Meet the Press   |  December 22, 2013

3: Roundtable on health care, 'Duck Dynasty' controversy

A Meet the Press roundtable talks about the Affordable Care Act and the controversy surrounding the suspension of Phil Robertson from the show 'Duck Dynasty' over comments he made about gay marriage.

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

>>> we are back with our political roundtable here. i want to get back to the big political story, robert gibbs , which is the bosched health care care rollout. bosched health-care rollout was number one with government shutdown number two. here is the president on friday. listen.

>> since i'm in charge, obviously we screwed it up. i'm going to be making appropriate adjustments once we get through this year, and we've gotten through the initial surge of people who have been signing up.

>> what makes you think 2014 looks better on health care ?

>> well, i think they have no choice but it get it right. i've said this all along, that the most important thing in the second term was implementing health care reform the right way. 2013 was a forgettable year in that sense. they've got to do all they can to make the implementation of and the sign-up period as it goes and extends until the end of march, they've got to make that work.

>> listen, there are two issues here. there's first the competency issue. that's by far the most important issue. the least important issue is the mandate issue. basically when you have a government program, you build the system and you say to people, you have to work within the system and sometimes we have to limit your choice. we're going to mandate things. the american people don't like mandates any more. we're a much more individualistic culture. and when they've faced mandate or surrender on this bill, they've surrendered each time. if we can mandate all along so you have to expect they'll weaken and surrender on the mandate down the line.

>> i think there is something crazy when people say where government can't deliver health care . ever heard of medicare? ever heard of medicaid? and there's a man at a time to pay taxes for those things. this thing is complicated because president obama chose to go for a model that is a market-oriented model that republicans favor of helping people buy private health insurance . that proves to be very complicated. but what you're seeing already is there is an enormous appetite among all the americans who don't have health insurance to buy it, and that's what's going to save obamacare. this is filling a real need in the society. and you have to say, they sure lowered expectations for obamacare.

>> society is not the same as it was in the 1930s and the 1960s . there is less faith in government, it's much more consumer based. so if you can't force people in the system and people rebel against enforcement, then you have a problem.

>> edward burke believed in less confidence for them to deliver, and they keep backing off of things they say have to be in there.

>> i don't know how you can be optimistic about it working better next year when all we see are delays. i've lost track of the delays they've granted. i think one of the bigger problems, and longstanding problems, it has eroded the trust people have in this president. trust is a lot easier to establish than it is to recover once you've lost it. and that's something they'll have to work on.

>> every rich democracy in the world uses government to deliver health care . you had christine lagarde on. france spends less per capita in government spending to cover everybody than we spend for just medicare and medicaid . so this thing can work. it needs fixes, and i think the next move by the president is to tell republicans, you want to fix this or do you just want to get rid of it?

>> and know this. if all of these predictions are true and we're at sort of the low point of obamacare, we still don't have a majority of polling the belief we ought to repeal it. they believe we ought to repair it, because as e.j. said, there is tremendous demand for particularly the uninsured or those with preexisting conditions that have always been told no by insurance companies . there is tremendous demand for it. i believe david is right, but one quibble of them is i believe the technical aspect of the website is crucially important because quite frankly it is the intake valve for everything in health care right now. getting that and continuing to get that right is a huge, huge thing.

>> you agree that fixing the website is easier than fixing the policy? the policy is the crux of the matter and you've got problems that are going to continue to happen as the corporate mandate goes in. we're going to start seeing people losing their insurance, and there's going to be a lot of angry people.

>> isn't the crux of the matter that people don't like government telling them this is what is best for you, as a business this is how you have to operate. so in our quest to do good -- again, this is the argument -- it's too coercive.

>> corporations tell you you're too old for that program or whatever; sorry.

>> we have a much more individualistic country. we don't like the government telling us what to do.

>> but a lot of people don't want them to repeal obamacare. a lot of people saying repeal obamacare say it's just fine to have big government for people over 65. i agree you need to prove that government can do this competently. but we've done that on social security , we've done that on medicare, we need to do that on this.

>> in spanish there is a famous saying, the cure is worse than the illness. and i'm not sure, i'm afraid that obamacare is very much that.

>> the biggest issue --

>> you don't want to debate spanish with me? how do they say it in alabama?

>> what they're saying is exactly what e.j. said. you can't go to the doctor, you can't have that surgery, you can't get that covered. the biggest issue for hispanic voters in 2011 wasn't immigration, it was health care .

>> and the administration couldn't even get the spanish website going until two months after it launched.

>> that's something they desperately have to fix.

>> i want to talk about popular culture having a clash with politics, and by this i mean "duck dynasty." phil robertson and gq magazine got that started. what in your mind is sinful? he says, start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and men. he talks about african-americans having a particular problem where he grew up in the south. and david, you have politicians, conservative ted cruz and others saying the reason he was suspended was political speech run amok, a violation of free speech . what is the debate here?

>> i know people who take a more biblical view of homosexuality than i do, but i've never seen christia christians say what he did was bad. it was a disrespectful way to say a lot of things.

>> liberals have been thrown off tv networks for saying bad things, too. i was very touched by one thing he said. he said the world would be different if we all loved each other and loved god. i would love phil robertson , perhaps it would pay another tribute to pope francis, listen to those words when you think about people who are gay or lesbian. we could have a real change in the world. the other thing is i don't know why republicans who are already suffering massive loss of youth voters knowing that they already have most of that audience already. why they're rushing to this defense, i think it's a political error, but i want phil robertson to listen to his own words.

>> ana, you just think it's ridiculous that politicians would want to weigh in on this to begin with.

>> i think it's ridiculous that phil robertson wants to weigh in. i'm a fan of the show. i happen to love "duck dynasty," watch it constantly. i don't understand how you go and give this interview and you say these things. yes, there is free speech . but all of us who are on tv know there are also contractual obligations to networks that you're not supposed to say things that embarrass them.

>> there is a sense of morality that companies have that you work for in the media and advertisers that are offended. you could argue they're offended by some things and not others.

>> and the argument is reality and homosexuality are not equivalent.

>> as ana said and as others have said, look, any of us are free on this program to say whatever we want. our employers, whether they are nbc or the "new york times" or a newspaper, might not like how that sounds. they might take action. because they believe both in free speech but they also pay us and others to speak. so it's a confounding thing and you hope and you wish in the holiday season that there was a whole lot more tolerance in the world.

>> we'll come back to this with some of our remaining time. we're going to take a break here, come back and get into other debate over our rights, our personal privacy , whether it's in jeopardy because of government spying. and should president obama weigh in on u.s. intelligence gathering? that's the debate.