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The McLaughlin Group Host: John McLaughlin Panel: Patrick Buchanan, MSNBC; Eleanor Clift, Newsweek; Bruce Bartlett, NewYorkTimes.com; Mortimer Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report Taped: Friday, July 22, 2011 Broadcast: Weekend of July 23-24, 2011

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JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Big Deal or Big Fizzle.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) The problem we have now is we're in the 11th hour and we don't have a lot more time left.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The White House and congressional Republicans continue to argue this week over raising the debt ceiling; that is, the upper limit on the amount of money the U.S. federal government can borrow at this point in time. That limit now is $14 trillion.

The Treasury Department says the debt ceiling must be raised by August 2nd, one week midnight from Monday night. If the ceiling is not raised, the U.S. will not be able to pay its obligations, including defense spending, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid. The stalemate continues to center on taxes. President Obama wants a debt-ceiling deal to include tax hikes on wealthy Americans, but Republicans say tax hikes will hurt business investment and risk- taking, both of which mean more jobs, sorely needed with an unemployment rate of 9.2 percent.

But Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says President Obama wants to make government bigger instead of making investment, risk-taking and a competitive economy bigger. The Senate minority leader says that Mr. Obama wants big government, not a big economy.

SENATE MINORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): (From videotape.) Republicans have tried to persuade the president of the need for a course correction. But weeks of negotiations have shown that his commitment to big government is simply too great to lead to the kind of long-term reforms we need.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: When the negotiations started, President Obama was looking for a big deal, $4 trillion in spending cuts and tax hikes. Has the big deal turned into a big fizzle, Pat Buchanan?

PAT BUCHANAN: It has not, John. It did for a while, but now it is back. And we're talking about something close to a $4 trillion deal. The president is deep in negotiations with Boehner and Cantor.

And here basically are the terms, John. You raise the debt ceiling at the same time there are $3 trillion in cuts, and they deal with Social Security and Medicare. There is no revenue enhancement. However, you get together some kind of commission, which what it does, John, it drops tax rates in return for giving away these deductions, exemptions, allowances, breaks, which in effect is pure Reaganism.

And there's one problem with that. There's a penalty if nothing is done by the beginning -- by the end of 2012, the old Reagan tax rates for the wealthy go back into effect.

John, there's possibly a big deal for this reason. There is weeping and gnashing of teeth in the Democratic caucus in the Senate and in the House over what Obama is dealing with Boehner.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Boehner's got his problems too.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, Boehner -- I think Cantor is in on this deal, it appears. Of course, this is as of a certain point in time Friday.

ELEANOR CLIFT: The Republicans have blinked. Grover Norquist, who devised the tax pledge that 95 percent of Republicans in Congress have signed, has given a pass on some tax revenue hikes. And so there's suddenly more negotiating room on the revenue side. And the Democrats are now going to start squawking. But that's the way these deals unfold.

And I think if, after all this, they produce a mouse, it will be a total embarrassment for everyone. Already a lot of damage has been done -- the confidence in government in this country and around the world.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me get this in.

OK, invoking Reagan to save Obama. Please, give me a break.

Raising the debt ceiling has invoked the memory of the 40th president of the United States, Ronald Wilson Reagan. President Reagan raised the debt ceiling during his two-term presidency 17 times. Here's an example, in 1987, how Ronald Reagan badgered a Democratic Congress, both chambers, Senate and House, Democratic, into raising the debt ceiling. President Reagan then scolded the `87 Congress.

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: (From videotape.) Congress consistently brings the government to the edge of default before facing its responsibility. This brinkmanship threatens the holders of government bonds and those who rely on Social Security and veteran benefits. Interest rates would skyrocket. Instability would occur in financial markets, and the federal deficit would soar. The United States has a special responsibility to itself and the world to meet its obligations.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bruce Bartlett, you worked for Ronald Reagan. How did he handle the situation?

BRUCE BARTLETT: The debt-limit problems? Well, he had a big problem, as you just saw. And he also wrote a letter, that the Democrats are using, in 1983 begging the Congress to raise the debt limit. Every president has had this problem. It's often referred to as a tax on the party that happens to control the White House. It's just something you have to suck it up and do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did it work for Reagan?

MR. BARTLETT: Yes. Well, the debt limit has always been increased. We've increased it something like 100 times since 1917, and --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was there a payoff for the economy that was positive?

