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Battle to derail potential 2016 presidential candidates; does the president have the authority to rewrite ObamaCare?
Written by Chris Wallace / Published February 16, 2014 / Fox News Sunday
Special Guests: Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland , Karl Rove, Sen. Mike Lee, Rep. Xavier Becerra, Girard Senahi
This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," February 16, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR: I'm Chris Wallace.
Three years out, sparks are already flying in the 2016 race for president.
WALLACE: Leading operatives on left and right are working to derail potential frontrunners, Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie.
FORMER GOV. TED STRICKLAND, D-OHIO: Either the governor knew and he is lying, or he is the most inept, incompetent chief executive imaginable. God help us if he were to become president.
WALLACE: We'll get into it with former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland and GOP strategist Karl Rove.
Then, another ObamaCare delay continues a controversial practice, raising questions whether the president's unilateral rewrites of the law are legal.
SEN. TED CRUZ , R-TEXAS: We've never seen a president who takes the view if he disagrees with a federal law, he can ignore it, he can refuse to enforce, or he can just unilaterally change it.
WALLACE: Can President Obama change ObamaCare without going back to Congress? We'll ask Republican Mike Lee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Congressman Xavier Becerra, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.
And our power player of the week, medalist Girard Senahi is live in studio and promises to astound our panelists. We'll see.
All right now on "Fox News Sunday."
WALLACE: And hello again from Fox News in Washington.
When New Jersey's Chris Christie spoke in Chicago this week, Democrats sent a former governor to act as a truth squad. And when papers from one of Hillary Clinton's closest friends were discovered, creating a fuzz about some of Clinton's private comments, we decided it is not too soon to talk about the 2016 presidential election.
Joining us from Ohio, that former governor, Democrat Ted Strickland. And from Texas, former Bush White House senior adviser Karl Rove.
All right. Gentlemen, we're going to get to Chris Christie in a moment. But let's start with those papers from close Clinton friend Diane blare. In the papers, Hillary Clinton calls Monica Lewinsky a "narcissistic loony toon" and adds, it was consensual, was not power relationship and not sex within any real meaning of the term. We get comments like this, "HC still in despair that nobody in White House tough enough and mean enough."
And then, there is Senator Rand Paul going after former President Bill Clinton as a sexual predator.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL, R-KY.: Their standard bearer seems to be a guy that was committing the workplace kind of violence that we should all be opposed to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Karl, I understand that Republicans need an affirmative agenda. But does -- all that history, does it have any fraction in 2016?
ROVE: Well, it may. But the trouble for Republicans is going to be it's easier to say what you're against and harder to say what you're for. Go back to 2000, for example, it would have been easy for then-candidate, Governor George W. Bush, to have repeated some of the charges made by Newt Gingrich and others against the conduct of Bill Clinton and the White House.
But instead of being against something, he said I will restore dignity and honor to the White House, describing what he was for. And anybody who is going to take on Hillary Clinton in 2016, if she is a Democratic candidate or if she does run, Democrat or Republican had better focus on describing what they're for in a way that allows them to contrast implicitly with Mrs. Clinton, Democrat or Republican, easier to say what you're against, harder to say what you're for and more important to say what you're for.
WALLACE: But, Governor Strickland, if elections and it's almost a cliche now, if cliches are about the future, doesn't Hillary Clinton, don't they have a lot of history to live down?
STRICKLAND: Well, Chris, they do. But, you know, some people think Republican Party is a party of old ideas. I agree with Karl on this issue. To go back and to regurgitate something that happened 15, 20 or more years ago, I don't think says a lot about the future. And I believe the 2016 presidential election, regardless of who the candidates are, should be about the future and not a rehashing of the past.
WALLACE: Well, let's talk about Clinton's record as secretary of state which I'm sure you both would agree will be fair game. It will be the last public role she held before she runs, if she runs. No signature diplomatic breakthroughs. And, of course, there is also Benghazi where even on the day that the four Americans, dead Americans from Benghazi were returned to Andrews Air Force Base, Clinton seemed to conflate the attack on the consulate with that anti-Islam video. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: We've seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men. We've seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful Internet video that we had nothing to do with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Karl, how big a deal will Benghazi be for Hillary Clinton over the next two plus years?
ROVE: I think it will be a big deal for two reasons. First of all, there are a lot of unanswered questions. Why did she and her top officials in the State Department ignore the demands for security and request for security in our facilities in Libya? Why did the United States government, the State Department specifically, ignore the actions of other governments like the United Kingdom and removing their diplomats from Benghazi? Who is responsible for sending out Susan Rice to tell the American people this was all about an Internet video?
There are lots of unanswered questions. And the second reason it will continue to be an issue isn't because those questions are in many instances being raised by the families of the Americans who were killed in Libya and they're not going to go away until those questions are answered.
