Sequester hysteria spreads

Published Thursday, February 21, 2013 / The Five

This is a rush transcript from "The Five," February 21, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ANDREA TANTAROS, CO-HOST: Well, another dramatic deadline looms for the nation and Congress is again nowhere to be found. A wave of deep spending cuts are scheduled to take effect on March 1st that could cost hundreds and thousands of American jobs. And lawmakers are on vacation until Monday.

Now, Obama has been out selling his side of the fiscal fight on local television.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: These automatic spending cuts that were put into place back in 2011 were designed to get Congress actually avoid them to coming together with more sensible approaches to deficit reduction.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TANTAROS: House Speaker John Boehner called this current budget crisis one that the president, himself, created.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE JOHN BOEHNER, R-OHIO: This sequester was the president's idea. His party needs to follow through on their plans to replace them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TANTAROS: This was the president's idea. And Jay Carney, his press secretary, has admitted as much to our own Bret Baier.

Also, the president, in 2011, said he would veto any attempt to try and replace these cuts. Now, he is crying help, what do we do?

Kimberly --

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE, CO-HOST: Yes?

TANTAROS: -- this sequester, I see it as two issues here: the political and then the policy. The policy being the actual cuts, $600 billion on domestic, $600 billion in defense that are scheduled to take place March 1st. On the political front, Republicans sitting on their hands, they are going to let this happen it looks like.

Who loses? Where does the fall-out hit if that happens?

GUILFOYLE: Well, the White House is obviously hoping that this is going to be more blame to Republicans to, in fact, severely damage them going forward into 2016 and into the different House and Senate races, right? Make them look like the party of no. The party that can't work together, can't come up with some bipartisan support, that the Democrats are the party of government moving forward, trying to do something to fix the current economic situation.

Ultimately, I think those both sides are going to take hit. It just depends in the long-term who will then, you know, be able to kind of pull out of it a little bit. The Republicans have to do something to try and come together to look a little better in this whole situation. I really think so.

TANTAROS: And, Dana, you think Republicans would have a stronger argument here, because according to the new Fox opinion poll, 83 percent of Americans, take a look, think that we have a spending problem in this country.

So, why do they seem to be losing this argument, do you think?

DANA PERINO, CO-HOST: Yet, the approval numbers for President Obama continue to go up, as Bob said. He has redefined Teflon, this which is a great example. This is something he created.

It's not they're -- they're crying wolf as well as crying help, because I think America has, as Jim Geraghty of National Review put it, "crisis fatigue." I mean, this has been -- we are now so conditioned -- it's like a frog boiling in water, you put it in there and then, over time, everybody just -- you just get comfortable, like, OK, yes, I'm OK. Yes, you can turn up the heat. Do the cuts.

You know, I am the same. When this first started, Bob said, wait until the sequester happens, this is going to be a really big deal. And, over time, I have come to think it was going to be a big deal. I think if they want to, the Congress can come together and fix this in the appropriations crisis.

But in terms of crisis fatigue, also I had a great point that I wanted to make and Greg helped me make it. This Congress is like a TV show that goes on one season too long and everybody loses interest and starts changing the channel.

TANTAROS: And about that crisis fatigue, Greg, it seems like they amp up the crises all the time. Is this really a big crisis because it looks like 2 percent of the federal budget, the bloated budget? It's even higher spending than we saw in 2008.

So, why is everyone screaming about this?

GREG GUTFELD, CO-HOST: It's not a big deal. I was sequestered once in Mexico. I just had a little tequila and put on some bandages. I was fine.

GUILFOYLE: Why they let you out?

GUTFELD: Anyway, you guys did a great job with the story because it is the worst story ever because it happens over and over again. And we know exactly how it's going to end. These are not -- these are not politicians. These are college students cramming for an all-night final. They knew when the deadline was months ago.

GUILFOYLE: Right.

GUTFELD: But they partied all the time.

PERINO: Yes, for three days with Tiger Woods in Florida.

GUTFELD: Exactly. Then they're going to pull an all nighter, they're going to get their Ritalin and their pitches (ph) and everything is going to be fine.

