1. Headline
  1. Headline
updated 10/6/2013 11:49:32 AM ET 2013-10-06T15:49:32

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

  1. More from TODAY.com
    1. Paula Deen returns to TODAY, talks racism scandal: 'I disappointed myself'

      Paula Deen returned to TODAY Tuesday, more than one year after her world was rocked by a racism scandal.

    2. Babies born on live TV return to celebrate their 1st birthday
    3. US, allies conduct airstrikes against ISIS capital
    4. Analyst: ISIS recruitment could be ‘significant’
    5. See Prince Harry gets a high-five and hug from seriously ill boy

Breaking news this Sunday, terror crackdown. U.S. military forces strike in Libya and Somalia.  We'll have the latest analysis.

(MUSIC)

[TAPE:

Plus, capital of dysfunction.  For the first time in nearly two decades, the government shut down.  Hundreds of thousands of workers stayed home, national parks closed, but the Washington skin war moves on full speed ahead.

                                   

JOHN BOEHNER:

This isn't some damn game.

                                   

PRESIDENT OBAMA:

The American people are not pawns in some poke game.

                                

ERIC CANTOR:

And we hope that our Democratic colleagues will stop with the games.

                                   

HARRY REID:

Let the House stop those irresponsible, reckless games.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

With no breakthrough in sight, another crisis looms on the horizon.  Will the U.S. default on its bill for the first time in history?  To discuss the budget wars from the White House, Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew.  From the Senate, Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky.  And from the House, Ohio Democrat Marcia Fudge, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.  Plus, my exclusive interview with U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power on Syria, Iran, and that controversial comment about Hillary Clinton.

                                   

SAMANTHA POWER:

I have regretted it pretty much every day since.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

And President Obama weighs in on the Washington Redskins' name controversy.  I'm Savannah Guthrie, filling in for David Gregory, all that ahead on this edition of Meet the Press for Sunday, October 6th.

                                   

ANNOUNCER:

From NBC News in Washington, Meet the Press with David Gregory. Substituting today, Savannah Guthrie.]

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

And good morning everyone, the latest on the government shutdown in just a moment.  But first, a top Al Qaeda leader indicted in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, is now in U.S. custody this morning.  The capture of a Anas al Libi ends a 15-year manhunt.  He was seized in broad daylight near the Libyan capital of Tripoli on Saturday.  A U.S. official says he will be brought to the U.S. to stand trial.

And an al-Shabaab leader linked in the Nairobi shopping mall attack was the target of a U.S. raid on Saturday in a town in Southern Somalia.  But Navy SEALs came up empty handed.  No Americans were hurt in that operation.  NBC counterterrorism analyst Michael Leiter is here now.  He was the director of the National Counterterrorism Center under President Bush and Obama.  Mike, good morning, it's good to see you.

                                   

MICHAEL LEITER:

Good morning, Savannah.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Let's start with this operation in Libya.  It was successful.  How significant is this person?

                                   

MICHAEL LEITER:

I think he's very significant both for his historical role in the 1998 bombings, but he's one of the Al Qaeda originals.  He was with bin Laden in '94 in Sudan.  This is someone who had moved from Iran back to Libya.  And his experience, his deep ties to the organization, his capture now means it's much harder for Al Qaeda to establish a really senior leadership presence in Libya.  And that's critical for the United States.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

But it certainly shows that Libya is a place of interest, a place that's largely lawless at times.

                                   

MICHAEL LEITER:

It is.  That's the problematic piece here, that he felt safer going from Iran to Libya now is very worrisome for the U.S.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Let's talk about what happened in Somalia.  Navy SEALs operation, incredibly risky.  Why would they take that risk, and what do you make of the fact that it wasn't ultimately successful?

                                   

MICHAEL LEITER:

Well, the U.S. has targeted al-Shabaab for several years now.  But we're always nervous about going in.  We did this in 2009.  But the reason we wanted to go after him was because he is leadership.  And he's the driver of al-Shabaabs transnational agenda.  And in that sense, it was worth it especially I think after Nairobi.  Not getting him is obviously bad because he's still in Somalia, but we also didn't get any intelligence that we would've hoped to gather from a SEAL-like raid.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Mike Leiter, always good to have your perspective.  Thank you.

                                   

MICHAEL LEITER:

Thanks, Savannah.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

We turn now to day six of the government shutdown, no agreement in sight.  Senator Rand Paul will be joining me from Kentucky in a moment.  But first, let's turn to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew here with me in Washington.  Mr. Secretary, good morning to you.

                                   

JACK LEW:

Good to be with you, Savannah.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Let's talk about this shutdown, we're six days in.  Has there been any real, permanent damage to the economy from this shutdown so far?

                                   

JACK LEW:

Yeah, Savannah.  The shutdown is harming people every day.  I think we're seeing that in the kind of ironic actions of those who chose to shut the government down item by item, trying to reopen the government for things as they discover that there's real pain out there.  If the shutdown ends quickly, we'll recover from the damage.  If it goes on for a longer period of time, it will do more harm.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Well, given what you know of the terrain, are you looking at a few more days of a shutdown, are you looking at weeks?

                                   

JACK LEW:

Congress could act today.  The optimistic view of things is there's a majority in Congress right now that would vote to reopen the government.  They just need to bring it up for a vote.  They could bring it up today.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

There was a senior administration official quoted in The Wall Street Journal this week saying, quote, "We are winning.  It doesn't really matter to us how long the shutdown lasts," quote, "because what matters is the end result."  Does that reflect the view of the administration behind closed doors?

                                   

JACK LEW:

No.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

This shutdown can go on as long as it wants because it's politically advantageous?

