Rep. Jim Jordan on fight over GOP's health care plan; White House national economic adviser talks Trump agenda

House Freedom Caucus member joins the debate on 'Fox News Sunday'


This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," March 10, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


President Trump rolls out his budget this week and continues his offensive on health care.  


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Action on ObamaCare is an urgent necessity.  

WALLACE:  We’ll discuss the prospects for repeal and replace.  The president's first report card on jobs and his plan for tax reform with Gary Cohn, the White House chief economic advisor.  It’s his first Sunday show interview.  

Then, conservative Republicans are pushing back on the party's health care plan.  

REP. JIM JORDAN, R-OHIO:  The goal is really simple: get rid of this terrible law and do what we told the voters we’re going to do.

WALLACE:  We’ll talk with Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan, founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, who says he doesn't think Speaker Ryan’s proposal has the votes to pass.

And we’ll ask our Sunday panel about WikiLeaks exposure of CIA spy secrets.  

JULIAN ASSANGE, WIKILEAKS:  The CIA was so careless to produce this material and lose control of it.  

WALLACE:  All, right now, on "Fox News Sunday."


WALLACE:  And hello again from Fox News in Washington.  

Just over halfway through its first 100 days, President Trump faces a showdown over a key legislative initiative.  The house Republican plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare is encountering stiff opposition from the right wing of the party.  

In a few minutes, we’ll talk with one of those opponents, Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio, founding member of the House Freedom Caucus.  

But, first, the director of the White House National Economic Council and one of the president's top advisors, Gary Cohn, in his first Sunday interview.  

Gary, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office will report this week, perhaps as early as tomorrow on its assessment of the repeal and replace plan, and there are other groups that are estimating that the CBO will say that between 6 million and 15 million people will lose coverage under the ObamaCare repeal and replace plan.  

Will the president support a bill that throws a -- millions of Americans off insurance?  

GARY COHN, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISOR:  Well, Chris, you have to remember where we are.  We came into office with an insurance plan that doesn't work.  ObamaCare just is not working.  You know, in the last year alone, premiums are up 25 percent.  In the third of the counties in this country, we have only one insurance provider.  Therefore, American citizens don't have a choice.  

We have no choice but to make the plan better for all Americans out there.  We will get a score next week.  CBO will do what they need to do, we will see what the score is.  In fact, in the past, the CBO score has really been meaningless.  They’ve said that many more people will be insured that are actually insured.  But, look, when we get the CBO score, we’ll deal with that.  

WALLACE:  But I -- to repeat my question, will the president support a plan, if the CBO says that millions of people will lose their health insurance coverage, will the president continue to support that plan?  

COHN:  But, Chris, it's not just about coverage, it's about access to care.  It’s about access to be able to see you doctors.  The numbers of who's covered and who is not covered, that's interesting, and I know that may make some headlines, but what we care about is people’s ability to get health care and people’s ability to go see their doctor.  That's what we care about and that's what we’re driving for.  

WALLACE:  But, Gary, coverage is really important if you lose it.  And this is not what the president promised during the campaign.  Take a look.  


TRUMP:  Everybody has got to be covered.  This is an un-Republican thing for me to say, because a lot of times they say, no, no, the lower 25 percent that can’t afford private.  But --  

SCOTT PELLEY, CBS/"60 MINUTES":  Universal health care?

TRUMP:  -- I am going to take care of everybody.  I don't care if it costs me votes or not.  Everybody is going to be taken care of, much better than they’re taken care of now.  


WALLACE:  President Trump, then-candidate Trump said everybody has got to be covered.  Not, well, that’s just an interesting number.  

COHN:  Well, Chris, we are offering coverage to everyone.  If you are on Medicaid today, you’re going to stay on Medicaid.  If you are covered under an employee-sponsored plan, you’re going to be continued to be covered under an employee-sponsored plan.  If you fall into that middle group, we’re going to provide tax credit so you can go out and buy a plan.  And buy a plan that you want, not a plan that Washington is determining that you should buy.  

WALLACE:  But I guess the question is this: 20 million people gained coverage, have health insurance coverage now who didn't have it before ObamaCare.  Are some of them going to lose coverage because, one, you’re going to end over a period of years, the Medicaid expansion, and, two, the tax credits are not going to provide as much help as the subsidies did to help people who can't afford coverage?

COHN:  Chris, we don't think so.  If you’re on Medicaid, you’re going to stay on Medicaid.  

WALLACE:  But not the expanded Medicaid.  

COHN:  If you’re on Medicaid, you’re going to stay.  The expansion is not going to change.  There's a roll off period, there’s a period of transition and we’re very confident that the period of transition is going to work.

If you’re going to the exchanges today, and you -- we’re going to give you tax credits, going to allow you to buy insurance with tax credits and if you are more than half of the Americans today, 175 million plus Americans are getting there health insurance through employee-sponsored coverage plans.  So, we believe, if you want to have coverage and we think that everyone should have coverage, we’re providing you access to coverage.  

WALLACE:  The most conservative House Republicans are demanding a couple of changes to the plan that you guys are now supporting.  And I want to ask you about those.  

First, end the expansion of Medicaid next year, not in 2020, and, two, end insurance mandates that require plans cover some benefits, a wide range of benefits including maternity care.  

Will the president negotiate with the hardline conservatives or will he stand by the so-called Ryan bill, the repeal and replace build that is now before Congress as Sean Spicer said he would on Friday?  

COHN:  Chris, I think the president has been very open and transparent on the issue that he's been willing to accept improvements to the bill.  We’ve got out of our way and the president has said this, to say that anything that makes the bill better for Americans, we are willing to accept.  

