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Face the Nation transcript May 7, 2017: Mulvaney, Manchin, Rice

JOHN DICKERSON, HOST, FACE THE NATION: Today on FACE THE NATION: The president takes a victory lap after the House passes his health care bill. Will the public cheer or jeer? And will the Senate go along?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How am I doing? Am I doing OK? I'm president. Hey, I'm president. (LAUGHTER) (APPLAUSE) Can you believe it? Right?
DICKERSON: The president was positively giddy at a Rose Garden victory party after the House passed his bill to replace Obamacare.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Welcome to the beginning of the end of Obamacare. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
DICKERSON: While Republicans celebrated, Democrats said they were doomed.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: But you have every provision of this bill tattooed on your forehead. You will glow in the dark on this one.
DICKERSON: Opponents are already rallying. And Republican lawmakers have started hearing from angry constituents.
Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador was on the defensive at a Friday town hall.
REP. RAUL LABRADOR (R), IDAHO: Nobody dies because they don't have access to health care.
DICKERSON: What is next for health care reform? We will hear from Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin will also join us. And we spent time this week talking with Pennsylvania voters about the state of the nation.
DICKERSON: A word of phrase that describes the country right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In deep trouble.
DICKERSON: Plus, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joins us to talk about her new book on democracy and whether it is being threatened. And we will also have plenty of political analysis. It is all coming up on FACE THE NATION. Good morning, and welcome to FACE THE NATION. I am John Dickerson. We begin this morning with White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, one of the key players at the White House in getting the health care bill through the House. Good morning, Mr. Director. Thanks for...
MICK MULVANEY, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: Good morning, John. Thank you for having me.
DICKERSON: Thank you for being here. If I get health care through Obamacare, what kind of promises does this House bill make to me?
MULVANEY: That it will actually be there. One of the reasons that we are pushing so hard to replace Obamacare -- by the way, I was on it when I was in the House of Representatives. People don't realize that. I was actually on the exchanges. And one of the promises we are making to people is that the health care that we will be providing will actually be sustainable and be there. One of the stories I think that isn't getting nearly enough coverage is the fact that Obamacare is already failing in places like Iowa. And I think even Virginia found out this week they won't have coverage in some places. So, one of the big pushes that we are making is, we are going to provide a system that is actually sustainable and can survive and provide health care.
DICKERSON: But, of course, people hear about the Congressional Budget Office assessment of this House bill. And when you say it will be there for them they think, well, wait a minute, the CBO said 24 million people will lose coverage. So it won't be there for those 24.
MULVANEY: Yes, I saw the CBO score. And you get down into the details on it, one of the things you see is that the CBO assumes that once the mandate is gone, people will voluntarily drop off of expanded Medicaid. Think about that for a second. The CBO is assuming getting to that 24 million is, you get Medicaid for free, but once the mandate that you take it is gone, you will voluntarily give up that free benefit. It is just absurd. It was one of the -- we talked about it, I think, when that first analysis came out that CBO, we thought, really missed the mark. They missed the mark a couple of years ago on how many people would sign up. And I think they have missed the mark again on how many people will lose coverage.
DICKERSON: Let's say they really missed the mark and it's only 15 million people. That is -- that is a lot of people still. Did they really miss the mark by 24 million?
MULVANEY: Again, compared to what? So much of the dialogue today is sort of compared to this ideal of what people thought Obamacare was going to be and what they want it so desperately it to be. The real thing to measure it against is against what Obamacare really is.
Face it, people are losing coverage today in Iowa, again, for example, under Obamacare. People have 100 percent increases today in Arizona under Obamacare. That is the measure, not against the ideal of what they thought or wanted Obamacare to be.
DICKERSON: So, is the -- so, then is final ending point we are at here basically people will lose coverage, but just not as much as you think they would have lost under Obamacare?
MULVANEY: Well, I think what they are going to end up is a different type of system that is more state-driven. One of the things I think you saw in the bill this week, as the bill sort of evolved, was devolving more and more control to the state. When the first version of the bill came out a couple of weeks ago, we did that extensively with Medicaid. I used to be in the state government and we used to beg the federal government, give us more control over Medicaid.
Give us the money, but let us provide for our own people at the local and state level. And our bill did that. And you saw a little bit more of that again as the bill evolved, giving more and more control to the states.
DICKERSON: The president has said he will not sign or support anything that doesn't help his voters. And here is an assessment Avik Roy in "Forbes." He is no fan of Obamacare. But he writes this: "Millions of low-income Americans in their 50s and 60s will be priced out of the insurance market, while millions of upper-income Americans, who don't need the help, will get a big tax credit. Many of the people adversely affected by the AHCA," the bill that passed the House, "are Trump voters whose favorite candidate campaigned on insurance for everybody."
So, Avik Roy and a lot of others have said, older voters will see their premiums go up. People -- working-class people will face costs that will cause them to not have insurance coverage. That seems to be a direct blow to a promise the president made.
