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Special Report Roundtable - November 2

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the Democrats take control of the House, Charlie Rangel would be chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.


He would be in position to block any legislation coming out of the committee. And if there's no tax legislation (INAUDIBLE), every tax rate will go back up to the old level.


HUME: And he's not the only potential chairman that Republicans are worried about if the Democrats get control of the House and they're campaigning against some of those people right now, Charlie Rangel, being just one of them.

Some thoughts about this now from of Michael Barone, senior writer at U.S. News and World Report; Mort Kondracke, executive editor of Roll Call; and Nina Easton, Washington bureau chief of Fortune magazine -- FOX NEWS contributors, all.

Well, what about some of these -- so, let's spell this out a little bit. We can assume, I suppose, that all of the things being equal, if Democrats get control of the House, Nancy Pelosi is likely to become speaker, Charlie Rangel becomes the head of the Ways and Means Committee. And who else gets where?

MORT KONDRACKE, ROLL CALL: Well, John Conyers, who is about as liberal as anybody in American politics, becomes chairman of the Judiciary Committee. John Dingell.

HUME: John -- tell us a little -- just a moment. John Conyers is who?

KONDRACKE: John Conyers has already proposed preliminary inquiries leading to the possibility of impeachment of the president.

HUME: All right. And who else.

KONDRACKE: Now, I think that -- yeah, I don't think that that will actually happen.

HUME: Who gets the Intelligence Committee?


MICHAEL BARONE, U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT: Well, that's the question because the current ranking of the Intelligence Committee, Jane Harman, took a line that wasn't as leftward as a lot of the other Democrats, at least until...

HUME: She hasn't been particularly partisan for years.

BARONE: Well, she become more partisan, she had a tough Democratic primary where she only won by 62-38 last June. That's a lot -- small margin for an incumbent congressman that's been in that district most of the time since 1992. So, she's moved left.

But Nancy Pelosi's move, reported everywhere, is that she's going to put in Alcee Hastings. And there was a tough column in yesterday's Washington Post by Ruth Marcus, who's a editorial writer and a -- I would say -- fair to say a liberal columnist by and large, but she's a good reporter. And Ruth Marcus talked about Alcee Hastings, who Nancy Pelosi wants to put in there, he was a federal judge in the 1980s who was impeached by the House and removed from office by the Senate.

HUME: For.

BARONE: For bribery.

HUME: Then he got elected to the House.

BARONE: Then he got elected to the House.

HUME: And he's gotten elected ever since.


BARONE: .in 1992. Now, you know, Ruth Marcus said she actually covered the impeachment trial in the Senate and the impeachment proceedings and she says she has no doubt that he actually was in a bribe -- was in a bribe situation, but now we're putting a man who was removed from office for bribery by a Democratic Congress, by the way, in -- as the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Interesting.

NINA EASTON, FORTUNE MAGAZINE: I would just add, though, to Dick Cheney's spooky Halloween scenario of the week, that legislatively, the president still has veto power, so even if you talk about Charlie Rangel.

HUME: Yeah, but that doesn't extend the tax cuts.

EASTON: But tax cuts doesn't expire until 2010. That's a ways away, those Bush tax cuts have.

HUME: And we'll have a presidential election and the chance to.

EASTON: Exactly. And the other thing to keep in mind, I think there will be incredibly fierce oversight by Henry Waxman who will use the Government Reform Committee to go after Vice President Cheney's Energy Tax Force. He's going to bring in bill -- big oil executives and so on...

BARONE: As he brought in the big to tobacco executives when he was a chairman -- subcommittee chairman in 1994.

EASTON: That's right. Yeah. And got them to claim that they didn't believe nicotine was addicting.

HUME: Mort, go ahead.

KONDRACKE: Yeah, OK, look, on all kinds of spending issues, homeland security, education, health research, energy research, the Democrats are going to want to spend a lot of money -- a lot more money than the Republicans would.

HUME: And the president can block that with a veto.

KONDRACKE: Yeah, he can, but except that -- OK, how are they going to pay for that because they're talking about deficit reduction. Now, Charlie Rangel is saying that the place they're going to get it by empowering the IRS to collect -- fill the so-called tax gap, uncollected taxes, which supposedly amount to $350 billion a year. But there's going to be a lot of pressure to raise taxes on rich people because they also want to eliminate the.

HUME: But, you can't get that much money that way.

KONDRACKE: Well, they want -- well, they're going to try and one of the ideas around, and which, again, the president can veto, it to raise the capital gains rate back to the ordinary income rate. I mean, there's a lot of sentiment among the Democrats that under income should be taxed at the same rate as earned income.

EASTON: Nancy Pelosi said this week that was off the table, actually. She said they wouldn't tax that. And I think part of what we're seeing now is people like -- Nancy Pelosi, in particular, knows that they're auditioning for 2008. Are we credible enough to take back the White House? And I think we're seeing a little bit, at least this week, sort of a trimming of the sails on some of their positions.


HUME: What about -- one of the issue I want to as you all about, in particular. What about immigration reform? Now, the president's immigration plan, was much closer to that that came out of the Senate, which the Republicans in the House wouldn't hear of, what about if you get a Democratic House and a similar Senate would he be able to pass something?

