Transcript: Face to Face with Rep. King
Nancy Cordes: Hello and welcome to Face to Face. I'm congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes and today I'm joined by Congressman Steve King. Thank you so much for being with us.
Steve King: Thanks for having me on, Nancy.
Nancy Cordes: The big event this week of course was the vote to repeal the president's health care law. It passed obviously in the Republican-led House. What do you feel the Republicans accomplished with this vote, knowing that of course it will not go anywhere in the Senate.
Steve King: We've seen polls out there that some 30 percent of the American people think we've already repealed ObamaCare. And we've had a lot of votes, some 30 or so votes that were repealing components of ObamaCare. But this was the whole package. And now after the Supreme Court had made their ruling, it's a whole different scenario out here. No one had expected Chief Justice Roberts to declare all of the penalties that were in ObamaCare to be taxes. Now that he has, and it's been ruled constitutional at least for those purposes. It's a different dynamic now. And the public understands if they are going to be relieved of this onerous, unaffordable health care bill that is the president's bill, the only way now is the elections in November. But now we have House Republicans and some Democrats on record saying that they're for the full, 100 percent repeal of ObamaCare. That can happen in the United States Senate. We've already had 47 of them, a little over a year ago, vote for the full repeal. So now they know, the voters know what they need to do. It's up to them. And it's going to take an election, it will take some seats changed out in the Senate, I think it takes a new president. But if the voters make a decision this coming November with the same kind of wave election that they did in 2010, it will be America rejecting this unaffordable health care bill.
Nancy Cordes: But do you think it was any secret to anyone at this point that Republicans want to repeal this law? This has been your mantra for two-and-a-half years now. You have already voted, as you said, to repeal parts of the law. But you've also voted to repeal the entire law. So why spend two entire days on the House floor debating this and then passing it?
Steve King: This is the most pivotal issue of our time. It is a destiny issue. If the federal government has the authority - it must be repealed. This is sending a message to the American people, it's bringing the level of their attention back up again, it's taking this out into the minds of the people that are deciding which candidates they want to support, and, so that is a big part of it. But there's another component of this that I don't think anybody is talking about enough as a result of this Supreme Court decision, and that is the Supreme Court has conferred upon the Congress the power to coerce behavior. Not alone levy a tax with an interest and a penalty against someone for failing to buy the insurance policy that's either produced or approved by the federal government. But that's opened up the door to all kinds of behavior control. The judges talked about, almost as adding it into their verbiage, broccoli. If they can require you to buy insurance or tax you if they don't, can they tax you if you don't buy broccoli? Yes, that principle is laid out pretty clearly. Can they force you to buy an electric car, for example? Where does this end? So the power to coerce is something that will be litigated for decades to come, and this is a super power that we should not have in the United States Congress. So I'm hopeful that, out of this debate, comes more clarity. I'm hopeful the litigation will come to litigate and repeal this decision of the Supreme Court and bring it back to, I believe, the unconstitutional violation now, the Court has declared that these penalties are taxes. And if they are taxes they cannot start in the United States Senate and be passed under reconciliation of a simple majority. If we can win that case, they can throw ObamaCare out again. But that doesn't happen unless we have a national debate.
Nancy Cordes: One of the things that Republicans have gotten a lot of criticism about by Democrats over the past few days is that, for a long time, your mantra was "repeal and replace." And the replace notion seems to have gone away. There is no comprehensive Republican plan waiting in the wings. In fact, when we asked Republican leaders about it they say, we'll get to that later. So what do you say to people who are already benefiting from this health care law, millions of people with pre-existing conditions or people that are on their parents' health care plans - do they just lose all those benefits?