                                   

JACK LEW:

There are no winners here.  Every day that the government is shut down, it does real harm to the American people.  And I think you have to take a step back and look at where we are as a country, as an economy.  The American people have been fighting their way out of the worst recession since the Great Depression.  The economy is coming back.

They don't need politics in Washington to bring the economy down.  Whether as a parent who's relying on Head Start or somebody who's looking for medical care or a government agency that needs intelligence, they need to open the government up.  They could do it today.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

You mentioned that Republicans have passed a series of bills in the House to fund parts of the government, such as FEMA, such as the V.A.  Why not take them up on that offer?

                                   

JACK LEW:

It just doesn't work.  I mean, they need to open up the whole government.  You can't cherry pick an item here, an item there.  There are too many important things the federal government does.  And they need to open it up and they could, because a majority is ready to do it.  I started out my career here in Washington working on the Hill.  I worked for Speaker O'Neill.  He said the one thing that the American people won't tolerate is obstructionism.  A majority needs to be given a chance to work its will.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

As you well know, we are facing an even more potentially disastrous deadline.  October 17th for the nation's borrowing limit to the debt ceiling to be raised.  Lest the country potentially default on its obligation.  But let me put this to you very, very clearly.  Is October 17th also the day that the country defaults?

                                   

JACK LEW:

Let me be clear.  We actually hit the debt limit in May.  From May until this week, we've been using what are called "extraordinary measures" to create a bit of additional head room.  On Tuesday, I informed Congress that I had used the final extraordinary measures.  There are no more.  So we're now limited to the borrowing capacity that we have today.  On October 17th, we will exhaust our borrowing capacity.  And at that point, I have nothing else in the drawer.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Does that mean default happens that same day?

                                   

JACK LEW:

On October 17th, we're left with the cash on hand.  And I've told Congress that I believe that there will be approximately $30 billion of cash on hand, which is a lot of money and it sounds like a lot of money to the American people.  But you have to put it in the context of the cash flow of the United States.  We are a $4-trillion enterprise and on any individual day, you could be $50 billion or $60 billion cash flow negative or positive.  $30 billion is a dangerously low level of cash.  And we're on the verge of going into a place we've never been, not having cash to pay our bill.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

I guess the question is then for you, not raising the debt ceiling, is that tantamount to default, whether it's in a day, a week, or a month?

                                   

JACK LEW:

So the reality is that if we run out of cash to pay our bills, there is no option that permits us to pay all of our bills on time.  Which means that a failure of Congress to act would for the first time put us in a place where we're defaulting on our obligations as a government because of Congress's failure to act.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

One of the reasons you're here is to sound that alarm.  If this country were to default on its obligations, what would be the consequence in the economy?  I mean, are you talking catastrophe?

                                   

JACK LEW:

We've never crossed this line, so everyone is speculating on what happens if the unthinkable happens.  Let me just read to you from what President Reagan said when he faced this.  And I quote, "The full consequences of a default, or even the serious prospect of default by the United States are impossible to predict and awesome to contemplate.  Denigration of the full faith and credit of the United States would have substantial effects on the domestic financial markets and on the value of the dollar and exchange markets."  Why would anyone take that risk?

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

To put a fine point on it, it would be calamitous for the economy?

                                   

JACK LEW:

It would be very bad.  And I think that for people to say, "We want to know the last minute to act.  We want to know the last dollar."  Even getting close to the line is dangerous.  We saw in 2011 there was no default in 2011.  It hurt the economy to get close to the line.  We saw it in the stock market, we saw it in confidence, we saw it in investment.  If we cross the line, we're going to a place that we've never gone.  It's very dangerous.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Well, you've painted these dire consequences.  So to put these two concepts together for me, on the one hand, you say it's terrible for the economy to even threaten default.  And on the other hand, the president is saying, "I won't negotiate.  I won't have any conversation about this.  I won't negotiate to stop that from happen."  How do you square those two things?

                                   

JACK LEW:

Well, to be clear, the president has been and remains prepared to negotiate on fiscal policy.  He has spent much of the last three years trying to find the sensible middle ground.  He's made offer after offer, negotiation after negotiation.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

But the administration has said, "We don't want to have any negotiation until the government has reopened and until the debt ceiling is raised."

                                   

JACK LEW:

Let's remember where we are.  We're where we are because in 2011, 50 to 100 of the most extreme members of the House changed the rules of the game.  They said, "We would rather default than have an honorable compromise."  It's Congress's job to fund the government and it's Congress's job to make sure we can pay our bills.  There's nothing here that we're asking for from Congress for them to do that.  We are happy to negotiate on reasonable policies with entitlement reform and tax reform that closes loopholes.  That's something that we would like to do.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

But realistically, why would they give up their leverage?  You're essentially saying, "Agree to everything we want you to agree to, and then we can talk about that."  That's the leverage they have.

                                   

JACK LEW:

Savannah, do you think about what the consequences of crossing this line are, you know?  What would it mean in this country if we're not able to pay millions of people in social security on time?  What would it mean if we are not able to pay hospitals through Medicare and Medicaid on time?  There would be liquidity crises in homes, in businesses, in important institutions.  It's just not responsible.  It's reckless and irresponsible to say, "We'll bring all that down if we don't get our way."

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Well, bottom line, it's something--

                                   

JACK LEW:

Congress needs to do its job and then we need to negotiate.  The president wants to negotiate.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Well, let's do the bottom line here then.  Is the president ready to watch this country go into default rather than negotiate with Republicans?

                                   

JACK LEW:

Look, the president believes that the responsibilities of Congress know the consequences and that this doesn't need to happen.  They can vote today.  They have a majority to do the right thing.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

But will he not come to the table at all even at the risk of default?

