THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; MONICA CROWLEY, WASHINGTON TIMES; CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE TAPED: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2009 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 19-20, 2009
Copyright (c) 2009 by Federal News Service, Inc., Ste. 500 1000 Vermont Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20005, USA. Federal News Service is a private firm not affiliated with the federal government. No portion of this transcript may be copied, sold or retransmitted without the written authority of Federal News Service, Inc. Copyright is not claimed as to any part of the original work prepared by a United States government officer or employee as a part of that person's official duties. For information on subscribing to the FNS Internet Service, please visit http://www.fednews.com or call(202)347-1400
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Dr. Dean, What Is Your Job?
DR. HOWARD DEAN (Former Democratic National Committee chairman): (From videotape.) My job is to say what I think is right. I've been involved in this all along. I've, you know, put up with a lot of stuff that I didn't like because I thought, at the end of the day, what was good about the bill outweighed what's bad about the bill. I don't believe that anymore.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Vote no on Obama's health-insurance-reform bill. The negatives outweigh the positives. So says Howard Dean, M.D. Dean says that the Senate bill does nothing to reform health insurance because it does nothing to curb insurance costs. He is asking Democrats to kill the bill. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says, in effect, no bill before Congress is ever perfect, but don't throw the baby out with the bath water.
ROBERT GIBBS (White House press secretary): (From videotape.) How better do you address those who don't have insurance, passing a bill that covers 30 million that don't currently have it, or killing a bill? I don't think any rational person would say killing a bill makes a whole lot of sense at this point.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: How big a setback is Democrat Howard Dean's defection from the ranks of Obama's health reform? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, if it were just a defection, it wouldn't be a problem. But what he is saying is this bill is a fraud. This is a sellout to the insurance companies. And he's really tainted the entire bill even if it passes. Now, the country now, John -- and first, Howard Dean, whether you agree with him or not, is passionate on this issue. He knows it backward and forward. He's been committed to it. And he feels let down, so he's authentic.
But this bill, John, has got a problem, because, as of now, the country doesn't want it. They don't think it's going to cut the deficit and they don't think it's going to help them with their health care. They're going to get this thing through, I think, but this bill -- I think they're going to get the 60, but I think this bill is going to wind up damaging the Democratic Party. And one of the reasons is Republicans are going to be quoting Howard Dean in November of 2010, putting that up there, saying this bill is a sellout to the insurance companies.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, Eleanor, can you describe how both ends of the Democratic spectrum, the liberals and the conservatives in the Democratic Party, are dissatisfied? The liberals.
MS. CLIFT: Because you have to get 60 votes in the Senate, and they need every single Democrat. And you've got a spectrum that goes from left to right. And I think people have forgotten that the U.S. Congress is a lot more conservative than it was, because the moderates have been purged from the Republican Party and the Democrats, in winning their majority, have elected a lot of conservatives. So this is the reality they're facing in the Senate.
Howard Dean has a lot of credibility because he is a physician, and a lot of his criticisms are valid. But there's still a lot of good things in the bill, and why are the Republicans so desperate to kill it that they tried to filibuster a Defense authorization bill funding the troops until 1:00 in the morning in an effort to slow down the process in the Senate so they could derail health-care reform?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well -- MS. CROWLEY: Because between 60 and 70 percent --
MS. CLIFT: That's enough to make me know that this bill should pass.
MS. CROWLEY: This is why -- because between 60 and 70 percent of the American people disapprove of what the Democrats have proposed.
Look, Howard Dean's point here -- and I agree with Pat -- he's a true believer and he's standing on principle, and I give him credit for that, because he's out there taking the slings and arrows on this. But he is right. This whole thing has turned into a train wreck for the Democratic Party. This is blue-on-blue mayhem, and this is about as chaotic a process as anything we have seen ever come out of Washington. And the chaos is all on the Democratic side.
Every time Harry Reid thinks he's got the 60 votes, another Democrat pops up with another concern about the issue. So Harry Reid is busy running around playing Whac-a-Mole, taking care of Mary Landrieu, taking care of Joe Lieberman, taking care of Ben Nelson. And the result is a proposal that is an incoherent mess that -- Howard Dean is right -- does not fix the system and costs way too much.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Liberals in the Democratic Party don't like it because they want a public option.
MR. PAGE: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Conservatives in the Democratic Party, they don't like it because it sounds like limitless entitlement that's irrevocable. So this is the problem.
