This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from October 30, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Cut taxes for every working family making less than $200,000 a year. Give businesses a tax credit for every new employee that they hire right here in the U.S. over the next two years. And eliminate tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.
Help homeowners who are making a good faith effort to pay their mortgages by freezing foreclosures for 90 days. For my energy plan, my economic plan, and the other proposals you will hear tonight, I have offered spending cuts above and beyond their costs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIT HUME, HOST: So all of these promises, well, he'll pay for them, no problems.
Some thoughts on all this now from Fred Barnes, Executive Editor of The Weekly Standard, Mara Liasson, National Political Correspondent for National Public Radio, and Mort Kondracke, the Executive Editor of Roll Call, FOX News contributors all.
It was quite a list of promises and quite a bold pledge that they will all be covered by spending cuts that go well beyond what was needed to pay for all that. Mort, do the numbers add up?
MORT KONDRACKE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ROLL CALL: No budget watching organization that I know of thinks that either McCain or Obama will be able to fulfill their promises as far as the deficit is concerned.
I mean, McCain says he is going to balance the budget by 2012. Obama says he can pay for all these programs. The most conservative, not politically conservative, but moderate of the analysis that I have seen from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget says that by the year 2012, Obama will have a deficit of about $220 billion, and McCain would have $150 billion deficit.
But you get numbers even bigger than that. The Tax Policy Center says that McCain's tax cuts will cost almost $5 trillion over a ten-year period, and Obama's will cost $3 trillion. And you go on and on.
HUME: Obama's tax cuts?
KONDRACKE: Obama's tax cuts, yes, and his healthcare plan.
MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Look, the thing about--first of all, there hasn't been any specifics about exactly what programs. He said he has offered spending cuts above and beyond the cost of these programs. I haven't seen them yet.
But the other thing that is going to happen is that he is talking about a stimulus plan. That's what you do when you are in economic tough times. And a stimulus plan means it will be off budget and will add to the deficit.
I think that--
HUME: He is not promising--is he promising that that will be paid for?
LIASSON: No, he certainly is not. But I think that --
HUME: When we say paid for, of course we are talking about finding within the budget offsetting either increases in taxes or offsetting cuts in other spending.
LIASSON: That's right.
And he has told the blue dogs, the conservative Democrats in Congress, that he believes in pay/go, which means pay as you go, you balance every spending increase with some kind of a spending cut.
But that's not what's going to happen. I think that very, very soon you're going to see the deficit completely diminished as a priority by Democrats because they're going to talk about getting the economy moving again, and that means deficit spending. And that's what we're going to see.
FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, that's for sure. That infomercial involved a couple of people, and there are two types of people. You had average Americans, who said they were miserable, and then you have politicians supporting Obama who said he has all the answers. Well, I would like to hear some of the answers.
Mara had a great point, and that is he said "I'm going to have all these spending cuts and go through the budget and find programs that didn't work." He has never mentioned one.
He has been in the Senate for four years. Has he ever asked anybody, hey, point me to a program that doesn't work, or maybe I can find a couple? Maybe I can have some specifics.
You know what that means? It means he's not going to find them. He's not going to cut them. He may cut the Pentagon. But they're hard. Each program has a lobby. It has constituents. It has people who get the money. And they will lobby very hard to hold on to their program.
Look, Ronald Reagan was a great spending cutter. He did it in one year out of his eight in office. It is very, very hard.
And the notion with all these spending programs, the healthcare program that will cost a billion dollars, and his energy program, $15 billion a year, and so on, all these programs that he's going to handle with spending cuts?
BARNES: But here he wants to tax the people who he needs in a recession, the people who save and invest and create jobs. Those are the people he wants to tax. That's economically nuts.
HUME: Some in Congress are saying we ought not to have any tax increases for at least a year.
BARNES: For sure.
And you know what happens when you tax companies, and you say I'm going to take away tax breaks for the companies who have jobs overseas--
HUME: They will move the whole enterprise overseas.
BARNES: Exactly right. They move the whole enterprise.
Look, American companies overseas already face a competitive disadvantage because our corporate tax is 35 percent, the second highest in the world. Most of the other nations have one that are 10, 20 percent lower. That's the way to do it if you want companies to be more competitive.
KONDRACKE: One other point on the healthcare plans. Each of them has a healthcare plan that is going to cost a lot of money. The Lewen (ph) group, which is the gold standard for analysis of this, says, actually, that McCain's healthcare plan will cost even more than Obama's, $2.1 trillion over a ten-year period, and Obama's is $1.2 trillion.
Frankly, I don't understand how they get to that, because Obama wants to basically cover 47 million people with the same kind of healthcare plan that members of Congress have. And I don't know how you could possibly do that for $150 billion a year.
HUME: I kind of (INAUDIBLE) that one myself.
HUME: A quick round with each of you-infomercial-effective, or, at this stage, no big deal?
KONDRACKE: Well, he got 21 million people to watch.
HUME: 30 some million it turns out.
KONDRACKE: I would guess that most of those are already Obama people, but some independents may have watched it and been persuaded.
LIASSON: I thought it was effective. It thought it was Reagan- esque. It has waving wheat fields and an oval office set, and it was very highly produced. And I thought it was an effective piece of political persuasion.
