White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough joins Fox News Sunday this week to discuss the President’s ISIS strategy, the 2014 midterm elections, and all the latest headlines.
What lies ahead for ObamaCare in 2014; Reps. Mike Rogers, Adam Schiff on balance between security, privacy
Written by Chris Wallace / Published December 29, 2013 / Fox News Sunday
Special Guests: Howard Dean, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Rep. Mike Rogers, Rep. Adam Schiff
CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: I'm Chris Wallace.
ObamaCare goes into full effect January 1st, but more problems with the website and enrollment could mean a chaotic beginning to the New Year.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There probably will be glitches. There have been glitches before, and there will be glitches moving forward.
WALLACE: We'll discuss ObamaCare in 2014 with former Vermont Governor Howard Dean and Dr. Scott Gottlieb of the American Enterprise Institute.
And NSA leaker Edward Snowden releases a Christmas message, with more warnings about government surveillance.
EDWARD SNOWDEN, NSA LEAKER: A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all.
WALLACE: We'll ask two members of the House Intelligence Committee, Chairman Mike Rogers and Congressman Adam Schiff, how to strike a balance between security and privacy.
Plus, our Sunday panelist make their predictions for the year ahead in politics, entertainment, sports and more -- all, right now, on this “Fox News Sunday”.
WALLACE: And hello again from FOX News in Washington.
It's been a tough year for ObamaCare, with a disastrous website roll out and disappointing enrollment numbers. But the president's health plan faces even bigger challenges January 1 when folks actually start seeing doctors under the new system.
We've invited two experts to discuss what happens now: former governor, Vermont governor and doctor, Howard Dean. And Dr. Scott Gottlieb has been an ObamaCare critic with the American Enterprise Institute.
Dr. Gottlieb, what do you think happens on January 1 when folks who think that they've enrolled in the new Obamacare system actually go to see their doctor?
GOTTLIEB: Well, clearly, there's going to be dislocation. People are going to go and try to access health care and they're not going to be insured. What the administration has said to the insurance companies is they effectively want the insurance companies to float people through the month, and if people think they're insured, cover them through the month and administration said, well, reconcile with the insurance companies later. So, there's going to be another reckoning February 1st. People will go January 1st and they're not going to be insured. Some will be floated, and some will have that dislocation in February.
WALLACE: Governor Dean, how much confusion on January 1 when people who think they've signed up under the new system go to see a doctor?
DEAN: Probably less than we think. Look, this system is based on what Mitt Romney did in Massachusetts. It's a private sector plan. It actually was designed by people of the Heritage Institute. And I think it will work. It wasn't my favorite plan, but I think it will work.
But there are going to be dislocations. I think the reasons there are not going to be as many as most people think is because most of the people signed up are healthy. So, there's not be a huge rush to the doctor on January 1st. But there are going to be problems. There's no question about it and I think we'll work through them. And I think by March this whole thing will be running a lot more smoothly.
WALLACE: You were shaking your head, Doctor.
GOTTLIEB: Yes. I mean, if you look at the demographic data, the underlying trends and who's enrolling, there is that as evidence that's less healthy. It's a less healthy population and what he plans certainly hope for and probably older. You have to look at the state level data, because they're not putting out national data from healthcare.gov.
So, when you look at the state level data, what you see is a lot of people are signing up for more expensive plans. They're buying the gold and platinum plans, or they're buying the silver plans, when everyone thought they'd be buying the cheaper bronze plans.
Now, the only reason you'd buy a more expensive plan is if you think you're going to tap the health services, because effectively what you're doing is you're paying higher premiums to pay down your deductible and co-pays, and you're only doing that if you think you're going to use the health care. That's an indication that this is a less healthy population.
WALLACE: I want to get to some of the --
DEAN: I think that's true, but even, go ahead, but in general, not -- most people don't go to the doctor every single month. You have to be fairly unhealthy to have to do that.
And so -- you know, Scott is not wrong about that, though. I think he is right at what he just said, the data does show that less healthy people are signing up, younger people are signing up less frequently than hoped.
WALLACE: I want to get to some of the specifics of what people are actually going to be -- this is not going to be an enrollment issue anymore, it's not going to be a Web site issue, it's between you and your doctor and your doctor's office when you want access to health care and whether or not that's covered or not by insurance companies.
One of the president's big promises, of course, was -- if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.
Dr. Gottlieb, you say not only is that untrue, but in some of these plans, you may have trouble seeing any doctors.
GOTTLIEB: Well, there are very narrow network plans and they exclude a lot of specialist, people might have to travel far distances to see a specialist. We've looked at the networks. We've interrogated the plans and sometimes you have to travel 50 miles to see an urologist, for example. I found plans that don't have a single dermatologist that does skin cancer surgery, for example.
But there's also an issue with the drug formularies. These are what we called closed formularies, which means that the only thing that gets covered are the drugs that are on that list. And if you're drug isn't on that list, it's not covered at all, and the out of pocket costs don't count against your deductibles or your out of pocket maximums.
So, people are going to be very surprised. This is really a throwback to the old '90s models of HMOs, when people really rejected those plans and preferred provider organization instead, which gave them more flexibility. People made that trade.
