April 13th, 2014
04:20 PM ET
4 years ago

Sunday Chatter: The midterms, Sebelius' legacy and Burwell's future

The Sunday political talk shows waded into controversial territory. Missed them? We've got you covered with the most important parts of Sunday’s political chatter.

2014: Sitting side by side on CNN’s “State of the Union” - a rarity these days on political shows, where members of opposing parties often appear during different segments to talk about the same topics - Rep. Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Rep. Greg Walden, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, addressed the challenges they both face in the upcoming midterm elections.

Israel admitted that the political climate isn’t mostly sunny for Democrats right now.

“Well, look, there's a tough climate, no question about it. I won't sugarcoat it, but the climate has changed,” Israel told host Candy Crowley.

But (there’s always a “but” in politics) he said Election Day is still more than six months away and anything could happen.

“You never predict the ninth inning in the first inning. And as a Mets fan, you don't predict the ninth inning in the ninth inning,” he said. “Things change.”

The New York Democrat, in charge of raising money and electing Democrats to the House of Representatives, also acknowledged that Democratic voters’ low turnout in nonpresidential election years is a challenge that his party must overcome.

A new CBS News Poll shows that 70% of Republicans say they’re excited to vote, compared with 58% of Democrats.

“We're using every tool in our toolbox,” Israel said, including staff in 33 congressional districts.

But he said the real advantage Democrats have is that they are running against the “least popular Republican Congress in history.”

His counterpart at the NRCC, Walden, has a different take, obviously.

He said President Barack Obama’s low approval ratings will help Republicans in November.

“Our job is to … make sure that there's a check and balance on the Barack Obama administration and Washington,” he said.

Sebelius: Over on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said she was not pushed out, but that Obama did not ask her to stay.

“I made it pretty clear that it really wasn’t an option to stay on,” she said, adding that she either had to leave now or wait until his term ended in January of 2017. “That really wasn’t a commitment I was willing to make, and he knew that,” she said.

Sebelius is retiring after a tumultuous rollout of Obamacare that was plagued with a faulty website for the first couple of months of open enrollment. She said she has no regrets but that the December 1 deadline - the second self-imposed deadline to have the site functioning - was “a critical juncture” and a “scary date.” She said she wouldn’t have had a third chance if it failed.

As Sebelius’ legacy is being debated, Democrats and the Obama administration are going to play a critical role in shaping it with their public and private comments. Just two days after her announcement, they are offering cautious praise for the woman who oversaw the implementation of the largest social program since Medicare.

On CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland said, “She has accomplished a lot.” Meanwhile on “Fox News Sunday,” Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island said Sebelius “gave a lot of good service” but that “it probably is a good thing to have a new face going forward.”

Sebelius’ successor: Sebelius received a heavy dose of criticism throughout her tenure, especially from Republicans, and her proposed successor, Sylvia Burwell, will be subject to it as well.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, called Burwell an “interesting choice” because her current position as director of the Office of Management and Budget gives her the skills to help Obama “spin the numbers” of Obamacare.

The administration said 7.5 million people have signed up for Obamacare but has not said how many have paid for coverage, which is the real marker of enrollees.

“It’s not going to quiet the controversy,” Blackburn said on “Face the Nation” about the personnel change.

Over on “Fox News Sunday,” Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, who is on the committee that will oversee and vote on Burwell’s confirmation, didn't say he would vote against her but expressed concerns.

“The questions that we have to get to, however, is whether or not Director Burwell will be serving for the President of the United States, with his agenda as the primary objective, or will she get into the details of the numbers,” Scott said.

Democrats predictably praised her. Whitehouse said the former Clinton White House power player is “a very good choice.”

“She brings a strong set of credentials,” he said, pointing to her former positions as Clinton’s deputy chief of staff and chief of staff to former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin.

Russia: On ABC’s “This Week,” U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power increased pressure on Russia over its actions in Ukraine.

She said that the unrest in eastern Ukraine has “all the telltale signs … of Moscow’s involvement.”

Ukraine places blames for eastern unrest on Russia

Cities in Eastern Ukraine have erupted in chaos and reports of violence. Protesters have taken over police stations and Russian troops are massing at Ukraine’s eastern border.

“It’s professional, it’s coordinated,” she said. “There’s nothing grass-roots seeming about it.”

She said that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine “give credence to the idea” that he wants to take eastern Ukraine, despite the fact Moscow keep telling the administration that’s not its intention. “Everything they are doing suggests the opposite.”

Powers warned of “a ramping up” of sanctions if escalation continues.

