This is a rush transcript from "Sunday Morning Futures," February 8, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MARIA BARTIROMO, HOST: Good morning. Allies united against ISIS. Hi, everyone. I'm Maria Bartiromo. Welcome to "Sunday Morning Futures."
Jordan pounding ISIS targets this morning. The UAE back in the battle supplying more planes.
Now how should Americans add our own muscle to the fight against ISIS? We're covering this story throughout the program this morning with congressional and military guests.
The GOP presents its plan to erase ObamaCare.
Is it better? Is it likely to pass? We'll discuss the details of that and a lot more with Senator John Hoeven coming up.
And a full court press by the West to end the Russian-Ukraine conflict. How far did they get? We'll take a look and talk to a business man with an insider's view of just how corrupt post-Communist Russia really is. He barely escaped with his life. Others, not so lucky. He'll tell us his first-hand story as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures."
BARTIROMO: And Jordan continues to pound ISIS strongholds this morning, not believing the terror group's claim that a Jordanian airstrike has killed U.S. hostage Kayla Mueller.
Meanwhile the president plans to formally ask Congress to authorize the use of military force against ISIS in the coming days.
What should the U.S. response be now? Congressman Bob Goodlatte is with me, he's the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and he joins us now.
Good to see you, Congressman. Thanks for joining us.
REP. BOB GOODLATTE, R-VA.: Thank you, Maria.
BARTIROMO: So what should the U.S.' response look like, when we hear from the president to authorize the use of military forces, what do you think that force should look like?
GOODLATTE: I believe for a long time that the current authorization for use of military force in Iraq, now more than a dozen years old, is out of date, needs to be replaced. We should take a careful look at what the president presents to us, recognizing it's a good thing that Jordan and some of the Gulf states and others in the Middle East are recognizing they're on the front lines.
The threat is to them. And they should step up. We should support them and we should give the president appropriate authority to do that support.
Now one of the big questions, of course, will be what about boots on the ground?
Again, we've got to be careful not to tie the president's hands. But we do not want to have major U.S. military ground forces placed back in an area where we think others should be stepping up and taking the lead. But targeted strikes and rescue missions and a whole host of other activities, spotters on the ground and so on, we need to give the president some flexibility in this area. But we need to look carefully at an appropriate authorization of use of military force.
BARTIROMO: The U.S. has been carrying out airstrikes against ISIS in Syria and Iraq since August.
Has it worked?
GOODLATTE: I think it has definitely helped. There is no question that we've turned them back in a few places. We've seen some towns recovered by Kurdish forces and other forces in the area. But obviously more needs to be done.
I think that some of the terrorist acts that they have taken place, burning Jordanian air force officer in a cage, may be a reflection of their desperation more than it is simply their barbarity. But either way, I think this is a long-term battle against Islamic radical terrorists. And we need to make sure we're doing our part.
It's not just happening in the Middle East. FBI Director Comey said in Mississippi just a couple of days ago that they have active investigations of suspected ISIS collaborators in 49 states. So this is something we can't simply allow to say it's going to happen in someplace else and we don't need to be involved in it. We do need to be involved.
BARTIROMO: Yes, Congressman. I wanted to hear more about that and I also want to ask you about the idea of cyber security and Internet terrorism. So stay with us, Congressman Bob Goodlatte.
First, let's dig deeper into the scope of Jordan's fight against ISIS. Fox News senior correspondent Eric Shawn joins us now with that angle.
Good morning to you, Eric.
ERIC SHAWN, FOX NEWS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Maria.
And good morning, everyone. It has a king who is also an attack helicopter pilot who did not hesitate to strike back. King Abdullah is leading not from behind, but from the front.
A monarch in a flight suit, a potent symbol of Jordan's defiance against ISIS, 53-year-old King Abdullah, who served in the Royal Jordanian Army and flew Cobra antitank helicopters in the air force, is now taking the fight directly against the ISIS killers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOHAMMAD AL MOMANI, STATE MINISTER FOR MEDIA AFFAIRS, JORDAN: We will do whatever it takes in order to fight this organization and defeat this organization. We think this is the best of our country. Of course we strongly believe that other countries in the region as well as the international community must shoulder part of the responsibility.
SHAWN (voice-over): Jordan vows that a, quote, "relentless war against ISIS" and has carried out four days of continuing airstrikes in revenge for that barbaric burning to death of its pilot, despite being dwarfed by larger militaries. The country ranks number 67th, according to global firepower and military strength with a defense budget of $1.5 billion. It can field just over 110,000 active military personnel. The air force has 246 military aircraft, including 74 fighters or interceptors and 42 fixed-wing attack aircraft.