WALLACE: But you had an analysis where you said, I think it was in San Diego, that there was seven pediatricians in the entire county in the network, for the entire county of San Diego.
GOTTLIEB: Right. There was a plan in Florida, actually, had seven pediatricians for about a quarter million children in that county. But we found similar things in San Diego, we found it in New York as well, where plans only had seven or eight cardiologists, a handful of urologists that were 50, 60 miles away. It's more on the specialty side. There's not a lot of specialists in the lot of these plans.
WALLACE: Governor Dean, let me bring you into this. First of all, how troubled are you that the president's big promises of 2012 and 2013, "if you like your plan, you can keep your plan, if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor" turned out to be untrue? And specifically Dr. Gottlieb's point, that you may have trouble especially you want to see a specialist, finding any doctor in some of these plans?
DEAN: Yes, that's going to happen in a few plans. Remember, this is the insurance industry that's running. And the insurance industry also squeezes cost by eliminating possibility of seeing people. A lot of these people that signed up are going to know that they limited themselves to closed networks and closed formularies because that's what makes their plan cheaper.
But I do agree. And I actually don't think for the most part that the Obama people get the blame for this. For example, in New Hampshire, they had a network that excluded a ton of hospitals. That was really the problem of the New Hampshire insurance commissioner. They have to pass on these plans being offered, so --
WALLACE: Governor, Governor, if I may, isn't it the president's promise if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor? I mean, you're now telling me in New Hampshire, that's not true.
DEAN: For the most part it will be true, but it's a little like the other promise, it won't be true 100 percent of the time. That's true.
GOTTLIEB: Well, the other -- I mean, the other piece of this, is you can't buy up to higher benefit. People think that if you buy in to a gold or platinum plan, you're going to get a different network. You don't. In most cases, the network of physicians is the same between the bronze, silver, and gold plans.
The only thing you're doing is paying higher premiums to basically buy down your deductible. So there really isn't a lot of choice --
GOTTLIEB: Please, Governor?
DEAN: Well, you do have a choice between insurance companies though. I mean, you know, you -- there is no different goal --
GOTTLIEB: Yes, not in every state, 60 percent of counties in this country only have two insurers. But it's true in large metropolitan areas, you will have a choice.
WALLACE: I want to get to this question of --
DEAN: That was true, Scott, though, before ObamaCare. Alabama, for example, essentially had one company that was doing 85 percent of the health insurance business.
WALLACE: Gentlemen, I want to get to this question of cause, because this was another one of the president's promises. He said that generally speaking under ObamaCare, you will pay less for your health care than you did under the old season. Dr. Gottlieb, you said one of the problems is that folks maybe realized that premiums may be lower, although in a lot of cases it isn't. But what they don't realize is that under a lot of these plans their deductibles skyrocket, so that for months, you could be seeing a doctor and you're not covered by your insurance because you haven't met a $4,000 or $5,000 deductible.
GOTTLIEB: Well, these are expensive plans. Clearly, some people are going to do well. If you're below about 250 percent to 200 percent under the federal poverty level, the subsidies are sufficient that you will probably end up getting a cheap plan, but anyone above that level could very likely end up paying more for the health care than what they were getting before. And remember, a lot of people going into these exchange right now aren't uninsured folks. Most of the people are people who had insurance are now being forcibly moved into the exchange and most of the middle class folks really don't benefit in the subsidies. They're going to find these plans much more expensive than what they were getting before.
WALLACE: Yes, I want to talk to you about that.
DEAN: This is a very interesting --
WALLACE: Governor, let me just make the point --
DEAN: OK, go ahead. Sorry.
WALLACE: Because particularly, for people who aren't going to get the subsidy or may not get a full subsidy, and especially those folks who bought into the bronze plans, you've got deductibles that are $5,000. You could have to go for your doctor for an entire year and not reach $5,000, particularly if you're not that sick.
DEAN: Well, first of all, Scott is right, there will be a substantial number of people who are going to get subsidies, who didn't have insurance before, who may have insurance and they're going to save money. So, they will see lower premiums to them, they won't cost less. But it will be lower premiums.
But here's the interesting thing I find about the deductible argument. The deductible argument is such a classic Republican argument. This is what Republicans have always wanted, have more patience, put more skin in the game, and then they'll be more careful about what they spend.
And now, we have those spectacles of Republicans attacking the higher deductible, just because they're so desperate to attack this plan on any number. This is a Republican idea. Have higher deductibles, patients put more skin in the game with their own money and they're more careful about how they're spending their money.
GOTTLIEB: But these aren't really high deductible plans. The idea of a high deductible plan is a lot of routine stuff that you pay for out of pocket, but you cover only catastrophic stuff. Here, what's happening is a lot of routine stuff is paid for in full because of the mandates, where the deductibles and co-pays are going to hit you is on the more important stuff. I mean, you'll get free surgical sterilization if you're a woman, but you might not get cancer therapy paid for in all coverage on that.
And that's the problem with these plans. They're not truly high deductible plans in the traditional sense of how we think about them.
WALLACE: Let's turn to another subject, because I want to cover as much of this as possible about what people are going to be facing. There's been a lot of talk and we talked about it briefly here about who is signing up and the fact that it may be older, sicker people and that therefore, the insurance risk pool isn't so good and that there maybe more costs to the insurance companies.
