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Government Starts Furloughs; Robert Reich Talks Shutdown; Has GOP Gone Too Far; Shutdown Fight Shows GOP Divide; All 401 National Parks Closed.

Aired October 1, 2013 - 11:30   ET



ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it is certainly the story of the hour. Day one of the first partial government shutdown in almost two decades. The last one happened -- lasted three weeks, by the way. Three weeks long. A lot of money lost. This morning, the Senate kicked stock-gap spending bill back to the House for the fourth time. Once again, the Senate bill was stripped clean of health care amendments.

The House bill would have delayed Obamacare, which, by the way, kicks in today, in earnest. Health care exchanges are supposed to be up and running, but online glitches have been slowing the process down for unknown numbers of consumers. President Obama may address that when he walks out and talks in the Rose Garden about this shutdown and about Obamacare, less than an hour from now. Of course, CNN is going to carry all of that live, just as soon as it happens. Make sure you stay tuned for that.

So the economic impact of a shutdown, it is pretty significant. Take a look at just so far today. Dow not so bad. Yesterday was a bad day. Today the Dow is up 51. The day is young yet. Still to be known how long is the shutdown going to last, how long will the numbers be average or acceptable, how long will it take until they go in the red. A three to four week shutdown could cost the economy $55 billion. That's according to Moody's Analytics. The key sources of revenue lost, things like inspection fines, visa and licensing fees, costs of reopening -- it costs to close down and reopen and it is significant too. Those indirect costs, the trickle down costs, businesses and local governments that start to feel it when a lot of people are out of work and things aren't working. That could go into the millions of dollars.

Somebody who knows a lot about the workings of working is a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley, also the former labor secretary under Bill Clinton, Robert Reich.

Bob, I saw your film last week, "Inequality for All." It's in theaters now. It's a terrific film. It's a great explanation of how the economy works and doesn't, and I thought you would be a terrific voice. We just talked to Olympia Snowe, who got out of government while the getting was good. You may have gotten out of government while the getting was good, too. What's wrong? What is it that the days of yore are so different than they are today? ROBERT REICH, PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC POLICY, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY & FORMER LABOR SECRETARY: I'm not sure, Ashleigh, the days of yore are all that different. I was there in 1995. I had to tell 15,000 employees of the Labor Department that I didn't know when they were going to next get pay checks and that they all had to go home. So to some extent this is a repeat of what we did see 17 years ago.

BANFIELD: 17 years is a long time to have that not repeat. And it seems we're careening, you know, almost month after month.

I need to remind our viewers if they just tuned in, we're in a big discussion over a six-week stopgap measure. Not in a discussion over debt or a budget. We're in discussion over a six-week stopgap funding measure that we can't even agree on.

REICH: You know, it is flabbergasting that the nation that is the head nation of the free world, the largest economy in the world, has a government that is now partially shut down, and we also are facing the prospect, a little over two weeks from now, that we may not be paying the nation's debts. That would have even larger negative economic implications and, in fact, it could bring the entire financial community, not only the United States, but around the world, to a stop, because the U.S. treasury bills are so central to the global economy.

BANFIELD: So let me ask you this, there are a lot of people who are criticizing the Republicans for, you know, attaching what they don't like, which is Obamacare and that's the law of the land, passed by Congress and a lot of the Congressmen are no longer in office. But they're attaching it to the continuing resolution, this funding, the six-week funding bill. And there is a lot of criticism over that, that that's essentially holding a gun to the head of Congress to go with these stripped down measures on Obamacare. Can you tell me legitimately and reasonably that the Democrats wouldn't do the exact same thing in the climate we live in on Capitol Hill now?