And if you can't say right now in this country that it's morning in America, he was making the message, soon it will be if you stick with me.
BARNES: Self-indulgent. He had to break his promise about accepting public funding so he could put this thing on?
HUME: Not worth it, in your view?
BARNES: No. It was overkill.
HUME: Well, we'll see.
So why are some Republicans backing Senator Obama? We'll talk about that when we return.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLIN POWELL, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The party has moved even further to the right, and Governor Palin has indicated a further rightward shift. I would have difficulty with two more conservatives appointed to the Supreme Court, but that's what we would be looking at in a McCain administration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUME: And so said Colin Powell, who has served the Republican administrations as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and under this administration as Secretary of State. He is supporting Barack Obama.
And he's not the only one. There are several others in addition to him. Let's look at a few of them. Bill Weld, the former Massachusetts governor, he's for Obama. Powell, himself, of course. Ken Adelman, a long time defense and foreign policy aid and advisor to Republican presidents.
And Christopher Buckley, who is a popular and very humorous novelist, in addition to being the son of none other than William F. Buckley, the rounder of the modern conservative movement in this country.
What is going on here, Fred?
BARNES: These are not famous conservatives, that's for sure. Colin Powell is not a conservative. I think he backed Obama because he agrees with Obama. And he certainly repeated all the Obama campaign talking points, including the ones that are palpably false.
He was impressed by what Obama did during the financial meltdown. Obama didn't do anything during the financial meltdown. And he was mad at McCain because McCain has gone negative. What, Obama hasn't gone negative? He has been every bit as negative in his campaign.
But in any case, most of these aren't conservatives. And one thing, when is the last time you heard from Ken Adelman or Bill Weld? Never. The mainstream media plays these up because they are people that are Republicans endorsing Obama and the media loves Obama.
Now, one more thing. I spoke to a group today of about 200 lawyers in Washington, people who really keep up in politics. There was no other reason to come and hear except because was going to talk about politics.
I asked the crowd "How many of you have heard of Wendy Button." One hand went up. Do you know Wendy Button is? Wendy Button is a former speechwriter for Obama and for John Edwards who has switched and endorsed John McCain.
Now, we haven't heard of her because the media doesn't play her up. Look, I had to hunt for it. I heard about it from you last night, Brit. I had to hunt online, and I could barely find out anything about her.
HUME: Well, she will be on this panel tomorrow night!
KONDRACKE: Are you talking about former secretary of state Wendy Button, or former Senator Wendy Button? Former White House--
BARNES: A speechwriter for Obama!
If it was a speech writer for McCain, Mort, who all of sudden switched, it would be big news.
KONDRACKE: She deserves to be paid attention to, I agree.
BARNES: That's my point, thank you.
KONDRACKE: And I agree, none of these people who have endorsed Obama are conservative Republicans. I believe Colin Powell has described himself as the last Rockefeller Republican. Most people don't even know who Nelson Rockefeller was anymore, but he was a big government, social liberal, vice president of the United States Republican.
I think Colin Powell still regards himself as a Republican, but I think the Republican Party has left him long since.
HUME: Or he left it in its current configuration.
LIASSON: Look, a couple of things. First of all, there is not any kind of significant group of conservative Republicans who are endorsing Barack Obama. There are some liberal Republicans and some moderate Republicans.
And Colin Powell is in a different category altogether. He is someone who is extremely respected. Of all those people you put up on the screen, his endorsement probably matters the most as giving Barack Obama a kind of moderate, mainstream stamp of approval.
On the other hand, there is going to be a big debate in the Republican Party about his future, but it is not going to be because people broke ranks and supported Obama.
HUME: Let me ask you this question about Obama and conservatives. Does Barack Obama in his program or in his candidacy in any way really offer anything to Republicans? Has he reached out to Republicans in any way? Is there anything he has said or emphasized that would attract conservatives?
KONDRACKE: He promises that he is going to reach out across party lines.
HUME: What has he done so far?
KONDRACKE: Look, what he has famously said, a Rorschach test, and the people who want bipartisanship, post-partisanship, pragmatism, read into what he promises--
HUME: If you have to have bipartisanship, you have to have some ideas that the other side will like. Mara, can you identify any?
LIASSON: He does not have a record, with the exception of working across the aisle with somebody like Tom Coburn on ethics and Dick Lugar on nuclear proliferation, no.
But I think the test will come when he makes his cabinet. If he offers someone like Dick Lugar secretary of state--
HUME: Dick Lugar is not a conservative.
BARNES: That's not the test. The test is whether on policy issues, on legislation, whether he crosses the aisle.
Look, here is what Mort would not answer. For heaven's sakes, I don't know why. But most liberal senator, fourth most partisan, fourth most partisan. This is the National Journal. I didn't dream this up.
And you rate that onto basis of how often does the senator normally vote with his party--84 percent or something. He is at 96 percent. Here is a guy who has a record that is the opposite of bipartisanship. So there's nothing for conservatives there.
HUME: It's something like the fairness doctrine. Do you think he would buck his party if they wanted to pass that through, the restoration of the fairness doctrine?
KONDRACKE: I would hope so.
HUME: That's it for the panel-good answer.
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