MULVANEY: Yes, I am not familiar with that gentleman's report, not familiar what version of the bill he looked at I know, for example, as we went through the process, more money was set aside to help folks who might be in that 50-to-65 bracket. But face it, we are all sort of guessing right now because the negotiation is ongoing. The bill that passed out of the House is most likely not going to be the bill that is put in front of the president. The Senate will have their chance to change the bill, improve the bill. The negotiations will continue again, so I think it is important we reserve judgment on what the president will or won't sign until we know what is in front of him.
DICKERSON: So, the president kept saying this is a great bill, and it's a good bill, but it is incomplete is what you are saying.
MULVANEY: No, I am saying that the Senate is part of the government. This is a bill that passed out of the House. You and I are about the same age. We remember "Schoolhouse Rock" when we were kids, and I am just a bill, yes, I'm only a bill. And we're going to go through that process. Is it ugly? Maybe. Is it slow? Yes. But it is the right way to do it and it's how we're going to handle the bill.
DICKERSON: The president said in the Rose Garden -- quote -- "We will have great health care for everyone in our nation." When we are done with the "Schoolhouse Rock" process, will everyone in the nation be covered, as the president promised in the Rose Garden?
MULVANEY: I think everybody will have coverage that is better than what they had under Obamacare.
DICKERSON: But will everyone -- he says everybody in the nation. So, even Obamacare didn't cover everyone.
MULVANEY: Yes. Well, what we talked about before is the access to it. Remember what Obamacare gave you. Obamacare gave you insurance, but not health care. A lot of folks who were technically insured either couldn't afford the premiums or couldn't afford the co-pay.
And that's what we have been driving at, giving people the care that they want, the quality that they need, the affordability that they deserve. That's what we are talking about, actual medical care, not just insurance.
DICKERSON: So -- but the president, when he says everyone will have health care, that sounds like a pretty simple thing to either say, yes or no, that is going to happen.
MULVANEY: We will look forward to doing that.
DICKERSON: So, everyone will have health care at the end of this process.
Let me ask you a question about this bill. Should House members who passed it go home and have town halls and campaign on it?
MULVANEY: Absolutely, without reservation. In fact, I would be surprised if that is not exactly what they are doing. That's what I would do. In fact, I commented in this last four or five weeks. I think it's been four or five weeks since the health bill didn't come to a vote like we expected. And I sort of put my old Congress -- congressman hat on and said, I wouldn't want to go home and explain why we didn't vote on it. I would be ecstatic about going back and saying, look, here is what we did. Here is the process. Was it ugly? Yes, but did we get it done? Did we follow through on our promise to repeal in the House? Yes. No, I think it would be something that Republicans should run to, not run away from.
DICKERSON: The president this week on the budget question said that we should have a good shutdown. What is a good shutdown?
MULVANEY: Yes, I saw that tweet. In fact, I saw that tweet about two minutes before I walked in to do the press reports on the 2017 funding bill, but here is what I think it is.
I think the president is frustrated that the process in Washington is broken. What we just did this week was fine and passable, but not ideal. The appropriations, the spending process, Congress using the power of the purse, has been broken here in Washington for more than 10 years.
And I think a good shutdown will be one that can help fix that. It's part of that overall drain the swamp mentality about Washington, D.C. This president is willing to think outside of the box and do things differently around here in order to change Washington.
And if that comes to a shutdown in September, so be it.
DICKERSON: OK. Well, we will have you back in September and see if the lights are still on.
Mr. Director, thanks so much for.
MULVANEY: Well, face it, no one thought the lights would be on this week, but they were, so don't ever underestimate the president.
DICKERSON: All right, thanks so much.
MULVANEY: Thanks, John.
JOHN DICKERSON IN STUDIO: Earlier we traveled to Reading, Pennsylvania to talk to voters about the state of the nation. Located just outside of Philadelphia, Reading is part of a county that went for President Trump in the election.
JOHN DICKERSON: Tom, your thoughts about our country's direction?
TOM: Well, last Sunday on your show, President Trump said that war trumps trade. Well, in my view, war trumps all the other issues because if you look at the money that we've wasted, trillions and trillions of dollars, Donald Trump has surrounded himself with military people. To a hammer, every problem is a nail. To a general, every problem is a military strike. So from this perspective, and I'm sorry to say, I voted for President Trump because he made unequivocal commitments to stay out of Syria. He said that Barack Obama's plans to launch an attack were unconstitutional and illegal and he immediately does that on his own.
JOHN DICKERSON: Dale, I want to get your thoughts about the direction of the country.
DALE: Well, I thought over the last couple years we were headed in the right direction. I think a lot more people were being represented and shown more respect, particularly people—LGBTQ people and that kind of thing now. And I think particularly now with the election of President Trump, it's—I don't think it's going be that way anymore.
JOHN DICKERSON: Susie. A word or a phrase that describes the country right now?
SUSIE: Scary.
TOM: Tenuous.
JERRY: In deep trouble.
CONSTANCE: Conflicted.
BARBARA: Moving forward.
DALE: Divided.
ANTHONY: Unsure.
ELIZA: Uncertain.
KEITH: Divisive.
