Friday Lightning Round: What to cut from gov't spending

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," October 25, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Welcome back. Each week you vote in our online poll for your favorite topic for the Friday Lightning Round, and this is it. You chose what to cut from government spending. That was the series this week by Doug McKelway. We are back with our panel as are you on Steve, today's story was about success stories but obviously when people talk about cutting, there is a lot on the chopping block.

HAYES: Yeah, I feel like this is a cruel joke. What to cut from the federal government in the Lightning Round?


HAYES: You had a whole long special on it.

I would start with the Department of Commerce. I think you can consolidate its useful functions and eliminate virtually everything else. If you want a very good idea of where to start cutting everything else, go to It's a website that Chris Edwards from the Cato Institute does. And he has a line-by-line detail of all of the things that could either be eliminated or consolidated.

BAIER: Kirsten?

KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK POST: Well, I think it's a fun game to play but really in order to see any changes in our spending trajectory we have to cut into things that most people don't want to cut into. Entitlements and the defense department is about two thirds of the budget. So we always sort of talk about eliminating different departments, but it's just going to really be around the margins unless we want to take an axe to much bigger programs.

BAIER: Jonah?

JONAH GOLDBERG, AT LARGE EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: I agree with Kirsten about that but I would also say -- and I agree with Steve entirely. Just start throwing darts at lists of government programs. I would say ethanol subsidies and the entire green picking winners and losers agenda. Basic research into energy is fine, but the rest is economy skewing. It's bad for the country, it's bad for the environment, and it all needs to go.

BAIER: Quickly, government spending, should the mandatory sequester cuts remain in place? 94 percent saying yes as you continue voting here on

Next topic, this NSA story and where we are with the Merkel, the chancellor of Germany saying that she, the U.S. listened into her cellphone, and what this is all doing for foreign relations. Kirsten?

POWERS: I worked in the Clinton administration in a department that handled international affairs and I thought it was understood among countries that we were all spying on each other. So it's a little strange to hear people being so completely shocked. Maybe it is because it is a cellphone and it feels a little too personal. I tend to think that they know we are doing this and you get caught and then you have to act outraged and this is always sort of what happens. I don't know that there is going to be any really long-term effect of this because I think everybody knows that it was going on already.

BAIER: Jonah?

GOLDBERG: Yeah. It kind of reminds me of stories you hear a lot about one football team running up the score against the other and should that be against the rules? I think what they are mad at is we are so much better at doing exactly what they do too that they think it's unfair.

BAIER: Steve?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Former French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said exactly what Jonah suggested, basically we're jealous. His quote, "Let's be honest, we eavesdrop, too. Everybody is listening to everyone else." Everybody's [inaudible]. This is totally phony outrage; it is a non-scandal.

BAIER: OK, winners and losers down the row. Steve, winner and then loser?

HAYES: So the winner is the national football league. The Monday night football game between the Vikings and Giants, one of the most horrible football games I have ever seen, and I watched every minute of it. It got basically the same ratings as the first game of the World Series this week. The NFL is America's national lifetime. The loser Kathleen Sebelius.  There is nothing else to say.

BAIER: Kirsten?

POWERS: I would say the big loser is the sort of cause for activist government that the president just took a major hit with not being able to rollout his fundamental change to America, his health care program. And the winner is the GOP because we are not talking about the shutdown.

BAIER: Jonah?

GOLDBERG: The loser this week is not Kathleen Sebelius. That's next week when she testifies. Spoiler alert.

BAIER: Wednesday.

GOLDBERG: The loser this week is Barack Obama because he basically asked all the American people to fact check him in an infomercial and gave them an 800 number to do it, and they all found out he wasn't telling the truth. The winner this week is our friend Charles Krauthammer whose chair I'm briefly sitting in tonight. His book is number one on Amazon, and it's an amazing thing, especially for a column, an anthology to do. And it's well- deserved, and so he is the winner this week.

BAIER: By the way, shameless plug, this special at 10:00 p.m. is really something. He talks about things he has never talked about and you see the progression in his life to becoming honestly the most influential, wouldn't you say, columnist not just because he works here, but he affects a lot of people, and a lot of people weigh in.

A lot of people are weighing in, by the way, good transition, throughout Bing. We have the voting right here at the top. Here is the latest question. Has America's reputation been damaged by NSA surveillance revelations? 89 percent said yes, 11 percent said no. There you see the votes change real-time as do your votes with the panel.

When we come back, stay tuned, because we have the Bing results, all of them, and also a solution, possibly, for the problem of the rollout. What really was the problem? One late night show has maybe the answer.

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