Steve King: You've got to be wondering, Nancy, why am I smiling when you ask this question. And the answer is, to the question I presume is in your mind, not the one you voiced, but is this: for two plus years I've made the argument against repeal and replace. The day after ObamaCare was passed I brought the first draft to repeal ObamaCare and began that work for a full 100 percent repeal. That was on a Monday. The next day was a Tuesday, and I was busy doing media. And we had a Republican conference and out of that came the marching orders, we are going to be for repeal and replace. And they began beating the drum. Repeal and replace. I began trying to block that and take the ampersand and replace out of there, the and replace out -
Nancy Cordes: Why? Wouldn't you have a much stronger argument if you could say here's our plan. The CBO has scored it. It's going to save this much money, more money than the president's law, it's going to cover this many people. Wouldn't you have a stronger argument to make?
Steve King: The reason is because, unless and until you repeal, you don't have anything to replace. And the argument becomes, when you tie the two of them together, we can agree on repeal. But when you start arguing on the replacement, someone will say, well I have this tight little bill that does three things and that should be the replacement. And will you sign on to that? And that next person says but I've got my components. Add those to it then I'll sign on. This goes on over and over again. After a while you get a 2,700 page bill and the first person will say I can't support it anymore. It gets too complicated to put together the replacement package and tie it to the repeal. And what I have strongly advocated for is, first win the argument on repeal - a full 100 percent repeal, pull it all out. Then the replacement components should not be - I emphatically say - should not be one big Republican bill but individual components debated individually as stand-alone bills, one at a time so the American people can embrace these ideas, support them, and pass them out one at a time over to the senate and to the president's desk.
Nancy Cordes: But why should Americans assume that Republicans would have better ideas? Among the ideas that Republicans have put forward, for example, this idea of using high risk pools to get more people insured. The Congressional Budget Office basically said that would almost insure no new people, and that the president's law did a much better job at getting the uninsured coverage. So -
Steve King: I do happen to remember those numbers, Nancy--
Nancy Cordes: Oh, good.
Steve King: We had seventy two thousand signed up for the pre-existing condition component of ObamaCare, they were advertising to try to get more people on there because those numbers didn't turn out to be what they projected them to be. Almost all of the states have a high-risk pool and we can work within those high-risk pools--I've dealt with that as a former state legislator in Iowa, and it works well. Yes their premiums are high but they are subsidized by the taxpayers. If you give people a guaranteed issue then you have to have the individual mandate--those two things are tied together. I oppose the individual mandate for all kinds of reasons and that means we can't guarantee the pre-existing conditions but we can subsidize those premiums for high-risk pools. That is the right thing to do, but I think the most important thing to do in the aftermath of the full repeal, is to allow for insurance to be sold across state lines so that that is left of what we had was 1,300 health insurance companies in America, 100,000 policy varieties let that competition go out into the open market among the 50 states that will do a lot. We need to expand health care savings accounts. Those health savings accounts need to be something that -especially young people -can grow and turn them into life management accounts so that if they manage it well they can leverage for higher deductible, lower premium, grow their health savings account, get their healthcare checkups and watch their weight manage their health and in the end, when they arrive at Medicare eligibility with perhaps a million dollars or more in their health savings account, the government wants to tax that as ordinary income I'd say will you buy a Medicare replacement policy and we'll give you the balance of that tax-free--now we've got people planning their lives and managing their money and taking a lot of pressure off the spending on healthcare.
Nancy Cordes: Now that you have held the repeal bill vote and it has passed, with all Republicans and five Democrats, what's the next step? You know that it's set in the Senate--I mean, in the current political reality, which is that Democrats control the senate, a Democrat is in the White House, what's the next step?
Steve King: Well, by Nancy Pelosi's definition we had a bi-partisan vote to repeal Obamacare--five times greater than her definition of bipartisan vote when it passed and so I'd like to see Harry Reid take the full repeal up on the floor of the Senate, I'd challenge him to do that and I think there are a couple of Democrats that might likely want to join us on that, there are 23 of them that are up for re-election so I would say this, if Harry Reid doesn't bring up the repeal--last time he brought it up to vote it down, forty seven Republicans voted to repeal Obamacare, if he brings it up again that'll be because he has the votes to kill it, if he doesn't bring it up, that'll tell you that there are likely going to be about four democrats that will support the full repeal in the Senate to save their seats in the United States Senate.
