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Face the Nation Transcript: November 19, 2017

JOHN DICKERSON: Today on FACE THE NATION, despite chaos in the Capitol over sexual harassment scandals, tax cut legislation races through Congress at a blistering pace. While Senate Republicans made it clear they do not want Alabama's Roy Moore to join their club--

MITCH MCCONNELL: He's obviously not fit to be in the United States Senate. And we've looked at all the options to try to prevent that from happening.

JOHN DICKERSON: --Democrats confront a problem in their ranks as former funny-man-turned senator Al Franken is accused of inappropriate advances before he was elected. President stayed mum on Moore.

WOMAN: Mister President, do you believe Roy Moore's accusers?

JOHN DICKERSON: But took to Twitter to criticize Democrat Franken despite Mister Trump's own history of allegations from women citing improper conduct. No double standard here says White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS: Senator Franken has admitted wrongdoing and the President hasn't. I think that's a very clear distinction.

JOHN DICKERSON: The spectacle is not slowing progress on the mammoth tax reform bill which passed the House--

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Thank you. The tax is going really well. Thank you very much.

JOHN DICKERSON: --but faces a less certain future in the Senate where tempers are already short.

SHERROD BROWN: This tax cut really is not for the middle class, it's for the rich.

ORRIN HATCH: And I've been here working my whole stinking career for people who don't have a chance, and I really resent anybody saying that I'm just doing this for the rich. Give me a break.

SHERROD BROWN: With all due respect, I get sick and tired of the richest people in the country--

MAN: Regular order, Mister Chairman.

SHERROD BROWN: --getting richer and richer.

MAN: Regular order.

SHERROD BROWN: How many times do we do this before we learn this?

ORRIN HATCH: I get a little tired of that crap. If we brought together, we could pull this country out of every-- every mess it's in.

JOHN DICKERSON: Will the middle class really benefit from this tax package? We'll talk with budget director Mick Mulvaney. Plus, Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton who's pushing a provision to end the Obamacare mandate in the tax bill. And California Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier who is leading the effort to change attitudes in Congress about sexual harassment. We'll also have plenty of political analysis.

It's all coming up on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning and welcome to FACE THE NATION. I'm John Dickerson. Minnesota Democrat Al Franken has stayed out of sight so far this weekend as senators from both parties and Franken himself have called for an ethics investigation into charges that he made unwanted advances towards model Leeann Tweeden during a 2006 USO trip. As for Roy Moore, with the Alabama special election scheduled three weeks from Tuesday, it will be up to the voters to determine whether or not he'll make it to the Senate. We begin with CBS News correspondent Dean Reynolds who is in Birmingham. Dean, what are the chances that Mister Moore goes to Washington?

DEAN REYNOLDS (CBS News Correspondent): Well, they're not very good, John, if the Birmingham News has anything to say about it. There you see their editorial today, "Reject Roy Moore." They found him unfit on many levels beyond just the improprieties that are alleged with younger women in his days as a prosecutor when he was in his thirties. Moreover this editorial endorses Doug Jones, his Democratic opponent. It is just the latest attempt to block Moore's path to Washington.

(Begin VT)

WOMAN: Good morning, Judge Moore.

ROY MOORE: Good morning.

DEAN REYNOLDS: Judge Roy Moore self-styled champion of the Ten Commandments has claimed the support of evangelicals in his race for the Senate but some in that community were pushing back this weekend. The Reverend William Barber said Moore's worldview made him unfit even before the allegations of impropriety emerged.

WILLIAM BARBER: Moore imagines the struggle for equality in America as a story of loss.

MAN #1: Are your accusers lying?

DEAN REYNOLDS: No one got to ask Moore about that or much of anything else because he spent much of the week dodging questions. No elaboration on his defiant stands against his women accusers.

ROY MOORE: Scurrilous, false charges. Not charges, allegations, which I have emphatically denied time and time again.

DEAN REYNOLDS: His lawyers tried to discredit those accusers in one case doubting Moore's inscription on a woman's yearbook around the time she says he attacked her.

MAN #2: Release the yearbook so that we can determine is it genuine or is it a fraud.

DEAN REYNOLDS: And as his wife said on Friday, he's in for the long haul.

KAYLA MOORE: He will not step down.

(Crowd cheering)

KAYLA MOORE: He will not stop fighting for the people of Alabama.

DEAN REYNOLDS: While Moore's core support is estimated at no more than thirty percent of eligible voters here, they are deeply committed as columnist Steve Flowers explained.

STEVE FLOWERS: Moore's people will not stay home. The seventy-five to eighty-five-year-old guy who lives in the evangelical church, he's got December 12 circled on his calendar.

(End VT)

DEAN REYNOLDS: It's a political cliche but it is true here in Alabama, turn out will be everything.

Yet few people think the turn out will exceed more than twenty percent of eligible voters which could provide a window of opportunity for Roy Moore and his very, very dedicated followers. John.

JOHN DICKERSON: Dean Reynolds for us in Birmingham. Thanks, Dean.

