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THE SITUATION ROOM
Two Dead, Two Injured in Nevada School Shooting; "There's No Sugar-Coating It"; "There's No Excuse For The Problems"; Reality Check For Republicans; Learning from Romneycare; JPMorgan Chase's Record $13 Billion Penalty; The Mystery Face of Obamacare
Aired October 21, 2013 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right, Jake, thank you. Happening now, horror and chaos in a Nevada middle school, a teacher and student, they are dead. Two more students hurt after a shooting. We'll have the very latest.
The president vows to fix the technical fiasco that's clogged up the government's Obamacare website.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's no sugar- coating it. The Web site has been too slow. People have been getting stuck during the application process. And I think it's fair to say that nobody is more frustrated by that than I am.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: ObamaCare has its roots in RomneyCare. I'll ask the former head of that successful Massachusetts health exchange if Washington got it wrong.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
All that coming up, but let's begin with new video -- 911 calls and details all just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now after another school shooting, this one at a middle school in Sparks, Nevada. One staff member is dead, two students have been injured after a student allegedly opened fire. The suspect also died, but authorities say it's too soon to know if that is from a self-inflicted wound or from a law enforcement shot.
We have team coverage of this developing story.
Our crime and justice correspondent, Joe Johns, is getting new information from law enforcement.
But let's begin with Brian Todd.
He's here in THE SITUATION ROOM -- Brian, what's the latest?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we are getting new information on this shooting seemingly by the minute now. A top police official in Reno says the best description is chaos. Two people dead as, Wolf, mentioned, a staff member at Sparks Middle School, outside Reno, and the suspect, who is described as a student there. Two students were wounded, one shot in the shoulder, who the police say is now in stable condition, and one shot in the stomach, who has just undergone surgery, and who police say is in critical condition.
We just received the 911 recordings of this incident.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Active shooter, Sparks Middle School, 2275 18th Street. They have at least two down, one in the drop box area for the buses. Suspect is described as wearing khaki pants.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) Sparks. We've got two down in the playground. They have one victim in the cafeteria, one in the hall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Police are now investigating this shooting, interviewing several students who were witnesses. The indications we're getting now are that the staffer who was killed tried somehow to stop the shooter and may have played a role in others not being hit. But again, interviews going on right now with witnesses.
Here is a description of the shooting from one of the student witnesses.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The kid started getting mad and he pulled out a gun and shoots my friend, one of my friends, at least. He got shot in the shoulder. He's fine right now. And then he walked up to and a teacher and says, "Back up." The teacher started backing up. He pulled the trigger trigger. Once that happened, he ran toward the eighth grade side in South Hall and started firing there. Then he jumped the fence and he was gone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Police are still investigating a possible motive.
Now, according to a report from CNN's local affiliate, KOLO, some witnesses say they thought they heard someone talking about possible bullying just before the shots were fired. But we have to stress, those are initial reports from witnesses, not from the police -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What do we know about the school?
TODD: The school, we know, has about 630 students. That was the enrollment in the last school year, 2012-2013. Sparks, Nevada has a population of 92,183. That middle school, Sparks Middle School, is made up of seventh and eighth graders. So you put that range probably between 11 and 13 years old. So that's a young suspect, obviously, if that is, indeed, who the shooter is.
BLITZER: Yes. A lot of this information very preliminary, so we'll check it out.
Thanks, Brian, very much.
Let's bring in our crime and justice correspondent, Joe Johns -- Joe, you're in Philadelphia right now, where police from across the country are discussing how to deal with situations similar to these.
What are the sources that you're talking to saying?
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, federal officials are monitoring the situation in Nevada, as they always do. The FBI is on the scene.
Some indication the shooter may have gotten that gun from a family member. Federal officials I talked to here at the International Association of Chiefs of Police convention in Philadelphia said it was both grisly and timely that the attorney general would be in this city talking about active shooter situations at a time when one was actually occurring in Nevada.
Now, the attorney general did tell the police chiefs here in this city that as far as he's concerned, the country has to have a better response at the local level, because these kinds of incidents are increasing in both severity and number. And he says police officers at the local level need to have more equipment and certainly more training to try to deal with shooters right as the incident happens and not necessarily wait for SWAT teams to show up -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Joe, stand by.
We've got the mayor of Sparks, Nevada on the phone right now.