We've met with many groups over the last week, week and a half.  We’ve talked with many different groups as we possibly could.  And anyone that comes off with an improvement, we are more than happy to accept.  

In fact, the president wants to implement many of these improvements.  He's very concerned that we have as many products out there as we can for consumers.  He wants to have the ability to -- for insurance companies to sell across state lines.  In fact, he is insisting that insurance companies have the ability to sell across state lines.  

WALLACE:  Do you think that ending the expansion of Medicaid next year, rather than a slower rollout in 2020, do you think that improves the bill?  

COHN:  Look, we are trying to give the governors the ability to control what goes on in their states.  Many of the governors have done a very good job.  All the governors have done a very good with health care in their states, and we are trying to work with the governors to give them more control of what they're doing in their states.  

WALLACE:  How important is this bill to the president?  How hard will he fight for it?  Is he willing to go out to districts and call out Republicans by name who oppose it?  And does he view this, his first legislative initiative, as make-or-break for his young presidency?  

COHN:  The president, the vice president, all of us in the White House, are fully committed to this bill and we’re going to do whatever it takes to get it passed.  Yes, he’s going to will travel.  Yes, he’s going to go out to the different congressional regions and he’s going to be personally involved in getting this past.  

WALLACE:  You’ve got some good jobs numbers on Friday.  I’m going to put them up -- 235 jobs created, unemployment down from 4.8 percent to 4.7 percent.  But during the campaign, candidate Trump dismissed reports like that.  


TRUMP:  Don't believe those phony numbers when you hear 4.9 percent and 5 percent unemployment.  The number is probably 28, 29, as high as 35.  In fact, I even heard recently, 42 percent.  


WALLACE:  So, if that's true, why should we believe these numbers?  And the fact is, didn't you inherit an economy that has been for the last 18 months somewhere between 4.6 percent and 5 percent unemployment?  

COHN:  Chris, look, the economy continues to grow and we’re doing our part.  We are doing more than our part to have the economy grow.  

I’m sure you've noticed all of the CEOs that have been into the White House recently and all the announcements that these CEOs have made, including last week, when Exxon was in and talk about a multiple billions, tens of billions of dollar investment in the Gulf of Mexico where they’re going to create 45,000 new jobs.  We’ve had many other CEO announcements in the White House, and all of them have said to the president, when they talked to the president, we are creating these jobs because you, Mr. President, and your policies.  

These jobs have not had the job market yet.  These are jobs that will be coming over the remainder of this year and next year.  So, we’re very, very excited about the job outlook in this country.  

WALLACE:  Well, let me ask about something that perhaps you’re not so excited about.  The Federal Reserve is almost certain to raise interest rates when they meet this week.  Are you worried -- excuse me -- are you worried that if there is a series of rate hikes over this year and early next year, that that could hinder economic growth?  

COHN:  Look, Chris, the Federal Reserve is an independent agency and they operate as such.  They have their economic data, which they look at, and they are trying to always modulate, you know, economic growth with inflation, with the workforce.  I think the Federal Reserve has been doing a good job in doing that.  The Fed will do what they need to do, and we respect the powers of the Fed.  

We -- it's our job at the White House, and the president’s job, and he is pushing us every day to continue to grow the economy, to create jobs and encourage manufacturing jobs and all jobs here in the United States, and to remove any and all barriers to job creation.  

WALLACE:  Let’s turn to another subject, and that’s the budget that the administration will release this week.  Here are some key outlines we know about the budget.  $54 billion increase in defense spending, to be offset by equal cuts in domestic spending.  

And here are some of the reductions that the White House is considering.  A 24 percent cut in the Environmental Protection Agency, and 11 percent cut for TSA, including airport security, a 37 percent cut for the State Department on foreign aid.  

Question, Gary, is that the Trump vision for the country?  

COHN:  Chris, President Trump ran on a platform of protecting America, building our military and creating military superiority.  Over the last two or three weeks, President Trump has had in all of the generals of the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines, and he -- they have talked to him about our preparedness and our readiness.  

And it's disappointing to hear what these general say we are.  We have under invested in our military over the last eight years.  Our military budget has been subject to sequester.  We have been unable to invest in our military.

Unfortunately, we have no alternative but to reinvest in our military and make ourselves a military power once again.  If you’re doing that in an area where you have to balance the budget and you cannot create a further deficit, you have to make cuts.  It's no different than every other family in America that has to make the tough decisions when they need to spend money somewhere, they have to cut it from somewhere else.  

These are tough decisions, but the president has shown he is ready, willing, and able to make these tough decisions.  

WALLACE:  Finally, in a couple of minutes we have left, Gary, I want to talk about you.  You were one of six former executives at Goldman Sachs who was part of this administration.  Goldman Sachs, of course, is one of Wall Street’s biggest firms.  The president promised to drain the swamp, but aren't the six of you part of what's been called the Wall Street-Washington revolving door?  

COHN:  Look, Chris, I came to Washington to make America great again and help the president with his vision and his mission and that's what I’m doing.  And I come in every day, I roll up my sleeves, I work with the president, I work with the amazing staff that the president has put together in the White House, and that's exactly what we're trying to do.  

WALLACE:  What do you think of Preet Bharara?

COHN:  I don’t -- I don't really have an opinion.  

WALLACE:  Well, wait a minute.  I mean, you were the president of Goldman Sachs.  You’re one of the leaders of Wall Street.  This guy was going after Wall Street, going after public corruption for seven years.  You don't have an opinion?  

