MADDOW: Joining us now is the former Democratic National Committee chairman, former governor of Vermont, Dr. Howard Dean. Governor Dean, thanks very much for joining us tonight.
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: Rachel, thanks for having me on.
MADDOW: Let me ask you first about the premise here. My sense is that there is not a Democratic-Republican debate about how to reform health care. My sense is that it`s more like Democrats think there ought to be health care reform, and Republicans think there ought not be health care reform. Do you think that`s true?
DEAN: I think it`s even deeper than that. I do think that`s true. This is not even about Democrats versus Republicans. This is about the health insurance agency versus the American people.
Seventy-two percent of the American people want a public option. We want them to be able to make these choices. Fifty percent of Republicans - - grassroots Republicans think they ought to have a choice.
So, anybody who votes against the public option is not just voting against the Democratic bill or something like that; they`re voting for the insurance companies and against the American public. And that is going to be the cry in 2010.
DEAN: Who are you going to vote for, the people who sent you there and who pay your salary, or you`re going to vote for the health insurance industry? That`s your choice.
MADDOW: Well, "The Associated Press" and NBC News are both reporting tonight that a bipartisan group of senators is making some sort of progress on some sort of compromise bill, but it wouldn`t include this government insurance option. It wouldn`t include the public option. And it wouldn`t require businesses to offer coverage to their employees.
Now, we`ve heard a lot of reports along the way about what`s going to be in the bill or what`s not going to be in the bill. What`s your take on this latest news?
DEAN: Well, that`s all very nice. I`m glad they`re bipartisan but that`s not health insurance reform. That`s -- that is insurance reform but it`s not health reform. It`s not going to -- what it will do, I assume there is guaranteed issue and so forth in there, and if that`s true, if the guaranteed issue is in there and community rating, then it`s insurance reform.
It`s not going to do anything to curb expenses. It`s not going to change the health care system. It`s not going to insure anybody extra. That`s what I call the fake public option.
And it`s a shame really, because the Democrats are going to end up being responsible for killing this bill. If we stick together like the Republicans are, we can get this passed. But, unfortunately, that doesn`t seem to be the case.
MADDOW: I feel like it`s not surprising to see the industry, the people who profit from the system being the way it is now trying to stop anybody from changing the system. It`s working great for the insurance companies right now.
But how do they get politicians, Democrat or Republican, to make that case for them? Is there an ideological fit here or is it just campaign contributions -- or what is it?
DEAN: It`s just about -- it`s about money. It`s about money, because when you have 72 percent of the American people thinking that they should have the choice instead of Congress, this is about money. And the insurance industry gives out of a lot of money.
And, you know, this is going to be a hell of an issue in 2010 because -- you know, honestly, what`s the point of having a 60-vote majority in the United States Senate if you can`t produce health insurance reform out of it? I don`t -- or excuse me, health care reform. You can get health insurance reform.
This bill is going to cost a lot of money and isn`t going to do anything if this compromise, this so-called compromise is true. This compromise does nothing except it will reform insurance. That`s a good thing to do, but they ought to strip the money out of it because we reformed insurance like this in Vermont 15 years ago. It`s a fine thing to do, but it doesn`t insure more people.
MADDOW: If the problem is.
DEAN: It does make it fair. It`s not worth -- it`s not worthless because it makes it fair, but it`s not health care reform, and nobody should pretend that it is.
MADDOW: As you said, the Republicans -- as you implied, the Republicans are very unified on this, and it seems to me like their strategy is that they don`t want anything to change. And as you point out, it`s not just the Democratic-Republican divide. There`s also a divide within the Democratic Party and that -- and you can -- you can trace that divide down to where the insurance industry influences.
So, what can happen within the Democratic Party to hold the Democrats together, to make conservative Democrats and those aligned with the insurance industry do the right thing?
DEAN: Well, some insurance -- some conservative Democrats are doing the right thing. I don`t mind the blue dogs holding their feet to the fire on issues like fiscal responsibility. I think that`s good. What`s bad is coming out against the public option because that`s what their constituents want.
This is, again, not a conservative-liberal divide. The constituents want a choice. They`re tired of politicians telling them what to do. They`re frankly tired of insurance companies having bureaucrats telling their own doctors what to do -- which is what happening now. The Republicans are completely bankrupt on the issue. Half these things they say are just not true and made up by spin doctors.
So, the question is: will the Democrats reform health care or will they not reform health care? The House did a great job. The Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee did a great job. The Senate Finance Committee is really in trouble. And if this is true about this so-called compromise, I really -- I fear for the future of health care reform because that`s not health care reform.
MADDOW: Well, what I really want now is I want you to host "COUNTDOWN" tomorrow night and Wednesday night on MSNBC so you can keep sort of helming this coverage. Will you do that?
DEAN: I will actually. Actually, it`s good suggestion. I`ll go right over and see if I can arrange that.
MADDOW: Excellent. Former DNC chairman and former governor of Vermont, Howard Dean, who will be hosting "COUNTDOWN" tomorrow and Wednesday night. We`re really looking forward to seeing you then, Governor. Thanks a lot.
DEAN: Thanks for having me on.
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