MR. PAGE: Welfare state.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The problem has been painted here in its true dimension, which is Republicans. But it's also a Democratic problem for the president, is it not?
MR. PAGE: Well, the problem --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And Dean has voiced that. This bill has more negatives than it has positives.
MR. PAGE: Dean didn't say that. Dean actually had good things to say about the bill, even the stripped-down version, in his op-ed. And he suggested that John Kerry's alternative, which is state-run exchanges, should be added to the bill, perhaps in the reconciliation, in order to --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what is Dean's bottom line? Does he like Obamacare in its present -- MR. BUCHANAN: No, he wants --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- in its reasonably present form?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, he wants it killed, John.
MR. PAGE: He doesn't want to see a sellout to the insurance companies.
MR. BUCHANAN: The insurance companies.
MR. PAGE: He wants something. He wants a public option that will keep the insurance companies honest.
MR. BUCHANAN: His point, John, is --
MR. PAGE: And he thinks anything without that, it's a sellout to the insurance industry. And he's got a good point.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's also got a good point in that there is sagging approval.
A new poll released this week shows President Obama's job-approval rating is now at 47 percent, nine points from six months ago. It's the fifth poll this month that has the president's approval at below 50 percent.
Question: What does this show about the health plan which the president --
MS. CLIFT: It shows --
MR. PAGE: Let me just say --
MS. CLIFT: It shows that --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her talk.
MS. CLIFT: It shows that the American people have been watching what seems to them a spectacle on Capitol Hill, as they take the bill -- hold the bill hostage, one senator at a time, trying to extract their goodies for their parochial interests. It's not a pretty process. It happens to be the one that the Founding Fathers gave us. Every one of those senators is empowered. And when you need 60 votes, you can't afford to alienate any one of them.
I do believe Reid is going to put together this 60-vote coalition, and we're going to get a bill that --
MR. PAGE: (Inaudible.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish. Quickly.
MS. CLIFT: We're going to get a bill that covers 38 million more Americans, that creates these insurance exchanges, that has subsidies, has a lot of --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, something -- wait a minute.
MS. CLIFT: And then I'm going to invoke Senator Ted Kennedy. If he were here -- and we certainly miss him a lot -- he would say, "You take what you can get and then you build on it." And that's why the Republicans are so desperate -- MR. BUCHANAN: John, the American people --
MS. CLIFT: -- to stop this from moving forward.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, but there's a larger picture here, and that is the whole country. There is sagging optimism out there. In the right track/wrong track poll this week, it showed that pessimism in America is back. Fifty-five percent of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction. Now, you know the way that had swung around earlier under George Bush.
MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly, John. Let me tell you why. The main thing for that is 10 percent unemployment. Twenty-five percent of mortgages are a little bit behind. Ten percent of them are underwater. They're looking at $1.4 trillion deficit, a $12 trillion debt. And here these guys are with a big new entitlement program. They think the Democratic Party is clueless on what is happening.
MR. PAGE: What new entitlement program here? Let me speak up --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The American people think that the people --
MR. PAGE: Let me speak to the American people.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- that people in Washington, that their representatives in Washington, the executive branch and on the Hill, are not representing their interests. Isn't that what's behind this wrong track?
MR. PAGE: We're missing one big point about public reaction to this bill. When you question people in polls about specific benefits that the bill offers, their support surges. It's only when you say the overall bill, because people are thinking like Eleanor is thinking, talking about the fighting that they see on the evening news and all the negatives that have been said. This bill is cost-neutral according to the Congressional Budget Office.
MR. BUCHANAN: Nobody believes that.
MR. PAGE: Some people do believe the Congressional --
MR. BUCHANAN: Clarence, they don't believe it. The polls --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him finish. Let him finish.
MR. PAGE: People believe the Congressional Budget Office when it supports their argument, Pat. And it does support the argument here --
MR. BUCHANAN: All right, let me tell you, the polls show --
MR. PAGE: If they stick by their cost targets -- MR. BUCHANAN: I heard you.
MR. PAGE: -- it will be deficit-neutral.
MR. BUCHANAN: All right, fine. The polls say the American people think it's going to increase the deficit overwhelmingly by --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean -- you're talking health.
