The McLaughlin Group
Host: John McLaughlin
Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist;
Eleanor Clift, The Daily Beast;
Susan Ferrechio, Washington Examiner;
Mort Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report
Taped: Friday, April 4, 2014
Broadcast: Weekend of April 5-6, 2014
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JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Money Talks.
The Supreme Court this week, in a 5-4 ruling, struck down a 40-year-old campaign finance law passed in the wake of the Watergate scandal. The case, McCutcheon versus Federal Election Commission, challenged the cumulative limit of how much an individual can contribute to a multitude of political candidates. That aggregate limit had been capped at $48,600 over a two-year period.
The plaintiff, Shaun McCutcheon, had reached that limit after contributing to 16 different congressional candidates. McCutcheon wanted to contribute to more congressional candidates, but the law's cumulative limit prohibited him from doing so until now.
That aggregate limit, $48,600, was struck down this week by the high court, declaring it to be unconstitutional. In the words of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., quote, "There is no right in our democracy more basic than the right to participate in electing our political leaders," unquote.
The law does nothing, however, to eliminate the $2,600 per- candidate maximum for federal campaigns. Individuals are still limited to $2,600 maximum each for the primary campaign and general campaign of any given candidate.
It is the aggregate that has been removed, meaning wealthy donors, like the libertarian-leading Koch brothers or hedge-fund billionaire and environmental activist Thomas Steyer could theoretically contribute the individual maximum in every House and Senate race in a given election year. That sum would equal approximately $2,500,000.
Question: Who are the winners and who are the losers in McCutcheon versus Federal Election Commission? Pat Buchanan.
PAT BUCHANAN: First winners, John, are the political parties, which are going to get a lot more cash. Second winners are these consultants who raise money and get a 15 percent cutoff, and they also make ads and things like that. They'll do wonderfully well. And the third guys who are the big winners on this thing are the television networks and television stations. They get all the money that's going to be coming in, pouring into politics.
The big losers are, I would say, individual candidates who are people of ideas, who get into races and don't have a national name recognition, say, like Ron Paul or Rand Paul, but they get in and fight for ideas. They can be overwhelmed and wiped out by big money.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Before you let this go, do you remember John McCain and Russ Feingold?
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, McCain-Feingold. I guess that was dumped out by the previous -- well, the Citizens United decision.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So that was intended to limit special-interest money in campaigns. Has it been defenestrated?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, that was already gone, John. You take folks like Sheldon Adelson and others. He put $90 million into many campaigns. But you've got to be separate from your candidates and separate from the party to do that. You can do that on your own. But that was already -- that limit already was blown out.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does this Supreme Court ruling put those who are vilifying the Koch brothers in the same camp as book burners and censors, namely, opponents of free speech? Yes or no?
ELEANOR CLIFT: The American people are the big losers here. And the ability of a class of billionaires to purchase the Congress, in effect -- and that has been made legal by the corporate five, the majority of 5-4. They're on their way to deregulating all campaign contributions.
It's the same group that called corporations -- that corporations are people and equates money with free speech, which makes people with money have a lot more free speech than the rest of us.
And if you look at the gap between what the American people want and what the Congress is doing on everything from gun regulation to minimum wage, to tax reform, immigration reform, you can see the impact of the purchases, if you will, of these people, who have not just a thumb on the scale on Capitol Hill; they have a whole fist on it. And I think it really is a denigration of our democracy.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Here we have the Washington Examiner, as can be seen, "The War Against the Kochs: Democrats to Make the Billionaire Conservatives a Central Issue in the Midterm Elections," written by our own Susan Ferrechio.
It says here, however, that a great deal of union spending on behalf of candidates includes not only direct donations, but spending on other activities that aid campaigns. Those efforts often include hiring workers to staff phone banks and staging get-out-the-vote -- getting-out-the-vote efforts.
Do you think that labor unions give an enormous amount to campaigns that goes relatively unnoticed whenever we get into a do- good mode with regard to how we spend our campaign money and whether it's fair, that the labor unions do more to raise money and support campaigns than practically any other institution or person?
