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Rove and Plouffe clash over health-care bill, deficit and spam e-mail

By Michael D. Shear
Even as White House officials expressed optimism about the fate of the health bill in the House, they engaged in a war of words with former George W. Bush aide Karl Rove.

Rove, in an argumentative appearance with Obama adviser David Plouffe on ABC's "This Week," had accused the White House of sending unsolicited e-mails to federal employees in violation of SPAM laws.

"We do know that the White House sent out unsolicited e-mails to federal employees asking them to contact their legislators about this bill," Rove said. "I think that's not only a violation of the CAN-SPAM Act on e-mails, I think it's a violation, more importantly, of the
anti-lobbying statutes."

Not true, the White House quickly responded.

In a post on the White House blog, Macon Phillips called Rove's claim "absurd and unfounded" and challenged him to produce an e-mail that can back up his allegations.

"This is simply not true and unless Mr. Rove can point to a White House e-mail making this request of anyone, federal employee or otherwise, he should correct this dangerous and inaccurate assertion," Phillips wrote.

Rove and Plouffe also clashed over the health-care bill's impact on the deficit. A transcript of the exchange, prepared by CQ Transcripts Wire, follows:

JONATHAN KARL: Now, Karl, do you seriously believe that Democrats are better off if this does not pass?

KARL ROVE: Look, I think the country is better off if this thing doesn't pass. This thing is $2.4 trillion for the first 10 years of its operation. This thing has 10 years' worth of -- of tax increases, $569 billion in tax increases, including $210 billion in a new payroll tax and a new 3.8 percent surtax on investments that's going to make us less competitive, $500 billion-plus in Medicare cuts to pay for, in essence, four complete years of the operation of this program.

The subsidies don't begin until year four and are not fully operational until year 10. If you look at the first 10 years of the operation of this thing, it is $2.4 trillion, and this thing is paid for by Bernie Madoff-style accounting in which they double-count money and ignore enormous costs. They claim $138 billion of deficit reduction, but it's either between $480 billion in debt -- in deficits added to the -- to the red ink....

KARL: So, David...

ROVE: This thing is a gigantic disaster.

KARL: ... Bernie Madoff accounting, a gigantic disaster?

DAVID PLOUFFE: Well, you know, listen, Karl and the Republicans would be familiar with that, since under their leadership, they took us from big budget surpluses at the beginning of the last decade to a $1.3 trillion deficit by not paying for things like the prescription drug plan, two wars, big tax cuts.

So, no, this is -- the Congressional Budget Office is very clear. Over the next two decades, this is going to cut the deficit by over a trillion dollars.

ROVE: But -- but...


PLOUFFE: A trillion dollars.


ROVE: ...cuts the deficit, it only cuts the deficit if you double-count, as you double-count $53 billion worth of Social Security payroll taxes twice, if you double-count $500 billion in Medicare cuts twice, once for reducing the cost of the $38 trillion unfunded liability in Medicare and, at the same time, for the current expenditures in this program, and if you double-count $72 trillion in premium payments for a new long-term care entitlement program twice, once for premium payments for the program and once for this.

Look, you have run up more deficit before this bill in the first 20 months and 11 days of your term in office than was done in the entire Bush years. Your plan is to take the deficits, which were 2 percent under George W. Bush, to 5.1 percent over the next 10 years under Barack Obama.

Don't be lecturing us about what you're doing with the profligate spending that started last year with the failed stimulus bill and continued with your budget increases. You have increased the discretionary domestic spending budget in the United States 25 percent starting in the middle of the last fiscal year.

This is $2.4 trillion in cost for its first 10 years, and the country cannot afford it, and you will bankrupt the country if this bill passes.

KARL: I think Karl's against this bill. But isn't -- isn't there a point, though -- I mean, there -- there is some interesting accounting here. I mean, the Medicare doc fix, for instance, is not in here. That's a couple hundred billion dollars. I mean, isn't it hard as a political factor for people to believe that a big new health care program is actually going to cut the deficit?

PLOUFFE: Well, first of all, Karl, the Republicans have zero credibility, about as much credibility as the country of Greece does, to talk about fiscal responsibility.

ROVE: This is -- this is the CBO.

PLOUFFE: Well...

ROVE: These numbers are in the analysis from the CBO. For God's sake, will you stop throwing around epithets and deal with the facts for once, David?

KARL: Karl...

