Alex Witt   |  November 17, 2013

Is this the 2nd term curse for Obama?

Mara Schiavocampo talks to reporters Jonathan Alter and Lynn Sweet about the effect the botched ACA rollout has had on President Obama’s second term.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> that's terrible. but the fact is that will be fixed.

>> it's time to start over. this health care law is terribly flawed. it is broken. it has failed the american people because they're losing their insurance, losing their doctor, their premiums are going up.

>> another rough week over what the president called the fumbled rollout of obama care has provided fresh fodder for the sunday talk shows. but after the president's mea culpa news conference last week, the white house is opening it's weathered the worse and the firestorm will soon fade. a lot of that will depend on whether the healthcare.gov website is functioning smoothly by white house 's deadline at the end of the month, but complicating matters further is a " washington post " story reporting as many as 1 in 5 may not be able to successfully navigate the website and buy insurance. for more on all of this, let's bring in msnbc political analyst jonathan alter and " chicago sun -times" columnist and washington bureau chief lynn sweet . welcome to you both.

>> hi.

>> hi.

>> jonathan , the president's poll numbers are down, only about 106,000 people have signed up under obama care so far and democrats are defecting. what gives the white house cause for optimism right now?

>> i don't think they are particularly optimistic. they're in a crisis mode. they do feel, though, that they're beginning to get on top of this. they've been through what can only be described as a fiasco. but, you know, nothing ever stays the same in american politics , in american government . and they've got a process in place to get their website working. the next three or four months are absolutely critical. if they can't get it together, it really will be the train wreck republicans describe. but it that's not a foregone conclusion, so they have a little bit of time to get this together and essentially do a do-over, if you will, on getting people to sign up for obama care.

>> now, "saturday night live" pokes a little bit of fun at the president. let's take a look.

>> and paxil's second-term strength treats a whole range of symptoms, like benghazi, the nsa scandal, the irs scandal, the ap scandal, the petraeus scandal, that time jaycee and beyonce went to cuba, and of course obama care website problems. and now there's paxil republican strength for when you have to answer to congress.

>> lynn, you describe this as the worst week of the obama presidency. why?

>> well, because this goes to the fundamental credibility of obama . this goes to his signature program . where i do agree with jonathan it's way premature to call this anywhere close to failure. it's just terrible start. and this goes to the promise, the core promise that obama made that he should not have that nothing would change. this has triggered the rise of an army of the insured, which is new, and that's a new political problem for him. there was no army of the uninsured. the newly -- the people who got notices that could not renew are a new angry movement of people even ones who liked obama a lot.

>> now, jonathan , republicans say they want to start over on health care as you heard senator barrasso say. are they getting close to that? are they getting anywhere near that? now you have these comparisons to hurricane katrina . how does all of that come into play?

>> the well, the comparisons to kat katrina , that's a sound bite , like train wreck . you have to look at the actual configuration of political forces in the country right now. you see, you know, msnbc or another network, you see the house passes repeal of obama care, or on friday, you know, house passes the upton amendment. these are actually largely irrelevant political actions because not only do they not right now have the votes in the senate to repeal obama care, but the president holds the veto pen, and they haven't close to having enough high temperature votes to override a presidential veto . so for right now, republicans are stuck with obama care but they're kind of -- in some ways i think they're kind of happy about its failure. it's not very good for the american people , but it's very good for them politically. they're seeking to exploit it as much as they can.

>> lynn, an awful lot of weight is being put on the website being fixed. if it isn't fixed by the november 30th deadline, do you think it's going to end up being a real drag on democrats in next year's midterms or do they still have a little more time to get it together?

>> well, they have more time. the administration should never have set another self-imposed deadline that they may not meet. they've given signals they may not meet it. the thing is not to have it up -- it has to be up and running sooner than later. you could give them a few more weeks even and these problems could maybe not be a as powerful next knoch. it's a year away, the election. one quick thing i want to say, i think comparisons to katrina are so not apt, people died in katrina . there are a lot of angry people that can't get their policies renewed, a lot of confusion, it's inexcusable, this botched rollout, but this is not a katrina .

>> a lot of people have been making that point, that it's very different. go ahead, jonathan .

>> i was going to say on the question of people dying, you know, i mean, why do people die in connection with a lack of health insurance ? because they don't go to the doctor in time. right? so we need to look at this in kind of a larger perspective, which is, you know, are we better off as the republicans argue, going back to where we were before this all started, where if you got sick or your kid got sick you were very likely going to lose your house because your insurance or lack of insurance didn't cover your medical expenses? so, yes, some people are having some policies that generally are not very good insurance cancel, yes, the administration has totally bullocked up the website, but we're in a better place than we were before with people with pre-existing conditions. i put myself in that category. were in a world of hurt should they get sick.

>> and we'll be speaking with a woman later in the show who was in a tough position and thanks to the aca is in a much better position. jonathan , i want to switch gears to a new project you're working on. you tear executive producer of "alpha house," made its debut on friday.

>> i've been backing him for years.

>> yes, and i've been fronting for her. and who knew?

>> who knew what?

>> that she was so much more than this illegible signature on a check. it's better. she's setting up a super pac for me. sh, we can't coordinate.

>> looks very juicy. congratulations. tell us about the series.

>> thanks. yeah. i'm executive produce we are creator gary trudeau and elliott webb. you just saw mark consuelos and jar martinez, a florida senator and his super pac good friend, john goodman , matt milloy, clark johnson , cynthia nixon , a lot of great stars in this production, and i think for anybody who, you know, likes to watch msnbc has any kind of interest in politics, you might want to check it out. three episodes are available right now on amazon for free. and the other eight episodes, which we've already shot, are going to be available one a week for the next couple of months if you subscribe to amazon prime, which gets you free shipping.

>> get people hooked with those first three.

>> also, i mean, amazon prime is a great deal. so it's part of the brave new world of online television. it's a little bit like being in cable news in the early 1980s or in network television in the early 1950s . it's a very exciting thing for me to do. but i'm not quitting my day job . still on msnbc.

>> happy to hear that. lynn sweet , jonathan alter thanks for your time this afternoon.

>> thank you.