'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday show, November 14th, 2013

November 14, 2013
Guest: Nia-Malika Henderson

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Today, the president tried to stop
the panic among some congressional Democrats over the Affordable Care Act.


people are frustrated and we should have done a better job.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president is going to announce some kind of

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some sort of fix.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: An administrative fix to the Affordable Care

OBAMA: I understand why folks are frustrated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you like your plan, you really can keep the
plan -- at least for a while.

OBAMA: Today, we`re going to extend that principle.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trying to keep his original promise.

OBAMA: Insurers can extend current plans into 2014.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Obama saying the American people
deserve better.

OBAMA: That`s on me. We should have done a better job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama gets an earful from fellow

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We believe this needs to be fixed.

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: I think we can get it fixed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are worried now about the mid-term

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: What we have to do for the
fix is thread the needle.

health care law, there is no way to fix this.

do is what the Republicans want to do.

BOEHNER: We offered an alternative.


PELOSI: The Upton bill is a very dangerous bill.

CLYBURN: It is not a good bill.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: John Boehner has called the Upton bill a
targeted strike.

SCHULTZ: What is unacceptable is what the Republicans want to do.

OBAMA: I keep on asking, what is it that you want to do?

BOEHNER: Scrap this law once and for all.

OBAMA: We can`t go back to the status quo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Web site will get fixed. This will get

OBAMA: The Affordable Care Act is going to work.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The health care law has survived a lot.

PERINO: The bill is passed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, wait a minute. Wait a minute.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It can be upheld.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I am your father.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The health care law has survived a lot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The mood among Democrats has gone from nervous to

PELOSI: Is that it? Is it over? Is that your understanding?

OBAMA: Absolutely not. We`ve got to move forward on this.


O`DONNELL: President Obama gave an emergency State of the Union
Address today, which was all about the state of the Affordable Care Act.
Nothing the president says in his next scheduled State of the Union Address
will matter, if the problems he discussed today are not solved before then.


OBAMA: We fumbled the rollout on this health care law. This is
something that`s really important to me and it`s really important to
millions of Americans who have been waiting for a really long time to try
to get health care because they don`t have it. And, you know, I am very
frustrated. But I`m also somebody who, if I fumbled the ball, you know,
I`m going to wait until I get the next play. Then, I`m going to try to run
as hard as I can and do right by the team.

So, ultimately, I`m the head of this team. We did fumble the ball on
it. What I`m going to do is make sure that we get it fixed.


O`DONNELL: The president, who is not running for re-election, did
everything he could to take the political pressure off the people who are
congressional Democrats.


OBAMA: There is no doubt that our failure to roll out the ACA
smoothly has put a burden on Democrats, whether they`re running or not,
because they stood up and supported this effort through thick and thin.
And, you know, I feel deeply responsible for making it harder for them
rather than easier for them to continue to promote the core values that I
think led him to support this thing in the first place.


O`DONNELL: President Obama said the criticism he has been facing has
been, quote, "deserved."

He also said he understands how some people must feel when they
receive notices that their health insurance policy has been canceled.


OBAMA: I completely get how upsetting this could be for a lot of
Americans, particularly after assurances they heard from me that if they
had a plan that they liked, they could keep it. And to those Americans, I
hear you loud and clear. I said that I would do everything we can to fix
this problem. And today, I`m offering an idea to help do it.

The bottom line is insurers can extend plans that otherwise could be
cancelled in 2014 and Americans whose plans have been canceled can choose
to reenroll in the same kind of plan.

What we`re essentially saying is that the Affordable Care Act is not
going to be the factor in what happens with folks in the individual market.


O`DONNELL: Major Garrett of CBS asked the question that went to the
heart of what today`s press conference was all about.


MAJOR GARRETT, CBS NEWS: You say while the law was being debated if
you like your plan, you can keep it. You said after the law was
implemented or signed, if you like your plan, you can keep it. Americans
believed you, sir, when you said to them over and over. Do you not
believe, sir, the American people deserve a deeper, more transparent
accountability from you as to you why said that over and over when your own
statistic published in the federal register alerted your policy staff, I
presumed you, the fact that millions of Americans would, in fact, probably
fall into the very gap you`re trying to administratively fix now?


