This is a rush transcript from "Sunday Morning Futures," December 27, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MARIA BARTIROMO, HOST: Happy holiday.
What changes will come in the new year under a new House speaker? And a president in his final year in office?
Hi, everyone. I'm Maria Bartiromo. Welcome to "Sunday Morning Futures."
Repealing much of President Obama's signature health care law is part of the Republican agenda early next year. House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price explains why moments away.
Then, the GOP-led Congress has successfully delayed some taxes on ObamaCare, but the government will be spending more than a trillion dollars of taxpayer money in 2016. We'll break down where all of that money is going with a former director of the Congressional Budget Office.
Plus, Donald Trump has a commanding lead in recent GOP polls. Will it last? Our panel forecasts the GOP and Democratic presidential races going into the new year as we look ahead this morning on "Sunday Morning Futures."
Congress on break until January 5th, but when lawmakers return, they will have to take up some very important issues before the next presidential election. House Speaker Paul Ryan fresh off of getting a budget deal to President Obama's desk, is now looking to repeal much of ObamaCare, calling for a vote before the president's State of the Union Address, while big ticket items like immigration reform are expected to be once again left by the way side.
Georgia Congressman Tom Price is the chairman of the House Budget Committee.
And, Congressman, it is good to have you on the program. Thanks so much for joining us.
REP. TOM PRICE, R-GA.: Thanks, Maria. Good to be with you.
BARTIROMO: Let's talk about the most recent budget bill passed because I think GOP voters are feeling a little frustrated. This bill fully funds ObamaCare. It fully funds Planned Parenthood. It fully funds the president's refugee plan. It funds -- it's -- his climate change agenda. I think some GOP voters are feeling like they got rolled over again, congressman.
PRICE: Well, a lot of the information that you hear is -- is, in fact, not correct. Now, this wasn't a grand deal by any means. But the fact of the matter is that in the bill that was passed, it was about $1.1 trillion in spending for the next fiscal year, which is less than the spending that occurred in 2008 on the discretionary side. So we've continued -- the Republican Congress has continued to keep spending at a relatively low level compared to past. We've got some good things in it. We've got a repeal of the oil export ban, which is really incredibly important. We did hold the reins on both the EPA and the IRS. These are good things that had to happen.
Was it everything that everybody wanted? No. But it's a step in the right direction and incredibly important is that lower spending level that in 2008. Most people don't appreciate that. That hasn't been reported by the news to a significant degree. But we're holding the reins on spending and we look forward to next year where we can truly put in place some positive reforms.
BARTIROMO: Yes, and even though, you know, it does fully fund the list of items that I mentioned at the top of this interview, you did get defense spending up. How tough was that?
PRICE: Incredibly difficult. But we got defense spending up because, look, this is a very dangerous world and what we're trying to do is provide the resources for the Department of Defense so that they can protect us in a positive way. But the fact of the matter is, we've got divided government. We've got a president that isn't interested in working with Congress and we've got folks in the Senate, Harry Reid and his colleagues in the Senate who aren't interested in bringing about any real positive reforms.
So this was -- this was a negotiation, yes. Again, it wasn't everything that everybody wanted it to be. But the lower spending level, the higher defense level, the ending of the taxes, many of the taxes in Obamacare, these are good things and they will put us on a path, I believe, to be able to put in place some positive reforms, or at least pass positive things in the House so that the American people could see the contrast between the folks that are trying to solve the problem, and the folks that are getting in the way. That's what 2016 is going to be all about.
BARTIROMO: Yes, Congressman, you make a lot of good points and I want to talk more about 2016 and in particular Obamacare and these taxes. Why push them out? But we'll talk about that coming up, Congressman Price. Please stay with us.
First, though, we want to get more on this bipartisan budget deal. It is just the beginning of Congress overcoming divisions to pass legislation, or will lawmakers revert to their old ways and accomplish very little in the new year? Fox News senior correspondent Eric Shawn joins us with that angle.
Eric, good morning to you.
ERIC SHAWN, FOX NEWS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Maria, and good morning, everyone.
It's a new year, and Speaker Paul Ryan promises a renewed Republican agenda. But with congressional approval ratings in the basement, Congress has nowhere to go but up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I do want to thank Congress for ending the year on a high note.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHAWN: An optimist in the Oval Office and in the speaker's chair.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN, R-WIS., HOUSE SPEAKER: Next year, we're going to do things differently. Next year, when we have a fresh start, we're doing things differently because I don't think this is the way that we should be governing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHAWN: Well, that fresh start begins in a few days. With the budget wrapped up, attention focusing on terrorism and national security and reflecting the themes of the presidential campaign. Democrats will focus on gun control, income inequality and criminal justice reform. Where Republicans will again tackle the issues of Obamacare, refugees and defunding Planned Parenthood.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN: We owe the country a better agenda, a better way forward. We owe the country a fresh approach, a new plan, and that's what we're going to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHAWN: But Speaker Ryan does have his work cut out for him. The Real Clear Politics average has congressional approval at only 13 percent. But that is not the lowest ever. In February 2014, Congress hit a rock bottom 6 percent approval rating in one poll, meaning it has only been improving. And even the president, not known for his endorsement of congressional Republicans, was praising them and their new boss for finding some common ground despite the anger of some conservative members.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I think it's a good working relationship. We recognize that we disagree on a whole bunch of other stuff. But perhaps because even before he was elected he had worked on Capitol Hill, I think he is respectful of the process and respectful of how legislation works.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHAWN: Well, a key test of the atmosphere on Capitol Hill comes on January 12th. That will be President Obama's last State of the Union, which, in itself, already puts many congressional Republicans in a much better mood.