                                   

JACK LEW:

I know the leaders of Congress, Republican and Democrats.  I don't believe any of them want a default.  They're going to need to look at how do they let a majority in Congress work their will.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Let me ask you about the health care rollout.  This is something you're very familiar with.  You were chief of staff during a period of time when it was being implemented.  The White House says, "8.6 million unique visitors came to the website this week trying to get healthcare."  But it cannot give a number on how many actually enrolled.  There are more than glitches going on with this website.  I pulled it up just this morning, I tried to get on healthcare.gov, this is what I saw.  The site was down.  It's been down partially all weekend.  How do you justify that?

                                   

JACK LEW:

Savannah, if you look at the interest in people getting information about how to buy affordable healthcare for the first time for many people, the enormous outpouring of interest reflects how important this is and how important it is to get it right.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Fair enough, but why was the administration not ready for that interest?

                                   

JACK LEW:

We always anticipated there would be a lot of demand, and the demand is being satisfied.  People are shopping on these websites.  They're looking to see what their choices are.  This is a big decision for families to make.  They have six months to make a decision.  People are getting on, they're getting the information they need, and they'll be making the decision.  I completely think the experience of this last week underscores how important an accomplishment implementing the Affordable Care Act is.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Do you think it's going well?

                                   

JACK LEW:

I wouldn't say I'm the most early adapter to technology, but I have a fair share of apps on my devices.  And I usually wait until a few days into them because they make corrections on day one, day two, day three.  I think we're going through the same kind of process here and it's working well.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Thank you very much, Secretary Lew, always good to have you here.  I appreciate it.

                                   

JACK LEW:

Great to be with you, Savannah.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Want to turn now to Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.  Senator, good morning, welcome back to Meet the Press.

           

SENATOR RAND PAUL:

Good morning, glad to be with you.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

You have a statement on your website stating that you are, quote, "Working tirelessly to end this government shutdown."  Fact of the matter is, there is one way to end the shutdown right now, have Speaker Boehner put a bill, a clean budget resolution on the floor of the House, it would pass with Republicans, it would pass with Democrats.  Will you call on Speaker Boehner to do that this morning?

                                   

SENATOR RAND PAUL:

We've been putting out clean C.R.'s, or Continuing Resolutions all week.  We've been trying to fund government.  We've been trying to reopen government.  And at every point, Harry Reid said no.  He doesn't want to open government.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

You've been putting on clean C.R.s?  No strings attached?

                                   

SENATOR RAND PAUL:

Clean C.R.'s?  Well, yeah.  We've been trying to fund different parts of government all week.  We've passed bill after bill after bill.  Harry Reid--

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Okay, that's a piecemeal approach, no?

                                   

SENATOR RAND PAUL:

Well, no it's not.  It's the same thing.  These are clean C.R.'s, meaning that there's no strings attached.  We've been passing N.I.H. funding, veterans funding.  And here's the thing that people don't realize.  That's historically the way it's always been.  You pass small appropriation bills so you can look at them individually.

It's actually a much better way to run government, because right now, you're sticking everything into one bill and that's why the leverage of shutting the government down occurs.  But if you did things appropriately and you passed appropriation bills one at a time, no one would be able to shut down government ever.  So really if Harry Reid has done his job, we wouldn't be in this position at all.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Senator, you were one of the ones early on who said you didn't think a government shutdown was a good idea.  However, when House Republicans made the defunding of ObamaCare or even the delay of ObamaCare their sticking point at which they would shut the government down if they didn't get it, didn't they basically make this result inevitable, by making that what they took a stand on?

                                   

SENATOR RAND PAUL:

Well, I think you've got it backwards.  The House Republicans said they would fund all of government, and they did.  They funded all of government short of one program.  So they really were never wanting to shut down government over this.  They were wanting to fund government and then have a debate over ObamaCare.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

But come on, they have tried to defund ObamaCare more than 40 times.  They know what the result will be.  They live in the real world too.  They knew this action would lead to a shutdown, and it did.

                                   

SENATOR RAND PAUL:

Well, I think that when you look at legislation, when you say the president wants 100% of ObamaCare or he will shut down the government, that's exactly what's happened.  If he doesn't get 100% of his way, his way or the highway, then they won't do any spending bills that don't include everything that he wants.  That's him unwilling to negotiate.  That's him being unwilling to compromise.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

But why is it even a matter of a negotiation when it's passed both houses of Congress, it's been signed by the president, it's been challenged in the Supreme Court, it's been upheld by the Supreme Court.  It was a central issue in the 2012 election campaign, and the president won reelection.  Why is that a legitimate point of negotiation right now?

                                   

SENATOR RAND PAUL:

Well, because it's Congress's job to oversee spending.  The power of the purse resides with Congress and they fund programs every year.  So it's not their obligation once something is law to never change it.  For example, in 1983, we changed social security.  It'd been around 50 years and the age of eligibility was 65.

We changed it to 67 because social security was going bankrupt.  We faced some of those same problems again and it isn't that it's set in stone that we'll never revisit Medicare or Social Security or ObamaCare for that matter.  So I think it's a silly argument for Democrats to say, "Oh, the law has been passed.  We can't ever change it."  Well that's what Congress's job to do it.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Well, of course you can change it.  You can change it if you-- of course, but you have to propose something that can get through the House, the Senate, and be signed by the President.  Back in the '80s, they didn't shut down the government to make that happen, did they?

                                   

SENATOR RAND PAUL:

Well, how do you know what will pass until you propose something and vote on it?  So we've proposed several compromises.  Our initial position, and still our position is we think ObamaCare is a bad idea and will hurt the people it was intended to help.  But when that didn't pass, when the Democrats didn't accept that, we said, "Well, what about a one-year delay?"

