FTN - 07/01/01

face the nation logo, 2009

BOB SCHIEFFER: Today on Face the Nation, the patients' bill of rights passes the Senate. Now all eyes turn to the House of Representatives. Will the House pass a similar bill or one that limits the right to sue? Will the president veto a bill if it is passed? And will campaign finance come up for a vote in the House? All of these are questions for the speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert.

Then we'll turn to the division in the House among Republicans on campaign finance reform and the falling poll numbers of President Bush. We'll talk with the head of the Republican National Committee, Governor Jim Gilmore, and one of the sponsors of the campaign finance bill in the House, Representative Chris Shays of Connecticut.

Gloria Borger will be here, and I'll have a final word on the Fourth of July. But first, House Speaker Hastert on Face the Nation.

And good morning again on this holiday weekend. Joining us from Chicago, House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

And before we begin, Mr. Hastert, we want to report that Vice President Cheney's doctors report this morning that he is making terrific progress. They expect him to be back on the job Monday.

But I would ask you, just in the beginning, as you know, there has been a lot of talk in the House corridors and so forth about the vice president's health and whether he is going to be able to continue. You know the vice president. Bring us up to date on where all of that is.

REP. DENNIS HASTERT, R-IL, Speaker of the House: Well, I think the vice president certainly did the prudent think. He corrected a problem, that's the heart rate. And that's the best way to do it. It's really kind of an insurance policy for the future. I think the vice president has been very, very vigorous in carrying out his office, and I expect him to continue to do so.

SCHIEFFER: How much would it hurt this administration if the vice president did in fact have to resign, do you think?

HASTERT: Well, you know, I think that's speculation. I don't think the vice president is going to have to resign. This is something that he did, an insurance policy, so that he didn't have any setbacks. I think he did the right thing. It's the prudent thing to do, and he did it.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, let's get down to business here on the patients' bill of rights. As everyone knows, this bill passed the Senate last week. The president has already said he will veto it in its present form. Democrats say that they think they have the votes in the House now to pass very similar legislation. Do you believe that's so?

HASTERT: Well, you know, one of the things that we want to look at - I've been working on this issue, on health care, and patients' bill of rights for almost 10 years. What we want to do is take care of patients. Patients should be able to get the health care they need. They should be able to get it without going to a layer's office, or should be able to get it without going to a court and getting it after the fact. We want to make sure that the consumers, the patients get their health care.

So, the bill that we have before the House is something that I'm sure the president will sign. He said he would sign it. And we need to get a product, not a political statement.

SCHIEFFER: But let's go back to the question that I asked. The Democrats in the House say they believe they have the votes to pass the bill that passed the Senate. Do you think you can block that vote, Mr. Speaker?

HASTERT: Well, we're not going to block a vote. We're going to bring up a bill that I think is a better bill. It doesn't have the unintended consequences of what the Democrat bill would do. And I think we'd be able to pass our bill.

GLORIA BORGER, U.S. News & World Report: So, you think right now that you have the votes to pass your version of this bill as opposed to the Senate version of patients' bill of rights?

HASTERT: Well, you know, it's not the Senate version. It's another version that's in the House. We won't see the Senate version. The version that's in the House is the Dingell version, and it's different from what happened in the Senate as well.

BORGER: Well, let's just say that the Democratic version passes. Would you say that the president ought to veto any measure that would come out of a conference committee, then, on patients' bill of rights?

HASTERT: Well, first of all, I don't think the Senate version will pass. I think what we have coming out of the House and out of the conference committee will be much more balanced.

And I also think that we have to look at the access side. We need to get the people into insurance. There are 40 million people today that don't have insurance. We don't want the unintended consequences that I think would happen with the Senate bill, where you have less people having insurance and it's more expensive.

SCHIEFFER: Maybe we ought to just pause here and kind of let people know - we're talking about the Dingell version and this version and that version. Basically, the bill that you have signed onto in the House makes it a little more difficult to go into state court and sue an HMO if a patient thinks he has been wronged.