COHN:  No, I don't.  You know, I was involved in Wall Street, running a bank.  I’m involved in Washington right now.  

You know, in big corporations, you have division of labor and you have certain people that take care of certain obligations in certain parts of your business, and I was involved in that part of our business.  So, you know, you can't do everything.  

WALLACE:  No, I understand that.  

As a tough prosecutor, though, who was involved in public corruption cases and going after Wall Street crime, wasn't he draining the swamp?  

COHN:  Chris, as I said, I don’t really -- I don't really have an opinion.  That was not an area where I spent a lot of time.  

WALLACE:  We’re going to leave it there.  Gary, thank you so much.  Thanks for coming in. Thanks for talking to us about the areas you are focusing on.  And please come back, sir.  

COHN:  Chris, thanks for having me.  

WALLACE:  Up next, one of the leaders of the conservative opposition to the House repeal and replace plan, Congressman Jim Jordan.  What he says the president should do to keep his campaign promise.  


WALLACE:  By the end of this month, Republican leaders want to bring their bill to the House floor to repeal and replace ObamaCare.  But the Trump administration is struggling to win over some conservative members who call the plan ObamaCare-light.  

Joining me now from Ohio, Congressman Jim Jordan, a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, some 40 conservative lawmakers who could be the biggest obstacle to passing the legislation.  

Congressman, you called for using the budget reconciliation plan to pass a clean repeal of ObamaCare.  


WALLACE:  The problem is, then you’re going to need 60 votes to do a lot of things that the ObamaCare repeal and replace plan does to maintain health care coverage for the sum of the millions of people in danger of losing it.  Wouldn’t you create chaos for a lot of those people?  

JORDAN:  No, the effective date for that is two years out.  It's the same thing we put on President Obama's desk, Chris.  Why not put that on President Trump's desk?  We think we’re going to get a different outcome.  We believe President Trump will sign it.  

Understand the speaker’s plan doesn't repeal ObamaCare.  Even Charles Krauthammer said that, called it ObamaCare-light, as you said earlier.  It doesn't bring down premiums and it doesn't unite Republicans.  

So, why not do what we all voted for just 15 months ago, clean repeal, and then get focused and build some momentum to actually replace ObamaCare with something that’s going to bring down costs?  

WALLACE:  But I don't have to tell you, the problem is that you can repeal ObamaCare under this plan with 51 votes because it's part of budget reconciliation.  

JORDAN:  Right.  

WALLACE:  Now, if you’re going to replace it, you’re going to be doing that needing 60 votes, eight Democrats.  

JORDAN:  Right.

WALLACE:  And you’re not going to get them.  

JORDAN:  Yes.  And -- well, the speaker’s plan is the same thing.  It talks about things we have to do in phase three that you have you’re going to need more votes for it.  

And if we want to -- we want to put more in this first reconciliation bill, actually get after the insurance regulations that we think are driving up the cost for working-class families and middle-class families, then let's do that.  And we can challenge the Senate and take that to the Senate, and maybe have a ruling with a parliamentarian there.  But we can do it that way as well.  

The key is let’s do what we told the voters we were going to do.  Let’s repeal ObamaCare, not create some different form of ObamaCare.  

WALLACE:  Yes, but -- so I -- this is, I was going to ask you, one of the other things you’re talking about doing, basically blowing up the Senate rules.  To do what?  

JORDAN:  To actually repeal ObamaCare.  And right now, everyone knows the insurance regulations, all the mandated coverage are in there that drive up the cost for everyone.  Those have to be dealt with if we’re ultimately going to bring down the cost for working-class families and middle-class families.  And if we can put that in this bill and get over there, we may have a parliamentary ruling on it.  But I think we can win that as well, and use that strategy to actually repeal and replace it with something that’s going to be helpful (ph).  

WALLACE:  But, Congressman, here’s the problem -- if you blow up the Senate rules and you basically say, you can pass almost anything under reconciliation with 51 votes, then you’re ending the filibuster.  You were saying a majority can do anything they want.  

Back in 2009, there was a simple majority, but not a filibuster-proof majority of Democrats who wanted universal health care and they couldn't do it because under -- they couldn't get the 60 votes to do that.  So, that's one problem with it.  I mean, if you blow up the rules, yes, it will work for you now, but when the Democrats come back in, and they will eventually, then they can do anything they want by 51 votes.

JORDAN:  That -- Chris --  

WALLACE:  And the other thing, I don't mean to be harsh, is I’ve talked to some senators who say they don't want a congressman telling them how to run their chamber.  

JORDAN:  That's fine.  Valid point, Chris.  What I do know is what we told the American people.  And we told them we were going to repeal ObamaCare and replace it with something that’s going to bring the cost of insurance.  That’s what we told them.  

This legislation that the speaker has brought forward doesn't do that.  We didn't tell the American people we were going to repeal ObamaCare but keep some of the taxes in there.  We didn't tell the American we were going to repeal ObamaCare and take the Medicaid expansion and extend it.  

We didn't tell them we were going to repeal ObamaCare and get rid of the mandate but yet bring back this 30 percent penalty that’s in the bill.  We didn't tell them we were going to have this insurance subsidy in the bill either.  So, let's do what we said.  

Right now, the thing that should unite us is what we all voted on before.  I mean, every Republican 15 months ago voted for the clean repeal.  Why is it OK to say, at campaign time, we’re going to do this and then once you get in office, oh, wait a minute, we’ve got to change what we told the voters we’re going to do?  I don't think that's why they sent us here.  

So, let's pass that and then let's move on to do the other things we have to do to fix this.  

