Meet the Press   |  November 17, 2013

Roundtable on Obamacare: What lies ahead

A Meet the Press panel examines the effects the Obamacare debacle has had on Barack Obama's legacy and what lies ahead for correcting the problems.

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

>>> here this morning, tom brokaw , koathleen parker, chris matthews and mike murphy . back to "meet the press."

>> we're here with our roundtable. a big deal to see the president come into the white house briefing room and to lay it all out about the mistakes that were made. here's a compilation of it.

>> clearly we, and i, did not have enough awareness about the problems in the website. ultimately i'm the president of the united states and they expect me to do something about it. that's on me. we fumbled the rollout on this health care plan. we should have done a better job getting that right on day one.

>> tom brokaw , is this the low point of the presidency?

>> well, there have been several low points, but this is certainly a low point at a critical time coming into the 2014 elections, and a lot of democrats beginning to bail on the idea of obama care. what is striking to me about that statement, we should have been aware. i would think, given the importance of obama care or the affordable care act , eight months ago the president would have started every meeting with, how we doing? is that going to be ready? that's going to be our big play for the second term and demanding from kathy sebelius and other people involved in it that they were ready and sending people over there to take a look at the rollout. that it suddenly landed the way that it did in utter chaos and it's not going to be an easy fix is just inexplicable.

>> you were making a point to me this week about where is bobby kennedy ? who has the muscle? he did say the user of this site is everything. who has the muscle to get it done and get done what he wants?

>> you always go where you've been arguing before. i've always been arguing this president doesn't have a chain of command , a clear line of authority and unique responsibility. i remember sebelius, most like her, she's a public servant, but when asked who was in charge of that committee under oath she started talking about somebody in cns, that this person had rollout responsibilities. look at japan. the occupation of japan was simple, but one man in charge, macarthur. the president doesn't want to have a real chief of staff like jim baker . he doesn't want to give authority to people, and i think it's a real problem.

>> you can have a crisis of responsibility where people don't think you're telling the truth, ask you can have a crisis where people don't think you can do anything. this is going to make it worse for the democrats.

>> did you buy nancy pelosi 's argument that she's going to defend it?

>> as a republican, i had a good morning because it's fun to watch nancy retreat faster than a french general. it was something. so i think they've got a problem. what interests me is what's going to happen next because politics are dynamic. what is the president going to do? huge opportunity here, but if we sit around and high-five each other about being right about this, that's a mistake. it's time for us to come up with our own policies so we can move forward, which we need to do all the way through 2016 .

>> i thought it was interesting that nancy poe elosi said there was nothing in the law that people can keep their policies. the president said it over and over and over again. what the republicans are going to do, i spoke to john boehner just yesterday, and they are planning to continue to apply severe oversight and target -- be very aggressive at targeting legislative moves to fill in gaps and help americans deal with some of the flaws. but this is, i think, just a colossal mess beyond -- the president made the first promise that we're all familiar with, and then he said you can get it back, which i don't think was true.

>> all comparisons are imperfect. and it is right in terms of a screw-up. but i think it would be accurate to say if george w. bush had rushed into new orleans with a lot of action and a lot of effort and had failed initially, that would be more like it. the problem with katrina was apparent indifference. one thing you can't hold against the president is indifference about health care . he rushed in, pushed through a program with pure democratic support and took all the risks involved in it. it's a different kind of screw-up.

>> it's also got two really important parts. we're talking about the politics of it now. what has not changed are the enormous economic consequences of leaving health care where it is. 17.5% of our economy now goes to health care and it's only going this one direction. the fact is a lot of leading businessmen who are republicans say the republican party is not doing its part because they are standing around and applauding and they're not coming forth with a workable plan that will drive down those costs. not just for individuals who are trying to buy insurance but for companies that have to provide it as well. this is an enormous part of the american political and economic scene as well, and we'll see whether the republican party now does come forth.

>> that's totally right, but we have the opportunity now. part one had to be the show, and we're right about this thing. six months ago when republicans were talking about delaying it a year, there was ridicule. now it's looking pretty smart . but part two is, it's a jump ball. we need this for middle class economic policies , but it's open. if we freshen up our policy and we go to the working class about we're the party on your side going forward, we can fix a lot of democratic problems, which are tremendous.

>> this is mitt romney 's case the last go-round. he said, look, keeping your kitkids on your insurance until they're 26, that's a good thing. this may collapse, but it doesn't get rid of the idea of how to override the leading goal of most americans.