O`DONNELL: President Obama admitted that the final technical, legal
language the, the legislative language in the law, did not match his


OBAMA: With respect to the pledge I made that if you like your plan,
you can keep it, I think -- and I`ve said in interviews -- that there is no
doubt that the way I put that forward unequivocally ended up not being
accurate. It was not because of my intention not to deliver on that
commitment and that promise. We put a grandfather clause into the law.
But it was insufficient.

Keep in mind that the individual market accounts for 5 percent of the
population. So when I said you can keep your health care, I`m looking at
folks who have got employer based health care, I`m looking at folks who got
Medicare and Medicaid, and that accounts for the vast majority of
Americans. And then for people who don`t have any health insurance at all,
obviously, that didn`t apply. My commitment to them was you`re going to be
able to get affordable health care for the first time.

You have an individual market that accounts for about 5 percent of the
population and our working assumption was -- my working assumption was that
the majority of those folks would find better policies at lower costs or
the same costs in the marketplaces and that there -- the universe of folks
who potentially would not find a better deal in the marketplaces, the
grandfather clause would work sufficiently for them.

And it didn`t. And, again, that`s on us. Which is why we`re --
that`s on me. And that`s why I`m trying to fix it.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Steve Kornacki, host of MSNBC`s "UP WITH
STEVE KORNACKI" on the weekends, and Eugene Robinson, columnist for "The
Washington Post" and an MSNBC analyst.

And, Eugene Robinson, I thought the president answered Major Garrett`s
question very well. I thought it made perfect sense but I`m not the test

How do you think that sounded to voters out there, who just aren`t
quite sure what`s happening this week?

being accurate was possibly the best phrase he could have used.

But actually, I think it probably came off pretty well to average
voters. Everybody loves a good mea culpa. I think he was sufficiently

And at the same time, sufficiently resolute in saying, I`m not going
to turn my back on 40 million Americans who don`t have health care
insurance. We`re going to move this forward. We`re going to fix it.
We`re going to right now fix this one problem and maybe there will be other
problems we need to fix. We certainly need to get the Web site fixed but
we`re going to move ahead with it.

And I think people will be more receptive than not to that sort of

O`DONNELL: Steve Kornacki, I think I may be too steeped in
legislative language and the difference between legislative language and
speeches. It`s why, by the way, I always ignore speeches, I hate to cover
them. I consider it, you know, inaccurate rhetoric, pretty much, all the

But the other big audience for today were congressional Democrats,
House and Senate. What do we know as of now about how calm they are
staying for the next 24 hours or so?

think they`re much more attuned to sort of what the voters, not steeped in
the legislative language either are, they`re much more tuned into that and
hearing what voters who are hearing a lot of confusion, a lot of what
sounds like chaos, stories about cancellation all over the news.

So, there`s sort of a sense of maybe building panic among their
constituents and overwhelming desire of Democrats is to be seen going on
the record and doing something about this. There`s talk about whether that
means putting exactly what the president talked about today into
legislative language that Democrats can offer tomorrow as an alternative to
this Republican plan that Fred Upton, the Republican from Michigan, is

How many -- the question tomorrow is going to be how many Democrats
will peel off and vote for this Republican plan in the House tomorrow?

At the same time, you have Mary Landrieu, the Democratic senator, more
moderate Democratic senator from Louisiana who wants to press ahead with
her own plan in the Senate. She`s peeled off (ph) by Jeff Merkley from
Oregon, Dianne Feinstein, a few others there. Open question about whether
they would get a vote there.

And, of course, let`s say Fred Upton Republican plan passes the House
and Mary Landrieu Democratic plan passes e senate. At least one of those
is a gigantic if. Those are two bills. It ends up whether this is just
posturing where everybody in Congress to get on the record saying to their
constituents, hey, huge problem here, caused by the president, caused by
the incompetence and I voted for x and I voted for x. Whether that gets
merged into any legislation, that`s a whole another question.

O`DONNELL: Well, the word coming out of the Democratic senators`
meeting with White House officials is that most Democratic senators,
anyway, are content as of tonight with what the president has suggested as
a fix. I want to go to the politics of this.

There`s something the president said in his news conference today that
explained why the politics of this is always incredibly difficult. He said
when you legislate in the health care area, you then own all the problems
in the health care area. Let`s listen to how he put it.


OBAMA: Look one thing that I understood, when we decided the reform
health insurance market, part of the reason why it hasn`t been done and
it`s very difficult to do is that anything that`s going on that`s tough in
a health care market, if you initiated a reform, can be attributed to your
law. And so what we want to do is to be able to say to these folks, you
know what? The Affordable Care Act is not going to be the reason why
insurers have to cancel your plan.


