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Sunday Morning Futures

Republicans trying to come together behind a new House speaker; Former Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke assesses the economy

This is a rush transcript from "Sunday Morning Futures," October 11, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX NEWS HOST: Good morning.

Lots of unknowns in the race for House speaker this morning, while many eyes rest on one potential candidate.

Hi, everyone. I'm Maria Bartiromo. Welcome to "Sunday Morning Futures."

With the lead candidate now out of the race, Congress awaits a decision from what would be a new frontrunner, Paul Ryan. Congressman Peter King and Congresswoman Mimi Walters on that coming up in a moment.

Plus, an Army recommendation may mean no jail time for Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. A former commander of the Army's Delta Force on that and the latest on Russia's involvement now in Syria.

And then from the darkest day of the recession to today, where are we and where are the jobs? Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on jobs, interest rates and wages as we look ahead this morning on "Sunday Morning Futures."

Well, the pressure is mounting for Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, as his House colleagues urge him to enter the race to succeed outgoing House Speaker John Boehner, this after Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's stunning withdrawal this past week. Ryan, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee, is reportedly taking the weekend to soul search over a possible bid. Meanwhile, sources tell Fox News that Speaker Boehner may stay on in his current post until a candidate can secure the required 218 vote majority.

Joining us right now, 12 term Congressman Peter King of New York. He served on the House Homeland Security Committee and is also chairman of the subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence. Also joining is Congresswoman Mimi Walters of California. She serves on both the Judiciary and Transportation Committees.

Good to see you both, representatives. Thank you so much for joining us.

REP. MIMI WATERS, R-CALIF.: Thank you.

REP. PETER KING, R- N.Y.: Thank you.

BARTIROMO: Congressman King, what can you tell us about Paul Ryan this weekend? Do you think he's going to take this job?

KING: I -- I certainly hope he does. I can understand why he'd be reluctant to. I mean Paul is -- certainly has tremendous status. He's a very smart guy. He's committed to the Republican Party, to true conservative principles. He has the proven record. He has to decide, though, whether or not it's worth for him to make this sacrifice and it really would be a sacrifice. There's no glory in this job, there's no perks in this job. This is a year-round, every day of the year you're working on it, one, as far as policy, as far as managing the House, as far as being involving in campaign fund-raising, as being the public face of the party, and at the same time, it's -- there's going to be many people within the party taking shots at him, as well as the Democrats, who will be well organized.

Having said all that, I think he would be an outstanding speaker. I would fully support him. I think he's the one person who could bring the party together. So not so much for his sake but for our sake, I certainly hope he decides to run.

BARTIROMO: Yes, Congresswoman, I mean bringing the party together is really a critical point here. What would you like to see take place and do you think that that person is out there to actually cater to both sides, or all the divisions that are -- that are pretty evident this -- today in -- within -- within the party?

WALTERS: Listen, I remember what Ronald Reagan used to say. If I could get 80 percent of what I want, then it's a win. And both sides have to give a little bit. I do believe we will find somebody talented to lead us and to unite us if Paul decides he does not want to take on the speakership. But I also really hope he decides that he wants to do this. He would be the right person for this job. And, you know, we've got to do the American people's work. And I think he's the perfect person to lead us. So my hope is he comes back to Washington, D.C., next week and says, I'm ready to take on speakership jobs.

BARTIROMO: And you think we'll find out next week?

WALTERS: I hope so. I hope we do.

BARTIROMO: Yes. Plenty to talk about with you both. I want to find out from you who you think are the alternatives if not. Congressman and Congresswoman, stay with us.

First, though, we want to get an in-depth look at just how Congressman Paul Ryan arrived at this crucial moment. Fox News senior correspondent Eric Shawn with that angle.

Good morning to you, Eric.

ERIC SHAWN, FOX NEWS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Maria, and good morning, everyone.

Will he or won't he? Well, we may have that answer, as the congresswoman said, by the time congress reconvenes next week. Paul Ryan spending this long weekend with his family, trying to decide if he will take that promotion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ, R-UTAH: If Paul Ryan runs, I mean clearly he would -- he would be somebody that I would support. I think Paul Ryan's the right person to do this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHAWN: And it seems everyone at the office is pushing him to be the boss. But what if you don't want it? Ryan privately considering making the move to House speaker, we're told, spending this weekend at home in Janesville, Wisconsin, milling it over with his family. Major considerations are his wife, Janna, their three young children, Liza, Charlie and Sam. Ryan has called the speakership, "a job for empty nesters." Family versus duty. Can they be reconciled?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL WARREN, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: He likes to go back home on the weekends to Wisconsin to spend time with those kids. So there's that element of it. He's also trying to think about whether or not this is a job he really wants.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHAWN: Ryan, of course, will have to corral the rebellious conservatives of the Freedom Caucus. The block of 40 who have already helped dump John Boehner and Kevin McCarthy from the top spot. But last year Ryan told the Associated Press this about why he refuses to move up. Quote, "one of the reasons why I've always passed elected leadership positions up in the House, you know, speaker, leader, all the things people ask you to run for, is because it takes you away from your family even more. I've made career decisions based on family balance and part of that is because of my own upbringing and my own childhood."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN COSTELLO, R-PA, HOUSE TRANSPORTATION CMTE.: I think Paul Ryan, knowing him a little bit, cares about this country, loves his country. And whether or not he does this, he's going to do what I think is right for his family and right for the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHAWN: Well, you know, when he was 15 years old, Ryan found his alcoholic father dead in bed of an apparent heart attack. A searing trauma that clearly has shaped him. That means his decision will likely be far more personal than political.

