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updated 10/27/2013 12:36:04 PM ET 2013-10-27T16:36:04

“MEET THE PRESS WITH DAVID GREGORY”

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October 27, 2013

DAVID GREGORY:

Good morning.  The Obamacare fix is on, but will it work?

The latest developments: the end of November is the timeline the administration is targeting to have the Obamacare website running smoothly. The latest report is 700,000 applications filed but no one will say how many actually enrolled. Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius is now expected to testify this week before Congress as some Republicans continue to call for her ouster. And even Democrats are urging change. 10 Senators are calling for open enrollment to be extended beyond the current end day of March 2014.

We wanted to help you understand some of the impacts of the President’s health care plan around the country. We’ll talk to the CEO of Florida’s largest health insurer-- cancelling 300,000 of its policies this week-- in just a minute.

First, I want to turn to Democratic Governor Steven Beshear of Kentucky, and Republican Governor John Kasich of neighboring Ohio.  Governors, welcome both.  I wanted to talk to you and take this out of Washington because, in Kentucky, you set up your own health care exchange; in Ohio, Governor Kasich, you declined to do so, and so the federal government has come in to do that.  So let me start with you.  The president said there's no excuse for this terrible rollout of Obamacare through the-- the-- the website.  Are you as frustrated with how all of this has started?  Governor Kasich?

GOV. JOHN KASICH:

David, is that to me?

DAVID GREGORY:

Yes.

GOV. JOHN KASICH:

Yeah.  Well, look, David, I mean, the-- the problem is Obamacare is-- it doesn't control costs.  Secondly, it's gonna drive up the cost for the vast majority of Ohioans.  It threatens the ability of small business to grow beyond 50 employees.  And frankly, I think it's got to concern everybody.  This economy is stalled and people don't know what the future's going to bring.  And when people are uncertain about the future, they sit on their wallets.  And that's why we're not seeing the kind of economic growth that we need to see, that's so vital--

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, but that's--

GOV. JOHN KASICH:

--to creating jobs here in the State of Ohio.

DAVID GREGORY:

Sir, that's the argument against Obamacare, but Obamacare is here.  I'm asking specifically about the damage done by a troubled rollout that you're seeing in your state?

GOV. JOHN KASICH:

Well, that's got everybody just shaking their heads.  And that's like three things:  The government almost shut down, now they're tapping somebody's phone, and now this thing.  This is creating an issue of confidence in the minds of the American people, and doubt with people around the world, which is really serious.

Now, here's what I think, David, at the end of the day.  I think people need to sit down.  The Obama administration needs to open itself up and figure out how we can get some sort of bipartisan support to move forward.  If Steve Beshear and I were sitting in a room, we'd figure out what's good, what's bad, how do we fix it.  The problem is, in Washington, they talk past one another and they're so polarized--

DAVID GREGORY:

Alright, well, let--

GOV. JOHN KASICH:

--they can't seem to get anything done.  It just doesn't make any sense.

DAVID GREGORY:

Governor Beshear, let's start on that beginning point, though.  We've got a system that is the law of the land.  Republicans like Governor Kasich don't like it, think it won't work, but for now this is the plan, and it's not working when it comes to implementation.  How disappointed are you with this rollout, where you think you've got a good story to tell because you set up your own exchange?

GOV. STEVE BESHEAR:

Well, first of all, David, at 12:01 a.m. on October 1, when our exchange opened up to enrollment, Kentuckians started swarming all over our exchange, all over our toll-free lines.  And in about four weeks, we've had over 300,000 Kentuckians trying to find out and finding out about affordable health care.  We've signed up over 26,000 people so far.

DAVID GREGORY:

Most Medicaid, though.  They're mostly--

GOV. STEVE BESHEAR:

Well--

DAVID GREGORY:

--getting Medicaid.  So it's not the young and healthy people getting the insurance plans that are really necessary to make this system work, correct?

GOV. STEVE BESHEAR:

Of the 26,000, 21,000 are in Medicaid, 5,000 are in qualified health plans, but we've got another 10,000 going onto the plans, that are in the process of choosing.  You know, it-- it's a lot quicker to get somebody enrolled in Medicaid, once you find out they're eligible.  When you go to the plans, they've got to look at all the details and pick the plans that they want.

You know, this is working in Kentucky.  We had, and have, some of the worst health statistics in the country, and it's been that way for generations.  The only way we're going to get ourselves out of the ditch is some transformational tool.  That's what the affordable care act--

DAVID GREGORY:

What damage has been done?

GOV. STEVE BESHEAR:

--is going to do for us.

DAVID GREGORY:

How frustrated are you at the troubled rollout at the federal level, which is impacting, what, 36 states that have not set up their own exchanges?

GOV. STEVE BESHEAR:

Well, number one, I'm happy about Kentucky.  Number two, you know, the thing's not working on a federal level yet, but it's going to.  You know, the advice I would give the news media and the critics up here is take a deep breath.  You know, this is a process.  Everybody wants to have a date where they can declare victory or defeat or success or failure; that's not what this is going to be all about.  It took us about three years to get Medicare really working--

DAVID GREGORY:

But, Governor, wait a minute--

GOV. STEVE BESHEAR:

--the way it should.  And this is going to work--

DAVID GREGORY:

--the president is the one who said, "If this is going to be successful, you've got to get young and healthy people signed up by a date certain or else the model doesn't work to keep premium prices down."  Is it the news media doing that?  Or is it the ones who drafted the law who said, "This has to happen or else it can't work"?

GOV. STEVE BESHEAR:

In Kentucky, about a third of folks going on Medicaid and getting qualified health plans are under 35 years old, and that's what's going to happen all over this country.  People are going to sign up for this.  It will take us a while to get it in process, but I'll guarantee you, we're going to make it work because it's good for the American people and it's good for Kentucky.