SUSAN FERRECHIO: They do a lot. And just sort of reacting to what Eleanor was saying, I don't feel like this is going to give anyone an unfair advantage, because both parties are raising so much money. The donors you just mentioned, Tom Steyer and others, who have, in the past -- George Soros -- they kind of even each other out.
So, yes, the Kochs are raising a lot of money. The unions are raising a lot of money. Each is battling each other on what the issue really should be and which candidates should be elected. But there's some protection afforded there in that both sides are each dumping money into the process.
I would say if only one side was able to raise that much money, then this latest ruling would certainly give some an unfair advantage here. But Eleanor's right. The smaller candidates, the less well-financed candidates that can't attract the big money, they're going to be drowned out by this ability to fund things in an unlimited fashion.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You have an $18 million for the Koch industries.
MS. FERRECHIO: That's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mostly Republicans.
MS. FERRECHIO: Yes. They --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But that's during how many years?
MS. FERRECHIO: That's over -- from 1987 until now. And there's also only the Koch industries. They support a super PAC that's raised far more money than that, and that is quasi under their direction and is having a really huge influence on the current election cycle, particularly the Senate races, where the majority is really hanging in the balance.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Here's the sentence that stuck with me: Six of the top dinners (sic) -- donors, excuse me -- on the CRP list are labor unions, whose total contributions during the same time period exceed $284 million. That goes to the point I made a moment ago.
MS. FERRECHIO: Right. It's no secret. A lot of people know the unions are quite active, and they're a big part of helping Democratic candidates win. They certainly helped President Obama in both of his elections. They play a huge role, not just in donating money, but getting out there and getting people to the polls, showing up at campaign rallies, getting their signs out. They play a huge role.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you agree with me, Pat, that that figure, however, is largely underknown?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think so.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Labor unions, I'm talking about.
MR. BUCHANAN: Susan is exactly right. And to describe it, John, it's like now in politics we've got two superpowers against each other. And who gets crushed in the middle of that? It's the little teeny countries.
MS. CLIFT: Labor-union money is an old story. The new money -- the new story is the Koch brothers and these billionaires and that Sheldon Adelson can have people line up to audition for him. It's like "Chorus Line" in front of the billionaires.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I have news for you. Labor unions --
MS. CLIFT: I want to hear from Mort.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Labor-union money is a sideline story, I think.
MORT ZUCKERMAN: No --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's good that we're bringing it forward so --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Without question.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- everything's on the docket. Now, do you care to speak to this?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I think that's a very fair point that you raise, OK, which everybody knows the labor unions have been hugely involved in campaigns. And you can measure how much they contribute in very different ways, but one of them is literally the shoes they have on the street for candidates. And they do that on an enormous level.
I have no objection to that. I just also have no objection to the amount of money that is going to go into these campaigns. It's the nature of the way we work. The parties now, in fact, will be benefiting in ways and having more control.
Having said that, we have a ridiculous system in this country.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Open question: Is anything about Steyer -- now, who's Steyer?
MR. BUCHANAN: He's --
MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible.)
MR. BUCHANAN: Go ahead.
MS. CLIFT: He's an environmentalist, and he's going to spend his money to try to get the environmental agenda on the docket on Capitol Hill. He's a single-issue contributor. Yes, he's contributing big money. I still don't think -- he pales next to what the Koch brothers are doing --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, is he --
MS. CLIFT: -- in terms of buying local-state legislatures --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he --
MS. CLIFT: -- and influencing legislation.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he one of these individuals who are delaying the Keystone pipeline?
MS. CLIFT: Oh, I hope so, John. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You do?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: You do. There you are. There's a perfect example, OK?
MS. CLIFT: That's a big issue for the environmental community.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's hugely in our national interest, in my judgment --
MR. BUCHANAN: Hey, John --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- to have that. It is supported by a vast majority of the American public in the most recent poll. And it is special-interest groups who are blocking it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's a disgrace for this country.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So Steyer, all his frame of mind -- I don't know whether he's actually interfering with that directly, but it de facto has a very --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- slowing effect, and -- you know, what's the president waiting for?
MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's all there for him to do.
MR. BUCHANAN: Hey, John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's all there.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Exactly.
MR. BUCHANAN: Hey, John, look, let's take Sheldon Adelson, who Eleanor mentioned. He had four presidential candidates out there. He gave $92 million the last time. What this is going to do, it's going to cause political leaders -- you don't need to go to New Hampshire. Go straight out to visit him in Las Vegas. He put $15 million and kept Newt Gingrich alive, cutting up Romney. Then he gave Romney $30 million. That's the guy. People are going to go and court these people --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MS. CLIFT: He has a particular --
MR. BUCHANAN: -- and -- (inaudible).
MS. CLIFT: He has a particular set of issues --
MR. BUCHANAN: He's got an agenda.
MS. CLIFT: -- he cares about.
MR. BUCHANAN: He's got an agenda.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sheldon Adelson --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sheldon Adelson, our kind of guy.
A programming note: The Fort Hood shooting is still a developing national and international story, with press impact in the U.S. and around the globe. This will probably include press-produced comments from worldwide notables, including U.N. and NATO figures, and possibly political figures like Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin. The Group will discuss this Fort Hood subject. Regrettably, it's a major ongoing international press story.
Issue Two: Pardon Pollard?
JAY CARNEY (White House press secretary): (From videotape.) What I will tell you is that the president has not made a decision to release Jonathan Pollard.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Jonathan Pollard, a U.S. citizen, has been imprisoned in the United States for nearly 30 years. His crime: Espionage. Pollard was a former intelligence analyst with the U.S. Navy when he was arrested in 1985. He had been passing thousands of classified documents to Israel, a charge for which he pled guilty.
The documents reportedly included top U.S. secrets about Soviet and Arab states' military capabilities. For his crime, Pollard was sentenced to life in prison. He is now nearly 60 years old and in poor health. His ex-wife says he suffers from diabetes and digestive and urological issues.
Although receiving a life sentence, Mr. Pollard is eligible for parole next year, November 2015, 19 months from now, wherein he will have served 30 years in prison, half his life. But there's one way Mr. Pollard could leave jail immediately -- if President Obama pardons him.
Why would the president consider such an act? Answer: As a way to salvage the peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Over the decades, Jonathan Pollard has become something of a patriot to many in Israel, where his punishment is now thought to be excessive. In fact, some Israeli leaders have pled for his release.
Benjamin Netanyahu, the current prime minister of Israel, visited Pollard in jail. And in 1998, 16 years ago, when Bill Clinton was president, Netanyahu sought to link Pollard's release to Israeli- Palestinian peace negotiations. President Clinton rejected the proposal after a firestorm of criticism of it from the U.S. intelligence community. In fact, Mr. Clinton's then-CIA director, George Tenet, threatened to resign if Pollard were released.
Now the issue is back on the table, and at a time when Israel is showing reluctance to release Palestinian prisoners, as demanded by the Palestinian side. But if Pollard were released, the -- (inaudible) -- Palestinian-Israel negotiations deadlock would presumably be eased.
Question: How much interest does Israel have in Jonathan Pollard's release? Mort Zuckerman.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I think it has some influence. I don't think it's decisive by a wide margin, OK? Amongst other things, even though people like Robert Gates and Henry Kissinger and the head of the CIA at the time all think he should be released because his sentence --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And Netanyahu.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Put aside Netanyahu, because he's directly involved. I'm just saying that his sentence was considered to be really disproportionate, given the fact that at least Israel was an ally and he was providing information for Israel.
Be that as it may, I don't believe he'd do that. I happen to be an immigrant to this country. You put the United States first if you're an American citizen. He did not. So I do not approve of what he did.
