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Previously: Sen. Claire McCaskill (D): showing up is more than half the battle (March 17, 2014)

“…Most of the people that have that kind of coverage, if they’ll shop on the exchange they’re gonna get better insurance for less money. So I think the problem’s gonna take care of itself, ’cause I don’t think very many smart people are gonna want to hold on to a policy that doesn’t give them very good benefits for a higher premium than they can buy on the exchange. So, it, it is, but we’ve now extended, people can keep it now for two years, which is much longer than the average length of time that anybody keeps those kinds of policies…”

Senator Claire McCaskill (D) held a press availability after yesterday’s town hall in Columbia.

Senator Claire McCaskill (D) at a press availability after her town hall in Columbia – March 17, 2014.

The transcript of the press availability:

Question: ….I have a question concerning the possible increase of the minimum wage in Missouri. Uh, what is your reaction to it, to this? And some people say it might cut off jobs in Missouri and people wanting to move jobs in other states. What is your reaction on this project?

Senator Claire McCaskill (D):  Well, I think that’s one of the reasons that a national minimum wage is important, um, because it keeps the kind of border wars that we’ve seen pop up around Missouri, uh, from time to time, especially with our friends in Kansas. Uh, if the minimum wage had just kept up with inflation it would be higher than the proposed level of minimum wage that the President is advocating. So, I believe that if you raise the floor then it raises everyone. And one of the things we’re all focused on is how can we shore up the middle class, how can we, um, reverse a trend where we are separating the haves and the have nots more and more every year. So, I support the increase in minimum wage and even though people say, well, it’s all kids, only twenty percent of the people who receive minimum wage are teenagers. Um, more than half of them are women. And more than a fourth of them are supporting children. So, it, this isn’t just, um, for, you know, sixteen seventeen year olds that are working a part time job. It is, um, a lifeline for many, many American families.

Question: And for the particular, uh, increasing wage in Missouri for ten dollars, uh, per hour? What is your reaction to this on the state level?

Senator McCaskill: Well, I’m, Jefferson City, we have a, a minimum wage that increases with inflation that was voted on by the people of Missouri. So, but it began, um, much later than the national minimum wage so it, too, has not kept up with inflation based on what the federal minimum wage was.


But the minimum wage is being proposed would be a national minimum wage, it would affect every state….

….Question: You mentioned, uh, the sexual assault thing on the military level and now you mentioned college campuses. What kind of, um, policy would you guys be enable to enact on college campuses?

Senator McCaskill: Well, right now what we’re trying to do is gather information. Um, how under reported is it, uh, what services are available, um, do people on campus know where they can go, uh, where is a safe harbor they can go and, and get help? Um, are there people available that are counseling victims from the moment they report, uh, as to what would happen if they came forward and giving them good information so they are not frightened of coming out of the shadows? In my experience the main difference between a case that is successful in terms of putting a rapist in prison and one that isn’t is how much support and information the victim got at the critical moment that they first informed someone of it. So, it is really looking to see how aggressively our college campuses stressing that with resources and personnel to help, uh, young men and women in that situation.

Question: What do you know about Missouri? It seems like if there’s a rape on campus and it’s reported everybody knows about it. Is there a big problem about them not being reported, do you think, or? [crosstalk] Really?

Senator McCaskill: Yes. [crosstalk] Yes, I think there’s a huge problem of them not being reported. I think it is, um, endemic across this country. I think, um, young women in college that find themselves in a situation where they’ve been sexually assaulted have a very difficult decision and they’re at an age it’s very difficult to figure out the right way forward. Um, and I think that sometimes it’s, they immediately begin blaming themselves, well, I shouldn’t have been at that party, or I shouldn’t have had that much to drink, or maybe somehow it’s my fault. Well, all of those things are crazy. Um, it doesn’t matter how much you drink, you’re not, you do not deserve to be assaulted. Um, and so it is really kind of getting that information out and making sure that, that everybody understands the consequences of committing that crime.


Question: You’re here to talk about jobs and the economy, but you got a wide range of questions. What would you say about the Columbia group that you, uh, uh, responded to today?