Dr. Gottlieb, under the risk corridor provision -- risk corridor, it's a term of art.
WALLACE: You can help explain what it means -- of ObamaCare. What are the chances that the federal government may have to bail out some of these insurance companies this year or next year because they're paying out more in premiums in -- benefits than they're getting in premiums?
GOTTLIEB: The cost is going to be higher than anticipated but the total cost probably won't. Really what's going to help offset the losses from the insurance companies is this reinsurance fund. It's a $25 billion fund that's basically paid for with a $50 to $70 tax on everyone who has private coverage. I'm not sure with union, they were exempted from it. That reinsurance fund is going to be use to offset some of the losses from the insurance companies, about two-thirds of the losses.
So the insurance companies really are going to take very big losses this year. Premiums will go up in 2015, as a result of the bad experience, but not as big as you think. The bigger issue is plans not getting into this market.
When I talk to actuaries who are preparing bids for 2015, the health plans, what they're saying is the only plans they're looking to get in are the Medicaid plans that didn't get in this year.
Governor Dean, we've got a couple of minutes left. I want to take big picture with you.
Back in December, just before the launch of ObamaCare, you were quite critical of the critics of ObamaCare and you said this, "I think when they see what this looks like, this debate we're having, which is outrageous, is going to look really stupid."
Question, after all of the problems with Healthcare.gov, after the fact that it looked like a million or a million plus people are going to sign up by the end of the year, but almost six million are going to have lost their policies because of the cancellations, do you still think the critics of ObamaCare look, quote, "really stupid."
DEAN: No. I think they look incredibly partisan, though. Scott is an exception to this. Scott and I debated before. He knows that facts. He knows what he's talking about and I don't think what he is saying is based on partisanship.
Most of the stuff that you see in the paper, if you see it in Congress, on the floor of the Senate and the House, their criticism, is hocus pocus and nonsense.
WALLACE: Wait. Forgive me, sir. But when it was the Web site, which was, I think everybody would agree, the president called it a disaster, when you've got 5 million people who thought they were going to be able to keep their plans, who were 6 million who got canceled -- that's not partisan, that's just a fact.
DEAN: No. But, yes, but all of the hyperbole and socialist system and doctors are going to quit and all that stuff, it's just not credible.
WALLACE: How about the part I asked you about, Governor?
DEAN: Are there some serious -- I'm sorry, what's that?
WALLACE: I say, how about the part I asked you about?
DEAN: Yes. The website was badly rolled out. Nobody would dispute that and it needs to be fixed.
I think the first year is going to be more successful than most people think. I think people will have insurance that didn't have it before. I think you're going to get people who have access and it's going to be cheaper. Not for everybody.
I don't think -- we're going to see -- you know, Scott made a prediction here. I think he is partly right, but I think the numbers are going to be small enough so that the antis -- the partisans are going to try to talk about all of these individuals who have gotten screwed by this. But most people, the vast majority of people are going to benefit from this. And that's what I think is the important part.
WALLACE: Thirty seconds, Dr. Scott Gottlieb? Last word.
GOTTLIEB: Well, you know, the numbers they announced this morning were well behind. I was prepared to come on your show and say they must have been up to close to 2 million. They only announced 1.1 million. They were 900,000 December 22nd. So, we haven't seen the rush that we thought we'd see for people to sign up at the end of the year.
WALLACE: And six months from now?
GOTTLIEB: You might not see. A lot of people coming in to these exchanges, again, are people who were insured and knocked off their insurance. The uninsured aren't entering the exchanges because the plans are still expensive for them.
WALLACE: Governor Dean, Dr. Gottlieb, thank you both so much for coming in. We'll be following how these things go in the first few weeks under ObamaCare. Thank you both, gentlemen.
GOTTLIEB: Thanks for having me.
DEAN: Thank you.
WALLACE: Up next, NSA leaker Edward Snowden says his mission is accomplished. We'll take up the debate over government surveillance with two members of the House Intelligence Committee, next.
And be sure to tell us what you think on Facebook and share your favorite moments from today's show with other FNS fans.
WALLACE: In an interview with "The Washington Post" this week, NSA leaker Edward Snowden declared victory. Months of Snowden revelations stirred an international debate over government surveillance. And according to him, that is mission accomplished.
Joining me now are two key members of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff of California, and here in D.C., committee chair, Mike Rogers of Michigan.
Congressmen, welcome back to “Fox News Sunday”.
REP. MIKE ROGERS, R-MICH.: Thanks, Mr. Wallace.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, D-CALIF.: Thanks so much.
WALLACE: Before we get to the NSA, "The New York Times" has an extensive investigation this morning into the Benghazi attack on its front page. It reports, quote, "No evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault." It goes on, "And contrary to claims by some members of Congress, it was fueled in large part by anger at, yes, an American made video denigrating Islam."
Congressman Rogers, I think it's fair to say that "The Times" report directly contradicts what you've been saying.
ROGERS: Yes, I don't know it was an exhaustive investigation. We have gone through some 4,000 different classified cables leading up to the event, talk to people on the ground during the event, done the postmortem on the event through the committee investigation.
WALLACE: What did they get wrong?