Nancy Cordes: But we've got a lot of very pressing issues facing the country right now, not the least of which is eight point two percent unemployment, you've got the Bush tax cuts running out at the end of the year for everyone, Democrats and Republicans can't agree on what to do about that, you've got these really tough budget cuts going into effect at the beginning of the year as well a lot of really difficult things that Democrats and Republicans are going to need to work together on in order to come up with a reasonable solution--those seem to be much more pressing, and much more realistic, to try to find ground on than this issue right now
Steve King: This issue is the seminal issue of our time, it is a destiny issue if Obamacare--here, here is the...one of the, uh...
Nancy Cordes: But I guess what I'm asking is is there any progress being made on those fronts or is the focus purely on this healthcare clash.
Steve King: There's a lot of work being done on all of the components of the tax package and, but that cannot be decided until after the election and I hope we don't--
Nancy Cordes: Why?--
Steve King: Well, because the election will determine who will be seated in this congress in the hundred and thirteenth congress, a year and half ago when we had the wave election in the fall of November 2010 we had Mitch McConnell and Joe Biden negotiate this tax package which I thought was a terrible deal. And I opposed it because it was a terrible deal on many fronts. We should not be making large decisions and doing so in lame duck sessions, those are for urgent emergencies the legitimately elected congress--
Nancy Cordes: But you said, these need--this needs to be decided after the election (crosstalk) and they have to decided it by January, that's when all these things run out!
Steve King: And I'm at the so-what phase there with the exception of the death tax it is diabolical to ask families to make a decision on whether to plug in a loved one or unplug a loved one because of the clock ticking on December 31st, that's diabolical.
Nancy Cordes: But you would be ok with--
Steve King: But I would extend
Nancy Cordes: ..the Bush tax cuts going away
King: I would be ok with the next congress making the decision on the Bush tax brackets and all the other components that expire in that period of time. I would stare down the Democrats on that case if we could take the death penalty--or the death tax , out of that and it is a death penalty to family businesses when you have a tax, if we could take that out of it so that diabolical component of life support is out of that equation, then I would stare them down and I would say I will sit here until we extend all of the Bush tax brackets, I'd sit here until we can make them permanent because the largest tax increase--
Nancy Cordes: Including for the wealthiest Americans...
Steve King: Including. But also for the poorest Americans and I remember when this came in--
Nancy Cordes: But I have a -
Steve King: It's so hard to give people that weren't paying income tax a tax break and the Democrats made a big issue out of that but the lowest tax brackets got the biggest tax cuts, they went from fifteen percent to ten percent. The automatic trigger, December 31, takes the ten percent up to fifteen the greatest increase will be the lowest bracket if we wait past the first. Those people will leverage on Harry Reid until such time we can extend all of them in my view.
Nancy Cordes: But you've talked so much about the national debt and just keeping the Bush tax cuts in place for the wealthiest 1 and a half 2 percent of Americans costs 700 billion dollars more over ten years, how is that worth it?
Steve King: That is the job-killer tax increase...
Nancy Cordes: 700 billion dollars isn't worth a...
Steve King: Because the job creators are the ones that are paying those taxes (Crosstalk) if you punish the creators, it's like going out there and starving the goose that lays the golden egg and it send the wrong message and it plays exactly into the hand of president Obama who is about class warfare, he has been dividing Americans against each other in order to gain a collation that gets him re-elected and I completely disagree with that, I reject that, I like him personally but I dislike the politics of dividing Americans and pinning them against each other for political gain. This president has done more of that than any president in the history of the United States of America.
Nancy Cordes: Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa thank you so much for joining us on a very interesting week and thank you for joining us on Face to Face, be sure to check out Bob Schieffer anchoring Face the Nation this Sunday, check your local listings. Bye bye.
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