But like the U.S., Jordan continues to rule out sending so-called boots on the ground. Even though Iraq and Syria's Arab and Persian Gulf neighbors can potentially field armies of more than 1 million troops against the Islamic State. But for now have no plans to do that.
AL MOMANI: I think that nobody is talking about troops on the ground. The idea about boots on the ground is that we will help the Iraqi military.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHAWN: But Jordan says since that unforgivable video was released, it has launched 56 strikes against ISIS and has so far flown 946 sorties out of a total of 5,500 coalition airstrikes or just under 20 percent. Scrawled on a Jordanian bomb that was hanging under a jet fighter just before a mission against ISIS was one simple message. It said, "For you, the enemies of Islam." -- Maria.
BARTIROMO: All right, Eric, thanks very much, Eric Shawn with the latest there.
More now with Congressman Bob Goodlatte.
And, Congressman, you have been a leader in terms of Internet and technology issues on your committee. Let me get your take on your expectations for cyber terrorism and whether or not this is an area that you think ISIS will next pursue.
GOODLATTE: Well, it is certainly something that various elements of terrorist organizations have pursued and the United States needs to step up its game. Greater cooperation between government agencies, greater cooperation between private companies and the government in making sure that cyber attacks of various kinds are repulsed. We need to make sure our intelligence organizations have the ability to gather the information they need but not at the expense of the civil liberties of law abiding American citizens.
We passed a good bill through Congress last year to take up again this year offered by Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner that set, I think, the right guidelines, barred the government from collection of metadata but still gave them the opportunity to do what they need to do to gather the information to investigate terrorist plots that can take place in the United States and elsewhere in the world.
BARTIROMO: Congressman, lay out the next two days for us when the president asks Congress for the authority for more military force.
How does this play out this upcoming week?
GOODLATTE: We should take that and look at it very carefully. I don't think we need to rush into giving a very quick response. Remember the president has had a mixed record here. He did not seek authorization for use of military force to go into Libya. Many complications have ensued from that.
He then sought the authorization to go into Syria against the current Syrian government. That got a very negative response from the Congress. I think there's more open-mindedness right now about finding the right balance here in terms of giving him the authority that he needs without us stepping out in front of these Middle Eastern nations like Jordan that need to take the lead in protecting their region and in fighting ISIS. But we should be strong supporters of what they're doing.
BARTIROMO: And Jordan is one of a handful of Middle Eastern countries that have joined the fight against ISIS.
Are you expecting that number to increase?
GOODLATTE: I certainly hope it will because they clearly are the ones who are on the front lines. This kind of radical terrorism is not what I think they want the world to see about the Middle East. There have been Muslim clerics around the world speaking out against the horrific acts taken by ISIS and we need to get their help in pushing back on this because this is a long-term problem with extremism trying to take hold, not just in the Middle East. We saw it in France just recently and we've seen it in the United States before and we'll see it again if we're not proactive in combating it.
BARTIROMO: Congressman, we'll be watching. Thanks very much for joining us today.
GOODLATTE: Thanks, Maria.
BARTIROMO: We'll see you soon.
Republicans unveil a Plan B meanwhile for ObamaCare.
What are the details?
How is their replacement different from the Affordable Care Act?
We'll talk with Senator John Hoeven about that next.
I hope you'll follow me on Twitter @MariaBartiromo is my handle, @SundayFutures is the program. Let us know what you'd like to hear from Senator Hoeven. Send me a tweet. Stay with us as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures."
BARTIROMO: Welcome back. A group of congressional Republicans, Senators Richard Burr and Orrin Hatch and Congressman Upton have unveiled their place -- their plan to replace ObamaCare. It is similar to an outline proposed last year by Burr, Hatch and former Senator Tom Coburn.
It includes targeted tax credits for those living up to 300 percent above the poverty line, allowing insurance companies to sell plans across state lines, repealing the individual mandate. But, like ObamaCare, kids can stay on their parents' plans until they're 26 years old. And pre- existing conditions are covered, that is, unless you let your coverage lapse for a couple of months, under the GOP plan. Insurers could take that into account.
Senator John Hoeven is joining us. He is on the Appropriations Committee and the Energy Committee.
Senator, good to have you on the program.
SEN. JOHN HOEVEN, R-N.D.: Thanks, Maria. Good to be with you.
BARTIROMO: What is the viability of this new replacement to ObamaCare, do you think?
HOEVEN: I think it's a good plan. It's about empowering people rather than expanding government. And if the Supreme Court strikes down the subsidy that states are getting under the federal exchange, we're going to have to have another plan. And I hope there's some support both in the Congress and on the part of the administration to go to this kind of approach.
