This is a rush transcript from "Sunday Morning Futures," February 15, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MARIA BARTIROMO,HOST (voice-over): Holding off ISIS at the gates. Good morning, everyone, I'm Maria Bartiromo. Welcome to "Sunday Morning Futures."
The terrorists overtaking a town near a military base where U.S. troops are training Iraqi soldiers, before strapping on bomb vests in a brazen but failed attacks.
What is it going to take to defeat ISIS once and for all? Congressman Peter King is with us this morning. We'll talk to our former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, as well, about getting our Arab allies to do their part in the fight against ISIS.
A shaky cease-fire holding in Ukraine for now, so who comes out the winner in this deal, Russia or the West?
And a standoff at our ports along the West Coast, socking our unsteady economy with a big black eye. Now the president is getting involved. Lots and lots for our panel to tackle today as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures."
Well, the Iraqi military put to the test, holding off ISIS militants at the Al Asad air base, where some 300 U.S. Marines have been training those Iraqi soldiers.
Meanwhile, here in the U.S., Congress is debating the AUMF, that is the authorization for military force, to draft the legislation allowing presidential war powers to go after ISIS.
Congressman Peter King is a member of the Committee on Homeland Security, where he chairs the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence.
Congressman, good to have you on the program, welcome back.
REP. PETER KING, R-N.Y.: Maria, good to be with you, thank you.
BARTIROMO: First, let's talk about this authorization for military work that the president is looking for.
How will you vote; what are you hearing from your colleagues in Congress?
KING: Maria, I would have to vote against the authorization the way it's written now by the president. I would support an authorization, which gave the president all the power that was needed, but in this case I've never heard of this before, the president as commander in chief is actually sending requests to Congress to cut back on his power. It only covers the next three years; it basically puts ill restrictions on the use of ground troops.
And as commander in chief, the president should have the authority, he does have the authority, to use all the force he wants.
Why would he want Congress to limit that?
Again, this to me is a classic example of this president being reluctant to use power and to me it sends the wrong signal to our allies, who wonder why we'd be reluctant to use the power.
And secondly, encourages the enemy, who, we put a three-year time limit on it and we've basically said we're not going to use ground troops.
I guess unless, only in the most extreme circumstances, no president should put himself in that position, and we shouldn't put our U.S. military in that position.
BARTIROMO: Are you saying that the president is asking for restrictions on what is already in place, which went into effect after the 9/11 attacks?
KING: Yes, under the authorization that went into effect back in 2001, the president basically has authority to do whatever he has to as commander in chief. Now he's asking for restrictions on that and now he's doing it under the guise of saying he wants authorization to go forward, but he already has that.
And listen, I see the importance of getting Congress to be with him as far as the authorization, but if you go to do that, don't take away power that he has.
Again, if it's important enough for America to commit itself militarily, then it's important enough for the president to have the authority and the power to do what has to be done.
Now if it turns out that ground troops are not necessary, fine, but the fact is the president should always have that prerogative and the enemy should always have the fear that we are going to use them.
BARTIROMO: You know, it's just extraordinary, this lack of enthusiasm around this most recent authorization.
Stay with us, Congressman, we want to talk to you about a lot this morning to get to with the breaking news that we were talking about all weekend.
But first, to better understand the president's AUMF in the war against ISIS, let's compare it back to the 2002 authorization that paved the way for the Iraq War.
Fox News' senior correspondent Eric Shawn with that angle.
Eric, Good morning to you.
ERIC SHAWN, FOX NEWS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Maria.
And good morning, everyone.
It goes by those initials, AUMF, standing for authorization for use of force against terrorists.
Who could be against that?
Well, it turns out President Obama is facing opposition from both sides.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The resolution we submitted today does not call for the deployment of the U.S. ground combat forces to Iraq or Syria. It is not the authorization of another ground war like Afghanistan or Iraq.
SHAWN (voice-over): No, so-called boots on the ground, he vows, but a plan to face ISIS for the next three years, as 3,000 U.S. forces are already in Iraq, but will it work?
The AUMF calls for a limited role for U.S. troops, allowing for the deployment of special operations forces, such as coordinating airstrike targets from the ground.
The proposal prohibits, quote, "enduring offensive ground combat operations" and repeals the 2002 AUMF against Iraq, but as Congressman King noted, not the broad-based 2001 authorization that began the war in Afghanistan.
SEN. TIM KAINE, D-VA.: I'm concerned about the breadth and vagueness of the ground troop -- of the ground troop language, the limitation against enduring offensive ground combat operations suggesting that all defensive ground combat operations are OK.
