Meet the Press | October 20, 2013
>>> this sunday, breaking gridlock. u.s. economic default is averted for now, but when will this era of political default be over
>> we never should have gone through what we went through. we started here, we ended here.
>> we inflicted pain on the american people that was totally unnecessary and we cannot do this again
>> next, democratic senator chuck schumer of new york and republican of oklahoma offer ideas of how to fix washington . plus secretary jack lew . why he says spending kooucuts are holding back the economy. now the biggest test of the president's health plan is yet to come. the biggest week in washington . were there any winners our round table is here to break it down, andrea mitchell , david brooks , e.j.dionne and maria bartiromo . plus, the iranian nuclear threat. the republican senators are proposing even tougher sanctions to get iran to dismantle its nuclear facilities . in a sunday morning exclusive, i'll ask benjamin netanyahu about his concerns over the irani charm defender. i'm david gregory . all this ahead on meet the press october 20 .
>>> good sunday morning. what a week it was in washington . before we talk to jack lew and senator coburn , i'm here with our panel, david brooks , e.j.dionne, andrea mitchell and maria bartiromo who celebrated her 20th year in washington . congratulations. thank you
>> first takes from everybody. what has changed after this dramatic week
>> i think the republicans may tire of doing faceplants, so i think the modern concessions that exist may have had a little manhood injection. they need to stand up to the tea party and be a little more modern party, or more realistic party.
>> i think the era of the tea party is over. we wasted 12 to 15 billion on political action that was designed to win by intimidation. we have an abnormal government for the first time since the elections.
>> the economy takes a hit. probably about six-tenths of a percent. we go into the fourth quarter weaker than we wanted, and that is an important part of the year, holiday spending. number two, federal reserve tapering probably off the table for 2013 . probably off the table for much of 2014 . we take the brunt of this economic slowdown .
>> i don't think the era is over. john boehner does not have a working majority without 30 or 40 of those hard-liners who are not challenged in their own district. i do think, though, they've learned a lesson that they have to work together. there were some grown-ups involved that are going to talk about a one-year budget deal. but it's not going to be with the president saying everything is on the table. he does not mean benefits are on the table, so there is not going to be a grand bargain.
>> joining me now, democratic senator from new york, chuck schumer , republican senator from oklahoma, tom coburn . senators, welcome both.
>> to andrea's point, the crisis has been deverted, but why should anyone have faith that a deal is somehow reachable at this point
>> i think there are a few reasons. first of all, the republican parties in the house and senate are not a majority tea party . they are mainstream conservatives, very conservative but mainstream. they've seen their numbers drop dramatically because they followed the tea party . and they, i think, may decide not to go forward in this direction. and so i think that the i think we'll see a new type of negotiation where we come together. now, one way, david , to avoid this from happening again is for us to implement the mcconnell rule, which says that congress must disapprove rather than approve increases in the debt ceiling. if we were to do that, the chances of going up to the brink again, the chances of this kind of debacle would decrease. i'm going to introduce legislation to do just that, and it would really help.
>> on that point, senator coburn , why would republicans agree to that if they just came through a negotiating term where they don't feel like they got very much? why would they lose that feeling that, in fact, using the debt ceiling as some leverage is a worthwhile concept? if nothing else, they kept the sequestered cuts in place for now.
>> well, david , first of all, i think the debt ceiling is a misnomer. we've never not increased it, and the first thing you do when you're addicted to something is to present the reality to yourself that you're addicted. and we didn't do anything except create a big mess in washington , and i'm not so inclined to think it was the tea party as much as it was outside interest groups and a few individuals within our party that took advantage of that situation. look, the real problems are we're continuing to spend money we don't have on things that we don't need, there is tremendous amounts of waste and fraud. we have to protect the promises made to the american people , and we can do that, but we can do that spending a whole lot less money than we're doing today.
>> let me ask you about obama care, because that fight does not appear to be going away. your colleague, senator ted cruz , has said that he would do anything in the future to stop the train wreck that is obama care. do you believe the fight against obama care is over
>> well, i think focusing on obama care takes you away from the larger picture, david . we have $128 trillion worth of unfunded liabilities and the total net worth of our country is 94 trillion and we have another $17 trillion worth of debt. what we ought to be doing is how do we secure the future? you know, i heard your panelists talk about the markets and the growth and the decrease in gdp. our problem with growth, in spite of what jack lew is going to tell you, is there is no confidence in the country about the future. and until you have leadership that brings our nation together rather than advantages themselves by dividing this, we're not going to solve these problems. and we have to be truthful about what the real problem is.
