Sen. Rubio on political fallout from budget stalemate; Sens. Blunt, Durbin on chances of Congress compromising

Written by Chris Wallace / Published October 20, 2013 / Fox News Sunday

Special Guests: Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," October 20, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: I'm Chris Wallace.

The government reopens, the debt ceiling is raised, but there are more budget battles ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS: This deal kicks the can down the road.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY., MINORITY LEADER: There is a lot more we need to do to get our nation's fiscal house in order.

WALLACE: As federal employees go back to work, the president pushes a new agenda.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: There are no winners here. These last few weeks have inflicted completely unnecessary damage on our economy.

WALLACE: And the Republican Party licks it's wounds and looks for a new strategy.

CRUZ: If the Senate Republicans stood united with the House Republicans, that's how we would have won this fight.

WALLACE: We'll discuss what happens now with Senator Marco Rubio. It's a FOX NEWS SUNDAY exclusive.

Then, as frustration with Washington reaches new heights, how do we avoid another budget shutdown.

REP. PAUL RYAN, R-WIS.: We want to look for ways to find common ground, to get a budget agreement.

WALLACE: We'll talk with two key lawmakers, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, and Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri.

Plus, our Sunday panel on the continuing problems with ObamaCare.

And, our Power Player of the Week: the 31-year-old whiz kid behind the shut down.

All, right now, on "Fox News Sunday."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALLACE: And hello again from Fox News in Washington.

Government workers are back on the job after that 16 day partial shutdown, and President Obama is pushing a new agenda for the rest of the year, while Republicans argue about the best strategy to deal with him.

Joining us now, one of the GOP leaders at the center of that debate, Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

And, Senator, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."  

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FLA.: Thank you. Thanks for having me back.

WALLACE: You're one of 18 Republican senators who voted against the final deal to reopen the government. Was that, in effect, a political gesture because you know it was going to pass anyway? Or were you really prepared to keep the government shut down and to bump up, to pass the deadline for raising the debt limit?

RUBIO: Well, let me be clear: I never was in favor of shutting down the government. I was never in favor of defunding the government. I was in favor of funding the government fully, voted to fund the government fully, made efforts to fund the government fully.

The only thing I didn't want to see us is us waste any more money on is ObamaCare, which is proven to be a disaster. We're already that these exchanges, which was the sign up on the exchanges, which was supposed to be the easy part of this endeavor, has turned into a fiasco that the administration is struggling with.

So, why would we waste a penny more on that? And that was -- I think it's important to remember here is what's at stake is that the American dream is under assault. And people, every single day, who are stuck in jobs that don't pay enough to live off of or people that haven't been able to find a job in months, and there is a growing sense in this country that this is the new normal.

We can't accept that. This is not -- this can't be the new normal.

We can restore what was the American dream and rebuild it once again. But we can't if we leave all of these issues unaddressed.

WALLACE: We're going to get to ObamaCare in detail in a moment. But I want to press this question to you, because Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate said that what you guys did for the last two and a half weeks was a mistake.

Here's what McConnell said, "There's no education in the second kick of a mule. A government shut down is off of the table. We're not going to do it."

Question: Is McConnell wrong?

RUBIO: Well, I think in hindsight, any endeavor that one gets in, there are lessons to be learned. And I think the question for all of us who believe that the country is headed in a wrong direction and programs like ObamaCare need to be refueled and replaced, I think moving toward forward for us, is there any lessons from the last three weeks that we can use so that in the future, we're more successful at achieving results.

And so, certainly, we're prepared to have that conversation because I don't think any of those issues that we've talked about, whether it's the debt or ObamaCare, or is it restoring the American dream, is going to be possible unless there is an organized, unified Republican Party that's offering the American people an alternative --   

WALLACE: But, directly, sir -- is McConnell wrong to say government shut down is now off the table?

RUBIO: Well, I never wanted there to be a government shutdown. The people who shut down the government --

WALLACE: I understand, but you --

RUBIO: Yes. But, Chris, the people who shut down the government were the president and the Democrats in Senate who basically said that unless you fund the entire -- unless you fund ObamaCare, we're unwilling to fund the entire government. They took that position and they forced this situation that we have just gone through.

WALLACE: Well, let me ask you another question about McConnell, because the Senate Conservatives Fund, the powerful political action group, has just announced that it is going to support McConnell's Tea Party challenger in the primary next year.

Question: Do you support McConnell's reelection to the Senate?

RUBIO: I do. I do support Senator McConnell's reelection. I think he is trying to lead our conference. It's a diverse conference with a lot of different opinions, and that's a tough job to begin and, of course, he's got to represent his own state.

So, look, I think at the end of the day, he has done a good job being a leader of the Republican conference in the Senate and I think that's not an easy job to do.

WALLACE: All right. Let's get to ObamaCare, which I know is your big issue in this particular matter.

The federal Web site for ObamaCare is once again down for repairs this weekend. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius will not testify before a House subcommittee this week that's going to investigate the shaky Obama rollout because -- well, not necessarily because -- but she's going to have time to attend a gala in Boston the night before.

Should President Obama replace her?

RUBIO: Well, I think that may become an option. I'm not a big fan of those immediate calls for people to resign. But I think in this case, actions like the one you just outlined are going to make it harder and harder for her to do her job effectively. I think people -- the transparency or lack thereof on this issue is very concerning.

