'Special Report' Panel on Fort Hood Attack; Health Care Predictions

This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Bret Baier" from November 6, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We don't know all the answers yet and I would cauti on against jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts. What we do know is that there are family, friends and an entire nation grieving right now for the valiant men and women who came under attack yesterday in one of the worst mass shootings ever to take place on an American military base.


BRET BAIER, HOST: President Obama in the Rose garden today talking about the Fort Hood tragedy where 13 were killed and 38 wounded. Authorities say it was this man, Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan who was responsible.

We will talk about this first before we turn topics. Let's bring in our panel: Steve Hayes, senior writer for The Weekly Standard; Chris Cillizza, White House reporter for The Washington Post, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, the question here is who is this guy? The family has been out preemptively to portray him as an ordinary man, a victim of anti-Islamic prejudice and taunting.

On the other hand, there are other kids of allegations, a, that made postings on Web sites sympathizing with suicide attacks, other allegations that as a psychiatrist he tried to proselytize his patients, which I can say, if true, as a psychiatrist is the highest ethical crime and abuse of authority and the weakness of a patient.

And lastly, the evidence by the base commander that was heard saying "Allah Akbar," meaning "God is great" as he began shooting, which is the cry of Al Qaeda-like Islamist terrorists.

We will learn if he's a victim or a homegrown terrorist.

BAIER: Chris?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Let me take it in a different direction.

The thing I was struck by was the fact that while you have the president doing everything he can to sell health care on the home front, while you have the president debating what he can do in Afghanistan internationally, you have this, which is not only difficult because it captures the nation's attention, it's obviously a huge tragedy, but you have the fact that the shooter was a Muslim.

To me, what I was struck by from a political reporter's perspective was the difficulties of being the president of the United States, that you can try to push your agenda, have these agenda items, and yet unforeseen circumstances happen and you have to deal with them as best you can and move on.

BAIER: Steve?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I keep coming back to something actually that I read last night on the FOX ticker during this show, and it was a comment that an FBI spokesman had given someone here at FOX that said that basically ruled out terrorism and said that any link to terrorism, quote, "is not being discussed," unquote, at the FBI.

And the president said in his comments today let's not jump to conclusions.

He should give the same advice to his FBI director Robert Mueller, and if terrorist that links to terrorism were in fact not being discussed at the FBI in the hours after the shooting, then Mueller should be fired.

BAIER: OK, we will turn topics now to healthcare. The president is going up to Capitol Hill this weekend to try to twist some arms essentially. There are a lot of moderate Democrats who may be nervous about this big vote this weekend. Take a listen:


ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I assume he will rally the troops. I anticipate that he'd answer questions that people have. He's fired up and ready to go.

HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER STENY HOYER, D-MD.: I want to make sure that everyone understands it is our intent to finish the health care bill, but assuming that we finish the health care bill sometime Saturday, Saturday night or early Sunday morning.


BAIER: Here is a Democratic majority who has 77-seat majority and they are pushing back this vote. Charles, they may not have the votes.

KRAUTHAMMER: It tells you how much in trouble health care is. As you say, this huge majority in the body, in the House, which essentially had the supreme Soviet rules — if you are majority, you get what you want — and they're worried to death.

A, it's because of the weakness of the bill, what a monstrosity it is. Secondly, the election on Tuesday where independents swung hugely — 30 percent margins — against the Democrats in part because of these huge spending programs.

And lastly what you have is the administration getting numbers on unemployment today and constituents asking, with unemployment over 10 percent, why are you creating a new entitlement that will have half trillion in taxation? It makes no sense.

BAIER: Chris?

CILLIZZA: First of all, Charles is exactly right. There is no worse place in politics than the minority in the House. You can do absolutely nothing substantive.

This is the problem of a big majority in some ways. It's a big, varied majority from the left to the right. On the left, you have the Hispanic caucus saying well, wait a minute, illegal immigration, are these people going to be eligible.

On the right...

BAIER: Let me explain that: The Hispanic caucus is saying that they will not, the 20 members will not vote for the bill if the language is changed to require verification of residency for health care reform. This is...

CILLIZZA: You know what happens, Bret, is you have 20 here and 35, 40 on the pro-life side of the Democratic caucus saying we want to make sure no federal funding can go to abortions.

It's 20 here, it's 15 here, it's 5 here, it's 3 here — they do have a big majority, but they don't want to win by 218 or 219.

Remember, this president was elected to change the tone, holding the vote open for hours on end, twisting arms, getting 218, 219, that's not how they want it. They want 225, two-thirty. And these numbers get whittled away. It's exactly what you were talking about.

BAIER: Steve, the speaker swore in Bill Owens today, the newest Democrat in congress. He may be the vote.

HAYES: Yes. I think it's more likely that they will have the 218, and not much more. I don't think they're going to have much clearance on. I think what you're seeing now is Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats being 10, 12 votes short now at this point.

If they pick up the 10 to 12 votes, it will likely come because of some kind of compromise on abortion I think more than on illegal immigration.

And what's happening now, I think the maneuvering behind the scenes is largely the Democratic leadership trying to influence the conference of Catholic bishops to get behind an amendment offered by Brad Ellsworth of Indiana that would, in a sense, try to take the federal money out of the funding for abortion.

I think it is a bait and switch. I don't think it actually accomplishes that. It actually puts it into a separate pile of money, and it's essentially taking from the same money but it's like a shell game in a sense.

But that's going to be the key to determining whether Democrats, those moderate Democrats, pro-life Democrats have the cover that they need to get behind the bill.

