TRANSCRIPT

What's next for health care?; Victory for Trump as parts of travel ban go into effect

This is a rush transcript from "Journal Editorial Report," June 30, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY., SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: It's a very complicated subject. I had hoped, as you know, that we could have gotten to the floor this week. But we're not quite there. But I think we've got a really good chance of getting there. It will just take us a little bit longer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GIGOT: Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.

That was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell earlier this week following his announcement that the Senate would break for the July 4 recess without a vote on health care. Negotiations continue as the Republicans scramble to settle on a plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare. With the impatient President Trump tweeting Friday, "If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately repeal and then replace at a later date."

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What are the main obstacles of an agreement and what are the consequences for the GOP if they fail to pass a bill?

Let's ask Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; editorial board member, Joe Rago; and columnist, Bill McGurn.

Joe, you're fated to cover this for us. What are the divisions inside the Republican Party that are preventing an agreement?

JOE RAGO, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: Well, there are two camps. One it's the conservatives, people like Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson, who are kind of disappointed that it doesn't do enough on deregulation. I think they are amenable to a deal.

The real problem are the moderates. They --

(CROSSTALK)

GIGOT: Who are you talking about?

RAGO: I'm talking about Rob Portman.

GIGOT: Of Ohio.

RAGO: Shelley Moore Caputo of West Virginia, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana. I mean, there is a whole list of them. But --

GIGOT: All right. What's their beef?

RAGO: Their main problem is with Medicaid. They think the cuts -- this bill transitions to a block grant. They think the block grant is not generous enough. And then there is all kinds of cats and dogs. They don't want to cut taxes for the rich.

GIGOT: They don't want to repeal some of the ObamaCare taxes that they campaigned to repeal.

RAGO: Right.

GIGOT: OK. So that's a problem.

RAGO: Their problem is when they said they wanted to repeal and replace ObamaCare, they really didn't want to repeal all that much. So, the question is, where is the vin diagram between these two camps.

(CROSSTALK)

RAGO: We'll see it Mitch McConnell can find it.

GIGOT: That's what McConnell has been trying to negotiate.

The bigger problem you are saying though, politically, is the moderates, who want to do much less on Medicaid reform. Aren't some of these people the same people who said, you know, we can't -- oh, my god, the deficit is too large. We have to do something about health care entitlements?

RAGO: Right. They have run on repeal and replace across four elections for nearly a decade. They have -- all these guys have voted in 2015 to repeal the bill, to repeal ObamaCare.

GIGOT: Right.

RAGO: Now that it might actually happen, they are getting cold feet.

GIGOT: They are saying, oh, don't make me take a tough vote.

DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: Look, Paul, it's clear, in retrospect, to me, that the most politically shrewd thing that Barack Obama and the architects of the Affordable Care Act did was expand Medicaid. Because there are states, like West Virginia, Ohio, Arizona, that took -- the states have always been desperate to fund their Medicaid.

GIGOT: And here is the key, Dan. Medicaid is typically, traditionally funded on a 50/50.

HENNINGER: Exactly.

GIGOT: This was a 90/10 deal.

HENNINGER: A 90/10 deal.

GIGOT: The feds give 90 percent of the cash to get new people on.

HENNINGER: And so you had - you had Republican governors, like John Kasich, who took the money, and now they are literally addicted to this Medicaid money. And the problem is that if the Medicaid reforms go, states who didn't take the money, say, like Florida, I think they are going to be obligated to buy into the Medicaid expansion and then it's game over.

GIGOT: The expansion of the Medicaid, it wasn't just more money at a 90/10 rate. It was also extended up to 138 percent of poverty.

BILL MCGURN, COLUMNIST: Right.

GIGOT: It came not just, Bill, for the disabled, not just for the truly needy and in poverty. It became, essentially, a slowly moving, gradually upward, middle-class entitlement.

MCGURN: Absolutely. It's a huge -- I mean, really, it's Obamacade. Right? When they talk about people who now have health coverage, it's mostly Medicaid.

Look, I think one of the issues, Medicaid is a great sort of crucible for this. And what's missing is the president on this. He has tweeted. I think he has done some good things. Had some Senators in. But what this really calls out for is like an Oval Office address where you address these myths. As this is happening, the Democrats are putting out that the Republicans are cutting Medicaid rather than cutting the growth and so forth. And it would be very helpful for the president to give an address on what the Republicans want to do, why they do, and explain it. That's supposed to be his strength.

GIGOT: All right.