HASTERT: Bob, what we want to try to do is to make sure that if a patient is wronged - and the situation here is that if you are in an HMO, and your doctor says you need a certain procedure, your insurance company says no, you don't need that procedure, you can go into court, you can go into a group of people, doctors, who said, look, you need this procedure. You can do that right away. And if the insurance company still says no, then you're in court, state court, immediately, within 72 hours.

BORGER: Mr. Speaker, isn't it, though, a very difficult political situation right now? There are polls his week that showed that, by almost two to one, the voters trust the Democrats rather than the president to deal with HMOs and a patients' bill of rights.

If the president were to veto something, wouldn't that be a political problem for you and your House Republicans heading into the mid-term elections in 2002?

HASTERT: Well, by the time we get to the mid-term elections, we have to make sure people have health care. I think the unintended consequences of the bill that passed in the Senate is there will be less people with health care. And I think that situation will be worse. So, you know, sometimes you have to do the right thing.

Like I said, I've been working on this for a long time. We need to make sure that patients get the health care they need when they need it and not cater to trial lawyers or cater to other health care providers. We need to take care of the patients.

SCHIEFFER: Why do you think it is, Mr. Speaker, that so many organizations have said they favor the version of the bill that passed in the Senate, while basically just the health insurance industry favors the version that the Republicans sponsor?

HASTERT: Well, you know, that's not necessarily true, Bob. We have twice as many physicians that favor our bill, and not just the AMA. We have other, the specialized....

SCHIEFFER: Excuse me, well, I just want to make sure people understand. The AMA does not endorse your bill. They endorse the other bill.

HASTERT: The AMA does not endorse our bill because they want to be able to go into court quicker and they're tied to the trial lawyers.

But we have twice as many physicians as the AMA that support our bill and all the other specialty groups.

BORGER: Let's switch now to another hot topic that's coming up on the agenda, and that is campaign finance reform. The Democratic version of campaign finance reform bans all so-called soft money, which is that sort of unregulated large contributions that can go to political parties. Your version caps that at about $75,000.

Do you have the votes in the House to pass your version of campaign finance reform?

HASTERT: I'm not sure that we do yet. But, you know, one of the things about the Democratic bill that will be in the House, not the McCain-Feingold bill because that's in the Senate. We'll have a different bill that the Democrats will have in the House with Chris Shays. And that bill does have some loopholes for soft money, so it doesn't block soft money altogether.

I think, when it comes down to the bottom line of this issue, it's do you want to build the parties in this country? And that's where the soft money goes. So that in our bill and what we've debated, so that parties can recruit people, they can recruit candidates, that they can get the vote out, that they register voters? Or are you going to let the special interests do it? And under the Democrat bill, the specil interests do it.

BORGER: Senator McCain, as you know, has been sending letters to some of your House Republicans whom he campaigned for during this last election, saying, "You promised me that you would vote for my version of campaign finance reform. And if you don't do that, I'm going to send letters of apology to all those Democrats that I campaigned against." What is your reaction to what Senator McCain is doing?

HASTERT: You know, I campaign for people all over the United States all the time all during the year. And, you know, I look for good candidates, people who will do a good job, people who will think straight.

And I think Senator McCain shouldn't bully members of the House of Representatives, I don't care what party they're in. And they ought to be able to make up their mind on what piece of legislation they're going to pass based on the merits.

SCHIEFFER: Do you think Senator McCain is good or bad for the Republican party, Mr. Speaker?

HASTERT: Well, you know, we're a big-tent party. And I've worked with John McCain a lot of issues, especially in Social Security issues. We've done a good job together. But, you know, we need to let everybody into that party with a lot of different points of views, and we can't limit people because they have one idea or another.

BORGER: You say that Senator McCain is bullying your fellow House Republicans. Are you going to ask him to stop?

HASTERT: I asked him to stop doing that already. But I use that term "bullying." If you threaten somebody if they're going to do this action, I would say that that's probably not the best political recourse somebody could have.

