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The McLaughlin Group

Host: John McLaughlin

Panel:
Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist;
Eleanor Clift, The Daily Beast;
Susan Ferrechio, Washington Examiner;
Mort Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report

Taped: Friday, January 31, 2014
Broadcast: Weekend of February 1-2, 2014

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JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: A Year of Action?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) Let's make this a year of action. That's what most Americans want. Today, after four years of economic growth, corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better. But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled. And too many still aren't working at all. So our job is to reverse these trends.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: President Barack Obama delivered his fifth State of the Union address on Tuesday. In attendance, as is the custom, were Senate and House members, justices of the Supreme Court, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and members of his Cabinet.

Over the course of 65 minutes, the president prodded Congress to work with him on boosting upward mobility, creating more jobs, tackling climate change, and updating the nation's immigration system. The president made clear that if Congress is recalcitrant, he would act alone wherever possible.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) What I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class. Some require congressional action. And I am eager to work with all of you. But America does not stand still, and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that's what I'm going to do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: The New York Times editorialized that President Obama's State of the Union address signifies that the White House will be content to achieve, quote-unquote, "smaller actions." Does this mean President Obama's legacy or his presidency is diminished, Pat?

PAT BUCHANAN: Well, there's no doubt about it; we're headed for a long period of small ball, John. The era of the big programs like "Obamacare" or the huge bargain, financial bargain, that is over. But what you could get is you could get progress on immigration if the Republican House is willing to go partway. You get progress on the minimum wage if the Republican House is willing to go partway.

A lot really depends not only on the Republicans in the House, however, but the Democrats in the Senate. Harry Reid has just come out against fast track, which means if they don't get fast track, they're not going to get those big trade deals with Europe and the other trade-partnership deal with Asia.

So Obama's got some problems, John, but he does have three things he's working on. He's got Israeli peace deal with the Palestinians. He's got the Syrian deal. And he's got the Iranian nuclear deal. And I think some of those are looking very problematic, but I think there's a possibility he could get the Iranian nuclear deal. And that's where a lot of presidents work out in their second term, in foreign policy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

ELEANOR CLIFT: If he heads off an Iranian nuclear bomb, that would be huge. And if he gets immigration reform, that also would be huge, because that's eluded presidents going back. Certainly George W. Bush tried it. President Reagan made a stab at it and actually did pass immigration reform, which was then considered a failure. It legalized 3 million people, but illegal immigration continued unabated.

But I think it's really a mistake to say that this is a presidency that is diminished, because he can do things by executive orders and other initiatives. And if you look at the speech, there were, like, 20 executive orders and other initiatives embedded in it. And executive orders are not nothing. The Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order. So he can accomplish quite a bit.

And in the area of climate change -- and I think this president believes, like many do, that climate change poses an existential threat to this planet -- he can get at that in ways that Congress would never go along. So you could say this is soft power, if you will. But President Clinton, at a similar point in his presidency, advocated wearing school uniforms for kids --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. (Acknowledging.)

MS. CLIFT: -- in his State of the Union. These are initiatives people can relate to -- the president convening CEOs and trying to get them to hire the long-term unemployed; going after college loans. It's not like passing legislation, but it's not nothing either. It's something.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did President Obama try to go around Congress, try to rally the public, and then get Congress to accede?

SUSAN FERRECHIO: Well, he's lost leverage, so he doesn't really have a lot of choice. The health care law rollout was really such a big disaster that he's not in position to try to force Congress to do anything and use pressure that way. So he's got executive order as an option.

But even those ideas are, like Pat said, small ball. Even the minimum-wage increase he's proposing for federal workers is only going to touch a fraction of people, because most already make above that level because of other laws in federal government hiring. So it's not going to do anything for the rest of the population. Job training, that's something the Republicans have already put on the table in Congress that Democrats have rejected. And some of these other initiatives really are small ball.

