Speaker Ryan stuns Washington by yanking the health bill

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," March 24, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Let's bring in our panel: Guy Benson political editor at townhall.com; Kristen Soltis Anderson, columnist for the Washington Examiner; Leslie Marshall, syndicated talk radio host; and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.

Charles -- your thoughts.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, you could look at this as the big picture or smaller. The big picture, I think, is that it is a victory for philosophically for Obama. It is now seven years since the act was put into place. The country has changed.

There is now the generalized expectation that there is an entitlement to universal health care. That was always around to some extent. But I think if you listen to the terms of the debate, the main argument was who is going to lose, how many are going to lose, which implies that nobody ought to lose, everybody ought to have health care.

And I think philosophically what did the Republicans have to offer? The ObamaCare bill said universal health care. The bill that Ryan was offering was, how could you, other than we made a promise we want to keep it, what was the essence of it? There wasn't.

And secondly, there was the technical issue, which is that Ryan crafted a bill to fit the technical requirements of what was called reconciliation in the Senate, which is why he could not include in the bill the things that would have satisfied the conservatives -- tort reform, stripping out the requirements for what has to be in every bill, the coverage mandate -- that kind of thing or buying health care across state lines.

He should have put that, I mean in retrospect, and perhaps in the future, you put all of that in a House bill, you pass it, you send it to the Senate, and then let the Democrats kill it with a filibuster.

If that's where the country is, let it be that way and then the Republicans at least will not have a political black eye.

BAIER: Kristen, the President said today not everyone understood how good our bill was. He said because you had this phase one, phase two, and phase 3 which he said would have gotten to a good bill.

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: This could have been a very complicated process. And I think part of the challenge was in that phase 2 you would have had the executive branch doing the things that it could do to tweak the regulations that were put into place by Obama's Health and Human Services Department.

But there had to be a level of trust there. People had to take the leap and say we'll vote for this bill, trusting that HHS will make all of these changes. And that level of trust just wasn't there unfortunately to get those folks across the finish line and saying they were willing to vote for it.

BAIER: Leslie -- I want to get to you react to the President on Democrats.


TRUMP: They own it-- 100 percent own it. And this is not a Republican health care. This is not anything but a Democrat health care. Just remember, this is not our bill. This is their bill.

Now, when they all become civilized and get together, and try and work out a great health care bill for the people of this country, we're open to it. We're totally open to it.

'17 is going to be a very, very bad year for ObamaCare -- very, very bad. You're going to have explosive premium increases and your deductibles are so high people don't even get to use it.

I honestly believe the Democrats will come to us and say, look, let's get together and get a great health care bill or plan that's really great for the people of our country. They are going to reach out, when they're ready. And whenever they are ready, we're ready.


BAIER: When they're ready, we're ready. Thoughts?

LESLIE MARSHALL, SYNDICATED RADIO HOST: Keep that tape, ok, because the Democrats are not going to come to the Republicans or to Donald Trump. One of the reasons that the Republicans didn't have the votes wasn't just that some wanted a full repeal. But they saw what was in this. And they saw that quite frankly the premiums, the increase in premiums, that's a major problem with ObamaCare were not going to be addressed.

They saw that the elderly, senior citizens that the lower income and a lot of services for women and services that are needed couldn't stay in place and have the financial end game that they wanted.

BAIER: We should point out that GOP does not stand for "Get Old People". Just to point that out.

MARSHALL: You know what -- I would agree with you there. I have a lot of young Republican friends

And, look, this is something. I was very shocked. I have to say as a Democrat. Because what I think happened today is Republicans didn't get on what I thought has been an obsession, an obsession for almost eight years to repeal or to replace. They even campaigned on it.

And today they listened to their constituents. Some people said this isn't a full repeal. But there are others that say hey, wait a minute, I'm starting to like this. Or I don't like what you are replacing it with.

We are seeing -- we are looking at Republicans who Republicans who today were tweeting look, you know, I had 1,800 phone calls to vote no and five to vote yes. They are listening to their voters. And I think that's that we need to do and that's one of the problems that Congress has had. They have not been listening left or right to the American people.

