Share

The McLaughlin Group

Host: John McLaughlin

Panel: Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist;
Eleanor Clift, Newsweek;
James Pethokoukis, CNBC;
Mort Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report

Taped: Friday, June 29, 2012
Broadcast: Weekend of June 30-July 1, 2012


.STX


(C) COPYRIGHT 2012, FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC., 1120 G STREET NW; SUITE 990; WASHINGTON, DC - 20005, USA. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. ANY REPRODUCTION, REDISTRIBUTION OR RETRANSMISSION IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED.

UNAUTHORIZED REPRODUCTION, REDISTRIBUTION OR RETRANSMISSION CONSTITUTES A MISAPPROPRIATION UNDER APPLICABLE UNFAIR COMPETITION LAW, AND FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC. RESERVES THE RIGHT TO PURSUE ALL REMEDIES AVAILABLE TO IT IN RESPECT TO SUCH MISAPPROPRIATION.

FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC. IS A PRIVATE FIRM AND IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. NO COPYRIGHT IS CLAIMED AS TO ANY PART OF THE ORIGINAL WORK PREPARED BY A UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE AS PART OF THAT PERSON'S OFFICIAL DUTIES.

FOR INFORMATION ON SUBSCRIBING TO FNS, PLEASE CALL 202-347-1400 OR EMAIL INFO@FEDNEWS.COM.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
-------------------------


JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: "Obamacare" Scores.

Individual mandate upheld. So ruled the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday. The individual mandate is the core provision of President Obama's overhaul of the health care system. The mandate requires that Americans must buy health insurance. If they do not, they must pay a tax penalty.

In a 5-4 decision, with Chief Justice John Roberts writing the majority opinion, the court reasoned that Congress has the right to impose taxes, and the health mandate can be construed as a tax. Quote: "Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness," unquote. So wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

Question: Twenty-six states have sued the federal government over the health care law, called the Affordable Care Act. How will this ruling go over with those states and the American people at large in those states? Pat Buchanan.

PAT BUCHANAN: Overall, I don't think it's going to go over very well. But John Roberts has just given Barack Obama a signal victory, and he may have given Barack Obama a second term as president of the United States.

John, four of those justices were ready not only to overturn the individual mandate, but the entire "Obamacare" law. Had John Roberts joined them, the whole thing would be gone now and Barack Obama would have nothing to show for his first four years, basically, but a bad economy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you --

MR. BUCHANAN: I think John -- go ahead.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you say that, notwithstanding the poll numbers? Thirty-seven percent is the percentage of Americans with a favorable view of the law, versus 44 percent with an actively unfavorable view of the law.

MR. BUCHANAN: Here's what John Roberts did, John. I understand his sentiment. It's a conservative sentiment. He says we ought not to be deciding these things. The elected representatives should. But this was such an open-and-shut case of a seizure of power by the federal government that he should have acted on it, but he failed to act. And as a consequence of that, I think, as I say, John Roberts may well have reelected Barack Obama.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he put the word tax under the microscope and --

MR. BUCHANAN: Called it a tax.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- he got enough out of it to take the position he's taking. But a lot of thought went into this tax code before it was formed; a lot of deliberation. And who knows whether or not he has caught the essence of tax the way he describes it?

ELEANOR CLIFT: I would --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who know whether he's --

MS. CLIFT: I would point out that the health insurance plan that Governor Romney signed into law in Massachusetts had a similar penalty, has a similar penalty if you do not -- if you are -- can afford health insurance and choose not to buy it. And Governor Romney called it a personal responsibility incentive, so I think I'll go with that language.

And I commend the chief justice for finding or crafting a legal ruling that respects majority rule. And he did the same thing on the immigration case this week. And I think he's gone a long way towards rehabilitating the court's reputation as a body that is not just predictable along political lines.

And as for the 26 states that sued, I would imagine they're all going to start putting the machinery in place to get the insurance exchanges up and running, because, you know, we're in a country, rule of law. The Supreme Court has spoken.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, well, we don't want to debate --

MS. CLIFT: And --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't think we want to debate that here; it's a done deal.

MS. CLIFT: Well, that's right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's look at the effects of it. One hundred five million people are the number of Americans who no longer have a lifetime limit on their insurance coverage because of this. What do you say to that?

