SCHIEFFER: Mr. President, let's get back to economic issues, but let's
shift to some other questions here. Both of you are opposed to gay marriage.
But to understand how you have come to that conclusion, I want to ask
you a more basic question. Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?
PRESIDENT BUSH: You know, Bob, I don't know. I just don't know. I do
know that we have a choice to make in America, and that is to treat
people with tolerance and respect and dignity. It's important that we
do that. I also know in a free society people -- consenting adults can
live they way they want to live, and that's to be honored.
But as we respect someone's rights and we, you know, profess tolerance,
we shouldn't change -- or have to change our basic views on the sanctity
of marriage. I believe in the sanctity of marriage. I think it's very
important that we protect marriage as an institution between a man and
I proposed a constitutional amendment. The reason I did so was because
I was worried that activist judges are actually defining the definition
of marriage. And the surest way to protect marriage between a man and
a woman is to amend the Constitution. It has also the benefit of allowing
our citizens to participate in the process. After all, when you amend
the Constitution, state legislatures must participate in the ratification
of the Constitution. I'm deeply concerned that judges are making those
decisions and not the citizenry of the United States.
You know, Congress passed a law called DOMA, the Defense of Marriage
Act. My opponent was against it. It basically protected states from
the action -- action of one state to another. It also defined marriage
as between a man and a woman. But I'm concerned that that will get overturned,
and if it gets overturned, then we'll end up with marriage being defined
by courts. And I don't think that's in our nation's interest.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Senator Kerry?
KERRY: We're all God's children, Bob. And I think if you were to talk
to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that
she's being who she was, she's being who she was born as.
I think if you talked to anybody, it's not choice. I've met people who
struggled with this for years, people who were in a marriage, because
they were living a sort of convention, and they struggled with it. And
I've met wives who are supportive of their husbands, or vice versa,
when they finally sort of broke out and -- and allowed themselves to
live who they were, who they felt God had made them. I think we have
to respect that.
The president and I share the belief that marriage is between a man
and a woman. I believe that. I believe marriage is between a man and
But I also believe that because we are the United States of America,
we're a country with a great, unbelievable Constitution with rights
that we afford people, that you can't discriminate in the workplace,
you can't discriminate in the rights that you afford people. You can't
disallow someone the right to visit their partner in -- in a hospital.
You have to allow people to transfer property, which is why I'm for
partnership rights and so forth.
Now with respect to DOMA and the marriage laws, the states have always
been able to manage those laws. And they're proving today, every state,
that they can manage them adequately.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Senator Kerry, a new question for you. The New York
Times reports that some Catholic archbishops are telling their church
members that it would be a sin to vote for a candidate like you because
you support a woman's right to choose an abortion and unlimited stem-cell
research. What is your reaction to that?
KERRY: I respect their views. I completely respect their views. I am
a Catholic and I grew up learning how to respect those views, but I
disagree with them, as do many. I believe that I can't legislate or
transfer to another American citizen my article of faith. What is an
article of faith for me is not something that I can legislate on somebody
who doesn't share that article of faith. I believe that choice is a
woman's choice. It's between a woman, God and her doctor, and that's
why I support that.
Now I will not allow somebody to come in and change Roe v. Wade. The
president has never said whether or not he would do that, but we know
from the people he's tried to appoint to the court he wants to. I will
not. I will defend the right of Roe v. Wade.
Now with respect to religion, you know, as I said, I grew up a Catholic.
I was an altar boy. I know that throughout my life this has made a difference
to me. And as President Kennedy said when he ran for president, he said,
"I'm not running to be a Catholic president; I'm running to be
a president who happens to be Catholic."
Now my faith affects everything that I do and choose. There's a great
passage of the Bible that says: What does it mean, my brother, to say
you have faith if there are no deeds? Faith without works is dead. And
I think that everything you do in public life has to be guided by your
faith, affected by your faith, but without transferring it in any official
way to other people. That's why I fight against poverty. That's why
I fight to clean up the environment, protect this Earth. That's why
I fight for equality and justice. All of those things come out of that
fundamental teaching and belief of faith.
But I know this, that President Kennedy in his Inaugural Address told
all of us that here on Earth, God's work must truly be our own. And
that's what we have to -- I think that's the test of public service.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. President?
