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Capital Gang

Orrin Hatch Discusses Bush's Cabinet Picks, Campaign Finance Reform and the Economy

Aired January 6, 2001 - 7:00 p.m. ET


ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, THE CAPITAL GANG.

MARK SHIELDS, HOST: Welcome to a one-hour edition of CAPITAL GANG. I'm Mark Shields, with Al Hunt, Robert Novak and Margaret Carlson. Our guest is Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, the man we expect to be the future chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

It's good to have you back, Orrin.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: Well, I'm happy to be with you people. It's a -- it's a rare experience.

SHIELDS: Thank you very much. Corporate leaders were invited to Austin by President-Elect Bush for a closed-door economic forum.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: A lot of folks in this room brought some pretty bad news: that their sales are slowing; that they're having to trim back their work force; and tax relief -- meaningful, fair tax relief -- will be a stimulus.


SHIELDS: During the meeting, the Federal Reserve ordered an unexpected, major cut in interest rates.


BUSH: I'm pleased that the Fed has cut the interest rates. I think the cut was needed.


SHIELDS: Meanwhile, the Democratic leader of the U.S. House suggested he, himself, is open to bigger tax cuts.


REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO), MINORITY LEADER: We realize that because of the enlarged forecasts of the surplus and because of the slowdown in the economy that we've got to look at revising, perhaps, the kind of amounts that we were looking at before. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: Bob Novak, is Alan Greenspan saving the economy without tax cuts?

ROBERT NOVAK, "THE CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": No; you can't have a prosperous economy with taxes this high and with interest rates this high indefinitely. It's a tremendous burden. Now what is interesting to me is that 10 days ago, the chairman of the Fed had the purchasing agents information that he based this cut on his hands. He cut the rates then.

He didn't cut the rates two weeks ago when the Federal Open Market Committee met, but he made a huge mistake. They had been tightening up, six consecutive rate increases, and he saw that these businessmen were going down to Austin, behind closed doors. They were knocking him, saying the economy was bad, and so he was very political and cut the rates. But let's not venerate him. He was playing politics like everybody does this town. It was too late on the interest cuts and now we need tax cuts.

SHIELDS: Al Hunt, does Bob Novak make sense?

AL HUNT, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": You know, I'm just stunned. Bob has suddenly had an epiphany. He says the economy is not doing very well, so we need tax cuts. Isn't that strange, Bob? You've been saying for last seven years Bob, when we had the same tax rates, Robert, and we had the best economy in your lifetime. We have had an unprecedented prosperity over seven or eight years, so I don't know what Bob means by so long.

As for Alan Greenspan, I would bet -- I would pit his timing on interest rates and his sense of what the economy needs versus Robert Novak, who told us in 1993 we're heading into recession.

Bob, you were 7 1/2 years ahead of your time. You're incredibly prescient. What we don't know is a tax cut that just favors the rich. We don't need anymore Novak yachts. If we need a tax cut, which we probably do need, we need to focus on middle and working class Americans, Mark.

SHIELDS: Orrin Hatch, I have to ask you: This tax cut of -- that Governor Bush ran on, could take office on, doesn't really help the economy until the latter years. That's when the real cuts kick in. So, I mean, if we're really talking about boosting the economy, we need something other than the Bush tax cut, don't we?

HATCH: Well, we're still being helped in the economy from the Reagan tax cuts. Cut the marginal tax rates from 70 percent down to 28 percent. They're now up to 41 percent and they're too high. Now, the Bush tax cuts are very fair. They cut the top level from 39 percent down to 33, then 25, 15, and 10; and to be honest with you, that'd make a real difference and we should make them retroactive to January 1st.

If we did that and also had the interest rate reductions, I've got to tell, there'd be the incentives -- there would be the incentives in this economy to help us to keep going. But if we don't do that, we're going to find some real problems.

Just look at the stock market. Almost every company is coming in today with lower earnings than they had projected and I think we can turn that all around if we have the incentives right. And Bob Novak's has been right on these things, if we don't cut marginal tax rates, we're going to be in real difficulty.

SHIELDS: Orrin Hatch, you made a lot of sense until that last sentence at which point...


HUNT: You lost us.

HATCH: I get so tired of this bigotry against poor Bob Novak, I'll tell you, on this program.

NOVAK: It's nice to have one friend on this program.

MARGARET CARLSON, "TIME" MAGAZINE: If you think he's been right on this, you haven't been watching the show, Orrin. That's the problem.

SHIELDS: Margaret.

CARLSON: Listen, when you say that because of the tax burden we haven't had a prosperous economy -- we've had a prosperous economy. You just won't grant that to Clinton and Greenspan; you can't bear to do it.

HATCH: We have, but most people think we're not having one now and we're heading into a recession or at least they don't -- there's no question about a downturn. There's no question the stock market's been hit very badly.