BARTIROMO: Yes, that's true, Eric. Thank you so much.
More now with House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price.
Congressman, what about that? Look into 2016 for us right now. What are the spending priorities from your standpoint?
PRICE: Well, at the Budget Committee, what we're going to do is put forward a positive budget that solves the challenges that we face, that balances within a 10-year period of time, saves trillions of dollars, gets us on a path to paying off the debt and not raising taxes. That's what the American people want. And in so doing, we'll identify the large areas where we need to reform programs. So, saving and strengthening, securing Medicare and Social Security and Medicaid, putting in place an energy policy that makes us energy independent, and then recognizing the incredible importance of providing for the national defense. This is, again, a very dangerous world and we've got to make certain that our -- our men and women who stand in harm's way have all of the resources and equipment that they need to be able to protect us.
BARTIROMO: What else specifically do we need in terms of defense spending right now?
PRICE: Well, I think the latitude at the Defense Department is what -- is what's needed. Right now we've increased defense spending significantly. But there's a big hole to fill. In the -- in the budget agreement that was reached in 2011, over a trillion dollars was taken out of the Defense Department over a 10-year period of time. That's a huge amount of money. And it's not that the Defense Department can't get leaner and meaner, and they can, and the generals understand and appreciate that, as does the secretary, but what we need to do is be able to have the flexibility to use the resources within the Defense Department so they can respond in a way that best protects the American people.
BARTIROMO: Congressman, let me ask you about just getting -- getting bills across the finish line. I mean you just mentioned a number of people that you're working with that are resistant, reluctant to -- to get legislation passed. I mean you can have a great plan, but if you can't get it across the finish line and you can't bring people together, it's no plan at all. So how confident are you that we will have agreement on some of this important legislation that's still to be done?
PRICE: Well, I think expectations are appropriately kept at a -- at a modest level. We've got new leadership in the House of Representatives with Speaker Ryan and I'm very excited about that because Speaker Ryan is one of those individuals who understands and appreciates the importance of putting forward positive solutions for the American people. Whether it's in the area of tax reform, or health reform, a true replace bill for the repeal and replace, energy policy, welfare reform that builds on the successes of the 1990s and then, again, the national security. But all that we can control in the House of Representatives is the House of Representatives. And we'll be putting forward a positive agenda with real solutions, common sense solutions, legislative solutions, not just principles, but legislative solutions. That's important so that the American people once again can see who is in Washington actually fighting to solve the challenges that we face and who's getting in the way. And the American people need to know that so that they can make an intelligent decision in November of next year, which is an incredibly important election for the nation's future.
BARTIROMO: So what would you like to see happen? Tell me about that election and why you think this is so critically important.
PRICE: Well, we've had an administration now play (ph) seven years, eight years at that time, who have -- have clawed so much power and authority away from the other branches of government. This is an administration, a president, an administration that the American people understand and appreciate, know that they have usurped more of the authority, the article one, the legislative authority in the United States, and that -- our system doesn't work that way. We need to have balanced branches of government.
PRICE: And so for the -- for the Congress, what we need to do is claw back some of that responsibility, rightful responsibility, constitutional responsibility, and that happens in the area of budgeting and that happens in the area of appropriations.
PRICE: And we need a president that recognizes that and recognizes that the two branches are distinct and that they need to work together.
BARTIROMO: Congressman, real quick, did you and your colleagues cave on a couple of these things because you didn't want the American people to believe that the Republicans are the party that is -- that is really always willing to shut down the government?
PRICE: Well, we didn't get what -- all that we wanted. And there's no doubt about that, that's what happens in divided government. But, again, what we did get were real positive things. Keeping spending down to a level lower than 2008, that's a big thing. Ending the oil export ban that's been in place over 40 years, that's a big thing. Putting the reins on the EPA and the IRS so that they can't do some of the egregious things that they've been doing over the past couple of years, those are big, big things.
Now, that's not the be all and the end all. We understand that. But the American people are going to see in 2016 a positive contrast. People who are interested in solving challenges and who's getting in the way. And that's what the next year's going to be all about.