If Roy Moore does get elected to the Senate, the next move is up to his Senate colleagues. We're joined now by one potential Republican colleague, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas. Senator Cotton, I want to talk to you about tax reform in a moment. But let's talk about this Moore situation for a moment. Cory Gardner, one of your Republican colleagues who's in charge of getting Republicans elected said that the Senate should expel Moore if he wins and is sent to Washington, would you support that?

SENATOR TOM COTTON (R-Arkansas/@SenTomCotton): Well, John, first let me take a step back from Roy Moore and speak of in general about sexual harassment and sexual assault. It's a very serious matter, it has no place on the job, no place in our society. I think sadly too many women have faced that over the course of their lives. And it's not a partisan issue. There are misbehaving men in both the Democratic and Republican parties and unfortunately there are female victims in both parties as well. It's not even a political matter. I mean, it's happened in your industry, in the media, it's happened in Hollywood, it happens in business. So, I think it's important that women feel once they have been subject to sexual harassment and especially sexual assault that they can come forward now since, you know, the Harvey Weinstein allegation was broke about a month or so ago. And that's a good thing. And that's a good change in the norms and the expectations of our society. As far as Roy Moore goes, I'm not going to speculate about hypotheticals about what may happen should he win. We're only three weeks out from the election. He made it pretty clear this week that he's not going to step aside. So, as you said in your intro, it's going to be up to the people of Alabama to make that decision.

JOHN DICKERSON: You said you wouldn't encourage the people of Alabama to vote for him. What's better for Senate Republicans if Roy Moore wins and comes to Washington as a Republican or if a Democrat wins in that race?

SENATOR TOM COTTON: Well, what's better for Senate Republicans is what's better for the American is that we focus on the work ahead of us, which is the tax bill that cuts middle class taxes, cuts taxes on businesses and repeals the hated Obamacare mandate. I'll leave it to the people of Alabama to make the decision about Roy Moore and Doug Jones.

JOHN DICKERSON: Before we get to taxes, let me ask you about this norm-- these norms you're talking about that have changed because of this and-- change-- historic change in American culture which as you say is going across corporations, the media, Congress. So, Al Franken faces a moment now, what is the emerging standard in terms of how you assess these accusations that comes forward for somebody?

SENATOR TOM COTTON: I think it's hard to generalize about all cases in parti-- or in-- in general, because each case is particular; different kinds of allegations, different kinds of conduct, different kinds of evidence. So I think it's important that we take the issue of sexual harassment and sexual assault seriously and that we take each case on its individual merits and valuate them carefully.

JOHN DICKERSON: And finally on this, the new norms, a lot of people said, well, there were a dozen or so accusers for President Trump. Should these new norms cause a reevaluation of those who came forward and-- and said that he had assaulted them or-- or said-- done inappropriate things with him?

SENATOR TOM COTTON: Well, it happened in the middle of the campaign last year, John, and the American people had their say on that as well. And I think what's important is that we take all of these things seriously and that we move forward and each individual case we have people who are charged with weighing the evidence, whether it's a court of law and a sexual harassment case, whether it's a Senate Ethics Committee as Al Franken has said. But it's hard to generalize.

JOHN DICKERSON: But if-- so in that case, it seems to be the-- the position is, the voters spoke, that's it for the President. So why wouldn't that be the case with Moore? The voters speak. I mean in Washington, it's done. Let him--

SENATOR TOM COTTON: Well, that will-- that will be an important decision that the people of Alabama will make. Again, if he comes to the Senate because the people of Alabama elect him and someone files a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee as they apparently have done with Al Franken, then it will be up to the ethics committee to weigh the evidence and then all of the individual Senators to make a decision based on their findings and recommendations. But I wouldn't want to speculate about hypotheticals in the future.

JOHN DICKERSON: Okay. Let's move on to tax reform. Thirteen million people will be without coverage if the individual mandate is removed as you'd like to see in this tax cut plan. What happens to those thirteen million?

SENATOR TOM COTTON: Well, John, remember what the hated Obamacare mandate is. It finds an American family that can't afford their insurance, insurance that Obamacare made unaffordable in the first place. So this bill doesn't cut a single dime from Medicaid, it doesn't cut a single dime from the insurance subsidies, it doesn't change a single regulation in Obamacare. It simply says the IRS cannot fine you if you cannot afford health insurance. So this has no impact on anyone who wants to get health insurance under Obamacares, individual exchanges or under the Medicaid expansion under their employer's plan. It simply says that working families and poor Americans, because four out of five Americans who pay this fine make less than fifty thousand dollars, will no longer be fined for not being able to afford their insurance.

JOHN DICKERSON: But the estimate says the people won't get insurance and they will get sick, they will go to-- will go to emergency rooms, prices will increase. Premiums will increase also because insurers will be insuring a sicker pool of people. So you've got premiums going up which-- what's your answer to that?

SENATOR TOM COTTON: Well, my answer to that is that we need to solve all the problems that Obamacare made worse in our health care system. We worked on that over the summer, we failed. I wish that wasn't the case but we have a tax bill now that will repeal the most hated and unpopular part of Obamacare, the individual mandate which is nothing more than a tax on working families and poor Americans. I hope next year that we return to health care, but right now I'm focused on this tax-- tax bill.

