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CNN "State of the Union with Candy Crowley" - Affordable Care Act

Interview

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CROWLEY (on-camera): Joining me now, members of their party leadership, Democratic congressman, James Clyburn and Republican senator, John Barrasso. Gentlemen, thank you both for coming this morning.

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CROWLEY: Congressman Clyburn, it remains true, however, that a president who loses kind of the faith of Americans finds it hard to pass other things, immigration, all the other things that are on. It was a very ambitious second term agenda for this president. How does he win back trust? I'm assuming you think he can.

CLYBURN: Oh, yes, absolutely. Thank you so much for having me this morning. Look, I think that the president admitted that the buck stops with him. The fact of the matter is, this is a roll out problem. This is not a values problem. And I think that if we were to look at what we were attempted to do with the Affordable Health Care Act, you will know that what we're trying to do is change a value system in our country.

Look, with all due respect to the senator, cancellation letters are not due -- or not new to my constituents. I've been hearing from constituents for the entire 21 years I've been in the Congress about cancellation letters that they've been getting from insurance companies. As soon as a child is born with diabetes, cannot get on health care policy, get sick, go for your second treatment, you get a cancellation letter.

You limit your benefits, you get annual benefits. Cancellation letter from your insurance company. So, the fact of the matter is, we are trying to stop these cancellations, and now, a few insurance companies have decided to use the Affordable Care Act to send out a new set of cancellation letters and what the president has done here is to say, OK, when you send out these letters, we want you to invite those people back in, take a year to let the people know exactly what it is that you canceled.

CROWLEY: Congressman --

CLYBURN: Candy -- yes.

CROWLEY: Look, the question here though is, yes, hopefully the website will get fixed, but isn't this the undermining of trust have to do With a huge management blunder and the question then becomes to Americans looking at this website which hasn't worked, looking at a promise that wasn't quite true saying, wait a minute, if these people can't know ahead of time, they need to really test a website. Can we trust them about implementing the rest of this? Isn't that the trust issue and it's about management?

CLYBURN: Well, sure, paradise lost, paradise regained. And when you lose something, you can find it again. And the president has admitted that he expects to be held responsible for regaining the Americans trust and I think he will. The fact of the matter is, one of our big problems in Washington is that we tend to react to sound bites a little bit too often.

And, therefore, we tend to speak in sound bites. And this is a sound bite that the president probably needed to take some more time to explain to the American people, but you don't get reported. In fact, one of the things in Washington I dislike more than anything else is when people say to me, if you're explaining it, you're losing it.

I don't like that at all. I really believe the American people are deserving of explanations and take the time to explain it and I think the media ought to report those explanations.

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CROWLEY: Let me bring Congressman Clyburn back in. You had a vote last week in the House where 39 Democrats who voted, many of them who voted for if they were here Obamacare sided with Republicans on a fix to this idea of people being thrown off their health care when the president had promised they wouldn't be.

What do you make of those 39 defections, because politically speaking, it clearly is distance between the president and this bill?

CLYBURN: Well, I think what you saw in those 39 people, maybe nine people had real serious concerns. The fact of the matter is about 30 of them, and I've talked to them, were insulating themselves against sound bites and that's part of the problem.

CROWLEY: Meaning that they were -- I'm sorry. Meaning that they looked back home, realized that people were upset and they wanted to be able to say, I voted to fix this?

CLYBURN: Meaning that people look at this and said that this is a bill that allowed me to keep my insurance policy and you voted against it. So, they wanted to insulate themselves from that. But the fact of the matter is, if you look at the second part of that bill, it allowed insurance companies to continue selling what you know to be substandard --

CROWLEY: Right. But they still voted for it.

CLYBURN: -- call them junk.

CROWLEY: Right.

CLYBURN: Yes, they voted for it. And as I said, I don't blame anybody for insulating themselves from these sound bites because that's the world we live in, unfortunately. But that's the world we live in.

CROWLEY: And final word here, Senator Barrasso, do you see Republicans going forward unless something amazing happens between now and next year, this is going to go into force, this law. Will Republicans work with the White House to fix things or will you continue to want to change major portions of it?

BARRASSO: It's time to start over. This health care law is terribly flawed. It is broken. It has failed the American people because they're losing their insurance, they're losing their doctor. Their premiums are going up. I think there's going to be a massive taxpayer bailout needed just to deal with the impact of this health care law.

This is not what the American people wanted. The president did not need to destroy a good health care system to try to make a better one, but that's what we have now. CROWLEY: So, that sort of sounds like a no on trying to fix it. Thanks so much, Senator John Barrasso, Congressman James Clyburn, I appreciate both of your time today.

CLYBURN: Thank you.


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