I think we just heard a news overnight that 400,000 or 500,000 approximately people have somehow gone on a Web site and left some information. That tells us no information for how many people have enrolled and that is a very relevant matter, because if enough people don't sign up for these exchanges, the rates on these exchanges are going to be astronomical and they're going to undermine the entire private health insurance industry in the country. So, her refusal to testify and be transparent about I think is undermining her credibility.

And there may come a point now, perhaps we're not there today, but there may come a point where, in fact, she will have to resign largely because she's no longer has the credibility to do the job.

WALLACE: Let's pick up on this point you just made, because I suspect a lot of our viewers haven't heard about it, just in the morning papers. Administration officials have said overnight that 476,000 people have applied, have submitted applications on either the federal or the state Web sites, but it doesn't say how many have actually enrolled. And you have to apply first and then you have to find out if you have eligibility and then you enroll.

But having said that, 476,000 applications -- does that indicate that perhaps this is less of a mess and that Republicans are overstating the problem?

RUBIO: No. You know, they need to get 7 million people on this thing. So, at the rate they're going, even by their own numbers, it's going to get there. Of course, many of these people that are filled this out certainly had made mistakes. Many -- some won't qualify. Beyond that, you know, there is a lot of work to be done, in terms of getting other people on there, and there is no mechanism for them to be able to do that.

And let me tell you why that's concerning -- if enough people don't sign up for this program, certain background in terms of health and so forth, the premiums on this program are going to become unaffordable. It gets into the sort of debt spiral where the premiums keep going up and then the whole program collapses. And that's the direction that we're headed in.

But, again, I the point that I wanted to make was, setting up -- in 21st century, setting up a Web site where people can go on and buy something is not that complicated. People do this every day. The inability of the federal government to set up a Web site where people can go on and buy something like health insurance does not bode well for the much more complicated elements of this law that are yet to be rolled out.

WALLACE: President Obama is pushing a new agenda for the rest of the year and one of the key items is he wants to renew his push for immigration reform which is stalled in the House.

Congressman Raul Labrador, who at point was supporting immigration reform now says this, "It would be crazy for the House Republican leadership to enter into negotiations with him, Obama, on immigration because his goal now is to destroy the Republican Party."

Do you agree with Congressman Labrador?

RUBIO: Well, I'll make two points in that regard. Number one, immigration reform is something the country needs. I don't think anyone would disagree that we have a broken legal system. We do not have mechanisms in place to effectively enforce our immigration laws. These issues have to be dressed.    What Congressman Labrador is addressing is something that I hear from opponents of our efforts all the time and I think that's a valid point, and that is this: you have a government and a White House that consistently ignored the law and how to apply it. Look at the health care law. The law is on the books, they decide which parts of it to apply and which parts not to apply. They issue their own waivers without any congressional oversight.

And what they say is, you're going to pass a legalization law and some enforcement. What's not to say that this White House won't come back and cancel the enforcement aspects of it?

And that's what he means by lack of trust, and quite frankly, it's difficult to find a good answer to that. I think they make a very legitimate point.

WALLACE: But do you agree --

RUBIO: But certainly, the president has undermined this effort. Absolutely. The president has undermined these efforts.

(CROSSTALK)

RUBIO: -- over the last three weeks.

WALLACE: But do you agree it would be crazy to deal with them and to press forward with immigration reform because of that lack of trust?

RUBIO: Well, I don't think that's what he was saying. I think what he was saying and it's my position as well, is that the House deserves the time and space to craft their own solution.

Now, this notion that they're going to get in a room and negotiate a deal with the president on immigration is much more difficult to do for two reasons. Number one, because of the way that president has behaved towards his opponents over the last few weeks, as well as the White House and the things that they've said and done. And number two, because of what I outlined to you.

So, I certainly think that immigration reform is a lot harder to achieve today and it was just three weeks ago because of what's happened here. Again, I think the House deserved the time and space to have their own ideas about how they want to move forward on this. Let's see what they can come up with. They could very well be much better than what the Senate has done so far.

WALLACE: Well, let me ask you about the Senate plan. You were one of the architects to the plan that passed that Senate. But there has been speculation that because of political backlash against the plan, that perhaps you have backed away from it.

So, let me ask you directly: as part of a comprehensive plan that doesn't include tougher enforcement measures, do you still support an earned path to citizenship?   RUBIO: Well, again, number one, the answer is yes, depending on the way that it's outlined in a comprehensive package. I still continue to believe as I always have, that the best way to address immigration reform is an individual bills that build on each other sequentially. I've always believed that.

Now, the Senate wanted a different direction. I wanted to influence what the Senate came up with. I felt it was important in the Senate to take the first step in this debate.

We have House colleagues. They have their own ideas about how to pursue this. And, ultimately, you know, Chris, we have been lectured now for the last three weeks about being realistic. We've been told that you're not going to get rid of ObamaCare. You're not going to repeal it. You're not going to defund it because Barack Obama is in the White House. You have to be realistic. We've been lectured about that.

Well, I think they need to be realistic about immigration reform.

The fact of the matter is, the House and many of its members have very strong opinions on what a reform effort should look like. And without them onboard, there won't be reform.

So, I think many Democrats are going to have to make the decision about immigration. Do they want it as a political talking point or are they looking for a result? And if they're looking for a result, they're going to have to show a little bit more flexibility on some of the key points, like the one you've outlined.

