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THE SITUATION ROOM
Obama Joins Bill Clinton's Global Initiative; Obama Trying To Sell Obamacare To The Public; Iranian President Gives Speech At U.N. General Assembly; Senator Ted Cruz's Faux Filibuster; Interview With Rep Mike Rogers Of Michigan; Bill Clinton Interviews President Obama; U.S. and Iran Push Nuclear Talks
Aired September 24, 2013 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, "THE LEAD": Reihan, we have to have you back, I'm sorry because right now Hillary Clinton is introducing the president. We're going to take that live. Of course, we'll have you on again soon. Thanks so much for watching. Here is former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
(BEGIN LIVE CLINTON GLOBAL INITIATIVE COVERAGE)
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: They're both left-handed. They both love golf, a game that does not often reciprocate the love they put into it. They both are fanatic sports fans and go to great lengths to be in front of the TV or on the side of the court or the field. They both are master politicians. Each of them has only lost one election. They are both Democrats. They have fabulous daughters. They each married far above themselves and they each love our country. And so please join me in welcoming number 42 and number 44, Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. President.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Are you interviewing me?
OBAMA: This is going to be bad.
B. CLINTON: I want to thank you for giving Hillary a job.
OBAMA: I've been talking a lot today.
B. CLINTON: That was a good thing you did.
Thank you for coming.
OBAMA: Well, it is wonderful to be back.
And let me start just by saying to all the people who have, for years now, supported the incredible efforts of CGI, thank you, because wherever we travel, all across the globe, we see the impact that it's making every single day. And we're very proud of what you all do. And let me say that we still miss our former secretary of State. And I should add that...
OBAMA: -- I should add that there's nothing she said that was not true, particularly the part about us marrying up.
B. CLINTON: Well, that brings me to my first health care comment. This is going to be a conversation about domestic and international health and America's role in it. But I want to begin by telling you that I think the first lady has done a great job in this fight against childhood obesity. We have been honored, at our foundation, to be asked to represent her effort in 18,000 schools, where we've lowered the calories in drinks being served in the schools by 90 percent. But she's been great on that.
The other thing I think is that I was a little upset, and, as you know, called one of your administration members when you got to Africa, when I read an article that said that you didn't have a big initiative in Africa. And I said -- I can't say exactly what I said, but I said that is inaccurate. That's the sanitized version of what I said.
Because when the president took office, our programs, begun under President Bush, PEPFAR, was giving antiretroviral medicine to 1.7 million people. Because of an agreement that I made with President Bush to use generic drugs that were approved by the FDA, about half our drugs were being purchased in that way.
Under President Obama, we've gone to 99 percent. We are treating more than 5.1 million people -- three times as many -- for less money.
B. CLINTON: That is a stunning legacy, so that more money has been put into malaria medicine, bed nets and -- so you saved a lot of money and saved more lives while doing it. And I'm very proud of that. And I want to thank you for it. It's important.
B. CLINTON: Now, maybe at the end of this conversation, we can get back to some of your current global health initiatives. But let's talk a little about the health care law, because we're about to begin, on October the 1st, open enrollment for six months. And I'd like to give you a chance, first of all, to tell them why, when you took office, we were teetering on the brink of a depression. You had to avert it. You had to start the recovery again.
Why, in the midst of all this grief, did you also take on this complex issue?
Many people were saying, why doesn't he just focus on the economy and leave this alone?
So tell us why you did it.
OBAMA: Well, first of all, I think it's important to remember that health care is the economy, a massive part of our economy. And so the idea that somehow we can separate out the two is a fallacy.
Second of all, the effort for us to deal with a multi-faceted health care crisis has been going on for decades. And the person who just introduced us, as well as you, early in your presidency, had as much to do with helping to shape the conversation as anybody.
The fact is that we have been, up until recently, the only advanced industrialized nation on Earth that permits large numbers of its people to languish without health insurance.
Not only is there the cruelty of people who are unable to get health insurance having to use the emergency room as their doctor or their health service, but we're also more efficient than anybody else.
And so when we talk about, for example, our deficit -- you know this better than anybody -- the reason that we have not only current deficits, but also projected long-term deficits, the structural deficit that we have is primarily based on the fact that we have a hugely inefficient, wildly expensive health care system that does not produce better outcomes.