So, what do you do? Just sit here and say, oh, we need to increase taxes more or we need to have these people keep paying these high rates of taxes when we have projected -- projected surpluses of -- some are saying as high as $5 trillion over 10 years. If that's so, a $1.6 trillion tax cut seems to me to be to be a wise thing because I guarantee you, our wonderful friends in Congress will spend every dime of it if we don't do it and we'll spend it on things that will do a lot less for the economy than a tax cut.

SHIELDS: What we're going to do right now is listen to Margaret.

CARLSON: Let us use that to pay down the debt, as Alan Greenspan has suggested, rather than on a tax cut. The reason that Bob Novak and Bush cannot listen to Alan Greenspan, who by the way, I would venerate for the economy these last eight years, is because Bush remembers what happened to his dad and so he cannot see clearly Alan Greenspan's genius because Greenspan didn't cut rates in time for Bush to win reelection...

SHIELDS: In 1992.

CARLSON: In 1992. The Bushes have never forgiven that. The fact that he has this record for the last eight years when he's kept inflation low and the economy good doesn't get in because he just can't hear it.

NOVAK: Let me respond to all the abuse I've been taking. You know, when I find left-wing journalists who play the class struggle who don't like the people who are the productive elements of society getting some kind of relief from the onerous and oppressive tax cuts, when they say their hero is Alan Greenspan, I wonder about Alan Greenspan, who used to be a great free market, gold standard Republican.

Now, let me tell you this right now, that the people who were behind closed doors in Austin were outraged at the fact that 10 days ago, or two weeks ago, when the Federal Open Market Committee met and there was this all this evidence that we were in huge economic trouble, that they didn't act, he acted politically when he saw that he was going to get abused by people like Jack Welch of GE.

And I'll tell you one other thing, when you have a president- elect making a comment that it was a good action by the Fed to cut rates, you know what that means? That means he is ending the eight years of no comment on the Fed. So, we're going to have the president of the United States looking at the Fed and saying, it's a good action or it's a bad action.

HUNT: A broken clock is right twice a day, and Bob's last observation is right. That's the only thing that is right of what he just said, the idea that Alan Greenspan would be intimidated by Jack Welch is kind of ludicrous after 13 years at the Fed.

Those people behind closed doors in Austin, by the way Mark, all of them except one of whom were campaign contributors to George W. Bush. It's amazing the way he selective picked those business leaders down in Austin, and I would suggest that their record of economy over the last eight years is not as good as some other people's, Mark.

SHIELDS: I think the case can be made for a tax cut, but I'll have to say this: One that is overwhelmingly aimed at the upper income, at the top income is indefensible, is truly indefensible and I think, Bob, if you think about it in terms of social philosophy and economic justice you'll agree.


NOVAK: Karl Marx would agree with that.

SHIELDS: Orrin Hatch and the gang will be back with increasing controversy in Cabinet selections.


SHIELDS: Welcome back. President-Elect Bush named his final three Cabinet secretaries. Former Congressman Norman Mineta, secretary of commerce in the Clinton years, became the only Democrat in the Bush Cabinet as secretary of transportation. The other two choices are more controversial. Former Senator Spencer Abraham of Michigan was nominated as secretary of energy. He was attacked by the Sierra Club during his unsuccessful reelection campaign last year.


NARRATOR: Great Lakes pollution is closing our beaches, poisoning our fish and threatening our drinking water. But instead of helping, Senator Spencer Abraham has voted against clean water and the Great Lakes.


SHIELDS: The nominee for secretary of labor, syndicated columnist and Republican activist Linda Chavez, was assailed by organized labor. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said, quote: "We are extremely disappointed and disturbed. It is an insult to American working men and woman to an avowed opponent of the most basic workers' rights in charge of enforcing the federal laws and regulations," end quote.

Democratic Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, who will chair Chavez's Labor Committee confirmation hearings, said he is, quote, "concerned about her record on civil rights and labor rights," end quote. Margaret Carlson, is either Linda Chavez or Spence Abraham in trouble for Senate confirmation?

CARLSON: Spence Abraham is not in trouble. The Sierra Club and environmental groups have Gale Norton to go after. Her environmental record is far worse than his. Also, he's a senator, so he'll get senatorial courtesy, and he's a good guy. He's not a polarizing figure.

Now, a polarizing figure is secretary nominee -- Labor Secretary- nominee Chavez. She, in fact, is so against the minimum wage increase that she calls it a Marxist plot, redistribution of income. She falls back on the fact that her father was a painter and her mother was waitress, but she's totally against, you know, working people. She's on the record for it again and again, and, I think, you know, labor will fight her tooth and nail...

SHIELDS: Orrin Hatch...

CARLSON: And should.

SHIELDS: Oh, excuse me. Orrin Hatch, you will sit there as the soon-to-be chairman again of the Judiciary Committee. Now that you're the ranking minority member for 17 days, what's going to happen?

