This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," May 2, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
MICK MULVANEY, WHITE HOUSE BUDGET DIRECTOR: I think the president is frustrated with the fact that he negotiated in good faith with the Democrats and they went out to try to spike the football and make him look bad. I would have taken offense at that.
I don't anticipate a shutdown in September, but if negotiations, if the Democrats aren't going to behave any better than they have in the last couple of days, it may be inevitable. We get to September and it's still business as usual, business as usual, business as usual and nothing changes and it takes a shutdown to change it, I have no problem with that.
SENATE MINORITY LEADER CHARLES SCHUMER, D-N.Y.: The president disparages it in a way that's destructive, essentially saying let's have a shutdown.
HOUSE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS CHAIRMAN JOSEPH CROWLEY: I guess maybe some of the victories we had in this CR, in this omnibus, may be getting under the president's skin a little bit. Who knows?
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: The spending bill hasn't even been voted on yet but Democrats are claiming success. Republicans defending what's in this bipartisan piece of legislation. And you heard the president's budget director, also the president tweeted this morning, "The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and Democrats is that we need 60 votes in the Senate, which are not there. We either elect more Republican senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51 percent. Our country needs a good shutdown in September to fix mess." That's what they were referencing there.
Let's bring in the panel: Charles Hurt, political columnist for The Washington Times; Julie Pace, White House correspondent for the Associated Press, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. Julie, it seems clear reading between the lines that the president wasn't happy with the reaction and probably sent people out to make that case.
JULIE PACE, ASSOCIATED PRESS: I think what had the president more frustrated than the idea of Democrats being out there selling their victories is the idea that there were people questioning the deal that he made and saying that he got rolled, that he gave up too much. He's hearing that from a lot of conservatives today.
BAIER: Said the guy to your left, actually.
PACE: This gentleman in particular. And I think that's what bothered him. And so you saw this whole elaborate rollout today at the White House where you had Mick Mulvaney out there in multiple formats actually defending the deal, defending the idea that the president would then be willing to perhaps shutdown the government in September if he doesn't get a better deal, which is a really extraordinary thing to say, especially when you do have this current spending bill that hasn't even been voted on yet. You haven't really gotten to the finish line on this one.
BAIER: Right, and that's a key point to make, this vote hasn't even happened yet. Here is the president and his homeland security secretary on the border issues in this bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We achieved the single largest increase in border security funding in 10 years. So we have more money now for the border than we have gotten in 10 years. The Democrats didn't tell you that. They forgot.
HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY JOHN KELLY: They are rejoicing at the fact that the wall will be slower to be built and consequently our southwest border under less control than it could be.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
CHARLES HURT, WASHINGTON TIMES: Assuming that this bill does pass, and I think it's safe to assume it will, this is not what Republicans got elected to do, and it's not what voters elected Donald Trump for.
But what I do think, the good thing that I do think is coming out of it right now is the fact that this tweet Donald Trump sent out about the shutdown, I think it's actually arguably a very smart strategy because it focuses, it turns the focus. Maybe they have to do this to get to the fall. But then he's turning his focus on Democrats, and he needs to do that.
The thing we got coming out of the first failure of the health care Bill was that Donald Trump is focusing all of his ire on the Freedom Caucus. That does not help him in the long run. That does not help Republicans in the long run. He needs them.
And so I think if this means they turn the focus on the Democrats, onto the 2018 elections, and then play a game of chicken over real issues with the next threat of a government shutdown, it might not be a bad thing.
HURT: Very dangerous.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think the major threat is not a shutdown. As Rich Lowry pointed out in National Review, it doesn't matter. Normally you would be consistent and say the party in power holding the White House would get the blame for a shutdown. It doesn't work that way. It turns out no matter who's at the White House, Democrat or a Republican, the blame always ends up on the Republican side. The media are set on that. It's not going to change. So it's not a big threat.
I think the big threat is the nuclear option on the filibuster. I think if you are a realistic Republican, you're going to say the next time the Democrats have the White House they are probably going to pull the trigger on that.
BAIER: Let's just explain that. They moved on the nominations, including the Supreme Court nominations, to the nuclear option, which is 51 percent. But Senator McConnell, the majority leader, has said he would not do that for regular legislation for every other bill. President Trump is saying we should look again.
KRAUTHAMMER: I respect McConnell. He's an institutionalist. He thinks it would be a radical revision of the rules. It would be. However, if you look back over the last half-century, the filibuster has been unbelievably abused. It's meant to be used for extreme measures, changing the social landscape like civil rights. It was not for every bill.