Maria.

BARTIROMO: All right, interesting. Thanks very much. Eric Shawn with the latest there.

And more now with Congressman Peter King of New York and Congresswoman Mimi Walters of California.

Congresswoman, Mimi, we were just talking about Paul Ryan being the -- sort of the shoo-in here. But if he says no, who else is on the bench, would you say? I mean if not him, who?

WALTERS: Well, there's been talk about perhaps having an interim speaker until the next Congress is elected. People like John Kline, who has announced that he is going to retire, or Candice Miller, who has also announced that she is going to retire, perhaps having somebody to serve out the rest of this Congress. Those -- both of those would be great people to lead us and just a -- a couple names.

BARTIROMO: Yes, I guess, Congressman King, well, if you have anybody to add to that, Congressman King, do so. But I want to get your take on really the Benghazi committee at this point. You know, here you have Kevin McCarthy making that statement about the Benghazi committee being political a week and a half ago. This morning we've got a GOP investigator saying Republicans on the Benghazi panel fired him over a Clinton focus. How would you characterize the status of this -- of this Benghazi committee at this point?

KING: Well, first of all, let me just say that I think there are very real issues about Benghazi going back to the preparation as far as security. Also the aftermath where obviously misstatements and, in many cases, lies were told. So there are real issues there. That's number one.

Secondly, I'm not involved with the committee, but I do know Trey Gowdy and I have a tremendous respect for him. And having been in Congress now a long time, I've never seen an investigation where so much has been kept behind closed doors. So much has been kept away from the media. And that's a real plus for Trey Gowdy. Very few items have been leaked out. he has a professional staff. So, to me, this shows that he is -- he is very intense, very serious about getting the job done. There are no cheap shots here.

As far as that one staffer, I've also been in Congress long enough to know that, again, I don't know what happened here, but you can get people who get rubbed the wrong way, they end up having an ax to grind, they can take things out of context. So if I have to decide between Trey Gowdy and an anonymous staffer or a previously unknown staffer, I will side with Trey Gowdy.

BARTIROMO: Yes, and I guess, Congresswoman Walters, you've got to remember that we did learn about the e-mail scandal. And the private server as a result of the information and much of the reporting within the Benghazi committee.

WALTERS: Four Americans died in Benghazi, and we have to get to the bottom of why they died. And this hearing has all been -- has been all about getting to the facts. And it's important that we have these hearings and Secretary Clinton just happened to be secretary of state at the time, and so naturally, you know, her name is going to come up in these hearings. But it doesn't stop us from doing our work. We have got to get to the bottom of what happened.

BARTIROMO: Understood.

You know, Congressman King, let me ask you, before you go, on this Iran missile test that we're learning today, breaking news that there's a report that Iran is testing long range ballistic missiles. A semiofficial news agency is reporting that the country has successfully test fired a new guided long range ballistic surface to surface missile. Is this violating the Iran nuclear agreement already?

KING: Maria, if those reports are true, it shows that Iran never intended to comply with the agreement. Iran, you would think, at least in the first few months after the agreement, would attempt to show good faith. Whether they intended it or not, at least go through the motions. The fact that they are so quick to be flagrantly -- really spitting in the face of the United States, of Israel, of the world, shows that they are committed to do whatever they have to do and this agreement is just a vehicle for them to, you know, to move forward. They -- it was the worst agreement that, you know, our country had ever entered into and Iran is showing right now it has no regard for international law, no regard for bringing about any type of peace or stability and now, more than ever, we see why Netanyahu is so correct and President Obama was so wrong.

BARTIROMO: Yes. We will keep following those reports, congressman.

Congressman King, Congresswoman Walters, good to have you on the program today. Thanks so much.

WALTERS: Thank you.

KING: Thanks, Maria. Thank you, Mimi.

BARTIROMO: We'll be watching the developments. Thank you both.

An Army officer now recommending that Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl face no jail time. Is this the right move? We'll talk to a former commander of the Delta Force live next.

I hope you'll follow me on Twitter @mariabartiromo, @sundayfutures. Send us a tweet and let us know what you'd like to hear.

Stay with us as we look ahead. We're talking with Ben Bernanke later on in the program about jobs and the economy on "Sunday Morning Futures."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PEREIRA: Welcome back.

