Transcript: Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)

Transcript: Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)
Sen. Bob Casey says GOP is pushing ACA through the courts

Greta Van Susteren

Senator, it’s always fun for me to see my home state of Wisconsin play a big role in the election. We certainly did last time around, but so did your state of Pennsylvania, and even now. Vice President Biden is up about seven points on an average in polling against President Trump, but Pennsylvania can be unpredictable. So tell me why you think your candidate, Vice President Biden, is going to win Pennsylvania.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)

Well, Greta, I think he’ll win, but it’s a tough state, as you know. As you indicated, it’s been about a three-point state the last 20 years. But I think he’s going to win for a couple reasons. Number one is I think people know him and they trust him, and that’s important. I think that’s something they have to have confidence in when it comes to voting for president and maybe for a few other offices, but not every office. And secondly, I think they have a sense that he’s got a game plan for, arguably, I think without much fear of contradiction, two of the leading issues. One is what are you going to do to get us beyond the virus, to tackle the virus? And second, what are you going to do to help us create more jobs and get out of this economic ditch? And they’re seeing more and more of that, his ideas, his plans for how to tackle both of those challenges. So I think both of those are critically important. The other thing, of course, is in a change environment, it’s good to be the change candidate. And that’s what he is in this instance. So I think between empathy and experience and his decency and I think his determination to help us get out of the ditch we’re in, I think he’ll win.

Greta Van Susteren

In terms of coming out of the financial ditch we’re in, we’re going to be coming out of recession, he has said that he will raise taxes. Is taxes really the way to sort of rescue and get the economy and the American people out of recession, by raising taxes?

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)

Well, certainly I think he makes reference, as I often do, to the 2017 tax bill. I think it was an obscene giveaway to large multinational corporations and very wealthy Americans. So if you’re going to raise revenue, if you have to in order to move the country forward, I think that’s a good place to start, by way of having a focus on those at very high incomes who have had, not just a good couple of years, they’ve had a bonanza of tax policy since 1980. And large multinational corporations should be willing to help our country get out of the ditch, and I think many of them will because they’re patriots. So I think that’s what his focus is.

I think we missed an opportunity terribly so in 2017 when instead of giving the middle class a very limited relief, we could have given them, by way of a bipartisan tax bill, a substantial tax break. We didn’t do that. So I think we should be looking for opportunities to help the middle class directly. But when you need revenue, when you’ve got very wealthy Americans and big corporations, I think they should start paying their fair share.

Greta Van Susteren

In terms of trying to get revenue, we’re sort of doing the opposite, and for good reason because of the coronavirus putting so many people out of work and shutting down stuff, we’re also spending a lot. But right now we’ve got a situation where probably, I don’t know how many more people are going to lose unemployment benefits by the end of December, and we don’t have a stimulus bill. The Republicans and the Democrats can’t seem to get together on a stimulus bill. President Trump says that he’s ready to sign one. He said that he’s ready and says, “Go big.” So what’s the problem? What’s the hold-up on a stimulus bill?

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)

Well, when the president said, “Go big,” it was his own party that said, “No, no.” So, look, I think the Republicans have to work out those differences. But Greta, you know what’s happened since May. Way back in May, Nancy Pelosi led the House into passing the Heroes Act, which I think was a responsible approach to what was a continuing challenge in the pandemic and an economic crisis. Mitch McConnell said no at that point, but what he could have done and refused to do was to negotiate with the House and with the White House and come up with some proposal to lift the country out of the ditch we’re in right now. And he just sat on his hands the whole time. He did nominations all of May, all of June, all of July, all of August, all September. So five months of nominations, except maybe the defense bill. We did very little except voting on nominations. And here we are. We’re at the edge of another cliff, and Leader McConnell wants to offer very limited relief to those who are unemployed, to taxpayers, to people who need food assistance and other strategies we need to employ, and there’s no likelihood of success because he’s not even at the table. I wish he would get serious about this raging pandemic. It’s on the rise in almost every state now. We need to make sure that we have a bill that meets this moment.

Greta Van Susteren

All right. In terms of the coronavirus, what would a President Biden do right now? I mean, what are the steps he would take this moment to change things surrounding the coronavirus?