SCHIEFFER: Are you going to need Senator McCain, though, to keep the House the next time, Mr. Speaker?

HASTERT: Well, you know, we're building a House. And my view of this is that you do two things: You pass good legislation; you do the right things that you warrant your members getting elected the next time around. You have to run on a record, and you have to run on ideas. And hopefully we'll be able to do that by ourselves.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Mr. Speaker, we want to thank you for coming by this morning.

HASTERT: My pleasure.

SCHIEFFER: Thanks a lot.

When we come back, we're going to talk to two Republicans who have very differing points of view on what we've just been talking about, campaign finance reform, in a minute.


SCHIEFFER: With us now, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Governor Jim Gilmore. Welcome to Face the Nation.

GOV. JAMES GILMORE, R-VA, RNC Chairman: Thank you, Bob.

SCHIEFFER: And Congressman Christopher Shays, who is leading the bipartisan effort, I should say, to pass a campaign finance reform bill in the House. You passed your version of the bill the last time around.

Governo Gilmore, I want to talk to you first, though, about these poll numbers that we're seeing about President Bush here lately. They do not look very good. And I'm talking about the poll that was in the Wall Street Journal, where you see, on just issue after issue, people tend to favor the Democrats' version of getting things done, rather than the Republican. What do you attribute that to?

GILMORE: You know, Bob, I wouldn't be too excited about this. It's...

SCHIEFFER: I wouldn't if I were a Republican, if I were you.


GILMORE: No, it's early in the administration. And if you look at the Gallup poll, it's about 55 percent. That's very close to what we've seen in previous administrations also.

Almost all the polling, if you look at the aggregate of them, have the president in the mid-50s, somewhere in the 50s. And that's pretty consistent with what we've seen in the past. So I think it's going to be all right.

But, Bob, once you begin to see the tax reform really begin to kick in, which starts right now, and people begin to understand that they're able to keep more of their own money, to control their own lives, I think you're going to see even better poll numbers than we've already got.


BORGER: Well, Congressman Shays, you're a moderate Republican, and a lot of people seem to be saying that the problem with President Bush is that he's kept his conservative base but he has not been able to reach out to independents and moderates within his own party. What's your read on that?

REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS, R-CT: Those must be Democrats who say that.


SHAYS: The bottom line is, this president is doing what he said he would do, and that matters to me even if I don't always agree with him. And then he's willing to compromise, to work with the Democrats, clearly with moderate Republicans and conservative Republicans.

BORGER: On your issue of campaign finance reform, for example, there are lots of things about your bill that the president does not like. Do you fully expect him to sign a campaign finance reform measure?

SHAYS: No, I think he will sign this bill. I think he'll sign it because he said he wants to get corporate money out, union dues money out, and have disclosure. And all three of those are in the bill.

SCHIEFFER: Governor Gilmore, as the chairman of the party, are you going to sign on to Congressman Shays' bill?

GILMORE: No, no, Bob, I don't think so. And the reason is that, as chairman of a party, I feel very sensitive to the ability of Americans to get out here and participate in the political process. And I'm concerned that both McCain-Feingold and Shays-Meehan will reduce that ability for the parties to really engage in voter registration, get out the vote, party-building, communications and all those kinds of things that a party rally needs to be able to do.

On the other hand, Chairman Bob Ney of the House Administration Committee is offering an alternative bill, which I think, while I don't agree with all of it by any means, it's a pretty good bill. And it at least allows the people of the United States to participate in public life through their political parties.

SCHIEFFER: Well, what's wrong with trying to get these enormous, almost obscene sums of money that we saw pour into the campaign the last time around, what's wrong with putting some limit on that?

GILMORE: Well, there are already limits, and there have already been limits on direct contributions that can be made to candidates.

But on the other hand, it takes money in order to be able to communicate with people in a country as large and diverse as the United States. That's why, even with this Bob Ney bill, you're starting to see members of the black caucus begin to sign on board, because they understand that clamping down and reducing political discourse in this country, while it may be very good for incumbents and allows incumbents to run without real serious opposition, it's not good for the system.