Senator McCaskill: I love Columbia. Um, and, and you always get a group of questions in Columbia. I, you, you can get questions from the very far right and you get questions from some of the more liberal, uh, Missourians in Columbia. So, this, this day was no different than most town halls in Columbia, everything from why aren’t we legalizing marijuana to can’t we get rid of the federal government.

Question: What’s the point of giving the basket, uh…what’s the point of that?

Senator McCaskill: Well, I, when I began doing these town halls there were people, um, that were saying in social media and other places, oh, well, every town hall is a fix, you know, they go out there and they’ve got their talking points and, you know, they only answer the questions of people that they’ve planted in the audience. So, I want to make sure that people who bother to come to our town halls know there’s no fix. And I figure the best way to do that is to let somebody in the audience self identify as someone who can’t stand me [laugh] and let them be the one that pull the questions out. And that way nobody thinks that we’re trying to pull one over on anybody.

Question: Senator, the, uh, special election in the Florida thirteenth, uh, some are saying that’s an indictment of Obama, the Affordable Care Act and, uh, that Democrats should run from it this election cycle. Should they embrace it or should they look elsewhere?

Senator McCaskill: Well, it’s interesting. We didn’t get one question on it today, maybe briefly mentioned in one. Um, and frankly we really didn’t get any questions on it in Hannibal. Um, jobs are going up, our stock market is [inaudible] amazing, uh, we got a great private job growth, so the sky is not falling. The way I heard it is the minute Obamacare was in it was gonna be the end of America as we know it. Uh, I think millions of people are getting insurance that couldn’t get it before. I get letters every day from Missourians, small businesses, saying, we could never afford to cover our employees before and we now have insurance coverage. As time goes on and people figure out that it’s not what they’ve been told I think it will get, um, less and less powerful as a political tool. And I think the election in Florida was more about the two candidates who were running and whether or not they were accepted or rejected by those voters and turnout and all kinds of things. You can’t make one broad sweep that, okay, that’s it. Uh, if Obamacare was going to be a defining issue for elections I wouldn’t be standing here.

Question: One more question on that. Um, twenty-thirteen Politifact called the statement, if you like your insurance you can keep it, the lie of the year. That’s a statement you made as well. Do you consider that a lie and do you think you should apologize like the President did?

Senator McCaskill: Well, I, I believe, I’m happy to apologize for anything that I said that was a misstatement. That’s, I, I’m not afraid to say I’ve, I’m, I’m not perfect and I’ve made mistakes. And there’s problems with this bill. But I know when I first ran for office the number one issue came, people came up to me was, I can’t stay on the farm ’cause we can’t get insurance. And we didn’t do a one size fits all public plan, we have different choices that people can make of private insurance companies. Uh, it was an idea that was put forward by the Heritage Foundation. It was their idea. It was why Mitt Romney used this approach in Massachusetts and it’s working. So, we have now said if you want to keep these policies, and frankly that market churns so much it’s very unusual for someone to keep one of those policies longer than a year anyway, because it is the, it is the minimal, minimal type of coverage that get because they can’t get anything else or don’t want anything else. Most of the people that have that kind of coverage, if they’ll shop on the exchange they’re gonna get better insurance for less money. So I think the problem’s gonna take care of itself, ’cause I don’t think very many smart people are gonna want to hold on to a policy that doesn’t give them very good benefits for a higher premium than they can buy on the exchange. So, it, it is, but we’ve now extended, people can keep it now for two years, which is much longer than the average length of time that anybody keeps those kinds of policies.

Question: [inaudible] of Medicaid at the end. Um, there’s a proposal in the [Missouri] House right now and Governor Nixon’s sort of signing on to it that would require, uh, enact a work requirement for Medicaid. Um, it would require a federal waiver. Do you think Sebelius and the, uh, Human Services would be willing to give that to Missouri?

Senator McCaskill: Well, I don’t want to stop the discussion. Uh, I, I’m just relieved there are some Republicans that don’t want to give away our tax dollars to New York and California. That’s reassuring to me. So, I, I’m glad the conversation’s occurring, I think there have been several Republicans who have stepped up and said, including my former colleague senator Bond, and a group that has done everything in their power to make sure I’m not elected every time, and that’s the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, um, and all the hospitals. I mean, these are not crazy liberals that are saying don’t give our money away to another state. These are respected Republicans. And I’m glad this is occurring, I hope we find a way forward that can get enough votes to pass so we don’t pass up that money, uh, that we need very badly in Missouri. And, uh, but, a, a, the, I mean, a pilot program, um, has been proposed various places. Uh, I think that CMS and Kathleen Sebelius and, and, and her agency wants to work with states to try to make this happen. As you know Arkansas did something much different, other states did different things, so I’d rather keep the conversation open rather than just putting it down right now.

