Mayor Michael Bloomberg Talks Economy, Immigration; Rick Santorum on GOP Presidential Politics

Written by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Sen. Rick Santorum / Published April 24, 2011 / Fox News Sunday

The following is a rush transcript of the April 24, 2011 edition of "Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace." This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

 

CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR: I'm Chris Wallace, and this is "Fox News Sunday."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE (voice-over): A credit rating agency lowers its outlook on the U.S. economy from "stable" to "negative." As gas prices soar and our national debt keeps growing. We'll sit down with New York City mayor and billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg to talk about the economy, immigration and his political future. Michael Bloomberg, only on "Fox News Sunday."

Then, the GOP presidential field remains wide open. We'll hear from a likely contender, former Republican Senator Rick Santorum on what he brings to the race.

The White House orders predator drone strikes in Libya. We'll ask our Sunday panel what is the end game against Muammar Qaddafi. All right now on "Fox News Sunday."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Hello again. Happy Easter from Fox News in Washington. Well, we seem to be facing a perfect storm these days of economic problems and political stalemate.

Who better to talk about it than our first guest? Making his first appearance ever -- I'm choked up about this -- ever on "Fox News Sunday." The mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg.

Mayor Bloomberg, welcome, good to have you with us.

NEW YORK CITY MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: Thank you for having me.

WALLACE: I want to begin by asking you to put on your hat as a successful, very successful businessman. This week Standard & Poor's as we just mentioned lowered its outlook for U.S. Treasury securities from "stable" to "negative."

The dollar is at its lowest level since 2008. There's no sign of a deal on our debt or the budget. Gas prices are spiking. How much trouble is this U.S. economy in?

BLOOMBERG: Well, I don't know that we are in big trouble, but we certainly could be very easily. I think this is a warning. We cannot continue to go on without intelligent immigration policies that we need to create jobs. We cannot continue to spend money we don't have.

Deficits do matter, certainly in the long-term and sometimes even in the short-term. We cannot go being the leader of the free world, not having policies that everybody understands, and that we can pull the public behind.

We need this country to pull together, and we seem to be emphasizing our differences in this politically-charged time, rather than focusing on what unites us.

WALLACE: Well, let's talk about a difference. The president and House Republicans have offered two very different plans for national budget. The president does want some spending cuts. But he also wants the rich, the wealthy, those over $250,000 to pay $1 trillion more in taxes. The GOP wants to get it all out of spending cuts, including major overhaul of Medicare and Medicaid. Who's right?

BLOOMBERG: Well, I think they're both right. All of the above things need to be addressed. The encouraging thing is maybe kicking and screaming, but they finally are willing to start addressing the issue.

In all fairness, Ryan deserves some credit because I don't know that I agree with most of the things or all of the things he said, but I will say that at least people are now talking about whether we can afford to continue to do what we've been doing, whether or not we're getting good value for our money and whether we're targeting those things that work or just staying with the things that have been there for a long time.

WALLACE: Now you now say they're both right. Back when they made the budget deal in the lame duck session in December, you said that both sides were right to extend the Bush tax cuts because raising taxes now would be a bad thing. Do you still feel that way?

BLOOMBERG: Well, I think long-term, we have to reduce expenses and find alternative revenue sources. You can have revenue sources that are politically palatable and you can have revenue sources that aren't.

You can have revenue sources that expand the economy and revenue sources that keep the economy from growing and maybe send it in the other direction. In the end, long-term you have to grow your way out of problems.

That is true for cities. That's true for states. That's true for the federal government. Short-term we have to make sure we have a tax code that is understandable, and that everybody agrees is fair. And one that we can live with in terms of how we collect and how we make sure that everybody pays their fair share.

The same thing is true on the other side. We cannot continue to say we've got to cut, but we can't touch Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security, defense. That's virtually 90 percent of all of our spending.

When people say well, we can always cut 1 percent. Yes, you can cut 1 percent out of 100. You can't cut 1 percent out of 10 percent. We don't want to shut down air traffic control. We don't want to shut down the IRS or we won't have any tax revenues.

We don't want to shut down the CIA and the FBI. We can't protect ourselves. A lot of things the government does that everybody says too much government. But when you tell them which programs, "don't cut mine."

That is what Congress and the president have to deal with. The political realities that everybody wants to continue their own services, willing to cut the other guy's services, doesn't like layoffs and doesn't want to pay more taxes.

WALLACE: Specifically -- because you say eventually you have got to grow your way out of this -- would you raise taxes on the wealthy?

BLOOMBERG: Today, no, because I just think this economy nationwide is at a point where it really could go either way. I don't think that we shouldn't -- I do think we should have to have taxes. People have to pay their fair share.

I do think the majority of the money is going to come from the wealthy. That is where the money is. On the other hand, today is not the right way to do it. If you were to do it, you have to do it with meaningful cuts done in a time frame that is believable.

If we say we're going to do something for the year 2030, nobody believes that that is ever going to happen. 2010 is right now. 2011. If you are going to do something for 2020, it starts to be believable, but you have to have an awful lot of things in place so everybody understands we are going to face this issue.

You know what we have, Chris, in this country, fewer and fewer people supporting more and more people. The youth in our country are assuming a burden to take care of people our age, you're in -- the age of mine and older -- that they will just not be able to satisfy. That is another reason why we need immigrants.

WALLACE: Back when you talk about the political stalemate, back when Barack Obama took office, you expressed some confidence in the idea that he was going to be able to reach across partisan lines and help solve the nation's big problems. Why hasn't that happened?

BLOOMBERG: Well, I think there is still time to do that. I think it's a difficult job to reach across party lines. Particularly, when the country is divided and Congress is divided.