WALLACE:  Look, this is clearly going to be a negotiation between you and the House and the Senate Republicans and the White House.  And part of the problem is a different House members, different conservatives, frankly, in your caucus have different wish lists.  

And the question I have is, has the House Freedom Caucus come down with a final wish list, what you can live with, and what you can't live with?  

JORDAN:  I think you first got to start here, Chris -- there's a reason why every single major conservative group in the country is opposed to the speaker’s plan.  There's a reason why so many conservative health care experts are opposed to the plan.  There's a reason why five conservative senators are opposed to the plan and there's a reason why conservatives in the House are also opposed.  

WALLACE:  But, sir, you’re not answering my question.  Have you got a final --

JORDAN:  It doesn't solve the problem.  

WALLACE:  Have you got a final wish list of the things that drop dead, we cannot accept this in the plan?  

JORDAN:  We’re working on that.  The president has been very clear that he wants negotiation.  They’re open to change.  Your previous guest just talked about they’re open to changes.

We’re working on that.  We’re going to be at the White House on Tuesday.  We are open -- we are looking at those issues that we think can make this bill consistent with what we told the American people we were going to do.  

WALLACE:  Well, let's talk about a couple of the sticking points for you and other conservatives in the so-called Paul Ryan bill.  One of them is the refundable tax credits which you call a new entitlement, and a substitute for subsidies.


WALLACE:  But other conservatives and, Tom Price, the secretary of health and human services, say look, people who get their health insurance on the job get a tax break because their -- that benefit is not taxed.  This is just treating people who buy health insurance on the individual market the same way.  It's a level playing field.  

JORDAN:  Fair enough, Chris, and we've been fine with tax credits.  Our concern is, you want to give tax credits to people who actually have a tax liability.  If you don't, it's nothing more than a subsidy.  

What we really are focused on is, we want to bring back affordable insurance, not just some subsidy for the government to buy some plan that the government approves, not to put more people on Medicaid, but to actually have those working-class families be able to shop for a plan, an affordable plan, that meets their families need.  That's a much better option than signing people up for a government-type program.  So, that's what we’re focused on accomplishing.  

WALLACE:  Well -- all right, let me -- before we get into that, le me ask you about another aspect of the repeal and replace plan, which is Medicaid expansion.  Now, the White House and Paul Ryan are talking about phasing that out, the expansion that has allowed millions, 11 million people to get health insurance who didn't have it before ObamaCare.  They’re talking about phasing that out by 2020.  You want to end it right away.  

Isn't that going to create chaos and throw millions of people off health insurance?  

JORDAN:  Chris, the plan we passed and every Republican supported last Congress said there's a two-year effective date.  So, you would repeal ObamaCare, but there is still two years transition time.  Everyone knows you need to transition time to bring back a marketplace.  

So, again, this is -- I don’t view success as keeping Americans on Medicaid.  I view success as bringing down the cost of insurance so families can pick the plan that fits their need.  That’s what we're doing.  We have a two-year transition time for that.  

And again, remember what we told the voters, we said we were going to repeal ObamaCare, not keep Medicaid expansion around forever.  We said we were going to do repeal it.  So, let's do that, let's be consistent with what we told the American people we were going to accomplish when they sent us here to Washington.  

WALLACE:  Here is what House Republican Speaker Ryan says is the bottom line.  Even if it doesn't meet all of your demands, he says that this plan, this repeal and replace plan, is a lot better than continuing with ObamaCare.  And he points out these measures in the plan of what it will do, it would end the individual and employer mandates.  It would expand health savings accounts, make it possible for people to put more money into the HSA’s.  And it would create a path to turn the Medicaid entitlement into a block grant to states.  

If you block this plan, are you willing to blow up repeal and replace, something that -- as you pointed out, Republicans have been promising for seven years?  Are you prepared to deliver what could be --  

JORDAN:  Chris --  

WALLACE:  -- a death blow, certainly a serious blow to the beginning -- the early days of a Trump presidency?  I mean, are you willing, bottom line, to vote no on the Ryan plan and to block ObamaCare repeal and replace this year?  

JORDAN:  Chris, as the speaker said, it's not a binary choice.  That's not how the legislative process works.  This idea that they had the bill hidden away, introduced it five days ago and you’ve got to take it or leave it, that's not how American democracy works.  I represent three quarters of a million people, as do all of other members.  We’d like a chance to amend it, change it, and make it consistent with the message we told the voters we were going to accomplish.  

WALLACE:  And --  

JORDAN:  It seems to me --  


WALLACE:  And if I may just briefly, because we are running out of time -- what about those moderate members, the moderate Republicans, particularly in the Senate, who were saying this goes too far, that they are scared of what this is and that -- you know, they -- you got Ryan and those folks trying to thread a needle here to satisfy the right wing, but also to satisfy the center?  

JORDAN:  Chris, they all just voted for a few months ago, the clean repeal that we introduced this week.  So, it's OK to say I voted for it during campaign time, but now when it counts, you can't do it?  It seems to me the binary choice if there is one here, is to say, look, either work with all the folks in the conservative movement, all the Republicans around the country who say this plan is not what we need to do.  Either work with us or you don't end up getting the votes.  That’s the real choice here.

So, I hope they’ll work with us, I hope they’ll have the same -- I hope the speaker and our leadership will have the same attitude White House does, which is, let's work together and find a plan that works for the American people and that is consistent with what we told them we were going to do when they gave up the privilege to serve.  

WALLACE:  Bottom line, if this is the plan that you have to vote on, on the House floor, where will you vote?  What will you vote?