CILLIZZA: Just Bret, really quickly, remember, a lot of those pro-life Democrats, where do they sit? In the south, in districts that John McCain or George W. Bush carried.

We're get dangerously close to 2010 for any member to take a controversial vote like this. A lot of member represent districts where this vote could potentially cost them their seat, and as Charles mentioned, after that Tuesday election, they are watching their backs very, very closely now.

BAIER: Charles, this is just one element here. This is the House side. We're not even talking about the Senate problems and the hurdles and speed bumps that they will have to hit.

KRAUTHAMMER: Right. The House is the Supreme Soviet. This is like the wild west where the leadership has no control.

So even though I think it passes the House. I think enough arms will be twisted, broken over the weekend that it will pass. In the Senate, I think it dies eventually.

BAIER: President Obama says, my presidency depends on this tomorrow.

KRAUTHAMMER: Yes, it will pass in the House. Harry Reid in the Senate has said it is likely it will slip into 2010. If it does, it dies.

BAIER: Does it pass?

CILLIZZA: In the House, yes.

HAYES: In the House, yes.

BAIER: By just a couple?

HAYES: Just a couple.

BAIER: All right, unemployment hits double figures, Iran may already have its way to the bomb, and Democrats move ahead on climate legislation without the GOP. The Friday lightning round is next.


BAIER: Well, climate change legislation is moving forward. Senator Barbara Boxer moved the bill out of her committee despite the fact that no Republicans showed up for that vote when the committee voted. So it is moving forward, but where does it stand?

All this week on the "Special Report" page on Foxnews.com, thousands of you voted on what topic we should discuss during the Friday lightning round. The first topic, your choice online: The prospects of cap-and-trade legislation and where it stands.

We're back with the panel. Steve — a shocking vote, by the way.

HAYES: Yes, the legislation is moving forward and going nowhere. It is not going — there is not going to be any serious cap-and-trade legislation that looks anything like what Senator Boxer moved out.

And if there were to be, Republicans would be overjoyed and they hope that it would be later and closer to the election next year because they think it's good for them.

BAIER: What about from an administration point of view, Chris?

CILLIZZA: It's not going anywhere. Steve is exactly right. I think you have to...

BAIER: Does the president go to Copenhagen?

CILLIZZA: That I don't know the answer to.

I think that the president recognizes that forcing Democrats, especially those in tough districts, tough states, to swallow some form of health care bill because they need something to pass for his political future, is a tough enough pill.

The idea that we're going to all of a all of a sudden roll into cap-and-trade, which is even more controversial in some of these places, swing states and you already have senators and members of Congress coming out against it, is not going to happen, certainly not in 2010.

Almost nothing happens legislatively in election years and nothing this big and this controversial will.

BAIER: Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: It's toxic. Every once in a while rationality breaks out in Congress. It's rare, but it does happen.

And on this, it is so obvious — in the middle of a recession with huge unemployment, if you're going to impose cap-and-trade, which is going to be an enormous increase in energy taxes an energy rates, in electricity rates, and in taxation in the middle of a recession is even in Congress, is too insane an idea to ultimately enact.

BAIER: Next topic, Fox confirmed a story that first appeared in "The Guardian" that there is real concern at the IAEA, a secret report, that Iran is moving forward, testing technology to make warheads small so they can fit on a missile. The House and Senate committees, intelligence committees, have been briefed on.

What about this in the big context of Iran — Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: If this is true, the real scandal here is the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, which has said that Iran had stopped nuclear program in 2003. It was obvious at the time that it wasn't so. It needs to be repealed, repudiated and a new estimate put in place.

It is scandalous.

BAIER: Chris?

CILLIZZA: The Obama candidate, not President Obama, put a lot of stake in this policy of engaging rogue nations. It was very controversial in the primary, criticized by Senator Clinton, among others, controversial in the general election, although ultimately overwhelmed by domestic concerns like the economy.

If there is evidence that Iran can't be — an honest broker may be overstating things, but if they are openly a dishonest broker, this policy will be reexamined in light of that. And again, we start looking down to 2012, and this is something where I think you'll see a Mitt Romney or a Tim Pawlenty, whoever ends up being the nominee, drawing a clear distinction about what a Republican administration would do with regards to Iran and what this president did.

HAYES: We're there already. The president knows Iran is dealing in bad faith.

And this is what is truly scandalous about this particular report. The U.S. intelligence community has know about this for weeks. This was briefed, as you said, to Congress on October 22 and again on October 29th. And the president just Tuesday said, well, we hope to engage Iran. We hope to erase a past of suspicion and mistrust.

So at the exact same time the president is being told they are lying about weaponizing a nuclear weapon — weaponizing nukes — he is saying to the country and to the world and to the Iranian leadership we need to get to a point where we trust each other.

BAIER: Very quickly: 10.2 percent unemployment. How big?

HAYES: Big and very bad news for the White House.

BAIER: Chris?

CILLIZZA: Big and dangerous, because in politics perception sometimes matters more than reality. No matter all the figures you can say about GDP growth, if people are out of jobs come 2010 — mid-2010 — they won't feel like the economy is recovering, and that is trouble for Democrats.

BAIER: Charles, I was struck by the fact that the chart, when they were pitching the stimulus, they said 7.9 percent, the stimulus would get the unemployment rate to there. The chart that they used didn't go beyond 10; it is now at 10.2.

KRAUTHAMMER: And the chart also said in the absence of stimulus, we would have unemployment at 8.8 percent. Well, in the presence of stimulus, it is at ten point two.

The timing, however is, helpful if you're a Democrat. It happened three days after the election and a year away from the election in 2010.

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