DAVID GREGORY:

Governor Kasich, I assume you think there ought to be--

GOV. JOHN KASICH:

David.  Hey, David.  You know, one thing I've got to tell you.  One thing I've got to tell you:  the rollout is the least of the problem here.  I mean, the rollout looks like a disaster.  But in my state, most Ohioans are going to pay higher costs, and in fact this is not going to control health care costs.

Here in Ohio, we have reduced our Medicaid growth from 8% or 9% to less than 3%, and we believe we have to have significant payment reform that, when people do the right thing to drive towards quality and lower prices, there ought to be a sharing of the savings among everyone.  I mean, the problem with Obamacare is it doesn't get to the nut of the problem which is higher health care costs that have been out of control.  So when you roll it out, if it rolled out perfectly, it's not going to achieve what America wants.

DAVID GREGORY:

But wait a minute.  But, Governor--

GOV. JOHN KASICH:

That's the difficulty here.

DAVID GREGORY:

--you took on your legislature because you said, "We need to accept federal money for Medicaid," because you said, you know, "More important when you go to heaven than whether you kept government small was what did you do for the poor?"  You seem to be articulating a view that's not just compassionate but that reflects the belief that the more people you help, that ultimately you can cull costs that way.  If there's more health care, better health care for more people in Ohio, costs will have to come down.  So how are you not in line with what the president believes about the potential strength of--

GOV. JOHN KASICH:

Well--

DAVID GREGORY:

--Obamacare?

GOV. JOHN KASICH:

Yes.  Well, first of all, David, as you can tell, I've articulated my opposition to Obamacare.  But Chief Justice Roberts gave every state an opportunity to try to get federal dollars to improve Medicaid.  Now, we have many mentally ill people in this country who are being treated terribly; we have people who are drug addicted, and drug addiction is in every demographic, every race, every income level.  And we also have many veterans who aren't covered.

So Ohio gets a good deal.  We get $14 billion of Ohio money back to Ohio to deal with some of the most serious problems.  And, you know, I'm not going to ignore the mentally ill and I'm not going to ignore the drug addicted or veterans or very working poor people on my watch.  But that doesn't mean I embrace Obamacare because I think it's not right.

We have our own program out here that has reduced health care costs.  We're involving the public sector, the private sector in a payment reform that we believe will improve quality and lower costs.  That's the direction we ought to be going, not some, you know, laboratory, cooked up-- I'm convinced the people that created Obamacare never worked in business and probably never spoke to a businessperson as they were putting this together.

DAVID GREGORY:

What do you think, Governor Beshear, is the ultimate future of this program?  Does somebody have to get fired before they get it right at the federal government?  And, to the Governor's key point, although you might take on, since there's a lot of remnants of health care that go back to Mitt Romney who most certainly was in business when he was the governor of Massachusetts laying out that plan, will prices stay low enough for consumers to justify Obamacare?

GOV. STEVE BESHEAR:

Yes.  You know--

DAVID GREGORY:

You believe that will be the case?

GOV. STEVE BESHEAR:

I believe it's going to be the case.

DAVID GREGORY:

Should somebody get fired for how poorly the rollout has gone thus far?

GOV. STEVE BESHEAR:

You know, I'm not going to give the president advice on hiring and firing.  But you know what?  When things go wrong, like they go wrong in our state, I take responsibility for it and I fix it.  And that's what Secretary Sebelius and the president are doing.  They're taking responsibility for a bad rollout of this website.  They're going to fix it.

Look, this is going to take some time to get done, but everybody needs to chill out because it is going to work.  These plans and Medicaid are directed toward prevention and wellness, and that is the future of health care and I think everybody knows it.

DAVID GREGORY:

Alright, I'm going to leave it there.  A lot more to discuss on this as time goes on.  I appreciate your time, both of you, this morning.  Thanks very much.

BOTH:

Thank you.  Thank you.

DAVID GREGORY:

After President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law in 2010, he often repeated this statement.

(TAPE)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: If you like your insurance plan you will keep it. No one will be able to take that away from you. It hasn't happened yet. It won't happen in the future.

(END TAPE)

DAVID GREGORY:

Well, that turns out that it may not in fact be the case.  Hundreds of thousands of Americans are receiving notices that their plans are being canceled because of the guidelines set by the health care law.  In Florida, for instance, the oldest and largest health care plan provider, Florida Blue, the state's Blue Cross/Blue Shield company confirmed it is cutting 300,000 policies.  Joining me now from London is Florida Blue CEO Pat Geraghty.  Mr. Geraghty, thank you for being here.  Why are you cutting these people from their insurance?

PATRICK GERAGHTY:

Well, David, we're not cutting people, we're actually transitioning people.  What we've been doing is informing folks that their plan doesn't meet the test of the essential health benefits, therefore they have a choice of many options that we make available through the exchange.  And, in fact, with subsidy, many people will be getting better plans at a lesser cost.  So this really is a transition.  And in fact, the 300,000 figure is the entire year.  So it's really 40,000 people for January 1, and we're walking them through that transition.

DAVID GREGORY:

So if I've got health insurance that I now like, you're writing to me and saying, "Look, I've got to give more comprehensive coverage under this plan.  As a result, you've got to go find something else.  You're going to pay more, chances are, but maybe if you qualify for subsidies, you know, you'll pay less in the end."  There is still a disruptive aspect.

You can talk about migrating, you can talk about transitioning; I'm not just asking about Florida but asking you to look more broadly.  There are people who have what they like and are going to end up paying more.  There is some sticker shock that's going to be out there with this law.  Is that fair?

PATRICK GERAGHTY:

David, what I can tell you is that, in Florida, because that's what I represent, in Florida, we are doing 3,000 education seminars from the beginning of September through the end of March, making sure that people understand what their options are.  We're in all 67 counties.  We've built retail centers.  We're reaching out to our customers so they understand what their choices are.

DAVID GREGORY:

No, no, but--

PATRICK GERAGHTY:

And we believe that people will the choices--

DAVID GREGORY:

--Mr. Geraghty, my question is will people--

PATRICK GERAGHTY:

--there that work.