ROGERS: That al Qaeda was not involved. There was some level of preplanning, we know that. There was aspiration to conduct an attack by Al Qaeda and their affiliates in Libya. We know that.
The individuals on the ground talked about a planned tactical movement on the compound even -- this is the compound before they went to the annex. All of that would directly contradict what the "New York Times" definitively says was an exhaustive investigation, tells me they didn't talk to the people on the ground who were doing the fighting, the shooting and the intelligence gathering.
When you put that volume of information, I think it proves that story is just not accurate.
WALLACE: Well, let me ask you one specific thing. There was one group that everybody says was involved, Ansar al-Sharia. They say it's really an independent radical Islamic group, but it doesn't have links to Al Qaeda.
ROGERS: I dispute that, and I think the intelligence to a large volume disputes that al-Sharia.
Now, did they have differences of opinion with Al Qaeda core? Yes. Do they have affiliations with al Qaeda core? Definitely.
WALLACE: Do you think there is a political motivation to this "Times" report? Some people have suggested, well, this is trying to clear the deck for Hillary Clinton in 2016.
ROGERS: Yes. I don't know, but I found it was interesting that there's this rollout of stories, including Susan Rice, would go on TV and have a direct discussion, when we still have ongoing investigation in the House Intelligence Committee.
WALLACE: But, again, do you think that's a different tactic?
ROGERS: I find the timing odd. I don't want to speculate on why they might do it. But I can tell you that the information that's being presented in a way that we've heard before and through the investigation have been able to determine is not accurate in its portrayal.
WALLACE: Congressman Schiff, does "The Times" report in your opinion exonerate the Obama administration from the president, to Susan Rice, to Hillary Clinton?
SCHIFF: Well, I don't think "The New York Times" report is designed to exonerate the security lapses within the State Department that left our people vulnerable. I do think it adds some valuable insights. I agree with Mike that, however, the intelligence indicates that Al Qaeda was involved, but there were also plenty of people and militias that were unaffiliated with Al Qaeda that were involved.
I think the intelligence paints a portrait that some came to murder, some people came to destroy property, some merely came to loot, and some came in part motivated by those videos. So it is a complex picture. There was some planning, as Mike points out, but it was not extensive. I don't think it's either accurate to characterize this as a long-term preplanned core Al Qaeda operation or something completely unaffiliated.
And I think, Chris, where the New York Times report both adds value and also is deficient is they didn't have the same access to people who were not aware that they were being listened to. They were heavily reliant, obviously, on people that they interviewed who had a reason to provide the story that they did.
Sometimes, though, the intelligence which has the advantage of hearing what people say when they don't know they are being listened to, that could be misleading as well when people make claims, they boast of things that they were not involved in for various purposes.
So I think it adds some insights, but I don't think it's complete. And I don't think either paradigm is really accurate here.
WALLACE: All right.
Let's move to the NSA, because leaker Edward Snowden has been on something of a big public relations offensive this past week. He gave an interview to the Washington Post in which he said this, "for me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission is already accomplished. I already won. And he had a Christmas message, yes, a Christmas message for the people of Britain."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDWARD SNOWDEN, NSA LEAKER: Together, we can find a better balance, end mass surveillance, and remind the government that if it really wants to know how we feel, asking is always cheaper than spying.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Congressman Schiff, are you moved by the Edward Snowden Christmas message? And has he performed a public service as he seems to think?
SCHIFF: I'm not moved by the message at all. And I think there is a real irony here that he is giving this message from one of the foremost Big Brother states in the world where he is living without any privacy because there is no right or expectation of privacy in Russia whatsoever. So I'm not moved by this at all.
You know, he has kindled an important public debate, but frankly I think it came from a mixture of motivations on his part. And I think he should have stayed in the United States and been willing to stand up for his beliefs if that's what motivated him. I think that would have demonstrated the courage of his convictions. So, I don't find his message particularly moving or appealing.
WALLACE: Congressman Rogers, in The Washington Post interview, Snowden he asks and answers the question who elected him to reveal all of these government secrets. And his answer is that he says that it was the overseers of those programs let's put up specifically what he says.
"Dianne Feinstein elected me when she asked softball questions in committee hearings," he said. "Mike Rogers elected me when he kept these programs secret." He says he is doing the job that you failed to do.
ROGERS: Yeah, well, you have to remember this is somebody who had a troubled employment history, who ran to China and Russia. He stole American classified documents that because of their release jeopardizes our troops in the field in places like Afghanistan and has allowed nation states, Russia, China and others to have valuable insight in the way our intelligence services operate to collect information to keep America safe.
That's who the messenger is, number one.
Number two, the most recent court case, this happened just a few days ago by Judge Pauley, laid out very succinctly the oversight of the NSA program. And I think there's a big confusion about that this is Obama's program that he instituted when he was in office, this is a program that was initiated after 9/11, because we missed a big piece of information.
So both of the chairs of these committees, all of them members of these committees, are fully briefed on all of these actions. It is our job to make sure that they comport with the law. We do that. We take that very seriously.
I think all of that happened. And I think this most recent judicial ruling is important for one reason: it reinstituted faith in the institution of judicial oversight, congressional oversight and the checks and balances within the executive branch.