HATCH: Well, Linda Chavez is an exceptionally fine person. You know, she came up through the union movement, as did I, and the union movement has moved far away from her. She was once the assistant to Albert Shanker, who was a friend of mine, by the way, who was head of the American Federation of Teachers. She is a wonderful Hispanic woman. She is very, very bright. She has a lot on the ball. I see all these articles that she's against affirmative actions. She's not against affirmative action. She's against quotas. She's against unjustified preferences that could be pitted -- pitting once group against another and lead to total disorganization of our society and disorientation of society.

She's a terrific, intellectual person who has union background, who just happens to be more conservative than John Sweeney. But who isn't? I mean, my gosh, John Sweeney has made the union movement, with 40 percent of them Republicans, into an arm of the Democratic Party and he's using really hundreds of millions of dollars in these election processes to elect only Democrats and I think, what do you expect from him? I mean, that's just is way he is.

SHIELDS: Well, I have to say -- I have to say Orrin Hatch would vote against John Sweeney's confirmation and for Linda Chavez.

HATCH: If John Sweeney was nominated by a Democrat president I'd probably support him because he is a fine man, but he does -- he is partisan, extremely partisan, and to take off after one of the best Hispanic nominees in a long, long time, I think, would be a tremendous mistake.

SHIELDS: Robert D. Novak.

NOVAK: You know, let me try to break the code.

SHIELDS: What's the code?

NOVAK: The code is that when a democratic president names a liberal, that's about courageous act. When a Republican president names a conservative, it's an outrage.

So you have well-regarded congressman -- I mean, well-regarded columnists doing attacks, vicious attacks on Senator John Ashcroft as attorney general; on Gale Norton as secretary of interior; and now Linda Chavez. The audacity of the labor movement to say that after doing everything possible in stepping up the intensity of the attack on Republicans in this last campaign, that they have a veto over secretary of labor -- that is just chutzpah.

SHIELDS: Al, do you know any-well regarded columnists who have said anything about John Ashcroft?

HUNT: Yes, I have, Mark. I think it's a dreadful appointment. He ought to be rejected by the Senate. He's not the attorney general of all the people, but I -- on the other nominees, I happen to agree with Orrin Hatch. I don't share his fondness for Linda Chavez, but elections have consequences -- no, I do know her. Elections have consequences and I don't think that George Bush should appoint someone that John Sweeney would be happy with. Certainly, Al Gore would not have appointed someone that the NFIB would have been happy.

Bob, you know, I don't mind you not being good on history, you know, 20, 30 years ago, you're not even good on modern history. Remember Lanny Ganuier (ph)? Was that phrase...


NOVAK: I was talking about Cabinet member.

HUNT: Well, you didn't say Cabinet member, Bob. You're now revising...


NOVAK: Don't be picky.

HUNT: Let me tell you something, Bob...

NOVAK: I'm talking about Cabinet members.

HUNT: I wish would you would get your history straight. Unfortunately, you don't know it and I think if a Democrat nominates a liberal, conservatives go after him, as they should, and if a GOP president appoints someone who is well to the right of the country...

NOVAK: What Clinton Cabinet member did the conservative media go after? Tell me, of all these left-wingers in the Clinton Cabinet, what one did they go after? Tell me.

HUNT: Well, they certainly went after Zoe Baird to begin with.

NOVAK: Well, not because she was a liberal.


HATCH: I was there. I was there. I was protecting Zoe Baird. I thought it was a travesty.

HUNT: They certainly went after Ted Sorenson when he was CIA Director under Jimmy Carter, Bob. Now, that's a little bit of ancient history for you, I know.

NOVAK: But not ideology.

HUNT: Of course it was on ideology. They said he was a pacifist, Bob. Bob, I'll get you the clips. You forget things too easily. Isn't that ideology?

NOVAK: The media is so biased in favor of abortion and racial quotas that anybody who is appointed by a Republican president to oppose those they attack.

HUNT: I will say this...

CARLSON: I'm not biased and not on ideology with her, but she's not for working people and she's going the Labor Department.


HUNT: I think she ought to be confirmed. NOVAK: Well, working people is a Marxist phrase, anyway.

SHIELDS: Bob, you've got to learn to take yes for an answer.

HUNT: Bob, Bob, Bob, Linda Chavez ought to be confirmed.

SHIELDS: Next on CAPITAL GANG, a new sponsor for the McCain- Feingold campaign finance reform.


SHIELDS: Welcome back. Senators John McCain and Russ Feingold unveiled a new Republican co-sponsor for their bill.


SEN. THAD COCHRAN (R), MISSISSIPPI: There are parts of McCain- Feingold that I don't find all that attractive. But I think as a part of an overall effort, we need to move this issue to a high priority on the agenda of the Senate in this year.



SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I will do everything in my power I can to cooperate with President Bush and the incoming administration.