And if we spent the same amount of money on health care that Canada or France or Great Britain did, or Japan or any other industrialized country, with the same outcomes, or better outcomes, that essentially would remove our structural deficit, which would then free up dollars for us to invest in early childhood education and infrastructure and medical research and all the other things that can make sure that we're competitive and growing rapidly over the long-term.
So my view when I came into office was, we've got an immediate crisis. We've got to get the economy growing. But what we also have to do is start tackling some of these structural problems that had been building up for years. And one of the biggest structural problems was health care.
It's what accounts for our deficit. It's what accounts for our debt. It causes pain and misery to millions of people all across the country. It is a huge burden on our businesses.
And I was out at a Ford plant out in Missouri and making the F Series out there. And this is a big stamping plant. Ford is now the biggest seller in the United States. We took that lead back from the Japanese automakers.
But we are still burdened by the fact that every U.S. automobile that is manufactured requires a couple of thousand dollars in added health care costs that our foreign competitors don't have to pay.
So this has everything to do with the economy, in addition to what I consider to be the moral imperative that a mom should not have to go bankrupt if her son or daughter gets sick; that you know, a family who's dealing with a lay off and is already struggling to pay the bills shouldn't also be wondering whether they're one illness away from losing their home.
And I think most Americans agree with that.
B. CLINTON: So first of all, folks, for those of you who are from the United States, that's about as good an overview as you're ever going to hear of what this economic issue is. But you remember the president said our structural deficit would disappear if we had a comparable health care system, in terms of cost, to the French and Germans, that are consistently rated the highest?
It's about a trillion dollars a year. And somewhere around 44 percent of that money is government funded money.
So you just run the numbers. Think of -- over half of our deficit has already disappeared because of economic growth and the revenues you raised and the spending we cut. And you pretty much get rid of the rest of it if we just had a comparably expensive system to any other country.
Before you took office, we lost a car company that wanted to locate in Michigan that went instead to Canada. And they announced -- they said, look, we're a car company that provides health care benefits to our employees. We're not a health care company that sells cars to cover our bills. We have to go to Canada.
So I think this is -- and it was one of the few companies willing to go on record and say this.
So thank you for doing it.
So let's talk about this.
What does this open enrollment mean?
How are people going to get involved?
When you have universal enrollment, you can manage your costs better and cut inflation down. I'll give the president a chance to talk about all of the good stuff that's happened.
But I just want you to know one thing. In the last three years, just since we started doing this, inflation in health care costs dropped to 4 percent for three years in a row for the first time in 50 years. Fifty years.
B. CLINTON: Before that, the costs were going up at three times the rate of inflation for a decade.
So now what? What are you going to do on October 1st?
Tell them how this has got to work.
OBAMA: Well, let me give folks just a little bit of background about what's already in place and then what happens on October 1st.
When we passed the Affordable Care Act, there were a number of components to it. A big part of it was essentially providing a patient's bill of rights that Americans and advocates have been fighting for decades. So what we wanted to do was make sure if you already have health insurance, that you get a fair deal, that you're being treated well by your insurers.
So we eliminated -- prohibited insurance companies from imposing lifetime limits, which, oftentimes, if a family member really got sick, they thought they were covered until suddenly they hit that limit and now they're out hundreds of thousands of dollars with no way of paying.
We said to insurance companies, you've got to use at least 80 percent of your premium that you're receiving on actual health care, not on administrative costs and CEO bonuses. And if you don't, you've got to rebate anything that you spent back to the consumer.
So there are millions of Americans who received rebates. They may not know that they got it because of the Affordable Care Act or, quote, unquote, ObamaCare, but they're pretty happy to get those rebates back, because it made sure that the insurance companies were treating folks fairly.
We said that any young person who doesn't have health insurance can stay on their parents' health insurance until they're 26 years old. And as a consequence, what we've seen is, steadily, the rate of uninsured for young people dropping over the last three years, since the bill passed and obviously providing a lot of relief to a lot of parents out there, because a lot of young people, as they've been entering into the job market at a time when jobs are tough to get, and, oftentimes, benefits are slim, this is providing an enormous security until they get, you know, more firmly established in the labor market.
