CBS's Rodriguez to Steele: What if People 'Like' ObamaCare? Is RNC Too Extreme?

Maggie Rodriguez and Michael Steele, CBS In an interview with Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele on Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez touted the signing of ObamaCare into law: "the Senate bill...becomes law today. You're going to be stuck with a bill you don't like." She then wondered: "What if the catastrophic scenario that you've been warning about doesn't play out?"

Rodriguez referred to an interview that her fellow co-host Harry Smith had just concluded with White House advisor David Axelrod and asked: "What if, as David Axelrod suggests, now that it's a reality and people start to see the benefits, they actually like it?" Steele replied: "David Axelrod didn't talk about the $506 billion that's being taken out of Medicare....He didn't talk about the $500 billion in new taxes that are going to be imposed on those small businesses....there's a lot in this bill that have yet to be revealed to the American people. And when it's further revealed, it'll be less – less liked."

After Steele's response, Rodriguez felt the need to incredulously repeat: "If it turns out to be the catastrophe that you are predicting." She then criticized the RNC for being too "extreme" in its opposition: "I looked on the RNC website this morning. I have to say, I was surprised by what I saw. The home page shows a big photograph of Nancy Pelosi and in huge block letters it says 'Fire Pelosi' and she is against a backdrop of flames....Isn't this a little bit extreme?...What can you accomplish with this?" A still shot of the RNC website appeared on screen (see picture below). Rodriguez failed to point that in the latest CBS News poll, Nancy Pelosi only has an 11% approval rating.

Steele dismissed Rodriguez's characterization: "Actually, I tamed it down. You know, the reality of it is I don't know why you're surprised. Nancy Pelosi is the architect of the demise, in my view, of one-sixth of our economy. She should be fired for her failure to serve the interests of the American people."

Harry Smith and David Axelrod, CBS In contrast to Rodriguez's contentious interview with Steele, Smith lobbed softballs at Axelrod. In his first question, Smith seemed to challenge him: "You and your boss have bet everything on this bill. Will you live to regret it come November?" However the question was far too vague and gave Axelrod plenty of room to spin: "No, I'm not going to live to regret it come November, or many Novembers to come, because I know what this bill means....things that are going to flow from this that are going to give people more security. So I have no regrets, nor do I have any fears about November as a result of this."

Smith followed up citing a lack of public support for ObamaCare, but quickly defined it as people simply not understanding the legislation: "you look at the polls, show plenty of Americans don't like this health care reform bill, but if you really look at the polls, they also don't know what's in it." Smith was referring to the CBS News poll, which asked Americans if they were "confused" by the bill, to which 54% replied yes. Turning to Axelrod, he observed: "It sounds like you have a monumental sales job ahead of you." Axelrod replied: "Now the bill's a reality....it's not a theory. We're not dealing with caricatures placed on it by the opponents and by the insurance industry, we're dealing with the reality of it."

In his final question, Smith invited Axelrod to predict victory for the Senate reconciliation health care bill: "Republicans are going to try every procedural possibility to try and stop this as it goes through reconciliation. Do you have any doubts that this will succeed in reconciliation?" Predictably, Axelrod proclaimed: "Well, no, I don't have any doubts that it will succeed....we're moving forward to reform the health insurance system in this country and give the American people more security. And this is a great day."

Here is a full transcript of Rodriguez's interview with Steele:
7:06AM

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Now let's hear the Republican view on the bill being signed today. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is in Washington this morning. Mr. Steele, good morning.

MICHAEL STEELE: Good morning, Maggie.

RODRIGUEZ: Even if you do defeat these changes in reconciliation, the Senate bill, the original one, becomes law today. You're going to be stuck with a bill you don't like. What if, as David Axelrod suggests, now that it's a reality and people start to see the benefits, they actually like it? What if the catastrophic scenario that you've been warning about doesn't play out?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: GOP Health Care Pushback; State Attorney's General to Sue]

MICHAEL STEELE: Well, it was fascinating listening to David Axelrod describe this bill, because, you know, it reminded me of going to the doctor when you were a kid and you had to get the needle. And before you got the needle, the doctor put a nice juicy lollipop in front of you and said 'now here's a nice lollipop' and as you unwrap it and you go to lick it, bam, he hits you with the needle. And that's what's going to happen here.

Because David Axelrod didn't talk about the $506 billion that's being taken out of Medicare, that's an already bankrupt system that we're now going to extract $506 billion from. He didn't talk about the $500 billion in new taxes that are going to be imposed on those small businesses, that will more than offset any tax credit they get to pay for premiums for their employees. So there's a lot – there's a lot of a needle-type experience that people are going to have while they're sucking on the lollipop that David Axelrod has put in front of them and the reality of it is this is bad – a bad bill. And Nancy Pelosi was right. You know, now that they've passed it, we get to see what's in it.

I don't think that's the way you deal with one-sixth of our economy. Certainly not the way the American people wanted this thing to unfold. And I think every effort should be afoot right now to repeal it, to start with something that's centered on those cost centers that are driving the cost of health care right now, not this massive overhaul of health care, which by the way, included the government takeover of student loans programs around the country. So this government knows no bounds. And I think there's a lot in this bill that have yet to be revealed to the American people. And when it's further revealed, it'll be less – less liked.

RNC Website, CBS RODRIGUEZ: If it turns out to be the catastrophe that you are predicting. And repealing it is not your only goal. I looked on the RNC website this morning. I have to say, I was surprised by what I saw. The home page shows a big photograph of Nancy Pelosi and in huge block letters it says 'Fire Pelosi' and she is against a backdrop of flames.

[STILL SHOT OF RNC WEBSITE ON-SCREEN]

STEELE: Yeah.

RODRIGUEZ: Isn't this a little bit extreme?

STEELE: No, no.

RODRIGUEZ: What can you accomplish with this?

STEELE: Actually, I tamed it down. You know, the reality of it is I don't know why you're surprised. Nancy Pelosi is the architect of the demise, in my view, of one-sixth of our economy. She should be fired for her failure to serve the interests of the American people. This administration and this Congress thumbed their nose at the American people over the last year. Countless town hall, tea party events, 30,000 people on the Mall the day that they're signing this bill, saying 'don't do this.' They did not listen. Their arrogance knows no bounds. And so I've asked people, I'm inviting people to join me in giving us a Congress that will work for the people and not for Nancy Pelosi.

RODRIGUEZ: Alright.

STEELE: Congressman Stupak should be ashamed of himself. So, you know, clearly her reach is strong. And I think that if we get folks to go to FireNancyPelosi.com, help me do it.

RODRIGUEZ: Alright, Congressman Stupak who was going to vote no but eventually voted yes. Michael Steele, thank you so much, sir.

STEELE: Thank you. 
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC