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Battles brewing over immigration, ObamaCare, climate change
Written by Chris Wallace / Published November 16, 2014 / Fox News Sunday
Special Guests: Sen. John Thune , Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Sen. Tom Cotton, Sen. James Lankford, Bill Marriott
This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," November 16, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I'm Chris Wallace.
Congress gets back to work, with battles brewing over immigration, ObamaCare, and climate change.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY, INCOMING MAJORITY LEADER: I would welcome the president moving to the middle. The first indications have not been very helpful.
SEN. HARRY REID, D - NV: There's absolutely no reason why we can't work together.
WALLACE: We'll discuss the president's climate deal with China and the highly political vote over the Keystone pipeline with senators on both sides of the debate, John Thune and Sheldon Whitehouse.
Then, President Obama promises to take executive action to block deportation of millions of immigrants. How far will the GOP go to stop him?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: They have the ability to fix the system. What they don't have the ability to do is expect me to stand by with a broken system.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-OH, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We're going to fight the president tooth and nail if he continues down this path.
WALLACE: We'll talk with two of the GOP's new senators who will be on the front lines, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and James Lankford of Oklahoma.
Plus, a political firestorm over comments by one of ObamaCare's architects.
JONATHAN GRUBER, MIT PROFESSOR: Call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to get anything to pass.
WALLACE: Our Sunday group assesses the fallout.
And our power player of the week, Bill Marriott creating hotels for the millennial generation.
BILL MARRIOTT: This is what the customers want, and you succeed in this by giving them what they want.
WALLACE: All right now on FOX NEWS SUNDAY.
WALLACE: And hello again from FOX News in Washington.
First, some breaking news: ISIS terrorists claim to have beheaded yet another American in a graphic new video.
FOX News chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge has the latest -- Catherine.
CATHERINE HERRIDGE, FOX NEWS CHIEF INTELLIGENCE CORRESPONDENT: Chris, a 16-minute video is being reviewed by the U.S. intelligence community to determine its authenticity, but to date, ISIS does not have a track record of making false claims about the execution of hostages. If confirmed, Kassig would be the fifth Western hostage beheaded by the Islamic State in less than three months, and third American.
Kassig was kidnapped in October 2014. A former Army Ranger, Kassig had traveled to the Middle East to work as a medical assistant on the border. After a video released last month appeared to show Kassig and threatened to kill him next, his family made public pleas for his release and stated their son was a convert to Islam.
The new video is a dramatic departure from previous propaganda tapes and includes what appears to be the mass beheading of more than a dozen members of the Syrian military.
There are at least two sections that include what purports to be the British executioner clad in black and known by the moniker Jihad Johnny, who threatened similar attacks against U.S. interest.
On the president's strategy in Iraq and Syria, last night his former defense secretary accused the administration of meddling in a way that has not been seen since Vietnam.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GATES, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: I think when a president wants highly centralized control in the White House at the degree of micromanagement that I'm describing, that's not bureaucratic, that's political.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HERRIDGE: Analysts say the tape may provide new clues about the group's location, especially its leadership with unconfirmed reports that the British executioner was injured in last weekend's airstrikes -- Chris.
WALLACE: And we should point out, we are not using that picture of Kassig in the orange jumpsuit at the request of his family.
Catherine, thank you.
HERRIDGE: You're welcome.
WALLACE: There was action but no resolution this week on climate change. The Senate is set to vote Tuesday on a bill passed by the House directing the government to finally move forward on the Keystone pipeline.
And President Obama reached a deal with China to cut greenhouse gas pollution in both countries.
Joining us to discuss all of this, John Thune of South Dakota, chair of the Senate Republican Conference, and from Rhode Island, Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Environment Committee.
Senator Whitehouse, you are one of the leading environmentalists in the Senate. In fact, you make speeches on the subject almost every week on the Senate floor.
Have you been assured by the White House that if the Senate goes ahead and passes the Keystone approval, that the president will veto it?
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE, D - RI, ENVIRONMENT & PUBLIC WORKS CMTE: Our information is they are leaning that way, but I don't have a hard assurance.
WALLACE: And how confident are you that, in fact, he will veto it?
WHITEHOUSE: I hope and expect that he will. I think it's important to send that signal right off the bat. I think the new Republican majority has long despised and denigrated this president. And if they can roll him, I think they would like to. And I think it's important for him to set the stage early on this, particularly when the stakes are so high for climate, for the environment, for the damage that the pipeline will do.
WALLACE: Senator Thune, the Democratic leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, has blocked any vote on the keystone pipeline for years. Is it your belief that he's finally agreeing to this vote to help Mary Landrieu, who's in a runoff in the Louisiana Senate race for the early first week in December, with a show vote on this, with a full expectation that it's going to get vetoed by the president anyway? That in fact, this is all political?
SEN. JOHN THUNE, R-SD, REPUBLICAN CONFERENCE CHAIR: Well, sure it is, Chris. And this is John Hoeven's bill. He introduced this bill. He's been trying to get a vote on it now for years in the Senate.
WALLACE: We should point. He's a senator from South Dakota.
THUNE: A senator from North Dakota.
THUNE: He's my colleague from north of the border.