O`DONNELL: Gene, that is exactly one of the major reasons why this
kind of legislation has always been radioactive and why the Democrats
ultimately backed out of it in 1994 with the Clintons, because they
realized if we do this, every single negative thing that will then happen
in the insurance market will be attributed to us.

ROBINSON: That`s exactly right, Lawrence. And negative things happen
all the time.

O`DONNELL: Yes. And always were happening.

ROBINSON: Exactly, always were. I don`t know about you insurance
rates, but mine go up every year, it seems. And the benefits change and
there`s something else I don`t like, some new requirement or some new hoop
that has to be jumped through to get -- make this happen or make that
happen. That happens all the time.

And, in fact, people`s policies get canceled all the time because
these are year-to-year policies and a lot of these cut-rate policies were
going to bite the dust regardless of the affordable care act. Nonetheless,
you know, this big change happened, this big piece of legislation and it
all gets blamed on that.

O`DONNELL: We are hearing the president and other Democrats say
things now for the first time that they could have been saying in their
speeches in the last few years but haven`t. Including today, the president
saying that we always knew this was going to be complicated. Let`s listen
to the way he said that today.


OBAMA: We always knew that these marketplaces creating a place where
people can shop and through competition get a better deal or the health
insurance that their families need, we always knew that that was going to
be complicated and everybody was going to be paying a lot of attention to
it. And we should have done a better job getting that right on day one,
not day 28 or on day 40. I am confident that by the time we look back on
this next year, that people are going to say this is working well. And
it`s helping a lot of people.


O`DONNELL: Steve Kornacki, we always knew it was going to be
complicated. That was left out of the -- of all the big public speeches
trying to sell this thing, which is understandable, because actually Bill
and Hillary Clinton made it very clear that it was going to be complicated
when they were trying to legislate in this arena and they got absolutely
nothing as a result.

And I think if you look back at the way the Clinton speeches worked
back then, they were part of what ended up turning people off because they
feared this is going to be very complicated.

KORNACKI: Well, that`s the story going all the way back to Harry
Truman. In the abstract, when there`s no reform proposal, Democrats always
win the health care argument, they always win the health care debate.
Which party would you rather have health care? People always say
Democrats. And then Democrats try to do something about health care, and
it`s like, oh my God, socialize medicine, government takeover, all that
rhetoric takes over.

But the bottom line, look, you can say, Obama can say -- you know,
yes, this was more complicated than we thought. They do own it right now.
What he`s saying in the end there, though, I think is very true.

There is still a possibility, distinct possibility, a good possibility
that ultimately six months, a year from now, you`ll have a viable risk pool
that will be created. You`ll have these exchanges up and running across
the country where people can buy competitively priced insurance, the whole
vision of the law. What is happening basically in Massachusetts right now
can still happen across the country.

I don`t want to put -- you know, I don`t want to turn this into just
blaming Republicans. When Obama says they fumbled the ball, he`s right.
This is ultimately the administration`s responsibility for how botched the
rollout and the Web site has been. But I don`t think what they anticipated
was that 3 1/2 years after this law was enacted they wouldn`t have gotten
even the tiniest ounce of cooperation from Republicans.

When you compare that with the lesson of Massachusetts, of why
Massachusetts is a success right now because when it became the law of the
land in Massachusetts, it stopped becoming a partisan issue. And there was
a coming together of both sides to make the law work, to put public service
campaigns together, to get people enroll, to get civic organizations
engaged -- something we haven`t seen because this has been a contested
political issue since March 2010 and there`s been no cooperation.

That`s not the only reason. The administration deserves a ton of
blame here and the future of this thing is in doubt right now. But I would
say that`s an element of it. If they didn`t fully anticipate that, I`m not
sure they should have.

O`DONNELL: Gene, I don`t know how they could have possibly not fully
anticipated relentless Republican opposition every day for the rest of
their lives on this.

ROBINSON: Yes, I think that was foreseeable. In fact, you know, I
actually don`t think the future of Obamacare is in doubt. It will be the
law. I really have no doubt that it will be the law, at least as long as
Obama is president.

It could be, however, a bumpy first year, because the net result of
the botched rollout could be that there end up being, by March, fewer
people in the risk pool or in the exchanges, rather, than were anticipated.
It might not be the same mix that was anticipated. Rates might not be as
low as they thought.