DAVID GREGORY:

--pay more?  My question is will people pay more?

PATRICK GERAGHTY:

People who are subsidized are going to probably have the opportunity to pay less.  It really is an individualized issue.  And there may be some people who pay more, but it really depends on your individual circumstances.

DAVID GREGORY:

You met at the White House with senior aides going through this Obamacare rollout.  As an insurance executive, you signed up for basically a deal here, which is to say, "Okay, we'll cover people who have preexisting conditions.  We'll do that if you can deliver us some more business.  Give us younger, healthier people, who probably aren't going to need our insurance, that's how we'll make money and balance out the fact that we're going to pay more out covering people with preexisting conditions."  That was the deal.  Is this model going to work, based on the rollout you're seeing?

PATRICK GERAGHTY:

Well, there's no denying that the rollout has had bumps, and we actually expected there would be bumps in the beginning of the process.  The good thing about the meeting we had at the White House is it was very positive.  It was candid.  We laid issues on the table.  We had a good exchange with the folks at the White House.  And we had commitment, particular commitment around a piece called direct enrollment.

That direct enrollment allows us, the insurance industry, to help the administration get people signed up.  As that gets prioritized, we'll be able to help bring people into the exchange, and we think that that will be a big lift for the installation of the Affordable Care Act.

DAVID GREGORY:

Did you warn the White House that they could face this, they could face this kind of tough rollout?  Did they ignore some warnings?

PATRICK GERAGHTY:

David, I think the real issue here is we've got to work on how do we fix this.  We're working together to be positive about how it's--

DAVID GREGORY:

But I'm asking you a specific question.  I know--

PATRICK GERAGHTY:

We're working with our states--

DAVID GREGORY:

--what the goal is.  Did you warn them that this could go bad?

PATRICK GERAGHTY:

David, we're not looking backwards.  I think it really is about how do we move forward and solve this.  We serve millions of people across the State of Florida.  It would be a distraction for me to spend my time looking backwards.  I spend my time figuring out how do we serve the people in Florida that we're trying to bring the most education about their options so they can help their families.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right.  I'll respectfully point out that I didn't get the answer to the question I was looking for.  I do appreciate your time very much today.  Thank you.

PATRICK GERAGHTY:

Thank you.

DAVID GREGORY:

WE'LL HAVE MORE WITH OUR ROUNDTABLE ON THE OBAMACARE FALLOUT BUT FIRST, THE ROUGH ROLLOUT OF OBAMACARE ISN'T THE ONLY PROBLEM PRESIDENT OBAMA IS DEALING WITH AT THE MOMENT.  NOW, AMERICA'S STANDING IN THE WORLD IS UNDER NEW STRAIN AMID REVELATIONS OF SPYING ON OUR CLOSEST ALLIES AND DEEPENING DISTRUST IN THE MIDDLE EAST OVER THE PRESIDENT'S PASSIVITY AS SOME SEE IT ON SYRIA AND OUTREACH TO IRAN.

ANDREA MITCHELL IS HERE -- OUR CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT -- TO TAKE A DEEPER LOOK AT THIS CHALLENGE. ANDREA?

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Good morning, David. Indeed, the White House is facing growing outrage with foreign leaders frustrated over U.S. policy and angry that the U.S. has been spying on them. And, the revelations just keep coming, with a new report from Der Spiegel that the U.S. has been spying on the German leader for more than a decade.

(PKG)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

President Obama is now apologizing to his closest foreign friends - as the NSA leak story gets too close for comfort: word from Edward Snowden that the U.S. has  eavesdropped on 35 foreign leaders -- even on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's personal cellphone. A furious Merkel called President Obama to complain:

WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY:

THE PRESIDENT SPOKE WITH CHANCELLOR MERKEL, REASSURED HER THAT THE UNITED STATES IS NOT AND WILL NOT MONITOR THE CHANCELLOR'S COMMUNICATIONS.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

But the White House did not deny that it had happened:

THE DAILY SHOW’S JON STEWART:

IS NOT MONITORING, WILL NOT MONITOR, I THINK YOU'RE MISSING A TENSE THERE. YOU GOT YOUR PRESENT PROGRESSIVE THERE, AND YOU GOT YOUR SIMPLE FUTURE, BUT YOU'RE MISSING YOUR PAST PROGRESSIVE.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

The Secretary of State has been putting out fires here - there - and everywhere. Especially over U.S. policy toward Syria. After two years of war - and  the Assad regime's chemical attack, killing more than a 1000 civilians, including children - with chemical weapons - the Saudis accused President Obama of backing down - even helping Assad "butcher his own people."

PRINCE TURKI AL FAISAL, FORMER SAUDI INTELLIGENCE CHIEF:

THE SHAMEFUL WAY THAT THE WORLD COMMUNITY ACCEPTS WITH IMPUNITY THE BUTCHER OF SYRIA IS A BLOT ON THE CONSCIENCE OF THE WORLD.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Furious that the U.S. didn't retaliate, the Saudis shocked the U.S. by refusing a prized seat on the UN Security Council - in protest-

ROBERT KAGAN, FOREIGN POLICY EXPERT AT BROOKINGS:

I THINK THERE'S A LOT OF DOUBT IN THE REGION AS TO WHETHER THE UNITED STATES IS REALLY PAYING ATTENTION, REALLY KNOWS WHAT IT WANTS TO DO.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

The Saudis - and Israel - also worry about Iran: Is the U.S. too eager for a nuclear deal.Too easily charmed by Iran's new President Rouhani?

ISRAEL PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU:

I THINK NO DEAL IS BETTER THAN A BAD DEAL. I THINK A PARTIAL DEAL THAT LEAVES IRAN WITH THESE CAPABILITIES IS A BAD DEAL.

(END PKG)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Secretary Kerry said this week the government shutdown had made allies ask: will America be a credible partner in the future? But key allies say they are more worried about U.S. policy and spying than American politics here at home. David?