We provided additional discounts for prescription drugs for seniors under the Medicare program. And so seniors have saved billions of dollars when it comes to their prescription drugs. So there have been, over the last three years, a whole array of consumer protections and savings for consumers that result directly from the law that we passed.
And for those who say that they want the repeal it, typically, when you ask them about what about what are all these various benefits, they say, well, that one's good and that one's pretty good and we'd keep that. And you pretty much go down the list and there's not too much people object to.
You will recall, also, at the time, that part of the way that we paid for the health care bill was we said Medicare is wasting a lot of money without making seniors healthier. And there was a lot of hue and cry about how we were taking money out of Medicare.
Well, it turns out that we were right, that we could change how doctors and hospitals and providers were operating, rewarding them for outcomes, as opposed to simply how many procedures that they did. You started seeing practices change among millions of providers across the country. Medicare rates have actually slowed in terms of inflation. Seniors have saved money. Folks are healthier. And some of those savings we have been able to use to make sure that people who don't have health insurance get health insurance.
Now, this brings me to October 1st. The one part of the Affordable Care Act that required several years to set up -- but a critical part -- was how do we provide health insurance for individuals who don't get health insurance through the job?
It's a historical accident that in this country, health care is attached to employers.
And part of the problem is if you're out there shopping for health insurance on your own, you're not part of a big pool, well, there's no aggregation of risk taking place for the insurers. So they're basically going to say, let's see, you're 50 years old. You've got high blood pressure --
(END LIVE CLINTON GLOBAL INITIATIVE COVERAGE)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we are going to move away from President Obama right now as he speaks about health care with former president Bill Clinton, the current president of Iran. The new president, Hassan Rouhani, he is addressing the United Nations general assembly speaking about the situation in Syria right now. Let's listen in.
(BEGIN LIVE U.N. GENERAL ASSEMBLY COVERAGE)
HASSAN ROUHANI, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): -- suffered and lost their lives and many more who continue to suffer all through their lives. These sanctions are violent, pure and simple, whether called smart or otherwise, unilateral or multilateral, these sanctions violate inalienable human rights, the right to peace, the right to development, right to access to health and education and above all, the right to life. Sanctions beyond any and all rhetoric cause (INAUDIBLE), warmongering and human suffering.
It should be board in mind (ph), however, that the negative impact is not merely limited to the intended victims of sanctions. It also affects the economy and livelihood of other countries and societies, including the countries imposing sanctions.
Mr. President, Excellencies, violence and extremism nowadays have gone beyond the physical realm and have unfortunately afflicted and tarnished the mental and spiritual dimensions of life in human societies. Violence and extremism leave no space for understanding and moderation as the necessary foundations of collective life of human beings and the modern society, intolerance is the predicament of our time.
We need to promote and reinforce tolerance in light of the religious teachings and appropriate cultural and political approaches. The human society should be elevated from the state of mere tolerance to that of collective collaboration.
We should not just tolerate others. We should rise above mere tolerance and dare to work together. People all over the world are tired of war, violence and extremism. They hope for a change in the status quo.
(END LIVE U.N. GENERAL ASSEMBLY COVERAGE)
BLITZER: All right. We are going to continue to monitor the speech at the United Nations general assembly here in New York. Hassan Rouhani is speaking right now. Rouhani is speaking right now.
We are also monitoring three events actually at the same time. President Obama reunites with Bill and Hillary Clinton to try to boost his embattled Obamacare, the health care law. Iran's president you just saw. Apparently, a little bit more moderate, at least there's a charm offensive going on. He is addressing the U.N. general assembly right now. We will get some hints about where he's going next.
Also, you can see Ted Cruz, the senator from Texas in a marathon protest against Obamacare, saying he will speak until he drops. We are going to continue to monitor all of this in the SITUATION ROOM.
Our coverage continues right after this.
BLITZER: Hassan Rouhani, the president of Iran, you see him in the middle of your screen, has just declared Iran has no intentions of developing a nuclear weapon, opposes all weapons of mass destruction. You see the president of the United States answering questions post by the former president, Bill Clinton, on his Obamacare law, fully going into effect, at least a lot of it going to affect October 1st. And on the right part of your screen, you see Senator Ted Cruz. He is speaking against Obamacare. He says he will speak on the senate floor until he drops.
