Face the Nation Transcripts April 6, 2014: Pfeiffer, McCaul, Friedman, Cullen

(CBS News) -- Below is a transcript of the April 6, 2014 edition of "Face the Nation". Guests included Seth Doane, Mark Ronsenker, Rep. Michael McCaul, Dan Pfeiffer, Heidi Cullen, Tom Friedman, Todd Purdum, John Dickerson and Amy Walter.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Today on Face the Nation: Overnight developments on the missing plane. The Australian government says it could be the first real break in the month long search...

AUSTRALIAN PRESSER (Chief Coordinator of the Joint Agency Coordination Centre, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston): This is an important and encouraging lead but one in which I urge you to continue to treat carefully.

BOB SCHIEFFER: He's referring to another set of electronic pings detected in the search area in the Indian Ocean. We'll have the latest on that. On the Fort Hood story, we'll talk to the Head of the House Homeland Security Committee, Texas Republican Michael McCaul. Has the White House finally overcome the problems with Obamacare? We'll check in with White House Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer. And what about this wacky weather? We'll preview our partner Showtime's new series, "Years of Living Dangerously," with the bestselling author of Hot, Flat and Crowded, Tom Friedman, and Climate Central's Heidi Cullen. Plus a look at Todd Purdum's new book An Idea Whose Time Has Come, as we approach the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. 60 years of news because this is Face the Nation.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, good morning again. All sides are urging caution, but finally there may be a break in the case of missing Malaysian Airliner 370. The first reports of pings in the search area came from the Chinese, so we're starting there this morning with Seth Doane in Beijing, Seth.

SETH DOANE: Good morning to you Bob. Yes, officially they are calling it an acoustic event. But today, for the third day in a row, people involved in the search report hearing signals coming from deep inside the southern Indian Ocean. Today, it was an Australian ship, the Ocean Shield, that's carrying some high-frequency listening devices that reported hearing these signals. And the location of those signals is about 300 nautical miles from where those signals on board that Chinese ship were heard on Friday and Saturday. State media here in China was reporting that the frequency of those signals matched the frequency that would have been emitted from those black boxes on board flight 370. But so far, officials involved in the search have been very cautious to say that no confirmed connection has been made between these signals and this missing jetliner. The black box battery life is only about 30 days - about a month on that black box. And today is day 30 of the search, so searchers are certainly racing against time. Officials have said they are following all of these leads, but they have really urged caution, saying in this deep ocean, a number of sounds can come from any number of different sources. Also, we've spoken with a number of family members over the last four-plus weeks who have reminded us that leads in the past have only proven to be disappointing, Bob.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Alright. Well, thank you so much Seth.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And here in the studio with us, Mark Rosenker, who's the former head of the National Transportation and Safety Board. He is now a CBS News aviation and safety analyst. Well, what about it, Mark? Is this for real?

MARK ROSENKER: Well, we don't know yet, Bob. It certainly is hopeful news. But I the know we have to temper that hopeful news with a good dose of reality. Just don't know what it is yet.

BOB SCHIEFFER: What they are hearing is pulses. The Chinese reported it yesterday. Then overnight the Australians hear the same pulse. If it is not coming from those black boxes, what could the be coming from?

MARK ROSENKER: Unfortunately, there are lots of things that could give you false alarms. And I'm hoping that we are not dealing with one of those. Well, the good news is is we have the H.M.S. Echo underway. She should be there in the next few hours to be able to give us a good sense of and perhaps even validate and confirm what the Chinese might have seen. Let us wait for that before we begin to move to the next step.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, if it is confirmed that that's what this is, what happens next?

MARK ROSENKER: Well, then we really have to begin the process of narrowing down the search nodes. Where we would really begin to bring in the equipment that we have and really go down below and begin to document and search where the boxes actually are. And at the same time, take a look to see if we've got a large debris field.

BOB SCHIEFFER: How much time do you think we have? Because these black boxes, that battery's going to finally give out in them, isn't it?

