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updated 10/20/2013 12:13:59 PM ET 2013-10-20T16:13:59

DAVID GREGORY:

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And good Sunday morning. What a week it was in Washington. Before we talk to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Senators Schumer and Coburn, I'm here with the political roundtable: David Brooks, EJ Dionne, Andrea Mitchell and Maria Bartiromo, who, this week, celebrated her 20th year at CNBC. Congratulations.

MARIA BARTIROMO:

Oh my goodness, thank you so much.

DAVID GREGORY:

So well done. (CHUCKLE) Well, here was The Boston Globe. I love this headline this week, if you didn't see it, "Crisis Over." But see the asterisk? "For At Least Three Months." So just, first, takes from everybody. What has changed after this dramatic week?

DAVID BROOKS:

I think the Republicans may decide to tire of doing face plants. And so I think the moderate Republicans, such as they exist, may have had a little manhood injection, willing to stand up to the Tea Party and actually be a much more bipartisan, or at least a more moderate, party, a more realistic party.

E.J. DIONNE:

I think that the era of the far right and the era of the Tea Party is over. We wasted $12-24 billion of GDP on a political tactic that was designed to win by intimidation. We have an opening for normal government for the first time since the 2010 elections.

DAVID GREGORY:

You're obviously thinking, as well, Maria, about economic fallout. What's changed there?

MARIA BARTIROMO:

Two big changes for the economy. Number one, the economy takes a hit, probably about six tenths of a percent. We go into the fourth quarter weaker than we wanted. And that is an important part of the year, holiday spending. Number two, Federal Reserve taken probably off the table in 2013, could be off the table for much of 2014. The Federal Reserve takes more of the brunt of this economic slowdown.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

I don't think that the era of the Tea Party (CHUCKLE) is over. I think that they will be resurgent in their districts and still be a big problem that John Boehner does not have a working majority without 30 or 40 of those hardliners who are not challenged in their own districts.

I do think, though, that they've learned a lesson that they have to work together. There are some grownups involved, Patty Murray and Paul Ryan. They are going to talk about at least a one-year budget deal. But it's not going to be with the president saying entitlements, everything's on the table, he does not mean that benefits are on the table. So there's not going to be the grand bargain.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right. All of you sticking around, of course. Joining me now, Democratic Senator from New York, Chuck Schumer, Republican Senator from Oklahoma, Tom Coburn. Senators, welcome both.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

Hi.

SEN TOM COBURN:

Morning.

DAVID GREGORY:

Senator Schumer--

SEN TOM COBURN:

Morning.

DAVID GREGORY:

Senator Schumer, let me start with you. To Andrea's point, the crisis has been averted. But why should anybody have faith that, when you get around to negotiating the budget in just a couple of months, that a deal is somehow reachable at this point?

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

Well, I think there are a few reasons. First of all, the Republican Parties in the House and Senate are not a majority Tea Party. They are mainstream conservatives, very conservative, but mainstream. They've seen their numbers drop dramatically because they followed the Tea Party. And they, I think, may decide not to go forward in this direction.

And so I think that we'll see a new type of negotiation where we come together. Now one way, David, to avoid this from happening again is for us to implement the McConnell Rule, which says that Congress must disapprove, rather than approve, increases in the debt ceiling. If we were to do that, the chances of going up to the brink again, the chances of this kind of debacle, would decrease. I'm going to introduce legislation--

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, well--

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

--to just that.

DAVID GREGORY:

Senator, let me--

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

And it would really help.

DAVID GREGORY:

On that point, Senator Coburn, why would Republicans agree to that if they've just come through a negotiating term where they don't feel like they got very much? Why would they lose that feeling that, in fact, using the debt ceiling as some leverage is a worthwhile concept? If nothing else, they kept these sequester cuts in place for now.

SEN TOM COBURN:

Well David, first of all, I think the debt ceiling's a misnomer. We've never not increased it. And the first thing you do when you're addicted to something is to present the reality to yourself that you are addicted. And we didn't do anything except create a big mess in Washington. And I'm not so inclined to think it was the Tea Party as much as it was outside interest groups and a few individuals within our party that took advantage of that situation.

Look, the real problems are that we're continuing to spend money that we don't have on things that we don't need. There's tremendous amounts of waste and fraud. We have to protect the promises made to American people. And we can do that, but we can do that spending a whole lot less money than we're doing today.

DAVID GREGORY:

Let me ask you about Obamacare. Because that fight does not appear to be going away. Your colleague, Senator Ted Cruz, has said that he would do anything in the future to stop the train wreck that is Obamacare. Do you believe the fight against Obamacare is over?

SEN TOM COBURN:

Well, you know, I think focusing on Obamacare takes you away from the larger picture, David. We have $128 trillion worth of un-funded liabilities, and the total net worth of our country is $94 trillion. And we have another $17 trillion worth of debt.

What we ought to be doing is how do we secure the future? You know, I heard your panelists talk about the markets and the growth and the decrease in GDP. Our problem with growth, in spite of what Jack Lew's going to tell you, is there's no confidence in the country about the future. And until you have leadership that brings our nation together, rather than advantages themselves by dividing this, we're not going to solve these problems. And we have to be truthful about what the real problem is.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, let me stick to Obamacare. Senator Schumer--

SEN TOM COBURN:

And so my--

DAVID GREGORY:

I just want to continue on this point. Senator Schumer, how disappointed are you with the rollout of Obamacare? You have heard fellow Democrats, Robert Gibbs, who was the press secretary for President Obama, saying that people should be fired because of the rollout and the problems that have gone with it. How disappointed are you? And who should be accountable for it?