So, it could be a bumpy first year. But there will be a second year
and there will be a third year.

O`DONNELL: Steve Kornacki and Eugene Robinson, thank you both for
joining me tonight.

Coming up, how all this started this week with the words of Bill
Clinton. And why did he say that?

And later, Ezra Klein will join me to discuss the policies, the new
fixes being thrown around in the House and Senate and the president`s idea.

And, of course, Toronto`s mayor has worked his way back in the rewrite
tonight. He had to rewrite himself today after he said something very
special at an impromptu news conference this morning. We have gotten MSNBC
censors to actually allow to let the mayor speak his mind in his own words.
You will hear something that has never before been said on this network.


O`DONNELL: An unnamed Democrat told NBC News, quote, "Bill Clinton
sure as hell didn`t make it easier for this White House with his comments."

David Corn and Nia-Malika Henderson are here to discuss the Clinton
effect, next.


WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: I personally believe, even if
it takes a change to the law, the president should honor the commitment the
federal government made to those people and let them keep what they got.


O`DONNELL: It has been two, very long days since that comment by Bill
Clinton landed in Washington. Today, Michael Smerconish asked Jay Carney
if President Obama has spoken to Bill Clinton since then.


between the two presidents to readout. They speak very frequently. Former
President Bill Clinton has been extremely supportive of the Affordable Care
Act. And I know how this works, being a journalist for 21 years. But if
you look at that interview, everything he said about the Affordable Care
Act was positive, including we are better off without it -- I mean, with it
than without it. President Clinton knows of what he speaks.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH: As far as you know, they haven`t, it sounds like.

CARNEY: Well, again, I don`t -- I can`t publicize every phone call
the president has. He has a lot of conversation to a lot of people,
lawmakers, foreign leaders, former presidents. But what I can tell you is,
President Clinton has been very supportive of the Affordable Care Act and I
think you`ve seen him again, and again and again say so.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, David Corn, Washington bureau chief from
"Mother Jones" and MSNBC political analyst; and "Washington Post" political
reporter Nia-Malika Henderson.

Nia, why can`t Jay Carney simply say whether Barack Obama has been on
the phone with Bill Clinton? What`s the problem there?

you know, what we takeaway from that is apparently Bill Clinton has been
enormously supportive of the Affordable Care Act.


HENDERSON: But it doesn`t sound like it, right, from that call -- I
mean, from that conversation that he had on that Internet talk show.

Boy, I would, of course, like to have a read-out from that, who called
who, how long it was.

CORN: Yes.

HENDERSON: What they said. If Barack Obama said back off, Bill. I
mean, that`s the problem. I think they`ve had with this relationship.
It`s more like they`re sort of frenemies and at times, Obama has called in
-- called in the cavalry in the form of Bill Clinton. You see him in 2010
with some of those Bush tax cut extensions, he wanted Bill Clinton in the
press briefing room. So, there the two presidents were.

And, of course, we remember in 2012, Bill Clinton at the DNC
convention but not helpful, I think, with this --

CORN: Lawrence, it may not have been a phone call. He may have
passed him a note during study period. I mean, we don`t know.

But, you know, obviously I think Bill Clinton, who loves to -- you
know, he loves to muse.


CORN: And mull about issues and he loves to do the big thinking
things. And sometimes when you do that, you get off-script or you don`t
make the most political point of the moment.

But I do think we can talk about policy and what`s up or not with the
ACA. But a key political point here is that Bill Clinton and Hillary
Clinton really have to be rooting for Obamacare to succeed. Why? Because
if it fails, the last thing she wants to talk about in a 2016 campaign is
health care, what to do about it. She doesn`t want to have to go through
this again. She doesn`t want the baggage of a failed Obamacare program to
have to contend with.

Even importantly, we`re all old enough here -- maybe Nia isn`t, but
we`re all old enough to remember back to 1993 when Hillary Clinton was in
charge of health care reform and there`s no polite way to say this. She
really messed it up. It didn`t pass it and it made it difficult to deal
with health care reform for two years -- for two decades.

And they don`t want to have to relive that ancient history, the last
time she got big into a polish. So, they have to be rooting for Obamacare
for all the right reasons and in terms of political reasons to do well in
the next six months to a year.