You know, the president starts out every day with a majority in the Senate and minority in the House, except his majority in the Senate isn't as reliable as you would think it would be. We talk about partisanship, but neither party has a real majority in both Houses where they could enact legislation.

Then you'd have to get a much bigger than just a majority to override a presidential veto. I think what the president should be doing is -- I think he is starting to do that. I think Bill Daley will certainly help him do that. Bill has a lot of friends.

WALLACE: Chief of staff.

BLOOMBERG: His chief of staff. The president's got to start inviting people over for dinner. He's got to play golf with them. He has to pick up the phone and call and say, "I know we disagree on this, but I just want to say -- I heard it was your wife's birthday or your kid just got into college."

He has to go build friendships. That's what an executive's job is, and the president is a people-person. He knows how to deal with people.

WALLACE: He has been in office two years.

BLOOMBERG: Well, nobody is suggesting that he couldn't have done a better job. I think he would tell you he could have done a better job. We can always in retrospect have done a better job.

But the bottom line is, we're here today, April 24th, 2011. Everything in the past is history. You can entertain your audience in talking about that, or you can inform your audience and lead them by saying this is what we have to do going forward.

I'm one of those people that always tries to look forward. Should have, would have, could have is not a strategy to have a better life for myself, and my kids and grandkids some day.

WALLACE: You say that you are a big fan of Donald Trump.

BLOOMBERG: I'm a friend of Donald Trump's. He is a New York icon.

WALLACE: (inaudible) quote says you're a big fan, but let me ask you. Do you take him seriously as a presidential candidate and what do you think of him making such a big deal about the issue of whether or not Barack Obama was born in the United States?

BLOOMBERG: Look, anybody can run for president if you're 35 and an American citizen and born here. The president was born here. This birther issue is more than one person. There are a lot of roots that have glommed on to this.

I think the Republicans are making a terrible mistake in making this a big issue. We have immigration. We have the deficit. We have the economy. Those are the things that the public cares about. My girlfriend always says that it's all about housing and jobs -- my house, my job. That's what the public cares about. If the Republican Party doesn't start addressing that, they will lose and they deserve to.

Here is an opportunity for both parties and for the president to take a look and say look, guys, we have been sitting around, we've been talking back and forth. We have been fighting. It's good theater, but the country can no longer afford this. The American public is smart enough to understand that. Let's focus on the main issues.

WALLACE: One of the big issues for you and I think for all of America, is immigration reform. You say we need the 12 million illegals who are already in this country. In fact, you say -- this is a quote -- "our economy would crash without them." And you support a path to citizenship.

BLOOMBERG: I do.

WALLACE: Question, isn't that amnesty?

BLOOMBERG: You can call it what you want, but number one, let's get real. We're not going to deport -- I think the number today is probably less than 11 million people. We're not going to deport them. They are going to be here. So let's find a path where they can contribute more to the country.

Sitting around and yelling and screaming about something that was created by Congress in '86, where they passed a law saying we're going to stop the illegals coming into this country, but then deliberately did not fund any kind of an enforcement leaves us with 11 million rather than the 2 million we had then.

And 10 years from now, we're going to have 20 million unless we get serious. There are ways to solve the problem.

BLOOMBERG: You make sure that companies have a way to explicitly find out whether a potential employee is a citizen, and then you enforce the law, saying that unless they are a citizen you can't employ them.

WALLACE: You know, let me interrupt there, because you're suggesting that their Social Security card should have a fingerprint.

BLOOMBERG: You can buy -- Chris, you can buy a Social Security card on the street for $50. Let's get serious here. You have to be a card -- in this day and age, you have to have a card that can't be counterfeited, otherwise the companies can't use it, then we can't enforce the law.

If you enforce the law in a -- in ways that -- that companies can do it, you stop the demand for -- you stop the number of jobs available, which will stop the number of people coming across the border or slow it down dramatically, which will let us get control of our borders, which we should. At the same time, if we're going to grow this economy, we need to have the immigrants that are here be more productive, and we have to get coming to this country the entrepreneurs who will start companies, the scientists who will invent the next greatest thing, the seasonal workers who will keep our farms from moving out of this country.

You know, you have one low-skilled farm worker, and that creates three jobs at higher technology and higher skill levels in this country. You have one scientist or engineer come here, that creates five jobs throughout this country.

If you take a look, the cities in this country that have larger immigrant populations and are growing their immigrant populations, the unemployment rate of native-born minorities is a lot lower and those cities are growing. And you take a look actually at Detroit, for example. There's a city that needs more people. They know it. They're going out, trying to get immigrants to come there. New York, trying to get immigrants to come there.

Our economy is actually doing better, and it's because of immigrants. Forty percent of the people that live in New York City were born outside of the United States.

WALLACE: But what do you say to those people -- and I'm sure there are a lot of our listeners who are saying, yes, but he's saying that the people who broke the law are going to benefit.

BLOOMBERG: No. Let's do -- no. Number one, it's us that are going to benefit. It's you and me. It's the rest of this country.

You know, slamming our thumb with a hammer because it feels good when we stop is a nice thing to talk about, but it's not very good policy. And, we've got to understand, these people are here. Yes, they broke the law. Nobody should say they shouldn't. Let's figure out a way where they can pay a penalty, do what we need to have them do to become productive citizens, and then get on with it.

We can sit here 10 years from now, when the economy will be a lot worse if we don't do something, and saying, oh, yes, you know, we still have the same problem. You're not going to solve the problem, Chris, by yelling and screaming at those people.

They came here, they broke the law, and, let me tell you, this country encouraged them to come here and made sure that we didn't stop them. There were industries that wanted them, there were groups of -- of relatives who wanted them to come, and so we let it happen.