BARTIROMO: Yes, but you pushed out the ObamaCare taxes. Why just keep pushing things out, kicking the can down the road? I mean at some point -- or are you just hoping that the next president comes in and the ObamaCare legislation is repealed?
PRICE: Well, that's what's going to need to happen because the American people understand and appreciate that the health care system is moving in a direction that they don't want or recognize.
PRICE: It's lowering the quality of care. It's decreasing access to care. It's increasing the costs of care, decreasing choices. That's not what the American people want. So we need a president that will assist us, help us - -
PRICE: To repeal and replace ObamaCare and move in the direction of patient centered health care where patients and families and doctors are making medical decisions --
PRICE: Not Washington, D.C.
Congressman, good to have you on the program this morning. Thanks so much.
PRICE: Thanks so much, Maria. Happy New Year.
BARTIROMO: And to you. We'll see you soon, sir.
Some big changes coming to your taxes in the year ahead, especially when it comes to health care. Former Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Holtz-Eakin is with us, explaining when you can feel more of the effects of ObamaCare.
Remember, I hope you'll follow me on Twitter @mariabartiromo, @sundayfutures. Send us a tweet, let us know what you'd like to hear from Doug Holtz-Eakin next. We're looking ahead this morning on "Sunday Morning Futures."
BARTIROMO: Welcome back.
Congress passing that budget and it is now taking another crack at rolling back ObamaCare. So far the so-called Cadillac tax has already been pushed back two years, aimed at employers who provide high cost insurance benefits. The tax on medical devices also pushed back two years. And a one year delay for a tax on health insurers. Doug Holtz-Eakin is with us. He is the former Congressional Budget Office director under President George W. Bush, and is the president of the American Action Forum.
Doug, always good to see you. Thanks so much for joining us.
DOUG HOLTZ-EAKIN, FORMER CBO DIRECTOR: Thanks, Maria. Happy to be here.
BARTIROMO: What's your take on pushing all these ObamaCare taxes back?
HOLTZ-EAKIN: The Affordable Care Act is filled with a lot of really bad tax policies. So, you know, the medical device tax is a tax that is levied on even the very small device manufacturers who typically don't have any profits at that point in time. It's very hard for them to do the development. This health insurers tax, most people don't know about, it takes -- beginning with $8 billion and ramping up, it takes the money out of the industry regardless of their economic circumstances. And that should get passed through in higher premiums. And then there's the Cadillac tax, which was sold as a sales tax on very expensive policies, but has turned into an extremely complicated and burdensome tax for the employers. So, in the end, you've got a lot of bad tax policy stuck in a health bill. I think the strategy is to push it back a couple of years, hope that you get a different president, a new Congress, and get this done right, both from a health policy point of view and from a tax policy point of view.
BARTIROMO: Well, that's what I was just talking to Congressman Price about because, you know, I don't see the -- the -- you know, I don't see the idea of pushing taxes back if they're going to hit us at some point. But what you're saying and I think what he was trying to make the case is that, yes, when a new president comes in, not just pushing the taxes back, we're looking for a whole repeal.
HOLTZ-EAKIN: There's no question there's an interest in repealing the Affordable Care Act, but there's also an interest in -- in getting things done right in the replacement. So take the Cadillac tax. This is a very complicated tax at a 40 percent rate. Why should someone who's in the 15 percent tax bracket pay a 40 percent tax rate if the goal is to make their health insurance taxable? There's a much simpler way to do it, which is, call it compensation, put it in the income tax, tax it at the appropriate rate. You can exclude some of it from tax, cap the exclusion. There are a lot of options there that have the same incentives to control costs but are much better tax policy and you don't build new, complicated taxes. You use the systems you have.
BARTIROMO: I see.
Look ahead for us, Doug. What's coming up in this budget battle that we need to be aware of in terms of catalysts?
HOLTZ-EAKIN: Oh, I think what they've done is, you know, set this on auto pilot through 2016. So I don't think we're going to see a big battle. That -- that was the idea, get through the election year without having difficulties on that front. But immediately after the election, the real challenges start. The big spending programs, the Medicares, Medicaids, the Affordable Care Act, Social Security, are all on unsustainable trajectories. You know, Congressman Price, chairman of the Budget Committee, is going to have to lay out a strategy for reform that makes those big programs sustainable, makes them better for their constituencies, but doesn't run so much red ink that the U.S. gets in more trouble.
BARTIROMO: Which is why many of the GOP candidates certainly are talking about reforming these big entitlements. Any plan that strikes you that can work so far that you've heard?
HOLTZ-EAKIN: I think if you look at Social Security, there have been half a dozen bipartisan commissions that put out plans. Any one of them would probably work. They would raise the retirement age gradually, actually increase the minimum benefit, which is too low, take away some of the benefits for the more affluent, index it appropriately for inflation. There's a recipe there that makes Social Security much more sustainable over the long term. And then you turn to the tough stuff, which is the health programs, Medicare and Medicaid, Affordable Care Act. I think there there's more disagreement and we'll probably see a much more heated battle.
