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updated 2/4/2010 12:34:48 PM ET 2010-02-04T17:34:48

MR. DAVID GREGORY: This Sunday: the August heat over health care.

(Videotape)

Unidentified Man: One day, God's going to stand before you and he's going

to judge you and the rest of your damn cronies up on the Hill.

(End videotape)

MR. GREGORY: The president tries to regain control of the debate.

(Videotape)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA: So I need you to keep knocking on doors, talking to

your neighbors, spread the facts, fight against the fear.

(End videotape)

MR. GREGORY: This morning, a special hour-long discussion making sense of

health care. What are the issues at the center of the debate? How would

reform affect your health care? Separating fact from fiction in the

fight. And what does it mean politically for President Obama? With us:

former House majority leader Republican Dick Armey, now the head of

FreedomWorks, a major organizer of protesters at town hall meetings;

Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, a medical doctor and member of

the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; former Senate

majority leader, Democrat Tom Daschle, an informal adviser to the White

House and author of "Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care

Crisis"; and Rachel Maddow, host of MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show."

Plus, additional perspectives from around the country: the chairman of

the House Ways and Means Committee, Charlie Rangel of New York; Bruce

Josten, executive vice president of the Chamber of Commerce; and

Democratic Governor Bill Ritter of Colorado.

MR. DAVID GREGORY: But first, making sense of healthcare reform, for the

entire hour. And welcome to our panel here. You know, the president wrote

on the op-ed page of The New York Times today that this is the great

debate for America right now. And I think what the public also wants is a

civil and informative debate, which is what I think we're going to have

this morning. I want to talk in just a few minutes about three major

areas of contention in this healthcare debate. But first I do want to

talk about the anger, the emotion and the fear that is out there.

And, Senator Daschle, let me begin with you. All of these town halls,

have they altered or derailed the chance for reform this year?

FMR. SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD): David, I think it's actually been a good

thing. I think that it's drawn even greater focus on the issue. You've

got President Obama out there in places all over the country talking and

trying to set the record straight. Obviously, these are emotional issues.

This is the noise of democracy. You ask 300 million people what they

ought to do about health care and you're going to get a lot of different

ideas, some of them very deeply emotional. But the bottom line is I think

this really does help a lot, goes a long way.

MR. GREGORY: But it helps, it doesn't hurt. You really believe that it

doesn't hurt?

SEN. DASCHLE: I--well, obviously there are--the misinformation hurts.

Obviously if you, if you provoke fear, that hurts. But the opportunity

that we have to set the record straight, to keep the focus on the issue,

to recognize that there are millions of people out there who don't have

health care, to recognize that there are so many people out there that,

that are left out, 12 million people have been, have been discriminated

against because they have an illness. We've got huge cost problems, huge

quality problems. And this is our opportunity really to lay the record

straight, to put the focus where it belongs and to, and to get this job

done for the first time in 70 years.

MR. GREGORY: All right. But let's talk about the tone of the debate.

There have been death threats against members of Congress, there are Nazi

references to members of Congress and to the president. Here are some of

the images. The president being called a Nazi, his reform effort being

called Nazi-like, referring to Nazi Germany, members of Congress being

called the same. And then there was this image this week outside of

Portsmouth, New Hampshire, a town hall event that the president had, this

man with a gun strapped to his leg held that sign, "It is time to water

the tree of liberty." It was a reference to that famous Thomas Jefferson

quote, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the

blood of patriots and tyrants." That has become a motto for violence

against the government. Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, had

that very quote on his shirt the day of the bombing of the Murrah

building when 168 people were killed.

Senator Coburn, you are from Oklahoma. When this element comes out in

larger numbers because of this debate, what, what troubles you about

that?

SEN. TOM COBURN (R-OK): Well, I'm, I'm troubled anytime when we, we stop

having confidence in, in our government. But we've earned it. You know,

this debate isn't about health care. Health care's the symptom. The

debate is an uncontrolled federal government that's going to run--50

percent of everything we're spending this year we're borrowing from the

next generation. You...

MR. GREGORY: That's--but wait, hold on, I want to stop you there. I'm

talking about the tone. I am talking about violence against the

government. That's what this is synonymous with.

SEN. COBURN: The, the--but the tone is based on fear of loss of control

of their own government. What, what is the genesis behind people going to

such extreme statements? What is it? We, we have lost the confidence, to

a certain degree, and it's much worse than when Tom was the, the, the

leader of the Senate. We have, we have raised the question of whether or

not we're legitimately thinking about the American people and their

long-term best interests. And that's the question. The, the mail volume

of all the senators didn't go up based on the healthcare debate, the mail

volume went up when we started spending away our future indiscriminately.

And that's not Republican or Democrat, that has been a problem for years.

But it's exacerbated now that we're in the kind of financial situation

and economic situation.

MR. GREGORY: Congressman Armey, FreedomWorks, your organization, advocacy

organization getting together a lot of folks, coordinating a lot of the

efforts to get people out for the protests. Do you bear some

responsibility for the tone of the debate?

FMR. REP. DICK ARMEY (R-TX): Not, not whatsoever. Not when you see the

kind of extreme thing you just saw, the--you know, I had my differences

with President Bush, George W. Bush, there's no doubt about it. They were

well aware of that. But when moveon.org ran those ads that compared

President Bush with, with Adolf Hitler, I thought it was despicable.

MS. RACHEL MADDOW: They never did that.

REP. ARMEY: They did do it. I'll show you the ad.

MS. MADDOW: They didn't do that. They never ran an ad that compared...

REP. ARMEY: All right. Anyway. All right.

MS. MADDOW: MoveOn never ran an ad that compared Bush to Hitler.

REP. ARMEY: All right.

MR. GREGORY: Well, hold on, hold on. Finish your thought and then...

REP. ARMEY: What, what, what, you're going to get your chance to talk.

Well, I, I, I just looked at the moveon.org ad again this morning, and

it, it was a horrible thing. You know, it's horrible to see this. But I

have had town hall meetings since 1984. There are always a lot of

colorful people that show up with town hall meetings, a lot of people

with a lot of colorful statements. When FreedomWorks encourages people to

go to town hall meetings, we encourage them to go and make their points

clearly, assertively and with good manners. So I'm not--I don't know who

these folks are. We certainly bear no responsibility for...

MR. GREGORY: But you say good manners; the, the House speaker, Nancy

Pelosi, wrote an op-ed this week during which she said, "Drowning out

opposing views is simply un-American. Drowning out the facts"...

REP. ARMEY: Well...

MR. GREGORY: ..."drowning out the facts is how we failed at this effort

for many decades." Un-American, Rachel?

