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Special Report

Friday Lightning Round: ObamaCare site contractor fired

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," January 10, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Well, an announcement today. Not much of an announcement but we have confirmed that the Obama administration is going to end the contract with CGI, that's the main I.T. contractor that set up, they created, and launched healthcare.gov. It is going to end that contract and start a new contract, $90 million, with a different company, Accenture. We're back with our panel, Friday Lightning Round. Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, it does raise the interesting question, if the repair is going as swimmingly as the administration has assured us, why are you dumping the people in charge of it and spending, I think -- what is it, 80 or $60 million to hire another firm? And it turns out, of course, that the website has two problems. It's unable to estimate the subsidies, which is the essence of the exchanges, it's what makes it allegedly affordable, and, second, it isn't able to record who actually has health insurance because it can't register people paying their premiums. It's like saying yes, but except for that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play? Well, that's why CGI is being dumped. I think it's a flag that this is not exactly going as well as the administration has intimated.

BAIER: It comes on a day, Julie, when the House passed this bill with 67 Democratic votes to force the administration to notify people of any security breaches.

JULIE PACE, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, ASSOCIATED PRESS: The White House didn't completely oppose that bill. They don't support it either. I think what CGI, yes, the website is working better, but the idea of keeping a contractor on the job that had such a disastrous rollout of this website, it was just really untenable for them.

BAIER: Jonah?

JONAH GOLDBERG, AT LARGE EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: I think this is another example of throwing anybody available under the bus, the idea that somehow it was -- you see he in some of the press reports a phrase that "CGI, the firm that was responsible for the disastrous rollout." That's not true. The administration was responsible for the disastrous rollout. They were the general contractors.  They kept giving delayed orders, contradictory orders, and it's sort of like getting mad at your dog for not being able to play the piano well. At some point it's the administration's responsibility, not the firm's.

BAIER: There is a YouTube video out there somewhere, Jonah, somewhere there is.

(LAUGHTER)

BAIER: OK, Chris Christie and bridge-gate, apparently hundreds of documents today. No smoking gun yet. This investigation continues. What about this?

GOLDBERG: Yeah. It's amazing how the mainstream media is willing to do the due diligence on a road closure in New Jersey but wasn't willing to read the ObamaCare bill. I think as long as we don't find out that he lied about anything in that press conference this becomes a nothing-burger at the national story but will have a very long half-life in New Jersey.

PACE: Agreed. I think that in New Jersey this is going to stay around for a while. Chris Christie put a lot of information out there during his two hour press conference. As long as all of that holds up, I think he is going to be OK.

BAIER: Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: It's fatal if he told anything that was untrue. So assuming he didn't, I think there still is a risk for him, and that is if in all these stories they are going to be coming out people will report similar incidents, perhaps involving him or his staff, which would give the impression of a culture of retaliation or revenge. So it wouldn't be an attack on him on this instance, but I think it could hurt him in terms of his personality. So I think that kind of risk, not a fatal one, but an injurious one is still there.

BAIER: Quickly, the December jobs report, 6.7 percent unemployment.  That's ticking down, but only 74,000 jobs added. And you can see the underemployment. That's the U6, 13.1 percent, staying the same. The big issue here for this jobs report, Jonah, is that people left the jobs market.

GOLDBERG: Yeah. And, look, in 2008, I think something like 13.4 million people were under or unemployed. Today, that number is almost double at something like 23 million. And we are supposed to be in the middle of a recovery.

BAIER: Silver linings are tough on this one.

PACE: It's an ugly jobs report no matter what way you look at it. I think one of the interesting things to look at going into next week is does this administration try to take this jobs report and use it as an argument for Congress passing an extension of unemployment benefits.

BAIER: But in year five, that's a tough argument to make that recovery, recovery, recovery, emergency need for long-term unemployment.

KRAUTHAMMER: Yet another summer of recovery, turning into a winter of recovery, turning into a summer of recovery. It doesn't come. And the astonishing news is that half a million Americans have quit working. And it's not those approaching retirement age. It's those in their mid-50s who are leaving, looking at the prospects of the future and seeing nothing.

BAIER: That is it for the panel. Again optimistic at the end of your dismount there, but a look at how reporters handled the ice. Plus the Bing Pulse highlights.

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