Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today spoke with Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s State of the Union about health care reform, the CIA and reports that Attorney General Eric Holder will appoint a special prosecutor to investigate actions by our intelligence community since September 11, 2001. Alexander’s comments are below:
On Attorney General Eric Holder consideration of appointing a special counsel to investigate the interrogation of terror suspects:
• If he does that, he needs to go all the way back to 1995 and investigate the Clinton Administration renditions, which might have led to interrogations in other countries at a time when [Eric Holder] was the Deputy Attorney General and asked what laws were broken. Did he know about it? What precautions were taken? So that's what happens when we begin to go back. If we go back to 9/11, let's go on back.
NOTE: To read previous comments from Alexander on his efforts to pull the Attorney General’s Interrogation Task Force Funding, click here, and to read his comments regarding investigating interrogation techniques, click here.
Central Intelligence Agency
On the CIA announcing it cancelled a program on which Congress was not briefed:
• We don't know whether it was appropriate. The CIA is in the secrecy business and what I hear from the Democratic members of congress is they want the CIA to tell more of them what's going on. The best way to ruin a secrecy business is to tell [every Member of Congress.] What I'm hearing from the Democratic members of the House is tell us all, tell more of us about it. If the eight leaders think what Vice President Cheney did was inappropriate, they should sit down with the new president and the new CIA director and say we'd like to know more. That's the way to fix that problem.
On the House Ways and Means plan to raise taxes:
• That's a bad idea, Wolf. What is on the table seems to be taxes, more state taxes to support Medicaid, more cuts in Medicare, and more employer taxes. What should be on the table are more proposals like the one Senator Gregg has made or Senator Burr and Senator Coburn. There are four of us who support [those] plans that would give every American dollars to buy their own health insurance and could be done without adding a penny to the debt.
On health care cooperatives:
• It all depends. Blue Cross could fit under [Sen. Conrad’s] definition of a co-op. The problem with a government-run plan would be this, say the president said, “Let's buy the rest of General Motors to keep Ford company honest.” That wouldn't matter unless he gave the government car some advantage. He might say, “Well, all your repairs are going to be at a very low cost,” but all of the mechanics might say, “We're not going to work on the government car.” That's what you have with a government plan today with Medicaid. Forty percent of the doctors won't serve Medicaid patients because of the low service and it's the only option.
On rushing health care reform legislation through Congress without careful consideration:
• There's no reason to rush. We need to get it right, not add to the debt, and not have a Washington takeover.