Obamacare Battle Inches Government Closer to Shutdown

House Republicans fight to defund affordable health care act as part of raising the debt ceiling.
27:10 | 09/20/13

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Transcript for Obamacare Battle Inches Government Closer to Shutdown
This is this special report from ABC news. Hello I'm Dan -- new -- -- ABC news digital special report another shot down. Looming congress needs to pass another continuing resolution. All to avoid a government shutdown. But intertwined. In this budget battle is the president's health care mandate now right now the house is wrapping up a vote on its version of the continuing resolution. With a large caveat included the bill does not fund the health care exchange set up by the Affordable Care Act known -- locally. As obamacare. And even if this bill does pass the Republican controlled house is not expected to pass. The Democrat controlled senate so I'm gonna bring -- ABC news political director recliner in Washington -- were watching those last votes being tallied in and Rick. Really it is about the timing of this vote coming in. That's exactly right this is a critical couple weeks fan got too big deadlines coming up. At the end of the month -- is all funding for the federal government the other is the implementation of obamacare the new health care exchanges go on line across the country. So you have Republicans now making a major statement saying this is so important to us the shut down obamacare we are willing to taking a vote to. Essentially shut down the government if you don't go along with -- they're saying will extend funding for the government for three months but. Only if we don't have any money in -- for obamacare. They know the showdown -- the sets up with the senate ended and the democratic control White House they know exactly what they're doing here. And this is a major message this -- -- be that don't really the first volley in -- in several weeks worth of showdown. Send Rick you've got an excellent primer that you posted online and abcnews.com that really kind of lays out a lot of the details as fact how much it would affect. Everyday Americans and just who is volley for each side so essentially the question is right now as its votes come in and where -- house speaker John Boehner. It is gonna be so important for him what what's going on now is this is going to be a game of legislative ping pong. With a little bit of poker sprinkled in and we're playing roulette with the nation's economy at the same time. And I would put speaker Boehner in the chair right now of the most important gambler and because he knows that there's no appetite in this country to shut down the entire government. Over obamacare he didn't want to do this at all he was forced into it by his own members by some outside groups by some Republican -- cease fire brands that. That want to make this major statement so now they're gonna make this statement goes over the senate we know they're not gonna go along with that. The questions that come back to him right away what do you do now is this worth going to the battle over is -- worth actually shutting down the government over just over Obama care. And if it's not because he didn't have -- depend on Democrats to -- over the line and if he does that. Think Kenny continuous house speaker in this congress so he is the key player in terms of what he decides to bring to the floor when he decides to do it and how far he wants to take this. And a vote has just been gaveled in -- way to get the final numbers on how everything played out there but. Rick as you've been talking about how these lines are being drawn and who is supporting what. The president has really -- very strongly for Vito on this. He's saying he's not negotiate over certain aspects of this and one of them is to not -- -- you're gonna have any change the Obama health care law it's the law of the land. He has said repeatedly if you -- change to try to repeal you don't of the votes for that either so they're forty to -- -- -- funding is a backdoor way that he is not gonna countenance. There's also another fight that -- just a few weeks over over the debt ceiling. The president is -- -- -- haven't even talk about negotiating on that you just got to do your job congress congress feels otherwise they're gonna do. They're gonna move with all kinds of conditions and caveats that again for the challenge back on the president but you're exactly right the president is in a position where he's saying he's not -- negotiate. There's just as long as there's no negotiations going on right now at all it's not like the White House and and that house Republicans are Boehner and the president are even talking to each other let's let's having those talks break down. And the biggest -- -- that's but it but that's been put in this continuing resolution resolution excuse me. Has been in the funny and of the Affordable Care Act where exactly those the public lies far as an appetite and understanding. What has been commonly referred to as obamacare. Nobody really gets it is the short answer about 60% of folks in our latest ABC news Washington Post poll out today say. They don't really know enough about the -- to make an informed judgment. It is widely unpopular it has always been widely unpopular we know that their efforts to try to educate the public on -- -- been complicated by efforts to educate them in the other direction there are. Big campaigns going on right now. To enroll people in obamacare there's also campaigns -- for people to boycott obamacare entirely -- Things cut in both directions but the fervor of the people that