>> let me stick to obama care. senator schumer, how disappointed are you with the rollout of obama care robert gibbs , who is the press secretary for president obama saying people should be fired for the rollout and the problems that have gone with it. how disappointed are you, and who should be accountable for it
>> first, i think the number one point about the rollout is that there is huge interest. 19 million individual visits to the website? that's huge. 500,000 people, close to 500,000 people already filing applications, even with the computer glitches? the number one worry before we started was, are people going to be interested will people sign up? and the answer to that is overwhelmingly yes. as more people learn about it, more people are going to do that. i was at a wedding last night and i saw my cousin who has a small plumbing business. he was all worried about obama care. what am i going to do? i have a small number of employees on health care . i said, your costs will be cut in half. he was happy.
>> that's not the reality today. you can talk about what will happen. the reality has been very difficult for people.
>> well, because there are computer glitches. look, every major tech company has computer glitches. you read about apple, you read about all our major tech companies. those will be solved. the administration is working to do it. they're putting in a tech surge, they're putting in more people at the call centers . if you need health care , the fact you couldn't get on the computer right away isn't going to stop you two or three weeks away when they're fixed from going on. i think the computer glitches are used by a good number of people who never wanted obama care in the first place as an excuse to just sort of bash it.
>> let me get back to politics. one of the striking things in our wall street journal poll was
>> the following question: would you vote to replace every member of congress 60 percent said yes. we asked here on meet the press on twitter for ideas on gridlock. campaign finance reform . senator coburn , is term limits maybe the most viable way to end this dysfunction in washington
>> i certainly think it would bring a different viewpoint to washington . my complaint is the vast majority of the members of the senate and the house have no experience outside of politics which doesn't mean they're not great people and not dedicated servants, it means they lack judgment. and that's what i see most of the time. we just raised the debt limit for a period of time, and that's kind of like saying we're going to raise the legal limit for blood alcohol , thinking we're going to control drunk driving . we're drunk up there in terms of spending money. and we can keep commitments, but we can't keep commitments if we continue to spend money on things that we shouldn't be spending money on.
>> senator coburn , quick follow-up. how much of a reckoning for the republican party has been experienced this week because of going up against the debt default limit and the shutdown
>> well, i think the fight on obama care, the affordable care act , took us off message. the large percentage of american public knows that washington wastes money. they just don't have a clue of how bad it really is, and so we lost the message there of what really needs to happen in washington . obama care is going to fail on its own right, and you just talked about the number of people that have signed up. the fact is the sick people are signing up, the healthy aren't. and they're not going to because the deductibles are so high and the cost is so high. the penalty is not enough to force them to do it.
>> thank you both this morning, i appreciate it. on friday i sat down with treasury secretary jack lew in his office right next door to the white house . secretary, welcome.
>> good to be with you.
>> you said this week with the crisis over, the cloud of economic uncertainty has been lifted. how is that possibly the case when in just a couple of months we could be right back to the brink again
>> david , first, it's important to remember that what we just went through was a political crisis, not an economic crisis . i think that having come through it, what we saw on wednesday night, that admittedly at the 11th hour, a strong bipartisan majority in the house and the senate stood for the principle that is so important, that you cannot take a risk with the full faith and credit act.
>> does that mean there was no economic damage done, in your opinion?
>> no. unfortunately, we learned in 2011 that when you get close to the edge , it does do some damage. we have a resilient economy. i'm confident our economy can recover. the american people have worked hard to come back from the worst recession since the great depressi depression. we need to make sure the government doesn't go through another round of brinksmanship. this can't happen again.
>> they'll be looking through the economic data for weeks and months to come, both in government and out of government. we did see our borrowing costs go up in the short term. we know that from the shutdown there was a loss of economic activity . i can't give you a number today of what it is. i know the direction. the direction is it took an economy that is fighting hard to get good economic growth going to create jobs for the american people , and it took it in the wrong direction. our job in washington is to move things in the right direction. this one was a little bit scary because it got so close to the edge . and i think what i heard from them was that they have confidence in our economy, much as the business people i talked to have confidence in our economy. i think what we need to do here in washington is to go from the coming together on wednesday night where we saw a strong bipartisan majority do the right thing and make progress from there, show that we can work together.