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

Okay. Well first, I think the number one point about the rollout is that there's huge interest. 19 million individual visits to the website, that's huge. 500,000 people, close to 500,000 people already filing applications, even with the computer glitches. The number one worry before we started was are people going to be interested? Will people sign up? And the answer to that is, overwhelming, yes.

And as more people learn about it, more people are going to do that. I was at a wedding last night, and I saw (CHUCKLE) my cousin, who has a small plumbing business. He was all worried about Obamacare, "What am I going to do? I have a small number of employees on health care." I said, "You'll be able to go to the exchange. And in New York, your costs will be cut in half." He was happy. That's going to be repeated, that story, over and over again. So are there computer glitches?

DAVID GREGORY:

But that's not the reality today, Senator.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

Are there-- pardon?

DAVID GREGORY:

That's not the reality today. You can talk about what will happen.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

Well-- of course.

DAVID GREGORY:

The reality has been very difficult for people.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

Well, because there are computer glitches. Look, every major tech company has computer glitches. You read about them, about Apple. You read about them about all our major tech companies. Those will be solved. The administration's working to do it. They're putting in a tech surge. They're putting more people in the call centers. And if you need health care, the fact that you couldn't get on the computer right away isn't going to stop you two, three weeks from now, when they're fixed from going on.

DAVID GREGORY:

Let me get--

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

I think the computer glitches are being used by a good number of people who never wanted Obamacare in the first place as an excuse to just sort of bash it.

DAVID GREGORY:

Let me get beyond policy and get back to politics. You know, one of the striking things out of our poll, the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, was the following question: "Would you vote to replace every member of Congress?" 60% said yes. We asked here on Meet the Press on Twitter, for our viewer ideas for #breakinggridlock.

We heard three that really stood out. "End the gerrymandering, term limits, campaign finance reform." Senator Coburn, as you look at that list, is term limits maybe the most viable way to end this dysfunction in Washington?

SEN TOM COBURN:

Well, I certainly think it would bring a different viewpoint to Washington. My complaint is the vast majority of the members of the Senate and the House have no experience outside of politics, which doesn't mean they're not great people and not dedicated servants, it means like their judgment. And that's what I see most of the time.

You know, we just raised the debt limit for a period of time. And that's kind of like saying we're going to raise the legal limit for blood alcohol, thinking we're going to control drunk driving. We're drunk up there in terms of spending money. And we can keep commitments, but we can't keep commitments if we continue to spend money on things that we shouldn't be spending it on.

DAVID GREGORY:

Senator Coburn, quick follow-up, final point here. How much of a reckoning for the Republican Party has been experienced this week because of going up against the debt default limit and the shutdown?

SEN TOM COBURN:

Well, I think the fight on Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act took us off message. The large percentage of the American public knows that Washington wastes money. They just don't have a clue of how bad it really is. And so we lost the message there of what really needs to happen in Washington.

Obamacare is going to fail on its own right. And you just talked about the number of people that have signed up. The fact is that the sick people are signing up, the healthy aren't. And they're not going to, because the deductibles are so high and the cost is going to be high. And the penalty's not great enough to force them to do it.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, let me leave it there. Senator Coburn and Schumer, thank you both very much this morning. I appreciate it. On Friday, I sat down with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew in his office right next door to the White House.

(BEGIN TAPE)

DAVID GREGORY:

Mr. Secretary, welcome.

SECRETARY JACK LEW:

Good to be with you, David.

DAVID GREGORY:

You said this week with the crisis over that the cloud of economic uncertainty has been lifted. How is that possibly the case when in just a couple of months, we could be right back to the brink again?

SECRETARY JACK LEW:

Well, David, first it's important to remember that what we just went through was a political crisis, not an economic crisis. Um, and I think that having come through it, what we saw on Wednesday night, that admittedly at the 11th hour, a strong bipartisan majority in the House and the Senate stood for the principle that is so important, that you cannot take a risk with the full faith and credit.

DAVID GREGORY:

But does that mean there was no economic damage done in your judgment--

SECRETARY JACK LEW:

No. Look, unfortunately, we learned in 2011 that when you get even close to the edge, it does do some damage. But we have a resilient economy. I'm confident that our economy can recover. The American people have been working hard to come back from the worst recession since the Great Depression. We need to make sure that government does not go through another round of brinksmanship. This can never happen again.

DAVID GREGORY:

But what damage has been done? Can you lay it out plain and simple?

SECRETARY JACK LEW:

So, there are going to be people looking through the details of the economic data for weeks and months to come, both in government and out of government. We did see our borrowing costs go up in the short term. We know that from the shutdown, there was a loss of economic activity. I can't give you a number today of what is another direction. The direction is that it took an economy that is fighting hard to get good economic growth going, to create jobs for the American people, and it took it in the wrong direction. Our job in Washington is to move things in the right direction.

This one was a little bit scary because it got so close to the edge. And I think that what I heard from them was that they have confidence in our economy. Much as the business people I talk to have confidence in our economy. I think what we need to do here in Washington is to go from the coming together on Wednesday night where we saw a strong bipartisan majority do the right thing, and make progress from there. Show that we can work together.