DAVID GREGORY:

Andrea Mitchell, thank you very much. Appreciate you being here. I want to turn now to Republican Congressman Peter King.  He's been an outspoken voice in the Republican Party on some of these big foreign policy issues. Congressman, welcome.

REP. PETER KING:

Thank you, David.  Thank you very much.

DAVID GREGORY:

Let's talk about the spying.  I mean, there's a view in some quarters-- it's interesting.  It's bringing together kind of the liberal left and the libertarian right that believe that U.S. spying is out of control.  Is it undercutting America's reliance on allies for cooperation on anything from economic reform to chasing terrorists?  Does it have to be reined in?

REP. PETER KING:

Now, first of all, David, I think the president should stop apologizing, stop being defensive.  The reality is the N.S.A. has saved thousands of lives, not just in the United States but also in France and Germany and throughout Europe.  And, you know, the French are someone to talk.  The fact is, they've carried out spying operations against the United States, both the government and industry.

As far as Germany, that's where the Hamburg plot began which led to 9/11.  They've had dealings with Iran and Iraq, North Korea, the French and the Germans, and other European countries.  And we're not doing this for the fun of it.  This is to gather valuable intelligence which helps not just us but also helps the Europeans in--

DAVID GREGORY:

But, I mean, we were apparently bugging Angela Merkel's phone from the time that she was an opposition leader in Germany back in 2002.  Again, I understand why this is done.  I cover these issues.  But I think a lot of people who are watching this right now are thinking, you know, what is it we're doing?  You mentioned the Hamburg plot.  I mean, yes, we share intelligence with Germany.  They're allies in this fight, not someone to be looked at so skeptically.

REP. PETER KING:

Well, first of all, we do share intelligence, and we've saved many lives in Germany because of the intelligence we've given them.  And we're not doing this to hurt Germany, but the fact is, there can be information that's being transmitted that can be useful to us, and then ultimately useful to Germany.

So I think that, again, this is out there.  Snowden put it out there.  And it bothers the hell out of me that people in my own party, such as Rand Paul, Justin Amash, people on the left also are coming together and somehow they try to exalt Snowden?  This guy is causing tremendous damage to the country.  And, again, we shouldn't be on defense.

And I think the president-- quite frankly, the N.S.A. has done so much for our country and so much to help this in his term, he should be out there-- he's the commander-in-chief.  He should stand with N.S.A.  He should go out and visit Fort Meade and be there with General Alexander--

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, what--

REP. PETER KING:

--and the troops there.

DAVID GREGORY:

Why don't we have a bigger debate then in Congress?  I mean, we really haven't had a debate in Congress since 2001 to say what's appropriate use of executive power, what's appropriate, you know, spying that goes on?  Drones came up big this week and the collateral damage from drones.  What are the powers that a president should have to fight terrorism?  It seems like Congress doesn't really want to have that debate because they're afraid to do it because they don't want to look weak.  Finally some are saying, "Let's push the debate out into the open."

REP. PETER KING:

Well, I'm not afraid of anything.  But, again, if we go too much in the open then we let the enemy know what's going on and we create problems.  The idea is you have to have a strong defense.  We have to have strong spying, if you want to call it, strong surveillance.

And as far as the use of drones, the fact is, every war there is collateral damage.  Unfortunately innocent people are killed.  But the efforts that the U.S. takes to protect innocent lives I say is unprecedented.  If you want to go back to Dresden and Hamburg and what happened in World War II, where thousands and thousands of civilians were killed, the fact is this has kept Americans alive, it's also helped people in the Middle East.

So I think we should stop being apologetic about drones, tell Rand Paul to stop doing overnight filibusters on people being killed with drones at Starbucks.  We should be standing by our military, standing by the intelligence agencies.  And I said the president should go out to Fort Meade.  If he can find the time to go to Junior's Cheesecake with Bill de Blasio, he can find time to go to Fort Meade and stand with General Alexander.  We have stop being so defensive.

DAVID GREGORY:

I want to touch on something else in Andrea's piece quickly, which is what would you say to reassure the Saudis and other Sunni Muslim regimes who believe that the U.S., by not doing enough no Syria, by opening up talks with Iran, are essentially turning their back on traditional alliances and empowering Iran?  And, again, it's important to point out the Sunni/Shiite split within the Islamic world is huge right now and that's why the Saudis are so concerned.

REP. PETER KING:

Rewards and consequences of actions.  When the president had his apology tour in 2009, the way he was treating Israel in 2009 and 2010, and now is that terrible policy in Syria where he vacillated back and forth.  He led the allies in one direction; went in another.  Listen, I'm not an apologist for the Saudis, but I understand why they are very distrustful of the president right now.  I can understand why Israel is very distrustful.

Again, I think he's got to be firm.  He's got to be consistent.  What he did in Syria was indefensible because it sent so many mixed signals and caused people to lose faith in our country, which would be the wrong thing, because we are still a pillar of strength in the country.  But the president, again, is too apologetic.  And by almost going overboard toward Iran and sort of dismissing Israel, just sort of leaving the Saudis out there and, again, being so inconsistent.  I think we're going to look back on Syria, the mixed signals he sent on Syria over that two-, three-, four-week period, it's going to have lasting damage.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right.  They would argue, the president would and others, if in the end the Syrian regime is de-fanged of its chemical weapons, if there's success in the end without using military force, that that should be deemed as a success.  That debate will continue, but I'm out of time for now.  Congressman, good to have you as always.

REP. PETER KING:

Okay, we'll do that again.  Right.  Thank you, David.

(***Commercial Break***)

DAVID GREGORY:

To some congressional politics now.  We're here with our political director, Chuck Todd, for First Read Sunday.  And, Chuck, it's been a tough few weeks politically for Republicans.  But the big question is, so is it really a moment of opportunity for Democrats in 2014?  Can they change control of the House?