JAMES PETHOKOUKIS: I'd say that the conservatives and Republicans and people who believe in economic freedom have three shots at this. First, they had the court shot to take down "Obamacare." That failed. The next shot comes in November if Mitt Romney's elected.

And the third shot is the math, because the math of "Obamacare" over the long term does not work because it does not address the fundamental problem driving health care costs, which people are not spending their own dollars on insurance; they're spending someone else's money. Therefore, they do not pay close attention to how that money is being spent, and too much is spent.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me put a dollar figure on that. The estimated 10-year gross cost of insurance coverage expansion under this is $1.5 trillion -- $1.5 trillion. What are the American people going to say when they see that coming out of their pockets?

MORT ZUCKERMAN: Well, I don't know what they're going to say. I don't know what the mechanism is that they're going to have to speak about it, other than elections. That's the way our system works.

But I want to mention another mandate which is really important. It's called employer responsibility. And that means every company with 50 employees or more is going to have to buy a certain kind of insurance. That is going to be much more expensive than what they've been doing. And that is going to add literally $1.79 per hour to all of these employees that they are hiring. And this is going to greatly diminish the number of basically low-level, low-income jobs that are going to be available in our economy. It's a huge --

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: You're replacing private-sector jobs --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: -- with government bureaucrat jobs.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's a huge impact.

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: Those are the only jobs it's going to create.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's move this on. President Obama, right after the high court ruling, said this, in part.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) They're reaffirmed a fundamental principle, that here in America, in the wealthiest nation on earth, no illness or accident should lead to any family's financial ruin.

I know there will be a lot of discussion today about the politics of all this, about who won and who lost. That's how these things tend to be viewed here in Washington. But that discussion completely misses the point. Whatever the politics, today's decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure because of this law and the Supreme Court's decision to uphold it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How does that impress you, Mr. Pethokoukis?

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: (Laughs.) I'm pretty sure that's not what the court said. The court said, listen, this law is not unconstitutional. Chief Justice Roberts did not say it was a good law. He said, listen, I'm not ruling whether this is a good law. Congress will have to rule that. I'm not ruling whether this is smart law. It's up to the American people. And I think the American people, in poll after poll, have said they think this is bad law.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: What you said --

MS. CLIFT: If you --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: What you said -- what you said is quite clear. The cost of this thing is what is not being dealt with. The cost is going to be somewhere well over a trillion dollars. It's going to chew up all of the available assets that our federal government brings to deal with a lot of other problems.

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: It was supposed to bend the curve.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And I'm not saying --

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: It bends the curve the wrong direction.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'm not saying we shouldn't do something about health care. This is just not the way to deal with it. It is just going to cost a fortune. And nobody's got the finances. It's going to destroy state governments. It's going to destroy the federal government's ability --

MR. BUCHANAN: But John --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- to do a lot of things.

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: We have a huge debt crisis --

MR. BUCHANAN: You've got one shot --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let Eleanor in.

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: -- (inaudible) -- entitlements.

MS. CLIFT: If you list the various benefits in the Affordable Care Act -- the fact that an insurance company can't kick you off if you have a pre-existing condition, and there are many other things -- I think it's very important to many people in this country. And it is about time that we recognize that health care is a right --

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: You can do that without "Obamacare."

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me -- is a right. And health -- "Obamacare" is not perfect, and it will be revisited many times. But it is a beginning. And if you try to take away and dismantle the thing, you will create pandemonium in the insurance market.

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, let Pat in. Let Pat in.

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: (Inaudible) -- will take care of it.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, the only way we can change this thing, the only possible way, I believe -- the math is way down the road -- is you've got to elect -- not only elect Mitt Romney president; you've got to have a Republican Senate and a Republican House, and you've got -- because it is now a tax, you can do it with 50 percent of the Senate. That is the only hope you've got.

But I'll tell you what that does, John. That energizes the Republican base, which is enormously energized now, but we're still four months out from the election.

MS. CLIFT: You can energize --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't know whether I gave you this statistic, but I want to give it to you now. The projected number of Americans remaining uninsured now because of this development is 27 million.

MS. CLIFT: It adds $30 million -- 30 million --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Thirty million people.

MS. CLIFT: -- people when it is finally implemented. Nobody is saying it's perfect. It's the hugest step that any president certainly has been able to take.

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: But it's not a financially sustainable step.

MS. CLIFT: And the -- the Congressional Budget Office says it lowers the deficit --

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: The same -- (inaudible) -- that Medicare costs --

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me.

