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State of the Union
Interview with Howard Dean, Rick Santorum; Interview with Mike Rogers, Dianne Feinstein
Aired December 01, 2013 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Two breaking news stories this morning, a deadly train derailment in New York City and an announcement moments away on the state of the troubled Obamacare website.
CROWLEY: Today, time's up.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The website will work much better on November 30th, December 1st, than it worked certainly on October 1st.
CROWLEY: At this hour, administration officials are briefing reporters on the two-month rehab of the Obamacare website. Howard Dean and Rick Santorum weigh in on that, and on the nexus between religion, contraception and health insurance.
Then, Capitol Hill's top intelligence committee members with the 50,000 foot world view of terrorism.
FEINSTEIN: The fatalities are way up, the numbers are way up.
ROGERS: The threat is higher today and we are probably less safe.
CROWLEY: A candid conversation with the chairs of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, Dianne Feinstein and Mike Rogers.
And our political panel holds forth on who should decide the size of your paycheck, Americans' dour view of the economy, and the president's continued push for immigration reform.
This is State of the Union.
CROWLEY: Good morning from Washington, I'm Candy Crowley. Two stories we're following this hour. One is that train derailment in New York City. You're now looking at some pictures of a Metro North train that went off the tracks at the Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx shortly after 7:00 this morning. About 100 firefighters are responding to the scene. CNN has been told at least two people are dead. The number of injuries unknown at this point. Service has been suspended on part of New York's Hudson Line. We are monitoring developments on this and will bring you more information as it becomes available.
Here in Washington, Obama -- the Obama administration as briefing reporters right now about fixes to the troubled healthcare.gov website. Saturday was the administration's self-imposed deadline to resolve most of the site's problems. I want to bring in CNN's Joe Johns. So, Joe, what's the bottom line here?
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Candy, good morning. The bottom line question really is whether the administration was able to deliver on its promise of getting the website functioning for the vast majority of users by November 30th. Just now, the administration is releasing a summary. This summary, in fact. The general message is that substantial progress has been made in improving healthcare.gov and getting the system where it needs to be, and that site capacity is stable at its intended level.
They say they have lowered response time to about one second, and the error rate below 1 percent, and that they've increased capacity to allow 50,000 concurrent users to use the site simultaneously.
So essentially they say they've reached their goal.
The report concludes dramatic progress has been made on improving healthcare.gov. There is more work to be done. We believe we have met the goals of having a system that will work smoothly for the vast majority of users.
CMS took the website down from 9:00 p.m. Friday until early Saturday morning for extended maintenance. Candy, so the work goes on.
CROWLEY: Apparently. Joe, thanks for that quick shot, get back to us when you hear more about this.
So the question now really is will the president's reboot here on this website help him get back on his feet? Joining me now, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. Gentlemen, thank you both for coming. Let's first react to this website. The old rule, Governor Dean is, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Is there lasting -- let's assume that everything they say right now is right. And we won't know until people try to get on, but let's assume it's right. Can the president right this ship? Or has some lasting damage been done?
DEAN: I think the president can right this ship. This website is now apparently functional now. I haven't tried the website. But if this program works, and I think it will, three months from now, a huge number of people who didn't have health insurance are going to have it, and mostly at a better price. I think that's the proof in the pudding. So I think this is all dependent on how well the system functions, not on all the propaganda or the screaming and shouting and yelling that is going on in Washington. It's going to be ordinary people's experience and their neighbor's experience with this website.
CROWLEY: Senator, I think you have a differing view just because I was watching your reaction as Joe was reporting.
SANTORUM: Yes, this really feeds into the president's competence. That's really the question that the people have, is the president competent to do his job? And Obamacare is certainly front and center. What's going on in the Middle East is another area. There's a whole group of issues now that people are questioning. And you talk to anybody. I've talked -- I talked to an insurance -- some people in the insurance industry this morning. And they told me that most of the front end may be looking good. People may be able to get on and get responses, but the information coming out the back end to the insurance companies is still garbage. It's undecipherable. And it's requiring them to, on a case-by-case basis, actually have someone go -- because there's misinformation, there's triplicates, there's husbands labeled as wives. There's all sorts of problems with the data coming into the insurance companies. So you think you may have signed up, but you may not, because the insurance company may not have the data available to actually put you in the system.
