Hatch: Too Rushed On Health Care

Can Congress hammer out a health care reform bill before the August recess? Harry Smith spoke with Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.).
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) bemoaned that any health care proposal which taxes wealthy Americans and small businesses will "kill a lot of jobs" on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday.

"I don't follow why we have got to spend another one-and-a-half to two trillion dollars . . . on top of the two trillion we are already spending in this country . . . and then still by one estimate have 33 million people without health insurance," Hatch said.

The senator said that health care legislation in the House and Senate has become "so political."

He called the current House bill a "total partisan bill. The HELP committee in the Senate is a total partisan bill, and our only hope is to have Senator Baucus put something together in the Finance Committee."

Guest moderator Harry Smith asked Hatch if he thinks the race to finish legislating health care reform by Congress' August 8 summer recess is going "too fast."

"I think so," Hatch replied, noting the cost and significance of making changes in an industry he claimed accounts for about one-sixth of the American economy. "You're talking about myriad problems here. You're talking about people who are all over the map as far as what they really want to do. I think there's a really good reason why the president wants to [finish by August 8]. He knows he can't sell it if the debate lasts very long because it is so expensive and costly."

Congressman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) argued that the reason the House and Senate proposals appear partisan is because Republicans have not offered reasonable alternatives.

"We have been dealing with this bill for over six months," Rangel said. "The fact that it is not bipartisan is not because Democrats don't want to have a bipartisan bill; we don't have any Republican answers.

"It's easy to say what you don't like about this bill," Rangel said in response to Hatch's cruiticisms, "but it would be far more constructive if we had something to work on."

The New York Congressman, who is chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, said he is depending on Hatch to see if there is a reasonable Republican bill in the Senate because "There certainly is not one in the House.

"The president has given us a deadline; we're working under it. Our committee has reported out a bill. We're waiting for the Senate to do what? Do anything!"

Hatch responded that Republicans have not been welcomed into the process of drafting either the House or Senate health bills.

"One of the big problems is we really have not been invited very strongly into either bill in the House or the Senate," he said. "There hasn't been a real interchange with Republicans on this issue.

"I blame the leadership and I blame the president for pushing something so hard so that they are deathly afraid of the August recess."

"The president is working around the clock on this issue and I don't want to be negative about the other body," Rangel said later. "Quite frankly they haven't presented anything to the Senate to the House or to the country."

Earlier in the program Harry Smith asked Rangel to respond to the Congressional Budget Office's estimation that the House bill which his committee passed was costly and ineffective.

"I am surprised that the Congressional Budget Office had these views and did not share them with the Ways and Means Committee before we finished our work," Rangel said, offering that the CBO is "working with different assumptions" than are the White House and Congress.

Smith asked Rangel if the health care proposal by the House leadership could be achieved without significantly raising taxes.

"Well, no," he admitted. "It's the question of home much savings we do have."

Rangel said that in the proposal, $500 billion were raised by savings in Medicare and Medicaid and an additional $500 billion were raised through taxes.