HH: Joined now by Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe. Senator Inhofe, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show.
JI: Hey, Hugh, it’s nice to be back with you.
HH: Now give us an assessment on this day of the President’s press conference, a lot of hoopla. Where is health care reform in the Senate now?
JI: Well, first of all, you’re talking about his press conference he’s going to have tonight.
HH: That’s right.
JI: Yeah, well right now, it’s, he is demanding that we have a vote before the recess. Now this is not a good idea, and it certainly doesn’t serve his purposes, because you will, most of our listeners won’t remember this, but back in 1993, that’s exactly what Bill Clinton did with Hillary health care. He demanded that before the August recess that we do it, knowing that the more people who know about, the more people are going to be opposed to it. Well, we’ve already been able to get on with people like you and all around the country, so people will know what it is. It’s for all practical purposes, it’s a Canadian type of a system. And so right now, there, everyday that goes by, they actually lose votes. Time is not their friend. And that’s why he’s demanding to have it done. Now if you stop and think about this, if you pass a Senate bill, you pass a House bill, it has to go to conference, has to come back. There’s no way in the world that you can do that in the two weeks prior to the August recess. So now he’s threatening to delay the August recess. That’s where it is today, and that’s where he’s making a huge mistake, although tonight he may announce something differently. It’s very similar to what they were trying to do with cap and trade. They were trying to rush it through before people knew. We were able to slow it down, and now they have, Barbara Boxer has declared that it’s not going to come out of the committee until after the August recess. And of course, that comes out, and it gives us a chance to talk for the next thirty days of the recess about the largest single tax increase in America’s history.
HH: Now Senator Inhofe, in terms of, I want to go to the tall grass now, and my audience has been prepped on this. Reconciliation is the Senate gimmick that allows a simple majority to pass something as opposed to sixty votes. And your colleagues on the Democratic side set up health care for using the reconciliation. Mike Allen of Politico on this show said on Monday that’s not going to happen, they’re not going to use reconciliation. But then the President told some left wing bloggers yeah, it’s on the table. What do you understand is the situation?
JI: It’s, they’re not going to use it, and the reason they’re not going to use it, Hugh, is because there are a lot of Democrats who are opposed to it. The problem with that is if they use reconciliation for that, they open up the door to use it for anything else. And they don’t want to take that risk. So you have a lot of the inside party Democrats who are refusing to do that. I don’t believe that’s going to happen.
HH: Okay, so they need 60 votes, and that means you’ve got, you’ve just go to pick up a couple of Democrats, and the Republicans have to stay strong. Do you think that you have that number to block health care, the radical stuff in the Senate?
JI: Oh, I think so. I really do. In fact, there’ll be a lot of Democrats. You know, I liken it to the cap and trade thing. Now that’s the one that I’ve been kind of in charge of for ten years, and we know where we are on that now. We know that if, as long as people keep talking the way they are right now, we’re going to defeat it. They only have 34 votes. They need 60 votes. I’d say health care right now is somewhere in the neighborhood of, they have maybe 45 votes. But every day, they lose votes, because people find out what it is, what it’s going to do, and what it’s not going to do. When you tell people that the mortality rate in Canada is 25% higher for breast cancer, 18% higher for prostate cancer, you know, they say why in the world would we emulate a system like that? This is life threatening. And so we have all the issues on our side on this thing, and I think, you know, I just hope the President keeps talking about it, keeps trying to rush it through. We can stall it. And that’s going to be a huge gain for those of us who want to turn this thing over in the 2010 election.
HH: Now your colleague, Max Baucus and you, you’ve served together for a long time.
HH: And Max Baucus is not a radical. He’s a pretty mainstream Democrat. Why doesn’t he just come out and say this government option, this public plan, is a nightmare? You and I both know that, Senator Inhofe. Max Baucus must know that, too.
