tv FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace FOX April 18, 2011 2:00am-3:00am PDT
another air traffic controller falls asleep while on duty. the latest next on "fox news sunday". close calls at airports around the country. as air traffic controllers are caught asleep on the job. we'll talk safety in the skies with the administration's top man. transportation secretary ray lahood. only on "fox news sunday." then, president obama strikes back at the republican budget. while outlining a plan of his own. we will get reaction from two top budget negotiators.
republican senator tom coburn and democratic congressman chris van hollen. plus, the 2012 republican presidential race begins to heat up. we will ask our sunday panel to handicap the g.o.p. field. all right now on "fox news sunday." and hello again from fox news in washington. well, it's happened again. early saturday morning, an air traffic controller dozed off while on the job in miami. the faa said it will finally make changes in controllers' work schedules to address the fatigue problem. we want to talk today with the man in charge. secretary of transportation ray lahood. secretary, welcome to "fox news sunday." >> thank you, chris. good morning. >> chris: let's look at the disturbing record of what has been going on recently with air traffic controllers. in just the last few months there have been six separate incidents from here in washington to seattle and now miami, where controllers fell
asleep. in some cases pilots had to land planes on their own. secretary lahood, what is the problem? and has this been going on for a long time? or are we just hearing about it more now? >> chris, i have been in the job two-and-a-half years, i don't know when i've ever been madder. i'm outraged about this. i want the plying public to know we're doing everything we can, 24/7 to correct this problem. we cannot allow controllers to fall asleep in control towers. we are not going to stand by and let that happen. we've taken steps, as of this morning, to begin changing schedules for controllers to change schedules for managers. and to make sure that controllers cannot switch in and out of their schedules in order for the convenience of them if they are not well-rested. but i also want to emphasize this, chris. controllers need to take personal responsibility for the very important safety jobs that they have. we can make changes but when
these controllers come to work, they have to take personal responsibility for the fact they are guiding planes in and out of airports. it has to be done safely. they have to be well-rest and they have to be alert. we'll take care of the fact they need to be well trained. they have to take personal responsibility for this. >> chris: you say you are prepared right now to announce what the changes you are going to make are. what are they? >> chris, number one, we're going to make sure that controllers are well-rested. we are going to increase the rest time by an hour. this is what we're recommending for pilots going from eight-hour rest to nine-hour rest. we will also ask managers in the control towers to be more available in the early morning hours, and also in the late hours to make sure that they remind controllers they can't sleep on the job, that they need to be alert, that safety is the number one priority. we will change the scheduling of managers. we're also going to eliminate the opportunity for controllers to switch out in their positions, in their job
positions so they can have a long weekend. we're going to eliminate that. now we've talked with the controller union. the president about this. they have agreed to go along with this. so those three things along with the top to bottom review of training and other scheduling things. we think more rest time. more managers on duty. and making sure that controllers are not looking out for their own schedule rather than the safety schedule we think needs to be put in place. >> chris: let's look at the schedule of an air traffic controller. this is what it was until this moment when you changed it. it's not changing dramatically. they could work two evening shifts followed by an hour-hour turn-around -- eight-hour turn-around. now it will be nine hours. to a day shift. another eight-hour turn-around. now it's nine. to midnight, 2:00, all of this so the controllers get a
long weekend. they work five shifts in four days. then they could get three or four days off. question: why didn't you tell the controllers a long time ago those schedules are nuts and they are not safe? >> we thought controllers really were getting the rest that they needed, chris. it was obvious from the interviews that we've done from controllers that have been suspended because they fell asleep, some of them during the rest period may have been doing other things rather than resting. so we want to extend the rest period and eliminate the opportunity for them to switch things out when they are not well-rested and switch out their positions so they can have the longer weekend. >> chris: do you think the difference between eight-hour rest period and nine hours is going to make that much difference? >> we just had a fatigue study that we will be releasing very soon here that shows we're recommending this for pilots also. that they go from eight to nine. we think that is about right based on the studies that
we've done. if it's not right, we will change it. we're not going to sit back and say because somebody says this, we're going to -- the administrator and the head of the controller union are going to travel the country this week. they'll be in atlanta tomorrow morning. interviewing controllers, talking to them about rest time, about workplace rules. but also reminding them, personal responsibility is a part of their job. safety has to be number one. >> chris: secretary, you say safety has to be number one. the ntsb, the national transportation safety board, the agency charged with safety in all transportation recommended back in 2007, 2007 that the faa and the air traffic controllers change the schedules because they weren't safe. >> well, we're stepping up. we are deciding that the ntsb probably had it right. on my watch, chris, i'm going to make sure we put this place everything possible so
