Bipartisan deal reached on short-term ObamaCare fix

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," October 17, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: ObamaCare is a disgrace to our nation.

ObamaCare is a disaster. It's virtually dead.

SENATE MINORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY.: It's a hot news item, just announced today.

SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER, R-TENN.: We're talking about a two-year extension on the cost-sharing payments and more meaningful flexibility to the states.

SEN. PATTY MURRAY, D-WA.: The uncertainty and dysfunction cannot continue.

SENATE MINORITY LEADER CHARLES SCHUMER, D-N.Y.: The president has been sabotaging this bill, and the agreement would undo much of that sabotage.

TRUMP: The solution will be for about a year or two years. And it will get us over this intermediate hump because we have, as you probably know, we either have the votes or we are very close to having the votes, and we will get the votes.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: The outline of a bipartisan compromise in the works on ObamaCare. This is from Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray who have been working on this. And it extends the subsidies that were cut off by the president just on Friday for, as you heard, a couple of years. The president signing onto it, however tweeting tonight "Any increases in ObamaCare premiums is the fault of the Democrats for giving us a product that never had any chance of working," just to be clear where he stands about ObamaCare overall.

Let's welcome in our panel. We'll start there. Joining me here at the White House: Shannon Pettypiece, White House correspondent for Bloomberg News; and in our Washington bureau, Charles Hurt, opinion editor for The Washington Times, and Tom Rogan, commentary writer for The Washington Examiner. Shannon, it seems like there's movement here, at least on the short-term deal.

SHANNON PETTYPIECE, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Yes, on a short-term deal because the fact of the matter is there is still millions and millions of people who get their insurance through this ObamaCare exchange. They will start enrolling very soon for their insurance plans for next year. So there needs to be something for these people in the interim so they have plans that they can afford, so a short-term deal.

But while we're talking short-term, Lamar Alexander is talking a couple years to give Republicans an opportunity to come up with an alternate plan. We are not talking a couple months. So this could end up being a longer- term patch.

BAIER: Right, and Charlie, hat is the question because the president seems like once he gets tax reform he wants to go on to the block grants effort which was the Cassidy-Graham bill that fell one vote short in the Senate the last time around.

CHARLES HURT, WASHINGTON TIMES: Yes. And whatever you think of this deal that is being outlined today, and I would think the Democrats ought to like it. There is a lot in it for them to like. It wouldn't have happened if it had not been for Donald Trump, as you pointing out, saying, batting down the subsidies last Friday.

But I have to say, it's a very strange thing to have a Republican in the White House and Republicans controlling both chambers of Congress, and we've gone from repeal and replace to essentially legalizing something that the courts had said was illegal, which is these subsidies that Obama -- when Congress refused to give Obama the subsidies, he just picked up his phone and his pen and he started including them. And it was an extralegal, unconstitutional thing. And so the idea that Republicans -- I hope they get a lot out of it because the idea that Republicans are now going to go along with basically legalizing what Barack Obama had done illegally is mystifying.

BAIER: Once you put it in the bill from Congress, you can appropriate, and that's the whole constitutional question. Tom, here is the Senate majority, Senate minority leader, and the treasury secretary on tax reform.


MCCONNELL: I think I can safely say that we are on the same page. His agenda is our agenda for the balance of the year is to complete the job on taxes.

SENATE MINORITY LEADER CHARLES SCHUMER, D-N.Y.: When the American people see it, they ain't going to like it at all.

TREASURY SECRETARY STEVE MNUCHIN: If we get tax reform done this year, it will be extraordinary. And that's our objective. Our objective is to get it on the president's desk by December to get him to sign it this year.


BAIER: They have to do the budget. It's not Wednesday. It's Thursday to vote on the budget. It seems like they may get there. Senator McCain is signing on, saying he is going to vote for the budget. We don't think Senator Paul will at this point. But this year seems to be a little hedging.

TOM ROGAN, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Yes, but I do think you see the momentum building in Congress. Republicans recognize they need a win. And on tax reform, something -- reducing the size of the state potentially but also putting more money in people's pockets, especially on that corporate tax reform front which I think a lot of Republican see as very important in the globalized economy, there is this sort of unity between we need to get something done and on this issue, it's probably the one that we're most going to agree with White House on.

BAIER: Shannon, is there this momentum? The treasury secretary seems to think so.

PETTYPIECE: There is certainly the desire and the acknowledgment that they need to do something on taxes, but tax reform is very difficult. That's why we haven't had it in more than two decades. If we are talking about something like middle-class tax cuts, if we are just talking about a lot of candy and not any vegetables, so tax cuts and no pay-fors, no entitlement reforms, maybe that's something they could squeak through. But the idea was supposed to be broad tax reform, simplifying the tax structure, overhauling the way we think about taxes in this country, and that is a big, long debate. And here we are October 17th. We have a Thanksgiving holiday coming up, a Christmas holiday coming up. The calendar is ticking down to do this this year.

BAIER: Charlie, are they going to have problems with deficit hawks up on the Hill, or is everybody Art Laffer up there now?

HURT: No, I think they are going to have real problems with it. But at the end of the day, I think there's a sliding scale with tax reform. You can do big stuff or you can sort of nibble around the edges. And I think that they will get at least something so that they can claim a major victory before the end of the year or maybe into the beginning of next year.

BAIER: Tom, I just want to get your thoughts on this situation in Iraq. I know you've written on it about the Kurds, the Iraqis. Your thoughts? It seems pretty intense there.

ROGAN: Yes, it is very tense, and I think the issue that we face now are what are the Iranians, the Russians, and the Turks actually now going to do about this? Potentially they could compress the entire region of Kurdistan and create some very negative situations there, so I think American influence is going to be very important. One final point, a big key player there on behalf of the Iraqi government is the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. The president mentioned them last week. We have to see what happens.

BAIER: We fit a lot in that, panel. Shannon, Charlie, and Tom, thank you very much.

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