O`DONNELL: And it seems like Hillary Clinton learned the same lesson
from her failure in 1994 in health care that President Obama learned from
it. And because, in fact, Nia is not old enough to remember the debates of
1993 and 1994.

HENDERSON: I read about it in history books.

O`DONNELL: I`m going to show her something she might have learned in
history ass a little piece of Bill Clinton trying to sell his health care
reform bill in 1993 to a joint session of congress. Let`s listen to this.


BILL CLINTON: Over the long run, we can all win. But some will have
to pay more in the short run. Nevertheless, the vast majority of the
Americans watching this tonight will pay the same or less for health care
coverage that will be the same or better than the coverage they have
tonight. That is the central reality.


O`DONNELL: OK. Now I want to go to the 2007 presidential campaign
and see what Hillary Clinton did to distill that statement where Bill
Clinton says some people might pay more. It`s going to be a little
complicated. Let`s see how Hillary Clinton put it when she was running for


new bureaucracies. You can keep the doctors you know and trust. You keep
the insurance you have, if you like it.


O`DONNELL: Nia, that sounds an awful lot like Barack Obama.

HENDERSON: Exactly. He must have been watching these YouTube clips
from Hillary Clinton. You`re exactly right. You had complicated bill back
in the `90s explaining it. And then you had Hillary Clinton clearly
learning this lesson to make it simple, to sell this thing. That`s what
President Obama had to do.

We`ll see, going forward whether or not this works and the fixes
they`re going to make. I think for Clinton, her challenge, I think, on one
hand, you`re right. She has to root for Obama`s success but she`s also got
to figure out a way to separate herself. I think you`re starting to see
them figure out how to do that.

CORN: She can`t do -- but she can`t do that yet. She can`t -- there
will be a time for that. But the bigger question for her is, in terms of
separation, what does she want to do as president? What is her raison
d`etre to be president?

It is always a hard thing when you run from the same party --


CORN: -- after somebody has been there for two terms. What do you
come along --

HENDERSON: What are you doing differently?

CORN: Is she going to talk about the economy? Is she going to talk
about competence and leadership qualities? What is she going to bring to
the table, and her vision for why she should be president other than her
own qualities?

HENDERSON: Right. Her own qualities, meaning she would be an
historic candidate.

CORN: Strong, competent person, smart person.

HENDERSON: She has checked off all the boxes. She was secretary of
state. So we`ll have to see. She has a real challenge ahead of her.

O`DONNELL: David, you make the point that Hillary Clinton should be
rooting for the success of the Affordable Care Act which, by the way, I`m
sure she is.


O`DONNELL: But isn`t that politically -- how does that leave
congressional Democrats? Does their fate turn on that same issue? Should
they be rooting for and doing everything they can for the success of the
Affordable Care Act? Or for them, for the election, does there come a
moment when they have to separate?

O`DONNELL: Democrats -- I should say politicians, this is true for
both parties -- often seem to have the political memories of a fruit fly.
You know, they really think they -- they act every day as if they`re about
to die the next day, right? So this week, they say oh, my God, look what`s
happening. Because we have an election in a year and nothing else is going
to happen between now and then.

So, they`re kind of starting to run for the hills or at least look for
the hills because they see Obama`s numbers dropping and they never have
patients. Ultimately, whatever they manage to do in terms of the Landrieu
bill in the Senate and all that sort of stuff, they`re going to have to --
they`re going to live or die by whether this thing works. We won`t know
six months, ten months or a year whether it`s really working as well as
Obama wants it to.

O`DONNELL: David Corn and Nia-Malika Henderson, thank you both for
joining me tonight.

CORN: Sure thing.

HENDERSON: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Ezra Klein will join me to discuss how the fix
to the Affordable Care Act will actually work.

And in the rewrite tonight, Toronto`s Mayor Rob Ford in his own words.
This time we had to get special permission from the MSNBC censors to allow
us to use Rob Ford`s own words. That`s coming up.



be able to do is say to these folks, you know what? The affordable care
act is not going to be the reason you have to change your plan. Now, what
folks may find is the insurance companies may want to come back and say we
want to charge you 20 percent more than we did last year or we`re not going
to cover prescription drugs now. But that`s in the nature of the market
that existed earlier.


analyst and "Washington Post" column Ezra Klein.