controllers are alert, well-rested, well-train and they do take perm responsibility for their obligations to guide planes in and out of airports. >> chris: now, you just said that you are sending the head of the faa and the head of the air traffic controllers union around nationwide study, interview controllers, find out what the problem is. if the union, we pointed out that the compressed schedules to get long weekends off, if the union is part of the problem, why have them be part of the solution? why not have independent study, independent parties go look and say here is what the problem is? >> look, chris. we have a contractual agreement with the union. which languished for five years previously. when we came in, we reached an agreement with the controllers. look, we have to be partners with the controllers. they are in the control towers. there are over 15,000
controllers. we have received e-mails in the last few years. they are also concerned about this. they are also concerned about their good name. they want to make sure that safety is number one. and that they have people in the towers that are doing the right thing. they're our partners and we have to work with them. they are going to be the ones in the towers. if we don't work these things out with them. they agreed to these three points that i just made, these three changes which are pretty significant changes. if they are not quite right, i guarantee you they will be with us, further changes need be made. >> chris: again, we are talking about safety. the seattle controller that fell asleep, not once but twice in january, he was back at the job and the same controller that fell asleep this month. why wasn't he fired? >> well, because there are investigations that have to go on. if it was up to me, chris. more action would have been taken.
when the investigations are complete you will be hearing from the administrator of the faa. we take it seriously. >> chris: is part of it also the unions? it is hard to fire union employee? >> there are certain provisions that allow for the investigation and review. when that is complete you'll be hearing for us. we're not going to sit by and let controllers fall asleep in control towers with the ability to com back and, you know, have the ability to continue to do the jobs. >> chris: forgive me for being skeptical. if a guy is able to fall asleep twice in january and comes back and falls asleep in april and you as the secretary of transportation, or head of the faa can't fire him, isn't that a problem? >> we can fire him. but there has to be due diligence and an opportunity for an investigation to go on so that we have, make sure we information. on my watch, we're not going to allow controllers to fall
asleep in the control towers and continue to do their job. that's why they have been suspended. as soon as i found out about it, they were suspended. >> chris: let me ask about another thing you haven't mentioned for possible change. a number of countries allow controllers in scheduled work breaks to take naps. are you considering allowing that and to follow suit with countries like canada, france and germany? >> on my watch, controllers will not be paid to take naps, chris. we're not going to allow that. they will be paid for what they are trained to do, guiding planes in and out of airpor airports safely. we want them well rested and have the ability for them to do their job but we're not going to pay controllers to be napping. we're not going to do that. >> chris: do you need more controllers? you say you have 15,000. given the fact there are cases where up until now there was single staffing in
the overnight shifts, do you need more controllers? if so, how do you reconcile that with the fact that the house wants to cut your budget $4 million in next few years. >> we have about the right number of controllers. we looked at that. and the controllers agree with us on that. let me just say something about the faa and our ability to do the job we're supposed to do. the faa bill that gives us resources and our ability to do our job has not been passed and been extended by congress 18 times. my message to congress is pass the faa bill so we have the resources. it's been extented 18 times, chris. we need a bill. we need the ability to have the resources to do these things we need to do. i hope when congress comes back from the easter recess they will pass the bill. >> chris: all right. i have to go through other issues with you. do this as a lightning round. there was a problem with the southwest flight a couple of weeks ago. taking a look at it.
hole ripped open in fuselage at southwest jet at 34,000 feet and you ended up finding cracks in a number of older 737 jets. question: where are you with that problem? >> the planes have been inspected. they have been inspected to make sure that that will not happen again. the planes are back in service. the ntsb is conducting an investigation. >> chris: you don't have a problem with cracking now? >> they've been inspect and passed inspection and are book in service. >> chris: this week, air bus 380, the largest commercial passenger plane -- just looking at this video, which is unbelievable -- passenger jet in the world clipped a computer plane on taxi way at the jfk airport. is that a controller problem or is that the fact that the jet has a wingspan of 262 feet the taxi way at jfk is only 75 feet wide. >> there was error there. that's the reason the ntsb is investigating.