really believe that this is in the state that this is a devastating blow to the economy. They really really believe Britain's aisle of a majority of the people to think obamacare is bad law. Actually say it's worth shutting down the government over said that is what's fueling the sentiment that's what's fueling. This fervor right now that it -- to do everything in their power to block this law from going into effect. Publicly there's a lot of hand wringing from congress on both sides of the aisle. That it's continuing resolution after continuing resolution but in fact is this how the government has been operating is this the new. Standard. For getting any kind of budget passed not not not a budget -- for getting funding continuing month by month. The fact is for the last two plus years we have been governing by crisis these self the self initiated self created crises. Deadlines that congress itself sets up in and blows right past that is being the norm since Republicans took over the house. At the end of 2010 is partly what you get in -- government for you sprinkle on top of that just the what's fueling that divide in the anger out there. The disaffection over a bomb and the fact that he won reelection does still doesn't sit well with so many of these house members. They feel like they have a mandate so the Democrats who just won the elections last year so you have these two groups that come at -- thinking they represent the will of the people. And they being the only thing worse than being convinced. That you're right both sides as being really really convinced of that and that's what's going on now you have the Democrats the Republicans that feel like they are on the side of righteousness and justice that the other side to come to its senses. And I think this is where there's a lot of confusion that comes the play as far as what we'll get cut what will happen what will hand what will happen of the credit rating. Of the United States what is the picture -- realistically if in fact we reached middle of October. And that debt ceiling. Is there. Hitting the debt ceiling is extremely bad it's bad to shut down the government but the thing about a government shut down as the government actually doesn't shut down essential services continue. It's it's wasteful it's kind of silly -- because we're gonna go back and restore people's salaries anyway. But -- -- but flirting with the debt ceiling is serious serious the last time we did it 2011. We got downgraded as a country became more expensive for us to borrow just on the threat -- that. But if we actually reach the point where we can no longer issue new debt. That means that we -- going to have to -- what we spend with what we -- it will still get tax revenues. But that will come close to matching the obligations of the federal government today and it's going to be a time a very tough choices on the government side. What are we decide we want to do well clearly you wanna do things like national defense you don't want to. You know pull out all our troops in combat and leave ourselves totally defenseless. You wanna take care Social Security Medicare that's all -- good but that's got -- comfort somewhere else and that means. While what are we gonna do about funding prisons what do we -- have a -- air traffic controllers every in the federal government comes into question. And then even more troubling -- that is the impact this would have on world financial markets the US treasury bond is a benchmark. That is the gold standard across across the world the idea that the United States government. Would not make good on its debts has never been questioned if that call gets called into question he'd seen rates spiking to mortgages like easy credit card borrowing the cost of doing business units of the entire economy come to a halt -- -- commodities and futures markets. Descent into chaos the Dow in -- -- case. This would be cataclysmic -- to world markets if we actually went past the debt ceiling. To put it to took to put it mildly essentially facility the Rayburn room there where GOP members of congress largest gathering there -- we're expecting house speaker John Bennett takes the podium. I just few minutes which we will dip into his comments when he does make its way -- to the podium. -- Rick let me ask you for taking a look at this live shot here compare -- to what happened back to the mid ninety's when it was that Clinton Gingrich showdown. The idea is -- a similar a lot of ways because as in that showdown both sides felt like they have the will of the people. On their minds and you had these kind of fits and starts right negotiations a couple of differences what -- they were actually were negotiations going on at the time and so that. You knew up to the very end it was a chance that they pull it out. But as in this one note here's bulls I think the other sides in a -- and what happened then. Ended up reflecting pretty -- on Republicans kind of received conventional wisdom that and that is that if you get blamed for government shut down. The public is going to blame you for that and it -- were taken out -- -- that people may hate government. They really the chaos around and -- shut down is bad terrible politics. There's a difference the wisdom that's filtered through this next generation now keep in mind a lot -- -- to congress that we're talking about. Some of them at least they were high school or college during the showdown they weren't there on Capitol Hill like John Boehner was by the way. It's a big is this a little bit differently and they think that the president to take the -- of the brunt of the blame if we end up in a shutdown