BARTIROMO: What kind of an economy are you expecting for 2016 now that this most recent budget battle is behind?
HOLTZ-EAKIN: Well, putting the budget battles behind is addition by subtraction. You don't get government shutdowns and impacts on consumer confidence. That's all good news. But there's no real fundamental change in the trajectory. This is an economy that's muddling along at something like 2 percent growth, sometimes bounces up to 2.5. People get excited. But it needs deep fundamental reforms. It needs the entitlement reforms, the tax reforms, the regulatory reforms, the immigration reforms that would generate the kind of growth we were used to in the post war. Something that looks like 3.2 percent. Something where the standard of living doubles during someone's working career. We're not on track to achieve any of that at the moment.
BARTIROMO: Doug, good to have you on the program today. Thanks so much.
HOLTZ-EAKIN: Thank you.
BARTIROMO: We'll see you soon. Doug Holtz-Eakin joining us there.
We are getting ahead of disease and living longer. We're highlighting the advancements in the treatment of disease next. A leading health care philanthropist and the CEO of the American Heart Association on how far we've come in treatments and the next big breakthroughs for our health. We're looking ahead this morning on "Sunday Morning Futures."
BARTIROMO: Welcome back.
The best is yet to come. That was the message from a recent gathering of 700 medical researchers in New York City. They were focusing on developments in the treatment and prevention of disease. I spoke recently with philanthropist Michael Milken, whose institute hosted the Partnering for Cures meeting. He was joined by the American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown.
BARTIROMO: Michael, let me kick this off with you. You've been on a lot of travel, talking about what's happening in health care right now. Can you tell us a bit about the program first, what you're trying to do.
MICHAEL MILKEN, PHILANTHROPIST: There's approximately 10,000 life threatening diseases. We have what we would define as cures for 500 to 600. We have a long way to go, but with technology that has changed, since I started these efforts 40 years ago, data storage costs are 1 billionth of what they were then. Speeds are a million times faster. There's 8 billion mobile phones on the planet. So you can access them. And so cost is down, speed is up, access and so today, for the first time, we can actually start to look at these things as a data challenge, big data challenge. And part of our efforts particularly today and whether we were at the Asian Summit, you know, (INAUDIBLE) Asian Summit in Singapore or China or London or Mexico or Washington or here in New York --
MILKEN: Has been to try to focus the cost of sequencing your genome. You know, we're only going to go back 20 years. It took a decade at least and actually it took 13 and cost $3.8 billion. Today, one hour, and a thousand dollars. And so we can now discover and everything we understood about medicine might change.
BARTIROMO: Yes, and that's why we have so much more information. Twenty years ago, when we first, you know, mapped the genome, it was so expensive, as you say. And now, 20 years later, we've got all this data. So I guess, Nancy, let me -- let me come to you in terms of heart disease and what you're seeing at the American Heart Association. We know a lot more than we ever have. So what have we gone from all of this data over the last 20 years?
NANCY BROWN, AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION CEO: You know, this data has really allows scientific research to transform the treatments for patients. If you look at the 40 consecutive years that heart disease rates have declined in this country, a lot of that is because of new technologies and new therapies. But today is a new day, as Mike said, with all of this access to new computing power, the technology companies that see themselves as part of the solution in solving critical scientific issues, we think a day is here that we cannot only help treat people when they get disease, but prevent people from getting heart disease in the beginning and perhaps someday maybe even find a way that we can reverse heart disease.
BARTIROMO: And isn't that what's happening, Mike, we're getting ahead of disease right now? I feel like we've learned so much about heart disease. We've changed our diets as a result. We've learned a lot about cancer. We've stopped smoking as a result. We're on the cusp of something really big when it comes to the brain. Am I right about this?
MILKEN: I think you're right about a lot of things. And I think one of the things that viewers don't fully realize is the number one driver of economic growth in the world has been public health, prevention, wellness, and medical research. And so, yes, every life is precious. There is no price on a person's life. But when you start talking about the economy, the amazing thing that has occurred, life expectancy at the start of the 20th century was 31 years of age on the planet.
MILKEN: Now, not everybody realizes that one in five Americans lost their life before they were five years old. And it took 4 million years of evolution to go from life expectancy of 20 to life expectancy of 31. Now, today, 114 years later, life expectancy is 71. So why has Southeast Asia been this growth engine in China? Well, we increase life expectancy by 75 percent in two generations.
BARTIROMO: Let me get your take on technology. This whole idea of sensors all throughout our body. Paul Jacobs was telling me that he's backing a clinical trial right now where as you insert a sensor into your blood stream --
BARTIROMO: And your phone will call you to say, go to the doctor, you're going to have a heart attack.
BARTIROMO: What has technology done?