CHUCK TODD:

Well, look, if this were October 27th, 2014, instead of 2013, we would be talking about Democrats having a serious chance.  Just from the summer now to early fall, it was dead even in our NBC/Wall Street Journal poll about which party should control the house.  Dead even in July, basically a negligible lead there for Democrats in September.

But right here, during the shutdown, a breakout here:  eight points.  It was the largest lead we'd shown in four years.  Now, an eight-point lead looks big, and you think Democrats have a shot.  But let's remember, this is a gerrymandered House.  Democrats actually won the generic ballot in 2012.  More people voted for a Democratic member of Congress than a Republican one in 2012, and yet there are more Republican-held congressional seats, 234.  Democrats only have 201, even though they won a majority of the vote in 2012.  There are a few vacancies there, by the way.  We know some folks will say that.

So here's what they would need.  They need to pick up 17 seats.  This looks like it could be doable.  Why?  Because there are 36 seats where the president either won, or got 48% or better, that are currently held by Republican members of Congress.  So you look at it and it's doable.

There is an interesting canary in the coal mine, if you will.  We're going to have a special election in Florida's 13th District.  This is in the Tampa Bay area.  Bill Young, long-time Republican congressman, just passed away.  There is going to be a special, probably January, February, March, something like that.  Look at this:  Bush carried it in '04.  (Our graphic's running ahead of us here.)  Obama carried it in '08 and '12.  If Democrats can't win a seat like that, they're not winning control of Congress.  This is a must-win for them.

DAVID GREGORY:

And of course the impact of Obamacare, just like 2010, will be big.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, we haven't talked about it.  That's the point.  This is shutdown fallout.  What happens if the health care rollout continues to be a debacle?  These numbers go--

DAVID GREGORY:

Switch--

CHUCK TODD:

--right back.

DAVID GREGORY:

--back around.  All right, Chuck, thanks very much.

(***Commercial Break***)

ANNOUNCER:

“Meet the Press” is back with our political roundtable. Here this morning: Rick Santorum, Jennifer Granholm, Neera Tanden and Alex Castellanos. Now, David Gregory.

DAVID GREGORY:

We are back, welcome to all of you.  The president himself said it:  There was no excuse for the way Obamacare rolled out.  Governor Granholm, how did they botch this?  And what are the consequences of botching the rollout?

FMR. GOV. JENNIFER GRANHOLM:

First of all, the president is so mad about this that he himself will go down and supervise the writing of code if this is not fixed by the end of November.  This is going to be fixed.  The real question is, once this is fixed, what do the Republicans then do?  Because the Republicans have every incentive to conflate the website with Obamacare because they have to justify why they shut down government for weeks.

And John Kasich, when you interviewed him this morning, said something very interesting.  In defending his expansion of Medicaid, he said, "Well, Ohioans are not going to pay, essentially, for the insurance of people in other states.  We pay money for our federal taxes; we're going to get that back."  You look at states like Texas, and Texas is going to have all those Texans paying for the insurance in California or in Michigan?  I don't think so.  It's a great 2014 issue for both Congress and--

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, well, there's--

FMR. GOV. JENNIFER GRANHOLM:

--for Democrats running for governor.

DAVID GREGORY:

--a lot there.  Discuss.

FMR. SEN. RICK SANTORUM:

Well, first off, that's not the case.  Texas is not expanding their Medicaid rolls.

FMR. GOV. JENNIFER GRANHOLM:

That's what I'm saying.

FMR. SEN. RICK SANTORUM:

Okay, so--

FMR. GOV. JENNIFER GRANHOLM:

They're giving away $100 billion.

FMR. SEN. RICK SANTORUM:

But they're not giving it away because they're not expanding their rolls, which is going to incur costs for them.  And of course you know the Obama--

FMR. GOV. JENNIFER GRANHOLM:

Oh, no, no, no, no.

FMR. SEN. RICK SANTORUM:

--administration and the bill only pays for that for a short period of time.  They don't pay everything--

(OVERTALK)

NEERA TANDEN:

That's not right.

FMR. SEN. RICK SANTORUM:

90%.  But they don't pay--

NEERA TANDEN:

95%.

FMR. SEN. RICK SANTORUM:

--the whole thing.  And again, you're asking people to expand the role of government and in Texas, you know what, they don't want to do that.  They want to do it and have private--

FMR. GOV. JENNIFER GRANHOLM:

So what they're going to do is--

FMR. SEN. RICK SANTORUM:

--sectors--

FMR. GOV. JENNIFER GRANHOLM:

--they're going to give their money away.  So that their money--

FMR. SEN. RICK SANTORUM:

They're not going to give--

FMR. GOV. JENNIFER GRANHOLM:

Texans pay those taxes.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

But this isn't--

FMR. GOV. JENNIFER GRANHOLM:

And those taxes are going to other states.

(OVERTALK)

FMR. SEN. RICK SANTORUM:

Governor, those tax dollars are not paying for Obamacare.

DAVID GREGORY:

Let's not just talk about--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

--the expansion of Medicaid though, because I think it's very easy to lose me and a lot of our viewers here.  I want to keep it to this big question which is how did this get botched?  And what are the consequences of it?  Because there was a model here--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

--this is only going to work if one thing happens, and that's if young and healthy people sign up.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

There's the lesson here.  And what we're seeing is the collapse and failure of big old dumb top-down hierarchical government in Washington.  This is factory-style government from another age.  It can do big simple things but it can't deal with the complexities of an adaptive modern society.  And if Obamacare was an anomaly, that would be one thing.

But tell me something that Washington is doing a good job at.  Education?  A disaster.  Social Security?  It's bankrupt, a Ponzi scheme.  Name something Washington is doing well.  It can't manage its fiscal--

(OVERTALK)

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

David Axelrod made a point not long ago.  He said, "Look, part of the problem of being president is that government is so vast you can't know what's going on underneath it."  The Democrats' answer seems to be expand it.