But listen to the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, who is speaking right now.
(BEGIN LIVE U.N. GENERAL ASSEMBLY COVERAGE)
ROUHANI (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): In this context, the Islamic republic of Iran insisting on the implementation of its rights and the imperative of international respect and cooperation in this exercise is preferred to engage immediately in time-bound and result-oriented talks to build mutual confidence and removal of mutual uncertainties with full transparency.
Iran seeks constructive engagement with other countries based on mutual respect and common interests and within the same framework does not seek to increase tensions with the United States.
I listened carefully to the statement made by President Obama today at the general assembly. Commensurate with the political will of the leadership in the United States and hoping that they will refrain from following the short-sighted interests of warmongering pressure groups, we can arrive at a framework to manage our differences.
To this end, equal footing, mutual respect and the recognized principles of international law should govern the interactions. Of course, we expect to hear a consistent voice from Washington.
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, in recent years a dominant voice has been repeatedly heard. The military option is on the table, against the backdrop of this illegal and ineffective contention, let me say loud and clear that peace is within reach. So in the name of Islamic republic of Iran, I propose as a starting step the consideration by the United Nations of the project the world against violence and extremism. Let us all join. I invite all the states, international organizations and civil institutions, to undertake a new effort to guide the world in this direction. We should start thinking about coalition for peace all across the globe instead of the ineffective coalitions for war in various parts of the world.
Today, the Islamic Republic of Iran invites you and the entire world community to take a step forward, and invitation to join the valve (ph) world against violence and extremism. We should accept and be able to open and new horizon in which peace will prevail over war, tolerance over violence, progress over bloodletting, justice over discrimination, prosperity over poverty, and freedom over despotism. As beautifully said -
(END LIVE U.N. GENERAL ASSEMBLY COVERAGE)
BLITZER: All right. So, we are going to continue to monitor the speech of Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president, the new Iranian president speaking at the United Nations general assembly. But he flatly declared only moments ago that Iran is not developing a nuclear bomb, has no intention of developing a nuclear bomb, says it's against the Muslim religion to develop a nuclear bomb, and promises that Iran is not developing or has any weapons of mass destruction.
Also, at the same time, seeking respect from other nations and seeking to engage in a dialogue, including with the United States. And he said that he appreciated and listened closely to what the president of the United States said earlier in the day here at the United Nations general assembly.
Barbara Starr is our Pentagon correspondent.
Barbara, he is definitely trying to project a much more moderate tone. If you compare what he's saying today with what his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said only last year, very different tone at least coming from this new Iranian president.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Wolf. Here at the Pentagon tonight, this is being watched word by word very carefully as it is all across Washington. We have never heard this from an Iranian leader on this podium at the United Nations, declaring flat out that I believe his words were nuclear weapons had no place in Iran's national security, talking about Iran not posing a threat to anyone, that he's looking for a new horizon, he says, in peace and stability.
This is really fresh territory for the U.S. to deal with Iran. The question, of course, is what does it really all mean? What's the bottom line? I think that many in the U.S. intelligence community and intelligence services around the world are going to look at this very carefully, but still be somewhat doubting.
Israel, of course, will believe the doubters. They have a lot of concern about the threat that Iran poses in the region with its nuclear program, whether it's civilian energy or potentially nuclear weapons. This is going to get looked at very closely and a lot of people, Wolf, are looking at who is Hassan Rouhani and what is the U.S. facing with him now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STARR: Iranian president Hassan Rouhani just might turn decades of hostile relations with America on its head. Insisting in an NBC interview Iran is not trying to make nuclear weapons.
ROUHANI (through translator): We have time and again said that under no circumstances would we seek any weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons.
STARR: Testing the Iranian leader, President Obama now ordering secretary of state John Kerry to pursue a nuclear dialogue with Tehran.
OBAMA: I don't believe this difficult history can be overcome overnight. The suspicions run too deep. But I do believe that if we can resolve the issue of Iran's nuclear program, that can serve as a major step down a long road towards a different relationship.
STARR: Who is the man that Obama is now up against?
COLIN KAHL, FORMER OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Hassan Rouhani is a long-time regime insider. He's not a reformer. He's not a Jeffersonian Democrat. But he is a moderate.