Mayor Geno Martini is joining us.
Mayor, what can you tell us?
MAYOR GENO MARTINI, SPARKS NEVADA: Well, everything you've been talking about, Wolf, is pretty much what happened, from what I understand. The young man came to school with a gun, shot a couple of students and also shot a teacher. And the teacher has since been -- passed away.
So, you know, it's a very, very sad day for us. And it's not something that you wake up thinking that's going to happen in your city, especially with a small community city we are, of families, and so on and so forth. It's very, very devastating to everybody involved.
BLITZER: Does it look, Mayor, like the shooter was actually -- deliberately targeting this teacher who was shot?
MARTINI: I don't think so, not from what we can -- what we understand from the police department. It wasn't a targeting incident, it was an isolated kind of an incident. But we're not sure about that. You know, we're still under investigation. There's a lot of statements and things to be taken yet and people to talk to. So it's an ongoing investigation as I speak to you.
BLITZER: And the shooter, was the shooter this 13 or 14-year-old boy, right, was he shot by law enforcement or did he kill himself?
MARTINI: You know, we don't know for sure exactly what happened. As far as I understand, there was no fire. The police departments did not expend any rounds or make any -- take any shots. So it's only speculation about what may have happened with the shooter himself. All we know is that he is dead.
BLITZER: Can you tell us anything else about this teacher?
Some are describing him as a hero in this incident. I don't know if you knew the teacher in question, the teacher who was shot and killed.
But what can you share with us?
MARTINI: You know I didn't know Mr. Lansbury. But from what I understand, he was a very well liked teacher, by the students and other teachers in the school district. He's also a member of the Nevada National Air Guard and served a couple terms in Afghanistan, is what I understand. So, you know, it's very unfortunate that someone like that, that protected our country over there and came back alive had to be -- his life had to be taken at his work, at his school. It's very devastating.
BLITZER: It is devastating, indeed, Mayor.
What kind of weapon, do you know, what kind of weapon was used?
MARTINI: We just know it was a pistol, as far as we know. Other than that, we do not know anything.
BLITZER: And was it a pistol that this 13-year-old boy got from a relative, a family member?
MARTINI: That has not been determined yet. From what we understand, it may have happened, but we're -- we have not found that out for sure.
BLITZER: How is your community doing?
MARTINI: You know, our community is doing good. You know, we'll mourn and we'll suffer. Like I said, it's very hard to understand, in a small community like this. You know, you always think that this stuff kind of -- this kind of stuff happens other places. But now it's happened to us.
So we'll grieve and mourn and then we'll be fine. BLITZER: Mayor, thanks very much.
MARTINI: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: And good luck to everyone in your community.
We also have on the phone Lieutenant Erick Thomas.
He's with the Sparks Police Department.
Lieutenant, what else can you share with us about how this went down?
LT. ERICK THOMAS, SPARKS POLICE DEPARTMENT: Just that at about 9:00 -- or 7:16 this morning, before the first bell for school rang, we started receiving calls of -- into our 911 center about a possible shooting and a subject armed with a handgun.
When officers arrived there, they found two subjects that were deceased and two injured subjects. Those injured subjects were transported to the hospital and we're currently investigating the incident.
BLITZER: How did the shooter die, do you know?
THOMAS: We're not releasing that yet. We're still investigating. That could be released later on today.
BLITZER: And the teacher who was shot and killed, what -- can you share with us what you've learned, how that happened?
THOMAS: I don't have any information that I can release on that yet. We just know that one of the victims, one of the deceased was a staff member at the school.
BLITZER: Did you know this teacher?
THOMAS: I did not.
BLITZER: You did not know him.
And so the investigation, your investigation is only just beginning, but it's over right now, right?
THOMAS: The (INAUDIBLE)...
BLITZER: -- the shooting incident is over?
There's no other suspects at large or anything like that?
THOMAS: No. There is no other suspect at large. The shooting is over. It's past tense right now.
All right, well, Erick Thomas, Lieutenant Erick Thomas, of the Sparks Police Department, good luck to you. Good luck to your entire community.
I'm sure it's going to be a painful -- it already has been a very painful experience.
We'll stay in close touch with you.
Thank you very much.
THOMAS: Thank you.
BLITZER: We'll move on to other news we're following.