MARK ROSENKER: We're about at its edge. 30 days is what they are supposed to be. We've seen them go another 10 to 12 days if we really got lucky. It's about time we get some luck in this investigation. Because it certainly has not been one for us during this first 30 days.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Okay, well, Mark, thank you so much for being with us. We want to turn now to the other big story of the week. And that is four days now after Army Specialist Ivan Lopez went on a shooting rampage in Fort Hood, Texas, and killed three people, injured 16 more, authorities are still trying to figure out what set him off. The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Michael McCaul joins us now from Austin. Mr. Chairman, is there anything new on this investigation? What do we think caused this now? What's the latest thinking?

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: Well, if I could just first say as a Texan like yourself, this tragedy really hits home. Our hearts go out to the families and the victims. And this Fort Hood community has been resilient. I'm very proud of what they've done. The great place and standing up. But this is the second time we've seen this now at Ford Hood. I did attend the commemoration service when Major Hasan had killed 12 soldiers and one civilian.

So it's very difficult to see this happen again. In terms of new information coming in, we do know that Mr. Lopez had applied for a leave of absence. He appeared to be a disgruntled employee. But I think at the end of the day, you're dealing with a mental health illness issue here, not unlike what we saw at the Navy Yard shooting.

I'm very disturbed about the uptick in shootings and violence at our military installations across the nation. And one last bit of information with respect to Mr. Lopez's state of mind, he did put on his Facebook comments about he'd lost his inner piety, that filled with hatred, and that he thought the devil would take him. So we're obviously dealing with not a rational person.

And we need to look at how we can better fortify our force protection at military installations. But also, how can we deal with these mental health issues with our returning veterans? And our suicide rate in the military is twice as high as the average population. We do a very good job at fixing broken bodies, but not such a great job at healing broken minds with our returning veterans.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You said earlier this week we might have to allow our military people to be armed on these military bases. What exactly are you talking about?

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: Well, I think we need to have a discussion. I think a lot of people don't realize that our military that defends our freedoms abroad, when they come home from the military base are not allowed to carry weapons. Now I think we need to have a discussion. We need to talk to the commanders about whether it would make sense to have not all but maybe some of our senior leadership officers, enlisted men on the base, carrying weapons for protection.

I think ideally what you'd want to have are more military police officers. But in the current budget climate, that's not as realistic. So it seems to me a force multiplier of officers and enlisted men that we can trust the senior leadership to have them carry. Because, you know, it only takes a few minutes to wound and kill a large number of soldiers. Any time we see soldier on soldier, it's one of the most tragic things we can conceive. And if we had senior leadership armed, just maybe they could have stopped it before it got worse.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right, well, Congressman, we want to thank you for joining us. It's not a happy subject to talk about. Thanks for coming in and being with us this morning. For all the bad news this week, the White House is feeling pretty good about one development. The number of people signing up for Obamacare finally topped seven million people. Joining us to talk about it is White House Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer. But Dan, before we go into that, you heard what the congressman said. Do you think that the White House, are they considering the idea of arming some of the soldiers that are on these bases?

DAN PFEIFFER: No, Bob, the Pentagon's looking at proposals like the one that Congressman McCaul talked about. They don't think it's a good idea.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And why would that be?

DAN PFEIFFER: Well, I think it's clear from what happened at Ford Hood, we have to do a lot more to ensure that our men and women feel safe when they come home. It's a terrible tragedy that happened in Ford Hood. The president and the first lady send their thoughts and prayers out to the victims and families and everyone on the base. And they're going to actually travel down on Wednesday to the memorials they're running.

BOB SCHIEFFER: The president is going--

(OVERTALK)

BOB SCHIEFFER: --to the Memorial Service?

DAN PFEIFFER: Yes, sir.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And that's going to be on Wednesday?

DAN PFEIFFER: Yes.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me also ask you about getting back to Obamacare, which is why we invited you here. So you finally got past seven million. And a lot of people thought that was not going to happen after this disastrous rollout. Do you think now that the problems are behind you? Or what's ahead here?

DAN PFEIFFER: Well, I think that we have a lot more work to do here. We have to ensure that the seven million folks who signed up have a good transition into health care. We have a number of people who were in the queue when the deadline hit, who we have to get signed up. We don't have complete data yet. But 200,000 additional have signed up this week. So that's progress.