WALLACE: Governor, doesn't Benghazi and the failure as Karl suggested to beef up security at the consulate, doesn't that undercut Hillary Clinton's claim? We all remember it from the 2008 campaign when she had that phone call ad, the unanswered phone call, the idea that she has the ability to respond to a crisis in the middle of the night and in that case Obama doesn't, but in this case, it would be whoever the Republicans doesn't. Doesn't that undercut her claim?
STRICKLAND: Chris, this issue should not be politicized. I think as it has been. Now, if we want to know the truth, I think --
WALLACE: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Governor, if I may.
WALLACE: I just want to ask. You say it shouldn't be politicized. I mean, if we're talking about Hillary Clinton's record as secretary of state, if she -- the Senate Intelligence Committee said the attack was preventable. Isn't that something that happened on her watch?
STRICKLAND: If I can -- if I can respond, Chris.
WALLACE: Yes, sir.
STRICKLAND: The best place to go for answers and the truth, I believe, is to the Senate Intelligence Committee, a bipartisan committee issued a report and we should listen to what was in that report. And that report indicated no cover-up. The report indicates no direct responsibility from Secretary Clinton.
And that, I think, is the fairest answer to the questions that are being raised. Let's go to the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report and reach our conclusions from that report.
WALLACE: All right. Gentlemen, let's move on to Chris Christie and quite frankly, Governor, to your comments this week when you shadowed Chris Christie to Chicago when he was speaking at the Chicago Economic Club about Christie's role in the closings of those bridge lanes to the George Washington Bridge.
Here's what you had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STRICKLAND: Either the governor knew and he is lying, or he is the most inept, incompetent chief executive imaginable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Governor, two questions. First of all, why are you shadowing Chris Christie two-plus years before a campaign? And isn't it possible, as he claims, that he just didn't know?
STRICKLAND: Well, Chris, Bridget Kelly was his deputy chief of staff. He fired her because he said she lied to him. But he didn't ask her why she sent that e-mail or who urged her or told her to send that e-mail.
That's just unbelievable. I cannot believe that a governor, and I've been one, and I've had, you know, a close staff and we worked together on a daily basis, why didn't he ask her why she sent that e- mail, and try to find out why and who told her to do that? She obviously didn't do that on her own.
And that's just one of the many issues that I think need to be answered and addressed in this controversy.
WALLACE: And, why, sir --
STRICKLAND: If the governor didn't do that --
WALLACE: Let me ask you, sir --
STRICKLAND: -- then why didn't he do it?
WALLACE: Why are you shadowing Chris Christie two-plus years before he's even a candidate?
STRICKLAND: Well, because he's been put out there by the Republican Party as the leading candidate for the presidency in terms of the Republican nominee. And so, he is a national figure. He is described himself as a national figure. And he's the head of the RGA. And, quite frankly, what he does is a broader concern than simply being the governor of New Jersey. He has been and hopes to be, I guess, the front-runner for the Republican Party in 2016.
WALLACE: Karl, let me --
STRICKLAND: And so, that's why he's getting the attention he's getting.
WALLACE: Karl, let me bring you in and pick up on the Governor Strickland's point. The governor, Governor Christie's deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, knew.
WALLACE: His appointment to the Port Authority, David Wildstein, knew.
Doesn't it strain credulity? How do you respond to Governor Strickland's statement that he's either lying, Christie is lying, or he's incompetent?
ROVE: Well, first of all, I think Governor Strickland is correct. The reason the Democrats are doing this is because Chris Christie is a strong potential candidate in 2016. They're going to try to smother every Republican presidential possibility they can because they know that this race in 2016 is going to be difficult for the Democrats, hard to get a third term, particularly after the two terms of Obama.
I think the Democrats, however, will be better off picking another voice to go after Governor Christie. When Governor Christie found out about these two individuals and what they had done, he immediately fired them.
Let's remember -- let's go back to 2008 and Joe the plumber. Governor Strickland's own appointee as head of the employment commission was found to have been accessing confidential governmental data bases to find out private information about Joe the Plumber and leaking it to the press.
Now, is Governor Strickland to adopt his standards either incompetent or lying and simply because it was his appointee who did these things?
Let's step back and look at this. Let the process go forward and be careful to throw stones like Governor Strickland is throwing at Governor Christie. I understand why they want to get him out of there.
WALLACE: OK, wait, wait. We're out of time. I want to let Governor Strickland respond.
STRICKLAND: Well, two things. First of all, the person who did that left my administration and secondly, no information was ever leaked to the press. That's just not a true statement.
So, you know, things happen. You hold people responsible. And Governor Christie has held Bridget Kelly responsible. But we still do not know who told Bridget Kelly to do what she did.
STRICKLAND: Obviously, there were --
ROVE: Who told -- who told your employment commissioner -- who told your employment commissioner to do what she did? And she did leak confidential information, damaging information about Joe the plumber was leaked to the press.