There's this idea about, Joe, that if Republicans can't get a deal, somehow, they should go -- reach out to Schumer, the Democratic leader, and say let's come reason together and have a bipartisan support -- bipartisan deal. Possible?

RAGO: No. Well, in a limited sense. But the people calling for everybody to come together in a kumbaya circle, never say what that deal would look like. There is no substance there whatsoever. And that's because there is not a bipartisan compromise. What happens if this fails is that Mitch McConnell is forced to go to Chuck Schumer and say we have got to do something about the exchanges.

GIGOT: Because they are failing.

RAGO: They are failing. You have high and rising premiums and insurers leaving and tens of thousands of people in counties with zero insurers.

(CROSSTALK)

RAGO: So you will get a bailout of the exchanges that will be mainly Democrats, with a few Republicans, who are trying to prevent a crisis.

GIGOT: It will be a ratification of ObamaCare, essentially, with more dough. It will have none of the reform that's in this current bill. So you will get bipartisan, but it will be as if Hillary Clinton got elected.

RAGO: Yes. It will be worse than the deal Republicans probably would have cut if President Clinton was in office right now.

GIGOT: All right. What about this tweet by Donald Trump saying if the Senate Republicans fail, then let's just go to Plan B. Plan B being we are going to repeal it, you all promised to do it. We will repeal it first and then we will go work on replace. Ben Sasse, the Nebraska Senator, Republican, recommended the same thing to Donald Trump. Plausible?

HENNINGER: I don't see how that really works. I mean, it seems to me that, if you repeal it, whatever that may mean, the exchanges --

(CROSSTALK)

GIGOT: -- repealing it.

(CROSSTALK)

HENNINGER: Well, the exchanges are up and running out there, more or less, right? I think that throws the burden on Tom Price and Health and Human Services to start tinkering with the exchanges to keep them afloat until they get to replace. But that itself is going to be a mess.

GIGOT: The danger is it ruins health care markets --

(CROSSTALK)

MCGURN: Yes. Look, and the larger thing is the Republican Party is supposed to be offering solutions to the American people. And the real goal of Republican health care policy is not just to return it to the status quo before ObamaCare, which was not that good, but to improve it. That, to me, would be an abdication.

GIGOT: They would be responsible because they're running --

(CROSSTALK)

MCGURN: They'd be holding it in 2018. That's exactly what the Democrats want, to transfer ownership from the Democrats to the Republicans.

GIGOT: All right. Thank you, all.

When we come back, a victory for President Trump and the Constitution's separation of powers as the Supreme Court allows most of his travel ban to go into effect.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GIGOT: Parts of President Trump's controversial travel ban went into effect Thursday night after the Supreme Court ruled this week that nearly all of the president's directives could go forward. In a unanimous decision, the justices also agreed to review a series of lower court rulings blocking the implementation of the March executive order, which temporarily bars entry to the U.S. by nationals of six Muslim-majority nations. Oral arguments in the case are set for the fall, setting up a Supreme Court showdown over presidential power.

Attorney David Rifkin served in the White House and in the Justice Department under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush.

Welcome, David. Good to see you.

DAVID RIFKIN, CONSTITUTIONAL ATTORNEY & MEDIA COMMENTATOR: Good to be with you.

GIGOT: So I know that you wrote for us. And you believe that this decision was a victory for presidential power, as a legal matter, and was the right decision. Never mind the policy, but just as a legal matter, why?

RIFKIN: Because of the lower courts, district courts and two courts of appeal, the Fourth and the Ninth, have fundamentally deviated from the established Supreme Court case law that distinguishes between the extent of judicial engagement in domestic affairs, where the courts pay some deference to the executive but, basically, scrutinize, particularly, in situations where there's alleged violations of fundamental constitutional rights.

GIGOT: Right.

RIFKIN: Executive actions and in foreign affairs, where the deference is upmost, reflecting recognition that the two political branches possess the totality of foreign affairs power. Judiciary doesn't have the expertise nor the ability to really do very much there. So this basically pushes the pendulum back to where the law should be. Let me emphasize, this is way beyond this executive order, Paul. The framework that those lower courts have adopted would fundamentally destroy the ability of the presidency to carry out foreign policy.

GIGOT: I want to get -- OK, I want to get into that. But let's --this is a really interesting opinion because it was unanimous in order to reinstate the policy, at least until they can hear the merits in the autumn. Why do you think -- how much do you read in, how much significance do you read into the fact that it was unanimous?