CROWLEY: And Governor, to pick up on sort of the broader point from Senator Santorum. And that is that there has been this unease that has -- that started, you know, probably earlier than the launch of the website, but nonetheless has continued.
I want to show you a CNN ORC poll. This is a good track, bad track, how well do you think things are going in the country today question. And right now, 59 percent of the country thinks things are going badly.
Now, that is up from September. It is nine points above April. So there has been this steady deterioration for how people feel about the direction the country's going. People no longer see President Obama -- I think only 40 percent of people see President Obama as able to kind of run the government. Is there that kind of lasting damage? That's certainly what Senator Santorum is talking about.
DEAN: No, I think there's no evidence for that at all. Again, I think that's right-wing talking points against this president. They've from day one when he got in there, they tried to undermine him as a human being. And I think that's, you know, it's not a tactic that's good for the country. So my view is --
CROWLEY: Governor, it's true you had some -- it's true that you had reservations. You didn't like this when it first rolled out, right?
DEAN: No, this is -- look, this is not from my point of view an ideal plan, but this is what passed the Congress and this is the law. And Romney did the same, something very similar in Massachusetts, and it's worked very well. So who am I to say that the court -- the Supreme Court and the Congress of the United States is wrong all the time? I think we ought to make this thing work. It's the law. It can work. Mitt Romney proved it did work in Massachusetts, where 98.5 percent of all of Massachusetts citizens have health insurance. I fail to see this has anything to do with the president's competence, other than the procurement process, which has been screwed up for many years, long before this president ever got into office.
So I lose my patience with this nonsense. And I do believe that the facts are going to be determined by what happens on the ground. And I think three months from now, a lot more people will have health insurance, and a lot more people will be happy with all of this.
SANTORUM: Well, first off, it's not nonsense. Massachusetts probably has the highest insurance rates in the country. So for all the quote, good it does, people pay a lot, and that's what you're going to see.
When this website eventually gets fixed, the problems really begin for this administration. Remember, this bill passed not because they put together this great plan. They put together in the Senate a bill that could get 60 votes and could be moved to the House and they could fix it in conference. Well, guess what, they never got a chance to fix it. This is a disastrous bill, No. 1. It is a big problem. The president stood behind it, promised all these things. What's going to happen? People's rates are going to go up, they are going to go up dramatically. They're going to see their premiums go up, they're going to see their deductibles go up. And here's the thing that again, no one's talking about. The networks, in other words the doctors and hospitals that are in these exchange products, are dramatically smaller.
In other words, yes, you'll be able to get your preventive care from your doctor, but if you want to go to the children's hospital, sorry, you can't get that kind of specialized care from specialized doctors. Why? Because the Obama bill set prices at such levels that doctors and hospitals, particularly the ones that are in high demand, do not participate in these programs. So you're going to see the end result be higher costs, less care, and then as a result, because they're narrow networks, longer waits and longer lines. This is just beginning, the disaster of Obamacare.
CROWLEY: Go ahead, Governor. I've heard that complaint, as well.
DEAN: We've heard this kind of talk -- we've heard this kind of talk for three years while these Republicans were trying to undermine this program. And what we haven't seen is what the results are. And I think that none of that's going to happen. There are going to be some rates that go up, because rates have been going up for 30 years. And there's no cost control in this bill and there was no cost control in Governor Romney's bill. That's going to have to come later. We're going to have to get away from fee-for-service medicine in order to do that. That was not addressed in this bill. That was not addressed in Romney's bill. Certainly wasn't addressed by the Republicans any time that they were in charge.
SANTORUM: I wasn't for either of them, Governor.
DEAN: So I really think we ought to have a little bit more forbearance. I think we ought to, for once, we ought to pull together and try to make this thing work.
It can work. Look, I was just as much of a critic of this bill as anybody else. But I think we ought to pull together and make the thing work, and I think it can work, and I think 30 million more Americans are going to have health insurance. And there's more work to be done.
