• With: Joe Rago, James Freeman, Steve Moore, Mary Anastasia O'Grady, Matt Kaminski

    This is a rush transcript from "Journal Editorial Report," November 2, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

    PAUL GIGOT, HOST: This week on the "Journal Editorial Report," ObamaCare marches on. Despite an apology for the rollout debacle and growing outrage over millions of dropped policies, President Obama says it's full steam ahead for the controversial law.

    Plus, new NSA leaks pit the spy agency against the administration. Did the White House OK the surveillance of our allies?

    All that, and our election preview. From New Jersey to Virginia to Colorado, a look at what's on the ballot this Tuesday.


    KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: I'm as frustrated and angry as anyone with the flawed launch of healthcare.gov. So let me say directly to these Americans, you deserve better. I apologize.


    GIGOT: Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.

    An apology from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who acknowledged before the Congress this week that the rollout of President Obama's Affordable Care Act was, in fact, a debacle. But despite the website woes and growing outrage over millions of dropped policies, President Obama says it's full steam ahead.


    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Yes, this is hard. Because the health care system's a big system. And it's complicated. And if it was hard doing it just in one state, it's harder to do it in all 50 states.

    We are just going to keep working at it. We're going to grind it out.


    GIGOT: Joining the panel this week, Wall Street Journal assistant editorial page editor, James Freeman; editorial board member, Joe Rago; and senior economics writer, Steve Moore.

    So, Joe, what have we learned, first of all, from Kathleen Sebelius' appearance this week?

    JOE RAGO, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: Not very much. I think she indicated the website and the larger architecture of the system are in much deeper trouble than we thought. HHS is not even getting accurate enrollment data from --

    GIGOT: They don't know how many people have signed up.

    RAGO: No. HHS doesn't know itself.

    GIGOT: They don't know either.

    RAGO: Right. I think that's why they haven't been saying.

    GIGOT: We don't know when it will be fixed. They promised the end of November but there's no guarantee that that will be the case.

    RAGO: No. And they didn't say which November. I think --


    -- this could stretch out much longer than they're predicting.

    GIGOT: The other thing that's striking to me, and we heard the clip from the president, say we're going to grind it out. Three yards and a cloud of confused technology or whatever it is.


    Politically, it means they're not going to bend on this. They're going to keep driving. No, no delays. That seems to be the message.

    RAGO: I think so. This is the rendezvous with liberal destiny --


    -- and they're not going to let anything dissuade them from the track they're on, even the problems they created themselves.

    GIGOT: But is that creating problems for themselves? Why not just delay it a year?

    RAGO: Well, that would be the best option I think. But then you throw it into an election year and it gets litigated. So all the problems we're seeing will become even more of a political issue and drag on much longer.

    GIGOT: And the president said, James, look, we -- he flat-out said, don't worry about losing these policies. Those were substandard policies, lousy policies.


    GIGOT: According to him. Were they?

    FREEMAN: Yes. This is what people are learning. They were not substandard, at least to the people, who freely chose to buy them, who thought those policies met their needs. And they're now learning that promise about "if you like it, you can keep it" really means, if he likes it, you can keep it.

    I think what Sebelius said, "We deserve better," the administration ought to think about that as it continues to grind it on. And I think also people are starting to realize this thing may fail a lot sooner than expected as young people decide this is not for them.

    GIGOT: This is a key point, I think. These policy changes, getting rid of these policies, sensationally outlawing outlining them, if you made any tweak with the policies in the individual market, for individually purchased health insurance, this was by design. This was built in and planned.

    RAGO: Absolutely. This has been the plan all along. They could have created -- they could have said, look, we're creating these better policies. We're giving you subsidies. If you want to stick with your crummy -- what we consider your crummy plan, be our guest. They didn't do that. They're trying to stuff as many people as possible into the exchanges as quickly as they can.