STRICKLAND: It did not come from her. It did not. And --
ROVE: Who did it come from, governor? Who did it come from? Who did it come from? From confidential government data bases, Governor.
STRICKLAND: Karl, there was no information about Joe the plumber that was leaked to the press. There was an indication --
ROVE: I would go back and look at the record, Governor, if I were you. Go back and look at the public record.
WALLACE: Gentlemen, we're going to have to cut it off here. I will say, Karl --
STRICKLAND: Karl, we'll continue this conversation if you'd like. I'll give you my phone number.
WALLACE: Yes. Listen, you two continue this conversation offline. We'll settle the issue of Joe the plumber in addition to Hillary -- you know, it's one of the golden hits, an olden goldie.
Karl, Governor Strickland, thank you both. Thanks for joining us today.
So, let's see, Hillary versus Christie in 2016. Whatever happened to Joe the plumber? Our Sunday panel weighs in on their chances next.
Plus, what would you like to ask the panel? Just go to Facebook or Twitter @FoxNewsSunday, and we may use your question on the air.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R-N.J.: You want incoming quality? That's mediocrity. Everybody can have an equal mediocre salary. That's what we can afford. Or do you want the opportunity for greatness?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie showing what a formidable presidential candidate he could be if he gets past New Jersey political scandal.
And it's time now for our Sunday group. Syndicated columnist George Will, USA Today columnist Kirsten Powers, Kimberley Strassel from the Wall Street Journal, and Charles Lane of The Washington Post.
Well, let's start with Chris Christie who is trying to power through the bridge scandal, the Hoboken scandal, other scandals, as the chairman of the Republican Governors Association. He is traveling around the country. But one of the problems is that a lot of the potential candidates in 2014 don't want to be seen with him at this particular point.
George, how serious is the damage to his candidacy, potential candidacy?
GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, it's been damaging in sense that it killed a lot of momentum, because he had all the news to himself. He had the Virginia governor's race, the New Jersey governor's race. It was all focused on him.
A thought experiment, erase bridge-gate, where would we be now? He'd be in better shape. But he has -- the good luck is also bad luck in the sense that he is in danger of being a little bit to familiar by the time the next wave of candidates come in.
If you believe, as I do, the next presidential election will be decided on the crescent from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin particularly, you have to get three more presidential candidates out of those states -- Governors Kasich in Ohio, Snyder in Michigan and Walker in Wisconsin.
WALLACE: And maybe Pence in Indiana.
WILL: And Pence in Indiana.
So, there's a danger he's out there too early and novelty will be gone and people say, that's an old face.
WALLACE: You know, it's more than just the bridge lane closures. There was a story in "The Washington Post" this week that indicated that Christie, when he was U.S. attorney, had made a deal with Bristol-Myers Squibb, and the deal was that instead of charging him with securities fraud, they would do an out of court settlement. And part of that is they would give $5 million as a professorship to Seton Hall Law School which happens to be his alma mater.
What about this whole issue, Kirsten, of the sort of transactional nature of the way Christie does business?
KIRSTEN POWERS, USA TODAY: Well, it's obviously a problem. He says that was a deal made by -- wasn't made by him. It was made by the prosecutors and he had nothing to do with it. But it certainly looks bad that it's his alma mater.
And so, I think one of the things about Christie is that he has been seen as to a lot of people as the most electable of the Republicans even though he's not beloved by the Republican base. And so I think that all of these various hits make him less -- seem less electable. And so, I think that all of those various hits make him less, seem less electable. And so, in that sense, he loses one of his main arguments.
Also, there's this now sort of story line on him because of bridge-gate that, you know, he's a bit of a bully. And so, now, a lot of things that used to look really good to a lot of people like standing up to the teacher's union might start to look like oh, there he goes being a bully again.
WALLACE: Let's switch, if we can, to the Hillary Clinton story. There were no bombshells in these papers that actually had been out there for four years. But one enterprising reporter looked for them and found them of Diane Blair, who is one of her absolutely closest friends in Arkansas. They had a lot of private conversations. Diane Blair, whether Hillary Clinton knew about it or not, just decided to keep a record of them.
As I say, no bombshells, Kim. But it does dredge up all of the history about Monica Lewinsky, about how tough some would say Hillary Clinton could be as first lady.
If we suffered from Clinton fatigue back in 2008, how is all of that going to wear in 2016?
KIMBERLEY STRASSEL, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: It's like you said, it drags up this aura that always seems to follow the Clintons no matter where they go.
And so, probably, if she runs in 2016, you're not going to have a bunch of young people who are going to be focused on Hillary Clinton cattle futures deals way back when most of them don't know what that is.
But what this does is it makes everyone again asks all of these questions and you're starting to see them being directed at things like the Clinton foundation and people who donated money to them. For instance, there was story out about a particular guy who has given a lot of money to it and he also happened to have arranged a lot of visits to the State Department at the same time.