Ezra, the president, certainly, has found very clear and
understandable ways now of explaining some of the more complicated parts of
what`s happening in the health care marketplace, something he didn`t do
earlier in his speeches when he was selling this bill. But what you heard
today from the White House about how the president hopes to fix this
situation, what`s your reading of how that will work?

part, it`s not a fix because the situation actually isn`t that broken.
What`s broken is another part of the law. So, what he said today, the new
policies coming out, you`re basically dealing with an optional opportunity
for insurers to keep putting forward plans that won`t be profitable for
them any longer. And the president, really, rolled over on insurance today
and then fundamentally, they`re responding to a new set of rules that the
affordable care act brings out.

The idea that it`s kind of up to them now, I don`t it is actually all
that accurate. I mean, some of them would take the opportunity to extend
the plan for next few year. But for a lot of them, it is not profitable to
do so because they simply would then have to send out the cancellation
notices a year later. They would have to re-construct and infrastructure
around the plans in the meantime.

The problem ultimately is that the fundamental machinery of the law
mainly healthcare.gov and the digital architecture it stands atop remains
that it is still not working. And it is that fundamental problem where
people who would have their plans being canceled and see often times they
can get better insurance if they can`t see that now. I think
fundamentally, the White House is trying t buy time here until those people
can see that.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what the president said today about how
this fix won`t solve every problem.


OBAMA: This fix won`t solve every problem for every person. But it`s
going to help a lot of people. Doing more will require work with Congress.
And I`ve said from the beginning I`m willing to work with Democrats and
Republicans to fix problems as they arise. This is an example of what I
was talking about. We can always make this law work better.


O`DONNELL: And, Ezra, of course, as you know, Congress is stepping
forward with a variety of plans. Run through them for us, if you can. The
Upton plan, the Republican plan in the House and the Landrieu plan in the

KLEIN: Sure. It would (INAUDIBLE) which would permit not only
insurers to keep the plans they currently have which is essential with the
president as they often to do here, But would also allow them to offer new
plans that are non-affordable act compliance so they could continue
discriminate against people would preexisting condition. It could charge
the old much more than the young, they could charge the sick much more than
the healthy, continue selling those. And then, those would now count as
grandfather plans under the affordable care act. So, you`re basically
gutting the consumer protections of the bill.

In that senate, you have a policy coming out of Senator Landrieu`s
office a bit would actually require insurers to continue offering the plans
people have now. So, unlike both President Obama and Upton, that would
actually solve the problem of people losing their plans.

The downside from that, aside from being a pretty aggressive mandate
on the insurance is you are now keeping millions of people, a lot of whom
are healthier, a lot them are in better shape from going into the
affordable care act`s new insurance marketplaces. And will, by nature,
means you have higher premiums in the insurance marketplace.

And what I think what you see there, I think this is an important
thing for folks to understand, is that these plan cancellations are related
intrinsically to the market being a very, very bad market, a market where
the young profit from discrimination against the sick, healthy profit from
discrimination against the old, then profit from discrimination against
women. And any time you try to ratchet that back, any time you try to keep
what is happening now, you`re permitting that kind of discrimination on
some level to continue.

O`DONNELL: I want to listen to something the president said today
about how complicated it actually is to compare, even on a good Web site
that works very well, to compare complicated health insurance policies
online. And anyone out there who has tried to do this sort of thing in
brochures and otherwise knows this is difficult. As the president put it,
it`s not like buying an iTunes song online. Let`s listen to this.


OBAMA: Another mistake that we made, I think, was underestimating the
difficulties of people purchasing insurance online and shopping for a lot
of options with a lot of costs and lot of different benefits and plans and
somehow expecting that that would be very smooth. And then they`ve also
got to try to apply for tax credits on the Web site. I just want people to
know what their options are in a clear way. And, you know, buying health
insurance is never going to be like buying a song on iTunes. You know,
it`s just a much more complicated transaction. But I think we can continue
to make it better.


O`DONNELL: Ezra, one thing that I think people have lost in
Washington is the simple kind of historic fact on this kind of legislation.
It would always, always be followed up six months later, a year later,
sometimes a couple of times with what they would call technical corrections
bills, because problems exactly like this would arise all the time and they
were expected to arise. And that`s when Congress would come together in a
much more bipartisan way because the thinking was we`ve got a thing that
isn`t working. Let`s get it technically correct, even those that aren`t
thrilled about it from a policy standpoint. And that ability for Congress
to do simple technical corrections seems to have evaporated.

KLEIN: Absolutely.