DAVID GREGORY:

So one more economic question. A lot of Republicans are crowing about the fact that whatever drama was here, whatever crisis atmosphere was here, that the sequester cuts have been locked in place, these automatic spending cuts that have kept spending down at an historic level. Do you think that that has hurt the economy, hurt economic growth, the fact that we've had this lower spending level?

SECRETARY JACK LEW:

You know, David, I think there's no question that the deep spending cuts that are part of sequestration are holding back the economy. There are competing ranges, whether it's a half percent or more, up to a percentage of G.D.P. The president's made clear that we think you should replace some of the sequestration cuts with sensible balance, entitlement, and tax reforms that put us in the right direction for the future.

DAVID GREGORY:

Who do you blame for the inability to do what you've done in the past?

SECRETARY JACK LEW:

Obviously, there was a faction, particularly in the House, who took control of some of the direction of this debate. I would just look to what Republican leaders have said themselves, about how inadvisable it is and how it can't happen again. I think the message that we have to send going forward is that there was a turning point on Wednesday night and this won't happen again. It can't happen again.

DAVID GREGORY:

Well, to that point, the National Journal has a headline, piece has a headline says, "Obama Wins! Big Whoop. Can He Lead?" Isn't the crisis management that the president decries, isn't that a lasting part of his own legacy here? Doesn't he have to absorb a big part of the responsibility for that?

SECRETARY JACK LEW:

You know, I think that the history of crisis management goes back longer than this administration. And I think the divisions in Congress are as deep as they've been in modern times. You know, you look at what we've been able to accomplish, notwithstanding all the noise, we're in a very different place now than we were even 2011, 2010. Our deficit is cut in half as a percentage of the economy from when the president took office.

DAVID GREGORY:

But aren't automatic spending cuts, which the president opposed, a big reason for that?

SECRETARY JACK LEW:

Well, it's part of it. But there's a tendency in Washington to look at one piece of what's happened. And we have to look at the entirety of it. If you go back and you look, part of the spending cuts we agreed on them because any budget agreement was going to reduce spending in domestic and defense programs.

Part of the deficit reduction was from the tax bill that passed at the beginning of this year that raised the top tax rates and repealed the Bush tax cuts. The last part of the savings is coming from these automatic, across-the-board cuts. Now I do believe that those should be replaced with more sensible policies. But the vast majority of the deficit reduction will still be in place.

So I think we've done a lot. We've got to ship the focus from just fiscal policy, fiscal policy is very important. But there's a lot we need to do to build and grow this economy. We need some infrastructure. The farm bill needs to pass. The immigration bill is hugely important to the economy. So I'm hoping that coming out of this, we can find the places where we can work together.

DAVID GREGORY:

Look, the ObamaCare fight is not going away. It is law. Republicans say they will not stop fighting. And the rollout, the exchanges, getting people enrolled has been very, very difficult. From the USA Today their coverage is this: "The federal healthcare exchange was built using ten-year-old technology that may require constant fixes and updates for the next six months and the eventual overhaul of the entire system." Speak to critics including Democrats, supported allies of this president, who say, "This has been a disastrous start to ObamaCare."

SECRETARY JACK LEW:

Well, David, first, let me say that the huge outpouring of interest shows how important it is that we get this right. There are millions of Americans who want health insurance. It's important for our economy for them to have health insurance. I think that there's no one more frustrated than the president at the difficulty in the website.

I can tell you most people around me have been working full time on solving the more immediate challenges with getting the government open and dealing with making sure we didn't default. There are people working 24 hours a day, around the clock. And the H.H.S. has said it's going to be putting out information on a monthly basis. H.H.S. has got plans to fix this and it has to fix this. It has to be done right.

DAVID GREGORY:

Can ObamaCare survive in its current form if the systems are not improved for delivery of the care and the insured?

SECRETARY JACK LEW:

The test is going to be in January, how many people are enrolled and what the quality of service that they're getting. I think that if we get that right, everyone will regret that the early weeks were choppy on the website. But the test is are people getting coverage and are they getting the care that they need. And we're confident we're going to be on track to do that.

DAVID GREGORY:

Final area, in addition to trying to keep the government open and deal with the debt issue, you're also dealing with the sanctions against Iran. And this is a big issue. As you the about negotiations with Iran, what's the bottom-line position of this administration? What does Iran have to do, what must it do in order to start easing sanctions or removing those sanctions which are hurting tremendously?

SECRETARY JACK LEW:

Well, David, I think it's premature to be talking about the easing. I think we have to go back and remember why we put these sanctions in place in the first place. The sanctions were put in place to change the way the government of Iran thought about its choices to have the economic pressure bring them to the table to change their nuclear program.

I think the sanctions were working and that's why the discussions have started. But we need to see what they're going to actually do. We need to see rolling back their nuclear program. And I can tell you that when the time comes, when those movements come, any changes will have to be proportionate. But it's premature to talk about any changes right now.

DAVID GREGORY:

But that's interesting. So if they were to enrich less uranium, they could have an easing of the sanctions? Which as you know, to Israeli leaders and others, they say, you know, "That's a mistake." Unless you completely dismantle the sanctions, don't take your foot off of the pedal that is inflicting this economic pain.

SECRETARY JACK LEW:

I haven't said what needs to happen for there to be a reduction in sanctions. What I'm saying is, we need to see that they're taking the steps to move away from having nuclear weapons capacity. We need to see real, tangible evidence of it, and that we will not make moves in the sanctions until we see those kinds of moves.

