Former Sen. Arlen Specter, who played a key role in passage of President Obama’s healthcare reform legislation, confirms to NewsmaxTV that the Senate considered Gov. Mitt Romney’s healthcare reform in Massachusetts as “solid precedent” for Obamacare.
The Pennsylvania Republican-turned-Democrat also says that based on Rick Santorum’s policies, voters have a firm basis to reject his presidential candidacy.
He charges that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid “double-crossed” him after promising that he could retain his seniority when he became a Democrat, and asserts that extremism on both sides in Washington has led to gridlock that places the American people “in great peril.”
Specter was first elected in 1980 as a Republican and served in the Upper House for 30 years, at various times chairing the Judiciary Committee and the Select Committee on Intelligence. In 2009 he switched to the Democratic Party but lost his re-election bid in the Democratic primary.
Specter is the author of a new book, “Life Among the Cannibals: A Political Career, a Tea Party Uprising, and the End of Governing As We Know It.”
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In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV on Monday, Specter was asked what role Romneycare played in the formulation of Obama’s healthcare reform legislation.
“Governor Romney’s plan for medical care had the mandate. That’s the key part of Obamacare, the mandate that people have to have insurance,” Specter says.
“Millions of dollars are spent each year, perhaps billions, on people who get free medical care. It costs every American a thousand dollars for the people who are uninsured, and this is an interstate problem. Romney’s plan came up all the time as a solid precedent to pass the Obamacare plan.
“I looked at what the act provided. You had the precedent of Massachusetts, it wasn’t overwhelming but it was significant and it definitely was a precedent.”
Specter was the 60th and deciding vote that enabled passage of Obamacare in the Senate. Polls now show that most Americans do not want Obamacare as a whole.
But Specter stands by his support for the bill: “My opinion is that it is important for the future of America to provide affordable healthcare for every American, and insurance. The Social Security system wasn’t appreciated when it was enacted, nor was Medicaid, nor was Medicare.
“The act is constitutional. It’s a legitimate act by Congress under the authority of the Commerce Clause, and I hope it’s going to be upheld. With the ideological court we have in Washington today its chances might not be too good, but if it passes years from now people will look back on it as they look back on Medicare and say, great.”
Asked about Romney’s chief rival for the GOP presidential election, Specter’s fellow Pennsylvanian Rick Santorum, Specter tells Newsmax: “When the people of Pennsylvania found out what his views were, he was defeated by 17 points in his effort for re-election in 2006.
“Rick Santorum doesn’t believe that women have any place in the workforce. He doesn’t believe in contraception. It’s sufficient to hear what he has to say to have a solid basis to reject him.
“Santorum supported me for re-election just like I supported Santorum. I was very instrumental in getting him elected in 1994. When I heard the debate with Arlen Specter, Arlen Specter, I thought for a while I was running for president.”
On a humorous note, Specter added: “I made an effort for the Republican nomination back in 1996. I’ve been thinking about throwing my hat in the ring again. They may have a brokered convention. Who knows what’s going to happen to the Republican Party?”
Asked if would ever support Santorum over Obama in the general election, Specter declared flatly: “No.”
But he added: “I’m not too happy with President Obama. I don’t like his Afghanistan policy and spoke out against it on the Senate floor. No sense putting 30,000 more troops in Afghanistan. There are no al-Qaida there. We don’t have an argument with Taliban. I urged him not to extend the tax cuts while I was in the Senate in 2010.”
Specter also tossed out this crack about Romney: “Mitt Romney changes his position — I think Bill Maher had it right — Romney changes his positions more often than a pornographic movie queen.”
Referring to the title of his new book, Specter explained who the “cannibals” are.
“The cannibals are the senators who are devouring other senators. The cannibals are the people who drove Senator Bob Bennett out of Utah, who had a 93 percent conservative rating but couldn’t win a Republican primary. The cannibals are the ones who drove Joe Lieberman out of the Democratic Party — he couldn’t win a Democratic primary.
“The extremists on each side have taken control of the government and that has resulted in gridlock, and that has resulted in the failure of Congress to do its job, leaving the American people in great peril.”
In his book Specter writes that President Obama and Harry Reid failed to support his re-election bid even after he became a Democrat.
Specter elaborates: “Harry Reid flatly broke his promise to give me the seniority that I had as a Republican if I had been elected as a Democrat. When I provided the 60th vote for the Affordable Healthcare Act, President Obama, as had Vice President Biden, urged me to become a Democrat and support the president’s program.
“I had provided the key vote in the passage of the stimulus bill. But after the stimulus bill was passed with my key assistance, there were irreconcilable differences between the Republican Party and me. President Obama said he would support my re-election effort, and when the crunch came close to the time of the election and my prospects looked difficult, President Obama didn’t show up.
“When Reid double-crossed me on my seniority, that was a key factor in my defeat. When you’re in the Senate for 30 years you have a lot to offer the voters. If you don’t have seniority it cuts your legs out.”
Asked if Reid or Obama have apologized for the betrayal, Specter responds: “I haven’t talked to either of them recently but the answer is no.”
Specter dismisses talk that Hillary Clinton might replace Vice President Biden on the Democratic ticket, and says he believes Obama is “sincere” in his support for Israel.
“I think that President Obama is speaking sincerely when he talks about assisting Israel. I think Obama has from time to time tried to intercede as an intermediary and perhaps has not been a strongly in support of Israel as some would like, but I believe he is sincere and he will move to protect Israel.
“It’s in the national self-interest of the United States to do that.”
Specter adds that he doubts Israel will strike Iran’s nuclear weapons development program in the coming months.
“I believe it will not happen. I believe that the sanctions are starting to bite and there will be further sanctions. I think as the matter progresses there’s more inclination on the part of China and Russia to oppose what Iran is doing, and I think that Israel realizes the unpredictable and perhaps terrible consequences of a strike and every effort will be made to avoid it.
“I think we will be successful in avoiding a strike and we will see to it that Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon. That is unacceptable, but I think it has the potential to be cataclysmic to have that strike. I think all sides will be smart enough to avoid it.”
Editor's Note: Read Arlen Specter's new book , “Life Among the Cannibals: A Political Career, a Tea Party Uprising, and the End of Governing As We Know It," — Click Here.
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