But that's the past. What are you going to do going forward? You can't deport them. It's just too many people. It would never happen. So let's find a way where they are productive, where they contribute to society.

WALLACE: In your new budget, you call for laying off some 4,600 teachers, and you want to change the rules so that merit, not seniority, would determine who's the first out.

BLOOMBERG: Yes.

WALLACE: What do you think of the Republican governors around the country, like Chris Christie in New Jersey and Scott Walker in Wisconsin, who are taking on the public workers union?

BLOOMBERG: So I wrote an op-ed saying the problem with municipal -- with the municipal workforce in this country is not the unions. In fact, it is the rest of us that have given in to requests that we can no longer afford, whether those are work rules or --

WALLACE: When you say "the rest of us," you're saying politicians?

BLOOMBERG: Well, politicians represent the public. There's not three groups here, there's two. There's the workers -

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: Voters weren't in on the -- on the negotiations. It's you guys.

BLOOMBERG: No, but every year the elected officials negotiate new contracts, and every couple of years or four years they go before the voters, so why don't you say to your elected official, hey, you gave a union contract that we can't afford. I don't want you to do it again.I'm going to vote for your opponent.

WALLACE: Yes, but the unions end up supporting you because you -- I mean, I say "you", I mean collectively -- because you made sweetheart deal with them.

BLOOMBERG: But -- yes, but the public is a lot greater number of people and gives a lot more money than just the unions. That's -- that's a bogus issue.

It is true the unions are a pressure group. they work for their interest, but so do industries, so do lots of different groups work for their interest and they try to influence the elected officials and say this is what I need --

WALLACE: So what are you saying? Stand up to the unions?

BLOOMBERG: That's exactly what we should do.

A union leader's job is to get the most money for -- in the -- with the best working conditions they possibly can. That's what they're hired for.

The government's job is to represent the people and get -- be wiling to pay what we need to have a good workforce, a great workforce, with work rules that make some sense so that the public, whether it's the kids or the -- the streets where the -- where the cops work and the sanitation work and the workers, where the people who need help in emergency, for firefighters and ambulance drivers and whatever. Our job is to make sure that the work rules enhance those causes rather than get in the way.

WALLACE: But don't take away their collective bargaining rights?

BLOOMBERG: I don't have a problem with collective bargaining. In the country, if you want to get together as a group and be represented, why should you not? That's the essence of democracy.

WALLACE: Finally, a little politics. You consider -- I don't know how much you considered it, but there was talk about it -- running for president in 2008 as an independent.

BLOOMBERG: I kept saying I wasn't going to run, and I didn't.

WALLACE: Well, I know, but there was a --

BLOOMBERG: What do you mean you know? The facts --

(CROSSTALK)

BLOOMBERG: The facts are the facts.

WALLACE: Have you given up on that idea? And -- and when you look in the mirror, do you not see a president?

BLOOMBERG: Chris, I said back then I wasn't running, and I meant it. It's very flattering that some people suggest that you run.

Last night I was at dinner in Brooklyn and somebody said, "You'd make a great president." "Thank you very much, but I have a job."I promised the public that I would fill out four years if they elected me. I have 981 days left, but who's counting? I have the greatest job in the world. I'm going to stay mayor. I'm going to do the best job I can.

Hopefully the public will like it, but even if they don't I've got to look in the mirror. What I see in the mirror is somebody, I hope, that has the courage to do what's right, not what is politic. And, afterwards, people will look back and say whether or not he was a good mayor or a bad mayor.

You have don't have -- your -- your polls that depend on last night's story or this morning's story in the paper aren't what matter. It's when people look at the totality of what you've done.

New York City is safer than it's ever been before. Our school system is better than it's ever been before. Our economy is bigger than it's ever been before. Our population's at a record -- go down the list. Those are the things that matter and those are the things that I'll be judged on, and that's what I want to do.

WALLACE: But no run for president?

BLOOMBERG: I have no plans to run for president, period.

WALLACE: Well, you know, that "no plans," that leaves something open.

BLOOMBERG: I'm not running for president. Will that -- is that explicit enough?

WALLACE: Yes. OK.

BLOOMBERG: I'm not running for president.

WALLACE: For Easter Sunday, that's explicit enough.

BLOOMBERG: And -- thank you very much. Happy Easter. Happy Passover.

WALLACE: Mayor Bloomberg, thank you very much. Thank you for coming in. Please come back, sir.

BLOOMBERG: Have us back. Invite us, we'll come.

WALLACE: Good.

Up next, as the race for the Republican presidential nomination heats up, we'll talk with one potential contender who's running hard on social issues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WALLACE: Joining us now in studio is former Republican senator and likely GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum. And Senator, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."

FORMER SEN. RICK SANTORUM, R-PA.: Thank you, Chris.

WALLACE: You support the House Republican budget, which would turn Medicare from an open-ended entitlement to a plan where the government would help seniors pay for private insurance, and you said recently we shouldn't wait 10 years to start this with people who are now under 55.In fact, you said this. Let's put it up on the screen. "Seniors are looking at this, saying, hey, we're part of the problem, and we should be part of the solution."

Question, would you change Medicare right away?

WALLACE: Would you change it for seniors who are now in the program and make them pay more for their health care?

SANTORUM: Well, it's not making them pay more. What it does is change it from an open-ended entitlement. I mean, imagine, giving someone a credit card and saying here, you know, spend whatever you want.

I always ask this question on the road -- how much money are we going to spend next year on Medicare? Before anyone answers, don't answer it, because you'd be lying because nobody knows. We spend as much as seniors spend. That is irresponsibly way of budgeting.