REP. ARMEY: Well...

MS. MADDOW: I--well, I, I think that anytime you're trying to stop

discussion, I think that's un-American. But I, I mean, I take issue with

the idea that the government has done anything to earn the kind of

threats of violence that we have seen.

SEN. COBURN: I didn't say that.

MS. MADDOW: Well, you--well, David, I...

SEN. COBURN: What I, what I said is what--it is indicative of the loss of

confidence. And when people are afraid, they do all sorts of things that

they normally wouldn't do.

MR. GREGORY: All right.

MS. MADDOW: I don't think...

SEN. COBURN: And we have undermined, by our actions--whether it be

earmarking and corruption and, and disconnection between integrity and

character in what we do and what the people expect, and this--these are

just symptoms...

MS. MADDOW: But whether...

SEN. COBURN: ...of a lack of confidence in what we're doing.

MR. GREGORY: Go ahead, Rachel.

MS. MADDOW: Whether or not, whether or not the government has acted in a

way that you feel is defensible, I don't think the government has done

anything to earn, in your words, the, the, the threat of--that the blood

of tyrants must run in the streets, which is what the literal threat was

from that man with the gun strapped to, strapped to his leg in New

Hampshire. I also don't think that, that there is an equivalence between

what moveon.org has done and with the comparisons of the president to

Hitler that we've seen so often in this debate. I mean, some of the major

organizations who are organizing these events, like Americans for

Prosperity, a group that has some similarities to FreedomWorks but

definitely a different group, they've had speakers going around the

country not only comparing healthcare reform to Hitler, but comparing

them to Pol Pot and Stalin, saying "Put the fear of God into your members

of Congress." I don't think the government has done anything to earn

that.

MR. GREGORY: Congressman:

REP. ARMEY: Well, first of all, I don't know what Americans for

Prosperity has done. But if in fact they deserve to have fire on their

bunker, please, put your fire on their bunker. I don't want it on my

bunker. The fact of the matter is we had Nancy Pelosi, within the last

six months, stand up before a very vocal and ruckus group and say, you

know, "I love disrupters." Here's the speaker of the House saying, "I

love disrupters." So the fact of the matter is there's been some

provocation by officially elected people, and that is not, that's not a

happy thing. Moveon.org has been a very aggressive organization. What we

believe you should have is people show up, people assertively answer the

very difficult questions and for people to be well mannered.

Now, I'd like to go on something that Doc Coburn...

MR. GREGORY: All right, but that--just, you have to admit, the notion

that people are being well mannered is not happening.

REP. ARMEY: That, that may not--that may be with some people.

MR. GREGORY: All right.

REP. ARMEY: I'm appalled by what I see, too, by some people.

MR. GREGORY: All right.

REP. ARMEY: But for anybody to say that Dick Armey is...

MR. GREGORY: So, so you repudiate the Nazi imagery. The Nazi imagery and

all of that, you repudiate that.

REP. ARMEY: Absolutely, I repudiate it.

MR. GREGORY: That has no place in the debate.

REP. ARMEY: I--as I said, I repudiated it when moveon.org did it to

George Bush. Did anybody here at this table repudiate it?

MS. MADDOW: You remember a...

REP. ARMEY: We've just heard that it was all right when MoveOn did it.

MS. MADDOW: That's not true. They never ran an ad that said it.

REP. ARMEY: But it is not all right when anybody does it.

MS. MADDOW: The Tea Party Patriots is an organization that your

organization is a member of a coalition with. It's called the Tea Party

Patriots Health Care Freedom Coalition partner. That's what Freedoms

Work***(as spoken)***is, that's what Americans for Prosperity is. If you

go to Tea Party Patriots right now, what they've got on their front page

of their Web site, the top item, is a video showing the violence at the

town hall in Ybor City, in Tampa, Florida, essentially promoting that as

if that was a good thing that happened, that showed what the Health Care

Freedom Coalition wants to have done in the healthcare debate.

FreedomWorks is part of that coalition.

REP. ARMEY: Right.

MS. MADDOW: You can say that you denounce it, but the organization that

you head is part of it.

REP. ARMEY: Listen, this--one of the fascinating things, by the way,

about the Tea Party, Tea Party movement, it is, it is an enormously

impressive grassroot uprising across the country, loosely affiliated

people, and there's probably a hundred, 200 different Web sites by

different people. Somebody in Oregon's got one, somebody in Illinois.

We've got a situation with somebody in Connecticut that we did not know

and who did not know us put out something that was mischaracterized and

then attributed to us by somebody who obviously didn't have enough

diligence in their ability to do their research to get their facts

straight. These things happen.

MR. GREGORY: Right.

REP. ARMEY: People get blamed for what other people do.

MR. GREGORY: Beyond, beyond the...

REP. ARMEY: But the fact is, that just causes further aggravation.

The--especially when you start talking about elected officials, people

that have the privilege of having news shows under the license granted by

the federal government. They should at least have the adult discipline to

get their facts correct.

MS. MADDOW: Are you a member of the Tea Party Patriots Health Care

Freedom Coalition?

REP. ARMEY: I'm a member of FreedomWorks, and FreedomWorks works with

many people who fight for and, and argue on behalf of individual liberty.

MR. GREGORY: All right, I want to move on. One of the issues here is

inaccuracies, myths in the debate. What has dominated this week is this

idea of death panels being part of the healthcare reform effort, the idea

that somehow the government would countenance euthanasia against older

Americans who are close to death. And even Chuck Grassley, senator from

Iowa, a Republican senator from Iowa who is negotiating healthcare reform

on the Senate Finance Committee, said this during an event on Wednesday.

(Videotape, Wednesday)

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): In the House bill there's counseling for end

of life.

Offscreen Voice: That's it.

SEN. GRASSLEY: And from that standpoint, you have every right to fear.

You should--you shouldn't have counseling at the end of life. You ought

to have counseling 20 years before you're going to die. We should not

have a government program that determines you're going to pull the plug

on grandma.

(End videotape)

MR. GREGORY: "Pull the plug on grandma." That's not part of this debate.

It's not in the bill, Senator.

SEN. DASCHLE: Well, David, it's hyperbolic, it's fearmongering, it's

actually politics at its worst. That's the kind of thing that generates

the kind of anger and fear and anxiety that people have today. You know,

it's, it's amazing to me that a very good idea, one I'm sure that maybe

even all of us agree with, that there ought to be some consultation, some

opportunity to talk about these things outside of that moment when you're

at your most emotionally vulnerable state in life. And, and, you know,

the amazing thing is--and Johnny Isakson, a, a member of the, the Health

Committee, actually offered as a mandatory requirement that there be this

mandatory counseling. He--as it turns out, it, it was, it--they, they

persuaded him to offer it as a voluntary measure. But that voluntary

counseling is something that we ought to be encouraging, not

discouraging.

