This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," August 2, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CA, HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: The big question about this, will members of Congress be in the exchanges? Yes, members of Congress will be in the exchanges, and their staffs must enroll in health marketplaces as the Affordable Care Act requires.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR: House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi stating members of Congress and their staffs will enroll in the health exchanges under ObamaCare. Now, this gets complicated. Each week in our Friday Lightning Round poll you vote for your favorite topic. Today, Benghazi was the winner, but we just talked about that. So we begin the Lightning Round with your second choice tonight, ObamaCare. All of that cleared is up. We're back with the panel.
What folks are concerned about, Steve, is that the Obama administration has said that the government has just announced the government is going to pick up -- make employer contributions to defray some of the premium costs for Congress and members of their staff who, as part of the law, have to be part of the ObamaCare health care exchanges. Is this another pothole for ObamaCare?
STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, I think it is. To me, the question with all due respect to Nancy Pelosi, the big question is not whether they're going to be subject to this. The question is, where did they come up with the authority to do this? For months we've had the Office of Personnel Management which is responsible for running the federal plan say in effect we don't know if we have the authority to do that. Then the President of the United States goes to Capitol Hill and assures Democrats that they do or they can come up with the authority, and boom, two days later they have the authority. This is the way that ObamaCare has worked again and again and again, most recently with the employer mandate. What's not written in the law suddenly becomes the law because the president decides it's so.
WALLACE: Now, I talked to a White House official, and let me explain. As part of ObamaCare, one of the things the Republicans put into the program is that Congress and members of their staff have to give up their federal health care plans and to join ObamaCare, go into the health care exchanges. Previously the federal government had picked up about 75 percent of their premiums as part of their health care plan, so now the government is saying they're going to pick up some of their premiums in ObamaCare since they've been forced to be in the program. That's the White House's explanation. Is that fair or not?
KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK POST: Yeah. I think if you're going to have ObamaCare, which is now the law of the land, it makes sense to have Congress be part of it. You know, and I think frankly, the White House should be a part of it --
WALLACE: How about the taxpayers footing their bill?
POWERS: Well, it's the -- I don't really think it's that much different in terms of what's being paid into their current health insurance, is it? They're now just going to have ObamaCare and I think they may have not as good of care as they currently have. They have sort of always been known for having the best care around. But I do think it's important that the leaders have the same health care that has basically been passed for everybody else.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: It's not really. The egalitarian veneer is a phony here. If you're a normal American and you join the exchange, you get a subsidy only if you're needy. Here you're getting a subsidy because you are privileged. You're a member of a Congressional staff or of Congress. So regardless of need, the feds are going to pay about 70 percent of your premium. It doesn't happen if you're an ordinary American. So even though Pelosi had it sound as if it was equality, it's not at all.
WALLACE: All right, new job numbers out today for the month of July today. Let's take a look at them -- 162,000 jobs created in July, unemployment dropped to 7.4 percent, which is the lowest in 4.5 years. The 162,000 jobs created kind of disappointing, kind of a mixed picture. Steve, lightning round rules, have empty, half full?
HAYES: It's half empty. I think it's more than half empty. Look, the labor force participation rate remains low. There are all sorts of numbers, part-time workers, shifting from full-time to part-time numbers, this is the new normal. We've had this discussion for years, is this the new normal? Clearly it is the new normal. You can take the statement that came from the White House today and substitute any other statement from any other White House in any other month and they read the same way.
POWERS: It's a mixed bag, but it's overall -- they aren't great numbers. They are not that encouraging. The White House says this is proof we need to have more of a stimulus. Democrats also blaming the sequester for creating uncertainty and for layoffs and things like that. But it is fundamentally -- it's a recovery, but it's a very slow, stalled recovery.
KRAUTHAMMER: It's pushing on empty. This is the same old stuff, a weak recovery, weak jobs. The reason that there was a tick-down in the unemployment rate was because about half a million people who got discouraged and aren't even in the workforce and a huge increase in part time employment, which is one of the casualties of ObamaCare.
WALLACE: Winners and losers of the week -- Steve?
HAYES: The winners are the prospects for Republicans to gain the majority in the Senate. Coming on the heels of Brian Schweitzer's choice not to run in Montana for Senate,
HAYES: -- he's a Democrat. You have Tom Cotton, Congressman from Arkansas set to announce that he is going to run in Arkansas. Cotton is a solid candidate who enhances their pickup. The loser is Bob Filner, the obvious choice. This is the only time ever that I've done --
WALLACE: The Democratic mayor of San Diego.
HAYES: Yeah. Only time I've ever done two weeks in a row the same loser, but now his lawyer is suggesting that the city of San Diego could be held liable for failing to train him on sexual harassment laws, so he might have thought the head locks were permissible? Crazy.
WALLACE: We're going to keep that picture up for you for next week.
KRAUTHAMMER: Steve, he's a hugger.
HAYES: He's a loser.
WALLACE: Speaking of huggers, Kirsten?
POWERS: I would say winners this week are people who didn't think Benghazi was a phony scandal. And it's sort of a zero sum game. I think the losers are the people who continue, the reporters who continue to refuse to cover the story.
WALLACE: Winners and losers of the week -- Charles?
KRAUTHAMMER: The loser is a man who think he's a winner, Edward Snowden. He got asylum, but his hell is just now beginning. He's going to learn what it's like to live under the rule of law in the republic of Putin. He won't like it. He will never be out of the eyesight of a KGB agent.
The winner of the week is "Sharknado," which is an internet and cable TV sensation, which -- it's the "Lawrence of Arabia" of terrible movies. And tonight it goes into theatrical release for one night only. So if you missed "Plan 9 from Outer Space," wallow in this --
WALLACE: Simple yes or no question, did you watch "Sharknado" when it was on cable TV?
KRAUTHAMMER: Of course not.
WALLACE: I don't think it's --
KRAUTHAMMER: All my knowledge of pop culture is third-hand from my son.
WALLACE: That's it for the panel. But stay tuned to see just how far the war of words between Chris Christie and Rand Paul has gone now.
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