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)

Well, number one is speak as a president should, tell the truth all the time about where we are, where we have to go. The president’s decided not to do that, but I think Joe Biden will do that. So just that clarity-

Greta Van Susteren

But to say what? I mean, a lot of the criticism of President Trump is things he “says.” And we’ve seen all his tweets. We know how rugged his tweets are. But in terms of actually doing, what other ideas are there?

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)

Well, it’s not just what he said. It’s what he didn’t say. He lied to the American people about the gravity of this. We know that now from Bob Woodward’s book and other sources. But so messaging and communication is critical in a pandemic, the worst in a hundred years. But also steps you’ve got to take. We still have no national testing strategy. We are not testing anywhere near what we have to be testing, number one. Number two is as the case numbers go up, there are about 60,000 a day now. We’ve been above 50 for days. Tony Fauci and any other expert would say we should be below 10,000. So if you have that, that means you’re going to have higher hospitalizations, and once again, not only a need for more testing, but more personal protective equipment. There’s still no national strategy to produce the quantities we need of personal protective equipment. And I think in addition to those three, communication, PPE, and testing, there has to be a strategy at the same time to lift the country out of the economic ditch, and the president has no strategy to lift the economy up from where it is.

Greta Van Susteren

The other night, there was a town hall with Vice President Biden. One question was not asked and a lot of people were waiting to see if he’d be asked about his son, Hunter, and whether or not some of his son’s business dealings were any way, a lack of better word, shady because his father was the vice president at the time. Should he answer a question and explain about Hunter Biden, or not?

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)

I wouldn’t answer a question based upon a pack of lies. That’s what that is. What voters want to hear from both candidates right now is how are you going to resuscitate the economy so we’re creating millions of good paying jobs, and how are you going to get us beyond this virus? I think that’s the leading two questions. And one side has a plan. Joe Biden’s got a plan for both and more and more people are hearing about it. And the president, either as a candidate or as president, has no plan. He didn’t even have a platform. He was the president of the United States in the middle of the pandemic and the jobs crisis, doesn’t even have a platform, doesn’t talk for one minute about an action plan. We need leadership now in the most important office in the land, and we’re not getting it.

Greta Van Susteren

Well, let me just back up one more time to the Biden thing. And I realize that there’s a lot of questions about how these emails came to fruition, I mean, how they came out in the public domain. But nonetheless, at least I don’t think there’s any question on the authenticity of the emails themselves. So focusing simply on the content of the emails, does the content that the emails, is there anything that you think the vice president should explain? Is there anything that gives you reason to pause that maybe the American people need more of an explanation as to whether or not Hunter Biden got some special deal or something because of the advantage of his father being vice president, whether the vice president knew about it?

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)

I don’t think there’s any reason for him to be answering those questions. Look, a lot of this stuff about his son is a last ditch effort for a failing candidate. The president’s a failing candidate because he’s not answering the two questions everybody’s got on their minds, the virus and jobs. He’s not dealing with those, so he’s trying to do everything he can. I mean, my God, this president lies a couple of times an hour about everything. Even someone who lies a lot, you think they wouldn’t lie about a pandemic. And to say that he somehow didn’t want to tell the truth about the pandemic so that he wouldn’t create a panic, that’s not leadership. Thank goodness he wasn’t running the country during World War II.

Greta Van Susteren

Turning now to the Supreme Court, I suspect because you’re a Democrat and I hear from all the Democrats that they will vote no for the confirmation of Judge Barrett to be a Supreme Court justice. First of all, is your vote no? Secondly, is your vote no because you think she’s not qualified, or is your vote no because you don’t like the process in the year of an election and compared, of course, to Merrick Garland’s nomination?

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)

Yeah, Greta, the answer is I won’t vote for her confirmation, but it’s not for the two reasons you cited. The leading reason that I wouldn’t vote for her nomination is really two-fold, but they’re interrelated, or intertwined is an even better word. Number one is she was chosen as every nominee to the court that this president will make a determination about from a list made up by two groups, not the Republican party, not some conservative pack over here, and not some think tank. Really just two organizations that make the whole decision, the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society. They’re picking the Supreme Court nominees, as simple as that. Everybody knows that. I don’t want a clerk that’s chosen by those two organizations. I think we should have more mainstream justices, conservative justices, like Republican [inaudible 00:10:58] to a point. So I-

Greta Van Susteren

But let me just stop you for one second. Doesn’t the hearing, though, give an opportunity to question about whether she’s a suggestion by the Heritage or by the Federalist Society? Doesn’t the hearing give ample opportunity to Democrats or Republicans to question her about her motives or interests or background? In fact, I don’t think you even would agree to meet with her, even though you’re not on the committee.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)

No, there’s no question that the hearing provides an opportunity to ask those kinds of questions, but if anything, the hearings demonstrated that her adherence to, as anyone on the list would adhere, her adherence to the philosophies, the ideology of the Federalist Society and Heritage... Look, I represent a state of working men and women, and Heritage once referred to unions as cartels. So pretty hard for me to be in line with them.

