This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Bret Baier" from April 23, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JAN BREWER, R-ARIZ.: There is no higher priority than protecting the citizens of Arizona. We cannot sacrifice our safety to the murderous greed of drug cartels. We cannot stand idly by as drop houses, kidnappings and violence compromise our quality of life.
We cannot delay while this is happening south of our border, our international border creeps its way north. We in Arizona have been more than patient waiting for Washington to act.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I instructed members of the administration to closely monitor the situation and examine the civil rights and other implications of this legislation. But if we continue to fail to act as federal level we will continue to see misguided efforts opening up around the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, HOST: Arizona, the governor there Jan Brewer signing the toughest immigration bill into law this afternoon. The president criticizing that, calling it misguided.
Now supporters call this an act that deals with the frustration there on the ground that Washington is not securing the borders. Critics say it institutionalizes racial profiling.
So we're going to have an extended panel tonight, Steve Hayes, senior writer for the Weekly Standard, Juan Williams, news analyst for National Public Radio, Tucker Carlson, editor of thedailycaller.com, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.
Steve, thoughts on the day, thoughts on the president's reaction?
STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, you can understand the frustration of Arizonans who have been waiting for the federal government to do something.
And you can understand the frustration of Arizonans who recognize the Obama administration believes that the current level on the southwest border is good. Not just adequate, they believe that it is good. And they're wrong.
BAIER: Janet Napolitano said the numbers show the board itself is more under control than it ever has been. I think people in Arizona would say we don't agree.
HAYES: Certainly. Look, and if you wake up and you see illegals in your backyard or you see smugglers and smuggling routes cutting through your neighborhoods, you're going to be frustrated, I don't think there's any question about that.
It's also true that I think this law was extraordinarily well written. The way that they went out of their way to avoid what I think is likely be the practical application of this is admirable.
But the law in my view doesn't — won't do what it sets out to do. And I think everything hinges on this definition of reasonable suspicion, what is "reasonable suspicion"? And the drafters of the law go to great length to codify that and lay that out.
The problem is in practice you will have police officers who have to find, exercise what they believe is reasonable suspicion. And I'm not sure it will be applied in the way that the drafters intended it to be applied.
JUAN WILLIAMS, NEWS ANALYST, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: The police chiefs have said it's a bad idea, a bad bill.
HAYES: No, some. Some have said that.
WILLIAMS: Most law enforcement, especially high-ranking law enforcement officials in this country have been very clear. What this does is it builds distrust between the illegal immigrant community and police officers. It takes resources away from other crime-fighting activities to dedicate here.
BAIER: You have law enforcement officials in Arizona who are very supportive of this bill.
WILLIAMS: Sure. This is highly politicized, and you have a situation where the governor, Jan Brewer, is running in a tough Republican race, primary in August. And much like we have seen with John McCain, who has opposed this over the years, all of a sudden she has done a flip because this is to her political advantage to play on the emotions of this moment.
But it's not a good bill. It doesn't deal with illegal immigration.
BAIER: It's a law now.
WILLIAMS: It's not a good law. In fact, what it does is, and I think this is just terrible, but most Republicans agree with me, 54 percent have said this is going to lead to civil rights violations. Those are Republicans who say that.
BAIER: Here is the latest poll in Arizona — 70 percent favor this new law, 70 percent according to Rasmussen. There is the next question, however, in the same survey, says are you concerned it will end up violating the rights of citizens? Fifty-three percent are concerned about that.
WILLIAMS: And most Republicans agree with that. Let me emphasize this, because this is not something you say, well, conservatives think this, liberals think that. No. Everybody knows this is civil liberties issue.
TUCKER CARLSON, THEDAILYCALLER.COM: Look, you run into civil liberty issues whenever you try to enforce any law up to and including speeding laws. OK, so that is the nature of enforcing law.
I would back up and say Governor Brewer and John McCain are not the only ones playing politics with this. The president knows there is no immigration bill anytime soon. This is about the midterm election and an attempt to put fear in the hearts of Hispanic voters and mobilize them to vote for Democrats.
So the president comes out and says this law undermines the basic notion of fairness. Let's just remind one another this bill asks law enforcement officials to enforce the law. So, if in so doing that you by definition undermine basic notions of fairness, then let's sort of give up on enforcing any laws. It's absurd to say, and it's purely political and demagogic.