MR. GREGORY: And in fact, Senator Coburn, the prescription drug bill that

the Republican Congress passed back in 2003 had a similar provision, did

it not?

SEN. COBURN: I don't know. I wasn't in Congress in 2003, so I'm not

familiar with that. But I was adamantly opposed to the prescription drug

bill, mainly because it added $10 trillion to our grandkids' debt.

MR. GREGORY: Right.

SEN. COBURN: Look, the, the idea that we ought to talk about our future

health and what our family and what we want done is a good idea, it's

legitimate. What is not legitimate is having government even weigh in on

it. It is intensely personal; your health care, your plans, your family.

There is no role for government in that. And where we've seen a

role--and, and this happens all the time, which goes to one of the things

that never gets talked about in health care--is we have statements,

living wills. We have people who have made those very tough decisions.

And then, because they've made them, but because of the malpractice

situation and liability, they're ignored. And we still intubate and put

people onto ventilators that never wanted it because a family member

threatens through a situation, even though you have that end of life

counseling there. So the--we need to get down to the basics of what's

really wrong with health care, and there's a lot. And it's not the people

who are complaining about it and it's not the people who are debating it.

The fact is, is we--everybody wants to see some change. Republicans want

to see change, we just want to get there in a different way. But the fact

is, is we have a way too expensive healthcare system. It is one of the

best in the world, and we ought to see about changing.

MR. GREGORY: And you want a reasonable debate?

SEN. COBURN: Absolutely.

MR. GREGORY: You said, however--this was a headline from The Washington

Times, July 16th: "Coburn: Dem health plan will kill Americans." Really?

SEN. COBURN: It will. Absolutely.

MR. GREGORY: Is that reasonable?

SEN. COBURN: There's--yes, it is reasonable. That is--look, who--I still

practice medicine almost every Monday, David. I see patients. How many

people that are involved in this debate are actually in the healthcare

system? Very few. The fact is, is if you create a comparative

effectiveness board, which there's no question 70 percent of the people

it will help, and it will help control costs, but 30 percent of the

people it's going to hurt.

SEN. DASCHLE: David, we can't...

SEN. COBURN: Because we're not--we're not going to use...

SEN. DASCHLE: That's--you cannot, you can't--Jim, you can't make that

assertion.

SEN. COBURN: We're not going to use the art of medicine. We're not

going...

SEN. DASCHLE: You just can't allow that assertion to be made, because...

SEN. COBURN: Well, we can. Let's look at the NICE system.

SEN. DASCHLE: Listen, this is the recommendation.

MR. GREGORY: Well, let's end it...

SEN. DASCHLE: Mayo Clinic--you're saying Mayo Clinic, 30 people, 30

percent of the people at Mayo Clinic are, are disadvantaged because they

have comparative effectiveness?

SEN. COBURN: No, they, they--no, they do not.

SEN. DASCHLE: Yes, they do.

SEN. COBURN: Yes, they do. But they don't apply that in the same way that

this plan.

SEN. DASCHLE: And they, and they--and same with Intermountain, same with

Geisinger. The best institutions in the country, David, use comparative

effectiveness and everybody benefits. And to Jim's point about the fact

that, that we can't have government involved with some kind of

consultation, government runs the Medicare program. The Medicare program

covers virtually every senior in the country today. If you're not going

to have the government do it through Medicare, who is going to do it? You

can't simply just say go, go try to find a way to do it. We know the

status quo is a disaster. What Jim is arguing for is more status quo, and

we can't accept that.

MR. GREGORY: Senator, Tom; you keep calling him Jim. You mean Tom.

Senator Tom Coburn.

SEN. DASCHLE: I mean Tom.

SEN. COBURN: Jim, Jim's my brother.

MR. GREGORY: Yeah, right.

SEN. DASCHLE: Sorry.

MR. GREGORY: Let me take a break here, because I mentioned we're going to

have some outside perspectives in this debate. And I want to bring in

Governor Bill Ritter; the governor, of course, of Colorado. He was

the--with the president, who was doing a town hall last evening in Grand

Junction, Colorado.

And, Governor, I want to ask you about the president's effectiveness

right now and whether he is winning this argument. That's certainly been

a motivation for him being around the country, doing his own town halls.

This is the Gallup poll on the president's handling of the healthcare

crisis: approval at 43 percent, disapproval at 49 percent. Those are the

similar numbers that President Clinton had back in 1993, 1994. What do

you think he's doing wrong?

GOV. BILL RITTER (D-CO): Well, I don't, I don't know that you can blame

the president for this. I think a good part of this has to do how you

opened the show, David, it's, it's the sort of partisan wrangling. And

maybe that's even too nice of a word for what's been happening with these

town hall meetings. They're capturing the attention. Americans listen to

where the conflict is, where the swords are crossed. But they're not, I

think, getting all of the information about this. My time yesterday with

the president and my time at the town hall meeting leads me to believe

that people who even are wondering about it but hear him speak about it,

hear him speak about what this really does entail, they're impressed by

how, I think, by his vision for how we go forward with respect to

healthcare reform. It was, it was a very good town hall meeting. He took

questions from people who, I would say, disagreed with him coming into

it. Maybe they disagreed with him as they all left. But I would also that

for those folks who were sort of on the bubble, they, they have to

respect that we need to do this and that he has a vision for how to do

it.

MR. GREGORY: Governor Ritter, what do you hear most? The Rocky Mountain

West is a key area for independent voters in the country. The president

successfully courted and won their vote in the election last year. But

it's those independents who have a real concern about the role of

government, about the mounting debt that could be associated with this

healthcare plan. What are you hearing?

GOV. RITTER: Well, I think that's the right point, David. What I hear is

this, that the healthcare system is broken. So while there is this

concern about a mounting deficit, there's also this real concern about

the fact that the system's broken, that people view it as unsustainable,

that people don't view their health plan as something that's really

secure for them. They could lose it tomorrow if their employer takes it

away or if they lose their job. They want it fixed. So they want it

fixed, but they also are concerned about federal spending, they're

concerned about the deficit. And they want to know, can you reform health

care and at the same time do what's necessary to control federal spending

or to bring down the deficit? The president actually addressed this

yesterday in his town hall meeting in a very effective way.

MR. GREGORY: All right, Governor Ritter from Colorado, thanks, as always.