An Army officer now recommending no jail time for Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. This according to his lawyer this morning. The sergeant facing charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. He was captured by the Taliban after leaving his post in Afghanistan back in June of 2009 and returned to the United States last year following a controversial prisoner swap. Instead, the officer has decided Bergdahl should face a lower level court- martial. That could possibly allow him to walk free. Is this the right decision? Lieutenant General Jerry Boykin is the former commander of the Delta Force. He's now the executive vice president of the Family Research Council.

Sir, it is good to have you on the program. Thanks so much for joining us today.

LT. GEN. JERRY BOYKIN, EXEC. VP, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: Thank you, Maria.
It's good to be with you.

BARTIROMO: Do you agree with this recommendation?

BOYKIN: You know, I don't. This is not a misdemeanor charge. Bowe Bergdahl is a deserter. He's also been charged with misbehavior with the enemy. These are very serious charges. And I suspected that what's being recommended is that he be taken to what's called a summary court rather than a general court, which would ultimately result in a trial by jury. I think Bowe Bergdahl needs to go to a general court-martial and, from my perspective, he needs to spend probably the rest of his life in jail.

BARTIROMO: Wow. Let me ask you, what is his answer to the desertion charges? What does he say he was doing?

BOYKIN: Well, what he alleges is that he was actually captured. That he wandered out. That he was going through some difficulties and he wandered out and was captured and was held for five years. I don't buy that in the least. And there's way too much evidence to show that he planned his desertion, that he mailed his computer home, that he had said a lot of things to his fellow soldiers about his dissatisfaction with what was going on at the time. And I think that he -- he orchestrated this whole thing. As a result of that, we traded five of the most hardened, egregiously difficult criminals out of Guantanamo for his release and that has yet to be, I think, reconciled from my perspective. He needs to go to jail.

BARTIROMO: It is quite extraordinary, general, for sure.

Let me move on to two things I'd like to get your take on. And, of course, that is ISIS and Syria, Russian situation, and then I want to ask you about this latest news that we're hearing this morning in terms of Iran firing these ballistic missiles. What's your take on Putin's motivation, pushing America out of the way in the air space over Syria?

BOYKIN: Putin is doing this because he can, Maria. You know, the red line thing that -- when Obama laid down the red line and then did nothing when the -- Assad, obviously, used chemical weapons, and then the fact that we have done nothing in response to Putin taking the Crimea, we've refused to arm the Ukraine, which are our allies, I think that's emboldened Putin and I think that he's there because he wants to hold on to his port, his only naval port on the Mediterranean, which is Tartus, and he can't do that if Assad falls. If Assad is deposed, then he's going to lose that port.

And then finally, look, Putin has strategic designs on that part of the world. Ultimately Putin wants, I think, to control a previously proposed pipeline out of Iran, across Iraq, across Syria, through Lebanon, to the Mediterranean, which would give him absolute control over oil prices, probably globally. So he has big designs and strategic implications for the future.

BARTIROMO: Yes, and all at a time that the Russian economy is plummeting because oil prices had come down so much. The Russian people are looking for leadership. So he comes along and is the tough guy. And as he trades in conflict and fear, look what's happened to the oil market. Oil prices are back up. So he's actually pretty successful in what he's trying to do. He needs oil prices up on fear and conflict, so he's creating more of it.

BOYKIN: Yes, that's right. And, you know, the -- the Saudis and the other gulf state countries have to be considering right now the implications of this. And they have to be wondering if they're next because Putin, now that he's there, once he has what he considers to be control of Syria, he's going to expand. I don't see this as something that's going to last just a few months. I see this as a long range plan on Putin's behalf. He's very strategic in his thinking right now.

BARTIROMO: Yes. I want to ask you about these reports of Iran test firing long range ballistic missiles. And I'll ask you what I just asked Congressman Peter King, and that is, is this evidence that the Iranians have already -- have already violated the Iran nuclear deal?

BOYKIN: Well, sure it is. And they've had -- they've been testing missiles for a long time, the Shahab series of missiles. And they already have missiles that would certainly reach Israel, which they consider to be their primary enemy. But the fact that they -- if these reports are proven true, the fact that they're testing missiles now, before the sanctions have even been lifted, is just another indication that they never had any intentions of living up to the provisions of this treaty. And think about this, they're going to get $150 billion right away that will allow them to buy even more missile technology, even more modern missile technology, particularly from the Russians.

BARTIROMO: Right. And perhaps sell it to Hezbollah or Hamas or whoever Iran would like to sell that to.

Sir, good to have you on the program. We appreciate your time and insights this morning.

BOYKIN: Thank you very much, Maria. Enjoyed being with you.

BARTIROMO: We will see you soon. General Boykin there.

How far has the economy come since the recession? Where are the jobs and what is the impact of low interest rates on rates and wages? Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is with me next as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures." We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BARTIROMO: Welcome back.

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke offering his account of the financial crisis in his new memoir, "The Courage to Act," giving us candid insights into that difficult time for the U.S. economy.