So, that's what it does, as it just re-dredges up this question of Hillary Clinton. And she's going to have to live with that throughout the 2016 run.
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: And then there is Benghazi continuing holes in the story as Karl Rove mentioned, the bipartisan report by the senate intelligence committee that found that the attack was preventable.
We asked you, of course, for questions. We got this one on Twitter from Karen Eisenberg. How does Hillary overcome Benghazi, and this goes back to something I brought up with Strickland after her unanswered phone commercial in 2008, which she used to show that she could respond to a crisis but Barack Obama couldn't. How do you answer Karen?
CHARLES LANE, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think that's a great question, because you can almost see the 30-second commercial the Republicans would make. They would take her commercial from 2008 and put it together with maybe her testimony at -- on Benghazi where she said what is the big deal here?
I think what all this illustrates is a funny thing that Hillary and Christie have in common. You know, Robert Penn Warren wrote in "All the Kings Men", there is always something. Every politician has something in their closet. These two have a lot of somethings because --
WALLACE: And it's spilling out of the closet.
WALLACE: We've seen it all.
LANE: They've been around a long time. They have long records. In Chris Christie's case, a long record in a state notorious for being kind of a political swamp.
So, what we're seeing here is on both sides is there being set up already three years ahead of 2016 even for either of them been declared as the oppositions are rummaging through the closet and there's plenty there.
WALLACE: We've got a minute left, George. And I want to ask you, for all of this talk about bridgegate and the Blair papers and all of that. How does all of this compare to the Obama record, in the sense that if people feel good about Barack Obama in 2016, that they're going to feel good about Democrats and feel good potentially about a third Democratic term as we saw with Bush following Reagan? And conversely, if they feel really bad about Barack Obama, it almost doesn't matter, it's going to be a tremendous burden on the Democrats and good for Republicans?
GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: It is probable that 2016 will be the fourth consecutive election cycle in which ObamaCare is a major issue. That will focus attention on the fact, that the first time Hillary Clinton stepped on to the center stage of American politics with 1993 and the most talked about co-presidency, vote for me, said Bill Clinton, two for the price of one.
And he turned health care over to his wife, who in a process both gargantuan and opaque, produced the health care plan so rococo and implausible that neither the House nor the Senate both controlled by Democrats would even bring it to a vote.
So if health care, as I expect it will be, it will be a continuing issue in 2016, she has some explaining to do.
WALLACE: And we should point out that in the Blair papers, she complains, moans about having to go to Congress and deal with the members of Congress on Hillary-care. I think the phrase is suck up to them because she has to convince them that they're part of the process when she really doesn't think that they are.
Panel, we have to take a break here. We'll see you later in the program.
Up next, another week, another ObamaCare delay from the White House. Two key lawmakers debate whether the president's rewrites of this health care law are legal. And be sure to tell us what you think on Facebook and share your favorite moments from today's show with other FNS fans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This was an example of us making sure that we're smoothing this transition, giving people the opportunities to get right with the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: President Obama this week defending the 24th time he's unilaterally change or delayed his health care law without going back to Congress. And many are now questioning whether the president is taking his executive authority too far.
Joining us from Utah, Republican Mike Lee, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and here in Washington, California Congressman Xavier Becerra, chair of the House Democratic Caucus.
Senator Lee, let me start with you.
The Obama administration contends that it has broad authority under the tax code to implement laws in ways that will encourage compliance. Given that authority, doesn't President Obama have -- whether you like it or not -- the ability to keep changing ObamaCare?
LEE: Look, if that kind of broad regulatory mandate buried within the internal revenue code can authorize the president to do what he is purporting to do here, then there's almost no limit to his authority. We have a government of one. We have a super executive and super legislator vested in the president of the United States. As, of course, not what we have as any high school civics student can tell you.
The president knows this is wrong and it's not defensible. He is violating the Constitution. He is exercising power that doesn't belong to him. It belongs to the American people.
WALLACE: Congressman Becerra, I've got to say -- I went back and I read not the whole 2,000 pages, but I read the key parts of the health care law. And it seems to be very specific when it comes to the employer mandate.
Let's put it up on the screen. "Effective date: the amendments made by this session," this is in the employer mandate, "the amendments made by this section shall apply to months beginning after December 31, 2013."
But, Congressman, as you well know, unilaterally, without coming back to Congress, the president has delayed the employer mandate from 2013, to '14, to '15, and now to '16. What gives him the authority to rewrite what seems to be a very clear law?
BECERRA: Chris, it's the same authority that every president has had, to make sure that the laws are administered and executed in a way that helps all Americans. The president simply providing small businesses with a flexibility they need to be able to start adopting the law.
BECERRA: Small businesses support the flexibility and the president is making sure that we implement this in a way that puts into effect the purpose of the law, which is to give people more health security. So if this were against the Constitution, someone would have sued by now and the president would have had to stop. The reality is the president has used his executive powers less often than almost every president before him.