MR. BARTLETT: No. Well, there's not a negative. If we don't raise the debt limit, we have very, very serious problems. And it's absolutely essential that we raise it promptly. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: By 1987, Ronald Reagan had engineered a robust economic recovery that had generated 8 percent GDP growth and up to 400,000 new jobs a month. Obama, in contrast, has barely achieved 2 percent GDP growth this year, new jobs ranging from about 150,000 to as few as 18,000 a month.

When it comes to handling the economy, does President Obama have a credibility gap?

MR. BARTLETT: Well, he certainly inherited a much worse situation than Reagan did, although they both took office at a time of recession. The important critical difference was that Reagan took office in an inflationary situation, which made an enormous amount of difference in terms of how the economy coped.

Obama took office in a deflationary situation that has made Fed policy and other policies impotent.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort, the congressional Democratic committee is running an ad featuring Ronald Reagan as prototypical of what Obama is doing. Do you think that's legitimate?

MORTIMER ZUCKERMAN: Sure. Anything that works to any party is going to be legitimate. But let me read something to you and you tell me who said this. "The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of the leadership failure. Leadership means that the buck stops here. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who said that?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Barack Obama.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When did he say it?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: In 2006. So, you know, a lot of people are on both sides of this --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He was in the Senate.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes. He was in the Senate.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have conditions changed to justify his taking a reverse position now? MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's never been a big battle like this before. The Republicans did this. The tea party said, "This is the terrain on which we're going to fight, and we're going to get budget cuts."

MR. ZUCKERMAN: But there is a big issue here.

MR. BUCHANAN: They may have been wrong. It's a great battle, and they're going to win it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, what's the issue?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The big issue here is that we are in an unsustainable deficit position going forward. It is going to break the financial system of this country unless we get it under control. We've had the largest deficit ever, and it has not had the benefits in terms of the economy. We also have the worst unemployment numbers since the 1930s, and they're not getting better; they're getting worse.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it relieving --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The 18,000 number that you mentioned, which is the lowest job creation, was just this past month.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So it's 9.2 percent unemployment.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's 9.2 percent in the way they used to calculate unemployment. The unemployment number really is 16 to 18 percent. That's the real unemployment number.

MS. CLIFT: If we're going to compare --

MR. BUCHANAN: It's a disaster --

MS. CLIFT: If we're going to compare job creation, the eight years of George W. Bush was 800,000 jobs negative. The debt ceiling fight happens. It's a political football. And generally the Congresses go along. Whichever party is in power takes the hit. But people now see on both sides there is an opportunity here to get on top of the crisis we have in this country. And that's a good thing for both parties. And the --

MR. BUCHANAN: But the Republicans --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Pat.

The question is whether or not Obama speaks out of both sides of his mouth. You heard what Mort read, and you hear what he's saying now. You hear what he's saying now. What do you think of at least the vocal, the verbal inconsistency? MR. BARTLETT: Well, I think he came into office wanting to do a budget deal at some point, but he was prevented from doing so by the economic crisis. And now I think he's getting back to what he really always wanted to do. So I think he's -- it sounds like he's talking out of both sides of his mouth, but I think he's simply going with changing circumstances.

MR. BUCHANAN: But John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there anything wrong with that? Isn't that what a politician is supposed to do --

MR. BARTLETT: Absolutely. I think that's right. I think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- respect the conditions of the time?

MR. BARTLETT: Absolutely right.

MR. BUCHANAN: But the reality is, John, that the Republicans --

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

MR. BUCHANAN: There's no rap. He's -- look, he's -- you're right; he's a Nixonian. The rap on him is he is moving dramatically to the right. He's got $3 trillion in budget cuts.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: And there's no tax increases coming, but a commission to cut rates -- I mean, to reduce rates on taxes, get rid of loopholes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let's get out.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's a conservative --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can we get out of the algebra, please --

MR. BUCHANAN: It's a conservative reform. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and move on?

Exit question: Assuming Congress and the White House work out a deal, what kind of a deal will it be -- A, a big deal, as in $4 trillion in deficit reduction; B, a medium deal, $3 billion; C, a fizzle, meaning a short-term extension that kicks the can down the road? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's going to be between $3 (trillion) and $4 trillion. And as of now, it'll be a victory for the Republican Party.

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) That's what I was going to say. MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: The one thing we know is Pat will see it as a victory. I think each party will have to give up something here. And the leaders, John Boehner and the president, will be seen as historic partners in a deal that finally begins to try to deal with a deficit that was handed to this president.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bruce.

MR. BARTLETT: Three-trillion deal, no tax increases. Obama folds on the revenue issue. That gives the Republicans cover to vote for a (revenue ?) --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right on.