SEN. RON JOHNSON, R-WIS.: I'm concerned that all he's really talking about is containment over a long period of time, and Megan (ph), I don't think we can really toy with ISIS over a long period of time. I think we need to take them out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHAWN: Well, as some opponents fear, the measure could lead to endless wars; others worry it's not enough.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-OHIO, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The president needs to have an overarching strategy to deal with this growing terrorist threat. He has yet to do that. He continues to look at this as a counterterrorism effort, when, in fact, there's a war under way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHAWN: So, Congress debates, officials fear Iraq's Anbar province could potentially fall to ISIS, but President Obama is optimistic that Congress will eventually approve his request before it's too late -- Maria.
BARTIROMO: All right, Eric, thank you so much, Eric Shawn.
More now with Congressman Peter King.
Congressman, I think it's really interesting what you just said, you would have to vote no for this authorization. Your colleague, Senator Corker, also says he's in no rush.
Why is there such a lack of enthusiasm around this?
KING: Well, my reluctance is because the president is putting restrictions. I think it would make the situation worse, and on the other hand you have Democrats, also some of the isolationists in the Republican Party, who don't want us engaged in a ground war no matter what.
I'm just saying, if you're going to go to war, and this is a war, you cannot be tying the hands of the president and the president should certainly not be tying his own hands. As commander in chief, he should have the prerogative to do whatever has to be done to win and to protect American troops, and if that involves ground troops issue he should have the right to do it.
Now, again, the president said something, he's like straw man arguments, about he doesn't want another ground war like happened in Iraq or Afghanistan. No one really foresees that happening, but that doesn't mean that you would not need the use of ground troops at some time, and if the enemy knows we're not going to use them and if the enemy also knows that this expires in three years, they can calibrate accordingly.
That's what happened in Afghanistan. He said he was going to increase troops; there was a surge of, I think, 35,000 troops in Afghanistan, but he gave the exact date when the troops were going to be pulled out, so the enemy was able to adjust to that.
So this is a president who is not showing leadership and what's happening here now, he's losing Republicans who feel that it's restricting military power and he's losing liberal Democrats who feel that it's going to be an endless war. That's what happens when you have a president who's so ambivalent and so circumspect about what he's doing as the commander in chief.
BARTIROMO: Congressman, let me get into the news of the day, that, of course, more terrorist attacks in the world today.
Now Denmark, unfortunately, getting hit today. Tell us what you can in terms of the situation in Denmark right now and whether or not we are seeing really a galvanizing of this group.
Is all of this connected to ISIS?
KING: I think we have to assume it is. Now all the information is not in, but the fact is that there was a cartoonist there; the fact is that heavy weapons were used. This certainly shows a direct connection to radical Islam. ISIS has been foremost in carrying out these types of operations.
Whether it's ISIS or core Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or just Islamist sympathizers, the fact is that the Islamist terrorist movement is fighting Western civilization. It -- this is a type of attack that they would carry out and we have to be on our guard, especially here in the United States. This is an indication.
Now in Denmark, they had heavy security there to protect the people inside the building, but apparently, this was an automatic weapon fired from outside, and it shows that they will basically do anything they have to, whether it's one person or two people, whether it's a larger number, ISIS in particular has been able to attract people on the periphery, people who are willing to carry out these, you know, one-man, one-person operations.
So, again, whether it's ISIS itself or just a Islamic terrorist, it shows that we have to be on our guard, especially when it involves homeland security in places like New York or Washington, D.C.
BARTIROMO: Do you have any new information about the military base where U.S. troops are training Iraqi soldiers and, of course, ISIS basically knocking at their doors?
It was a failed attempt at the end of the day, correct?
KING: Right. Yes, it was failed, but I think the administration seems to be taking this too casually, at least as far as the public is concerned.
When you have the enemy only seven and a half or nine miles away from our base, or the Al Asad base, and there's 300 Marines there, I would want a situation where a large-scale attack is carried out. And to me, that's another example where we should be able to go on offense, if we can send people out there and kill them before they come in. I don't like the idea of Americans having to play defense, just being there at the air base and, you know, fighting them off when they come in. Go out and get them before they can come in. Don't let them mobilize.
So whether it involves more air support or whether it involves sending out commando operations or sending out special forces to get them, to me, that is a better military operation, rather than hoping we can stop it when they get to the base.
BARTIROMO: All right, Congressman. We are going to be talking with the former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, coming up, about Iran.
BARTIROMO: And, of course, I know you've got your upcoming meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu. We'll talk about that soon with you.