MR. PAGE: That's a victory for --
MR. BUCHANAN: They're talking about --
MR. PAGE: That's a victory for the conservatives that they pushed that --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They're talking about the health plan.
MR. BUCHANAN: Look, do you seriously believe this, that you can expand entitlements like this and it's going to be revenue-neutral or cut the deficit?
MR. PAGE: I know that the same arguments were made in the early '90s, and by the end of the '90s we had a balanced budget. You know, the budget is what you want to make it with your spending and your revenue --
MR. BUCHANAN: Medicare costs three times as much as they said it would cost.
MR. PAGE: That's different from --
MS. CLIFT: Thirty-one million --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let's --
MS. CLIFT: Thirty-one million people without health insurance --
MR. PAGE: Thank you.
MS. CLIFT: -- is a moral and also an economic challenge. And if you bring everybody into the insurance pool, it does, over the long run, even out costs.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on.
MR. PAGE: If private insurance wasn't skyrocketing, we wouldn't be having this argument.
MS. CROWLEY: The American people want health-care reform. They do not want a radical remaking of one-sixth of the economy. MS. CLIFT: It's not a radical remaking.
MS. CROWLEY: That's why they're rejecting this.
MR. PAGE: Radical is --
MS. CROWLEY: President Obama's --
MR. PAGE: People want change.
MS. CROWLEY: -- sliding poll numbers and the poll numbers of right track/wrong track are directly related to exactly what Pat pointed out -- the state of the economy, unemployment, home foreclosures. And it looks like the president is off in the weeds on health care, with a $2 trillion entitlement.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question -- exit question. This is mob rule here today.
MR. PAGE: Don't you love it?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mob rule.
MR. PAGE: Don't you love it?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Chicago.
MR. PAGE: A feisty debate, isn't it?
MS. CLIFT: Mob rule and --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is Howard Dean right? Will passage of the Senate health-care bill be a Pyrrhic victory, meaning it will cost the Democrats more at the polls than is gained by the legislation?
MR. BUCHANAN: He's exactly right. He's exactly right. It's going to hurt the Democratic Party, and deservedly so.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think they'll get it by 31 December?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, I think there's a possibility the Senate bill could go through, but I think it could have problems in conference. The House is going to have to swallow and take the Senate bill or it's over.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: The president will get a bounce in his poll numbers when the signing ceremony occurs and people begin to understand what an historic victory this is, and the actual bill is described. But the Republicans aren't going to give up. They're going to run for overturning this, repealing it, and it'll be set up --
MR. BUCHANAN: All the big taxes.
MS. CLIFT: That's right. And Medicare and Social Security were victories in the past, and I think this will join in that series.
MS. CROWLEY: This week President Clinton was down in Washington again warning the Senate and the Democrats if they don't do this, they're going to face another 1993-94 situation where the Republicans came back. They're missing the point. The reason the Democrats lost the House in '94 was because they even tried to do this kind of health-care reform. The Democrats seem intent on flying this suicide mission. Obama has lost the left, he's lost the right, and he's losing the center. This is a prescription for a political disaster. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think should be done with the 35 million uninsured?
MS. CROWLEY: There are -- the Republicans have reforms in place about real competition, about lowering the state barriers so that you can get health insurance much more affordable --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about also the bundling in an association? That's government-regulated --
MS. CROWLEY: Government -- yes, and that's more architecture to get us to public option and ultimately --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you don't like that.
MS. CROWLEY: No, I don't like that either. There are real reforms that the American people --
MR. PAGE: What the Republicans are really afraid of is that this will pass and it will be as popular as Medicare and Social Security and the other policies --
MS. CROWLEY: Medicare is going broke.
MR. PAGE: -- they denounce as socialism. But it's still popular. It's still popular.
MS. CROWLEY: Yes, and it's going broke.
MR. PAGE: And people are willing to pay for it, aren't they, because it's unpopular. The program works.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know what may roll back the tide you're talking about? What may roll back the tide is it doesn't fit the mood of the country at this time.
MR. PAGE: Well, the mood --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They really don't want all of this big debt piled on. And they'd be willing to wait --
MR. PAGE: You know, what the country wants is a Washington that gets something done.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, what they want is to reduce the jobless rate. That's what's eating away --
MR. PAGE: Exactly. Exactly. As soon as we get health care out of the way, we can focus on jobs, right? MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, tell that to Barack Obama. I think --
MR. PAGE: That's what Barack Obama is telling the country.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think Dean is right.