RIFKIN: Quite a bit. Not too be too harsh, but what the courts of appeal have done is utterly aberrational. They have paid scant regard to the Supreme Court case. In a way, it was a challenge not only to the presidency, because, as you know, Paul, I believe there is a, quote, "resistance" portion of the federal judiciary, which is bad enough, politicized judicial making, but it also was an implicit challenge to the Supreme Court. Remember, Article III is a hierarchal entity. The Supreme Court sets the tune and the lower courts are supposed to follow the music, so to speak.

GIGOT: When you say Article III, you mean the article in the Constitution that applies to the Courts.

RIFKIN: Right.

GIGOT: And you're saying that there are plenty of Supreme Court precedents that have said that on matters of national security, courts must defer to the political branches, in particular, when those political branches, the Congress and the president, are united behind a policy. And you are saying that the lower branches here, the Fourth and the Ninth Circuit, the lower courts, really just ran roughshod over this, in part, because they don't like this president.

RIFKIN: They don't like this president. And they have done it in a way that was most disingenuous. As I said, they paid no attention to the Supreme Court precedent.

And it's just not a matter of deference. What's important here is this, and this transcends immigration. The same logic could be applied to the decision to use drones, the decision to impose economic sanctions, frankly, decisions to use military force. Once the executive indicates clearly and it's legitimate, bona fide reason why it's doing something, this is it. The judiciary takes it on board. There is no balancing type of analysis that you invariably see in domestic affairs.

GIGOT: OK. And you think that the lower courts were so out of line, that they should have reinstated -- the Supreme Court should have reinstated the whole injunction -- I mean, barred, rather, the whole injunction. Should have allowed it to proceed, the travel ban. Yet, they did say that the travel ban -- they did overrule the travel ban in certain narrow cases of individuals who have ties to American families, the families in America, or institutions, such as a college or university where you have been accepted for admission. And, yet, there was a dissent on that from three justices. What do you make of that disagreement?

RIFKIN: I, frankly, think, Paul, it's a slight disagreement. I think the chief justice has accepted this fairly narrow category of people who will come in.

Again, this is not about policy equity, Paul. This is about the Constitution at the highest level.

(CROSSTALK)

RIFKIN: Getting nine justices on board is perfectly fine. As far as the exceptions the Supreme Court exercised own equitable discretion.

What's important to underscore for the viewers, if the lower courts were right, nobody could be stopped under this executive order. The very fact that the vast majority of the people are going to be stopped now for a duration underscores how thoroughly they have taken this off the table. The legal theories. Again, what troubles me the most are not the policy consequences, frankly, of stopping this ban. But the legal consequences of eviscerating established case law, which says, again, in foreign affairs, political branches reign supreme.

GIGOT: You don't want justices meddling, making -- second guessing decisions on the executive. They don't have the expertise or knowledge to do so.

But I want to ask you about what to expect in the fall when the justices address this on the merits. You could go for a 9-0 decision. We know the chief justice likes those kinds of decisions. But would he have to make too many concessions to the get the liberals on board? And would you prefer a 5-4 split that makes a really thunderous ruling on behalf of presidential power?

RIFKIN: That latter, Paul. Because, again, the policy stakes here, in my opinion, are quite minor. I think speaking with a clear voice, some chastisement, in a measured fashion, and articulation of the proper paradigm for judicial engagement in this area is absolutely essential. This was a reasonable compromise to get nine on board for the stay. When we get to the merits, oral argument coming, I think the first week of October, look, I hope we're going to get nine perfect decision.

GIGOT: Right.

RIFKIN: But probably not. So, 6-3, 5-4 would be wonderful. This would not be the time to pull punches.

And by the way, as you point out in your editorial, I have no doubt that the left is going to put serious pressure on the chief justice, the way they have done with ObamaCare, for example. So it's very important to keep up the countervailing pressure as well.

GIGOT: All right. Thank you, David Rifkin.

When we come back, the Supreme Court wraps up its term with a big victory for religious liberty. We'll take a closer look at this week's ruling and what it says about the court's newest justice.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GIGOT: The Supreme Court wrapped up its term this week with a big win for religious liberty. In a closely watched case, the justices ruled, 7-2, that Missouri acted improperly when it denied public funds to a Lutheran church seeking assistance from a state program providing grants for playground improvements.

We're back with Dan Henninger. Wall Street Journal columnist, Bill McGurn; and editorial page features editor, James Taranto, also join us.

Bill, so how big a victory was this for religious freedom?

