Health Care Reform and the Supreme Court

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," September 30, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Every week, viewers vote for your choice online in our Friday Lightning Round poll. And th is week, health care -- the health care law and the Supreme Court won with 88 percent of the votes. We're back with our panel.

Kirsten, let's start you. It appears after the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals came out with a ruling against the administration. And the mandate ruled unconstitutional there was a back-and-forth whether the administration was going to press forward for another round of appeals. And they fast-tracked it --


BAIER: -- at this point to the Supreme Court.

POWERS: I was surprised because I thought they would actually kind of slow- walk it a little bit, because to have this come down in the middle of an election year, risking the possibility that it could get struck down could be very damaging to the administration. What I gather is that they just decided that from a policy perspective they needed to have this decided now and they didn't want to wait. But I think politically it's a real risk.

BAIER: What about that? Politically, who is it a risk for? Is Mitt Romney at risk for a ruling during this presidential election?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: No. I think for Obama it's win-win. If it is upheld, then it will give something of a boost in public opinion because it will be seen as legitimate. It will help its legitimacy and I think it will slightly, I think at least marginally increase its popularity. If it's struck down, it removes an albatross around Obama's neck. It's gonna be a moot issue.

JONAH GOLDBERG, AT LARGE EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: I've been trying to game this out, too. I think it's a very weird decision. And I think it had to have come from Obama. You don't make something this central to their campaign without it coming from the White House. But, say it gets overturned, now you've got the left that says, OK, we've lost Congress. We're incredibly unpopular, we're probably going to lose the presidency, all over this health care thing we now don't even have. A lot of them are going to be pretty ticked off.

KRAUTHAMMER: But then the left will say all the more reason you want to elect Obama so he'll appoint Supreme Court justices who won't rule this way in the future.

POWERS: Well, there is a belief on the left, ya know, among Democrats, that it would energize the base.

BAIER: If it was overturned?

POWERS: Yeah, which I don't necessarily agree with, but there is a feeling that yeah, they would get so fired up about it. I just feel like it doesn't look good for the president to make something so central and then have it struck down by the Supreme Court.

KRAUTHAMMER: I think he calculates, he wins either way. And that's why it's no accident that Justice has asked to get expedited consideration.

BAIER: I lost the whole lightning round aspect of this thing.


BAIER: But we will go on to topic two.

KRAUTHAMMER: You're like the substitute teacher, nobody pays any attention --


BAIER: It's OK. It's Friday. President Obama in an interview yesterday said this, quote, "The way I think about it is, you know, this is a great, great country that had gotten a little soft and, you know, we didn't have that same competitive edge that we need over the last couple of decades. We need to get back on track." Texas Governor Perry just responded on this show.


RICK PERRY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Americans aren't soft. We've got some bad policies on tax and regulation in Washington, D.C., that are kicking people out of jobs every day. That's the real tragedy. What we've got is a soft president.


BAIER: OK, Jonah.

GOLDBERG: Who is running the White House communication shop? I mean, at best he just misspoke. But it is a bizarre sort of Jimmy Carter malaise kind of thing to say, blaming the American people, blaming the country under two different administrations for the economic problems that we have today. Meanwhile, his own administration is pushing policies that are making us less competitive. It is just a weird, strange thing for him to say.

BAIER: A lot of people are not noting he went on to say in the interview he wouldn't trade America's position with any other country. But still, Kirsten?

POWERS: Yes, which also doesn't explain, you know, why we wouldn't trade it if we're so soft. I mean, it's, if you think back the last couple of decades, I mean, the '90s was one of the most productive, you know, periods in terms of the economy. So it really doesn't make any sense and I don't think it's -- I'm not quite even sure what he was talking about.

BAIER: Maybe he landed on the wrong word, Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: No, this is a huge error. He is having trouble governing, the country is in trouble. He is seen as not having good stewardship or ability to govern and then he blames America. If he does that, he is seen as somebody, who's compounding condescension, incompetence, and narcissism all in one sentence. That is really hard to do. I think he has done it right here.

BAIER: Last topic very quickly down the row. We have talked about Texas Governor Perry. And we had an interview earlier in the show. Can he rebound from this last debate and what has been a tough point in the polls dropping 10 to 12 points?

KRAUTHAMMER: One good debate and he's back. America is a country of second chances because we don't even remember the first chance.

BAIER: Kristen?

POWERS: Yeah, I think that's absolutely true. He needs to really sort of clean up this mess with immigration. I think a lot of people were focusing on the fact that he was stumbling over some of his answers and not attacking Mitt Romney enough where really his problem is he sort of alienated the base with this, you don't have a heart if you don't support my position. And I think if he can clean that up and start really talk about strong border protection and things like that, he will probably be able start to pulling some of those people back.

BAIER: But the vulnerabilities that he has exhibited and his competitors hit him on have taken a toll, Jonah?

GOLDBERG: Yeah. I'm less less bullish on Perry. I think that love at first sight thing is gone and he's ruined it. And you can never get that back. He has gone from having, he thinks he has a Mitt Romney problem when he really has now a Rick Perry problem. And that is a difficult place for him to be. And he keeps attacking Mitt Romney as if he is telling the voters something they don't already know about Mitt Romney. Meanwhile, all of his support is going to people like Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich. He is in a bad place.

BAIER: Did you know that "Flipper" was a movie star?

KRAUTHAMMER: I think he was a porpoise.

BAIER: We'll have the interview on the web page posted just shortly.

That is it for panel. But stay tuned to see another presidential race that apparently is now heating up.

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