The thing that gets me most is when Obama says this is a meat cleaver approach to cuts. Remember, these are cuts in rates of spending. We are talking about pennies on the dollar. He is basically comparing it to slaughtering a calf when it's really clipping the nails of a hog. It's like they're watching two morbidly obese men fighting over whether to remove olive from meat lover's pizza. It doesn't matter. It really doesn't matter.

By the way, I am so bored with this topic, I used that joke three months ago.

GUILFOYLE: Yes.

TANTAROS: What difference does it make?

GUILFOYLE: You are such an environmentalist, recycling jokes.

TANTAROS: Bob, you actually made a point in your column in USA Today this week, that was excellent, that we agree on. Kudos to you.

You said, why don't they talk about entitlements? And my point on this is, if Republicans had some strength on this argument, why sit on your hands? Why not say, all right, White House, you have driven us into a corner. How about instead of tax increases, we reform entitlement? Hand in hand, jump off the cliff.

BOB BECKEL, CO-HOST: Let's remember, the Budget Control Act, the way it was passed in 2011, I'm sure you are interested in this, Greg. You sat up for hours looking at it. But they purposefully excepted Social Security, Medicaid and most of Medicare.

So, when you get down to $1.2 trillion of cuts in over 10 years, you are talking about real cuts. These are not -- these are not unserious things here. We are talking about cutting back the border control. We're talking about cutting the FAA by a good 600 slots. I don't know about you, I'm not going to feel comfortable flying during all that.

These are some serious cuts coming up here. But at least and until these guys get together and they deal with the entitlements, it doesn't matter. The rest of this is going to just cause severe pain. It's going to -- for farmers, they're not going to be able to get their --

TANTAROS: What about the defense cuts? Isn't that the whole purpose of why Obama struck this deal to embarrass Republicans? They're going to use Chuck Hagel to do it and get their weakened military and weakened DOD?

BECKEL: Well, I mean, they're going to be able to transfer some money around. But the fact of the matter is, they're going to get -- they have to take an aircraft carrier group off the Mediterranean and that matters.

There's a lot of things that are going to go on here that are serious unless they deal with this.

GUILFOYLE: That you don't approve of.

BECKEL: No. But I thought this thing -- I agree with the president when he said I thought when they came up with these things, they were going to get together and say, hey, we can't live with this stuff. But they're not willing to do that.

GUTFELD: This is the point --

TANTAROS: They had years to do something.

GUTFELD: This is the point, though. This is something that they thought would never happen. And then -- Boehner is right, this came from the White House, which should be the name of a horror film. "It came from the White House."

And also, Congress voted for it. So, Obama is like the sibling who broke the base and is pointing at his sister and saying, she did it. And mom and dad believe him because the American public, according to polls, will side with the president because he's more popular.

TANTAROS: Well, the bottom line on this, we are broke officially and Obamacare is not going to help that. Now, news today, Florida Governor Rick Scott, who is a foe, a fierce foe of Obamacare and who railed against taking Medicaid money from the feds, has now done a sharp about-face.

Listen to what Scott said recently.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK SCOTT, R-FLA: I cannot in good conscience deny Floridians the needed access to healthcare. We will support a three-year expansion of our Medicaid program under the new healthcare law, as long as the federal government meets their commitment to pay 100 percent of the cost during that time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TANTAROS: Yes, but that's not what you said in 2011, Governor Scott.

Remember this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT: This is going to be devastating for patients, devastating for taxpayers. It's going to be the biggest tax-killer ever. We're not going to implement Obamacare in Florida. We're not going to expand Medicaid, because we're going to do the right thing. We're not going to do the exchange because what this does is raise the cost of healthcare for all Floridians. It just doesn't work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TANTAROS: Dana, why the change of heart?

PERINO: Similar to how when President Obama ran on the campaign promise of closing Gitmo, and then he becomes president and the realizes, oh, wait, actually we need that.

I think some of the governors who on principle said, we can't -- this is not a good way to do business. Then when you're in a leadership position and you're looking at the budget and the situation in Florida is such that he has made a decision to go back on what he said two years ago to be able to do this.