JORDAN:  I don't plan for voting for the plan as introduced by the -- by the speaker and what went through the committees.  Again, went through the committees, not one single amendment was allowed to be offered.  That's not how the process is supposed to work.  

WALLACE:  So, you’ll vote no on this plan?  

JORDAN:  I’m not for this plan and I think there’s lots of opposition to this plan in the House and the Senate.  

WALLACE:  Congressman Jordan, thank you.  Thanks for joining us.

JORDAN:  Thank you.

WALLACE:  It's always good to talk with you, sir.  

JORDAN:  Thank you, Chris.  

WALLACE:  Coming up, we’ll bring in our Sunday group to assess the prospects for passing the repeal and replace bill and whether even if it passes, Barack Obama is the big winner here.  

Plus, what would you like to ask the panel about the GOP battle over ObamaCare?  Just go to Facebook or Twitter, @FoxNewsSunday, and we may use your question on air.  


WALLACE:  Coming up, the White House touts the first jobs report of President Trump’s time in office.  


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  I talked to the president prior to this and he said -- to quote him very clearly -- "They may have been phony in the past, but it's very real now."



WALLACE:  We’ll ask our Sunday group how much credit the president really deserves, next on "Fox News Sunday".



MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We’re going to have an orderly transition to a better health care system that makes affordable, high-quality health insurance available for every American.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: It's really a cruel bill that the Republicans have put forth and it will increase the number of uninsured in our country.


WALLACE: Vice President Pence making the case in Kentucky Saturday for the GOP's new health care plan, while House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi defends the ObamaCare law she worked so hard to pass.

And it's time now for our Sunday group. Jason Riley from The Wall Street Journal, Fox News political analyst and columnist for The Hill, Juan Williams. Julie Pace, who covers the White House for the Associated Press, and Michael Needham, head of the conservative think tank, Heritage Action for America.

Well, Michael, you say that there's no significant difference between ObamaCare and the repeal and replace plan. You were one of the leaders of outside groups who met with President Trump at the White House this week. Did you tell him that?

MICHAEL NEEDHAM, CEO, HERITAGE ACTION FOR AMERICA: We had a great meeting. I thought that the president was open to feedback. I think that what Gary Cohn said earlier about them looking for improvements was absolutely the case. It was productive and we moved the ball forward.

The problem is that the spirit that the president was bringing of openness to improvement has not been the spirit has Capitol Hill, the congressional leadership, has bought without their binary choice either take it or leave it approach. The fundamental problem is that this bill keeps the architecture of ObamaCare in place. ObamaCare has a whole series of regulations that drive up the cost of buying health insurance. Many of those regulations stay in place.

Because these regulations dry up the cost of health insurance, to keep people in buying health insurance, ObamaCare has an individual mandate, which would penalize people for not buying health insurance. This bill gets rid of the individual mandate and replaces it with a mandate on insurers of the 30 percent tax to try to have continuous coverage. And because you've now driven up the cost of health insurance and your requiring people, or incentivizing people to buy these overly expensive plans that they don't want to purchase, you then had a large subsidy. ObamaCare has a large subsidy. That’s replaced with a different former of subsidy. This bill keeps the architecture of ObamaCare in place and that's why it needs to be improved and it needs to be improved a lot if we’re going to make it great.

WALLACE:  Juan, I want to pick up on that because while some liberals -- and we just heard Nancy Pelosi complaining bitterly -- there are others who are claiming victory and exactly on Michael’s point, they say that this bill maintains the basic structure, architecture of ObamaCare, in the sense that there will continue to be government regulations of the health insurance industry in the fact that even after it is scaled-back, that Medicaid will -- there will actually be more people under Medicaid than were before ObamaCare. So they say, in effect, that Obama has won.

JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think Obama has -- president -- former President Obama has won in the terms that you now have Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives saying, the government has an important role to play here.

But I would object to this way of thinking about the question, Chris, in this regard. When you say ObamaCare-lite, it suggests, oh, this is just a little different than ObamaCare. No big deal. I think it is a big deal from the left's perspective because you have fewer people insured. The whole point of the deal was to increase the number of people who had health insurance in America. Twenty million gained health insurance from ObamaCare. This would decrease the number of people who have health insurance. It would drive up the cost of health insurance, especially -- and I find this ironic -- for older, low income voters, many of whom, especially white lower income voters, were Trump supporters. Those people are going to be hurt by this plan. You have the AMA, the American Medical Association, the nurses, the hospitals, all of them saying this doesn't work -- this doesn’t improve health care for Americans.

WALLACE: We asked you for questions for the panel, and we got a bunch from people who are upset about the disarray that we’re seeing -- and we’ve seen on this show -- about repealing ObamaCare. Someone named Common Sense -- I think I'm going to take that name -- tweets this for Republican leaders. "1." -- this is for Republicans, "what have you been doing since it was passed back in 2010? 2. Why weren't you ready to go on day one for President Trump?"

Jason, how do you answer Common Sense?

JASON RILEY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, one problem is that the Democrats have been slow-walking a lot of the nominees that Trump has put forward. So he hasn't had a lot of time to -- to work with his team in place. And now that he does have his team in place, I think things are moving on.

But, Chris, conservatives have to decide whether they’re going to do what is achievable and pragmatic here, or whether they’re going to make the perfect enemy of the good here. And the reality here is that a lot of the stuff in this bill Paul Ryan doesn't like. You know, he doesn't like the Medicaid expansion. He doesn't like using tax credits instead of tax deductions. And if you were building a system from scratch, they wouldn't be in there. But he’s not building a system from scratch. He’s building a system from ObamaCare. And he wants to move gradually.