But the point is, this is a cynical attempt to save a Senate seat in Louisiana. If the Democrats were serious about this, we would have voted on this years ago. I mean, this thing has been hanging around now for six years. There's been five environmental impact reviews of the Keystone pipeline, all of which have come back and said it would have minimal impact on the environment. The president's own State Department says it would support over 40,000 jobs. In my state of South Dakota, 3,000 to 4,000 jobs, $100 million in earnings, $20 million in property tax revenue. This is an issue, a no-brainer in the eyes of the American public, which finally, finally is coming to the floor of the United States Senate not because they're worried about American jobs, but because they're worried about the job of a senator from Louisiana.
WALLACE: Let me -- let's drill down, if you will, into the merits of the Keystone pipeline. President Obama was pretty defiant about the pipeline and his approval for it this week in Asia. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I have to constantly push back against this idea that somehow the Keystone pipeline is either this massive jobs bill for the United States or is somehow lowering gas prices. Understand what this project is. It is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land down to the Gulf where it would be sold everywhere else. It doesn't have an impact on U.S. gas prices.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: But let's take a look at the facts. The State Department says the project would create 12,000 direct and related jobs near the pipeline, perhaps tens of thousands more further away from the pipeline. It's not just Canadian crude, as the president said. It also would carry 100,000 barrels a today from Montana and North Dakota.
Senator Whitehouse, oil markets are global. If you put more supply into any part of the system, it's going to lower prices at least marginally everywhere. The president is wrong at a bunch of these points.
WHITEHOUSE: Well, the different is that the tar sands is probably the filthiest fuel on the planet, and when you add that into the equation, you dramatically increase the effect of carbon pollution and of greenhouse gases. Now, our friends on the other side won't agree that any of this is real. They will never treat climate change seriously. And so, they just look at the one side of the ledger, which is a bunch of jobs.
And I think it's 4,000 direct jobs, which is good. I mean, I'm not going to under -- you know, to try to deprecate that. But we're growing at 200,000 jobs a month in this economy. And the last environment and public works bills for the highways would have been 1.8 million jobs.
So, this is no jobs game changer. And I should correct one thing -- Harry Reid twice offered votes on Keystone on the Shaheen bill, and the Republicans refused to allow those votes because they didn't want the Shaheen to pass before the election. It would have been good for her in New Hampshire to have passed a major piece of bipartisan legislation like that.
WALLACE: Let me --
WHITEHOUSE: So the Republicans had the chance to vote on Keystone and turned it down.
WALLACE: Let me bring in Senator Thune.
Let's talk about this issue of the pollution, because the argument against the pipeline is that the kind of Canadian crude we are talking about here, oil from tar sands creates 17 percent more greenhouse gases than typical oil. And at full capacity, the pipeline would create as much carbon pollution as 5 million new cars on the road.
Your -- what's your answer to that, sir?
THUNE: Well, in 2011, Chris, what the State Department said is that the oil coming out of Canada would replace the same type of oil that's coming in from Venezuela. And remember, this is -- Canada is going to produce this oil. It's just a question of whether we're going to benefit from it or the Chinese are going to benefit it.
And you add to that the fact that the light sweet crude oil coming out of the Bakken in North Dakota, 100,000 barrels of that can go in the pipeline on a daily basis, which takes pressure of an already stressed rail system, is making it more different for people in -- producers in my country to get their agricultural commodities to the marketplace.
It isn't a question of whether or not this is going to get done. It's going to get done. Canadians are going to produce the oil. The only question is whether or not America is going to benefit from it and we're going to get the jobs that come with it, and whether we're going to replace the oil, the same type of oil that's coming in from Venezuela, which is what the State Department said this project would do.
WALLACE: All right. Let's talk about the other big development this week --
WHITEHOUSE: Chris, we actually dispute that --
WALLACE: If I may, because we need to move along, I know we could continue this debate for a long time.
WHITEHOUSE: Sure. But put me on record as disputing the facts there, because I don't think Senator Thune was accurate.
WALLACE: You are duly noted as disputing the facts, Senator Whitehouse.
WHITEHOUSE: Thank you.
WALLACE: The president also announced a climate deal with China this week. And let's take a look at that. The U.S. would emit 26 percent to 28 percent less carbon in 2025 than it did in 2005. China agrees to cap its carbon emissions by 2030 when it says 20 percent of its energy will come from clean sources.
Here's how Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell reacted to this deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER-ELECT: As I read the agreement, it requires the Chinese to do nothing at all for 16 years while these carbon emission regulations are creating havoc in my state and other states around the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Senator Whitehouse, aren't we, in the terms of this deal, committed to doing just as Mitch McConnell says, a lot more than the Chinese?
WHITEHOUSE: In order to reach that 2030 target, the Chinese are going to have to build a clean energy portfolio that is as big as the entire U.S. energy fleet. So, between now and 2030, they're going to build an immense amount of clean energy. That's actually going to be good for American suppliers into those projects. A lot of this is American design.
So, nobody is going to build that much capacity on New Year's Eve of 2030. The minority leader, now soon to be majority leader, is just wrong about that.