Joining us right now is Ben Bernanke, former Federal Reserve chairman and author of "The Courage to Act."

Dr. Bernanke, good to see you.

BEN BERNANKE, FORMER FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: Hi. Thank you.

BARTIROMO: Thank you so much for joining us.

How would you characterize the economy today?

BERNANKE: Well, we're moving forward. It's moderate growth. I think the biggest drag on the U.S. economy right now is the global economy. You're seeing emerging markets being kind of slow, China's slowing down, and that's -- that's a bit of a drag on us. But, domestically, you know, our housing sector, our auto sector, jobs are being created, those things are pretty positive.

BARTIROMO: Yes, housing and autos actually have been pretty strong, particularly autos.

BERNANKE: Yes.

BARTIROMO: I'm glad you mentioned autos, because that's one area that really had -- did come roaring back, I have to say.

OK, in the book, you take us through those dark days in terms of when I always say the lights almost went out, when General Electric was worried about paying employees. Take us to the darkest day. What was the toughest and required the most courage to act?

BERNANKE: Well, the toughest times, clearly the Lehman weekend and the week that followed, and Lehman failed early Monday morning, then AIG, the world's largest insurance company, came close to failing. The Fed and the Treasury intervened to prevent it from failing. We had to go explain that to the president. And then we had to go explain it to Congress. And what we told Congress, Secretary Paulson and I, was that if this company failed, that our financial system was already almost in cardiac arrest, would collapse entirely and bring down our economy. And we explained this to the congressmen and told them what we were going to do and they basically told us, well, thanks for telling us about this, but this is your decision, your responsibility, Congress is not going to support you on this. And so we were stuck in the middle in that very, very tough decision.

BARTIROMO: Are you surprised that we are not farther along in this recovery today given these extraordinary things that you put into place?

BERNANKE: Well, I had expected that we would have higher interest rates by now. There have been a number of headwinds of various kinds, including fiscal policy, including developments in Europe, you know, and the crisis that was in Europe. Housing has been slow to recover and now it's finally really showing some strength. So there have been a number of headwinds that kind of prevented recovery from being as strong as we had hoped.

On the other hand, we had made an awful lot of progress. I mean the unemployment rate was 10 percent in just 2009. Today it's 5 percent. Lots of jobs have been created. We're well above the level of output that we were at the highest peak before the crisis now. So U.S. economy had made a lot of progress, even if it's not as strong as we would ideally like.

BARTIROMO: And yet wages haven't moved. You speak to the average guy and gal out there. They're saying the recovery hasn't hit me yet.

BERNANKE: Oh, yes.

BARTIROMO: Why?

BERNANKE: Well --

BARTIROMO: How do you move wages?

BERNANKE: Well, wages, that's -- that's -- that's the critical question, both overall wages and then wages across the population. You know, people at the highest end are certainly seeing wage increases, but the people in the middle --

BARTIROMO: Right.

BERNANKE: Aren't seeing wage increases. Part of that is -- is the fact that we're coming out of a -- a recession where labor markets were very soft and the demand for labor was weak and job situation just wasn't very good. Now that's improving. But even so, you know, we've got some longer term issues in terms of productivity, in terms of income distribution, that are really beyond what the Fed can handle. I mean what the Fed is basically equipped to do, besides trying to keep the financial system stable, is to help the economy recover from a recession and sort of get back to a more normal position. But the Fed can't do anything really about long-term productivity gains or the skills of the workers or the things that ultimately will determine real wages in the long-termer term.

BARTIROMO: Yes, I think this is a really important point and it's the reason that I go to my next question, and that is, low rates cannot create jobs. So people are saying, OK, enough with quantitative easing, enough with these low interest rates, we need to get off of zero. How do you feel about that?

BERNANKE: Well, the monetary policy and quantitative easing, all those things, low interest rates, are aimed at trying to get our economy back to its potential, whatever that potential might be.

BARTIROMO: But you need a partner on the other side.

BERNANKE: You need a partner. So -- so, on the one hand, you know, we've made a lot of progress, unemployment's down to 5 percent. The Fed is looking at near term job creation, trying to get inflation to its target. Those are the things the Fed is concerned about and the Fed has made a lot of progress there. But taking us beyond that point to an economy which is delivering higher wages, more growth, better distribution of growth, those are things the Fed can't do. We need partners from the public and private sector to do more on that.

BARTIROMO: Is there a downside risk to keeping rates low for more -- longer-- longer?

BERNANKE: Well, rates are being kept low, again, because the Fed is looking at two things. One is the inflation rate, which is still very, very low. And the other is jobs, which have come back a lot, but still could probably go further. And so those are the decisions the Fed is making.

Now, some people are concerned about side effects of low interest rates, one of them being the concern that low interest rates for a long time might create some speculation or asset bubbles, those kinds of things, in financial markets. And the fact is, nobody really has a very clear idea of how those things are linked, if they're linked at all. But it is important and I think the best response we have right now is that the Fed is using monetary policy for its macroeconomic objectives, jobs and inflation, but paying a lot of attention to what's happening in financial market.