MCGURN: I think it's a big victory. I said before, in medieval times they debated angels on pinheads. Today, we debate whether a playground that's Lutheran can qualify for funds.

(LAUGHTER)

I will say I don't think these are the biggest religious liberty cases, because it's about funding or the previous case in the Supreme Court that was 9-0 about running their own business. Where it's really going to clash are the cases that they are going to take, like the cake baker case from Colorado.

GIGOT: Whether or not they can exercise conscience in relation to gay marriage

(CROSSTALK)

MCGURN: Lesbian and gay rights. That's where the real nasty clashes are going to occur.

GIGOT: James, really interesting dynamics here. Seven to two. Elena Kagan joined the majority.

JAMES TARANTO, EDITORIAL PAGE FEATURES EDITOR: Right, and Stephen Breyer.

GIGOT: Sonia Sotomayor's descent was really tough. And so there's some division there even among the liberals on this.

TARANTO: Yes, that's true. Also there was a footnote in the case, which was the only part of the opinion of Justices Thomas and Gorsuch didn't join, which said we're only deciding the limited circumstances of this case. So the majority is leaving some wiggle room for future cases.

GIGOT: What do you make of this division between the liberals

TARANTO: This is a case in which it's a question of how absolute do you want to be about the separation of church and state. The argument here was the state had a policy of giving grants to organizations, and it was discriminating against religion, as opposed to supporting religion for the sake of religion.

GIGOT: That's where some liberals might say, OK, that's just not right.

TARANTO: Right.

GIGOT: OK.

HENNINGER: But interestingly, the next day, the Supreme Court then sent orders back to the Supreme Courts of Colorado and New Mexico, which had ruled against the public funding being used for religious purposes, religious school programs --

GIGOT: Schools?

HENNINGER: Schools.

GIGOT: Private school vouchers.

HENNINGER: And the Supreme Court told those two courts, reconsider your opinion. That's a big deal. Because there are these so-called Blaine Amendments all over the country that forbid using public money for religious schools.

TARANTO: By the way, when the court said, about 15 years ago, that states could, not must, but could extend voucher programs to parochial schools, that was a 5-4 decision.

GIGOT: That was a 5-4 decision. These Blaine amendments, Bill, go back to the 1880s, I think.

MCGURN: Right.

GIGOT: And they are basically -- they were aimed at a period where the Protestant majorities in this country were trying to say, no money for all these upstart Italian and Irish immigrant schools.

(CROSSTALK)

GIGOT: We don't want Catholic schools.

MCGURN: The way they did it was the public schools were Protestant schools, sectarian --

(CROSSTALK)

GIGOT: Right.

MCGURN: -- and Catholics. And we are stuck with this.

I would say, look, this is where Donald Trump gets credit for Neil Gorsuch. If you read his opinions, they are very subtle. And he also rejects kind of these distinctions. He talked about someone who says grace before a meal, is that a religious meal or a religious man or so forth.

(LAUGHTER)

I think this is far more important than, for example, the president's executive order on religious liberty, which I don't think amounts to as much.

GIGOT: Yes. Let's talk, fellows, about Gorsuch. Because we got our first glimpse of him as a justice this week or this term. And I don't think you can reach conclusions about any justice in a few weeks, maybe even in a couple of years. It takes a while to see how they do. But what do you think about his debut?

TARANTO: Well, the thing that strikes me most about it, is he is a wonderful writer. My job is finding good writers.

(LAUGHTER)

I've read -- I think he has only written three opinions so far. Most of them have been about boring subjects, like the regulation of debt collection agencies. But you read them and they are marvelously clear and just a pleasure to read. But the clarity is also important. I think that carries over to the way he thinks about the law.

GIGOT: Yes. And I would just elaborate on that, Dan. The clarity shows, to me, anyway, a justice who is very confident in his -- in what he thinks about the law. This is somebody who feels very comfortable with the text of statutes, knows that that that's how he interprets statutes. Goes to the text, and then is -- so it's not, I'm going to make it up as I go. You know -- he knows what he is doing in looking at these cases. And you can almost sense, you know, that he is going to be a force intellectually on the court.

HENNINGER: Well, it sounds like you are describing Justice Scalia without the doubts.

(LAUGHTER)

He did align himself several times --

GIGOT: Without the Scalia self-doubt?

HENNINGER: Without Scalia's self-doubts.

GIGOT: That's an ironic point, just for the record.