we will see what they come up with. human error was a factor there. >> chris: for the pilot or controller? >> i don't know, chris. i don't want to speculate until we get the interviews and get into the weeds on it. >> chris: while all of this is going on airports, the tsa, the transportation security administration, decided to pat down a 6-year-old girl in new orleans a few days ago. she got very upset, understandably, and started crying. i know you don't control tsa, but as a government administrator, what do you think of that? >> well, i'm going to let mr. pistol deal with that. >> chris: tsa? does it seem a little much to you? >> look, i have nine grandchildren. i wouldn't want my granddaughter treated like that. >> chris: fair enough. final question. are the controllers, are there more controllers falling asleep or is it just that we're hearing about it? why are all of the things
happening the same time? >> i have been on the job two-and-a-half years. in two-and-a-half years these are the first instances i've heard about it. i have always said safety is our number one priority. we work 24/7 to make sure trains, plane, automobiles, motor coaches, all form of transportation are safe. that is a reason i am really dicked off about this, and about the controllers sleeping. i'm mad about it. >> chris: are you feeling under the gun? >> no, i'm mad about it. look, i fly. i fly commercially all the time. i fly with the idea that the planes will be safe. the pilots will be well-train and the controllers are going to be alert and well-trained. to guide the plane in and out of the airport. i'm like every other american. i take these things for granted. i want people to know i wake up every day thinking about safety. we are going to work 24/7 to make sure these controllers are well-train and alert. and i want the public to know that. somebody is looking out for safety. >> chris: secretary lahood,
we want to thank you so much for coming in today and answering our questions about safety in the skies. thank you, sir. >> thank you. >> chris: up next, the battle of the budget rages on as congress and the president turn from billions in cuts to trillions. we'll sit down with two key players when we come back. : we created the electricity that powered the alarm clocks and brewed the coffee. we heated the bathwater and gave kelly a cleaner ride to school. cooked the cube steaks and steamed the veggies. entertained dad, and mom, and a neighbor or two. kept watch on the house when they slept. and tomorrow we could do even more. we're cleaner, domestic, abundant and ready now. we're america's natural gas. the smarter power today. learn more at anga.us. curtis: welcome back to geico it's savings, on the radio. gecko: hello clarence from stevens point. clarence: ok, you know the grapes at the grocery store? clarence: well, sometimes you try one. take it for a test drive, see how it tastes. clarence: well, my wife says that's stealing. i say it's sampling. what do you think?
gecko: yeah, um, listen clarence, i can't really speak to the moral bit, but if you switch to geico, you could save hundreds of dollars on your car insurance. you could buy a whole heap of grapes. how's that? vo: geico. 15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance. with the rising price of fuel, guess which way shipping costs are going? the u.s postal service has no fuel surcharges. combine that with low online pricing... and your shipping costs... ..could head in a whole new direction. it's time to rethink your shipping.
two key negotiators. from his home state of oklahoma, republican senator tom coburn known as "dr. no" for his tough stance on spending. here in studio, congressman chris van hollen, the top democrat in the house budget committee who has just been named to the bipartisan team that will meet with vice president biden to work on a budget deal. all right, gentlemen, we know what you and your parties don't like about each other's plans. i'm going to ask you to please throw away your talking points and let's try to deal with possible areas of compromise. i want to start with medicare first. senator coburn, the non-partisan congressional budget office says under the ryan plan that seniors are going to end up paying more out-of-pocket ten years from now when the plan kicks in for their healthcare. what can you do about that? >> you can't do anything about it. we have an unsustainable program. until we reconnect payment with purchase. you can't fix it. that is the whole problem with healthcare costs.
