CBS's O'Donnell Lets Schumer Defend ObamaCare, Challenges Coburn's Criticism

On Sunday's Face the Nation, fill-in host Norah O'Donnell simply let Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) air his Democratic talking points on ObamaCare while she challenged Republican Senator Tom Coburn (Okla.) over criticisms he made of the law.

O'Donnell asked simple questions of Schumer like "What's your reaction?" to Republican criticisms of ObamaCare, and "Mitt Romney says he is going to repeal this on day one of his presidency. Can he actually do that?"

Meanwhile, the CBS host challenged Sen. Coburn's facts about the deficit, saying the CBO scored ObamaCare as saving millions of dollars in the long-run. "[T]he CBO has scored this as not just deficit-neutral but actually saving taxpayers a hundred billion dollars," she claimed after Coburn said the bill would cost $1.9 trillion over ten years.

"This bill costs $1.6 trillion minimum. It's going to cost more than that with the changes that the Supreme Court made in terms of the optionality of Medicaid for the states," Coburn responded.

O'Donnell also pressed Coburn over his criticism that Obama was trying to "sovietize the American health care system."

"What did you mean by that, 'sovietize'?" she asked with some incredulity.

Below is a partial transcript of the interview (with all questions included), that aired on the July 1 Face the Nation:

NORAH O'DONNELL: Joining me now, two top senators, Democrat Chuck Schumer who's in his home state of New York this morning, and Oklahoma Senator and medical doctor Tom Coburn, author of "The Debt Bomb: A Bold Plan to Stop Washington from Bankrupting America." All right. Senator Schumer, you just heard Speaker Boehner say this needs to be ripped out from its roots. What's your reaction?


O'DONNELL: All right. What about that, Senator Coburn? Do you want to throw this whole law out or is that a distraction from the main issue, the economy?

SEN. TOM COBURN (R-Okla.): Well, I think it – I think it's extremely intertwined with the economy. And I think it's an example of where Washington doesn't get it. One of the reasons we don't have significant job creation is the federal government itself. We haven't created the confidence, we haven't created the certainty for those who could invest and create jobs, and what we've done is put up roadblocks to that. Look, we're – we're approaching the health care problem the wrong way. As a practicing physician for over twenty-five years, the one thing you want to do is fix the real disease, not the symptoms; and the Affordable Care Act fixed a lot of symptoms but not the disease and the disease is this health care costs too much. And with the Affordable Care Act it's going to cost a whole lot more. Now the estimates with the Supreme Court ruling is about $1.9 trillion. We don't have that money; $1.9 trillion more over the first ten years it's fully in place.

O'DONNELL: No, Senator Coburn –


O'DONNELL: – but doesn't that – the CBO has scored this as not just deficit-neutral but actually saving taxpayers a hundred billion dollars.

COBURN: No, that –

O'DONNELL: Correct?


O'DONNELL: Well, let me ask you about something you said this week to your Eagle Daily Investor about what this plan does. Let's play a little bit of that tape.

(Video Clip)

COBURN: What we're trying to do with the Affordable Care Act is sovietize the American health care system. And I want to tell you, it didn't work out well for the soviet system.

(End Video Clip)

O'DONNELL: What did you mean by that, "sovietize"?


O'DONNELL: All right. Senator Schumer, you know the Republicans say this is going to be a tax on individuals now, and businesses.

SCHUMER: Yeah. Look, this is a penalty on free riders, when you talk about the mandate very simply. And what does that mean? It means that when someone who doesn't have health care shows up at a hospital or a doctor's office and needs treatment for an injury or an illness, who pays for it? The rest of us. The average family pays $1,017 more in health care cost to pay for those free riders and we say, yes, that they ought to pay a penalty and shouldn't be a free rider. It's the right thing to do. And let me just say this, Norah, it's lucky. There are very few of them. You know, you heard Speaker Boehner, Mitt Romney, 95 percent of Americans will be affected. One percent will be under this penalty because most other Americans, obviously, have health care.

O'DONNELL: One percent of individuals but what about one percent of small businesses?

SCHUMER: Well, as you said, small businesses under fifty don't have to provide health care. Those with under 25 employers get a subsidy to do it, and those who are larger than that are going to find their costs going down and their bureaucracy going down once these exchanges take effect. And so, it'll be a good thing for everybody. Their – you know, bottom line, health care was a mess, costs were going up. Everything -- people – fewer people were covered, employers were kicking people, millions off the rolls. This is going to make it a whole lot better. It started to already and it's going to get a lot better in 2014 when the exchanges – basically free-market Republican idea which the President adopted in an effort to compromise – go into effect.


O'DONNELL: Senator Schumer, let me start with you. Mitt Romney says he is going to repeal this on day one of his presidency. Can he actually do that?

SCHUMER: No. And this is -- again, he's just making the wildest statements here that don't have basis in fact. The bottom line is that for states to put in -- to not do the health care plan, they'd have to put in an alternative plan that meets even better and stronger criteria. Most of the states that want to repeal it don't even want to go as far as the health care bill. So he is not. And the author of the provision that allowed people to opt out, Senator Wyden, who's done a great job on this area, has said specifically that Mitt Romney is totally wrong on this issue.

O'DONNELL: All right. Senator Coburn, let me ask you. Now that the Supreme Court has said this is a tax, does that make it easier if Republicans gain control of the Senate to dismantle this law?

COBURN: Well, I don't know if it makes it easier but it – you know, we -- we've said it was a tax all along -- and it is a -- actually a rather huge tax. I -- I want to go back to one thing about the exchanges. What Senator Schumer didn't inform you of is there's going to be subsidies in the exchanges. Where are we going to get the money for the subsidies for the exchanges? Where's that going to come from? Talking about growing our deficits.

-- Matt Hadro is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center