• With: Dan Henninger, Kim Strassel, James Freeman, Mary Kissel

    This is a rush transcript from "Journal Editorial Report," November 23, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

    DAVID ASMAN, GUEST HOST (voice-over): This week on the "Journal Editorial Report," the administration hints it won't meet its deadline to fix the health care website as lawmakers prepare to head home for the holidays and face angry constituents. Is an ObamaCare delay just a matter of time?

    Plus, a record settlement with JPMorgan has the Justice Department crowing, but who are the real winners in this $13 billion payout?

    And as the country commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, we will examine new evidence of a Castro connection.

    (on camera): And welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm David Asman, in for Paul Gigot.

    The Obama administration all but admitted this week that it will not meet its own deadline to get healthcare.gov up and running. With HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius softening her November 30th deadline, saying the website would, quote, "be a work of constant improvement." And another official telling Congress a whopping 30 percent of the online federal exchange still hasn't been built.

    So how in the world will supporters of ObamaCare defend the new laws as the deadline comes and goes and as those policy cancellations keep rolling in, particularly as they head home and mingle with a lot of unhappy constituents during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, something Republican Senator Marco Rubio says may be a game changer.


    SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FLA.: This law cannot be saved. It will have to be repealed. The question is, how long will it take for Democrats to realize that and cooperate in that endeavor? So far, I think at the upper echelons of the Democratic Party, they're still being very stubborn about it, but my prediction is, check back in eight weeks.


    ASMAN: Joining the panel this week, Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; Washington columnist, Kim Strassel; and assistant editorial page editor, James Freeman.

    So, Dan, this is going to be quite a sight, when lawmakers go home to face their constituents. I'm thinking back to 2010 and those Tea Party town halls. Are we going to see a re-do of that?

    DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: Yes, I think we probably will, David. But the people who are there are not going to be members of the Tea Party. They're just going to be average Americans. They're going to come in and they're going to be very upset about the stories that they have heard of people having their insurance policies canceled, either personally or friends. There's been enough of them that virtually everybody, all of us knows someone who had their insurance canceled. They're going to demand these Democratic lawmakers explain what the heck they thought they were doing. It's going to be very difficult for them to defend the law right now.

    So I think the more that they get pressed -- look, let me give you one example. Dianne Feinstein, Senator from California, went back home recently, came to Washington and said she's signing on to Senator Mary Landrieu's bill to force the companies to continue these insurance policies. She's from a safe seat! She must have really got it in the neck back in California. And that's going to happen all over the country.

    ASMAN: Kim, you have these Democratic fixes. You have Democrats admitting that there are mistakes, but that we've got the fixes that are going to work. Are constituents going to believe them?

    KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: Those are exactly what you suggest, they're cover. So the Landrieu bill would require insurers to continue offering the plan. The Kay Hagan bill that would extend enrollment for a certain amount of time. People are rapidly realizing those aren't going to work. They're not going to offer any real relief. If Democrats did such a phenomenal job of creating a law to destroy the insurance markets, that there are no quick fixes. And so they can talk about all this but you've got insurers saying they can't comply with rules like that in such a short period of time. And so you are not going to have any Democrats going down and convincing people that this is the way that things are going to get better. It's just not going to happen.

    ASMAN: Particularly, James, after you've seen these very public pratfalls. You've seen all of these Democrats falling on their face trying to prove that the thing works when it doesn't work. In fact, you had -- Sebelius was down in Florida for a photo op, supposedly to show how smooth things were operating. Take a look at what happened.


    UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's great that this is happening.




    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- temporarily down.

    SEBELIUS: Uh-oh.

    UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's OK. It will come back. That happens every day.



    ASMAN: So, James, you know, they try to put the best face on.


    They have a photo op where everybody's supposed to cooperate, make it look good, and they fall flat on their face.

    JAMES FREEMAN, ASSISTANT EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: Yeah, that happens every day. Maybe they were talking about government generally or ObamaCare specifically or the website. But I'm glad you noted in the opening there that much of the system hasn't been built. It hasn't had the chance to fail yet because much of it doesn't exist.

    But I thought the most interesting moment this week is when the president said, at our "Wall Street Journal" CEO council, that ObamaCare needs to be remarketed and rebranded. I think he still doesn't understand the underlying architecture will not work. So even after they get the website up and running, if, when, whenever that is, this system of throwing people out of insurance and giving them more expensive policies they don't want, is not sustainable.

    ASMAN: That's the point, Dan, is that really the website is the smallest of their problems. It's the policy cancellations, the sky-high premium. Those are going to last. Those are much more powerful.

    HENNINGER: Those are not going away at all, David. I think one of the things we haven't mentioned here that's very, very important -- James alluded to it -- was that Barack Obama sits at the top of this mess. He is the president of the United States. Two things are happening to him. His credibility is being eroded. And the competence of his White House and his administration is being eroded. For a president, those are two very dangerous things, to have your credibility and competence so called into question as this.

    Now, if these Democrats go back at Thanksgiving and get into as much trouble as they inevitably are going to, they're going to come back to Washington and start deciding, we've got to put some distance between us and this White House. You may be seeing the development of a veto-proof majority to delay the individual mandate for a year.

    ASMAN: We talked about the danger for Democrats. Let's talk about the opportunities for Republicans.

    Kim, you had a terrific piece in Friday's "Journal" about the opportunities for Republicans. Spell that out for us.

    STRASSEL: Well, there's a debate going on right now within the Republican caucus about whether or not they should just sit back and continue to let this health care bill fail or whether or not now is the opportune moment to get out there, which is certainly my view, and start talking about free-market and innovative health care, the sort of reforms that they would want to do, making very clear that it's not their goal to go back to the system before ObamaCare, which was not perfect by any means, but that they had a lot of proposals that would both move us beyond the terrible mess that is ObamaCare, but also move us into a system that's far better than what we had already. And they've got the architecture for that. There's some reticence. People are worried about making themselves the story. But there's never been a time when the American public is better educated on the issues of ObamaCare, and where they have been more unhappy about what's happening in Washington and perhaps open to those sort of free-market changes.

    ASMAN: And, James, Republicans have had experience in pilling defeat out of the jaws of victory in the past. I mean, is it possible they could make some deal with Democrats that may delay the opportunities they could gain from this?