Always good to talk to you.

Rachel Maddow, does the president bear some responsibility? Does he

undermine his credibility when he makes some claims like, if you like

your insurance you can keep your insurance, when a lot of people have

said not really; employers could drop people from insurance if they

wanted to move people into a public plan, if that existed? It may be an

aspiration, but he can't guarantee it.

MS. MADDOW: It's the way--what he has suggested would guarantee it.

What's happening, I think where the, where the president has some more

responsibility is to give the Congress more direction. I find it strange

that we have--the American people have decided that there will be a lot

more Democrats in Congress than Republicans. The Democrats have a huge

60-seat majority in the Senate, and therefore they've got big majorities

on every committee, too. But Max Baucus, who is a Democratic senator, has

decided on the Senate Finance Committee, which has this key role in what's

going to happen next, that they won't have the whole committee do it.

It'll just be three Democrats and three Republicans who are going to make

that decision. One of those Republicans is going around the country

giving out copies of Glenn Beck's book and saying that healthcare reform

will pull the plug on grandma, Senator Grassley. So for, for, for, for

the Democrats in Congress to be essentially giving up their majority,

deciding the way this is going to pass, I think is something that the

president ought to weigh in on. There's a reason that Democrats have a

60-seat majority. The American people voted for it, and I think they'd

like a Democratic bill.

MR. GREGORY: Congressman Armey, Dan Balz wrote this in The Washington

Post on Saturday about the political tactics involved here. He wrote:

"The president and his team are receiving lots of advice from allies

frustrated that the White House has not been more aggressive in firing

back at reform critics and in attacking a strategy they believe is

designed to bring down Obama's presidency." Do you think that's what

conservative opponents of his healthcare reform have in their gun sights

right now?

REP. ARMEY: Absolutely not. I mean, this is the, probably the most--it's

certainly the, the highest, largest hostile government takeover in the history of

the country, one-sixth of the entire economy. And it's the most intimate.

I mean, you have people on the streets today, real people that are

saying, "Am I going to in fact end up with a decision regarding how my

liver infection is going to be treated in the hands of somebody in a

bureaucracy with a degree in sociology?" And it is--if you read this

bill, which is a frightening thing, by the way; I was reading it again

yesterday. It is unnerving to read this bill because of the growth of

bureaucracy. And the idea that--and I'll give you an example. I got a

contact the other day, a fellow got in touch with me. He has been on

Social Security disability for about seven years. And all of a sudden,

out of the blue, he is in--he receives a letter saying, "We're taking you

off of disability and you need to send us $21,000." He doesn't have

$21,000, and he can't even figure out who made that decision. He calls

his congressman. His congressman says, "I don't know what I can do about

that." He tries to call his senator, he can't get a call through. So he

calls me, for crying out loud. And this guy doesn't even leave in Texas.

MR. GREGORY: Senator Daschle, a hostile takeover of government?

SEN. DASCHLE: Look, David, that, that argument suggests that Dick

obviously enjoys the status quo. The status quo eliminates 50 million

people from insurance today, 12 million because they are discriminated

against because they have disabilities. Eighteen thousand people last

year died because they didn't have insurance. That's the status quo. And

rather than have government do it, apparently Dick would rather have the

insurance companies do it, because that's who's doing it now. Jon Stewart

and others call it the American lottery. You send in your forms and you

hope you get something back from the insurance companies. That, to me, is

why the American people want to see change. They want to see change

because of the costs, they want to see change because they understand the

quality is going down in this country and they want to see change because

so many people aren't covered. That's the status quo and

that's...(unintelligible).

SEN. COBURN: Let me, let me dispute the question on quality.

MR. GREGORY: All right, but...

SEN. COBURN: There...

MR. GREGORY: Senator:

SEN. COBURN: There is no indicator anywhere in this country that the

quality of medicine has declined. There's every...

SEN. DASCHLE: Oh, that's not true. That is not true.

REP. ARMEY: Absolutely.

SEN. COBURN: That, that--no, that is...

REP. ARMEY: Absolutely...

SEN. DASCHLE: That is not true.

SEN. COBURN: That is absolutely true.

SEN. DASCHLE: What are we ranking in life expectancy in this country?

SEN. COBURN: The--no, you--life expectancy is not an indicator when you

have a society that's built our way.

SEN. DASCHLE: It's not an indicator?

SEN. COBURN: Look, let me finish, Tom.

SEN. DASCHLE: What about, what about...

SEN. COBURN: Let me finish, Tom. We, we talk about neonatal mortality.

Where's the neonatal mortality? It's not in the private insurance plans,

it's in Medicaid. Well, here's the government-run program that is failing

us in terms of neonatal mortality, and yet we use as an indicator

neonatal mortality to say we need more government rather than less.

MS. MADDOW: That is so disingenuous, that's unbelievable.

SEN. DASCHLE: Every...

SEN. COBURN: The, the question--let me finish, let me finish, let me

finish. There--the very fact that the president would suggest that

doctors take tonsils out to make money rather than because it's an

indicated procedure is ludicrous. Most people who get a referral to an

ENT have already had one opinion that they're worried.

SEN. DASCHLE: This is, this is...

MR. GREGORY: All right, quick comment...

SEN. DASCHLE: ...totally off the mark.

SEN. COBURN: It's not off...

MR. GREGORY: ...then I'm going to get in a break in. Hold on, I'll let

you respond.

SEN. DASCHLE: The Commonwealth listed us as 19th; out of 19

industrialized countries, we rank 19th overall. World Health Organization

listed us 37th, just below Costa Rica and above Slovenia. I mean, you

don't--you can rationalize all you want. The fact is, the quality in this

country--we have islands of excellence.

MR. GREGORY: All right.

SEN. DASCHLE: But we have a sea of mediocrity, and we've got to address

it.

MR. GREGORY: All right. Let me, let me get in here. We're going to take a

break here. We're going to come back and we're going to talk about those

three most contentious areas. I want to get through all of them...

REP. ARMEY: Right.

MR. GREGORY: ...so we can really debate it. We'll come back. More of our

discussion after this brief break.

(Announcements)

MR. GREGORY: More with our panel on healthcare reform; Armey, Daschle,

Coburn and Maddow after this brief commercial break.

(Announcements)

MR. GREGORY: We are back to continue our discussion on health care with

Dick Armey, Rachel Maddow, Tom Daschle and Senator Tom Coburn.

All right. As I mentioned, I want to get to the three most contentious

issues of the debate. If we can try to get to it all, we're going to try.

There's obviously a lot more to discuss even than just this.