BUSH: I think it's important to promote a culture of life. I think a
hospitable society is a society where every being counts and every person
matters. I believe the ideal world is one in which every child is protected
in law and welcomed to life. I understand there's great differences
on this issue of abortion, but I believe reasonable people can come
together and put good law in place that will help reduce the number
Take, for example, the ban on partial birth abortion. It's a brutal
practice. People from both political parties came together in the halls
of Congress and voted overwhelmingly to ban that practice. It made a
lot of sense. My opponent, in that he's out of the mainstream, voted
against that law.
What I am saying is, is that as we promote life and promote a culture
of life, surely there are ways we can work together to reduce the number
of abortions. Continue to promote adoption laws. That's a great alternative
to abortion. Continue to fund and promote maternity group homes.
I will continue to promote abstinence programs. The last debate my opponent
said his wife was involved with those programs. That's great. I appreciate
that very much. All of us ought to be involved with programs that provide
a viable alternative to abortion.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. President, let's have a new question. It goes to
you. And let's get back to economic issues.
Health insurance costs have risen over 36 percent over the last four
years, according to The Washington Post. We're paying more, we're getting
less. I would like to ask you: Who bears responsibility for this? Is
it the government? Is it the insurance companies? Is it the lawyers?
Is it the doctors? Is it the administration?
BUSH: Gosh, I sure hope it's not the administration.
No, there is a -- look here, there's a systemic problem. Health care
costs are on the rise because the consumers are not involved with the
decision-making process. Most health care costs are covered by third
parties, and therefore, the actual user of health care is not the purchaser
of health care. And there's no market forces involved with health care.
It's one of the reasons I'm a strong believer in what they call health
savings accounts. These are accounts that allow somebody to buy a low
premium, high deductible catastrophic plan and couple it with tax-free
savings. Businesses can contribute. Employees can contribute on a contractual
basis. But this is a way to make sure people are actually involved with
the decision-making process on health care.
Secondly, I do believe the lawsuits -- I don't believe, I know that
the lawsuits are causing health care costs to rise in America.
That's why I'm such a strong believer in medical liability reform. At
the last debate my opponent said well they only -- these lawsuits only
cause costs to go up by 1 percent. Well, he didn't -- he didn't include
the defensive practice of medicine that costs the federal government
some $28 billion a year and costs our society between $60 billion and
$100 billion a year.
Thirdly, one of the reasons why there's still high costs in medicine
is because this is -- they don't use information technology. It's like
if you looked at the -- it's the equivalent of the -- of the buggy and
horse days compared to other industries here in America. And so we've
got to introduce high technology into health care. We're beginning to
do it. We're changing the language. We want there to be electronic medical
records to cut down on error as well as to reduce costs. People tell
me that when the health care field is fully integrated with information
technology it will wring some 20 percent of the costs out of the system.
And finally, moving generic drugs to the market quicker. And so those
are four ways to help control the costs in health care.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Senator Kerry?
KERRY: The reason health care costs are getting higher -- one of the
principal reasons is that this administration has stood in the way of
common-sense efforts that would have reduced the costs. Let me give
you a prime example.
In the Senate we passed the right of Americans to import drugs from
Canada. But the president and his friends took out in the House, and
now you don't have that right. The president blocked you from the right
to have less expensive drugs from Canada.
We also wanted Medicare to be able to negotiate bulk purchasing. The
VA does that; the VA provides lower-cost drugs to our veterans. We could
have done that in Medicare. Medicare is paid for by the American taxpayer.
Medicare belongs to you. Medicare is for seniors who are, many of them,
on fixed income, to lift them out of poverty. But rather than help you,
the taxpayer, have a lower cost, rather than help seniors have less
expensive drugs, the president made it illegal -- illegal -- for Medicare
to actually go out and bargain for lower prices. Result: $139 billion
windfall profit to the drug companies, coming out of your pockets. That's
a large part of your 17 percent increase in Medicare premiums. When
I'm president, I'm sending that back to Congress and we're going to
get a real prescription drug benefit.
Now we also have people sicker because they don't have health insurance.
So whether it's diabetes or cancer, they come to the hospitals later
and it costs America more. We got to have health care for all Americans.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well --
MR. SCHIEFFER: Well, Senator --
Go ahead, Mr. President.
BUSH: Yeah. I think it's important, since he talked about the Medicare
plan up. Has he been in the United States Senate for 20 years? He has
no record on reforming of health care, no record at all. He introduced
some 300 bills and he's passed five. No record of leadership.
I came to Washington to solve problems. I was deeply concerned about
seniors having to choose between prescription drugs and food. And so
I led, and in 2006 our seniors will get a prescription drug coverage
MR. SCHIEFFER: Senator Kerry, 30 seconds.