WALLACE: Senator, some conservatives, as you well know, call your plan -- even though it takes 13 years to become a citizen and you have to go through a lot of steps to do so -- still call your plan amnesty. And the fact is, in these early presidential horse race polls, you have taken a hit. I want to put up one of them.

In April, you led the Quinnipiac poll with 19 percent, followed by Ryan, Rand Paul, and Christie. But this month, Paul leads, followed by Christie, and you're back in third place.

Has your support for comprehensive immigration reform hurt you with conservatives?

RUBIO: Again, obviously, you're citing a poll that shows that that might be the case. But that's not why I did it. So, clearly, if someone is only looking at everything through a lens of what the future could hold politically, they probably would never have undertaken this issue. I knew that going in.

I remain convince this is an important issue for our country to confront and to solve. I felt like I was in a position to try to make a positive difference. Any time you pass any law or any bill, it's not going to be perfect. It's going to have parts of it you agree with strongly. It's going to have parts of it you perhaps wish were different, as is the case with this bill.    But, ultimately, I continue to believe it's an important issue for our nation to confront, because the alternative is to leave things the way they are right now and I would continue to argue that the way things are right now is a de facto amnesty.

Now, is there a way to improve upon what the Senate did? Probably. I'm sure there is. And that's why I hope the House will work on here and they deserve the time and space to be able to do that.

WALLACE: Senator Rubio, we want to thank you. Thanks for sharing part of your weekend with us, and it's always good to talk with you, sir.

RUBIO: Thank you. Thank you.

WALLACE: Up next, will it be deja vu all over again in Congress three months from now? We'll with two Senate leaders about the battle of the budget that has just begun.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

RYAN: We want to have smart deficit reduction. We want to grow the economy. We think the budget process is the way to do that.

SEN. PATTY MURRAY, D-WA.: It's going to be a challenge but we believe we can find common ground.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

WALLACE: The government had just been opened for hours when the leaders of the Budget Conference Committee met to start working on a deal by a December deadline to avoid another shutdown.

So, will Washington learn its lesson and finally reach a compromise?

Joining us from Chicago, the number two Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin.

And here in Washington, a member of the Republican leadership, Roby Blunt of Missouri.

Senators, welcome back.

SEN. ROY BLUNT, R-MO.: Good to be here.

WALLACE: Before we start, let's talk about the big differences between the budget that the House has passed and the Senate has passed. Let's put them up on the screen.

The Senate calls for $975 billion in new taxes. The House has none.    The Senate cuts 2.7 -- rather, $275 billion from health care, mostly from Medicare providers. The House cuts $2.7 trillion by repealing ObamaCare and changing Medicare to a voucher system. Overall, the Senate budget is $91 billion more.

Senator Blunt, big differences there. Is there a deal to be made?

BLUNT: I think there is an agreement to be made here. But, you know, what we should have learned in the last couple weeks is, if you're in a divided government, and you're arguing against the law, you're disadvantaged. And one of the -- that number that the House used actually is the number that the law ultimately will enforce if we don't reach some agreement to moderate that.

WALLACE: The sequester --

BLUNT: The balance of the Budget Control Act is the only thing we found that actually controls spending. This is the second year in the row and the first time since the end of the Korean War that spending has gone down at the federal level two years straight.

The Budget Control Act is there. Senate Republicans, I believe House Republicans, are very supportive of that.

And whatever kind of agreement we make -- entitlements, savings, versus some additional spending -- I think has to be done with the understanding that at the end of the day, if we don't make an agreement, the number is going to be $967 billion in discretionary spending.

WALLACE: Well, let me pick up on that with you, Senator Durbin, because as Senator Blunt suggested, Republicans have some leverage here. If nothing happens, the sequester spending cuts kick in on January 15th and discretionary spending is cut by $21 billion.

Paul Ryan, the House Budget chair, is proposing a kind of trade in which they would agree to some short term spending increases which you guys want, in return for some long term spending cuts to entitlement reform.

Does that sound reasonable?

DICK DURBIN, D-ILL.: Well, I can tell you this -- if this is the bargain that the Republicans are now pushing for, that we have to cut Medicare to avoid cuts in the Department of Defense, they ought to step back and take a look at this. Paul Ryan couldn't pass his budget in the House of Representatives. The Republican majority wouldn't vote for it unless he violated the Budget Control Act, and added more than $20 billion in defense spending.

We ought to sit down together and realize that sequester is the clumsiest, most awkward, ham-handed way to cut spending. We can do it much more sensibly.

And I think we can meet our spending targets. We can reduce the impact, the negative impact of sequester on our national security and national defense.

WALLACE: Well, then, let me ask you -- you know, and don't get into the weeds on me here -- if they were willing to relax some of the short term spending cuts for Defense and domestic programs, what would you give them?

DURBIN: Well, I'm going to leave that to Senator Patty Murray. I'm not going to negotiate here on FOX. Patty Murray is the chair of our budget committee.

I respect Paul Ryan. We disagree on politics and certainly on issues like the future of Medicare. But when it comes down to it, we've got to be able to put everything on the table. That means Republicans have to be willing to put revenue on the table.

I just can't understand this basic premise that this tax code is sacred. That there aren't loopholes in there that should be closed and the savings be dedicated to reducing the deficit.

Why is that such a radical idea to most Republicans?

WALLACE: Well, it raised its head (ph) even before I brought it up, and that's what I suspected you're going to say, Senator Durbin, which is it can't just be short term spending increases for long term spending cuts.

