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Special Report

Friday Lightning Round: ObamaCare criticism from Democrats

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," May 3, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SHANNON BREAM, ANCHOR: Each week we ask you to vote in our Friday Lightning Round poll. This week you overwhelmingly chose the topic, Democrats who are concerned about ObamaCare. We're back with our panel. Before we kick it off, let's let you hear some sound from some of the key players in this issue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MAX BAUCUS, D - MT: Small businesses have no idea what to do, what to expect. They don't know what affordability rules are. They don't know when families may apply. They just don't know. I just see a huge train wreck coming down. You and I have discussed this many times, and I don't see any results yet.

SEN. HARRY REID, D-NV, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: I believe that a country of our size, the only super power left in the world, it's not right that we have 50, 60 million -- we had we don't have it now, 50,60 million people with no health insurance. We have to have a program where health insurance shouldn't go to the people that are rich.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHANNON BREAM, ANCHOR: In that same radio interview, the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, of course, said "Unless this is implemented properly, it is going to be a train wreck," saying that he agreed with Senator Max Baucus.  Let's talk about it with Jonah, Juan, and Pete. Juan, we'll start with you, what do you make of this and Democrats – and these aren't only ones – sort of saying, this is maybe not going to go as well as we planned?

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE HILL: There's genuine anxiety and the White House is trying to tamp it down this week by trying to say they're making a big effort, in fact, finding money to get out information about how people can enroll, what you're coming up again Shannon is 2014. 2014 is when the mandate really kicks in in terms of you must have health insurance. It affects a very small number of people. Most Americans do have health insurance plans. But nonetheless, it is going to impact people and if people don't sign up, it could have a ripple effect in terms of the system.

Then you also have issues of premiums. Is it going to drive up the cost of health care? What about employers with more than 50 employees?  Could some employers decide they're going to reduce that number in order to satisfy the requirement?

So all these issues are still kind of bubbling out there. But what you hear from Democrats in the White House, not only White House officials, but people like Steve Israel, the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is Republicans see this as some kind of silver bullet -- they think this is going to work for them great in the 2014 campaign. Don't fall for it. In fact, there is a possibility that things could go smoothly.

The critical issue, making sure Americans are aware of their benefits under the plan. Right now polls show something close to 40 percent of Americans aren't even aware that there is such a thing as the Affordable Health Care Act.

BREAM: And Jonah, it's interesting, there are some saying the GOP did everything, it tried to do everything it could to make this look like a terrible thing. But it's the actual implementation and rolling out that may be the thing that changes people's minds about it.

JONAH GOLDBERG, AT LARGE EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: God bless it. When the talking points fail and the marketing fails, the actual merits are going to have the proper teaching effect. I think -- President Obama basically said as much, is that the parts that are going to affect most people have already gone into place. Well, guess what? Most people aren't feeling it. They don't feel like they're benefiting from it. To the extent they feel any impact at all from it, they think it's bad. The fact that there are a lot of people going to benefit from it who don't know anything about it is a sign of -- doesn't speak well of them, but it also -- we've been talking about ObamaCare for a while now.

But I think this is one of these things where Republicans should be a little careful and let events dictate things and let what I think will be a disaster prove itself in the fullness of time rather than trying to constantly spin it.

BREAM: You have to pass it to find out what's in it and sometimes it has to be implemented before everybody really understands what it's going to be.

I want to switch, since this is Lightning Round, to our next topic to make sure we actually get into this. And this is actually good news for the White House today on some counts. The jobs numbers today, because 165,000 jobs added, unemployment down. Pete, sounds like a good thing.

PETER WEHNER, COLUMNIST: The jobs report was OK, but it's based on expectations.  Look, we're almost four years into a recovery. Less than 200,000 jobs is not very good, especially since historically the worst a recession, the better the recovery. That hasn't been the case.

There's other good news. Look, the Dow went over 15,000, that's quite good. But it's a kind of bifurcated economy but as the Dow is doing well, you've got a labor force participation rate which is the lowest since 1979, and growth, which is the key to driving jobs in America, is at the lowest, it's the worst economy for growth since 1929, since before the great depression. So Jonah was talking about reality kicking in with health care. I think that's the case for the economy, too. I think this is a kind of mediocre jobs report for a mediocre economy. And that has been the case for most of Obama's term.

BREAM: I want to highlight one of the numbers inside of the numbers today is the youth unemployment rate adjusted as the true effective rate, the generation opportunity group says unemployment for the younger generation is 16.1 percent. Juan, what do you make of that? Because there are numbers inside of every report that aren't going to be positive. But that's a group that overwhelmingly supports this president, has been a big fan of him. But they're graduating, it's graduation season and it's a 50/50 chance about whether they're going to get a job or not.

WILLIAMS: It's not only a job Shannon, I think it's whether or not they get a job that puts them on the path to sort of getting a toe hold on the middle class life in this country. And it's just going to be very difficult. I think you get 2 million newcomers to the job market every graduation season. And what we have I think is already a backlog of young people who feel like, you know, I've never had a meaningful job. I've been working at a coffee shop or some other place and living in my mom's basement and I would like to get a real job.

So it's a tremendous source of frustration, especially if you look at minority kids. I think it's there 20 plus percent in terms of that unemployment. So these are not good numbers. This is the evidence, to me, of where things really are going to have a long-term effect, this recession, on the way that we Americans live and on the American dream.

BREAM: And Jonah, inside the numbers too, manufacturing not good.

GOLDBERG: I don't think there are any manufacturing jobs, an increase in them. This job report is good. It's sort of saying it's like the best Oktoberfest in Orlando. That's grading on a pretty serious curve.

BREAM: That's my place of birth. Don't be knocking on Orlando.

(LAUGHTER)

GOLDBERG: I'm just knocking on Oktoberfest in Orlando.

(LAUGHTER)

So the Obama administration can say this is the best job report they've had in four years, but that's not saying a lot.

BREAM: Where do we go from here? Do you feel like there are some green shoots there, we're seeing some progress, Pete?

WEHNER: No. I think this is kind of stuck in the water. Look, we're not lurching toward a recession. That's the good news. But this is just a flat economy. There really aren't signs, if you take it in the macro sense, that there's a great deal of encouragement. We're really just sort of treading water, and that's really not good enough.

BREAM: All right, thank you, panel. Stick around. That's it for the panel. But stay tuned. Life for a reporter in the field can sometimes be a dangerous thing, but coming up, find out what happens when one journalist decides to fight back.

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