JOHN DICKERSON: President Trump said he wanted an America first foreign policy. What's you—as a Trump supporter, what have you thought of his foreign policy so far?
KEITH: Good. Very good.
JOHN DICKERSON: Were you a fan of his action in Syria?
KEITH: Well, it's a tough one. I'm not against it. I think it sent a message. I think it was more of sending a message than it was in what it actually accomplished.  I think a lot of things that Trump does are messages. The man's a lot smarter than we give him credit for, I think.
JOHN DICKERSON: Anthony, you voted for President Trump. What did you expect when you voted for him, and what are you thinking now?
ANTHONY: Well, me watching him on "The Apprentice," seeing that he was no nonsense. And him being our president now, he still has that same attitude, where past presidents, problems overseas, they would take-- a slow approach like sending in troops on the ground and putting them in danger, where Donald Trump is, "I'm just gonna blow you up."
JOHN DICKERSON: Barbara, what do you think's the best thing the president has done?
BARBARA: I think the best thing that he has done is provide the option for our military to seek medical treatment elsewhere when they cannot get in with the VA. I have-- three children in the military. And-- they're affected by that directly.
JOHN DICKERSON: Dale, what do you think the president should know that he doesn't know?
DALE: I think his focus has been on the media far too much. I think he commented in almost any interview I see. And I think he needs to realize that he's going to be reported on no matter what. So he should just do a good job, and then maybe they'll report good things about him instead of him being so concerned about his image.
JOHN DICKERSON: Anthony, when he wakes up in the morning, what do you think the president thinks about?
ANTHONY: What's the best tweet that he could put out. (LAUGH) Well, Donald Trump is trying to turn America around the best way he know how.  Like he said, his job is a lot harder than he thought because it's not like running a business, where Donald Trump would fit more into a kingship than a president in a democracy because when you're a king, you make the rules. And that's the way Donald Trump thinks. But when he became president, there're rules that he has to follow. So he just can't do what he wanna do.
JOHN DICKERSON: Keith, do you think the president tells the truth?
KEITH: In his mind, definitely. I don't think he intentionally lies. I think he sometimes has trouble with facts. I think we all have trouble with facts when we try to convince people of understanding our position.
JOHN DICKERSON: Eliza, what would you like to see happen with health care?
ELIZA: I personally want to see a Medicare for all-- or a single payer option. I believe that that polls very high actually among the American people we have right now have the ACA, the Affordable Care Act. For now, I mean, that at least needs to stay intact. What the Republicans are planning to do right now is upsetting to me and many people-- because it basically would take away health care for people with pre-existing conditions. Or, you know, just outright deny, allow them to deny, or push premiums up.
JOHN DICKERSON: Connie, what do you think about the state of-- of race relations in the-- in the Trump presidency?
CONSTANCE: Since he's been elected there seems to be this rise in kind of-- people feel that they don't have to-- be civil and that they can do and say anything. Because he has such a persona of, "I'm just going do and say whatever I feel." I think people have taken the lead from that and are acting it out and feel that they have support in that. And I-- I think that that's an awful way to be.
JOHN DICKERSON IN STUDIO: We'll be back in one minute with more of our focus group and their thoughts on the Democrats.

VIDEO LEAD IN: I was on the way to winning until the combination of Jim Comey's letter on October 28 and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me but got scared off.
JOHN DICKERSON IN STUDIO: That was Hillary Clinton, speaking out about her loss to President Trump. The liberals in our focus group had some tough talk when it came to the Democrats.
JOHN DICKERSON: Jack, what does the Democratic Party mean to you right now?
JACK: Well, the Democratic Party has—seems to be lost. And the reason they seem to be, to me, they seem to be lost is because they let the Republicans define who they are.
JOHN DICKERSON: Connie, if you were giving an instruction manual to the Democratic Party to get their act (LAUGH) together what would you tell them to do?
CONNIE:  They have to define who they are. They have to have a backbone about standing up for it and not be bought out by anyone or swayed because they think they might lose their office. They have to be willing to stand for it. If you're going to say, "I'm standing for this," then you have to stand for it all the way
JERRY: I think the Democrats, not only are they out of touch, they have no interest in correcting the situation. They're not doing any post mortems. They're writing off, "Well, we don't own the White House because of Putin or because of WikiLeaks." What did WikiLeaks tell us, by the way? They-- regardless of who was behind it, they confirmed that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic establishment are liars. And that they had their thumb on the scale for-- you know, for Hillary Clinton. Well, you know, so what are they basically saying? "If-- if we hadn't been caught lying, we'd be running the country right now."
JOHN DICKERSON: Do any of you have a story that you hear about all the time that you think, "This story is not important and I don't want to hear any more about it"?
BARBARA: We'll go with Russia, okay, because that was one of the things that's driving me absolutely mad. I think Russia has already been proven to not have had any impact on our elections. They did not, you know, drive from polling place to polling place and, you know, hoodwink the machines and whatever. And so to try to keep going on, that really makes the Democrats look a little desperate.
JOHN DICKERSON: Eliza, do you trust that government can work in the best interests of the people, even if that's not where it is now?