STARR: And he is on a charm offensive, calling for the end of what he says is the age of blood feuds in a "Washington Post" op-ed. Rouhani has a Twitter account, posting pictures of himself and wishing Jews this month a blessed Rosh Hashanah.
But experts caution look at his background. He lived in exile in Paris with Ayatollah Khomeini, the force behind Iran's revolution. He worked with senior regime leaders his entire career. He is viewed as completely loyal to Iran's current supreme leader. And he's a savvy negotiator. KAHL: He actually helped negotiate the last agreement on Iran's nuclear program that they struck in 2003 with the Europeans that led to the temporary suspension of Iran's enrichment program.
STARR: Earning him the nickname "diplomatic sheikh." Rouhani was elected to get Iran out from under crippling economic sanctions over its nuclear efforts. But Israel warns the new Rouhani doesn't match the man they have watched closely for years.
MICHAEL OREN, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: He says that Iran never wanted a nuclear weapon. American intelligence knows that's a lie; Israeli intelligence knows that's a lie.
STARR: But here's maybe the most fascinating thing of all right now. President Obama and President Rouhani have one big thing in common right now: a domestic political audience that they both face in both countries where there are many doubters, much opposition, a lot of people who don't want to see a new relationship between Washington and Tehran. Wolf?
BLITZER: That's a good point, Barbara. May explain why there was no handshake, no meeting, no encounter today between President Obama and President Rouhani. The U.S. side was clearly ready for something, but they say it became quote, "too complicated for the Iranians," maybe because of that domestic opposition to seemingly be too moderate in reaching out to the United States.
We'll continue to watch this story. Barbara Starr reporting for us from the Pentagon.
So can Iran's new president, despite his more moderate tones, really be trusted? We will get reaction from the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Mike Rogers. He's standing by live. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Welcome back to our special coverage from here at the United Nations. I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting.
Iran's new president says his country is ready for immediate nuclear talks that are, in his words, "result-oriented." Is he just engaging in a charm offensive, or is there a real change of heart?
Let's discuss with the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Republican Congressman Mike Rogers of Michigan, who is joining us live.
Congressman, thank you very much. I want to play a sound bite from what we just heard from Hassan Rouhani, the new president of Iran.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HASSAN ROUHANI, PRESIDENT OF IRAN (via translator): All other countries must pursue exclusively peaceful (INAUDIBLE). I declare here openly and unambiguously that notwithstanding the positions of others, this has been and will always be the objective -
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLIZTER: All right, so he says that it's his objective and it always will be. You heard some of the Farsi over there, that they will never be, never be, a nuclear weapons program in Iran.
Here's the question. You know all the inside information. Is he telling us the truth?
REP. MIKE ROGERS (R-MI), CHAIRMAN OF INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: In the Midwest vernacular, horse pucky. They have been very aggressive in pursuing and actually accelerating their development in their nuclear weapon program. And the one thing that Rouhani was involved with, by the way, in the most recent past before becoming president, was part of negotiating to have the next meeting on negotiating nuclear weapons. And they have been masterful at trying to draw this thing out while they're continuing to pursue the advancement of their nuclear weapons program. And of that, in my mind, there is absolutely no doubt.
That's why I think we need to -- it's not even trust but verify. If they don't show up with something concrete -- and I thought the president was exactly right by not meeting him, by saying hey, we're willing to talk but you've got to actually show up with something -- I thought that was an important step.
BLITZER: Well, what do you want them to show up with? What do they need to prove to convince you and other U.S. officials that they are not trying to build a bomb?
ROGERS: Immediate suspension of over 20 percent enrichment, number one. Number two, I would open up Fordeaux (ph) and other places to U.N. inspectors immediately without delay and really start surrendering pieces of their program that we know are designed and surreptitiously so to be part of a nuclear weapon program.
And remember, Wolf, this guy was -- we think this guy got elected across the great populace of Iran because he was this moderate thinker. He's very close to the supreme leader. The supreme leader picked him to get on the ballot to run. He wasn't elected. He was selected.
And so what I think we're seeing here is somebody who is trying to buy more time unless they absolutely want to change that thought pattern of many of us, they have to actually do something. Having speeches, talking about what we might do and starting to negotiate, meetings to have negotiations for other meetings, is not going to stop their program, their surreptitious program, to develop a nuclear weapon.
