OTR Interviews

White House 'shops around' flip approach to ObamaCare woes: Will it backfire on 'arrogant' President Obama?

Will downplaying the troubled ObamaCare rollout come back to haunt President Obama and his administration?


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 31, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Flippant or compassionate? What do you expect from your president? Here is President Obama.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So if you are getting one of these letters, just shop around in the new marketplace. That's what it's for.


VAN SUSTEREN: So what are you getting, flippant or compassionate? Here is what Rush Limbaugh thinks.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO SHOW HOST: Obama was being flippant about them losing their policies, their doctors, or whether or not they could afford health insurance. They didn't yet know that Obama had told the biggest and the most consequential lie of any president in recent years. He doesn't care about the details of it not working. The only thing he cares about is it's not derailed or defunded. That's all he cares about. He doesn't care what Kathleen Sebelius knows what she's doing. He doesn't care.


VAN SUSTEREN: And if that's not bad enough, President Obama's approval numbers, well, are down to his lowest ever, just 42 percent, according to the latest NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll.

So is the Obama administration losing credibility? Former senior advisor to President Reagan, Pat Buchanan, joining us.

Nice to see you, Pat.


VAN SUSTEREN: Let me ask the first question. Flippant or does he care? Does he at least display that?

BUCHANAN: It's arrogant. It's arrogant. The president of the United States, unbelievably. He deliberately mislead, deceived the American people about whether or not they could keep their health care. And this is suddenly discovered and blown up, and he said don't worry about it, these are bad apple insurers. You can do away with those policies. We can get you new ones. You got into your exchanges and get a new policy.

I think the more serious thing here is, really, this is a manifest act of incompetence on the part of the administration. But more seriously, it goes to his credibility, which goes to character, which goes to integrity. Lest we forget, a president of the United States left office because he had failed to tell the truth about a major matter. We are told for three years these people have deceived and mislead the American people?

And, Greta, a lot of us, when we were told, you can keep your health policy, you can keep your doctors, were relieved. Then they said, OK, we'll help other folks, if you've got a program to do that, and you forgot about it. They were not telling the truth. They were systematically deceiving the American people. I don't know how you lead a country after you have done that.

VAN SUSTEREN: So but what -- as he sits here tonight in his second term, having been reelected, what difference does it make to him?

BUCHANAN: You know, in the last -- that's what you get -- when I point out the arrogance. He is sitting up there in Boston and you know what he is saying to himself? So what if these guys complain about it? This thing is locked in concrete. There is no way they can change it. If I've got veto power, I will have veto power until January 2017. Things go bad? So what, it's there. It's my legacy. That's the attitude I picked up, up in Boston. I watched that speech from beginning to end. It was really smugness, arrogance, and self-confidence, despite the fact of this revelation, which I find remarkable that he deliberately deceived and mislead the American people for three years.

VAN SUSTEREN: You think it's deliberate, that he sat there back when he proposed this March of 2010 he thought, you know what, I'm going to mislead the American people because I think this is a good idea? Do you think that's what he did?

BUCHANAN: No, I think what happened was his speech writer said our big problem is people are concerned, sir, that they might lose their health care, lose their doctors, and there's all these rumors going around. You get up there and tell them nobody is going to lose health care they want, and nobody is going to have to change their doctor, period. And so he said, OK, I will do it. But they have to know that there are hundreds of thousands or rather millions of policies that are going to be tossed out because of what they done.

Now, when did they find out? We found out the president of the United States now -- he really is out of touch. We found that out in Benghazi and all these things. And maybe he was out of touch, but I find it hard to believe at no time did they know what just was revealed this last week was going to be revealed.

VAN SUSTEREN: I guess I sort of feel like they've been kind of Teflon. I mean, you mentioned Benghazi and now this, of course, and I don't see him -- and now he is in his second term, that I don't see how -- he doesn't seem particularly pained by it. And I don't necessarily -- I don't see the consequence to him, except that if you do care about your legacy and what's written to you in the years to come. I suppose you care then?

BUCHANAN: Well, I agree to an extent. The IRS, he didn't know about it even after the White House knew about it. With Benghazi, two weeks later, he is over there talking about the video. And all these things he's had a -- he's diffident, he is not engaged, he is aloof. But, so what? Those aren't mortal sins, if you will, on the presidency of the United States.

But to go out with your signature program and, first, have a rollout of legendary incompetence in that by his secretary of HHS and all of these things happen, and then to have it revealed that one of the fundamental points he made, you can keep your own health care program, is basically an untruth. He has been telling this for a long, long time. I think that's a far more grave matter because, as I said, that goes to not only credibility, it goes to integrity and it goes to character.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did that rub off on other Democrats as we march towards the midterm elections?

BUCHANAN: I think what rubs off is -- I mean, Barack Obama, when he ran in 2008 -- let's face it, he ran a brilliant campaign. The progressives showed they could get their act together and they could run a campaign. It was modern 21st century and beat everyone else. What this has done, I think, is basically damaged if not destroyed the idea that progressives and government can really run a big project and run it well and run it successfully. I mean, look, --


BUCHANAN: -- this thing is grist for the mills of Comedy Central.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know where I disagree? I think that the bulk of the population -- let's take everything you say and make the assumption everything you say is absolutely true. The bulk of the population doesn't know. Most people don't even know what Obamacare is. People are not paying attention. I can't imagine it having any impact on an election 2014 or 2016. I don't even see the Republicans being effective to communicate any sort of message like that, the great amount of groundwork the Democrats have done in getting the vote.

BUCHANAN: I think you are correct in this sense. This is, as of now, a jolt, if you will, to the Beltway. People, I mean, and not simply just conservatives, they are jolted that this is -- that they were really speaking untruths all along. That's going to seep out there. But, you are right, the vast majority of people are saying probably, look, Obamacare looks like a real debacle. Look that the computer, whatever it is, the website.


VAN SUSTEREN: I think that will be fixed in a couple months.


VAN SUSTEREN: But that doesn't change the fundamental problem about people not getting their insurance and not having the choice and also rising costs.

BUCHANAN: Well, look, it will -- there is a possibility, look, if the program really works and once they get the website all fixed up and really works fine. But I don't think so. You read today in "The Post," look, those employer mandates are coming down the road. Basically, employers are saying keep, us under 50 employees, get your part-time workers, get them to 29 hours.


BUCHANAN: These are going to have economic impact.

VAN SUSTEREN: See the whole program is dependent on healthy people, young people paying into it. You give a young person a choice, a $700 check for an iPhone or $700 for insurance, they are going to get the iPhone every time.


VAN SUSTEREN: It's not going to be buying it. The penalty -- I don't think they will get enforced and I don't think they'll be paying it.

BUCHANAN: Then I think we will start hearing about the thing running larger and larger deficits and costing far more than people realize. And as these things come down, it's hard for me to see any good news that's going to come out of.

VAN SUSTEREN: This we have to wait and see. Pat, thank you. Always nice to see.

BUCHANAN: Good talking with you.