SANTORUM: Well, let me just add that one of the solutions that President Obama tried to accomplish was to let people keep their own insurance. It turns out that a lot of insurance companies are actually allowing that to happen. And that could cause even more problems for Obamacare, because that means fewer and fewer people get into the exchanges. And the ones who at least to date, these are just facts, Governor Dean. The ones to date in the system are much older. I talked to one insurance company today that a third of their enrollees are over 60 years of age. That is not how an insurance system will work. And -- but those are the people signing up. And the folks who can keep their plans because they're more customized and lower cost, will now. And the folks who are going to get into these exchanges are going to be probably sicker, older, and as a result, premiums are even going to go higher.
CROWLEY: You know, Governor, this is -- you're right, this will play out -- go ahead.
DEAN: I think it's great we're insuring people who can't get insurance that are over 55 and 60, that's what this is supposed to do.
CROWLEY: Let me -- I just want to turn you both a little bit to something else, it's the Supreme Court agreeing to take up the case of two not for -- two for profit companies whose owners have an objection to certain forms of birth control. And the court has agreed to take that on to see whether the government can enforce them to include -- in this case, it's Plan B and Ella, which are morning after pills designed to prevent fertilization of an egg. And so this is going to the Supreme Court. That also could sort of upset the balance. Where do you think that's going, governor?
DEAN: Where do I think that's going?
DEAN: I have no idea what the Supreme Court's going to do. They haven't been entirely favorable to women's ability to control their own reproductive lives. So I -- but I don't have any idea.
My view of that is we're a single country and I don't think employers get to impose their religious beliefs on their employees or any other beliefs, for that matter. I mean, this idea that we can pick and choose what we're going to do is a tough idea.
I was deeply opposed to the Vietnam War and I thought it was immoral because we were being lied to by our own government. I still paid my taxes and the people who didn't pay their taxes went to jail.
So, you know, this is one country. We all have to live by a set of things that are passed in Washington and agreed to by the court. We'll see what the court does, but I don't think a particular employer has a right to decide what kind of health care their employees are going to get.
That's now in the hands of the federal government and that's where it should be.
SANTORUM: I think Howard said it right that now individuals can't decide what kind of health care they want. The federal government is going to decide what your health care is and they're going to side what is moral-- CROWLEY: But they're talking about their employees' health care.
SANTORUM: Yeah, but it's going to decided what their employees' health care. This is a business, Hobby Lobby is a business. It is very explicit about their, they don't open on Sundays, they're very clear about their religious content. They give a huge amount of their money to charities that are faith-oriented charities.
I mean, the idea that the First Amendment stops after you walk out of a church, that it doesn't have anything to do with how you live the rest of your life, I don't know very many people of faith who believes that their religion ends with just worship, it ends in how you practice and live that faith.
And now with the federal -- what President Obama's saying, no, once you step outside that church door, then I get to impose my values on you. Your religious values don't matter anymore, it's my values that I can impose on you.
I don't think that's what the first amendment stands for and I don't think that's what the court will say.
CROWLEY: Senator Santorum, Governor Dean, I hope for you--
DEAN: What the First Amendment says that--
CROWLEY: I've got to end it there.
DEAN: First amendment says that -- OK.
CROWLEY: -- go ahead, finish the sentence.
DEAN: Go ahead.
CROWLEY: No, I'm going to let you finish your thought.
DEAN: I was just going to say, it says Congress shall not establish or shall establish no law regarding the establishment of a religion.
SANTORUM: Or free exercise thereof.
DEAN: That's pretty clear, your employer doesn't get to tell you what--
SANTORUM: Or the free exercise thereof. You didn't finish the first amendment -- or the free exercise--
DEAN: Or the free exercise thereof. That's correct. That means you can exercise it for yourself, but you can't force other people to conform to your religious beliefs.
SANTORUM: But the government can force you to violate your own religious--
DEAN: And it can't enable you to force your religious beliefs on other people.
CROWLEY: We're going to leave it there. The Supreme Court is going to rule eventually. I hope you'll both come back. Thank you so much, Senator Santorum, Governor Dean, appreciate it.
When we return, we'll go live to the scene of the deadly train derailment in New York City. Plus, assessing the national security landscape with senate and house intelligence committee chairman Dianne Feinstein and Mike Rogers. That's next.