BARTIROMO: What kind of an impact have you seen so far from anticipation of ObamaCare or actual implementation of ObamaCare?
HOEVEN: I'm -- your question on the...
BARTIROMO: What kind of an impact have you seen already in terms of businesses, in terms of the economy, people's lives?
HOEVEN: Yeah, I mean higher costs, not only for businesses but for individuals in terms of their health care insurance. And that's why the kind of plan that we're talking about now can create more competition and help bring health care costs down and gives people more choice.
BARTIROMO: What would you like to see in terms of other priorities for the budget?
The president released his budget. What is your response in terms of what he's likely to do in terms of raising taxes and -- and creating more revenue for things like education and infrastructure projects?
HOEVEN: Well, his budget is a real problem. And I don't believe it's going to go anywhere in Congress. If you look at it, it's $2.1 trillion in higher taxes. It's $2.4 trillion in more spending. It's $8.5 trillion over 10 years in more debt for this country. And that makes it harder for entrepreneurs and small businesses to create jobs and grow the economy. And so that's not what Americans want. That's why Congress is not going to go that direction. What we're going to try to do is do things like reduce the regulatory burden, engage in tax reform that stimulates our economy and encourages job creation for our businesses across this great country.
BARTIROMO: And how does this ObamaCare plan, or replacement plan, do that?
HOEVEN: Well, the -- it helps by giving more choice, more competition, reducing the regulatory burden -- again, not only helping our businesses in terms of reducing costs, giving them more options, but for individuals as well. That's the kind of thing that makes our economy go. When you make it easier to do business, then entrepreneurs, small businesses create more jobs. When you make it more expensive, you have higher tax burden, more regulation, that's what hurts job creation.
BARTIROMO: Senator, let me move on to the Keystone Pipeline, which I know you have been pushing passage for. But I want to start with North Dakota. Because North Dakota, of course, is a very big oil-producing state, producing more than a million barrels of oil a day, second largest oil producing state. What has been the impact on the state of this sharp sell- off in the price of oil that we've seen in the last year?
HOEVEN: Maria, we're starting to see some slowdown. Obviously, the price of oil now just a little over $50 a barrel. You know, actually, we're locked in a global competition to see who's going to supply energy globally. So OPEC, Russia, now the United States. You know, we're battling for market share. So we have to continue to help build our industry in this country. So far we've seen some slowdown in our state, not too much. How much more we'll see depends on what happens with the price.
BARTIROMO: Right. I mean, is it fair to say that the -- the rise in supply, whether it's the shale revolution in America or OPEC and non-OPEC countries, that's the reason oil prices have come down so much?
HOEVEN: Maria, without question, one of the things I often see is OPEC didn't decide to give us a Christmas present this year. The reason gas prices are lower, dropping over the last year from something like $3.27 a gallon down to about $2.17 a gallon is because we're producing so much more energy. And that's how it works. If we continue to grow our energy base in this country, we not only become energy secure but we reduce the price at the pump for our consumers. The benefit they've received so far would be, if it were a tax cut, would be equal to more than $100 billion in the consumer's pocket.
BARTIROMO: Yeah, I mean, you have been talking about the importance of the Keystone XL Pipeline, and yet the president continues to say he is going to veto this. So these threats continue. What are you going to do if the president vetoes this in the next couple of weeks?
HOEVEN: You know, Maria, that's the great irony. We're producing more energy; it's strengthening our country; it's helping our allies; it's benefiting consumers and businesses, you know, throughout our economy.
And now the president, on the one hand, takes credit for it, and then, on the other hand, he is trying to block it. We need the infrastructure and we have to build the business climate so we can produce more energy, not less, here in North America. And then we don't have to depend on OPEC for oil, and we're stronger as a country and we have a stronger economy.
BARTIROMO: Yeah, I think it's also worth mentioning the fact that the oil is going to get here by hook or crook. It's only going to come on rail cars as opposed to coming through a pipeline. And we're already seeing a real capacity congestion on the tracks, right, because oil is being transported on rail car?
HOEVEN: You make a great point. That oil is going to move either by rail or by pipeline. If it moves by rail, that's 1,400 rail cars a day which not only creates more congestion, more risk of accident, that kind of thing, but it also blocks our movement of other goods. The safest way to do it, the most cost-effective way to do it, with the best environmental stewardship, is with the proper infrastructure, the right mix of pipelines, rail and roads.
BARTIROMO: Senator, good to have you on the program. We'll be watching the developments. Thanks so much.
HOEVEN: Thanks, Maria.
BARTIROMO: Senator John Hoeven joining us.