FMR. SEN. RICK SANTORUM:

More and more.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

That's the wrong answer.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right.  Neera--

NEERA TANDEN:

No, no.  So, here--

FMR. SEN. RICK SANTORUM:

That's what we're learning.

NEERA TANDEN:

I think millions of seniors would think that the government or think Social Security and Medicare are working pretty well.  But it's good to know that my Republican--

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

Until it goes bankrupt.

NEERA TANDEN:

--colleagues don't like Social Security and Medicare, which is--

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

So you don't think it needs reform?

NEERA TANDEN:

--a long-running--

(OVERTALK)

NEERA TANDEN:

Let me just say about this, obviously there have been challenges.  But, you know, I've worked in health care policy for quite a long time and I remember the rollout of the Medicare prescription drug bill which there were a lot of problems with.  And I remember senators, Republican senators saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater."  One of those senators was Rick Santorum, at a hearing saying, you know, "Let's have patience with this.  It's going to work out."  And the Medicare prescription drug bill has worked out.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

To compare--

NEERA TANDEN:

It is working out--

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

--this with the Medicare prescription drug bill--

NEERA TANDEN:

Wait, that was a complex system.  In fact--

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

The Medicare prescription drug bill was--

NEERA TANDEN:

--it was much, much more--

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

--a private sector rollout.

NEERA TANDEN:

As is--

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

It was not a government rollout.

                                         
(OVERTALK)

NEERA TANDEN:

It was run by C.M.S., just like this is.  These are--

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

But, no, it's not just like this.

NEERA TANDEN:

--private options, just like this is.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

It's not just like this is.  This administration, unlike the Medicare prescription drug, this administration had three years.  And all of a sudden--

NEERA TANDEN:

Yes, but two and a half years--

(OVERTALK)

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

But they had three years to roll this out, and it has been an unmitigated disaster.  To compare the minor problems, and they were minor--

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, let me get in here with a question.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

--compared this, is ridiculous.

DAVID GREGORY:

Let me get in here with this question--

NEERA TANDEN:

I think that comparisons are absolutely (UNINTEL).

DAVID GREGORY:

--which is what was put out on the table is to say, look, if Republicans (and we just heard it from Governor Kasich) are opposed to health care as if the law isn't the law of the land.  They say, "Oh, this is going be a disaster."  We all know if the enrollment problems are not fixed, it's going to be an enormous problem.  You know that--

NEERA TANDEN:

Absolutely.

DAVID GREGORY:

--the president knows that.

NEERA TANDEN:

It needs to get fixed.

DAVID GREGORY:

But if it does get fixed, then is this the proxy for whether it works?  And if there is a solution there--

FMR. GOV. JENNIFER GRANHOLM:

Really good point.

DAVID GREGORY:

--then what goes wrong next?

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

David, I think Republicans understand, and need to understand if they don't, that a website can get fixed.

VOICES:

Yes.  Yes.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

And I think, as Governor Kasich was saying, is this emblematic of a bigger problem?  And again, here we're talking about before:  Washington's doing things in an old way, hierarchical, top-down.  What are the things that work in our society?  Things that are natural, that are bottom up.  I mean, we're all more informed and we make choices, and Washington and the Democrats are enforcing--

(OVERTALK)

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

--conformity.  And here's the political danger, David.  There's a young generation of voters out there, very independent.  And they think that old Washington doesn't get the new world--

DAVID GREGORY:

All right.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

--they live in.

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

Governor, make a final point on this, and then I'm going to turn to this--

(OVERTALK)

FMR. GOV. JENNIFER GRANHOLM:

Final point is they gave the option to go to the states.  If the Republican Party--

NEERA TANDEN:

Absolutely.  The private option.

FMR. GOV. JENNIFER GRANHOLM:

--doesn't like the federal government then the governors should have stepped pick up, like Steve Beshear did, to get this done.  This is an argument about a broken website versus a broken political party.  And that, to me--

DAVID GREGORY:

Well, but let me--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

--just add one thing before I turn.  There is still a test here for whether government can manage this.  And I think liberals and conservatives do understand this because it will affect other priorities.

Let me turn you to something else that really struck me this week, because it's about politics but it's also about parenting.  And I've got young kids, and I think all of us have kids, of various ages, around the table.  It has to do with the Maryland attorney general who, over the summer, was at a party and was looking for his son.  And you see him there, this is Doug Gansler, is the attorney general.  He's got his iPhone out there.

He was at the party and later explained it saying he just wanted to talk to his son.  But there was apparently under-aged drinking going on.  There probably is at a lot of parties.  This is what he said about it this week, on Thursday, when he was asked about it.

(VIDEO NOT TRANSCRIBED)

DAVID GREGORY:

What should he have done?  And I'm not just asking this as a journalist to a politician, but as a parent.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

I want to defend a Democrat here, the spirit of bipartisanship.  If I've learned anything raising teenagers who are now in their 20s it's that a parent has to be there.  You have to be involved every day.  And to his credit, he was.  Okay?  There's going to be a beach week, kids are going to be there.  You know what's going to happen; every parent does.  But at least he was there and they had rules and he was trying to enforce them.  But politically--

DAVID GREGORY:

What rules was he trying to enforce?

                                                                      
ALEX CASTELLANOS:

Well, he was there, he was paying attention.  And, yes, it's a tough--

DAVID GREGORY:

But if there's drinking going on and you are the attorney general--

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

It's not that easy.

DAVID GREGORY:

--of the state?

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

That's his problem.  What he did wrong is he reacted as a politician instead of a parent.  And he's saying things in that press conference that all of us know are not true to get him through a political situation when instead what should he have said?  "I was there.  I was going to take care of my kids as best I could.  I tried to enforce the rules.  I'll try to do that--"

DAVID GREGORY:

He was apparently just there to tell his son what time they were leaving the next day.

