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Source: Senate Expected To Vote "After Dinner"; Obama Dissatisfied With Obamacare Site; Senate To Vote On Deal, House GOP Meets Soon

Aired October 16, 2013 - 14:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: And breaking news as you're watching live coverage here, CNN's special coverage of the countdown to the debt ceiling deadline. We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Jake Tapper. The Senate has reached a deal to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling for a few months as the clock ticks down, but the House of Representatives has not jet weighed in. In fact, Republican leadership is expected to meet just a short time from now to discuss plans with the Republican caucus.

BALDWIN: Checking my watch, supposed to happen in about a half hour. Want to bring in two different viewpoints from two Tea Party guests, Sal Russo, chief strategist for the Tea Party Express and Adam Brandon, Vice President of Communications for the hard line conservative group, Freedom Works.

So gentlemen, I hear the laugh, accurate? I hope that's accurate, but Sal, let me begin with you. You say, listen, with regard to Obamacare and what we have been seeing playing out the last couple weeks on Capitol Hill, you say just end the fight now, right?

SAL RUSSO, STRATEGIST, TEA PARTY EXPRESS: Well, you know, I think the deal that we're talking about today, you know, is an example of a failure. When you look at what's going to be accomplished, really nothing more than kicking the can down the road. So we're totally dissatisfied with where we are. We're not doing anything to remedy the problems with Obamacare. We're not doing anything in terms of excessive spending. We're not doing anything about our debt in the long term.

So this is a kick the can down the road solution, so we're totally dissatisfied with it. I mean, we applaud Ted Cruz and Mike Lee for putting up the fight and trying to educate the American people. And you know, ideally, we wanted to try to convince five Democrats in the Senate to vote to defund Obamacare. We didn't get that done. But that doesn't mean we're happy with letting the law take effect as it is because as people are finding out today, they're not getting to keep their insurance policies.

The premiums are a lot higher than Obama said. They don't get to keep their doctors. People aren't signing up. I mean, there are lots and lots of problems that should be addressed. I think it's totally irresponsible that the Congress is just walking away from it and not solving any problems.

ADAM BRANDON, V.P. OF COMMUNICATIONS, FREEDOMWORKS: I couldn't agree more with what he just said. The one thing I would add, as you look at the deal as it's emerging, we're going to get back together in December. It's Groundhog Day again, what I'm fearful is it's not just kicking the can down the road, it's going to go backwards. What is going to happen in December? My fear is we're going to undo a lot of the sequestration cuts.

TAPPER: So Adam, why was this a good idea?

BRANDON: Trying to stop Obamacare?

TAPPER: No, no, I don't want to argue the merits of Obamacare right now. I understand you feel strongly and there's another place and time for that. I'm talking about this specific strategy, tying the defunding of Obamacare to the funding of the government, and then how it went on from there, House Republicans and senate Democrats not being able to reach any sort of compromise. If you could go back in time, do you think there would be a way to do this more effectively?

BRANDON: You have to keep this fight up. Obamacare is going to cost $2 trillion over the next ten years. I would -- I think the best time to stop a broken entitlement program is before it starts. So I don't think this is a fight that anyone wanted, but it needs to be had.

TAPPER: But don't you think that your party and maybe even the Tea Party Movement within the Republican Party is weaker today than it was three weeks ago? Polls would suggest that most of the American people hold the Republicans in Congress more responsible for the shutdown, more responsible for this fight, and the unfavorable ratings for the Republican Party have gone up.

Would it not hypothetically have been a better plan and obviously this is 20/20 hindsight, but to not wage the fight, let the Obamacare web sites launch and sputter along unsuccessfully, and make the arguments about how they are just a symptom of the problem, et cetera.

Not have 400,000 people furloughed, not have people who need veterans benefits or WIC funds for their babies deprived of those or being afraid of being deprived of those and you're in a better position to make an argument against Obamacare.

BRANDON: The House passed plenty of bills that did all of that, but just didn't fund the broken program of Obamacare. The House was trying their best to do these bills that would keep the parks open, NIH funding going --

TAPPER: I understand the piecemeal funding argument and I understand both sides, but strategy wise, could not have been a better idea?

BRANDON: You are articulating a fantastic argument for a Republican strategist. What this movement is about is more about principles, the long-term fight. Republicans are going to have to answer for what the best strategy is for Republicans. What you have people like Mike Lee and Ted Cruz fighting for is what is going to be good for the long- term of the country.

BALDWIN: Hindsight is 20/20. I want to look ahead to the future because let's say to both of you, let's say this deal is adopted. They would have to set up this powerful conference committee and the issues they would tackle, long-term tax and spending reform so picture Speaker Boehner and Leader McConnell. Do you think that they will pick Tea Party members of Congress to sit on this particular committee? Do you think at that point they're going to say, you got us into this mess? You're in time-out? Sal, to you.

RUSSO: Yes, I mean, I think the big problem is, you know, some of the Republican pundits and establishment people have said, well, defund Obamacare isn't the fight. We should wait for the debt ceiling fight or now they're saying we should wait and negotiate after the debt ceiling fight. The problem is that we have spent five years negotiating. We've gotten nothing out of Obama. He's been unwilling to negotiate. He's unwilling to try to fix some of the problems.

