Speaker Paul Ryan ushers in a new wave of leadership

Reaction from the 'Special Report' All-Star panel


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," October 29, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


SPEAKER PAUL RYAN: The house is broken. We are not solving problems. We are adding to them. And I am not interested in laying blame. We are not settling scores. We are wiping the slate clean. How reassuring it would be if we actually fixed the tax code, put patients in charge of their healthcare, grew our economy, strengthened our military, lifted people out of poverty, and paid down our debt.  



BRET BAIER, ‘SPECIAL REPORT’ HOST: New House Speaker Paul Ryan sworn in today by the oldest member in the House, John Conyers from Michigan, who, by the way, started in Congress six years before Paul Ryan was born.

We're back with the panel. Mara, he has got a full plate, but it's a little bit less of a plate thanks to John Boehner leaving.

MARA LIASSON: It certainly is. John Boehner said he wanted to clean the barn and he really did. He gave a huge gift to Paul Ryan. Paul Ryan doesn't have to worry about the debt ceiling until after the next election. He doesn't have to worry about a budget. I think that was a big gift.

Now, Paul Ryan is going to get a little honeymoon, we just don't know how long. He got support from the freedom caucus. But he is going to have to pass another CR. He is going to have to do --

BAIER: Continuing resolution.

LIASSON: Continuing resolution to keep the government open. He is going to have to do something about the highway trust fund. I mean, there are going to be contentious issues.

He does say he has listened to the Freedom Caucus. They want process reforms. He is going to give them process reforms, and then we will see if he gets them all into the tent, feel like they are part of the process. Maybe things will be less dysfunctional.

BAIER: George?

GEORGE WILL: I think that's right. I think he is on the way. And I think although the Senate tonight is going to be fighting over this bill, in fact the conservatives got rather a lot out of the budget agreement.
Entitlement reform of Social Security, disability insurance. The president wanted a clean bill. He didn't get it. Defense hawks wanted more from the military, they got it. They didn't get everything, but politics is a transactional business and this wasn't a bad transaction.

BAIER: Yes. Conservatives obviously not happy about it and speaking out about it. But, as you mentioned, the Senate is moving forward with this Bill and there is nothing that is going to stop it. Whether Rand Paul stands up or Ted Cruz stands up, it's moving through.

CHARLES LANE: You know, I actually don't regard that agreement as a budget bill at all. I see it as a political agreement. And the trade goes like this -- the Republicans in the Congress basically conceded to President Obama and his allies about $40 billion in domestic spending that they can use to keep all their Democratic constituencies happy. And in return the Republicans get more defense spending and a long piece where through the rest of the campaign now they are not burdened by all this rhetoric about a shutdown, and so forth.

And what that leaves Paul Ryan in a position to do over here in the Hill is repair and rewrite and revise the image of the Congress and in particular the Republican Party. That's what this speech, this rather eloquent speech he gave today was all about -- drawing a line under the pass. I'm not interested in blame. Not blaming freedom caucus, not blaming the Democrats. Fresh start.

And what was so fascinating about it was that litany of things he wanted to achieve was like policy objectives. Reform this, opportunity that. Very different from the note that Ted Cruz was striking, which is this more radical, more revolutionary thing. We've got to overthrow Washington. So, he is trying to set a different kind of tone, and he has been given it. By this agreement he has been given the time to attempt that.

BAIER: So, Paul Ryan is a protege of Jack Kemp, the late Jack Kemp. He believes that solving poverty issues, helping the poor comes through conservative principles. He is going to try to put that into his speakership. But pushing tax reform as speaker, different than chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. And can he get the big things done?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: I'm not sure he can get them passed with Obama in the White House. But I think his job is not to do that. His job is to shape the legislation, to shape the party to support it, and present the tax reform that would be essentially owned by the Republicans, the regulatory reform, and the entitlement reform.

Here is a guy who knows his stuff. Does he have the skills of a speaker? I think he does. He could be the most talented politician in the House. And I think the most important thing that happened today, when he essentially said we are going to abolish the past. We are not going to look at it. It's over. And we're not going to examine it, the generational change.

It is just striking, the youngest speaker in 150 years. Look at the stage last night for the Republicans trying to be president, a very young field, relatively speaking. Imagine one of them in the White House and Ryan in the House, the future of the GOP, which has been -- its obituary has been written 10 times in the last six months, I think could actually be extremely bright.

BAIER: George, I said in that national debt piece and we stand at $18.2 trillion national debt tonight, that we're always, it seems, one election away from getting the big things done. This is going to happen this next session in a presidential election.

WILL: And someday, sure as shooting, they are going to have something other than zero interest rates. That's made big government cheap by making the borrowing cheap. Once we go back to anything like the post war norm for the cost of borrowing, say five percent, the deficit itself becomes the driver of the deficit and the budget explodes. And it's not going to be within the control of Congress.

BAIER: Final word?

LANE: Well, obviously it's going to go back to the generational point. You have a paradox. The Republican Party has young leaders and candidates and old voters. The Democrats have old candidates and leaders and old voters.

BAIER: Mara?

LIASSON: Yes. That will be pretty interesting to see if those young Republican candidates if they become the nominee can get any of those young voters.

KRAUTHAMMER: Reagan was able to attract young voters. You get a new and dynamic Republican Party and the young will follow.

BAIER: Is the Marco Rubio youth an issue that will be tackled in this presidential campaign?

KRAUTHAMMER: It will be an advantage. You run him against Hillary, it will be -- Kennedy used it. I think it's an attractive element of any candidate. The anxiety and the tiredness of the electorate today reflected in the look for outsiders, I think also will be looked for a new generation. I think it's going to help any outcome candidate.

BAIER: We will follow it every step of the way. Thanks for inviting us into your home tonight. That is it for a very special SPECIAL REPORT. Thanks for Norfolk Southern tonight for limited commercials. Keep us on our toes. Fair, balanced, and unafraid.

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