Notice immigration reform. He said very little, because he knows the Republicans are already working on that. That truly, as Eleanor said, would be probably his biggest victory if anything like that is accomplished this year. Otherwise I think you were right at the beginning. I think this is a president who has been diminished in his fifth year in office.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Presidents go to the grassroots when they're having problems with Congress. They rally public opinion and they get their way that way. This seems to have failed, and rather miserably, with President Obama.

MORT ZUCKERMAN: Well, if you look at the independents, OK, his support used to be 52 percent of the independents.
It's now down in the low 30s. If you follow what happened after the "Obamacare" fiasco, where he lost not only a sense that there was competency, but, in fact, a sense that there was honesty -- because a lot of people felt that they were being misled when he said you can keep your insurance, health insurance, and your doctor, and neither of those things was true, and he repeated it over and over and over again -- that had a huge effect on him, because that was the issue for quite a long period of time.

I don't think he's ever recovered from that, not to this point. I don't think he's going to be able to do even a lot of small-ball things. If the minimum wage is his major job, it's the wrong issue. The issue is not minimum wage. The issue is jobs.

We have now roughly 40 million people in America who are either working part-time or who have given up looking for work or are unemployed -- 40 million people in America. That's a disaster for America. And that -- he has to bear, like it or not -- I'm not saying it's all his fault -- but he has to bear the responsibility for --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think a growing number of people do not believe what Obama says?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think -- I don't know that they believe it. I don't know how to measure that, OK. But I don't think they respect his policies to the degree that --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, one Obama initiative -- minimum-wage hike.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) In the coming weeks, I will issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay their federally funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour. Of course, to reach millions more, Congress does need to get on board. Say yes. Give America a raise. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: To be clear, the federal minimum wage is now $7.25 an hour. Since Congress is procrastinating, President Obama will hike it via executive order for some new federal workers to $10.10 an hour, a $2.85 boost. He wants Congress to follow his example for the public at large.

The audience was the lowest since Nielsen began measuring the State of the Union audience in 1993. Only 33 million people tuned in. Is America tuning Obama out? By comparison, 48 million tuned in for Obama's 2010 State of the Union, the start of his first midterm election year. He's lost 33 percent of his audience. What does it tell you?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, look, John, he's not popular anymore. People are mildly bored with him. They've seen the act and the rest of it. But this minimum wage is very interesting. You know, $10.10 an hour, that comes up to almost $21,000 a year, which is probably twice the median income of folks all through Latin America and Mexico, places like that. If he gets something like that, it would be a tremendous magnet to draw Third World labor into the United States, which would contradict what he's trying to do on the --

MS. CLIFT: No. (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: -- what he's trying to do on the immigration thing.

MS. CLIFT: Pat, you're -- (laughs) --

MR. BUCHANAN: I mean, these folks are very poor.

MS. CLIFT: How can you translate -- right.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's a magnet. It's a magnet --

MS. CLIFT: How are they going to get in here when we have all our borders sealed --

MR. BUCHANAN: The same way -- the same way that 12 million did.

(Cross talk.)

MS. CLIFT: If the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation, it would be almost $11 today. Polls show 76 percent of the American people think it should be raised to at least $9. Many cities, municipalities, are already raising it. The District of Columbia, with two areas in Maryland, are looking at $11.50 an hour.

Do you believe in trickle-down economics or do you believe in trickle-up. Trickle-up --

MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible.)

MS. CLIFT: -- pay people; they will buy the necessities of life.

MR. BUCHANAN: And you'll shut down a lot of small businesses.

MS. CLIFT: And that what keeps us --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: You'll lose a lot of jobs. If you raise the price --

MR. BUCHANAN: Sure. You'll kill it.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: If you raise the price of a good, OK, by 30 or 40 percent, believe me, you will diminish the quantity at which this good is going to be --

MR. BUCHANAN: Eleanor, let me ask one question, one brief. How many teenage black kids who dropped out of high school is somebody going to hire for $21,000 a year? You will price them out of the market. That's why you've got an enormous, you know, unemployment rate among these kids.

MS. CLIFT: Fifty-two percent of fast-food workers rely on government benefits, food stamps, because they don't get paid enough. We're not subsidizing them. We're subsidizing the people who hire them. And I don't think that's what taxpayers have in mind.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Susan.