(LAUGHTER)

HENNINGER: For instance, he aligned himself with Justice Thomas where the court declined to hear a case on whether people could carry guns outside their home for their personal use. Justice Thomas and Justice Gorsuch wanted to take that case. And that is the kind of area in which Scalia might have had a little bit of doubt. He aligned himself with Justice Thomas, on what Bill was talking about, a more forceful, vigorous defense of the free expression of religion. So I think he is going to be solidly there with Justice Thomas and probably Justice Alito on everything.

GIGOT: This wasn't a big term in terms of -- because it was 4-4 for much of it. But there was a big case on free speech, James.

TARANTO: Yes. This was the case involving the Slants, which is an Asian American rock band. They had been denied a trademark on the grounds that it was disparaging and they challenged this. And the Supreme Court struck down the Patent and Trademark's Office disparagement clause. Which means the Washington Redskins will continue to be around.

But what was really important about this case was the cultural statement the court made. Two decisions, two opinions, one by Justice Alito and one by Justice Kennedy, both affirmed, in very strong terms, that there's no such things as a separate category of hate speech that is not protected by the First Amendment. A common misunderstanding these days.

GIGOT: All right. Fascinating, gentlemen.

Still ahead, the White House issued a rare public warning for the Syrian government this week amid signs that they are planning another chemical attack. So did the warning save lives? And is there a long-term, serious strategy in the works?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GIGOT: The White House warned this week that Syrian forces would, quote, "pay a heavy price" amid signs that the Assad government may be planning another chemical attack on its people. The Pentagon on Tuesday said it detected active preparations for chemical weapons used at Shayrat Airfield, the site of April's U.S. cruise missile site.

But U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley told Congress Wednesday that the administration's warning may have averted the attack and saved innocent lives.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: I think that by the president calling out Assad, I think by us continuing to remind Iran and Russia that while they choose to back Assad, that this was something we were not going to put up with. So I would like to think that the president saved many innocent men, women, and children.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GIGOT: Cliff May is the president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He joins me now from Washington.

Welcome back, Cliff. Good to see you.

So you really think that the Assad regime would tempt fate again and try another chemical attack after what happened to them the first time?

CLIFF MAY, PRESIDENT, FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: I certainly think the warning has given them pause. And it may be that they are not going to do that again, that they recognize that if they cross that red line, there is a president now who will take action and make them feel some pain. I certainly hope that's true for the sake of saving innocent lives.

I also think it's important that the U.S. show again, as it has in this instance, that it is a power to be reckoned with. The other ways that it's been done in recent days, shooting down a Syrian plane and shooting down some Iranian-made drones. Those are important signals, among other things.

GIGOT: So what you are seeing here is the resurrection, the revival of the U.S. deterrent effect against rogue behavior. And that was, of course, missing for many, many years under the previous administration. Is that how you see it?

MAY: Absolutely, I do. If the deterrent is credible, it means you probably don't have to take action. Having used missiles once against Assad, it may be that we don't have to do it another time in this instance. Although, there is plenty more we have to do. And that has to be done if this part of the world -- if the fires in this part of the world are going to subside, much less be put out.

GIGOT: I want to talk about that. But let's talk about, you mentioned the drone and the airplane shootdown. Now, when that happened, the U.S. was -- attack was taking down aircraft that looked to be threatening American forces -- forces allied with America on the ground in fighting Islamic State. Russia and Iran reacted and said, don't do it again. We're going to challenge your aircraft. And, yet, we haven't seen that at all since then. Was that just a false threat?

MAY: Well, I think it was a bit of game of chicken. I think the Russians and others have to decide whether they think they can make the current U.S. administration back down. As you inferred or implied, I don't think they had any fear whatsoever of the Obama administration. They knew that Obama would also back down, would always stay away from action. Now they have to say, do we want to escalate.

Now, there is a possibility of escalation. They have to decide, if they go out at high noon and draw their gun, are they going to be first and more accurate.

GIGOT: We know, we have heard this week that Mosel in Iraq is about to be liberated from Islamic State. Raqqa in Syria may not be far behind. Islamic State is going on the road to defeat, at least in its major enclaves. What happens then? Is there a strategy that you see here that the United States has?

MAY: Yes. This is a key question. Look, I think the defeat of the most ambitious and adventuristic jihadist expression, which is the reestablishment of the caliphate in the 21st century, if we defeat that, that's a good day. Let's celebrate that. But let's be careful because we have a big day-after problem. What do we do after? We do not want to be the expeditionary force for Iran and Russia and for Assad in Syria and others in Syria. And that's -- that could be the case.

