All-Star Panel: Obama accuses Republicans of wanting to hurt Americans

War of words over health care law heats up


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," August 19, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: There is also a group of Republicans in Congress working hard to confuse people.

They are actually have a debate between hurting Americans who will no longer be denied affordable health care just because they've been sick and harming the economy and millions of Americans in the process.

SEN. RAND PAUL, R-KY., "FOX NEWS SUNDAY": The Republicans control the House of Representatives. They should stand up, use that power to, at the very least, make this lawless bad, delay it, do something we can to protect the American public from this law, or, if we do nothing, we're just saying to the president, hey, you get your way. But that's not really what the government is about. When the government is divided, we should use the leverage of controlling at least part of government to try to get the law more to our liking.


BRET BAIER, HOST: We're getting ready for a big standoff over the president's health care law and how that all fits into the budget battles to come in coming weeks.

Here is an editorial from the president's hometown in Chicago, Chicago Tribune, says this, quote, "Let's delay and rewrite this ill-conceived law. Congress need not start from scratch. Lawmakers can build on what all of us have learned from three years of painful trial and error, three years of attempting but failing to make this clumsy monstrosity work for the American people," that from the Chicago tribune.

We're back with the panel. Juan, how do you see this, and the president using those words, "Republicans want to hurt Americans."

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE HILL: Well, I think there is no question, Republicans and especially in the Senate, you are talking about Senator Cruz, Senator Lee, Senator Rubio, I mean, they want to defeat ObamaCare. In the House you have had the 40 votes against, wanting to defeat ObamaCare. Now I think you see even an advocacy campaign, Heritage Action and others, going out there to say people on August recess, here is the reason to defeat ObamaCare.

They have not had in this Congress one vote among Republicans on an alternative to ObamaCare. That's why President Obama is out there saying all you are trying to do is defeat ObamaCare. And I think most Republicans would agree that's their agenda.

BAIER: To your point, the president mentioned that at his news conference last week and Republicans pushed back.


OBAMA: At least they used to say, well, we are going to replace it with something better. There is not even a pretense now that they are going to replace it with something better.

REP. TOM PRICE, R-GA.: We ought to be moving in the direction of patient-centered health care, which means patients, families and doctors making medical decisions, not Washington, D.C. We can do that. That's just what the administration chose not to do. But for the president to say that no Republican member of Congress has put up a positive solution or a solution to the health care challenges is simply not true.


BAIER: Dr. Price, Congressman Price, has his own plan. There are a number of different plans, Nina, that Republicans have put forward. What about that whole back and forth about Republicans don't have a plan?

NINA EASTON, COLUMNIST, FORTUNE MAGAZINE: I think it's interesting. I think it's very reminiscent of the 2012 presidential campaign because that's sort of how this White House is operating on this, which is you define your opponents by describing them as obstructionists, you know, mean, don't have a plan of their own. And you -- and you spend millions of dollars. You talk about the millions on one side, the White House obviously is spending millions of dollars to sell its plan.

And you have got polls showing a drop in the favorable, unfavorable, the favorable approval of ObamaCare, but it doesn't necessarily mean people become opponents. They are actually in the confused category. So there are the independent voter category.

So what you have is this president trying to win over independent voters just like in the 2012 election. So he is trying to get ahead of the curve -- ahead of the curve on things like that Chicago Tribune editorial.  There is a lot of negative press out there about ObamaCare right now.  There is concern about rising premiums. There is concern that employers are not hiring full-time employees, they want to stick to part time employees because they don't want to fall under the mandate. There are concerns about the businessman mandate being pushed off a year, legal concerns about how the White House is handling this.

So, basically, he is trying to get ahead of the curve with the very playing hard ball against his opponents.

BAIER: I think it's $67 million the administration is spending on trying to sell ObamaCare and push it out.


BAIER: For now.

HAYES: That number will increase.

BAIER: I think it was senator Paul this weekend who said there are something like 45 million people without health insurance, maybe use that $67 million and get the 45 million health insurance.

HAYES: Each one could have a chunk.


HAYES: I think it's totally disingenuous for the president to pretend the problems with ObamaCare are coming from a group of Republicans in Washington. Literally look at any poll that's been taken over the past two and a half years.  Everybody opposes ObamaCare. Republicans, independents, a majority of independents oppose ObamaCare. The real problem he is facing the increasing number of Democrats who oppose or at least have additional questions about ObamaCare.

And talk about harming the economy. We see poll after poll suggesting that businesses are either freezing or cutting hiring because of concerns about ObamaCare. So that is what's harming the economy.

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