DAVID GREGORY:

Mr. Secretary, thanks as always.

SECRETARY JACK LEW:

Thank you for being here today.

(END TAPE)

DAVID GREGORY:

YOU JUST HEARD SECRETARY LEW TALK ABOUT THOSE ECONOMIC SANCTIONS AGAINST IRAN. THOSE COMMENTS COME AS WORLD LEADERS ARE MEETING TO DISCUSS IF AND WHEN IRAN WILL GIVE UP ITS NUCLEAR PROGRAM. IS THERE REASON FOR OPTIMISM OR EVEN MORE SUSPICION? NEXT I'LL SPEAK TO ISRAEL'S PRIME MINISTER, BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, TO GET HIS REACTION. BACK IN ONE MINUTE...

(***COMMERCIAL BREAK***)

DAVID GREGORY:

And we are back. Joining me now, the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. Mr. Prime Minister, welcome back to Meet the Press.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU:

Thank you, it's good to be with you, David.

DAVID GREGORY:

I want to start where I ended with Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew, talking about the Iranian nuclear threat. And before I ask you about the sanctions, the question I posed to him, let me ask you more broadly. Here you have this meeting going on with Western powers, including the United States and President Rouhani of Iran. Why should this be seen as a major sign of progress, the Iranians making concessions, conversations moving forward?

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU:

It could be. It depends how these conversations end up. We had conversations in 2005 with North Korea, and everybody hoped that it would produce a stark result. As it turns out, they did produce a stark result, a bad one. And Iran detonated its explosive device, nuclear explosive devices. You don't want that repeating.

The question is not of hope, the question is of actual results. And the test is the result. The result has to be the full dismantling of Iran's military nuclear program. If that is achieved, that would be very good.

DAVID GREGORY:

And--

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU:

And if it's achieved peacefully, it's even better.

DAVID GREGORY:

Well, to that point, the issue on the table here is what is it that Iran is actually offering? What are they prepared to do? Your position is clear, stop enrichment of uranium, because that's how you get a nuclear weapon. That's how you dismantle Iran's nuclear program.

What was striking to me about my conversation with Secretary Lew was also reported by The New York Times this week. And let me show it with regards to sanctions and how they could be eased. The headline, "White House Weighs Easing Iran Sanctions Bite With Slow Release of Assets.” “The Obama administration, in the wake of a promising first round of nuclear diplomacy with Iran is weighing a proposal to ease the pain of sanctions on Tehran by offering it access to billions of dollars in frozen funds if the Iranian government takes specific steps to curb its nuclear program, according to a senior administration official." Does that trouble you? Do you think the United States is prepared to ease sanctions before Iran goes far enough to dismantle its nuclear program?

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU:

My policy's been consistent. And it's been consistent for close to 20 years. This is my third term as prime minister. And so I'm dealing with the subject a long time. I think the pressure has to be maintained on Iran, even increased on Iran, until it actually stops the nuclear program, that is, dismantles it.

I think that any partial deal could end up in dissolving the sanctions. There are a lot of countries that are waiting for a signal, just waiting for a signal, to get rid of their sanctions regime. And I think you don't want to go through halfway measures.

You know, Syria just committed to fully dismantling its chemical weapons program. Suppose Syria said, "Well, you know, we're going to dismantle 20% of it and give the ease of sanctions because of that." Nobody would buy that. That's exactly what Iran is trying to do. They're trying to give a partial deal that they know could end up dissolving the sanctions regime and would keep them with the nuclear weapons capabilities.

So I don't advise doing that. As far as the freezing of assets, as far as I remember, those assets were frozen for three reasons. One, Iran's terrorist actions. Two, its aggressive actions particular in The Gulf. And three, its continued refusal to stop the production of weapons of mass destruction. You know, if you get all three done and they stop doing it, well then, I suppose you could unfreeze them.

DAVID GREGORY:

Do you support Republicans in Congress right now who are actually pushing for tougher sanctions before you get to any potential easing, tougher sanctions to put that much more pain on the Iranians to force that much more of a concession?

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU:

I'm not going to get into specific legislation action. It's certainly not a part of the issue the way I've always dealt with it. It's a national, and in my view, an international, issue. Those sanctions weren't Israeli sanctions.

I've always advocated them. But I mean the international community adopted very firm resolutions by the Security Council. And here's what those resolutions said. They said Iran should basically dismantle its centrifuges for enrichment. That's one path to get a nuclear weapon. And stop work on its plutonium heavy water reactor. That's the other path for nuclear weapons.

It's very important to stress that it's for nuclear weapons. Nobody challenges Iran's or any country's pursuit of civilian nuclear energy. But 17 countries in the world, including your neighbors, Canada and Mexico, have very robust programs for civilian nuclear energy. And they don't enrich with centrifuges, and they don't have heavy water plutonium reactors.

Here comes Iran and says, "I want civilian nuclear energy." I don't know why, because they have energy with gas and oil coming out of their ears for generations. But suppose you believe them. Then you ask, "Why do you insist on mainlining a plutonium heavy water reactor and on maintaining centrifuges that can only be used for nuclear weapons?" And then answer is because they want to have residual capability to make nuclear weapons.