As far as a policy or a strategy --

(CROOSSTALK)

GIGOT: Yes. That's what I want to hear. What's the U.S. strategy?

MAY: I do not think we -- if we have a strategy, it has not been clearly articulated yet. It's not going to be easy to come up with because, whatever strategy we have, is going to have some serious down sides. There are no good strategies. There are bad strategies, and worse. And it's going to take a bit of thought and consideration to figure out which is which. So I do think the day-after problem is enormous.

I think there are things that are -- there are aspects of a strategy, such as safe zones, or I call them protection zones. There are enclaves that have been in place really since 2012 that we can fortify. But we do not want to do to do, essentially, what we did in Iraq, which is, we take the country away from a terrible ruler, such as Saddam Hussain, and end up giving the -- having that rebound to the benefit of Iran, which is trying to establish a new empire, a Shia crescent in the Middle East.

GIGOT: That's the point I wanted to ask you about. Because I think I know, after ISIS is defeated, what Iran and Syria and Russia want. OK? Syria wants -- Assad wants to run all of Syria again. Iran wants a Shiite arch of power from Tehran all the way to the Mediterranean. And the Russians want an ally that they can say we helped survive, and you give us a couple of military bases and a port. But it isn't clear that any of that is in the United States' interest. And how do we stop that from happening. Because those forces on the ground are going to keep pressing that? And it seems to me that we are going to have to respond with some kind of military force, either enforcing the enclaves for the Kurds or for the Sunnis or maybe air power.

MAY: I think that's exactly right. And that's why it is so difficult, because we could win the battle today and lose the war tomorrow. And that's why we do need a policy and a strategy. And I think at the least part, some of its components are going to be to set up those enclaves, to have the Sunnis not feel threatened by the Shia, by the Iranians. Because if they do, they will look for any champion, including a champion like ISIS.

We haven't mentioned al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is very strong. It hasn't gotten media attention. It hasn't gotten military attention. There are various al Qaeda affiliates that are also looking to take advantage of the situation. Assad -- and he is supported -- most of his vector of fighting forces are Iranian proxies. He trying to now move east --

GIGOT: That's right.

MAY: -- towards the Iraqi border. We have all of these problems. I have to think that Secretary Mattis and National Security Advisor McMaster need to be thinking about this very hard and saying, how do we at least frustrate -- at least frustrate the ambitions of Iran and of Russia and of Assad and not allow this to become part of a knew Persian Empire.

GIGOT: All right. Cliff May, thanks for being here.

MAY: Thank you.

GIGOT: Still ahead, from independence to dominance. A look at President Trump's new energy strategy, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT DONALD TURMP: We're here to issue in new American policy, one that unlocks millions and millions of jobs and trillions of dollars in wealth.

My administration will seek not only the American energy independence that we have been looking so long, but American energy dominance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GIGOT: From independence to dominance. That was President Trump Thursday unveiling his administration's new energy policy and vowing to reduce regulations and boost U.S. production of oil, natural gas and coal to export around the world. It's a move the White House says will create American jobs and help American allies.

We're back with Dan Henninger, Joe Rago and Bill McGurn.

So, it was supposed to be energy week, Dan. The president's tweets got in the way again of that. Instead of energy week, maybe energy hours

DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: Right.

GIGOT: Energy day. Nonetheless, a lot going on behind the scenes on policy. What's happening?

HENNINGER: Yes, that's right, Paul. That speech was given around 3:30, about the hour, the entire media was, you know, obsessing over the Mika Brzezinski tweet.

But nonetheless, the president announced some very serious things. He wants to -- he is going to allow drilling for oil in the Artic and in the Atlantic. He is going to accelerate the creation of pipelines. He's going to have a re-think of nuclear policy, more permitting for new coal mines. He is going all out, full speed ahead on energy policy, which arguably at this point, Paul, is the strongest card Donald Trump has played since he has become president.

GIGOT: What do you mean the strongest card? You mean economically, strategically or both?

HENNINGER: Economically and strategically. Economically, because the United States is now beginning to export up to a million barrels of oil a day - unprecedented -- because of the revolution in fracking. Strategically, because Energy Secretary Rick Perry was talking about energy dominance. And what he means by that with the United States now exporting all of this energy out there, we're going to establish new relationships with trading partners that we haven't had before. Probably, reducing the dominance of Russia. Because formerly, all the liquified natural gas would go through pipelines. Now we will be able to ship it directly to Europe --

GIGOT: Right.

HENNINGER: -- and OPEC and Saudi Arabia. So it's a big deal.