WALLACE: I want to talk to you about this, because you can -- depending on your opinion, you can just wait for a judicial ruling and you can find some back and forth. Because let's talk about the mass NSA collection, metadata collection, of billions of American phone records, who they called, and how long the call lasted, not the content. We want to emphasize that.
Now, in terms of rulings, in just 11 days we have one federal judge who called that practice of metadata collection almost Orwellian and likely unconstitutional. And then on Friday we had another federal judge call it lawful and the government's counterpunch to Al Qaeda.
Congressman Schiff, do you agree with the congressional panel, because they came out with their 46 recommendations along with the two judges who say rather than have the government hold on these billions of records of metadata, that it would be better for a phone companies or some another private entity hold on to that information?
SCHIFF: Chris, I do. I strongly agree with that conclusion. And, you know, some have diminished the report by saying it's just the work of a bunch of professors. We have to remember, you know, Mike Morell was the acting director of the CIA. Richard Clarke, long experienced in counterterrorism, transcending administrations of both parties.
Interesting that the two judges that you mentioned both appointed by presidents of different parties, and contrary to what people might expect, the Clinton appointee upheld the program, and the bush appointee said it was unconstitutional. I actually find confidence that in those rulings in the sense that those judges didn't feel bound by the party of the presidents who appointed them...
WALLACE: Let me, if -- congressman, if I can bring in Congressman Rogers, though, on the specific issue of who should hold on to these records, because there seems to be a general agreement that they need to be held on to by somebody. The haystack -- real quickly.
SCHIFF: If I could just address that very quickly. The reason I think the program ought to be restructured is that we can get the same national security information that we need without the government obtaining millions and millions of records it doesn't need to hold. The phone companies already hold these records for a period of time. We can go to them as necessary as the task force found. We can have an exigent circumstances exception where we can get those records immediately, otherwise we can go to the FISA court in advance.
So we can both protect the country and protect the expectation of privacy. And that's the course that we ought to take. And that's how we ought to restructure the program.
WALLACE: We're running out of time, sir. So let me bring in Congressman Rogers, the interesting thing is since that recommendation came out, both the intel community and some privacy advocates say, we're not crazy about the government holding it, but we think the idea of some private entity holding it would be even worse.
ROGERS: Yeah, it opens it up to privacy concerns across the board. And so there are -- there is no such oversight.
And, again, the reason that Pauley decision was important, it went beyond -- it looked at all of the oversight issues in ruling and in the judge's opinion. Very important.
WALLACE: Another ruling that directly disagrees.
ROGERS: If you ruling, it wasn't based -- it was not a substantive ruling is why he staid his own ruling. He said this is probably going to get overturned -- why? 15 judges, 36 rulings, all of them upheld that this program is lawful and meets the Fourth Amendment test.
And then you have hundreds of appellate decisions over -- since Maryland v. Smith that uphold the underpinnings that these are business records, non-content, no names, no addresses. That, I think, is an important distinction.
So, I think the foundation of the legal argument is there. And what we have here is you're going to take away the safety of what is well overseen, locked away in a vault, very, very strict oversight on who gets access to even check a foreign number coming into the United States.
And this is what's important, after 9/11, we missed a foreign call coming into the United States. They said how do we fix that? This is the way they decided to fix it. And you have all the levels of oversight to make sure it's safe.
It goes to the private companies, you are going to have a government mandated scheme, no such oversight the way we have it at the federal government.
WALLACE: Well, this is going to be continued, as we should point out, the president on his Hawaiian vacation is studying I'm sure the court decisions, the varying court decisions as well as his independent panel's rulings -- or recommendations. And he is going to come out in January with a new set of guidelines.
Congressman Rogers, Congress Schiff, thank you both so much for joining us. And we'll stay on top of this surveillance debate. Thank you, gentleman.
Up next, our Sunday panel joins the discussion as the president tries to change the focus from ObamaCare to raising extending unemployment benefits and raising the minimum wage.
Plus, and what would you like to ask the panel? Just go to Twitter @FoxNewsSunday and we may use your question on the air
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: For many people who are still looking for work, unemployment insurance is a lifeline that can make the difference between temporary hardship or lasting catastrophe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: President Obama urging congress to extend unemployment benefits that ran out this weekend for more than 1 million Americans.
And it's time now for our Sunday group. Brit Hume, Fox News senior political analyst, National Public Radio's Mara Liasson, former Republican Senator Scott Brown and former independent Senator Joe Lieberman.
Well, faced with continuing problems with ObamaCare, the president seems to be trying to change the focus to the idea of extending unemployment benefits that ran out yesterday for 1.3 million Americans and also raising the minimum wage.
Brit, how strong an argument does the president both on the merits and also as a political tactic.
BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, as a political tactic, Chris, I'd say he is trying to change the subject and it all sort of supports and feeds into the concept that he talks about so often, which is the idea of income inequality and how this has grown. Now of course it's grown like topsy in his administration. But he seems to think it is a worthwhile issue for him to talk about.
My sense about it is that -- look, the people who are losing unemployment benefits have had them a long time. It is supposed to be a temporary measure. It has been extended repeatedly for a lot of people, because the job market has been so slow to recover. I think on balance it's an issue that Democrats can make some use of, because it portrays the Republicans as hard-hearted, which is a theme that a lot of people agree with and which is a familiar Democrat versus Republican theme going back a long way.