Up next, the president says he's upset over the technical failures of the ObamaCare Web site and he's vowing to make things right.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: There's no excuse for the problems. And these problems are getting fixed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And another fiasco -- after trying to force ObamaCare concessions by shutting down the government, Republican lawmakers get a brutal reality check in our brand new poll.
BLITZER: Endless waits, a log in logjam and repeated failures -- it's been a miserable start for the federal government's ObamaCare Web site. The president says he's as upset as anyone and he's vowing a massive, 24/7 effort to turn things around.
But he says those who have managed to enroll are, quote, "thrilled with the result."
Let's go live to our senior White House correspondent, Brianna Keilar.
She's joining us now -- so, Brianna, how's the White House dealing with this escalating problem?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, confronting it. However, the White House is still loathe to publicly admit the structural problems with this federal Web site following this event in the Rose Garden, where the president was in a rather embarrassing situation, having to defend his signature health care reform program and pointing Americans to a 1-800 number. It was a rather tough briefing for White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. His go-to answer on the issues with the Web site were that they were -- the volume has exposed the issues.
We heard President Obama refer to them as "kinks in the system," as he tried to assure Americans that ObamaCare is much more than this Web site.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: The problem has been that the Web site that's supposed to make it easy to apply for and purchase the insurance is not working the way it should for everybody. There's no sugar-coating it. The Web site has been too slow, people have been getting stuck during the application process.
And I think it's fair to say that nobody's more frustrated by that than I am, precisely because the product is good, I want the cash registers to work. I want the checkout lines to be smooth. So, I want people to be able to get this great product. And there's no excuse for the problems. And it's -- these problems are getting fixed.
We did not wage this long and contentious battle just around a website. That's not what this was about.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: We waged this battle to make sure that millions of Americans in the wealthiest nation on Earth finally have the same chance to get the same security of affordable quality health care as anybody else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Now, the president described a quote, "tech surge" where you have government employees as well as private sector employees being brought in. They are currently working on the website trying to get it operational, Wolf. But we don't know exactly who it is working on it. We don't know how many people there are working on it.
We certainly do not know at this point when the website will be fixed or certainly widely operational. So, a lot of unanswered questions at this point.
BLITZER: Yes. We don't know how much extra it's going to cost to fix that website. They've already spent hundreds of millions of dollars. I assume it's not going to be cheap to try to fix it. Brianna, is there serious consideration at the White House to doing for individuals what they earlier did for employers? In other words, delaying that individual mandate, the requirement that individuals purchase health insurance or be penalized with a higher tax?
KEILAR: I got an interesting answer from Jay Carney when I asked him about that today in the briefing, Wolf. He said that for folks who don't have access to affordable care due to a state not expanding Medicaid, for example he said, or due to other factors, he said, they will not be penalized. That's part of the existing law.
So, it really kind of seemed like he was leaving the door open to that. You hear other administration officials talk about this, Wolf, and they say they don't think it will be necessary. They look at Massachusetts, for instance, that health care program, and they say a lot of times, people weren't signing up for insurance until they got close to the deadline so it doesn't necessarily matter here in this early part. But if you talk to Obama care supporters even, Wolf, they think this is, perhaps, a real possibility. Even though the enrollment process goes through the end of March, that requirement to get insurance is actually mid-February. So, it's quicker than the end of March.
BLITZER: Yes. Time flies, as they say. Brianna, thanks very much. Let's dig a little deeper right now. Joining us, the Democratic strategist, Maria Cardona, our CNN political commentators, Ross Douthat, a columnist for the "New York Times," also joining us, our CNN money tech correspondent, Laurie Segall.
Ross, you wrote a fascinating column in yesterday's "New York Times," actually comparing the rollout of Obamacare to the war in Iraq.
ROSS DOUTHAT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. And I mean, obviously, the underlying policy issue is totally and mercifully different, but what you have here is something similar to what you saw with the Bush administration and post invasion planning where I think that if you look back to 2003, even people who are opposed to the Iraq war were surprised by the fact that the Bush White House had botched something so basic as, you know, figuring out what we do the day after we take Baghdad.
And this is a similar case where, look, there are all kinds of reasons that conservatives were skeptical about this law, but I think almost nobody anticipated that the Obama White House, so famous for its tech savvy, its ability to build the best campaign websites in the history of campaign websites, would fail fairly catastrophically in the rollout in ways that are going to take weeks, maybe months to unwind.