The first issue has to do with funding. How do you fund reform? It's

going to be expensive. Fifty million without healthcare insurance, a

price tag of around a trillion dollars to be able to do that. I want to

bring in Charlie Rangel, congressman of New York, of course, chairman of

the House Ways and Means--Manes--Means Committee.

Congressman, welcome. I want to take you to Montana, this was the town

hall debate that the president had, and listen to Rondy--Randy Rathie,

what he had to say.

(Videotape)

MR. RANDY RATHIE: Max Baucus, our senator, has been locked up in a dark

room there for months now trying to come up with some money to pay for

these programs.

PRES. OBAMA: Right.

MR. RATHIE: And we keep getting the bull. That's all we get is bull. You

can't tell us how you're going to pay for this. You're saving here,

you're saving over there. You're going to take a little money here,

you're going to take a little money there. But you have no money. The

only way you're going to get that money is to raise our taxes. You said

you wouldn't. Max Baucus says he doesn't want to put a bill out that,

that will. But that's the only way you can do that.

(End videotape)

MR. GREGORY: Congressman, isn't he right?

REP. CHARLIE RANGEL (D-NY): I can't believe that our democracy is so

fragile that people who have no answer to a very serious problem would

just try to create animosity and hatred rather than to sit down and first

find out what is the problem, how costly is it, and then what does it

take in order to stop it? There's no question that most everyone

listening to this show have known some horrible story where someone has

lost their home, their, their job, their, their, their--they, they--as a

result of not being able to be able to cope with the cost of present

health care. And it's getting worse, and more and more people are losing

health insurance...

MR. GREGORY: All right.

REP. RANGEL: ...and the people who have it don't have it. We're going to

have to pay for it, but it's going to be less in doing something right

now than if we just let these things turn over to people...

MR. GREGORY: How--but--OK, but how are you going to pay for it?

REP. RANGEL: ...who have scripts.

MR. GREGORY: You're, you're for a surtax on the wealthy.

REP. RANGEL: We got to pay for it by cutting...

MR. GREGORY: Is that going to work in the Senate, Congressman?

REP. RANGEL: First of all, when we start talking about how you pay for

it, you got to stop the hemorrhage. And we can do that. Much of the

things that we're doing out there that is the cause of the problem that

we--we're in can be taken care of by having the, the right procedures

given to the right people, and making certain that we cut down on health

care. And when the people of the industry can tell you that they can save

tens of trillions of dollars by working with the president, then you know

that we can resolve most of this by stopping what we're doing wrong.

MR. GREGORY: But, Congressman, I want to...

REP. RANGEL: And yes, it does take some money.

MR. GREGORY: All right, but I want to focus on that.

REP. RANGEL: It does take some money to kick this off.

MR. GREGORY: My, my question--Congressman, my question to you is whether

the surtax...

REP. RANGEL: We're talking about less than 1 percent...

MR. GREGORY: Wait a minute, Congressman. Can the surtax survive in the

Senate? You want to raise $544 billion of this price tag through a surtax

on the wealthy. Can that prevail in the Senate?

REP. RANGEL: I don't know what can prevail in the Senate. All I know is

this, that people are trying to use hatreds as a substitute for

discussion. We should be talking about how much does it cost, is it

costing too much, what is the Senate going to do, what is the House going

to do? But when people are paid to work up our town hall meetings, it's

clear they're not looking for a solution, they're looking for a political

out of this serious question.

MR. GREGORY: Congressman, the long...

REP. RANGEL: And so we should be talking with the Senate. We should be

talking with them now. They don't even have a bill.

MR. GREGORY: Congressman, if you look at the longer term picture here,

beyond 2019, the 10-year window for this plan, the Congressional Budget

Office has said that healthcare costs will go up at such a rate that

proposed tax increases and other savings cannot keep pace and that the

deficit will rise. Can the president keep his promise to not raise taxes

on those making $250,000 or less?

REP. RANGEL: Yes, he can and he will. The problem that we have is, is

what do you score, what does the Congressional Budget Office count as

being a savings? Is it people--what happened to the last few years of

someone's life? Is it the overcharging that the pharmaceuticals and

doctors have? Is it the number of people that go in and out of hospitals

and we don't reward those who do the right thing? These are questions we

should be talking about. But what is happening now is a building up of

hatred, and I am so surprised that our churches and our synagogues and

our mosques are not coming here and saying they want the right thing done

by poor folks who can't afford health care, working people that don't

have health care and should have it, and people who do have health plans

that really are hemorrhaging in increases in costs. This is not a

Republican or Democratic issue, this is an American, humane issue, and

we're not dealing with it with these type of town hall meetings.

MR. GREGORY: Congressman Rangel, always good to have you. Thank you very

much for joining the discussion.

Senator Daschle, the savings that the president talks about; there can be

some tax hikes on the rich, and then he talks about two-thirds of this

program being paid for by other kinds of savings within Medicare. Is that

realistic, or are these just theoretical saving options?

SEN. DASCHLE: Well, David, keep in mind that over the next 10 years our

country's going to spend $35 trillion on health care. That's the

projection today. That $35 trillion dwarfs the trillion dollars we're

talking about as up-front costs that we have to, have to, to construct in

order to put this new infrastructure in place--including, for the first

time, covering 50 million new American insured. So I don't think there's

any question that we can find, within $35 trillion, the savings necessary

to come up with part of that cost for the new infrastructure. And I think

the president's plan is, is, is, is about right. It's, it's the balance

between revenue on one side and cutting costs on the other.

MS. MADDOW: I, I think the policy about what we actually do makes a big

difference in terms of how much we have to spend and how much savings we

get. One of the reasons that I think a lot of liberals and Democrats are

in favor of a strong public option is because the administrative costs

are so much lower in a government program, frankly, like Medicare, than

they are in private insurance. We waste so many billions of dollars on

the administrative costs of having the private insurance-based system

that we have now. When you compare us to other industrialized country

that don't have that much of a reliance on...

MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.

MS. MADDOW: ...all these different thousands of insurance companies,

we're wasting a lot of money just moving paper around. Ask healthcare

professionals how frustrated they are...

SEN. COBURN: You know, it's...

MS. MADDOW: ...with how much paperwork they have to for these insurance companies.

MR. GREGORY: Hold on, I want to get Congressman...

SEN. COBURN: ...the numbers.

MR. GREGORY: I want to get Congressman Armey on the tax question.

REP. ARMEY: Right.

MR. GREGORY: Are taxes going to go up beyond just the wealthy?