everybody thinks somebody else is paying the bill. so if you want, if there is no way to fix medicare, unless you drive down costs and there is no way the government is going to drive down costs without rationing. if you want to drive down costs you need a discerning consumer to do that. that is true in insurance or medicare. that's why we are seeing explosive increase in process. >> chris: that brings me to the question i'll ask chris van hollen. again no, talking points. looking to find the area of compromise. the president says let's leave it to a government panel to come up with hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts, which critics like tom coburn say means price controls and rationing. what can you do about that? >> what the president has said is first of all we have to fully enforce and commit ourselves to the affordable care act. medicare and medicaid are participants in the overall healthcare system. to the extent you can drive down cost in the overall healthcare system, affordable
healthcare act will do, you drive down costs in medicare. >> chris: if i may, basically you are talking about the government panel. panel of doctors and administrators and bureaucrats and all of that, that they will come up with the idea to drive down costs and a lot of people don't believe it. >> what the republican plan talks about is having private insurance companies drive down the costs. that has not succeeded. the whole reason we created medicare to begin was because private health insurance market could not provide seniors with affordable healthcare. that's why the congressional budget office, independent entity, said if you scrap that plan and you throw seniors in the private insurance market to keep down escalating costs they will pay $6,000 more in the year 2022 than in the current medicare system. >> chris: i'm not hearing much for a compromise. >> again, the president -- >> chris: i know the president's plan. is there an area where you can accommodate senator coburn's concerns? >> the issue with respect to
changes in medicare, we made medicare reforms in the healthcare bill. they are included the republican plan, despite the fact that they demagogued a lot in the last round. we got rid of overpayment to medicare advantage plans. those were the private plans in the medicare system. they were charging 114% of fee for services. now they want to say we'll go into 100% of private insurance markets and not provide the medicare option. that is a surefire way, not just to see the escalating costs but as their plan does require seniors to eat the costs. >> chris: turn to taxes. we certainly didn't seem to get a deal on medicare. turn to taxes. the president calls for $1 trillion more revenue, largely through raising taxes on the rich, and republicans flatly reject that. let's watch. >> i think the president heard us loud and clear. if we are going to resolve our differences and do something meaningful, raising taxes will not be part of
that. >> chris: senator coburn, you are prepared to break with your party on this issue. you say lower rates for everybody but the way to do that is do away with hundreds of billions of dollars in tax deductions and you can use some of that money to address the deficit and debt. are republican leaders wrong to reject any use of added revenue to deal with the debt? >> i don't think that's what they said, chris. what the president is proposing is to markedly increase taxes on people above $250,000. you can take all of their money -- you could take all the money they earn above $100,000 and you wouldn't cover a deficit this year. so the point is how do we have a system that is fair, that protects the social safety net and at the same time will generate economic activity and growth in government revenues?
we saw that this has happened. what everybody on my side is worried about, if you agree to this, how do you make sure that the spending cuts stay there? that is the problem. if, in fact, we develop a way to make sure you can't cheat on the caps, both mandatory and discretionary spending, i'm willing to do what is necessary to solve the real problem the country is in. you can't just say no, no, no. what you have to say is no within reason that will create opportunity and solve our problems. >> chris: so you would agree to added revenue, not through raising rates but lowering rates and doing away with hundreds of billions in tax deductions? >> the added revenue comes, most of that is revenue neutral. what the added revenue comes from the economic expansion and dynamic effect of lowering rates. >> chris: let me bring in congressman van hollen. the president is still talking about the bush tax cuts but the debt commission and to some degree what senator coburn is talking
about is transcending that whole plan. lowering rates for everybody. rich and middle class. but doing away with the trillion dollars which is spent every year on tax breaks. using some of that to expand growth. but also added revenue. why not do that? why not do what the president's own debt commission suggested? >> let's be clear. the debt commission has $1.7 trillion of revenues in its plan to get to the deficit reduction. >> chris: but not by raising rates. it lowers rates. >> but it assumes in the base number, revenue generated from taking the top rate to where it was in the clinton administration. that's assuming the base. on top of that, they get a trillion dollars in revenues the way you say, trying to expand the base. it's absolutely true that we can get rid of a lot of the junk in the tax code on the corporate side we can do it, there is also room to do it on the individual side. tom coburn has been a leader in ethanol subsidiaries.
i agree. we should get rid of those and the big oil subsidiaries but those are ways to raise the revenue. this is why the fiscal commission said the republican house plan was unbalanced. because the fiscal commission plan -- >> chris: the commission didn't like what barack obama announced either this week. >> actually, they did. they released a statement saying it's a balance comprehensive approach. they said the exact opposite of the republican house plan. no, they said -- >> chris: actually, well, i -- >> let me, let me -- [ overtalk >> chris, the fiscal commission didn't make any statement to people who led it did. and the rest of us don't necessarily agree with that. the fact is, you can't criticize paul ryan's plan until you have one that accomplishes the same thing. the president's doesn't come close to that. what we need is not partisan bickering, not the labelling. what we need is what is good
