Transcript: “The Intelligence Report” on Daily WH Press Briefing

TRISH REGAN, “THE INTELLIGENCE REPORT” HOST: All right. A lot of different topics covered there with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. He is just wrapping up his daily press briefing and had to go a whole weekend without talking to him. He addressed a lot of the issues, including the international issues that are on the table right now as well as health care, the spending bill that would fund the government through September, a whole lot of things.

I’m Trish Regan. Welcome, everyone, to The Intelligence Report. Congressional leader are agreeing on a bipartisan spending package that ransom funding for national defense and border security, also protecting the (inaudible) institutions, places like EPA, Planned Parenthood, and sanctuary cities. But many are wondering whether the Republicans gave away too much.

Right here joining me right now is American Majority CEO, Ned Ryun, Democratic Strategist Don Calloway, Former Bush Adviser Brad Blakeman. Good to have all of you guys here.


REGAN: I’ll start with you, Don, are you happy with the deal?

CALLOWAY: I’m extremely happy with the deal, and I think for the most part, it means, hey, welcome to D.C .President Obama — excuse me President Trump.

REGAN: (Inaudible) but it’s OK.

CALLOWAY: Thank you. Welcome to D.C. President Trump and not candidate Trump. This spending package is the triumph of the pragmatic experience of Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell over the campaign bomb of President Trump. And what we see here is them knowing that very realistically some things and some concessions are going to have to be made, even to the most liberal of Democrats in order to keep the government from shutting down, which would inevitably be blamed on the Republican Party and have some serious midterm ramifications, which they weren’t willing to accept.

So the President took it on the chin here, but it’s probably for the best of his party overall.

REGAN: Well, you know, that’s an interesting and refreshing sort of viewpoint.

I know, Ned, you’re kind of shaking your head. You probably feel like the Republicans gave up more than they needed to. But, you know, isn’t this the man who is the Art of the Deal? Isn’t he showing the world that he is willing to work with both sides here?

NED RYUN, AMERICAN MAJORITY CEO: Well, I’m realistic. I mean, again, it’s the 2017 continuing resolution gets us through the end of September. You know, there’s five months in here. I like the fact that he got $21 billion for defense spending in, which includes, Trish, the largest pay raise for the military in the last six years, so that’s a positive. You know, the $1.5 billion towards border security, that’s great.

We’re disappointed, again, that he couldn’t have put in a little bit more money to start the building of the wall. I do think he’s serious about this, by the way, of building of the wall. We have to be realistic, again, 2018 budget will probably reflect that. It’s going to be a big bill. Probably $21.6 billion to fund that border wall. I think that —

REGAN: I don’t know. By the way, — I’m just going to jump in, Ned. You say you think he’s serious. I think he’s serious too, and I think if he’s not serious, the voter is going to revolt. I mean, there are people that put him in the office specifically because they wanted to see — this is what his whole campaign was about, the economy, et cetera, but also that wall.

RYUN: If you were to narrow it down to three things that Trump really ran on, the border wall, repealing Obamacare, and putting in conservative supreme court justices. So he’s gotten the Supreme Court Justice in, I do think this has going to be a health care vote this week, I think you’re going to get most of the Freedom Caucus guys on board, you’ll get a bill passed, and then you’re going to be dealing with the border wall.

We know the Department of Homeland Security is already accepting hundreds of proposals. They’re already saying that they’re going to demonstrate some of the prototypes in San Diego this summer. So when I look at this $1.5 billion, I know he’s going down that path. 2018 budget, I think, will reflect that. You know, the other thing that’s —

REGAN: I think there’s something here for everyone. I mean, I got you and Don in agreement here, so there is some positive to that. Let me continue this health care thought, though and go over to Brad for a moment. What do you see as the most significant differences between what we had before and what this one is and, Brad, do you really believe it’s going to get done in the Freedom Caucus now is miraculously gotten onboard?

BRAD BLAKEMAN, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR: Look, they have to get it done. There is no choice. 2017 must be year of action because 2018 with the midterms is going to be a year of reflection and report card by the American people. The most important thing that’s happening with this new health care is pushing the responsibility down to the stage, making it a true marketplace. And the federal government will be a backstop. It won’t be the ultimate insurer of policies around the country. So let’s get more marketplace competition.

REGAN: OK. Do you feel like this does that, though? I mean —


REGAN: — when you look at what we’re going to be potentially putting into action, it’s expected to be voted on as early as Wednesday versus what was there, how confident are you that this is better system? Because you know what? If it’s not, Republicans are going to pay the price.

BLAKEMAN: Well, look, Democrats remind me of the arsonist who gets mad when the Fire Department shows up. They should be thanking the Republicans for solving this problem that they brought on the American people. By making it a more fair-based marketplace solution, creating more competition, selling across state lines, letting the states decide, every state is different in their economy and population. I think it’s a better solution. It’s certainly a heck of a lot better than what we have, which is doomed for failure.

RYUN: Trish?

REGAN: Go ahead.

RYUN: No, and I would say the Freedom Caucus guys have really gotten to — they feel like the bill has gotten to a much better place, I’ve talked with some of them. They feel much better about this than the first iteration, which they did not feel good about, so I do think you’re going to see something happen this week, we know it has to happen to get to tax reform, which is really exciting, that we’re really thinking be huge for the economy.

REGAN: Listen, that is major. That is massive. And, Don, you know, Wall Street is expecting it. Wall Street wants it. And, you know, I’m looking on the market right now that’s still in — positive territory barely, but in positive territory. This market has been on a tear since Donald Trump was elected. In fact, it’s basically the biggest run up of any president since Election Day. The first — actually, the first 100 days I should point out, anyone since what the second term of FDR.

So people are betting on this. There is an expectation level that’s set quite high tax reform is coming through if they don’t get it, they’re going to be really unhappy. So is this another one in your view that much like the wall, and I know you don’t agree with it, but the wall and health care reform, I mean, he ran on these promises. If he doesn’t get it, what happens?

CALLOWAY: If he doesn’t get it, there will be massive electoral ramifications for the Republican Party in 2018, much to the benefit of the Democratic Party. However, I remain skeptical about tax reform. We know that there’s a bipartisan desire here in Washington, D.C. to lower the corporate tax rate, to keep America competitive with the rest of the industrialized world.

However, President Trump and Secretary Mnuchin, a bullet pointed one pager is simply and not substantive enough to get us there. If you consider the last time the tax code was overhauled 1986, the seeds of that reform were planted in 1979, 1980, ’81, it takes a long time to get here. And they’ve been working on this iteration of tax reform at least for the last five years since I’ve been a federal lobbyist. It takes time and there’s no guarantee that it’s going to happen in this calendar year. And next year as my colleagues know will move into a lame duck session, so —

REGAN: Yeah, that’s — it’s tricky when you go into next year, and you got elections to worry about, et cetera. But I am hopeful to your point, this is one that we’ve been working on for a while and perhaps you can bring Democrats and Republicans together because you know what? We need to be more competitive and corporate taxes are a big part of that. Thank you so much. It’s good to see all of you. Ned, Brad, and Don.

RYUN: Thanks for having us.