Meet the Press   |  September 22, 2013

3: Examining implications of shutdown battle

A Meet the Press roundtable examines the potential outcomes of the shutdown showdown.

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

>>> "meet the press" continues with our political roundtable. joining us this morning, bill kristol , kim strassel, robin gibbs and tavis smiley . now here's david gregory .

>> we're back. i want to talk about our shutdown of politics. here we go again. who is up, who is down, and does this get a verdict, bill?

>> i think it gets a verdict at least for now. i think house republicans are up suddenly after a few weeks of disarray. they actually passed a bill to keep the government going and take down obamacare. people can say, the house republicans are in disarray, but only one body actually voted to keep the obamacare open. the senate has done nothing. no continued resolution and no appropriations bills.

>> i think the wall street journal summed this upper effectually this week, and that is kamikaze missions are rarely successful, least of all from the pilotsme. t if you think about this from the white house perspective, about to lose a vote on syria, here the enemies throw you a rope and want to get in the quicksand instead of you. you can see from your interview with the republicans , they have a strategy on how to do one bill and they have no real clue as to what the next step is in that strategy.

>> i don't know if that's exactly the case. look, the art of winning a political battle is exerting le leverage on the other side. you get them to do what you want them to do. the problem with defunding obamacare so far is they're holding government shutdown as their leverage. given that could hurt them if that actually happens, they're saying, give us what we want or we're going to shoot ourselves in the foot. coming forward, if senator reid ends up sending back a clean cr to the house, the question for republicans is, are there not in fact better means of exerting pressure on democrats and forcing them, testing the outer boundaries of their support for the law? there are ways you can do that. you can look at delaying the original mandate, something that dozens of house members have done. there is this talk about the congressional exemption the white house gave to members of congress and whether or not you could put that in there and put some pressure on democrats to make some changes in the law. it's about what comes next.

>> i've never seen a party so hell bent on self destruction , and i quite frankly don't get it. as imperfect as obamacare is, this political posturing and point scoring about defunding it is not the answer. the case has already been made that it's been passed, it's been upheld by congress, and again, this doesn't make much sense to the american people . the real problem here is, and i clearly am not a republican, but the point is i think our country works best when there is a strong two- party system , and i think the republicans are doing themselves, and quite frankly , the country a disservice if this is how they want to self-destruct. we need a strong two- party system in this country, and if you're going to wipe yourself out, shoot yourself in the foot, shoot yourself in the head, then you're hurting this country.

>> tavis, there is this thing called the congressional ballot. has not changed at all in a few months. i'm not making a political point, i'm just saying as of now for all this talk about, oh, my god, those republicans look terrible. the republicans don't like obamacare. if they can move beyond the de defunding to delaying particular parts of obamacare, especially the unpopular parts like individual mandates, i have support of that.

>> there is not one poll that shows this is a smart strategy. and look, general custer , if you want to go, i won't hold you back.

>> bill is absolutely right. there isn't one poll that shows americans approve a majority of this health care law .

>> but there's not one poll that says we should hold government, the running of government hostage from the defunding of obamacare.

>> they just did. they just authorized funding for the government.

>> this is the problem, whenever we have these sunday morning chats. it's all about putting our finger up to the wind. sometimes the right thing is the difficult thing. i think you always have to lead by a certain amount of prichb principles. civil rights wasn't the right thing to do for this country, it wasn't passing a poll bill, yet it was the right thing to do. republicans believe obama is horrible. it's about one thing, obstruct obama .

>> nancy pelosi or other republicans would have voted against pelosicare or kerrycare. it's not personal to obama .

>> one of the reasons the senate has not acted in any way to fund government is because right now there is no democratic vote for a clean cr.

>> you can't keep saying cr.

>> a clean funding of government bill in that they think the sequester levels are too low, so they're willing to shut down the government for the right to be able to spend more money.

>> i'd like to clarify some points here, too, for the audience beyond cr. the fact that we're talking about the government shutdown is separate from a debt limit. given what the white house went through in 2011 , it hurt the white house , it hurt republicans and it hurt americans not flirting with the debt limit. the president said, look, i'm not going to negotiate on this. the problem is where are the votes? he can't get votes in congress for the debt limit without congress, can he?

>> it's going to be a big test. i do think the specter of how this might tinker with the economy is certainly one that's out there, but look, i think the results of this are unknown and we have seen, you know, these sort of messy fights are very d disconsonant with people in real america because they don't see why people can't sit down at a table and come up with a real resolution for these problems.

>> you were concerned like others about the vote on food stamps this week. this is about size, scope, the direction of government. in a republican party , this is going to become a big campaign issue. it's going to be in 2014 but it's also for those who want to run for president in 2016 . the question will be, where were you on obamacare?

>> i think this country is facing a moment where we have to make a decision about what kind of nation and what kind of people we're going to be. the president recently, much to my chagrin, spoke about this notion of american exceptionalism , and clearly he isn't the only one in town that likes to push that notion that we as americans are exceptional. the actions in america this week alone gives us the reason to push back that claim. when americans want to shut down a government of political posturing, when you can kill innocent children at sandy hook and there's no real gun control debate, those who are supposed to protect our babies, and now you fire on those who are supposed to protect us, and nobody at this table believes a real gun control debate is going to come out because all this other stuff will push it to the side. it's not just mental illness, that's a real issue, but you've got this black guy running toward the police asking for help and they shoot and kill him. congress has a 60% approval rating and the answer is to shut it down? what kind of people are we going to be? if we don't correct this soon, we're going to lose our democracy. it's that serious.

>> i want to come back and pick up whether there is a future on the gun control debate. this is a big week in presidential leadership on some crises overseas in iran and syria. and yes, hillary clinton is out there, too, talking about whether she has to make a decision just yet about whether