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Special Report

Friday Lightning Round: Health Care Repeal

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," January 21, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHANNON BREAM, GUEST HOST: Every week, viewers vote for your choice online in our Friday lightning round poll. This week, health care repeal, that won with 51 percent of the vote. So let's take it to our panel, Steve, Nia and Charles. Alright Nia, I'll start with you. The Republicans repealed it back at least in the House. What kind of work do they have ahead?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: They’re moving on to replace portion of their repeal and replace slogan. And I think one of the things that’s most interesting that came out of the discussions this week is it seems like some Republicans are picking up part of the healthcare bill that they like. Coverage for seniors on prescription drugs, that kids up to 26 can stay on their parents' plans.

I think that, I think it's slightly off message from the repeal.  I think the danger here for Republicans is whether or not they are going to look like they are trying to re-litigate the past, talking about healthcare, where Obama moved forward in talking about jobs. Charles, I know you wrote a column that said repeal, repeal, repeal, even if it's boring.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Yes. Look, repeal for Republicans, repeal is easy and replace is hard. They’re going to be subject to same attacks on details as Democrats were. So it's going to be a tough in the next year.

BREAM: And Democratic congressman, I believe James McGovern, said he thinks they will "repeal and relax." How do they fight that allegation?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I think he is wrong. The vote from this week was a start, not a pose, to paraphrase what Charles said. And you’ve seen this already, there is a hearing scheduled January 25, Tuesday. The budget committee is going to host among other experts Richard Foster, who is the chief actuary for Medicare and Medicaid who has been critical of some of the financial sustainability of Obamacare. You'll see this discussion pick up, not leg off.

BREAM: Coincidence that it falls on the same date of the State of the Union?

HAYES: I don't know. Good question.

BREAM: Our next topic is Iran. We know there are talks going on in Istanbul, Turkey right now. Charles, waste of time or possibility of something productive happening?

KRAUTHAMMER: Nothing’s going to happen. It's a waste of time except to the extent that it shows the world that we're trying. It won't have any effect.  The reason you want to show the world you’re trying is so you can have more support on sanctions, which is if we are going to have any effect on Iran, not in negotiations, it’ll be only in sanctions, severe sanctions.

BREAM: We are starting to hear rumors that their economy is suffering and not doing so well. Are sanctions finally having an impact?  And will they allow the people to suffer and continue with what they want to do, the leaders there?

HENDERSON: They seem to be intent on following this same track.  There are reports that these sanctions are working. They're really tough, the ones put in place this summer.

I agree with Charles, we’re sort of back to the drawing board all the time almost with Iran. We had these talks in December and had the same sort of take away.  The difference here is Iran does not want to litigate whether or not they have the right to nuclear weapons. Everyone else does want to litigate that they don't have that right. It just seems to be Groundhog Day with the P-5 plus 1 talks every time.

BREAM: At the table we have Russia and China who have interest.  And this week there were members of Congress that stepped up saying that those countries, potentially China especially, potentially violating current sanctions with Iran. So how much will they do to get serious?

HAYES: Groundhog Day indeed. This is what’s happening in the past. Russia and China have been the problem with the P-5 plus 1 talks.  And it's why I think the most important development on Iran did not happen in Turkey today but happened in London, ironically, where Tony Blair was testifing before an inquiry about the Iraq war.

And he said he learned two lessons about Iraq. One of the two lessons was the inner relationship between Iran and Al Qaeda. He said that unless you solve the Iran problem, you're not going to solve the Al Qaeda problem, which is a stunning statement from a world leader who has seen all intelligence on both.

BREAM: And now on a much lighter note, we have to get to the final topic. Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, in trouble with allegations that he has paid an underage girl for sex. He has been involved in alleged shenanigans. But take a listen not everybody in Italy is outraged over this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Berlusconi has too much girl. Why not me and you, one for me, one for you. I think this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

BREAM: Charles, you speak Italian. We'll start with you.

KRAUTHAMMER: No, but I understand Italian. This is remarkable.  The Europeans have a director, Roman Polanski, who rapes a young girl in Los Angeles, and Europeans say you have to understand the needs of the artist and we mustn't be judgmental. Here you got a prime minister who apparently was in a dalliance with a Moroccan dancer called Ruby.

BREAM: "The Heartbreaker."

KRAUTHAMMER: I didn't know Ruby was common name in Morocco.  Apparently she is underage. I'm not sure of the details because I'm not keeping up with the latest issue of the Romano, which has been very, very hot on the case. I'm as neutral on this as is Switzerland. I would say let the chips fall where -- or however you say it in Italian.

BREAM: All right. Nia, does this cross over from joking to serious problem? World leader who is constantly being dragged into these things and something that could be criminal at this point?

HENDERSON: People in Italy, as you saw the gentleman there, are not bothered by this. The polls over there, essentially 25 percent say this doesn't matter and the other 25 percent say it's ultimately help him. I think they are used to him being dragged through the mud. In some ways, he’s kind of the loveable guy there.

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