Revenue, is that a nonstarter? One of the ideas is not raise rates, but just that you would close some loopholes, tax reform and use some of that money to cut the deficit.

BLUNT: You know, I don't know anybody that's opposed to closing loopholes. In fact, if we were going to do a revenue neutral tax rewrite, Chairman Camp, Chairman Bachus could do that and do that pretty quickly.

BLUNT: The amount -- the percentage of the wealth of the country, the gross domestic product of the country that's coming to the federal government right now is pretty much where it has been at the high numbers since World War II.

WALLACE: About 18 1/2 percent, 19 percent --

BLUNT: About 18 1/2 percent, 19 percent, why does it need to be more that? This is not -- you know, this is not about closing loopholes. Who's not for that?

This is about whether you close those loopholes to make tax rates lower, or you close those loopholes so that you have more than 20 percent of the gross domestic product coming to the government, and then -- you know, the Congress just failed today do it's job. Still, the unwritten story about the shutdown was that we were at the last day of the spending year, and not a single appropriations bill had passed the Senate of the 12 it need to fund the government. Only one of them had been brought to the floor, and it was the one -- it was one that the majority leader knew couldn't pass.

WALLACE: Well, I don't -- let me go back to taxes, because I do think that always seems to be the big problem here. Senator Durbin, why is it any different than Republicans refuse to raise revenues, than President Obama's refusal to make in changes in ObamaCare.

DURBIN: Let me just tell you this before we go any further. I want to correct the record for Roy.

The one appropriation record that we brought to the floor, the transportation bill, was a bipartisan bill -- Senator Murray, Senator Collins. When we brought it up for a vote to go forward, with the only appropriations bill we brought to the floor, Senator Blunt and all of the Republicans, except Senator Collins, voted against going forward on the bill.

So, don't criticize us. We tried to move forward on appropriations bill.

WALLACE: OK. You guys are so far beyond what most people know or I think care about.

Go back to taxes. Why is it that Republicans are unreasonable when they say no new taxes, but President Obama is perfectly reasonable when he says no changes to my health care reform plan?   DURBIN: You've never heard me say that. I don't think you've heard the president say that. There is no perfect law. I said before, the only perfect law was brought down on clay tablets by Senator Moses off a mountain.

So, we should sit down and look at constructive ways to make ObamaCare, the Affordable Care Act, work better. Chris, look at what's happened here. In just a short period of time, 17 million persons have tried to log on to this Web site. A half a million -- I'll dispute some of your earlier claims -- a half million are moving towards signing up for health insurance.

This is a popular program. Let's make it work better instead of trying to defund it.

WALLACE: I'm going to talk about ObamaCare on a second, but you're not answering my question. Why does taxes -- why do taxes have to be on the table? Why can't you just make a deal, short-term spending for long-term entitlement reform -- which, Senator, you support and President Obama support. You have supported the idea of some entitlement reform.

DURBIN: That's right. I do, and I'll tell you why -- because Social Security is going to run out of money in 20 years. I want to fix it now, before we reach that cliff.

Medicare may run out of money in 10 years, let's fix it now. And that means addressing the skyrocketing cost of health care. That's what ObamaCare is focused on, and yet, the Republicans want nothing to do with it.

If we don't focus on the health care and dealing with the entitlements, the baby boom generation is going to blow away our future. We don't want to see that happen. We want to make sure that Social Security and Medicare are solid.

WALLACE: All right. Let me bring Senator Blunt into this. We have been talking about the fact that the Web sites are shut down again for repairs this weekend. We have the situation with Secretary Sebelius where she can go to a gala in Boston, but no, she won't testify before a House committee.

Your thoughts?

BLUNT: Well, I think the secretary's view that she doesn't have to testify, doesn't have to answer questions, is too busy for that is unsustainable. And she won't be able to sustain.

You know, what we're really about talking about here --

WALLACE: When you say not sustain it, should she be out?

BLUNT: I think she will have to testify. I don't think she can refuse to answer questions about this, and trying to defend that I have to time to go to a gala in Boston, but I don't have time to appear before the Congress because I'm busy trying to make the system just doesn't make sense. And people know that.

But, you know, this is a very mechanical thing. The most expensive Web site ever, and it doesn't work. We're nowhere close to knowing whether the president's health plan is going to work or not, and people are going to find out over the next few weeks and months just how hard it is to sign up, what happens to your insurance rates.

We'll see if Senator Durbin is right or if I'm right. I don't think this plan will work because I think it's based on a couple premises that don't work. When you can't put together a package to sign up, that shows how big a job it is to try to -- for the federal government to manage 16 percent of the economy, and people's health insurance plan is not where the federal government should be.

WALLACE: Senator Durbin, we've got about a minute left. Isn't this rollout an embarrassment that raises serious questions about ObamaCare? And isn't it an embarrassment that Secretary Sebelius is refusing to answer questions from a House committee?

DURBIN: Listen, ultimately, Secretary Sebelius will testify before Congress, you know that. I don't know about the circumstances with this last minute, let's do it in a few days. But 17 million people have already -- 17 million Americans have already visited these Web sites. We understand --

WALLACE: How many have signed up, sir?

DUBRIN: Almost a half a million and let me tell you, one of the most --

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: No, half a million have filed applications and the government continues to refuse to say how many have enrolled.