We've been offering compromise after compromise.  But you hear from the president and his men and his women, "No negotiation."  His way or the highway.  They're the ones who are unwilling to compromise on any facet of ObamaCare.  And I think that intransigence has led to the shutdown of the government.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

You talk about compromise a lot with regard to ObamaCare.  I'm just curious what part of ObamaCare do you like and want to keep?  Which half of it?

                                   

SENATOR RAND PAUL:

I don't really like any of ObamaCare.  But I realize I'm not going to get my way.  But we do control a third of the government.  People did elect us to fight.  Sixty-one percent of the people in Kentucky voted for Romney.  Seventy percent of people in Kentucky don't like ObamaCare.

So the thing is, is I'm supposed to go and fight to make bills either less bad or make them better if possible.  So I think it is my job to stand up and provide oversight for legislation.  It's precisely what Congress is supposed to be doing.  This is Congress's job.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

The healthcare rollout this week, by many, many accounts, did not go that well.  We just talked about it with Treasury Secretary Lew.  And yet, all the headlines are about the government shutdown.  Let me show you actually the front page of the Lexington paper.  And you'll see the top headline says, "Feeling the Shutdown."

And there, buried below the fold, talks about the healthcare glitches with the ObamaCare rollout.  Did Republicans make a strategic error by instead of just letting this law go into effect and let the chips fall, let people really experience it and find out if it's as bad as you say, instead shutting down the government and now that's the subject?

                                   

SENATOR RAND PAUL:

It's always difficult to make decisions.  But most of us ran for office.  I ran for office because I was concerned about the overwhelming debt that our country's accruing.  A trillion dollars a year, we're borrowing a million dollars every minute.  So I'm worried about the overall financial picture of the country.  And so whether or not it was a good strategic idea, I don't know.

But when are we supposed to stand up and say, "Look, we're out of money and we're destroying this country by this burden of debt"?  And so I think you've got to stand up, whether it's debt ceiling or whether it's continuing resolution.  We have to talk about the big picture.  And the big picture is not an immediate default.  The big picture is this gradual bankruptcy that's occurring of this country.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

All right, Senator Paul, I'll ask you to standby.  We'll have more with you in a moment.  And I will ask Senator Paul about this open-mic moment this week.

                                   

SENATOR RAND PAUL (ON TAPE):

Well, I know we don't want to be here, but we're going to win this, I think.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

And later, the White House says millions are racing to sign up online for ObamaCare, but widespread problems with the website have some asking if the administration was ready for them.  Plus, our political roundtable.  Government by crisis?  We'll ask the question is this any way to run a country.  And did the administration miss its moment on Syria?  My one-on-one conversation with the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power.  We'll be back in one minute.

(* * *TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE:  Commercials not transcribed.* * *)

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

And we are back with a few more minutes with Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.  Senator, earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal quoted a senior White House official who said, "We don't care how long this shutdown lasts, we're winning."  That infuriated Speaker Boehner.  Take a look.

                                   

SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER (ON TAPE):

I get The Wall Street Journal out, and it says, "Oh, we don't care how long this lasts because we're winning."  This isn't some damn game.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

All, and then here you are caught on an open mic with Senator Mitch McConnell a little bit earlier this week, take a listen.

                                   

SENATOR RAND PAUL (ON TAPE):

I think if we keep saying, "We wanted to defund it, we fought for that, but now we're willing to compromise on this," I think they can't-- we're going to win-- we-- I think, well, I know we don't want to be here, but we're going to win this, I think."

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Senator, I brought those two things up side by side for a reason.  Winning, losing, battle of the talking points, dueling cable appearances.  Do you in Washington, do all of you, have any idea how totally disgusted the American people are with these antics?

                                   

SENATOR RAND PAUL:

Yeah, no, I think these are all legitimate concerns.  And I think really we should point back to where the root of the problem is.  The root of the problem here is, is that we are not passing appropriation bills like we should.  We have 12 different appropriation bills.  We should pass them one at a time.  Government should never shut down if we're doing our job appropriately.  So really what we need to be saying is, why are we not passing spending bills the way we should do it.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Do you take any responsibility for the tone, for your part in this?

                                   

SENATOR RAND PAUL:

Well, I think that in order to have compromise, the other side has to negotiate.  We've been willing to compromise and negotiate.  The other thing is, is we don't control the spending bills.  The House has been putting forward spending bills and still continues to do so.  It's the Democrats in the Senate who refuse to pass individual spending bills.  And that's what you're supposed to do is pass individual spending bills.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

You're somebody who is an emerging national figure.  The latest Quinnipiac poll had you actually winning the presidential preference poll among Republicans.  Do you think this strategy, shutting down the government, which two-thirds of Americans don't like as a tactic, even if they don't like ObamaCare, do you think that's potentially undercutting the Republican Party's chances of winning something beyond the House of Representatives, either the Senate or the White House?

                                   

SENATOR RAND PAUL:

I think it's extremely bad for the president to shut down the government.  And he's the one shutting it down because frankly he's unwilling to compromise.  We are willing to negotiate, we're willing to compromise.  The president says his way or the highway.  So ultimately, I think it is bad for the president.  I think it's bad for both parties.  But the only way to get to a resolution is to negotiation.

We're willing to negotiate.  We're every day passing bills to reopen government and every day Harry Reid's vetoing every bill we send over.  We've sent over six bills this week to reopen government and he dismisses them out of hand.  So we're the ones trying to open government.  The Democrats say, "Keep it closed," because they like it being closed.  They think they can beat up on us politically.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Well, if they like it being closed, why would you then fall into that trap?  I mean, if they think it's actually hurting you more and polls suggest perhaps it is, why are you allowing that to happen?