ROVE: What about double-counting 53, 70 and 500? What about leaving out $208 billion for Medicare doc fix? What about leaving out $30 billion for the Medicaid doc -- for the doc fix? You've got two years' worth of a Medicaid doc fix. Are you telling me that in two years you're going to cut overnight the doc -- the doc reimbursement and not pay it for the balance of the eight years of this program?

KARL: Let -- let...


PLOUFFE: Let's put the fanciful chart away, OK? This is -- the CBO...

ROVE: This is not a fanciful chart. Deal with the charts.

PLOUFFE: Karl...


ROVE: These are the facts, David.

PLOUFFE: ... every...

ROVE: What about double-counting?


KARL: Let's give him a chance to answer.

PLOUFFE: I'm trying to. The -- the CBO major economists who've looked at this health care reform, very clear that this in this decade is going to lower the deficit and in the next decade, over $1 trillion. What the American people are focused on -- what we need to be focused on are the health care costs, premiums skyrocketing.

We saw recently health insurers threatening to raise insurance rates 30 percent, 40 percent on individuals, small businesses being bankrupt and not being able to provide care. It's obviously devastating our federal budget situation.

We are not going to solve these problems unless we have meaningful health insurance reform, and that's what we're going to do. And, listen, the Republican Party, if they want to run in this election and the elections of this next decade against reducing the deficit by over $1 trillion, against the insurance company reforms...


PLOUFFE: ... against saving money...


ROVE: Within two months -- within two months, the Democrat Congress is going to be forced to deal with the doc fix. They're going to bring up a Medicare doc fix that's going to be $208 billion, according to a CBO analysis of it, issued two days ago.


ROVE: We will see very -- very soon how much they're committed to fiscal discipline when they pass a doc fix without an offset that adds $208 billion to the deficit and when we start to see them continue to double-count.

KARL: All right.

ROVE: I like it that David never dealt with the issue of double- counting and never dealt with these other issues. We will see if they pass this bill. I hope they don't. I pray they don't. It will be an economic disaster for the country if they do.

By Michael D. Shear  |  March 21, 2010; 1:56 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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Next: Brian Baird says he'll vote 'yes,' John Tanner to vote 'no' on health-care bill


I was spammed by Mr. Plouffe's organization. I never signed up, nor requested information yet got incessant emails from his organization. This is blatant disregard for my personal privacy. After repeated requested to be removed, I still receive solicitations of dear friend.

Integrity is the alignment of words and actions and Mr. Plouffe your words and actions are misaligned.

Posted by: ecg79 | March 23, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

That anyone could actually admire Rove, a dishonest spin-man on Rupert Murduch's payroll is a perfect example of how low the Republicans have sunk. Rove was the top adviser to George W. Bush during the Bush presidency and just contemplate the disaster Obama inherited from the Bush/Rove administration. The Iraq War, about which the Bush administration made literally hundreds of false statements, and then the greatest financial crisis since the great depression caused mostly by a total lack of proper regulation of the financial institutions during Bush's time in office. Rove is also a chief architect of the Republican's fear, smear and jeer campaigns based on misinformation, disinformation and false information. Rove is a manipulator and a continual purveyor of demagoguery which is meant to deceive the American people into voting against their own self-interest.

Posted by: floridiana | March 22, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: FranciseaIbeeria | March 22, 2010 3:25 AM | Report abuse

Karl Rove is a convicted SPIN DOCTOR. He should be charged with Treason for misleading the President into war against Iraq. Not only did he directly cause millions of deaths but he also swindled the country out of a Trillion Dollars.
Any one who supports this quack and buys his good for nothing book is worse than a person who donates to Jimmy Swaggert.

Posted by: BuyBadNewsSellGoodNews | March 22, 2010 12:58 AM | Report abuse

If you think Madoff ran a huge scam, Amway has ripped off millions of people for several decades, to the tune of 10s of billions of dollars.

Amway is a scam, and here's why: Amway pays out as little money as they can get away with, so they support the higher level IBOs ripping off their downline via the tool scam.

As a result, about 99% of IBOs operate at a net loss, while the top 1% make several TIMES more from their Amway tool scam than from the Amway products. This was made illegal in the UK in 2008, but our FTC is unable to pull their heads out of their butts to stop it here.

Read about it on my blog, I suggest you start here: and forward the information to everyone you know, so they don't get scammed.

Posted by: texansay | March 21, 2010 11:07 PM | Report abuse

Carl Rowe's very brief and very clear healthcare proposal:

Subject patients to water-boarding until the patients admit they are not ill. Then send them home.

Posted by: Dave27 | March 21, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Carl Rowe's very brief and very clear healthcare proposal:

Subject patients to water-boarding until the patient admits he/she is not ill. Then send them home.