Congressman, thanks very much for your time today.
KING: Maria, thank you, as always. Thank you.
BARTIROMO: We'll see you soon.
Some have said the war against ISIS won't be won until our Middle Eastern allies dedicate themselves fully to the fight. Our former ambassador to Saudi Arabia has some thoughts on that next. I hope you'll follow me on Twitter. Tell us what you'd like to hear from Ambassador Jordan coming up. I'm Maria Bartiromo, and that would be @mariabartiromo on Twitter, @sundayfutures on Twitter. Send me a tweet. Stay with us as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures."
BARTIROMO: Welcome back. We have had a lot of military experts on this program who have said ISIS will be defeated when our Middle Eastern allies put boots on the ground, What would it take for that to happen?
Robert Jordan was U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia during George W. Bush's administration. He's now Southern Methodist University's diplomat- in-residence.
Sir, it is good to have you on the program. Welcome.
ROBERT JORDAN, FORMER AMBASSADOR TO SAUDI ARABIA: Hi, Maria, good to be with -- it's good to be with you.
BARTIROMO: So I guess let's talk first about who is most involved. I mean, we know, obviously, what has gone on in terms of Jordan stepping up the fight after the pilot was murdered. Who would you say is most engaged against ISIS within the Middle East?
JORDAN: Right now, I think it's the Jordanians flying a lot of combat air missions. Also, the United Arab Emirates, the Emiratis, have flown a fair number of sorties themselves, although they stopped those flights in December when the Americans failed to provide adequate search-and-rescue resources and simply kept our resources based in Kuwait. That has now changed, so the Emiratis are back engaged in the air fight, but we still don't have boots on the ground.
The other thing that I think is important to realize is the Saudis are probably in the cross-hairs of ISIS more than any other country in the Middle East. ISIS has declared that they want to take over the holy cities of Mecca and Medina and remove the Saudi royal families, so this is a -- a fight to the death as far as the Saudis are concerned, and I think it's important for them to realize that.
BARTIROMO: So do you think the Saudis will become more involved, I mean, militarily, as a result of that? What is it going to take to get our Arab allies engaged?
JORDAN: I think they have to have a sense of real desperate threat against themselves, against their very existence. We saw this, for example, when I was ambassador in 2003. After 9/11 the Saudis were helpful in fighting Al Qaida and terrorism, but it really took the bombings that occurred in Riyadh in 2003 to get them animated and really aggressive in going after Al Qaida. After two or three years, they actually got rid of Al Qaida in Saudi Arabia and expelled most of them. So they are capable of doing it, but they have to have a sense of urgency, and I don't think we've quite got that yet.
BARTIROMO: Oh, I see, so without the sense -- but you think that that sense of urgency is coming, given what you just said about the Saudis in the cross-hairs?
JORDAN: I think they are going to have to realize that, and I think that will come. I also think that our administration has to step it up in terms of training, in terms of providing our resources and projecting our own sense of urgency, which I also have not seen.
BARTIROMO: Meanwhile, the -- the talks with Iran, apparently, continuing over a nuclear agreement. Let's talk about the letter that was sent to Ayatollah Khamenei to President Obama, and what that letter says about the U.S. and Iran negotiating?
JORDAN: Well, I think there is some room for negotiation here. There is the hope, of course, that some sort of deal can be made which limits Iran's breakout capacity to proper inspections and proper notice. But the Saudis are deathly afraid that we're going to make a bad deal with the Iranians, that Iran will have a tacit nuclear capacity that will threaten both the Saudis and the rest of the neighborhood.
BARTIROMO: Well, I think that's what everyone is worried about, right? I mean, what's your sense of a deal that the U.S. may make with Iran?
JORDAN: Exactly. Well, it's hard to know right now, because there's not been a lot of transparency. But if the Iranians can be literally limited to the kind of limits that we see with Japan, for example -- Japan has a nuclear program, but they can't really break it out into a weaponized military program without about eight or nine months' work on that -- on that program.
If the Iranians are limited to breakout capacity, where it will take them eight or nine months after we take notice of it, then perhaps that's a deal that can be made, but to do that, you've got to have very robust inspections, very transparent means of finding out exactly what they're up to. And they still have been very resistant in providing that. So I think that's an area that we have to have some concern about.
BARTIROMO: Why hasn't there been enough transparency around these talks?
I mean, obviously, Congress has been pushing to be involved and to see exactly what is going on in terms of these talks with the Iranians. And by the way, should we be assuming that the U.S. is working with Iran against ISIS?