CROWLEY: Updating you now on that passenger train derailment in New York City, our CNN producer John Auerbach is on the scene of the crash. He joins us now by phone.
John, tell me the latest you know.
JOHN AUERBACH, CNN PRODUCER: Good morning, Candy. Well, law enforcement officials are telling CNN that four are dead at this point and at least 40 are injured.
I can tell you I am on a pedestrian walkway on a bridge above the scene. There are, that I can see, three trains on their side. The front car is perched very close to the water.
This train station is called Spuyten Duyvil. And it is on the Bronx side of the northern tip of Manhattan where the Hudson River and the Harlem River meet. IT's very choppy water.
I can see at least three police boats and two fire department boats in the water. There are more fire department trucks and police emergency vehicles than I can even count.
From my vantage point, it's a little hard to see the activity on the ground other than I can see a bunch of what looks like police, NYPD in a small little buoy trying to get on to the scene where that front part is currently lying on its side.
AUERBACH: Looks like this was a southbound commuter train, this line runs north of Poughkeepsie in upstate New York down the Hudson River through West Chester, hangs a left around the Bronx before it goes in into Manhattan and Grand Central Terminal its final stop -- Candy.
CROWLEY: Thanks so much, John Auerbach. It looks like this commuter train was headed toward New York City, now a deadly commuter train crash. We will always bring you the latest we know as CNN continues to monitor events there on the ground.
Moving on, this week marked the 12th Thanksgiving in Afghanistan for U.S. troops. It is a constant reminder that we are only one missed piece of data away from another terror attack against the U.S.
I recently spoke with the chairman of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, Dianne Feinstein and Mike Rodgers.
CROWLEY: The big question that's always asked, are we safer now than we were a year ago, two years ago? In general?
FEINSTEIN: I don't think so. I think terror is up worldwide, the statistics indicate that, the fatalities are way up. The numbers are way up. There are new bombs, very big bombs, trucks being reinforced for those bombs. There are bombs that go through magnatometers. The bomb maker is still alive. There are more groups that ever and there's huge malevolence out there.
CROWLEY: So congressman, I have to say, that is not the answer I expected. I expected to hear, oh, we're safer. Do you agree?
ROGERS: Oh, I absolutely agree that we're not safer today for the same very reasons.
So the pressure on our intelligence services to get it right to prevent an attack are enormous. And it's getting more difficult because we see the al Qaeda as we knew it before is metastasizing to something different, more affiliates than we've ever had before, meaning more groups that operated independently of al Qaeda have now joined al Qaeda around the world, all of them have at least some aspiration to commit an act of violence in the United States or against western targets all around the world.
They've now switched to this notion that maybe smaller events are okay. So if you have more smaller events than bigger events, they think that might still lead to their objectives and their goals. That makes it exponentially harder for our intelligence services to stop an event like that.
CROWLEY: Because essentially one person can do a small event.
CROWLEY: So, one of the things that the senator said was that there is more hatred out there, more -- and why is that?
FEINSTEIN: I think there is a real displaced aggression in this very fundamentalist, jihadist, Islamic community. And that is that the west is responsible for everything that goes wrong, and that the only thing that's going to solve this is Islamic Sharia law and the concept of the caliphate. And I see more groups, more fundamentalists, more jihadists more determined to kill to get to where they want to get. So, it's not an isolated phenomenon. You see these groups spread a web of connections. And this includes North Africa, it includes the Middle East, it includes other areas as well.
CROWLEY: Lots of times we look at kind of some of these splinter groups going, yeah, but their interest is local.
ROGERS: And here's the -- but here's the concern of that. Now, remember, you have somewhere near 25 states that have some failed level of governance, meaning they can't secure large spaces of their own country. Those are always attractive for safe havens when it comes to any terrorist organization. And we're finding they're taking advantage of that.
So you see what's happening in a place like Syria where you have a pooling of al Qaeda members and affiliates of al Qaeda in a way we've never seen before at the level of numbers that we have never seen before, and here's the scary part of this, some thousands of people showing up to participate in that in their mind jihadist effort are westerners, meaning they have western passports.
