Meet the Press   |  March 30, 2014

Democrats Turn Focus to Economy

A Meet the Press roundtable discusses the issues currently dominating the national political landscape.

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

>> take a look at this. we wanted to put together a montage of what has been an incredible white house health care sales pitch. take a look.

>> moms out there, e-mail your kids if they don't have health insurance and tell them to check it out.

>> be a winner and get covered today.

>> the truth is that they can get coverage all for what it costs you to pay your cell phone bill.

>> we nag you because we love you. so go to and enroll today.

>> nobody actually wants to spend money on health insurance until they get sick.

>> you never know when you might take a hit. spread the word and get covered today.

>> find out how you can get lower monthly payments as part of the health care law .

>> the website itself actually at this point is working quite well. and people have until the end of march 31st to sign up.

>> looking here. do we have two ferns? i'm joined by our roundtable, "new york times" peter baker is back, amy walter, hello there, national editor for cook political report , top place for all of us to go looking for analysis of campaigns and elections, rick santorum 2012 presidential candidate. i'm pleased to welcome a new face to the show. svante myrick, mayor of ith cag, new york . they like snow up there. to give folks a taste of who you are, you were profiled by my colleague kate snow a few years ago. here's a little clip.

>> at just 24 years old, myrick is the youngest mayor ever elected in the city of ithaca, new york . a democrat in a liberal college town . this is his first day on the job.

>> this is weird. this is my office now.

>> there you go. that was two years ago. you're now halfway through your term. before i get into health care , biggest problem you're facing right now as mayor?

>> right now? potholes.

>> there you go. spoken like a true mayor.

>> you know what, i got a problem with potholes coming here to d.c.

>> that's the thing. it's a national epidemic. and the problem is broader than that. there's a reason why we can't cannot afford to fix those potholes and that's something that every mayor across the country is struggling with.

>> i love it, the first thing you bring up is potholes.

>> amy, i want to pick up quickly on the health care discussion. that was sort of the policy debates. we're not going to know for i think both of them are conceding, for a year whether this was a success or failure. there's an election before we find out.

>> that's right.

>> it is the defining issue. is there any way democrats can stop it from being the defining issue?

>> they can hope the economy improves greatly. that's about the only thing that will take the focus off of that. democrats intending a whole lot of time trying to change the terms of the debate talking about the koch brothers and their policies, talking about minimum wage trying to get back onto the territory that the 2012 campaign was fought on which is economic inequality. i don't know if that's going to be so easy to do. these are regional elections in regions that are very tough for democrats.

>> they are. senator santorum , i remember your case against mitt the mitt romney . you believed health care was the way to defeat president obama . you said you can't nominate mitt romney because he can't do it. do you feel vindicated it.

>> it was the issue in 2010 . this election is going to be all around the issue of health care . they're two great elections for republicans.

>> missed opportunity getting back politically?

>> that's the area that was my strength. i was the first person that introduced health savings accounts and the congress worked on medicare and medicaid reform when i was there. that's an area when i ran my '94 election was on health care . i felt like we had the opportunity to focus on that, and you look at what obamacare has really doing. it is going to drive up, it's driving up costs right now. you're talking about 15 million people. a lot of those folks already had insurance and a lot of them are changing from one insurance policy to another, a more expensive one. you look at 6 million people. i talking to insurance companies . you're looking at 20 to 50% of those who haven't made a premium payment yet, many are uninsured and probably won't make a premium payment. these numbers won't be as encouraging as the administration pointed out.

>> peter, speaking of the administration, not a single person in the administration is out today prominent day on sunday to talk about health care .

>> yeah.

>> what does that tell you?

>> because they wanted to kind of pivot away from having spent the time 0 overseas. the president talking about ukraine, the health care thing. this week he'll be talking about the minimum wage going to and ann arbor , chicago to reposition his message again. i'm not sure they know where it's going to go and they're worried about getting, too. far in front.

>> mr. mayor, you've been very vocal about how you were helped by a lot of government programs. your mop was helped by a lot of government programs. in ithaca, are people talking about health care and signing up or is there, too. much confusion?

>> they're signing up. particularly young people which is good for us. one of the things we have is a huge pool of talent at cornell university , young people with great ideas who want to start their own companies and create their own jobs but not able to do it because they need health insurance . they take jobs in fields they don't want to work and we lose out on a lot of innovation because they're not able to take those chances. so people are talking about it but excite today get covered. honestly, frankly and this is what i think will play out in the future elections is that people are talking more about potholes and people are talking more about.

>> democrats i think hope they're talking about other issues other than health care . i'm going to go to the board here in a minute and do senate 2014 . senator santorum , as a catholic, i'm curious what you made of the president's meeting with the pope and in particular, there seems to be a disconnect. it seems that people want to read what they want to read into what the pope says versus what u.s. bishops say. are you concerned that the pope is coming across as too lenient on some social issues that matter to you as a catholicing

>> i don't think so at all. he's actually given speeches very much staying with the line. what he's doing is the right thing. he's looking at a world, he's looking at his faithful that are really struggling right now, struggling with their faith. and he wants to focus on the central thing which is the good news. he's not out there saying you can't do this and that and we're against this and against that. it's a hopeful positive good news god loves you.

>> are you as excited about him as many catholics in america are?

>> i am. he's a humble man. he talks -- he's here to be a shepherd. he isn't here to be a scold. i think that's a good thing for the church and for the world,