Meet the Press   |  September 29, 2013

1: Cruz makes case for Obamacare delay in shutdown showdown

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas visits Meet the Press to advocate for defunding implementation of the Affordable Care Act in the showdown over government funding.

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>>> breaking news this morning, government by crisis, we are one step closer to a government shutdown , so how will it end?

>> our message to congress is this, do not shut down the government. do not shut down the economy. pass a budget on time, pay our bills on time.

>> all republicans are asking tonight is give the nation a year to study a 2500 page bill that even speaker nancy pelosi had not a clue what was in it.

>> this morning, the fight and the politics behind the standoff, an exclusive interview with republican senator cruz of texas. he has elevated the fight to new levels.

>> i intend to fight on the obama care until i am no longer able to stand.

>> where does his fight go from here? plus, our political roundtable, joining me msnbc's chris matthews , former governor, john huntsman, and democratic strategist, dee dee meyers, is the nuclear disarmament deal now possible? i'm david gregory , for "meet the press," on sunday, september 29th .

>> from nbc news in washington , this world's longest running television program , this is "meet the press."

>> and good morning, the fast-moving developments, last night the house of representatives voted to delay president obama 's health care law as part of an emergency spending, the president promises to veto, the vote brings the country a step closer to a government shutdown , kelly o'donnell has more.

>> reporter: well, good morning, david you might expect there was action since the government was threatening to shut down tomorrow. but that is not happening, congress is on pause, after working until the wee hours they paid their message clear, but the senate tells me they are rejecting that flatly. that comes tomorrow. so today, when the country is waiting for an answer, congress is on hold. here is where we stand, this is what the house has done, they are passing funding to keep the government open and operating but with conditions to delay the president's health care law by a year, and to repeal a medical device tax paid by manufacturers for things like pacemakers or defibrillators, or delay that. also, they do want military paychecks to keep coming. but again, that is the house version where they stand. the senate says no way, the only thing they would consider is simply keeping the government open, nothing that would affect the health care law .

>> so the contest begins, canckelly o'donnell, i know you will be watching, thank you, joining me this morning, ted cruz , the man in the middle of the fight. so here are the stakes, de-funding, say you and other republicans , the president says no way. the law is moving forward. are you in control?

>> at the end of the day every senator has to decide how he or she is going to vote. every representative has decided how they are going to vote. the house last night voted to keep the government open, to fully fund the government, but at the same time the house responded to the millions of americans who are hurting under obama care, and i think the senate needs to do the same thing.

>> i looked at polling that shows the law is unpopular, 56% want to uphold this law, so when you say listen to the american people , they're not necessarily with you.

>> well, look at the phrase "uphold the law," when you do the polling, the answer is always yes.

>> just polling methods --

>> i promise you any senator or representative that goes home to their home state and you hold a town hall and just ask people who are you facing? i mean, i have spent hundreds of hours chris-crossing the state of texas , and people all over the country are being forced out of jobs, losing their premiums and health insurance .

>> we'll get into particulars of obama care, because obviously there is more to that story that advocates will argue with. so let's stick to that story. how does this end? because as i understand it, you would only support de-funding obama care, a delay is not enough.

>> well, the next step, let's talk about that, the senate needs to act, in my view harry reid should call the senate back in today. we have a bill in front of us, there is a government shutdown in 48 hours . listen, i would love to be in houston with my two little girls playing with them this afternoon, but as you know i'm here in washington , d.c., as you know the senate should not be on vacation --

>> you know, the senate has acted, the majority leader would say, passed a bill to keep the government open. and then we've gone back to delaying or de-funding obama care. should they take a part of it? would you filibuster this bill?

>> let's be clear what the senate has done so far. so far, majority leader harry reid has essentially told the house of representatives and the american people go jump in the lake, he said i am not willing to compromise or talk. his position is obama care must be funded 100% in all instances or he will shut the government down. i hope he doesn't do that, david , i hope he backs away from the ledge he is pushing us towards. but that is his position.

>> but senator, even republicans that i have spoken to, your colleagues say senator cruz can't blame harry reid for shutting down the government. senator reid acted. he passed a bill to keep the government open.

>> but let's be clear, the house has twice now voted to keep the government open. and if we have a shutdown, it will only be because when the senate comes back harry reid says i refuse to talk. also, let's be clear, president obama has granted a delay for big corporations, every big corporation has gotten a delay . if harry reid shuts the government down he will be saying if american families don't get a delay like the corporations, hard working american families, he is going to insist they suffer.