But look, at one point it was startling when she wouldn’t even say something about the Medicare program, that it was constitutional. My God, I mean, if Medicare is not constitutional, I don’t know what is next. So that was the leading reason for me. But secondly, and directly related to that, the Affordable Care Act. This is a statute that has been on the books for 10 years. Pennsylvania, over one million people got healthcare. And she’s highly likely, if not certainly, going to be the deciding vote that will destroy that law. And that’s not only a million people with coverage, five and a half million with preexisting conditions.

Greta Van Susteren

It’s interesting that you raise that because that was, of course, the subject of much in the hearing about whether or not at the November 14th hearing, the Supreme Court and the Affordable Care Act. As I listened to that, I thought to myself... I look back to when that case originated. I think it originated in February of 2018. And I thought to myself, looking at all the legislators sitting there, you weren’t one of them, but here it is a situation where all these legislators on Capitol Hill, the House and the Senate know there’s this dispute about it, know there’s this disagreement, know there are imperfections and know we can fix it better, yet you all sort of just wait and let it wind through the court system. And then you basically dump it in the lap of the Supreme Court instead of fixing it.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)

Greta, we didn’t do that. Look, Republicans failed to repeal it, so then they tried to run it up through the court. They’re pretty good at this by now. Look what they did on the Janice case, a labor case. I’m afraid the next case might be the right to organized unions. But on healthcare, they ran it right through the system. They fund the litigation and they run it right up, and now they’re in a position where they have to get their nominee through so that she can be part of the argument on November the 10th. That’s why there’s a rush, because if she misses the argument on the 10th of November, she can’t be part of the decision and they’re worried they won’t have enough votes to knock it down.

Look, if Republicans were serious about making corrections to improving the Affordable Care Act. I think we would have heard some ideas the last 10 years. All they’re interested in is kind of wiping it out for this fiction. I think it’s really a lie that there’s some better way to cover 20 million people, have all the protections for pre-existing conditions, fill the hole for prescription drugs for seniors, do all the good things the Affordable Care Act does a different way, a better way, a cheaper way. I think that’s the big lie, and that’s why you haven’t seen a Republican legislation on this either appear at all, or when it does appear, garner the kind of bipartisan support that we need. But look, if they knock it out in the Supreme Court, we’re going to have to start all over.

Greta Van Susteren

[inaudible] in a broader picture is that a lot of the times the Supreme Court is in the awkward position of trying to resolve disputes on statutes between Republicans and Democrats when I think to myself, just think, if both of them could work together a little bit better, resolve these things, it wouldn’t drop in the lap of the Supreme Court, and they wouldn’t be in the position of trying to basically try to sort this out and said, “Let the legislative branch do it.”

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)

No, there’s no question, Greta. In the years ahead, we’re going to need a lot more bipartisanship on both sides. But there are certain issues, and healthcare is one of them, where the sides are so far apart that sometimes it’s going to be a big fight. And if someone wants to knock out the Affordable Care Act, I’m not going to sit down and hold their hand. I’m going to try to beat them. That’s just one of those issues where you can’t find agreement. But for the life of me, I don’t understand why Republicans wouldn’t want to put in place some way to guarantee that you can have these protections in place and to build on it. We should all be in favor of universal coverage. What’s wrong with that? Why don’t we come together on that and say, “Let’s get to universal coverage”? But they have made it a central tenant of their party, a foundational principle, that you have to be not only against the Affordable Care Act, you have to support cuts to Medicare and Medicaid of a trillion and a half dollars over 10 years. That’s what they proposed in their budget this year. They wanted to cut Medicare by half a trillion over the course of 10 years and Medicare by almost a trillion over 10 years. Medicaid, I should say, by almost a trillion. That doesn’t make any sense to most Americans.