BARTIROMO: Dr. Bernanke, great to see you.

BERNANKE: Maria, thank you very much.

BARTIROMO: Thank you so much for joining us.

BERNANKE: Thank you.

BARTIROMO: Dr. Ben Bernanke there, "The Courage to Act."

And Congressman Paul Ryan reportedly mulling a crucial decision on whether to enter the race for House speaker. So will he take the plunge? Our panel is next, weighing in on all of the above (ph). We're looking ahead this morning on "Sunday Morning Futures." We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BARTIROMO:  More on our top story right now as the House GOP Conference turns up the heat on Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan to throw his hat in the ring to succeed outgoing House Speaker John Boehner.  

If Ryan decides to run, he would join conservative favorite Daniel Webster of Florida and Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah.  Meanwhile, sources tell Fox News that Speaker Boehner may stay on in his current post until a candidate can be secured, and secure the required 218-vote majority.  

I want to bring in our panel on this.  Ed Rollins is former principal White House adviser to President Reagan.  He has been a longtime strategist to business and political leaders.  And he is a FOX News political analyst.  

Alan Colmes is the host of "The Alan Colmes Show" and Fox News contributor.  

And Garry Kasparov is back with us.  He is the chairman of the Human Rights Foundation, and, of course, a chess grandmaster.  

Good to see everybody.  Thank you so much for joining us.  

Ed Rollins, your take on what is going on in the House now.  

ED ROLLINS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST:  Paul Ryan obviously is a wonderful man and he's a great policy wonk, probably one of the best people we have in the substantive area.  

I don't know whether it's a good thing for him to be the speaker of the house.  It's a short-term thing, it's not going to make the chaos go away. He's a very substantive guy.  The best chance we have of getting a tax bill is with his guidance as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.  He can't do that as easily from speaker.  

So I'm someone, whatever he wants to do, I'm supportive of it, but I think at the end of the day he's not going to like it.  And two or three years from now the chaos is still going to be there.  

BARTIROMO:  Which is why he has had a hard time making this decision, I guess.  And the truth is, you lose a huge leader in tax policy.

ROLLINS:  In a sensitive area.

BARTIROMO:  Running House Ways Committee.  

ALAN COLMES, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR:  He doesn't want the job.  You know, you don't have to be a Republican or even in the House to be the house speaker, which is interesting.  

BARTIROMO:  Right.  That is interesting.

COLMES:  So why not one of the Kardashians?  

(CROSSTALK)

BARTIROMO:  Oh, my God.  

COLMES:  I mean, you know, it could be anybody.  

BARTIROMO:  Oh, Alan.  

COLMES:  They just need something.  Or Newt could do it.  They could get Pelosi.  You know, doesn't have to be a Republican to do it.  So, no Republican wants the job.  

ROLLINS:  Sure, Donald Trump does.  Let Donald Trump do it.  

COLMES:  Trump will, yes, let him do it.  

ROLLINS:  Let Trump see what it's like for a couple of months to work with the Congress.  

BARTIROMO:  He's still leading in the polls.  

Garry Kasparov, how do you see this leadership change?  

GARRY KASPAROV, CHAIRMAN, HUMAN RIGHTS FOUNDATION:  Well, it seems that no Republican wants to be speaker of the house, but every Republican wants to be president.  

(LAUGHTER)

KASPAROV:  I feel that, you know, just Ryan is not the man for the job.  

BARTIROMO:  Really?  

KASPAROV:  No.  He's great where he is now, you know?  He's a policy man, you know, he can do many great things for the party and for the country.  But this is a different kind of job.  

You know, you have to twist arms.  And he doesn't seem like a person who will do that.  And also the demands from this belligerent group of Republicans in the House for a new speaker, that requires very different qualities.  

So I just hope that they'll realize that the only important elections in the next several months is one for the Oval Office.  And concentrate on that one without, you know, spending precious time and energy on infighting-- the House infighting.  

BARTIROMO:  Well, you know, people are still angry that the GOP hasn't gotten enough done.  I mean, I know that the House has passed lots of bills, Ed, but, you know, this whole idea that the president has been pushing through his agenda, and rolling over.

ROLLINS:  Well, he has declared victory on many fronts.  

BARTIROMO:  Many fronts.

ROLLINS:  And it has been the Republicans in the Supreme Court and the Republicans who went along with the trade bill and a whole variety of things that has given him the agenda.  

But the problem we face today is you have a vast majority of Republicans who want to do everything Democrats do for 80 percent of the cost.  Then you've got a segment that has come in, the freedom group, or whatever, who is.

BARTIROMO:  The Freedom Caucus.  

ROLLINS:  Those 40 or 50 people who want to really change Congress.  And you can't change Congress in the short run, and equally as important, you can't do things without raising taxes.  

BARTIROMO:  Well, they've.

