Meet the Press | October 06, 2013
>>> breaking news this sunday. terror crackdown. libya forces break down in somalia . we'll have the latest.
>>> the government shuts down. hundreds of thousands of workers stay home, national parks close, but the washington spin war moves on full speed ahead.
>> this isn't some damn game.
>> the american people are not pawns in some political game .
>> and we hope that our democratic colleagues will stop with the games.
>> let the house stop the irresponsible reckless games.
>> with no breakthrough in sight, another crisis looms on the horizon. with the u.s. default on its bills for the first time in history? do discuss from the white house , jacob lew , rand paul from kentucky , and from the house , marcia fudge, chair of the congressional black caucus . plus my exclusive interview with samantha power on syria, iran , and that controversial comment about hillary clinton .
>> i've regretted it pretty much every day since.
>> and president obama weighs in on the washington redskins name controversy. i'm savannah guthrie filling in for david gregory . all that on this edition of "meet the press" on sunday, october 6 .
>>> from nbc news in washington , "meet the press" with david gregory . substituting today, savannah guthrie .
>> good evening, everyone. the latest on the shutdown in a moment, but first the leader in bombings in kenya and tanzania. tanzania is now in u.s. custody. it ends a 15-year manhunt. he was seized in broad daylight near the tripoli capital on saturday. he will be brought to the u.s. to stand trial.
>>> an al- shabab leader linked to the kenya shopping mall attack was linked to a town in southern somalia , but navy seals came up empty handed. no americans were hurt in that operation.
>>> michael lighter is here right now. he's the director of the terrorism center under presidents bush and obama . good to see you.
>> good morning, savannah.
>> let's start with this capture in libya .
>> he was historical in the 9/11 bombings, but he was with obama in 1984 in sudan. this is someone who had moved from iran back to libya and his deep ties with the organization, his capture now means it's much harder for al qaeda to establish a residence in libya , and that's critical for out nithe united states .
>> it's a place that's lawless at times.
>> the fact he felt safer going from iran to libya is very worrisome for the u.s.
>> operation incredibly risky. why would they take that risk, and what do you make of the fact that it wasn't ultimately successful?
>> the u.s. has targeted al- shabab for several years now, but we're always nervous about going in. the reason we wanted to go after him is because he is leadership and he's the driver of the al- shabab travel agenda, and that was especially after nairobi. not getting him is bad because he's still in somalia , but we also didn't get the intelligence we hoped to gather from a raid.
>>> we turn now to day 6. government shutdown . no agreement in sight. senator rand paul will be joining me from kentucky in a moment, but first let's turn to treasury secretary jack lew here in washington . mr. secretary, good to see you.
>> good to be here.
>> we're six days in. has there been any permanent damage to the economy from this shutdown so far?
>> savannah, the shutdown is harming people every day. i think we're seeing that in the ironic actions of those who chose to shut the government down item by item, trying to reopen the government for things as they discover there's real pain out there. if the shutdown ends quickly, we'll recover from the damage. if it goes on for a longer period of time, it will do more harm.
>> given what you know of the terrain, are you looking at a few more days of a shutdown? are you looking at weeks?
>> congress could act today. the optimistic view of things is there is a majority in congress right now that would vote to reopen the government. they just need to bring it up for a vote. they could bring it up today.
>> there was a senior administration official quoted in the wall street journal this week saying, quote, we are winning. it doesn't really matter to us how long the shutdown lasts, because what matters is the end result. does that reflect the view of the administration behind closed doors , the shutdown can go on as long as it wants because it's politically advantageous.
>> there are no winners here. every day it's shut down, it does real harm to the american people , and you need to step back and look at where we are as a country and kmaen. the united states has been fighting its way out of a recession since the great depression. if you're a parent relying on head start or somebody looking for medical care or a government agency that needs intelligence, they need to open the government up. they could do it today.
>> you mentioned republicans have passed a series of bills in the house to fund parts of the government such as fema, such as the va. why not take them up on that off offer?
>> it just doesn't work. they need to open up the whole government. you can't cherry pick an item here, an item there. there are too many important things the federal government does, and they need to open it up, and they could because a majority is ready to do it. i started out my career in washington working on the hill. i worked for speaker o'neal. he said the one thing the american people won't tolerate is obstructionism. the majority needs to be given a chance to work as well.
>> as you know, we are facing a more potentially disastrous deadline, october 17 for the nation's borrowing limit for the debt ceiling to be raised lest the country default on its obligations. let me put this to you very, very clearly. is october 17 also the day the country defaults?
>> let me be clear. we actually hit the debt limit from may. from may until this week, we've been using what are called extraordinary measures to create a bit of additional headroom. on tuesday i informed congress that i had used the final extraordinary measures, there are no more. we are now limited to the borrowing capacity we have today. on october 17 , we will exhaust our borrowing capacity. and at that point i have nothing else in the drawer.
