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Interview with White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew

By Fox News Sunday, Fox News Sunday - February 12, 2012

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Special Guests: Jack Lew, Sarah Palin

The following is a rush transcript of the February 12, 2012 edition of "Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace." This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: I'm Chris Wallace.

The Republican presidential race is thrown up for grabs, and a health care controversy creates a Catholic backlash against President Obama.

With the White House compromise on birth control insurance, why the uproar? And is the president's new budget about politics or governance. We'll discuss both with new White House Chief of Staff, Jack Lew.

And she's not running for president but she could have a big say on who wins the nomination. We'll sit down with former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. It's a "Fox News Sunday" exclusive.

Plus, President Obama flips on campaign finance and struggles with a mandate on contraception. We'll ask our Sunday panel what it all means for his reelection campaign.

And power player of the week finds a new to celebrate Abraham Lincoln.

All right now on "Fox News Sunday."

And hello again from Fox News in Washington.

Tomorrow, the Obama administration rolls out the budget for next year. But the White House is still trying to put out the fire created by its plan to have Catholic institutions provide health insurance for their employees, including access to birth control.

Joining us to discuss both issues is the White House chief of staff, Jack Lew.

And, Mr. Lew, welcome to "Fox News Sunday."

JACK LEW, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Good to be here with you, Chris. Thanks.

WALLACE: Before we get to the president's new budget and I promise we will, I want to clear up some lingering question about the president's revised policy about providing health insurance coverage for birth control to the employees of religious institutions. The president now says that Catholic institutions don't have to provide the coverage but the insurance companies do.

The question -- where does the president get the power to tell a private company they have to offer a product and offer it for free?

LEW: Well, Chris, just to be clear -- the president has the authority under the Affordable Care Act to have these kinds of rules take affect. And the issue with this being for free is quite an interesting one. If you look at the cost of providing health insurance, it actually doesn't cost more to provide a plan with contraceptive coverage than it does without.

So, from the insurance companies' perspective --

WALLACE: Why not?

LEW: Because if you were looking at the actuarial projection, the cost of the plan, it costs more to provide a plan without than it does with. This is one of those --

WALLACE: But let me -- let me just --

LEW: -- very rare cases where it actually does not cost the insurance company money to do it.

WALLACE: But contraceptives cost money, pills, with sterilizations, hundreds of dollars, in fact, for a year.

LEW: To the extent that you look at the cost just on its own, you're right.

But if you look at the overall cost of taking of care of the health of a woman, it doesn't raise the cost of the plan.

What the president did here was consistent with where he's been all along. He has a very deep belief of every woman's right to all forms of preventive health care, including contraception. He also has a very deep belief -- it is one of the core principles of our country, that we have respect the religious liberties that this country is built on. The solution that we reached is consistent with those core principles. That's why he got the support of a range of groups, from the Catholic health association and Catholic charities, to Planned Parenthood.

We think that this is something that should put this issue to rest. The president was expecting this policy to be reached over a longer period of time. We said it would take a year or 13 months to transition. We put it out in a much quicker time frame because clearly, it wasn't helpful to have it lingering out there.

I think a lot of good work was done and hopefully this will now set the issue to rest.

WALLACE: Well, and there are a couple of points on that. First of all, the savings that you talked about that allowed insurance companies to provide it for free. That's because of avoided pregnancies, correct?

LEW: Well, there's a whole range of issues, from the health of the woman because some, there are aspects to taking care --

WALLACE: But you're not solving breast cancer by --

LEW: No, there are many health conditions in woman that are affected by whether or not contraception --

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: But here's my point and here's the concern that some religious institutions have. The reason that you're going to get these, quote, "savings" is because of avoided pregnancies from artificial birth control, which is the practice that these religious institutions find objectionable and, in fact, sinful in the first place.

LEW: But let's just be clear: every woman has a right to access all forms of preventive health, including contraception. Religious institutions, churches, are not covered by this. So, they don't have to provide. The issue was --

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: Religious institutions, too.

LEW: Catholic universities --

WALLACE: Right, and Catholic charities.

LEW: -- and many employees that are not Catholic, as well as Catholic employees. And this is a solution that actually works, that they are not providing, so they're not offering, they're not paying for it. And women have the choice on their own.

So, we think it's is consistent with the principles that the president set out.  Print  Email  Share    Recommend Tweet

continued...

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February 12, 2012

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The White House gets set to release their budget for the coming year.  We’ll get a first look at the Obama Administration’s plans.  The new White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew sits down with Chris Wallace to discuss those issues and more.

Then, the Republican presidential contest tightens back up.  We’ll get a read on where the race stands in an Exclusive interview with former Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin.

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With the White House compromise on birth control insurance, why the uproar? And is the president's new budget about politics or governance. We'll discuss both with new White House Chief of Staff, Jack Lew.

And she's not running for president but she could have a big say on who wins the nomination. We'll sit down with former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. It's a "Fox News Sunday" exclusive.

Plus, President Obama flips on campaign finance and struggles with a mandate on contraception. We'll ask our Sunday panel what it all means for his reelection campaign.

And power player of the week finds a new to celebrate Abraham Lincoln.

All right now on "Fox News Sunday."

And hello again from Fox News in Washington.

Tomorrow, the Obama administration rolls out the budget for next year. But the White House is still trying to put out the fire created by its plan to have Catholic institutions provide health insurance for their employees, including access to birth control.

Joining us to discuss both issues is the White House chief of staff, Jack Lew.

And, Mr. Lew, welcome to "Fox News Sunday."

JACK LEW, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Good to be here with you, Chris. Thanks.

WALLACE: Before we get to the president's new budget and I promise we will, I want to clear up some lingering question about the president's revised policy about providing health insurance coverage for birth control to the employees of religious institutions. The president now says that Catholic institutions don't have to provide the coverage but the insurance companies do.

The question -- where does the president get the power to tell a private company they have to offer a product and offer it for free?

LEW: Well, Chris, just to be clear -- the president has the authority under the Affordable Care Act to have these kinds of rules take affect. And the issue with this being for free is quite an interesting one. If you look at the cost of providing health insurance, it actually doesn't cost more to provide a plan with contraceptive coverage than it does without.

So, from the insurance companies' perspective --

WALLACE: Why not?

LEW: Because if you were looking at the actuarial projection, the cost of the plan, it costs more to provide a plan without than it does with. This is one of those --

WALLACE: But let me -- let me just --

LEW: -- very rare cases where it actually does not cost the insurance company money to do it.

WALLACE: But contraceptives cost money, pills, with sterilizations, hundreds of dollars, in fact, for a year.

LEW: To the extent that you look at the cost just on its own, you're right.

But if you look at the overall cost of taking of care of the health of a woman, it doesn't raise the cost of the plan.

What the president did here was consistent with where he's been all along. He has a very deep belief of every woman's right to all forms of preventive health care, including contraception. He also has a very deep belief -- it is one of the core principles of our country, that we have respect the religious liberties that this country is built on. The solution that we reached is consistent with those core principles. That's why he got the support of a range of groups, from the Catholic health association and Catholic charities, to Planned Parenthood.

We think that this is something that should put this issue to rest. The president was expecting this policy to be reached over a longer period of time. We said it would take a year or 13 months to transition. We put it out in a much quicker time frame because clearly, it wasn't helpful to have it lingering out there.

I think a lot of good work was done and hopefully this will now set the issue to rest.

WALLACE: Well, and there are a couple of points on that. First of all, the savings that you talked about that allowed insurance companies to provide it for free. That's because of avoided pregnancies, correct?

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