MS. CLIFT: Well, he's long been considered a potential bargaining chip in these negotiations. And when John Kerry, the secretary of state, evidently floated it sometime last week, it really looked like it was kind of a desperate move by the part of the U.S. to keep the talks alive. And the talks are really faltering.
And so I think Pollard's not going anywhere anytime soon. But he evidently was coming up for parole next year. I think he's waived his right to parole. But I think his release could be part of any future frame -- peace framework if, in fact, they get that far.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's a very sick man.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, let me give you the other view, though. I was in the White House then. Cap Weinberger and those people and Joe diGenova prosecuted him. They said this guy is a real snake. He wanted to sell our secrets, not only to the -- not just to the Israelis, but to others. A lot of the stuff he sent over there, a whole roomful, a lot of it went to the Soviet Union.
I've been told he did more damage to American security than Robert Hanssen or Aldrich Ames. It's right on the level with the Rosenbergs, who gave away the atomic-bomb secrets. But Eleanor's right. He got sentenced to 30 years. He's coming up for parole in 2015, and --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's got a year and a half to go.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, you should follow the law.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But it could be regarded as cruel and unusual punishment --
MR. BUCHANAN: No way.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- at this point in his life, after how much time he's served.
MR. BUCHANAN: People wanted him -- Cap Weinberger -- I don't want to quote Cap; he's dead now -- people wanted him executed back then.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. What kind of people are they?
MR. BUCHANAN: Americans.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What kind of Americans are they?
MR. BUCHANAN: Patriots.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In your view.
Do you have anything to say on this?
MS. FERRECHIO: Well, I agree. I think he's not really a strong bargaining chip. The view on Capitol Hill is don't use him that way. First of all, he's going to be paroled November 21st, 2015. He's at a medium-security prison. He's scheduled to be released, according to the prison, on that day. So his time as a bargaining chip is really limited at this point. But I don't think it's going to happen.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: And he doesn't want to be released under these circumstances.
MS. FERRECHIO: He doesn't.
He himself is opposed to this.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: He himself refuses to do it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He did that? That has not been made clear --
MS. FERRECHIO: He doesn't like the deal. Well, yeah.
MS. CLIFT: The more important thing is can these talks survive? And they're hanging by a thread. And I think the portrayal that we've gotten is that John Kerry really wants them to succeed --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.
MS. CLIFT: -- and he's trying to convince these two leaders that this is the best, perhaps last, opportunity. But he can't --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's another reason why --
MS. CLIFT: He can't want it more than they do.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's another reason why these talks may not survive. He may be dead.
OK, Mahmoud's move.
The U.S. government believes the path to peace with Israel and statehood for Palestine lie in negotiations. But in a move The New York Times describes as a, quote-unquote, "defiant step," Washington was rattled this week when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas made moves to join 15 international bodies, including the Geneva Convention. On live television, Abbas signed the application requesting to join these conventions. A meeting between Mr. Abbas and Secretary of State John Kerry was subsequently scuttled.
Question: What is the significance of this move by Mahmoud Abbas? Susan Ferrechio.
MS. FERRECHIO: Frustrated, clearly. They're frustrated with the state of the negotiations, and they're moving ahead. And I think that it's left the talks really kind of in a shambles.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right. But he wants --
MS. CLIFT: But the Israelis backed away from --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: He wants to gain statehood without having to make the necessary convention to satisfy Israel's security concerns. Let's start with that. That's the basic issue.
MR. BUCHANAN: But this is reversible. Abu Mazen said this is reversible. And let me -- John, you get back to Pollard. Kerry wanted Pollard to give to the Israelis as a real concession, a huge thing to Netanyahu, for Netanyahu to turn loose the last 26 Palestinian prisoners. And when he didn't turn them loose, this is why Abu Mazen moved as he did. Then the Israelis moved as he did. It is -- the talks are in very tough shape, John. They're hanging by a thread. But I think there is a thread.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why is he -- did he do it?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Why?
MR. BUCHANAN: He wanted --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He wants international recognition of what?