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: -- (inaudible) -- right now.

MS. CLIFT: And every -- there are pilot programs trying to get end-of-life issues --

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: Highly experimental.

MS. CLIFT: -- which the Republicans say --

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: They're highly experimental.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When we come back --

MS. CLIFT: You can't preach --

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: No, it's not experimental?

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me.

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: (That's ?) $15 trillion.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two: Romney Responds.

FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY (Republican presidential candidate): (From videotape.) What the court did not do on its last day in session, I will do on my first day if elected president of the United States, and that is, I will act to repeal "Obamacare."

Let's make clear that we understand what the court did and did not do. What the court did today was say that "Obamacare" does not violate the Constitution. What they did not do was say that "Obamacare" is good law or that it's good policy. "Obamacare" was bad policy yesterday. It's bad policy today. "Obamacare" was bad law yesterday. It's bad law today.

Let me tell you why I say that. "Obamacare" raises taxes on the American people by approximately $500 billion. "Obamacare" cuts Medicare, cuts Medicare, by approximately $500 billion. And even with those cuts and tax increases, "Obamacare" adds trillions to our deficits and to our national debt and pushes those obligations onto coming generations.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mr. Romney also said "Obamacare" means 20 million Americans will lose the coverage they like. "Obamacare" is a job killer. "Obamacare" makes the government too big, too intrusive.

MR. ROMNEY: (From videotape.) If we want to get rid of "Obamacare," we're going to have to replace President Obama.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Rate Romney's reaction. Did it have merit, or was it rhetoric? James Pethokoukis.

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: No, it had merit. He's certainly right on the facts, that at least immediately, if you're going to want to replace "Obamacare" -- it's not going to happen now. It's not going to happen in Congress now unless he's elected and gets a Republican Senate, a Republican House. Then it could possibly be repealed. But I wish he would have taken the opportunity to talk a little bit about his own health care plan, though.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, it certainly does dramatically accentuate the fundamental problem facing this country, which is that we are insolvent. It's just a question of time when everything hits the fan. We have not -- we have a trillion-and-a-half-dollar additional cost. We're going to have to find a way to deal with that somehow or other. It's just going to chew up almost everything, both at the state level and at the federal level.

And this is a critical issue for this country. We are sitting here. We're going to become Europe by the time this thing gets into a full-blown expenditure program. This is crazy. I'm not saying we shouldn't have a health care program. I believe we should. But this one did not deal with the economics of it, and we're going to end up paying for it.

MS. CLIFT: Well, before we get to being Europe, I would point out that we are paying top-dollar prices for people who use emergency rooms now for their primary care. And so the system really does have to be reordered, and this is a beginning to do that.

Secondly, Mr. Romney -- I mean, you can't make this up -- he created this plan in Massachusetts. He has a penalty, a.k.a. tax, that he endorsed in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts plan is doing very well. It hasn't fulfilled any dire expectations. He is a flawed messenger to be carrying this forward in a political campaign.

MR. BUCHANAN: His message --

MS. CLIFT: He can energize Pat Buchanan and everyone in the base. That's not enough to win --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's Romney's answer?

MS. CLIFT: -- not enough to win an election.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's Romney's answer to your criticism? He said the --

MS. CLIFT: That it was fine for Massachusetts but not the rest of the country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The plan was designed for a state, Massachusetts, not for other states.

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's what he says.

MS. CLIFT: How -- is Massachusetts that different from every other state?

MR. BUCHANAN: John, let me --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: In terms of the economic health of the health industry --

MR. BUCHANAN: Hey, John, can we get in here?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- in Massachusetts, it's a totally different place.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, Republicans' icy rage.

HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER ERIC CANTOR (R-VA): (From videotape.) We have seen this law increase costs, and we are committed to changing that. And that's why, when we return the week of July 9th, I've scheduled a vote for total repeal of the "Obamacare" bill to occur on Wednesday, July 11th. And in that way, we can clear the way towards trying to again focus on accomplishing a health care future that is premised upon patient-centered care, lowering costs, and affording better access.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's going to initiate next week a repeal. What's the story on a repeal?

MR. BUCHANAN: It's meaningless what he's doing right here. He's going to pass it in the House, send it to the Senate --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is it?