A percentage of them have already gone home, including the United States, by the way, is included in that western number. We are very, very concerned that these folks who have western paper have gone there, participated in combat events, are trained, are further radicalized, now have the ability to go back in western countries.
We know that those--
CROWLEY: And to ply that trade.
ROGERS: Well, to ply that trade. And now they have a connection, a direct connection to al Qaeda affiliates operating in a place where most people would say, well, we have no interest in Syria. Well, clearly we do. And clearly, that's just one place. And it's starting to spread.
You saw what happened in Lebanon recently.
CROWLEY: In Lebanon, that's right.
ROGERS: Where they blew up the Iranian embassy.
This is all starting to spread. Iraq is having its problems now. It's spreading into Lebanon, Jordan has issues, Turkey along the border has issues. This is very, very, very concerning.
FEINSTEIN: There is now a bomb that can go through magnatometers. People can get on aircraft with those bombs. They have tried to send four into this country, two in printer cartridges, one by Abdulmutalleb, and one, asset, was able to obtain out of Yemen.
These were coming into this country, two of them aimed at synagogues in Illinois. Now, having said that, the only way to stop this was with intelligence. The only way you could stop that is putting clues together to ferret out where this was coming from.
CROWLEY: So where is our weakest point?
ROGERS: Well, I mean, I think -- the threat level has never been more diverse than it is today. And that's one of the bigger, I think, concerns that we have. And I think why both -- we both would agree that the threat is higher today and we are probably less safe is the more efforts they try, the more perfect you have to be in order to stop something. And that's a huge challenge.
CROWLEY: And lucky.
ROGERS: And lucky.
And so, you think about what's happened with recent disclosures. We have now three al Qaeda affiliate groups have changed the way they communicate means it's less likely that we're going to be able to detect something prior to an event that goes operational, meaning that they've already started the final planning stages to blow something up or shoot someone.
And so we're fighting amongst ourselves here in this country about the role of our intelligence community that is having an impact on our ability to stop what is a growing number of threats.
And so we've got to shake ourselves out of this pretty soon and understand that our intelligence services are not the bad guys. The bad guys, the al Qaeda affiliates, Russian intelligence services, Chinese intelligence services, the Quds force that operates terrorism events all around the world, those are the folks we need to focus our attention and our energy on in order to keep America safe.
CROWLEY: So it seems to me what both of you are saying you haven't liked this focus on the NSA and the complaints about the NSA in terms of the breadth of what they're collecting. ROGERS: Well, I would argue it allows them to focus on the problem. We spend a lot of time now internally focused, their up -- I can't tell you the thousands of man hours they have spent trying to prepare people to understand fact from fiction, what is happening versus what is not happening.
And we both -- both of our committees take great pride in our real oversight function of which we participate in to make sure they're not violating the law.
Well, we've had to recreate all of that work over and over and over again every time there's a disclosure. And our fear is, every time we do that, we take them away from their focus, which is what is al Qaeda's next event? Who is moving somewhere in the world is trying to get into the United States or an allied country to kill somebody. And that part seems to have gotten lost in the fact that we have new threats. I think people think what the senator was talking about, Dianne was talking about, was people think, well, we've got this thing beat, it's kind of over. We don't have to worry about al Qaeda anymore. And what we see is that's not the case.
CROWLEY: When we return, the fine line between maintaining security in a critical part of the world and negotiating with its leader.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FEINSTEIN: So much the victim of what thought occurs to them right at the moments based on some anger that he feels about something that may not even be related.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: Find out who Senator Dianne Feinstein is talking about next.
CROWLEY: We are following a breaking news story about a deadly train derailment in the Bronx. This was a commuter train that derailed, four cars, I believe, or five cars. What we are told now by sources is at least four people have been killed and at least 40 people are injured. We want to go now to our Nic Robertson. He is on site there at the scene in the Bronx. Tell me, Nic, what you can see.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Candy, we've been able to look down on the wreckage and see a train that was made up of eight carriages. Only two of them are actually left vertical on the tracks. The others derailed, at least two of them, are lying on their sides. Two -- those two at 90 degrees to each other so the train buckled right around. It's on a bend in the track. The accident appears to have happened, the derailment appears to have happened right on the bend in the truck. There are a lot of emergency service workers in attendance appearing to work with what appear to be people by the side of the track where I'm standing with some of those police and ambulance vehicles. I've seen one lady loaded into an ambulance here. She was on a stretcher, her neck was in a brace. She appeared well but not moving too much. As I've been talking to you, there are more emergency vehicles arriving, hazmat vehicles also coming on the scene here, Candy.