MCCAIN: But I cannot and will not, in good conscience, give up on this effort.


SHIELDS: Al Hunt, is McCain-Feingold really going to be finally passed this year?

HUNT: You know, Mark, I think a variation of it will be. It'll certainly have to be amended some, but not a lot. The support of Thad Cochran, a senior, respected, conservative Republican, is just a powerful setback to those defenders of the corrupt status quo. It's going to be a ferocious battle in the Senate and less of one in the House if it gets there, but their arguments --the arguments of the opponents are eroding.

I mean first of all, it's going to interfere with the Bush agenda. This is not FDR's hundred days. This is not even Reagan 1981. There's no legislative blitzkrieg coming. I watched the United States Senate as Bob and Orrin and Margaret you have. You know, the first couple months nothing much happens anyway.

And secondly, we have the phony issue of payroll protection, labor. For the last eight years, the GOP has been telling us the problem is that Bill Clinton won't enforce the 1988 Supreme Court decision. Now you've got Linda Chavez in there to do it and George Bush to do it, so that's a bogus issue.

John McCain campaigned for over 70 Republicans in the fall, all of them begging him to come to their district. He said this is going to be my priority. He's a man of his word.

SHIELDS: Man of his word -- Bob Novak.

NOVAK: It may pass because the politicians are afraid now. They think ti may defeat them. Five Republicans got beat in the last election. They don't know how much that caused it. But I will tell this: Paycheck protection is not a phony issue. It is phony to you, Al, but to people whose money, whose union dues are taken out of their paycheck for causes they don't believe in is outrageous.

Now, Senator McCain, who's a fair-minded man, he says that he would go along with that, but he puts an equivalency that I don't understand on people who own stock in companies that go some way. They should have protection, too. They can sell their stock, but what's the guy who's working in a company supposed to do? Quit his job because he doesn't want his money taken by force away from him and used for political campaigns?

SHIELDS: Did you sell your large block of Microsoft when you found out they were making contributions to John Ashcroft?

NOVAK: I never owned any Microsoft.

SHIELDS: Orrin Hatch, what's going to happen?

HATCH: Well, I think that, you know, we do need to pass campaign finance reform. It won't be the McCain-Feingold bill in the form that it's in now. It will have to be -- it'll have to be something that includes disclosure, that increases the limits, but the real problem comes down to, are you going take the right to have soft money away from the two political parties and leave it into the hands of everybody else? I mean, that just isn't constitutional.

SHIELDS: How do you mean? I'm sorry.

HATCH: Well, for instance, he would take -- basically, the parties would be bereft of soft money where the unions could spend all that they want, and as you and I both know, the unions have been winning these elections because they don't go on television very much anymore. They put all their money into getting out the vote, and Michigan is a perfect illustration where Spence Abraham did lose where he was ahead at the time, but lost because they had a day off and they got all their vote out there and they spent millions getting them out there and soft money is bothering a lot of people.

NOVAK: They offered a contract.

HATCH: Well, yes. We've got do something here, but look, the real issue is this: There has to be a debate on that. It has to be given enough adequate time to do it, but it ought to be done in a way that at least gives George Bush a chance to start his agenda, and it ought to be a set time and there ought to be a whale of debate on it, and whatever we can come up with, we'll all have to live with. It's just that simple, but I don't think it's going to be the original McCain-Feingold Bill.

SHIELDS: I'll just point out that Ronald Reagan won two landslides: carried 49 states one time; 44 states the other; no soft money. Since the Republican Party's narcotic addiction to soft money developed, they've averaged -- they've average 44 percent of the national vote. I mean that's -- the point is they won overwhelmingly without soft money, following the rules -- Margaret.

CARLSON: And it's an addiction that's going to end up killing them, so everybody should want to be rid of it. Bit Thad Cochran coming over -- he's the canary in the mine, only he's going to sing and this is going to work this time. It's going to come, and McCain is not going to wait, as they keep begging him to do, because to delay it is not to have it. He's got to have the momentum right now, and he's got to -- and he's got the 60 votes, so it can't be filibustered.


NOVAK: He said it has to be caged, too.

SHIELDS: Orrin is right. It is a -- it is a -- soft money is a corruption of both sides. Smart conservatives like Jeffrey Bell and Bill Kristol have recognize this, and the whole Clinton campaign...


SHIELDS: And let's get rid of it. And I'll tell you something, every advantage, Orrin, that labor has in Michigan, which you aptly described, the National Rifle Association -- they have the same, the exact...


HATCH: Oh, no, no. Did they raise four million bucks?

SHIELDS: $337,000 in soft money, allegedly independent expenditures, for John Ashcroft in Missouri last November. Think about that. Orrin Hatch and the gang will be back with recommendations for George W. Bush's very first action as president.


SHIELDS: Welcome back. What is the first act that George W. Bush should take as president on January 20 -- Bob Novak.