>> so one more economic question. a lot of republicans are calling about the fact that whatever drama was here that the sequester cuts have been locked in place, these automatic spending cuts that have kept spending down at a historic level. do you think that has hurt the economy, hurt economic growth , the fact we've had this lower spending level
>> david , i think there is no question but that the deep spending cuts that are part of sequestration are holding back the economy. there are competing ranges, whether it's a half percent or more, up to a percentage of gdp. the president has made clear that we think you should replace some of the sequestration cuts with sensible, balanced entitlement and tax reforms to put us in the right direction for the future.
>> who do you blame for the inability to do what you've done in the past
>> obviously, there was a faction, particularly in the house, that took control of some of the direction of this debate. i would just look to what republican leaders have said themselves about how inadvisable it is and how it can't happen again. i think the message going forward is there was a turning point on wednesday night, and this won't happen again. it can't happen again.
>> the journal has a piece of headline that says, obama wins big whoop can he lead? is that the crisis that the president decries? is that the lasting part of his legacy here? doesn't he have to absorb a big responsibility for that
>> i think the history of crisis management goes back longer than this administration, and i think the divisions in congress are is as deep as they've been in modern times . you know, you look at what we've been able to accomplish notwithstanding all the noise. we're in a very different place now than we were even in 2011 , 2010 . our deficit is cut in half as a percentage of the economy from when the president took office.
>> aren't automatic spending cuts, which the president opposed, a big reason for that
>> it's part of that, but there is a tendency in washington to look at one piece of what's happened, and we have to look at the entirety of it. if you go back and you look, part of the spending cuts we agreed on them, because any budget agreement was going to reduce spending in domestic and defense programs. part of the deficit reduction was from the tax bill that passed at the beginning of this year that raised the top tax rates and repealed the bush tax cuts . the last part of the savings is coming from these automatic across-the-board cuts. now, i do believe that those should be replaced with more sensible policies. but the vast majority of the deficit reduction will still be in place. so i think we've done a lot. we've got to shift the focus from just fiscal policy . fiscal policy is very important, but there is a lot that we need to do to build and grow this economy. we need infrastructure, the farm bill needs to pass. the immigration bill is hublggely important to the economy. i'm hoping we can find a pla>> where we can work together.
>> obama care is not going away. it is law. republicans say they will not stop fighting. and the rollout, the exchanges, getting people enrolled has been very, very difficult. from the usa today , their coverage is this. the federal health care exchange was built using ten-year-old technology and the next six months will be an overhaul of the entire system. democrats supported the allies of this president and say this has been a disastrous start to obama care.
>> david , first let me say that the huge outpouring of interest shows how important it is that we get this right. there are millions of americans who want health insurance . it's important for our economy for them to have health insurance . i think that there is no one more frustrated than the president at the difficulty in the website. i can tell you most people around me have been working full-time on solving the more immediate challenges with getting the government open and dealing with making sure that we didn't default. there are people working 24 hours a day around the clock. hhs has said it will be putting out information on a monthly basis. hhs has got plans to fix this, and they have to fix this. it has to be done right.
>> can obama care survive in its current form if the systems are not improved for delivery of the care?
>> david , the test is going to be in january how many people are enrolled and what's the quality of service that they're getting. i think if we get that right, everyone will regret that the early weeks were a little choppy on the website. but the test is, are people getting coverage and are they getting the care that they need, and we're confident we're going to be on track to do that.
>> final area, in addition to trying to keep the government open and deal with the debt issue, you're also dealing with the sanctions against iran , and this is a big issue as you think about negotiations with iran . what's the bottom line position of this administration? what does iran have to do to remove sanctions which are hurting tremendously
>> i think it's premature to talk about the evening. i think we have to go back and look at why the sanctions were put there in the first place. they were put in place for the government of iran to think about their choices, to bring them to the table to change their economic program. i think the sanctions are working and that's why they've started. i think we need to roll back the nuclear program , and i think when those movements come, any changes will have to be proportionate. but it's premature to talk about any changes right now.
>> that's interesting. if they were to enrich less uranium, they could have an easing of the sanctions, which, you know, to israeli leaders and others, they say that's a mistake. unless you completely dismantle the sanctions, don't take your foot off the pedal that's inflicting this economic pain.
>> i haven't said what needs to happen for there to be a reduction in sanctions. what i'm saying is we need to see that they're taking the steps to move away from having nuclear weapons capacity. we need to see real tangible evidence of it and that we will not make moves on the sanctions until we see those kinds of moves.
>> mr. secretary, thanks as always.thank you for being here.