WALLACE: This gets to a larger issue. And I want to follow up with you and then we'll bring in Senator Lee. And that is the president's declaration that he is going to use executive action when Congress won't go along with him and set up an interesting debate. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: And I've got a phone. And I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward.
REP. ROBERT GOODLATTE, (R-VA), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: The president says he has a pen and a cell phone. But the American people have a constitution and the Constitution doesn't give him the authority to unilaterally change the law. He's got to come to the Congress to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: In fact, article one, section one of the Constitution gives Congress all legislative powers. Forget the politics for a moment, Congressman Becerra. I would think as the congressman you would be upset at the idea of any president, and you're right, there are other presidents of the other party who have done it. Any president going around Congress to this extent.
BECERRA: If you were going around Congress to rewrite law that would be different than trying to use the flexibility you're given by the Congress to execute the law. The president is not trying to rewrite. The president has never said I'm going to go it alone. The president said I'm going to work with Congress. But where Congress decides not to act, remember, this is perhaps the greatest do nothing Congress we've seen. You have a Republican speaker who said he will not -- he will be the brick wall.
WALLACE: But the law says ...
BECERRA: That will not permit the president's tax.
WALLACE: When the law says, the health care law the employer mandate shall begin after December 31st 2013, isn't that pretty specific?
BECERRA: It will begin after December 2013. The president ...
BECERRA: Well the president said we'll start it after 2013, but we're going to make sure it works well for small businesses. And the fact that -- what he's trying to do is make things work. When Congress can't pass bills, when Congress shuts down the government, the president can't just sit there. What he is saying is I won't wait.
WALLACE: That is the way the Constitution is written. The president is supposed to just sit there?
BECERRA: No, he is just supposed to sit there? If we have an emergency, the president is just supposed to sit there?
WALLACE: an emergency with ObamaCare?
BECERRA: But you never know if something might happen if we just start to talk about a foreign threat here, sir.
I would hope that we would never have a chief executive who would twiddle his thumbs because Congress can't get it acts together.
BECERRA: We need to move. We need to move.
WALLACE: Senator Lee, to questions about political -- presidents twiddling their thumbs. If you look at the first five years of the recent two-term presidents we have a graph on the screen, Obama, in fact, has used executive orders much less often than his predecessors going back to Reagan. And this is the question that Congressman Becerra raised, and I think it's a legitimate question for you, sir, if as a member of Congress you feel the president is doing something unconstitutional, you said that, violating the Constitution, why don't you take them to court?
LEE: OK. First of all, I said taking him to court. There are many instances, in which a president might violate the Constitution. But in which for a variety of practical reasons and some constitutional reasons, the courts might not end up exercising jurisdiction over that case. It's very difficult, for example, for someone to challenge in court the president's suspension of the employer mandate. It's difficult to identify the kind of plaintiff that would suffer the kind of injury, in fact, that's particularized to the plaintiff. So it has to be able to establish article three standing in court.
WALLACE: Can I ask you about that?
LEE: Answer the broader question.
WALLACE: May I just ask you about that. Because I know that that's the answer that you guys give. Well, it's hard to establish standing. And I'm not a lawyer. But it would seem to me that couldn't you say as a member of the Senate, hey, we passed this law. It said that the law will go into effect on December 31st, 2013 and the president has ignored our law so as a member of the Senate, I have standing to protest that.
LEE: Yeah, there are some who have suggested that there are others who have suggested and under the relevant Supreme Court president, it might be difficult for members of Congress even to establish standing in those circumstances. But on the broader question, Chris, of the fact that we have presidents in both parties using executive orders and that this president hasn't necessarily issued more executive orders than other presidents, I have got two responses to that. First, Chris, not all executive orders are equal. You have some executive orders that are plainly authorized by law, in which Congress has delegated the president to make these kinds of decisions. That's really not what we're talking about here. What we're talking about here, decisions like those involving the suspension of the employer mandate. That is not only not authorized by the statute, it's flatly inconsistent with what the statute says. Secondly, to the extent that presidents and both political parties have strayed from the law and have acted unilaterally outside their delegated authority from Congress and from the Constitution, that's wrong. And the fact that other presidents may have done it in the past, doesn't justify it now.
WALLACE: OK. Let me -- let me ...
LEE: We can't extend back and simply ignore this. We can't ignore the fact that we've got a president who is acting as if he's got a government of one simply because he can't always get exactly what he wants out of Congress.
WALLACE: All right. Let's talk about the merits of this latest delay, not the legality, but the merits of it. This is the delay of the employer mandate for companies, that -- small to medium sized companies that have between 50 and 99 employees. Congressman Becerra, isn't this really all about politics? That the White House was worried that those companies were either going to fire people or reduce their hours to below 30 hours, would they be considered part timers so that they wouldn't be laid off just before the November election? Or that those companies would throw these people on to the, you know, take away their coverage and throw them on to the exchanges and pay the fine? Isn't this really about protecting the president politically and Democrats like yourself?