showdown situation. However there is still an overhang around all of this that we don't wanna go where the Republicans did in the mid ninety's we know how that ended up we know that President Clinton -- -- -- real being reelected. In 1986 we know that he won more seats for his party in 1988 we know that he looked better as the commander in chief as the person who could rise above politics in that moment. -- -- hand that the President Obama you have kind of a wise man philosophy that still prevails of Washington says do not do this when it comes Alicia. There are a lot of new faces that we're just looking as they -- gathered inside the Rayburn room there and it's to a great point of fact that that the reflection of the lessons learned perhaps of fifteenth -- -- years ago. -- -- and he carried forward. All right let's listen now house speaker John they had taken the podium. -- mining and thank you everyone for joining us following this important vote. Today the house is active. The house is act did she keep the government open to control spending. And to protect people from an unworkable law that is making it harder on them. My colleagues have all voted in favor of this law. Because it's going to help moms and dads and families in young people and seniors all across this country. And that's who this is all about. When I was home in August like so many of my colleagues I heard the stories from individuals and families. Who are concerned who are panicked over the -- implementation of this law and the impact that it's having on their lives. So that's why the house -- acted. In today's we urge this and it -- take action we urge our colleagues in the senate our allies on the outside and the American people. To push the senate to have this important debate on the floor. Of the senate. Because if we are going to take action on behalf of the American people. We need to -- it. To have this debate on the floor the -- We -- this health care debate. The president -- with a very big promise the American people. If you like the health care that you can have that you currently have you can keep it. Today the headline reads. The 20000 Americans work for home people will no longer be the case they -- provided even as part time. Obamacare does not allow that. That's why today -- -- -- it wasn't just a group of Republicans but it was a bipartisan vote. -- state that again to want to make sure you writing correctly. It was a bipartisan vote. Because we're Americans. It's a privilege and sit in the sit in this office and I will tell you this. As -- founders crafted this country. -- crafted two bodies. To bodies to work. The house has none has now done their work we call on the senate to do -- as well. And. -- the house has been fighting to stop Obama -- since 2009. And we have said over and over again this law is gonna increase the cost for the working middle class families in this country and we're now seeing -- we've said from the beginning that this law will harm our economy and we're seeing our economy turn promote -- around. Job economy and so part time job economy. That's why we are doing our job and now it is up to senate Democrats and shows some responsibility. And follow the -- lady. Now. -- many senate Republicans have promised to leave no stone unturned biting his bill and all of us here support that effort. -- were calling on senate Democrats do the same thing. And I want to know where senator Pryor stands -- talked to the middle class and from the consequences of this terrific bill. Earlier this summer nonprofit group in Fort Smith, Arkansas -- provides care for seniors announced today are cutting hours for hundreds of staff members to its morning hours 28 hours a week. How about Kay Hagan a North Carolina. Did -- understand the consequences that obamacare is having in her state. Carly sees a grocery store. The president -- -- clan has said it's not feasible or sustainable to extend coverage for all of the 11100 employees that he has. What about Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. Obamacare is also hurting her hardworking. Taxpayers in that state. In July Lawrence Katz owner of dots diner he told the senator and a committee hearing that he may have to lay off as many as sixteen workers. And these are working middle class Americans just trying to make ends -- And finally what about mark -- of Alaska. There obamacare Americans across the country could be hit with the rate shock. In Alaska is predicted that premiums could rise between authority and 80%. What is -- and -- baggage going to do about this will he vote to keep obamacare implies. Where into the five and we want descended to join us. Hell while we arbitrator David for the American people. And preferably also -- -- -- victory for common sense and senator baucus senator -- several months ago when -- that this law is a train -- And it is a train wreck and all the president's. We all -- we pass this law health care cost more renowned. Well probably find out that health care costs are going up for most Americans president's -- like the health insurance policy that you have you can keep it. -- -- found out that's not quite accurate either and in the coming months millions of Americans are gonna find out just not quite true. Listen this is -- in our constituents is hurting the American people. At a time when the economy is barely -- you know long. Wages aren't increased in new jobs are available and what -- what are we doing we're putting more cost and more inconvenience on the American people. It's time for -- to -- no. It's time to stop this before it causes any more damage to American families and American