>> the website will get fixed but the next thing is going to be how to actually operate this thing for rising costs. when they recalculate these things for risk pools, a year from now right at mid-term elections when people are looking for a huge government subsidy to pump this up --

>> you are so right, and the big political question will be whether when obama goes to the republican house and says i need more financing here, because young people are not joining this system. they're going to say not.

>> here's the other political question . look at the president standing at the poll in personal attributes. is he honest and trustworthy? look at the change. he was in october. now 44 to 52. that has completely changed. people say this is about katrina. i think it's more like a rock. the comparison is everybody looked at bush through the prism of a rock. here i think people are going to look at obama through the implementation of obama care when he wants to talk about something else.

>> the war is such a huge deal and so separate from everything else, but i do think people lost faith -- it was the straw, finally that broke the back in terms of whether people felt the administration was competent. and that is the comparison that has somme merit, which is now people look at obama and say, my gosh, can he be trusted but do these people even know what they're doing?

>> it also comes at the end of not a very good run for obama , because what happened is he kept moving the red line in syria and then the russians bailed him out. he was getting cover from all kinds of places that didn't emanate from 1600 pennsylvania avenue . suddenly obama care blew up. he hasn't had in the last year one big triumph that you can say, wow, he's on his second term, and as you know, in the white house staffing there is still a lot of confusion and infighting going on.

>> right now at hillary clinton headquarters they're having a meeting saying, we're not going to have to knock off the obama bumper sticker with a circle and moon rise that every democratic candidate has for two years. now the question is where do the democrats go? you're going to see i think the progressive left in the democratic party go back to their argument which is, why don't we do single payer ?

>> is there not a progressive fight, and i've talked to democrats who say, hey, we finally get to talk about the budget again, and that's where republicans seem to direct this predilection of hurting themselves. they're sort of counting on that coming up in a couple months.

>> i understand why people turn to politics because there are no good guys anymore. it used to be someone won and someone lost. in the shutdown, that was the republicans ' tie democrats' time to applaud, now the republicans are laughing at the government's foibles. nobody is a good guy.

>> just think how different things would be right now if president obama had said, okay, we're going to delay one year. his quote, not enough awareness, there should have been, obviously, but they could have delayed it a year and preempted the republicans and said, look, we're not quite ready. we've looked into this, we've got some glitches in the computer system . we're not going to roll this out until we're 100% sure we can rule the people.

>> it's not like when the republicans said that they were really there to help.

>> wouldn't that have been a better alternative to what's going on right now?

>> it's always a sneaky trick to politics when your opponent is having a bad time, steal it and get credit. but this is how they got in trouble on this, i think. they won a campaign, so any problem they have they reach into the tool box , all the things that look great when you want to ruin mitt romney 's reputation. but it's hurt them on this thing. now the campaign is over, and they need to move forward in a way, but they've been defensive.

>> you don't think it's in comparison to iraq. obviously everything is different. but the idea there was a line going on, the hard left will say dick cheney and everyone else lied us into that war when, of course, it's grayer than that. did obama systemically say i'm going to promise everybody who has health insurance they can keep it, although i know it's not true. he will argue i thought the market forces would work and it would offset that problem and i wouldn't have to deal with it. this character issue is the really penetrating attack. if you can hit obama on character, you can take that 40% which is already eroding down to about 20. and that's what they're up against, the hard people like cheney who is up in numbers right now.

>> they did know these policies were going to be canceled. and it would have been so much simpler from the very beginning, and i felt obama 's advisers, the president's advisers, they've given him horrible advice. but why not say from the very get-go, look, i can't guarantee you're going to keep the same policies, but under the affordable care act , you're going to get better policies.

>> a lot of doctors are being pulled out of the system by the big carriers. that's below the radar at the moment because everybody is concentrating on this. we're in for a very tough year. and frankly, the health care of any country, and especially this country as part of our national security , if you have half the population or more terrified they're going to get a terminal disease or something that will keep them from working and they have no place to go to get coverage for that, it's more than just a political issue.

>> i asked somebody who is in the health care business and i asked him, what is your big question? and he said, when does this all get settled? the less certainty there is about this, it's going to affect who is spending where, what they're doing around health care , people just want the final answer. i think that ultimately gets to the bigger question about economic recovery as well.

>>> we're going to take a break here and come back, talk to our roundtable a little more about how things are shaping up for 2016 . a possible nightmare scenario for hillary clinton has to do with elizabeth warren . but first a date that will forever be remembered in american history , november 22 , 1963 . chris matthews and tom brokaw will be back with us to talk about the legacy of jfk on the 50th anniversary of his a sas assassinati assassination. we'll hear big voices from tom brokaw 's new documentary about jfk.