I always think back to the Medicare prescription drug benefit
experience which launched back in `05. It was a total disaster. You have
gone at the website, even launch for three weeks after it begins. The
Republicans say the reason they didn`t launch it initially is Yom Kippur
initially. They would have been disrespectful to launch it on the Jewish

And then, come 2006, there is a hearing of the senate special
committee on aging. And now, you have Democrats are in control and senator
Herb Kohl is there. And there is no talk at all of repeal, even though a
lot of them has hated the law completely. Herb Kohl says, you know what?
This is now -- whatever we think we now need to come together to make this
work for seniors. Senator Hillary Clinton, then senator Clinton says I
can`t stand us all. I want to replace entirely. But as long as it`s here,
my staff has created a terrific brochure to help people learn more about

And that is the spirit you don`t have in Congress now. The idea that
even if we don`t all agree about how the government is working, it should
be doing the best job it can be, given the laws that are on the books

O`DONNELL: Ezra Klein, thank you very much for joining me tonight.

KLEIN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the mayor of Toronto is back and we`re going to
show you him in way you`ve never seen him before. And I know you think
you`ve seen everything there is to see about the mayor of Toronto. But you
haven`t. Not until you see this. And the kids -- the kids cannot watch


O`DONNELL: Your reward for staying up tonight is that the MSNBC
censors get more relaxed the later we get and they are going to allow the
mayor of Toronto to actually speak his mind, say things that otherwise
could never be said on this network, coming up.



MAYOR ROB FORD, TORONTO: Ladies and gentlemen, I want to apologize
for my graphic remarks this morning.


O`DONNELL: What? Rob Ford apologizing for his graphic remarks?
What? When is Rob Ford ever apologized for graphic remarks or any remarks?
What could he have possibly said this morning that he had to apologize for
with his wife standing beside him?


FORD: The revelations yesterday of cocaine, escorts, prostitution,
has pushed me over the line. And I used unforgivable language. And,
again, I apologize.


O`DONNELL: OK. So, overnight, there were some new allegations about
cocaine and escorts and prostitution and the mayor telling a woman on his
staff that he wanted to eat -- well, you know what? According to MSNBC
standards, I cannot finish that sentence. But we have gotten special
permission from MSNBC standards to allow Mayor Rob Ford and only Mayor Rob
Ford to say on TV what Mayor Rob Ford said today on live Canadian TV. The
only thing MSNBC standards has asked of us is that we warn you that you are
about to hear something you have never heard before in your life.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Due to mature subject matter, viewer discretion is


O`DONNELL: Oh, yes, and get the kids out of the room. This could
absolutely destroy any kids` ability to grow up to be mayor of any city
except the city of Toronto. Here is how mayor rob ford`s day started.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Mayor Ford, any comment?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Mayor Ford, can you talk about the

FORD: Hey, you know what? I couldn`t --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: If you could just give us a second.

FORD: A comment yesterday because I couldn`t read the documents that
was released. Unfortunately -- it`s unfortunate I have to take the legal
action. I don`t appreciate people calling Atlanta a prostitute. Never had
a prostitute here. I`m very happily married at home. This is very
disturbing against my wife.

Unfortunately, I have to take legal action against (INAUDIBLE). And
Mark Dewey (ph), I have to take legal action against the waiter that said I
was doing lines at the beer market. That is outright lies. That is not

You know what? Whatever, it hurts my wife when they`re calling a
friend of mine a prostitute. Atlanta is not a prostitute. She`s a friend
and it makes me sick how people are saying this. So, unfortunately, I have
no other choice. I`m the last one to take legal action. I can`t put up
with it anymore. So I`ve named the names. Litigation will be starting
shortly. I`ve had enough. I warned you guys yesterday be careful what you
wrote. That`s all I have to say for now. The next thing I want to call
Mayor Britannia in Hamilton and tell him we`re going to have to spank the
little tiger cats.


O`DONNELL: I know, spank the little tiger cats sounds like something,
you know, dirty in Canadian. But it`s actually not. The tiger cats are
the football team in Hamilton, Ontario. And Mayor Ford`s beloved Argonauts
whose jersey he is wearing are playing the Tiger cats Sunday in Toronto.

So, Mayor Ford was not forced to apologize for anything you just heard
him say. It is everything that he is about to say that became the basis
for this afternoon`s uncharacteristic apology for his graphic remarks.
Now, remember, you`ve been warned.