>> does that mean default happens that same day?
>> on october 17 , we're left with cash on hand. i told congress that i believe there will be approximately $30 billion of cash on hand, which is a lot of money, and it sounds like a lot of money to the american people , but you have to put it in the context of the cash flow of the united states . we are a $4 trillion enterprise, and on any individual day, you could be 50 or $60 billion cash flow negative or positive. $30 billion is a dangerously low level of cash, and we're on the verge of going into a place we've never been and not have cash to pay our bills .
>> i guess the question, then, for you not raising the debt ceiling, is that tantamount to default whether it's in a day, a week or a month?
>> the reality is if we run out of cash to pay our bills , there is no option that permits us to pay all our bills on time. which means a failure for congress to act would, for the first time, put us in a place where we're defaulting on our obligations as a government because of congress failing to act.
>> if this country were to default on its obligations, what would be the consequence in the economy? are you talking catastrophe?
>> we've never crossed this line, so everyone is speculating on what happens if the unthinkable happens. let me just read to you from what president reagan said when he faced this, and i quote. the full consequences of a default or even the serious prospect of default by the united states are impossible to predict and awesome to contemplate. d denigration of the united states would have a financial effect on the markets. why would anyone take that risk?
>> it would be calamitous for the economy?
>> it would be awful. even getting close to the line is dangerous. in 2011 , there was no default in 2011 . it hurt the economy to get close to the line. we saw it in the stock market , we saw it in confidence, we saw it in investment. if we cross the line, we're going a place we've never gone. it's very dangerous.
>> you've painted a dire consequence. on the one hand you say it's terrible for the economy to even threaten default. on the other hand, the president saying, i won't negotiate. i won't have any conversation about this. i won't negotiate to stop that from happening. how do you square those two things?
>> to be clear, the president has been and remains prepared to negotiate on fiscal policy . he has spent much of the last three years trying to find the sensible middle ground . he's made offer after offer, negotiation after negotiation --
>> but they said we don't want to have any negotiation until the government is reopened and the debt ceiling is raised.
>> we're where we are because in 2011 , 50 to 100 of the most extreme members of the house changed the rules of the game . they said, we would rather default than have an honorable compromise. it's congress ' job to fund the government, and it's congress ' job to make sure we can pay our bills . there is nothing here that we're asking for from congress for them to do that. we are happy to negotiate on reasonable policies with entitlement reform and tax reform that closes loopholes.
>> why would they give up their leverage? you're saying give up everything we've agreed to. that's the leverage they have.
>> what would it mean in this country if we're not able to pay millions of people on social security on time? what would it mean if we're not able to pay hospitals through medicare and medicaid on time? there would be liquidity crises on homes and businesses and important institutions. it's just not responsible. it's reckless and irresponsible to say we'll bring all that down if we don't get our way. congress needs to do its job and then we'll negotiate. the president wants to negotiate.
>> is the president ready to watch this country go into default rather than agree with republicans ?
>> the republicans know this doesn't have to happen. they could vote today.
>> will he not come to the table at all even with the risk of default?
>> i know republicans and democrats, i don't believe any of them want to default. they need to look at how do they let the majority in congress work their will.
>> let me ask you about the health carroe rollout. you were chief of staff when it was being implemented. 46 uniq thousands of unique visitors came to the website to check it out, but there is an uncertain number of who enrolled. the site has been down partially all weekend. how do you justify that?
>> if you look at the people of interest trying to figure out how to buy health care for the first time for people, the enormous interest shows how important it is.
>> fair enough, but why weren't we drid for that interest?
>> we always anticipated there was a lot of demand and the demand is being appreciated. people are looking at the web sites . they're looking at what their choices are. they have six months to make their decision. people are getting on, getting the information they need and they'll be makiing the decision. i actually think the experience this last week shows how important the care act actually is.
>> do you think it's going well?
>> i wouldn't say i'm a doctor of technology, but i have a share of apps on my devices, and i usually wait until a few days into them because they make corrections on day one, day two, day three. i think we're going through the same kind of process here and it's working well.
>> thank you very much, secretary lew . always great to have you here. appreciate it.
>>> i want to turn now to republican senator rand paul of kentucky . senator, good morning. welcome back to "meet the press."
>> good morning. glad to be with you.
>> you have a statement on your website saying, quote, you are working tirelessly to end this government shutdown . fact of the matter, there is one way to end the shutdown right now, have speaker boehner put a clean budget resolution on the floor of the house . it would pass with republicans , it would pass with democrats. would you call on speaker boehner to do that this morning?
>> we've been putting out clean crs or continuing resolutions all week. we've been trying to fund government. we've been trying to reopen government, and at every point harry reid says, no, he doesn't want to open government .