MR. BUCHANAN: This is the repeal of "Obamacare."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's an annulment of the action that --

MR. BUCHANAN: The House is going to pass it, John. The Senate is not. This depends, as I mentioned -- Romney's got to be elected president. The Republicans have to control the Senate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why will the Senate not pass it?

MR. BUCHANAN: It's Harry Reid's Senate, for heaven's sakes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean it's a Democratic Senate.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's a Democratic Senate, and --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So this has got to await the election. And if the Senate is overturned, then we might get the repeal.

MR. BUCHANAN: You've got to have Romney and you've got to have a Senate and a House.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fifty-one votes --

MR. BUCHANAN: It's 51 --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- for repeal?

MR. BUCHANAN: -- because it's a tax. (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: And you can deal with taxes with 51 --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you think this is an unrealistic expectation. Is it for rhetoric --

MS. CLIFT: It's pure symbolism.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- or is this guy (earnest ?), and is he beyond the --

MR. BUCHANAN: Right now it is meaningless.

MS. CLIFT: Right, and not --

MR. BUCHANAN: What he's doing --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Meaningless?

MS. CLIFT: Meaningless.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would you have not initiated a repeal if you were he?

MR. BUCHANAN: Let them vote for it. It's irrelevant.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Suppose the Senate gets the message from the people --

MS. CLIFT: No --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- that this thing is not working --

MS. CLIFT: No --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and it percolates --

MR. BUCHANAN: They know it's not working. They're not going to repeal "Obamacare."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Suppose he brings it up again later in the year?

MR. BUCHANAN: A Democratic Senate is going to overturn "Obamacare"?

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: It puts the Democrats on record for an unpopular bill.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you prohibited from bringing up a repeal later in the year?

MR. BUCHANAN: You can bring it up all you want. Unless Harry Reid is gone, you're not going to get anywhere.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: This is a victory for President Obama. Will it be a short-term victory or a long-term victory? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: I'm afraid it's a long-term victory.

MS. CLIFT: It puts him in the history books and it puts this country on the right track. And I think it redounds to his benefit in November. The country does not want another long, bloody battle over health care; not that I'm in the business of giving advice to Republicans. If they want this election to turn on the economy, they ought to get off this topic real fast and accept the ruling of the land.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: Short term, "Obamacare" encapsulates everything that's wrong with "Obamanomics" -- high taxes, more regulation.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's a political victory for Obama but an economic disaster for this country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Short term or long term?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Short term. I believe it's going to really have an adverse impact on the economy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Short-term win.

Issue Three: High Court on Immigration.

ARIZONA GOVERNOR JAN BREWER (R): (From videotape.) Today is a day when the key components of our efforts to protect the citizens of Arizona, to take up the fight against illegal immigration in a balanced and constitutional way, has unanimously been vindicated by the highest court in the land.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Arizona Governor Jan Brewer applauded another U.S. Supreme Court decision. On Monday, the high court ruled on the state of Arizona and its law that deals with illegal immigrants. The high court ruled that police officers can continue to check the immigration status of people they stop. That means if someone is stopped for any offense, major or minor, and cannot provide proof of legal residency, then the police officer has the right to check on that person's legal status.

Question: How big of a victory was this for Arizona Governor Brewer, and how big a victory for President Obama? Eleanor Clift.

MS. CLIFT: This was a total loss for the governor of Arizona. The Supreme Court basically gutted the Arizona law. They left -- they said that immigration is a matter for the federal government and states should not overstep. They left the "Papers, please" provision but they issued a warning; first report that anybody is racially profiled, it will invite another case.

And they also -- they did a conference call with reporters, the administration did, and basically said when the police call to check someone's immigration status, if they find, unless they've got a felony, they're not just deporting people because they're illegal.

So Arizona lost and has huge implication on Alabama and other states with similar laws. This was a victory --

MR. BUCHANAN: You know, John --

MS. CLIFT: -- for John Roberts.

MR. BUCHANAN: Obama here has also declared a de facto amnesty for all illegal aliens under 30 years of age if you've got a good, clean record, you've served in the military, which is something that you can do as a presidential thing. But he just declared he's not going to enforce the law.

MS. CLIFT: It's prosecutorial discretion, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: He's ordered them not to --

MS. CLIFT: And if you have limited resources --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, it's not.

MS. CLIFT: If you have limited resources, you don't deport people --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The law is the law.

MR. BUCHANAN: He tells you a group of people I'm not going to enforce the law against?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That is ridiculous. You cannot do that.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's preposterous.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: You cannot say that.