He wants to move pragmatically. He wants to move in a way that this can get through both chambers of Congress. The Republicans don't have a lot of wiggle room. They can only afford to lose about 12 people maybe in the House. In the Senate, the narrow -- the margin is much narrower there.


RILEY: Two. So he’s got -- and -- and a clean bill is very unlikely to get through the Senate. Everyone knows that.

WALLACE:  Let me -- Michael.

NEEDHAM: It's just a very, very unfair way to frame this issue. You have -- you have one chance on a 51 vote Republican threshold to get a bill through. And what conservatives are saying is, take the architecture of ObamaCare, do that on the 51 vote threshold, party line vote, and then do the rest when you need to get Democrats. What they’re proposing going through is the exact opposite. You do the rest now with 51 votes and then we’re going to magically get 60 votes, eight Democrats, to say, hey, now that you passed your bill that keeps that architecture in place, we’re going to join you to tear down the architecture? It’s absurd.

RILEY: Trump -- Trump didn’t run on -- Trump didn't run on doing the rest later. He didn’t run on simply repeal. He ran on repeal and replace.

NEEDHAM: And that’s what we should do. And --

RILEY: And that's why he is backing the -- Congressman Ryan right now --


RILEY: The House speaker, because he knows that -- that they will own -- they will own health care. They will own every horror story coming out of this where people start losing their coverage.

NEEDHAM: You are exactly -- you’re exactly -- you’re exactly right.

RILEY: And even Trump tweeted, this will be a disaster in 2018.

WALLACE:  A bloodbath. That was the word he used.

RILEY: If we don’t -- if we don’t get this -- get this right.

NEEDHAM: A (INAUDIBLE). If Republicans leave the architecture of ObamaCare in place and if we have death spirals and premiums going up under Ryancare, what do you think the 2020 election is going to look like? What’s the 2024 election look like?

WALLACE:  All right.

NEEDHAM: What’s it going to look like when a Democrat president puts in single payer health insurance. That’s why we need to do this right, and we need to do it right now --

WALLACE:  All right.

NEEDHAM: Or else it could be a (INAUDIBLE) who doesn’t run through (INAUDIBLE) --

WALLACE: I want -- I want to switch to another topic in the time we have left in this segment and I want to bring you in, Julie, and I want to ask you about -- about the good jobs report that we got for last month. How much credit do you think President Trump -- you heard Gary Cohn say the CEOs are in, they’re excited, they’re going to start investing and hiring -- how much credit do you think President Trump legitimately deserves for the good jobs numbers and Gary had to kind of -- as you expect anybody in the White House to do, duck on the question of the Fed. How worried are there about the Fed and the series of rate hikes over the next few months and whether that could turn the economy around?

JULIE PACE, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, I think when you look at the jobs numbers, there are two pieces of this. One, the U.S. economy is massive and it doesn't turn on a dime. So a lot of what you're seeing in the jobs numbers is part of patterns and trend lines that we saw last year under President Obama. At the same time, I think it's undeniable that there is a level of confidence on Wall Street among some of these executives that had been meeting with the president lately that may be contributing to the --

WALLACE:  Business confidence numbers are up.

PACE: They are up. The -- that confidence, though, is based in part on passing a repeal and replace of ObamaCare, passing a -- a big tax reform overhauled. And so if those packages don't get through this year, you may see that confidence start to decline a bit. So there is a lot of pressure on the White House to make good on those promises.

And when it comes to the Fed rate hike, look, there is some nervousness. They -- they are limited in what they can say publicly, obviously, because the Fed is independent, but there is some nervousness that if you have growth start to roll back and you are in the middle of a really tough ObamaCare debate and tax reform gets pushed off longer, then we're suddenly looking at a much different economic picture than what they feel like they have -- they have walked into right now.

WALLACE: And -- and in 30 seconds, I will to take you back to the whole ObamaCare thing. The big news this week is that the Congressional Budget Office is going to come up with its score and the expectation is it’s going to say that millions of people will lose -- now, maybe it's accurate, maybe it isn't, but it’s going to be out there -- will lose coverage under repeal and replace. How scared are they about that?

PACE: Well, I think the preemptive spinning that you’re seeing of numbers that aren’t even out yet tell you everything that you need to know. They -- they know that there is going to be some number out there, perhaps up to 15 million, we don’t know exactly, of people who will lose coverage. And even if they are discrediting that number, that is going to be a pretty powerful figure for opponents both on the left and the right to wield against this plan.

WALLACE: All right, we have to take a break here panel.

When we come back, and new headache for team Trump over former national security advisor Michael Flynn. What did they know about Flynn’s work for the Turkish government during the campaign?



TRUMP: General Flynn is a wonderful man. I think he's been treated very, very unfairly by the media.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You’re disappointed by the story?

PENCE: The first I heard of it and I think it is a -- it is an affirmation of the president's decision to ask General Flynn to resign.


WALLACE: The Trump administration's tone towards former national security advisor Michael Flynn changing sharply after revelations he was paid to work on behalf of the Turkish government during the presidential campaign.

And we’re back now with the panel.

Well, let me reset for all of you, Michael Flynn was perhaps Donald Trump's top foreign policy advisor during the campaign, but he registered this week as a foreign agent for work he did at that same time, during the campaign, for the government of Turkey. And it turns out the Trump transition, after the election, was told about this other job.

Julie, the White House says that the president, at any point in this process, as a candidate, as a president-elect and as president was never told that Michael Flynn was moonlighting, that he had another job. Do you find that as hard to believe as I do?