GIGOT: It is a big deal, Joe. And let's just kind of break that down a little bit. It's really got two big components. Let's leave coal aside. You've got this liquified natural gas, building these terminals. That gas is being produced through, you know, through the fracking revolution, this new way of tapping into -- horizontal drilling, tapping into natural gas reservoirs underneath the ground. And also, oil exports. The Congress basically forced President Obama to lift the oil export ban. And that's paying big dividends.

JOE RAGO, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: It is. Crude oil exports have doubled over the last six years. It's really a sea change. And it's an incremental policy win of the kind that pays dividends over time. A lot of conservatives said timed (ph) well. The export ban wasn't sufficient to justify a deal. But, we're really seeing the economic results of that right now.

GIGOT: That's helped American producers find new markets, Bill --

BILL MCGURN, COLUMNIST: Right.

GIGOT: -- which is crucial because, with oil prices falling in half, a lot of them might have gone out of business, drillers, if we didn't have this new export market. And now we are also being able to displace some of the imports in oil that we otherwise would have had to buy.

MCGURN: Right. We're allowing markets to develop. Look, one of the problems we have had over the years is that the countries that had oil that we were dependent on were generally not great actors, Russia, Venezuela, the Arab countries, and we were very vulnerable. That's why the pitch to American energy independence was so strong for every president. You know, I'm a little skeptical of that because

(CROSSTALK)

MCGURN: -- you want a global market. Right.

GIGOT: Yes, you want a global market.

(CROSSTALK)

MCGURN: But now we have -- as we say, we have new jobs everywhere because of this. And especially with Mr. Putin in Europe. It gives the Europeans some assurance that he is not going to use his energy to bully them into something. So it's a win all around for this. And a lot of this was -- a lot of reason it didn't develop was because of regulations. And that's where he -- that's really where is he going at it.

GIGOT: That's right. And that's really the difference, a huge difference between the Obama administration and Trump. The Obama administration just hostile to fossil fuels, generally. Even Obama couldn't stop the fracking revolution, it was so strong. But he could deter it, slow it down, make it harder. And what Trump is doing is unleashing it.

HENNINGER: Yes. It relates as well, as Bill was suggesting, to our foreign policy. We moved away from this kind of pointless argument about energy independence, there is never going to be any such a thing with global energy markets. Trump has recognized that energy markets are global. He is using our skills in energy to establish relationships both economically and strategically with allies out there in Europe. This has moved the energy conversation in an entirely more productive direction.

GIGOT: Thank you, all.

When we come back, "False Black Power," a provocative new book by the "Wall Street Journal's" own Jason Riley who argues that the political strategy of civil rights leaders has left many blacks behind. Jason joins us next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SHOUTING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(CROSSTALK)

GIGOT: "False Black Power," that's the title of Wall Street Journal Columnist and Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Jason Riley's new book, out this week.

Jason joins us now.

Here we go. It's a spritely read, Jason, provocative. What do you mean by false black power?

JASON RILEY, COLUMNIST & SENIOR FELLOW, MANHATTAN INSTITUTE: Well, the book is really a critique of a civil rights strategy that's been in place since really the 1960's. That is to focus on gaining political power for blacks, electing more black officials in the hopes that that will bring along socioeconomic advancement. I thought Obama's presidency was sort of the culmination of this strategy.

GIGOT: In the White House.

RILEY: So let's look back and see how that strategy has fared.

GIGOT: What do you think? Where has it failed?

RILEY: It's failed for a number of reasons. But we should never have thought it would succeed based on how other groups have risen from poverty to prosperity.

GIGOT: But wait a minute.

RILEY: They haven't focused on --

(CROSSTALK)

GIGOT: The Irish, they put a premium, when they came here, on political power --

RILEY: Right.

GIGOT: -- in Boston and New York.

RILEY: Um-huh.

GIGOT: You would think that has had some success.

RILEY: Well, they are an example of a group that has followed a similar path to what blacks are following. It turns out that the Irish were the slowest to grow economically of all the immigrant groups from Europe.

GIGOT: In contrast to the Germans --

(CROSSTALK)

RILEY: In contrast to the Germans, the Italians --

GIGOT: Japanese.

RILEY: -- the Asians, and so forth. All of whom did not place their focus on attaining political clout first. They focused on building their human capital: cultural development, skills and attitude and so forth. Politics came later.

GIGOT: Politics is not this promised land. It can help but -- so what -- where should the focus be?