FMR. SEN. RICK SANTORUM:

Yes.  Look, I have teenaged boys and I have teenaged girls, and my teenaged boys and girls do not go to a party where they're drinking.  And if they see a drink, they leave.  And if they don't leave, and I find out about it, I'm coming to get them.  And I'm going to go to the parents and I'm going to tell them that I don't want any activity like that going on with things that my son or my daughter's at.

That's what you do as a parent.  You stand up and you fight for them, and you fight for what's right for them.  And the fact that he didn't do that-- I mean, there was a day that parents actually went to other parents and said, "Hey, stop doing things that undermine the morals of my children."  But I guess we don't do that anymore.

DAVID GREGORY:

Well, we seem to lack community standards in a lot of ways.  Or here's what I find:  There's much too much reluctance to say to you, and say, "You know what?  I have a question about what your kids were doing."  Or, "I have a question--"

NEERA TANDEN:

Yes.

DAVID GREGORY:

--"about, you know, what you were doing at your house and my kid was over there.  And can we talk about that?"

NEERA TANDEN:

You know, look, I don't have teenaged kids.  I have a tween.  And I definitely think you have to send the right message to your kids.  Sanctioning a beach party, it's not something I would do, you know.  But I would say one of the hardest things is there are a lot of parents, when you deliver a message, whether it's bullying or under-aged drinking, those other parents don't want to hear it.  And it is a big tension.  And to be able to go to this-- I think he should have gone to other parents.  I think he should not have hosted the beach week.  That's my personal view of this.  But I think that hardest thing--

DAVID GREGORY:

Well, I don't know that he was actually hosting it himself.  But the point is too, as my wife who's former federal prosecutor says, you're either an up-stander or a bystander.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

That's right.

NEERA TANDEN:

Yes.  And I agree--

DAVID GREGORY:

There are laws on the books--

NEERA TANDEN:

--to be an up-stander.

DAVID GREGORY:

--and he is the attorney general, Governor.  Now it may be unpopular.  He may say, "Look, as a parent, this isn't my place to start to--" but he is the attorney general--

FMR. GOV. JENNIFER GRANHOLM:

I mean, there's the parental hat-- and I hate this story because, you know, "There but for the grace of God," for any of us who have teenagers,

"go I."  But as a political hat, why was he even-- I mean, he was in a position to be at a place with a bunch of young people drinking who all have cell phones.  I mean, just politically, that was not a smart move for him.  As a parent, however, he does need to be present.  And he made sure there were chaperones there, but the chaperones obviously weren't doing their job--

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

I believe as far as--

FMR. GOV. JENNIFER GRANHOLM:

--if all these under-aged kids are drinking.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

--informing the other parents, the parents did this together.  They got this house for those kids.

NEERA TANDEN:

Not all the parents--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

But here's part of my point, that as a politician, you have the spotlight.  As a parent, what we parents need to know-- my kids, you know, are young, are 11 and eight, and I'm worried a little bit more about technology--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

--than I am about drinking and drugs yet.  But, you know, whether it's sexual activity, allegations of rape, drugs, there's all kinds of things that can be happening at this parties.  We have to have a real conversation about the legal difficulties and the moral difficulties of doing this.  This was an opportunity to have that conversation.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

And when your kids get to be teenagers, and when-- I mean, all our kids now grow old too young and are having to deal with things that they're not prepared to do.  And these things will happen.  They're going to find themselves in this situation.  And step one, I think to Gansler's credit, is be there as a parent.

NEERA TANDEN:

Also you want them to be--

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

He at least did--

NEERA TANDEN:

--able to talk to you.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

--that.  Did he make the right call?

FMR. SEN. RICK SANTORUM:

Be there to do something.

(OVERTALK)

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

He should have done something.  But let's give the guy some credit:  At least he was participating in the lives of his kids.  He missed one.

DAVID GREGORY:

Let's take a break here. More with our roundtable right after this short break.

(***Commercial Break***)

DAVID GREGORY:

Want to talk about 2016 a little bit.  Got to check in every week.  Neera Tanden, you were here with Hillary Clinton, big presentation to C.A.P., Council on American Progress?  No, the--

NEERA TANDEN:

Center.

DAVID GREGORY:

Center for American Progress.  Excuse me, I just had a brain freeze on that.  So the two of you were together.  Here's what it looks like in New Hampshire for 2016:  Hillary Clinton way on top of the pack, although there was some movement of support for Elizabeth Warren among college educated, mostly women.  An indication she could take a little bit of heat on her left and a challenge on her left.  What did you learn this week that gave you a better indication as to whether she needs some convincing to actually run?  Anything?

NEERA TANDEN:

No.  I mean, look, I think we've got a long time away from 2016.  I know it's really fascinating and interesting.  You know, I think what's most interesting is how actually unified the Democratic Party is.  If you actually look at where the Democratic Party is on issues, and in terms of candidates, versus the Republican Party, you know, with Ted Cruz in Iowa on Friday night basically doing an infomercial against the Republican Party in Washington, you know, I think the big difference between the parties is there's a lot of support for Hillary.  There's a lot of support on issues.  There's a real crack-up in the Republican Party right now.

DAVID GREGORY:

Well, let's talk to that.  Rick Santorum, of course you ran for president last go-round.  We talk about Ted Cruz; it's an opportunity to see him pheasant hunting, which we don't want to miss that opportunity.  To what extent do you think he is the face of the conservative movement at this juncture?  And do you think that's a good thing or a bad thing?

FMR. SEN. RICK SANTORUM:

I think he's a face.  I think there isn't any-- unlike the Democratic Party, which has a leader, it has the president, there isn't a leader in the Republican Party right now.  That's part of the problem.  It's part of the mess and the confusion.  But that's always the way it is with a party out of power; you have lots of different faces.  And those faces, as we've seen, they come and they go.

DAVID GREGORY:

Is he doing more harm than good, more good than harm?  What do you say?

FMR. SEN. RICK SANTORUM:

You know, I think--

DAVID GREGORY:

Come on.  You could be up--

NEERA TANDEN:

Come on.

