'This Week' Roundtable: Second Term Slump

Matthew Dowd, Greta Van Susteren, Bill Kristol, Donna Brazile, and Steven Rattner on President Obama and Congress.
3:00 | 12/22/13

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Transcript for 'This Week' Roundtable: Second Term Slump
has taken a hit. If I was interested in polling, I wouldn't have run for preside president. What I'm saying is this, that, yes, these are tough problems, that I'm glad to have the privilege of tackling. I'm sure that I'll have even better ideas after a couple of days of sleep and sun. The president's thinking about his year in hawaii right now. How about that press conference on friday, the first question, was it the worst year of the obama presidency? He didn't answer. Does anybody here disagree with the idea that it was the worst? No. If you take a look at the data and if you take a look at where he was at the start of the year, a year ago today, he was winning 50%. First person since eisenhower. Everything seemed so great. Ever since the start of the second administration it's gone downhill. He's gone from a net -- he dropped a net 25 points in 12 months frojanuary until today. Hiss presidency, in my view, the credibility of his presidency is dramatically in question today. I think he cannot recover from it. No president has ever recovered from it at this point in his presidency. I think he can. He has three years to recover. I think he'll have a rebound in 2014, especially if the economy continues to rebound. Look, 4 out of the last 5 two-term presidents have experienced problems in their fifth year. Lowest average polling of all of them. Richard nixon. George w. -- okay, well, I don't want to sound like I'm disputing your numbers today, but I'll do it later. But I believe if the rollout of the health care bill continues to bring in more people, if he can get the story right, if people are feeling good about the economy, this president will rebound. Look, he averted a war in syria this year, I think has enormous strength and resilience, he'll come back. Bill kristol, that health care, the botched rollout, peggy nowman's word of the year, and the facthat it's been slow in getting people to sign up. But I actually think for the country, his worst year of his presidency was 2010. The worst day when was march 23 rd, 2010, when he signed the health care legislation. He said, once or twice, if you like your current insurance, you will keep your current insurance. Nobody will change it. If you like your doctor, you'll be able to keep your doctor. He said that on the day he signed the law, it was false. You can get away with misleading people if the result is pretty good and a bad result sometimes if people think you have been sincere and honest. The combination is misleading and bad result. The results are going to keep getting worse. Politifact called that the lie of the year. How do you explain how it was allowed to stand for so long? Honestly, george, I thought about it over and over again. I asked friends of mine in the white house how this could happen. and some people pointed it out, but over and over again the president was allowed to go out and say that. But I do think, without disagreeing earlier, I do think the day will come when people will look at the affordable care act and say this is a piece of landmark legislation. We're going to tinker with it and fix it. Ultimately it's going to work. We're going to look back and how could we have not do something for these people? That's the big question, greta. How can he keep saying that over and over again? Why did he keep say iing about benghazi tapes over and over again? But the president's most powerful weapon in his presidency is his ability to inspire, that's his greatest strength. Then he comes out last friday in the press conference, he was depressing, he was pathetic, he sucked the oxygen out of the room. The media had bad questions. He kept punching them. He's completely lost his ability to inspire and at 40% approval rate, I mean -- disapproval rate, it just shows how he has lost his ability -- george. More disappointment -- the people he's lost, the people that are now waiting for him to suit up, so to speak, to face these challenges, they're the people who -- they are hopeful that he will come back, because they're depending on him to fight for them. He wasn't fighting on friday, donna. To me, one of the best lines which is so telling is, whenever a president, what george bush used to say, it is, if I paid attention to polling i wouldn't have run for presidency. It means they're the opposite side of polling. To me, I know we talked about obamacare, I think there's some very good elements of obamacare that will provide a lot of really good things for the country. To me, what's going on in the country right now, one, they question the president's ability to manage anything, the government as a whole, his competency to manage it. Another thing, we have seen a lot of good economic things in this country. We he the gdp up. The stock market is at record high. But a majority of the country does not feel any real impact or increase in their financial situation. The president won't get credit until the majority of the country feels benefits. Two things. First of all, I don't disagree with your analysis of the polling. We can argue about the specific numbers later. His 40% approval rating. Congress's approval rating, 13%. It's very hard to be an effective president when you have a dysfunctional, divided congress up on capitol hill. Is there anything that the president and congress can do to address the problem that matthew just talked about, this problem of a lot of people being unemployed for a long time and for most americans, their incomes have been stagnate for generations? There are thousands of things that congress could do. That's the problem. Incomes haven't gone up. I don't think that's the president's fault. He'll get tagged for it. There are thousands of things congress can do. We could have a budget that actually makes sense. Instead we're doing these mini budget deals that are furtd kicking the can further and further down the road. When I hear that, I reach for my wallet, look, this is a big debate that we'll have going on two, three, four years or maybe longer. Is this a landmark legislation? Is it a landmark moment where we say, you know what, this was the experiment in big government liberal social engineering? It failed. It failed in execution and con cement. Enough already. 44,000 people lost their health care insurance because they changed their policy prior to obamacare, this has been going on in the individual marketplace for decades. What obamacare is doing is stabilizing the marketplace. There are targeted ways to fix that. We do have some evidence right now, it's inconclusive, but as the president said on friday u, more than a million people have signed up. And how many of those are medicaid? These are people who signed up on the exchanges. We do know that health care costs, the growth of health care costs has been slowing. We do know that the deficit has been going down and we do know, greta, people who couldn't get insurance before now can get insurance. Look, I'm for everyone having access to health care, but it's got to be a smart method to achieve health care. And when you have 5 million getting dumped that are all worried, whatever the reason is, but just because we have a terrible situation, a health situation in our country, where we definitely need reform. Doesn't mean we should pursue a program that doesn't work. There are a lot of problems. Look, I'm for everyone having access to health care, I'm not convinced, and I don't think the numbers show it, that we'll be able to support this. I don't think the young and healthy are going to come in droves and sign up. I hope they do. In massachusetts, they waited until the last minute to sign up. The deadline for this year, is tomorrow, and I guess one of the big questions, steve, as we go forward, are these people going to sign up over the next year or is the mandate going to continued chipped away? All of this negativity publicity has caused people to step back. So, I worry people opposed to obamacare, may make this into a self-fulfilling prophecy. I think the experience in massachusetts, 98.5% of the people in massachusetts have health insurance. Can I say one thing about what bill said, about this little government versus big government, I agree. We had little government under george bush, it didn't help. He was your guy. He was your guy. We did not have a great economic result. It ended in a financial crisis. Incomes went down. The deficit went up. I don't really see how that was a great way to govern -- can I ask you a question -- george w. Bush wasn't limited government. It was opposite. I agree that both parties have failed in addressing stagnation of middle-class incomes. It seems to be the party that develops a fresher agenda on that front will be better shape in 2016. I think the right agenda is not more government, but there are reforms that need to happen. The party's agenda, it goes back to this previous conversation, we created a tremendous amount of wealth in this country in the last 20 years, but only for a very few people in this country. Generations of people in the middle class in the country have seen no growth of income. I think the best message for a republican, would be limited government in washington, they're not doing their job, we can't trust them and an attack on wall street. We can't accumulate wealth on wall street and think it helps the middle class. Aren't republicans ready to take on this inequality debate? I certainly hope so. In 1965 we started the war on poverty and we failed drastically. So, whatever we did to win this war on poverty has been an abject failure. I would like to see someone come in, why can't we win the war on poverty. Because whatever we're doing we're failing. One thing about war of poverty, today it's at its worst point ever. For years of the situation, five, six years, poverty dropped. Then it started rising back up when we went to a completely free market. That to me is a part of the problem.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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