NBC's Meredith Vieira seemed baffled by the concept of taking a principled stand against Obamacare, as she repeatedly pressed Michele Bachmann, on Thursday's Today show, why Republicans would bother to vote to repeal the health care bill in the House if it wasn't going to get passed in the Senate or signed by the President? Vieira's very first question to the Republican Minnesota Congresswoman set the aggressive tone for the entire interview as she demanded: "Given the fact that the Democratic-led Senate will never go for that and the President has veto power, why make that the first big thing on your plate?"
For her part Bachmann attempted to explain to the Today co-anchor that health care was "the issue that people really reacted against" in the midterms and "were very upset that very few members even bothered to read the health care bill." However Vieira found that to be an insufficient response as she rebutted: "But if you have no chance to repeal it, why go through this exercise?"
(video after the jump)
The following is the relevant exchange from the one on one interview as it was aired on the January 6 edition of the Today show:
MEREDITH VIEIRA: Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann from Minnesota is the founder of the Congressional Tea Party Caucus. Good morning to you.
[On screen headline: "We The People, How Will Tea Party Change Congress?"]
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN: Good morning, Meredith.
VIEIRA: Congresswoman Bachmann I know that the first big order of business for the House will be the repeal of the health care law. That is something that you have been a major advocate for. But given the fact that the Democratic-led Senate will never go for that and the President has veto power, why make that the first big thing on your plate?
BACHMANN: Well because that's the issue that people really reacted against. They were very upset that very few members even bothered to read the health care bill. Most of us didn't even have a chance to read it because it was put in front of us at such a late date and then, we found out that the bill is costing far more than what we were told it was going to. And it's now working to increase people's health care premiums, their private premiums, at astounding rates all across the country. In other words, it's not delivering by cost cutting the way that we were told that it would and so people are asking us to repeal.
VIEIRA: But if you have no chance to repeal it, why go through this exercise?
BACHMANN: Oh because it's not symbolic. It's real. We really do want to repeal it and just like we intend, next week, to have a full scale repeal of Obamacare in the House, yesterday we saw essentially the American people made a decision to repeal Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House. And that's why, looking forward, in 2012, unless President Obama is listening to the voice of the people and Harry Reid listening to the fact that people want the government takeover of health care repealed, I think we will also see a rollback and repeal of President Obama in 2012 as well.
VIEIRA: Another issue is, is raising the debt ceiling, the amount of money that the government is allowed to borrow. You are opposed to raising the debt ceiling. A lot of people think that if we don't raise it, it would be catastrophic. The President's chief economist, Austan Goolsbee, has said, a failure to raise the ceiling would mean, quote, "A worse financial economic crisis than anything we saw in 2008." And even a supporter of yours, conservative pundit William Kristol, has taken you on saying that this is irresponsible. Given their positions would you change your mind, are you willing to see the shutdown of the government?
BACHMANN: No, I don't think it's good to see the shutdown of government. I don't 'think that's good for anyone. But at the same time, Meredith, in the last 10 years we've raised the debt ceiling 10 times. And there, it's becoming very serious. I brought one chart with me, I don't know if you can see it. But this is the debt over the years during the Bush administration. This is during the last two years of President Obama. This is how markedly different the spending levels have become and it's really why you saw Nancy Pelosi lose the...
VIEIRA: But some of that happened during an economic crisis, obviously, if you're talking about stimulus money. So there, there's a difference of what was happening in both periods. So what I'm asking about-
BACHMANN: Well during the Bush years, though, you had the 9/11 disaster and you had the two wars. So the, the point is, we've been overspending and that has to stop. And that's what people asked us to do in this last election - stop the spending, because we can't continue to raise the debt ceiling at this level.
—Geoffrey Dickens is the Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here