WALLACE: But, Senator, the Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan agency, has looked at the numbers and says if you give what in effect is a voucher, help with private premium support that over time, that the seniors are going to end up paying more out-of- pocket, out of their own personal pocket for health care.

So -- but the point is, so, you're saying let's not wait 10 years, let's start doing it now.

SANTORUM: Here's the point, is it's over time and it's a very small amount over time. But that very small amount compounded over the years means a lot. And so, for seniors today, what we're talking about is a fairly small amount, a pretty insubstantial amount for seniors today.

And here's the difference: seniors are going to be able to go out and get the policy that they want. Not one that the folks here in Washington design for them. But, in fact, the policy that very well may meet their needs better than what we have today.

The second thing I'd say is that this policy of what Paul Ryan has put together, this premium support model, is identical to what the president argues for in Obamacare. Obamacare is a voucher system for those who do not have insurance. It sets the amount of money that those recipients get. And it ties the increase to the consumer price index, all of which is what Ryan does.

Now, when Obama does it, it is seen as a great wonderful thing for folks. When Ryan does it for Medicare, we're cruel and horrible to seniors. You have can't have it both ways.

WALLACE: But even Ryan says, look, the people that are currently in the system and even the people who are close to the system, who are either 65 down to 55 -- they have made plans, they have saved money -- expecting the old plan, the old Medicare is not fair to change it for 'em right now.

SANTORUM: Well, first off, the Medicare Advantage program is almost exactly what the Ryan plan is. Medicare Advantage program, which Barack Obama is phasing out, because he's cutting support to it, was a program that voucherized Medicare. And, by the way --

WALLACE: But that was an advantage. That was an add-on. That was not the basic --

SANTORUM: It was not an add-on.

WALLACE: -- Medicare plan.

SANTORUM: No, no. It was the basic Medicare plan. It was a substitute. You could either take the Medicare Advantage program or --

WALLACE: You had a choice.

SANTORUM: You had a choice. And so -- but the choice was being taken by seniors, about 25 percent. And it was growing every year --

WALLACE: Because it will offer more.

SANTORUM: Well, because it allowed seniors to go out and choose the plan that they wanted. That's the key. Instead of having a government top-down program run by folks here in Washington, D.C., you had the private sector going out and designing programs that seniors wanted. That's what would happen under this program.

WALLACE: But you're saying, start it now.

SANTORUM: What I'd say is, at least give seniors the option to do it now. I think we can -- we can move forward on it. Yes. I think it's a good idea with the huge deficit that we have, that we need to start making some of these changes sooner rather than later.

WALLACE: OK. You say in the battle of the budget that Republicans should draw the line on policy, not about arguing over a few billion dollars.

SANTORUM: Well, particularly arguing over billions of dollars that the folks in our side don't think is enough anyway. So, why put your stake in ground over a number that the folks that support don't think is enough to begin with?

WALLACE: OK. So, you say that the GOP should refuse to raise the debt limit until the other side agrees to take all the funding out of Obamacare, which is roughly $105 billion that is tucked inside Obamacare. Given the fact -- you know as a political realist -- the president would never accept that, are you willing to let the country go into default?

SANTORUM: Well, is the president willing to let this country go into default, to support a program that has been found unconstitutional by a couple of courts --

WALLACE: And has been found constitutional by a couple of courts.

SANTORUM: Again, but has been found unconstitutional by a couple of courts, has also -- has widely unpopular -- 60 percent negative across the country, is already increasing the cost of health care, is already causing job losses because of the complexity and taxes that are being put into place. This is a program that if the president wants to defend it, he should stand up and say the 2012 election is about Obamacare. We'll put it this on hold and we'll make it a referendum on Obama.

WALLACE: OK. But that's one thing, the 2012 election. You're saying you'd let the country go into default on this issue?

SANTORUM: No, I think the president would let this go into default on this issue.

WALLACE: But you would make that a condition, you'd make that the price?

SANTORUM: Absolutely.

WALLACE: Now, didn't you contribute to the deficit problem when you were in Congress? Back in 2003, you voted to create a new prescription drug, Medicare prescription drug benefit, but you didn't provide any funding. And according to most estimates, it's adding $60 billion a year to the deficit.

SANTORUM: Yes, I would say that that was a mistake. That one of the -- we did two things that were wrong in that bill. Number one, we made it universal. In other words, we had a problem that was about 15 percent of seniors didn't have prescription drugs. And we -- and the president compromised with the Democrats, President Bush, to provide a universal benefit.

I was against that. I spoke against it. I worked against it. But we lost.

And so, now, we have -- we have a situation --

WALLACE: And you voted for it.

SANTORUM: I voted for it for a lot of reasons beyond the Medicare prescription drugs, for example, Medicare Advantage.

WALLACE: OK. But the point is you created a vast new entitlement without paying for it.

SANTORUM: I agree. And I think we should have -- the second thing, we should have paid for it. Again, that was not an option on the table at the time that we were voting for it. We did have a program that was substantially less money than what the Democrats were proposing and we did have substantial reforms of Medicare as well as health savings accounts, which was a reform in the private sector also in this bill.

So, I said at the time, it was a 51/49 vote. In retrospect, it was probably 51/49 the other way.

WALLACE: You are campaigning hard on social issues. In fact, you're known as kind of a culture warrior. You oppose gay marriage.

SANTORUM: I'm campaigning on all the issues.

WALLACE: I understand. But we've spent the last five minutes talking about that.

SANTORUM: Right. But I think it's important because I know when I go on interviews, people said, well, you're the social conservative. Yes, I'm very much --

WALLACE: I just talked about -- great length about the budget.

SANTORUM: I understand. I just want to make sure that we're clear. That's all.

WALLACE: Now, I want to get into this. You opposed gay marriage.