JOHN DICKERSON: But it's also a tax if their premiums go up, and so there'll be a little bit of a middle class tax cut as part of this tax cut bill but then won't-- if people's premiums go up, doesn't that negate the benefit of the tax cut?

SENATOR TOM COTTON: No, John, that's not right. So every income group under the Senate bill will see a tax cut. Now, if you voluntarily choose not to get your insurance through Obamacare premiums then yeah the federal government will not be paying tax subsidy not to you individually but to an insurance company. But that's a result of a voluntary choice that you make based on your own family's needs and finances.

JOHN DICKERSON: Well, the-- the joint committee on taxation found that these tax cuts expire and some-- some middle income people will see their tax cut-- cut go away. But also Lisa Murkowski seems to have a different view. She said if the tax cut is offset by higher premiums, you haven't delivered a benefit. So she seems to think that removing individual mandate does have an effect that negates the benefit of any tax cut as a part of this bill.

SENATOR TOM COTTON: Well, Senator-- Senator Murkowski's been a leader on this bill and part-- part of the bill came out of her committee, the part that deals with exploration for oil and gas in the Arctic Circle. She's also said that she doesn't have any preconditions on this vote and, you know, remember, the vast majority of people on the Obamacare exchanges are getting subsidies. So if their premiums do go up, they're still going to get higher subsidies. And also, let's look at what premiums have happened over the last four years with the mandate in place. They've more than doubled since 2013. They're projected to go up by thirty-seven percent next year. So Obamacare is already failing with the mandate, we shouldn't be fining poor people and working American families because they can't afford the insurance that's going up so much.

JOHN DICKERSON: Although Senator Murkowski does seem to say she does have a precondition which is that the-- the insurance needs to be stabilized in order for her to vote on the tax cut. But let me ask you one quick question before we go. The Air Force General John Hyten, the head of the strategic command said Saturday he would push back on an order from President Trump to launch nuclear strikes. You're on the Armed Services Committee, he would-- he would push back on-- on a nuclear strike that he consider to be illegal. What's your take on that?

SENATOR TOM COTTON: John, since the dawn of the nuclear age we've recognized the practical reality that the President has to hold in his hands the sole decision to use our nuclear weapons. If there's a first strike against the United States, the President has a matter of minutes. Not hours, not days, but a matter of minutes to make that decision. So it simply doesn't make sense to have the Congress involved in the matter. However, what we hope to do is to be able to deter any country from ever launching that kind of strike against us whether it's North Korea or Russia or China or any other nuclear power. That's one reason why it's so important that President Trump largely succeeded on his trip to Asia last week to try to put more pressure on Kim Jong-un in North Korea not to use those nuclear weapons in the first place.

JOHN DICKERSON: But in a non-retaliatory situation you're okay with the way the system works in terms of the-- the President and nuclear code?

SENATOR TOM COTTON: Well, it's never been the policy of the United States to renounce the first use of nuclear weapons. It wasn't President Obama's policy either. I hope that we never have to employ our nuclear weapons. We have them to deter. But in a non-retaliatory situation, then sure, a President has hours or days to make a considered deliberate decision that's why he has the joint chiefs, that's why he has combatant commanders, that's why he has strategic command and his White House staff to help him develop courses of action.

JOHN DICKERSON: All right. Senator Cotton, thanks so much for being with us.

SENATOR TOM COTTON: Thank you, John.

JOHN DICKERSON: The debate over sexual harassment moved into the halls of Congress after California Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier went public with her own experience of unwanted sexual advances as a young Capitol Hill staffer. Speier's revelation actually inspired Leeann Tweeden to come forward with her allegations against Senator Franken. This week, Congresswoman Speier introduced legislation in the House aimed at fighting sexual harassment in Congress. And she joins us this morning from Palm Springs, California.

Congresswoman, I want to start with something you wrote. You said that it's clear the Good Old Boys Club mentality of Capitol Hill still persists after all these years. It is perhaps the worst I've seen in thirty years of working on these issues. The Old Boys Club was pretty bad, you're saying it's worse now?

REPRESENTATIVE JACKIE SPEIER (D-California/@RepSpeier): Well, I think it's worse in part because we have a system in place that allows for the harasser to go unchecked. Doesn't pay for the settlement himself and is never identified. So the office of compliance to which a victim must apply or complain is a place that has really been an enabler of sexual harassment for these many years because of the way it's constructed.

JOHN DICKERSON: As Congress and the larger culture tries to figure out what the standard is for treating accusers who come forward, something better than what has been where they have been blocked, but also something that doesn't allow false accusations. How does that standard get determined in your mind?

