Thomas Roberts   |  October 31, 2013

'The shame should be on private insurers'

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius faced scrutiny Thursday over Obamacare, and the GOP continues to seize on reports of millions who will lose their insurance under Obamacare. But should the GOP think twice before they continue with that rhetoric? Sen. Bob Casey, Keli Goff, James Peterson and Igor Volsky discuss.

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

>>> hi, everybody. good morning. i'm thomas roberts and topping our agenda this halloween. the gop's witch hunt against obama care. president obama 's presidential legacy, and more tricks than treats. the president made on the stand? boston acknowledging that there are problems, problems that are being fixed and he invoked the ghost of governor mitt romney to do so.

>> it's no surprise that some of the same folks trying to scare people now are the same folks who have been trying to sink the affordable care act from the beginning. what can happen here in massachusetts can happen all across the country and for them and for you we are going see this through.

>> the president's road trip coming just hours after the health and human services secretary kathleen sebelius apologized facing a house panel of republicans who were out for blood over aca.

>> who is ultimately responsible? it is the president, correct?

>> for the rwebsite?

>> the president is ultimately responsible for the rollout.

>> who do you answer to?

>> i answer to the president.

>> mea culpa kathleen sebelius , political reporting may continue to ride the wave of health care cancellation notices.

>> it's embarrassing, i think, for them to have to come up to explain this and defend what was a major disaster , but i think as the president said, this isn't just a website. it's much more, and i think the things that are going to be harder for them to defend are the canceled policies and the insurance premium increases and all of the thingses hitting middle-class americans now.

>> a new nbc/ wall street journal poll showing the issues have put a curse on the left, right, center and the majority of the americans saying the health care law is a bad idea and we need to fix it or nix it. the president's approval rating has hit an all-time low. 62% not approving. and they want to send lawmakers packing.

>> it's always to the republican in congress' benefit when they don't have anything legislatively to do, and at the moment, all they have to do is beat up on the president and that's working, i think, all politicians should use this moment as a time to talk about what the country needs and what your party is for and more importantly, how you make the country a better place .

>> joining me now is democratic senator bob casey of california. we saw eric cantor suggesting that president obama knows the enrollment numbers that exist to date and obama alluded to it yesterday when he said that more people were buying new plans online than a couple of weeks ago. the president has enrollment data that the president continues to hide. two republicans are set to endorse a bill to force the secretary to release weekly reports about what's happening on the website. so do you think, do you feel the administration knows a whole lot more than it's letting on?

>> we'll see when the administration reports those numbers. that's an interesting development. you've got washington, d.c. republicans who are trying to introduce health care legislation upon. that's big news because they haven't done it for -- for almost a generation. the problem we have right now with this town is that you've got some folks here trying to fix the legislation and trying to make sure that this bill gets implemented and that's the administration 's responsibility, but you've got a whole other group of people here who do nothing, but root for failure all day long and now at least they're paying attention to the issue, but where have they been when we've been trying to fix the health care system for a generation. i think they have to do more than root for failure.

>> you saw the political article that we mentioned earlier about the wave of cancellation notices, how republicans are now utilizing that information and we had senator ron johnson of wisconsin saying he'll introduce his own legislation to allow people to keep their plans. here he was briefly. let's take a listen.

>> we'll put in a true grandfather plan that if you have a health care plan today, you can keep that plan. i hope my colleagues will join us in at least passing this measure.

>> so if you have a health care plan that you like today, again, is there an intellectual dishonesty that's happening here from republicans who are not willing to admit that the shame should really be on private insurance companies who have been selling junk policies to these millions of americans that don't meet the aca's federal standard of health care that people have in the country. there are millions of americans that have been one disaster that they can't comprehend going into bankruptcy because of the fact that they've had a junk policy that has given them a falsity of safety some.

>> i think that's a great point and we have to make that point in a more determined fashion. people of both parties should, but the basic agreement, i think, that people have with the administration is that they know we've got a system that's broken, that the number one driver of the debt is healthcare. so we've got to be able to fix this system. part of that is the implementation which as i said, the administration must not only implement the law. they have to communicate better than they have, but the point about the coverage, the quality of the coverage, if someone has a bad policy where even hospitalization is not covered. not only is that person worse off, but our economy is, because they're going to get the health insurance in the emergency room , that drives up costs for all of us and it's bad for the individuals, as well. i'm hoping maybe, just maybe the republicans are finally interested in quality health carrot lower cost, but up until a couple of days ago they weren't talking about health care almost for a generation.

>> bob casey of pennsylvania. thanks for making time for me this morning. i appreciate it.

>> we say good morning to special correspondent kelly goff and the managing editor. james, let me start with you. how do you think that kathleen sebelius did on the hill yesterday, if you were rating her presentation and the way that she answered? did she put up a good fight?