DURBIN: Absolutely. What else -- what else are we going to do but take their applications and process them. But that's an indication of national interest.

One of the most successful states per capita so far is Kentucky, the state of Senator McConnell and Senator Rand Paul. They've had 10,000 people.  Governor Steve Beshear has done there. It's an amazing outpouring of interest in health insurance and the Republicans want to close it down.

WALLACE: So, in 30 seconds, do you think this has been a success, sir?

DURBIN: I think it's on it's way to be a substantial success. It's off to a rough start with the Web site.

But if we're talking about competency and accountability, I have a question for the Republicans. We just went through a government shutdown of your creation. It's cost $30 billion for taxpayers, hundreds of thousands of jobs, and the Republican Party brand is at the lowest level in the last 30 years. Who's going to be held accountable for that? Is there going to be a question about the future of Senator Cruz and his own Republican conference?

WALLACE: It's a very good question, you got 30 seconds to answer it, Senator Blunt.

BLUNT: Well, the answer is -- Senator Durbin and some others think somehow this is a big win for their party? Nobody won in the last three weeks. The president saying he won't negotiate about important issues, Democrats in the Senate rejecting offer after offer from the House. People's confidence in government is shaken.

Democrats look terrible, Republicans look terrible, the president looks terrible -- we all better figure that out before we go into drawing lines in the sand like changing the Budget Control Act in this next set of negotiations.

WALLACE: On that happy note -- Senator Blunt, Senator Durbin, thank you both. Thanks for coming in today. We'll follow what happens with the budget and ObamaCare.

Thank you, gentlemen.

BLUNT: Thanks, Chris.

WALLACE: Up next, with the shutdown over, there is renewed focus on the very shaky rollout of ObamaCare. Our Sunday panel weighs in on what it means for the future of health care reform.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEN CUCCINELLI, R-VA. GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: President Obama's ideas are deeply flawed and the implementation of this law has been a national embarrassment. Let me be plain: the law that carries the president's name is the hallmark of a reckless federal government that has lost its way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia's attorney general and GOP candidate for governor, following to continue the effort to overturn ObamaCare in the Republican weekly address. And it's time now for our Sunday group, Brit Hume, Fox News senior political analyst, Julie Pace, who covers the White House for the Associated Press, syndicated columnist and Fox News contributor George Will, and Charles Lane of "The Washington Post." Well, as we've been mentioning, there are two interesting developments on the ObamaCare front this weekend. The federal government website is down again for repairs. You can see what people saw during the middle of the night if they went on to healthcare.gov. And it turns out that HHS Secretary Sebelius who was declined to testify before a House committee this week, on problems with the program, does have time to attend a gala -- gala, whatever, in Boston the night before.

Brit, now that the shutdown is over, and that is not soaking up all off the media attention, are all of the issues with ObamaCare going to become a bigger issue?

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think they become more visible, although they were pretty visible right (inaudible) even despite the focus on the shift down. I think it is probably good news that the system was down, it needs to be down for repairs. It probably need -- it may even need a complete redesign, which would set it back on I don't know how much months, but the website is kind of the first hurdle. It faces -- this program faces many hurdles. It's having a terrible time -- it's clearly having a terrible time on this first hurdle. Then comes the question of how many people when they see the prices and they see how much we will be off set in certain cases by subsidies, how many people will think it makes sense to buy in. If you don't get to a certain critical mass, the system will not work. And, you know, they are nowhere near getting a sense of that yet.   So, this thing has a long way to go, plus the fact that an awful lot of people are being told your insurance that you now carry, which would qualify under ObamaCare, if you could still get it, canceled. So you have all of these possible victims out there and we just don't know how many there are. But if there are enough the system will fail.

WALLACE: Well, Julie, which brings us to your story, which we have been talking about today. She is the one who broke the story that what -- the government says 476,000 people have applied on the various websites, they didn't say how many have enrolled. A couple of questions, first of all, one, what's the difference between applying and enrolling, and how much this one tell you about the other, secondly, as someone who've covered the White House, how worried are they about what's going on here? The president and his top people. And is Secretary Sebelius in any trouble?

JULIE PACE, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: So, I'll take care of second question first.

(LAUGHTER)

WALLACE: (inaudible) OK.

PACE: The administration and the White House in particular is very worried about this. They have spent a lot of time, a lot of money on this program, and you can't say that this rollout has been anything short of embarrassing for the president. He's going to come out on Monday. He's going to address these problems. It's the first time we'll really have seen him do that -- I don't know how specific he's going to get, but this is sort of going to be mea culpa from the president. In terms of ...

WALLACE: Do you expect him really to say, we messed up here.

PACE: I think he's going to have to. I think if he comes out and says anything other than that, he's just going to be ripped apart, (inaudible) media, by the press, because this has really been a disastrous rollout. In terms of Secretary Sebelius, the administration says they have full confidence in her. That the president stands by her. I think they do have to think about the (inaudible) of this week, so. If she is going to be at a gala when she could be testifying before Congress, I think that just looks like they're not taking this as seriously as they should be.

WALLACE: And briefly, just question of application, who's going to enroll?

PACE: So, the applications, you have to fill out an application first when you get out to this Web site before you can actually enroll. This is where you enter your personal data, you also enter income information that helps the government figure out what kind of subsidy you could apply for -- you could be qualified for. So, it's important to know this number, but this number doesn't tell us how many people are actually going to enroll?