MS. FERRECHIO: Let me jump in here. The House is not going to pass a minimum-wage increase right now. However, the fact that the president made the statement and has put this into effect in the federal government will have sort of an echo effect, I think. And what Eleanor was just saying about the other municipalities, Seattle and D.C. and all across, I think you will eventually see minimum wage go up because of that, which is probably a better way to go, anyway, than having --

MR. BUCHANAN: Go state by state.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that the feeling on Capitol Hill --

MS. FERRECHIO: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- that it will encourage movement for them?

MS. FERRECHIO: Unless the House --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It could be the other reaction.

MS. FERRECHIO: Unless the House changes leadership, there's no will right now to raise minimum wage.

MS. CLIFT: It's a symbolic increase, gives the president something he can now go to the business community with and jawbone. And that's what he's doing.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The big engine behind this current mood is, of course, "Obamacare."

MR. BUCHANAN: That's why you're never going to have a big program in the next five years, John. That monstrosity is a total failure.

MS. FERRECHIO: It is.

(Cross talk.)

MS. FERRECHIO: The evidence is laid bare why you don't want the government running --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It was a huge political failure for Obama, A, because there was a real concern over the program, and B, because the country -- a lot of people in the country felt that he misled them, OK, in the way he sold it. And that really has diminished his strength enormously. That was the worst thing that's happened to him in his presidency.

MS. CLIFT: It's a huge political failure, just like Medicare was and Social Security was. This program is going to settle in and be part of a way of life.

MR. BUCHANAN: But you're not going to get another one with a Republican House like this, are you?

MS. CLIFT: Who's looking for another one like this?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, that's what we're talking about, what we're going to --

MS. CLIFT: We're happy to implement this one. (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He spent time trying to get the Republicans to repeal the ACA. What about that?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Look, I think he's got so much on his plate in terms of that. If I were he, I would leave that issue alone, from repealing it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Try to dissuade them.

(Cross talk.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The thing that is the real --

MS. FERRECHIO: No, no. Listen, I think the Democrats --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- problem, as I say --

MS. FERRECHIO: -- are going to tolerate a change, because they're trying to save themselves in 2014. So the action may happen over in the Senate, where the Democrats are in charge but about to lose control. So they may allow something to go through to give their six or seven very vulnerable Democrats something to go home and talk about and say I did something to change this. There's where the opportunity for some alteration in this new law will come from.

MR. BUCHANAN: Even Obama said, you know, give me your ideas if you've got some.

MS. FERRECHIO: And that's the opening right there.

MR. BUCHANAN: So I think, again, small ball, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Change is not repeal.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What action --

MS. CLIFT: The law is here to stay. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What action did the leader of the Senate take that was kind of a snub to Obama?

MR. BUCHANAN: This thing on fast track.

MS. FERRECHIO: That was it, the fast-track authority.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Fast-track authority.

MS. FERRECHIO: But he has said many times in the past he doesn't approve it, so that's nothing new.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, trade --

MR. BUCHANAN: But you won't get the trade deals without fast track --

MS. FERRECHIO: It's because of the unions.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- to run them all through without amendments.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two: Ukraine Crossroads.

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): (From videotape.) What would provoke even more concrete action on the part of the U.S. Congress, if there's any brutal repression of these demonstrators. That would be unacceptable, I think, in the Congress.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It began as a peaceful protest in Ukraine's capital city of Kiev, and it has now escalated into a violent confrontation. The president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovich, is facing a nationwide uprising. Yanukovich sparked the crisis in November by spurning a long-sought economic treaty with the EU, the European Union. Yanukovich favors renewed ties with Russia.

Ukraine is a nation of 46 million people, the geographic size of France. It became an independent nation in 1991, 23 years ago, following the breakup of the Soviet Union. Yanukovich's rejection of the EU accord was a triumph for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who wants Ukraine realigned with the East, with Russia, and put up $15 billion to reinforce a Ukrainian-Russia trade deal.