BAIER: What about the security issues here? For people — we talked about in Arizona who deal with increased kidnapping, increase killings along the border, and drug trafficking — they say we got to do something.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: And the reason is that the feds have not done what they are required to do to secure the border. When Napolitano says we are — it's the best level of security ever, did you hear in that sound bite she said we are throwing the most resources at it?
That's a typical liberal assessing the policy on the amount of stuff on the inputs into it rather than on the results and the output. Output is kidnappings, murder, mayhem, fear at the border.
When the president says as he said today that the reason all of this is happening is because the federal government has not acted, he's right about that. But he is completely wrong in implying as he does that a solution is what he's going to advocate, which is amnesty. Amnesty is the exactly wrong answer.
In the absence of a closed border, amnesty is a sign at the border to anyone who wants to enter illegally as a way to say come on in, try again and again and again. If you get in, hide. Ultimately, in a decade or so, there's going to be amnesty and you'll become a citizen.
What the feds ought to do is not amnesty, but secure the border. And here, I cannot understand — I have never heard a coherent argument against a fence across the border. On parts of which a fence already exists, there has been a huge decrease in illegal immigration.
Of course there is always going to be a person or two who gets across. But a fence all across the border would turn a river of illegal immigrants into a trickle, and that would change the whole country.
BAIER: Juan, Tucker says no chance for immigration legislation this year. However, Nancy Pelosi said she could be in favor of moving it ahead of client change. We heard talk of it in the Senate, and the president said today if we continue to act at a federal level — so is there a chance they push this forward ahead of midterms?
WILLIAMS: Yes. And Lindsey Graham is a key player here for the Republicans. Senator Graham working with Senator Schumer and others saying there is a need to get something done right now.
And part of this conversation in Washington is, look, Hispanics are putting tremendous pressure on the Democrats to say we supported you in the past, how come we're not getting payback in terms of our key issue, immigration reform?
You hear it from Charles and others, here, you know what, immigration is out of control, out of control. I don't think it's immigration — I think that Janet Napolitano is right. The border in terms of the wall that is up right now, the steps taken make it less likely to immigrate right now.
What we have got is a terrible drug trafficking problem that is blowing up in Mexico, killing people, and leading to kidnappings and the like. That is a separate issue and we have to fight that.
But to say it's going to — why don't we go to New York, you know, and suddenly start picking out all the Irish people. There have over 50,000 illegal Irish illegal immigrants in New York City. Should we could say you look Irish, you have an Irish accent. That's what's going to happen —
BAIER: We're not up against the border with Ireland and we're also not getting a flow of drug traffickers coming across from the country next door.
HAYES: Those are not separate issues. You want to separate them, and it's politically convenient for the White House to separate them. But they're decidedly not separate issues when you talk about the illegals coming over, smuggling drugs, part of cartels, you know, killing ranchers, what have you. That is part of the problem, and it's a fundamental part of the problem.
And Tucker's point that you need to actually just enforce the law is a good point. I mean, how do you argue against that? I am in favor of more legal immigration but who argues against enforcing the law?
CARLSON: In some sense the Democrats are telling the truth in that a lot of resources are thrown at this. I spent actually last weekend right on the border in the Rio Grande River in south Texas. In the hour or so from Carizo Springs, Texas, to Mexico, the only vehicles you see are Border Patrol. That's it. They are everywhere.
And they are making almost no dent in the flow of illegals from over the border.
And by the way, they die often. Many illegal immigrants die on the way over. So to encourage them with amnesty to continue to come to this country is not an act of compassion.
WILLIAMS: I don't know about encouraging them.
CARLSON: That's exactly what it does.
WILLIAMS: Ronald Reagan said that we need immigration reform and establish some degree of amnesty.
WILLIAMS: And that is because we have not followed up, we have not enforced the rules.
And by the way, Charles said President Obama just wants more amnesty. Obama has been very clear in saying to the Hispanic groups we also have to obey the American laws. You can't come here illegally.
BAIER: Last word, Charles. Quickly.
KRAUTHAMMER: His entreaties have not had a great effect on Mexicans in Mexico who come here.
BAIER: That was quick. This isn't the last time we'll talk about this. You can keep up with the immigration story and vote on our weekend poll on this very subject.
Go to homepage, FoxNews.com/SpecialReport.
Next up, the Friday lightning round, your choice online topic of the week.