Germany resisting calls to send weapons to Ukraine in its fight against Russian-backed rebels. So what will it take to make President Putin change his ways?
An author who knows post-Soviet Russia inside and out is next, as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures."
BARTIROMO: Welcome back. Germany is balking at appeals by Ukraine for weapons to fight Russian-backed rebel separatists. Chancellor Angela Merkel expressing little optimism following the latest peace talks between Kiev and Moscow. My next guest knows firsthand just how corrupt post-Soviet Russia really is, having done business with some of its most powerful players. He is the author of "Red Notice", a true story of high-finance murder and one man's fight for justice. He is Bill Browder.
And it is good to have you on the program, Bill.
BILL BROWDER, AUTHOR: Good to see you.
BARTIROMO: Welcome back. First off, let's talk about the issues of the day. Ukraine needs help. Larry Summers was on this program last week basically saying it is more important for us to be doing helpful things for Ukraine like sending them armament than fighting Russia. Because, if you fight Russia, you're pushing Putin in a corner, and he is going to fight back even more aggressively.
BROWDER: Well, the first thing you have to know is that Putin started this war. Putin is doing this war for internal Russian domestic reasons. He's trying to distract his own population from his corruption. And so this war is not about any historic ties with Ukraine or about NATO. This is Putin aggressively attacking Russia (sic) to try to get people stirred up into a nationalist frenzy.
And so Putin will not back down in Ukraine. Anything that -- and there's basically nothing we can do to talk him into backing down, which means that the only choice we have in the West is to put pressure on him.
BARTIROMO: So do you think the U.S. should be aiding Ukraine with armaments?
BROWDER: Absolutely. I mean, so either we're going to have to go and fight Russia ourselves or let the Ukrainians fight Russia. But right now, they're getting slaughtered because Russia has an enormous amount of money to invest in military equipment; Ukraine has effectively run out of their military equipment and they need as much help as they can get.
And that's the one thing we can do without directly going to war with Russia ourselves.
BARTIROMO: All right. I want to talk about your story in particular. Because you really -- you have an inside, first-hand account. At one point in your career you were running money; you were an investment manager, and you were the single largest investor in Russia.
BARTIROMO: Tell us what happened?
BROWDER: So I was -- I was investing in Russia. I discovered that the companies I was investing in were run corruptly by corrupt oligarchs. We started to fight the corruption. That angered the -- that angered Putin and his cronies. I was expelled from the country. My offices were raided. They tried to seize my companies. And they ended up stealing $230 million of taxes that we paid.
I hired a young lawyer named Sergei Magnitsky to investigate. He discovered the crime, testified against the officials. He was then arrested, tortured...
BARTIROMO: In -- in Russia?
BROWDER: In Russia. He was arrested in Russia by the people he testified against. He was then tortured for 358 days in Russian custody and killed. And then, after they killed him, they then exonerated everybody involved and put him on trial, after he died, in the first ever trial against a dead man in the history of Russia. They put me on trial as his co-defendant. And we said to ourselves "Russia is bent from top to bottom," after that, and looked for justice outside of Russia.
BARTIROMO: How do you know that -- and you think Putin ordered this killing of your lawyer?
BROWDER: I don't know if Putin ordered this killing, but I can say with 100 percent certainty that Putin has been involved in the cover-up of his murder. And we have evidence of that. So here you have the president of a country where his -- it wasn't my money that was stolen. It was his own tax money that was stolen from his own Treasury; $230 million stolen from his country. A young man tries to be patriotic. That young man is killed for exposing it. And then he's involved in the cover-up of that young man's murder.
BARTIROMO: So what does this -- your experience tell you about dealing with Putin and about dealing in, you know, post-Soviet Russia?
BROWDER: Basically, what this tells you is that Putin is a criminal, first and foremost. He's running a criminal enterprise to maximize profits. He's a criminal, but he's different than the Mafia of Italy or the Mafia of -- of New York in that he has all the powers of a sovereign state. He can arrest people; he can go to the United Nations. He has a -- he has his finger on a nuclear button if he wants to use that. So you have a Mafia boss with his finger on a nuclear button.
BARTIROMO: And yet you have this popularity ranking that keeps coming out, that the people love him. Is that a complete lie? Are they just afraid?
BROWDER: Well, let me ask you this. If you were living in Russia, a totalitarian state, and where bad things happen to people who oppose the president, and some stranger calls you up from the Levada polling agency and says, "Do you support the president or not," what's your answer going to be?
BARTIROMO: Yeah, I -- I understand.
So where do you think this goes? In terms of Putin and Russia taking over Crimea, moving further into Ukraine, what are your expectations of how this plays out?