MR. BUCHANAN: He wants --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Of the sovereignty of --
MR. BUCHANAN: -- statehood.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- the Palestinians.
MR. BUCHANAN: But he's being asked to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, to accept Israelis in the Jordan Valley, to give up a lot of the West Bank. And I think he's over a barrel with his own people.
MS. CLIFT: Well, that's --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Rich -- go ahead.
MS. CLIFT: Well, that's the problem. Each of these leaders do better politically if there's no deal. If they make the hard decisions, they suffer politically. And so that's the tradeoffs they have to make.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I couldn't disagree more strongly.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you hear what he said?
MS. CLIFT: Well, yes.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That is absolutely ridiculous.
MS. CLIFT: I'd like to finish. I don't think it is ridiculous. Politically it's very hard for each of these leaders to move. And Abu Mazen basically did what he did, going to the international community, because he wants to show the Israelis he too has cards to play. And it was in retaliation, as Pat said, to the Israelis backing away from a prisoner release they agreed to as part of the framework that was being put in place.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. There is a tease element in this as far as the Palestinians are concerned. They did not join the International Criminal Court. It is a significant omission, because it leaves open a bargaining chip with Israel. It means that the door is not shut. Do you and do your people understand that?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't know if you want to call me my people.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well -- (laughs) --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: (Inaudible.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know how --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Just a minute. I happen to represent the Arabs in this particular conversation, because I think it's in their interest to do this. And they are -- the ideological hostility to Israel amongst my people, as you would say -- amongst the Arabs -- is really overwhelming. And if you happen to be there -- and I have been involved in these talks -- you will get some feel for it, OK?
But this is not just a negotiation. Mahmoud Abbas is not a strong enough leader, as Yasser Arafat was to make the original deal. Israel was promised secure -- recognizing defensible borders. They got (none of it ?).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let's go with this.
MR. BUCHANAN: Abu Mazen --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question; multiple choice. Are the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, A, facing a good prognosis, despite the setbacks; B, in serious but not critical condition; C, destined for the ICU, intensive care unit; D, on life support, and it's time to pull the plug?
MR. BUCHANAN: They're in the ICU unit and they're watching them every hour of the day. (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: I agree -- ICU. (Laughs.)
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't know it's ICU, but it is in a very serious place. The important thing for these talks is that you have somebody like Kerry, who is very, very committed and very active in this thing.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm optimistic. I think now is the time to move it.
Issue Three: End Zone Chicken Dance.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) Six months ago today, a big part of the Affordable Care Act kicked in as HealthCare.gov and state insurance marketplaces went live. And despite several lost weeks out of the gate because of problems with the website, 7.1 million Americans have now signed up for private insurance plans through these marketplaces. (Cheers, applause.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: President Obama took to the Rose Garden this week to announce that enrollees in the Affordable Care Act, aka "Obamacare," by the March 31 deadline had climbed to 7.1 million enrollees. It was no April Fool's joke. Despite ACA's troubled rollout, the glitched website, a last-ditch effort paid off. The advanced social networking techniques used so successfully in the 2012 Obama campaign worked -- exactly 7 million.
Seven million is the number that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates as the minimum required to make the Affordable Care Act actuarially sound. Translation: "Obamacare" will not collapse from inadequate enrollment, assuming the CBO's numbers are on target.
Skeptics, however, point out that unless enrollees are the right mixture of healthy enrollees, young invincibles and the chronically ill, "Obamacare" could still be in trouble.
Bob Laszewski, a health care expert, named 2013 pundit of the year by The Washington Post's wonk blog for his coverage of "Obamacare," says President Obama may regret raising expectations for the success of the signup. Quote: "What happens when the real number, the number of people who actually completed their enrollment, comes in far below the 7 million? What happens when the hard data shows that most of these 7 million were people who had coverage before? What happens when it becomes clear that the 'Obamacare' insurance exchanges are making hardly a dent in the number of those uninsured?" unquote.
If costs are higher than projected, premiums will spiral. This will jeopardize another Obama administration promise; namely, that in 2014 the ACA would lower the average family's health insurance premium by $2,300.