This is the creep of federal government onto the states.

GUILFOYLE: The states.

PERINO: And I'm not going to say they're all going to have to cave, but the federal government ends up becoming so powerful, that we are eroding our federal system.

GUILFOYLE: That's the problem was.

BECKEL: They will cave. All of them -- a bunch of them have already because the reality is the federal government said we're going to pay 100 percent of your increase in Medicare.

PERINO: But only for four or five years. Not good enough.

(CROSSTALK)

GUILFOYLE: Then what happens?

BECKEL: That's right. But, listen, Obamacare is here to say, whether you guys like it or not, it's here to say. It's got to get worked out.

There's a lot of rough edges to it, but it's going to be here. It's now the law of the land and it's not going anywhere.

GUTFELD: That's the problem.

TANTAROS: Yes.

GUTFELD: I don't understand Obamacare but nobody understands it.

GUILFOYLE: There's a book you can buy.

GUTFELD: Yes, yes, there's a book you can buy. It's incomprehensible. The left went on good faith with their god Obama that it's coherent and that it's workable. But it's like the doctor saying, you know, this won't hurt a bit and you know where it's going and it's going to hurt.

GUILFOYLE: You know what? They do trust him. I mean, it's like -- in Obama we trust. If he says it's going to be OK, it's going to be OK, regardless of the fact that this isn't going to be workable financially.

How are you going to support it? Once the money is there and then the bottom drops out of it --

(CROSSTALK)

PERINO: It's is like a drug dealer, right? They start you off with a dime bag. I think that's what it's called.

GUTFELD: Wow!

(CROSSTALK)

BECKEL: "A dime bag"?

PERINO: I am making a good point.

(CROSSTALK)

BECKEL: Move up to 8-ball.

PERINO: OK. Then, they give you 8-ball and the next you know, you're like getting crack in the alley. That's how the governors are, because -- what's going to happen in five years when your drug dealer goes away? You're going to find another dealer and it might the Chinese. Now I'm running out of metaphors.

TANTAROS: Kimberly, if you're going to take the money now --

GUILFOYLE: Yes.

TANTAROS: -- why should their taxpayers sit there and not get the money when states like California are taking it hand over fist? Why should people in Florida pay for the Medicaid for people in California? Also, let's not forget, Governor Scott is former --

GUILFOYLE: Big money grab.

TANTAROS: He's a former hospital CEO. And hospitals want this big- time. Remember, the reason for doing Obamacare was to get these providers paid. But who pays, Kimberly?

GUILFOYLE: Because, right.

TANTAROS: We are the ones paying.

GUILFOYLE: Ultimately, the taxpayers end up footing the bill for all of this. Whether you pay it today, you're going to pay it tomorrow.

That's the bottom line. You know --

(CROSSTALK)

GUILFOYLE: -- certain period of time.

BECKEL: Everybody who's got an insurance policy ends up paying for the bill for the 40 million people who don't have insurance. At some point, you can keep arguing about Obamacare all you want, you still don't have an answer for the uninsured.

GUILFOYLE: But, Bob --

GUTFELD: You don't have to.

GUILFOYLE: Shifting it to the taxpayer and say the hospitals -- they want it to go through because they don't want to eat the cost of people walk in their emergency room. They said they'd rather have average Joe citizen pay for it and supplement it because it's better for their bottom line. That's why the hospital CEOs support it.

TANTAROS: Right. And a lot of employers are saying, listen, why should we support it? Just dumping them in the exchanges. Again, that lie about if you like your doctor, you can keep them? Hmm, not so much.

GUILFOYLE: No, you can't.

GUTFELD: The government --

BECKEL: Not many of them have, by the way, that's the other thing. There's not been dumping people into exchanges.

TANTAROS: They haven't --

(CROSSTALK)

BECKEL: A lot of them coming on line right now.

GUILFOYLE: The issue isn't right as we say.

GUTFELD: Ahhh -- no.

TANTAROS: All righty.

(CROSSTALK)

GUILFOYLE: He doesn't.

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