SHAYS: I need to jump in. We have an incumbents protection plan right now.

Only six incumbents lost in the House of Representatives out of 435. The system we have now is an incumbent protection plan, because they depend so much on large sums of corporate money, union dues money. It's been illegal since 1907 for corporate treasury money, but it comes in. Union dues money's been illegal since 1947. Foreign nationals...

The parties have become basically hostages, I think, of large-money interests, and they are not listening to the voice of individual Americans. We need to return the voice of individual Americans back into our political system, and that's what our bill does.

GILMORE: But Shays-Meehan doesn't do that. Shays-Meehan still allows all these side groups and extra groups and outside groups to continue to be able to spend money without oversight. It tries to actually stop everybody from campaigning and advertising on television a certain number of days before the election, which I think almost any court would laugh out of court almost immediately. So that's unconstitutional in that bill.

But aside from that, they still allow outside groups to campaign with all the so-called soft money almost totally, and that's not good. When the public can't participate through the political parties but special interest groups can, that's a real problem, I think, with this type of so-called reform.

SCHIEFFER: But, Governor, don't you think that the fact that the people see all of this money pouring in has something to do with the fact that people don't really trust politicians anymore, they don't really believe them anymore?

I don't know anybody who thinks that somebody who gives a half a million dollars to a political party or to campaign thinks that they're doing that because they like good government. They want something in return.

GILMORE: Well, you know, the issue here is, are we going to allow enough financing into the political parties to be able to do the type of party-building, the voter education, the registration and get out the vote that we ought to?

Money is used by political parties for that purpose, and that's a good purpose. I think we would all agree that we don't have enough political participation, and the way to deal with that is simply not to stop the parties from campaigning. That is exactly the reverse of what you want to try to do.

You want the parties to be vigorous and robust and have the opportunity to get people registered and get them out to vote. The African-American Caucus, the Black Caucus in the Congress agrees with that proposition.

BORGER: Well, Congressman Shays, let me ask you this. Do you think this is the end of political parties as we know them? Is your bill going to kill both political parties?

SHAYS: The absurdity is the parties were stronger than they are today, and people participated more in the past because the parties reached out to individual Americans. Now they're reaching out to corporate interests and union interests.

I mean, all you have to do is just see the fund-raiser we had, the $20 million we raised, which was $10 million more than last time. All you have to do is look on the Hill magazine where it said our leadership is concerned that if we support the Tauzin-Dingell bill, we'll lose all this millions of dollars of AT&T money. We're responding to the money interests instead of the voice of individual Americans.

SCHIEFFER: Well, let me - the point that the governor raised is in fact accurate.

SHAYS: What point?

SCHIEFFER: It does seem that they are peeling off members of the Black Caucus to vote against the bill that you're now sponsoring. Why do you think that is?

SHAYS: Well, because soft money is very addictive. I mean, if I can go to a corporation or union and raise half a million dollars and then I get to give that money out, there are people who become very addicted to this.

I think we're fighting for the soul of democracy here. This is what it's about. And the half a billion dollars we raised in soft money, which is four times what we raised eight years ago, will be over $2 billion eight years from now. And it is going to be large financial interests. The individual American, his voice won't be heard.

GILMORE: I think we are fighting for the heart and soul of democracy. And this bill, the Shays-Meehan bill, has the potential to really undo this democracy. The political parties are still the way that citizens get involved and involve themselves to get out the vote and voter registration. That is not un-American, that is purely American. This bill would really hinder a great deal othat.

BORGER: Governor Gilmore, let me just ask you, in your role as head of the Republican National Committee, about Senator McCain calling in his chips with some House Republicans. You heard Speaker Hastert refer to it as bullying. What do you think of it as?

GILMORE: Well, no, I think that Senator McCain is certainly entitled to a point of view, and he has vigorously been pursuing the direction of a bill that he believes in. I just don't happen to agree with the ultimate result of either McCain-Feingold or Shays-Meehan.