Issue Two: Deep in the Heart of Texas.
(Audiotaped segment of "Deep in the Heart of Texas.")
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Big and bright in the state that calls itself the Lone Star State. That may be poetic license, but it's literally true when it comes to Texas politics. From LBJ to H. Ross Perot to George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush and John Connally, et cetera, Texans have been iconic politicians.
This week a new icon appeared in the Texas political firmament. Annise Parker elected mayor of Houston, America's fourth-largest city. Parker is a veteran politician -- six years on Houston's city council, five years as Houston's city controller, and 18 years of private- sector experience working in Texas's powerful energy sector. And in two weeks, when she is sworn in, Annise Parker will reach her most groundbreaking level of achievement. Parker will become the first female mayor of a major American city who is openly gay.
In the 1980s, Mayor-elect Parker was a private-sector gay-rights activist. Since 1990, she has been in a long-term relationship with her partner, and the couple today share two adopted children. On election night, Parker spoke to the historic nature of her election.
ANNISE PARKER (Houston mayor-elect): (From videotape.) The city of Houston is going to change with me as mayor because I face a very different set of circumstances than previous mayors and it's a new city. But the fact of my sexual orientation has never particularly impressed Houstonians, and I don't think that that had anything to do with who voted for me in this election.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Was Annise Parker's sexual orientation ever an issue in this campaign for mayor? Eleanor Clift.
MS. CLIFT: Well, her rival attempted to make it an issue in the last weeks of the campaign. But she's been elected, like, six times previously. She's a very competent public servant. And I think the city obviously endorsed her.
I think what this shows, not that Texas is going to turn blue overnight. It shows the emerging split between urban America and not just rural America, but exurban American. And the progressive attitudes in a city like Houston, the fourth-largest in the country, says something about the attitudes of Americans who live in these more cosmopolitan places. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, her opponent was Gene Locke, and he accused her of having a gay agenda. That was the nature of what he was saying about her.
Do you have anything to report on this, Pat? What is your take on the mayor?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, there have been gay mayors of American cities that everybody knows, John, and they just have not been out of the closet. But I basically agree with Eleanor. This is apparently a competent woman, a Democrat. She's on her side of the fence. And I don't think it's that big a deal.
It would be a bigger deal, I think, if she were running on a big gay agenda, gay marriage and things like that. If she did those sort of things that become issues that really bothered people, I think she'd be in real trouble. But apparently she just says, "Look, I want to be the mayor, and I've got the qualifications and the ability. And, yes, I'm gay." And I don't think most voters today find that a real inhibition if you're talking about mayor of a city.
MS. CLIFT: That's right. She didn't try --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How'd she do with the white vote? Do you know?
MS. CLIFT: -- to hide her sexual orientation.
MS. CROWLEY: Yeah. And she also spoke to the issues that matter to the folks in Houston, and they judged her based on merit. And her long record in the private sector also helped her, because she was out there talking about jobs and trying to turn around Houston's economy. And since she had spent all that time in the private sector in the energy sector, she really brought a lot to the table, I think, here.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, the D.C. option.
This week another front emerged in the battle over same-sex marriage. Washington, D.C., our nation's capital, the D.C. City Council overwhelmingly approved a new law allowing gays full rights and privileges of civil marriage. Congress has 30 days to veto the new law -- unlikely. So, in all probability, D.C. will begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in March 2010, three months away.
What's my question? Don't all yell at once. I'll give it to you. (Laughter.) How much momentum will gay rights in D.C. generate for gay rights in the nation? Monica.
MS. CROWLEY: None. Every time gay marriage has come up in every single state, it has lost; a total of 31 states. Every time it's been brought up for a popular vote, it has lost. So now you have a majority of people in a majority of states voting down gay marriage.
Now, there are a handful of states that have legalized gay marriage -- Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut and Iowa, now the District of Columbia. But in each one of those cases, it's either been done through legislation or through a court ruling. But when you put to a vote, the majority of Americans, even in big states like New York and California, they have voted it down.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She was comptroller in Texas for three or four years and she had a political job before that. So it looks like this was a non-issue. And she got most of the white vote, did she not?
MR. PAGE: Don't mix up these two things. One, you're talking about a competent individual candidate -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MR. PAGE: -- running for office, and should she be discriminated against because she's gay, versus a gay-marriage measure. That's a big leap. Pat is right --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is gay marriage prohibited in Texas?
