Guest host Scott Hennen and Rep. Kevin Cramer discuss healthcare, recent protests, and more

POV guest host Scott Hennen spoke with Congressman Kevin Cramer about healthcare, recent Planned Parenthood protests, and more.

FULL TRANSCRIPT:

(Please note - this transcript was copied from an electronic captioning service. We apologize for any errors, spelling, grammatical, or otherwise.)

Scott Hennen:
Good evening, and welcome to Point of View. I'm Scott Hennen in for Chris Berg, who is on vacation. The discussion of Obamacare goes back over eight years, back to the campaign of John McCain and Barack Obama, and we've heard a lot about the repeal effort of Obamacare and what would replace it. There were many votes about it in congress, and the discussion has gone on and on. So last week came an opportunity, finally, much that we've heard about, to be put in place an effort to repeal it and replace it, with something called the American healthcare act. Well, that didn't happen. The vote ultimately scheduled for friday was pulled, and there was no vote because the votes simply were not there. So what happened? And what now? On the question of healthcare reform? Those questions for our first guest tonight, from Lincoln’s capitol, Congressman Kevin Cramer. Thank you for joining us. How are you?

Rep. Kevin Cramer:
I'm fine. Other than a scratchy throat, I’m fine.

SH:
I can see why. There is a lot going on in the congress for sure. Let's start on first what happened. You had thought that this ultimately would be voted on, and pass by a squeaker, there were not the votes there. What do you see having happened?

KC:
Well, there were a couple of things, Scott. First of all, we have a group of members in our congress and our conference, very conservative, at least they come from very conservative places. I don't know how conservative the members are, because their behavior does not reflect conservative values, but they use this mantra it's not good enough, it's not conservative enough, and they keep pulling the conference further and further to the right, but they're pushing the conference to the left, and that's the house freedom caucus. They took a blank, or a block position against this, every negotiation that included them they said it's getting better, but they could never get to "yes.” I maintain many of them never wanted to get to "yes.” We need to find a way to include more people in the process. I don't know how. We have been debating this issue for eight years, we've had dozens of hearings in various communities, and dozens of votes on this topic, and all of a sudden the bill wasn't conservative enough for any members, but we won't get any democratic help, so it puts the party in a tough position. So they made Obamacare the law of the land.

SH:
Listen to this:

VIDEO
KC:
The question is whether the Republican Party is only an opposition party or a proposition party. Are we always going to be good at just being against things, or can we govern? If we can't pass this or something like it in the next few days, I say we might be only about against things.
END VIDEO

SH:
Paul Ryan said something similar in the aftermath of the vote. Are you not a governing party now?

KC:
Well, I think it raises a question, but here's what I meant when I said it pushes us to the left, when we're being dragged so hard to the right. We're 25, 30 members trying to get 240 of us going to their point. If we're going to govern, we have to find a governing coalition. In order for that to be a majority, we have to look to democrats for help. That means we're going to have to moderate our positions. I don't want to have to do that. I'm very conservative, with conservative principles, but I would rather get half a loaf than no loaf. Ronald Reagan talked about getting 70, 80 percent of a loaf and living to fight another day rather than taking your flag over the cliff in defeat. We're going to have to include more moderate democrats in the discussion, probably have to give up some of our conservative ideas if we're going to move the ball at all in the right direction. Hopefully people have learned their lesson, we won't necessarily -- and I don't have any problem reaching out to Democrats, but on these big issues, legacy issues, on many of them, many Democrats don't want to join us.

SH:
And president trump said the lack of the votes being there means he needs to reach out to democrats, so he's saying exactly what you're saying is going to happen. Will that be enough to have the freedom caucus and some of these conservative groups say maybe we have to go back to the table? What's going to happen now on the American healthcare act? Is it done, as president trump said, is there an effort to reach out to democrats to try to get something passed, which I assume would not mean repealing Obamacare, which I assume democrats won't. What happens now?

KC:
It's a great point. Clearly this bill can't pass. We're in budget reconciliation. We only get one shot to pass this with 51 percent of the votes that. Shot is gone. Anything we do now will have to be different. Last week we also passed a bill that eliminates anti-trust for insurance companies. That's in the senate now. We passed a bill that allows small businesses to buy healthcare across state lines form national coalitions and becoming big businesses for the purposes of healthcare. Tom price is still the secretary. He is going to be rolling back regulations. Unfortunately, the repeal of Obamacare and many of its mandates, we can't do in this format, so we have to chip away at it around the edges. It's unfortunate we missed this opportunity.

SH:
The president said Obamacare is getting worse, no better, and democrats are going to have to wallow in it. Do you think this will become more difficult for democrats as we go forward?

KC:
I don't think there is any question. This individual market is crashing. There is nobody that denies that. It won't be long before there will be only one provider in most counties in this country right now t a third of them only have one provider, a third of the states only have one provider, Aetna is looking and other companies, I don't think there is any question that's going to happen. But the president's premise is correct, except we had an opportunity to rescue the American people and didn't do it, so we own it as well as the democrats own it.

SH:
You were at the white house a few hours ago with President Trump at a signing ceremony on a piece of legislation designed to undo some of the Obama-era regulations pertaining to energy in North Dakota. Tell me about the BLM rule being repealed.

KC:
It was one of those Obama midnight rules, he signed it real quickly, and it allows the BLM in Washington to take all of the federal land in the country, put it into one giant block, and manage it as one block, eliminating local, county, and state officials. The house passed it, the senate passed it, pretty much along party lines in the senate, and the president signed it, giving the authority back to local governments where it belongs. There is also a major education bill. On his way out the door, the president tried to give influence back to the school boards and the state, and he tried to bring it all back in with a signing of an order that violated the law that we passed. We also returned that one. He signed that one as well today. So it's fun to see Betsy DeVos, the secretary of education. It's a very good day for North Dakota and states' rights.

SH:
And an honor for you to be there. I want to ask you, there was a controversy over a process that your office in Fargo by Planned Parenthood, they claimed they were threatened with arrest for trespassing on the property at your office, and you called the police on them. Is that what happened?

KC:
Well, I did not call the police on them. It's not my property. My office is in there. The interesting thing we've learned lately, the person, one of the planners, called my office last week to find out when we would not be there, when our staff would be out of the office doing things that our staff do, being out and about in the field, meeting with people, and they chose a time when we wouldn't be there to come and deliver a petition. Here is the other interesting thing: they actually were in the building at the office with a reporter from another television station, not this one, and they saw the sign on the door that said we were closed, it was the noon hour, by the way, and if you want to make an appointment, which we encourage people to do, the number is on that sign. They left that, waited for the police to get there, then confronted police with the idea of going into this private property. Evidently the owner of the private property had asked the police to be there so this protest could only take place on the public sidewalk. I've gotten used to these schemes that some of the far left have been engaging in, and this is the new democratic party, in north Dakota as well as in the country, have a protest, be a victim, and see if you can't get some sympathy, and our media is all too willing to provide it much of the time.

SH:
That's the new normal, I don't know if you call that a fake protest. Thank you, Congressman Cramer, thank you for joining us on a busy day.

KC:
Thank you.



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