PACE: I do because there were public reports about what Michael Flynn was doing. Even after the election you had Elijah Cummings, a Democrat, sending a letter to Mike Pence asking the White House to look into this, raising questions about this. And even if we do take the White House’s word on this and accept that no one passed this information on to Donald Trump, I'm not sure that makes it better because then you’re in a situation where you have the person was is now the White House counsel receiving word from Flynn’s lawyer that he may have to register as a foreign agent and not feeling as though that raised red flags about his participation at a high level in the White House, not raising that issue to the White House. So I think either way the president was aware and didn't think it was concerning, or if top staffers didn't bring this to the White House, I don't think the Trump administration comes out looking very good here.

WALLACE: Do you think this fades away, I mean Flynn is gone, or do you think it stays?

PACE: Well, it is gone, but I think that this opens up a whole new avenue in terms of looking at Flynn and -- and what he was doing during the campaign and then during the transition and his brief time of the White House. We’ve been focused a lot on his conversations with the Russian ambassador, but now I think that we’re going to start to dig in more on what he was doing for this company that could have benefited the Turkish government.

WALLACE:  Jason, maybe I'm old-fashioned -- I’m, in fact, I am old-fashioned, but I’ve got to say, I find it shocking that here is the top national security advisor to the presidential nominee of the Republican Party, one of the two people who's going to be president, who was participating in top secret, classified briefings and it turns out that he was working for another country at the same time.

RILEY: And not just another country, I mean Turkey isn't France or Britain. Turkey has taken a sharp turn for the worse in recent years. And so it's doubly disturbing, I think, that it -- that we’re talking about Turkey here. And we can only hope that the administration does a better job of vetting its other top officials.

The other thing that disturbed me about this episode was just the lack of communication among the administration. Here you had Sean Spicer, the White House spokesman, out there still defending Flynn, saying his credentials are impeccable. Then you had the vice president telling Bret Baier, you know, what -- now you know why we fired him. I mean there -- there needs to be better communication in terms of messaging coming out of this administration. We've seen this on other issues before. I think they really need to get their act together.

WALLACE: To make the point, though, Flynn is saying that his lawyers notified -- during the transition, not during the campaign, but during the transition -- notified Don McGahn, who ended up as the White House counsel, about the fact that he had done this work and that he might -- and asking whether he needed to register as a foreign agent, which he ended up doing just this last week. Is it conceivable to you that that information would not be passed on to the president-elect before he decides to make this man his national security advisor?

RILEY: No, it isn't. And either -- either -- I don’t -- either Trump did not appreciate the seriousness of this, or he didn't know about it.

PACE: And it’s --

RILEY: And I think it may be the former.

PACE: It’s important to note there was a second conversation also that happened after the inauguration when Flynn was already in the White House as national security advisor, where his lawyers told the White House Counsel’s office they were going to have to move forward with the foreign agent registration.

WALLACE: All right, let’s switch subjects because there was other news this week. WikiLeaks had another major document dump, more than 8,000 secret files from the CIA, that indicated how that agency was able to turn cell phones and television sets and other devices into cyber weapons. Here was Sean Spicer's reaction to this disclosure.


SPICER: This is the kind of disclosure that undermines our country, our security, and our well-being.


WALLACE: Michael, I want to ask you, some conservatives were praising Julian Assange and praising WikiLeaks during the campaign for the fact that they were releasing the e-mails of John Podesta and embarrassing Hillary Clinton in the process. Were they wrong then and do they need to apologize?

NEEDHAM: Well, WikiLeaks is an enemy about the United States, and I think both sides, over the last couple of years, have had times where, for partisan, political reasons, WikiLeaks has appeared to be useful. You talk about in the -- the last couple years with the election, but earlier when there was embarrassing things coming out on WikiLeaks about the Bush administration or otherwise, there were people on the left who were praising WikiLeaks. Certainly during the Snowden time there were people who were praising that.

We have a big problem in this country if there is somebody inside the CIA leaking this type of information. It’s an incredibly serious thing. It has to be taken care of. And both sides need to recognize that WikiLeaks is not something that should be embraced for domestic, partisan politics. It's something that we all, as Americans, need to be deeply concerned about.

WALLACE: I want you to -- because this is a -- an issue that's being debated in the conservative community, though. You say that you believe that WikiLeaks and Julian Assange are enemies of this country?

NEEDHAM: I think that we need to be able to have a conversation in this country about what is the right balance between security and privacy. Those are important conversations. They’re conversations that largely need to happen inside the -- the -- Capitol Hill and with people who are elected by us to represent our interests and have security clearances. But certainly that's a valid question for us to be having. It is not a conversation that should be run by foreign actors and foreign actors tied to a country like Russia. That's obviously not the appropriate way for a democratic country to debate difficult subjects.

WALLACE: Juan, Michael makes a good point. I mean, yes, in the last year or so it's the conservatives who have embraced WikiLeaks and its revelations about Hillary Clinton and the campaign and Podesta and the Democratic National Committee, but there was a time with the original WikiLeaks dump, the Bradley Manning, Chelsea Manning stuff, that it was liberals who were talking about it.

WILLIAMS: Well, there's a key distinction here, Chris. Remember, in the one case we're talking about things that involve domestic intervention, spying on people here in the United States. What was revealed this week was about CIA methods, sources, tactics overseas. Is anybody saying that the CIA shouldn't be spying on our enemies, shouldn't be keeping us safe? That’s -- of course they should be.