BROWN: You know, technology has done so many things. First of all, it's providing new information for scientific discovery. The fact that we all can be citizen scientists and part of research because we're willing to wear sensors and contribute our data, that's an amazing, amazing thing that hasn't happened before because in, you know, the prior way we do scientific study, you might enroll in a clinical trial, perhaps you were part of a cohort study, like in the Framingham heart study. But now everybody can be part of science. And that's going to help scientific discovery.
But the other thing it does is it engages people in their own health. The number of people that are thinking about how far they walk and what their diet is.
BROWN: And as Mike has said, the number of people with mobile phones, we don't all have to have fancy expensive devices. We need access to these tools for all Americans and people worldwide.
BARTIROMO: Philanthropist Mike Milken and American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown there. Thank you for joining us.
Four candidates down, 13 left in the Republican field. Who will be next to drop out and who has what it takes to make the general election against the presumed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton? Our panel is here. They will weigh in as we look ahead this morning on SUNDAY MORNING FUTURES.
BARTIROMO: Welcome back. Donald Trump soaring in the polls while Senator Ted Cruz nips at his heels. Hillary Clinton is keeping her stronghold on the Democratic field, looking to be the one to beat next year.
So far only four candidates have dropped out of the Republican race, leaving the field at a baker's dozen, with some room to trim before the Iowa caucuses and early primaries coming up in February.
I want to bring in our panel right now. Ed Rollins is former principal White House adviser to President Reagan. He's been a longtime strategist to business and political leaders. He's 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. Stephen Sigmund is a senior vice president of Global Strategy Group, a Democratic strategist and a former communications director for former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine.
Good to see you guys. Thanks so much for joining us.
What do you make of these polls? I mean, it doesn't matter what Donald Trump says. He just keeps going up and up and up in the polls.
ED ROLLINS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: There's -- there's a certain element out there that's for him and they're not going to go away. And they're going to stay there long-term. What he's missing, I think, is he doesn't have the organization to win in a place like Iowa, even though he may leading in the polls. Basically, Cruz has done very, very well. And that's clearly an organizational state. There are 1,181 precincts, 99 counties. You've got to have people, and he doesn't have people.
BARTIROMO: Yeah, he doesn't have people. But I'll tell you, I mean, now you have also got the competitive element of Ted Cruz, right? So this most recent poll says that Cruz is at 18 percent and Trump is at 39 percent.
But, you know, depending on what poll you look at, they're very close, Judy.
JUDITH MILLER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: They are close. But I think that Cruz's popularity reflects a kind of -- I wouldn't say a lowering at this point, but I think you're going to see it, a reduction in that Trump support.
Now, the 11 percent of the country that supports him, no matter what, will not be shaken. But the people he needs to win caucuses, to win primaries and to win an election are not going to be there. And they're slowly shifting to Cruz and others.
And I think that what you're going to see post-the-bathroom-humor and the Yiddish vulgarism and all of the things that he's done, it's going to be cumulative and there will come a snapping point with Donald Trump.
BARTIROMO: Well, we'll see.
MILLER: We haven't seen it yet.
We haven't seen it yet.
STEPHEN SIGMUND, SENIOR VP, GLOBAL STRATEGY GROUP: Where is it? That's the...
MILLER: We haven't seen it yet, but I think we're going to see it.
SIGMUND: The fascinating thing is where is the snapping point? I mean, if it hasn't happened already, it's hard to see how it happens.
What's been interesting to me about this primary -- and, you know, it's obviously -- it gets more volatile as you get closer to the actual primaries, but, consistently, over 50 percent of the primary electorate has been most responsive to the candidates who are against things, right -- who are against immigration reform, who are against legislation on climate change or against marriage equality, who are against any gun regulation, against running a government, you know, and so -- and that's really not the kind of candidate that gets elected president.
You know, Jeb Bush may have been right that Donald Trump can't insult his way to the presidency, but he appears to perhaps be able to insult his way to a Republican primary...
... through a Republican primary.
BARTIROMO: Well, you know, I mean, look, people are so angered by the lack of calling terrorism what it is, a lack of getting things done, that they want to hear somebody say it straight.
ROLLINS: Well, he's viewed as a very strong leader. And he contrasts himself every day with the president, who obviously is not viewed as a strong leader.
The difference is the evangelical vote, particularly in Iowa, in the caucuses, where he's over 60 percent. And sooner or later, the crudeness and what have you of the Trump campaign is going to weigh down on them, and they basically organize very -- very well and effectively, and they clearly carried Huckabee eight years ago; they carried Santorum the last time.
I would say that he's going to win, meaning that Cruz is going to win...
ROLLINS: Iowa. Then there's usually a bump, anywhere from 6 to 7 points. It used to be more because there was a month between them. My sense is the people bracing for the New Hampshire side are the Christies, the Bushes, the Kasichs. And if they don't do well, then -- then it's pretty much over for them.