REPRESENTATIVE JACKIE SPEIER: Well, first of all, we have to make sure that a complaint is taken seriously. And the person who is the victim is not somehow tortured or-- or intimidated into not filing the complaint. That's what it is right now in Congress. There's a one-month period where you're counseled, there's another month where you go to mandatory mediation and you have to sign a non-disclosure agreement at the front end. And then you have a month of cooling off period, I mean, that is truly ridiculous. It's important for us to remember, too, John, that over ninety percent of those who have been sexually harassed or sexually assaulted are telling the truth. So all these victims who have come forward with Roy Moore or with the President or with Al Franken, all of them I think have to be-- we expect to believe them because for the most part they are telling the truth. There is no gain for them to come forward.


REPRESENTATIVE JACKIE SPEIER: There's-- there's lots of down sides, frankly.

JOHN DICKERSON: What's your view about re-evaluating the situation, you mentioned the President, the White House seems to suggest and Senator Cotton also seem to suggest that the voters knew about this, they voted for him, and so it's an issue that's in the past. How do you see it?

REPRESENTATIVE JACKIE SPEIER: I think there is some truth to that. If the President was running today, I bet he would not be elected because I think we have had a huge cultural shift that is forty years in the making. But I think all of us are grateful now that there is a new day for women in the workplace where they do not have to put up with sexual advances that are unwanted that they do not have to live and work in a hostile work environment. And that's going to be good for-- for all of us in the workplace.

JOHN DICKERSON: And as that cultural shift takes place, some people have argued, some Democrats and liberals have argued that a re-evaluation of Bill Clinton's presidency is required. What do you think about that in order to-- to be clear about what the new standard is and use, you know, elements from the past that are-- that are well-known?

REPRESENTATIVE JACKIE SPEIER: Well, first of all, let's remember that he did face impeachment. It wasn't as if it was just tossed to the side. He faced impeachment. I think that the victims who came forward were not treated as they should have been. They should have been believed because, as I pointed out, most people who come forward are telling the truth.

JOHN DICKERSON: In the case of Al Franken, what's your-- what's your feeling about that there have been some columnist who have written that basically, again liberals have said he must leave the Senate in order to-- for Democrats to retain their credibility on this issue or else they're open to the charge that Democrats apply it when it comes to Republicans, but are-- are more generous when it comes to their own team.

REPRESENTATIVE JACKIE SPEIER: I think it's appropriate for the Ethics Committee to do an investigation. Senator Franken has actually agreed to that, as well. I also think that it has to be determined if there is a pattern of sexual harassment. Incidents have to be severe or they have to be ones that happen over a period of time. So I think we'll wait and see what the investigation determines.

JOHN DICKERSON: Is that an instructive distinction then pattern versus specific mistake in terms of what might penalize somebody, but be the difference between penalizing and expulsion?

REPRESENTATIVE JACKIE SPEIER: And that's what the courts have held with sexual harassment cases. If there's a pattern then sexual harassment is found to be in existence. If it's a one-- one event and it's maybe a conversation versus, you know, sexual assault or an unwanted sexual advance, so it really depends on the circumstances in all of these cases.

JOHN DICKERSON: Final question on different topic on taxes. Eleven of your Republican colleagues in California voted for the House tax cut bill in which deductibility of state and local taxes is no longer allowed. They were told-- at least one of them was told, well, that will get fixed later. And Californians who have high taxes will be able to deduct them. What's your-- do you believe that?

REPRESENTATIVE JACKIE SPEIER: No, I don't believe it. And I think for all of those members who basically have handed their constituents a ten-thousand-dollar tax increase, that's what we're talking about. When you take the state and local taxes and the property taxes and the mortgage deduction that is reduced to five hundred thousand dollars is a huge hit for every single California family.

JOHN DICKERSON: All right. Congresswoman, thank so much for being with us.

And we'll be back in one minute--


JOHN DICKERSON: --with White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.


JOHN DICKERSON: And we're back with Mick Mulvaney, the director of White House Office of Management and Budget. Mister Director, I want to start with the individual mandate. That's something the President wants. It's in the bill now, in part, in the Senate to just make the numbers add up. If it was taken out, would the President be okay with maybe cutting that corporate rate to twenty-two percent all the way down to twenty to make up that money that they need in the Senate?

MICK MULVANEY (White House Budget Director/@MickMulvaneyOMB): No. I don't think so. I-- I don't think anybody doubts where the President is on repeal and replace. The White House would love to see Obamacare taken apart all at once, bit by bit, however we can do it. That being said there's a couple of things that the President has been very clear on from the very beginning. Number one, the middle class, ordinary Americans working folks have to pay less and it has to be simpler. And number two, that corporate tax rate has to be as low as possible. Originally wanted it at fifteen percent. We agreed with the House and Senate leadership to go to twenty percent as part of the early discussions here. And I don't think you'll see its interest going above twenty percent. So I think at the end of the day, John, what we're interested in is the best tax bill that can pass. If a good tax bill can pass with that Obamacare mandate repeals part of it, great. If it needs to come out in order for that good tax bill to pass, we could live with that as well.

JOHN DICKERSON: Let me look at those two things, middle-class tax cut and corporate tax. There's no question as you've said the President wants it at twenty.