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why is gay marriage prohibited in Texas?
MR. PAGE: Let me finish the point, John. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, go ahead.
MR. PAGE: The point is that the public has become more tolerant and more supportive of gay rights up to the point of marriage. That's become the last stand. Pat is right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible) --
MR. BUCHANAN: Let me talk about these --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- a marriage must be between a man and a woman.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. PAGE: That's not what -- well, no, there isn't. But this is a matter of whether the public will vote for it or not. Monica's right. So far it's been defeated. But the polls have moved much faster in favor of gay marriage over the last decade --
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. PAGE: -- than I ever expected. I think in the next 10 years you're going to see people voting for it.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, D.C. --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you take note of an issue which may be possible to be associated with what we have in hand, but in New Hampshire there's a repeal effort going on to remove the status of adultery as a crime? Did you know that?
MR. PAGE: Oh, it's possible.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know of any other --
MR. PAGE: I'm sure somebody's probably going to push for plural marriage at some point too. MR. BUCHANAN: John, it's a libertarian state.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to link these two up in some way?
MR. BUCHANAN: I will. Yeah, New Hampshire is a very libertarian state, but Washington D.C. -- they denied the people of Washington, D.C. a vote on the gay-marriage thing because the African-American community, which voted 70 percent against gay marriage in California, would kill this proposal if they were allowed to vote on it. That's how they win, John -- deny the people the vote.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tell me that again.
MR. PAGE: (Inaudible.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The African-American community was --
MR. BUCHANAN: The ministers in D.C. would come out and kill gay marriage if it were put on the ballot.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So they drove it through only with the vote of the council.
MR. BUCHANAN: They denied the ballot.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Only the council brought it forward.
MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.
MR. PAGE: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it would have -- so you think it would have been killed if it were a popular vote in D.C.
MR. BUCHANAN: Oh, you bet. They'd come out in droves.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to draw any conclusions on that?
MR. PAGE: Do you want to ask me about that, John? (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, what do you say about that? Quickly.
MR. PAGE: I think that what you're talking about is the fact that in the black community you've got a much higher percentage of evangelical ministers who campaign, crusade against gay marriage.
MS. CLIFT: But the thing is --
MR. PAGE: But when you have an effective campaign in favor of it, that vote count changes. MS. CLIFT: The council is not going to go in and force these ministers to perform gay marriages. The real confrontation comes with the Catholic Church, which is saying they're not going to accept government money to run their social services if they have to abide by these rules. And so that's going to be an interesting conflict.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible.)
MS. CLIFT: Absolutely.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you think that any minister who declines to do a gay marriage will be sued by that gay party in the light of the vote in the District of Columbia?
MR. BUCHANAN: It's the First Amendment, for heaven's sakes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Copenhagen Concessions.
Monica, is China emerging as the big winner out of this? What are you hearing from Copenhagen?
MS. CROWLEY: Well, the Chinese have been very resistant to any kind of carbon-emissions caps or any kind of regulation, because their economy is booming.
And, like India, they are the world's biggest industrial developing nation, and they don't want to stunt their economic growth by agreeing to all of these global overwhelming emissions caps and regulations.
But China this week in the Copenhagen conference did soften their language somewhat. But the proof is in the pudding, whether or not they're going to be able to step up and agree to what the West, what President Obama is asking of them. And my sense is, like India, they will say no.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why don't we listen to the vice foreign minister of China, who spoke to this matter, and you will notice the precision of his phrasing, almost the extreme formality of it, and his insistence on no intrusion on sovereignty. Listen to what he says.
HE YAFEI (Chinese vice foreign minister): (From videotape.) We can also consider international exchange, dialogue and cooperation that is not intrusive, that does not infringe upon China's sovereignty.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of that emphasis, Pat?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think the Chinese are saying, "Look, you're not coming into our country, wandering around, putting monitors on our industry. We don't want that. We want our sovereignty."
But I'll tell you, John, you and I have talked about this before. And the key thing is to follow the money. The United States, in order to get this deal, agreed to start up the hill toward a transfer of $100 billion from the West and Japan, beginning in 2020, to the Third World countries to get them to stop destroying their environment and to help them deal with floods and drought and all this nonsense.
