Disrupt   |  November 17, 2013

Is DC chatter out of touch with America?

Nia-Malika Henderson and Perry Bacon talk about Obamacare damage control and how D.C. chatter is out of touch with the rest of America.

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

>>> now we turn to the week ahead in politics. and if the gop wants to continue gloating, they might want to think again. in a congressional runoff election last night, voters in louisiana elected a republican who favors the affordable care act 's medicaid expansion. and whose opponent did everything he could to use that position against him. so if the gop wants to do anything about its electoral problems, they're going to need to do more than run on opposition and obstructionism. they need to do more than efforts to impeach attorney general eric holder or hold up judicial nominees. they will need to do something about the millions of americans who don't care which party in washington is up or down. those millions just want to get health care . joining me now, nia malika henderson, host of post tv's on background. and perry bacon, political editor of "the grio." there's a lot of angst about is this the great demise of the presidency of barack obama . i'm intentionally being very sarcastic because i feel like it's a little bit overdramatized. how serious do you -- in your estimation is this for the president?

>> look, if the election were today for congress, i think the democrats would suffer from some of these challenges regarding the website, regarding the rollout of obama care. the important thing to remember is, the election is not today. the story will change by november 2014 . right now there are about 500,000 people who got health insurance through the health care law if you add the medicaid and exchange numbers in. by next year that number will be in the millions. by next year i'm sure -- or i think i'm sure that the website will be working.

>> watch out.

>> or working better than it is now. that'll make the politics of this law much different. right now there are democrats that don't have much of a case to make for the law really working well. i think six months from now the case will be very different.

>> let me challenge you on that, perry . i think they do -- what i've heard them talking about is the numbers of people and pointing out in the states where those states are participating in exchanges, you've been to kentucky. you saw it firsthand. in those instances, it's working quite well.

>> that's exactly right. i think you have a lot of states that are in -- if you're mark pryor in arkansas your exchanges are not working as perfectly with a federally run exchange. that said, when we get close to the election, i would assume we're at a low point for the website working. we're at a low point for the political momentum. obama 's having to defend himself against this charge that he misled the public about keeping your own insurance. things are moving in a better trajectory, though. i think in states , even other states . kentucky is doing well already. you'll have more people getting insured even in states like texas as we go further along. i think overtime also this medicaid story has been rather undercovered by the press. 400,000 people got medicaid in the last month. that's a significant story. it's something i think if the white house wants to talk about more it probably should. also talk to the people who are not getting insurance because of texas and other states stopping the medicaid expansion.

>> like flip the script? how great would that be. nia malika , here's what i want to raise with you. in watching sort of the shows this morning it really felt like so much of the washington chatter was out of touch with what americans are talking about. because i don't think most americans -- i think they're frustrated that the website doesn't work because they're trying to get health care .

>> right.

>> i want to play for you an ad from this special election that i just mentioned down in louisiana where, again, the candidate who was against obama care lost and the one who was talking about medicaid actually won. let's take a listen and i want to get your thoughts.

>> a vote for vance mcallister is a vote for obama care.

>> i think we have to expand medicaid .

>> aisle neil riser . i approve this message.

>> mcallister got 59.7% of the votes in that election. the strategy of thinking they can run against obama care, even now when people are trying to suggest that we are at gloom and doom for president obama , seems a little bit of a far reach.

>> well, i don't know. i mean, i think it might be an equally far reach to say that this special election , i think, was in congressional district five in louisiana , has broader implications for the way that republicans -- i think what is telling about this race, though, is that you did have in mcallister someone who, i think, tapped into populism better than his opponent did, neil riser . so, yeah, he was the candidate of the duck dynasty. i don't really watch this show. i know those guys have fabulous beards. so that was one of the ways that he was able to -- he was running as the outside washington guy. as the anti-incumbent. as the anti-establishment guy. i think for republicans who are in office and democrats who are in office now, i think this strategy, they're going to need people in primaries who are going to be the anti- washington candidate. you saw scott walker talking about that today. right? in terms of who's going to look good in 2016 . is it ted cruz ? no. is it marco rubio ? no. this is where it's come. walker said i don't believe we're in 2016 yet. he's sort of already putting people in terms of boxes of who's fwood and who's bad and who has a better chance to win. very early on to be doing that.

>> perry , on that point, it does sound like -- i do think this is a little bit of a fracture within the party. sort of a new sort of fracture if you will. dpov governors are talking about they're the ones getting results, they're distancing themselves from washington . scott walker earlier today, you know, talking about, you know, describing the ideal candidate sure sounded like a governor chris christie , a lot of his rhetoric. how tough is it going to be for those -- for washington candidates like a paul ryan , if he decides to run, to kind of try to be the outsider even though he's really on the inside?

>> we should note, i think scott walker may have been campaigning for republican candidate named scott walker . who might run in 2016 . that said, i think there's a really interesting story. it gets to the point you're making, karen. the democrats, you look at them. there's superpacs. groups organizing around how much they all love hillary clinton . the republican party , very fractious. chris christie wins. rand paul says not a real republican. they couldn't even wait until after 2014 to start arguing over their nomination. they had to start doing it now. that tells you how deep that tea party establishment divide really is.

>> to that point, nia- malika , it strikes me that when you look at what's happening now, as people are looking towards 2014 , there's an assumption -- i mean, as we know, this is a long time between now and november. and in january, essentially, there is a real chance that we'll have another shutdown, that we'll have another showdown over the budget.

>> please don't remind me.

>> if i was the white house , i would use that as my leverage. you know the gop can't afford it. but the reality is, fortunes can change very quickly.

>> that's right. i mean, we saw that with democrats, right? they were sitting on the sidelines, very happy to see that republicans were getting a lot of the brunt of the bad public opinion polls around the government shutdown . then a couple of weeks later, it's on the democrats because of the rollout of obama care. hard to see or to say what sort of leverage that obama has going into this. because he's so badly damaged around this obama care rollout. but, again, i think that the lessons that we're learning here is that in some ways it's the chris christie lesson, scott walker lesson. people do want to see things happen. that people get stuff done. i think the question there is for those republicans in those very gerrymandered states whether or not, not getting anything done is better than working with this president.

>> i'm going to put my money on the americans who want to get something done and say thank you to them and say thank you to perry bacon and nia- malika henderson.

>> thank you.