So there's some political mileage in this. I question, however, how much.
WALLACE: Well, let me ask you about that, Mara, because you already are seeing ads from liberal groups pointing out people who are going to be cut off, and a lot of newscasts are doing reports on, you know, folks who are well intentioned, have been unemployed past the 26 weeks that the state pays for it, have been counting on federal emergency aid, which as we say has been going on -- emergency aid, for five years now. You know, it's tough not to feel for them.
MARA LIASSON, NPR: It is tough not to feel for them. This is also something that has voted on repeatedly by Republican congresses and Democratic congresses. It has always been paid for. And that's what -- if this is extended again, it will be paid for. This is not going to add to the deficit.
WALLACE: And let me just quickly point that out, because unemployment benefits, to extend it for another year, would cost $25 billion. Speaker John Boehner, chairman -- the Republican speaker of the House, is saying I'm willing to extend it, but you have got to find pay fors. He says the Democrats haven't done it.
LIASSON: Yeah, but if the Democrats want it, they will find pay fors.
I think the minimum wage is more of an ideological argument. I think there is debate about whether it is a good for the economy or not. I think the minimum wage is something that -- you're going to hear the president talk about a lot. It polls extremely well. It hasn't been raised in a very long time. And to put this in the context of income inequality, both of these things do nothing about the root causes of income inequality, they merely cushion the effects.
Even ObamaCare only cushions the effects of income inequality. The real answers are investments in education and infrastructure and doing something about long-term debt and deficit, that is what would get the economy growing faster.
WALLACE: Senator Brown, if 2014, which just happens to be an election year, becomes a battle between two competing arrows. The president is pushing income inequality, and I'm the champion of the middle class, which worked so well for him in 2012, and the Republicans are pushing ObamaCare and all of the problems with big government. And these are the guys who gave it to you and you need to turn them out. Which side wins?
SCOTT BROWN, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: It depends on where you live. I think it goes state by state. And I think the ObamaCare disaster is actually contributing to a lot of what we're seeing in the economy. Businesses are holding back from hiring. There is a lot uncertainty with people. They don't know whether to move forward or not, take the fine or not. So there is a lot of indecision. That lack of regulatory tax, and now uncertainty with ObamaCare and what do we do, what do we not do.
Listen, if congress wanted to pass this before the holidays, they would have done it. They didn't do it, it wasn't a priority. And will they go and do it retroactively?
WALLACE: Extending the unemployment.
BROWN: We have done it before. We did it -- it will probably pass, the three-month proposal put forth by Reid and Heller is something that will move forward. But as a Republican, I made proposals to just find a way to pay for it. Happy to help. My mom is on welfare. There is a safety net. It's not a lifelong entitlement. Find a way to pay for it, and then find a way to phase it out and incentivize people to get back to work. Don't make it so draconian when it comes to -- you're either getting benefits or you're not. If you go and get a part-time job, and you start to do well in that job and they want to hire you full-time, too bad, we're going to cut the benefits off.
WALLACE: We ask you every week to tweet us or Facebook us, or send us questions to ask the panel. And we have got one on Facebook for you Senator Lieberman. This comes from Greg Wright. And it's about ObamaCare.
Ask Senator Lieberman, knowing what he knows now, would he have voted yes?
LIEBERMAN: yes, that was Scott Brown who sent that question.
WALLACE: No, it was Greg Wright.
LIEBERMAN: That's his codename.
The answer is yes. And I think I want to make this important point, obviously the rollout of ObamaCare has been bad, disastrous. The administration has been on the defensive. But we have to remember that the status quo anti before the Affordable Care Act was adopted in American health care was bad and not very popular. And people -- it was very unpopular, people were complaining about the increases in the cost, the unfair way in which they were treated by insurance companies, and the fact 30 to 40 million people were not covered. And we were paying, because when they went to the hospital, they were given health care anyway and it was added on to our health care bills.
WALLACE: What about the question -- and I hear this a lot -- look, that the health care system worked for a lot of people. Most people were pretty happy with the health care system, so why not find a target. And in a sense this is what the president promised, he just turned out his promise wasn't true, that leaves everybody alone and targets the people who are either in the individual plans that were lousy or were uninsured.
LIEBERMAN: In a way, that's what's happened, because people who have existing health insurance from their employers or from their governments, for instance, as employers are not really being changed much at all, it is a group that didn't have health insurance or the group that was buying their own health insurance or was in businesses where they didn't get it.
And I tell you, President Obama is going to be president for three more years. Even if the Republicans win the Senate in next year's elections and repeal ObamaCare, the president is going to veto it.
The best thing that could happen now is for both parties to sit down and try to figure out how to fix the current system, because -- that is the ObamaCare answer to the problems in health care.
Will that happen? I'm not too optimistic about it, but the president ought to leave that kind of an issue.
I want to say one thing about what we talked about earlier. The best answer to income equality is a growing economy. I got into politics, as you know, because of John F. Kennedy. "A rising tide raises all boats."
We're on the verge of a year in which the American economy, in my opinion, is going to surge. And that will reduce income equality. Everybody's going to be better off. Yes, the rich will get richer, but the poor and the middle class will be better off --
HUME: And it also helps with the issue of unemployment benefits because the economy will really begin to grow and a lot of people will be drawn into jobs newly created.