REP. ARMEY: Of course their taxes are going to go up. And, and, and

what--one of the things about how to pay for it that I think is really

causing a lot of distress and anxiety, especially among seniors--and

where you want to talk about a real miserable instability I've observed

the last couple of weeks, seniors today are captured by Medicare. They

have no choice, they can't get out of it if they want to without being

punished by the government. And it's got $46 trillion worth of unfunded

liability. They're seeing the baby boomers coming in, they're scared to

death for themselves right now, and this bill says they're going to cut

Medicare by $500 billion. And the senior goes to a town hall meeting and

he is frightened by this, and he says, "Leave your hands off my

Medicare," and he's mocked by people in the news and he's made a joke of

by the president of the United States. It's no wonder these folks are

frustrated and angry.

MR. GREGORY: Rachel...

REP. ARMEY: They're scared to death of what the government's going to do

with them.

MR. GREGORY: OK. Rachel:

MS. MADDOW: Do you really think that there's a major uprising of seniors

wanting to get out of Medicare? I know you're suing the government for

your right personally to get out of Medicare.

REP. ARMEY: Right.

MS. MADDOW: But do you really think that's the problem...

SEN. COBURN: Is it...

MS. MADDOW: ...that Medicare--that seniors hate Medicare and they want

out?

REP. ARMEY: No, I didn't say that. Most seniors--I was talking to my

minister the other day. My minister says, "Dick, I'm so fortunate I'm in

Medicare." I said, "Bless you, my, my friend that you get to be in it if

you choose to be so." But if you give a government program and you let me

choose to be in or choose to be out, that's generosity. If you force me

in, irrespective of my desires, that's tyranny. Now, if Medicare's $46

trillion in the red, with no idea how we're going to pay for it, why, why

do they not let people who don't want to be in out?

MS. MADDOW: This is...

MR. GREGORY: Let me--I want to get it...

REP. ARMEY: I mean, that's...

MS. MADDOW: Just--I--very briefly.

REP. ARMEY: This, this, this defies logic.

MS. MADDOW: This is a really important point. The anti-healthcare reform

lobby thinks that Medicare is tyranny, OK?

REP. ARMEY: I did--I said...

MS. MADDOW: This is an--I mean, you said in 1995 that "Medicare is a

program I would have no part of in a free world."

REP. ARMEY: Right. Absolutely right.

MS. MADDOW: You said in 2002, "We're going to have to bite the bullet on

Social Security and phase it out over a period of time."

REP. ARMEY: And I'm going to enumerate exactly what I'm talking about.

Medicare...

MS. MADDOW: Americans need to know this is your position and this is the

position of the anti-healthcare reform lobby.

MR. GREGORY: I'm going to, I'm going to stop this...

REP. ARMEY: This is the Medicare law that was written and...

MS. MADDOW: It's very important to understand.

REP. ARMEY: The Medicare law that was written by the chairman of the Ways

and Means Committee and the chief lobbyists of Blue Cross/Blue Shield,

voted on without amendment as an amendment to Social Security, first

imposes severe sanctions on physicians and medical providers that don't

comply with its requirements, and it says to seniors at the age of 65 you

can no longer buy the insurance that you bought prior to 65. And now by

virtue of an internal memo--not a regulation, not a law--they tell

seniors today...

MR. GREGORY: All right.

REP. ARMEY: ...if you don't sign up for Medicare you'll lose your Social

Security.

MR. GREGORY: I want to...

REP. ARMEY: Now, if--you tell me what, what, what that has to do with

anybody's notion of liberty...

MS. MADDOW: Tell me what that has to do with healthcare reform.

MR. GREGORY: All right, I'm going to stop there.

REP. ARMEY: ...freedom, the right to buy your own insurance...

MR. GREGORY: Hold on. I want to move on...

REP. ARMEY: Even in Canada...

MR. GREGORY: Congressman...

REP. ARMEY: One final point. Even in Canada, just last month the supreme

court of the--of--in Canada said--ruled that the Canadian government

cannot deny the Canadian citizen...

MR. GREGORY: All right. I want to...

REP. ARMEY: ...the right to buy private citizen...

MR. GREGORY: I'm going to move on. I'm going to move on.

REP. ARMEY: ...private insurance.

MR. GREGORY: Another big area of contention, as if that's not contentious

enough...

SEN. DASCHLE: Resolve that one.

MR. GREGORY: ...is the issue of the public option. This is the idea.

Well, I--still talking about overall costs--we'll get to the public

option in just a moment. The overall sense of costs.

Senator Daschle, is it appropriate for the president to be singling out

the insurance companies when he's not also talking about hospitals,

hospitals who are losing money over Medicare, also losing money over

Medicaid, are then charging people with healthcare insurance more for

some of those procedures, those costs that can--passed on to consumers.

Should he be talking about hospitals as well as the insurance companies?

SEN. DASCHLE: Well, David, I--if you listen to his entire town hall

meetings, I mean, every one of the different stakeholders come into the

debate. And as--and they should. Obviously, there are very big concerns

with regard to quality across the board. But when we talk about

insurance, we're talking about too many people today who are the victims

of our current system, who above and beyond anything else want to have

the confidence in knowing they can buy insurance. They want to know that

they're not going to be prohibited because they've got a pre-existing

condition. They want to know they can afford the premiums. They want to

know they're not just one illness away from a bankruptcy. They want to

know, in other words, that we've got more stability and more, more

ability to deal with the problems we're facing in our healthcare system

through, in part, the insurance system that we create. That's what the

president's advocating.

MR. GREGORY: All right, but what about that specific point about

hospitals vs. the insurance companies?

SEN. DASCHLE: Well, obviously, he's talking about hospitals. He's talking

about the need for comparative effectiveness, he's talking about the need

for major change in the way we deliver health care, he's talking about

chronic care management and recognizing the importance of prevention;

many of the things that, that hospitals are going to have to be a part of

as well. So I think it's really, it's, it's imperative that you look at

the entire context of, of this debate. He's going to single out insurance

companies, he's going to single out doctors, he's going to single out

drug companies. He's done all of that. But I think everybody's so, at

least so far, of a mind that we've got, we've got to fix this system

because the status quo's unacceptable.

MR. GREGORY: Senator Coburn, isn't a big problem here an era of personal

responsibility, and that is that you talk about healthcare costs, there

is no consumer sentiment involved here. It's not like buying a car, when

you know how much it costs and what it means to your bottom line.

Three-quarters of Americans get their healthcare benefits from their

employers. Most people do not pay their own--pay the bills for their

health care. They don't know what it costs. Look at this. This is the

average healthcare premiums provided to a, a family, this is from the

Kaiser Family Foundation, $12,000-plus worth of premiums. Your employer

pays $9,300 of that, the individual worker pays about $3,300 of it. People

don't know what the costs are.