ROLLINS:  And they don't want to raise taxes.  

BARTIROMO:  They've sparked a revolution.  

ROLLINS:  They've sparked a revolution.

COLMES:  They don't want to legislate.  And they don't want to work with the president.  And they don't even want to work with John Boehner, which is why Boehner is tired of herding cats.  

BARTIROMO:  Which is why you need somebody in that job who is actually going to bring people together.  

COLMES:  That's why Ryan would probably be a good choice.  Though I think your point is well-taken, that he may not be the best guy for the job.  But given the number of people who are seeking it, of all those people, he might be the best choice.  

(CROSSTALK)

ROLLINS:  I'm sorry.  

There are some very good House members.  The problem is we've sort of had this process where it was Boehner and then it was going to be McCarthy. And all of a sudden it's not very strategic.  

You really ought to shut this thing down for a period of time.  Boehner ought to say, listen, I'm going to stay until January, everybody go home, let's come back and figure out how we're going to have the next term.

BARTIROMO:  Does the Benghazi Select Committee get the credibility back?  

ROLLINS:  I don't think so.  I think it has been badly damaged by this thing.  

BARTIROMO:  Badly damaged.  

COLMES:  You just had in fact a former investigator say that he was fired from the committee because he wanted a nonpartisan investigation, and they wouldn't let him do it.  

BARTIROMO:  Right.  Right.  

All right.  Let's get to Howie Kurtz on "Media Buzz," at the top of the hour.  He has got a big guest today.  

Howie, good morning to you.  

HOWARD KURTZ, FOX HOST, "MEDIABUZZ":  Good morning to you, Maria.  Just back from Trump Tower.  We have got a wide-ranging interview with Donald Trump, talks about what he calls the dishonest media and he names names.  Pretty rough on Marco Rubio.  We talked about Ben Carson, and Jeb Bush, and the coverage of his wife Melania.  

And you'll be interested in this, I pressed him on how he can slash taxes and yet not touch the big entitlement programs on the spending side.  You'll see his answer on "MediaBuzz."  

BARTIROMO:  Right.  His tax plan, what does it cost, $12 trillion, Howie?  

KURTZ:  That's the estimate.  He disputes that.  But it's going to cost a lot of money and yet he's putting Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid off-limits.  I don't see how the math adds up.  

BARTIROMO:  We will be watching in about 20 minutes, Howie.  Thanks so much.  We'll see you then.  

Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden has not announced a 2016 bid yet.  But everybody is waiting.  The actions of his staffers may mean he is getting close.  The political panel breaks it down next.  We're looking ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures" this morning.   

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARTIROMO:  Welcome back.  Vice President Joe Biden still mulling over a bid for the White House.  But his assistants are apparently already laying the groundwork for a potential run.  

The New Yorker magazine reporting that Biden's aides have met with the Democratic National Committee, getting a briefing on the rules to run.  The meeting may have put things in perspective for Biden's people with deadlines to qualify for key states quickly approaching.  

We're back with our panel: Ed Rollins, Alan Colmes, Garry Kasparov.  Who thinks Biden is going to run?  

ROLLINS:  I do.  I think he has to make a decision over the next two weeks. There is a lot of hurdles he has to go through.  I think unless Hillary just knocks it out of the ballpark in the debate on Tuesday, there will be a growing pressure for him to get in this race.  

BARTIROMO:  Alan, how damaging is Joe Biden running for the White House for Hillary?  

COLMES:  I think it's 50/50.  I just -- I can't -- I don't think even he just made that final decision yet.  I don't think we can predict.  You might be right, but anything can happen.  He seems like he goes with the wind on any given day.  

BARTIROMO:  Garry?  

KASPAROV:  I agree that probably hasn't made his final decision, because the decision will be made by Obama.  It depends very much on Obama's position.  If Obama doesn't want Hillary, and backs Biden, I think he'll be in trouble because whatever happens with Benghazi Committee, I think Biden can bring her down in debates simply saying, Hillary, Barack and I relied on you in Benghazi and you screwed it.  

BARTIROMO:  Right.  Right.  So the debate is Tuesday night.  The first Democratic national debate.  On that stage, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders.  

ROLLINS:  Governor O'Malley.  

BARTIROMO:  Governor O'Malley.  

COLMES:  O'Malley, Lincoln Chafee, Jim Webb.  And, you know, some of them could actually double their poll numbers and be at 2 percent perhaps after the debate.  

ROLLINS:  Well, they certainly have the biggest audience.  It won't be 23 million people, but it may be 8 or 9, 10 million people.  

BARTIROMO:  Right.  Right.  So let's talk about the debate.  What are you expecting?  

ROLLINS:  I think Hillary should tear this group up.  She's obviously experienced as a debater.  She's smart.  But if she doesn't, then obviously I think she gets a lot of pressure.  

BARTIROMO:  But she's not a great campaigner, right?  

ROLLINS:  She's a better debater.  

