Good old Mitch McConnell. You can always count on him for the IOKIYAR argument. He seems to have a bit of a memory problem when it comes to the use of reconciliation. Of course we can count on John King not to ask him about it either. Sadly that is all too typical of the media.
KING: Well, I want you to listen, not to the president, but I want you to listen to your own voice. You spoke here in Washington on Friday to a conservative gathering about the health care debate and you voiced quiet confidence about the Republican position. Let's listen.
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MCCONNELL: We're seeing it today in the debate over health care. Ordinary Americans speaking their minds, dismissed and ridiculed by people in power. The reason they are doing this is clear, because we're winning the argument.
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KING: Define "winning" for me. Is winning blocking the Democratic plans and ending this year without a health care reform bill reaching the president's desk?
MCCONNELL: No, winning is stopping and starting over and getting it right. I don't know anybody in my Republican conference in the Senate who's in favor of doing nothing on health care. We obviously have a cost problem and we have an access problem.
But there's a very big difference about whether or not it's appropriate to have a major rewrite of about one sixth of our economy in the process. My members just don't think that's the right way to go. We want to fix the health care system, but we don't want to do or have a $1 trillion over 10-year cut in Medicare, not to make Medicare more sustainable, but to start a new program for others.
We don't think it's a good idea to raise taxes on small businesses and on individuals in the heart of a recession. There are some serious differences about what ought to be done. KING: I saw your speech just before I went over to see the president. So I asked him about it. Listen to this exchange.
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KING: Mitch McConnell told the conservative group, we're winning the health care debate. What do you think of that?
OBAMA: Well, you know, they were saying they were winning during the election too.
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KING: A confident president there, saying he will get health care. He also said in an interview with Univision that's airing this morning that he would love Republican votes, but I don't count on them. I don't count on them. Mr. Leader, let me ask you, if they go forward and they do this with all Democrats, what does that do to the environment down the road? Some Republicans have said well then don't expect our cooperation on financial reform. Don't expect our cooperation on Afghanistan. Is this one issue health care, or could it poison the well?
MCCONNELL: Look, it's not about winning or losing, it's not about the president, it's about American health care and getting it right. And if they try to use this legislative loophole called reconciliation, what they'll be doing, in effect, is jamming through a proposal to rewrite the economy with about 24 hours of debate.
Basically, a legislative loophole to do a massive rewrite of one sixth of our economy. I think that that will produce a very, very severe reaction among the American people, who are already, according to the Gallup poll, not in favor of the direction we're taking on this very important issue.
KING: Help me understand if there's a gap between the audience in the sense that you say here, it's not about winning or losing, but you were very clear to that conservative group, we're winning the argument.
MCCONNELL: Well, by winning, the definition of winning is to stop and start over and do it right.