SANTORUM: I do.

WALLACE: You oppose civil unions. You want to reinstate "don't ask, don't tell." Do you think gays have any rights, should have any access to benefits as partners?

SANTORUM: Well, sure. I mean, there's all sorts of contractual benefits that they can -- anybody can contract for. But the question is, whether we should institutionalize that in public policy.

And my feeling is that people can live their lives however they want to live it. The question is: what are you going to do to try to impact public policy to recognize particular relationships? And I -- my feeling is, the relationship that should be recognized in public policy that provides exceptional benefit, unusual unique benefits to society is marriage -- marriage between a man and a woman who are there to join together for the purpose of continuing society, which is having children and raising those children in a home with a mom and a dad.

WALLACE: But you wouldn't give them any rights as a matter of public policy?

SANTORUM: Well, it depends what you mean by "rights." I mean, are you talking benefits as far as rights? I mean, they have the right to be able to -- you know, employment. I mean, I don't know what you mean by rights.

What I'm talking about are privileges. Pure privileges of marriage, privileges of government benefits is a different thing than basic right to be able to live their lives as they well should and can as free Americans.

WALLACE: Final question: Gallup came out with a poll of possible GOP hopefuls this week. I want to put it up on the screen. Huckabee, Trump and Romney led the field. And back in 10th place, with 2 percent support, very good looking fellow, Rick Santorum.

SANTORUM: Well, thank you for that.

WALLACE: Given that when you ran for re-election in Pennsylvania in 2006, you got beat by 18 points. Why should we take your candidacy seriously?

SANTORUM: Well, because I think we have a great record, I have a great track record here in Washington, D.C. of doing two things.

Number one -- upsetting the apple cart. The Washington Post the other day ran a story that Rick Santorum was the Tea Party before there was a Tea Party. I stood up over here for conservative principles, I fought and I've led across the board on every issue. And I have been able to win a couple tough elections.

Yes, I loss a tough election in 2006, but I defeated incumbent when I ran for the House. I forced out a second incumbent when I ran for election. I defeated a third Democratic incumbent when I ran for the United States Senate. I carried Pennsylvania in 2000 when George Bush lost it by five points. I won it by five.

So, yes, in a very bad election year as member of the Republican leadership when George Bush was at 35 percent in the state of Pennsylvania, I didn't win. I don't think 2006 is going to look anything like 2012. And if you look at the record, the record is one of accomplishment, of conservative principles and the ability to articulate that and get votes across the aisle.

WALLACE: We got less than 30 seconds. When -- you formed an exploratory committee. When will you decide whether to get in the race?

SANTORUM: In the next few weeks. I mean, we'll be deciding this, you know, like I said, in the next few weeks.

WALLACE: And it's basically money? If you got enough money, you'll go?

SANTORUM: Yes. RickSantorum.com -- do you have it at the bottom?RickSantorum.com, make sure -- if you want to encourage -- if you like what you hear, send it away.

WALLACE: Senator Santorum, thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: That's fine. Thank you for coming in. Happy Easter. And we'll follow you on the campaign trail.

SANTORUM: Thanks, Chris.

WALLACE: Thank you.

Up next -- our Sunday group on the uncertain way forward in Libya and growing protests in Syria turned deadly.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: If we can make a modest contribution with these armed Predators, we'll do it. But I don't see it. I don't think any of us see that as the mission.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: I believe that we should be much more involved and engaged in the air campaign than we have been.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

WALLACE: Defense Secretary Gates and Senator John McCain differing over how much help the U.S. should provide the rebels in Libya.

And it's time now for our Sunday group -- Brit Hume, Fox News senior political analyst; Mara Liasson of National Public Radio; Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard; and Fox news political analyst Juan Williams.

Well, President Obama did agree this week to put two unmanned Predator drones in the skies over Libya. But in a visit to Benghazi, Senator McCain called the rebels heroes and, as you just heard, said we've got to get much more deeply involved in this war if we are going to be able to topple Qaddafi.

Brit, where are we headed in Libya?

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Chris, there is an article just out today in The New Yorker by a friendly correspondent toward the Obama administration about the evolution of the Obama policy. And in this article, at the end, in the summation, an aide to the president describes the president's approach as leading from behind, which I don't know how well that's going to resonate, but it may well be accurate.

I think what we are seeing here is the president is kind of making it up as he goes along, as he confronts this chaotic and either hopeful or not so hopeful situation in the Middle East. And I think in terms of Libya, he really kind of doesn't know what to do next. And what I think and what I hope he is learning is the indispensability of American leadership. We quickly were able to establish the no-fly zone. We seem to be -- the military action seems to be effective. But, of course, he quickly withdrew America from the lead role, and the situation has been much more mixed ever since.

I don't think the addition -- I agree with Secretary Gates. I don't think the addition of the Predator drone attacks is going to make more than a marginal difference there. I hope it does better than that. But I don't think the president really clearly knows what to do, and I think he is content here to have failure be an option.

WALLACE: Mara?

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Well, if failure means Qaddafi still being there, Qaddafi is going to -- it looks like is going to be there for quite some time. I think if you don't want boots on the ground, and you are unwilling to leave the NATO operation and insist that the air strikes be more vigorous, then you're going to have to settle for a messy, long, drawn-out process that isn't going to get you to your goal anytime soon, which is getting Qaddafi out of Libya.

Now, you can protect the population to a certain extent. You can achieve the limited goals the president has set. But I think this is the only outcome if that's what you are willing to commit.

WALLACE: Bill, is John McCain right when he says we should go all in with the Libyan rebels and that they are a reliable partner, that there is no al Qaeda link? And if we mean to topple Qaddafi, is there any other choice?