about paul ryan's plan that they can live with. what is good about chris' plan they can live with. what the country needs to hear from the leaders in washington. we understand how big the problem is. we're willing to lose elections to do what is best for the country. that is what is not happening now. >> chris: senator coburn, if i may interrupt, sir. you are a member of the so-called "gang of six." six bipartisan three democrats, three republicans senators who are trying to come up with your own plan. what are the chances that you are going to be able to come up with a deal when and how will it differ from both obama and ryan? >> well, first of all, i'm not going to go into the details of how it will differ. there is a good chance that we can come up with a bipartisan agreement that people can swallow. nobody is going to like what we come up with. the left isn't going to like it and the right isn't going to like it. that's one thing that is indicator of the best
compromise we'll get. i think we'll have a good likelihood we can get there. it's not a sure thing. what is the risk if we don't? you know, we, in fact, are going to be making decisions by ourselves, among ourselves, or other people are goim -- going to be telling us what we are going to do. america is tired of bickering and they understand we have to make some sacrifice. so do the politicians. they're ready do that except for politicians. >> chris: let me break in. we are running out of time here. you talk about the other people, in many cases that could be the creditors. the big issue in the next couple of months is working out a deal to raise the debt limit. congressman van hollen you now say that republicans are playing political games with the debt limit. in 2004, you voted one time against raising the debt limit. are you willing to agree to spending cuts and to some kind of spending caps to get
a deal on the debt limit? >> well, two things. number one, we have to make good on the full faith and credit of the united states. otherwise, we will have an economic catastrophe. the chairman of the federal reserve ben bernanke said that. every economist on both sides of the aisle have said that. we have to do that. we also have to come together as tom said and put together a serious deficit reduction plan. saying you are only going to vote for the debt ceiling if something particular happens on deficit reduction, i think is playing russian roulette with the fully loaded revolver. >> chris: president obama this week agreed that that there are going to have to be spending cuts. >> there is a two-track approach. we have to have a plan to lower deficit but let's not monkey around -- >> chris: is the answer to the question you're not willing to agree to spending cut or structural changes?
>> i'm willing to work out a plan to reduce the deficit. it should not just involve spending cuts. as the fiscal commission said. as tom said we need to deal with the revenue piece. deficits are not caused not just by spending, a driver, of course, but also when you give folks at the top a tax break. >> chris: we have less than a minute left. senator coburn you voted against the debt limit half a dozen times over the years. what are you going to need to agree to raise the debt limit? >> first of all, people ought to ask themselves what is is the debt limit? the debt limit is ridiculous. when was it not raised? debt limit doesn't mean we limit the debt. it just means we're going to pause and borrow more. what do i need? i need absolutely certainty that we have made the critical changes that are necessary to put the country back where we need to go. unless we do that, there is
no way i support it. the fact is we are going to have a debt crisis with this or soon thereafter if we don't come together. >> chris: senator coburn, congressman van hollen, we want to thank you both for coming in. we'll stay on top of this, the battle of the budget. thank you, both. >> good to be with you. >> chris: up next, our sunday panel weighs in on the budget and how the political tone here in washington is getting down-right nasty.
we're not going to be able to do anything about any of these entitlements if what we do is characterize as the other party is being irresponsible, the other party is trying to hurt our senior citizens. it's a vision that says america can't afford to keep the promise we made to care for our seniors. >> chris: well, what a difference a year makes. that was president obama in 2010 ruling out any attempt to demagogue entitlement reform. then this week going after republicans on that very issue. it's time now for our sunday group. dana perino, former white house press secretary. nina easton of "fortune" magazine. kevin madden who was mitt romney's spokesman in his
presidential campaign. fox news political analyst juan williams. let's talk about the politics of the budget. i want to put up a couple of gallup polls this week, which are very interesting. according to the poll, 59% think taxes should be raised on families making more than $250,000 a year. while 37% do not. and 31% support major changes or an overhaul in medicare, while 61% want minor changes or no cost-control at all. so, with that as a basis, dana, how big a gamble are republicans making when they want major reform of medicare and they don't want any tax increases on the wealthy? >> i think you heard senator coburn in the last segment say there might be, it's not necessarily what the republicans are saying but there could be changes to the tax code that bring in more money and actually don't hurt job growth which is at the crux of it.
the poll shows wherein lies the problem for the communicators talking to the country about what are we going to do? not only do we have the debt problem, deficit problem. the entitlement line is now finally going to be taken seriously. the past week, what you saw is only four republicans voted against the ryan plan, representative paul ryan of wisconsin for the fy-2012 budget which does make the cuts. i think that's partly because they understand the crisis they are looking at is predictable and they feel a responsibility to do something about it. what coburn said is they are willing to lose elections on it if it that is what it takes to fix the problem. >> chris: that is the question. are they going to lose the election over it? >> there is a political risk in this. anyone who is serious about what is facing crisis in our country, there is a considerable political risk. in terms of the debate on the serious side are set by the house republicans who were willing to go, to put a marker out there and go toward that marker on doing a deal with the president on cutting spending this year.
