The politics of tax reform

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," November 30, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


SEN. SHERROD BROWN, D-OHIO: They all went down to the hall here to the majority leader's office, all my Republicans friends. They walked into that office. They had their Wall Street lobbyists with them, they had their drug company lobbyists, they had their tobacco company lobbyists. And that's where they wrote the Bill.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN, R-TEXAS: They must like the fact that we have the highest business tax rate in the world which forces jobs and investments overseas.

SENATE MINORITY LEADER CHARLES SCHUMER, D-N.Y.: This deficit-busting tax cut will endanger Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH, R-UTAH: This country is in deep debt. You don't help the poor by not solving the problems of debt, too…. One side believes the federal government is the last answer to everything. I guess you have to be a real raving idiot to believe that.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Just some of the sound on tax reform today, but the big event, the big deal was Senator John McCain. He came out from his office saying that "I believe this legislation, though far from perfect, would enhance American competitiveness, boost the economy, provide long-overdue tax relief for the middle class families." He went on to say he would vote for it.

That sent the stock market just soaring today past 24,000. You can see the milestones here, the 1,000-point jumps since January, January, March, August, October. Late this afternoon the Joint Committee on Taxation put out its score on the Senate bill and said it would reduce the deficit by $407.5 billion over 10 years, but the Bill would still cost about $1 trillion. The report estimates the proposed plan would lead to a 0.8 percent rise in GDP relative to current framework. Democrats jumped all over that.


SEN. RON WYDEN, D-ORE.: If Steve Mnuchin said the bill would generate so much growth, it would take care of the $1.5 trillion and generate $1 trillion on top of it. The facts are in. The Republican plan loses $1 trillion. The growth fantasy is over.

SEN. JOHN THUNE, R-S.D.: I can't believe that we wouldn't have more confidence in the American economy that we could generate higher than 1.9 present economic growth. That is the straitjacket that constrains their model.


BAIER: Which is why there's all this talk about a plausible trigger, that if the administration goals of growth aren't realized, that some cut or increasing taxes would happen. Let's bring in our panel: Jonah Goldberg, senior editor of National Review; Leslie Marshall, syndicated talk radio host, and Charles Hurt, opinion editor for The Washington Times. Quite something to see this today. It seems like the impetus is there to get it across the finish line, Jonah.

JONAH GOLDBERG, NATIONAL REVIEW: It does. All the incentives are pointing in the right direction for the Republicans to do this. It would be -- I think they all believe, whether it would be or wouldn't be, they all believe it would be disastrous for them if they didn't get something passed. I think they are probably right about that.

And I am now so jaundiced I literally cannot listen to anybody be outraged about deficits at this point because I remember under Bush, the Democrats screamed about deficits. Under Obama, the Republican screamed about deficits. These same people were perfectly fine with Obama racking up $5 trillion in deficits but they are horrified about $1 trillion in deficits. I think deficits matter but there's so much rank opportunism and demagoguery in all of this.

BAIER: We're not done yet. The process is the Senate will likely vote tomorrow, then it goes to a conference committee, Leslie, and we're talking probably next week where they have to iron out the differences and they figure out what they're going to pass.

LESLIE MARSHALL, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I have to agree with you on the deficit part, just to say that. But for Democrats, as the Democrat here, it's not about the deficit. It's about who does it effect. And that's when the reasons I was shocked with Senator McCain, because if you look at his state and not just the polls that they don't favor it, what this is going to do to Medicaid and Medicare.

And I have to say personally, not being able to have the out-of-pocket medical deduction, that's going to hurt me and my family and many families that I know about. But when you look at what are they ironing out, who is up for reelection? What do their constituents want in their state? And even though it looks like with Senator McCain they are going to go over the finish line, I'm not so sure because you still have that fragmentation in the Republican Party, and it's not just about deficit, but it certainly is about some of these cuts where Democrats have a concern.

BAIER: Speaking of Democrats, here's Senator Pat Roberts from Kansas talking about, he hopes, they might join in.


SEN. PAT ROBERTS, R-KANSAS: It reminds me of a country-western song that obviously my staff would help I would not mention. But it was the bridge is washed out and I can't swim and my baby is on the other side. The bridge is not washed out. And the tax bill is on the other side, along with an American renaissance. Hopefully some of my colleagues across the aisle will join us.


BAIER: We just like playing the sound from the Senate floor. We just do. Some of it is really quite something. But what about that? There are a number of Democrats up for reelection in 2018 from states that Donald Trump won in which they voted not to even debate tax reform.

CHARLES HURT, THE WASHINGTON TIMES: I think Democrats are in pretty -- they've got a pretty firm grip on their members on this right now. And it's hard to see, if they haven't lost any up to now, it's hard to see how they lose them now.

I do think obviously there are a lot of big differences that need to be ironed out, but the fact remains all the same pressures that have gotten them to the place we are at now are still in effect. And they are, they're doomed, and not only Donald Trump but the Trump agenda and I think individual Republicans are going to have a much harder road to hoe if they don't have something to show for it.

But the thing about John McCain, I was interested, despite, with the exception of he began by saying, though it was far from perfect, I was surprised at how bullish his statement was. It was far more enthusiastic, talking about American prosperity and what good this could do for the economy. And so I think -- I sense from that that he's on it for the long haul.

BAIER: We are a long way from --

GOLDBERG: I was going to say, in terms of country-western songs, you could've really imagined him saying "Take this job and shove it," right?

HURT: That's usually the song he sings.

GOLDBERG: That's his favorite tune.

BAIER: We are going to talk about --

MARSHALL: Especially when he voted against it twice, the Bush tax cuts is the same argument, and not he's, like you're saying, he's gung ho.

BAIER: We were going to talk about the shake-up, but it's such speculation about Tillerson and it's probably going to develop over the coming days.

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