SEN. KERRY: Once again, the president's misleading America. I've actually
passed 56 individual bills that I've personally written. And in addition
to that, they're not always under my name; there is amendments on certain
But more importantly, with respect to the question of no record, I helped
write -- I did write -- I was one of the original authors of the early
childhood health care and the expansion of health care that we did in
the middle of the 1990s, and I'm very proud of that.
So the president's wrong.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Let me direct the next question to you, Senator Kerry,
and again, let's say on health care. You have, as you have proposed
and as the president has commented on tonight -- proposed a massive
plan to extend health care coverage to children. You're also talking
about the government picking up a big part the catastrophic bills that
people get at the hospital. And you have said that you can pay for this
by rolling back the president's tax cut on the upper 2 percent.
SEN. KERRY: That's correct.
MR. SCHIEFFER: You heard the president say earlier tonight that it's
going to cost a whole lot more money than that. I'd just ask you: Where
are you going to get the money?
KERRY: Well, two leading national news networks have both said the president's
characterization of my health care plan is incorrect. One called it
"fiction." The other called it "untrue."
The fact is that my health care plan, America, is very simple. It gives
you the choice. I don't force you to do anything. It's not a government
plan. The government doesn't require you to do anything. You choose
your doctor. You choose your plan. If you don't want to take the offer
of the plan that I'd want to put forward, you don't have to. You can
keep what you have today, keep a high deductible, keep high premiums,
keep a high co-pay, keep low benefits. But I got a better plan, and
I don't think a lot of people are going to want to keep what they have
Here's what I do. We take over Medicaid children from the state, so
that every child in America is covered. And in exchange, if the states
want to -- they're not forced to, they can choose to -- they cover individuals,
up to 300 percent of poverty -- it's their choice. I think they'll choose
it, because it's a net plus of $5 billion to them.
We allow you, if you choose to -- you don't have to -- but we give you
broader competition to allow you to buy into the same health care plan
that senators and congressmen give themselves. If it's good enough for
us, it's good enough for every American. I believe that your health
care is just as important as any politician in Washington, D.C.
If you want to buy into it, you can. We give you broader competition.
That helps lower prices. In addition to that, we're going to allow people
55 to 64 to buy into Medicare early. And most importantly, we give small
business a 50 percent tax credit so that after we lower the cost of
health care, they also get, whether they're self-employed or a small
business, lower costs to be able to cover their employees.
Now, what happens is when you begin to get people covered like that
-- for instance, in diabetes. If you diagnose diabetes early, you could
save $50 billion in the health care system of America by avoiding surgery
and dialysis. It works. And I'm going to offer it to America.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. President.
BUSH: In all due respect, I'm not so sure it's credible to quote leading
news organizations about -- never mind.
Let me quote the Lewin report. The Lewin report is a group of folks
who are not politically affiliated. They analyzed the senator's plan.
It cost $1.2 trillion. The Lewin report actually noted that there are
going to be 20 million -- over 20 million people added to government
controlled health care. It would be the largest increase in government
health care ever.
If you raise the Medicaid to 300 percent, it provides an incentive for
small businesses not to provide private insurance to their employees.
Why should they insure somebody when the government's going to insure
for them? It's estimated that 8 million people will go from private
insurance to government insurance.
We have a fundamental difference of opinion. I think government-run
health will lead to poor quality health, will lead to rationing, will
lead to less choice. Once a health care program ends up in a line item
in the federal government budget, it leads to more controls. And just
look at other countries that have tried to have federally controlled
health care; they have poor quality health care.
Our health care system is the envy of the world because we believe in
making sure that the decisions are made by doctors and patients, not
by officials in the nation's capital.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Senator?
SEN. KERRY: The president just said that government-run health care
results in poor quality. Now, maybe that explains why he hasn't fully
funded the VA, and the VA hospital is having trouble, and veterans are
complaining. Maybe that explains why Medicare patients are complaining
about being pushed off of Medicare, he doesn't adequately fund it.
But let me just say to America: I am not proposing a government-run
program. That's not what I have. I have Blue Cross Blue Shield. Senators
and congressmen have a wide choice. Americans ought to have it too.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. President.
PRESIDENT BUSH: You talk about the VA. We've increased VA funding by
$22 billion in the four years since I've been president. That's twice
the amount that my predecessor increased VA funding. Of course we're
meeting our obligation to our veterans, and the veterans know that.
We're expanding veterans health care throughout the country. We're aligning
facilities where the veterans live now. Veterans are getting very good
health care under my administration, and they will continue to do so
during the next four years.