BLITZER: We know, Maria, there were plenty of warnings in the months leading up to October whereas inside the Obama administration, not ready, we got problems, maybe we should delay it, and they said no, no, no, we're going ahead with it. This must be so, so frustrating to everyone in the White House, from the president on down, but they've got to blame someone for this. Who screwed up?
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you know, I think they're taking a look at that and the president took full responsibility for this, and I love Ross' writing. He's very melodramatic, but I think a big difference between what happened today and the war in Iraq is that there was no banner that said mission accomplished behind the president.
BLITZER: In the days leading up to it, they said everything is ready to go. We've tested it and we're in good shape.
CARDONA: But again, this president --
CARDONA: Twenty million people did try to sign up. That is a huge surge. And you're right. They absolutely should have been prepared for this, Wolf. There's no question about it. you know, Democrats are as frustrated as everybody and the president was the one who said it today. There's nobody more frustrated than him.
But the fact of the matter is that we have to look at the human element here. I don't think they're going to delay it. I don't think they should have delayed it. There are millions of people who are desperate for this kind of health care and who are getting it. And then you juxtapose that with Republicans who are obsessed with taking something away from 30 million people who need it and I think that's where you have the battered image of the GOP.
BLITZER: Twenty million people didn't try to sign up. They just tried to sign in.
BLITZER: -- a lot of people with insurance, they were just going there to see if they could get in. They were just curious --
CARDONA: -- people were now able to apply.
DOUTHAT: Right. But a lot of people are also, especially people on the individual market having their existing plans canceled right now on the assumption that they will be able to buy insurance on the exchange. So, it's not just the --
BLITZER: Let me bring Laurie into this. Laurie, you're talking to your own sources in Silicon Valley. Surprisingly, they didn't go to Silicon Valley to get the best and the brightest or whatever you want to call it. They went to Canada. Not that there's anything wrong with Canada, but there's pretty good software people here in the United States as well.
So, what are they saying in Silicon Valley, especially now that the administration has this tech surge as they're calling it. They're flying in all sorts of experts from California to Washington to deal with this?
LAURIE SEGALL, CNNMONEY TECH CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, the Obama administration, Wolf, people knew the Obama administration for being very tech savvy. So, this is pretty eye-opening. But I got to tell you, I got on the phone with my Silicon Valley sources and they are just shaking their heads and they say when you've got the government, technology and innovation, sometimes, that's doomed for failure.
You know, I spoke to the Salesforce CEO. His name is Marc Benioff. And he said, you know, they're using a decade old architecture to build this kind of thing out. Now, he did say they should be using the cloud. Well, obviously, there are a lot of issues when it comes to using the cloud and we have to look and it's not just like they can operate like a lean startup.
They can't be like Facebook and Twitter when they were just in those beginning days when they were moving fast and breaking things. Right now, there are a lot of cooks in the kitchen. There are a lot of government regulations. I mean, the feds can't even -- they weren't even able to use the cloud and they're able to use it for limited reasons now, as of May.
So, it's just a bit of an archaic process. A lot of folks in the valley say, hey, you know, this is the kind of thing where you need to bring the best and the brightest minds in house. You need to recruit the best engineers to make this work -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. What I don't understand is why they didn't do that in advance, because they have several years, they had two or three years to get all this ready. I've read a lot of experts, what they're saying, Laurie, some are saying could take a few days. Others are saying a few weeks or months. Others are saying they've got to start from scratch because the whole system is terrible right now. What are you hearing?
SEGALL: You know, look, the folks I have spoken to, they're optimistic that this is going to be fixed. You have to understand that they're three weeks in to a six-month enrollment process. Now -- but here, the stakes are higher, because when Twitter started out, they were having some issues failing, everyone saw a cute fail well, right?
But when people who are trying to sign up for health care, especially something that's got this much of political agenda, when they're not able to do that, the stakes are just higher, especially when there's a deadline, Wolf.
BLITZER: There's a serious deadline. So, what do you think, is this going to be fixed relatively soon? What are you hearing, Ross?
DOUTHAT: I mean, you hear a lot of different things. And a friend of mine, a writer named (INAUDIBLE) who was in the Bush White House during Katrina, another big disaster, said the thing to keep in mind is while a disaster is ongoing, it often can seem worse than it is, right? You know, we heard lots of, as horrible as Katrina was, when they're in the Bush White House at that moment.