JOHN DICKERSON: No one's has ever doubted whether corporations are going to get that reduction to twenty really in all the conversation I've seen. On the middle-class side, though it's a lot fuzzier. It used to be that proponents would say everybody in the middle class is going to get a tax cut. But now the joints committee on taxation has shown that about fourteen million because of the sunset provisions--


JOHN DICKERSON: --in the Senate side. They're not going to get a tax cut. Their taxes are going to go up. So it seems when you look at the way this has played out, corporations are so solid nobody's saying they're not going to get what they're going to get. But the middle class is not-- it's not so solid. It's awfully fuzzy. Isn't that the reverse of what elected Donald Trump, the President, said?

MICK MULVANEY: I think what you're seeing there is you're sort of scratching the surface and welcome to sort of my world. This is the world the office of management budget deals with. You're now dealing with the world of Senate scoring. Keep in mind, go back to the beginning of this process. And one of the big things that happened was that since the House and the budget-- House and the Senate passed the same budget, they're allowed to use reconciliation to pass this bill in the Senate with only fifty votes. In order to do that, we give a great deal of control to the Congressional Budget Office and they have to say it scores a certain way. The only reason-- the only reason, John, that you're seeing these-- the middle-class tax cuts supposedly expire after five years, a part of it at least, is to score it in a certain fashion. So you sort of take this round peg and try and-- and shove it into a square hole. No one really wants those things to happen. And we think if it's good policy, it becomes permanent just like most of the Bush tax cuts did.

JOHN DICKERSON: I want to talk about other side because those rules are in place for a reason, but we've got to take a break. We'll be-- have more with Mick Mulvaney when we come back. Stay with us.


JOHN DICKERSON: We hope you'll join us next Sunday for our Thanksgiving weekend book broadcast. This year, we'll explore the issue of leadership in tough times, including new books on both President-- on both President Bushes, Union-general-turned President Ulysses S. Grant, and the nation's thirty-second President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Plus, a look at a book about the artist Leonardo da Vinci. That's next week here on FACE THE NATION.


JOHN DICKERSON: We'll be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION, including our conversation with Budget Director Mick Mulvaney on taxes. So stay with us.


JOHN DICKERSON: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION and more of conversation with White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. Mister Director, I want to just button up on that point about this-- those arcane Senate rules.


JOHN DICKERSON: Those are in place, though, to force budget discipline and so that people don't say let's get a lot of tax cuts and blow a big hole in the deficit, which is one of the huge knocks against this tax cut. Its size and the debt that it's going to increase.

MICK MULVANEY: They are. But they're also written in 1974, haven't been changed, I don't think at all since then. And it's just very difficult to do, John. It's very difficult to model a twenty-trillion-dollar American economy. It's very difficult to even make the argument that if I sold a hundred of these cups last year at five dollars and I'd lower price to four dollars this year that I won't sell any more of them, that's what the CBO scoring does. What is-- it is an arcane system, we think it's broken and doesn't reflect the real world. But we have to play by those rules because they're there.

JOHN DICKERSON: Also, people are saying, and I think you suggested this before the break, that essentially if people like the tax cuts they're going to get-- you know, they're going to get continued.


JOHN DICKERSON: A future Congress will do this. But isn't that slightly dishonest because you're basically hoping, I'm not saying you, I'm saying in this general argument, you're basically saying these are going to continue, just trust us? And also the budget impacts on the deficit, again, which, you know, has an effect on the economy. Those are not being taken into account, but you're assuming that these-- these tax cuts are going to continue.

MICK MULVANEY: Listen, if the Senate rules were different, everything of this would be permanent or as permanent as anything is in Washington, DC. Clearly, a new government could come in and change the law. But go back to the example of the Bush tax cuts, which were supposedly temporary when they got passed. They worked, people liked them, and they became permanent law, which is where-- at least most of them did, which is where we are today. So again, I wouldn't confuse things that we do to try and shoehorn into the Senate rules with what we think is the best possible policy.

JOHN DICKERSON: Well, of course, there's a lot of debate by the Bush tax cuts. But let's-- let me ask this question, and other-- the-- the tax cuts are built on an idea that corporations that once their tax rates are reduced that they will pass it on essentially to middle-class people. Gary Cohn, the-- the White House economic advisor, was at a CEO meeting The Wall Street Journal hosted. And the-- the audience of CEOs were asked, "Are you going to take these tax cuts and create more American jobs?" And so they wanted a show of hands. The hands did not shoot to the ceiling. And-- and Mister Cohn actually noted that more people. This is the central premise of how this thing's going to work, and there's a lot of doubt about that.

MICK MULVANEY: Yeah. I asked Gary about that afterwards. And my guess is, if I'm a Fortune 500 CEO, I'm not going to tell my competitors who are sitting in the-- in the aisle next to me what I'm going to do next year. They're going to do what's in their best interest. And what we think is in their best interest is to invest here because not only would tax rates be lower, but they're going to get expense all of their capital expenses. So every new machine that they buy, every new factory that they build, they'll be able to write off immediately against their taxes. This is a tremendous incentive not only folks not to leave the country in the first place, but for folks who have left to come back. And that's what we think is so important in re-establishing the connection between corporate success and the success of the ordinary family. Go back over seventy years before 2008, every time corporation profits went up one percent, average household income went up by one percent. Since then, corporate taxes are up, I think, eleven percent and household incomes are-- are up 0.3. We need to re-establish that connection so that when companies do well, families do well.