And in terms of the havoc that the so-called regulation of all of this claim to create by the minority leader, you know, in Rhode Island, we're seeing the havoc from the carbon pollution. We're seeing the havoc along or coastlines, houses falling into the sea. We're seeing the havoc with fishermen going into the sea and finding fish that their parents and grandparents never saw before. As one said to me, it's getting weird out there, Sheldon.
WALLACE: Senator Thune, briefly, because I want to move on to immigration. But if you can in about 30 seconds or so, when 97 percent of scientific papers say that human activity does add to climate change, without getting into all the details, don't we have to do something?
THUNE: Well, look, climate change is occurring, it's always occurring, Chris. There are a number of factors that contribute to that, including human activity. The question is, what are we going to do about it and at what cost?
And what the president agreed to was a bad deal. It's all pain and no gain for the American people. It's one-sided. It's nonbinding. There's a hope that someday down the road, the Chinese might, might actually reduce, at the same time the United States reduces its reductions or makes reductions twice at what we're planning right now. And what that means is, 90 percent increase in utility rates for people, low-income people in places like South Dakota.
And I guess what I would say to that if you trust the Chinese on something like this, I've got some oceanfront property here in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for you, because this is one-sided, and it is a nonbinding deal that we have agreed to, and I don't expect that we're ever going to see China agree to it in the end.
WALLACE: All right. Finally, we got a couple minutes left. And I want to just get into this immigration issue, because the president has made it clear he plans to take executive action to deferred deportations for millions of people who are in the country illegally.
Senator Thune, are Republican leaders now seriously considering somehow linking opposition to executive action with government funding, either by setting up a situation that will result in a government shutdown, when funding runs out on December 11th, or just passing the short-term bills month by month and keeping this fight going and holding government funding hostage?
THUNE: I think Republicans, Chris, are looking at different options about how best to respond to the president's unilateral action, which many people believe is unconstitutional, unlawful action on this particular issue, but my concern is I don't -- shutting the government down doesn't solve the problem. My concern is what happens if we end up shutting down what could be a record of legislative accomplishments that's there for the taking if the president would choose cooperation instead of conflict.
This president right now is choosing friction, partisanship and accomplishment -- or I should say, in partisanship, instead of cooperation. There's an opportunity for us to get some things done here, and instead, the president is going down this unilateral path, and it's going to make it very hard for us to get anything done on immigration or any other issue for that matter.
WALLACE: So, very briefly, you're saying that you don't think that Republicans should take the bait, if you will, and do anything to shut down the government?
THUNE: Well, it doesn't solve the problem, Chris, but, look, we're having those discussions. We were only in for a couple of days this last week. We're going to continue to meet about this. I know the House leaders are talking about, the Senate leaders are talking about it. But the fact of the matter is, the president would be well- served not to go down this path, because he's putting at risk and in peril a real opportunity here to do some things for the country.
WALLACE: And, unfortunately, we got 30 seconds left, Senator Whitehouse. Should this president take this executive action soon? Some people are saying as early as this week. Or should he wait until after Congress passes government funding before it runs out on December 11th?
WHITEHOUSE: We've got a broken immigration system, which is why Republicans and Democrats came together in the Senate to pass in a very strong way a bipartisan immigration bill that has been sitting over in the House and Speaker Boehner won't bring up because he wants to protect his hard right wing extremists --
WALLACE: Yes. But if I can't just get you to answer the question -- should he wait or not?
WHITEHOUSE: So, it's right there to be done. I think that he should force the hand of the speaker and have him take up our bipartisan bill. The real story here is the speaker who won't pass bipartisan immigration reform. And we have a broken system. The president has to do something.
WALLACE: And the force the hand and take -- and force the hand by taking executive action right away?
WHITEHOUSE: Or -- I think that could be negotiable, but the threat of real and unilateral executive action is all that will drive the speaker's hand. Otherwise, we're just left with a broken system and a lot of political talk. Let's pass the Senate bipartisan bill.
WALLACE: All right. Gentlemen, thank you so much. Senator Whitehouse, Senator Thune, thank you both. Thanks for joining us.
So, what do you think? Will the Senate approve the Keystone pipeline and will the president sign it? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter @FoxNewsSunday and police use the #fns.
Up next, President Obama promises executive action on immigration. Now, Republicans debate how to block it. We're joined by two rising stars from the Senate's class of 2015, next.
WALLACE: President Obama doubled down this week on his pledge to take executive action to block the deportation of millions of illegal immigrants. And some Republican leaders in Congress now say they may shut down the government to stop him.
We want to introduce you to members of the GOP's new class of freshmen senators who will be part of this fight.
Joining us from Oklahoma, Senator-elect James Lankford. And here in Washington, Senator-elect Tom Cotton of Arkansas.
Gentlemen, congratulations. And welcome to FOX NEWS SUNDAY.
REP. TOM COTTON, R – AK, SENATOR-ELECT: Thank you, Chris.
REP. JAMES LANKFORD, R – OK, SENATOR-ELECT: Thanks, Chris.
WALLACE: President Obama called both of you on election night, two of the relatively few new Republican senators that he reached out to.
Senator Cotton, when you see what the president intends to do with executive action on immigration, steps that he apparently is taking on a climate deal with China and we think a veto of the Keystone pipeline, do you get a sense that you can do business with him?