>> you've been putting on clean crs . no strings attached?
>> well, yeah. we've been trying to fund different parts of government all week. we've passed bill after bill after bill --
>> that's a piecemeal approach, no?
>> it's the same thing. these are clean crs , meaning there's no strings attached. we've been passing nih funding, veteran funding. here's the thing that people don't realize. that's historically the way it's always been. you pass small appropriation bills so you can look at them individually. it's actually a much better way to run government, because right now you're sticking everything into one bill, and that's why the leverage of shutting the government down occurs. but if you did things appropriately and you passed appropriation bills one at a time, no one would be able to shut down government ever. so if harry reid had done his job, we wouldn't be in this position at all.
>> senator, you were one of the ones early on who said you didn't think a government shutdown was a good idea. however, when house republicans made the defunding of obama care or even the delay of obama care their sticking point at which they would shut the government down if they didn't get it, didn't they basically make this result inevitable by making that what they took a stand on?
>> well, i think you've kind of got it backwards. the house republicans said they would fund all of government, and they did. they funded all of government short of one program. so they really were never wanting to shut down government over this, they were wanting to fund government, and then have a debate --
>> they were trying to fund obama care more than 40 times. they know what the result will be. they live in the real world , too. they knew this action would lead tie shutdown, and it did.
>> well, i think that when you look at legislation, when you say the president wants 100% of obama care or he will shut down the government, that's exactly what's happened. if he doesn't get 100% of his way, his way or the highway, then they won't do any spending bills that don't include everything that he wants. that's him unwilling to negotiate, that's him being unwilling to compromise.
>> but why is it even a matter of negotiation when it's passed both houses of congress , it's been signed by the president. it's been challenged in the supreme court , it's been upheld by the supreme court . it was a central issue in the 2012 election campaign and the president won reelection. why is that a legitimate point of negotiation right now?
>> because it's congress ' job to oversee spending. the power of the purse resides with congress , and they fund programs every year. so it's not their obligation once something is law to never change it. for example, in 1983 we changed social security . it had been around 50 years and the age of eligibility was 65. we changed it to 67 because social security was going bankrupt. we face some of those same problems again, and it isn't that it's set in stone that we'll never revisit medicare or social security or obama care, for that matter. so i think it's a silly argument for democrats to say, oh, the law has been passed, we can never change it.
>> of course, but you have to propose something that can get through the house , the senate and be signed by the president. back in the '80s, they didn't shut down the government to make that happen, did they?
>> well, how do you know what will pass until you propose something and vote on it? so we proposed several come compromis compromises. our initial position and still our position is we think obama care is a bad idea and will hurt the people it's intended to help. when that didn't pass, when democrats didn't accept that, we said, what about a one-year delay? we've been offering compromise after compromise, but you hear from the president and his men and his women, no negotiation. his way or the highway. they were the ones who were unwilling to compromise on any facet of obama care, and i think that in tratransigence has led to a shutdown of the government.
>> what part of obama care do you like and want to keep? which half of it?
>> i don't really like any of obama care, but i realize i'm not going to get my way. we do control a third of the government, people did elect us to fight. 61% of the people in kentucky voted for romney, 70% of the people in kentucky don't like obama care. so the thing is, i'm supposed to go and fight to make bills either less bad or make them better, if possible, so i think it is my job to stand up and provide oversight for legislation. it's precisely what congress is supposed to be doing. this is congress ' job.
>> the health care rollout this week by many, many accounts did not go that well. we just talked about it with treasury secretary lew , and yet all the headlines are about the government shutdown . let me show you the front page of the lexington paper and you'll see the top headline says, feeling the shutdown. talks about the health care glitches with the website rollout. should they have let people really experience it and see if it's as bad as you say instead of shutting down the government and now that's the subject?
>> it's always difficult making decisions. most of us ran for office, i ran for office because i was concerned about the overwhelming debt our country is accruing. a trillion dollars a year, we're borrowing a million dollars every minute. so i'm worried about the overall financial picture of the country, and so whether or not it was a good strategic idea, i don't know, but when are we supposed to stand up and say, look, we're out of money and we're destroying this country by this burden of debt. and so i think you've got to stand up, whether it's debt ceiling or whether it's continuing resolution , we have to talk about the big picture , and the big picture is not an immediate default, the big picture is this gradual bankruptcy that's occurring of this country.
>> all right, senator paul , i ask you to stand by. we'll have more with you in a moment and i will ask senator paul about this open mic moment this week.
>>> and later the white house says millions are racing to sign up on line for obama care, but widespread problems with the website have some asking if the administration was ready for them.
>>> plus our political round table. government by crisis? we'll ask the question, is there any way to run a country?
>>> and did the administration miss its moment on syria? my one-on-one conversation with the u.s. ambassador to the