JORDAN: I don't know that we're working directly with Iran against ISIS. We do have a common interest. The administration has said that we're not directly cooperating with them, but clearly there is a means of -- of quietly making things happen in parallel.
For example, we're making overflights into Syria. The Syrians have, obviously, not tried to shoot down any of our planes. They have tacitly agreed that we can make those overflights. That has to come with Iranian approval, as well.
BARTIROMO: I see.
JORDAN: So I do think there is some of that going on here. But we really are going to have to find a better way to understand exactly where Iran is in terms of their development of their program and a very robust inspection regime, if we're able to make a deal at all.
BARTIROMO: Ambassador, we'll be watching this very, very important subject. Thank you very much for your time today.
JORDAN: Thanks, Maria.
BARTIROMO: Ambassador Robert Jordan, joining us.
The devil is certainly in the details, unemployment is down, but there are wages and inflation and deflation. The labor participation rate, a lot more to look at. The president of the Philadelphia Federal Reserve is with me next on what it will take to move the needle on economy and jobs as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures," back in a moment.
BARTIROMO: Welcome back.
Does the Federal Reserve need to be audited?
Senator Rand Paul has said he believes Congress should have more oversight of the Fed's decisions. I put this question to Charles Plosser, the president and CEO of the Philadelphia Federal Reserve, when I sat down with him this week.
First, though, I asked him about jobs and the economy.
CHARLES PLOSSER, PRESIDENT AND CEO, PHILADELPHIA FEDERAL RESERVE: I think the broad economy is actually doing remarkably well much better than people thought this time a year ago, so I think GDP growth is going to look pretty good this year, about 3 percent. I think the unemployment rate is going to continue to drift downward. So I think we're in a reasonably good place.
BARTIROMO: How do you assess the participation rate when you look at the jobs number, because that's sort of the nitpicking that goes on after we see good numbers, right, well, not everybody is counted, they are not participating because the participation rate keeps going lower.
PLOSSER: The participation rate is actually driven a lot by demographics, it's the baby boomers retiring, leaving the job market, population growth and demographic, so I think the participation is being down, but many people predicted that the case. The participation rate, obviously, people are concerned about it, but I don't think it's going to spike back up. I think it's down there to stay.
BARTIROMO: Then the issue around wages, that wages have been so slow to move, this most recent jobs report we actually saw wages move up 0.5 percent.
Do you read much into that?
What do you think about wages right now?
PLOSSER: I tend to look at the longer-term trends, one month's numbers never move me very much, but I thought it was a good sign. But I think wages will continue to drift up, they'll continue to strengthen, I think, but wage growth is a lagging indicator of the economy. It's not a leading indicator, so I think the economy and the labor market's doing well enough then we'll begin to continue to see wages drift upward, which will be good.
BARTIROMO: Yet the Federal Reserve for a long time focused on wage growth as a measure of inflation, and we haven't seen that. Then you have other people saying inflation is hardly the issue right now, it's actually deflation.
PLOSSER: Well, the United States is not facing deflation right now. I just don't believe that's the major issue. We have faced some disinflation as oil prices have affected the economy.
But I don't believe that's the major issue for us right now, and I think wages and unemployment are probably more -- and the labor market is a more realistic indicator of the state of the economy.
BARTIROMO: Do you think the drop in oil has been a supply issue or a demand issue?
PLOSSER: It's both supply -- and there's been a glut of supply, a big growth in the supply of oil and energy in general, and to the extent there are substitutes for oil, that's part of the supply increase. So I think it's largely supply driven from my perspective.
BARTIROMO: OK, so the shale revolution having been one of the growth stories of America, do you worry that the dropoff in oil over the most recent couple of weeks and months is going to put a damper on economic growth that came because of what's happening in Texas and North Dakota?
PLOSSER: Every time a relative price changes, of some good versus another, there are reallocations of capital and resources and economists talk about that all the time, so the answer is, with the big fall in oil prices, producing segments of our economies will suffer more, but on net, the view is, my view is, that it's a net on net of boom for the U.S. economy.
BARTIROMO: And we haven't seen that significantly flow through the economy yet, and the fact that oil prices have come down, people have more money in their pockets, they are going to spend it in the economy, are you expecting that to happen?
PLOSSER: I am expecting that to happen and it has happened. Look, the GDP report that just came out, consumer spending was growing at 4.3 percent in the fourth quarter. That's pretty robust, that's the fastest growth we've seen in quite some time.
BARTIROMO: Let me turn your attention to the Federal Reserve firing back at people like Rand Paul. Senator Paul wants this legislation out there, audit the Fed legislation, and he would like Congress to have more oversight over the central bank, which a lot of people feel is going to get more traction with a GOP-led Congress.