We have to continue implementing the law. It was a celebratory moment. We all felt pretty good when we hit the mark that no one thought we were gonna hit. But it's not a victory lap. And the president has told us to keep our eye on the ball every day to make sure this law is implemented as well as possible.

BOB SCHIEFFER: So you have had 200,000 more that have signed up since you announced the 7.1?

DAN PFEIFFER: Yeah, with more data coming in. We're still working. Because everyone who had started the process, who wants access to affordable health care, has a chance to do that.

BOB SCHIEFFER: What about the composition of the people who have signed up? Do you have any indication yet, can you tell yet whether you have enough young people? Because that's what you need. You need healthy people in the system to make it viable for the insurance company.

DAN PFEIFFER: Well, we'll have more demographic data on the last group of people here (UNINTEL) in a few weeks. What we have thus far through February is perfectly in line with what the insurance companies say they need to have a good mix. And all indications are, particularly if we follow the same example that Massachusetts did, more young and healthy people come in at the end. So we feel good about the mix thus far.

BOB SCHIEFFER: What do you think the lessons were on this?

DAN PFEIFFER: Well, I think that we learned a lot about how the government handles big I.T. projects, about decision making around these sorts of projects with contractors. We learned you can absolutely never take your eye off the ball. And I think, you know, everyone from the president, Secretary Sebelius on down, got a lot of deserved blame and took responsibility for the mistakes that happened. I think the same group of people deserve a lot of credit for how they've rescued this and brought it to a level of success that people thought was impossible just a few months ago.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you think the president was well briefed on this plan? Did he know all the ins and outs of it? You know, he said at one point, "If you like you'll plan, you'll be able to keep it. If you like your doctor, you'll be able to keep it." Then he had to backtrack on that.

DAN PFEIFFER: Well, I think as relates particularly to the website, we have said we did not get the information we needed. We made changes to ensure that never happens again and sure we got the website fixed. Where there have been problems, we have sought to fix them right away. Implementing a big piece of legislation like this is very challenging. We've seen this before with Medicare and Social Security and other similar pieces. And what we're going to do is make sure that going forward, we hit all of the marks and do everything we can if everyone is focused every day on doing it right.

BOB SCHIEFFER: What about the politics of this? Some people are saying that this may, in fact, wind up with a Republican-controlled Senate. And it will be the cause of Obamacare. It is still by every poll still unpopular.

DAN PFEIFFER: Well, first I'd say we believe we're going to keep the Senate. But look, health care is a divisive issue. It's been that way for a very long time. That's where it took 15 years to get health reform passed. I do think that the Republican argument for repeal is a political loser. What they're arguing now is that the seven million people who signed up through the exchanges and the millions more who got it from Medicaid and other ways, they're going to take health care away from all of those people.

And then what they're going to do for the 85% of Americans who had health care before the Affordable Care Act is that they're going to take away their protections. Because embedded in the Affordable Care Act is the patient's bill of rights. So we'll go back to the days where women paid more than men for the same health care, seniors paid more for prescription drugs, and insurance companies had all the power. That's not a good argument to make.

BOB SCHIEFFER: I want to ask you about the big Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance which came down this week. It just means that more money is going to be pouring into the system. Does the president want to do anything about this? He's out spending a good part of his time raising money now. Does he propose any changes in our finance laws? Or is he contemplating anything like that?

DAN PFEIFFER: Well, this is a real challenge. And the decision in the McCutcheon case, just like the one in Citizen's United a few years ago are devastating to the public campaign system. It's Justice Breyer said the McCutcheon system essentially eviscerated campaign finance in this country. And so the problem we have is that the Supreme Court has struck down duly passed laws.

And so in the long run, it may be the only option is a constitutional amendment, which is something the president's talked about in the past. In the short term, the only way to combat the influence of big money is the way the president got elected in 2008 and 2012, which is millions of Americans investing $5, $10, $15. You know, we had hundreds of millions of dollars of big money spent against the president in 2012. But we won, because we had 4.4 million Americans who donated to the campaign at an average (UNINTEL) less than $60.

  • CBS News

Comments

Follow Us

Face on Twitter