On someone being fired over Obamacare:
“I have all the confidence and I — and all the assurance that heads are rolling and they’re spinning right now to fix the problem. And that’s what the president wants everybody fix the problem. We’ll deal with culpability later, because the most important thing you’ve got to do is get the problem fixed.”
Full transcript below:
“The House of Representatives is set up for the voters to pick their representatives. Through redistricting and through technology, representatives now pick their voters. So the system is now turned upside down and it’s upside down. And that’s why it’s totally dysfunctional. And I say this as a person who practiced those dark arts. It’s wrong. … if the overwhelming amount of your seats are decided upon election day — primary election day, then you have a problem that doesn’t allow the politics to function.”
On why a grand bargain is a bad idea:
“I think all the elites who run around talking about a grand bargain are fools. …the parties are so polarized. I think you can get a bargain — and I think you should — a single is OK. Given the political system is not set up for a grand bargain. It’s just not….Everybody walks around wringing their hands and this kind of, you know, new — you know, Boston-New York-DC, oh, God, you know, I’ll tell you, it’s not set up to do that.”
JAKE TAPPER, HOST: Mr. Mayor, thanks so much for doing this. We appreciate it.
So, I remember, I was a White House correspondent, you were a White House chief of staff. You worked so hard on the Affordable Care Act. And now…
MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL (D), CHICAGO: (INAUDIBLE). Who was better — were you a better correspondent than I was chief of staff?
TAPPER: — and now we have — we’ll let the American people decide that.
TAPPER: — and now…
EMANUEL: We’ll put it up to a referendum.
TAPPER: And now, uh, we have these big problems with the Web site. What — what is going on and what — how do you view this, having worked so hard on getting that legislation passed?
EMANUEL: Well, first of all, let’s take a step back. They’ll work through — like all companies that roll things out and have technological, uh, difficulties, they’ll work through this. There are two things that you can’t lose sight of right now while you have the difficulties. And I under — and there should be focus on them because the exchanges, the electronic, uh, the marketplace that is — is a key component.
One, two years running, health care costs have been lower than what they have been historically
TAPPER: Rising at a lower level?
EMANUEL: Rising, yes, like inflation, but at a much lower rate. And it’s benefitted the city of Chicago’s budget and it’s benefitting — benefitting family budgets. That’s happening throughout the system — and company budgets.
Number two is if you actually go look at all the state exchanges, premiums are much lower than what people thought they were going to be. If you go back to when we were actually doing the bill, one of the things that we were very concerned with was would, in fact, the premiums be at a competitive pricing. And, in fact, they’re about — and this is at a distance, I’m doing this — about 25 percent — 20 percent lower than we — anybody expected going in.
So people — young people can get health insurance less than 100 bucks a month, things that you couldn’t do before. Now, they will work through the technology and they have to work through it. And the president knows that, as does everybody that’s working for him, because it’s a key part of how the exchanges are going to work. But if you look at all the states that are up and running, those exchanges are working. And they will get…
TAPPER: Some of them are.
EMANUEL: Well, ours is, uh, Illinois, California, I mean, New York, Maryland, they’re working…
TAPPER: I have a difficult…
EMANUEL: And — and there — there are difficulties. You can’t hide from it. You’ve got to be honest with people. But do I think we — we will need to be in the same place two months, three months, four months from here in that part — in getting through that (INAUDIBLE)…
TAPPER: Do you think the White House has been honest enough about it? Originally, they were saying this is just because so many people want health insurance. It turns out there are actual problems with the software.
EMANUEL: Well, I think, actually, uh, in this, I don’t think they were hiding anything. And I don’t think they were trying to not be honest. I think as the information became more public, they were forthcoming with it.
TAPPER: Are you hearing from people who are disappointed about either rates going up or they’re being told, especially individuals with individual health care plans…
TAPPER: — um, that their plan is going to be canceled?
EMANUEL: Yes, I have not, but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. So — but I have not. Um, look, I know that the goal of the, uh, health care is — and the basic plan was — the legislation bringing health care costs down because it was just eating up way too much money. It was one of the reasons people were not seeing pay raises over the last decade and the last two decades was it was all going into health care premiums.
Bring that cost down and bring competition to the marketplace that did not exist and give people real competitive pricing, because there was a big portion of the public — 53 million, 49 million any given year, that were not getting covered both poor people, but also young and healthy people who just had confidence in their kind of own health care — health position at that point and that didn’t want to buy insurance. We need to get that type of competition universally and you will get the health care costs as well as coverage, uh, in a much more manageable place, because it’s just eating up too much money.
TAPPER: Do you think it was a mistake for the president to say, if you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan?
EMANUEL: No, I don’t think it was a mistake at all. I think he was talking and I think everybody knew — and you guys covered it at that and what the indication was, as it related to the employer-based plans, which were the dominant — were north of 65 percent that got — people got their health care plan.