CROWLEY: So, Nic, I'm thinking (ph) as we're looking at these pictures, there is no fire here. Nothing is smoking. But there still are seem to be people on that train.
ROBERTSON: It does appear from what we could see, as well, to be an ongoing situation. That the train had come off and was in a situation where people will be inside that train waiting to be - waiting to be helped out. We could see that at least two of the carriages were completely on their side -- on their side and appears to be at least a situation where the carriages are no longer aligned as they were at the train. That they are bunched up and even lying at angles to each other. And from what we could see, the rescue workers were working right in and around the -- right in and around the train. What you are seeing from the helicopter pictures right now is better from the vantage point where I am now, which is at the police line with the emergency vehicles where some of the casualties are being brought back to be loaded on to ambulances, Candy.
CROWLEY: Thank you so much. Our Nic Robertson on the scene for us as, indeed are a lot of other CNN personnel. So we'll be keeping track of this story. Again, a deadly commuter train derailment at a station in the Bronx, New York City. We are covering that as well as breaking news out of Washington this morning. A major announcement on the status of the Obamacare website. We'll find out if it's finally working and talk about the political implications for the president.
CROWLEY: An update now on the train derailment in New York City. At least four people are dead and 40 injured. The Metro North train went off the tracks this morning at a station in the Bronx. We are continuing to follow that story as soon as we have updates, we will get them there. We do know that there may still be people on that train. And that there are more rescue units than we can count at this point. So we will keep you up to date.
Here in Washington, administration officials say there's been dramatic progress to the crippled Obamacare website. Are the fixes on the consumer side hiding even bigger problems on the back end? Joining me around the table, CNN political commentator, Kevin Madden, Corey Dade, who's contributing editor at "TheRoot.com", and CNN political commentator Donna Brazile. Thank you all for joining us.
This caught my eye, it was from a column or sort of a how to from Kathleen Sebelius which appeared yesterday and among her hints to how to -- how to deal with this website now was to shop healthcare.gov during off-peak hours. Like mornings, nights and weekends. Which says to me there still might be some problems.
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, if you want to, you know, see a website that's loading the pages faster, you're able to get most of your information in (ph) she's absolutely right. I got on at 3:00 a.m. this morning, I thought it was a good time to get on the website, and it worked perfectly. But I also got on this morning at 7:00. So it seems as though -
CROWLEY: What happened at 7:00?
BRAZILE: It worked fast. OK. Some of the bugs are out of it. But remember the health care law is not just a website. You can apply in person. You can apply over the telephone. Here in Washington, D.C. there are churches that are reaching out to the uninsured to get them to apply to the website. I don't know if it's 100 percent fixed but at least you have better experience (INAUDIBLE) when you get on. CROWLEY: I think we can be reasonably sure that's not 100 percent fixed.
KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Right and that's one of the big problems is that it may be a user experience that may get a little better on the front end. But, again, the back end is where there are still big problems. You have payment security issues, you have payment with the insurers on the back end, and those are still big problems. It's kind of like any other government experience you would have. If you move quickly to the front of the line of DMV but you still have a bad experience at DMV, you're still have less trust in the ability of the government to administer a program.
CROWLEY: And that's really -- I mean if we go beyond the website.
COREY DADE, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, "THE ROOT": Yes.
CROWLEY: What is -- there definitely has been some confidence lost in government. Now whether you want to attribute that to the Obamacare website or not, the fact of the matter is the people who lost confidence -- first of all, in the president's ability to manage the government, and second of all can't help but undermine at some level the program itself.