BILL KRISTOL, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, all in isn't that much, after all. I mean, Qaddafi was unable to take back Misrata, which is separated from the Benghazi and the bulk of the Libyan rebels. That shows I think how weak he is.

The puling back of the strike aircraft, we don't have to go send boots on the ground. The A-10 and the AC-130, we were doing a huge amount of damage in the first couple days, then we pulled them back. Now we're bombing from 25,000 feet, or our allies are bombing from 25,000 feet, which is not terribly --

WALLACE: But we have the drones which could go lower, but there are only two of those.

KRISTOL: And now we have drones, which are better, but there are two of those. It's ridiculous. We're fighting -- what are we saving now?

If you talk off the record with people form the administration, they are terrified of having some American pilot shot down and taken hostage. Would the A-10 and AC-130 fly low and sort of lumber along, it would do a huge amount of damage. You can't get involved in military action like this though and be totally driven by the fear of one American pilot getting shot down. It's just wrong in my opinion. And I think he can be gone. I really don't buy this pessimism and fatalism that, oh, we need to have a stalemate for months. And I do think that's what Senator McCain is trying to say. A little more aggressiveness on the part of the Obama administration, and we could win this.

WALLACE: Juan?

JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Vice President Biden said this week it's ridiculous to say that only the United States has the assets necessary, the military assets necessary, to launch a strong military campaign, and that if the French and the British, who have been pressing the United States to do more, want more done, they are fully capable of doing it.

And the second thing is Henry Kissinger came to town this week to see Secretary of State Clinton, and he said he thought the policy was on target and just required additional patience, because what you see with Qaddafi is that his assets are frozen, so he is not getting any more money. He is not getting any more ammunition. And as Bill just pointed out, he has been unable to defend Misrata.

So, there is a sense that there is some progress, but unless you want to put boots on the ground, unless you are in for mission creep, you know what? We've got what we have.

WALLACE: OK.

I want to switch to another hot spot in that region. And that is, Syria, Brit.

The demonstrations in Syria, the anti-government demonstrations, getting bigger and bigger. You can see them there, tens of thousands of people in cities across the country. But also getting bigger, the violent reaction by the government.

More than 300 protesters have reportedly been killed so far. President Obama issued a tough statement this week, but so far he hasn't recalled the U.S. ambassador, he hasn't pushed for international sanctions.

Should he?

HUME: Yes. I mean, what you see here is this groping toward finding some policy.

The overthrow of Assad, the Assad government, the Assad Mafia, would be a very welcome thing in Syria. Syria has been found of all kinds of trouble throughout that region for a very long time. And it seems to me if there is one place you look at and say, well, strategically, where could, you know, we have a real chance of doing something serious, that would be the place. And yet, we haven't done anything serious.

I don't know whether the CIA or in some other way we may be offering aid and comfort to the rebels, but I certainly hope we are. And I don't understand why the president can't muster anything more than -- you say strong statement. I don't think there's anything very strong about the statement he made. It's just a piece of paper. I mean, it doesn't really accomplish anything.

WALLACE: Well, no. That's a statement. No, but I agree, he hasn't taken any action.

Let me ask you about that, Mara. Why do you think the Obama administration has been so reluctant to confront Assad? I mean, back a few weeks ago, you had Hillary Clinton talking about him as a potential reformer. Are they that afraid that what's going to follow him is going to be even worse?

LIASSON: And that would be pro-Iranian.

WALLACE: Well, it is already.

LIASSON: Pro-Iranian now. It might be even more.

But I think that there has been for a very long time in the State Department and the White House a hope which has now been dashed that Syria was the key to Middle East peace, that Assad would really be a reformer, that somehow he could be flipped. That, obviously, all disappeared when he decided to turn on his own people.

And I think right now -- you talk about arming the rebels, I think there's an opposition in Syria, but I don't know if there's actually a rebellion to be armed. I think the administration feels there's very little it can do in Syria beyond issue the strong statement.

WALLACE: OK. I want to turn to one last hotspot, Bill, and that is Yemen, where President Saleh, who's been in control in basically a dictatorship for the past 32 years, has agreed to step down, he says, although in 30 days, in power sharing. There are a lot of codicils to his agreement. But assuming he does carry through and step down after 32 years in power, and he has been something of a U.S. ally, what does that mean for our interests?

KRISTOL: I think it could be good for our interests. It's a complicated place, Yemen. We're going to have to be involved there.

WALLACE: A big al Qaeda presence there.

KRISTOL: But again, I mean, Saleh is going to go. Assad is going to go, in my view. He has lost fundamental legitimacy. The reign of fear has been broken. Qaddafi is going to go.

Either we are going to be involved in help shape the outcome, or we're going to stand back and say, as Mara just correctly, I think, characterized the administration, gee, it's awfully difficult, it's awfully complicated. What you said Vice President Biden said, the Europeans can do a little more, that's pathetic.

Do we care about how the Middle East shapes up or not? Do we really want to say we hope the French and British might do a little more, or we hope things will turn out well? Meanwhile, people are getting slaughtered in Syria.

I mean, it really is bad for us to be so terrified -- on Libya, someone said, "It's mission creep in Libya." Victory is -- "mission creep" is another word for victory in the case of Libya. And in the case of Syria, being passive while people are getting slaughtered by the Assad regime, which is a hostile regime, in bed with the Iranians, in bed with Hezbollah and Hamas, I think it's really a sad day for the U.S. when we --

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: All right. We have to take a break here. But when we come back, the politics of the economy: rising gas prices, falling poll numbers. What does it all mean for the 2012 presidential race?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Whenever gas prices shoot up, like clockwork you see politicians racing to the cameras, waving three-point plans for $2 gas. You see people trying to grab headlines or score a few points. The truth is there is no silver bullet that can bring down gas prices right away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: President Obama, during his weekend address, asking Americans to be patient about the rising price of gas.