COTTON: Well, I hope so, Chris. When President Obama called me he said that, obviously, we're going to have disagreements, but we're going to try to make progress for the people of Arkansas and Americans. I don't want to prejudge what he may or may not do on immigration. I mean, he's been discussing this for months now and it still hasn't happened, and some voices in his own party after the election last week are urging him not to go forward with it.
So, I'm hopeful the president will work with Congress to make any changes to our immigration laws.
WALLACE: Senator-elect Lankford, same question -- do you sense from what you've seen since election any give in this president?
LANKFORD: I don't sense any give from the president. Now, he did reach out as well on the phone and said let's try to find works to get together, and I told him we had a ways to work together a year ago on some basic things, and a lot of things including immigration. For instance, the House passed in December of 2012 a high-skill worker visa program that he immediately threatened to veto, the Senate never took up. He said, if we don't do everything, we're going to do nothing. And I think we're going to get nothing done if he continues to have that attitude.
WALLACE: All right. The first face-off between the president and Republicans is going to be on immigration. Mr. Obama took a hard line on executive action this week in Asia. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I indicated to Speaker Boehner several months ago that if, in fact, Congress failed to act, I would use all the lawful authority that I possess to try to make the system work better. And that's going to happen. That's going to happen before the end of the year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Senator-elect Cotton, I think it's fair to say you come from the Tea Party wing of the GOP. Do you think Republicans should be prepared to either shut down the government by making some links to the funding which runs out on December 11th, or to pass these short- term spending bills to keep this fight up with the president?
COTTON: Well, I don't think anyone wants to shut down the government, because that doesn't solve the problem. But it's not just Republicans who have spoken on this. The American people have spoken.
Immigration was a central issue in my campaign. I won by 17 points.
Kay Hagan, Mark Begich, Mark Udall all supported President Obama's amnesty bill. They lost. Mary Landrieu is about to lose. Greg Orman, Alison Grimes, Bruce Braley, Michelle Nunn, they lost when they supported that bill.
The voters of Oregon, not exactly a conservative state like Arkansas, voted 2-1 against driver's licenses for illegal immigrants.
So, the American people have spoken loudly about the kind of immigration reform they want and it's not what the president is proposing.
WALLACE: But you've got to know, and this has happened before. It happened on ObamaCare in 2013, it happened with Newt Gingrich on the budget back in the '90s, when Republicans take action, even if it's the president who ends up vetoing what links they put to funding, it ends up biting Republicans.
COTTON: Chris, it's actually happened thousands of times over our history that Congress uses our power to control how taxpayer dollars are spent to put limitations on what a president can do. For the last six years with Guantanamo Bay, the president has wanted to close our detention facility there and move terrorists to the United States.
WALLACE: But are you saying you're -- be prepared like with ObamaCare to shut down the government?
COTTON: I'm saying that with Guantanamo Bay, we have fully funded our military spending bills for the last six years and put restrictions in what the president can do in terms of transferring terrorists from Guantanamo Bay to the United States.
There's no reason that we can't find all our immigration agencies and law enforcement agencies, yet not let the president use taxpayer dollars to get Social Security numbers and work permits and federal IDs to illegal immigrants.
WALLACE: So, you would want to put that link on funding for the immigration agencies?
COTTON: Well, I'm hopeful that we won't have to take that action, because I hope the president will listen to what the American people said last week. And again, he's been talking about this for months, and it hasn't happened. So, I don't want to yet prejudge what he may or may not do.
WALLACE: Senator-elect Lankford, after the midterms, Mitch McConnell in the Senate, John Boehner in the House, made it pretty clear that they did not want to touch this stovetop again after what happened in 2013 with ObamaCare, and the fact that the government got shut down and rightly or wrongly, Republicans got blamed.
LANKFORD: Well, I think the significant part about this is, we still hope to be able to reach out and work with the president on it. We're not pursuing some government shutdown. I think what people misunderstood at the time was, how many people really detested what was happening in their personal lives and their businesses with ObamaCare. And we are trying to find every way possibility to communicate.
This is a real problem. It's not a Web site problem. It's a real problem that affects every single American, every single business.
This is also an issue like this.
WALLACE: But I'm --
LANKFORD: But people are not pursuing some government shutdown, though.
Let me take you back into the Clinton administration. President Clinton put out an executive order and the House voted against that to defund that executive order 417-2. That was in 1998, because it took over power from the legislative branch in the states.
I would love to see that bipartisanship again where the Congress to step up and say to a president, you do not have executive authority to do this. You have to do your responsibility. We have to do ours.
WALLACE: But I guess what I'm trying to get at and, you know, I fully understand there are a lot of members who say, look, you've got to use the power of the purse. That's your one advantage, your one piece of leverage over the president, to try to change policy.
But are you willing to go to possibly shutting down the government to do that?
Because it seems -- let me -- my point is, that regardless of who is responsible on the merits, it seems like Congress gets blamed and the president ends up winning. It certainly would happen in October of 2013.