JOHN DICKERSON: So people who are going to see their taxes maybe go up if this tax cut doesn't last, they've just got to hope the economy turns out and behaves the way you want. But even Senator Johnson from Wisconsin, a Republican, said to-- on CNN, "Well, I want to-- what I want to see is the information to prove the economic growth we're going to get." So even he's sceptical. A Republican who's a big fan of a lot of this bill is skeptical about this central theory that's at the heart of it.

MICK MULVANEY: Yeah. I think Senator Johnson is-- is sort of honed in on one thing that we knew was sort of the last big substantive piece of the puzzle, and that's how do you deal with these-- these pass-through entities, S-corporations, LLCs, and partnerships. They're taxed differently than C-corporations. And they're taxed at the individual level. Their tax different than C corporations. And there's tax at the individual level. So when you start to lower the corporate tax rate, it's arguably putting S-- S-corporations at a disadvantage and that needs to be worked out. So we-- Senator Johnson is hit on this. It needs to get fixed, but I'm absolutely comfortable that it will be.

JOHN DICKERSON: But it's going to cost money if it is.

MICK MULVANEY: It doesn't cost money to let people keep more of their own money. Costs money to spend money you don't have. But that's another issue.

JOHN DICKERSON: All right. Thanks so much for being with us.

And we'll be right back with our political panel.


JOHN DICKERSON: We want to go now to our political panel. Ruth Marcus is a columnist and deputy editorial page editor at The Washington Post. David French is a senior writer at the National Review. We're also joined by Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for USA Today and Ed O'Keefe who covers politics on-- in Capitol Hill for The Washington Post and is also a CBS News contributor. Ed, I'll start with you. What's going to happen with Roy Moore?

ED O'KEEFE (Washington Post/CBS News Contributor/@edatpost): You know, doesn't look like he's leaving the race and it doesn't look like Republicans outside of Alabama, at least, really can do anything at this point to compel him to do it. It means it will cause probably political headaches for national Republicans throughout the rest of the next year. They'll immediately become a poster boy for what Democrats would think is wrong with Washington and with the Republican Party. And if Mitch McConnell's threats this past week were true, it will lead immediately to an ethics investigation of the new senator, possibly concurrent with the one that would be underway for Al Franken and maybe also one underway for Senator Bob Menendez who's coming back after the Thanksgiving break from a federal corruption trial. So it-- it will be an interesting year, certainly when it comes to--


ED O'KEEFE: --political transgressions. And-- and, you know, at this point Republicans just have to probably hope that there's nothing else out there that would just stir this even more and yet there are-- there's reason to believe that there is.

JOHN DICKERSON: Add staffers to the Senate Ethics Committee, the-- Senator Menendez was found to have a mistrial--

ED O'KEEFE: Right.

JOHN DICKERSON: --this week which is triggered the move by McConnell. David, welcome. Answer the question I posed to Tom Cotton, what's better for Republicans if Roy Moore wins or if he loses?

DAVID FRENCH (National Review/@DavidAFrench): It's clearly better if Roy Moore loses. I mean, for a couple of reasons. One, it's-- it would be very important party hygiene. Steve Bannon needs to lose. Roy Moore needs to lose. And those who are connected right now. If what-- what people are-- many people are forgetting is the blow that this would be not just to the Roy Moore side of the GOP which needs to lose, but also to the Steve Bannon enterprise of trying to destroy the GOP as we know it. He needs to be discredited. And if he helps lose a Senate seat in one of the brightest, reddest states in the nation, why would anyone listen to Steve Bannon ever again? And so that's, I think, an incredibly important potential moment of party hygiene. But we don't know if that's going to happen yet.

JOHN DICKERSON: And-- and, Susan, Mitch McConnell would have a senator come-- senator come in who is clearly a-- a improvisational character, Roy Moore. And would-- I mean, could it-- this get managed the way Mitch McConnell thinks it could get managed or is he really hoping he doesn't have to handle this problem?

SUSAN PAGE (USA Today/@SusanPage): Oh, I'm sure he-- if he could cast a vote, and I think he was born in Alabama, actually. Mitch McConnell would not be voting for-- for Roy Moore because this is-- for one thing, Roy Moore is not a Mitch McConnell Republican.

JOHN DICKERSON: No. That's what you're saying, yeah.

SUSAN PAGE: I mean, he's running--


SUSAN PAGE: --running on a campaign to eject Mitch McConnell from the-- from the leadership. So in no way is this-- is this good for Mitch McConnell even if it costs him one of those crucial Republican Senate seats. I think it's-- I think it's hard to make a call on who's going to win that race. So, I mean, we do have Doug Jones, a Democrat, ahead in some polls. But one of the lessons from last year's presidential campaign is, don't look at the polls, look at who is energized to show up. And I don't think we know yet whether it's diehard Roy Moore supporters or people-- other people in Alabama who are disgusted by what they're seeing.