REICH: Well, the climate that we live in is one of the most partisan climates I have ever witnessed in my life. I don't know whether the Democrats would or would not do it. I don't think it is responsible no matter who does it. We have a legislative process, Ashleigh. That legislative process is a bill is passed by both houses of Congress, the president signs it into law, and it is even confirmed as constitutional by the Supreme Court. And then you have a president who is re-elected, in which that particular piece of legislation was very much at issue in that election. After all of that, we would assume that the issue is laid to rest, that the Affordable Care Act or whatever act you're talking about is the law of the land. We do not in this country repeal or delay laws because one party wants to essentially hold hostage the entire United States government.


BANFIELD: But it is not illegal what they're doing. It's not illegal what they're doing. Mr. Secretary, it is not illegal what they're doing. They're not going outside of the legislative process. This is part of the legislative process. It is just a drag. So that's why I'm asking you, is the toothpaste out of the tube now when it comes to what a party doesn't like and when they don't like the fact that there is a law of the land, is this the new norm? Is the toothpaste out of the tube and will the Democrats do the same darn thing when there is a Republican legislation?

REICH: I think what I'm -- Ashleigh, what I'm saying to you back is I hope it is not the new norm. Because if it is the new norm, then anything goes. Basically, one party and one house that controls one house of Congress can hold up the entire government. I don't think that's the way the framers of the Constitution intended the government to run. You're absolutely right. It is not technically illegal. But it is not ethical in my book. It is not the way people ought to address and conduct themselves when they are running the government of the United States.

BANFIELD: You and Olympia Snowe should come back. That's all I can say.


Because every time I get an acting Congressman or legislator on the air, I seem to go nowhere with them.

Thank you so much, Mr. Secretary. Good to see you again.

REICH: Thanks, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: And the film is terrific too. I will repeat that. Make sure you go out and take a look at that, "Inequality for All," by the former secretary of labor, Robert Reich.

With the federal government shut down, you may not be surprised that Congress has an approval rating of -- are you ready -- 10 percent. 10 percent. With all that dysfunction, and much of the blame aimed at the GOP this time around, anyway, could this be the end of the Republican Party as you know it? Might there be some changes in the ranks? And does it all come down to these two words? Tea Party? Coming up.



UNIDENTIFIED SENATE CHAPLAIN: During this legislative stalemate, help our lawmakers to test all things by their conscience, seeking to do right as you give them the ability to see it. Stir their hearts, making them bold to follow your ways. In these days that try our souls, strengthen our weakness, replacing cynicism with faith and cowardice with courage. We pray in your holy name, amen.


BANFIELD: Well, let's hope that everybody in the chamber was listening because that was the Senate chaplain's prayer this morning on the Senate floor. If you want to know how mad the American public is at Congress -- you may be mad, you may not be -- but generally speaking, people are apoplectic because how is Congress handling its job? Respondents say 10 percent are in the approval column. Only 10 percent of people approve of Congress doing its job. 87 percent disapprove. When you cut into that a little finer and say what about the Tea Party? The opinion of the Tea Party movement, 31 percent of those respondents say favorable. But 54 percent say unfavorable. 5 percent aren't exactly sure. But those numbers, if you're looking at the trend, represent the lowest favorability of the Tea Party to date. So the numbers are sliding. And they're sliding pretty much right across the charts. Is there a crisis in the membership of the Republican Party because they seem to be taking the fall, a lot of the blame for what's going on right now in the shutdown? Democrats won't budge. Republicans hate Obamacare. And right now, everybody seems to be real dug in.

Paul Begala and Ana Navarro are our CNN analysts on the job this morning.

Let me begin with you, Ana.

When people say that this is our crisis of philosophy in the Republican Party, and the Tea Party is dragging the Republican Party down into taking the blame for what's going on, is that fair that the notion that -- they have idealism, they -- whether you fault them for the idea or not is not the question. It is the blind idealism and the intransigence of negotiation, is that a fair characterization?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN COMMENTATOR: Look, I think there is a division right now in the Republican Party. You can almost get two views on any issue, whether it is national security, whether it is something like the budget tactics. But these things happen, Ashleigh. You know, politics is a pendulum. A lot of times the pendulum shifts to an extreme and then it comes back to the middle. Paul knows that this happened to the Democrats. And it took somebody like Bill Clinton, frankly, to bring them to the center. But the Democrats were in the wilderness and the fringes before that. So are we going through growing pains right now? Yes. Is it particularly painful for Republicans like me to see this? Very much so. But do I believe this is the end of the Republican Party? No. Things will -- the pendulum will swing back.