They were hearing, you know, they're shooting people in the superdome and so on. And he says, you have to be cautious and not assume that every horror story you hear is actually coming true. This could be fixed in a few weeks. I think the danger here is that the system, the entire architecture of the health care reform is built around getting a certain number of people, a certain number usually of young and healthy people to sign up in order to make the whole thing a going concern.
And that's the anxiety. It's not sort of -- obviously, eventually, they'll fix the website. But there's -- there are policy consequences to not getting enough people to sign up. BLITZER: If you're trying to get all these young healthy people to sign up, you got to have an excellent website, because if you're going to rely on them to call some --
BLITZER: -- 800 toll-free number or they're going to some navigator as they're calling them, a government office and signing up with paperwork, that's going to take forever.
CARDONA: I completely agree, and I think Ross is right. This is going to depend on what happens in the next couple of months. But given that the stakes are so high like Laurie said, I guarantee you, the administration is doing everything that it can to make sure that this is a success. And I think for every failure that Ross and the Republicans like to point out, there are many, many --
DOUTHAT: Me and the Republicans.
CARDONA: There are many, many success stories of people who are getting the kind of coverage that they so desperately needed, and I think frankly, the president is OK with taking a couple of political days now if he can then point to saying look, we have given 30 million people the kind of coverage that they deserve.
BLITZER: All these people who need health insurance desperately, some of them are getting it finally with pre-existing conditions and they may be frail, they may be old, they may be poor. They're getting it, but in order to pay for that, healthy people have to sign up.
CARDONA: That's right.
BLITZER: and if they don't, the whole system could crash. That's what you were writing about in the "New York Times." There's a lot of people have pointed out. All right, guys. Thanks very, very much. To be continued, as they say.
Up next, House Republicans and the Speaker John Boehner, they take it on the chin from an angry American public. Our latest poll numbers, you will want to see them. Stay with us.
BLITZER: After trying to force Obamacare concessions by shutting down the federal government, Republican lawmakers get a tough reality check in our brand new poll. The rest of official Washington, by the way, didn't fare all that well either. Our national correspondent, John King, is joining us live now with the latest. John, so, what are we seeing in these new numbers?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, what you see is that the American people are frankly disgusted and have very bleak view of all of their leaders in Washington. Let's start with the president, because he was out there at such a high profile role today, trying to promise to fix what he calls glitches with Obamacare.
Look at the president's approval rating. Pretty much flat line over the last several months. He's at 44 percent now approval rating, same as he was in September, same pretty much as he was in June. So, what's the bottom line there? The president may have had the upper hand politically in the government shutdown, but Wolf, he did not get a bounce when it comes to his job approval.
And a president under 50, that's a danger sign for his party as we head into the midterm election year. So, the president will be looking to boost that number.
The one thing the president has going for him, though, is the voters think even less of his chief rivals, meaning the House Republicans. Look at this number when it comes to the House speaker, John Boehner. Should he be replaced as speaker? More than six in 10 Americans say yes, they would like a new leader of the House of Representatives. American people don't get to pick the speaker, of course, but that's a bad number for Republicans.
And this one is even worse. Look at this: is it good for the country or bad for the country that Republicans control the House? For the first time since the Republicans took charge a few years ago, Wolf, a majority now says it's bad for the country. Again, that's a warning sign for the Republicans. The president's numbers bad for him, but those numbers, bad for the Republicans as we heat up now into the midterm election season.
And these next two numbers I want to show you, they are just bad for Washington, period. Look at this. Are you satisfied with the way your nation is being governed? Look at that number. Eighty-three percent, more than eight in 10 Americans, say no. That's Democrats, that's Republicans, that's independents. That's everybody. Grumpy about Washington.
And here's one question here that could be part of the Obamacare debate, Wolf. What was one of the big driving factors in the Republicans saying Obamacare is too much government? Well, should the government do more to solve the country's problems? Thirty-five percent of Americans say yes. Six in 10 say no.
So, for all their troubles and all the brand wound, if you will, Republicans will look at that last number and still think heading into the election season if they can help repair the brand, that number there, people aren't looking for more government, you would argue. should help the Republicans. But overall, Wolf, it is just a very bleak, bleak political environment.