and who passed, as dana said, passed the ryan plan. they are not going to get everything they want. the terms of the debate are also set in the senate in a bipartisan fashion with gang of six. we saw the president i thought was a kickoff of the 2012 campaign. reading the polls. guess what? these are really hard, difficult decisions to make. what he did, that you see what will be the crux of that campaign is we're going to go after millionaires and billionaires. he said that repeatedly. if we just ask them, in fact, they'd be more than happy to send more money to washington, as if it's a charity that induces our emotions. but i think that is going to be the centerpiece of their campaign. again, he is talking about millionaires and billionaires and he's really talking about people making $250,000 and above. >> chris: kevin, you know, there are a lot of people who said in 2010 when democrats and particularly the house went for this big $787 billion, $800 billion
stimulus plan they ended up overreading the mandate they got from voters in 2008. some people are saying when you see the polls which indicate by a margin of 2-1, people do not want to see major changes or an overhaul of medicare, are republicans in danger of doing the same thing now? >> look, there is risk. this goes back to dana's point and nina's point, there is an incredible amount of risk. but right now risks of inaction are too great. if we were not to tack the problem as republicans, two things would happen. we'd lose the reform brand. people that sent us here, the independents, many conservative democrats. and many of our base republicans have all sent us here to tackle big problems. to tackle the big spending, the big giant issues that we have ahead of us. so to not do it, i think would mean we would not be living up to the promise to the american public. president obama did not get to the speech because he wanted to get there. he got dragged and kicking into the speech. he wouldn't tack the problem if it wasn't for republicans
reframing the public debate. if we don't do it now, president obama is not going to act on it for six years. he will figure he has a mandate not to act on the big things and he will continue to operate as if we don't have big challenges. >> chris: juan? >> i agree, president obama was dragged to the discussion and slow to provide leadership on the issue. one of the things that paul ryan's budget makes clear is the sacrifice will come from the middle class and the poor. i'm surprised at how much he is willing to put on seniors. clearly, you know, people who have parents or grand parents in nursing homes know it doesn't get taken care of by medicaid overwhelmingly and the idea to send it back to state as a block grant for governors to squeeze will have real implications of how we care for elderly in the society. >> i think that is fair enough. i think the way the debate is going to break down fundamentally will be a defense of the status quo or are we going to reform the system. >> no, i don't think -- i think everybody -- >> what you are proposing -- sorry, what democrats propose
is we maintain a system as-is and maintain the status quo. >> no. >> republicans are saying that we have to relook, we have to look at the system to make sure that there are still benefits -- >> kevin, i think the president has a debt commission and i think the president has said as you just pointed out he has been dragged into saying we need spending reduction, even in terms of the debt ceiling adjustment. he said there will be spending cuts attached to it. it's not as if the democrats are just for the status quo. to the contrary, a matter of how you go at it. do you want to go whacking and hurting the poor? and you also say the rich are not supposed to pay any more taxes to share the burden? >> many in the president's party want a clean debt ceiling raised. >> i'm just saying -- >> chris: let me talk about that and bring in dana. i completely agree with you that the 2012 campaign may have been joined this week and there will be a lot of issues that we will argue about for the next year-and-a-half. but they have to make a deal in the next couple of months on the debt.
what i was trying to get at, not very successfully with coburn and van hollen was what are democrats going to be willing to give and what are republicans going to be willing to accept to increase the debt limit? because i got to tell you, everybody i talk to thinks it would be a disaster for the country if we were allowed to go into default. >> true. president bush had to deal with this issue when he was president. in fact, senator obama at the time viciously attacked president bush saying he would not vote to raise the debt limit and admitted it was political. this week, the white house spokesperson jay carney put out a statement saying oops, president obama actually doesn't agree with senator obama four years ago. fine. now he's principal and he understands it. the republicans because of the budget battle they just took, boehner did not come out of it unscathed but he came out of it. now the republicans are going to be demanding more. and even if it doesn't make sense necessarily to not raise the debt ceiling because we are talking a little bit of apples and
oranges that is not going to be easy to communicate and boehner will be under tremendous pressure to do more. >> chris: you say "pressure to do more" because it turned out to be $350 billion? >> yes. >> chris: where is the basis for a deal? it seems that what the republicans are saying we need structural changes. we're not expecting the 2012 budget to be passed in the next two months but we need caps. some kind of assurance that we are on a downward path. >> let's just look at medicare. the public, the medicare cuts that ryan is proposing, those are for people down the road. not for people now. >> chris: years down the road. >> okay, but we have to have an honest conversation with the public. we have an aging population. we have skyrocketing medical costs. we have can't afford it anymore. we have to do something. you have can't just say we're going to hurt everybody if we do anything. you have to have the reform
conversation. it's a difficult one to have and it carries considerable political risk but you have to do it. i think there are democrats in the senate, by the way, who understand this. >> chris: we have to take a break here but when we come back, the field for the presidential nomination finally starts to take shape. which candidate would be the strongest, toughest challenger to president obama? is it the new forty, i don't know. i probably feel about thirty. how is it that we don't act our age? [ marcie you keep us young. [ kurt we were having too much fun we weren't thinking about a will at that time.