WALLACE: So before you actually shop, you look at plans.

PACE: Correct.

WALLACE: You have to apply.

PACE: You have to apply and know if you can qualify for any of these plans. But ...

WALLACE: So you can apply, and then set there and when you look at it -- no, I don't think so.

PACE: Absolutely. So, we don't know if all these people who have applied are going to eventually enroll. That's going to be the big number.

WALLACE: George, make sense of all of this.

GEORGE WILL, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I'm just guessing that the president is going to say this is George W. Bush's fault.

(LAUGHTER)

WALLACE: Or Mitt Romney's.

WILL: The problem from the start, going back to 2009, the Affordable Care Act, as this debate began, a large majority of Americans had health care, and a large majority of that large majority were happy with their health care. Now they've devised a system that really depends at bottom on mass irrationality on the part of young people, that is. Not content to subsidize the elderly as they are doing through Social Security and other things. They now have to pay more than they were paying and more than they would have to pay in the tax fee, whatever we call it, by not buying ObamaCare. They have to pay more to set (inaudible), and once they see, once the exchanges are up and running and fully informing them, I think you're going to see sticker shock and a recoil against the Affordable Care Act.

WALLACE: And again, this only works, ObamaCare only works if you get what -- about 2.7 million young healthy people to sign up. And as George is suggesting, they pay their premium, they are not going to end up needing many services, because they are young and healthy, and that money goes so that the insurance companies can afford to do things like canal people with pre-existing conditions. Otherwise, this is like pulling a thread, and the whole thing falls apart, which runs with you Charles.

Under the individual mandate, people have to sign up by January 1st, actually December 15th, or the January 1st roll out or they have to pay this fine, penalty, tax. Not a great deal at least in the start, $95. Do you think it's possible, if these problems continue that the president would delay the individual mandate?

CHARLES LANE, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, you put your finger on what is both politically and in policy terms the fundamental problem here. Which is you could confront a situation where people are potentially paying a tax, but failing to sign up for something that was impossible to sign up for. And that is, I think the definition of unfairness in the eyes of most Americans. And if you have a couple of hundred people talking to the media about being in that predicament, it is a disaster for the president. And he would face a decision to either continue the program any way or to delay it, which is exactly what the Republicans were demanding he agreed to do during this whole last government shutdown. And so, I think if he is not worried and he is not urgent about fixing this thing, he'd better be, because come early next year, he doesn't want to be in that predicament. (ph).

HUME: Think about that, Chris. If he had agreed to a one-year delay on the individual mandate, this whole worry about people not being able to sign up for the law that requires them to do so would not be present, at least not now. And also, the government never would have had to shut down. Because, remember one of the measures that was passed by the House was fully fund the government with a one year delay on the individual mandate. And if it comes to pass anyway, on his motion, then the Republicans posture in all of this might begin to look a little better, at least, in terms of the shutdown. It looks pretty bad now, but it might look better then.

WALLACE: Of course, all of this presumes ...

HUME: Which I think means he will be reluctant to do it.

WALLACE: Well, and, of course, all of this presumes also that if they had another year that the system would work better. Which I'm not sure you can -- because they had three years and it still doesn't ...

HUME: Well, it'd be better off with a year delay, though.

WALLACE: All right, we have to take a break here, when we come back, a look at the president's post shutdown agenda. What's in it, what's not -- and why it faces a rocky road.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This should be the party of limited government, this should be the party of fighting against ObamaCare.

WALLACE: You want to remake the Republican Party, don't you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to make this into a party that represents the (inaudible) conservative values. That will make it great, that will be a party that enjoys tremendous support and electoral success.

WALLACE: Stay tuned, our panel will be right back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)  

OBAMA: Passing a budget, immigration reform, farm bill. Those are three specific things that would make a huge difference in our economy right now. And we can get them done by the end of the year.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: President Obama laying out a three point to-do list for Congress. Now that the government shutdown is over an we're back now with a panel. White House officials seem to think they're in a win- win situation here. Pushing their agenda for the rest of the year. If Republicans are really shaken, then there is a chance maybe they can get some of these big agenda items, especially immigration reform through. If Republicans resist, again, they can score political points. Brit, is that a smart strategy?

HUME: Well, I think it's unrealistic. I don't think any Republican embarrassment over this shutdown and the drop in the favorability of the rating of the party is going to necessarily mean they're going to go along with whatever the president wants, sufficient to get the bill on immigration reform, sufficient to get a budget deal, and who knows about the farm bill. I mean when the president is standing there talking about the farm bill being one of his major elements that's ...

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: Of course, it also includes food stamps.

HUME: I know it does. So, I think, you know -- I think the Republicans are in a stronger bargaining position on some of these issues, particularly on budgetary matters than they were during the shutdown. I expect them to make use of that leverage.

WALLACE: All right, I want to play a clip of President Obama on Thursday morning just after the shutdown ended.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: You don't like a particular policy? Or a particular president? Then argue for your position. Go out there and win an election. Push to change it. But don't break it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Julie, how do the president and his team in the White House, how do they see this now that the shutdown is over. Do they think they have Republicans on the run? How do they think this is going to play out in terms of policy and politicks going forward?

PACE: I think it is a very unknown answer even in the White House at this point. I'm really struck to think about this point how shrunk the agenda is for the president. Just a year after winning his second term, when he was inaugurated in January, he talked about raising the minimum wage, he talked about expanding early childhood education, immigration reform looked like it had a real chance of passing by the summer.