TAPPER: The last question on health care.
TAPPER: I have a tough time imagining…
EMANUEL: Do we have to talk to your doctor or something?
TAPPER: I have a tough time imagining that if you were chief of staff right now, somebody would not have lost their job by now. I have a — just a difficult time. I remember when you were White House chief of staff, there was accountability. People messed up, they lost their jobs. This is a big mess-up.
EMANUEL: Look, Jake, first of all, when I was White House chief of staff, you were never that nice to me, so let’s not kid ourselves.
EMANUEL: Nobody ever had — everybody had complaints it not to go to another channel, but as you know, Discovery just did that thing about all the chiefs of staff.
EMANUEL: Is I think Jim Baker says there’s a point where all of us had an experience, which is you are — literally, you walk around on the front and on your back with a giant target. TAPPER: Right.
EMANUEL: And anybody walking by gets to take a shot at you, OK? And, look, I ran the White House. When I ran it, people were nice. People were critical. Things didn’t, you know, people said certain things about the White House. That just comes with the job.
EMANUEL: Denis is doing a great job. He’s actually, first and foremost, everybody has know — knows one thing, he and the president are close and he’s 100 percent loyal to the president. And that — and when he speaks, he speaks for the president. And, in fact, uh, I have all the confidence and I — and all the assurance that heads are rolling and they’re spinning right now to fix the problem. And that’s what the president wants everybody (INAUDIBLE), fix the problem. We’ll deal with culpability later, because the most important thing you’ve got to do is get the problem fixed. There have been criticisms with President Obama, um, not knowing the details of the ObamaCare Web site problems and then also with the National Security Agency and its spying and surveillance of our allies.
TAPPER: Um, there have been criticisms of him, uh, as disengaged. The — were you…
EMANUEL: That — let me say this. That is the furthest from the truth about the president. I used to see him every morning. I used to see him every morning, three or four times during the day and every evening before we went out. And when I’d see him every morning, he had read all the material that was presented to him by everybody and he knew, going into the meeting, what the assumption of the other side of the argument was, why he wanted to — exactly what questions he wanted about what he was getting — whether it was on economic policy or any particular foreign policy?
So the idea that he’d be disengaged is, unless something happened, I’ve never seen, in the two years of intensity that I was there. I just don’t buy it.
TAPPER: Is it possible that people are not bringing him bad news?
EMANUEL: No, I mean, Jake, so let’s go back to this. One of the great strengths of this president — I told him — and he always made me — and he solicited my views. And you know my view of having done health care. I was not…
TAPPER: No, you wanted to do a smaller…
EMANUEL: I was not…
TAPPER: — expansion (INAUDIBLE).
EMANUEL: I was not for doing it…
EMANUEL: — and if you do it, expand the kids and family and small business. And at critical junctures, when the world was darkest, he said, OK, what will you do now?
To his credit, even though he knew what my position is and it was kind of, at the worst moment, he sought out a contrary position. It’s totally contradictory to everything about him. And so you guys paint pictures because they fit a narrative — and you do, OK? We do certain things, you guys do certain things. I mean (INAUDIBLE). That’s why I’ll disengage. That’s how you answer this.
Well, the fact is, you’ve now learned, a week later, that it wasn’t the national security staff of the United States (INAUDIBLE) up information data and — and phone calls, it was other European, uh, intelligence operations (INAUDIBLE), OK?
And it’s not like, you know, given all the volume of this information, the president goes, OK, so was that by, uh, satellite or how did we get — you know, that’s not the questions the president asks.
So that’s — my point is, he’s not disengaged. And if anything, he is very solicitive of people who have a contrary view
So this doesn’t fit. It’s not right, because I know how he is and how he operates. And to his credit, that’s a real strength. That’s a real strength. You’re in your darkest moment on your single most important initiative, and you’re willing to have something who disagrees with you give you a contrary view. That’s a real strength.
TAPPER: So — so we’re hearing — we’re here right now, uh, near the airport…
TAPPER: — O’Hare. Uh, you’re trying to bring business to Chicago. You’re trying to bring companies to Chicago. Uh, how is that going?
EMANUEL: It’s going very well. Uh, just to give you kind of three things today. We are the transportation distribution and logistics hub of America. I call Chicago the inland port. We’re the number one air cargo, uh, facility for, uh, the U.S.-China trade, right here. I just broke ground on the largest gateway, uh, airport, air cargo facility in America in the last decade, starting now, 1,200 jobs, ultimately, there will be 10,000. Later on, uh, I go to the U.S.-China trade — uh, U.S.-China transportation discussions being held for the first time here in the city of Chicago about air cargo and commercial trav — traffic. O’Hare was just rated the number one connected airport in America throughout the world and throughout the United States. And at 1:30, we announced Gogo, a very, uh, hot technology company in, uh, data communications air travel. It is moving their corporate headquarters to the city of Chicago and 1,000 jobs with it. “Economist” magazine just came out with a report serving 150 cities worldwide. Chicago was the only city in all of North America to move into the top ten ranking for world and for economic competitiveness.