Greta Van Susteren

All right. Vice President Biden has been asked whether or not he’s in favor of packing the court, which is another way to say expanding the court. If Judge Barrett becomes part of the Supreme Court, it will be six conservatives and three liberals, in general, although votes aren’t always predictable in terms of the Supreme Court. He said he’s not a fan of it, but he hasn’t said yes or no to expanding the court should the Democrats win the Senate. What is your view on expanding the court or not?

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)

Well, look, if we have a majority next year in the Senate, and that’s possible, I don’t know what the final result will be, and that proposal is made, that’s something I’d consider. Now, have I spent enough time on it, analyzing it and studying it? No, I haven’t. Neither have very many Americans. So we’re still at the early stages of it. But there’s a couple of if-clauses between here and there. But look, the Senate is a different place than it was even 10 years ago, radically, radically different than it was 25 years ago, and it’s not working. It’s become kind of a court nomination machine instead of a legislative body. And just my view, I think we have to consider matters that would not have been on the table even a few years ago.

Greta Van Susteren

What has happened to the Senate? Why has it changed so much? What’s the reason? And I guess I’ll throw into the equation the filibuster because some Democrats have hinted that they would do away with the filibuster, something the Republicans have not done away with.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)

Well, the Republicans took the Senate, as you know, in 2014, and on the intervening six years, I think made the kind of changes to the Senate where very little work gets done. Very little substantive, bipartisan work gets done. It’s mostly been six years of nominations. And the majority leader and his party are the ones who change the rules in the Senate as it relates to the Supreme Court. I mean, now to be a Supreme Court justice, you don’t even have to get six out of 10 votes to be a justice. They changed that. Now, there’s no question that when we were in the majority we changed the district court and the circuit court, but they blew a huge hole in the rules to change the Supreme Court-

Greta Van Susteren

But wasn’t Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid the one who changed it for you can no longer filibuster judges, and he got rid of that, to the benefit of the Democrats, so you only need 51?

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)

Yeah, but they were lifetime appointments to courts, and that’s significant. But again, Republicans made a... Look, a lot of people may not agree with this assessment, but Republicans made a judgment literally the day Barack Obama was inaugurated that they would do everything they could to stop him and they would try to defeat him in reelection. When they couldn’t beat him in the reelection of 2012, they decided to defeat his agenda in 2013. So we were-

Greta Van Susteren

But let me just throw you back. I think I saw a tweet by Congresswoman Maxine Waters within days of President Trump, I think, getting inaugurated. She was essentially saying the same thing. I mean, it’s gotten dysfunctional from the outside, but I guess my question, do you think it’s only the Republicans that have contributed to the dysfunction?

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)

I don’t think there’s any question if you look at the last six years what the Senate’s become. Look, Mitch McConnell believes that’s a winning strategy. It’s a raw exercise of power, but I don’t think it helped the country very much. I don’t think the country wants to spend the next 10 years putting healthcare through the ringer like they have instead of moving forward on consensus legislation. But look, it’s worked for him politically, but I think it’s catching up to him.

Greta Van Susteren

One last question, behind the scenes. We have two older gentlemen who are obviously vying for the White House, and we have vice presidents. We know a lot about Vice President Pence. What can you tell me about working with Senator Kamala Harris?

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)

She’s great to work with. She’s very capable, but also very collegial and I think someone who not only has strong principles, but at the same time is someone who’s collegial and will try to work with people. So I think she’ll be a great vice president, not only in terms of her work supporting President Biden were he to be elected, but I think she’ll also work well with the Senate, with the Congress to try to move the country forward. And look-

Greta Van Susteren

Could she work with Republicans? Could she work with Republicans?

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)

Sure. That’s what I mean. When I say collegial, I mean with both parties. And I think Republicans would tell you that. She hasn’t been in the Senate for too many years, but I think most of them would tell you that. And we’re going to need a lot of efforts on both sides, because what I worry about is that even when the virus is beyond us or in the rear view mirror a little bit in 2021, we hope, we have to work towards that and pray for that. But even then, you’re going to have, I think, an economic hangover or we’ll still be kind of climbing out of the ditch. We’re going to need a lot of efforts to lift people out of poverty or get them a job. We’re going to need all the help we can get and I think she’ll be an excellent leader.

Greta Van Susteren

Senator, thank you, sir.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)

Thanks, Greta.

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