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CNN "Piers Morgan Live" - Transcripts:The Government Is Expected To Open To Open Tomorrow

Interview

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MORGAN: Joining me now is North Carolina Republican Robert Pittenger and Democratic Congressman John Garamendi of California. Welcome to you, gentlemen, and are you guys all best buddies again now then? Is this all bipartisan joy tonight?

JOHN GARAMENDI, (D) CALIFORNIA CONGRESSMAN: We have got a lot of work we need to do together, and we have to work across the aisle to get it done. So, yes, let's work together.

ROBERT PITTENGER, (R) NORTH CAROLINA REPRESENTATIVE: It is important. It is important for the country.

MORGAN: Robert Pittenger, put it into context for me the politics of all of this going forward. Did the Republicans really, do you think feel that they have suffered a massive defeat here or is it a temporary setback?

PITTENGER: Well, Piers, I do believe it was a worthy objective, Obama Care has significant issues and problems. But, it was an ill-fated strategy. I said that during the course of the summer. I don't think that we had a major opportunity to win this politically. It is the president's signature legislation. It will be his legacy for good or bad. He wants this. The Democrat leadership wanted it, not withstanding that the premiums of my state have gone up 200% to 300%. The congressional budget office says that the cost is unsustainable. We are losing jobs. The companies are not hiring full time workers.

So, there were real issues there, a real concern to all of us. But, the president had his way, and for right now, that will be the law until such time that the problems get greater than the American people demand that it be changed.

MORGAN: And, congressman, which way did you vote tonight?

PITTENGER: I voted with it. I believe that it is important to give time for the negotiators to go out there and to try to do something about the real issue facing our country. You know we have a $17 trillion debt. We have $16 trillion of unfunded liabilities.

This is the elephant in the room. This is the problem. The president needs to speak to this. For five years, I have been waiting for the president to address this issue. I listened to him at the inauguration and the state of the union, the congress, he never brought it up.

Yet, when we spoke in March of 2006 on the Senate floor as a senator he made it very clear that lambasting President Bush for a $5 trillion debt and realizing that he did not want to vote to extend the debt ceiling.

MORGAN: OK. Let me do the job Garmendi. As we go forward here, clearly the big battle, it seems to me, before we get back to shutdown and debt ceiling issues in January and February will be over Obama Care. I mean there is going to be gloves off now a straight assault on this great plank of President Obama's presidency. What do you think will happen with that? Because at the moment, the system, itself, seems to be failing.

GARAMENDI: Well, where they are looking at is one piece of it. An important piece, but this is the exchange piece. The exchange is actually is actually working in many, many parts of the nation, in California. The exchanges are working on those states where the governors took control over the issues. The exchanges are working in the national exchange has its headaches. No doubt about it.

But, that is just one small part of the affordable care act. If you take a look at the other parts, the insurance reforms, exceedingly important. The end of things like having pre-existing conditions for children, for parents, and guaranteed coverages. All of those insurance reforms are now in place. The patient's bill of rights.

And, we're also seeing a reduction in the inflation rate in medical services both for the government, Medicare and Medicaid, as well as for the private sector. So, we are seeing the cost curve bend. Now, the exchanges, that is an issue that is going to be dealt with every major program, whether it is a military program or this program or a state program or even a private sector program, they often have their hiccups.

MORGAN: OK.

GARAMENDI: Just take a look at Google or Microsoft, and they will tell you about the hiccups that will occur with the new program going into a play. Yes, it is an issue, but I tell you, Piers, the real issue is how to get this economy going. How to get people back to work? And, these continued cliffs. These crises actually hold back a very powerful race horse called the American economy.

MORGAN: Well, I agree with you. But, let me ask you this, congressman.

GARAMENDI: Sure.

MORGAN: I presume that you voted in favor of it, as well, right?

GARAMENDI: Of course.

MORGAN: So, you two have reached a point of bipartisan consensus. Why do we have a symbolic on air hand shake to round off this particular debate -- go on. Look at that. You see. It is possible. You can actually get along in Washington. What an extraordinary spectacle. Congressmen, thank you very much, indeed.

PITTENGER: Thank you.

GARAMENDI: Thank you.

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