BECERRA: Chris, it's about flexibility for those businesses because what we're seeing is for the first ...
WALLACE: But this time in our -- the law was passed in 20 ...
BECERRA: Let me try to finish my response.
WALLACE: The law was passed in 2014.
BECERRA: This is the first time ...
WALLACE: I'm going to start with ...
BECERRA: This is the first time ...
WALLACE: It's been four years.
BECERRA: If you recall this is the first time in our history that we're actually going to give Americans a chance to have health security where they can have the peace of mind that they will not go bankrupt simply because they used their hospital or doctor.
WALLACE: Sir, forgive me. That's -- I'm asking you, the small companies have had the knowledge of what the employer mandate was going to be since the law was passed in 2010. They've had four years. Why do they need flexibility now?
BECERRA: Because you're seeing quite of a few chances that are taking place that require the insurance carriers and the employers to take on certain responsibilities. And you want to make sure that those responsibilities are taken on in a way that work for not just the business person, but also the employees. And what we've seen is over 12 million Americans today have that health security that they didn't have before. That's important. Make it work right. That you tweak it here and there. That's within the president's discretion. And it provides the flexibility that small business owner would like to have.
WALLACE: Senator Lee, does Congressman Becerra persuade you?
LEE: No, not at all. But this is a shameless act, a shameless power grab that is designed to help the president and his political party achieve a particular outcome in a partisan election. And that's wrong. Look, the Constitution doesn't give the president that power. His power belongs to the people. The people delegate that power to their senators and to their congressmen. They don't give it to the president to act unilaterally and there's a good reason for that. The whole reason why we have a constitution is to help prevent to protect us against the excessive concentration of power in the hands of the few or here in the case of the hands of one person.
WALLACE: And, sir, if I may. We have got 30 seconds.
WALLACE: Senator, I'm sorry to interrupt. We have got 30 seconds left. I just want to ask you, on the merits, what about this argument, will the companies need flexibility? LEE: OK. So, on the merits, if the companies need flexibility, then the solution there is not to ignore the law, to pretend that the law allows this sort of thing to happen. The solution is for the president to come to Congress and make the case to Congress on the policy merits of this question that Congress needs to act. And then it's up to Congress to act at that point. It is not the president's prerogative to simply make this the law by the stroke of the executive pen.
WALLACE: Senator Lee? Congressman Becerra, thank you both so much for coming in today. We'll stay on top of all of the stories. And I suspect we'll have you both back to continue to debate it. Thank you both.
President Obama left snowy Washington Friday for drought ridden California where he linked the bad weather on both coasts to climate change. Our panel returns after the break to take on that issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We have to be clear, a changing climate means that weather-related disasters like droughts, wildfires, storms, floods are potentially going to be costlier and they're going to be harsher.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: President Obama in drought ridden California Friday proposing a $1 billion fund to research and help communities deal with the effects of climate change. And we're back now with the panel. Well, the president's case may seem a bit hard to make when the eastern half of the country is in the grips of a brutal winter. But as you heard the president say climate change accounts for everything from drought to floods. George? Do you buy it?
GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: No. And neither does science. But I'm one of those who are called deniers. And the implication is that I deny climate change. It's impossible to state with clearer precision the opposite of my view, which is that, of course the climate is changing. It's always changing. That's what gave us the medieval warm period. That's what gave us subsequent to that for centuries the brutal Ice Age. Of course it's changing. But when a politician on a subject implicating science, hard science, economic science, social science says the debate is over, you may be sure of two things. The debate is raging and he's losing it. So I think frankly as a policy question, Chris, Holman Jenkins, Kim's colleague at the "Wall Street Journal" put it perfectly, the only questions is, how much money are we going to spend? How much wealth are we going to forego creating in order to have zero or discernible effect on the environment?
WALLACE: Climate change, I think it's fair to say, used to be a very hot topic. No pun intended. In fact, it used to be called global warming now not so much. Kirsten, what happened?
KIRSTEN POWERS, USA TODAY COLUMNIST: I don't know. But it has become very much an article of faith on the left that this is perhaps the biggest threat that the world faces right now. And I think that what Obama is doing is sort of overtly political move here, because there's no way on Earth he's going to get $1 billion out of this Congress to do anything, let alone fight climate change. I would say that the fund is focused on reducing carbon emissions, which whether you believe in climate change or not, I think is something that people should be able to get behind. I mean less pollution is definitely a good thing. So that might be a better way to make the argument rather than claiming that climate change is the cause of every single thing that happens with the weather.