This was a setback for Ukrainian nationalists, who want to integrate into the West, with Europe and the EU, where Ukrainians see more lucrative and reliable gains. Last month, U.S. Senators John McCain and Chris Murphy appeared before a crowd of a quarter of a million Ukrainians to express their solidarity with the western- leaning protesters.

The demonstration escalated this month when Ukrainian riot police attacked protesters, injuring scores and killing six. Across the country, demonstrators have seized government buildings, including in Yanukovich's political base in eastern Ukraine. In many cases, the authorities have handed over the buildings to the protesters, declaring their allegiance with the people.

The protesters are demanding President Yanukovich's resignation and new elections. To appease the protesters, President Yanukovich has repealed anti-protest laws, offered amnesty to demonstrators, and sacked his pro-Russian prime minister, Mykola Azarov.

But so far Yanukovich himself refuses to step down. In his Tuesday State of the Union speech, President Obama affirmed the right of the Ukrainian people to have their voices heard, but he limited notice of the attempted coup to one line.

On Wednesday, Obama aides told congressional aides they are readying sanctions to be used against Ukrainian officials and, if necessary, against protest leaders.

On Thursday, President Yanukovich removed himself from the situation, citing sick leave.

Question: John Kerry is meeting with the anti-Yanukovich Ukrainian opposition in Munich now. What's the plan? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, clearly it looks like we want to get Mr. Yanukovich out of there. But he's a democratically elected president. What is going on in the Ukraine now is what went on in Cairo, with the military coming in there and throwing out Mohamed Morsi because the crowds got together in the streets.

The United States ought not to be involving itself in this quarrel, John. It is an economic quarrel between Russia, which wants its own russified common market and the Ukraine in it, and the EU. And Putin made a very tough offer and a strong offer, $15 billion, and he got the Ukrainians to side with him.

But for heaven's sakes, for the United States to get in the middle of an operation where a democratic government is about to be overthrown would be an absurdity for us.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think, Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Pat, Kerry is there discussing, and so is Catherine Ashton, who is the foreign representative for the EU. And Putin said this is like if he had sent an envoy to Greece when the Europeans were having their difficulty. So he really sees this as his Monroe doctrine. He really doesn't think that Europe or the U.S. has any business meddling.

And Kerry basically said, I guess it was Friday, that Mr. Putin shouldn't worry, that we just are on the side of having peaceful demonstrations there. And basically that's the point they're making; don't crack down in a bloody way on these protesters, which is what Senator McCain said as well. I don't see the administration necessarily in there pushing for regime change.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was very bloody in Kiev. Obama's afraid that if he alienates Putin over Ukraine, he's going to regret it, because he needs Putin in Iran.

MS. CLIFT: Well, but Putin's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you follow me? And he needs Putin --

MS. CLIFT: I do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- in Syria.

MS. CLIFT: I do. But Putin's going to do what's in his best interest. He's not going to pull out of negotiations in Iran because he's upset over U.S. -- what he thinks meddling here. And he's got some other things on his mind. The Olympics are coming up in Sochi, so I think he's a little preoccupied with keeping his country safe.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think, Mort?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Look, I think this is a Putin gambit, OK, what's happened with Yanukovich. Yanukovich all of a sudden became sick when he was supposed to be meeting with the democrats or the democratic representatives in Ukraine.
Ukraine has always been seen by the Russians as basically a wholly owned subsidiary of the Soviet Union. This goes back many, many, many years. And this is still the way that Putin does it. Putin, frankly, outsmarted everybody. He got Yanukovich basically doing what he wants him to do. And he is going to continue to do that. And we are not going to be able to move either Putin or Yanukovich.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but there's a momentum in the streets there that looks like it's going to be very hard to stop.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, take a look at the top members of the Ukrainian opposition. They're brothers Vital and Vladimir Klitschko, both of whom are world heavyweight boxing champions. And one of them, particularly one of them, wants to become the president of Ukraine.

MS. CLIFT: He's very popular.

MR. BUCHANAN: He's popular, but he's --

MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible.)