If they started with those very basic steps upfront, I think we could get somewhere. I'm not sure we're going to see that.
BLITZER: Do you have a problem with the fact that the secretary of state John Kerry will be meeting with the Iranian foreign minister Thursday when the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany -- they have this meeting with the Iranians. Apparently there will be a one-on-one between Kerry and the Iranian foreign minister.
ROGERS: You know, I think this is prudent. It's the right environment to have that meeting. But I would never have another meeting if there isn't something concrete that comes out of it. It cannot be just for more negotiations. In that particular setting, especially around the notion of a Security Council meeting, I think it's prudent.
One of the things that's important, I think we're seeing here, is that the sanctions are taking a bite, they're taking hold. This is no time to let up. This is no time to give him any breathing space. I think it's appropriate for the secretary of state to gauge at the United Nations, I think this is an appropriate place for this to happen, where he's really at. And if they're taking such a bite that maybe they're looking for some space and would like to give up parts of their nuclear program, fantastic.
I don't believe that's true. I think they're looking for space. Use the secretary to determine that. Don't have the president meet with him. The very next meeting of any consequence has to be where they agree, pre-agree, that they're going to allow inspectors, they are going to shut down their enrichment capability. I would do that now.
Without that, I would continue. I would ramp up sanctions, I would act as if they haven't changed a bit because candidly, many of us believe they really haven't changed a bit.
BLITZER: All right. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, thanks for your reaction. Appreciate it very much.
We are going to continue to follow all the developments here at the United Nations. We're also following what's happening a little bit across town. The former president Bill Clinton is hosting an event with the current president, Barack Obama. There you see live pictures. We're going to go back there. Little Q & A between these two presidents. Live coverage right after this.
BLITZER: We're here at the United Nations watching what's going on but also, we're also watching what's happening elsewhere in Manhattan.
Two presidents, a former president, a current president, they're having a dialogue right now on Obamacare. The former President Bill Clinton in effect interviewing the current president.
I want to listen in, but also Ted Cruz, by the way, you see him at the bottom right hand part of your screen, the senator from Texas, he's on the Senate floor. He's really speaking out against Obamacare. He's getting some support from Marco Rubio, from Senator Rand Paul.
We're going to listen in to him as well. But let's go listen to this unique conversation now between President Clinton and President Obama on Obamacare.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Providing health insurance for those who don't have it, to provide these health -- or these tax credits in the marketplace, and at the same time, because we're driving down costs, we actually end up saving a little money. It is a net reduction of our deficit.
The irony of those who are talking about repealing Obamacare because it's so wildly expensive is if they actually repeal the law, it would add to the deficit. It would add to the deficit.
Now there have been a couple of Republicans in the House who have been smart enough to say we're going to repeal all the benefits so the -- you know, 20, 25, 30 million people don't get health insurance, but we're going to keep the taxes that Obama raised. We just won't talk about that.
And that in that way we can say we reduced the deficit. But, you know, obviously, you're doing some funny business there with the budget.
But look, nothing is free. The bottom line, though, is, do we want to continue to live in a society where we've got the most inefficient health care system on earth, leaving millions of people exposed to the possibilities that they could lose everything because they get sick, or we've got little children and families going to the emergency room once a week because they got asthma and other preventable diseases because their families aren't linked up with a primary care physician who is providing them regular care.
Where the costs to society for reduced productivity, illnesses, et cetera, all burden our businesses. Is that the kind of society we aspire to? I think the answer is no. And the notion that we would resist or at least some would resist as fiercely as they would or as they have, make this their number one agenda, is perpetuating a system in which millions of people across the country, hard-working Americans, don't have access to health care, I think is wrong.
BILL CLINTON, CLINTON INITIATIVE: The --
We have to -- we have to close but I will close with a story, you know, I told you all this morning that the employee that our health access program lost in the Kenyan mall shooting was a Dutch nurse. And we spent a lot of time in the Netherlands. They -- we get a lot of support there.