JOHN DICKERSON: And, Ruth, I mean, Democrats are disgusted, but are they going to turn out in-- in Alabama? And in-- in some ways, Democrats are enjoying this moment leaving the morality aside, and many of them are happy too, to see the Republican Party stuck with a Roy Moore problem.

RUTH MARCUS (Washington Post/@RuthMarcus): Sure. I think you need to listen to who is-- look at who is energized, but you also need to look at who is disgusted. And I think there are lot of Republicans in Alabama who aren't going to rouse themselves to go out and vote for democratic candidate. But who just would prefer to stay home, hold their noses, and see what happens?

JOHN DICKERSON: Ruth, tell us, what-- we-- we've got a historical change happening here across the society and in-- in Washington with respect to Capitol Hill. Name that moment. Tell us what moment we're in.

RUTH MARCUS: I think we're in chapter three. Chapter one was Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas, where a lot of people who probably should have known better discovered that there was this problem called sexual harassment in the workplace. And, yes, women didn't always go yelling and screaming about it at the exact moment that it happened. Chapter two was Monica Lewinsky-Bill Clinton. Chapter three is now, and I think this is probably the most significant chapter of them all. Where we are is we understand that there's a lot of behave-- that this behavior is rampant, there's a lot of "me toos" that its' intolerable in the workplace and elsewhere, and that we have not been serious enough about dealing with it. Where we have-- what we haven't figured out yet is what is the appropriate punishment for each individual-- for-- for various transgressors. And that's what we're grappling with.

JOHN DICKERSON: And, Ed, where-- one of the things we're grappling with is Al Franken--


JOHN DICKERSON: --in-- in the Senate. What's your sense of-- there were-- columnist for (INDISTINCT) The New York Times said he must go, Democrats lose credibility. They felt like real there was a real pressure, where is that pressure now on him?

ED O'KEEFE: I think it's if there's something else, either before he was a senator or especially since he became a senator, at that point it's-- it's just a question of when and not if, perhaps. If this is it, if they have the meeting that the accuser says he asked for and she's agreed to have and it goes well and he commits to an ethics investigation and it finds that there's no other reason to believe he's done something inappropriate, you know, a cloud will hang over him for the rest of his Senate tenure as it has for other senators in the past whatever reason. But I think Ruth actually raised an interesting point in her column this week about, you know, to what extent will-- is there the risk that people are potentially over-punished or that there's an overreaction to this, there have to be changes made at the capital in how Congress deals with this. But I think there's-- there's an argument to be made that, you know, there-- there could potentially be an overreaction. And-- and that would add to all the concerns that people have had through the years about, you know, the scrutiny being too hot on people and-- and keeping them from potentially engaging in public service.

RUTH MARCUS: It-- I think that the overreaction here, I-- I don't think that Senator Franken should have to resign based on where we are now. But I think there is a reasonable possibility that that will happen, in part, because you use the word "poster boy" before. He is a very unfortunate poster boy for Democrats, that's not good for them. To some extent, he is going up-- if he is forced to resign it will be because he's paying for the under-reaction to Bill Clinton's scenes--


RUTH MARCUS: --in the past and Democrats failure to pay enough attention to that.

SUSAN PAGE: Wait, you know, you talked about-- this being chapter, the fact is we're still living with the re-- reverberations of chapters one and two. And if Joe Biden runs for President in 2020 as he clearly hopes to do, we will revisit the-- the committee's hearings he chaired with Senate judiciary for Clarence Thomas where-- where Anita Hill was not taken seriously. And we have continued to see a reconsideration of whether Democrats in general and feminists in particular took Bill-- the charges against Bill Clinton seriously enough.

DAVID FRENCH: Well, you know, one-- one thing is we keep hearing about line drawing, line drawing, I'm seeing line drawing in Hollywood, Harvey Weinstein has paid a price, Kevin Spacey's paid a price, I mean, titles are being yanked down from Netflix. I see line drawing in corporate America. If evidence like that-- that goes out-- that photographical evidence of Al Franken had emerged in any of my private sector workplaces, that person would be gone. You know, where I don't see line drawing? In politics. I don't see it in politics. I'll believe people in politics are taking seriously this moment when someone ends their career, loses their career. It's-- let's put it-- let's-- let's be honest, these careers aren't all that important.

SUSAN PAGE: Well, maybe--

DAVID FRENCH: Al Franken will be gone tomorrow and he's going to be replaced by another Democrat. And-- and you can't even draw a line then? And-- and that's I think American people look at that and say, "Where are the lines being drawn?" In my life, they're being drawn. Not in politics.

JOHN DICKERSON: And there is also another line that's being drawn, I was interested that Congresswoman Speier and Senator Cotton seem to have the same kind of line for President-- for President Trump, if there's a re-evaluation of President Clinton. Again, towards defining what the norms are in this new situation, isn't the President a part that conversation given that there are dozen accusers and he's the President of the United States?