MS. CLIFT: It's not preposterous. And they get to apply for a two-year work permit.

MR. BUCHANAN: But how can the president --

MS. CLIFT: What would you do? You would deport --

MR. BUCHANAN: -- decide who he's going to --

MS. CLIFT: -- all these people?

MR. BUCHANAN: No --

MS. CLIFT: It's well within the constitutional rights.

MR. BUCHANAN: How can he decide whom he's going to enforce the law against? Not these folks, but those folks?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: He himself said several times before that he couldn't change this because that's the law.

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And the president must enforce the law, not ignore it. He himself, Obama, said this twice.

MS. CLIFT: I don't notice any constitutional challenges, fellows.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: OK.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Immigration --

MS. CLIFT: He's on strong ground.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Immigration as an issue, believe it or not, does not score very high --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- on the American think board. Out of 15 issues facing this country that are of serious moment, immigration ranks as an issue of which there is major concern, according to that sequence of one to 15, as what number?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Fourteen.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MR. BUCHANAN: Guns on the list. And you tell me -- let me tell you something. You start to restrict guns, it'll be right up there very high. And people -- people will run away from that.

John, that group of issues you've got are sort of general things. There are cultural, moral, social issues and issues like gun control on which people vote. And immigration is one of them.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Which one? Is it 14th on a 15 register?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think that's too low. I would put it in the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So do I. But when I saw the stat, I saw the stat.

MR. BUCHANAN: I would put the economy and all the issues under it number one. I'd put immigration two or three.

MS. CLIFT: Well, there's a big --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to speak to this?

Hold on, Eleanor.

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: Listen, I would put immigration very high on that list. But I would put the need for skilled, high-skilled immigrants, entrepreneurs who want to come to this country -- that's a big part of our economic growth over the past 30 years has come from those folks, which the president could have talked about, but he chose to talk about something else.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: How does this immigration ruling play politically for President Obama, and how does it play politically for candidate Mitt Romney? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think the -- what Obama did on the DREAM Act, I would agree, it's to his benefit with the Hispanic community dramatically. I don't -- I think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They're clustered in a few states. They bring about 13 electoral votes with them, the Latinos.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, but --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're constantly making too much --

MR. BUCHANAN: That is ridiculous, John. Colorado, states like Arizona.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, I'm including Colorado.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: California.

MR. BUCHANAN: Colorado is -- well, California's gone. But Colorado is a state --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A net 13 is what they bring.

MR. BUCHANAN: Hispanics are very heavy now down in North Carolina and --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How many electoral votes do you think depend upon the Latino vote?

MR. BUCHANAN: I don't know that they depend, but it could affect a whole passel of votes; I would say 50.

MS. CLIFT: It could swing -- it could swing a number of states. The president has a 40-point lead over Mitt Romney. And there's a huge generational divide in attitudes towards immigration. Younger people think diversity is great. Older people are threatened. So Obama has got a two-to-one edge --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you know --

MS. CLIFT: -- with younger people.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- (inaudible).

Let's try this issue -- foreign policy. To what extent will foreign policy issues appear and be reasonably prominent in the upcoming presidential election, about five months away?

MR. BUCHANAN: They could be decisive in this sense, John. The negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program are in very bad shape in Moscow. And if these collapse, there's a real possibility that either the Israelis would strike Iran before November or that Barack Obama might get into a confrontation with Iran, in which case my view has always been if there's a confrontation with a foreign regime, especially the Iranians, who are deeply unpopular, I think it would benefit Obama. I think they're going to stay out of Syria, though.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the likelihood of Iran trying to resist Israel? What's the likelihood that Iran is anything else but irenic right now? That is, they want a settlement of the issue quietly and peacefully. Isn't that the going wisdom?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think they do want a settlement of the issues as long as they're allowed to enrich uranium. But Israel doesn't want them to have it, and the United States is backing Israel. And Iran will not back down on that basic issue.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are we talking about a 20 percent enrichment of uranium above that?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is anybody OK over there to allow them to have civilian -- they already have civilian plants operating. I visited one.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: We have offered them whatever materials they need for their medical purposes, because that is a part of the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, then you need enriched uranium to do it.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: We can provide it to them, OK? What we don't want is to have a system whereby they can clearly and use subterfuge to go from whatever it is to 20 percent. We have to have some kind of monitoring here in order to make sure this is for real and not another fake negotiation.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If they were allowed enrichment and they would hold it to 20 percent, as they seem to be guaranteeing they will do --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, no, no. It's not to 20 percent, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- would that be verifiable? And would that satisfy Israel so that they could enrich to that extent, which they can now do? And they're now doing it, I believe.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: They are enriching it, but they're not supposed to enrich it to that level of 20 percent. That's not what they --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What should the level be? I think it's --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Four and a half or five. That's where it is.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I thought it was between five and 10 somewhere.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: But certainly a lot lower than --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And we've agreed to provide them whatever they don't have.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A foreign policy issue in this coming election -- is there one that you can conceive of coming across?