BLITZER: Yes. I wonder who those 14 percent are who say they are satisfied with the way Washington is doing business right now. What are you seeing specifically about the impact of the 16-day shutdown?
KING: There's no question the Republican brand suffered damage. Look at this first overall number. All Americans are mad about the 16-day shutdown. Seventy-nine percent, nearly eight in 10 Americans say it was a bad thing. They don't think their government should have been shut down while the politicians fight out things like Obamacare.
Who gets the blame? Look at this one. A majority of Americans blame the Republicans in Congress, 52 percent blame the Republicans in Congress, 34 percent President Obama. So again, Wolf, the president comes out the quote unquote, winner, if you will, in the blame game about the shutdown. That's the momentum the White House would like to carry forward right now.
The question is this. As we shift into the midterm election climate, now a year away, a year and a week or so away, is the shutdown still something that is the flash point in American politics or as the Republicans hopes, do people's doubts about the president's health care plan, maybe continuing doubts about the economy, tend to rise up in the weeks and months ahead? That will be part of the political sparring going forward. But as you head into the beginning of the midterm election season, safe to say the country is in a very foul mood.
BLITZER: Very foul indeed. All right, John, thank you.
Up next, Obamacare has its roots in Romneycare. I am going to ask the former head of that successful Massachusetts health exchange what Washington got wrong.
BLITZER: Shocking video of a bus exploding on a busy city street. We will tell you what happened and what authorities think caused it. That's coming up. Stay with us; we'll be right back.
BLITZER: The Obama website may be a mess, but the administration says almost half a million people have managed to start the process and get online and start the application process. On the other hand, that's just a fraction of the number who must actually enroll to make the program work. And a lot of those people will need to be healthy. CNN's Tom Foreman is taking a closer look at the numbers behind the Affordable Care Act and what needs to be done in order to make it work.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, President Obama says despite all the problems with the website, the underlying design of Obamacare, he says, is basically fine. This is a tricky statement, because the economic machinery of this legislation only works if you get enough people and the right kind of people enrolled.
Let's start with the first part. The administration has said this will be a success if seven million people sign up by the end of March, the open enrollment deadline. All the calculations going forward are based on that many people who are currently uninsured, choosing to pay premiums and get covered rather than be fined, even if the fine is lower than what it's going to cost them for the coverage.
Second part, and this is the more important part, especially according to analysts like the folks at Brookings Institution, about 40 percent of these people have to be young and healthy because they are the cash cows in this system. The savings from all the health services that they won't use will help pay for the older folks and those who are chronically ill. If you end up with a lot of sick people signing up and a lot of healthy people staying away, it doesn't matter what your total will be. That's called adverse selection, and that could put the program into deep economic trouble fast, Wolf.
BLITZER: You know, even though the administration is releasing very few numbers, if we take a look at what has been released so far, are we getting any indication, Tom, that they're moving along on track or we just don't have enough numbers to make that conclusion?
FOREMAN: Well, we don't have enough numbers, that's obvious. It's a little hard for them to say the numbers show it's working if they keep saying we don't have the numbers. How would they know?
But in any event, let's be very generous about this and say the White House says close to a half-million people have filled out applications for Obamacare in the first 20 days. So if you work that down, you come to about 25,000 people per day in this process. Let's say that all of these go forward and all of them complete the sign-up and all of them make the payment and all of them join the program. Then if you do the math for the number of days between the end of March, what you come out with is about 161 days, around there, and that means about four million people signing up. That's well south of the seven million they say they need.
Now, I will say in Massachusetts, when they do their health care program at the beginning, what you saw was a slow ramp-up, and you saw a bug rush at the end. So they could have a big push at the end, but at this moment, based on these numbers, that seven million mark seems very far away, Wolf.
BLITZER: And Tom, when they say almost half a million people have signed up, that's just the initial -- they haven't actually bought necessarily policies or anything, but they are online, they are signed up to the Obamacare website. But that doesn't mean that there's half a million people who have already bought health insurance.
FOREMAN: That is exactly right, Wolf. The problem here, the president keeps highlighting these people who have serious medical conditions and how this helps them. It does help them, there's no question. You don't have insurance, it helps you.
But the people the system needs is not those people as much as it may help them. What it needs is those healthy people who will decide it's worth completing the process even though economically, it may not seem that way up front, Wolf.