So all this is the work, to my mind, of Assange and WikiLeaks as really puppets for the Russians, because I think that’s clear now, that's where the information is coming from, and they are driving this whole argument, I think, one, in terms of the election, as you pointed out, to undermine trust and faith in American democratic processes. But secondly, now to undermine faith and confidence in an American institution, the Central Intelligence Agency, and I think they do this quite directly in service to Russian agenda.

WALLACE:  So, in that sense, should liberals, conservatives, Republicans and Democrats all give a stiff arm to WikiLeaks?

WILLIAMS: Indeed. I don’t think there’s any question. Michael and I agree on this, they’re an enemy of the American people. But I think it's ironic, to go back to your -- the way you posed the question to Michael, that you had people who said, oh, no big deal when it was Podesta’s e-mail, when it was the DNC hacking. Oh, well, we don't notice that they’re not hacking the other side, not hacking the Republicans, not hacking Donald Trump, and damaging trust and confidence in the Clinton campaign.

WALLACE: Julie, this leak comes on top of all the others from the intelligence community, from law enforcement about President Trump. We’re going to talk about Russia in the next segment. But what do they think at the White House about the inability of this government to keep secrets secret?

PACE: It's driving them crazy. Every day they come in and they see information on the front page of the newspapers and on television that is supposed to be kept private. They are blaming this on career people or Obama political appointees at these agencies who are holdovers right now. But, to some extent, I think it does reveal what is a real problem, that there are people in this government who don't believe in what Trump is doing and want to expose it. He has to grapple with that.

WALLACE:  All right, we have to take a quick break.

Up next, Donald Trump go silent on Russia this week, refusing to answer a single question. What’s that all about?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, any --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, press. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any proof on the wiretapping?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Could you guys, please -- thank you, press.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, any proof at all on the wiretapping?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Thank you, press.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) out this way. Thank you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much, press.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Please head out behind you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, press.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to provide any proof?


WALLACE: She was very polite there.

President Trump refusing to answer any questions from reporters on Russia this week after accusing Barack Obama last weekend of wiretapping Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign.

And we’re back now for one last go around with the panel.

Julie, this is a pretty dramatic shift for this White House. I’m going to put up the picture here. When the president signed the revised executive order this week banning travel from six countries, all they did was release this photo but didn't let any reporters in and officials there are now saying that since the House and Senate Intelligence Committees are investigating, that they will have no more comment on the president's charge.

Julie, what's your sense? Do they have any evidence to back up the president on this charge about President Obama and wiretapping Trump Tower or not?

PACE: It doesn't appear as though they do. I think we’ll wait to see if they turn anything over to the committee tomorrow. But most people at the White House would just like this to go away. The problem with that is that this was something that was raised by the president himself, which makes it pretty hard for both of us in the media and the investigative committees on The Hill to just put this aside.

But the way that they structured this week was so fascinating. I will give this White House credit for these opening weeks of the administration. We have had a lot of access to this president. He had a lot of events that are on camera. He does take shouted questions from reporters. But we did not get that opportunity this week. There’s a press conference on Tuesday with Angela Merkel from Germany, hoping that we’ll be able to ask these questions there.

WALLACE: She says with a -- with a -- with a bright smile.

Michael, as Julie referred to, the House Intel Committee is asking the Trump administration for evidence by tomorrow to back up the president's claim that the previous administration wiretapped the phones at Trump Tower of candidate Trump. Is this put up or shut up time for this Trump White House?

NEEDHAM: Well, look, I think we should let the House do its investigation. There are a lot of absurd claims going around. There's absolutely no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians on the election. Maxine Waters, earlier this week, was saying some ridiculous things -- that everything in that 35 page dossier that BuzzFeed posted was true. And so I think let's just let the investigation go forward and then let's talk about it from there.

WALLACE: Well, and let's pick up on that because we had another week of the FBI director, James Comey, walking all over the Capitol, meeting with top congressional leaders. And as you point out, still no word about any evidence of collusion between the original charge, the original, quote, scandal between the Russians and Trump world.

Jason, is it possible, in fact likely at this point, that there's no evidence against Donald Trump and there's no evidence for Donald Trump when it comes to his charge?

RILEY: Yes, it is possible. I mean there is no evidence of direct collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. And there's no evidence that President Obama had any knowledge of directly wiretapping of Trump Tower. So we -- right now we have a clash of conspiracy theories right now. And I think the president is right to go silent on this issue until the committees can do their investigation. But it's probably something he shouldn't have raised in the first place and he’s got his whole staff scrambling now to come up with the evidence.

WALLACE: Juan, it -- I mean is it possible -- because we have been spending an awful lot of time talking about Russia, talking about fallout from Russian investigations -- is it possible there is just no there there?

WILLIAMS: No, there’s -- there’s there there. I mean we know the CIA, the National Security Agency, the FBI have all put their name, their stamp on a report that indicates Russia, quite intentionally, interfered --

WALLACE: No, no, but I’m talking about collusion.

WILLIAMS:  Right, so --

WALLACE:  I’m talking about collusion.

WILLIAMS: Right. So when it comes to what the Trump campaign knew, what we can say is this, there was an astounding number of contact between Trump administration -- Trump campaign officials, Trump associates with Russians, some of which, as we know in the case of Flynn and now Attorney General Sessions, for some reason they didn't want to own up to these contacts.

WALLACE: But there’s no evidence of any collusion.

WILLIAMS: But -- well, collusion is one way to put it, but interference is real.

WALLACE: We’re -- we’re about to -- not with the Trump campaign. There’s no evidence of that.

WILLIAMS: With the election.

WALLACE: Nobody ever gets the last word here.

Panel, thank you. That's all we have time for.

That’s it for today. Have a great week and we’ll see you next "Fox News Sunday."

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