BAIER: Every week on FoxNews.com, the "Special Report" page, voters vote on the topic to discuss in this, the Friday lightning round. Today's winner is Steve Hayes' wild card. But we're saving that wildcard pick for last topic.
We will start with this. Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, his trial is starting, the corruption trial. And there are papers that indicate there were some communication perhaps even with some members of the Obama team. At least that's what Blagojevich team is alleging. He wants to subpoena President Obama.
Could this get messy for the White House? Juan?
WILLIAMS: Oh, yes, sure, it's missy. Who wants their name dragged in this kind of mess?
But don't forget what kind of credibility does Rod Blagojevich have? To this day — he is attacking U.S. prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. This is a guy who said clearly that everybody in Illinois is corrupt. And now he wants to get the president involved because he's a drowning man and he is flailing.
BAIER: Tucker, the president when he was a candidate said I had no contact with the governor's office. If it turns out that even indirectly he did —
CARLSON: It's bad. Everything Juan said is right. He is not a credible figure. He's a ludicrous figure, flamboyant fiture — kind of entertaining figure, by the way.
But that doesn't speak to the real question, which is, did the president try to engineer a way to get Valerie Jarrett into his Senate seat? That's an open question. There is apparently some evidence he did. It'd personally like to know the answer to that, and it could come out in a subpoena situation.
BAIER: We're going to follow all of that.
Next topic, health care cost. New report by the chief Medicare actuary says this, among other things: an increase of $311 billion in the next ten years, and 15 percent of all providers could become unprofitable. Some hospitals may go under. Medicare cuts could drive 15 percent of hospitals into the red. And there are also other cuts that are questioned in the report.
What about it, Steve?
HAYES: It's fascinating. Think of since the five, six weeks since health care passed, we have seen a steady stream of front page news stories that affirm the conservative critics of the bill before it became law.
So you have seen stories about insurance premiums going up, you have seen businesses having to increase the cost of business because of the new law. You have seen Congressional leaders not knowing what is actually in the bill, which is something that was a main criticism for. And now you're seeing $311 billion in healthcare cost.
None of this should be surprising and it's again, one in a steady stream. We'll likely see more of these.
BAIER: The president said many times they want the cost curve to go down. The White House says in response to the report that it's overly pessimistic and that 34 (ph) additional Americans will gain health insurance. Charles?
KRAUTHAMMER: It looks as if the Medicare actuary HHS has been watching Fox News and has discovered all of this hidden stuff, which was not even that hidden.
They have decided, objectively, I think, that one in six hospitals is going to become insolvent as a result of the proposed or projected or promised cuts in Medicare, which either are not going to happen, or if they happen, are going to deprive a lot of seniors of real care. That is going to be tremendously damaging to Democrats in this election and in future elections.
And secondly, there is something about the long-term care, the class act, which the actuary has declared will be insolvent in the next decade. This is all stuff in the bill we didn't hear about except here on Fox. And now everybody is going to hear about it.
BAIER: Quickly, wild card choice, Steve Hayes.
HAYES: Charles had a terrific baseball column this morning and I thought it would be interesting to ask the panelists what is America's true national pastime? The correct answer is football. Look at the NFL, the draft last night, it was just a draft, outdrew NBA playoff games. More people watch football than any other sport. It's football.
WILLIAMS: This is Christmastime for me. I got to tell you. It's Christmastime not because of the NFL draft — so what? But I think the NBA playoffs are something. You go home every night and these are the intense playoffs with the best athletes in the world going at it. I just love it. Plus I love baseball.
HAYES: That's hockey. Hockey.
WILLIAMS: They have great hockey. This town we're lucky this year we have good hockey —
BAIER: Alright, Tucker?
CARLSON: Two out of my four children are at the hockey game right now. It's not strictly speaking an American sport. It's dominated by Canadians and Russians. But it is in some deep sense the sport of the future, plus it's violent and entertaining to watch.
KRAUTHAMMER: Steve is right — football. It shouldn't be but it is.
BAIER: This is from a Nationals fan, die-hard Nationals fan.
KRAUTHAMMER: Yesterday, the Yankees pulled off the triple-play. In the old days it would have been a world headline. You didn't hear about it because of the NFL draft. It's not even a game. It's a draft. It's the sport. It's not a great statement on America, but it's the truth.
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