DAVID GREGORY:

But--

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU:

And you don't want that. And U.N. resolutions don't want that, U.N. Security council resolutions. I propose sticking by that. That's the way to peacefully end Iran's nuclear weapons program.

DAVID GREGORY:

Let me ask you quickly about Syria. Having just been to the region, being on the Israeli border with Syria, and tracking the fact that you have an opposition in Syria that is being infused by Sunni jihadist groups that are now aligned along the Israeli border, do you not, as you think about the security of Israel but also the region, would you prefer to have Assad remain in power?

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU:

No. No. I certainly don't. I mean I don't think Assad is in power. I think Iran is in power. Because basically, Syria has become an Iranian protectorate. Iran's henchmen, Hezbollah, are doing the fighting for Assad, for his army. To the extent he has an army, it's the Hezbollah Army.

So understand that Syria is Iran, and Iran is Syria, as things have developed. Now of course you have the other option, which is no less appetizing, which is equally unappetizing, which is the first jihadist al-Qaeda al-Nusra. You know, one would hope that we could find a third way to give the Syrian people, first of all, some life. I mean they're undergoing just a horrible tragedy.

I saw a documentary the other day about the suffering of Syrian girls that are selling themselves, basically, to give something to eat for their families, refugee girls. And the displacement of millions of people, and the death of over 100,000 people. And by the way, Iran, this Iran, participates as we speak in the mass slaughter of hundreds of-- or rather, thousands of men, women and children--

DAVID GREGORY:

Right.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU:

--in Syria. So I think we want to end that tragedy. We want to end it in the best way, that we don't have either an Iranian protectorate or a jihadist regime a la Afghanistan in Syria.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right. Prime Minister Netanyahu, thank you very much for your time this morning. I appreciate it.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU:

Thank you. Thank you, David.

DAVID GREGORY:

COMING UP: BACK TO POLITICS AND THE BUDGET FIGHT FALLOUT. WHY SOME SAY THE INTERNAL DIVIDE AMONG REPUBLICANS MIGHT HURT THE PARTY IN NEXT YEAR'S MIDTERM ELECTIONS. OUR POLITICAL ROUNDTABLE IS BACK IN A MOMENT.

(***Commercial Break***)

DAVID GREGORY:

We are back. The President's going to talk more about health care tomorrow and try to deal with all of the glitches in rolling out Obamacare. According to AP, 476,000 applications have been submitted to get care. But there are still a lot of problems to deal with.

And, EJ Dionne, we talk about whether conservatives are giving up the fight. Here was Jim DeMint, former Senator, now head of Heritage, in an op-ed late last week. He writes, "Obamacare and its failings have been front and center in the national debate. Its disastrous launch was spotlighted by our de-fund struggle, not overshadowed, as some content. With a revived and engaged electorate, Obamacare will now be the issue for the next few years."

E.J. DIONNE:

Well first of all, I think DeMint's political analysis is wrong. These glitches, or bigger than glitches, would have gotten a lot more attention if they hadn't tried to shut down the government. Second, I really hope this leads to a very large look at how government acquires I.T.. Why did this go wrong? Is it symptomatic of other problems in government? Let's fix our I.T. system.

But third, Senator Schumer said it right. The real test of this is are these fixable problems? I think they're fixable problems. Is there interest in Obamacare? There is interest in Obamacare. And if you look at states where this is working, Kentucky is a notable example, Governor Steve Beshear has put his whole heart--

DAVID GREGORY:

Democrat.

E.J. DIONNE:

--in getting the state-- a Democrat-- into getting that state signed up. It's working. If Kentucky can work, other states in the national system can work.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

But, you know, one of the things that the president's going to announce that they are rolling out is that you can apply by telephone. You don't have to--

DAVID GREGORY:

Right.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

--you can work around this online problem. The problem with that is that this is very complicated stuff. The reason for doing it online is that you need to shop around. And there are so many different options, depending on your category, I think that the president is justifiably upset. They don't really have a fix.

They can say all the way that this shows that a lot of people are interested. But they've got a very short window here, a couple of months. And if they don't get the seven million people, and including a large number of healthy people, this system will not work. They need the healthy people to be enrolled in order for the economics of it to work.

DAVID GREGORY:

Some of the problems that have been reported, you've got difficulty creating accounts. That's been a basic one. Unable to compare the plans, as you say, Andrea. Trouble confirming applicant identities, and on and on. It makes it very difficult.

DAVID BROOKS:

One question to ask is why is Obama campaign so awesome at the internet and the Obama presidency so bad at it?

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Private versus--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID BROOKS:

That's exactly right.

(OVERTALK)

DAVID BROOKS:

It's they have consultants they hire at the campaign. And they were just consultants, private businesses. They're built to do this. The government is not built to do this. The government agencies tried to quarterback all the different consultancies. They were very late in writing the rules. They didn't have enough money. They're just not trained, as an institution, to do this.

DAVID GREGORY:

But is--

(OVERTALK)

MARIA BARTIROMO:

But beyond the glitches, beyond the glitches, there are other issues. And that has had implications with the goal that we're supposed to have, and that is job creation. Businesses have changed their plans as a result of Obamacare. We are becoming something of a part-time employment country.

We're seeing some groups moved off of health care from business, because business is complaining that it's too expensive. So the goal is growth. Getting back to goal. From an economic standpoint, getting back to growth and job creation. We're not there yet. Businesses are still sitting on cash and not creating jobs.