BALDWIN: I'm not asking about Obama negotiating. Let me jump back in with regard to the specific committee. Will the Tea Party, will you have a voice on this committee because you're the side. It lo looks like in the end that lost this fight?

BRANDON: I really do hope we have a voice in there. If you're looking at what generally comes out of these negotiations are cuts 30 years from now. Thirty years from now, I'm going to be looking at retiring. We need cuts in the government now. We're $17 trillion in debt. We're borrowing nearly a trillion a year. We can't keep kicking the can down the road.

BALDWIN: OK.

RUSSO: We haven't achieved anything in five years. The only thing we have achieved is "a sequester," which was a stupid idea of Obama's that actually took effect because nobody thought it would take effect. So I'm very pessimistic that negotiations with this president are going to get anywhere.

BALDWIN: I hear your pessimism and I know a lot of Americans share the view. And Sal Russo and Adam Brandon, we appreciate that. We appreciate your coming on and letting us know how you feel.

TAPPER: Just ahead, President Obama frustrated just like a lot of Americans over the rocky launch of Obamacare, he says. Hear his complaint. You're watching CNN's special live coverage from Capitol Hill.

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BALDWIN: I'm Brooke Baldwin sitting alongside Jake Tapper. Here we are live on Capitol Hill. Even President Obama is grumbling about the Obamacare web site. The president told Iowa TV affiliate KCCI he is disappointed with the web site's shall we call it rocky? TAPPER: That's nice.

BALDWIN: Rocky launch.

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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I am the first to acknowledge that the website that was supposed to do this all in a seamless way has had way more glitches than I think are acceptable, and we've got people working around the clock to do that. And we've seen some significant progress, but until it's 100 percent, I'm not going to be satisfied.

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TAPPER: The Obamacare website launched more than two weeks ago. President Obama has said he will not negotiate over Obamacare as part of the discussions to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling, but he said he's willing to improve parts of the law in the future as long as everyone now eligible remains covered.

BALDWIN: As analysts begin debating the future of what is really the brand of the Republican Party, which Republicans -- can you think of one, if any -- who come out of this stinking a little less, coming out looking not as bad from this whole --

TAPPER: Even good?

BALDWIN: Do we want to go that far?

TAPPER: Sure.

BALDWIN: Maybe even good, and give us an idea where the party is heading. You're watching CNN's special live coverage from Capitol Hill.

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TAPPER: Welcome back now to our special live coverage from here on Capitol Hill. A deal to raise the debt ceiling and temporarily fund the government has been reached in the Senate and a vote is expected this evening.

BALDWIN: We're told some time after dinnertime, and the news is a sigh of relief for a lot of people in Washington and beyond. But as CNN "CROSSFIRE" host, Newt Gingrich pointed out a short time ago, Republicans and Democrats are still divided as far as the blame game, who is to blame for this current crisis. Both parties feeling bullied by the other party. So Newt Gingrich said this isn't healthy for America.

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NEWT GINGRICH, CO-HOST, CNN'S "CROSSFIRE": This shows you the gap in the country. Every conservative I know thinks the bully is Barack Obama. He thinks the bully is Ted Cruz. I just want to suggest to you it's not healthy as a country to have this big a divide, and I predict this president will spend the next two months further vilifying Republicans and widening the gap more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Joining us now, CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, and Ana Navarro, CNN political commentator and Republican strategist. Ana, has this shutdown, do you think, tarnished the Republican Party brand?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Frankly, Jake, I think it's tarnished everybody. We have shown this government to be dysfunctional in the last two or three weeks. Across the world, the headlines have been horrible. We have a Republican Party that can't get along with itself. We've got a House that can't get along with a Senate. We have a Congress that can't get along with the president.

So the entire thing has been dysfunctional. I don't think there are any winners anywhere inside Washington. When you've got 53 percent saying -- American people saying they disapprove of the way President Obama has handled it. Sixy-plus percent saying they disapprove of Democrats and 70-plus percent saying they disapprove of the Republicans, nobody has anything to crow about.

TAPPER: I agree with that, but Ana, the numbers you just mentioned seemed to suggest that the Republicans, if everybody is a loser, the Republican Party are the biggest losers, those numbers suggest that, anyway.

NAVARRO: Well, in the short-term, definitely. I do stop -- I hear my friend, Donna, laughing. Listen, Donna, if you and I had been in charge, we could have solved this over some oysters and a couple glasses of wine. I think the government is dysfunctional and the U.S. public is dismayed at seeing the people that are running Washington.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, our founders envisioned a system like this, Jake. There's no reason to walk around and point fingers right now and to figure out who's to blame because I'm just happy that federal employees and others will be able to go back to work, reopen up our parks, and insure that the District of Columbia, where I live, will not shut down simply because members of Congress are holding up their little pet projects and they want somebody to pay attention to them.