That we would go to China and have to borrow $20 (billion) or $30 billion a year to give to Third World countries -- this is dead on arrival in the Congress of the United States.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: First of all, you act like, oh, these droughts and floods, like that's meaningless. The Third World countries are going to suffer the brunt of the damages from global warming, and they rightfully, I think, have a case that we created much of the pollution, and they need some help.
One hundred billion dollars is going to be peanuts, Pat, by the time 2020 rolls around. (Laughs.)
MR. BUCHANAN: Tell it to the taxpayers.
MS. CLIFT: But what's going on -- that's not just from the United States; that's a global fund. And what's going on in Copenhagen is the Chinese actually have done a lot of innovative things. They realize they've got a problem with pollution and climate change, and they're cornering the market on all the green economy of the future.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Technology.
MS. CLIFT: Yes. They just don't want people coming in and monitoring what they're doing. And I think part of that is cultural, and I think the rest of the world thinks they just want to fool us. But Obama's at a disadvantage there too, because he can make so many promises, but everybody knows he has difficulty bringing the U.S. Senate along. And so you have the two leading polluters, China and the U.S., with the rest of the countries looking to them for leadership. And they're both pretty compromised.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On the point of green technology, the Chinese are going to have a display, I think a remarkable display, as has been described, at the Shanghai Expo commencing May 1 and running through the end of August.
Let's see what Hillary had to say about the conference.
SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON: (From videotape.) The United States is prepared to work with other countries toward a goal of jointly mobilizing $100 billion a year by 2020 to address the climate-change needs of developing countries.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: China and India and other, quote-unquote, "poor countries" had originally demanded, Clarence, $250 billion a year. So Clinton met China halfway with $100 billion. But we're putting in a piece of that, and we're going to mobilize that $100 billion. That doesn't sound too bad. Are you displeased with Buchanan's outrage here?
MR. PAGE: Well, you know, Pat doesn't believe in global warming, so I'll let him swim with the polar bears, frankly. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So he's declared out of commission anyway.
MR. PAGE: Well, the fact is, I think -- well, I know I was over in China recently. And, by the way, it is true they have -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are you, the world's best traveler? You've been spinning out these --
MR. PAGE: I'm a very tired traveler, I'll tell you that. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was it an around-the-world trip?
MR. BUCHANAN: Hey, Clarence --
MR. PAGE: No, Yemen wasn't this trip. (Laughs.)
MR. BUCHANAN: Hey, Clarence --
MR. PAGE: But they do look funny at your passport now when you say you've been to Yemen; I'll say that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the principal point on China?
MR. PAGE: No, the thing about China is that they have been moving out on, well, especially solar technology here recently, and lots of money being spent now on windmills, et cetera. But they're playing it cagey with us. They know that Obama's going to have trouble getting this through the U.S. Senate.
MR. BUCHANAN: Clarence --
MR. PAGE: So, you know, I --
MR. BUCHANAN: The polar-bear population in Alaska, according to Sarah Palin, has doubled.
MR. PAGE: (Laughs.) Thank you, Nanook. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The polar bears have spoken.
MR. BUCHANAN: They've doubled in number, and you guys are worried about one of them floating off in the Arctic Sea.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions, Pat -- 10 seconds.
MR. BUCHANAN: Hillary Clinton's proposal of $100 billion a year by 2020 in foreign aid to Third World countries so they'll stop burning their forests, which would require us to borrow from China, it will cause an explosion in the Congress of the United States.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A negative explosion.
MS. CLIFT: There have been four Democratic House retirements in as many weeks, which makes Republicans gleeful that they're going to recapture the majority next November. But there have been 12 Republican retirements, so go figure. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's a good point, and it's unnoted.
MS. CROWLEY: I think we're going to see a bigger tsunami of Democratic retirements than anyone predicts, because they're looking at this road map here in this political climate. They do not want to run for re-election again. But I predict that Yemen will be the next al Qaeda flashpoint, and Obama's going to have to deal with Yemen.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it has been on an ongoing basis, hasn't it?
MS. CROWLEY: Yes, and it's a collapsed state, but even more so.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.
MR. PAGE: I've been to Yemen, and I agree with you.
The public option is dead in the Senate, but the exchanges will return.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I predict that both John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg will step down from the United States Supreme Court next year. One of the two replacement Supreme Court members will be female.
Bye-bye. Don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Merry Christmas.