COLMES:  She'll be better at the debate stage, I think, than she may have been as a campaigner.  And this will be a key moment to see how she does in comparison to those other people on the stage.  And if they can really break through, and make some inroads into her candidacy, that tells a lot about what Joe Biden might do.  

KASPAROV:  But if we've learned something from the GOP debate, it's voters looking at the candidates and the number one quality is authenticity.  If Bernie Sanders is really going after Hillary, I think she'll be in big trouble, because whatever he says, he believes in it, and he has a record to back his statements.  

BARTIROMO:  That's true, Garry.

KASPAROV:  And she flip-flops, flip-flops, so I think it depends very much on how far Bernie Sanders is willing to go to tear her apart.  

BARTIROMO:  Yes.  And meanwhile, she has been going toward the Bernie Sanders agenda, right?  I mean, she's not going towards Bill Clinton's agenda.  She's going towards Bernie Sanders's agenda.  

COLMES:  Well, the times have changed since Bill Clinton.  Good for Bernie Sanders for bringing her to a more populist campaign.  Whether she would actually govern as a populous is another story, we don't know the answer to that question.  

BARTIROMO:  Why do you say good for Bernie Sanders.

(CROSSTALK)

ROLLINS:  Because that's his ideology.

COLMES:  If it weren't for Bernie Sanders, I don't think she would be against the TPP all of a sudden, I don't think she would be taking some of the positions she has been taking.  

BARTIROMO:  How about the Keystone pipeline?  Wasn't it her State Department who said the Keystone pipeline would be safe for the environment?

COLMES:  Thank God there are no flip-floppers on the right, Ed, right?

ROLLINS:  None whatsoever.  

(LAUGHTER)

BARTIROMO:  All right.  We have got to talk about Russia and Syria.  Garry Kasparov, you had really important comments the last time you joined us. What you said basically played out.  We'll come back to Garry on that.  

The Pentagon announcing some major downsizing to its program to train rebel fighters in Syria.  And Russia is seeming to ramp up its fight against ISIS there.  Our panel on the escalating tensions in Syria today.  We're looking ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures," next.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BARTIROMO:  Welcome back.  Russia continues to meddle in Syria, as we learn at least four times in the past five years, Eastern European arms dealers with links to Moscow attempted to sell radioactive material to Middle Eastern extremists who could use them to build a so-called dirty bomb.  

Our panel is back to talk about this: Ed Rollins, Alan Colmes, and Garry Kasparov.  

And, Garry, the point that you made on this program a couple weeks ago was Putin has got to trade in conflict and fear, his economy is plummeting, that is all he can do.  That is exactly what he has done.  

KASPAROV:  OK.  It's a simple game.  A game of survival.  And Putin knows that more chaos he creates, first in the neighboring states, former Soviet republics, then he moved even further down south to the Middle East.  

I would not be surprised to see him somewhere in Benghazi.  So chaos is what feeds his claim to power.  And he knows that, for instance, the hundreds of thousands, millions of refugees in Europe, they weaken European resolve to oppose his aggression in Ukraine and, who knows, maybe Baltics are next.

And, of course, he sees no opposition.  He sees Obama as a very weak leader, and I think the meeting here in New York, at the U.N. General Assembly, which was shown all over the place in Russia, and it demonstrated Putin as being a strong leader.  

There was this very reluctant handshake.  And the next day, a Russian military jet bombed American-backed rebels.  It's also important.  Putin is in Syria not because of ISIS.  That was just a good reason for him to get in.  He's there to establish Russian-Iranian dominance, which will help him, as he thinks, to control oil prices, and to spread even more chaos.  

BARTIROMO:  By the way, he has already been successful, Garry.  Look where oil is.  The market has come back.  

KASPAROV:  It still -- it doesn't help him very much.  I think his dream is actually to push ISIS south to Saudi Arabia, because unless he can, you know, blow up Saudi Arabia, the oil prices will not go as high as he wants.  

And let's not forget, ISIS are Sunnis.  And this is the ideal target actually to -- Saudi Arabia, ideal target for them to create commotion and, who knows, even another major war.  

BARTIROMO:  Why wouldn't he push this stuff through now while the president is being seen as weak across the country?  

ROLLINS:  I think so much of his strength is that he projects strength on any given day, whether it's the hockey game where he takes the former NHL players and scores...  

BARTIROMO:  Seven goals--

ROLLINS: --seven goals, or whether that was rigged or not doesn't matter, to the people there...  

(CROSSTALK)

BARTIROMO:  Nobody is getting in his way on the ice.  

ROLLINS:  --he's our hero.  

I think every activity that he has made, he has a strategic plan.  And he's putting allies together that basically are different.  The critical thing is he has to win this battle.  He can't lose this.  Russia cannot have another Afghanistan without him getting diminished.  

COLMES:  As Obama points out tonight on "60 Minutes," he's actually in a very weakened position.  He has got an imploding economy.  His only ally in the area is Syria.  He's hanging on to Assad, and Assad is kind of shaky.  

