From the 12.21.2010 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360:
Obviously, a lot to talk about. We're going to try to keep the volume town ourselves with Steve Kornacki of Salon.com and also Dana Loesch, editor of BigJournalism.com and host of Saint Louis radio station KFTK 97.1 FM.
Boy, some obviously impassioned discussion.
I think Dana is going to be joining us by phone, Steve. But let me start with you.
One of the big things we keep hearing about is this is being rushed, that it's sort of being dealt with at the 11th hour. Is there some validity to those arguments?
STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM: Well, it is sort of being rushed right now, but let's not forget that this bill actually came up a few weeks ago in the Senate, and this could have been dealt with at a time when there was more time to have a debate, more time to discuss, more time to have all of this procedure that -- that Coburn is talking about right now.
The Republicans all stood together and filibustered it a few weeks ago. Their -- their -- you know, you know, the grounds that they provided at that time were, you know, we're not going to take action on any bit of legislation until we address the Bush tax cuts. So, they basically said that this lame-duck session, all of it, is sort of subservient to getting a deal on the tax cuts.
Now, a deal on tax cuts was reached, and then Democrats began sort of ticking through the rest of the items they wanted to address, whether that was the repeal of don't ask, don't tell, the spending bill, the DREAM Act, which went down over the weekend.
GUPTA: ... yesterday, yes.
KORNACKI: And here you are now with a bill that -- now, the stakes are really high, obviously. It's very important in terms of health care for these workers, but when you look at the -- the budgetary impact, when you look at the money that is actually involved, in the scope of the entire federal budget, in the scope of all of the money that's spent every year, this is now down to about $6 billion.
So, it's small in a way. The price tag is awfully small. Now, so when you leave it to the last minute like this, a small amount of the calculation is, you know, it's a big impact, but it's a small price tag.
GUPTA: So, now you just will be able to get it through given the small price tag.
GUPTA: I think, Dana, are you -- are you on the phone with us, Dana? OK.
DANA LOESCH, EDITOR, BIGJOURNALISM.COM: I am.
GUPTA: Dana, you -- you -- I think you heard most of what we were just talking about there.
I mean, what do you think overall of Senator Coburn's strategy? I mean, there have been changes to this bill, changes to the funding, changes to the price tag. It's not perfect, as most bills aren't, but are those flaws worth killing it for? LOESCH: Well, and I think it's -- it's -- it's perfectly -- I think what Coburn's doing is, he's being legitimate in his hesitancy, believe there is not a single person to whom I have spoken, nor I myself, concerning perspective on this, believe that this -- that the people who committed heroic acts on 9/11 and that were there, our first-responders, no one in their right mind believes that they shouldn't have help with dealing with what was the worst terrorist attack, worst at on our country's soil.
LOESCH: But the thing is, is that, even though it is the -- it's a great cause, the right cause, that doesn't mean -- and I think that the people who are going to be helped from this, they deserve a little bit more than having a piece of slipshod legislation be thrown in.
And one of the biggest concerns that I know Coburn has, as well as a lot of other Republicans, is that this remains unfunded. They have no idea how they're going to fund this. And my -- my bet is -- or my suggestion, rather, is...
LOESCH: ... let's find something to cut immediately, so that, A, we can make sure these people get the help they deserve, and, B, let's make sure that the people who have been injured and are dealing with bad health issues and are dealing with bills, make sure that they can get funded, and that what they're receiving doesn't get looted by people who are committing fraud.
And we saw such a precedent already go down this month with the passing of the second Pigford settlement, because there's a ton of fraud in that. So, I think those concerns are legitimate. And no one's arguing that this shouldn't be done. They're just saying, you know what? Let's make sure that these people get the help that they need...
LOESCH: ... and that it's done the right way.
GUPTA: And -- and -- and, Steve, I mean, obviously, we are talking about health here. So, waiting can be problematic. People are waiting right now. Dana called it slipshod legislation.
It's been through committee. I mean, what -- what -- is it something -- again, the same question -- is enemy -- is the perfect the enemy of the good here in terms of getting something done?
Well, I think, on the issue of Tom Coburn and his motives, I think it's fair to say, I mean, he's -- he's been consistent in this regard. Just about every piece of legislation that comes before the Senate, no matter how big or how small the price tag, he does ask questions like this. GUPTA: Mm-hmm.
KORNACKI: He does, you know, talk about using his power to delay things, so he's being consistent in that regard.
But what I think is the most revealing thing on this is, if you look outside of the Senate, you have Republican voices, you have conservative voices now, like Mike Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani, you know, a host on the FOX News Channel who is now basically devoting a segment to this every night, who have really embraced this, the idea of passing this bill, as a real cause.
This is not a typical sort of left/right, Democrat/Republican divide. You know, a lot of Democrats are upset that Barack Obama really hasn't been front and center on that. And I think one of the reasons is the Democrats were -- in the Senate were able to cut a deal with just about all of the Republicans to bring the price tag down to $6 billion -- it was $7.5 billion -- to change the way it's funded.
KORNACKI: And the Republicans basically said they're OK with it.
GUPTA: And they get a lot of support.
KORNACKI: So, this really is down to -- this really is down to Tom Coburn and maybe a couple sympathizers in the Senate...
KORNACKI: ... vs. the Republicans and the Democrats.
GUPTA: Dana, is Senator Coburn, do you think, getting a lot of calls from his Republican colleagues in the Senate, you know, trying to persuade him?
LOESCH: Well, you know, I think that he probably is at this point, but he's also probably getting calls of support from people saying, look, we understand what your strategy is in this, because there is nothing that is more dangerous I think with passing this legislation than passing something where we have no idea where the money's coming from.
And, again, just there's -- there's several concerns that I think are really valid here. And I understand where Giuliani and I understand where Huckabee are both coming from as well. And I also understand that Democrats were even struggling to get a lot of their own in line behind this piece of legislation.
I think it was just January 28 of this year that the president, he made a remark to the New York delegation saying that he wasn't exactly on board with the funding of this thing. So there was a lot of discussion on the left, as well as a lot of discussion on the right.
But the bottom line is, there's some -- I can think of at least six things that we can cut right now and get this thing moving and get it passed and also make sure that there are safeguards...
LOESCH: ... in place to make sure that people who need help with -- with health, need help with medical bills can get that, without it being looted.
GUPTA: Any possibility of them coming back after Christmas, Steve, do you think?
KORNACKI: Well, the real question right now is, let's say that this passes the Senate tomorrow. Let's Coburn relents and it passes the Senate.
There's a question right now -- forget about after Christmas -- right now -- if there are going to be enough people left on the House side in Washington tomorrow who can vote on it then. The House leader says they're ready to vote on it. They had a vote tonight -- 80 people had already left town. Let's see where we stand 24 hours from now.
GUPTA: ... until Christmas, for sure.
Steve Kornacki, Dana Loesch, thanks so much for joining us.
I want to hear from you as well at home, what you think. Join the live chat now under way at AC360.com.
Dana The Diva, of course, had a senile fit about criticism about her:
Yet another juvenile tweet from Dana Loesch.
I love these tolerant progressive men. When they realize a girl knows more than they do they turn into cousin-humping wifebeaters.
@DLoesch: You are going to get coal in your stocking for Christmas for such deranged talk, Ms. Loesch!
Loesch's mentor Andrew Breitbart makes up stuff, as always.
@DLoesch @EricBoehlert I think we got a little insight tonight how rough word play w the ladies was single Eric's M.O. with liberal chicks.
Shame on Dana Loesch for her un-American actions about the 9/11 First Responders, and she will end up getting coal for Christmas.