BLITZER: We will continue to follow this story. Much more coming up. All right, Tom, thanks very much.
We've got also some shocking video of an explosion on a city street. We'll stay on top of that story. More news right after this.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: As you know, so far, the federal government's Obamacare Web site is riddled with lots and lots of technical failures. The president says experts have been called in to get it to work properly, but can it really be fixed?
Joining us now is Jon Kingsdale. He was the founding director of the Massachusetts Health Connector or Romneycare, as it was called, who pioneered the marketplace idea used in Obamacare. He now advises a number of states about their health exchanges.
Jon, thanks very much for coming in. So what do you think? Can it be fixed?
JON KINGSDALE, FORMER DIRECTOR, MASSACHUSETTS HEALTH EXCHANGE: Well, I'm sure it can be fixed. The question's really about time. And this is a series of -- if you think of this as a stream or a process, the problem that I see is not so much just getting the Web site, which is the store door, if you will, to open, but then downstream, there are all these connections with hundreds of insurance plan issuers, getting the bills out correctly to millions of people, tying that back to the IRS.
And you're not really enrolled, frankly, until you get the right bill and you have paid it, and the insurance plan has acknowledged your payment. So all that needs to be stress tested under volume as well. And that has to happen after the immediate fixes.
BLITZER: Should they have delayed the program because it wasn't ready?
KINGSDALE: Well, the deadline January 1 is written into the law, and you saw the heat that the administration took just for relieving employers of reporting and penalty requirements in the first year, so I think that going much further than what they did was probably not possible, and you've got a Congress that, as we all know, can't really act.
They -- October 1 is not in the law, and in retrospect, it's clear that they needed to do some kind of a soft launch and take the month of October really to do the testing and the fixing, and in fact, if you look at subsequent years, they have tab open enrollment starting a couple of weeks after October 1st and ending in December. So this is a big window and it turns out that they opened it a little bit too soon.
BLITZER: When you launched Romneycare, as it was called, in Massachusetts, did you initially have similar problems?
KINGSDALE: You know, the problems weren't the same but we did actually have some issues, and we in fact delayed and phased in a couple of different programs. And you know, here, everybody but two of -- 200 legislators, including a lot of Republicans, voted for it. Even Scott Brown when he was a legislator. So you just don't have the kind of criticism for everything you do here -- we didn't have it -- that you have in Washington. And so it makes the decisions a little politically less pressured. BLITZER: The president clearly is angry and frustrated about how this has been rolled out. Who really would be -- obviously the president's not going to be directly responsible for making sure the Web site works, but who should really be responsible? And should take the -- I mean, should accept the blame for this?
KINGSDALE: Well, I -- it's hard to say from this far away who is responsible. Clearly most of this is being administered out of CMS. They are handling a huge amount of efforts. This is a very complex and comprehensive set of regulations and policies, and frankly they've done a terrific job on most of it.
BLITZER: Unfortunately on the Web site not so terrific, as we all know.
Jon Kingsdale, thanks very much for coming in.
KINGSDALE: My pleasure.
BLITZER: Let's check some other news we're following here in the SITUATION ROOM.
The Wall Street giant JPMorgan Chase is expected to pay a record $13 billion penalty for its role in the financial collapse, but is it true accountability?
Let's bring in our business correspondent Zain Asher. She's got a closer look at the man behind the tentative deal.
What are you seeing, Zain?
ZAIN ASHER, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly he is certainly a respected man. However, during the credit boom, JPMorgan, along with every other Wall Street bank, sold what is referred to as mortgage-backed securities to investors. The Justice Department is alleging that JPMorgan knowingly misled investors by selling them securities that they were backed by very risky mortgages, setting off a wave that contributed to the financial crisis. Now they're asking the boss, Jamie Dimon, to pay up. Take a listen.
ASHER (voice-over): Jamie Dimon's latest trouble is big. A potential $13 billion fine, the largest on record. The proposed settlement with the Justice Department is for JPMorgan's alleged role in selling questionable mortgage securities to investors between 2005 and 2007.
It's quite a turn for Dimon, who's led the investment firm for eight years.
JAMES O'TOOLE, CNNMONEY.COM: This is a guy who came through the financial crisis really looking better than any other CEO out there.