I don't think Putin has got a lot going for him, except he has got no opposition, right, in Russia.  

KASPAROV:  Wait, wait, wait, wait, this is his -- you know, Assad is not his own ally.  The most powerful ally in the region is Iran.  Assad is their client.  They're keeping him as a tool, you know, to create more trouble there.  And then Putin projects strength.  

COLMES:  Projects it, but is it real?  

KASPAROV:  For every -- absolutely.  No, you can ask any dictator in the world, now they could see, if you stick to Putin, he'll go.

COLMES:  A lot of it is optics.

KASPAROV:  He'll go all, you know, just all the way down to defend you at any cost.  If you stick with Obama, he'll betray you.  

COLMES:  He takes his shirt off and plays hockey, and that's strength, right?  That's.

(CROSSTALK)

KASPAROV:  But Russian planes are there.  And Americans are in retreat. Putin in one week kicked America out of Iraq and the Middle East.  You know, look at the.

COLMES:  Well, we shouldn't be there to begin with, so maybe that's a good thing.

BARTIROMO:  Alan, are you saying that you think President Obama looks stronger than Putin on the world stage right now?  Is that what you're saying?

COLMES:  I think that's a matter -- certainly people who don't like Obama are going to call him weak, and that's a lot of people in this country who don't like the president.  

I think Putin is a bully, and he's a poseur, and if you actually look at what happened, he has got an economy that he's not paying attention to. He's trying to divert attention, as you pointed out.  And he's trying to hang on to Assad, which can't be successful in the long term.  

BARTIROMO:  Ed.

ROLLINS:  I think he sees weakness in our president, and it's not just me and fellow Republicans.  I think the country sees a weak president who doesn't basically want to engage.  And I think there's a lot of rhetoric, but none of it backed up.  

And I think Putin sees this as an opportunity to move forward, and he's doing that without any...  

(CROSSTALK)

KASPAROV:  But two days in, we already saw some renewed violence, you know, Israelis-Palestinians.  You know, and it's a natural development, when you see Obama, you know, snubbing Netanyahu and buddying up with Hezbollah bosses.  

Putin creates a culture of violence there.  And it's so -- the region is so explosive that he will win.  And just imagine, you know, something goes wrong with Israel, you know?

COLMES:  What's he going to win?  What's Putin going to win?  

KASPAROV:  Chaos, that's all he needs, chaos, total destruction of the world order.  You know, American allies for generations, they are now in trouble and Obama walks away.  

BARTIROMO:  Yes.

COLMES:  He didn't walk away.  We're in Iraq.  We're in Afghanistan.  We're still going.

(CROSSTALK)

BARTIROMO:  Well, that's not the way our friends in the Middle East see it. They see it as leading from behind and walking away.

KASPAROV:  Do we need friends?  I mean, this is -- how many years will it take for a new president to rebuild relations?  Because it's very easy to destroy relations and lose trust.  

COLMES:  Thank goodness we have a relationship with Iran now.  We have a diplomatic solution.  We're moving forward.

BARTIROMO:  Thank goodness we have -- they just fired ballistic missiles. They've already violated the agreement.  

(CROSSTALK)

COLMES:  The president has chosen diplomacy over war, which is a good thing.  

ROLLINS:  Equally as important, as the world has come in a chaotic situation, the president is about to veto a defense bill, a Senate defense bill that he approved these numbers before, and is going to -- an attempt is going to be to override it.  

What kind of weakness is that to the world that we're basically not going to live up to our defense goals?  

BARTIROMO:  With all that's going on in the world, we have the smallest military.  

KASPAROV:  It's this -- you know, the budget is the way to understand the strategy.  Whether it's a family, corporation, or the country.  You look at Putin's budget, increased: military, security forces, and propaganda.  It's a war budget.  

Putin is preparing for major chaos and war.  And America is on retreat.

COLMES:  And he has got a dying economy.  Russia is imploding economically. That's what led to the end of the Soviet Union in the first place.  

BARTIROMO:  Hold that thought.  Hold that thought.  

(CROSSTALK)

KASPAROV:  What price will he pay for this dying economy to wage another major war, so you had better stop him today, tomorrow the price will be higher.  And for the next president of the United States, it will be just an insurmountable task to rebuild confidence.

COLMES:  And with this war he's.

(CROSSTALK)

BARTIROMO:  We'll be right back.  

COLMES:  He'll further deplete the economy.

BARTIROMO:  The one thing to watch for the week ahead.  We'll be right back.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BARTIROMO:  All right.  A big week ahead.  We've got the Democratic debate on Tuesday, and earnings for the third quarter streaming this week.  That will do it for the show today.  Thank you so much to our panel: Ed Rollins, Alan Colmes, Garry Kasparov.  We'll see you soon.

I'll be back tomorrow morning on the Fox Business Network.  I hope you'll join me, 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. Eastern.  Have a good Sunday, everybody.  

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