E.J. DIONNE:

We were moving toward a part-time economy, sadly, long before Obamacare came on the scene. It's not clear at all that Obamacare is a big push in this direction. On David's point on I.T., a lot of this was private I.T.. And I think the issue is about how government acquires I.T. versus the flexibility the campaign had.

(OVERTALK)

E.J. DIONNE:

And we need to give government the freedom to do this right and not have rules that make it hard.

(OVERTALK)

DAVID BROOKS:

--though, here, that it was unlike private industry. They were the node quarterbacking all the 92 different consultancies. Though just to be fair for conservatives, not too happy about this because the exchanges, all the conservative programs--

E.J. DIONNE:

Right.

DAVID BROOKS:

--they have exchanges. They had exactly this kind of program. So if this website messes up, Republicans should not be ecstatic--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And when--

DAVID BROOKS:

--'cause it hits at the heart of their own plan.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

One quick point about Jim DeMint. He should not be bragging about anything. Jim DeMint and The Heritage have been completely discredited among Republicans, among conservative Republicans, Orrin Hatch criticizing them. They will not have the power that they had hoped to have.

DAVID GREGORY:

Well, so that gets back to the broader question of winners and losers after this week. We'll get to the president and whether what he's won, if he's won anything, as some people believe he has. Here was The Week magazine with a pretty graphic cover, self-inflicted wounds depicting McConnell and Boehner. And the tag-line there, "After taking a beating, will the GOP give up on showdowns and default?" Will they?

DAVID BROOKS:

That's the question.

E.J. DIONNE:

I think they will. I think that Mitch McConnell gave a very interesting interview where he said, "You don't learn a lesson by being kicked twice by a mule, you ought to-- "

DAVID GREGORY:

But does it matter what Mitch McConnell and John Boehner say?

E.J. DIONNE:

Yes. Because a lot of people in the Republican Party know that if they do this again in 2014, an election, they'll suffer. You raised that National Journal article about Obama's leadership earlier. Why did he win this? He didn't shilly shally this time. He dealt with the Republican Party that he has to deal with, not the Republican Party that he wish existed. He sent a signal. And now Republicans know that if they want to deal, they have to start somewhere closer to the center, not on the far right.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

I can't believe Mitch McConnell is one of the winners, that he helped to craft the final agreement, that he was the intermediary that the White House was actually working with.

DAVID GREGORY:

So what about the other side of this, which is, if the president is seen as winning, there are a lot of conservatives, and I'm not talking about the leadership here, I'm talking about the Raul Labradors, the Senator Cruzes, the Mike Lees, who say, "Look. The goal, David, by the president, is how to destroy the Republican Party. It's to fracture the Republican Party. We've got to dig in and not deal with this guy at all."

DAVID BROOKS:

Yeah. For some of these people--Dwight Eisenhower had a phrase about what Senator. He proves there's no ultimate answer to how dumb a person can be. And when I look at the way that some of the Republicans have conducted themselves, including some of the people you just mentioned, incredibly self-destructive.

The question now is will the Republican Party have a civil war over the nature of the party? And I think we're beginning to see rumblings of that. The problem is, to have a civil war, you actually have to have two sides. The Tea Party has a side. They have a political movement. They have a think tank. They have a donor side.

The other side, the Republicans who want to be able to compete in California, in New York, along the east coast and in Illinois, they don't have a side. They have American Crossroads, a PAC. They have a cocktail party. And so what they need to do is actually build some institutions, some think tanks, some fundraising efforts, some grassroots organizations, to match Tea Party, or else the Tea Party will take over.

DAVID GREGORY:

Is Ted Cruz effectively the face of conservative Republicans? I mean, you know, obviously at odds with the business community, but a force to be reckoned with?

MARIA BARTIROMO:

Well, you know, I think at this point nobody-- I don't agree that anybody won here. I think the American people are so disgusted with the in ability to get anything done. I think lawmakers, including the president, have to win back the trust of the American people. Because we cannot have these crises every three months.

Whether or not he's the face of the Republican Party, I don't think so. There's so much debate around him. So I doubt it. But the bottom line is I think everybody is a loser in this because it's just too frustrating for the American people. We can't move forward.

E.J. DIONNE:

You know, but I think that sure, absolutely, I agree the country lost because this should never have happened. But I think the country made a very clear decision about who was responsible for this. If you look at the NBC poll, Tea Party, for example, at its peak in mid-2010, 34% of Americans had positive feelings. It's down to 21%. Then obviously the Republican Party's ratings collapsed. This sends a message. You would think that Republicans might learn from that.

DAVID GREGORY:

Okay. Well, let me introduce, Andrea, the criticism, some of the criticism that I've read against the president. To paraphrase Peter Baker in The New York Times on Friday, he writes, "Okay, if the vision is that he won, what is it that he has actually won? Has he changed the dynamic of negotiating in town?" The criticism is, "Look, he's great at running against someone or something. In this case, the party. When is he going to demonstrate that he can bring along converts to his side and actually get something meaningful accomplished?"

ANDREA MITCHELL:

That is in the past. And it starts now. It started with the first meetings of the budget conferees. And it ends, supposedly, on December 13th, when they're supposed to produce a budget document. This is the test of whether the president is going to put something on the table. And, at least in the short term, both sides seem to want some relief from the sequester. And I think that that's where the running room is, if they can come up with some creative ways to finance that, whether it's tobacco or gasoline or other kinds of, quote, "Revenue enhancements."