What do you think?
PLOSSER: Well, I think this is a risky strategy for monetary policy. The Fed is already audited; we publish our balance sheet every week. This is not about financial auditing; this is about policy audits, if you will.
And I think it would be very dangerous for the Fed to become ever more politicized by Congress and the government second-guessing policies that they there made.
BARTIROMO: Let's talk about the balance sheet of the Federal Reserve right now. It has grown enormously.
How are you going to unwind that balance sheet without impacting global markets?
PLOSSER: Well, I think that's a question we don't know yet. We're in uncharted territory, we've never had to do this. I think the Fed's inclination will be to allow the balance sheet to shrink very slowly, if we can, but policy choices may face us where we may have to raise interest rates more rapidly or sell off assets in the balance sheet.
We don't know what's going to happen, so we need to be prepared for that and I think it's still one of the looming risks of our sort of unconventional policies that we took over during this last eight years.
BARTIROMO: For the last eight years people were saying the Federal Reserve was letting the politicians off the hook, you were the only one doing any work, you and your colleagues at the Fed, in terms of monetary policy.
We didn't really see much structural reform, any change, the entitlements are out there, open questions about job-creating programs.
What would you like to see from Congress and the president?
PLOSSER: Well, I think Congress has not yet faced up to what I would call the fiscal sustainability question for our government, and the risks are not this quarter or next quarter or this year or next year; the risks are what happens over the next 10 years.
And having fiscal policies that are sustainable, that are supportable, in a way that doesn't destroy the sort of economic growth engine of the U.S. economy and the entrepreneurship and the enthusiasm for risk-taking and rewards -- I think the real danger is that we have a set of fiscal policies that destroy that growth or weaken that growth engine.
And right now we're not on a path that's where those two are sort of compatible. That's the challenge we need to face.
BARTIROMO: What's the low-hanging fruit in terms of a program to actually, you know, straighten that out, is it tax reform?
Is it entitlement reform?
PLOSSER: Both tax reform, as well as entitlement reform. The big issue obviously still remains entitlement issues, in terms of the thing that's growing the most in our budget, and I think we need to -- need to address that in some fashion.
BARTIROMO: Charles, great to have you on the program today.
PLOSSER: Always a pleasure to be with you, Maria. Thank you.
BARTIROMO: Thank you so much. Charles Plosser, president of the Philadelphia Federal Reserve.
And then, of course, there is Russia. The cease-fire in Ukraine appears to be holding for now, but who got the better deal, Putin or the U.S. and its Western allies? Our panel begins right there, as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures." Stay with us.
SHAWN: From America's News Headquarters, I'm Eric Shawn. Here are some of the other stories that are making headlines right now. Police in Denmark say the suspect who opened fire on them near a train station has now been shot and killed. Authorities say it is likely that gunman who was behind the shootings at that free speech event, and later at another shooting at the synagogue. The attacks yesterday killed two men, a documentary filmmaker and a Jewish security guard who was standing by watching over a bat mitzvah. Five police officers have also been wounded in those shootings. The Danish prime minister saying, quote, "Denmark has been hit by terror."
The head of Denmark's intelligence agency says they have identified the suspect, but as of now, they are not releasing his name, adding that he has been, quote, "on their radar." Investigators do believe that gunman was inspired by radical Islam when he opened fire on that cafe. That was where a Danish artist who was targeted by Al Qaida and ISIS was speaking.
Meanwhile, here at home, heavy snow continues to slam New England at this hour, that storm expected to intensify throughout the rest of the day, bringing bone-chilling temperatures and wind gusts topping 75 miles per hour in some states. Massachusetts, which, as you know, has already been hit by previous storms, has already declared a state of emergency.
And I'll be back with Arthel Neville at noon Eastern with more news. Then, the doctors, as always, are in, Doctors Siegel and Samadi joining us for "Sunday Housecall," two hours from now at 12:30 Eastern. And for now, I'm Eric Shawn. Back to "Sunday Morning Futures" and Maria.
BARTIROMO: Thank you, Eric.
Surprise, surprise, both sides have already claimed that the other is violating the cease-fire agreement this morning in Ukraine. Even so, the two parties are also focused on the next step in the latest deal, withdrawing heavy weaponry from the front lines, creating a buffer zone roughly 30 to 85 miles wide. That should take about two weeks, if successful.