SEN. COBURN: There's a disconnect, David, there's no question, and so

therefore we don't--we don't have a transparent market to price and

quality, which I think everybody would like to see. We would like to see

it reconnected so that you have some personal responsibility. The, the

proposals before us really aren't reform though. What they are is more of

the same. Now, Rachel just mentioned about how efficient Medicare is.

It's not efficient. The fraud rate's anywhere from 15 to 20 percent. If

you add their true cost of overhead to their fraud rate, they're about 7

points above what the average 10-K report, including profit, is for

private insurance. Now, they have a different motivation. The point is,

is any bill that comes through that increases cost is a failure, because

we spend too much today. We ought to be getting more efficiency.

MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.

SEN. COBURN: In other words, that--reconnect that economic. We have

one--I think--and Tom and I, I think, agree with this, we have way too

much that doesn't go to prevent somebody from getting sick and doesn't

help somebody to get well. And how we redirect that? You can redirect

that with the government or you can redirect that by reconnecting, as you

suggest, the economic consideration of an individual. And we have a bill,

the--there's several senators in, that saves $70 billion the first 10

years and well close to a trillion dollars, plus $960 billion for the

states in terms of doing just that. In other words, we take Medicaid and

put it into private care, where we're really competing.

MR. GREGORY: We've just--in our remaining time here, I want everybody to

be heard on this. I want to get to this final area that's so contentious,

and that is the idea of the public plan. The idea here is that you'd have

a public plan, a government plan that would be sponsored, give consumers

choices alongside a private plan.

Senator Daschle, the president appears to be hinting that he'd be open to

reform without a public plan. Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of

Home--Health and Human Services saying he would be open to these idea of

a cooperatives rather than a public plan. Does a public plan have to be

in this reform effort for the president to sign it?

SEN. DASCHLE: Well, if you want to control costs most effectively, if you

want to make sure there's adequate competition, if you want to keep the

insurance companies accountable, if you want to do everything possible to

give the American people as much choice as possible; if you want to do

all of that, then a public plan should be a viable part of the plan.

MR. GREGORY: But will the president live without it?

SEN. DASCHLE: Well, I can't speak for the president. All I know is he

wants to get a bill done. He's going to go as far as he can to get that

public plan, because he's advocated it at every single stop. But whether

or not it's there at the end of the day is something that only Congress

can decide.

MR. GREGORY: Congressman Armey, is a public option competition, or is it

an unfair fight?

REP. ARMEY: It's an unfair fight. If you read the bill, they've built in

taxes, regulations, administrations, requirements, fines, penalties that

discourage the private option. But we have 1300 private insurance

companies in America. If you want competition in the purchasing of

insurance, just listen, just listen in to Congressman Shadegg from

Arizona and let people buy across lines. Why can't I live in Texas, buy

my insurance in Oklahoma? What if I were--Michigan passed a law that says

if you live in Michigan you can't buy a car made in Alabama? You'd think

me silly. But what you have now--so the fact of the matter is, let us

have fair competition, my freedom to choose among the 1300 already

existing private companies. The government is what prevents that from

happening.

MR. GREGORY: Yeah. Go ahead.

MS. MADDOW: I don't know what state in the country has secretly more

awesome health care than every other state in the country. I sort of feel

like every state in the country is in the same pickle when it comes to

out-of-control costs, dissatisfying coverage and a huge number of

uninsured people. That's not going to be made better by allowing

insurance to be bought across state lines. I think that the private

insurance companies would be really, really, really excited if what came

out of this debate was a requirement that Americans buy more private

insurance that they were dissatisfied with, that allowed them to be

dropped for--precluded from pre-existing conditions...

MR. GREGORY: Right.

MS. MADDOW: ...all the other things they do. There needs to be serious

reform of private insurance, and the only way to get that is to have a

public option that people can choose if private insurance continues to

not insure our needs as a country.

REP. ARMEY: You know, it's...

MR. GREGORY: Let me bring in Bruce Josten. He's the executive vice

president of the Chamber of Commerce. They have a perspective on this.

Sir, your, your organization, the Chamber, has been buying ads opposing a

public option. The CBO, the Congressional Budget Office, has done a study

indicating that, in fact, the number of those in private health plans

would go up if there was a public option. They also say that about 11

million people would choose a public option, which is far fewer than

opponents say would be the case.

MR. BRUCE JOSTEN: Thank you, David. We do oppose a public option

because--in part because of what you just touched on earlier. We have a

long history of both Medicare and Medicaid under reimbursing doctors and

hospitals, 70 to 78 percent of what private payers do. Those under

reimbursements ultimately then are cost-shifted back to the premium

payers, which are the companies in America that you've pointed out in

your show are providing healthcare coverage to the vast majority of

Americans, over 160 million of them.

Now, with respect to the need for insure--insurance reform and healthcare

reform, the business community is one of the strongest proponents and we

have been for several years. We ran, in fact, ads last year calling for

reform and more choices and bending the cost curve on health care. But

when you under reimburse and it gets cost-shifted and you've got doctors

practicing defensive medicine out of fear of liability, we're corrupting

the system. So if we're going to have a level playing field, a public

plan is an uneven playing field. It'll destabilize private insurance. And

independent researchers in the healthcare analytical area, as well as

CBO, have expressed concerns that many employees could migrate away from

employer-sponsored cover because of that competitive cost advantage

initially with federal government backstopping.

MR. GREGORY: All right, Mr. Josten, thank you very much. Senator Daschle:

SEN. DASCHLE: Well, David, I guess the, the basic question is, are we

building this new system for the American people or for the insurance

companies? I mean, that's really the key question. How will they be

better served? We have a public option for Medicare Part D today, 6

percent of the people participate. I mean, there is a very small

percentage of people that for all kinds of reasons have chosen the public

plan when it comes to drugs. I think the argument is kind of interesting.

It is that, well, this is going to be so popular that people are going to

leave the private sector and go to the public sector. Well, that's what

choice is all about. But I think what we've got to do is to ensure that

we're going to level the playing field. We're going to make sure that the

competition is fair. But you've got a choice; either you've got to have

the competition, or you're going to have a regulatory framework, within

which the private insurance industry is going to have to work.

MR. GREGORY: Is it significant to you, Senator...

SEN. COBURN: But there's a big difference in what he said, though, on

Medicare Part D. You allowed nationwide competition of insurance.

SEN. DASCHLE: That's what we're doing with this.

SEN. COBURN: It--No, no, you're not. You're, you're regionalizing it.