DAVID GREGORY:

--on that debate stage with him in Iowa.

FMR. SEN. RICK SANTORUM:

You know, look, I would say that in the end he did more harm.  I think it was not his objective.  I think his objective was a laudable one; I think he didn't do a very good job, and pointed it out.  I mean, there's one thing to have a goal, another thing to have a plan to get you to that goal, and he didn't figure--

DAVID GREGORY:

You've got about--

FMR. SEN. RICK SANTORUM:

--that one out.

DAVID GREGORY:

--ten seconds for analysis on either side.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

He is the face of the Republican Party.  He continues to make us the party of "no."  When a house is burning down, you don't want a critic, you want somebody to actually put out the fire and get this economy going again.  To be determined if he grows.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right.  Thank you all very much. COMING UP: ONE YEAR AFTER HURRICANE SANDY...EMOTIONAL DEVASTATION...BUT ALSO SOME RECOVERY. MY CONVERSATION WITH MY COLLEAGUE BRIAN WILLIAMS. HIS PERSONAL REFLECTIONS -- RIGHT AFTER THIS SHORT BREAK. BACK IN A MOMENT.

(***Commercial Break***)

DAVID GREGORY:

This coming week marks the one year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, devastating the Northeast and particularly the Jersey Shore. It caused widespread damage, the effects are still being widely felt today. For NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams. It's a personal story, one he covered and felt and someone who lives and is from New Jersey. He joins me now. Brian, good to have you here.

BRIAN WILLIAMS:

Thank you for having me, David.

DAVID GREGORY:

You know, we'll talk about what a personal story this was for you, but I've been looking as I have been reading about the anniversary coming up.

A couple of headlines have popped out: "A Year After Super Storm Sandy, Federal Aid Trickles In," "Year After Hurricane Sandy, Victims contest Christie’s Status as 'Savior.'"

What is your ground truth? As you talk to people, as you go there? How was it a year later?

BRIAN WILLIAMS:

Well, I'll tell you something I have realized, that has taken me a year to realize, David: I was so reluctant to use the 'K-word' a year ago. And that is to compare it to Katrina.

But the one thing I have learned in these twelve months, being here in the tri-state area, spending the entire summer back at the Jersey Shore or where we have a place, and as you know, where I grew up, and having friends in the Rockaways, Staten Island, Breezy Point is for this region and given the density of the population, this was indeed our Katrina. Now, I can take you for long drives on stretches of the Jersey Shore where very little has come back. You can point to the houses where the owners are gone. You can point to the places, where they're rebuilding like the Outer Banks in North Carolina up on stilts, where they're waiting for FEMA checks and state checks. 27,000 people or thereabouts in New Jersey, still out of their homes, even more in New York. This has devastated a densely populated area and, like Katrina, more than that. It now questions people when they look at the water. When they look at where the water broke through when they wondered, "Is there any holding it back?" and "Is this going to change the way we live and enjoy the coastline?"

DAVID GREGORY:

A lot of the viewers remember how personal your reporting of Katrina was when you started in this role at Nightly News. And yet, for you to go home and cover a story that has taken on that magnitude was something different altogether, journalistically and personally.

BRIAN WILLIAMS:

That's right. It was one thing to be with all those folks-there were what, ten thousand of us inside that Superdome? We decided to ride-out the storm in there with them. And then, of course, spent weeks in that area and grieved with them. We still go back and stay in touch.

But to have it be home, to have it be all of your summer memories-every night when we sit here for Nightly News, in this very studio, we think about the fact that we have folks in all fifty states depending on us. We struggle to not have news that's New York-centric or Washington-centric. Remembering it's a big country.

But this was home, and it was this area and you can't change where you're from, nor would I trade with anyone else. So, if our coverage seemed personal, it was just because we couldn't prevent it. This was home getting ripped up before our eyes and large portions of it still are.

DAVID GREGORY:

And, Brian, as you go back then, in the week ahead to look back on it one year later, what are your big questions? What have you found, what do you want to know now?

BRIAN WILLIAMS:

Who's not being served? Who's made the choice not to come back? Among new Jersyans with that state motto  the Governor's commercial "Stronger than the Storm", it really is an ethos. Most of the people I know wouldn't think of leaving but we know some people who have just reluctantly made that decision. Government is coming in a sweeping way. There are cities and towns getting corrugated walls between them and the ocean. They didn't ask for it, but this looks like a survival tool. I wanna know who's not coming back? I wanna know who's not being served? And what ways of life are going to be changed forever?

We called it the Irish Riviera out in Breezy Point; we'll visit there on Tuesday. A place where neighbors knew neighbors. You had no choice. You were hard against the other house. But I wanna know is that really gonna come back? Is that really gonna feel like the old place?

DAVID GREGORY:

This is the impact of weather. It becomes a big debate for people, especially where government can help and when government can't do anything. Brian, thanks so much.

BRIAN WILLIAMS:

David, thanks for having me.

DAVID GREGORY:

A PROGRAMMING NOTE -- BRIAN WILL BE ANCHORING SPECIAL COVERAGE LIVE FROM BREEZY POINT NEW YORK ON TUESDAY TO MARK THE SANDY ANNIVERSARY. AGAIN THAT'S NIGHTLY NEWS THIS TUESDAY. WHEN WE COME BACK - A WILD FINISH TO LAST NIGHT'S WORLD SERIES GAME 3 IN OUR IMAGES TO REMEMBER.

(***Commercial Break***)

DAVID GREGORY:

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

(MUSIC) (“IMAGES TO REMEMBER”)

DAVID GREGORY:

So much discussion, already, about that last image to remember with the Cardinals winning in surprising fashion with that obstruction call last night. That’ll be long talked about, and the Series continues. SOME OF OUR IMAGES TO REMEMBER THIS SUNDAY. THAT'S ALL FOR TODAY, WE'LL BE BACK NEXT WEEK. IF IT'S SUNDAY IT'S MEET THE PRESS.

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