JI: No, he knows that, but let’s keep in mind, Hugh, these guys are Democrats. They have a president whose popularity is diminishing, of course, but still there is that loyalty. I think you know this, but most of our listeners don’t. Democrats are disciplined. Republicans aren’t. Democrats do what they’re told. And consequently, they need to follow this president. They’re going to go as far as they can. They will maybe vote against him, but they don’t want to talk against him. And so I just think that Baucus, he’s a Democrat, but he’s from a state that’s a Republican state, so he’s in a very awkward situation on this, as well as cap and trade.
HH: Now I think you just said something very profound. They will vote against him, but they won’t talk against him. And both as to cap and trade, they’ve only got 34 votes for that nightmare?
JI: That’s what they have for a final package. Now Barbara Boxer would argue that they have 48 votes, going back to a year ago right now when we had the Warner-Lieberman bill. But on the Warner-Lieberman bill, they did get 48 votes on a procedural vote. But we have a letter from 12 of them saying that they would oppose it in final passage. Now we have, since that time, a deterioration program. I thought, Hugh, when these new Democrat Senators came along, that they would line up and be good Democrats. And yet when you talk to people like Begich, the new guy from Alaska, and some of the others, those are states where they don’t want to have to go back and say look at me, aren’t you proud, I voted in my first year for socialized medicine, and for the largest tax increase in American history. They’re not going to do it.
HH: You know, Senator, I’m from Ohio. Sherrod Brown is pretty hard left, but if he votes for cap and trade, he’s voting to kill the Buckeye State.
JI: Well, I don’t think he’s going to do it. He’s got himself in a situation where in Ohio, they have lost more manufacturing jobs per capita than any of the other states. And it’s a huge issue up there. I don’t have to tell you. And so he’s in a position where yes, he is a liberal, he is a Democrat who likes to be disciplined, but in this case, Hugh, he’ll take a pass on this. I kind of look for him to actually vote no. Now we’re talking now back on the cap and trade thing.
HH: Cap and trade, yeah. Now let’s close up, Senator Inhofe, by getting your prediction on the radical health care bill. You know, you might pass something that’s okay. There’s come Cobra reform that needs to be done. There’s a lot of stuff that needs to be done. But the big Obamacare, do you think it passes this Congress?
JI: No, and the reason I say no, and a lot of things needs to happen, but look at what the real reforms are. If we could have medical malpractice reform, health savings accounts reform, these are the things that will really bring it down, but that’s the kind of thing that you’re not going to get Democrats to vote for, because none of those real reforms are in this. If he is unsuccessful, which I anticipate and will predict he is on getting a vote prior to the August recess, then I would say there’s no way in the world they’re going to get this done this year. And next year would not be any easier. But I just, frankly, for political reasons, I kind of like the idea of keeping this thing alive. Look what it did for us in 1994.
HH: Now I’ve got one unrelated question. It’s a Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act, Senator Inhofe. I don’t know if it’s one of your specialties, but it’s just killing small businesses out there. Is there going to be any relief this year for small businesses from this onerous bill that passed last year?
JI: Well, there are a whole lot of things that are bad for small business. That is just one of them. And you won’t find any relief this year, because the Democrats are in charge of the agenda, as you know, Harry Reid’s not going to let anything on the floor that’s going to offend any of the people that are on the hard left. One of the problems that Obama and the Democrats have is that their hard left people, they’re upset because he’s not hard left enough. And consequently, they’re going to do everything they can to appease them. Let’s take the water, big water bill that I’m sure you’ve been talking about, and what they’re trying to do with the clean water restoration act, it’s called, Feingold’s thing.
JI: That would put our farmers out of business. That would say, take the word navigable out so that every standing water in America would be under the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection Agency.
HH: Or the Army Corps of Engineers, yeah.
JI: There are a lot of those…I’m sorry?
HH: Or the Army Corps of Engineers.
JI: And the Army Corps of Engineers, yes.
HH: Yeah, it’s unconstitutional as the day is long. Senator, we’re out of time, I always appreciate your time, James Inhofe from Oklahoma. Keep fighting the good fight, Senator Inhofe.
End of interview.