MR. BUCHANAN: He's the head of his party, but he's a very powerful, tough street demonstrator, and he's a popular guy. I mean, look, the United States is supposed to support democratic elected governments, the guys -- even when they do badly. You wait for the next election to throw them out. These guys are three parties over there. They want to overthrow this government and have a battle inside.
John, there's a real danger here that this Ukraine could break apart. Part of it is russified in the east, which is Russian language and all, culturally Russian. In the far west, that's part of the Habsburg empire, and they're Catholic out there and they're westernized, and they want to go with the European Union.

But you overthrow this government and get, you know, a new crowd in there, you could have Ukraine break apart.

MS. CLIFT: I think that is an issue. But you can't just give a blank check to the leaders --

MR. BUCHANAN: It's not our problem, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Well, they're just going over there and talking, along with the European Union. I don't think we're sending --

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: We're not sending in troops or anything.

MR. BUCHANAN: Tell Kerry to go talk to his Iranian friends. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know that Putin went over there and offered them $15 billion --

MR. BUCHANAN: Fifteen billion. He bought them.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- to avoid going towards the EU, which a lot of the country wants to move in that direction --

MR. BUCHANAN: You know, John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and to go to Russia.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, they --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Kievan Rus'. That's the origins of the Russian Orthodox Church is Kievan Rus'. The ties there don't go back just decades.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They go back centuries.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but they see their future with the West culturally --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A lot of them do.

MS. CLIFT: -- commercially.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: A lot of them do.

MS. CLIFT: They want to go with the European Union.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: A lot of them do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's Obama's --

MS. CLIFT: And basically --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's Obama's problem or --

MS. CLIFT: -- Putin is driving them to stay temporarily with him.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's President Obama's problem or dilemma arising from Ukraine?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: He's got very little -- he's got very few cards to play. Nobody believes that he's going to do anything serious about what they want, not in terms --
(Cross talk.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: He's going to speak well, and he will speak out on behalf of democracy.

MS. FERRECHIO: The problem is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who does he really need? He really needs Putin.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah. He's not going to --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he doesn't want to do anything to annoy Putin --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- because he needs Putin in Iran.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He needs Putin in Syria. Correct?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right. That's -- you're absolutely right.

MS. FERRECHIO: Well, he already has very little leverage with Putin.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes. I agree.

MS. FERRECHIO: And look how Putin treats us. He's got Snowden in permanent asylum over there. Putin is the big issue here, and that's why I think that you're not going to see the United States do anything very serious.

MR. BUCHANAN: Putin's holding back now, John, because of the Sochi Olympics.

MS. FERRECHIO: Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: Wait for them to be over.

MS. FERRECHIO: Yeah, exactly right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Boehner Unbound.

HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH): (From videotape.) Listen, I like to play golf. I like to cut my own grass. You know, I do drink red wine. I smoke cigarettes. And I'm not giving that up to be president of the United States.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Republican House Speaker John Boehner tells us why he won't run for the U.S. presidency in 2016. The reason is that the House speaker enjoys his current job, appears relaxed and letting his hair down, so to speak, last week on "The Tonight Show" with the retiring Jay Leno.
Three months ago, the speaker was in crisis mode, his party responsible for what even Mr. Boehner describes as a, quote-unquote, "disaster," namely, the 16-day government shutdown. Speaker Boehner repeatedly warned fellow Republicans against the shutdown maneuver, although he backed them up once it had occurred.

(Begin videotaped segment.)

REP. BOEHNER: (From videotape.) When I looked up, I saw my colleagues going this way. And you learn that a leader without followers is simply a man taking a walk.

JAY LENO: Right.

REP. BOEHNER: So I said, do you want to fight this fight? I'll go fight the fight with you.

MR. LENO: Right.

REP. BOEHNER: But it was a very predictable disaster.

MR. LENO: Yeah.