BROWDER: Well, so I think the whole thing is based on the fact that Putin is a kleptocrat and he needed something to distract the people. And so he needed to start a war to -- to get everyone whipped up into a big nationalist frenzy.
They're in a nationalist frenzy that -- and in response to that, there's an economic crisis because of sanctions. And so he's got to whip people into a further nationalist frenzy. And so I don't think -- so he's not going to back down from Ukraine.
And my fear, and I think this is very likely, is that he's going to start exploring his military ambitions in other countries. And the thing that's most worrying is the Baltics. Because the Baltics are part of NATO. And NATO is -- is an organization in which the United States and Europe are all treaty members, which means that, if he goes into the Baltics, we have an -- either an obligation to fight Russia to protect the Baltics or NATO falls apart.
BARTIROMO: Quite extraordinary. Bill, the book is "Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder and One Man's Fight for Justice." Thank you very much for joining us, Bill.
BROWDER: Thank you.
BARTIROMO: Bill Browder joining us here.
Up next, back to our top story, how should the U.S. respond militarily to ISIS at this point? Lieutenant General Dan Bolger is on deck, as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures."
BARTIROMO: And back to our top story, as we await any word on U.S. hostage Kayla Mueller, what should the U.S. military response against ISIS be at this point?
Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Daniel Bolger is the author of "Why We Lost: A General's Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars."
Sir, good to have you back on the program.
LT. GEN. DANIEL BOLGER (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Hello, Maria.
BARTIROMO: What should the U.S. response be at this point?
The president will be asking for increased military authority against ISIS in the coming days.
BOLGER: Well, you -- you named one of the big things, and that's to get the domestic support of the American people as expressed through their elected representatives in Congress.
Real, real important because this is a long-term struggle.
Yes, you've seen some -- some accelerated air strikes in the wake of the death of the Jordanian pilot, Lieutenant al-Kasasbeh, a heinous execution done on film by ISIS. They don't do that just to be awful. They do that because it excites people and causes them to want to join ISIS, young -- young men, primarily, in that region.
It's a long-term struggle, Maria. And it means we've got to be in it for the long haul. And that's why that Congressional authorization is really important.
BARTIROMO: And, of course, Jordan has really stepped up, accelerating its response against ISIS.
How would you characterize Jordan's response?
BOLGER: Well, Maria, Jordan is a -- is a strong ally in that region. They're a front line state. ISIS is not something that happens around the world. It's right next door. They've got challenges right on their border.
They've had al Qaeda and ISIS operatives in their own country.
King Abdullah is himself military trained. He went to Sandhurst, the British military academy, the equivalent of our West Point. He's a -- he's a qualified Special Forces officer, he's a qualified pilot.
So when he gives the order for his -- for his military to retaliate against ISIS, he knows exactly what he's telling people to do because he's done it himself.
And I'll tell you the other thing that were not seeing. All these air strike videos are impressive, but what we're not seeing behind the scenes that's even more important is this strong effort to tigis -- target ISIS leadership.
ISIS leaders like Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was on our target list back when we were in Iraq in 2003 to '11, guys like him should to go sleep every night worrying that the door is going to get busted in and they're going to get shoot right between the eyes.
BARTIROMO: And -- and we do have the proper sort of intelligence to target that leadership, you think?
BOLGER: We're working on it. I'll tell you, this is where the Jordanians and the other states in the region come in. And they're very important.
Jordan has excellent intelligence services. Ours are good. We also have our other friends in that region to include the Iraqis and then the Kurdish militias that are part of Iraq.
Altogether, it's going to paint a picture that's going allow us to put that pressure and -- and threat to that ISIS leadership.
And it's going after their leaders that's going to -- going to do the most damage.
But again, a long, long effort. We're talking years before we see final results.
BARTIROMO: But the president is going to be asking for more military support.
Do you think that support should include boots on the ground?
BOLGER: Well, Maria, it already does. But the boots on the ground should not be Americans. We learned in our -- our campaign in Iraq in '03 to '11, as great as our young men and women are, it's very difficult for 100,000 Americans to lead a counterinsurgency and -- and build a successful state in the face of local rebels.
The right answer is for us to back the local people as they try and sort out their own problems. That's what the president is asking for. And to me, it shows that we have learned some lessons from what we did in Iraq and Afghanistan.
BARTIROMO: You know, in the last two weeks or so, there has been a feeling that ISIS has become desperate, that, in fact, we have been effective in terms of, as you say, taking down some of the leadership.
But as a result, they have begun to falter.
Do you agree with that notion?