we have responsibilities to the kids and ourselves. we're the vargos and we created our wills on legalzoom. finally. [ laughter [ shapiro we created legalzoom to help you take care of the ones you love. go to legalzoom.com today and complete your will in minutes. at legalzoom.com we put the law on your side. "fox news sunday" at 15. be sure to check out the top
i'm focussed on running for president. >> it's a momentous decision. we are talking to the advisors. >> see if we can raise money to do that. >> i'm announcing my exploratory committee for the presidency of the united states. >> chris: finally, finally republicans are beginning to throw their hats in the ring for the 2012 g.o.p. presidential nomination. we're back now to review where things stand with the panel. having been down the road with donald trump, at least twice before, i had promised myself, solemnly sworn i was not going to mention his name until he actually gets in the race, if he gets in the race. that is until i saw this poll. the poll shows this week that
trump has been playing the birther card heavily with a big lead over huckabee, romney and the other g.o.p. conte contenders. dana, what does it tell you about how the republican voters feel right now about their field? >> it's like having a g.o.p. fantasy baseball team. you go home and think if i put this guy in, maybe he would win, maybe he would get to third base, maybe he won't get all the way home. it's tough. but i think what donald trump has done is he caught people's attention and is saying provocative things. some people agree with and some don't. he is talking about jobs and he is playing to people's anxiety about china, foreign influence and foreign sources of energy. he is like look, i've done it, i created jobs, i can do it for you. how long the star lasts, i don't know. i think he is enjoying it. he is going to the rallies -- >> no! >> no! >> i think he is enjoying it. you get the attention for a while. whether it lasts i don't know.
>> nina? >> i have to say my husband is a romney advisor as full disclosure. on the trump thing, you have to wonder where this birther thing is going to take him, making this the center piece of his campaign. not only are we supposed to believe that barack obama's mother somehow got him from kenya to hawaii to get a false birth certificate, but we now have again health department officials in hawaii coming out and saying he was born here. they have the backup documentation in a book on the second floor of the building. she has come out before and said it. the hawaiian state officials have to be in on the consider as well. i just don't see where it takes him. i think donald trump, who i have spent time with when i wrote about him, i think of him as a performance artist. lighting his hair on fire and getting a lot of attention. >> chris: obviously he is not lighting his hair on fire.
>> that is something we don't want to witness. that being said, never underestimate these candidates. >> chris: kevin, your man or former man mitt romney announced his exploratory committee. has he -- and by all lights he should be the front-runner, it's fair to say. money, organization from last time, certainly going to run, which some of the others aren't going to necessarily do. has he figured out how to deal with what most people consider to be the big chink in his armor; that is, romney care, the healthcare plan in massachusetts which had a mandate much like obamacare? >> the front-runner status is usually arrived of by formula. this field right now, as we see in the poll, is unsettled. on the question of how he will run and handle healthcare, the best way to describe it is he will confront it. it will clearly be an issue in the campaign. i don't think it will be the only issue. it will be something as we look to contrast ourselves
with other folks seeking the republican nomination and seeking the contrast with president obama it is going to be something that is important. >> chris: let me interrupt. when you say he is going to confront it. before he said some things worked and some didn't. a state experience, it wasn't a federal plan. the principle, which is what most people that are concerned about it are concerned about is that he supported an individual mandate. is he going to sit there and say "i defend the principle of an individual mandate"? >> the question is how is it you decide to drive down cost and provide more access in your particular state? an individual mandate was the best way to reach that with a unique healthcare population in massachusetts. unique healthcare population of 7 million. the mistake and where the obama plan went wrong is it tried to apply federal standard with individual mandate over 300 million. that's an important distinction. people will say it won't sell to voters but it's important
because it's true. then you move to healthcare debate where are we going in the future and drive down cost and get greater access going forward? clearly, obamacare is not going to drive down costs. it's been shown to be expansion of government power and because of the taxes and regulation we have higher prices. that is going to be where the debate focuses. where do we go in future? >> chris: juan, has brother kevin persuaded you that romney doesn't have a problem? >> taking notes. >> kevin is a good political strategist, that is why he is so successful. it's a hard sell. basically the massachusetts plan is exactly what obama's healthcare care reform prescription has been. on a state level -- >> isn't that an important distinction? >> he was running a state. obama is running a nation. >> why would you apply something for one unique healthcare population of 7 million people to 300 million. that would be a mistake? >> president obama said he learned from the massachusetts plan trying to draft the national