NAVARRO: And I'm praying with that chaplain.

BANFIELD: Do you cut the Tea Party loose to save the Republican Party?

NAVARRO: No, I don't think it is the end of the Tea Party. I don't think we have seen the end of the Tea Party. Nor do I know that we should see the end of the Tea Party. I'm not sure that Ted Cruz and that bunch that we have seen is the exact representation of the Tea Party. They started as an organic movement, without any real leadership, that was against big government and was for fiscal responsibility. Those things sound good to me. I just hope that they get back to that.


NAVARRO: And, you know, the important part, they don't -- that we don't cannibalize each other. I think the part that is really dangerous here is that you've got some Republicans out there telling other Republicans, if you don't tow our line, we're going to come after you. You've got more money being spent with Republicans trying to take out other Republicans --


Paul --

NAVARRO: -- than Republicans trying to take out the other team.

BANFIELD: Paul, you're not off the hook here either. This -- I'm an equal-opportunity offender when it comes to what is going on now on Capitol Hill.


Harry Reid will not agree to a conference committee. If Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats are not going to agree to a conference committee with the Republicans, what are they going to do while everybody is lo losing a ton of money? What is the next step?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN COMMENTATOR: Ashleigh, Harry Reid and the Democrats tried 18 times over 131 days to appoint a conference committee on the budget. 131 days --

BANFIELD: OK. Today is a new day.

BEGALA: Excuse me. Excuse me for talking while I'm interrupting.

BANFIELD: The government is shut down. Today is a new day.

BEGALA: Because what are they supposed to negotiate now? This is simply a continue resolution. This is not even substantive legislation. So the Senate has passed a bill. By the way, the bill funding the government that the Senate supported that the Democrats voted for is the Republican level of funding. It is the Republican number. The Republican budget cuts are enshrined in that bill and the Democrats are voting for it, so you're wrong when you say Democrats won't budge. They already adopted the Republican spending funding level. They just won't adopt the Republican plan to throw out Obamacare. I've talked to one of the highest ranking Democrat yesterday and who told me, and this is a stew quote, "They're too stupid to realize they have won and they can't take yes for an answer." And that's the --


BANFIELD: Pardon me for interrupting, because, boy, did I interrupt two Republicans yesterday and I took it on the chin on Twitter for it. But, Paul, I'm sorry. That was then. And now the government is shut down. People aren't getting paid, and $2 billion today is going to sky-fall into billions of losses for everyone in this economy. So what about moving forward instead of looking back and saying maybe this conference committee that you said you couldn't convene before, it is time not to say no. It is time for Harry Reid to say yes, go ahead and do it. Do something -- Paul?

BEGALA: This is what they need to do. Yes, do something. That something is fund the government. They have to say, look, this is why these continuing resolutions exist. Once and a while we hit loggerheads like this and we say, OK, we're going to continue funding the government and then debate the other matters. But that's the fundamental obligation of the Congress. There is nothing else to negotiate here. They either fund the government or they don't. And a notion that somehow Harry Reid is at fault -- this is the problem with journalists covering this is that they fall into this garbage of equal blame and false equivalency. That's often the case. Sometimes it is not the case. This is the time where the Tea Party Republicans has hijacked a perfectly honorable political party and taken it off a cliff. That's the story here.

BANFIELD: Just because we asked tough questions and challenge you does not mean that we have agendas. I nailed you as hard as I nailed the Republicans and I'm so sick of being the messenger that gets attacked when the rest of these people out here are so sick of Congress.