NOVAK: After the inaugural parade he should re-open Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House, take away those ugly blockages, stand up to the Secret Service. It's the people's street and it should be reopened to Americans.

SHIELDS: Boy, Mario Salvio (ph) never said it better -- Orrin Hatch.

HATCH: He should get rid of some of these executive orders, Clinton executive orders. I'd start with the Kyoto Accords, which would just bankrupt our country.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: Pennsylvania Avenue belongs to the skaters, the walkers, it just doesn't belong to the cars. He should signal that he wants to raise the minimum wage. It's one way to counteract the effect of this huge tax cut he's pushing which goes the wealthy. He should do something for the working class.


HUNT: Well, I think Margaret's absolutely right. I agree with that, and Bob, you know, I would like Pennsylvania Avenue, too, but I'm afraid that the objection really came from the Secret Service, and I think in this day and age we'd better be pretty careful before we do something the Secret Service objects to.

NOVAK: What do you think he should do first, besides objecting to me?

HUNT: Well, you know...

CARLSON: That's a good thing.

HUNT: I think the first thing, I hope he could take you to you lunch, Bob, because you haven't been to the White House in so long. But, you know, if he does that, I think you'll probably be educated.

SHIELDS: The first thing he ought to do is to get Vice President Dick Cheney a personal trainer, OK, and insist -- insist -- that Dick Cheney work no more hours a week, seriously, than George W. Bush is which means that Dick Cheney will be there about 30 hours a week. It will be a lot healthier and a lot better for our country.

NOVAK: Can he use your trainer?

SHIELDS: He can use my trainer, only if...


SHIELDS: Fortunately, I haven't had quadruple bypass, and I just hope that Dick Cheney's health maintains and so does the country, because I thought Al Gore did a lot as No. 2, George Bush is doing more as No. 2, I think, than any second I've ever seen. Go ahead.

HATCH: I think the first thing he's likely to do is an education bill and I hope that's what he does.

SHIELDS: Thank you, Orrin Hatch. We'll be back to continue this one hour edition of CAPITAL GANG with power sharing and Hillary Clinton in the Senate; term limits in the House and our outrages of the week. All after a check of the hour's top news. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHIELDS: Welcome back to the second half of CAPITAL GANG. I'm Mark Shields with Al Hunt, Robert Novak and Margaret Carlson. Out guest is Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, soon to return as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

For the first time ever, a president's wife was sworn in as a U.S. senator. Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton of New York received advice and counsel on how to be effective from old Senate hands.


SEN. PETE DOMENICI (R), NEW MEXICO: ... does not come with notoriety around here, nor does it come with public relations; it comes with work, and being a part of this process, part of what's called the Senate.


SHIELDS: Yesterday, another historic event in the Senate: an agreement to split committee memberships evenly, reflecting the 50-50 party division in the Senate.


SEN. TRENT LOTT, REPUBLICAN LEADER: I wouldn't say this is my preferred result, but I think it is a reasonable one.

SEN. TOM DASCHLE, DEMOCRATIC LEADER: It's a spirit; it is a way of working together that tolerates open debate.

SEN. PHIL GRAMM (R), TEXAS: My concern is that we may very well, in this process, be guaranteeing gridlock.


SHIELDS: Margaret, isn't power sharing a much bigger deal for the U.S. Senate than the arrival of Hillary Clinton?

CARLSON: I just heard Bob silently cheering the word "gridlock." Isn't that great, Bob?

I mean, but power sharing is an oxymoron, you know, up there among all these egos and whatever. I don't know how it's going to work. I mean, it should be 50-50; it should be...

SHIELDS: Don't look at Senator Hatch.

CARLSON: You're not an egomaniac -- but, you know, you share space with some people who are. You know, it should be shared, but I don't know how that's going to work out when you have a tie vote, unless Dick Cheney comes into all your committee meetings.

It was very interesting to see Hillary Clinton in the Senate the other day. She was not hit by lightning, as Senator Lott suggested she might be -- and so never show up. And to see the president watching her from the gallery being sworn in, I was thinking how unimaginable it was, you know, 18 months ago. Here he was before the Senate...

SHIELDS: Facing impeachment.

CARLSON: ... facing impeachment charges. People weren't sure that he would come out of that with the presidency or his marriage intact; and there he's watching his wife being sworn into the Senate.

I mean, how we get used to things that are unimaginable. And you can tell us how you're going to work with her, now that she hasn't been struck by lightning; but she'll probably be a very hard worker and she will actually try to blend in.

SHIELDS: Orrin Hatch: Hillary and power sharing?

HATCH: Well, you know, frankly, I have a lot of respect for her. She ran a tough race in a very tough state under what were really miraculous circumstances for somebody who really had never lived there before, and won that race. Only in New York I think that could happen, out of any state in this country -- possibly California.

