This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," April 22, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR: Before the break, we asked you at what annual inc ome do you consider a person wealthy? Getting the most votes above $500,000 a year at 42 percent, next was $100,000 with 40 percent.
Every week viewers vote for your choice online in our Friday lightning round poll, what subject do you want to us discuss. And the clear winner, this week, tax debate with 42 percent of the vote.
So Charles, let me start with you. President Obama keeps pressing his case, as he has on the west coast [INAUDIBLE] for raising taxes on the wealthy, however you define it, although he does at families above $250,000. According to the New York Times poll we cited earlier, 72 percent of Americans support him. But Republicans say raise taxes on this group and you're gonna hit people who have small businesses and create a lot of jobs. So who's right?
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Both. You're right that it's popular, it's also irrational. About 47 percent of the profits of all small business would be subject to this increase in tax, which means money taken out of the owner of the business that could be used for expansion and hiring or goes into the treasury. You have a slow economy. It's a terrible idea.
WALLACE: Let me ask you about a different idea in this regard, Rick. The president's debt commission said let's reframe the entire debate, let's not make it about the Bush tax cuts. Let's do away with a lot of the tax deductions and lower everyone's rates. Why didn't the president decide to go with what seemed to be a way to get around this whole issue?
RICK KLEIN, ABC NEWS: Because you want to talk about how things poll, people love the deductions they get, they love the charitable contribution, the mortgage tax deduction. Even though that's disproportionately weighted to upper-income earners, they use it a lot more because they are a lot more likely to itemize their taxes. Those are very popular things. So to go after them in big way, it takes some serious political courage.
To say, tax reform, is one thing. Once you get into the details, people kind of like the way that it is right now. They like entering in those numbers and seeing some money come back to them at the end of the year.
TUCKER CARLSON, THEDAILYCALLER.COM: Unfortunately, all tax increases on the so-called rich affect the middle class and depress private sector employment. The problem is if it's a choice or presented as a choice, between taxing people you've never met, i.e., the super-rich and cutting any kind of entitlement benefit, the president, unfortunately, has the polls on his side dramatically.
WALLACE: Let's turn to Libya. Senator McCain went there today and said that the rebels opposing Moammar Qaddafi are heroes, are patriots. Tucker what do you make of that? And what do you make of president Obama's decision to put two unmanned predator drones over the skies of Libya?
CARLSON: Well the State Department signed off on Senator McCain's trip and said it was pleased with the outcome of that trip. I respect senator McCain, he certainly earned the right to any opinion he has. However, we don't know that these people are heroes. I think that was an irresponsible thing to say, frankly. I know that we're supporting them, but it's not at all clear as he claimed that none of them are members of Al Qaeda, that all of them are on our side, that all of them have as their prime goal freedom and the right to vote. We just don't know that. And so I don't think we should leap to that conclusion.
KLEIN: He also said that we should be arming the rebels. And that is a step that the Obama administration has stopped short of throughout this. And I think, both of these moves in terms of the new drones and Senator McCain's trip point out the fact that we're quite a ways into this now.
We were told from the beginning this was not going to be a stalemate. It's looking more and more like that. And it becomes a more difficult situation for the Obama White House to explain. And I think that's where the pressure comes in. And I think that's really the importance of Senator McCain's trip. You're giving voice, not just to the rebels but to a growing number of people in this country who feel like this policy needs some serious examination.
WALLACE: Charles, I'm not sure I understand here. Because we say we want Qaddafi out, and now we are saying, well we're not sure about who these rebels are and we're not sure if we want to arm the rebels. Is there a third party in there that I'm unaware of?
CARLSON: No. What you are talking about is the complete incoherence of the policy. Obviously, the only way that this can end well is if Qaddafi is out. Obviously, the administration does not want to do what it would take to actually have it end that way.
Two drones, two? We're the largest power in the history of the world. We spend half a trillion dollars on defense. Two drones, you think that's gonna have an effect on the course of this war? It's a gesture, it's half- hearted. It's like everything Obama has done in this war. I wasn't particularly enthusiastic for involvement, but if you're gonna go in, you go in, you win, you win quickly. Especially if you are pretending to be a humanitarian. People there are bleeding.
WALLACE: OK. Finally, and this is the lightning round so we gotta be quick about this. We're running out of time. The situation in Syria, Charles, tens of thousands of anti-government demonstrators in the streets, once again, the Syrian regime turned, as you can see, turned their weapons, live fire on the protesters. The numbers have kept rising all day. It's up to 75 now. And my guess is it's gonna be a lot higher. Your thoughts?
KRAUTHAMMER: The administration has just issued a statement, and the president has issued a statement, a very strong one, finally, this after two weeks of saying practically nothing, and even having at one point the secretary of state describing the thug who is in charge of Syria as a reformer. So at least the statement has come out but now there has to be action, resolution in the Security Council, sanctions, and the withdrawal of our ambassador. Otherwise, it's empty words.
WALLACE: 30 seconds, Tucker.
CARLSON: The Assad government is monstrous. We knew that, news from nowhere. This is a tragedy, of course. But that doesn't change the core question, which is what's in our interest, how do we preserve America's interest in the world and in that region or at the interest of our allies in the region? That's the only question I think we ought to pay attention to in response to this.
WALLACE: And in ten seconds, what's the answer? How do we?
CARLSON: It's not clear. But I don't think we should immediately, reflexively jump to regime change because that might not be in our interest.
WALLACE: Alright. That is it for the panel. But stay tuned to see a world leader when he doesn't know the camera is rolling.
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