But I'm out of time.

I think you both, Ana Navarro, Paul Begala, for joining me on the program today.

NAVARRO: Thank you.

BEGALA: Thanks.

BANFIELD: Let's hope we don't have to have this discussion for days and days. I'm not so sure we're not going to.

A reminder, President Obama is going to make remarks next hour. We'll take you live to the Rose Garden at 12:25. Do stay tuned. Again, CNN will have full live coverage of that.

Still ahead, Grand Canyon. It typically sees 18,000 visitors every day in October. And right now, that's not going to happen. Along with other popular parks and museums, lots is (sic) shut down, lots and lots. Look at the sign. One national park spokesman will join us in a moment to give you a statistic you may find unbelievable. It's not just vacations, folks. This matters to you.


BANFIELD: So the government shutdown, I'm sure you've heard by now, apart from laying off people, it's going to shut down 401 American national parks. So lest you think that's just a bunch of vacations that will be thwarted, I have a stat for you. Last year, 287 million people visited those parks, 287 million. And they bring with them a lot of money, too, for the surrounding communities. So there's a lot, all of a sudden, going into play. They've got 48 hours to leave camp grounds or hotels. 20,000 employees furloughed. It's unbelievable the statistics that actually go along with that.

Dana is a spokeswoman for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. She's live with me via Skype in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

What is your day going to be comprised of today? What do you have to do with the shutdown?

DANA SOEHN, SPOKESWOMAN, GREAT SMOKEY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK: We started shutting down the park first thing this morning. For us, that means closing our visitor centers, talking to people at our camp grounds, informing them of that 48-hour notice to vacate the park. We have over 850 miles of trails. Our back country will be closed throughout the shutdown along with all of our roadways. And during the month of October, we typically see one million to two million visitors who's come here for the changing fall colors.

BANFIELD: What about you? Are you just supposed to wait for notice to come back to work and then all of a sudden gear back up and get everybody back on board?

SOEHN: Yes, we have 329 employees at the Smokies currently. I'm one of the 279 employees that are on furlough throughout the duration of the shutdown.

BANFIELD: So it's just by the kindness of your nature that you showed up today to at least get the shutdown going and to talk to us. Then what's next? Again, you wait for notice to come back and get into the expensive work of reopening everything?

SOEHN: Yes, that's correct. And you know, we're talking to the visitors. We're -- as we close the gates, we're out there explaining what we know about to all of the visitors who had planned their vacations and intend to come in and enjoy the park. We have 820 campsites in the park. So that's a lot of people to make contact with. Over the course of the next two weeks, we had 28 weddings scheduled. So there's also a lot of other special uses. All of our ranger-led classroom programs were contacting teachers to cancel those programs.

BANFIELD: All those weddings. What a sad story for them.

Dana Soehn, I'm sorry for you and your fellow employees that you have to go through this. Thanks very much for joining us today. And best of luck to you in getting back to work.

SOEHN: Thank you.

BANFIELD: Dana Soehn with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Top stories coming up right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BANFIELD: Some breaking news I want to bring to you. Before I get to the story that's behind me, I want to tell you of what we're getting word of in Washington, D.C., there are some World War II veterans who have shown up at the memorial, World War II Memorial and they are knocking down the barriers because, of course, that would be a federal facility and that would be closed because the government is closed. So apparently, these veterans have shown up and knocking the barriers down. I don't have the video for you yet. But keep in mind, we're scrambling to get picture of that and get fuller reporting to you. But already, some of the angst has exploded into something even worse at this point.

Thanks very much for staying with me this hour. It's been good to have you. Wolf Blitzer will pick up the coverage on the government shutdown right after this quick break.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're watching three big stories right now. It's day one of the federal government shutdown. Hundreds of thousands of workers going home without a paycheck for who knows how long.

Also, the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, only minutes away from speaking at the United Nations General Assembly.