FORD: The last thing was Olivia (INAUDIBLE), it says that I wanted to
eat her pussy. I never said that in my life to her. I would never do
that. I`m happily married. I have more than enough to eat at home. Thank
you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s all right. It`s all right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God! Are you kidding me?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: We might have been live.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love that guy.


O`DONNELL: The laughter has just died down here in the studio. That
was being covered live on Canadian television. And presented quite a
challenge to some Canadian TV reporters who tried to summarize what Canada
just heard.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: I -- I know we`re up live right now,
but I don`t know if we can - I -- Mayor Ford speaking as Mayor Ford does,
very plainly. As he said in council yesterday, he f`d up and now using
language that I don`t think we can broadcast that on TV but we just
broadcast that on TV. Another unbelievable day here at Toronto city


O`DONNELL: The luckiest political reporters in the world. And so,
later today in his apology for what you just saw, for what the mayor then
called his unforgivable language, he explained how he crossed that verbal


FORD: Today, I acted on complete impulse in my remarks.


O`DONNELL: OK. So, Mayor Ford uncharacteristically acted on impulse
for once instead of using his usual calm, careful approach to public


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you purchased illegal drugs in the last two

FORD: Yes, I have.


O`DONNELL: Mayor Ford ended his apology press conference today with


FORD: I would ask you, please, please respect my family`s privacy.
Thank you very much.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn`t hit you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Moving you out of the way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s getting dangerous.


O`DONNELL: OK. So one place to start, respecting the mayor`s
family`s privacy, in particular his wife`s privacy would be for the mayor
to not have his wife standing silently beside him at his next apology press
conference and maybe the mayor should stop talking about how much he has to
eat at home.


FORD: Said that I wanted to eat her pussy. I never said that in my
life to her. I would never do that. I`m happily married. I have more
than enough to eat at home.



O`DONNELL: Luckily for the Democrats, the Republicans do not have a
better idea on health care reform. Ari Melber is here next and he`s going
to keep it clean, unlike the mayor of Toronto.



OBAMA: When I see sometimes folks up on Capitol Hill and Republicans,
in particular, who have been suggesting, you know, repeal, repeal, let`s
get rid of this thing, I keep on asking, what is it that you want to do?


O`DONNELL: Today, the conservative editorial board of the "Wall
Street Journal" said Republicans have an opportunity to poach the health
care issue that liberals have dominated for decades instead of a backward
looking promise to let Americans hold on to what they had. Republicans
could offer the opportunity to buy a new plan that they like.

Ari Melber, and then, of course, the Republicans on the hill, all they
talked about all day was just repealing Obamacare.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: Yes. Look, you don`t poach an
issue by doing nothing. And I think we`re seeing the one silver lining to
all those re, re, re-repeal efforts. And they don`t have the alternative.
We know this is not about fixing or doing the technical improvements that,
as you said, Congress used to do. This is about sabotage.

O`DONNELL: And when you`re talking about repeal, you`re talking about
not any longer allowing kids up to the age of 26 to stay in their parents`
policies. Plenty of really popular stuff that`s already been working in
this law.

MELBER: That`s absolutely right. And those things, when you poll
them, are still very popular. It is true, as a political matter if you`re
a cynic, the fact that Republicans have helped a lot of Washington and the
media look at five percent of the market and treat that as if it were Obama
care. That is a political victory. It is a short term cynical victory.
But when you look at the pre-existing condition screening, the gender
parody, the adding millenials and twenty-somethings, and the long-term gold
hair have actually enlarging the insurance pool, all those things are
popular and a lot of health care policy experts say they work.

O`DONNELL: So, the one kind of healthful thing politically from the
Republicans that the Democrats are going to be able to rely on as long as
the affordable care act is going through its struggle period is that the
Republicans will not offer any reasonable alternative.


O`DONNELL: Any even describable alternative.

MELBER: And they can`t because the tea party folks have a basic view
which is we pretend we want states and local governments to do things.
When we find out that 76,000 people got coverage to stay exchange, that`s
bad. Can`t exactly explain why. We don`t really want anyone to get
covered. And that is still for them on what was a bad week for the
president, it is still a very weak message from them, I think.

O`DONNELL: Ari Melber gets tonight`s last word.

And Air, thanks for keeping it clean after that mayor of Toronto, you
know, we crossed a line there.

MELBER: You got it.

O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next.


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