KONDRACKE: Well you'd think there would be a greater chance, except if the AFL-CIO hates the idea of guest workers. And if the Democrats in the House are towing the line, they won't include that and I think that that will be.

HUME: If Democrats get the House.

BARONE: If John Conyers will be chairman of the Judiciary Committee which handles immigration, I think you'll see leading ranking members on that Judiciary Committee, Howard Berman and Barney Frank, who would tend to favor the Senate approach to immigration. And they're both very capable people who -- and Berman has spent a lot of time on the immigration issue, I expect that they would be pushing for something like the bill that passed the Senate this year with guest worker legalization provisions to come before the House. And it would have -- it would tend to have a majority of votes in the Democratic House, I think.

HUME: One last question to all of you. Let's assume the Democrats get the House, leaving the Senate out of the equation, and do what we think they'll do, how does that play for '08?


HUME: Nina, does that make it easier for the Republicans to come back in '08, harder, what?

EASTON: Well, that's hard to predict.

HUME: I know, if it was easy I'd do it.

EASTON: I know. I think, first of all, we'll see in the raise in the minimum wage, we'll see an immigration bill, and we'll see -- we will see the Democrats trying to place themselves better than they are now for `08.

KONDRACKE: I think they will try -- they are going to try to be sensible in order to pave the way for '08. Although '08 really depends on who the presidential candidate is.

HUME: I know, but what do you think?

KONDRACKE: Well, I think they will restrain themselves. Like, they won't impeach the president, you know, like the Republicans did Clinton...

HUME: What do you think -- Michael.

BARONE: Well, a lot of the liberal senior Democrats will try to push some things that might not be good for the party in `08, or at least questionable. I think `08 will pose the question of taxes, because these tax cuts are due to expire in 2010, and we'll be choosing, not only a new Congress, but also a new president.

HUME: Gotcha. Next, on SPECIAL REPORT, Kim Jong-il's government's agreed to return to talks and at ending his nuclear aspirations. What about that? We'll talk about that next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've always felt like it is important for the United States to be at the table with other partners when it comes time to addressing this important issue. And so I thank not only the Chinese, but the South Koreas, the Japanese, and the Russians to agreeing to come back to the table with North Korea.


HUME: And the subject, of course, is North Korea's nuclear ambitions and nuclear weapons program, uranium enrichment to be specific, and the president has succeeded or at least the administration has succeed, as the president's had a lot of help of getting the North, at least, to come back to the table to discuss the matter. Something the North said it would not do, now has agreed to do. How important a diplomatic victory, if important at all is this? What are the likely consequences -- Nina.

EASTON: Well, I think it's a lessen that carrots as well as sticks word, because what was saw was the administration putting the financial squeeze on the regime earlier this year followed by this nuclear test. What's happened since then is things that brought North Korea back to the table -- bilateral discussions, if you want to call it that, direct face- to-face discussions between North Korean officials and top State Department official.

HUME: On the sidelines.

EASTON: On the sidelines, exactly.

HUME: But, that's been going on for awhile. That's happened before. That's not new.

EASTON: But we had this important six-hour meeting and we had U.N. sanctions and we worked with the Chinese and the Chinese put the pressure on North Korea.

HUME: It sounds like more sticks than carrots to me.

EASTON: Well, you've got -- you've got -- you need both, and I think that's the lesson when you are dealing with Tehran, as well.

HUME: Which did this -- carrots, sticks or both.

KONDRACKE: Well, I can't believe it wasn't the Chinese saying, at a minimum, get back to these talks. I mean, the Chinese were humiliated by the nuclear test. It's significant there hasn't been another nuclear test, which the Koreans -- North Koreas were working themselves up to.

However, will they give up their nuclear program in these talks? You know, I don't think so. And furthermore, what the North Koreas want at the top of the agenda is these financial sanctions that we have imposed on their money laundering of their ill-gotten gains from counterfeiting our $100 bills and selling heroin and selling missile parts around the world.

So, the North Koreas are going to want to discuss the discussions on the financial sanctions issue and we've got to say uh-uh, you know, we'll talk about financial sanctions if you give up your nuclear program. I don't know if we can make that deal.

BARONE: Well, I think it's something of a vindication of President Bush's approach. I was one of several columnist that met with him at the White House last week and he talked about, you know, how we try to work diplomacy, try to persuade other people, like China to persuade people that are really adversary to us, like North Korea, to do something. And that seems to have been successful. I think the sticks of the financial, cutting down this bank in that Macau was important. Apparently it cuts off their supply of brandy and luxury goods that the North Korean nomenklatura likes to have. But there's still an awful lot of tough work ahead, as Mort says. But we didn't have much.

HUME: Does this silence the critics who said that what was missing here was the element of bilateral face-to-face diplomacy and that it was a mistake not to engage in that? The administration never really did except for the talks that Nina mentioned which are on the sidelines of the multi- lateral talks. Quickly.

BARONE: They probably won't silence them, but the fact is they have been proven wrong because North Korea has come to the table. The question now can we use that Chinese pressure farther -- South Korea to get them to give up the nukes?

KONDRACKE: There are some hawks that say that isolation is the only thing that works. I think that this vindicates the Condi Rice-George Bush approach diplomacy.

For more visit the FOX News Special Report web page.

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