In the wake of the shooting Saturday of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., the House of Representatives has postponed a scheduled Wednesday vote on repeal of the health care law. Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., House majority leader, said that all legislative action “is being postponed so that we can take whatever actions may be necessary in light of today's tragedy.”
In an interview taped on Friday, before the shooting, and broadcast Sunday, David Gregory, host of Meet the Press, interviewed Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., about the Republicans’ drive to repeal health care reform. Asked if he felt that there would be pressure on the Senate to repeal the law if the House voted in favor of repeal, Reid said that the vote was a “gesture in futility.” He said that the bill was not perfect, but that hearings were being held “to determine what we can do to improve the health care for the people of this country.”
He went on, “They can't be serious. To increase the debt by more than $1 trillion? They can't be serious to want to have people now that have pre-existing disabilities no longer be able to get insurance. They can't be serious when people who are on Social Security now can get a free checkup, well—they can have wellness checks anytime they want and not have to pay for it.”
Gregory asked him about the name of the repeal effort: “[T]he very name of the repeal bill is the Job-killing Health Care Law. That's what the Republicans call it.” He asked whether health care reform as passed would cost businesses more and whether it would stop them from hiring people.
Reid replied, “[T]he name of the bill is as senseless as these people sleeping in their offices.” He added that health care was needed not just for the wealthy, but for everyone, and that “millions of small businesses … now have tax benefits from having insurance for their employees” and “80 to 85% of all the premiums that are received by these insurance companies have to go to take care of people, not pay salaries.”
Reid continued, “We have to do something about our deteriorating infrastructure—roads, bridges, dams. For every billion dollars we spend, we create almost 50,000 jobs. So we need to do that.” And he also said that the debt ceiling would have to be raised come spring. Forestalling the question about whether the debt ceiling argument would shut down government, he said that can’t happen. “Doing that,” he said, “we cut off Social Security checks and the whole works.”