IRS: On “Fox News Sunday,” a Republican and a Democrat dug in their heels and talked past each other in what was essentially a continuation of rancorous congressional hearings held on the IRS. On Thursday, Republicans on the House Oversight Committee voted to hold former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for not answering Congress’ questions over the scandal plaguing the agency for singling out conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.

House Republicans vote to hold former IRS official in contempt

The alleged politicization of the IRS has provided a year of fodder for Republicans looking for corruption and illegal activity in the highest levels of the Obama administration.

Rep. Sander Levin, the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means committee, said conservative groups applying for tax-exempt 501(c)(4) status were examined more than liberal ones because of the rapid increase in political spending by conservative groups in 2012.

“In 2012, $256 million, and two of the organizations were Koch brother organizations and a third was Karl Rove,” he said. The wealthy and politically active Koch brothers have been a key target of Democrats, especially in the Senate, this election season.

But host Chris Wallace said that didn’t explain why 100% of groups with the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their names were examined and only 30% of groups with the word “progressive.”

Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Louisiana, defended the 10-month investigation, which has yet to show that directive came from Obama or anyone inside the White House.

“We’ve been stonewalled,” he said, adding that Republicans have been “obstructed” by Lerner, a career bureaucrat.

Rand Paul: After spending some time in New Hampshire, a critical early-voting state in the presidential nominating process, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky defended his Senate vote against the resolution on Iran regarding nuclear weapons.

He told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl that the senators who voted for it were “voting for war” because the language of the resolution says the United States would “do everything possible” to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

When pressed, Paul would not say if it was acceptable to tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran.

“Should I announce to Iran, well, we don’t want you to, but we’ll live with it? No, that’s a dumb idea. … However, the opposite is a dumb idea, too.”

Paul barely walked back his remarks from 2009, when he said former Vice President Dick Cheney was encouraging war in Iraq to enrich his former defense contractor employer Halliburton.

“I’m not questioning his motives,” Paul said in the interview aired Sunday, but added that “there’s a chance for a conflict of interest.”

Rand Paul: Hillary Clinton 'as bad or worse' than President Obama on government surveillance

He also defended his proposed cuts to the defense budget and criticized some of his Republican colleagues who “play up” the patriotism card, equating patriotism with defense funding.

“It’s not a blank check,” he said. “Some conservatives will give them whatever they want and everything is for the soldiers. … We can't be a trillion dollars in the hole.”

And no, Paul has not made up his mind about running for president. He is giving the same answer he’s been giving for the past many months: His wife is still undecided.

Immigration and racism: Paul wouldn’t directly criticize former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a potential 2016 rival, for saying that illegal immigration is not a felony but “an act of love.”

Paul said Bush could have been “more artful.”

“When you say they're doing an act of love and you don't follow it up with, ‘But we have to control the border,’ people think, well, because they're doing this for kind reasons that the whole world can come to our country.”

On “State of the Union,” Walden and Israel debated immigration reform, which passed the Senate last year and is stalled in the House.

Walden rejected House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s comment that Republicans won’t take up immigration is in part because of racism, calling it “both wrong and unfortunate.”

Israel said “a significant extent” of the Republican base voters do have elements “animated by racism.”

He said the Republican leadership should allow a vote on the bill, predicting that 190 Democrats would support it, meaning that only a couple dozen Republicans would have to support it for it to pass.

“Then we don’t have to have this debate anymore.”

Boston Marathon: As Tuesday’s anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing approaches, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said the marathon is going to be “a great, great occasion,” but added that it will also be a solemn one.

“We acknowledge the tragedy of the last year, but also, it has been a source of pride for us in the way this community has shown the world what … a strong community looks like.”

Kicker: Kissing Congressman: Walden refused to say whether he thought Rep. Vance McAllister, the freshman Louisiana congressman caught on surveillance video kissing an aide, should resign.

“It's bad. It's wrong. He needs to answer and be held accountable,” was as far as Walden would go. “I’m going to leave it at that.”

Filed under: DCCC • IRS • Kathleen Sebelius • NRCC • Obamacare • Rand Paul • Sylvia Mathews Burwell • Ukraine • Uncategorized • Vance McAllister • Vladimir Putin
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Chris-E...al

    0bamacare could'nt even cure Sebelius .

    April 13, 2014 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  2. Just me

    I would think the Boston Marathon would've been cancelled this year. Im surprised its going as planned.