ELIZA: I definitely have faith in—that we can get to where we need to go for the American people. I live in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. And just the outpouring of people who maybe didn't care about politics before, never really thought it mattered people have come out to voice their concerns, but also get active, get activated, get engaged. Go door to door, talk to their neighbors, find out, "Hey, how are you feeling about what's going on, and do you want to make a difference?"
JOHN DICKERSON: Have you all generally seen an uptick in political activity in your neighborhoods?
JACK: Yes.
BARBARA: Oh yeah.
JACK: Definitely.
BARBARA: Yup. Yup.
JOHN DICKERSON: Since the election, Susie, has the shape of your congregation or the things you hear from parishioners changed? And, if so, how?
SUSIE: I remember sitting around the table the Sunday after the women's march-- and having five different women sitting around that table, telling me about how they'd been in Washington the day before. And I was utterly amazed and pleased and happy.
FRED:  We're in Reading, Pennsylvania. And what people out there might not know is Reading is one of the poorest cities in the entire country. One thing I know people in my city are thinking about, and it's what this whole country's thinking about, when people are polled, the number one issue is jobs and the economy. The people in Reading, you know, they want good jobs. And I think that's one thing that the Democratic Party always talked about in the past. You know, they were supposed to be the party that represented the blue collar workers. And now, in this past election, you know, we didn't hear anything about jobs. Trump was the one talking about jobs, about, you know, the outsourcing problem, bringing back jobs. And I think one thing that the Democrats are so out of touch with America about is that you ask Democrats about jobs and what their solution is, and they have two solutions. Number one is raise taxes on the rich which, honestly, that does not create jobs. And number two thing they say is, "We need to raise the minimum wage." People in Redding, Pennsylvania and everywhere don't wanna work at McDonald's their entire life. My dad, when I was younger, told me, "When-- you grow up, I want you to get an education. I want you to do well so you don't need a $20 an hour factory job like I have." And now, people are saying, "$20 an hour factory job? What even is that?
JOHN DICKERSON: Jack, what gives you hope?
JACK: Empathy. That is the word that brings all of this together. Caring about someone else. Caring about your party. Caring about your town. Caring about what other people think. Being civil. Caring about getting good jobs. Caring about the people that you're trying to help, to raise up. Empathy. Brings it all together.
JOHN DICKERSON: All right. Thank you all very much for being here.
DICKERSON: An extended version of our focus group is available on our Web site at
DICKERSON: We are joined by Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. He's in Charleston, West Virginia. Good morning, Senator. I wanted to pick up to on something that OMB Director Mulvaney said. He said there might be something called a good shutdown. What do you think of the notion of a good shutdown?
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: There is no good shutdown. There should not even be the talk of a shutdown. John, basically, we can do a C.R., a continuing resolution, for one day, we can do it for one week, we can do it for one month, but we should at least stay there and get our job done. Shutting it down puts too much, absolute -- too much absolute the agony on people. And it is just un-American. We should not do that. I have been through a shutdown, and it did not end well. And it wasn't good for anyone, and nobody gained a thing. So I hope we get the shutdown out of our vocabulary, get back to working, staying there and get our job done.
DICKERSON: Director Mulvaney said that this process that led to the agreement that kept the government open until the fall was a bad process. Some people would look at it and say, well, the Democrats got something and the Republicans got something, and that is not altogether a bad thing, when there is bipartisan cooperation.
MANCHIN: Well, they are just not used to bipartisan cooperation, and it's so far and few in between. They didn't know what to do it when they got it. Everybody worked on something. We took care of our military and made sure that's -- that was a big effort by many people on both sides of the aisle. But the Republican -- President Trump pushed that very hard. That was something that was needed, and we did that. There was other things we wanted to protect, basically, the well- being of people, basically, who have been left behind. In my state of West Virginia, a state that has done the heavy lifting for over 100 years, then the mining, provided the energy of the country, made the steel, built guns and ships, defend the country, we have done it all. And we have had a lot of big challenges lately, especially with the opiate addiction. We kept funding in for that. So, there's an awful lot of things that basically came out of this that was negotiated. It was a compromise. And that is something we should all be proud of.
DICKERSON: Senator, you mentioned the opioid addiction.
There was a report that the White House is thinking in its next budget of largely zeroing out the budget or cutting 95 percent of the budget of the White House drug czar. What is your feeling about that?
MANCHIN: John, I would hope that that is not a serious consideration. This is -- this, in any other sense of the word, would be a pandemic. We have lost more Americans -- I have lost over 800 West Virginians in the last year, lost their lives to opiate and drug addiction. This is something that we have got to fight. But we have got to make sure that the FDA does not put more product on the market than is needed, the DEA is doing their job of policing it, that basically we have doctors being more educated and not passing them out like M&Ms. We need to have treatment centers that take care of people. We need to start basically education from kindergarten all the way through adulthood. We need to get involved and stop this epidemic that is going on that is just ravishing. For the first time, a lot of states have fallen below the amount of working people, percentage-wise, greater than those that are working. And that has never happened before. When you fall below 50 percent of your adults that should be working that aren't working, something is wrong.