>> it is interesting, democrats say you know the promise with senator cruz ' position is it is a purist position. there are problems with obama care. we have had some polls saying there is great dissatisfaction at the town halls , but you haven't debated on how to change the law, what you have gone out and said let's kill the law, let's de-fund it.

>> actually, with respect , david , i think it is wrong, i voted to repeal the law, but that was not my position in this fight. my position is de-fund it, which is different than repeal. and even now what the house of representatives has done is a step removed from de-funding. it is delaying it. now that is the essence of a compromise, delaying, simply on the same terms that has been done for the big corporations, that is a compromise. and at the same time, david , on the other side, what have the democrats compromised on? zero, their position is absolutely no, no matter what.

>> you make this argument as if there is no broader context here. obama care has been -- has been adjudicated and it has been tested to the political system . and so let's go through that. we had an election where i heard the standard bearer for the republican party , mitt romney , saying that obama care should be repealed. all the republicans already voted against this thing when it was ultimately passed, the supreme court upheld it. and then your colleagues said let's have a strategy de-funding obama care and the letter, and they joined you in that fight. well, here now you don't even have the same number of folks who signed the letter who voted for this effort. there are not protests in the streets arguing to do away with the law the way that you would like. again, 51% of the poll this week, let's uphold the law. so i'm focusing on results. your goal and results. where have you moved anything?

>> okay look, the facts are becoming more and more clear that obama care is not working. every day that is more clear, there is a reason the unions are jumping ship. one union after another is saying let me out. there is a reason why the president of the team, james hoffa , used millions, saying obama care was destroying their health care . destroying is his word. now, why is it that harry reid and the senate democrats are not willing to listen to the millions of men and women --

>> but you're a terrific lawyer, you're making an argument, i asked you a specific argument based on the facts on the ground . you made these arguments for 21 hours, my goodness, you haven't moved anyone.

>> look, the american people rejected obama care, they understand it is not working. the only people making the argument are the career politicians in washington , harry reid who wants to use brute force , the great thing about the constitution, the checks and balances, the ability to check one another, president obama has over and over again disregarded the law. when he granted an exemption for giant corporations, that was contrary to law. right now we have a system where the rich and powerful, those with connections to the obama administration, they get spared some of the burdens of obama care. but those who were struggling, single moms and young people and people who are just trying to make it.

>> you're a proponent of the law, millions are getting access to health care they couldn't otherwise afford. parents with children, others with conditions getting in the way of insurance. i spoke to a hospital administrator this week in illinois saying utilization is down, you can't know what the effect of five years from now is on this law. and nor can proponents of the law. but here is one argument, you've made yours, and the president, when he spoke this week, referred to your words. i want to play a portion, suggesting what you really don't want is the law to go forward because people may start to like it, is what he said.

>> he said it is going to prove almost impossible to undo obama care, ?rright? so in other words, we've got to shut this thing down before people find out that they like it.

>> you don't think americans will like it? you don't think that 25% of the state of texas that is uninsured will actually like the expanded access to get health insurance ?

>> i don't, and here is why, because it is not working. what happens, if you want people to get health insurance , the best way to get health insurance is to get a job, and obama care is the biggest job killer in the country. if you look at the mandate, half of the business managers are reducing or hiring part-time workers. another 24% said they were not growing to keep their size under 50 workers. if you're a young person out of school unable to find a job, a big part of the reason you can't find a job is because small businesses are not growing because of obama care. and there is nothing that can give you better health insurance than having a vibrant economy where you can get a job. let's take the thousands of workers at ups who just received notice from their employers that spousal insurance was being dropped. let's look at the workers of sea world who were told we're reducing your hours because of obama care, people are hurting.

>> there are also researchers on my side who say there is no reason health insurers would stop giving insurance to their employees, it is a major tool to get employees. and health care , perhaps these problems that you're identifying could be solved short of complete de-funding. i want to start for just a moment to get you clear. a government shutdown , that is an acceptable outcome to you?

>> look, i don't want a government shutdown . i don't think that harry reid should shut down the government. the house of representatives did something significant, which is they passed a bill to make clear that regardless of what happens the men and women of our military -- they should be paid. that passed unanimously in the house . and listen, right now, harry reid and president obama had been essentially holding the military hostage, threatening their paychecks over this potential shutdown. they might force. i think regardless of what happened we should pass the bill. we should not have a shutdown, which means harry reid has to move off his absolutist position. you have been multiple compromises from the republicans , and can you tell me what the democrats have done to compromise --

>> but what has he done -- as i outlined before, you have lost ground from even the summer on the position of getting people to vote with you. you lost ground from that position and you haven't persuaded one democrat. you have got to be democrats if you're going to overturn this thing.