Question: In keeping with our football analogy, is the end zone for "Obamacare" now with us, or is it more like the 50-yard line, or is it just the 10-yard line and a new down? Eleanor Clift.
MS. CLIFT: I don't accept the metaphor, but I'll expand on one that Pat suggested to me. It's a game changer. This is an important milestone that the -- (inaudible). I think the president needs to avoid any mission accomplished banners. There are plenty of land mines ahead. But I think the story will now retreat more to the back pages.
And the Republicans may find that they made a wrong bet by placing all of their confidence in hatred of "Obamacare" for the fall election. The polls show 49 percent approval now. Three quarters of Democrat approve; only one in five Republicans. It's very partisan.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, Obama returned the kickoff --
MS. CLIFT: Democrats like it.
MR. BUCHANAN: Obama returned the kickoff for 98 yards and he put some points on the board. He was elated with it. And he ought to be, because, as Eleanor said, it's about 49-all in the polls.
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. BUCHANAN: And clearly the momentum was all against Obama for months and months and months. And he has a touchdown, and a big one. And his folks in the stands are up on their feet cheering for the first time --
MS. CLIFT: Thank you, Pat, for --
MR. BUCHANAN: -- in four years.
MS. CLIFT: -- being fair. Thank you.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MS. FERRECHIO: We're not -- back to the football analogy, though, we're not even anywhere near through the first half. There's so many things to come here that are unanswered. First of all, I'm hearing 20 percent of these folks haven't even paid for these premiums.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.
MS. FERRECHIO: So that 7.1 million figure is not a real number, for one thing.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.
MS. FERRECHIO: And it's only affecting, say, 15 percent of the population. When and if the employer mandate kicks in -- if; that's a big if -- that's going to dump a whole lot more people onto the market with these narrower networks, fewer doctor choice, higher premiums, higher deductibles. Then let's see what the polls say.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The RAND Corporation has survey data showing 4.5 million previously uninsured adults have enrolled in state Medicaid programs where eligibility was expanded under the ACA. Does that contradict any of your impressions or any data that you have?
MS. FERRECHIO: That's Medicaid. So, you know, that's people who are not paying in. When it comes to the exchanges, that's who's going to sign up, who's going to pay or be subsidized to pay for premiums. Those numbers are really --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's see if --
MS. FERRECHIO: -- (inaudible). But Medicaid's a big deal, though, because --
MS. CLIFT: Twenty-four states haven't --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: A lot of these people --
MS. CLIFT: -- expanded Medicaid, and so you have a lot of people who are left out.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Predictions, Pat. Three seconds.
MR. BUCHANAN: John Kerry, John, has gone after a deal on Syria, a deal on Israel and Palestinians. Both of those look bad; a deal on Iran. I think he's in real trouble. There's a Washington Post piece. It looks to me like a White House undercutting of Kerry. I think some folks over there are trying to grease the skids under him.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Thanks for the lecture on Kerry.
MS. CLIFT: John Kerry has a willingness to take a risk, which is rare in public office. But the piece in the Post that Pat is referring to is a message to him that he owns the Middle Eastern process and --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was that piece a little bit slimy? Was it slimy?
MS. CLIFT: No, it wasn't slimy. It basically suggests that he lower the volume on the Middle East and maybe pay attention to some of these other areas that might have a better chance of --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean jumping around so much.
MS. FERRECHIO: I predict that, aside from foreign affairs, that in Congress you're going to see the beginnings of negotiations between the House and the Senate on extending federal jobless pay.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort Zuckerman.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: China, which has had this sort of image as being a hugely dynamic economy, is now facing their first real crisis because they have way overfinanced what they're doing, and they have a collapse of debt. And that country's economy is going to slow down and affect everybody in the world.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Russia is planning military maneuvers in our hemisphere, scheduled for Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. These maneuvers will revive a Cold War atmosphere between Russia and the U.S.
(C) 2014 Federal News Service