It is either addiction, conviction, or lack of skill sets. We have to attack this, John. And you don't cut 90 percent of the funding out of the greatest epidemic that we have ever had.
DICKERSON: All right, Senator Manchin, we are going to talk to you in a moment after this short break we're going to take about health care and a few other topics. So, stay with us. We will be back with more from Senator Manchin.
DICKERSON: And we will be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION, including our interview with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and more from Senator Manchin and also our political panel.
Stay with us.
We continue our conversation with West Virginia Democrat Senator Joe Manchin.
Senator, what did you make of the health care bill that passed out of the House?
MANCHIN: I couldn't believe it. I really couldn't from this standpoint. We are a state, and as I mentioned before, that's done a lot of heavy work for this country, heavy lifting for over 100 years. We have a lot of pre-existing conditions. I have a lot of people that are elderly. Every dynamic in every topography of my state gets absolutely slammed with this piece of legislation. So I said, the get rid of the word "repeal" and start talking about repairing. If they can get rid of the word "repeal," John, we can sit down, Democrats and Republicans could work through this. We know that this bill needs to be fixed. The Affordable Care Act, there's not a Democrat that doesn't realize we need to work on the private market. But you're throwing the baby out with the bath water and then you're throwing insult to injury by giving $575 billion tax cut to the wealthiest Americans while you're cutting $880 billion of service to the poorest Americans. If you want more synergies there, you know, I said this before, John, we have given 20 million people -- 20 million people health care that never had, never bought, don't know the value. We never gave them one word of instructions how to use it, how to use it more effectively, how to use it more efficiently, how to keep themselves healthier, nutritional, lifestyles, changing their whole lifestyles, making them more accountable and responsible. There's tremendous savings. We're not trying anything. We're just throwing the baby out with the bath water in order to give a tax break. I just want to work and sit down and try to get something done, but no one's asked us. I understand that we have 13 Republican senators working on revamping the bill. Our congressional delegation says don't worry the Senate will fix it and no one's asked any Democrat. And I'm the more centrist Democrat willing to work and fix things if people really want to do it, but I can't do it with the threat of shutdown, repeal, throw it out.
DICKERSON: I want to move on quickly, senator, to the Intelligence Committee, which you sit on. You've gotten some more information. The CIA has given some briefings. Is there -- what's your view on any proof? Have you seen anything that suggests any conclusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign?
MANCHIN: Well, there's an awful lot of smoke there, let's put it that way, people that might have said they were involved, to what extent they were involved, to what extent the president might have known about these people or whatever. There's nothing there from that standpoint that we have seen directly linking our president to any of that. But with the other thing being said, there's an awful lot of people surrounding that, whether it be Mike Flynn, Carter Page, Manafort, all these people of high interest. We're going to find out. This is going to be done.
And the Senate, as I said before, is the workhorse of this operation, the Senate Intelligence Committee. When Carter Page says he wants to basically be cooperating and all of a sudden we get another message, strange message, saying, well, if you want to know what's going on, check with the Obama or President Obama or his administration. That's not the way to conduct a thorough investigation to get to the bottom, to see if you had, you know, any concerns that we might have of your -- your involvement with the -- the Russians. We know the Russians did everything they could to be involved in our campaign. We know that what they're doing around the world right now, whether it be in France or other parts of the world, they'll do anything they can to disrupt any type of a freedom, if you will, or a democracy or an involvement where there's an orderly transfer of power. That's not for them.
DICKERSON: All right.
MANCHIN: They're going to do what they can. We've got to make sure we stop it.
DICKERSON: All right, Senator Manchin, thank you so much for being with us.
And joining us now is former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She's got a new book out. It's titled "Democracy: Stories From the Long Road to Freedom." Welcome, Madam Secretary.
DICKERSON: It's very good to have you here.
RICE: It's great to be with you.
DICKERSON: Senator Manchin and I were just talking about Russia, so I'll start there with the question to you, which is, help Americans who have heard all the political talk of Russia, how should Americans think about Russia and America's national security interests?
RICE: Well, we have to think about Russia in terms of the last several years under Vladimir Putin. And I think what we're seeing is the president of Russia who has established authoritarianism at home and assertiveness and aggressiveness abroad, he really believes that he is re-establishing Russian greatness, that he has Russia back in the game. But the most important thing is that he hasn't seemed to respected certain lines in going that. And the most important thing is to re-establish that the United States is going to defend its allies in NATO under Article 5, an attack upon one is an attack upon all. That the United States will not countenance the Russian military threatening our forces by flying very close to our ships or to our planes. I think rebuilding the defense budget has helped to send that signal. And, by the way, the strike in Syria has helped to send the signal that the United States is going to get leverage back in the Middle East. And so this is a dangerous time with the Russians, but it could also be, once we've established the ground rules, there are many things we need to cooperate with the Russians on, including, by the way, the most vexing problem of North Korea where they too can't be too comforted by a reckless North Korean leader with missiles and nuclear weapons that can reach Russia, as well as eventually the United States.