I want to bring in our panel right now on this. Ed Rollins is former principal White House adviser to President Reagan. He has been a long-time strategist and business and political leader. And he is a Fox News political analyst. Judith Miller is adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. She's a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist and a Fox News contributor. Richard Peterson is with us, senior director of Global Markets Intelligence Group at S&P Capital IQ.
Good to have everybody with us. Thanks so much for being here.
Let's talk first about Ukraine and this cease-fire. Do you believe it, Ed?
ROLLINS: I'm hopeful, but I don't believe it. I think, at the end of the day, the last one was violated very quickly. The Russians have gained immeasurably in the period between. I just -- I'm not sure that Putin is fully enthused about this, and I think, at the end of the day, unless the Europeans are willing to get more involved -- the danger sign, I think, is the Americans are talking about, or the administration is talking about putting 600 troops in there to basically help train the Ukraine soldiers. And I always think, any time we put trainers in there, it always ends up being a dangerous spot for us.
BARTIROMO: That's a good point, because the debate about whether or not, you know, America should be sending heavy weaponry is getting really, really higher and more debatable. What do you think about this, Judy?
MILLER: We have this agreement in part because the United States doesn't want to send the arms to Ukraine that they've been asking for, for over a year, to defend themselves. They do not need people to show them how to fight. They've been fighting on their own with nothing except American MREs. What they need is heavy weapons. But now Obama can say, "You see, Angela Merkel of Germany, and Hollande of France, have done this deal; they are now partners; we don't have to act; we don't have to provide weapons." This is an excuse for him to do what he's never wanted to do in the first place.
BARTIROMO: Who wins in this cease-fire? I mean, the debate is out on whether or not, actually, Putin has won again?
MILLER: Of course -- of course he has. This is Minsk two, I fear. I share Ed's hope, but I fear it's going to wind up just as we have with Minsk one. Minsk one has resulted in a net gain of territory for the Russian-backed rebels. I fear that's what's going to happen again, especially because the last and crucial part of this agreement, which is the control of the Russian-Ukrainian border, the Ukrainians don't take control of their own border until the end of 2015. The Russians can continue to pour in militia, supporters, arms, weapons, and say "this isn't us; this isn't us."
BARTIROMO: One thing that George Mitchell said to me just recently was that, "Look, we should not be sending weapons, because we are fighting an economic war," Rich Peterson, "and we are winning that war," he says. That's why he says Russia's economy, you know, is crumbling; the ruble is - - is falling, the price of oil, obviously, and then the sanctions.
PETERSON: Well, as the backdrop to the Ukraine cease-fire, we have to take into account last week we had the confirmation of Ashton Carter as President Obama's fourth secretary of defense. In his confirmation hearings, you know, Secretary-designate Carter has said he's in favor of having lethal aid to Ukrainian fighters.
BARTIROMO: I see.
PETERSON: That being said, he (inaudible) a conflict to the Merkel- Obama talks earlier that week. And in the context of a the Ukraine -- the economy, contention on the cease-fire was being -- getting aid from the IMF, the International Monetary Fund. That's -- part of that fund is going to help to pay Ukrainian bills to Russia for gas.
BARTIROMO: Putin wants that money for gas? That's the bottom line?
MILLER: Yes, of course. And -- and everyone says, oh, Russia is in such terrible shape, they are going to be more flexible on Ukraine. I fear it's going to be the opposite, that they are going to double-down on Ukraine and they are going to make it absolutely impossible for us to do what Angela Merkel wants to do, which is she wants the sanctions removed because her companies are hurting.
ROLLINS: But his advisers, who have made millions of dollars, so you get $20 billion and you're a Soviet then you get cut to $10 billion, it's not affecting your lifestyle or his lifestyle. He still has plenty of money to basically move forward and there's not going to be a whole-scale revolution in the short run there.
So I think the argument of the economic crisis and he's going to do the responsible thing is not good analysis.
BARTIROMO: Because we've seen this movie before.
BARTIROMO: We want to get a look at what's coming up on the top of the hour with "MEDIA BUZZ" and check in right now with Howard Kurtz. Good morning to you, Howie.
HOWARD KURTZ, FOX NEWS HOST: Hi, Maria. We're in your building in New York today with a very special hour looking at what's been a momentous and in many ways a wrenching week for journalism. We have Jon Stewart surprising people, saying he's going to leave "The Daily Show," but in a more serious and sober vein, we have the death of the great CBS newsman, Bob Simon; "The New York Times" columnist, David Carr; the six-month suspension for Brian Williams, got put together an all-star cast to analyze what all this means for the news business.
BARTIROMO: Yes, it really has been an extraordinary couple of weeks. Howie, we'll be there. We'll see you in about 20 minutes on "MediaBuzz."