I think, instead, the alternative allows parties to be able to do what parties ought to do, and that is build the parties, get out the vote, do registration and allow this democracy to really flourish.

SHAYS: And they can still do that. They just have to raise hard money instead of corporate money and union dues money, like we did for years and years and years until most recently.

SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you, Governor, the same question I asked Speaker Hastert.

Do you think in the long run John McCain is good or bad for the Republican Party?

GILMORE: Well, I think John McCain is adding a very vigorous voice into the Republican Party. He and the president are on very cordial terms. I think I'm on cordial terms with Senator McCain. He is a very vigorous voice.

Everybody, though, has an opportunity to put their ideas out there, Senator McCain and everybody else, too. And sometimes some will win, and sometimes one will lose. This is the diversity of the Republican Party in America today.

SCHIEFFER: Do you think he might run for president as an independent?

GILMORE: Oh, I doubt it. I don't see there is a necessity of that. But that's always in the hands of any particular individual.

SCHIEFFER: If he did, which side do think he would hurt? Would he hurt Democrats or would he hurt Republicans?

GILMORE: I think it's entirely theoretical and very unlikely that anything like that would occur.

SHAYS: John is not going to run as an Independent or Democrat. He is a Republican through and through. And he is vital for this party, just as our president is.

BORGER: Congressman, do you think there is going to be a vote on campaign finance reform in the House? Congressman DeLay...

SHAYS: Absolutely.

BORGER: ... says that he will do anything to kill this bill. Have you heard that they may...

SHAYS: You had my speaker on. This speaker promised us a vote last time; we had it. He promised us a fair rule and a fair process; we had it. As soon as we get back from the July break, we're going to take up the rule, we'll take up the bill. And we'll vote it out, or we won't.

BORGER: And very quickly, do you have the votes right now to pass your version of campaign finance reform?

SHAYS: It's going to be very close.

SCHIEFFER: On final word for you, Governor. The patients' bill of rights bill that the Democrats sponsored, it just passed the Senate. Democrats believe they have the votes to pass similar legislation in the House. If that happened and the president vetoed it, would that hurt the Republican Party?

GILMORE: Well, I think we need to remember that the goal here is to get health care for people. There are 44 million people today without health care.

SCHIEFFER: I understand all that. But I'm asking do you think from a political standpoint it would hurt the Republican Party?

GILMORE: We want to make it very clear that the Republican Party doesn't want to exacerbate problems for poor people in this country who don't have health insurance. If we put together a bill out here that reduces the ability to have coverage, that's bad for people. And that's what we're really concerned about.

SCHIEFFER: OK, we have to leave it there. Thanks to both of you.

We'll be back with a final word in just a minute.

GILMORE: Thank you, Bob.


SCHIEFFER: Finally today, fireworks are great, but here is a better way to celebrate the Fourth of July: Read about it, because there are some great new reasons to do that. Two terrific books, "The Founding Brothers," by Joseph Ellis, which came out last year, and David McCullough's spectacular new biography of John Adams.

Thomas Paine, the great voice of liberty, thought the founding of America was inevitable. After all, he reasoned, no island could long rule a continent. But as Ellis and McCullough remind us in these books, accomplishing the inevitable, in this case, was no small task.

Even as we celebrate the courage and wisdom of the founders, we sometimes forget just what a long shot America was. There have been many revolutions since ours, but think of this: Before ours, no people had ever broken away from a colonial power.

Those present at the beginning of our revolution had no idea how it would come out. But they risked their lives and fortunes because they believed they were right and thought that if they could explain the reasons for the revolution, they would succeed.

So even before they raised an army, in one document, Thomas Jefferson codified, as no one ever had, the common yearning of all people to be free. That yearning drove the revolution, and when the world understood that, America's cause was every person's cause. The world changed forever. And today, America stands as history's oldest and most enduring republic.

These are books about the remarkable people who did all that. As Mccullough writes, "I don't think we can ever know enough about them." Nor do I.

Happy Fourth. We'll see you next week right here on Face the Nation.

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