Posted by: Dave27 | March 21, 2010 9:35 PM | Report abuse

If you want to know if someone is lying, here's the hint: They usually use the word "clear" as in "the CBO is very clear" or "Let me be clear" or "our position is clear."

Posted by: sam38 | March 21, 2010 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Rove is just part of the right-wing Bret Baier school of doggerel trying to pass off as an analyst/journalist.

And whoever said that they couldn't believe ABC allowed it, welcome to the liberal media.

Posted by: | March 21, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Rove is irrelevant. What did he ever do for Americans? Lie us into war? Turn the GOP into bullies? Please!

America is subjected to a silver spoon cowboy and a prison ward warmonger zealot for 8 years and now we have the patience for no one. We have especially little patience for a black man who managed somehow to be the leader of the free world, who makes a real easy target.

Conservatives complain that they end up paying high taxes for "free-loaders," and then they get upset when the President tells the kids who need it most to stay in school, work hard, and get good jobs. Conservatives complain that this president is piling up the debt, but choose to ignore that he inherited one of the greatest economic disasters in the last 100 years. The Bush administration and Republican controlled congress enacted a 1 Trillion Medicare prescription benefit over 10 years - without raising or saving a penny for it. The Bush administration cut taxes on the wealthy to the tune of 1.7 trillion over 10 years - all while spending more than any administration in history racking up the debt from a Clinton surplus.

The Obama administration is proposing 1 trillion for health care reform - with a path to paying for it - and conservatives flip their lids and cry "socialism." What planet do you all live on?

If you prefer a government that governs the least that's exactly what you are going to get. I don't believe there can be an intelligent debate with toe tapping Republican propagandist hacks. Hacks don't want to talk, they just want to be mad about something and government is an easy target. During the Bush days, the hacks were mad at Saddam, for the wrong reasons but it didn't stop them from exploiting the people into supporting a two trillion dollar tax payer funded unjust war did it? 4000 Americans and 50,000 (and counting) innocent Iraqi civilians died. Republican leaders said, "hey be mad at this", now they are saying, "hey be mad at this".

The fatalistic Roves of our nation fall in line. Real intelligent.

Posted by: ApostasyUSA | March 21, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

WOW - the lies just don't stop. If people are receiving e-mails from the WH they signed up to receive them.

Posted by: rlj611 | March 21, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

I have received several e-mails from the WH asking for my support and asking me to contact my representatives to tell them I favor the HCR.

AT LEAST one of these was from Plouffe; so, I am not sure what they consider SPAM e-mails; I just know that I have not received any of this type of e-mail from Republican organizations.

Because I am opposed to this HCR, I wrote very critical remarks in reply -- probably unread because they were designated "Do not reply" just call your legislators.
I wrote anyway because I was infuriated. It is amazing how much money, taxpayer money, was spent for Obama to campaign for this very socialistic bill.

As a Californian, I am especially worried that the state will be beyond repair, resources, and services with eight million uninsured, many of them illegals who will also be qualifying
with the amnesty bill on the horizon.

We got robbed today when Stupak compromised his principles with Obama. One more deal, but this one can be easily rescinded under Pelosi and Obama's direction.

Posted by: pjcafe | March 21, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

You're kidding right? Karl Rove of Jack Abramoff fame lecturing Democrats about lobbying? Please. The reason mainstream media is in trouble is that they continue to give air time to people like Rove. His administration failed, his basic job was to elect conservative candidates, and he hasn't succeeded in doing that since 2006. He says the same thing over and over, and now he's ranting. His day is done. Wake me up when he's taken off the air.

Posted by: dianaw | March 21, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Karl Rove was incredibly rude, butting in and trying to talk over every remark by David Plouffe. I am astonished that ABC allowed this.

Posted by: TedFord1 | March 21, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Rove:A+, Plouffe:F

Rove caught Plouffe on many things that Plouffe never did answer nor deny. What about the doc fix? They left it out purposely to fool the public about the cost of Obamacare. The media and the Republicans could have done a better job informing the public about this bill. For instance, we will all lose our current insurance in 5 years. Most people are unaware of that. We will be forced into the health exchange and the Health Commission will determine which insurance we can buy and will dictate what our insurance will cover and which treatments won't be covered. Most people for Obamacare think this is universal health care. Many think it will be free. Definitely not. God help us all if this horrific bill passes. Our country will go bankrupt and we will lose our freedom of choice for insurance.

Posted by: grannysunni | March 21, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

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