And, frankly, she's come into the Senate with a real rush and I suspect, though, she's going to find that being a senator is a very, very tough job. It's day-in day-out, sometimes drudgery, long hours, late at night sometimes; it's going to be miserable for her.

SHIELDS: What about the power sharing.

HATCH: On the power sharing, look, we're 50-50. I -- personally, I think we've reached out by agreeing to a 50-50 approach with super-discharge by the majority leader out of the committees in case of a tie, where in the case of a tie in the subcommittees, then the chairman can pull it up to the full committee. That, I think, may work. But we've reached out, we've shown trust and some attitude that we're willing to work with the Democrats, and we hope that they'll respond.

Now, my experience has been that it's tough to get them to respond. They use that filibuster rule on almost every bill. And if they start doing that this time, then you'll know that what Phil Gramm said is true: it's gridlock, gridlock, gridlock.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak, a leading conservative said to me yesterday on Capitol Hill, they thought that Trent Lott would have been a lot better off agreeing to this right at the outside rather than letting it go for a couple weeks; that it looked like, sort of a capitulation to Tom Daschle and the Democrats.

NOVAK: That may be the case. I think Senator Lott was in miserable condition. He lost five seats, and it was a bad election in the Senate for the Republicans -- end up with 50-50. I think that Phil Gramm and Pete Domenici coming over as, you know, we don't want to give up an inch -- I think they were being unrealistic on it. I think if they had insisted on a one-seat edge, a one-person edge on all these committees, you really would have had gridlock. I think it would have been an ugly atmosphere. So I don't think that Trent Lott had a lot of choices.

You know, when I first came to Washington over 40 years ago...

CARLSON: Was it 40?

NOVAK: Yes it was. The Senate was very closely divided. Lyndon Johnson controlled the Senate with a one-seat margin of the Democrats. But it functioned a lot differently. They didn't use the filibuster rule on every bill. And, perhaps, I hope this doesn't sound naive, but perhaps, on some modest legislative achievements -- I don't like a lot of legislation ever passed, but I think some modest legislative achievements: some tax cuts, perhaps even some change in Social Security, the two sides can get together.

But I think that there is a better atmosphere in this Senate today than there has been, at least, for the last four or five years.

SHIELDS: I will say this: When Lyndon Johnson did, it was 48-47, there were 96 senators and there was one vacancy. And Bill Poxmer (ph) was elected to -- Joe McCarthy from Wisconsin. And he came in because it saved Lyndon Johnson...

NOVAK: Best birthday present.

SHIELDS: ... said, I'm the best birthday present you ever had, Lyndon Johnson.

But I have to say this, in fairness to Trent Lott, Al: I thought that Trent Lott actually said yesterday, product is more important than anything else, that he wants to avoid gridlock. He's going to go that extra step to avoid, to give -- to rob the Democrats of any excuse for not cooperating, or at least not giving a fair shot at the Bush program.

HUNT: Well, you know, Bob is absolutely right. This was a bow to the inevitable. And I also think that, probably, the ramifications are enormously exaggerated.

The reason Orrin Hatch is a better legislator than Phil Gramm is because Orrin Hatch has realized for years, it doesn't matter if you win 10 or eight or 11, seven in a committee, you've got to put together a bipartisan consensus when you get to the floor.

I don't think Phil, as tough as he is, has ever quite realized this. So I don't think the committee stack-up really matters a whole lot. I think what the Democrats got, they really wanted, was the right to bring bills to the floor under certain occasions, and they wanted staff -- they wanted equal staff.

The one thing they lost was they also wanted conference committees to be equal, they didn't win that. And, frankly, though, I think, in the overview of things, I could give Lott credit, too; but the fact is, Daschle came into this whole -- went through this whole proceed with a virtually united caucus, whereas 2/3 of the Republicans were sniping at Trent. Not you, Orrin...

NOVAK: But they went along.

HUNT: But they went along. But what that says is that Daschle has a lot stronger position in the United States Senate today.


NOVAK: Wait, I want to say...

HATCH: Wait, wait, wait; let me just say something about Phil Gramm. There are senators and then there are senators. And sometimes a senator can be a great senator, who isn't adept at passing legislation. Phil Gramm is absolutely critical to the United States Senate. He's one of the people holds both sides of the feet to the fire, he makes that budget work. And, frankly, passed one of the most important banking bills last year.

HUNT: But Orrin, we agree he's not as good as you in passing legislation.

HATCH: I don't agree...

NOVAK: I don't want to let this opportunity go by without saying something about Senator Clinton. I don't believe she is another senator, as Trent Lott keeps saying and as everybody keeps saying. She -- they have never seen anything like her.

First place, most senators don't have Secret Service protection. She doesn't have to have it; I don't think she needs it in the U.S. capitol, but she wants it, so she'll have Secret Service protection. They're already causing troubles.

But beyond that, she is running for president. I don't know whether it's for 2004 or 2000...