BARTIROMO: In Iowa and New Hampshire?
ROLLINS: In Iowa and -- in New Hampshire, in particular, because I think Iowa is going to come down to a two-person race between Trump and -- and Cruz.
SIGMUND: But, also, the difference is that that's -- you're talking about a very small -- a large slice of the Republican primary electorate but a small slice of the American electorate.
MILLER: That's right, potential American voters.
SIGMUND: Donald Trump has essentially the same amount of the American electorate as Bernie Sanders does right now and nobody is talking about him being president, right?
But they are -- he and Ted Cruz are controlling the narrative to the Republican primary campaign. It's very much an angry narrative. And that isn't -- that isn't who Americans tend to vote for, for president. And all the issues that I just listed off, that they're against, for the most part, the American electorate writ large is for.
MILLER: I think what we're seeing for the first time is the real impact of social media on campaigning, the real impact of the bifurcated economy, which you've been talking about on your morning show, Maria. That is winners and losers. And people who are losers are very angry. And when you have a country where the middle class is virtually no longer a majority in this country, yes, you've got a lot of losers, angry people. And that's where Trump shows up.
ROLLINS: The other issue is -- I agree with that totally -- but equally as important, the power of cable television and the debates in this cycle has been unprecedented. Every one of these candidates has been seen by more voters than they have ever been seen before.
So it's not like they haven't had a fair shot. And when you have, you know, 20 million to 25 million people watching you, as they did in the debates here, people pretty much have made an impression, and that impression is hard to basically erase.
BARTIROMO: You're right. Look, the last Fox Business Network debate, we had 13.5 million people, and we've got another debate coming up, January 14th, for the Fox Business Network debate.
All right. Let's get a look at what's coming up on MEDIA BUZZ, top of the hour; Howie Kurtz standing by.
Howie, good morning to you.
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST, "MEDIABUZZ": Good morning, Maria. I'll be at that debate in South Carolina. And we're going to look at how the media were pressing Hillary Clinton over an erroneous charge that Donald Trump was featured in ISIS recruitment videos, until there was this explosion over a crude Yiddish term that Trump used to describe what Barack Obama did to Hillary Clinton in 2008. He insists it's not crude. There's this whole linguistic investigation. It's truly bizarre.
Plus, a Washington Post yanks an editorial cartoon depicting Ted Cruz's children in a way that I won't even describe on the air. Is this what the senator can expect now that he's number two in the polls?
BARTIROMO: Yeah, it's a good point. Howie, we'll be there. We'll see you in about 20 minutes or so for MEDIA BUZZ.
Meanwhile, the election may be nearing, but President Obama has a whole year left in office and no intention of being a lame duck. What can he get done now? More with our panel as we look ahead on SUNDAY MORNING FUTURES.
BARTIROMO: Welcome back. President Obama still has 389 days left in office. He says he's, quote, "never been more optimistic" about a year ahead than he is right now. In that time he's still looking to fulfill some campaign promises that he made his first day in office and avoid being a lame duck.
We know he wants to close Guantanamo Bay prison -- this is one of his major priorities; he's planning a trip there. Creating what he calls "common- sense gun reforms" is another priority; and, also, improved race relations in the criminal justice reform.
We want to bring back our panel here, Ed Rollins, Judy Miller and Stephen Sigmund.
He has a lot of time to do a lot more, doesn't he, Ed?
ROLLINS: He has a lot of time. But he's really lame duck. And this is really going to be a challenge this year between the president, by executive order, trying to do things, because he'll get nothing from Congress, and Paul Ryan trying to exert himself as a real strong leader of the -- of the House.
BARTIROMO: Yeah, but why wouldn't he just do more executive orders?
ROLLINS: Well, he can try.
BARTIROMO: Because he's done so many already.
ROLLINS: He can try and we'll see what the court's going to do. My -- my sense today is those three things we put up on the scoreboard there, he's going to go 0-3. And if he tries to close Guantanamo in this era of terrorists and what have you, including some of the ones that have already left and come back into the ISIS battle, I think he will basically really damage his legacy.
BARTIROMO: It is unbelievable, Stephen, that, you know, some of the people that have been let out of Gitmo have returned to the fight. And we know this for a fact.
SIGMUND: Yeah, look, I'm -- I'm, sort of, in agreement with Ed here, even though I'm the Democrat on the panel, that these are various liberal priorities. You know, if I were advising him, which I'm not, I think those priorities are going to be overshadowed entirely by a presidential campaign.
And I think I would spend more time on talking about his economic legacy and how to build on that legacy, and in particular talking about the threat of terrorism and what it really is and what it really isn't and having an honest conversation with the American people about it.
Because, at the presidential campaign level, you're going to have a lot of -- a lot of bluster and positioning about it. And I think he would do well to do that and would be listened to by the American people, whereas I think these priorities are mostly going to be a -- a way-down-under-card to the presidential candidate.