TAPPER: It’s been not an easy job…
TAPPER: — being mayor of Chicago.
TAPPER: Nor did you think it would be.
EMANUEL: Yes. That’s right.
TAPPER: But one of the struggles — and you — you’ve worked hard on this, it has to do with the violence in the city.
TAPPER: And I’m sure that that probably is a factor when companies decide whether they’re not going to move here.
TAPPER: What can be done about it beyond — obviously, you’re a supporter of greater regulations of guns. But it’s not just a gun problem, right? There are issues here in Chicago…
TAPPER: — in terms of gangs…
TAPPER: — in terms of…
EMANUEL: Those are — yes.
TAPPER: — the — the breakdown of the family.
EMANUEL: Well, the — there’s a — I’d say, first of all, this is our 22nd company moving their headquarters here…
EMANUEL: — and Chicago is growing over 40,000 jobs. Uh, we have also, “Crain’s” has noted, the fastest growing central business district in America. So there’s a lot of vibrancy in economic growth in the city of Chicago.
EMANUEL: One, overall, homicides are down 20 percent this year. Overall crime is down 23 percent. And shootings are down 24 percent. Now, that’s a great trend. Uh, on the other hand, you know, I call every parent, God forbid something happens to their child, uh, in any capacity. And those are the hardest calls you make. And I don’t want to be anymore, as I said the other day, we cannot be a tale of two cities when it comes to, uh, crime. We have to be one city with one future where every neighborhood is as safe as the other one. The gun issue, we take more guns off the street than either New York or LA, because like we’re the air cargo and transportation hub, a lot of illegal guns…
TAPPER: The gun hub, yes.
EMANUEL: — are coming in here. Now, we need to get — everybody has their hands dirty in this process. When a more effective U.S. attorney force, a more effective state’s attorney, better laws on the books, because I’m pushing for a three year minimum for any gun crimes committed, because I need a law on the books that is an actual deterrent, because the one year minimum is not, because people serve less than a year. In effect, when “The Sun-Times” did a story that a gang banger was quoted as saying the law is a joke. Now, if a gang banger knows it’s a joke, the deterrence is not working. But whether it’s policing, whether it’s prevention, whether it’s stiffer penalties and whether it’s parenting, I can’t legislate parenting, but I can tell you if we had kids getting the type of moral education they need, one, two and three would be working a little better and you wouldn’t needed as much investment. That’s what we’re dealing with.
TAPPER: Chicago, over the last three years, has lost $11 million from the federal government when it comes to after school and summer programs and, uh, $7 million…
EMANUEL: For pre…
TAPPER: — um in — in Head Start because of the sequester. Now, how do you do the prevention when the federal government is cutting almost $20 million in programs to do that?
EMANUEL: Let me give you — we increased our overall — the three years that I’ve been mayor, while the federal government has cut back after school and summer jobs, we’ve increased after school by 25 percent, more than making up for the federal government walking away, because of the way we funded it and making tough decisions in the budget. the federal government has been on a slow motion shut down on the children and we are paying as a city and as a country a huge consequence for that. And we have to start investing in our children. We’re going to have to make some real tough decisions to make sure that the resources we have because — go to our children, because they’re our future. It’s a crisis. And I’m not going to allow the city of Chicago, and, most importantly, our children, to be held hostage by the reckless politics of Washington or Springfield.
TAPPER: Let’s talk about the reckless politics of Washington. You were…
EMANUEL: Let’s talk about it…
TAPPER: — you were — you were giving advice to the White House during the shutdown? You were talk…
EMANUEL: — I just, you know, as a former chief of staff, you know, I’m always available to talk to any of my former colleagues and help them out if they want or not.
TAPPER: You had relationships, because you’re a former Democratic congressman, with Republicans in the House. I don’t know if you still talk to them, but what — you talk about the dysfunction in Washington, and I know you don’t miss it, let’s…
EMANUEL: Well, beyond don’t miss it.
TAPPER: I know you’re glad you’re not…
EMANUEL: It’s like — it’s like that Edward — you know, there’s a great Edward Munch painting, “The Scream.”..
TAPPER: “The Scream,” yes.
EMANUEL: — where he’s coming over the bridge? That was the look coming out of that town.
EMANUEL: I love that image that I can’t even — when somebody says to me, do you miss Washington, I said, like, did you get a subscription to the newspaper
(INAUDIBLE)? I mean what would I miss about that town?
TAPPER: That’s a nice — a nice version of what you probably said.