Oxy is one of the biggest insurance companies in Europe. They're one of our partners here. I went to celebrate their 200th anniversary with them. They had been -- they started as a fire insurance company with 39 farmers 200 years ago. And we're out there in this big, farm field with a tent in the shadow of a 13th century church and a big Dutch windmill, and I asked the chairman of the company.
I said, you write any health insurance? Because in the Netherlands, there's no Medicaid, no Medicare, everybody is on the health -- on an individual mandate and you just subsidize people based on their incomes. He said, yes, I write it, we all do, and he looked at me and he said we, but don't make any money on it. And he said, we shouldn't.
This guy is one of the huge insurers. Can you imagine somebody saying that in America? He said, he said, we shouldn't. And if I can't make money on this business, doing traditional insurance business, I got no business and work. He said look, health care is a public good. And you've got a way to finance it for everybody.
And he said it's just an intermediary function that somebody has to handle. But in the end, it's how it's delivered, how it's priced, and how healthy can you keep your people.
So the first lady's trying to keep us all healthier, and you're trying to change the delivery and pricing, and you have to cover everybody to do it. I think this is a big step forward for America. This will, over the next decade, not only make us healthier, but it will free up in the private sector largely funds that can then be reinvested in other areas of economic growth and give us a much more well-balanced economy. But first, we've got to get everybody to sign up.
OBAMA: Everybody, sign up. Go to healthcare.gov. Thank you very much.
CLINTON: Thank you.
BLITZER: All right. It's not something you see every single day. The former president, Bill Clinton, the current president, Barack Obama, they're here in New York City. They were just talking for almost an hour or so about the Obamacare initiative which is coming under fierce, fierce criticism, even as they were speaking, on the Senate floor.
Senator Ted Cruz, the freshman senator from Texas, he has been railing and railing and railing against it. He's getting some support from a few Republican senators, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, but not many others, at least not yet.
We'll see what happens. We're going to continue to monitor that effort on the Senate floor to derail Obamacare, but it's clearly not going anywhere in the Senate. They'll pass legislation approving funding for the government, send it back to the House of Representatives.
We'll see what happens in the House. The deadline coming up. If there's no resolution passed, the government will stop funding huge chunks of the government by Monday morning. This weekend will be critical indeed.
We'll have full analysis of that. We're also watching what's happening in this U.S.-Iranian relationship in the aftermath of President Obama's speech this morning and now President Rouhani of Iran speech just now.
Lots of news happening. We'll continue our special coverage from here at the United Nations right after this.
BLITZER: We're continuing our special coverage here at the United Nations. Just heard from the new Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, declare Iran has no desire to develop or build a nuclear bomb.
Nick Paton Walsh listened very carefully to his remarks.
And there was clearly a more moderate tone there. The question is, does he really mean it?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's the issue. I mean, there was a lot there you could consider an improvement. There was no implicit denial that the holocaust ever happened or questions about 9/11. But at the end of the day, you still have a couple of places there which would have made Obama very uncomfortable had he just met Rouhani early on in the afternoon.
References to how drones shouldn't be used against innocent people in the name of combat and terrorism, towards a military presence in Afghanistan, Iraq as well, and of course as (INAUDIBLE), the Iran speeches here against Israel as well.
As you mentioned, some peaceful elements to that as well, the desire for talks with a solid timeframe, and saying of course they don't want a nuclear weapon. They simply want nuclear technology because the world's moved on in that area. But at the end of the day I think people will be looking at that speech and perhaps thinking (INAUDIBLE) a wise decision because he could have been open to substantial criticism had he, in fact, stuck around and shake Rouhani's hands after that.
BLITZER: Because there was a lot of speculation that the president was clearly ready for some sort of encounter, shaking hands. A little discussion, if you will, with -- it was Rouhani who decided that that was not necessarily going to happen. U.S. officials saying that they told them through lower level channels it was too complicated.
PATON: Certainly. That's the White House message. You have to wait to see what the Iranian reaction to that is, too. Maybe they saw the speech in advance. I don't know. But it certainly would have been potential for them to have been relieved at having not just have a diplomatic breakthrough ahead of a speech like that.
Yes, some suggestions they want further diplomacy, but still enough rhetoric in there that could have made then uncomfortable.
BLITZER: All right. Nick Paton Walsh, watching the story for us here at the United Nations. An exciting few days here. Thanks very much for all the help.