MS. CLIFT: Well, I always think of former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, who talked about there are known knowns and then there are known unknowns, and then there's what we really don't know. The road ahead is full of lots of ifs, but unless there's some sort of foreign policy crisis, this is an election about jobs and the economy.

And what the president has done is successfully neutralized what has always been a Republican advantage on foreign policy and national security. He's been really tough -- tough to the point where he gets criticism from, for example, former President Jimmy Carter that he's violating human rights with the drone attacks.

So I don't see it as a voting issue. But, you know, outside events can interfere.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The attorney general has been characterized recently. Is that going to appear in this coming election? And does it have any lifting power? What am I talking about?

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: (Laughs.) Well, I think there's a perception -- that certainly is true among Republicans -- that this is an administration that really doesn't care very much about the rule of law. And exhibit number one is the attorney general. So, yeah, I think you're going to hear a lot about Eric Holder. You're going to hear about Fast and Furious, hear about an administration --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the rap against Holder?

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: That he's not been forthcoming with the United States Congress about Fast and Furious and the murder --

MR. BUCHANAN: He's conducting a cover-up is the rap against him. But he's not going to be in the second term even if Obama wins.

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: So I think that's somehow going to one day moot this issue.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that they're OK with just letting this coast?

MS. CLIFT: Yes.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think the Republicans would like -- I think what the Democrats are saying --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know that we have a man by the name of --

MR. BUCHANAN: -- throw a blanket over it until the election is over, and we'll deal with it after that.

MS. CLIFT: That's right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think --

MR. BUCHANAN: You remember, John, we did that in `72.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, this --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You remember the -- you know the name of the investigation body that's now sitting on this?

MR. BUCHANAN: The House --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issa?

MR. BUCHANAN: Issa's committee, yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issa? Issa? (Changes pronunciation.)

MS. CLIFT: This is like --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I-S-S-A.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, he seems very tenacious and he's very skilled.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, he is skilled. And he is furious at Holder, because it's probably broader. This is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he's a committee chairman.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, that's right. And he has gone after --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does he have power?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, they just --

MR. BUCHANAN: They cited him for contempt.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: They just cited Eric Holder --

MR. BUCHANAN: Holder for --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- for contempt --

MR. BUCHANAN: -- criminal contempt --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- in the Congress.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- and civil contempt.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What happens now?

MS. CLIFT: Nothing. Nothing.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does that just go away --

MS. CLIFT: Nothing.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- between now and the election?

MR. BUCHANAN: The criminal contempt goes to the Department of Justice --

MS. CLIFT: Nothing happens.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- guy in D.C. He does nothing.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah. Nothing happens.

MR. BUCHANAN: But the civil contempt --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can he get away with that?

MR. BUCHANAN: Civil contempt goes to a judge.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think the Republicans are going to let him get away with that?

MS. CLIFT: Yes.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, they won't.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's withholding documents that related to Fast and Furious --

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: That investigation --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- which is the transfer of guns --

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: That investigation is uncovering more --

MS. CLIFT: If it goes --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm arguing with the panel. (Laughter.)

MS. CLIFT: If it goes to civil court proceeding, it could take years, and maybe there'll be some documents turned over.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: The Republicans have to win the Senate to overturn "Obamacare." I predict they will.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Contempt of Congress charge against Attorney General Eric Holder will go nowhere.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MR. PETHOKOUKIS: The unemployment rate on election day will be closer to 9 than 8.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The opposition to the health care bill will grow and will be a major factor in the election coming up in November.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I predict that conservatives will be mobilized this fall more than they have been in the last four, even five, presidential cycles.

Happy Independence Day. Bye-bye.

####
(r)FCØEND
(r)FLØ