Now we talk guns, now we're talking about things like a farm bill, which is generally a fairly easy thing to pass. So, I think that they're certainly hoping that Republicans will look at what just happened through the budget talks and they -- we really on immigration in particular, we really need to make some progress here, but I think that they're -- I think they are hearing from a lot of Democrats who are saying that I don't know if Republicans are actually the ones who feel that way at this point?

WALLACE: George, the immediate issue, of course, when we talked about it with Senator (inaudible), but is to work out a budget deal. There are enormous differences, when you look at the two, like it's the Ryan's budget and Patty Murray's budget, it's like a Martian and a moon man. What do you think of the chances? And the Republicans do have the leverage, which is if nothing happens the sequester kicks in. They have the law on their side this time. What do you think are the answers for a compromise? Even the kind of grand one that are so called down payment?

WILL: I think the chances are negligible, because the pain here is asymmetrical. The Republicans are happy with the Democrats are terrified with the sequester. So, for the sequester, if it goes on another year it would not dismay most Republicans. Although it does damage the Defense. Can I go to the farm bill, please? The farm bill has mostly nothing to do with the two percent, less than two percent of Americans engaged in farming. It's mostly a welfare bill, it's for food stamps. The president's position is not enough (inaudible) grow in food stamps, 48 million aren't enough. More people are on food stamps than live on the West Coast of the United States. The populations of Oregon, Washington, and California. I think Republicans relish an opportunity to argue about the urgent necessity of passing this farm bill.

WALLACE: Well, so that, so it looks like (ph) denigrate the farm bill anymore.

Chuck, you know, let me present to you what got wrongly slapped down from the two senators. It seems to me there is a deal to be done here. And the deal is that the Republicans who aren't crazy about the sequester, have said, Ryan has said, I would trade short term spending increases, and personally, I don't like the defense cuts, but domestic and defense, in return for long term entitlement reform. Why is that unreasonable? Because they sure didn't (inaudible) Germans seeing to be toughest just nuts?

LANE: Well, and Paul Ryan has skillfully framed it in terms of the entitlement reforms he would call for or selected from ones that President Obama one time earlier in the past has already indicated he might embrace.

PACE: As recently as during the budget this year.

LANE: Yes, exactly. However, Senator Blunt said something in the papers there, I thought was really well said. He said you can't win these fights fighting over how to have the fight. Which is what the Republicans have been doing amongst themselves for the last who knows, how many months. And it seems to me, that key variable for the Republicans in terms of using the leverage that they have here is, are they going to unite on a strategy? Are they going to go into these talks with one plan? And if there is anything from their point of view that's advantageous, is that this is a quiet negotiation. Right, it's Patty Murray and Paul Ryan ...

WALLACE: Regular workers. That's the -- House Budget Committee, the Senate Budget Committee, the way it is supposed to be. The conference (inaudible. The way we learn it in the civic books.

LANE: Right, it's not the circus we have been seeing lately with a vote every day on a different bill, and conferences in the middle of the day, with this rambunctious from the Republicans. It can be a quieter process where they have fewer opportunities, frankly, to embarrass themselves. And so, I think it will depend on their being able to articulate a strategy. And follow through, of course, that's a big if.

WALLACE: But there is another big if here and Julie, that is taxes. And you heard Durbin bring it up right at the start. Would they be willing to accept a deal, that just (inaudible) short terms spending increases, the long term spending cuts, or does -- do taxes have to be on the table which according to Republicans means there is no deal.

PACE: Well, yeah, if taxes have to be on the table for the Democrats, there is no deal to be had here. And I think that what will be interesting is whether you have a break within the Democratic Party where you have the president saying for the sake of getting this issue taken care of, for the sake of being able to show the country that we can strike a deal, I'm willing to trade some entitlement reform in exchange for the sequester offset. And -- and I think, though, that, you know, chances are looking pretty slim if that's going to happen.

WALLACE: All right, I want to talk about one other thing and that is Republicans. Because one of the most striking aspects of this is how badly it seems to me, the Republican leadership judged their own membership, particularly in the House, how determined House Republicans, the Tea Party faction was to have this fight and continue this fight. Not to have this -- to show thing, all right, we'll defund ObamaCare and then when it's get lifted, we'll drop it. George, your sense of whether you think the leaders, McConnell and Boehner, can and will push back harder on their members this next time around?

WILL: I think they will. I'm struck by how much the members have misjudged their leaders. The fact is they have extraordinary leverage. We are no talking entirely in Republican terms, in Republican vocabulary after this so-called defeat. No taxes, how much is the spending going to be cut? The federal workforce is being cut, discretionary domestic spending is being cut and this is all because of the much reviled Mitch McConnell getting basically on his own, the sequester two years ago.

WALLACE: Your thoughts?

HUME: And this is also better for Republicans on another level. The problem -- one of the problem with the Republican posture in this shutdown is not just that they got blame with the shutdown, which people as I've shown in the past, did not like, and it's also that the Republicans were not really for anything. They were against ObamaCare. That's what they were. No they did not. It is not clear that they devised one. This is a more positive development for entitlement reform. It may be retainable. And that puts them in a better light.