(OVERTALK)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Both sides are going to have to give.

DAVID BROOKS:

Yeah. The question he's never answered in all these years is, "How do I build a governing majority in this circumstance?"

DAVID GREGORY:

Right.

DAVID BROOKS:

He's got 40 House Republicans who are never going to be with him. How does he siphon them off and get the other Republicans on his side to get a majority coalition? You have to anger the left a little to build that bipartisan coalition. He's never figured out a way to do that. I think he has an opportunity now with immigrant. If I were him, I'd go--

MARIA BARTIROMO:

Right.

DAVID BROOKS:

--full bore on immigration. Either Republicans decide, "We've got to change," then you get a big substance win, or else they decide they're going to destroy themselves, and you get a big political win.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And the business community is with him. Silicon Valley is with him.

DAVID BROOKS:

Right.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

He can tap into those big--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

And isn't that actually better than Medicare? I mean look, for Democrats, Medicare cuts raises lots of problems politically, policy-wise. But EJ, do Republicans in a midterm election year also want to really propose Medicare cuts?

(OVERTALK)

E.J. DIONNE:

--precisely right. I think we have to-- I agree on going toward immigrant. I think there's at least some potential there. But I think that Medicaid-- the Republicans don't want to be the leaders in cutting Medicare, because they have the old-- a very old constituency--

DAVID GREGORY:

Right.

E.J. DIONNE:

--compared to the Democrats, oddly particularly in Tea Party. The president, a lot of times, though, when people say the president should lead, what they want him to do is adopt Republican positions and then push for those. That's not leadership, that's capitulation. I think we should stop talking about a grand bargain and try to have normal government in the next two months. Let's just get rid of some of this sequester, which is hurting the economy, and which a lot of Republicans don't like.

DAVID GREGORY:

I wanted to introduce something, Maria. You know, we talk about big accomplishments in the administration, a second term agenda. Part of that agency we're seeing play out real-time with this big news people are waking up to about JP Morgan. A huge settlement, $13 billion with a B, in a tentative deal with JP Morgan to settle a lot of the civil litigation that responds to whether they sold subprime loans into the marketplace to Fannie and Freddie. But this goes to a larger point, which is this reckoning for Wall Street that's finally happening that a lot of liberals have been cheering for.

MARIA BARTIROMO:

Yeah. I think that reckoning continues. This is worse than people expected. A lot of people thought it was $11 billion. It ended up at 13. Also very important here is the fact that they did not do away with the possibility of criminality.

DAVID GREGORY:

Criminal-- yeah.

MARIA BARTIROMO:

This is a major issue.

DAVID GREGORY:

And this is JP Morgan, this is Jamie Dimon as CEO, who was viewed, frankly, as one of the most responsible players in the whole sub-prime mess, did not need federal bailout money, was a leader, did things the government wanted him to do in buying Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns. And yet, they become a big target here.

MARIA BARTIROMO:

Well, this has been one of the repercussions of the financial crisis. And that is the pendulum swinging a little far in terms of regulation. And this is the cost on business. And this is one of the reasons business sits on cash and is not creating jobs, because they worry what's around the corner.

As far as JP Morgan is concerned, this is going to be a big negative, I would say, because of that opening up to massive amounts of civil lawsuits, and more lawsuits, as a result of this potential for criminality. But certainly the regulation bite has become a lot bigger. And that has been a big issue for business. And that has kept business in its place in terms of the ability to hire more people.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, let me get a break in here. I want to come back and talk about more politics. Hillary Clinton returned to the campaign trail in a pretty big way this weekend. Does this mean she's laying the groundwork for 2016? I'd like to read a lot of the tea leaves here. We're going to talk about it with our roundtable when we come back in just a moment.

(***Commercial Break***)

DAVID GREGORY:

And we're back with the roundtable. Hillary Clinton, Saturday she made her first public campaign appearance since leaving the administration, official endorsing Virginia Gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe. She acknowledged her past political history.

[TAPE: HILLARY CLINTON:

I’ve been in a lot of elections … (laughter and applause)]

DAVID GREGORY:

Yes, a coy smile there, Andrea. A chance to connect in Virginia with a lot of that donor base, right?

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Donor base. And look, this is a one-off, to a certain extent, because Terry McAuliffe was her campaign manager and great friend.

DAVID GREGORY:

Yeah.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

But this is obviously putting more than just a toe in the water, and signaling to women. It's a big theme in that Virginia race. This is a natural constituency for her. And it's very clear that she's doing everything one would do to tee up a race.

DAVID GREGORY:

EJ?

E.J. DIONNE:

I agree totally with that. I think she-- I don't think she knows yet whether she's going to run, at least when you talk to people. But she sure looks like she's going to run. And I was really struck. McAuliffe is ahead by women by 20% in the polls. If you look at that backdrop, women was a lot bigger than Terry McAuliffe.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Right.

DAVID GREGORY:

With have a piece of sound, too, from that appearance, where she talks about the ways of Washington right now in this debate. Kind of an oblique reference, but still interesting. Listen to this.

[TAPE: HILLARY CLINTON:

Now, recently in Washington, unfortunately, we have seen examples of the wrong kind of leadership. When politicians choose scorched earth over common ground.]

DAVID GREGORY:

Interesting. Again, an oblique allusion to what's been going on.

