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Special Report

Friday Lightning Round: Obama's government reform

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," January 13, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Every week viewers vote for your choice online in the Friday Lightning Round. This week, Charles' pick won by a landslide. We'll reveal what that was in a moment. But first, one day after asking Congress for $1.2 trillion in borrowing authority, the president announced today he wants to shrink the government. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: With or without Congress I am going to keep at it. But it would be a lot easier if Congress helped.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: This is an area that should receive bipartisan support, because making our government more responsive and strategic and leaner, it shouldn't be a partisan issue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: Well, part of this plan is closing the Commerce Department, merging it with five other federal agencies that overlap on trade and economic issues. Lightning Round -- Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: This is an example 17 of an issue he chose entirely for electoral purposes. This at best is going to kind 1,000 jobs in the federal government. He, himself, has increased the number of employees by 139,000, and the size of the nonmilitary portion of the federal employees is 2.7 million. This will reduce it by a third of a tenth of one percent, and for that, he gives a big speech.

BAIER: Nina, this is one year, we're about a week and a half from the State of the Union where he mentioned something like this.

NINA EASTON, COLUMNIST, FORTUNE MAGAZINE: He mentioned it yup, he mentioned this in the State of the Union last time. He mentioned it in February of 2009 that he was going to do something similar, and mentioned it in his campaign in 2008.

So look, I'm all for streamlining the government. If he wants to say it, thinks he is can save $3 billion it's great. I think he should next move to the job training program. By the way, we had 47 federal job training programs to the tune of $18 billion, and we can see how successful those are.

But something tells me that this is just another political ploy to put the Republicans in a difficult position. And just like the same time he brought this up before, I don't think we are going to see real movement on it.

BAIER: Liz?

LIZ MARLANTES, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR: Well, but the politics of it are good. I think Obama is facing a likely opponent who is casting himself as the master of restructuring and making things more efficient. And so today he comes out and says he wants to restructure and make the federal government more efficient. It is small potatoes in the larger scheme of things but it's still, it's something that it's hard for conservatives to say they don't agree with. And Darrell Issa came out today and said he is looking forward to working with the president on this.

BAIER: Ok, the U.S. Coast Guard took the extraordinary step to make sure ferries are safe, lowering the number of passengers because people are getting fatter. That adds to ambulances that are responding with rigs complete with ramps and wide stretchers, theater seats that are bigger, oversized coffins, you name it. The country is doing it. Liz?

MARLANTES: And yet, airline seats get smaller and smaller and smaller. The country is getting fatter and clearly adjustments are being made. I think people are getting bigger, too -- not just fatter -- taller, bigger. We're just growing.

(CROSSTALK)

BAIER: Nina?

EASTON: We need to go after two problems at once, obesity and the deficit. And we need to attack BMI.

BAIER: Wow. Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: How huge are we getting where you actually have to have ship captains worrying about capsizing?

(LAUGHTER)

KRAUTHAMMER: Next time that we have a Titanic, the captain will be able to invoke a new Twinkie defense.

BAIER: Quickly, your pick?

KRAUTHAMMER: My pick, and I want to say how humbled I am by the support I got from the viewers and I want to congratulate my opponents on a clean campaign. My pick is, does Tim Tebow have a direct line to God?

BAIER: And your answer?

KRAUTHAMMER: Yes, he told me so. God, that is, but in a written statement.

Look, I love this guy, I love this story. And I think the best element is that the secular types are getting all in a twist over him. Relax, enjoy it. He threw, remember, for 316 yards exactly.

(LAUGHTER)

BAIER: 3:16.

(CROSSTALK)

EASTON: -- a direct line to God in the fourth quarter I guess. Look, he is somebody who I think some people don't know this about him. He actually brings sick and dying people to the game and takes care of them during the game, which is an amazing piece to this story too, a hero's story. He stands as a counter point to all this high ego, pro-sports where you see abuse of women and abuse of drugs and even in Pennsylvania abuse of children. And I think he is the kind of hero that people need now.

BAIER: Nina's answer is yes. Liz?

MARLANTES: I'm gonna say yes, too. And I won't pretend to be a big football fan but I find him utterly appealing. I think he's a fantastic role model and great for the sport.

BAIER: He has to get through the operator of Tom Brady, I think to get through, this time, perhaps.

That is it for the panel. But stay tuned for the younger demographic's take on American politics.

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