WALLACE: Now as Kirsten pointed out, that this proposal for this climate resilience fund, $1 billion, is going to be part of the president's new budget, which he proposes in March and I think most people would agree has almost no chance of passage. Kim, I want to ask you about your paper, "The Wall Street Journal." They did a poll of 15 pressing issues. What do we need to address? Climate change came in dead last of all of those issues. And some Californians say the lack of water in the Central Valley near Fresno, where the president was, is obviously they have had a drought, but it also is because of state and federal regulations that have kept them from sharing water from the Sacramento Valley, because of an endangered species in fish.
POWERS: Yes. And this is a government exacerbated drought as it were. Because there is water there. There is plenty of water there, and certainly enough water to be providing aid to the farmers who desperately need it at the moment. But as you said, they've been keeping it so that they can flush it down to help endangered smelt. So, and what we've had is Republicans have been desperately trying to address this in the Congress with legislation. Democrats, even California Democrats have blocked that move and the White House has been against it. So what you had is Democratic politicians putting the fish ahead of the farmers. And so, it is doubly sort of interesting to see the president and then go out there and talk about creating, throwing a billion dollars at a problem that could be sorted out much more efficiently with some change and regulations.
WALLACE: Charles, your thoughts about climate change, about the hold it had on a lot of people in the country particularly around the kind of Al Gore and "The Inconvenient Truth" and the fact that in "The Wall Street Journal" poll when people are asked to rate various issues it's now dead last.
CHARLES LANE, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, I once heard the former president Bush say this is a rich man's issue. And I think there was a certain amount of wisdom in that in this sense. If your other economic problems are in advance, if you have got jobs, if you've got income, if you've got everything else, you can worry about the long term threats, if that's what they are like climate change. By the way, this is not unrelated to the situation in China and India where the emissions are growing most rapidly and where the world's carbon emissions are coming from. Those are developing countries who are prioritizing growth, jobs, and income over the environment. And, in fact, it's the same all over the world as that poll showed in the United States. If we had a better economy, I think people would have more of a luxury to worry about climate change. The exception, of course, being, the Democratic Party donor base out in California, which is the people that the president was really addressing with this talk about climate change.
WALLACE: You know, I want to pick up on Chuck's point here, George. Because whatever the U.S. does, you've got these booming polluting economies in China, in India, and Indonesia. And the U.S. is just a fraction -- four or five percent of the world's population. Does it -- how much does it matter what the U.S. does in terms of global climate change if you've got carbon emissions run amok in much of the rest of the world and economies and populations that are much bigger?
WILL: And carbon emissions here coming down, in part, because of the increased reliance on natural gas. But here to Mexico City, Rio, Copenhagen, the climate conferences are a movable feast with a huge carbon footprint, by the way. As they all fly around to talk to one another. Next, they'll go, I guess, to Paris where they'll get 190 nations around the table. The table will be approximately the size of Belgium, I suppose ...
WILL: At which they'll vote that the United States should give everybody else lots of money. At which point as happened with Kyoto, the Senate will vote something 95 to nothing saying we don't think so. And we'll go on to the next moveable feast.
WALLACE: And Kirsten, you know, and it also feeds into the Keystone pipeline where it's been delayed for years because of the fact that the impact of the pipeline on -- at the Aquifer in Nebraska, but on the other hand, if we don't fill the pipeline, all of those oil products are going to end up being shipped to China where they're going to be used with much less environmental regulation. I mean it's not like if we don't use it, it doesn't get used.
POWERS: Well, not only that. We will continue to consume oil. If we're going to consume oil, we may as well be getting it from our own country. Environmental degradation if they believe that is environmental degradation, is environmental degradation regardless of where you're doing it. So, if you're going to consume that oil, is that -- why is it OK, to just off-load that onto another country? That doesn't really make any sense.
WALLACE: So, Kim, what is going to happen to the climate change/global warming movement? And maybe, you know, because I don't, when did global warming become climate change?
STRASSEL: It became climate change when you couldn't prove that there was much global warming anymore, you know. As the temperatures didn't change. So, suddenly we had to have this catch all term, what was responsible, I mean meant that any change in the weather somehow supported the theory. But this is a political issue for the president. This is what he's put forward. Remember, the last thing he did not manage to -- the only thing he did not manage to put through for his first term agenda was a legislative cap and trade program in progress. And he's lest (ph) has not forgotten anything. And so, they are under putting pressure. He doesn't want to do it. It would be deadly politically for his Democratic and Democrats in Congress, and so he's going to put forward things like executive order and funds in order.
WALLACE: 20 seconds.
LANE: Well, I just want to say, conclude, on an optimistic note, which is that economic development in the developing world actually is part of the solution to climate change. Just look at Japan in the '60s. A terrible environmental polluter because of all the heavy industries and so forth when it made a transition to higher development, it became a cleaner nation.
WALLACE: Thank you, panel. See you next week. Up next, our Power Player of the Week. We hope we'll make you question can you really believe what you're seeing? Medalist Girard Senehi attempts to make believers out of all of us. We'll see.