DICKERSON: I want to get to North Korea in a second, but you write in your book about Russia being a tide that has gone deep into Europe when it's powerful and receded when it's weak. Where is America in terms of breaking that tide? I mean is it halfway there, a quarter of the way there?
RICE: Well, we've always hoped that the Russians would see their role in the world as one built on the respect that comes from economic power, from soft power. But, unfortunately, it's turned to military power again to establish itself. And I do think that we've -- we've begun to say to the Russians, for instance, what President Obama did to put rotating forces in the Baltic states and in Poland, that was a good message to the Russians that certain things are not acceptable. The strike in Syria was a good message, but we need to continue to send strong messages about Ukraine and other places that we're not going to countenance a Russia that is aggressive against allies and -- and states that -- that shouldn't be threatened by their neighbors.
DICKERSON: On North Korea, what should America not countenance? What is the -- what is the tipping point for --
RICE: Well, a lot has happened, John, in the last several years. This is now a -- a different regime that even under Kim Jong-il, the father. Kim Jong-un is reckless, maybe even a bit unstable. He has made improvements in his nuclear capabilities that look as if he's getting closer to a deliverable nuclear weapon. And perhaps in -- and I don't know what they're telling the president because I don't have the intelligence -- but three, five years, the ability to reach the United States. That cannot be countenanced by any American president. I don't care who's in the White House. In order to deal with that, you have to change the Chinese calculus, and I think that's what the administration's trying to do. They've worried most about the collapse of the regime and their long border and instability on their border. But you have to say to them, even if you have to take very tough steps that might ultimately collapse the regime, you have to take steps because we will if you don't. And I think that's the message that you're starting -- starting to see.
DICKERSON: In your book you are making the case for democracy. We have a president who talks about America first. We have a lot of Americans who are wary of U.S. entanglements overseas. Make the case for democracy to those who would be in the more, hey, let's just not fuss with the overseas stuff. RICE: Well, the first thing is to remember what democracy promotion is not. It is -- it's not what we did in Iraq and Afghanistan. That -- those were security issues that we felt we had to solve. And then we said, once we've overthrown those dictators, we need to give those people a chance toward democracy. But most of democracy promotion is really about supporting those within their countries that want to have the simple freedoms that we have, the right to say what you think, to worship as you please, to be free from the knock of the secret police at night, places like Liberia and the Ukraine and other places that are trying to get there.
Now, Americans should recognize that of course we're going to defend our interests, but in the long run our interests are better served when we have democracies that don't hire child soldiers, that don't harbor terrorists as a matter of state policy, that don't traffic in human beings, that don't start wars with one another. The quintessential example of this is that we took a risk after World War II that a democratic Germany would never threaten its neighbors, that democratic Japan would never threaten its neighbors, and now not only have they not threatened their neighbors, they are firm allies and they are pillars of international stability. Democracy takes time. One of the points that I make in the book is, it took us a long time. That first American Constitution counted my ancestors as three-fifths of a man. That first American Constitution didn't provide my father the right to vote in 1952 in Birmingham, Alabama. But I took an oath of allegiance to the same Constitution as a black woman secretary of state with a Jewish woman Supreme Court justice swearing me in. Democracy takes time and we have to be a little bit more patient and a little bit more helpful in speaking out for those who are still trying to get there.
DICKERSON: Well, let me ask you about that, because in -- because President Trump, whether it's Erdogan in Turkey, or al-Sisi in Egypt, or Putin in Russia, the -- the -- the sound of freedom does not seem to come often in conversations with him. Is there a cost for that?
RICE: Well, I think it's early in the administration. There's something about the presidency that you recognize over time the tremendous -- not just responsibility, but the weight that it carries. And of course we're going to have to deal with the president of Egypt. Of course we're going to have to deal with the president of Turkey. But it's well to remember too that our interests and our values suggest that when countries that we have good relations with and want good relations with actually reform before there are revolutions our interests are served too. And I think that if the United States -- and democracy promotion actually is very often not very expensive. It's supporting elections, supporting the building of civil societies, supporting a free press abroad. So I have no problem with the president meeting with those leaders. He has to. But we always need to speak for our values as well. And our values are the belief that we were endowed with certain rights by our creator. It can't be true for just us and not for them.
DICKERSON: Final question, is this president, like all presidents, is bristling against the constraints of democracy that you write a lot about in here. That has caused him to say critical things of the judiciary, of the press, and of Congress and the pace with which they work. How does that play for other countries that say, you see, you're -- you've got a messiness over there. Don't come tell us about how to do this.
RICE: Well, there's no doubt that presidents get to be presidents and then they realize that the founding fathers put all kinds of constraints on the presidency, a Congress, courts, civil society, a press, not to mention Americans who are kind of ungovernable anyway. And it can be frustrating. But I think that when I talk to others who are making (INAUDIBLE), I say it's also safest when the executive is actually constrained. That's what the founding fathers understood.
They also understood that democracies are not perfect. We are imperfect, but our message to the world -- in many ways our best message to the world, is that you just get up every day and you keep working to overcome those imperfections. And when you do that, you get a chance to enjoy these amazing liberties. And so I'm very grateful to the founding fathers for having given us these institutions. I hope we can encourage others to have the same.