LANKFORD: Sure. But, Chris, your assumption is, is that that's the only option that's sitting out here, is to be able to shut down government. I just don't believe that that's true. I think there are ways to be able to fund everything, and I don't think the president has the high ground.
He has this perception that everyone in the country thinks like him, and that is not correct. I represent millions of people. Tom Cotton represents millions of people. There are millions of people scatter around the United States that think like us, and, though, the president thinks only these few crazy conservatives in Congress think this way and no one else does, he's misjudged the American people.
The American people really do believe in the rule of law. They don't have a problem with immigration. They have a problem with illegal immigration. And for the president to step up and say, I'm just going to remove the word "illegal" and to be able to transition this and ignore the law, a lot of people have a problem with that, Republicans and Democrats alike.
WALLACE: All right. Let met change to another subject that you guys are going to have to deal with, and that's ObamaCare. And the big news this week were those comments by MIT professor Jonathan Gruber who was one of the architects of ObamaCare.
Let's take a look at one of the things he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONATHAN GRUBER, MIT PROFESSOR: Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, you know, call it the stupid of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to get anything to pass.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Senator-elect Lankford, what do you think that professor Gruber's comments show? And what is it that you think, given the fact that the president will certainly veto any outside right repeal of ObamaCare, what do you think the new Republican majorities on both the House and the Senate can actually accomplish in ObamaCare over the next few years?
LANKFORD: I think Gruber's comments show what is consistent in Washington, is this arrogance of centralized government. This administration really believes they are smarter than everyone else and they need to just create the policy and impose the policy, and states exist only to be able to carry out their wishes from the central government. And I think that's exactly backwards.
The best thing that we can actually do is return health care decisions back to states, back to local authorities. Health care compacts, all the different things that actually return those authorities back to the states.
We have $50 billion -- $50 billion last year in Medicare fraud, $50 billion. That doesn't get corrected by continuing to centralize control. So, we've got to take care of the independent payment advisory board, we have to get rid of that; medical device tax, we have to get rid of that, we get rid of things like the mandates on individuals. People are really frustrated with that and they're going to watch their taxes go up next year even more than last year.
People want to have real answers. It's time to stop messaging on these bills. People need some solutions on it, because it really affects their lives.
WALLACE: But Senator-elect Cotton, realistically, what do you think you can get down about ObamaCare while President Obama is still in office?
COTTON: Well, Arkansans are conservative people, but they're practical people as well. They realize it's going to be hard to repeal a law named ObamaCare when the president is named Barack Obama. What they want is relief from the immediate harms.
The House of Representatives has already passed a lot of bills that would stop those harms, like preventing people from having to pay a tax that they can't afford in ObamaCare plan, or business from having to pay a tax if they can't provide an ObamaCare plan, or letting people keep their plans as was promised. Those passed the House with bipartisan support. The president has taken some of those steps as an administration measure. I think we could pass that legislation again and the president would be hard pressed to explain why he wants to veto it if he's already done it as an administrative measure and it has broad bipartisan support.
WALLACE: Senators-elect and I'm tired of saying that, so you could get to be senators so I don't have to put the elect on there.
Senators-elect Cotton and Lankford, thank you both. Thanks for coming in. We'll follow both of you on your Senate adventures. Thank you.
COTTON: Thanks, Chris.
WALLACE: Up next, is President Obama trying to provoke Republicans to overreact with his promise of executive action on immigration. Our Sunday group joins the conversation.
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)
OBAMA: There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system, that for me through simply -- through executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Well, that seemed pretty clear. President Obama back in 2011, and a number of times since saying he lacks the authority to take executive action to defer -- defer deportations for millions of people in this country illegally, a step he now plans to take perhaps as early as this week.
And it's time now for our Sunday group. Brit Hume, Fox News senior political analyst, Jackie Kucinich of The Washington Post, syndicated columnist George Will and Fox News political analyst Juan Williams. Well, we asked you for questions for the panel. And we got this on Twitter from Jim Dixon who writes, "Send him (the president) a budget that defunds immigration and ACA, the Affordable Care Act, make him shut down the government with his veto." Brit, how do you answer Jim? If Republicans somehow tie funding of the government to opposition to this executive action, is it a smart political move or another mistake?
BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It's a total blunder to try that, because if the president were to veto the bill, a bill that would have -- keep the government going and there was a shutdown, it wouldn't matter. It never has, what the proximate cause of the shutdown was. It is an iron rule in Washington, exemplified many times, that if the government shuts down, the Republicans get the blame, not some of the blame, not most of the blame, all of the blame. And one would surmise that they may have learned that by now. Their leaders seem to have, but there are some within House and Senate who still think that that kind of brinksmanship might work. I doubt it.
WALLACE: Jackie, are Democrats fully on board with this idea of executive action, despite all of the -- (INAUDIBLE), all the promises that it's going to poison the well. Did they just feel it's going to solidify even more the Hispanic voter support for the Democratic Party? And to get back to the other point that it make provoke Republicans to overreact?
JACKIE KUCINICH, THE WASHINGTON POST: I don't think a lot of Democrats hold out a lot of hope that because Republicans took over the Senate that all of a sudden there's going to be a lot getting done in Congress. I don't think that was out there. From what I've heard, Democrats are solidly behind the president when it comes to this. They've been pushing the president to exert his authority, a lot of them have, particularly the Hispanic members because they want to see something get done on this issue.