WALLACE: I promise we're not turning this into the "Ed Sullivan Show." But a few weeks ago I met Girard Senehi at a party. And I think you will be as intrigued by him as I was. Girard is a mentalist and he makes things happen that I can't explain. And I have enlisted Kirsten Powers and George Will to join me here at the panel. Girard, the stage is yours.
GIRARD SENAHI: Thank you. Well, I like to get people to look at things in new ways. So we're going to try something. And because I like to -- the unknown. Can you hold your hands like this? Just try a little demonstration here. Don't move. Little action. Did you feel it move? So now you have the power to move that pen. If you come closer with your finger, you should be able to do it.
WALLACE: Wait. Wait, wait. Let's get a tight shot. Guys, come on.
SENAHI: OK, here we go. You should have the power -- yes. Did you see that?
POWERS: Yes. It's kind of moving.
WALLACE: We're supposed to say amazing -- but yes, that it was amazing.
SENAHI: I think -- finding, too, actually, this has been -- this is really great. OK, so we're going to try now -- and we have now -- you had a number that you were thinking of. We're going to try a little action with a pencil here. Watch.
SENAHI: See that?
WALLACE: Very cool.
SENAHI: Indeed. So now I'm going to ask you to create a random number, you each write three digits on the pad there. You have a piece ...
WALLACE: There you go. You have the first three, I have the second three. And we did this before the show. And came up with a number. We haven't told anybody what the number is.
POWERS: Go ahead.
SENAHI: And you are also going to in a second, I'm going to ask you to visualize a number. You can put the pencil down.
WALLACE: But -- but -- but ...
WILL: The original number?
WALLACE: The original number.
SENAHI: The three digit number.
POWERS: I'm not supposed to look at it.
SENAHI: No. Don't look at it. And we're going to try to have Kirsten read your minds.
POWERS: This is not -- this I'm the weak link.
SENAHI: There is no way, right?
WALLACE: OK. Is that your number? OK.
SENAHI: All right. So I have a card here that has the word number on it. When you look at this, I'm going to help you psychically see a number like a crystal ball into this card, OK? But in a second. You see the word number on here?
SENAHI: All right. Very good. If you see a number, I want you to write it on to those things. You start to see a number appear on to the card.
SENAHI: Write it down. OK. We have perhaps a match. What was your number?
WALLACE: Well, but our number, and I got to say George your handwriting stinks, was 805, 868.
SENAHI: And we have here 804, 868.
WILL: He may have flubbed it up.
WALLACE: You may have flubbed it up?
WILL: That's very good.
WALLACE: But you saw those numbers?
POWERS: How did you do that?
POWERS: I know.
WALLACE: I know. It's amazing.
POWERS: No, but yeah, but how would you know ...
SENAHI: Now you want to see the numbers. You don't see the number in there. You just see the word number, right?
WALLACE: You just -- something brought those numbers?
POWERS: Yeah. I just -- that's the numbers that I saw when I looked at it. WALLACE: All right. Go ahead.
SENAHI: Well, you see the ideas are very powerful things. Then I like to get people to question and suspend their ideas. Not only we've establish a little connection, I'm going to ask you to draw your picture -- could you pass me a pen here, a picture that you have in mind. But don't draw it yet. I'm going to start first. May I have the other pen? So I'm going to do it really fast. When I say go, I want you to go as well. I'm trying to get an impression, because you have a picture in your mind. Wait, don't start yet. Don't start yet. OK. I'm seeing something. I want you to do it in ten seconds flat. I'm starting now. You go. OK. I'm done.
POWERS: I can't do it very well. But this was -- yeah. Pretty much the same thing.
WALLACE: Mind blowing. That is really -- And you didn't talk beforehand?
WALLACE: You didn't? Have you just basically both drew -- is that a cat?
SENEHI: It's Garfield.
POWERS: Yes. Garfield.
SENEHI: That's what I thought. It's Garfield. Oh my god.
WALLACE: How do you -- you don't like to be called a magician. And you don't like things to be called tricks.
SENEHI: That's right.
WALLACE: So, what's going on here?
SENEHI: Well, I like to get people to suspend their ideas. You see, ideas are so powerful. And at the right time, an idea can be the perfect thing. At the wrong time, it can mess things up. So it's important to be fluid in terms of what ideas we think are appropriate to the moment and so by getting people to suspend their ideas it creates space for the unknown really.
WALLACE: Are you amazed?
WILL: I'm amazed.
WALLACE: I am amazed, too. And George Will is a very skeptical person. Let me simply say when we first met, he said think of a number between one and 100. I said 99. He'd written down 99 on the paper. If you want to find out more about Girard and his thoughts about suspending of ideas about the limits of what is possible, go to his website, oaklandfutureinstitute.org.
That's it for today. Have a great week. Make us disappear. And we'll see you next "Fox News Sunday."
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