                                   

SENATOR RAND PAUL:

Because they're important questions.  ObamaCare's going to cost $2.6 trillion.  We have a $17-trillion debt.  We think these things are important and worth fighting over because they're not inconsequential.  Some economists say that we're losing a million jobs a year just because of the burden of our debt.  Is it worth standing up and saying, "It's emperor has no clothes, we're out of money," and that we should start to balance our budget and not spend money that we don't have?  Yeah, it's absolutely important.  And so sometimes you have to fight for what you believe in.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Very quickly, before I let you go, as you well know, there's a debt-ceiling vote on the horizon.  Will Republicans let this country go into default?

                                   

SENATOR RAND PAUL:

I think it's irresponsible of the president and his men to even talk about default.  There's no reason for us to default.  We bring in $250 billion in taxes every month.  Our interest payment is $20 billion.  Tell me why we would ever default.  We have legislation called the Full Faith and Credit Act, and it tells the president, "You must pay the interest on the debt."

So this is a game.  This is kind of like closing the World War II Memorial.  They all get out on TV and they say, "Oh, we're going to default."  They're the ones scaring the marketplace.  We shouldn't scare the marketplace.  We should never default.  There's no reason to default.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Let's say your plan worked and you can pay the interest on the debt and you don't have a technical default.  Wouldn't there be dramatic consequences on the economy anyway?  It may not be the letter of the default, but the spirit of it?

                                   

SENATOR RAND PAUL:

Yeah, but look at what happened in 2011.  Our credit rating was downgraded.  But you know why?  The reasoning they gave was because we have too much debt.  That we weren't cutting enough spending.  And so they downgraded us.  It has to do with the big picture of how much debt we're accumulating.

It isn't so much of these deadlines that the market's worried about.  The market's also worried about a $17-trillion debt and that we're not acting fiscally responsibly and we're spending more money than we bring in.  That's what the market's worried about.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Senator Rand Paul, it's always good to talk to you.  Thank you for your time, sir.

                                   

SENATOR RAND PAUL:

Thank you.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Coming up, has the roar of the government shutdown fight overshadowed the rocky rollout of ObamaCare?  Our political roundtable is here.  Joining us, Republican strategist Mike Murphy, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Democrat Marcia Fudge, Editor of The National Review Rich Lowry, and NPR's Steve Inskeep.  We're back in just a moment.

* * *TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE:  COMMERCIALS NOT TRANSCRIBED.* * *

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Last week, David debuted a new way to follow the program and we've gotten a lot of great feedback.  Our Meet the Press magazine.  It's on Flipboard.  And if you've never used it, it's an app that allows you to display all of your favorite content from across the web in an easy-to-read magazine view.

You can get it on your tablet, smartphone, or on the web.  Our magazine will provide you with the Meet the Press experience all week long.  Interesting stuff from the same sources we use to prepare the program.  Books, magazines, articles, and videos.  We'll also have exclusive Meet the Press material and highlights from our show.

Download the Flipboard app on your smartphone or tablet, and once there, search for Meet the Press in the bar on the top right.  We have also posted a link on our website, Facebook, and Twitter that will take you right to the magazine.  Download it now, let us know what you think.  We're back here in 60 seconds with our political roundtable.

(* * *TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE:  commercials not transcribed.* * *)

ANNOUNCER:

Meet the Press is back with our political roundtable.  Here this morning, Rich Lowry, Steve Inskeep, Marcia Fudge, and Mike Murphy.  Now, Savannah Guthrie.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

And we will get to our roundtable in a moment.  But first, the latest on the issue at the heart of the government shutdown, the president's healthcare law.  There is growing frustration among many Americans trying to sign up for coverage.  Tom Costello is here with more on that, Tom, good morning to you.

                                   

TOM COSTELLO:

Hi Savannah, good morning.  It has been a frustrating week for many uninsured Americans who want to take advantage of the Affordable Care Act.  But it seems the website, the computer system, has not been able to keep up with the workload.

                                   

[TAPE:

TOM COSTELLO:

The big rollout came Tuesday.  Millions of uninsured Americans encouraged to go online and sign up for low-cost insurance.  Community centers and clinics were staffed to help people navigate the site.  But within minutes, the system crashed.

                                   

FEMALE VOICE:

There are too many people accessing it right now.

                                   

TOM COSTELLO:

It seemed no one was getting through.

                                   

MR. SCHULZ:

Oh, we're going to get in.  It may not be right now.

                                   

CLAUDIA SCHULZ, INSURANCE SHOPPER:

We have until March.

                                   

TOM COSTELLO:

On Tuesday, we were with the Schulz family in Phoenix as they tried to enrolled.

                                   

CLAUDIA SCHULZ, INSURANCE SHOPPER:

We wanted to know the price, the options, and suddenly we couldn't get in, so we were disappointed.

                                   

TOM COSTELLO:

But the end of the week, they still hadn't been able to log on.  Republicans said, "It's a sign ObamaCare is not ready for primetime."

                                   

SENATOR JOHN BARRASSO:

From reports around the country, it seems that ObamaCare is off to a very rocky start.

                                   

TOM COSTELLO:

But the president insisted the system was simply overloaded with unexpected demand.

                                   

PRESIDENT OBAMA:

And we're going to be speeding things up in the next few hours to handle all this demand that exceeds anything that we had expected.

                                   

TOM COSTELLO:

By Friday evening, the government reported more than 8.6 million visitors had logged onto healthcare.gov.  Call centers had taken more than 406,000 calls.  But the White House won't say how many people navigated the website without getting kicked off.  Or how many managed to complete an insurance application.]