DICKERSON: All right, Secretary Rice, thank you so much for being with us.
RICE: Thank you.
DICKERSON: And we'll be back with our political panel.
DICKERSON: We turn now to our political panel. Susan Page is the Washington bureau chief of "USA Today," Michael Gerson is a columnist at "The Washington Post," Nancy Cordes is a CBS News chief congressional correspondent, and Jamelle Bouie is a CBS News political analyst and "Slate" magazine's chief political correspondent. Michael Gerson, I want to start with you quickly picking up on Condoleezza Rice, with whom you worked. The threat to democracy all over the world now and -- is -- is a big story and it's taking place in France as there's an election today.
MICHAEL GERSON, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes, it's true and American policy in Europe, for example, has been democracy and unity for seven decades. There's a reason for that. Because in every country you have a conflict between identity and idealism, between kind of blood and soil, nationalism and transnational ideals. And in the 20th century, all the worst defense of the 20th century took place because of the triumph of identity over idealism in Europe. So I think there's a very direct interest that everybody has in the outcome of these kind of debates.
DICKERSON: What are you watching, Jamelle, in the outcome of the French election that Americans might care about?
JAMELLE BOUIE, CBS NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: I am watching to see how well the National Front and Le Pen do in today's elections. I think the -- the convention wisdom right now is that the National Front will end up falling short of winning -- winning the election. But getting to the second round, its share of the vote, those are actually very significant events for French political history and it will -- it will be a sign perhaps of currents in French politics and in European politics whether Le Pen does, as the polls suggest, are better.
DICKERSON: Power of that nationalism Michael was talking about. Susan Page, back here in America, health care. The winners and the losers from that, from the House success?
SUSAN PAGE, "USA TODAY": So big winners, I think, Paul Ryan and Donald Trump. Big losers, Paul Ryan and Donald Trump. What would we be saying this morning if they had failed to get this through the House/. It would be devastating politically. But when you get to the substance, they now own the American health care system. And you heard the budget director and other administration officials and the president making promises they will not be able to keep, that everyone will be covered, that premiums will go down, that deductibles will go down, that people with pre-existing conditions will not lose any of their protections. That combination of things cannot happen.
DICKERSON: Nancy, it came together fast, it felt like, at the end.
DICKERSON: Give us a sense of what the process tells us about where things stand.
CORDES: Well, they had to strike when the iron was hot. They couldn't let their members go once they thought that they had the magic numbers. So you first had this compromise between a moderate member and conservative members that seemed to bring a lot of the Freedom Caucus on board but left a lot of moderates steaming mad. They felt that some of those protections that
Susan just talked about had been eroded. Along comes Fred Upton with yet another amendment that puts a little more money into pre- existing conditions. And that gave some political cover to these moderates who felt that the bill was never going to be perfect in the House but they just needed to get it out of the House, get it to the Senate, you know, to fulfill a big promise that they've been making for the past seven years, which was that they were going to repeal Obamacare.
DICKERSON: Michael, what did you make of that ceremony in the Rose Garden? You know from White House ceremonies. What did you make of it?
GERSON: Well, I think it's a victory dance on the 50-yard line. I think when you do that, it's not a sign of strength, it's actually a -- a kind of pathetic desire for praise. So I think that was premature and this -- you know, the House is really relying on the Senate to come through here. They put out something that did meet all of those standards of the members, but was not coherent in the end. They are, I think, depending on the Senate, led by Senator Alexander, to provide some coherence in this -- in the Republican approach.
DICKERSON: Now, what do they -- there are plenty of hurdles among Republicans in the Senate. This is a Republican show over there. What are the hurdles?
BOUIE: That hurdles are Medicaid, right? That quite a few Republican senators want to preserve some measure of Medicaid coverage, the Medicaid expansion. During recess earlier in the year, there were many angry town halls involving constituents who wanted to preserve those Medicaid expansions. And the House bill cuts hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicaid, and although the budget director suggested that there would not be any coverage loss as a result of those cuts, the plain fact is that, in fact, many people will lose coverage as a result of those Medicaid cuts. So one major hurdle is what -- what the Senate is going to do about Medicaid and how will Senate Republicans deal with the fact that many of them come from states where large number of constituents have picked up coverage from the Medicaid expansion.
CORDES: And there's a hurdle that's just plain logistical, which is the fact that Republicans can only afford to lose two of their members in the Senate.
BOUIE: Right.
CORDES: And it's very hard at this point to envision a bill that would satisfy Rand Paul and Ted Cruz and Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski. Both Susan Collins and Rand Paul said this week the House bill is dead, but for completely different reasons. He thinks it leaves too much of Obamacare intact. She thinks it takes too much of Obamacare away. How does the Senate craft a bill that satisfies these two wings of the party when you have this incredibly small margin of error?