Up next, though, could the vote to authorize military force against ISIS come back to haunt some lawmakers if they run for president, much like the Iraq vote did for Hillary Clinton in 2008? We'll tackle that with our panel. A lot more to come as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures."
BARTIROMO: Welcome now for more on politics and the fight against ISIS, we bring back our panel -- Ed Rollins, Judy Miller and Rich Peterson.
Let's talk about the authorization for military force and the politics behind this.
What is your sense of why there's so much lack of enthusiasm on the -- ?
ROLLINS: There's no clarity. There's no discussion on what there's going to be. Obviously this is to give cover to the president for whatever he does on ISIS and he's dragging the Congress in. They've never wanted congressional involvement, they do now.
It's a blame game. The problem is that neither side likes it. I think they are going to drag it out here. He'll get something at the end of the day, but there's still no clarity on what he's going to do.
BARTIROMO: We heard from Congressman Peter King earlier in the show, basically said, look, it's putting restrictions in place.
ROLLINS: I don't sense that. Dempsey, the Joint Chiefs is happy with it. So I think they see flexibility as they can do anything they want to do.
The key thing is the old authorization needs to be withdrawn and this needs to be the new game plan.
MILLER: No, I think the minute you bring the Congress into this and say I'm the president but I need congressional buy-in, you're setting the stage to blame the Congress for whatever goes wrong, whatever you don't do, this is their fault. This is vintage Obama White House leading from behind.
BARTIROMO: OK, so you think this is going to end up being the Iraq war vote that haunted people?
For example, Hillary voted for the war in Iraq and on the campaign trail when she was competing against Barack Obama, you know, then-Senator Obama, said she voted for the war in Iraq and tried to undo her.
Is this going to be the same thing? They voted for the military force.
MILLER: Kind of like the American equivalent of Minsk 2, if you didn't like the way the first Iraq War came out, now try voting for it this time. Republicans saying I can't vote for this resolution because it doesn't give the president enough authority? Try and explain that to the American people.
ROLLINS: But the problem is, if we are not in full scale fighting with Iraq, with troops on the ground for the next 18 months, even before the presidential election, they are going to gain immeasurably and we'll never be able to roll them back.
BARTIROMO: That's a good point.
ROLLINS: That's the indictment.
PETERSON: The president already had authorization under 2001 and 2002 authorizations, which he had been using for the past six months to have bombing raids in Libya and Syria.
BARTIROMO: And airstrikes.
PETERSON: Airstrikes. That being said, this current authorization proposal, in a way, is legally drafted to be very ambiguous, but has a three-year sunset rule, so it expires in 2018, right, so almost by definition, potential Senator Rand Paul or Senator Marco Rubio, who could be president at that time, may not want to vote for that.
That being said, also it implies that associated forces also can be targeted. That way look for non-ISIL targets going forward. So you have an expansion of the use of forces perhaps into Nigeria and other areas that are ISIL supporters.
ROLLINS: Telling story today, we sent 4,000 troops this week from Ft. Carson in Colorado to Kuwait to be the backup in case we do go to battle. Very little publicity about that outside of Ft. Carson, but they are moving, it's a tremendous unit, they have tanks and everything like that. It looks like if we want to go to war, we'll have troops there.
BARTIROMO: Then this is already authorized and the president doesn't need any --
MILLER: Exactly, it's the Congress that's now saying, no, we didn't have a voice in this, and that's going to, I think, come back to haunt them.
BARTIROMO: All right, stay right here, everybody, labor dispute, meanwhile, with big implications for the U.S. economy. The administration trying to end a work stoppage at ports that handle nearly half of our maritime trade. More on that as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures." We'll be right back with our panel.
BARTIROMO: Welcome back. We are back with our panel, Ed Rollins, Judy Miller, Rich Peterson.
And another potential major strike, this West Coast port work stoppage, Ed, is talking -- is really focused on two-thirds of all of the imports from China are coming through those 29 ports?
ROLLINS: It's extraordinary. It's just getting focus. The White House is now sending the labor secretary out there to get involved in negotiations. They've been negotiating for months. There is no contract. If that -- if a strike occurs out there, it's a slowdown going on right now, but if a strike occurs out there, it will create economic chaos. And you combine that with the steel workers, who are basically threatening strikes on the oil industry and starting to have some slowdowns there again, you could have the most significant labor problems in this country since 1980.
BARTIROMO: And -- and I thought that the labor union's leverage had gone down, particularly the steel workers' leverage, because oil prices are down so much and oil companies, at the end of the day, are cutting expenses?