Look at the House bill, look at the Senate bill. You're

regionalize--you're making it a state base. The difference is, is in New

Jersey the same thing that costs $600 in Missouri costs $9,000. It's

because of mandates. And what we need--and we all agree, we need more

competition among the insurance industry. But the way to get it is to

open it up.

MR. GREGORY: All right, let me--I want to ask you about a point of news,

though, here today. If the president is willing to accept reform without

a public plan, without a public option, if he, if he can live with

strong, you know, cooperatives that allow some choice for consumers, can

that attract more bipartisan support? Will Republicans sign on?

SEN. COBURN: Well, I think, I think that there is potential for that. I

think the other thing that we need to remember is inside the House bill

and inside the Senate bill is 87 new government programs requiring well

over 150,000 new federal employees. We can't accept that, because that is

government management of health care and not individual management.

I want to make one other point on, on the comparative effectiveness. The

problem with comparative effectiveness is it divides the loyalty of the

physician away from the patient. It takes what is important for you as my

patient, and all of a sudden I'm looking over here because somebody

here's telling me what I can do rather than what I know...

SEN. DASCHLE: This is...

MR. GREGORY: Respond quickly, and then I want to...

SEN. COBURN: ...rather than what I know needs to be done in your best

interest.

MR. GREGORY: Let me get a quick response.

SEN. DASCHLE: Let me just say, this is just a Consumer Reports on best

practices. That's what we're talking about with regard to health care.

Consumer Reports.

SEN. COBURN: Then why...

SEN. DASCHLE: And your question about bipartisanship, David...

MR. GREGORY: Right.

SEN. COBURN: Then why would they block a prohibition on rationing?

SEN. DASCHLE: Nobody is blocking...

MR. GREGORY: All right, hold on, I want to let Senator Daschle respond.

We're almost out of time.

SEN. DASCHLE: I just--just to, to your point about bipartisanship. The

Bipartisan Policy Center--Bob Dole, Howard Baker and I--put together a

plan that did exactly what we're talking about. They were very, very

supportive of it. And so I think there is, there's a very good

opportunity for us to produce...

MR. GREGORY: Let, let me...

SEN. DASCHLE: ...a bipartisan product in the Congress.

MR. GREGORY: You said, you said it was 50-50 whether he'd get reform. Is

that still your view?

SEN. DASCHLE: That's correct.

MR. GREGORY: It's still your view, only 50-50.

SEN. DASCHLE: Yeah.

MR. GREGORY: Rachel, let me ask you this question. What will

progressives, what will liberals, the president's base accept as reform?

Do the independent voters he's courting out in Colorado and Montana need

to be placated, a big part of his base, or not?

MS. MADDOW: I, I, I mean, I don't, I don't think liberals monolithically

feel one thing about this. I think most liberals would probably prefer a

single payer system, honestly. But ultimately, if the president decides

that he's going to go with a reform effort that doesn't include a public

option, what he will have done is spent a ton of political capital, riled

up an incredibly angry right wing base who's been told that this is a

plot to kill grandma, grandma, and he will have achieved something that

doesn't change health care very much and that doesn't save us very much

money and won't do very much for the American people. It's not a very

good thing to spend a lot of political capital on.

MR. GREGORY: Tactically--I know you're opposed to this philosophically,

ideologically. Tactically you were part of that fight in '93, '94. You

said it was crucial for Republicans taking over the House. Does the

president achieve something this time?

REP. ARMEY: No, I don't think he does. And I think the fact that he's now

signaling his willingness to back off on the public option and put in the

surrogate, which is the government-sponsored cooperatives, which is what

we probably will be calling them "Freddie Mad" or, or "Fannie Mad," as

GSCs, as we know in the finance industry, are a horrible exercise in

impudent practices. But it's interesting. When we argued for years that

we should have private cooperatives where associations could put together

these purchasing risk pooling things...

SEN. DASCHLE: Yeah. Associations...(unintelligible).

MR. GREGORY: OK.

REP. ARMEY: ...the--all the liberals were against that.

MR. GREGORY: Right.

REP. ARMEY: Now if we have government-sponsored cooperatives, they're for

it. But don't make any mistake about that government-sponsored

cooperative.

MR. GREGORY: All right. I'm going to let that be the last word.

SEN. DASCHLE: That...

MR. GREGORY: Thank you all. There's a lot more on this obviously to come,

and the challenge the president has is, is really making this a big issue

of the day.

We will be back. We'll have a special Take Two with MSNBC's Rachel

Maddow, ask her some questions that our viewers have submitted via e-mail

and Twitter. You can watch the MEET THE PRESS Take Two Web Extra. It's up

this afternoon on our Web site. Also, updates from me throughout the

week. It's mtp.msnbc.com.

And when we come back, remembering the remarkable life and legacy of

Eunice Kennedy Shriver.

MR. DAVID GREGORY: And finally here, in the heat of August and in the

heat of the moment of this healthcare debate, the country marked the loss

and celebrated the life of an inspirational woman, Eunice Kennedy

Shriver. She died this week at the age of 88. Shriver was well known to

many because she was a Kennedy, a strong sister to some very famous

Kennedy men: John, Bobby and Teddy. She will be remembered, however,

because of what she did for others. Shriver founded the Special Olympics

in 1968. She was devoted to helping those like her sister Rosemary, who

had intellectual difficulties, what used to be called mental retardation.

Here she was speaking to Special Olympians.

(Videotape)

MS. EUNICE KENNEDY SHRIVER: The world said that people with intellectual

problems should not be seen in public. Tonight you are part of the year's

largest sporting event, and the world is watching.

(End videotape)

MR. GREGORY: Her daughter Maria this week at her mother's funeral.

(Videotape)

MS. MARIA SHRIVER: She was the real deal, a woman who did everything

women aspire to. She had a great husband, she had a great family, a deep,

deep faith in God; and she combined that with being a fearless warrior

for the voiceless.

(End videotape)

MR. GREGORY: Tim Russert once asked Senator Ted Kennedy here whether his

sister Eunice would be a good president.

(Videotape)

SEN. TED KENNEDY: That's what my brother Jack always said. She said--he

said that she was the, the best on it. I--and Jack was always right.

(End videotape)

MR. GREGORY: But she never ran for office. Instead, she did what her

strong faith in God called her to do: She worked to make things better

for others. I thought her son Robert said it well in a 2004 interview:

"My mom never ran for office and she changed the world, period, end of

story." We'll be right back.

MR. DAVID GREGORY: That is all for today. We'll be back next week. If

it's Sunday, it's MEET THE PRESS.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

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