So this is the -- I think, next to ObamaCare, this is the great failure of the Obama administration to date.
Instead of the robust recovery, which we certainly had a right to expect by now, what we still have is a sluggish economy with high unemployment, yes, the stock market is up but it isn't working for way, way too many people and it should have been by now. And let us all hope that in 2014 it really does begin to (INAUDIBLE).
WALLACE: (INAUDIBLE) running out of time.
Mara, we're beginning to see signs of unemployment -- it's down to 7 percent growth in the last quarter. It was over 4 percent? You know, I know it's fits and starts and it seems to -- shoots of optimism and growth, but it does seem to be picking up.
LIASSON: Yes, it does seem to be picking up, but we have had these false springs before, but yes, the economy, I think is poised to grow. That's going to make it harder to do things like raise the minimum wage and extend unemployment benefits. And it's not going to get rid of income inequality.
WALLACE: All right. Well, no, some people will be more successful and some -- that's the way of the world.
BROWN: The government needs to get out of the way so businesses can grow and hire and expand. They need to have certainty, tax regulatory certainty, and they need to fix ObamaCare, period.
WALLACE: All right. We have to take a break here. When we come back, our panel looks ahead and gives us their predictions for 2014. And take note, because Joe Lieberman will help you win your Oscar pool.
WALLACE: We have a year-end tradition around here to have the panel make some predictions for the new year on a range of topics. And under the heading, "Often in Error, but Never in Doubt," let's get to it.
First subject politics, Brit Hume.
HUME: ObamaCare will continue to unravel. In fact, when you look at it, step back and look at it, an awful lot of it has either been undone, repealed or simply is now being canceled by executive fiat from the president.
It has already coming apart to a great extent. There is more bad news to come when the employer mandate forces a lot of people into the exchanges and they won't like what they get, so I think this is a burden the Democrats will carry through this next year and to the election.
LIASSON: I predicted that Republicans pick up seats in the House but fewer than a dozen and they pick up seats in the Senate, but they just miss the majority.
WALLACE: Scott Brown?
BROWN: Republicans take over the Senate based on ObamaCare, the poor economy and a lack of trust for the Democrats and how they're handling both of those issues.
WALLACE: I want to ask you a follow up on your political prediction. Does a fellow named Scott Brown, who just sold his house in Massachusetts and moved to New Hampshire, actually run for the U.S. Senate in New Hampshire and help Republicans take over the Senate?
BROWN: Well, obviously I'll be making some obviously very important decisions in the near future and I'm not doing it today, so let's move on, Joe?
WALLACE: I guess I got told.
LIEBERMAN: I will not be seeking the Senate seat from New Hampshire.
WALLACE: All right. OK. Do you have any other predictions?
BROWN: I'd vote for him.
LIEBERMAN: Thank you.
Yes, I want to talk about the legislation introduced in the Senate now sponsored by almost 50 members, which would impose tougher new sanctions on Iran if these negotiations fail.
President Obama has threatened to veto over it; the Iranians say if it passes, they'll walk away from the table. I believe bipartisan majority in both houses of Congress will adopt these tougher sanctions on Iran. The president will not veto it and Iran will not walk away from the table. That's the good news.
The bad news is I think that the tougher sanctions will not convince Iran to find a diplomatic way to end their nuclear weapons project and I think there is a better than even chance that before the end of 204 the U.S. and/or Israel will take military action to disable Iran's nuclear program.
HUME: Television will continue, in my judgment, to be where the action is. There has been a proliferation already, especially on cable, of new, high-quality dramas and cop shows.
I note that Matthew McConaughey, a man who has no trouble getting parts in movies, and Woody Harrelson are going to combine for a new HBO cop series, detective series. That gives you just an example of where the action is in the entertainment industry, and I think that will continue.
WALLACE: Brit Hume on the TMZ beat, I'm very impressed.
LIASSON: Well, I hate to make predictions, especially about the future. However, I will make a silly little one about entertainment, that "Fast and Furious 8" gets made somehow or other.
WALLACE: I didn't realize you were a fan of that (INAUDIBLE).
LIASSON: It was the results of the office pool at NPR.
Senator Brown, entertainment?
BROWN: I said, listen, who cares as long as there's sports. You know, we all like entertainment, but I enjoy the sports part of entertainment better. So I'm excited for the upcoming seasons.
WALLACE: I do have a question. What is the last movie that you saw?
BROWN: Just saw "The Wolf of Wall Street."
WALLACE: Oh, good, OK. So you're --
BROWN: (INAUDIBLE) movies. I have seen like every movie ever made. So I'm a huge movie guy.
WALLACE: But no entertainment predictions?
BROWN: No. I think we're going to have a good -- there's a bunch of good movies coming out, looking forward to seeing each one and some great books too.
WALLACE: OK. Senator Lieberman, and as I said, clearly, maybe too much time on his hands as a retired senator, he has a lot of Oscar predictions.
LIEBERMAN: OK, great movies, the year turned into a great movie year. I loved "Blue Jasmine," I loved "American Hustle," but I think the winner of the Best Picture will be "Gravity," great performances by Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.