PAGE: But, of course, we should remember that Democrats faced big divides when they passed the Affordable Care Act as well. And -- and when you deal with something that's as big and complicated as the American health care system, you're going to end up with people accepting things that they start out thinking aren't acceptable. The thing that Republicans have going for them is that they've been -- made this promise for seven years, as you said, and there is a big impetus to deliver on it. And I don't know if they'll be able to deliver on it or not, but there are going to be huge consequences for either delivering or not delivering on them and that may be the best argument that Republicans have going forward.
DICKERSON: Michael, what do you make of the president, his signature talent? He said he would come to Washington and be a negotiator of a kind no one had ever seen before. Assess his negotiating in this case but also in what he's got to do in the Senate process. GERSON: Well, it was a unique view of the presidential role. Usually a president will come in with some of his own ideas and try to sell a bunch of people in the Congress on them. He did not do that in this -- in this case. All he wanted was a bill passed. The goal was something, not something with these parameters. And so I think that is very different than -- than presidents have done in the past.
DICKERSON: Jamelle, Democrats are running ads now attacking Republicans. They are -- they raised a lot of money. Sort through the politics. Are they right or are they a little premature here?
BOUIE: I don't think they're too premature. If -- if the American Health Care Act passes in its current form, if it becomes law in the current form, which likely isn't going to happen let's say -- let's say, well, what the House voted for, all of a sudden millions of Americans will, once again, be open to a scenario where their insurers charge sort of impossibly higher rates for pre-existing conditions. And so while it might be technically true that the bill doesn't deny anyone coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions, it is certainly true that people will certainly no longer be able to afford their coverage. And that is a very potent attack line. I want to -- I want to quickly go to something Susan said. It's totally true that during the Affordable Care Act fight there were these big divisions among Democrats about how much they were going to spend for coverage, so on and so forth. But there was one unifying principle, and it was basically everyone in the Democratic Party agreed that the government had some fundamental responsibility to the public for health insurance. And that -- that agreement doesn't exist among Republicans, and I think that's the sticking point. And it's a tough thing to -- to get around.
PAGE: And you said that -- that if this is passed in its current form there will be these political problem for Republicans. The Republicans who voted for this in the House can have ads run against them on the basis of this vote, even if this plan goes nowhere.
BOUIE: Right.
CORDES: Right.
PAGE: And we know that there are, what, 23 seats held by Republicans --
BOUIE: Right.
PAGE: In districts that Hillary Clinton carried. Those are going to be the prime target for the next 18 months.
CORDES: And the disinteresting thing about these ads isn't just the damage that they could do in advance of 2018, which is still 18 months away. But they're also to send a message to Senate Republicans, look at the kind of heat that you're going to get if you put together a bill that hurts Medicaid, that hurts people with pre-existing conditions. There are 24 House Republicans who are going to start facing those ads tomorrow, and even more facing radio ads in California. This is designed to, you know, to pave the way for 2018, but even more so right now to send the message to Senate Republicans who are getting to work.
GERSON: In an odd way this is the victory of President Obama. I think he has ingrained expectations --
BOUIE: Right.
GERSON: In the American public about pre-existing condition, about universal coverage and about costs, affordable costs, that are not going to be met by Republicans, in this case. They were not really met by Obamacare either, when you had higher premiums and higher deductibles at the same time for a lot of people. So -- but I -- these expectations are now ingrained and you wonder, what is -- what's the road that doesn't keep us from going to single payer eventually because -- given those assumptions?
BOUIE: That's -- that's real interesting because for a lot of liberal Democrats, and for a lot of Democrats on the left, Obamacare was a very flawed compromise. It was sort of this middling path between -- because that's what they thought they had to do to get something approaching universal coverage. And it's clear that the Republican Party will never accept any kind of compromise on this. And so I think for the Democratic left there's a new argument, right, that next time we have power, why not go for Medicare for all? What are -- what are the practical reasons not to do it, but the political reason not to do it, and looking at how House Republicans got this bill through. Why do we have to go through all the rigmarole that we did last time if -- if -- if the Republicans didn't? And that's where I think the GOP has opened itself up to perhaps a backlash that it might not be anticipating policy wise.
DICKERSON: Nancy, the Freedom Caucus, the conservatives in the House, fought and got what they wanted for this House bill. The Senate bill's going to come back to them, maybe.
CORDES: Right.
DICKERSON: Why are they going to agree to a bill that's gotten more moderate when it went over to the Senate?
CORDES: There's, you know, no guarantee that they will. I think that the Senate is going to have to make a calculation at some point, who are we trying to win over with this bill in the House? Is it going to be the Freedom Caucus or is it going to be the GOP moderates? You know, they can afford to lose members of one group, but probably not both.
And so, you know, that's going to be part of the -- the political process here. Not only how do we win over Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski or Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. And probably at some point they're going to have to go in a direction that's going to make one of those two wings unhappy, and it's going to play out the same way in the House.
DICKERSON: All right, we're going to have to go in a direction toward the commercial. So, thanks to all of you. And we'll be back in a moment.
DICKERSON: That's it for us today. Thanks for watching. Next week we'll hear from former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. For FACE THE NATION, I'm John Dickerson.


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