>> well, actually, joe manchin came out saying he supported the delay in the original mandate. listen, last time this was in the senate , there was division among the republicans . i had hoped the republicans would be united. that didn't happen, i'll tell you this, this next time around, this is an opportunity --

>> you have raised money on this, taken to the floor for 21 hours, you haven't moved anything legislatively, do you concede that point?

>> david , i don't, and the establishment has been exempted from some of the harms. members of congress , how can you possibly justify to the american people that members of congress are exempted from the law? are not put on the exchanges like millions of americans .

>> well, they're part of the exchanges, they don't get a portion by the employers --

>> but anyone on the exchange doesn't.

>> but hundreds of thousands with their employers do --

>> but people with the exchange don't, you want people frustrated with washington ? the simplest reason is you have politicians in both parties who are not listening to the people. they get a different set of rules. harry reid said to president obama , we don't want the obama care. i had an exchange with dick durbin , who argued we should stick the american people in coach. i think his own analogy shows what is wrong with this system, at a minimum, members of congress shouldn't be treated better than the american people , and should he be willing to compromise he would agree what the house has done to delay all of this saying it is not ready for prime time . it is not working, and we'll treat the american people at least as well as the others.

>> you are talking about democrats, it is hard for them to get a word in edge wise, because there are members of your party who are so critical of what you have done and how you have done it. you have colleagues who accused you of putting on a show. congressman peter king said you're a fraud, lying to the base. george will , who has been a conservative columnist for "the washington post ," who has been great, supportive of you in the past. but he wrote this past week, and i want you to respond. those people who deceive others first deceive themselves, allowing their wishes to be fodders of their thoughts by beginning to wish everything has changed. they should remember everett dirksen of illinois, the leader of senate republicans during passage of the 1964 civil rights act recalled, 40 preachers caught me one afternoon there in the lobby "i'm not a moralist." are you more legislative than others?

>> i'm just trying to fight for 26 million texans, and for the american people . and i'm pretty sure what he argued is we should be delaying obama care, which is exactly what the house of representatives just voted to do. and one important thing to remember, you and all the voices of washington keep saying we need compromise. twice now, the republicans have compromised. and a twice, harry reid says we won't even have a compromise, i want to fund it all. we want to stick it on the american people and won't budge, that is not a reason, if we have a shutdown, the american people will be held hostage.

>> who did you most admire?

>> i most admired phil graham , there are voice whose say this is not possible. and if you remember back in 1993 when hillary care was being debated. and there were a lot of people that came forward that said we'll partially fund hillary light. phil graham said, i know you will remember this, he said this will pass over my cold, dead political body. and a whole lot of republicans who were scared, they looked over, he was not killed. they ran behind him and they said yeah, yeah, what he said. look, the power of leadership can change debates. we saw that just a month ago with syria . when president obama said he was going to launch attacks on syria , you had leaders of both house support him. and then the american people spoke up in overwhelming numbers saying we don't want to get involved in a sectarian war in syria , where there is no clear reason for the united states to do so and what happened, the federal government turned. we didn't get involved. we didn't launch the attacks, and just weeks earlier conventional wisdom in washington said it is impossible.

>> do you regret comparing the future of obama care to the rise of hitler in nazi germany ?

>> well, the premise of your question is not true. what i said is there are many voices in washington who said "we can't do this, we can't do this." and i went through the centuries over and over again when americans were faced with big challenges, on big occasions, whether it was the civil war , going to the moon or winning the cold war , at every stage there were voices of conventional wisdom who say this can't be done, and at every stage, the american people rose to the occasion. and what i said is we should do the same here. we should look to, if we empower the american people to get washington to listen to the people, that is how we get this changed.

>> do you ride this to the presidential nomination?

>> it is easy for washington to focus on politics. i understand, that is the business of this town. what i am trying to do every day is focus on making a difference in the lives of the american people . every survey that is done in this country, the top priority of the american people is jobs and the economy. under harry reid 's senate , we don't even talk about jobs and the economy. obama care is the biggest job killer in this country. and millions of americans are hurting. you know, i would like to see a democrat respond to james hoffa 's letter who said this is right now destroying the health care of millions of americans . that is not me, that is a democrat union leader who has supported president obama and harry reid , we need to listen to people.

>> thank you, senator.

>> thank you, david .

>>> coming up, we're going to switch gears, one of the biggest threats is iran's nuclear program . joining me, msnbc's chief foreign affairs correspondent, andrea mitchell , as well as one of president obama 's former advisers on arms control . we'll be right back here in just a