                                   

TOM COSTELLO:

Now they've been taking the site offline in the overnight hours to work on it, adding more servers and capacity.  We should note that many of the state websites that offer low-cost insurance, they've been able to handle the rollout much better it appears.  But we don't yet know if dozens of people or millions, Savannah, have succeeded in getting through the website.  And for that matter, finishing the application process.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

We will keep an eye on it.  Tom Costello, always good to have you here.  Thank you so much.  We will turn to our roundtable now.  We're going to get to the rollout of ObamaCare in a moment.  But let's start with the government shutdown.  NBC News put the call out this week with the hashtag  #DearCongress.  Ask people to let Congress know how it feels.  Let's take a look at some of the response.

                                   

[TAPE:

MALE VOICE:

Dear Congress, I would like for you to go without a pay for one month.

                                   

MALE VOICE:

Stop acting in your own self interest.  Get your act together, and do what's right for the country.

                                   

FEMALE VOICE:

And I hope to God in next year's election, all of you are booted out.]

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Congresswoman Fudge, aren't you the lucky one to be the sitting member at the table?  Listen, no matter who gets the blame here ultimately, whether people blame the Republicans or the Democrats, in the end, is it just bad for the institution?  Is it a pox on all of your houses?

                                   

REPRESENTATIVE MARCIA FUDGE:

Yes, in fact, it is.  There are no winners here.  There are only losers here.  When you talk about shutting down the government and all of the machinations that go around about who's at fault, who's not, and-- and why we should have a clean C.R., let me just say to you, it is our responsibility to fund the government of the United States.  And we should not allow anyone to extract a ransom for us to do our jobs.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Let me turn to Mike Murphy, Republican strategist.  Two-thirds of the country don't like the tactic of shutting down the government.  Even if they don't like ObamaCare, they don't like this tactic.

                                   

MIKE MURPHY:

Right.  That's the problem.  I think we ought to go back to the problems with the computer sites.  Because what we have is a perfect storm here.  You take the cynics who run the Democratic party, and you take the stupid wing of the House G.O.P. they fell for a trap.  So now we're going to debate all this, when we're 13 months away from an election the Republicans can win on ObamaCare.

But instead, somehow a monkey wrench got thrown in the system and now everybody hates Congress and Republicans are taking the bigger political hit.  I saw a poll the other day where the approval rating for the U.S. Congress was at 5% and the margin of error was six.  You could not statistically prove that anybody who exists in the country approved of Congress, and this is why.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Rich, do you think it was a miscalculation for Republicans to make this stand in this way over the shutdown?

                                   

RICH LOWRY:

Well, everyone knew for a long time you were going to have a confrontation in the fall over the continuing resolution and/or the debt limit.  And it's true the hand of the House G.O.P. leadership was forced by an element of its rank and file.  This is not how they would've set up this fight.  They would've gone to the debt limit right away.  But now they're in this fight.  It's inevitably going to segue into the debt limit.  And the caucus is united and they want to hold firm until Harry Reid and President Obama actually are willing to negotiate, which is how these kind of disputes are always settled.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Is the House conference united, Steve?  What does your reporting tell you?

                                   

STEVE INSKEEP:

Not at all.  When I talk with Republicans, there's an incredible diversity of opinion. And I think when you try to decide who's to blame for this shutdown, you can say, "Well, the Republicans wanted it."  I think that's unfair.  I think it is fair to say that some Republicans in the House misjudged their opponents.  They assumed that the Democrats would cave.  They were wrong.

And when I talk to Republicans, the Republican who to me seems to have the best notion of what is on the Democrats' mind, believe it or not, is Grover Norquist, the conservative activist, Americans for Tax Reform.  Gave a fascinating interview to The Washington Post, in which he said, "The way to deal with this is get past in some short-term way, perhaps, however you have to, vote the debt ceiling and this budget problem, and the shutdown, and push the Democrats instead on the sequestration, these really deep budget cuts."  And there you're identifying something that the Democrats actually are bothered by, that they might be willing to give the Republicans something in order to get out of.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

But Congressman, let me turn to you.  As this goes on and on, the president's stance is, "I won't negotiate."  And even if there's a host of reasons why that is a responsible position, as a bumper sticker, it's not the greatest, is it?  "We're about to have an economic calamity, but I'm not negotiating."

                                   

REPRESENTATIVE MARCIA FUDGE:

Let me just say this to you.  The full faith and credit of the United States is not negotiable.  It is our job to fund the government.  And I would say to those people who believe that it is appropriate to say that, "Oh, we're not going to pass a continuing resolution, a clean bill, because we want the president to negotiate."

The president has already offered to negotiate on ObamaCare.  He has said, "If you bring me ideas, I'm willing to accept them."  This is not the point at which we then take hostages and say, "Oh, you know, if you don't change ObamaCare, we're not going forward."  We passed Continuing Resolutions eight times under George Bush.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Let me get one of these Republicans in on this.

                                   

MIKE MURPHY:

Well, it is the job of the president of the United States to rise above petty politics.  The shutdown is politics.  The debt ceiling is a catastrophe.

                                   

REPRESENTATIVE MARCIA FUDGE:

Oh, different.

                                   

MIKE MURPHY:

So the last time we had this, we solved it with painful, negotiations.  That is the way to get out of this debt ceiling bomb.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Do you think the president should negotiate?

                                   

MIKE MURPHY:

I think it's his job to knock heads.  The Republicans won't get much, but they can get something.  They're going to give up a lot.  And the Democrats cannot go into a cliff like this with the, "We don't talk, we don't negotiate" Harry Reid point of view.  It is a disaster.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

But how does it end?