WALLACE: So, do they see no down side to creating this kind of confrontation on this issue?
KUCINICH: I don't know if this confrontation wouldn't have happened anyway, remember when Boehner tried to release just the principles that House Republicans had for immigration reform, I think by in January of last year, by February he had already pulled back. There wasn't a lot of hope out there anyway.
WALLACE: You know, presidents have taken plenty of executive actions in the past all the way back to Abraham Lincoln with the emancipation proclamation, Harry Truman desegregating the military in the '40s. George, which Barack Obama is right? The one in 2011 who we just saw who said that this doesn't -- let me get the quote right, "would not conform with my appropriate role as president" or the new Barack Obama that we've heard of in the last few months who says I can do it and I'm going to do it.
GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, I cite Mr. Barack Obama in 2011 and even more of the Barack Obama of 2008 who was a stringent and correct in his criticism of the Bush/Cheney expansive views of executive power. The policies that reportedly the president is planning to implement are those about which intelligent people of good will can agree or disagree. It's going to shield from deportation millions of people who actually face no realistic prospect of deportation. He's going to give work permits to millions of people who are already working (INAUDIBLE). I'm not saying it's trivial, but it's -- put this in context. And he's going to direct in the enforcement discretion the agents to concentrate on a, criminals, and b, people who arrived recently. Fine. The policies are defensible. The process is (INAUDIBLE), beyond the legalities, beyond the precedents of executive discretion, and beyond the constitutional questions. There's a simple etiquette of democracy, particularly after we've had, as Tom Cotton said here, an election that -- in which this issue featured in many states and the results were clear that country opposes what the president is doing.
WALLACE: What about the argument the president would make, you are talking about the etiquette of democracy, it passed the Senate in 2013? It's been sitting there for a year and a half in a house -- and they've done nothing about it.
WILL: That's too bad. We have a bicameral legislature, if the Constitution says that they have to agree and in fact 300-some bill passed the House and sat in the Senate.
WALLACE: I want to get back to this question, though, about how much executive action is too much? How much executive action does the president actually have? The -- this weekend the Wall Street Journal had a very interesting article which asked the question how many is too many. And their argument is that when the executive -- when the president decides to take executive action that affects individuals, there's more groups of people that's clearly within his right, but in this case where he would be taking executive action that would affect 5, 6, million people, that that goes too far. Juan?
JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think that's really -- the question is, you know, how many is too many by that calculus. And I don't think that's the issue here. I think the issue here is he does not have the right to rewrite the law. The law and the Congress have the right to set the terms for granting citizenship, number of visas, terms for green cards, for example, that's what the Congress has the right to do, what they should be doing. And in the clip that you played, I think he's saying I would -- he would prefer to have the Congress to act.
WALLACE: Well, of course, he would. And, of course ...
WALLACE: But the question is can he do it on his own?
WILLIAMS: But of course, he can do it on his own. As you said, this is something that presidents have done for time ...
WALLACE: I didn't say he could do it on his own.
WILLIAMS: No, you say going back to emancipation proclamation ...
WALLACE: I think people can take executive action ...
WILLIAMS: So he has legal authority. And I would argue picking up on what George Will just said, that he has moral imperative, because we're dealing with tearing families apart, and it's as if we're just talking politics and law. There are real human beings out there. Who are damaged?
WALLACE: This is people aren't being deported anyway. What are you talking about?
WILLIAMS: We're talking about the huge numbers, we have record numbers of deportations in this country.
HUME: Juan, the reason these numbers on deportation look so large, is that the administration count as a deportation, people who come and are turned away at the border. Who never really get into the interior of the United States?
WILLIAMS: They're large without those numbers.
HUME: And what I would add is that the authorities that you are talking about is prosecutorial discretion, which stems from the fact that the government doesn't have the resources to prosecute every lawbreaker, so therefore prosecutors have discretion as to which cases to prosecute. What we're talking about here is a mass refusal to deport people who probably wouldn't be deported anyway, but that's what this comes down to.
WILLIAMS: I think the way to look at it is administrative relief. The president's job is to manage -- it's the president job is to manage the immigration law, as passed by the Congress, you can't deport all these people. So, what the president is doing is prioritizing, as George said, who is to be the focus of deportation efforts, and criminals are the people, not families.
HUME: Well, as a practical matter, Republicans would be wise to keep an eye on how much actual difference it would make if he were to do this, but as a legal matter, it seems evident that prosecutorial discretion is exercised where you simply don't have the heavily ability to prosecute everybody. In this case this is such a wholesale refusal to follow the law that I think it would probably exceed constitutional bounds, if you could ever get a judge to hear it, which is where the problem is.