BARTIROMO: And, by the way, Judy, that -- that's part of the reason that Donald Trump is as successful as he is, because people are so angry that the president does not want to be more serious about ISIS and take the terrorism threat a little more urgently.
MILLER: Well, that's true. And -- but in 57 percent of the country, in the latest Pew poll, say that they don't approve of the way he's handling ISIS, but that doesn't mean that he's going to shift gears, because he's not.
And now he can point to Ramadi, that town in Iraq, where -- the last town, Iraqi town I was in embedded with U.S. forces, and say that "We lost it; we took it back; my strategy is working; you've just got to hang on."
And before you say he can't do more and can achieve the legacy, look at what he's already done in the face of extraordinary opposition, especially in the Congress. He's done Obamacare. He's done the Iran nuclear deal. He's done Cuba. He's done the climate change. He's done the trade pact. He's going to go on doing these things.
BARTIROMO: You didn't mention immigration and you didn't mention the Syrian refugees.
ROLLINS: This is very important. The trade deal is not done yet.
He's going to have a very hard time. The Iran-Contra deal -- or the Iran thing -- is not -- I mean, he signed off on it, but it's not done by the Congress yet. Obamacare is falling apart by the day, by the cost.
So, I mean, great, this is what he's going to try and sell, and obviously you got the White House talking points...
MILLER: No, no, no...
ROLLINS: But at the end of the day, he's got a long ways to go before any of these are successful.
MILLER: This is what his successor's going to inherit.
BARTIROMO: Right, you have to -- you have to believe that, first of all, President Obama did exactly what he said he was going to do.
BARTIROMO: Right? OK, and, secondly, you have to believe that, when you look at what he said he was going to do, he was very successful. He's fundamentally changed this country.
I mean, you know, people -- 60 percent of the people, if you look at the polls, did not want Obamacare. That he pushed through. He pushed through immigration. He pushed through this Iran deal. He went through a back door, through the U.N., but he pushed it.
Look at this latest Quinnipiac poll. Democrats would accept Syrian refugees 74 percent to 22 percent. I just want to look at those people supporting and opposing accepting Syrian refugees into the United States.
If you're a Republican, 13 percent support; 82 percent of Republicans are opposing it. Twenty-two percent are opposing it on the Democratic side, 74 percent supporting it.
And then that last aisle is basically everybody, including Dems and Republicans. Fifty-one percent of the people polled oppose accepting Syrian refugees into the United States. What does that mean?
SIGMUND: I think it means you've had a political conversation that is really quite dishonest about it. I mean, it's really sad. You also see a very divided country about it, right, like you've just shown. Democrats and Republicans see this entirely differently.
But remember what the Syrian refugees are. You know, these are not terrorists; these are people who are fleeing a horrible situation, and they are vetted very, very carefully before they come to these shores.
BARTIROMO: Oh, I don't know if you can say that, Stephen, that they're vetted so...
BARTIROMO: ... so carefully.
SIGMUND: They go through a -- they go through a -- a biometric vet. They go through a huge DHS vet. They have to -- they have to do a waiting period. I mean, it's -- it's...
BARTIROMO: Well, how would that...
SIGMUND: It's completely different than coming over on a boat to an island.
BARTIROMO: Well, how is that different, for example, than the situation we saw with Malik, the terrorist in California?
You know, she was asked a few questions. "Are you a terrorist? Do you sympathize with terrorism?"
I mean, come on. She said "No, not at all." She came to this country on a fiance visa. She killed 14 people. She wasn't vetted.
SIGMUND: Look, I -- I'm not saying you can't do a better job of this. But what I'm saying is that, to put it on Syrian refugees who are fleeing the worst kinds of situations, who are doing exactly what any parent would do to try to get their families out of complete and utter danger, is -- is utterly the wrong target.
BARTIROMO: Right, and we're America. We always accept people who need us...
ROLLINS: We always do, but there are 6,000 miles from where they live. And the truth of the matter is that Europe has to do a lot more than they are.
Going back to the point we were making about the president, the other thing the president has done is he's given Republicans a big majority in the House and the Senate. He has created a new Republican Party. We have been in the process of destroying it in this presidential campaign...
... but one of the underlying things that we need to focus on and we will focus on in 2016 is the Senate is up for grabs. And this is -- the presidential obviously is front and center, but the Senate is really teetering, one way or the other. Democrats could take it back.
And that's going to be a very important thing.
So Republicans are going to do everything they can to block his agenda.
MILLER: And in his interview with NPR, the president specifically referred to that, Ed, and said he thinks they're going to take the Senate back.
BARTIROMO: Yeah, well, he also said he's going to have a Democratic...
ROLLINS: Lots of luck on doing that, but...
MILLER: I think the Syrian refugee issue will ultimately turn on whether or not there is another terrorist attack.
