HH: I’m joined now by Arizona Senator Jon Kyl, our favorite Senator. He is the minority Whip, the number two ranking Republican in the United States Senate. He’s been fighting the good fight against Obamacare for as long as they’ve been pushing it. Senator Kyl, welcome back.
JK: Thanks, Hugh, great to be with you again.
HH: It’s good to have you back. I want to get into the details of this, get right into the stew, but first, some of our friends on the right, including Erick Erickson at Red State, have been writing that the Republicans are not doing enough to stop this. In fact, he wrote shame, someone wrote shame on Republican Senators. What do you say to this?
JK: Well, they ought to be turning their fire on the people that are trying to get this bill passed. Every single Republican Senator opposes this bill, and is fighting to ensure that it never becomes law. It is the most dangerous domestic thing that has occurred since my, in my 20-some years here in the U.S. Congress. I will do everything I can to defeat it, as will all of my colleagues. There is some misunderstanding about the strategy that we have employed. But I would urge my conservative friends, if they have a question, give us a call, we’ll be happy to explain privately why we’re doing what we’re doing. And I can tell you a little bit publicly about what we’re doing. But please understand that if you may not be quite certain why we’re doing what we’re doing, don’t jump to the conclusion that somehow we don’t want to see it defeated. We will do absolutely everything within our power to see that it is defeated. One of the questions that people have raised is well, why aren’t you just talking about it rather than having all of these amendments? And the answer is quite simple. First of all, I think people would turn us off if after you know, three or four days, all they hear is just speeches droning on and on. What we’ve tried to do is to bring amendments to the floor, each of which highlight yet another problem with this bill. And by forcing the other side to take votes on these amendments, we accomplish two things. First of all, for those who nevertheless stubbornly, tenaciously stick with Harry Reid and the bill, it’s going to be a political problem for them down the road to have voted against our amendments. Secondly, for those members who have voted for our amendments, I think there is a trend developing here, and it is possible that one or two of them, by doing that, have put themselves in a position where that’s the way they’re going to vote in the final analysis, that is to say for the Republican position, and against the bill. None of these amendments are designed to make the bill better. It’s impossible to make this bill better. It is fundamentally flawed, it cannot be improved through an amendment process that would have any chance of succeeding. So the amendments are designed simply to present the arguments in the most cogent way that we can, so that people around the country can understand what’s in the bill, and let their representatives and Senators know about it, so that hopefully we can defeat it at the end.
HH: You know, Senator Kyl, one of the things that struck me as odd about the criticism of the Republicans is it’s designed to use new media to influence old media to educate the public as to how bad this bill is. It’s driving the conversation in the right direction, highlighting the incredible destruction that will be following in the wake of Obamacare if it passes. So my hat’s off to you and Senator McConnell and the rest of the Republican leadership back there. I think you’re doing this exactly the right way. But now they’ve thrown another curve at us, so let’s move to that, which is you know, the public option doesn’t work? Great, let’s expand the bankrupt, broken and bleeding Medicare.
JK: Right, the real public option. Yeah.
HH: What is this?
JK: Well, you see, what they’re trying to do is to cobble together 60 votes. And your listeners should know, they do not have 60 votes. There are at least two or three of their members who right now, if the vote were taken today, would not vote for it. All 40 Republicans right now are against the bill. So they’re trying to figure out how they can get 60 votes. Well, a couple of their members have said we will not vote for the bill with a public option in it. So what they’re trying to do is to eliminate the essence of the public option, but then substitute something else. And the soft to the left is a new expansion of Medicare. And bear in mind at the same time, we’re cutting what we give to Medicare by half a trillion dollars. We’re going to add, now, almost doubling the size of the Medicare population, potentially, by allowing people from 55 years of age and up to participate in the Medicare program. There are all kinds of bad results from allowing that to happen. And I think that they are so bad, and so well understood, that at the end of the day, that, too, will be dropped. And the left is going to be left with the position that if they want this bill bad enough, they’re simply going to have to drop all pretense of anything that expands coverage into the public.
HH: Senator, you have been very good about…
JK: Excuse me, into the government programs.
HH: Yes, you’ve been very good about making sure people understand they don’t have 60 votes, because again, it happened overnight, Democrats said we’ve got it, we’re almost there, it shows up in the Washington Post and Politico and the New York Times and the AP. Then I look around, and I don’t see Senator Lieberman saying, “Aye.” I don’t see Senator Nelson saying, “Aye.” I don’t see Senator Blanche Lincoln saying, “Aye.” But it’s like the media is cheerleading here, calling for the officials to, you know, call the game over.
JK: They’re complicit in the Democrat leader and White House strategy of making this seem as if it is inevitable, to thus generate a momentum, a sense of inevitability, that will then envelop everyone and cause it eventually to pass. It is not only not inevitable, right now, today, it wouldn’t pass. They can’t figure out how to get to 60 votes. And it’s a really difficult thing for them. This thing, this idea or set of options that they’ve sent to the Congressional Budget Office, this is going to take three or four days to score, in other words, figure out the financial impacts and so on. And by the way, I think one of the huge impacts of this proposal is that it will increase premiums for people who are not on the government programs, for a variety of reasons. So I think they’re going to get the CBO score back this weekend and say well, that doesn’t look so good, either, so let’s go back to the drawing board. I mean, they have a really hard problem, because they have bitten off more than even bright people in Washington can chew. There’s a certain arrogance here that says we can figure all of this out. And the reality is you can’t figure it all out. It’s like the free market. It takes millions of people making individual decisions every day to really function well in our economy. And the same thing is true here. No, I don’t care how bright these folks are, they cannot take over the entire health care system, and figure out a way to cover everybody, not have it cost any more, make everybody happy, no rationing, no new taxes. You know, it just doesn’t work. That’s why they have to cut Medicare, raise taxes, raise premiums, and still leave a whole bunch of people uninsured.
HH: Senator Kyl, is there any way anyone in good conscience who is opposed to the public funding of abortion can vote for Obamacare as it is presently written?
JK: No. No. You know, abortion is not one of those things you compromise. The compromise that has been effected here in Washington over the years, pro-life people know they’re not going to persuade the pro-abortion people, and vice versa. So what they’ve all sort of agreed to in this, I’m not going to call it a compromise, but this sort of truce, is okay, we won’t try to convince you, you don’t convince us, we just won’t have any federal funding of abortion. And that’s been the truce up to now. Well, the way they tried to write the bill is, they do away with the truce, so federal money would fund abortions. The House of Representatives said no. We’re going to go back to the truce. And the Stupak language was put in the House bill. No funding of abortions. But the Senate bill has funding of abortions. And Ben Nelson could not, though he tried hard, could not get it out of the bill.
HH: Do you expect that Ben Nelson…has Ben Nelson yet declared whether he will support this, Senator Kyl?
JK: No, and Ben has said that one of the reasons why he might not support it is because of the abortion funding.
HH: Well, we have to hope he stands on that bridge. Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, always a pleasure, keep fighting the good fight as you have been doing, Senator.
End of interview.