BOLGER: I do not. One of the things you've got to watch in a country like Iraq, it's natural for the enemies there to take a little bit of a break when the weather gets rainy, as it does in their winter there. It's not as extreme as winter in the Northeast United States, but -- but it's definitely a change of season.
You'll see an ISIS spring offensive. ISIS has strong presence in the Sunni Arab areas of -- of Syria and Iraq and -- and they're -- it's going to take a lot of work to get them out of there.
These -- these despicable actions they're taking against people like that Jordanian pilot, they're being done to allow for recruiting. I wish it was desperation because they were under pressure, but I don't think we're there yet.
BARTIROMO: All right, we will leave it there.
General, we'll be watching.
Thanks very much for joining us today.
BARTIROMO: We'll see you soon.
Lieutenant General Daniel Bolger.
Now, let's get a look at what's coming up on "MediaBuzz" top of the hour with Howard Kurtz -- Howie, good morning to you.
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST, "MEDIABUZZ": Good morning, Maria.
We've got exclusive new details of the Brian Williams debacle at NBC, including that he decided voluntarily to take a leave of absence yesterday. He wasn't pushed to do so by NBC executives.
And there is no internal investigation at NBC. It's a fact-gathering inquiry to help the network play defense.
And as we look at whether he can survive this credibility crisis at NBC, it must be particularly fascinating for you, as somebody who spent two decades at that organization.
BOLGER: Well, it's interesting. So -- so but basically what I hear you saying, Howie, is that NBC is not doing anything.
The question is, will NBC's credibility continue to come down if, in fact, Brian Williams' credibility is on the line?
KURTZ: I think what's clear here is that Brian Williams has to do more to answer the questions not just about what happened in Iraq, where he has now acknowledged peddling a false story, but other questions being raised about other parts of his reporting.
If he can't do that, then NBC, I think, is going to have to make a very difficult decision.
BARTIROMO: Howie, we'll be there in 20 minutes.
Thanks so much.
We'll see you at the top of the hour.
BARTIROMO: Howard Kurtz.
The presidential candidates show their hands. Jeb Bush defines his platform in Detroit. Chris Christie tries to pick up some overseas cred in the UK. Our panel on how they did, as we look ahead on Sunday Morning Futures.
Join us for the panel, next.
BARTIROMO: Welcome back. We dive right in. You can't paint 2016 right now and bring in our panel. Ed Rollins is former principal White House advisor to President Reagan. He's been a long time strategist and business advisor.
BARTIROMO: And he's a Fox News political analyst.
ED ROLLINS, POLITICAL CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: Thank you.
BARTIROMO: My apologies, Ed.
ROLLINS: No problem.
BARTIROMO: Tony Sayegh is the former press aide to Jack Camp when Camp was the GOP vice presidential nominee. He's now president of talk radio news service and a FOX News contributor.
Douglas Holtz-Eakin is president of the American Action Forum. He's the former director of the Congressional Budget Office and he is the former chief economist for the Council of Economic Advisers.
Good to see everybody. Thanks very much for joining us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
BARTIROMO: Can you assess for us the current playing field for 2016, Ed?
Who do you think are the real candidates at this point on the GOP side?
ROLLINS: We have got the strongest field since 1980. We have four or five very serious governors and four or five senators who will probably make the race.
I think at this point, Bush obviously has picked up the pieces of the Romney departure. He's sort of going to be the establishment candidate. He's raising a lot of money, putting a good, strong team together.
Governor Walker is getting a lot of attention the last couple of weeks. And there's several other governors who will get in here, who will basically raise the money and be very viable candidates. I think it's a wide-open field and no one has a big lead at this point.
BARTIROMO: Chris Christie is trying to get some international --
ROLLINS: He had about the worst 30 days anybody can have. He bombed his London trip, where he went off to do foreign policy; he brought press along and then he wouldn't talk to press. He got trapped in the vaccination story, which overshadowed everything else. I think "The New York Times" had done a real job on him last week on his expensive travel and the fact that he's made (INAUDIBLE) for only one person can travel the way he travels and that's him, being hosted by kings and Boehner (ph). So it's just -- I don't think it was a good week for him.
BARTIROMO: Tony Sayegh?
TONY SAYEGH: Well, the only person I think who enjoys the excesses of political luxury more is probably Hillary Clinton. And we know that's the case from reports continuing to come out. They've used The Clinton Foundation like their own American Express black card. So I think in the grand scheme of things, the report from "The New York Times" may have been to try to blunt some of the criticism that we're hearing more and more about Hillary.
But to Ed's point, I think the governor undeniably had a bad week. But I've watched him, I've observed him run two statewide races in a very overwhelmingly Democrat state. He's always seemed to manage his way back. He's a fight for sure. So I'm not ready to count him out.
