CNN "CNN Newsroom" - Affordable Care Act and Iran

Interview

By:  Marsha Blackburn
Date: Nov. 23, 2013
Location: Unknown

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WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much, Paul.

So what does the President need to do to get his approval ratings back up? I'm joined now by Representative Gregory Meeks, he's a Democratic -- a Democrat, rather, from New York; and by Representative Marsha Blackburn, she is a Republican from Tennessee. Thanks to both of you for joining us.

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: Yes.

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WHITFIELD: So Representative Blackburn, you think it's that simple or that it's just a matter of time before the American people who have been disappointed in, say, the rollout, for example, that things will look up and it will reflect as the case for the President's approval rating?

BLACKBURN: Right. Well, what we're finding out is the rollout is just the tip of the iceberg or you know, that's kind of the first wave of problems, if you will, Fredricka.

And what we now are seeing as the cost, the escalation and the sticker shock of the cost of health insurance is prevalent across the country coast-to-coast. What we also were seeing, individuals are losing their existing health insurance. They cannot keep their plans.

Secondly, they're not able to keep physicians and health care networks that they have established. Third, the cuts that are taking place within the Medicare community. And this is individuals who have basically prepaid for this. Government has been taking that money out of their paycheck all of their working lives, if you will.

And it is a series of problems. And as Mr. Chow from CMS told us this week in a hearing in our committee, you've got 30 percent to 40 percent of that Web site system that has not been developed. This infrastructure, the backbone of the marketplace, if you will, that will accommodate the insurance payments from individuals to the company will accommodate the insurance payments from the insurance company to the providers.

And this is why so many individuals on both sides of the aisle are now saying, you have to call a time-out. You have to suspend this because the problems grow every single day.

WHITFIELD: This has been a week where the nation has reflected on past presidents with the 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK, and the President and the first lady, Michelle Obama, actually sat down with Barbara Walters for an interview. And one of the things that the President talked about was the legacy of John F. Kennedy. Let's listen to that.

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WHITFIELD: Representative Blackburn, how do you see his legacy being cemented?

BLACKBURN: You know, I think that what you're going to have always as a footnote or maybe an asterisk even for the Obama administration is going to be weak leadership, fumbling, not able to figure out how to effectively lead, whether it is working with Congress or working with our allies.

There's an article in the "Wall Street Journal" today where you have one of the Saudi Arabian princes talking about the lack of leadership and the reduction of standing of the U.S. around the globe. And people want to see strong, solid focus, leadership.

And I think that's one of the things that JFK did well. He was for lower taxes. He wanted to make certain that people ask, what can you as an individual do to strengthen your country? That concept, Fredricka, of giving back more than you take, that was an imperative and an underpinning in that administration.

And I think that's a thing that people would like to see President Obama bring to the table during this last part of his administration, to bring forward that strong decisive leadership. And what we have had is a series of fumbles that say there is a weakness and an indecisiveness there to strengthen the country as a whole for the good of the nation.

WHITFIELD: All right, Representative Blackburn and Representative Meeks, when we come back, we're going to find out what your thoughts are about the nuclear option in the Senate exercise this week, and whether this could already make difficult relations between the parties even worse.

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WHITFIELD: That was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. He's defending the Democrats' move to make the approval of White House nominees a simple majority in the Senate, which effectively curbs the Republicans' ability to filibuster.

Representative Marsha Blackburn back with us -- let me get you in on this. The Republicans have been filibustering nominees for months. The President even saying it's taken his nominees twice as long to be confirmed, and he said not because your party opposed the candidate on credentials necessarily, but because they oppose the larger policies.

The "Washington Post" today reporting that the White House is looking to maximize the change, perhaps getting 240 judicial and executive nominees through. So, Representative Blackburn, is the White House overly optimistic?

BLACKBURN: I think the White House is overly optimistic, and I think that this is a power play that is absolutely going to backfire on Harry Reid and on the President. This is to set aside 225 years of precedent, to look at the way and the manner in which the Senate has been the greatest deliberative body in the world.

And now, in order for convenience and to avoid having a discussion with the American people, and their elected representatives, they declare the nuclear option. And why -- because deliberation is too much work? Because it takes too much time? You know, I think that this is so incredibly unfortunate --

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WHITFIELD: Representative Gregory Meeks, Representative Marcia Blackburn, thanks so much to both of you. Appreciate it --

BLACKBURN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: -- this Saturday and of course, Have a great holiday as we enter the holiday week.

BLACKBURN: Absolutely, you, too.

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