>> i think so. i think i would give her an emmy, an 8 or 9 on the scale of 10. what the administration needed for her to do was two things. one, kind of toe the administration 's line which is confronting the challenges, saying the mea culpas, acknowledging the problems with the website, but trying to stay focused on the affordable care act itself and even in the acknowledgement of all those problems. i think she was pretty clear. i think she defended herself well, but most importantly, she accepted responsibility and proved she was accountable for these challenges and whether or not she is a technical expert, the buck stops with her.

>> if it seemed like a three-point strategy of coming out and admitting mistakes and explain the failures and trying to raise the confidence of the american people to seek a second chance and make a better first impression on a 2.0 and the nbc wall street journal poll shows 47% of people think obama care is a bad idea. while 47% think it is a bad idea. suggesting that many democrats maybe seeing the republican side of things when it it comes to the aca. take a listen. you will see more democrats coming to the view that we ought to delay this. maybe there will be movements in crackses who are starting to see that who are recognizing that this is hard to defend with the constituents who are seeing the canceled policies and the insurance rate increases.

>> is it not so much about defending it to their constituents, but explaining that you had a subpar junk policy that does not meet a mandated requirement of quality care in our country? basically, you were being boon doggeled to pay for something worthless?

>> the insurer shifted all of the costs and risks of coverage on to you and you have to pay more and that in the new policy and more comprehensive policy, while your up-front premium may be more, your overall health care costs could lower. at the end of the day if you have a condition or a disease you are going to be paying less for coverage.

>> the shame should be on the private hurers that have had a lack of good regulation for years and how they're trying to charge everybody is ridiculous. more regulation is coming over that, but kelly , what are republicans thinking? what are the next moves once the site does get up and running and then people start to find out they like the benefits of this. they're secure with the benefits of having health care .

>> if you don't have health care , having health care is better, right, thomas ?

>> yeah.

>> i think they're getting exactly what they want which is a death by a thousand cuts . the president's approval rating is at an all-time low. it hurt the plan far more than it damaged the president's democrats and the news coverage of what's been completely wrong with obama care. the irony is if they cooperated and tried to help, who knows how much better off things will be going for obama care, right? they did everything they could to obstruct it and then they say see? it's not working. they're getting what they want. he was going on with a huge advantage into midterms. the numbers for the gop could not have been worse going into midterms with the shutdown and now they're getting what they want and now it's hurting the president and the democratic band.

>> let's talk about ted cruz , and because it's halloween, we have special music. everyone is trying to get what i'm doing here. politico says he's telling his colleagues that he won't intervene for the senate conservatives fund. is this a way for cruz trying to make nice with the colleagues he angered?

>> it's one thing for him to say that, thomas , but i -- i have to see that in practice. is he really not going to support the tea party and the candidate that's challenging mitch mcconnell . he's not going to support some of the high-profile tea party candidates that are drawing the early funders that are centered to his own presidential fund. we need to see him disavow and disconnect himself from his father's statements about the president. while he's trying to reach out to the moderate republicans and he's got to take his own shop. the rachel maddow interview and he had this to say about. cruz's future. take a look.

>> if i didn't care so much about our country i would hope he would get the republican nomination for president because that would be the end of the republican party .

>> in what sense?

>> he stands for everything america doesn't.

>> it would be the end of the republican party . are those strong words? might ted cruz be the democrats' secret weapon in 2016 ?

>> he managed to single-handedly drag down the republican approval rateing to the lowest number in history, to the lowest number in the history of polling and it's hard for me to imagine as he looks to 2016 and ambition that he'll have a lot of support from the people who fund republican elections from big business and traditional republican establishment and yes, he has a small vocal and loud support in the grassroots, but if he's really serious, i think, he needs to work as a senator. he needs more of those olive branches he's now extending and we'll see where he gets and if he runs in 2016 , it will really hurt republicans and the tea party plan and we heard from people like bachmann, how does he do it? ? how does he broaden the tent in fellow republican basis?

>> we don't know if he wants to do that, thomas . we don't know if he wants to become the next reagan or the next sarah palin . sarah palin became a queen maker by going out of establishment politics. he wants to play kingmaker for the rest of his life and he's well on his way for doing that and he's not going to do that by extending olive branches so it remains to be seen.

>> kelly goff, james peterson and igor of big progress.org. thank you very much. have a good holiday. i don't know if you've seen igor's holiday pictures. that's a good plug for his twitter handle. join our agenda setters and just log on to msn msnbc.com/thomasroberts.

>>> what scares you the the most about our current political climate? weigh in on twitter and facebook.

>>> 47 million americans who rely on food stamps will see painful cuts starting tomorrow and it may only be the beginning. more cuts could be on the way. coming up i'll talk to congresswoman barbara lee who is an impassioned defender of the food stamp program who is someone that relied on them to pull themselves up and out of it.

>>> actor and politician fred thompson will join me to talk about his broadway debut in a play "a time to kill ." i've gotten to see it. it's fantastic. we'll be right back. as a business