All-Star Panel: Who has a better argument in shutdown showdown?

'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," September 30, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


REP. ERIC CANTOR, R - VA, HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: The House is going to take a position today reflecting one very fundamental principle that our country stands for -- no special treatment for anyone.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R - OH ,HOUSE SPEAKER: We're confident that this issue will pass. This is a matter of funding the government and providing fairness to the American people. Why wouldn't members of Congress vote for it?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Congress needs to keep our government open, needs to pay our bills on time, and never, ever threaten the full faith and credit of the United States of America, and time is running out. My hope and expectation is that in the 11th hour, once again, that Congress will choose to do the right thing.


BAIER: President Obama speaking about the partial government shutdown that may kick in in five hours and 22 minutes as the House continues to debate. Right now they are on what's called the rule to move forward with the continuing resolution, the amended continuing resolution, the funding of the government. As we take a live look at the floor, you can see that's Democrats having Congressman Sam Farr is talking right there. And they are basically debating how this is all going to play out over the next couple hours. Take a listen to the Senate side, Senator Ted Cruz, and what he said about all this.


SEN. TED CRUZ, R - TX: Did the Senate come back yesterday? No, Madame President, we did not. The majority leader could have called the Senate back, we should have called the Senate back. We were just 48 hours away from a government shutdown, but apparently the majority leader make made the decision that it was more important for senators to be home on vacation, home playing golf, home doing anything but being here on the floor of the Senate doing the people's business.


BAIER: He went on to say that the Senate should come back and pass whatever comes out of the House even if it's just a one-year delay of ObamaCare. We're back with the panel. No Bing Pulse tonight. It will be back on Wednesday. Let's bring in our panel, Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, Juan Williams, columnist with The Hill, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.

OK, so here we are. The House is now debating this taking what the Senate passed back over bill, and they are going to add a one-year delay of ObamaCare and also taking out all of the congressional exemptions and administration exemptions, so basically they would be in the exchanges too.  There's a bit of a rebellion ongoing for Speaker Boehner from what we hear.

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: The moderates are now apparently in a mini-rebellion that they have had to accommodate the conservative wing of the conference two or three times in the last week.  But I think the speaker has it under control. I do think he deserves some kind of medal after the last week keeping that rather fractious group together. Maybe I'll buy him a glass of red wine after this is all over. He has very good taste in wine, so maybe I should – Bret, you can buy him a good glass of red wine after this.

I wish two months they had gotten here. This is the best political ground for them to fight on. They are delaying the individual mandate, which people hate, which forces people to buy insurance they don't want, and they are getting rid of the exemption, the special treatment for congressman, who get special treatment better than that of anyone else who is forced into the exchanges. These are two extremely strong political and substantive grounds – provisions -- to add to the continuing resolution. If they could have had a debate on this for five or six weeks, I actually think they could have crumbled some of the Democratic solidarity, which Harry Reid has managed to maintain. I still think going forward if they get this through the House floor tonight, this will be a bad vote for House Democrats and Harry Reid will have to strip these two provisions. Think of the Senate Democratic vote tomorrow. There's no difference on the spending level – on the funding level. So why do Senate Democrats object to this continuing resolution? Because it takes away -- it suspends for a year forcing people to buy an insurance policy they don't want and it takes away special treatment for congressmen. That's what the Senate Democrats are going to have to stand on. So I think politically they have ended up in a good place a little later than they might otherwise have been.

BAIER: Bill, let me put you on the moderate push back here. There are many moderate members we're hearing from Capitol Hill that don't think that their staff should have to feel the pain here. According to one moderate GOP member who asked not to be identified, "They, the Tea Partiers, have had their day in the sun. This is about people's lives. These people, their staff, work hard. They don't deserve this."

KRISTOL: Remember, this was something that was added to ObamaCare as kind of a sweetener. Congress will play by the same rules. That was voted on by all the Democrats who passed ObamaCare in both Houses. The administration unilaterally and I think lawlessly decided actually we didn't mean that. Senators, congressmen, their staff -- they get the 75 percent subsidies from the taxpayer. No one else who goes in with those salary levels to the exchanges gets the subsidy.

You can say it's a stupid law. Fine, amend the law. The Senate Democrats have a majority. The House Democrats cans propose changing that law. It's the law of the land, and I think the House Republicans are intelligent to insist on it, to prevent Obama administration's change of it and to say, I'm sorry, there's no reason Congressmen or their staffs, nice people though they are, should get a better break than all the other Americans that are being forced into the exchanges under ObamaCare.