                                   

RICH LOWRY:

The House Republican Conference passed the Full Faith and Credit Act to help ensure that even if we go over the debt limit that the debts would be paid.  And Democrats uniformly oppose that because they have a cynical politics at work here, where they want to make everything as frightening and as painful as possible.  They complain about the N.I.H. not having funding.  Well, Republicans want to fund the N.I.H.  But the Democrats oppose it.  It's a simple--

(OVERTALK)

                                   

REPRESENTATIVE MARCIA FUDGE:

Wait, no, no, no, wait.  One second here.

                                   

RICH LOWRY:

--the Democrats here, it's the cynicism and intransigence show over time.

                                   

REPRESENTATIVE MARCIA FUDGE:

Let's be clear, they pilloried the Senate for not having a budget.  We passed a budget, the Senate passed a budget six months ago.  They ignored it.  We would not be where we are today had they gone to conference and we had a budget.

                                   

RICH LOWRY:

But why would you oppose a bill to fund N.I.H.  Why?

                                   

REPRESENTATIVE MARCIA FUDGE:

No, no, no, you want to match up things.  I'm talking about facts.

                                   

RICH LOWRY:

No, no, no.  The House has passed a bill to fund the N.I.H.  Why won't you support it?

                                   

REPRESENTATIVE MARCIA FUDGE:

It's passed.  I don't support it because every single function is important it.

                                   

RICH LOWRY:

Well, then you don't support it.  Well, why wouldn't you support measures to make this less painful until it's actually negotiated?

                                   

REPRESENTATIVE MARCIA FUDGE:

And we need to open all of the government.  Less painful for whom?

                                   

RICH LOWRY:

Until there's an end actually negotiated?

                                   

REPRESENTATIVE MARCIA FUDGE:

Less painful for whom?

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

I'm going to jump in here, unless people think I went out for a cocktail or something.  Let's talk about ObamaCare.  Obviously, the rollout did not go as smoothly as hoped.  And Saturday Night Live was there to have a little fun with it.  Take a look.

[TAPE:           

CECILY STRONG, ON “WEEKEND UPDATE”:

Loser, the ObamaCare website, which had technical issues all week because of too much web traffic.  You can't campaign on the fact that millions don't have healthcare and then be surprised that millions don't have health care.  How could you not be ready?  That's like 1-800 Flowers getting caught off-guard by Valentine's Day.]

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

How about it, Steve Inskeep?  You interviewed the president this week about this very subject.

                                  

STEVE INSKEEP:

And he acknowledged there were going to be glitches, which of course is what a president needs to do in this situation, is spin.  Said, "Expect problems."

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Sounds like something more than glitches, though.

                                   

STEVE INSKEEP:

Well, yeah.  And this is huge because we now have the reality of ObamaCare, the Affordable Care Act that's here.  We have Republicans who have said again and again, "Be afraid, be terrified by this."  We've Democrats who actually haven't supported it that much, but have said, "It's going to be okay, it's going to be fine."

And now we have the possibility of millions of Americans dealing with the reality of it for better or for worse.  And I think that has a potential to transform this debate over time.  I think it's still possible for reality to have some bearing on politics.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

But Mike was this a tactical error on the part of Republicans?  That might've been the lead story in every single paper, but for the shutdown.

                                   

MIKE MURPHY:

On the policy, I'm so sympathetic to my side on this.  I think they're right about a lot of it.  But that's why we have midterm elections, so you can throw Democrats out of office over ObamaCare.  There's no rule in politics.  When your opponent is in trouble, when they're drowning politically, you throw them a fire hose.

We threw them a lifeboat and a machine gun, because now we're going to debate this.  (THROAT CLEAR) Excuse me, I'm all choked up.  Instead of 13 months away, getting control of the Senate, which means we can have the policy fight within the system.  So on the tactical basis, it is an incredible stupid move.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Do you agree with that, Rich?

                                   

RICH LOWRY:

No, I think Mike is a little too panicked over here.  He barely got his words out, I think--

(OVERTALK)

                                   

RICH LOWRY:

Look, it's a short-term thing, whether the ObamaCare glitches get enough coverage the first week.  The key question is whether they really over time enough people sign up to make the exchanges work.  And I'm very dubious about that.  This law has legitimacy problems.  It was never popular when it was proposed, it's even less popular now, it was unprecedented in that it was a major social change just passed along partisan lines.  And I think it's going to exacerbate some of the worst aspects of our healthcare system and create new problems on top of it.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Let me let Congresswoman Fudge have the first and the last word.  What do you think about this rollout of ObamaCare?  Are you disappointed?

                                   

REPRESENTATIVE MARCIA FUDGE:

Certainly.  But let me just differentiate between enrollment and the plan itself.  There have been some difficulties with enrollment in the plan.  And everybody admits that.  And yes, we should have been better prepared.  But it does not negate the fact that the plan itself is going to work.  We're going to reduce the cost of insurance, we're going to do away with the things that have been creating problems with our deified like Medicare Part D.  We're going to do things that are going to make this country better and reduce the cost of healthcare.

                                   

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Well, roundtable, standby.  We're not done with you yet.  Coming up, a new face on the international stage, my exclusive interview with new U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power, what she thinks of Iran's new leader and her regrets over a comment about Hillary Clinton that got her kicked off the 2008 Obama campaign.

* * *TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE:  COMMERCIALS NOT TRANSCRIBED.* * *

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Samantha Power is the new and youngest ever U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.  And she is facing her first big test as the U.S. looks to enforce the agreement to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons.  I sat down the Ambassador Power this week for an exclusive interview inside the United Nations Security Council Room.

* * *TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE:  CLIP WITH SAMANTHA POWERS NOT TRANSCRIBED AS PER CLIENT'S REQUEST.* * *

                                                                      

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Our interview with U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power.  Next, President Obama weighs in for the first time about the Washington Redskins name controversy.  Will his comments change the debate?  We'll have a live report and our roundtable will be back with their insights next.