BAIER: Guy, they ran on this in 2012, in 2014. In 2016 they arguably got control of the Congress and the White House in part because of this mantra.

GUY BENSON, TOWNHALL.COM: Yes, in large part, it's one of the only coherent messages out of the Republican Party for the last eight years.

So I think the President is right. The status quo of ObamaCare is failing and is 100 percent owned by the Democrats because they passed it with no Republican votes.

But now Republicans have been given by voters, everything that they said they needed to repeal and replace a failing law. And they have been unable to do so. And therefore, there is now some ownership of the resulting mess on the Republican side of this.

And one other point, in this city we're going to talk a lot about who's weakened and who looks bad and who got hurt. The fact is there are a lot of people breathing a sigh of relief today who ObamaCare is actually helping them.

But there are millions of more people who are being actively hurt by this law. They hoped Republicans would come and save them. And so far that is not happening.

BAIER: Well, let alone small businesses who are concerned about the taxes, who don't expand beyond 49 workers because they don't want to be rolled into this.

I asked the Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer about what they would do if they had the negotiation about ObamaCare.


SENATE MINORITY LEADER CHUCK SCHUMER, D-N.Y.: There's got to be compromises with the Republicans. We would give the state insurance commissioners more authority to limit the price increases. We would be for creating more competition in the exchanges by allowing a public option. We were always for that, not every Democrat but most.

That will create competition for some, you know -- by a group that doesn't want to make a profit. So maybe they will reduce the costs. We would lower the cost of prescription drugs.

You know, the President has claimed he wants to do it.

BAIER: So why not put out your plan to say here's our alternative?

SCHUMER: Because you can't do it if you are going to try to repeal it.


BAIER: So now we are past that -- Charles. I would be interested to see if a public option makes its way back into the vernacular in this town.

KRAUTHAMMER: What Chuck Schumer said is so telling. Everything he offers there's not a compromise halfway between ObamaCare and a market-based system. Everything he offered is increase in government, control of health care, and increase in subsidies. The Democrats are going in one direction.

When ObamaCare explodes or collapses or ends with a whimper instead of a bang, but it's going to expire one way or the other, the Democrats are going to head in one direction and one direction only -- single payer.

They are going to go to the British system or the Canadian system. That's the logic of ObamaCare. It was a jerry-built system which was going to temporarily create an entitlement but would not work because it was financially impossible. So it's financially impossible it collapses.

But they have succeeded in creating an expectation of universal care and once you have that, that's the reason why the Quinnipiac poll had the reform, the Ryan reform had 17 percent. That's pathetic. That's lower than anything ever in ObamaCare.

So what we're going to get is in time, Democrats are going to go to single payer and Republicans are going to try to get a stripping away of government control and I think its time is slipping away. The zeitgeist in the country has really changed.

BAIER: Kristen, is repeal officially dead? Are we dealing with fixing ObamaCare or does the Republican Congress and this administration have another bite at this apple at some point down the line?

ANDERSON: There's a lot of other stuff on Congress' agenda that they want to get to that I think makes it very challenging for them to have the band width to go back and start from scratch on this issue.

Now President Trump has said, look, he loves making deals. He loves winning. He said, he tweeted out or said that he would be interested in working with Democrats to find something. That he would love something that brings them to the table.

But of course, if you do that are you going to be losing the conservatives, the very conservatives who already weren't with this bill?

And so this is where you get this friction within the Republican Party where for President Trump he loves winning, he loves deal-making and he loves it far more than I think limited government conservatism which is what animates a big piece of Congress.

BAIER: Quickly.

BENSON: Even if it comes down to fixing ObamaCare, as Charles says, not a single thing that Chuck Schumer said is a compromise at all to conservatives. And the right will lose its mind if the Republicans pivot to fix and repair when they have been promised repeal and replace. This is a politically untenable situation.

BAIER: Ok. With that bright moment, we will move on.

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