ROLLINS: They're not about wages. This isn't a battle, as traditional labor battles are about wages. This is about job safety, job security, more than anything else.
BARTIROMO: And health care.
BARTIROMO: Rich Peterson, we already know, because of your data, that earnings for the corporate sector, S&P 500 earnings, are expected to go down. Something like this, what Ed is talking about, this extraordinary potential strike, two major strikes, potentially, will also impact earnings?
PETERSON: Right, it just serves as a magnification of the weakness that we're seeing in the economy. The fact is, over the past five years, the average economic growth of GDP has only been 2.2 percent. The best year for the -- during the Obama administration was 2.5 percent, coming in 2010, after we came out of a recession in 2009. So economic growth has been very tepid, very anemic. That being said, you look at the CAPEX spending, in terms of the oil sector, it's plunging. The fact is, you know, probably, expectations are first-quarter GDP, 1.5 percent.
BARTIROMO: One-point-five percent on GDP?
PETERSON: In the first quarter.
BARTIROMO: In the first quarter. Wow. And -- and you're expecting, as part of that, earnings to be negative at some point in 2015?
PETERSON: You combine that with the labor shortage, the work slowdowns, the median income at the lowest level since 2007, put that together in a pot along with the poor retail sales numbers we saw in January, you don't have a good forecast going forward.
BARTIROMO: By the way, on top of weak retail sales numbers in December, as well, Judy?
MILLER: Right, exactly. And I think we've talked again and again about the weakness of the economy in terms of the jobs that are being added. These are low-paying, temporary part-time jobs. People have to have two of them to earn what they did under the old -- you know, when we were growing.
And that's the problem. I don't know whether or not, in the Northeast, it's just too cold to shop or whether or not people are nervous about the economy; they're saving; they don't want to spend. But until people get -- become more confident in the economy and the political system, I don't think you're going to see the growth that...
ROLLINS: Major poll this week, that 48 percent of Americans feel they can barely make their monthly payments.
BARTIROMO: Right, and part of this has to do with health care, of course. We should mention that this is the weekend that is the deadline to sign up for ObamaCare.
ROLLINS: Well, people may sign up, but as I've said on this show before, they may be getting insurance, but they're not getting coverage.
BARTIROMO: Right, but even if you -- but if you don't sign up, you're getting feed.
ROLLINS: You're getting -- right, absolutely.
BARTIROMO: You're getting charged.
BARTIROMO: So that's -- that's another issue.
All right. Stay with us. We want to talk about the one thing to watch that's most important in the week ahead, on "Sunday Morning Futures." Stay with us.
BARTIROMO: Welcome back. Back with the panel. What is the one big thing to watch for the upcoming week? Ed Rollins?
ROLLINS: I'm watching the homeland security battle, the funding battle, whether Republicans are going to hang tough, not fund it because of the president's executive order on immigration, which could be an absolute political disaster for them.
MILLER: I'm watching the president's conference Tuesday on violent extremism, or what the rest of the world calls Islamic terrorism.
BARTIROMO: But they won't call it that.
MILLER: But they won't call that.
PETERSON: Watching for the reporting of earnings from Wal-Mart to see how strong the -- or not how strong the American consumer is fairing in this current economic climate.
BARTIROMO: Are they ever going to start spending the money they saved on -- on cheap gasoline?
PETERSON: Or just, you know, putting it under their proverbial mattress.
BARTIROMO: Yeah, they've been saving.
OK, I am watching the implications about ObamaCare. Because, get this everybody, as many as -- let's see -- 6 million U.S. taxpayers will have to pay a penalty because they went without insurance in part or all of 2014 and the Affordable Care Act, people without insurance may be liable for fines as much as two percent of their income, Ed.
ROLLINS: It's unbelievable.
BARTIROMO: Two percent of your income if you do not have health insurance. You've got to believe that's going to have an economic impact.
ROLLINS: Added to your tax bill. Plus, people who took too much on subsidies are going to have to repay that part of the IRS bill.
BARTIROMO: Yeah, so that news is coming.
Thanks, everybody. Great conversation today. So appreciate you joining us, Rich Peterson, Judy Miller, as well as Ed Rollins, here.
And we will see you next week. That will do it for "Sunday Morning Futures." Thanks for being with me. I'll be here tomorrow morning on "Opening Bell" at 9:00 a.m. Eastern on the Fox Business Network. Take a look at where you can find the Fox Business Network on your cable network or your satellite provider. Click on "Channel Finder" at FoxBusiness.com. Have a good Sunday.
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