MR. BARTLETT: -- increase.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right on -- $3 trillion.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: In effect, both parties have to agree, because it's going to be tough enough across the board that unless you have bipartisanship on this thing, it'll never get done. So it's going to be in the range of $3 trillion, and it'll be a victory for both parties or a loss for both parties.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two: Rupert's Humble Pie.

RUPERT MURDOCH (News Corporation chairman and CEO): (From videotape.) This is the most humble day of my life.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his son James answered questions this week before members of the British Parliament. The Murdochs were grilled about accusations of cell phone hacking and bribery. Members wanted to know what the Murdochs knew and when they knew it. Murdoch was asked by members how and why these events occurred.

MR. MURDOCH: (From videotape.) I feel that people I trusted -- I'm not saying who; I don't know what level -- let me down. And I think they behaved disgracefully, betrayed the company and me. And it's for them to pay.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The case that most angered the public was that of Milly Dowler, the murdered 13-year-old school girl, in 2002, whose phone had been hacked. Murdoch himself introduced the Milly Dowler case. MR. MURDOCH: (From videotape.) Absolutely shocked, appalled and ashamed when I heard about the Milly Dowler case only two weeks ago, eight days before I saw that -- was graciously received by the Dowlers.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is the scandal now contained, or is it spreading? Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, it's certainly, to some extent, continuing -- let me put it this way -- because it's gone beyond the specifics of this hacking case. There is a sense that there is a culture of British journalism that is just always on the attack, and at any cost they are going to get some kind of a story or another. And in that sense, I think the -- and the role of the tabloids is hugely influential. The Sun, for example, has 20 percent of all British adults reading that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's got four tabloids.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah. He's got four newspapers. They're not all tabloids. I mean, the Sunday Times is not a tabloid and the Times is not. But they have huge influence on that country. They don't have the kind of ideological --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the point?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The point is that he is still enormously influential, and they're being very cautious in how they deal with him. But this has really changed the whole attitude of the British public to Murdoch.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Here's an example of it -- the U.K.'s prime minister, David Cameron.

The Parliament hearings began Tuesday when British Prime Minister David Cameron was on a four-nation trip to Africa. Cameron cut short the trip to return to address the Murdoch matter before Parliament. Cameron was asked whether he had discussed with Rebekah Brooks Murdoch's now-withdrawn $12 billion bid to acquire the mighty British Sky Broadcasting satellite system.

Rebekah Brooks was Murdoch's key person and the editor at the News of the World and a, quote-unquote, "personal friend" of the prime minister's.

DAVID CAMERON (United Kingdom prime minister): (From videotape.) That is why Rebekah Brooks was quite able to say at the House of Commons yesterday that there wasn't a single conversation that couldn't have taken place in front of the select committee.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is Cameron insulated by the fact that Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks were also extremely close to the Labour Party's prime minister, Gordon Brown? MR. ZUCKERMAN: No.

MS. CLIFT: No.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: (Laughs.) No.

MS. CLIFT: No, especially because Gordon Brown has come out and said that his medical records were hacked into for a young son with cystic fibrosis. And besides, the links that count are the ones that are current now. And Cameron is acting as though his government could fall. He's called for a very strong investigation. I think he'll probably survive, but he's on very shaky ground. He's in a coalition government --

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: They --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let Pat in.

MS. CLIFT: Let me finish my thought, please.

He's in a coalition government with a liberal party, and they're like two scorpions in the bottle. So the intrigue over there is really very entertaining.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, here's the key thing. First, I think the Murdoch papers -- some of these other newspapers that are non-Murdoch may have done similar things. That will be helpful. Secondly, the key question is, does this jump the Atlantic, where Rupert Murdoch's got The Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and Fox News?

Murdoch's enemies are trying to dig up anything that connects some crime over there, where they'll say the individuals over here -- that means it disqualifies them for having television stations.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will it connect?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think it's -- they're trying to bring it across the Atlantic, and I think they may succeed in a minor way.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There are two congressmen, and they both want hearings.

MR. BUCHANAN: Oh, they all -- you've got the FBI.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible.)

MR. BUCHANAN: John, the FBI is looking at it. The Justice Department is looking at it. You can bet every --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If there are hearings in the Congress, it's going to take a while to develop and go away. MR. BUCHANAN: Hearings aren't the problem.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right. The issue is whether or not there is a criminal offense --

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- and a criminal conviction in England, at which point it's going to affect the ability to own stations --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on. Go ahead.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, you cannot in the United States own TV stations if there's a criminal conviction. If Fox or News Corp. is held to have a criminal conviction, it'll threaten this particular situation. I don't believe that will happen, but that's certainly a risk that is out there.