healthcare. >> it's not necessarily right for other states. >> in terms of the republican field, right now big money is on the sidelines. everyone is holding their powder dry because they don't see anything out there that indicates that any of the guys can beat president obama. what is going on? you see donald trump rise to the top of the polls. he's out there yesterday talking to tea party people. they're talking to tea party people now. sarah palin talking to them, tim pawlenty talking to them, haley barbour talking to tea party people. saying crazy stuff. how is haley barbour going to get away saying we shouldn't involved in the war in afghanistan? damned trump saying the japanese after the tsunami earthquake, the japanese have been ripping us off for a long time. these are offensive, crazy things. >> chris: all right. let's talk, though, i'm going to take one of your points -- don't look at me like that. one of the points is the idea that people are waiting to see who else will jump in. i want to address it with you, dana. given the relative lack of
excitement about the current field, some people are suggesting that -- let's put a couple of candidates on the screen -- that new jersey governor chris christie, or paul ryan could get in the race as late as next fall and still have a chance. >> anything is possible. i call that the maybe someone will emerge caucus because there is not anyone who has taken fire. i will address one thing on the point, though, there is another person in this presidential race saying offensive, crazy things. that is president obama who called the republicans un-american this week. in a speech where he invited people. you can do that if you want to make it a hyperpartisan thing. but the point you haven't shown, 70% of the american people according to gallup think the country is on the wrong track. if i was president obama's political team i would think we should have had a better week than we did. rising gas prices will continue to dog them and maybe someone will emerge from the republican field to catch people's attention and go the distance. >> can i just add to that the bad news on president obama
front. jp morgan downgraded our gdp growth this year 1.4%. that is not good. i think the president will face a really tough economy. >> chris: see inflation the gas prices and inflation in food. >> another thing, name that hasn't come up here, and it wasn't news this week, but a week is that huckabee is meeting with financial people. i think he will get in the race. you will have that fear, the social conservativconservative, evangelical -- it's getting crowded. huckabee, potentially. michele bachmann. >> south carolina -- >> she was in south carolina last weekend. haley barbour is on the local south carolina poll. going after the southern base. tim pawlenty trying to dip in the evangelical base. that is a crowded area. >> chris: i want to look at three currently
non-candidates. on the screen. start with you, kevin, but we can go around the table. mike huckabee, sarah palin, donald trump. nina just answered it. she thinks huckabee will get in. do you think any of those get in? >> i think huckabee and palin get in. i don't think trump gets in. >> chris: you do think huckabee and palin get in? >> i do. find myself in one percentile of people that believe that. when i was in seventh grade, my seventh grade teacher talked about a guy trump running for president. that was a long time ago. like 1985. >> it's like me. i have been down this road before. i was in seventh grade to. juan? >> mike huckabee, he has a shot to win if he gets in. palin and other folks is about raising the speaking fees and books. >> chris: anybody get in? >> i was surprised after today palin's speech was good and sounded like she was running. >> chris: okay. there you go. thank you, panel. see you next week.
don't forget to check out panel plus. where our group picks up with the discussion on the website, foxnewssunday.com. we'll post the video before noon eastern time. up next, we hear from you. but when i was diagnosed with prostate cancer... i needed a coach. our doctor was great, but with so many tough decisions i felt lost. unitedhealthcare offered us a specially trained rn who helped us weigh and understand all our options. for me cancer was as scary as a fastball is to some of these kids. but my coach had hit that pitch before. turning data into useful answers. we're 78,000 people looking out for 70 million americans. that's health in numbers. unitedhealthcare.
>> chris: alexandra marks sent this -- >> chris: finally a number of you have been asking what soup my wife lorraine plans to serve next week. if you go to foxnewssunday.com you find the recipe for easter zucchini mint. a great way to start easter dinner. again, that's foxnewssunday.com. that's it for today. have a great week. we'll see you next "fox news have a great week. we'll see you next "fox news sunday." captioned by closed captioning services, inc