Right now, every bill needs 60 percent. That's not the way a democracy is run. That's not the way our government was run for 200 years. So it's not the end of the world. I think it's a realistic thing to do, if you control the White House and the Senate and the House and you can't get anything done because you're eight vote short of 60 percent - who invented that number? I think it's a reasonable thing to do is to threaten and say if you want to play this game, you're not going to compromise. You are going to be in the resistance, as Hillary say, against everything Trump proposes, we will drop a nuclear option and then we will be able to pass our legislation.
That's what I would do if I were Trump. It's only a tweet. I don't know how serious it is, but it's the right strategy. Shutdown is not a strategy. Nuclear option is a strategy.
BAIER: Senator Ted Cruz would say the shutdown battle back in 2013 that ended up going to a shutdown was said to be cataclysmic for Republicans, and they ended up picking up seats in 2014.
I want to turn to health care, Julie. This is Kevin Brady on the hunt for health care votes that may still be coming this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN BRADY, R-TEXAS: I think we are making progress. We ought to let consensus drive the timing on this. Let's get people to the right place for the right reasons. Members are really taking this seriously. I have seen all these announcements on the whip count as well. I don't think they are accurately, but we're having the right, healthy discussions. So let them continue. Let's work until we get common ground on this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Here's The Wall Street Journal, "House Republican leaders are on the brink of losing too many GOP votes to pass their healthcare bill overturning much of the Affordable Care Act, potentially dashing hopes raised by the White House of a big legislative won this week. At least 21 House Republicans have now said they oppose the latest version of the Republican plan to overhaul the health care system with an almost equal number publicly undecided on the bill." This is kind on a razor's edge here.
PACE: It really is. Last week when you talked to White House officials they felt very confident that they would be able to get a vote this week. When you talked to them yesterday and today, they sound like they are a bit more skeptical. I talked to a senior White House official who thought they were about five votes short in the House, but they said it become zero or that could become 15. They just don't know what direction this is going to go.
And to our earlier discussion on the nuclear option, this really underscores that the president's problem is not necessarily just the Senate. If he can get a bill to the Senate, than the nuclear option becomes a problem. But in this case it's not even clear he's going to be able to get health care out at the House.
BAIER: There is a real concern about preexisting conditions. The president was asked about this. Now there is another factor in this that crosses cultural lines. Jimmy Kimmel with a very emotional story about the birth of his son and concerns about that. I can identify directly with it. It's almost the exact same story as my son, Paul. He makes the case, Charles, that no family should have to worry about seeing their son or daughter die. He does not Republican or Democrat, but obviously it's been taken to be concerns about pre-existing conditions in making this case.
KRAUTHAMMER: I think it was unsubtle. I sympathize with him. He is a dad. This is a traumatic event and I understand. But if you want to turn it into a political issue you should be a little more subtle about it. He implied basically that the Republicans want to watch these kids die. He didn't say that, but that was the implication of being cruel and unfeeling.
The fact is that the issue is completely distorted. This is not an abolition of the protection for preexisting condition. This is a waiver for states. And it's not that you are denied if you have a preexisting condition. The question is, and it's a subtle and a difficult one and complicated one, who pays for the extra costs? Is it going to be the people who share your insurance in the pool, which makes it really hard for everybody else, or if you create the pools that Paul Ryan and others talked about that used to exist that states would set up and they would put a lot of money into it, then you have the taxpayer do that.
I think the logic is to have the cost shared across the range by having everybody, through their taxes, supporting the extra costs so you don't raise the premiums for people in the pool with you to the point where other people can't get insurance. So that I think is the basis of the argument. It's not are you going to let the kids die or not? It is which is the most logical way to cover people with preexisting conditions. The debate is distorted and that's really a tragedy.
BAIER: Quickly, Charlie, former President Obama weighed in on Twitter saying this is why they created ACA. The big thing is that the insurance most people get is through their employer, and that linkage to employment is often seen as part of the issue because you can't lose your job and then transfer your insurance to someplace else.
HURT: Sure, and as Charles says, it's a very complicated issue. The idea of taking preexisting conditions out of the whole equation, that's no longer insurance. That's everybody covering everybody, which is kind of where we are right now and certainly where Obamacare is. And as Charles said, people don't want to acknowledge that you are asking somebody else who is working to pay taxes to cover someone else's preexisting conditions.
And I think Jimmy Kimmel went very much farther by saying you're not a decent person if you don't agree with Obamacare and if you don't agree with giving billions of dollars to a federal bureaucracy to support NIH funding. To me, I find it very uncomfortable, especially when a famous person uses personal tragedy or anything like that and drags it into the political sphere and uses them as a political pawn.
BAIER: I felt the story, and I think a lot of people did.
HURT: And that's why it's so effective.
KRAUTHAMMER: I think in the end, the country has accepted we do cover people with preexisting conditions. The real question today is, how do you fund it? There are different ways, and I can't say that one is immoral and one is moral.
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