MARIA BARTIROMO:

Look, I think she's definitely running. I think business likes Hillary a lot. I think they know Bill's record, and they know that he balanced, you know, four budgets and produced the ability to bring two sides together, as well as welfare reform. I think it's definitely something to come.

DAVID BROOKS:

I'm honestly into "hold the coronation" mode.

DAVID GREGORY:

Yeah.

DAVID BROOKS:

You know?

(OVERTALK)

DAVID BROOKS:

I think she's running, I agree with you on that. But, you know, the country is really angry at "politics as usual."

MARIA BARTIROMO:

Yeah.

DAVID GREGORY:

Yeah.

DAVID BROOKS:

And so she's Miss Fresh Face. I'm not sure. Maybe she could be the grownup. I can sort of see that.

MARIA BARTIROMO:

Oh, that's as good point.

(OVERTALK)

DAVID BROOKS:

The second thing I would say is the Democrats are moving left economically. And, you know, we got wage stagnation, we got widening inequality. There's a real opening for somebody on the left, or somebody faking it on the left, at least.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

She has to be concerned about the same problem that doomed her last campaign, which is being the frontrunner too early.

(OVERTALK)

E.J. DIONNE:

Hillary was more of a populist last time than Barack Obama.

(OVERTALK)

E.J. DIONNE:

--absorbed some of that.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, got to go here.

Maria Bartiromo:

People think it’s the opposite, though, now.

DAVID GREGORY:

Coming up here, Chuck Todd's First Read Sunday, a look ahead at the week in politics, including Ted Cruz trip to Iowa and what that could mean for 2016. Right after this.

(***Commercial Break***)

DAVID GREGORY:

We're back with our political director Chuck Todd and First Read Sunday. Chuck, we're talking about the effects of the shutdown.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

DAVID GREGORY:

You've been looking at this race in Virginia and where they're feeling the effect.

CHUCK TODD:

It is. I mean 2014, we're not sure yet, right? Time is going to tell. But Virginia governor, a lot of federal government workers, you see the impact of the shutdown. Terry McAuliffe was leading before the shutdown, 43-38. But in our most recent poll, we show him increasing areas.

DAVID GREGORY:

Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

Leads up to eight points. And you can see the impact of the shutdown. More Virginians. You go to the next one, more Virginians blame Congressional Republicans for the shutdown than President Obama. That number's even higher than what we had in our NBC Wall Street Journal poll.

And then look at this net negative for the Republican Party overall in the state of Virginia. The ultimate swing state, 62% unfavorable rating for the party. Democrats at 45-50 in isolation. You'd say, "Boy, that's not great." But look at it compared to Republicans: the shutdown has had a big impact. Democrats could sweep those three statewide races. That's a big deal.

DAVID GREGORY:

Interesting. To the extent that Obamacare is big in 2014, the President's out there already thinking about 2014 and raising--

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

He is. It's just they had to take a break from fundraising--

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

--during the shutdown. He didn't get to do much golfing nor fundraising. (LAUGHTER) Now he's going to do that in New York. Big D, triple C. We'll see. You know, the House Democrats say they have actually gotten people to suddenly decide they want to run for Congress now. Those that were waiting for 2016, now they want to run because they think the shutdown is bad politics for the Republicans.

DAVID GREGORY:

Ted Cruz, does he come out of this stronger or weaker? And where is he headed to test?

CHUCK TODD:

He is stronger amongst the Tea Party. That is 100% clear. And guess what? This, I believe, is already his third trip to Iowa. The man has not been in the United States Senate a year. And he's already making his third trip to Iowa. This is going to be a packed house. This is the big Reagan Dinner, Iowa Republican Party dinner there.

DAVID GREGORY:

Right.

CHUCK TODD:

Later this week. And he's going to-- you're going to see he's going to get a rock star treatment. Right now, I talked to Iowa insiders, and they say, "If the caucuses were today, he'd win it, maybe win it going away."

DAVID GREGORY:

Obamacare, just a few seconds, how does the president try to change this trajectory? He's going to be talking tomorrow.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, there's a couple things. I think one, if all else fails, they're going to have to find a fall person, somebody, and say, "You know what? This design work. Fire somebody. Maybe high profile." Kathleen Sebelius is very nervous about her standing with the president. Who knows what happens? But that would be the ultimate sort of, "If all else fails, bring in somebody to quote unquote, 'Fix this.'"

DAVID GREGORY:

All right. Chuck Todd, thanks very much. I appreciate it. Coming up here, panda-monium at The National Zoo. Yes, after the government shutdown. And this is in our Images to Remember coming up after this short break.

(***Commercial Break***)

DAVID GREGORY:

Here, now, are some of this week’s “Images to Remember.”

(MUSIC. TAPE: “IMAGES TO REMEMBER”)

DAVID GREGORY:

Yes, congratulations to The Boston Red Sox and, as much as this pains me, to The St. Louis Cardinals, who beat our Dodgers. Chuck is horrified that I would show this image. (CHUCKLE) They'll face each other in The World Series. Going to be a good one. As you tweeted this morning, the epitomize team, both of them.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

DAVID GREGORY:

So we can celebrate that. Quick note here, our programming tomorrow on Today, Savannah Guthrie sits down live with former Vice President Dick Cheney to talk about some of the amazing revelations in his new book called Heart about his own struggles with heart disease. That's all for us here today. We will be back next week, of course. If it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

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