RILEY: I think the focus should be on what it was before the civil rights establishment adopted this strategy. And so, a lot of people don't like comparisons between blacks and immigrant groups because of the history of slavery and so forth.

GIGOT: Of course.

RILEY: So I say compare blacks today to blacks in the first half of the 20th century. If you look back at that period, when focus was not on politics, when blacks had virtually no political clout, you saw racial gaps closing in income and educations attainment and lifting ourselves out of poverty and so forth. After the 1960s, after the switch in -- the shift in the strategy to gaining political clout, a lot of those trends stalled, slowed, even retrogressed. And I think we need to get back to building that human capital, which is what blacks were more focused on before the attention turned to pursuing politics.

GIGOT: But the focus -- you are not saying that Jim Crow did not have to be destroyed. And that was a focus on political power?

RILEY: No. It was.

GIGOT: OK. And that had to happen.

RILEY: What I'm saying is that political power is neither necessary, nor sufficient for a group to rise.

And, by the way, this strategy has worked on its own terms. The number of black elected officials in this country grew from something like 1500, or less than 1500 in 1970, to more than 10,000 by 2010. Including a black president. But you look at how the black poor have fared in the wake of all this gaining of political power and it's not well. And we should have learned this lesson from what was happening in cities where blacks had been run, your Detroits, your Clevelands, your Philadelphia. You look at Coleman Young's detroit, Marion Barry's Washington, D.C., the black poor did not do well during those periods.

GIGOT: So was the break from a policy and intellectual point of view, in the 1960's, you had the great success of the civil rights movement. You had the smashing of Jim Crow. You had the Voting Rights Act. You had the Civil Rights Act. And the empowerment of millions, tens of millions of black Americans because of that. But then the focus shifted away from things where it should have shifted. The focus then become economic empowerment, economic growth, and things like education opportunities.

RILEY: Yes. Yes. And that's what was happening before, and that's what was working before in closing these racial gaps. When that strategy was abandoned, or when the emphasis shifted, that is when - again, we talk a lot about the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow, Paul. We don't talk a lot about the legacy of the welfare state.

(CROSSTALK)

GIGOT: That's where the focus shifted. Suddenly, the political power, they all said, oh, we are going to give, provide these benefits to you.

RILEY: Yes.

GIGOT: You are saying that's been destructive?

RILEY: It's been extremely destructive. And can you look at case studies in places like Atlanta where, in the 1970s and '80s, black mayors, like Maynard Jackson and Andrew Young, came in and they gave black city contractors special permissions and catered to affirmative action policies and set-asides for minority contractors and so forth. The black poor lost ground in this period. In this age of more black political empowerment, the black poor have lost ground economically, both in absolute terms and relative to the white poor. So the strategy is not working. We ought to revisit it.

GIGOT: All right. Jason Riley, thanks for being here.

We have to take one more break. When we come back, "Hits & Misses" of the week.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GIGOT: Time now for our "Hits & Misses" of the week.

Joe start us off.

RAGO: Paul, a miss this week to one of America's worst-governed states, Illinois. How bad is the tax-and-spend crisis? The state has $14.6 billion in unpaid bills. This is to hospitals, dentists, airports, universities. Governor Bruce Rauner and the Democratic legislator are locked in a battle over unfunded pension liabilities. But, boy, what a mess.

GIGOT: All right, Joe, thanks.

James?

JAMES TARANTO, EDITORIAL PAGE FEATURES EDITOR: This is a miss to the European Court of Human Rights, which this week order 10-month-old Charlie Gard to be taken off life support. Charlie was terminally ill, but this was not a question of resources. His parents had raised more than a million pounds, British pounds, to pay for experimental treatment in America. The court not only said that he couldn't go but they said his parents couldn't even take him home to die. The court said that's a decision for the government to make, not the parents.

GIGOT: Awful.

Bill?

MCGURN: Big hit for the Czech parliament. You know that, in Europe, gun control is an article of faith, never mind that it didn't stop these bloody attacks in Paris. The Czech parliament, the lower House, has passed a provision altering the constitution to allow for gun ownership. So they are going up against this. And it looks like it will pass their upper House. Good message to the terrorists: You attack someone in a Czech -- in Prague --

GIGOT: Czech Republic, in Prague.

MCGURN: -- and someone might shoot back.

GIGOT: All right. Thank you all.

And remember, if you have your own hit or miss, be sure to tweet it to us, @JERonFNC.

That's it for this week's show. Thanks to my panel. Thanks to all of you for watching. I'm Paul Gigot. We hope to see you right here next week.

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