CBS's Bob Schieffer: White House May Have to Waterboard Dems to Pass Health Care

The White House may have to waterboard its congressional allies to compel enough Democrats to support the health care bill and Congress will definitely have to raise taxes if the bill passes, insisted Bob Schieffer, host of Face the Nation on CBS, this morning on The Early Show. [Audio available here.]

As liberals focus on extending coverage to millions of uninsured Americans, Schieffer departed from the liberal talking points by pointing out that the current bill would definitely force Congress to raise taxes.

“These Democrats don’t know yet how much this bill is going to cost, they don’t know exactly who’s going to pay the taxes—there is no question some taxes are going up on this,” he said.

Schieffer also said he doesn’t see how the White House can be so confident this bill will pass.

“I think that’s going to be a tall fence to climb because they are really going to have to twist some arms,” he said.

The full transcript, from the March 15 Early Show, which aired at 7:07 a.m. EDT, is included below (emphasis mine):

ERICA HILL, “Early Show” co-host: Harry, thanks. It is make or break week in Washington for health care reform. President Obama is heading to Ohio today for another campaign-style rally while Democrats are doing their best to secure enough support to pass this bill, possibly with a vote later this week. Joining us now is the host of Face the Nation and Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer. Good to see you this morning, Bob.

BOB SCHIEFFER, “Face the Nation” host: Thank you, Erica.

HILL: I know White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was on your show yesterday saying he believes this is going to pass. No real surprise there that he would say that, yet the top vote counter, Democratic vote counter in the House, says ‘look we still don’t have the votes.’ Is the White House overly optimistic at this point?

SCHIEFFER: Well, Jim Clyburn, the Democrat who said that they don’t have the votes yet, I take him at his word. I don’t know any independent vote counter who thinks that they have the votes now. Now Speaker Pelosi, and Robert Gibbs, David Axelrod from the White House are all saying by the end of the week they will have the votes. I think that’s going to be a tall fence to climb because they are really going to have to twist some arms. I mean it might take more than arm-twisting with some of the Democrats who voted against this the first time around. It may take waterboarding or something of that nature, but they, they seem confident that they can do that. I think we’re just going to have to wait and see because Erica, these Democrats don’t know yet how much this bill is going to cost, they don’t know exactly who’s going to pay the taxes—there is no question some taxes are going up on this. And until they get a clearer outline of exactly what’s in this bill, I just don’t think you can say whether or not they’re going to be able to get these votes. We’ll find out later in the week, but right now I just don’t think you can say.

HILL: So much depends as you mentioned, on getting those numbers from the CBO and also on finding out exactly what is in this bill. When it comes to Americans, to American people though supporting the bill, most of the polls show that overall as a giant measure they don’t really support this, though some elements of it they might. Is it smart for the president to keep pushing on this, uh, so strongly when we know that there could be huge ramifications come November?

SCHIEFFER: Well, uh, there could, and that’s what the Republicans are really pumping. The Republicans are saying you’re going be worse off if this bill passes because it’s going to cause a revolt. What you have to remember while the polls show that people don’t like the process that Washington is going through—they don’t like this particular form of health care—as you point out a lot of people and polls do show that people do want to make health care better. So it’s going to be a very very difficult thing to get this done. Uh, they may be able to do it. At this point I think we’re just going to have to wait and see; this is something you just cannot make a prediction on right now.

HILL: It’s going to keep us all busy with the guessing game throughout the week. Bob Schieffer thanks.

--Alex Fitzsimmons is a News Analysis intern at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.