    April 13, 2014 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |

    The GOP and their Koch brothers sponsors are AGAINEST EVERYTHING the American people are FOR, minimum wage tax reform , Medicare , medicade , soc sec, imagration reform womans RIGHTS , voters RIGHTS, if your FOR theses things, THEN WHY do you keep Voting AGAINEST THEM, maybe because your GOP traitors sponsors , the KOCH BROTHERS of the JOHN BERCH SOCIETY are AGAINEST ALL THESE THINGS!!!!!!

    April 13, 2014 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  4. Rick McDaniel

    Burwell's future is impossible.

    ObamaCare is a train wreck that will only get WORSE, and NOT better!

    April 13, 2014 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |

    BLAND Paul and the DUFUS scot walker have NO chance in 2016 or EVER and RUNNING AGAINEST HEALTHCARE for all Americans and your HOT DOG CAR DRIVER BUDGET GURU LYIN RYAN aren't going anywhere except getting KICKED OUT OF OFFICE in November !!!!!

    April 13, 2014 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  6. Rich

    This is so funny, if this had happened when a conservative president had been in office the headline would have been.
    You just have to laugh and shake your head!...............Sebelius Legacy, Ha

    April 13, 2014 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  7. marv

    Kathleen, I want to thank you for providing me the chance at less gaudy coverage which modestly doesn't prematurely pay anything until my out of pocket maximum is reached. Thanks too for helping me dispose of this burdensome cash which could have been paid to those insurance fat cat donors to the Democratic Party all of these years that I was wasting it feeding, clothing and educating my kids.

    If only I had known that I could pay twice as much for less coverage, I would have left them cold hungry and ignorant and they could be loyal democrats for life.

    April 13, 2014 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  8. God MAY NOT be a Liberal, but He IS a Democrat

    Thank you Kathleen Sebelius. The launch of the ACA should be viewed as a relay race. Your ran the lead off leg & 2nd leg. You stunbledd out of the blocks and got behind early [you really didn`t have the hands on red team/ blue team project management reviews staffed or in place that were required]. You bobbled the baton hand off to the 2nd leg [the Oct 1 Healthcare.gov website]. BUT with a tremendous closing kick, you made up ground and gave the team a lead [7.5M enrollees]. Kudos to you for a solid performance recovery even if a "political recovery" was not possible in this posioned partisan enviroment. You can walk out with your headd held high knowing the team is ahead in the race. Now Ms. Burwell, a TOP-to-BOTTOM reveiw of the ACA implementation and cradle to grave operations review is in order to make sure you don`t inherit any surprises. Finally, lets give the boss some credit for resisting calls from Repiblicans and Mr. Gibbs to have heads roll on Oct 2nd. Better managerial practice was to have the knowledgible, smart but humiliated Sebelius get mad at the GOP critics and to recover as she did. Well done, Mr. President.

    April 13, 2014 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  9. just saying

    delusional democrats are really grasping for straws on how to hide the fact that their party knowingly lied to the entire country about obamacare. they don't own and can't buy enough smoke and mirrors to hide this fact. 8 years of democrats running the show and 6 years with obama in office and we still have record high unemployment and now a disastrous takeover and dismantling of our healthcare system. all of this after years and years of waiting and spending several trillion dollars our kids will have to repay. of course, the democrats are busy concocting new fictious wars and victim groups to try and deflect from their years of failure. problem is hte country now knows they are a bunch of liars after the obamacare con job.

    April 13, 2014 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |

    What's new? We knew that when we saw the witch doctor signs and the confederate flags.

    April 14, 2014 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  11. Kelly

    I thought 'legacy' usually referred to something successful? Time to find a new word for her career........ And shameful that it took this long to get her out with problem after problem. Has anyone in this administration been held accountable?

    April 14, 2014 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  12. Al

    Kathleen Sebelius appeared on a Democratic backing television station and without blinking an eye she admitted what real people knew was the facts all along. The Democrats ACA was broken from the beginning and that it was a push from the White House to ignore that it was broken and to continue to lie to the people to protect Obama and the Democrats future. It's too bad that she could not find it in her soul to tell the people the truth when she was asked the questions while she was collecting the tax payers money.

    April 14, 2014 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  13. smith

    I`ve stated many times liberals and now the Democrat party has a theme of calling people racist who are a non-dem, a person who disagrees with liberal policies, and a person who criticizes democrat leaders. People like Holder, Pelosi, and Isreal are trash who use racism as a weapon. Janet Reno took more bull from the GOP than Holder ever will. I don`t remember her cryin` like a 2 year old.

    April 14, 2014 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  14. American Worker

    "Party Election Chiefs"


    Stop deferring our civic Duty and Representation to the political Elite, Oligarchs, Masters, Lords, ....