But the movie wins the Oscar because of the technological brilliance of actually feeling like you're out there in space.
WALLACE: Can I put that graphic back up, because you also have your Best Actor and Actress prediction.
LIEBERMAN: "American Hustle," a close second, but a great film. And Best Actor, Christian Bale, who transforms himself from that guy into an overweight, sleazy con artist and turns out to have a heart, great performance.
WALLACE: And Judi Dench as Best Actress? (INAUDIBLE).
LIEBERMAN: Judi Dench as Best Actress in "Philomena," though I love Cate Blanchett in "Blue Jasmine," but Judi Dench has never won an Academy Award for Best Actress, she is one of the best actresses of our time, sentimental favorite, she gets it this year.
WALLACE: Again, I think he has got a little too much time on his hands.
All right. Brit, we got to keep moving here. Economy?
HUME: The United States economy is a force of nature. And it can plow through headwinds, and it has certainly faced a lot of them in the past several years, especially including the policies chosen by this administration on the economy.
I predict that the growth that we have begun to see will continue and it will pick up some. It won't be enough to wipe out -- to get us back to normal employment at this stage after a recession, but it will continue to improve, albeit not enough to significantly reduce our debt and our unemployment.
LIASSON: I made a similar prediction, that GDP growth stays annually at just under 3 percent for 2014.
BROWN: ObamaCare crushes jobs, people. Unemployment goes down because people are falling off the rolls. The debt increases to $18 trillion. And I think the economy remains flat.
WALLACE: Senator Lieberman?
LIEBERMAN: I'm the optimist today about the economy. I think the economy is going to break out of the slight movement forward to a really strong year. I think we're going to definitely go over a 3 percent increase in GDP. Unemployment will go down to 6.5 percent. I think the stock markets, the Dow will go over 18000 and the S&P will go over 2000.
Because all the fundamentals are right. The housing sector is moving. Business has cash to spend. And we're exporting more energy now, believe it or not, than we're importing.
And what's got to change is the psychology. Congress helped by adopting that bipartisan budget agreement. And I think they're going to realize that they can also help by avoiding another crisis over the debt limit extension. It's going to be a big year for the economy.
WALLACE: All right. We're in the home stretch.
Brit Hume, sports?
HUME: The Bowl championship series in college football has been, by and large, despite its numerous infirmities, a success. Fans certainly have liked it.
This coming year, we introduce a new playoff system. It's not at all clear to me that it will be as popular as it will be -- or will be as successful with the fans.
WALLACE: Mara -- and I know this is not your strong suit.
LIASSON: No, but I have a political sports prediction, which is that Russia gets a big fat black eye, a P.R. black eye for its -- for the Winter Olympics, for its stand on gays and lesbians. And I think that the president has made a very smart P.R. move in sending lesbian and gay American athletes to the Olympics.
WALLACE: Senator Brown?
BROWN: Listen, I'm a hometown guy. I think the Sox -- the Red Sox repeat. The Patriots and New Orleans in the Super Bowl. Before the Baltimore game, I had the Patriots not pulling it off, but a -- so I'm going to hold that prediction. I think those are the two teams that are in the Super Bowl.
WALLACE: So the Patriots get to the Super Bowl and the Red Sox win the World Series?
BROWN: Right. Of course. Yes.
WALLACE: The same last year.
BROWN: Sorry. I said that last year, the year before and the year before and the year before.
WALLACE: Senator Lieberman?
LIEBERMAN: Well, I'm going to adlib quickly and say that in the spirit of Scott Brown, I'm going to predict the UConn Huskies men and women will win the NCAA championship.
But here's my far out prediction, or even suggestion, that in one of the most stunning trades ever in NFL history, the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys trade quarterbacks. RG III goes to the Cowboys. Tony Romo comes to the Redskins. RG goes back to Texas, where he's from. Assuming Tony is in good shape physically, the Redskins get a first rate quarterback with some good years ahead of him.
WALLACE: I think some of these predictions are...
WALLACE: -- plausible.
WALLACE: Some don't. That one has zero chance of...
HUME: The state of New Hampshire is part of Red Sox nation.
WALLACE: I know that.
LIASSON: We know that. Yes.
LIASSON: We've got that.
WALLACE: Thank you, panel.
WALLACE: We'll keep this...
WALLACE: -- in a safe place and see how you do in 2014.
And we'll be right back with a final note.
WALLACE: Finally, we want to thank you for watching us each week throughout this busy news year. As we say goodbye to 2013 and look ahead to 2014, here are the names of all the people who work so hard every week to put this program on the air.
From all of us, Happy New Year.
And we'll see you next “Fox News Sunday”.
On the Show
In a primetime address to the nation, President Obama announced the U.S. will lead an expanded military campaign against ISIS. Airstrikes in Syria will begin, along with broader airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq. The President also authorized sending more troops to the region in an effort to train and arm Syrian rebels. We’ll discuss the President’s strategy exclusively with Gen Michael Hayden, former Director of the CIA and NSA.
In our continuing coverage of the President’s newly announced strategy to roll back ISIS in Iraq and Syria, we’ll get reaction from two leading members of Congress. Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen Jack Reed (D-RI), who both sit on the Senate Armed Services Committee, offer their take on the President’s plan, only on Fox News Sunday.