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Special Report

Is the ObamaCare disaster a game changer for the election?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," October 25, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: They said 25 percent, forget 25. You'll take 25 percent. It's going to be 60 percent, 70 percent, 80 percent, 90 percent. Hillary Clinton wants to double up and triple up on Obamacare. I'm going to repeal it and replace it. She's going to expand it, and it's going to get more and more expensive.

HILLARY CLINTON, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The costs have gone up too much, so we're going to really tackle that. We can do that without ripping away the insurance that people now have. That's the plan of my opponent -- take everything away, give it all back to the insurance companies. And if you think costs have gone up with, you know, the recent weeks, it will just skyrocket.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: By the way, that music was from "Rick Party in the Afternoon." That was not our added under-music.

These are the health care plan rate hikes, the premium rate hikes, per state. Arizona, average premium increase for a benchmark individual plan, 116 percent. Study this map. There are a number of states here. Tennessee, 63 percent, Pennsylvania, average premium increase, 53 percent, North Carolina, premium increase, benchmark plan about 40 percent.

Bottom line is that this information comes exactly two weeks before Election Day. How much does it affect this upcoming election for some of these tight races and also the presidential race?

Let's bring in the panel: Steve Hayes, senior writer for The Weekly Standard; Charles Lane, opinion writer for The Washington Post, and Charles Hurt, political columnist for The Washington Times.

OK, Steve, it's not a shock, it's not a surprise. Republicans and others have been saying this was going to happen, it's just this is a confirmation.

STEVE HAYES, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Yes. I was actually re-reading this book "Why Obamacare is Wrong for America" published in 2011, and it lays out these argue arguments, basically predicts this.

And it's not just that premiums are increasing. It's the deductibles, more plans have deductibles associated with them, there are fewer choices, basically everything that Republicans warned about in advance of the passage of this law is happening right now.

I think it's a much better political issue for Senate candidates, Senate Republicans than it is likely in the presidential race. That's not to say if I were advising Donald Trump I wouldn't tell him to hit it every single day. I would.

BAIER: He did hit it hard today.

HAYES: He hit it hard today. He should hit it hard every single day between now and Election Day. The problem with Donald Trump is back in the Republican primaries he was basically defending, theoretically, single payer health care, talking about how it works in Scotland, it works in Canada. He's just an imperfect messenger on this.

BAIER: So was Romney, actually.

HAYES: Romney was absolutely an imperfect messenger on this.

In the Senate, however, many of these candidates, virtually all the candidates voted against this, or have opposed it strongly ever since, voted in favor of repealing it. So they've got a much better argument, I think.

BAIER: Chuck?

CHARLES LANE, THE WASHINGTON POST: I agree with Steve that part of the political -- what's remarkable about it politically is that you would think a bombshell announcement like this a couple of weeks before the election, we'd all be talking about how it's a game changer for the outcome, and it's probably not because there's been so much damage done to Donald Trump in other respects and because Trump fumbled away this issue long ago as a spokesman, it isn't probably a game changer for the election.

What it does make very interesting is in the case of a Hillary Clinton presidency, which does seem likely right now, what will she really be able to do to fix it? Because the way to fix this is going to be to adjust the incentives so that more people start -- the reason the rates are going up is that not enough people are enrolling.

BAIER: Right. Their solution when you ask them that is the public option.

LANE: Or more subsidies as Valerie Jarrett was saying, and another thing they don't talk about --

BAIER: Which by the way, subsidies are coming from the federal government.

LANE: Correct.

BAIER: Paid by taxpayer money.

LANE: Correct. And subsidies are also why these rate increases will not necessarily translate into a hit at the pocketbook who are going to pay them. It's just more the taxpayers are going to have to pay.

What I'm trying to say is all of that cannot be done without Republican cooperation. He may change the filibuster, but it's still going to be there for any legislation to do with Obamacare and of course the Republicans may retain control of the Senate. So what we're setting up here is already in the first year of her presidency if she gets in, she would have to have a huge either conflict or negotiation with the Republicans over all these issues.

BAIER: Yes. All right, here's an evolution of President Obama on the key issues of Obamacare.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: If you've got health insurance, if your employer is doing the right thing, we're going to help that employer save $2,500 per family per year.

What the American people care about is the fact that their premiums are going up 25 percent, 40 percent, 60 percent, and are we going to do something about it?

One of these companies comes out with a new smartphone, but it has a few bugs. What do they do? They fix it. They upgrade it. Unless it catches fire then they just --

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: Then they pull it off the market. But you don't go back to using a rotary phone. You don't say, well, we're repealing smartphones.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: That's the last argument he made, was the Samsung comparison there. Which phones that are --

CHARLES HURT, THE WASHINGTON TIMES: Blowing up in people's pockets.

BAIER: Yes, you can't bring them on a plane. Is this something we may not be seeing, this is part of the angst and anger about Washington in these states?

HURT: Yes, I mean, if, and this is a big if, we do a lot of big ifs lately, if, you know, something -- the secret Trump vote out there manages to prove all of these polls to be wrong today, and that is a big if, if that were to happen, this would absolutely probably be one of the biggest issues because, you know, driving that, because, of course, you know, the numbers look bad. The news is bad. But what really stinks is when people at home are opening up these -- realizing they're going to actually have to pay out of pocket.

In any other election, this would be the October surprise. But because of -- and to think of -- you know, President Obama, I mean, it's amazing, his popularity right now is as high as anybody we have -- you know, anybody leaving office after eight years that we've seen in a very long time. And it's -- it's all because everyone's focused on all these other stories.

BAIER: All right, quickly, just some people writing in, James, writing "Yes, absolutely, makes a difference, very concerned that more of our money will pay for health insurance than to retirement savings." Christina, "No, because we have Trump." Charles says "It would have if Republicans had nominated a normal candidate, but here we are." Brian says, "How can it not? This was shoved down our throats by Obama and a Democratic congress, it was all a lie." Just some reaction there.

Steve, for somebody like Senator Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, we're heading up there tomorrow. New Hampshire is one of the states where they're really, especially by the number of insurers available. Does that change the trajectory in some of those races, the Senate races?

HAYES: I think it could. Look, every Democratic candidate is going to be asked whether he or she supports this, supported it in the past, if there's still something to celebrate or not. And I think in many cases they're going to want to back away from it because if you're explaining, you're losing.

I think, though, it does add to the broader sense that Washington is just broken. If you listen to the argument that Donald Trump has made on the stump and has really made from the beginning, it's an argument that nobody can do anything right in Washington, and you played the clips of the president repeatedly making promises that we now have seen broken in the most obvious and predictable ways. And I think that does feed the general sense, that Washington is just incompetent.

BAIER: We should point out that the administration says the subsidies are going to increase along with these increasing premiums, but Chuck, very quickly, I don't think there's a family out there who saved $2,500 per year per family.

LANE: No, but there is some good news out of Obamacare, which is the number of uninsured is way down to I think nine percent of the population, so he can brag about that legitimately. And secondly, health care costs whether because of Obamacare or other things have been growing much more slowly than people forecast. So it's not as if this last eight years on health care is all --

HAYES: It's mostly a crummy economy. I mean, people saying health care costs are growing more slowly because the economy's been stagnant. I wouldn't necessarily go bragging about that.

LANE: And there are some cost containment provisions in Obamacare that played a role.

BAIER: Next up --

HURT: That's paying a hefty price to get those other people insurance.

BAIER: Bill Clinton calls it crazy for small businesses. All right, that's all in there.

Next up, the latest with WikiLeaks and what's happening, what the president knew, what he didn't know, next.

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