JOHN COFFEE, COLUMBIA LAW SCHOOL CENTER OF CORPORATE GOVERNANCE: I think he still has a strong reputation. He's probably the most competent and strongest leader of any of the major banks' CEOs. ASHER: Respected as a deal maker on Wall Street, fiercely defended by his board and applauded by shareholders during the last few years, for leading the only bank to escape the financial meltdown virtually unscathed, but times have changed.
Fines and settlements this year have included $410 million for manipulating electricity markets, and $1 billion for hiding massive trading losses from investors during a scandal known as the London whale.
O'TOOLE: The public criticism in the years since the crisis, the fact that really there has been so little accountability on Wall Street. That has something to do with it. You know, really, I think that prosecutors have to be feeling the pressure, you know, five or six years later.
COFFEE: From the perspective of JPMorgan and its executives, it looks like the walls are closing in.
ASHER: Now Dimon faces this possible $13 billion settlement, a figure that would represent more than half of the bank's profit last year.
COFFEE: The ultimate rule here in Washington today is that there has to be accountability. Someone has to pay. There were trillions of dollars lost, life savings were lost, employment was ended for thousands of Americans. They're not in a forgiving mood.
ASHER: Mounting legal troubles forced JPMorgan to report a $380 million loss in the most recent quarter leading to Dimon's first loss as chairman and CEO of the bank. And Dimon's year could get worse. The government can still pursue criminal charges against JPMorgan.
COFFEE: There's no question that there have been failures by JPMorgan. Its internal controls do look very inadequate.
ASHER: Now obviously $13 billion is certainly a huge amount of money, but here's a couple of things you do have to remember. Firstly JPMorgan acquired Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns at the height -- at the urging of regulators at the height of the financial crisis.
JPMorgan says that those funds were pretty much responsible for 80 percent of the mortgage misconduct and now JPMorgan is having to pay for their mistakes as well as its own -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Zain Asher, thank you very much. What a story that is.
Coming up at the top of the hour, a near collision between two jumbo jets with as many as a thousand people on board. We'll have details.
And her face is now synonymous with Obamacare. But who is this mystery woman on the government's troubled Web site? Jeanne Moos is next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Her face is now synonymous with Obamacare. So who is the mystery woman on the government's troubled Web site? Jeanne Moos is just ahead.
BLITZER: Her face has become synonymous with Obamacare. Now everyone wants to know who the woman really is.
Here's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Have you seen the mystery girl? She's not missing, but she is almost impossible to miss.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: The troubled launch of President Obama's health care law --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bust rollout of health care has not only embarrassed the White House.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Credibility debt spiral.
MOOS: She's been floating across our TV screens, smiling out at us from our computers.
(On camera): Online at least this isn't the face of Obamacare. This is.
(Voice-over): And critics are having a field day tweeting congrats, rapidly smiling healthcare.gov. splash page stock photo girl, you're now the most despised face on planet earth.
How would you like having your face associated with phrases like "problem plague."
(On camera): Watch your back, newscasters. She behind you. Screen left.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN EARLY START ANCHOR: Takes the heat for the Obama Web site glitches.
MOOS: Screen right.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: The problems --
MOOS: When we asked about her identity, the company responsible for building much of the Web site didn't call us back. Nor did Health and Human Services.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: This is not a sort of lickedy split process.
MOOS: A small company that originally worked on the home page told us she was part of the mockup from the design folks.
We checked stock photo files, but couldn't find her face as even being defaced. Does she have Obamacare, someone tweeted.
Obama care girl isn't getting the love the original Obama girl got back in 2008.
Some are crushing Obamacare girl by comparing her to Joey on "Friends."
MATT LEBLANC, ACTOR: As of today I am officially Joey Tribbiani, actor/model.
MOOS: But Joey's dream modeling job became a nightmare when he saw his photo plastered all over New York on a poster warning VD. You never know who might have it.
Are Obamacare girl's friends snickering like Joey's?
LISA KUDROW, ACTRESS: We're just laughing. You know how laughter can be infectious.
MOOS: But Obamacare is the treatment, not the disease. While the original Obama girl sang of health care reform.
Poor Obamacare girl gets the cold shoulder. And all she does is smile. The enigmatic, normally sought health care.
Jeanne Moos, CNN.
(On camera): If this is you, call me.
(Voice-over): New York.