(End videotaped segment.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Such party fealty is now being recognized. Close Boehner ally, Iowa Representative Tom Latham, with a near- perfect conservative rating of 94 and a near-perfect liberal rating of zero, gave this description of Speaker Boehner to the Politico newspaper. Quote: "He's probably more at ease in the job than he has been. I think a lot of it comes that, after the shutdown, a lot of people saw that was a fool's errand. He was proven correct and came out of it much, much stronger," unquote -- strong enough, in fact, to take on outside conservative factions like the Club for Growth and Heritage Action and their impassioned disapproval of the budget deal struck last month between the two parties. The speaker berated both entities.

REP. BOEHNER: (From videotape.) I think they're pushing our members in places where they don't want to be. And frankly, I just think that they've lost all credibility. If you'll recall, the day before the government reopened, one of the people -- one of these groups stood up and said, well, we never really thought it would work. Are you kidding me?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Has the speaker reclaimed his speakerhood, setting the agenda, and fully in charge? Susan.

MS. FERRECHIO: I don't think he ever lost it. Boehner is not the kind of speaker you can compare to Nancy Pelosi or Newt Gingrich. He always operated from the bottom up, said he's going to listen to everybody and do things in a sort of democratic way, which is unusual for a House speaker. So things have always been a little bit up and down with the way things go in the House.

I think he's -- if he is stronger, it's only because he showed his tea party faction he was willing to go the distance for them. They lost their leverage when the government shutdown hurt their credibility. And now he is back in control. He's got them piped down a little bit on some things. They're still voting against a lot of the legislation he likes.

(Cross talk.)

MS. CLIFT: He's got a little maneuvering room here.

MS. FERRECHIO: (Inaudible.)

MS. CLIFT: He's got a little maneuvering room here, and it looks like he's going to use it maybe to push through immigration reform. And the tea party has lost some of their steam. And I think he's got -- Boehner has a little more influence with them.

MR. BUCHANAN: Let me say this.

MS. CLIFT: Here comes the grassroots implosion.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, let me say this. If he goes with immigration reform and goes all out for it, given the tremendous force and emotion inside the Republican caucus, and he splits the caucus and goes and repeals that rule and goes and works with the Democrats for immigration reform and legalization of the folks who are already here and the DREAM act, I think John Boehner -- it will be his last period as speaker of the House.

MS. FERRECHIO: I agree with Pat on that.

MR. BUCHANAN: He will not be back as speaker.

MS. FERRECHIO: That may be by design. That may be by design.

MS. CLIFT: He'll save the Republican Party. And he may not do it until the lame-duck session after the election.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is an immigration bill likely this year?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, I think an immigration bill is likely. The question, what is going to be in the bill? And the issue, as Pat says, from the Republican point of view, is that if they allowed -- I mean, I think I remember that there's something going to be like 15 million additional Hispanic votes and 17 million additional black votes. These are not votes that the Republican Party is going to be able to get. And therefore, they're going to have a huge political problem going forward. So they're caught between a rock and a hard place on this.

MR. BUCHANAN: Amnesty --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No automatic --

MR. BUCHANAN: Amnesty is the end of the Republican Party.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No automatic path to citizenship for a majority of illegal aliens.

MR. BUCHANAN: But once you legalize them --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That is offensive to Nancy Pelosi.

MR. BUCHANAN: But once you legalize --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Therefore, there is a crisis there.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, no. Once you legalize them, they're going to be on an eventual path to citizenship.

MS. CLIFT: That's more than a dozen -- that's more than a dozen years away. The Senate bill has a 13-year path. If the Republican Party can't figure out how to diversify itself in 12 to 15 years, they're going to be dead anyway.

MR. BUCHANAN: Do you think they're going to -- that 13 years will stay once the first bill goes through? Come on.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who won the week? Three seconds.

MR. BUCHANAN: I would say Obama won the week; a pretty good speech.

MS. CLIFT: Obama won the week, reboots his presidency.

MS. FERRECHIO: I'll go with President Obama.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'll go with President Putin. I think he won the week. He really reinforced his position all around the world.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's clearly Putin. I also predict that Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who posed for a selfie with Barack Obama and David Cameron at Nelson Mandela's funeral service, will be vanquished in Denmark's upcoming election.

Bye-bye.

(C) 2014 Federal News Service

END