BARTIROMO: Yeah, for sure. All right, we'll take -- Steve, real quick?
SIGMUND: No, I mean, I think everything turns on whether there's another terrorist attack.
BARTIROMO: Yeah, exactly.
SIGMUND: If there isn't one, I think you go back to much more of a conversation about the -- about the economy and about some of the issues that the president is focused on.
BARTIROMO: It certainly was a year of highs and lows for the economy, capped off by an increase in interest rates. What will that have in terms of an impact on your wallet? Our panel will look ahead, next, on that. "Sunday Morning Futures" continues.
BARTIROMO: Welcome back. The economy growing at a sluggish pace in the third quarter, as interest rates are raised for the first time in nearly a decade. What is the economic impact and outlook for 2016?
Our panel is back, Ed Rollins, Judy Miller, Stephen Sigmund. Judy, what's your take on the economy in 2016?
MILLER: Look, I think we are seeing this extraordinary structural shift in the economy. I think that's what Janet Yellen was so worried about. That's why it took her so long to make this decision of a very modest rise in the interest rate, because what we have are are jobs that are disappearing. And the jobs that are replacing them are lower-paid, lower-skilled, in the service sector. And they are not providing the engine of growth that this economy needs, which is why we've seen such a slow recovery.
BARTIROMO: Not to mention, Stephen, the fact that the industrial side of the economy may very well be in recession right now, with this collapse in the price of commodities?
SIGMUND: Yeah, look, you have to have a shift in the economy to more higher-tech and infrastructure investment, which is part of government's responsibility, and the private sector's responsibility.
But, look, let's also look at the facts here, right? Yes, 2 percent is slow growth, but it's growth. They -- we've had continued growth in this economy, 65 straight months of private-sector job growth, 9 million jobs added under Obama, more than both Bushes combined, right? And that's why I think he should start talking about those things.
The rest of the world, remember, is falling behind. The rest of the world is either in recession, going to recession, or you have China, who has basically faked their way into growth and it's now completely blowing up on them, in the ways that people can't even leave their house for three days, right?
BARTIROMO: Certainly, by the end of the year, Ed, we did see a little vibrancy?
ROLLINS: There's a little, but the drop in oil prices, which obviously is going to have a big impact in the energy situation -- and what I worry about is what we desperately need is a lowering of the corporate tax rate, which will take a full restructuring. And I just don't see that happening in this Congress in the foreseeable future.
BARTIROMO: Two-thirds of GOP voters want tax reform to be at the top of the agenda.
ROLLINS: Well, it should be at the top of the agenda, and it has to be a bipartisan effort, and I think, as long as the partisanship will continue to be there as it is today, it's going to be very difficult to make that happen.
BARTIROMO: And, Stephen, Hillary wants to raise taxes?
SIGMUND: Well, she wants to -- she wants to raise some taxes but also wants to lower some of the corporate tax rates.
I mean, she's -- she's a very different -- she would be a very different kind of president on the economy than Barack Obama would be, and I think, now in particular, she's starting to embrace her husband's legacy, which is the legacy of, you know, of enormous growth.
BARTIROMO: See, I don't see it that way. I didn't see her embrace her husband's legacy.
SIGMUND: Oh, yeah. Oh, absolutely. She's -- look at the stories today about it. She's talking about it on the stump a lot. She's talking about -- she's talking about what the differences were between that economy and the economy now.
BARTIROMO: But she said, in Syria, we are where we -- we should be.
SIGMUND: And the shifts in the -- well, that's not about the economy...
BARTIROMO: That's President Obama.
SIGMUND: ... and the shifts in the economy that Judy was talking about that need to happen in order for growth beyond 2 percent to happen.
BARTIROMO: All right. We'll take a short break. The one thing to watch for the end of the year on "Sunday Morning Futures." That's next.
BARTIROMO: And we're back with our panel with the one big thing to watch in the year ahead. Stephen Sigmund?
SIGMUND: Well, I'd say, for the first time in my lifetime, there may be a chance of a brokered Republican convention. So that's -- that's what I'm looking to see if...
BARTIROMO: Wow, that would be big stuff.
SIGMUND: ... that happens, because, if you see Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, winning those early states, Republicans are going to pull out all the stops to keep them from being their nominee.
BARTIROMO: Judy, what are you...
MILLER: I'm looking at the year of the woman, in the economy, Janet Yellen; in Europe, Angela Merkel; and in the United States, maybe the first woman president in our lifetime.
BARTIROMO: And "Star Wars."
BARTIROMO: ... no spoilers.
ROLLINS: I'm looking to see if Paul Ryan, who I think is one of the most talented men in the speakership, or the Congress, can basically change the tone of Washington.
BARTIROMO: All right. To our panel, thank you. Happy new year, everybody. That will do it for "Sunday Morning Futures." Happy New Year to all of you. We'll see you next year.
Content and Programming Copyright 2015 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.