Meet the Press   |  November 03, 2013

Damage to Obama's legacy: How bad is it?

A Meet the Press roundtable discusses the impact that problems with the Affordable Care Act website will have on the president's legacy.

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

>> how much damage, bill kristol , is being done to the obama presidency right now?

>> a lot. a lot. they had two and a half years to implement it, they spent $6 billion on the website alone, tens of millions of dollars advertising trying to convince people it was the answer. obama care is failing and will fail and i'm very much looking forward to being on the show in january of 2017 when finally all of obama care is repealed. parts of it can be delayed and even parts of it can be repealed. think a month ago. how crazy is it for ted cruz to say we should delay the mandate? how crazy is it to say premiums might go up? and now they're saying, gee, we have a big problem.

>> spoken by a man who has good health insurance .

>> it's a little early to say obama care is totally sunk. we don't know how many people are going to sign up. we need 7 million healthy young americans to sign up to this program, and we will probably know fairly late in the six-month process because young people are not the people who sign up in the very beginning. they're young, after all. they think they're invincible, they'll take their time and shop around. this website is a disaster, but to say obama care the policy has failed, we can't say that. if enough young people don't sign up to make this financially viable, then you have a serious problem. but we can't make that call right now.

>> can't we say that, in fact, it's not true? if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor, if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan, the premiums won't go up. these are things that already are not the case.

>> no, no, we can say in a small cohort who got bad substandard health care policies after the law went into effect that they will have to transition to other policies. i know something about this. when i was 26 years old, i got a health care policy. i thought it was adequate. i was healthy and as long as it was healthy, i was good. then i had a child who was born with a chronic illness. it cost us $1,000 for prescription coverage, which we didn't have prescriptions for her to keep her alive. none of the treatments that was outside the policy was paid for. i would make it as $35,000 as a newspaper reporter. i almost went broke. there are a lot of americans who think they can get by with substandard, and i wish somebody had set standards then, david.

>> but this is about political practice and leadership. if you believe all those things and, therefore, you want to get the very best health care , you were in the white house . you were advising the president on the kinds of things he should say. why did not you or somebody else say to him, mr. president, don't say no matter what you're going to keep your health care plan. was that bad practice?

>> hindsight is 20/20.

>> but that's why you're there.

>> the vast majority of americans , that statement will hold true for this small group of americans , it has. but the calamitous thing here is that the people who had to transition will get better insurance for less money. they can't tell that right now because they can't get on the website.

>> this can be rectified. i remember early in the obama presidency, and there was some dispute about the cabinet nomination and the president came out and said, i screwed up. why not just be straightforward? he said, this is absolutely everyone's going to keep their insurance. why not correct it?

>> he could say we didn't anticipate this one glitch, we adopted those policies, but many of those people will get better care for less money when this website is up and running and they can select it.

>> why wasn't there a better education effort to get out in front of this and go to americans whose policies were going to change and explain why. there is a fairly good case to be made about minimum standards, the kinds of things that can hit you if you have a substandard policy. never was that education process carried through from the white house , and i think that was a failing.

>> the obama allies and fans i have talked to, their opinion is twofold. one, if you believe government is the only one able to solve these big problems that you undermine it for years, if not more, with this troubled rollout. and the obama people who championed him to win reelection, look at the cover of "new yorker." it looks so retro when it comes to technology.

>> david, i tell you again, i think bob said the key thing. we're in the early innings of the game. to declare this, to define this whole program by the web start -- by the website debacle at the beginning and the rollout, i think, would be a huge mistake. they will fix the website, i'm confident of that. if they don't, as deval patrick said, that's another story. but when they do, people are going to find there are good deals to be had that they never had before.