EMANUEL: Yes, that is, probably. That’s a cleaned up, uh, family-friendly CNN (INAUDIBLE)…
TAPPER: I appreciate it.
TAPPER: I appreciate it. What can be done? take two steps back. The financial — dealing with the financial crisis actually gave, um, uh, spurred the Tea Party reaction. And people (INAUDIBLE) very well what saved the financial system and the overall government, it also did — made our politics a lot worse. That’s the after-effect and after-glow.
TAPPER: You mean TARP — TARP (INAUDIBLE)…
EMANUEL: The TARP and that whole effort. Yes. It — it kicked, you know, the idea that you would be bailing out the banks and bankers.
EMANUEL: It spot — it spurred an entire political reaction. People — and people, you know, all the corporate community that runs around and says, oh, there were — today’s House Republicans, well, OK.
TAPPER: You think it just came out of nowhere?
EMANUEL: Right. There was something that gave impetus to this. One would — look, ultimately, there’s an internal battle on the Republican Party for the heart and soul and the direction of the Republicans. I — I’m not in any business — I don’t get paid to give them advice. One, I’ve always said that they need a Bill Clinton moment. Our own party, 10, 20 years ago, faced this and Bill Clinton set a new direction for the Democratic Party. As you know, I have a fondness for anything — that kind of more pragmatic, progressive philosophy. Two, I will say one thing — and I’m not one as, Jake, you know, one for process, OK. I think people get overwhelmed on process.
But the House of Representatives is set up for the voters to pick their representatives. Through redistricting and through technology, representatives now pick their voters. So the system is now turned upside down and it’s upside down. And that’s why it’s totally dysfunctional. And I say this as a person who practiced those dark arts. It’s wrong. The political system for both parties is, in the way we nominate people has allowed a radicalization that moves to the extremes, because election day is primary day, not general election day. And that does skew the system. It’s not the solution, it is part of an overall solution. And that needs to be worked out.
TAPPER: Um, so the dysfunction in Washington, is that the reason why you’re not, um, optimistic about any grand bargain when it comes to…
EMANUEL: I think a…
TAPPER: — the (INAUDIBLE)?
EMANUEL: — all the elites — well, I…
EMANUEL: — this is a — I think all the elites who run around talking about a grand bargain are fools. Grand bargains happened when George Bush had a House and Senate of his party and that’s why he create the prescription drug. We did it on the — on both the recovery plan, the financial reform, uh, health care, uh, because the parties are so, uh, polarized. I think you can get a bargain…
EMANUEL: — and I think you should — a single is OK. Given the political system is not set up for a grand bargain. It’s just not. And asking it to sit that (INAUDIBLE) then everybody walks around wringing their hands and this kind of, you know, new — you know, Boston-New York-DC, oh, God, you know, I’ll tell you, it’s not set up to do that. Let’s — you know, let’s set up something to succeed and get it done, because each success builds momentum to something else.
TAPPER: Do you think you’ll ever run for president?
EMANUEL: Absolutely not.
TAPPER: If Hillary runs…
EMANUEL: First of all, I would miss all of the opportunities to do interviews with you, Jake.
EMANUEL: Because I — I would cut you off like that.
TAPPER: — you wouldn’t let me have an interview?
TAPPER: I thought you’d give me the exclusive.
EMANUEL: I would about, uh, you know, on that back end. No, I’m not running. I couldn’t have — I have no interest. This is the greatest job I’ve ever had in public life.
TAPPER: Mayor for life?
EMANUEL: You know, it’s Chicago. I love being mayor, OK? First of all, they’ve got to reelect you. They have a…
EMANUEL: — they have a — you know, a public advocate.
TAPPER: They got to say.
EMANUEL: OK, not me. Second is I’ve been very fortunate to work for two great presidents. Being mayor is the most fulfilling about — if you want public — a — a life in public life and the ability to move things like what we’re talking today, uh, this is a capacity, uh, to — while it’s — you deal with, you know, how do I make up for a 90 percent cut in summer jobs for our kids and how do you come up with that solution that you have the best year ever, 20,000 kids working, earning a paycheck, learning the values of work? There’s nothing more fulfilling than this.
TAPPER: Hillary Clinton, if she runs, is it her nomination to — to — to lose?
EMANUEL: Jake, you know, my staff wants you to cut this interview and I want you to. I’m behind Hillary.
TAPPER: It’s my last question, I promise.
EMANUEL: OK. I’m behind Hillary if she runs. And I think she will. But that’s up to her. If she runs, I’m in.
TAPPER: Thank you so much for your time.
EMANUEL: You bet.
TAPPER: We really appreciate it. I know I pushed it, so thank you very much.
EMANUEL: You did. It’s so unusual.
TAPPER: Thank you, sir.
EMANUEL: Good to see you.