DADE: Yes, this is really a political deadline. You know, this is the day that everything is supposed to be, you know, they get to the vast majority phrase of 80 percent of the market being able to use the website. But the political reality is that there is a cost that's already starting to be felt certainly for the Democrats. And that's why now from here on out, you're going to see Democrats in particular really trying to be proactive in responding to any issues that continue to come off of people's user experience to make sure that -- especially the Democrats were vulnerable in certain red states and purple states and certain districts and certain statewide races. They can't afford to go whole hog and just say there is not a problem. We're going to get through this, just wait on, just hang on.
BRAZILE: Or it depends on the Democrat because in states where they built their own marketplaces, they're having a better experience. The enrollment projection is steady and people are signing up. So I wouldn't attribute this to, you know, the Democrats are worried. But what we should focus on is the 40 million plus Americans who will not have access to insurance. And to give them the time and ability like they did in Massachusetts on the Romney care. It was a low start-up, but people ramped up once they knew the deadline. You know how people are.
MADDEN: To Corey's point, first of all look, 2/3 of the American population right now are covered by the federal site. So that's a much bigger chunk of the population. Remember about Massachusetts? Massachusetts was designed for 6 million people, they're a unique health care population, this is one that is now serving 2/3 of the American public. BRAZILE: Because the Republican --
MADDEN: To Corey's point, Democrats are going to be hypersensitive and are going to run at the first sign of any continued trouble.
BRAZILE: But the Republicans should be upset, as well. If they see that people want this program, their governors will not expend Medicaid eligibility --
MADDEN: There's a reason the program is very unpopular right now.
BRAZILE: It's unpopular.
MADDEN: Because (ph) the reason is driven the Democrats popularity --
BRAZILE: The program -- the program -- people love the fact they have access. You shouldn't be in the middle of two fighters.
DADE: I'm sorry. I'll get my elbows out (INAUDIBLE).
BRAZILE: Go ahead.
DADE: But that is a big issue. With the exchanges that Republican governors decided not to sell, that's what overburdened the federal government's responsibility, particularly with the website.
MADDEN: That's what happens when you try to federalize markets that previously used to operate state by state. This is one-size-fits all standard and that's why you have this problem. That was the main disagreement that Republicans had with the law to begin with.
CROWLEY: Would the president have been better off had he just sold it as you just did which is 40 million people don't have health care. We need to get them health care. Some of you who are blessed are going to have to pay more. This isn't going to be easy instead of this sort of you get to keep your doctor, get to do this, it's going to bend the cost curve, shouldn't he just have said we're going to get insurance to people?
DADE: There were messaging and sale problems all over.
BRAZILE: Thank you.
DADE: I mean you can't just pinpoint it -- BRAZILE: Five previous presidents tried to do something on health care and they all failed. This president succeeded. There are Americans who won't worry about getting kicked off their insurance because of pre-existing conditions. There are young people who are getting care. People who are getting preventative services, we're not talking about anything that's good. All we're talking about a website that has glitches. And if you shopped on black Friday, which I typically do, there were glitches, as well.
MADDEN: It's so much bigger than a marketing problem. This is what happens when you have the government step in between you and your doctor, you and your health care.
BRAZILE: There's nobody between me and my doctor. I've been on the individual market for 10 years and I love my doctor, he's retiring this year.
MADDEN: It's fundamentally changed.
That's not a marketing problem. That is. --
CROWLEY: Is it not true that fundamentally health care is changing?
BRAZILE: It is changing. But you know what, prior to the Affordable Care Act, premiums were rising 2.5 percent, they double in 30 years. So this is a way to, you know, to bend the cost curve and to give people more access.
DADE: Underlying costs are already starting to flatten out a little bit. It's already starting -
MADDEN: Everybody wanted health care, we just disagreed on the details. And unfortunately, the Democrats and president Obama got their way.
BRAZILE: And the Republicans are rooting for failure.
MADDEN: It's not true.
CROWLEY: Hang on. Hang on for a second. When we return, Walmart employees and their supporters pound the pavement protesting low wages. Is the low-price superstore this year scrooge? More with our panel next.