And we're back now with the panel.

Well, I've got to say, I was interested to see the president in his weekly address, as you just saw, dismiss all those other politicians running around with three-point plans, because in the very next paragraph of his speech, he talked about domestic oil production at an eight-year high, which of course that he had nothing to do with it, that was decisions being made by the two prior presidents. And he called for an investigation of fraud and manipulation in the markets, which, as we all know, presidents do whenever gas prices spike and they never find anything.

WILLIAMS: Well, there is nothing to be found. There is no evidence of fraud. There is no evidence of anything manipulating the market. These are speculators.

Now, there is no shortage of oil. It's not that there's a shortage of oil coming out of the Middle East or Africa because of the unrest there.

The fact is that speculators just think, you know, this looks like it may jump up, so they're pushing up the prices. It's not illegal.

But the consequence politically is important here. The New York Times poll indicates now a 13 percent jump in terms of people who say the economy is going south. Previously, people thought the recovery is coming, things are getting better. A lot of that confidence has been drained; and specifically, when it comes to President Obama, you're now at -- I think it's 57 percent of Americans saying they disapprove of his handling of the economy. Much of that based on their discontent over rising gas prices.

WALLACE: Well, you know, you have taken me exactly to where I'm headed next, Brit. And let's take a look at some numbers.

First of all, the sharp rise in gas prices. When President Obama was sworn in, a gallon of gas cost $1.84. Now it costs $3.85. That's over 108 percent increase.

And, as Juan just mentioned, a New York Times poll this week showed how much this is hurting the president. Seventy percent now think the country is on the wrong track, and 57 percent now disapprove of the president's handling of the economy.

Brit, those are the most negative numbers since a couple of months after Obama took office during the very depths, at the low point of the recession.

HUME: If these high gas prices were unaccompanied by higher prices that people are feeling at the grocery store and elsewhere, it wouldn't be nearly so large a problem. This is the season of the year when gas prices tend to spike anyway, which is why it's a little unfair to compare January 20th a few years ago with today.

But, be that as it may, he will receive blame for this. In addition, I think it's very important -- people's feelings about the economy, despite declining unemployment, despite the fact that there is now steady growth, have not improved. And when the conventional wisdom in Washington settles, as it seemed to recently on the idea that the president is a sure bet for re-election, I think it's upside- down.

If the election were held today, in my view, Obama would lose. He might lose big. Obviously, he's got some time. Events change. He would lose to any reasonable nominee from the Republican Party.

The Republican Party might lose this election if they nominated some extremely colorful, freakish candidate. But my view of that is --

WALLACE: Anybody in mind?

(LAUGHTER)

HUME: This election, Juan, as you may have heard me say before, is unlikely to be about the Republican nominee. It will be about President Obama and his record. And if the public decides it wants to make a change -- and it would do that if the election were held today -- it will elect a Republican, in my --

WILLIAMS: I keep coming back to this. Lose to who? Even Republicans are discontented with what Republicans are offering. You want a pure referendum on President Obama. That's an abstract concept, Brit. I live in the real world.

HUME: I understand, that Juan.

WILLIAMS: And there is nobody out there right now who can defeat President Obama. And just go ask Republican fundraisers.

HUME: Thirty-two years ago, 1979, the Republican field was in chaos. It had this aged former actor followed by the right named Ronald Reagan. It had an assortment of other candidates that nobody thought was presidential timber as the election year approached. And look what happened.

The fact that people are discontent with the field now, how many times have we seen this? How many times --

WILLIAMS: Let me tell you --

WALLACE: I'm not sure Ronald Reagan is waiting in the wings somewhere, Brit.

WILLIAMS: I was about to say, I don't see any Ronald Reagan.

WALLACE: Let me turn this a little bit --

HUME: What did you think then?

WILLIAMS: Ronald Reagan had run against Gerald Ford --

HUME: I understand that. What did you think --

(CROSSTALK)

HUME: Did you think he would be elected president?

WALLACE: Guys, no, we're not going to continue our conversation about what Juan was thinking in 1979, because I'm sure he doesn't remember what he was thinking in 1979.

WILLIAMS: No.

WALLACE: Let me switch to the budget, which is the more immediate issue, Mara.

The president has been out on this West Coast swing. He's pushing his budget plan. Some spending cuts, but really hammering the Republicans for, one, that they want to "got Medicare," his words, or his paraphrase. And two, that they want to protect the wealthy and not raise taxes.

And interestingly enough, some of the Republicans going home to their districts during the recess and getting some heat from constituents. Even Paul Ryan, the architect of the plan, getting some heat from Republican constituents back home in these town halls.

LIASSON: The polling that we have seen shows that the specifics of the president's plan, which is to preserve Medicare and raise taxes on the rich, versus the specifics of the Republican plan, which is to radically transform Medicare, the president wins on those specific issues. But he gets big disapproval ratings, about 57 percent, for his handling of the economy. The Republicans are seen as better able to handle the deficit.

The deficit has been a Republican issue. Now the president is playing on their turf and trying to reframe the debate, not from how much do you cut the deficit, but how do you go about cutting the deficit?

And I think that one of the reasons that people's pessimism about the economy and the overall right track/wrong track numbers are so bad is because the deficit is the definition of pessimism about the future.The long-term outlook for the country, Standard & Poor's came out this week and showed they were pessimistic. You've got Warren Buffett saying don't invest in long-term dollar-based assets. I mean, that is part of why people are so pessimistic.