* * *TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE:  COMMERCIALS NOT TRANSCRIBED.* * *

                                                                      

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Since 1937, the NFL's Washington Redskins have been D.C.'s football team but there's been a growing move to change the team's name on the grounds that it may offend some Native Americans.  As NBC's White House correspondent Kristen Welker reports, President Obama has now been drawn into the debate.

[TAPE:                                                                      

KRISTEN WELKER:

On the field, they are fierce competitors with a faithful fan base.  But off the gridiron, a different battle over the team's controversial name, Redskins.  In an interview released Saturday, President Obama weighed in for the first time.

                                                                      

PRESIDENT OBAMA:

I've got to say, if I were the owner of the team, and I knew that there was a name of my team, even if it had a storied history that was offending a sizeable group of people, I'd think about changing it.

                                                                      

KRISTEN WELKER:

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made similar comments in September.

                                                                      

ROGER GOODELL:

We have to listen.  If one person is offended, we have to listen.

                                                                      

KRISTEN WELKER:

But like all fights in this town, both sides are dug in.

                                                                      

MALE VOICE:

You have the diehard fans and local residents, the Redskins should keep their name.

                                                                      

FEMALE VOICE:

We should change it, because we've got a diverse, multicultural nation.

                                                                      

KRISTEN WELKER:

Redskins owner Dan Snyder recently said he would never change the name.  On Saturday, team attorney Lanny Davis told NBC News he respects the president's opinion, but the moniker is staying.

                                                                      

LANNY DAVIS:

The Redskins' name has existed for 80 years.  The original coach of the Redskins was a Native American.  This is about loving an athletic team.  It's not about disrespecting or disparaging anyone.

                                                                      

KRISTEN WELKER:             

That explanation isn't good enough for some Native Americans, like those in the Oneida Nation, who have launched a campaign against the mascot.

                       

RAY HALBRITTER, NATION REPRESENTATIVE AND C.E.O., ONEIDA NATION ENTERPRISES:

And any other group or ethnic group would not tolerate this kind of language being used about them that's so denigrating and dehumanizing.

                                                                      

KRISTEN WELKER:

The latest polling shows four out of five Americans don't think the team should change its name.  And the only data that has polled Native Americans specifically is nearly a decade old, but shows a strong majority are okay with it.  Supporters argue there are other Native American namesakes, like the Braves, Indians, and Blackhawks.

Still, pressure is mounting with protests sprouting up outside games.  And some media outlets refusing to use the term.  A group of lawmakers, including D.C.'s Eleanor Holmes Norton has introduced legislation aimed at forcing change.

                                                                      

ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON:

I certainly think it's a tipping point.  I think that the handwriting is clearly on the wall.

                                                                      

KRISTEN WELKER:

But for former Washington pro-bowler Jeff Bostic, it's about holding onto a winning traditional.

                                                                      

JEFF BOSTIC:

I think it was a sense of pride when we were fortunate enough to wear the burgundy and gold, we were proud to be called Redskins, we were proud to represent our nation's capital.]

                                                                      

KRISTEN WELKER:

Now the Redskins name is also facing a legal challenge, and there's an effort underway to get broadcasters to stop using the term.  On Monday, the United Nation will hold a conference right here in Washington D.C.  They say they are determined.  Savannah?

                                                                      

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

All right, Kristen Welker at the White House, thank you so much.  And so I turn to the roundtable for the lightning round, ten seconds, Steve Inskeep, change the name or keep it?

                                                                      

STEVE INSKEEP:

Well, I think that you want something really scary as a football team name, so the Washington Debt Limits would be a much better thing to do.

                                                                      

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Way to tie it all together.  Mike Murphy?

                                                                      

MIKE MURPHY:

Well, what's next, the Minnesota Nonviolent Vikings?  The Detroit Endangered Tigers?  Unless we get a casino and trade, I say balderdash.

                                                                      

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

All right, four seconds for Rich.

                                                                      

RICH LOWRY:

I think if you change it, you ruin the parallelism of the Cowboys/Redskin rivalry, and you can't lose that.

                                                                      

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Congresswoman, you wanted to yield your time anyway?

                                                                      

REPRESENTATIVE MARCIA FUDGE:

Yes, yes.  Change it.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Okay, roundtable, thank you.  We're back with more in a moment.

* * *TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE:  COMMERCIALS NOT TRANSCRIBED.* * *

                                                                      

[TAPE: SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Here now, some images to remember from two government shutdowns nearly two decades apart.]

(MUSIC)

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Ah, the bad old days.  The government shutdowns then and now.  Thanks to all of you on the roundtable for a great conversation this morning.  We have one quick programming note before we go.

This year's Education Nation Summit is in full swing on our air and online.  It continues tomorrow at the New York Public Library.  You can watch live and get a full schedule of events at EducationNation.com.  that is all for today.  David Gregory will be back next week.  If it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. Analyst: ISIS recruitment could be ‘significant’

    video NBC News national security analyst Micahel Leiter said that ISIS could step up its recruitment tactics in response to a U.S.-led airstrike on the terrorist outfit’s capital city in Syria.

    9/23/2014 11:40:48 AM +00:00 2014-09-23T11:40:48
  2. ISIS releases new hostage video as US strikes begin
  1. Courtesy of Jennifer Hojnacki

    Babies born on live TV return to celebrate their 1st birthday

    9/23/2014 10:55:13 AM +00:00 2014-09-23T10:55:13
  1. TODAY

    video Video shows alleged cop killer in war reenactment

    9/23/2014 11:42:13 AM +00:00 2014-09-23T11:42:13