businesses. -- -- businesses all over the country who are not hiring. Because of the impact of this law. You've got other businesses that are -- in the -- for their employees because of this law. And -- our message to United States senate is real simple. The American -- don't want the government shut down. And they don't want obamacare. House is listen to the American people. Now -- the United States senate to listen to them as well. All right house GOP leadership they're taking a bit of a victory. After that stop -- spending bill was passed a continuing resolution essentially threw to third to thirty. Onto 189. The house bill that essentially it's. Would fund the government for the next three months although it would remove any funding to the Affordable Care Act -- to bring him declined to talk about that and Rick. 230 to 189 and as we just heard if there it was a bipartisan support to Democrats did support. That COR that counts -- bipartisanship I guess these days a couple of striking things in that press conference and one is. If you listen to what house Republicans are are doing now. -- -- position themselves against senate Democrats they're not thinking about with President Obama at least not yet but they are pushing senate Democrats on this and you saw Eric Cantor. The house majority leader come out and name some. Individually and they weren't coincidental the -- he means he went named red state Democrats were up for reelection in 2014. He went to senator from Louisiana from Arkansas from Alaska he knows exactly North Carolina. He knows exactly what he's doing in trying to touch the soft spots right now inside the senate Democratic Caucus. The other interesting thing it -- -- was was kind of marveled through their comments there. Is some frustration always senate Republicans on this because they know that did that of course Republicans control the house they don't control the senate. But it is the senate Republicans who pushed this on the house of force them into this position. They want to see senate Republicans stand up and fight with the same vigor that they just did system into ranch rivalries going on as well. Very actually want to bring it ABC's Devin Dwyer who's outside the White House in DeVon. Obviously that resolution just got -- a short time ago but it has seemed like is it that was all right foregone conclusion fact that it would pass the house what's the White House respond. That's -- -- just a few minutes ago -- we've heard from president Obama's spokesman on onboard Air Force One they're flying to Missouri. He did a little -- calling out of the zone of some Republican members of the senate he called out senator corker of Tennessee and senator Burr of North Carolina and actually said. Both of those senators. We're very. Skating -- critics of of what just took place in in the house said it was the dumbest idea ever. So the White House spokesman. Point -- to those Republican allies if you will -- the president on this one that it's a dumb idea. The White House has said all along that it would veto any legislation that will defund obamacare. And they -- -- in in the words of a spokesman Josh Earnest just a few minutes ago an Air Force One that this is one giant game of chicken dance. And the president right now taking a somewhat of a victory lap right -- try to -- the economic successes. That happened recently. That's right he's been -- -- push this week to really. Not only to talk about his position in this debt and budget fight but also celebrate now here at the five year anniversary of the financial crisis. The recovery that he's overseen an end today. Particularly the the the auto rebounds and he'll be out there -- in Missouri talking about that. But hanging over all of this is we've been talking about is of course. The big budget deadline here to keep the government funded just out now in ten days I think on September 30. And then that -- what many people here Washington considered the more important fight. The debt limit as sometime in mid October the nation's credit card while Max out. That's -- seen as an even more serious situation for all of us to pay attention to the government of course if -- Don't have the money they -- shut down the country keeps going all of us are are -- you know -- seen as the business industry can continue to do business. But once you hit that debt limit if the US were to default a much more serious situation that we're what look at here at the White House. Rick -- have a semi -- -- -- want to bring you back into this for a minute because what plays out now now that this CR has passed the house. What's the next step for the senate obviously it doesn't seem meant that there is any chance -- offered to be passing the senate and the president obviously has said. He will veto that but what about the senate put in his own version now. The senate is gonna take this up next week in Atlanta strip out those obamacare provisions they're gonna say we like -- keeping the government open we don't like the idea of denying funding for -- -- So that then sends it back to the house this is the ping pong match that I mentioned earlier. And announcing that decide how part of -- take this thing. But once it's in the senate it will be interesting to see how many procedural roadblocks senate Republicans try to set up -- they decide they want to filibuster this they wanna use other procedural mechanisms the slow this down. Because they know where the map is they know that senate Democrats are never -- go along with this ploy at a White House wouldn't anyway so this is where the game did the game gets really interest thing. How does each branch responded -- happen