KRISTOL: Juan mentioned speculators before. The two biggest speculators who have damaged the U.S. economy are Barack Obama, who speculated on the huge stimulus package, which has boomed the deficit. We now have $3.6 trillion of deficit under Obama, which has really created a huge fiscal problem for us. And Ben Bernanke, who did quantitative easing, a second quantitative easing with $600 billion.

WALLACE: And explain what that is.

KRISTOL: And that was buying up government bonds, government paper, to try to stimulate the stock market, which he did a little bit with a little bit of a --

WALLACE: And lowered interest rates.

KRISTOL: And he's kept interest rates at zero percent.

So, we have had a wildly stimulative fiscal policy and monetary policy. Growth is slowing down anyway. It has been a total failure.

I think the key for Republicans, in my view, is to run comprehensively against the Obama/Geithner/Bernanke policy -- fiscal and monetary policy -- and say the whole Keynesian model has failed. This has been a perfect test of it, this is what --

WALLACE: So that's the bumper sticker, "Keynes was wrong"?

KRISTOL: Yes. Obama and the Washington establishment was wrong, including, incidentally -- I think with Geithner and Bernanke, who were holdovers from Bush, a populist Republican running against the entire establishment, understanding that more government spending and unbelievably cheap money depreciating, debasing the dollar, that that is the way to make America strong, that is the wrong model. And I think Republicans need to articulate an alternative model, as Reagan did, to come back to this, in 1979.

WILLIAMS: A populist Republican with this argument. Who is out there? Are you working for Donald Trump? Is that what you are telling me?

KRISTOL: No, but why is Donald Trump catching on --

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: Oh, that's what I thought. I thought that's what I was hearing.

KRISTOL: No, he is not the right nominee. Obviously, Paul Ryan or Chris Christie or Tim Pawlenty will be better at making this case.

LIASSON: Not Mitt Romney?

KRISTOL: Or Mitt Romney, even. But they need to articulate a comprehensive critique, is my point, of two years of Obama policies. This has been a test. Do people really want to say that was a good idea, zero percent interest rates and a stimulus?

WILLIAMS: Because we would have a depression in this country coming out of the Republican economy that was inherited by Barack Obama. If he had not done those stimulative measures, the thing would have gone over the cliff.

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: Wait a second. If you talk about using historical models, what if Obama plays the Bill Clinton card during the government shutdown of '95 and says, I am going to protect your Medicare and I am going to make sure the rich pay their share?

KRISTOL: The economy -- what was unemployment when Bill Clinton ran for reelection? Under five percent.

WALLACE: No, I understand, but I'm just saying that those were pretty effective rules (ph).

KRISTOL: He can try to play that card, but at the end of the day, it's his policies that have been in place, his and Geithner's and Bernanke's and, to some degree, late Bush. And I think that will be -- that's what the election will be about.

WILLIAMS: Let me just quickly say, where is Goldman Sachs in this? And if 70 percent of Americans --

KRISTOL: Republicans should run against Goldman Sachs, too.

WALLACE: Continue during the commercial.

Thank you, panel. See you next week.

Don't forget to check out "Panel Plus," where our group picks right up with the discussion -- and it's hot -- on our Web site, FoxNewsSunday.com. We'll post the video before noon Eastern Time. Up next, some closing thoughts on 15 years of "Fox News Sunday."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WALLACE: This program marks our 15th year on the air. And to celebrate the occasion, we have put some of the special moments on our Web site, FoxNewsSunday.com.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WALLACE (voice-over): You can revisit Tony Snow's special two-hour coverage on the Sunday after 9/11.

TONY SNOW, FMR. FOX NEWS ANCHOR: We once were a nation of hardship-tested dreamers. We are again today. We once were a nation under God, and we are again today.

WALLACE: We used a clock straight out of the show "24" to keep reminding Senator Barack Obama how long he had promised us an interview.

(on camera): A long time, no see.

OBAMA: Well, you know, it takes me about 772 days to prepare for these questions, although I think there is a -- this was a leap year in there, so I think it's only 771.

WALLACE: No, I think we checked that.

(voice-over): He hasn't been back since.

We visited then-President George W. Bush at Camp David.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You never feel very far away from the job because it follows you wherever you go. But I do feel somewhat out of the bubble.

WALLACE: And, of course, our most unforgettable sit-down ever with former president Bill Clinton.

WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, you did Fox's bidding on the show. You did your nice little conservative hit job on me. What I want to know is --

WALLACE: Well, wait, a minute, sir. I'm asking a question. You don't think that's a legitimate question?

CLINTON: It was a perfectly legitimate question, but I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked this question of.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALLACE: The answer is a lot.

Most of all, we want to thank you for tuning in over the years and for sending us notes, telling us what you like and what you don't like. We read them all.

And be sure to watch next week, as we begin year 16 with an exclusive interview with Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann.

And that's it for today. Have a happy Easter and a great week.

We'll see you next "Fox News Sunday."

And go Washington Capitals!

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On the Show

Sunday July 27, 2014

A number of critical issues loom for members of Congress, as they prepare to leave Washington for the August recess. We'll discuss immigration, spending, the 2014 midterm elections, and the future of the GOP with Rep Steve Scalise (R-LA), in his first national television interview since being elected House Majority Whip.

Israel and Hamas have extended the agreed upon 12-hour cease-fire by an additional 4 hours. We'll discuss the truce and the ongoing conflict, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The death toll in Gaza climbs as Israel continues its offensive against Hamas militants. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is in the region, has claimed some progress in negotiating a cease-fire, though no deal has yet been reached. We'll talk exclusively with Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO Executive Committee and a top Palestinian leader, who has called the conflict in Gaza a "deliberate massacre."