WALLACE: All right. We have to take a break her. When we come back, the next round of open enrollment for ObamaCare starts this weekend. In fact, yesterday just as comments from one of the architects of the plan ignite even more controversy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Basically, you know, cult of stupidity in American voter, whatever.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: too stupid to understand.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a very clever, you know, face exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: A new web video from the Republican National Committee pouncing on comments from MIT professor Jonathan Gruber as the new GOP majority prepares its plan of attack against ObamaCare. We are back now with the panel. So professor Gruber, who helped first write Romney care, and then with ObamaCare says that the president's plan was written deceptively on purpose to get it through Congress. He says that they hid the fact that the mandates were really taxes. He said they hid the fact that the whole plan was a massive transfer of wealth. George, what does this tell you about ObamaCare and what does it tell you about the people who wrote it?
WILL: Well, it tells you that they were consciously deceptive. We knew that at the time. It tells us that they did lots of unseemly things to get it past the cornhusker kickback and Louisiana purchase and all the other logrolls that went on -- but beyond that. M. Gruber has been insulting the American people, and that's not wise, but what he has really said, that people haven't focused on sufficiently yet, is that they deliberately wrote the law, clearly to say that subsidies could be dispersed only through exchanges established by the states. Why does this matter? 225 days from now is the last Monday in June -- by then the Supreme Court will have ruled on whether Mr. Gruber is telling the truth. Whether that it is really what the law says. If it does, and the Republicans can have the patience of politics and wait for the Supreme Court to rule, they will find that the president can no longer administer the Affordable Care Act, and he will come to them hand in hand, and they will have all the leverage to negotiate changes in the Affordable Care Act.
WALLACE: Because the point is, and I'm not exactly sure, maybe you are, what 15 -- about 15 of the states have exchanges, the other 35, and it's off by one or two -- have federal exchanges. And according to the law if it's a federal exchange they don't get the subsidies.
WILL: And the wonderfully loquacious (ph) professor Gruber has said clearly, we wrote it that way to squeeze the states.
WALLACE: All right. From the White House on down, Democrats are doing everything they can to distance themselves. You say, Mr. Gruber, I prefer to say, Professor Gruber, take a look at the Democratic leader in the House, Nancy Pelosi now and back in 2009.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: I don't know who he is. He didn't help write our bill.
I don't know if you've seen Jonathan Gruber of MIT's analysis of the -- what the comparison is to the status quo.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Juan, aren't these gyrations by Democrats to dissent themselves from Professor Gruber a little embarrassing?
WILLIAMS: Yeah, that's -- that looked bad. That's a gap. I would say, and you know, and I liked the tape you played earlier where she said you are going to have to pass this law, this -- Senate. So, you know, that doesn't help. But I mean I think Gruber was insulting to the American people, and arrogant in his attitude, so there's a lot of hubris involved here, and I think it's a, you know, it's a feast for critics of ObamaCare who are suddenly saying, you know, this is why we are upset.
Look, are you kidding me? In Washington, we package, we merchandise just like, you know, Procter & Gamble and anybody else that's selling soap. Of course, things are packaged in such a way as to promote ...
WALLACE: So, there's nothing new -- nothing that Gruber ...
WILLIAMS: There's very little. In fact, I would say it's much ado about nothing with Gruber except that the critics of ObamaCare have enough (INAUDIBLE). The act is working. The uninsured rate in the country has dropped by 25 percent. This is something that Republicans should be celebrating. We have more competition. We've done away with the Medicare doughnut hole. We have no lifetime caps and limits, we have no conditions about preexisting illnesses, we have preventative medicine. It's just incredible to me, though, Republicans persist.
WALLACE: So, Brit, two questions. One, does a feast here to answer brother Williams, one, is it much ado about nothing, the whole Gruber affair? And secondly and more importantly, how much effect does it really have in the efforts of Republicans to try to, if not repeal, take a scalpel to ObamaCare.
HUME: In answer to your first question, what Juan says is so, but it's not quite applicable. Yes, legislation is always argued for in the way that's most advantageous to those who are promoting it, and it is sold in their exaggerations and so forth. What we have here is something quite different. We have an admission of an all-out effort to deceive on a number of points, based upon the notion, common I'm afraid among many liberals, that the American people do not know what's good for them and they need their more intelligent betters in the professoriate and other locations to take care of that for them. That is what -- that is a kind of a premise of ObamaCare.
As a practical matter, I think it furthers the case that people have sense, I should say, that people have that they were sold a bill of goods on this. And when we talk about the people who now have insurance who didn't, great numbers of those people are on Medicaid. Medicaid patients are having a terrible time finding a doctor who will see them, and there's more coming out about this all the time about this -- the facilities -- medical facilities being strained, Medicaid reimbursements are light, doctors don't want to treat them, so having the insurance is one thing. The question is do they have care? And I think that question is in many cases, the answer is no.
WALLACE: How -- Just to pick up on the other point, how important will Gruber's comments be as a weapon for Republicans to go after?
HUME: Well, it will be a gift that keeps on giving as they attempt to chip away at ObamaCare, but as George has suggested, the whole thing may collapse with the Supreme Court rules at the language of the law on whether non-state sponsored exchanges can allow people in those states -- I'm sorry.
WALLACE: will get subsidies.
HUME: Will get subsidies. If that happens, the whole things goes -- I think the whole law begins to close in on itself.