in this ten day span before government funding runs out. Rick if you can't break on the psyche of those of -- support this this stopgap spending bill with it was in support of three months of funding. Or was it to defund the Affordable Care Act. It's the latter there to -- there isn't great love for government funding in general but there isn't a desire to shut down the government. You heard her house Republican leaders Cathy McMorris Rodgers -- few minutes ago saying this is about keeping the government open. She's technically correct but this is really about sending a message. On obamacare because there's never really -- question that governments would be open that's the most basic responsibility of congress just to keep things -- the lights on in in the federal government. So the idea that -- this was about that not really this was about sending a message about Obama care. And and laying down this negotiating -- that they hope will play out over the next weeks and months would -- like to see anything around obamacare scaled back as much as possible. All right and -- -- -- is what I see it the same way. And I think folks are at the White House privately would tell you that. That if the Republicans to push ahead on this course and the government does shut down over Obama care. They're happy to sort of sit back and watch this play out they think Republicans are going to take the biggest hit here. At the end of the day as we heard the president in recent days make his case this was a law that was passed by congress that was upheld by the Supreme Court. Even -- at some popular public opinion our latest poll shows that people don't think. That the government should be shot down over obamacare so in a sense here. -- -- -- get anybody -- to -- tell you this on camera but bad but they're happily gay content to watch in their words the Republicans self destruct. Over this obamacare it again their words infatuation is one aide told me yesterday so. The White House certainly doesn't wanna see you shut down they don't want to see your default. Be -- be will negotiate. Jay Carney said yesterday over the budget issues they won't negotiate over the debt ceiling. So there are some red lines in the sand here. But at the end of the day if they say if Republicans want to proceed on this -- care. Push to defund. To delay its. That they think it's gonna backfire and it's gonna hurt Republicans. -- let me ask you this information about the Affordable Care Act has been out there for some time now but as of course that the launch is starting to approach the beginning of October. When we look at that poll from ABC news -- 62% of Americans not exactly understanding the details. Of what the Affordable Care Act entails what -- the White House response to that because the president has certainly been vocal in the past. About trying to outline some of the specific requirements and some of the specific benefits that Americans would be in -- or potentially having obligates him. That's right this is that a difficult sell for this administration from the beginning and we've been. Are talking about this in fits and starts over the years the president saying. At various points that he's -- a launch a public education campaign to try to sell the public. Apparently were in the midst of one right now again with the administration marketing. There there -- read these new exchanges that uninsured people can purchase individual plans from trying to educate people on how they can sign up there's a lot at stake there. But but it's obviously not having the years the desired effect. Given the poll that you just talked about and what one of the things we'll see next week from the president himself. Is his turn to his so called explainer in chief we'll see him appear with. Former President Bill Clinton in New York sort of a side show when he goes up for the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday. Those two leaders are going to sit this side by side and have a conversation. About the importance of health care what this new law means again to try to attract some attention. To -- hopefully tap a little bit of Bill Clinton's popularity to get people to pay attention to that but as you've noted in our poll shows. It's still an uphill climb -- Colleen in some old friends for help well Rick I want to ask you about that then what else aside from -- -- up for former president what in the what can President Obama do. There are some big public and private efforts right now to try to sell the Obama health Carolina and they will intensify over the next ten days or so we're -- my house parties are talking about rallies. We're talking about PSAs in the -- ad campaigns that are out there. About as I said there's also -- the other direction there are well funded campaigns that try to get people not to sign up. For obamacare so there's a big efforts -- shape perceptions. Around obamacare and this is all wrapped up in the budget -- make no mistake the budget fight right now is about the Obama health care law. In fact all of Republican messaging at the moment is about stopping this loss of that is the big battle. Of the signature over the signature achievement of the Obama agenda it all comes back to this. All right ABC's Rick Klein and Devin -- outside the White House gentlemen thank you both for that we certainly appreciate it a complete report on abcnews.com. As the house just pass that continuing resolution bill. Of course setting up for that budget showdown for now I'm Dan -- New York with -- ABC news digital special report. This has been a special report from me.

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