But look, as far as international trips. You have Ted Cruz now in Munich in an international security conference; Scott Walker is going to England on a trade mission. Christie did a trade mission to Canada in December that was by far more successful. So these are all good maneuvers for them. But I don't think they really define their viability in terms of the field. And it's significantly early. Obviously I think Bush from the money perspective, the organization perspective, has the advantage. But you saw in the matter of two weeks Scott Walker from one speech in Iowa, the Freedom Forum, rise almost to nearly the top of the pack. He's leading polls in Des Moines, "Des Moines Register" So clearly this is a very fluent field but to Ed's point a very strong field.
DOUGLAS HOLTZ-EAKIN, AMERICAN ACTION FORUM: Scott Walker was at the American Action Forum this past Friday, gave a major policy address. And I was very impressed with him. I think what we'll see over the next year is, as Ed said, a big field with lots of quality candidates sorting out who can sell the access to the American dream.
They're united in their belief in small government, better economic growth, keeping taxes under control, light regulatory burdens. But believing that and convincing the American people that you can deliver that are very two different things. And that's the challenge.
BARTIROMO: And that's the point that you were making, that you can try to sell the American dream, but if people don't really think they have a shot for it to be achieved, you can't sell it.
ROLLINS: The one thing Walker has done -- and he did in the Iowa summit -- is he said here is what everybody else says they're going to do. This is what I've done. That's a pretty strong record. And some of these governors, which I think are the stars of our party, we have 31 Republican governors who have really done some interesting things. They have to go out and explain what they've done and how they've done it. That it's about leaders. This is going to be a race about leadership, who's the strongest --
BARTIROMO: For sure.
SAYEGH: And I think Jeb Bush's speech in Detroit, while light on specifics, actually set the right kind of theme. Reminds me of my old boss, Jack Kemp; Ed's old boss, Ronald Reagan.
You have to have the typical compassionate conservatism that we've known from the Bush family to be a mantra. You have to be able to connect on a real level with the American people in a way that they trust you have their best interest at heart before they decide to agree with your policies. And that's something I think Barack Obama, while failing in every objective measure with the economy, with serving middle class and other things in 2012, was able to convince the American people to support him again because, compared to Mitt Romney, who seemed a bit patrician and removed from the day-to-day life of the average American, he had at least their best interests at heart. And that's where I think you heard a lot of in that Bush speech which is very important.
BARTIROMO: That's a really good point.
HOLTZ-EAKIN: For '16, the interesting thing is that -- you know, we were talking -- Hillary Clinton has that problem now. She's not exciting her base. And she may be a high quality candidate, but there's a whole lot of the progressive wing that are just not enthused about a Clinton candidacy.
BARTIROMO: By the way, you said she's using the Clinton Global Initiative as a black card?
SAYEGH: The Clinton Foundation, as we've learned through a lot of investigative reports, has a lot explaining to do. And I think that her and Bill Clinton both are benefiting greatly from the generous wealth and contributions of people from all over the world. Look, I'm not suggesting it's illegal.
But if you're going to criticize Chris Christie for staying at a hotel room that cost a certain amount of money --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- thousand dollars.
SAYEGH: -- I think you got to look into Hillary Clinton and see the kind of (INAUDIBLE) she's shown that removes her from the American people. We've learned from her contracts -- which, I don't, again, begrudge her from doing to go to speak. She's making $300,000 but she's also stipulating I'll only talk to 45 people on the rope line. This is not the populist I think the Democrats need in 2016.
BARTIROMO: All right. Hold this thought. We're going to continue this conversation.
We also have some good economic news this past week. Jobs numbers are positive and even wages have begun to move.
But can this last? Our panel on that as we look ahead on Sunday Morning Futures. We'll be right back.
BARTIROMO: Welcome back. Our panel is back, Ed Rollins, Tony Sayegh, Doug Holtz-Eakin.
Doug, what was your assessment of the jobs numbers on Friday?
They were better than expected, and an interesting part of the report was that wages went up. Do you believe it?
HOLTZ-EAKIN: Taken at face value, this is a strong report and one that's long overdue, quite frankly. Some reasons to be nervous are January is always tough. There's a lot of seasonal adjustment. If you think of last January, we had huge storms that depressed the economy. You're comparing it relative to things like that. So a lot of this could be in the seasonal adjustments and not carry on to February.
I think the key is to look in February and see if we get sustained wage growth, see if we get sustained job growth, and see if we can continue to see people try to come back (inaudible) and get a job.
The -- you know, the bad story of this recovery has been more Americans not working because they have given up and they're out entirely.