MR. BUCHANAN: The empire's at risk.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Particularly as far as Cameron is concerned, I just want to make one point. Murdoch's people met with Cameron 26 times in one year. That's what makes him vulnerable.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you have thoughts on this?

MR. BARTLETT: I think it's important to understand that newspapers in Britain play a very different role than they do here, because you don't have paid political advertising. You cannot run for office in Britain without the support of a major newspaper chain. Everybody needs Murdoch's support. I think that eventually this is just going to fade away. I really do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you remember the phrase "willful blindness" in connection with Enron crimes?

MR. BARTLETT: Yes. It's looking the other way.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think willful blindness will obtain in the case of prosecuting and perhaps convicting Rupert --

MR. BARTLETT: They may try.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and his son?

MR. BARTLETT: They may try, but -- MR. BUCHANAN: I don't think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Willful blindness.

MR. BUCHANAN: I don't think Rupert has any --

MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible.)

MR. BUCHANAN: Hold it, Eleanor.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on.

MR. BUCHANAN: I don't think Rupert, as of now, has any kind of criminal liability whatsoever.

MS. CLIFT: My experience --

MR. BUCHANAN: The people who have a problem, they're below him.

MS. CLIFT: My experience as a journalist is when you have a hot story, the editor and the people above say, "How'd you get that?" It's going to be very difficult to insulate the people at the top if these allegations prove true.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's see if we can squeeze this in.

Issue Three: Shuttle Over and Out.

CHRISTOPHER FERGUSON (Shuttle Atlantis commander): Thank you, Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Endeavor, and our ship, Atlantis. Thank you for protecting us and bringing this program to such a fitting end.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Before daylight Thursday morning, Atlantis, the U.S. space shuttle, returned to earth. This landing brings the curtain down on the NASA space shuttle, a 30-year program. It began with NASA's first shuttle launch, April 12, 1981, 30 years ago.

Last year President Obama gave NASA a new space challenge: Launching American astronauts on space exploration journeys to asteroids and eventually to Mars, all to be engineered through the private sector. NASA will provide limited seed money to the private sector.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) So the point is what we're looking for is not just to continue on the same path. We want to leap into the future. We want major breakthroughs, a transformative agenda for NASA.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The space private sector is not wasting any time, picking up where the U.S. space shuttle left off. For example, a California corporation, Exploration Technologies, that calls itself SpaceX, already has a NASA contract worth $1.6 billion. SpaceX has developed a capsule called Dragon and a rocket called Falcon 9. Private-sector companies like SpaceX are keeping NASA alive and in space. President Obama hopes that partnering with the private sector will shorten American dependence on Russian vehicles, which we must now use absent the shuttle.

Question: Is it a good idea to outsource American space exploration by giving NASA contracts to the private sector? I ask you, Bruce.

MR. BARTLETT: Yes, I do. The important thing about NASA was manned space flight, which adds enormously to the cost. You can do a lot of stuff on the cheap, and we ought to be doing it.

MS. CLIFT: Right. They farmed out the heavy-lift capacity. And while it would be lovely if the government had all the money to fund this themselves, the money is not there. And this is the only way to keep space exploration going forward. It's reality.

MR. BUCHANAN: You know, from Alan Shepard, John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Aren't we supposed to go to the moon --

MR. BUCHANAN: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and colonize the moon?

MS. CLIFT: Not you and me.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wasn't that part of the deal?

MS. CLIFT: Not you and me, John. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If we don't do it, the Chinese will. You know that.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'll tell you what, why don't we wait for the Chinese to do it and then we'll figure out where we want to go?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait for the Chinese to colonize the moon.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely. They can --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, there you are -- an alternate view.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: They can develop agriculture all over China -- all over the moon, as far as I'm concerned.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Four: Consumer Reports.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) The fact is, the financial crisis and the recession were not the result of normal economic cycles or just a run of bad luck. They were abuses. And there was a lack of smart regulations. So we're not just going to shrug our shoulders and hope it doesn't happen again.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the CFPB -- that's how President Obama intends to prevent another great recession. The new CFPB's mandate is to protect consumers by preventing unfair, deceptive or abusive business practices. The bureau will oversee credit-card companies, mortgage lenders and lending banks.