KUCINICH: I was just -- if I can speak up now. I think with Gruber, though, so, if anyone- if they have a hearing, they'll haul him in front of Congress, they'll yell at him, it kind of just reconfirm people were already skeptical of ObamaCare. It kind of reconfirms their suspicions. I would agree the Supreme Court case would be a way that's going to chip away. I also think the medical device tax repeal, which had bipartisan support. You talk to Democrats who don't really like that. That's another $29 billion that would be removed from ...
WALLACE: You know, I was going to say, if you may not like the medical device tax, but then where do you get the 29 billion over the course of the decade?
KUCINICH: And that is the question.
WALLACE: All right, let me ask you another question ...
KUCINICH: All right.
WALLACE: Open enrollment for the second year of ObamaCare started actually yesterday amid reports that some of the policies that people bought this last year are going to cost, same policy, 20 percent more this coming year. From people you talked to, Jackie, how confident is the administration that ObamaCare is going to do -- and it couldn't do much worse, is going to do better in its second year than it did in its first?
KUCINICH: What you're hearing is from some of the people that where their plans have gone up. Officials are telling them to shop around, there is going to be another cheaper plan, to go back and buy something else that might be a little cheaper. Saying that it will level out in the next two or so years and that you won't see those plans -- the prices raise again. But whether it does or not, I mean, we'll have to wait and see, but every time that happens, I mean your health care goes up again. It erodes the confidence. And that's what they are going to be dealing with.
WALLACE: George, we've got less than a minute left. I'm going to ask you a big picture with a short answer. What happens to ObamaCare? Do you think that the basic entitlement -- I'm not talking about the one tax or something -do you think the basic entitlement lasts or not?
WILL: I think if the basic entitlement is that everyone in America to have insurance coverage, I think that is now part of the ethic of the country, but there's so many other and better ways to achieve that. The fact is what Gruber does is strike at the legitimacy of the law. The defense of ObamaCare has always come down to it's the law, get over it, live with it. Yes, but this what Gruber says is we didn't do it in a legitimate way.
WALLACE: All right. Thank you, panel, see you next Sunday.
Up next or power player of the week, how one of the biggest names in hotels is appealing to the next generation of travelers.
WALLACE: His name has been one of the America's best brands for more than half a century. Now he's trying to tailor that brand for the next generation. Here's our "Power Player of the Week."
J.W. "BILL" MARRIOTT, JR. EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, MARRIOTT INT'L: Before, you walked through the lobby, you checked in, you went to your room and you never came back to the lobby unless you are on your way out of the hotel. Today the lobby is a gathering place. That's totally different.
WALLACE: Bill Marriott is talking about millennials, folks in their 20s and early 30s and what they want in hotels. And while Marriott has been in the business 60 years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I traveled 110,000 miles last year.
WALLACE: At age 82, he's all about the future.
(on camera): How much of your focus is on the millennials?
MARRIOTT: Right now they're about 45 to 50 percent of our business. In another three or four years, it will be 60 percent of our business.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We also just got talking about portfolio projects in New York City that we have ...
WALLACE (voice over): Marriott has an innovation lab where staffers brainstorm and talk with millennials. They even have mockups of potential hotel rooms, edgy, not much color, big beds and big TVs, but often no desks since they are on their laptops.
(on camera): So, this is the shower.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right here. That's the show. Almost right in the guest room.
WALLACE: It's pretty bare bones you've got. A bed, a shower, a sink.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And a big TV.
WALLACE: And a big TV.
WALLACE (voice over): You can tell Marriott is having to adjust to some of it.
MARRIOTT: We were not exactly cool with flowered bedspreads. Now there is no bedspreads, you know, they have a cover over the sheets and blanket, but there are no real bedspreads.
(on camera): And does that scare you? Or ...
MARRIOTT: No, I think this is the right thing to do. This is what the customers want.
WALLACE (voice over): That could be the motto for Marriott's remarkable success. Bill's dad J.W. started with a root beer stand in 1927.
MARRIOTT: He opened on the same day Lindbergh flew the Atlantic, and he met Lindbergh once, and he said you and I went into business on the same day, though you got all the publicity.
WALLACE: Now Marriott has 18 brands, more than 4,000 hotels, 700,000 rooms and a lot of guests.
MARRIOTT: Probably over a million people a night.
WALLACE (on camera): How does that make you feel?
MARRIOTT: Concerned that they are being well taken care of.
WALLACE (voice over): Two years ago Marriott stepped down as chairman and CEO.
(on camera): You haven't exactly retired, though, have you?
MARRIOTT: No, I don't think I ever will and tell they probably carry me out feet first, I'm averaging about 40 to 50 hours a week.
WALLACE: Why do you keep doing it?
MARRIOTT: I love it.
WALLACE (voice over): But when we asked what the satisfaction of the job is, Marriott surprised us. He talked about the 350,000 employees.
MARRIOTT: 50 percent of our general managers in our hotels have been with the company 25 years or more and have started as hourly workers. And that to me is terrific. I mean when we can bring somebody in as a waiter and make them president of the company, that's just the way America is supposed to work.
WALLACE: Hear hear.
WALLACE: Even though he's moved upstairs in the corporate hierarchy, Bill Marriott still visits 200 of his hotels per year, and he shows no signs of slowing down. That's it for today. Have a great week. W see you next, "Fox News Sunday."
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