afford and give them tax credits to help them do that, they say yes. And when you say, should we reduce the overall costs of the health care system over time, they say yes.

But that's the program. That's the plan. And it is important to the American people that we have the fortitude to go ahead against it, to leave the politics aside, to leave the partisanship aside, to resist the special interests and get the job done.

TAPPER: But according to polls, the American people do not agree with what you think--

AXELROD: The polls are split, Jake. I mean, one of the interesting things that has happened in the last four or five weeks is that if you look at -- if you average together the public polls, what you find is that the American people are split on the top line, do you support the plan? But again, when you go underneath, they support the elements of the plan. When you ask them, does the health care system need reform, three quarters of them say yes. When you ask them, do you want Congress to move forward and deal with this issue, three quarters of them say yes. So we're not going to walk away from this issue.