I'm glad it will end soon and I hope that cooler heads can prevail, hopefully Senator Murray and Congressman Ryan, Chairman Ryan, will be able to carve out a deal so we will not have to go through this in January, which by the way, Brooke, it's a little chilly in January. I know you don't want to come back in January.

BALDWIN: Yes, Ma'am. I used to live here. I have my winter coats, but as much as I would love to spend time with you, Donna Brazile, I would like to miss that. Let me stay with you because I want to talk. Listen, we heard Ana say, you know, everyone -- this has tarnished myriad reputations on both sides of the political aisle. I want to read something to you that our colleague, CNN political commentator Alex Castellanos said in his op-ed. This is what he said. Obama will leave a Democratic Party epitomized by ancient ideas, radically positioned left of our political center. The political trouble Barack Obama inherited from George W. Bush is nothing compared to what Obama has teed up for a future contender such as Hillary Clinton. Do you agree?

BRAZILE: You know, Pope Francis said recently that we need to stop obsessing over abortion and same-sex marriage. It's time for Republicans to stop obsessing over the fact that this country elected twice Barack Obama as president of the United States. He has put forward very pragmatic ideas. He's worked with Republicans on restoring tax cuts for the middle class. He's worked with Republicans.

Our deficit now is going down. What we need the Republicans to do is come together, work together so they can work with this president and Democratic leaders in the Senate to create jobs and get the American people back to work. There's no reason why we should shut down the government and cause so much economic harm and pain to our country and our economy.

BALDWIN: OK.

BRAZILE: Ana, I still want to have oysters with her, and let me just say this --

BALDWIN: Just not in January.

BRAZILE: Not in January. Susan Collins, I applaud Senator Susan Collins of Maine who stepped out to help create the dynamics that led to this bipartisan bill. It takes a woman.

BALDWIN: We had Jeanne Shaheen on my show yesterday --

BRAZILE: And Senator Amy Klobuchar.

NAVARRO: And all the women in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. Congress.

BRAZILE: Sorry, Jake. It's up to the women.

TAPPER: Women have never started any wars. That's right.

BRAZILE: And let's continue because if the Republicans keep this up, I'm going to get my Speaker Pelosi button back out. It matches everything I wear.

TAPPER: OK.

BALDWIN: All right, Donna Brazile and Ana Navarro are making Tapper here a little uncomfortable. Ladies, thank you very much.

TAPPER: President Obama calling out Speaker John Boehner over his lack of control of his members in the House. Where does this fight leave Speaker Boehner and what does he do in the next few hours? Coming up on CNN's special live coverage.

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BALDWIN: Back here live on Capitol Hill. Even with word on this possible deal on the debt ceiling coming out of the Senate, House Speaker John Boehner's job may, could be on the line. Boehner's control over House Republicans appears to have crumbled. A fellow Republican congressman has been quoted as saying Boehner is herding cats.

TAPPER: Not a new concept here on Capitol Hill. But the crisis definitely revealed a deep Republican divide, pitting GOP versus GOP with Boehner stuck in the middle. President Obama said the political brinksmanship was worse because Boehner lost control.

Let's bring in CNN's chief political analyst Gloria Borger. Do you think Speaker Boehner leaves this crisis in a more vulnerable position than he was a month ago?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Not with Republicans. No. I think that in a way he strengthened himself, oddly.

BALDWIN: Strengthened?

BORGER: Even though all of us look at this and say how could he do this, how could he lead them to the cliff and potentially over the cliff and all the rest, this is what the other leaders wanted, OK? His --

TAPPER: Deputies.

BORGER: Deputies, et cetera. This is what some of his rank and file wanted. They felt he didn't do what they wanted in the fiscal cliff last January, so he gave them enough rope, and they hung themselves, and now he's going to get out of this, but I think there would have been more of a chance that he would have been threatened by his deputies in any kind of a leadership fight before this since they were with him on this then after this. So honestly, I think he is strengthened as speaker as a result of this, a little counter intuitive.

BALDWIN: We talked about the fisher fizzers that have become crevices depending on how you look at it through this whole past couple of weeks fight. How do those individual members emerge?

BORGER: Some of them actually in terms of John Boehner, some of them were actually said at least he gave us a shot at this. With those folks, the hell-no caucus, maybe he's more strengthened. Look, these splits in the party are going to remain. We're going to see them play out in the presidential election. I keep saying I think these are almost irreconcilable differences. Maybe you end up with a Tea Party candidate. I have no idea it's a little early, but maybe that's what Ted Cruz is thinking about.

But, you know, the differences are there. There are differences and there are real splits within the Democratic Party. We have just been focusing on these splits, but I want to also add that no Republican likes Obamacare, OK? There's not exactly out there cheering the president's health care plan, but they had a different strategy.

And the ones who are opposed to Ted Cruz argue that you have to govern, and they don't have the votes. And that Ted Cruz was promising something he could never deliver, which is ultimately very cynical.

TAPPER: All right, Gloria Borger, thank you so much.

In just moments, the House GOP meeting to discuss the Senate deal. Will the Tea Party Republicans put up a fight and what will John Boehner do? Anderson Cooper will take over special coverage in just 2 minutes.

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