SHIELDS: Everybody in the Senate is.


NOVAK: No, she is different...

SHIELDS: It better be long enough.


CARLSON: Once is enough?

NOVAK: She -- they will not -- if they think she is just going to cook cookies -- to bake cookies in the Senate, they're sadly mistaken.

SHIELDS: Bob, how many columns a year will you get out of Hillary Clinton? NOVAK: Many, I hope.

SHIELDS: Orrin Hatch, before I thank you for being with us, I have to ask you: You went to high school with Fred Rogers of Mr. Rogers neighborhood in Pittsburgh. Were you close?

HATCH: I can't say we were close, but I'll tell you this: I wish we were because I think he's one of the great treasures of American life and historical lore. He's a wonderful man.

SHIELDS: We thank you for being with us.

HATCH: He ran with a much rougher crowd than I did.


SHIELDS: The gang will be back with another shakeup on Capitol Hill: term limits in the House. Thank you, Orrin.


SHIELDS: Welcome back. Self-imposed Republican term limits of six years have removed eight House committee chairmen in addition to the three others who did not seek reelection. Henry Hyde of Illinois unsuccessfully requested a waiver to keep his Judiciary Committee chairmanship, but instead was made chairman of the International Relations Committee.

The Republicans breached seniority to elect Bill Thomas of California over Phil Crane of Illinois as Ways and Means Committee chairman. Marge Roukema of New Jersey, next in seniority, was denied the chairmanship of the Banking Committee.

Al Hunt, what are the House Republicans up to?

HUNT: Mark, first all, speaker Denny Hastert deserves enormous credit for sticking with this incredibly important reform of rotating chairs. I think it's one of the most important reforms in the House in the last 10 or 15 years; Newt Gingrich deserves credit for it.

And so I think that there was tremendous pressure to change it; he didn't do it, and I think he deserves to be praised. I also think that, by tapping Bill Thomas, who is a very tough, a very hot- tempered, acerbic guy, but an incredibly smart and able legislator to head Ways and Means was an incredibly deft move.

The Bush agenda is going to be in much better shape with Bill Thomas than it would have been with a nice fellow like Phil Crane, who's not much of a legislator. There are clinkers in that list of committee chairman, Jim Sensenbrenner, the new chairman of the Judiciary Committee has all of Bill Thomas' personal problems and none of his abilities as a legislator.

But I'll tell you something, the key in the House is going to still be those moderates: the Mike Castles, the Chris Shays, the Fred Uptons -- they've always talked a big game, then they'd cave. If they stick to their guns: campaign finance reforms, tax cuts, debt, prescription drugs, they can write the ticket.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak, I have to ask you, as a long-time House observer, Ways and Means Committee: Doesn't Denny Hastert come away from this with a little black eye? He did keep the reforms, but he backed Phil Crane out of his own home state.

NOVAK: No, he didn't back Phil Crane.

SHIELDS: Well, I mean, Phil Crane was in the race as a neighboring, adjacent district from his home state.

NOVAK: He did not back Phil Crane; that might have been what did Phil Crane in. He didn't back Henry Hyde for a waiver or judiciary either.

I agree with the beginning of what Al said, at least. I do believe that this is a great reform in the House of Representatives. Most of the time, over the years, they have these entrenched committee chairman who run the thing like a fiefdom. John Ringles (ph) is a intelligent, tough guy; but he ran the Commerce Committee like an absolute fiefdom in the many years that he was the chairman.

But let me just add a couple things that happened in the House -- with the House Republican side this week. The Republicans made a very big push for Phil Crane, and I believe Phil Crane is much more in tune with the Republican mentality than -- and ideology than Thomas is on tax cuts, on free trade. And also, he had contributed more money for the campaign.

But why didn't he get it? And the reason is, they were really worried whether he could stand up to Charlie Rangel and handle that committee. They may not like Bill Thomas...

SHIELDS: Ranking Democrat.

NOVAK: ... they may not -- the ranking Democrat -- they may not like Bill Thomas, but they really -- they felt that they needed a tough guy in there.

On the other hand, the conservatives did win on the international relations committee over getting Henry Hyde in over Congressman Bereuter of Nebraska, who's a little bit squishy.

SHIELDS: Squishy.

HUNT: Thank God they told him not to run for the Senate, because we'll take care of you, you'll be a House chair.

CARLSON: Henry Hyde didn't get what he wanted, but he got looked after.

The women, however -- Marge Roukema, I mean...

SHIELDS: Senior Republican in the House.

CARLSON: Yes, right; and then they say, oh, listen, why don't you become treasurer. Now there's a girl job if I've ever heard of one. You know, just go over there...

NOVAK: Would you take that job?

CARLSON: ... and sign those dollar bills -- it would be such a huge pay increase for me, and I wouldn't have to be here; I'd consider it.

You know, they just rolled right over her. And are there any women as committee chairs?


