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Special Report

Friday Lightning Round: Budget battles

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," April 20, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, HOST OF "SPECIAL REPORT": Every week viewers vote for your choice online and this, our "Friday Lightning Round" poll. And this week, budget battles won with 56 percent of the vote. We're back with the panel.

Charles, there is no budget on the Senate side.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Right. And we heard a couple of weeks ago from the head of the DNC that there would be a budget, that it was being held up in the Senate. Only it is a matter of timing but it's not going to happen. Harry Reid is not going to produce or allow a vote on the budget. And the reason is simple.

Sixteen Democrats are going to be up -- to be re-elected in November. And if you vote on a budget, you have to vote; have to vote on a dozen issues. And they want to run in the dark. There's not going to be a budget proposed in the Senate.

BAIER: Chuck, with the president on the stump every other day, talking about Paul Ryan's budget, doesn't this hurt the argument on the Democratic side if there's not a budget?

CHARLES LANE, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Absolutely. It hurts the idea that the party as a whole does not have an alternative. But what of course he can say is that I proposed a budget, which indeed he did. Notwithstanding the fact it was turned down unanimously in Congress. But it's less of an issue for him I think than for the folks running for the spots in the Senate and House.

BYRON YORK, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER: That's right. A third of the Senate is up for re-election. Today is day 1,087 since they didn't pass one. We could have a scenario in which we go from April of 2009 to April 2013 without the Senate passing a budget. That's what looks like is going to happen.

BAIER: We may have to start having a graphic or something, like the Iranian hostage.

KRAUTHAMMER: We need a clock, like a debt clock or a hostage clock. "America Held Hostage."

BAIER: The Secret Service scandal, it continues. Heads are continuing to roll. I think we're at 12. Byron, how big a deal is this and what do you make of the fallout from all of this?

YORK: Well, we still don't quite know because we know the congressional investigators believe that something -- something this extensive as what happened in Colombia does not happen just for the first time ever. They think there is more going on there.

I think politically it can turn into a theme for Republicans in the sense of GSA, Secret Service, "Fast and Furious," there are failures of leadership at the top. And I think you'll hear the Republicans trying to join those together in kind of an omnibus accusation against the administration.

BAIER: The Secret Service director, Chuck, briefed President Obama today on this scandal. And it continues to, it seems, there’s another development almost every day.

LANE: Well, I think there is a distinction. You mentioned the Secret Service director, Mark Sullivan. Mitt Romney’s gone out of his way to praise him and express confidence in him and essentially agree with President Obama that the top leadership of the Secret Service is OK, and has responded well to this.

So I think that issue is less polarizing. The scandal that has legs in terms of partisan politics is the GSA. Because that is big amounts of taxpayer money being wasted in a sort of flagrant and flamboyant way. And I think that one is the one that sticks.

BAIER: Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: I would agree. I think the Secret Service is a scandal that doesn't attach to a president. It's hard to make any connection whatsoever. And, ironically, despite sort of the moral scale you want to put either of the scandals on, the fact is that public money is what GSA scandal is about.

The Democrats are the party of big government. They want to expand it, spend all kinds of money. And they use the word "invest" every time they are spending. Well, investing in clowns and mind-readers and stuff, and hot tubs is not exactly what people want.

So I think that's going to hurt the party of government. And Republicans argue we want to shrink it. And this is an example of what happens when it grows.

BAIER: Quickly down the row, about the Keystone XL pipeline. The project has a new proposed route. They are moving forward. How does this play politically and do Democrats get in line behind it?

YORK: I think President Obama could be headed for a defeat here. He -- on Tuesday, he threatened a veto if the House passed this bill containing the Keystone Pipeline. They passed it with a veto-proof majority, including 69 Democrats who crossed party lines to vote against the president.

Last month, the Senate voted for it. They got 11 Democrats. They need two more. And you could something pass by a veto-proof majority in the House and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. The president is in a tight spot on this.

BAIER: Chuck?

LANE: Well, I predicted, I remember when we first talked about this on the show, this pipeline is going to get built. This just confirms to me the popular sentiment is too strong behind it. If it's not built or approved this year, it will be in the next year, whoever is president.

BAIER: Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: Republicans are hoping that it will remain on the table unresolved, and that the president will stay where he is on this issue. It is a huge loser. There is no way to explain the killing of the pipeline in any terms, diplomatic, economic energy, whatever.

And he stuck with it. I'm surprised he hasn't used the changing of the route as an excuse to parachute off, out of this disaster. But he’s threatening a veto. He is going to have to deliver it. It’s going to hurt him again and again.

I hope he sticks with it.

BAIER: That's it for the panel. But stay tuned.

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