CROWLEY: An update of our story about a train derailment at a section in the Bronx. Five passenger cars went off the rails of the station. What we know so far according to sources, there are at least four dead. At least 40 more are injured. We also know that the governor of New York has been on the scene checking out what is going on. That there are in fact hundreds of emergency personnel, police, fire department. We have also spotted in the water divers.
Now the original reports that some cars had gone into the water. That does not appear from these pictures nor from our correspondents on the scene to be so. But it is possible that divers are there perhaps looking to see if anyone was thrown from the train as it derailed. Again what we know so far is that at least four people have died in this accident, 40 more injured.
This was a commuter train in New York. Southbound. It is a holiday weekend so it is unknown really how many passengers were onboard. They are still looking for them. Of course CNN will keep you updated as we get new news. Stay tuned at the top of the hour for a full report.
Back now with Kevin Madden, Corey Dade and Donna Brazile. I want to talk to you about minimum wage because there have been people protesting against Walmart saying you should raise your minimum wage here. There have been McDonald's I mean over the course of the summer a lot we're hearing -- we know the president wants to raise the minimum wage I believe to $10 an hour. There's been talk from Harry Reid. Whenever I hear talk in Congress about raising minimum wage, I think election year. Everyone looking for an issue. This one has more of a ring to it this time. (INAUDIBLE). Am I wrong?
BRAZILE: No because wage is a stagnant, Candy. And the reason why I think there's a lot of focus on Walmart is that Walmart's annual profits exceed that of 140 countries. People believe that Walmart should pay its employees a living wage. They should get better benefits and they should not rely on federal benefits. Kevin talked about the federal government. Many workers have to rely on food stamps, housing assistance and other social safety net programs so there's a reason -- they will not allow their workers to organize. That's why people are focusing on Walmart and all of these other corporations.
CROWLEY: Yet corporations have duties to stockholders which, you know, I'm sure there are 401(k)s involved of people that are not necessarily rich. And it is kind of a balance of things when they look at corporations. These are wealthy owners. I'm not trying to undermine that at all. I mean there is no -- I'm not trying to (INAUDIBLE) that at all.
DADE: Any company throwing off, you know, $17 billion in annual profit like Walmart is going to be a sitting duck with this criticism particularly when medium household income continues to be about 8 percent down since the growth that is since the start of 2009 or so. So as long as we have high underemployment, along with underemployment, these kinds of jobs are never going to be not only sustainable but they're going to be a political sitting duck.
CROWLEY: And they are, Kevin, because this goes to the growing gap between the very rich and poor and idea that someone could work hard full time and still be below the poverty level or near it and needing federal assistance seems wrong to a lot of people.
MADDEN: Right and a lot of times it becomes about -- the question here is economic opportunity and how we address it. Often times when you have the federal government or others step in and start to raise minimum wage, what happens is you take away or reduce some people's opportunity to grab the bottom rung of the economic ladder to get the opportunities and the skills that you need to move up that economic ladder.
The other part it -- the other part of it is the larger economic opportunity which is, are we going to address it just for minimum wage or do it with much more fundamental reforms that the economy needs in order to grow? So that not only do wages increase but also the greater economic opportunity across the spectrum of the economy so that there are more jobs out there that are paying better.
And I think that's right now where we see this incredible economic exasperation out there not only for the middle class but of course the lower middle class and that's something right now that we haven't seen improve over the last few years. It's not just about Congress but the administration's policies.
CROWLEY: I think I take your point that it can't be cured simply by let's just raise the minimum wage here at the federal level. In fact -
Right. I mean and it's also a symbolic starting point. Many states have higher minimum wages than the federal government does. It's still not great but they do. And my question to you, Kevin and then down the line is, can Republicans -- because I think this will come to the Senate floor at least. Can they in fact afford to say no, we won't raise the minimum wage in an election year?
MADDEN: It's a very difficult issue because I think most Republicans do recognize -- I'm sorry (INAUDIBLE).
CROWLEY: I'm sorry. You know what? It's important but we got to go because we're running up against the top of the hour. I misread the clock. I apologize to my guests. Kevin Madden, Corey Dade and Donna Brazile. Thank you. And thank you all for watching STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Candy Crowley. We're following the latest on the deadly train accident in New York City. Our coverage of the derailment continues now.