Question: Do they have enough flexibility, I mean, to enact some sort of waiver for a work requirement, do you think?

Senator McCaskill: It would depend on what it looked like, I think. Um, but let’s, let’s keep our fingers crossed that debate continues rather than us just saying, Obamacare is the end all evil of all time and I refuse to let go of it as a political weapon for this election, so therefore I can’t even, if we could just rename it the I hate Obamacare Medicaid expansion maybe we could get it passed.

Question: What are some of the problems you said your colleagues in Colorado are seeing since the legalization of marijuana?

Senator McCaskill: Well, there’s been a, um, uh, a tourist traffic for getting high. Um, and, um, I’m not sure that they anticipated that. And I think there has been some negative consequences in terms of some of those issues. I think the regulation has been more difficult than they thought it would be. But, I’m, I’m, in fact I’m due to sit down with both of them and, um, talk about, I, you know, I think that there is some buyer’s remorse by some folks in Colorado.

Question: You’ve made the statement several times now that we’re giving Missouri tax dollars away to New York. Isn’t it true that Missouri brings in more federal, from the federal government than we pay?

Senator McCaskill: You know, we’re trying to do right now, that, that calculation? I believe this decision will change us from a state that gets more than we pay to a state that gets less than we pay.

Question: But we, right now, we get more than we pay, right?

Senator McCaskill: On highway funds.

Question: Overall.

Senator McCaskill: Well, it, it, it, if we continue to pass this up, especially with our revenue being so low? Um, we have one of the lowest revenues in, in the country. We’re very dependent on federal money. So, it will be an issue, um, the numbers, the problem with that calculation is most of it’s very old. Uh, the calculation that we’re getting more, I can’t tell you we are right now, ’cause they don’t have the numbers for right now.  They have it for two year [crosstalk]…

Question:  [crosstalk] John, John Stewart says we do.

Senator McCaskill: …two years ago. Well, there, there you go. I should know better, sourcing John Stewart. [laugh] Um. [crosstalk]

Staffer: Time for one more question about.

Senator McCaskill: But, it, it depends , uh, the number that I give, a dollar forty for every dollar in the highway trust fund, that number is about two and a half years old. So, we’re trying to get recent numbers because I, I think that this could be the tipping point that will put us over in the category that we are paying more than we’re getting back.

Question: I have a very quick question. Are you going to have somebody to run against Vicky Hartzler this year?

Senator McCaskill: You know what, I’m here as a senator, not as a political candidate, so I will not be able to answer that question in this environment. I’m in the city hall and that’s a purely political question that probably should be answered outside the city hall. Thank you.


Question: Senator, have you observed any positive changes in, uh, filibuster in the Senate in the sense in the changes in the rules?

Senator McCaskill: Yes and no. Um, we, it now, they’re making it very difficult for us procedurally, they’re not, they’re not yielding back any time. So it takes a long time, um, but we are, and frankly, most of them we’ve gotten through we’ve gotten through by more than sixty votes. There has not been that many nominees that were passed by less than sixty votes., which goes to show you this has all been about delay and not about qualifications. There have been a few that have been voted down and, and there have been a few that did not get sixty. But the vast majority of ’em are getting more than sixty.

Question: But, have you seen progress in at least moving things forward?

Senator McCaskill: Yeah, well, one thing about it is we don’t have to take a whole week for five nominees, we can do it in two days instead, which is very frustrating when they pass by eighty-two to two. You know, why, why can’t we just gin ’em up  and vote on ’em and get on to other things that we need to be doing? It’s frustrating.

Staffer:  We’ve got to wrap guys, sorry.

Senator McCaskill: Sorry, got another stop. Thank you, guys.

Voices: Thank you.

Senator Claire McCaskill (D).