CARLSON: Not a one.

The other thing it created was this arms race for these chairmen -- raising money, you know, making promises; a whole new thing, where they're accreting money to themselves, promising things in order to get to be the chair.

Remember in Philadelphia at the convention, the party that Congressman Oxley had? I mean, the shrimp, the caviar, the ice sculptures -- I mean, just money...

NOVAK: And he got the chairmanship.

CARLSON: ... thrown away -- and he got it!

HUNT: Created a new one for him.

NOVAK: Do you know why he got this new Financial Services -- do you know why Congresswoman Roukema didn't get it, though?

CARLSON: No, tell me.

NOVAK: I'll tell you what -- no, I'll tell you something -- it wasn't she's a pretty girl -- that the -- all the liberal votes that she had cast over many years in the House finally came to pass. All the moderates that Al was just praising how wonderful they are -- it sunk her and kept her from being a chairman.

And the fact that she was hostile to some elements in the banking industry -- I think a Republican Banking Committee chairman has to be pro-banking. I think that hurt her too.

SHIELDS: That's says all you need to hear.

I was up on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, it was so cold -- how cold was it? You ask me, Al -- it was so cold, that for warmth people gathered around Tom DeLay, it was that cold.

Now I have to tell you Bob, when you have to pick someone with a litmus test, that they make the bankers happy -- I mean, don't talk to me about any Democrats and labor or any other special interest groups -- there's not a bigger special interest group than banks.

HUNT: I agree with you Mark, totally; but I tell you, Bob, you're right. I would pay admission to see Bill Thomas and Charlie Rangel. I mean, here are two heavyweights, here are two guys who are really smart and it will be a terrific...

NOVAK: They each have a little bit of a mean streak.

HUNT: Yes, they do, but you know something, Bob...

SHIELDS: Bill does a worse job of concealing his.

I will say this about Bill Thomas, rather than Phil Crane -- Phil Crane's a perfectly fine man -- but Bill Thomas is product-driven. He wants to get legislation. And if I was George W. Bush, I would want Bill Thomas there to get a bill out. It may not be one that absolutely meets the litmus test of Bob Novak and the bankers, but it will be legislation.

The gang will be back with the outrage of the week.


SHIELDS: And now for the outrage of the week.

The outrage has to be the year-end CNN/"USA Today/Gallup Poll that asked, which man do you most admire. Pope John Paul II tied for first place at only 6 percent with President Bill Clinton. We ought to all do something to cheer up the holy father. But in one sense, even this tie vote represents some progress. Last year the pope ran a semi-distant second to the president for most admired.

Bob Novak.

NOVAK: The Black Congressional Caucus today played its race card in the ceremonial counting of electoral votes by a joint session of Congress. But Black Caucus members could not get one senator -- not one -- needed to turn their whining into a valid protest. I'm sure that the Black Caucus wouldn't take my advice, but they might well heed the admonition of Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry when he was last elected: get over it!

SHIELDS: It's the first time Marion Barry's been quoted approvingly by Bob Novak -- Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: Al Gore was a prince today at that ceremony, which must have been very hard for him.

The New Hampshire Republican Party let a Ruby Ridge, "Apocalypse Now" candidate named Tom Alciere run for the House. He got elected by those who trust the GOP enough to vote the straight ticket. Only afterwards did they learn that he advocates killing police officers. He also urges citizens to ram their cars into funeral corteges for policemen. One Republican House member defended this guy. But Newmarket police chief was closer when he called him "insane." Republicans should be ashamed for not vetting this candidate; now they should banish him.

SHIELDS: Steve Duprey, the Republican state chairman, has called for his removal, to his credit.

HUNT: But Margaret, he's great on the Second Amendment.

My friend Bob Novak, in what, no doubt, was an inadvertent slander two weeks ago, quoted an alleged friend of Alan Greenspan's calling him a, quote, "devout coward," end quote for failing to cut interest rates. This anonymous friend is the real coward. Alan Greenspan, occasionally wrong on issues like capital gains taxes and the minimum wage, is one of the extraordinarily valuable public servants in American history.

Bob, to educate you on this fact, I've consulted a few experts, and we think this will help you. This is an audio on "Maestro," the Bob Woodward book on Alan Greenspan. You will understand Mr. Greenspan's worth. This is a belated present to you, Bob.

SHIELDS: Shake hands; it's like Rick Lazio and Hillary.

NOVAK: I'm not running for anything. I am not running for anything.

SHIELDS: Bob, how often do you quote Marion Barry.

NOVAK: Well, I supported his for mayor.

HUNT: Hey, can I just say one more thing, Bob: I think that applies, too, to Hillary's election, Robert. Get over it.

NOVAK: I never will, though.

SHIELDS: OK; I want to say, this is Mark Shields saying good night for the CAPITAL GANG.

"WORLDVIEW" is next on CNN.



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