BARTIROMO: Right, the participation rate.
SAYEGH: And the other bad story is you have a president boasting about economic growth, which, albeit, is important and a good indicator, but meanwhile the middle class is shrinking. So they're not growing with this economic expansion that is occurring, long overdue, of course.
And that's where I think the Republicans have a sincere opportunity this year to win back the middle class in this country electorally, realign them back to the Republican side, whose policies clearly benefit the average American much more.
I mean, we've talked about this before. The president's solution to everything is raise the minimum wage and somehow reallocate wealth from -- from the top to the bottom, when, really...
HOLTZ-EAKIN: It's all zero-sum.
SAYEGH: It really is growing this economy in a way that good-paying jobs are created and people can take care of themselves and live that American dream that many people feel, unfortunately, is not attainable anymore.
ROLLINS: You still have, no matter what the labor department puts out, you still have very nearly one-fourth of the country, one-fourth of the workforce who are underemployed by their standards or unemployed. That's a big number.
BARTIROMO: And -- and what good is economic growth, as you put it, when the middle class is not growing with the economic growth?
ROLLINS: Many people have taken two jobs to replace the one job they used to have. And that's...
HOLTZ-EAKIN: The president's out of ideas on how to fix it. So, I mean, it's real clear. I mean, his budget says we're not going to grow faster than 2.3 percent over the long term. That's appallingly low, below what we are now. So it's going to get worse, not better. That's hard to believe.
And so there's only -- his only approach is to double-down on strategy of let's take it from one place, put it in another place. The Republicans in this cycle have an obligation to re-explain how economies grow and how people benefit from that growth. We can't remain at 2.3 percent and meet our national goals.
SAYEGH: And you're seeing this realization, particularly, I think, in Jeb Bush's speech in Detroit. You know, he's talking about not just economic growth, which is an academic economic term, some economic opportunity and why that's important. Because growth, to people, again, in an economy that's growing but they're not feeling the benefit, is relatively meaningless, number one.
Number two, we do want a party and we do want a country that provides a safety net for people in need, and this is another Bush, kind of, play on words. And instead of saying, you know, "Let's not trap people in dependency," he used the term "a spider web of dependency" in which you're, kind of, connoting that, once you're in there, you're stuck.
We have a president whose policies have reallocated more people than ever from the middle class into lower income and into greater government dependency. That's the Obama economic record. That's why Hillary's in trouble in 2016.
BARTIROMO: And -- and the redistribution we saw, once again, with the president's latest budget.
ROLLINS: Absolutely. When you basically have the gigantic numbers we have in entitlement and a total inability to basically adjust any of those, whatever else you try and do, you're going to be dragged down.
BARTIROMO: You say Hillary is in trouble in 2016 because of this?
SAYEGH: Well, look, you look at a -- a poll that just came out several weeks ago from Washington Post/NBC. The most important number, not the head-to-head numbers -- her name ID is high; her favorability is generally very high because she's stayed our of the limelight -- 71 percent of Americans want a different direction than Barack Obama...
SAYEGH: ... and how is she going to now, in some way, shape or form, present a new policy, a new agenda that's different than the president she served for her full term?
BARTIROMO: All right. Quick break and then, still to come, the one thing to watch in the week ahead, on "Sunday Morning Futures," from our panel. Back in a moment.
BARTIROMO: Welcome back. Back with our panel. The one big thing to watch in the upcoming week. Ed Rollins?
ROLLINS: I'm watching the Ukraine situation. If the French and -- and Merkel can't basically make some resolve with Putin, we're going to push the sanctions and obviously it's going to have long-term effects. And I think, if we put troops or we put resources into Ukraine, we're going to basically start a Cold War.
SAYEGH: I'm looking at Scott Walker's political stock. He's obviously on the rise, but this is also adding to more scrutiny from conservatives who, when they dig a little deeper, find that there are some things about the governor, who is very successful, obviously, in battling public-sector unions, that may not sit well with the conservative base.
BARTIROMO: I'll watch that, too. Doug?
HOLTZ-EAKIN: I'm watching to see if we can pass a bill in the House, a bill in the Senate, and send it to the president. That was the promise when Republicans took over the Congress and remains unfulfilled.
BARTIROMO: Yeah, you thought Keystone would fit the bill.
Gentlemen, thank you very much. Great panel.
I'm watching retail sales for the month of January. We will see if that cheap oil has in fact materialized with people spending money.
That will do it for "Sunday Morning Futures." Thanks for being with us. I'm Maria Bartiromo. See you tomorrow on the Fox Business Network on "Opening Bell," 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time. Take a look at where you can find Fox Business on your cable network.
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