    The role of a 'Free People's Government' is to assure that it, other governments, businesses, groups, and individuals let the people and our diversity be. An that the Laws and Regulations mitigate the 'actions' of the careless, inconsiderate, malicious, and anti-functional.

    What we have now are Elitist Progressive – Social Supremacist (EP-SS) imposing their doctrine/religion upon the whole of American. And enforcing it by imposing criminality upon those who do not kneel to them, via punitive and pandering Laws and Regulations.

    We should never allow our government to be a 'National Church' that imposes the Doctrine/Religion of those in power and never allow there to be a State Clergy that gets a Pass for molesting our people and diversity.

    April 14, 2014 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  15. Rudy NYC

    Rep. Sander Levin, the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means committee, said conservative groups applying for tax-exempt 501(c)(4) status were examined more than liberal ones because of the rapid increase in political spending by conservative groups in 2012.
    There was also a rapid increase in the number of conservative groups following the C"itizens United" decision. Groups from parts of the political spectrum were checked, just as they should have been.

    Republicans are trying to mislead the public when it comes to the IRS. They conduct an investigation that asks whether or not conservative groups were targeted. The answer comes back, "yes", and they've been making noise ever since. What they're not telling you is that they are ignoring everything else. Their focus is intentionally narrow. They do not want to hear about anything else.

    April 14, 2014 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  16. logictox

    Sebelius admitted to congress rates would go up and said maybe even double digit. Obama can't stand for any member of his administration to speak the truth. He knows that as long as he never admits to a lie that he can continue to deny, deny, deny.

    April 14, 2014 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  17. Tampa Tim

    I lost my health insurance because of obamacare. Why do democrats want to take health insurance away from people?
    Hal gets this week's "Biggest Lie" award.

    April 14, 2014 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  18. Clay

    President. Obama is one of our greatest presidents. He is the Muhammad Ali of presidents. The Fox (Klan) News Channel has tried to destroy him, but he is the greatest. The Klu Klux Klan stopped burning crosses left the corn fields and created the Fox (Klan) News Channel to spread there hatred. Make room on Mt. Rushmore .

    April 14, 2014 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  19. Anonymous

    " ... 8 years of democrats running the show and 6 years with obama in office and we still have record high unemployment ..."
    8 years? How do you figure that? If you mean Democrats winning the House in 2006. then what about Republicans winning the House in 2010? Barack Obama has been in office just over 5 years, and the last 3 of those years has been with a Repubilcan House, and no filibuster proof, Democratic majority in the Senate.

    April 14, 2014 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  20. Tampa Tim

    Justafool – We have the lowest unemployment rate in years now that we have overcome the record job loss of 2008. No one has taken over your health care, you still get your insurance from a private company, and you get to keep your junk policy. Our children's children will be paying for the unnecessary republican wars, republican bank bailouts, republican unfunded drug programs, TARP, republican government shutdowns, republican credit downgrade, record Bush deficits, and the republican economics that gave us the vast majority of our debt.

    April 14, 2014 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  21. Tampa Tim

    Let me change that, "justa" gets the biggest lie of the week.

    April 14, 2014 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  22. Gunderson

    Um, What?,
    Is it finally time to admit defeat and scrap "Stumble" Care or are many of you going to beat that Horse to death?

    Do something for the country and trash the Un-Affordable Act. People were taking care of themselves long before the Do-Gooders came along.

    April 14, 2014 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  23. Rudy NYC


    I`ve stated many times liberals and now the Democrat party has a theme of calling people racist who are a non-dem, a person who disagrees with liberal policies, and a person who criticizes democrat leaders. People like Holder, Pelosi, and Isreal are trash who use racism as a weapon. Janet Reno took more bull from the GOP than Holder ever will. I don`t remember her cryin` like a 2 year old.
    Janet Reno was criticized for actions decisions that occurred during her watch. She was never subjected to character attacks, such as having her intelligence questioned. Holder was, and still it, being criticized for a gun program that had begun under the Bush administration, one which Holder put an end to when he learned of it.

    April 14, 2014 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  24. Namelinda

    Everyone keeps underestimating minority voter turnout in November. We do remember 2012. We also know the KKK is trying to take the White House.

    April 14, 2014 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  25. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Thank you Ms.Sebellius for ensuring before your departure that the system was up and running.
    The hand-off to Ms.Burwell was a smooth one.
    We're hopeful that Ms. Burwell will see the second phase of Obamacare through with minimal glitches.

    April 14, 2014 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
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