WALLACE: And we got less than a minute left. George, I mean the question is, Republicans can just say, you know what -- just like Obama did with the Bush tax cuts, we're going to expire at the end -- in beginning of the year, fine. No deal. We'll just let the law play out. We'll sequester cuts and cut spending $21 billion, done to what -- 967. And will fund you for that at this year. Do you think the Republican members in the House and the Senate are willing to go with that and forego this battle over ObamaCare and as a way to shut down the government?

WILL: I think they will because again, it is playing out entirely on their priorities, at their terms and in their vocabulary. So I think they are delighted to avoid another frontal charge against the entrenched forces of ObamaCare.

WALLACE: We're going to have to leave it there to be seen. Thank you, panel. See you next week. And remember, our discussion continues, every Sunday on Panel Plus you can find it on our website, FoxNewsSunday.com. And make sure to follow us on Twitter, @FoxNewsSunday.

Up next our "Power Player of the Week." The young man behind the government shutdown.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WALLACE: Ted Cruz was the public face of the government shutdown, but just as important was a 31-year-old conservative strategist you've never heard of. And he is our "Power Player of the Week."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: After shutting down the government and almost hitting the debt limit, was it worth it?

MICHAEL NEEDHAM, CEO, HERITAGE ACTION: The House had been very clear. They said we want to fund the government, we just don't want to fund ObamaCare. And that makes perfect sense. You (inaudible) that it is literally falling apart before our eyes. It's unfair, it's unaffordable. It's unworkable. And the House passed, I think, four different bills that would have funded the government with the stipulation that we needed time out from ObamaCare.

So, it's really president and Harry Reid who shut the government down.

WALLACE: But you didn't defund ObamaCare, you didn't delay ObamaCare and after the final deal you acknowledge that you're not going to be able to do that until you win the Senate and you win the White House and in the words of President Obama this week go out and win an election. So what was the point?

NEEDHAM: I think in terms of a one year delay in defunding it, that's absolutely something that could have happened if the House and Senate were as united on the Republican side as they were on the Democratic side. And look, this -- still is not working.

WALLACE: I want to go back to Tuesday. House Speaker Boehner pushed a bill that would show that the GOP was united, that would get a minor concession on ObamaCare, and you and Heritage action came out and urged members to vote no and said we're going to make this a key vote on our legislative score card. And I have to say it looked like Michael Needham had more clout than the speaker. Because suddenly he didn't have the votes and he had to pull his own bill.

NEEDHAM: Well, I think that's ridiculous. House of Representatives deserves a lot of credit for having listened and fought on ObamaCare. And that is something that is admirable, listening to the American people.

WALLACE: I guess my question is why is it that in the end, the House members sided with Michael Needham, and not John Boehner?

NEEDHAM: They didn't. They sided with the American people. What we put out as ...

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: It was what the American people wanted rather than John Boehner's here?

NEEDHAM: Well, they sided with millions of constituents, our score card is the most transparent score card out there. People can go to heritageaction.com. And we say, here are the votes that we think are important, here is why we think they are important and here is how your member of Congress voted.

WALLACE: But you didn't do more than just put out a website, in fact, you'll go door to door during a primary campaign and push your scorecard. Correct?

NEEDHAM: Door and door to door, every single day of the year. And make sure that people know about the information that's out there.

WALLACE: So, I'm not going to say there's something wrong with that, but what -- the point is that if somebody had voted for the Boehner bill over your objections, and you would say it was a no, you're going to go door to door in his district and say, hey, congressman so and so voted.

NEEDHAM: We're going to go door to door and explain people's voting records. Explain tough questions.

WALLACE: A lot of issues out there -- entitlements, taxes, spending. Why is ObamaCare such a fundamental issue?

NEEDHAM: Yeah, I think that at the point where the federal government has the right to intrude into the relationship between a patient and doctor, there is no longer any part of our lives that the federal government doesn't have the right to be in. Health care decisions should not be made by bureaucrats in Washington. And people all around the country recognize that, and that's why there are so much fear and anger about this law.

WALLACE: The Wall Street Journal says that the Republican Party now has the lowest approval rating since they started doing polling in 1989. Does that bother you?

NEEDHAM: Well, it bothers me that's a lot of people who are upset with Republican Party, let they be conservatives, Republicans, Independents or Democrats. And I think the answer for that is to have a party that stands up strongly for those recognized principles that made it great. This should be the party of limited government. This should be the party of fighting against ObamaCare.

WALLACE: You want to remake the Republican Party, don't you? You want to turn it from the party of Wall Street and the establishment to a libertarian populous party?

NEEDHAM: The Republican Party has been in its best in 1994, in 2010, with Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. And ...

WALLACE: The party of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell?

NEEDHAM: This is the party of Ronald Reagan. And I think that the American people have the right to have two parties who give very different views of the future. And we have a Democrat party that represents the progressivism of Woodrow Wilson that says there is no limit to (inaudible) government to intrude into your lives. And there is another party that says limited government, and individual responsibility and civil society are those things that allow people to flourish. And I think that the American people have that clear choice between those two parties, the Republican Party will win every time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Needham started working for the Heritage Foundation, one of Washington's biggest think tanks straight out of college. And three years ago, they named him the start Heritage Action (inaudible) at the lobbying. Be sure to tune in next week for a special "Power Player" of the week. Fox's Charles Krauthammer. We'll discuss his ideas, his clout here in Washington, and his remarkable personal story in the first of a special two part series. And that's it for today. Have a great week. And we'll see you next "Fox News Sunday."

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