President Obama says that instead of going to existing oversight entities -- the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or the Department of Housing and Urban Development -- the CFPB will be a one-stop shop for consumer protection.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) We cut the bureaucracy and put one consumer watchdog in charge, with just one job: Looking out for regular people in the financial system.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But conservatives say the CFPB is BFB -- bad for business. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the largest business lobby in the world, says that the bureau will crack down on businesses. That means fewer choices for consumers. So says the U.S. Chamber of Commerce senior vice president, David Hirschmann.

DAVID HIRSCHMANN (U.S. Chamber of Commerce): (From videotape.) We think consumers benefit from having choice. And by creating legal jeopardy, you reduce the choices consumers have.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that President Obama is more motivated by winning the election two years or a year and a half from now in the formation of this board, which is pro-consumer? And you saw the way he described what he described. Do you think it was -- this is a political contrivance more than it is a substantive contrivance or substantive idea?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I'm sure there's always a small amount of politics involved in all of these things. But there is a real issue here, and that is, a lot of the consumers, particularly in terms of credit-card loans, interest rates that were overcharged, fees that were added on to those things, we're frankly unaware of the cost that they would be facing. And it was, I have to say, an abuse on the part of a lot of people in the financial world. And I think this is intended to address that, and I think quite legitimately.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort, there's no oversight for this group, as things stand now, which is why the Republicans are fighting it. They want an oversight board. They want the bureau's budget to be set by congressional appropriation and bank regulators such as the Federal Reserve, FDIC or comptroller of the currency to have veto power over anything the CFPB does.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Isn't that reasonable?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Everything is reasonable. But I don't think it is reasonable, because, in fact, it will not work in that format.

MS. CLIFT: That's right.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: There really is some -- there really has been some serious abuse going on. If you saw the interest rates and the fees that were charged on the consumers, it really was an outrage. And I think this is a response to that, and a legitimate response.

MS. CLIFT: Mort is exactly right. (Laughs.) And the reason that this agency is popular with consumers is that they know that they don't have a voice in Washington. And Elizabeth Warren became that voice. And in more normal times, the president should have been able to appoint her to -- this commission was her idea. She has been creating it for the last year. But she can't get nominated, because Republicans have turned her into the devil lady. She's calm. She's smart. She's nice. If you spent two minutes with --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the Republican objection to her?

MS. CLIFT: They want to do away with the agency. They don't want this kind of scrutiny. They want to go back to what they were doing before. And they've done it, some extent.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They think that she is irretrievably left wing.

MR. BUCHANAN: She's gone, John.

MR. BARTLETT: She's gone.

MR. BUCHANAN: She's gone. She's not going to be there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I know. But she's made the appointees already to the CFPB or whatever.

MR. BUCHANAN: Obama's made his appointment.

MS. CLIFT: Irretrievably left wing?

MR. BUCHANAN: But Republicans want to hold it up because they want it to be a board, you know -- three Democrats and two Republicans --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right. MR. BUCHANAN: -- things like that, running it rather than this single individual. Look, there does need to be some regulation. But these agencies tend, after they do their initial good work, to be a real burden and a weight on business. It costs more than the benefits you receive.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This goes right back to Mitch McConnell. The federal government is too big with these bureaucracies, regulatory agencies. It's herniating all over the place.

MR. BUCHANAN: They should sunset them, John. They should be there for five years and then go out.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Could you speak to this quickly, Bruce?

MR. BARTLETT: Republicans need to kill this in the crib because they're afraid it might become politically popular in the future.

MS. CLIFT: Right. And they're afraid it might work. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would you encourage them to do so on merits?

MS. CLIFT: No.

MR. BARTLETT: No, I think it's a meritorious organization.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yet another agency --

MR. BARTLETT: It's a combination of existing agencies, essentially.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- that is on its own, free to do what they want.

MS. CLIFT: Bruce is a voice of reason, John. I hope you have him back.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, after Greece, Portugal and Ireland, there's another country that's going to have real problems and need a bailout, and it's a member of the Eurozone -- Cyprus.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Elizabeth Warren didn't get the appointment to head the consumer commission that she created, but I think there's a very good shot that she will run for the Senate in Massachusetts.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Interesting.

Bruce. MR. BARTLETT: Rick Perry will be on the Republican ticket next year because the Republicans haven't won an election since 1972 without a Texan on the ticket.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can Perry defeat Obama?

MR. BARTLETT: No.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The unemployment rate is going to continue to get worse, and this is going to put Obama's political future in great jeopardy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, mortgage giants, will stay in existence, but Congress will reform them.

Bye bye.

END.