BAIER: Juan, that's a tough one to defend on that particular issue.

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE HILL: I think so. I think it's a dodge. I think what's going on here has very little to do with it, except that you have some in the conservative ranks who would say here's a basis of our objection and why we are behaving as we currently are, in terms of voting to defund, and end, and repeal and kill ObamaCare, however you want to describe it. But the real action here is that I think among some Republicans, there's the feeling that a day or less now of some kind of shutdown would have appeased the base that's enraged with President Obama.

But if you go beyond that, then you really start to do damage not only to their staffs, Bret, but you mentioned the people that work for them. Then you start to do damage to their political futures in terms of 2014 and midterm elections. And there are people on the Republican side who are not part of the Tea Party caucus who thoroughly feel left out. If you just had Boehner dare to have a vote tonight and say we're going to have a vote on this bill that's a clean, continuing resolution, he would get enough, he might, in fact, get a majority of Republicans to vote with the Democrats to pass it.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Look, on the substance of this, on the logic of this, if you took an objective observer, a Martian, and you said to him, these two provisions that the Republicans are demanding are eminently logical and they are a matter of fairness, there's no way which you can defend exempting members of Congress and it's also going to apply to White House staff from the provisions that everybody else has to live by. The bill is right.

It's also lawless the way that it was undone, because originally the unfairness was not in the Bill. It was supposed to be equal. And the president, the administration unilaterally, as it does everything, decided they would undo it. So that's number one. On the other issue, the individual mandate, that is open and shut.  If you're a big business, if you're a big player, you've got a lot of lobbyists, you get a year delay. If you're an individual, you get nothing.  So on this, I think this is a very strong position. The problem is, as Bill indicates, it's late in the day. A, we know how the press is going to play this. B, it brings the president out into the fore. He has got a sinking administration. His numbers are down. He's underwater in the approval polls. He's been humiliated in foreign affairs.  The economy is stagnant. The Democrats have been praying, the non-atheist among them, for this kind of redemption, because it is the only way it puts the president in the game. And I thought he played it really well today in the way he spoke about the shutting of Yellowstone and Statue of Liberty. I can assure the press can have cameras outside the Statue of Liberty, and you're going to have little tots tomorrow weeping outside because they aren't allowed in.

So this is a dangerous game. I think logically the GOP is right. But in the way it's going to play, I think Obama has a huge advantage.

BAIER: What about that statement, Bill, that the president made in the White House briefing room? Here's one part of it about the health care law, the Affordable Care Act.


OBAMA: The Affordable Care Act is moving forward. That funding is already in place. You can't shut it down. This is a law that passed both Houses of Congress, a law that bears my signature, a law that the Supreme Court upheld as constitutional, a law that voters chose not to repeal.


BAIER: Essentially, they have not talked to Republicans in this whole back and forth. And Ed Henry pressed Jay Carney about that today. That there's not been any ongoing negotiation, that this is kind of it.

KRISTOL: He wants to shut down debate on the so-called Affordable Care Act. The employer mandate is part of that act. The employer mandate was sustained by the Supreme Court. The employer mandate was presumably upheld by the election results. President Obama delayed it for a year. What is the rationalization for delaying that and not the individual mandate?

And the other matter, it's now the Congress -- the House Republicans are now restoring the original intent of the law. The president can say all he wants that all these Republicans are being ridiculous. The question that Charles said -- can they get beyond the sort of sense of disarray on the Republican side and the scare stories and government shutdown and get people focused on why the Senate Democrats are insisting on the shutdown, which is the one-year delay of the individual mandate, just a delay, it's not changing the law, but delaying something that's not ready to go into effect, and especially on the special treatment of Congress.

BAIER: OK, let's take a live look at the House floor. They have started a series of three votes. There are three votes in the series. This is all about the rule. The first one is a procedural vote. The second one that really makes the big difference. It's the one that everyone will be looking at. And essentially if this second one is defeated, they really have big problems in the GOP. They can't call up the new plan for debate let alone ping pong it back and forth with the Senate. So this is going to take time to go through these series of votes. But it is the plan that Speaker Boehner is laying out and how they are going to move forward and you see the other clock ticking in the corner of the screen towards a partial government shutdown.

Next up, what Israel thinks of the Iranian charm offense.

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