DAVID FRENCH: Look, we have to grapple with the fact that it looks like two of the last four Presidents of the United States have committed some form of sexual assault. And that's dreadful. I'm the last person to say that what Donald Trump has been credibly accused of doing by more than a dozen people should be swept under the rug. The problem we have here on that is only the tiniest percentage of Donald Trump voters believed those allegations are true. It's not that they said, "Yeah, they're true and I'm voting for him anyway." You look at the polling, they just flat-out, don't believe it.


DAVID FRENCH: And that makes it a very-- it makes it very difficult to hold him accountable in that circumstance.

SUSAN PAGE: You know, we also talk about line drawing or about a big culture shift, a shift toward believing the women against celebrity accusers or prominent accusers. I'm not sure we've yet seen a culture shift for women who work at Walmart or work-- clean hotel rooms or work on factory floors who are subject to the same kind of abuses that women who work in law firms and on Capitol Hill are subject to. That would be a real culture shift.

JOHN DICKERSON: I was interested-- Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at the White House, essentially the difference between Franken and-- and President Trump is that Al Franken admitted, so is the-- is the line basically-- I mean, what-- what signal does that send if you're a politician?


JOHN DICKERSON: --to respond to these allegations?

RUTH MARCUS: Well, the-- if you can-- you know, if you can-- they-- if you're a star, they let you get away with it. The President is in very difficult position here because his first attitude towards Roy Moore was if then-- if he did it then he has to resign. Now his own daughter has said, I believe these women-- his-- leader-- rather leader of this party, Mitch McConnell has said, I believe these women. If he said-- he can't say I believe them because that raises the question if we believe them why shouldn't we believe the women who are accusing you. I think it's a really tough question for him to answer. The amazing thing is instead of kind of trying to duck and cover and avoid this, he went out and characteristically made his life more difficult by tweeting about Al Franken.

JOHN DICKERSON: Well, he saw it as a chance to hit Franken and he also hit the Clintons by believing the accuser of Bill Clinton and bringing them to the debate.

ED O'KEEFE: As he did last year, yeah. Absolutely. Now it's-- it's a really tricky situation for Republicans who I think understand that this is-- you know, he's talking out of both sides of his mouth. I think-- but to-- to credit Mitch McConnell, he began this week by very clearly saying, I believe the women. He wants Roy Moore to avoid getting a Senate seat, he wants to do everything he can to stop him from coming. But the fact that the most senior member of Congress said that, or a senior member of Congress said it very clearly, allowed everyone else to fall into place, allowed the Franken thing to be dealt with so quickly. I think that is a key part of chapter three as we go forward that we saw such a senior political leader do that.

JOHN DICKERSON: All right. We're going to close the book on this chapter. But we will be back in a second with another chapter. We'll talk about tax cuts and the rest with our panels. Stay with us.


JOHN DICKERSON: And we're back with our panel. David, I want to start on the tax cut question with you which is often in Washington where we have these cultural moments, everybody gets boxed up nothing gets done. The tax cut bill is moving lickety-split through Congress.

DAVID FRENCH: Right. You know, moving lickety-split through Congress that a lot of people are-- have been down on for a long time for doing nothing particularly on the right side of the aisle. Look, I-- I'm optimistic something is going to get done here. There's enormous pressure from every wing of the GOP. The GOP civil war is-- is kind of settled on this one point, there's a need for tax reform. So, I do think something's going to happen. I do think what we're going to get-- well, it's not exactly going to be the Senate bill, it's not going to-- exactly going be the House bill, it's going be something better than the status quo. What that's exactly going to be yet, we don't know.

JOHN DICKERSON: Ruth, I know you care about budgets.

RUTH MARCUS: I do. Better than the status quo for who is one thing I might say. I think that the prognosis for this bill is really interesting. The-- every Republican lawmaker that I know is desperate to see something passed. But there are two problems here. One is that they are not desperate to-- they don't know all agree on what that something is. And so there are reviews the Rubik's cube analogy before. This is like super Rubik's cube. There are so many pieces that you can lose somebody on and that Senate majority is very slim. And that House majority is complicated because of the state and local tax deduction. And then I have the questions, I understand they're desperate to pass it because they have done nothing else legislatively, they're going to just have to run on (INDISTINCT) on the Supreme Court nominee which-- whose vacancy was created before him--

JOHN DICKERSON: (Cross talk) with the congressional review act.

RUTH MARCUS: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay. I don't think that's great-- the greatest messaging. But if they pass it, is that great news for Republicans, maybe better than the alternative. But there's going to be lot of Democratic messaging about hits to the middle class and favoring corporations with permanent tax cuts over the middle class, many of whom will be worse off at the end of this.

JOHN DICKERSON: Do you think-- that's right, Susan. There's-- Democrats see an opportunity to rush in and say, wait, the middle class tax cuts expire for fourteen million, this can't-- you know, do they have an opportunity on this?

SUSAN PAGE: Well, they do since they could argue for instance that the-- that the Trump family alone could benefit to the tune of more than one billion dollars if this-- if this-- if this particular tax bill passes. The Republicans have another problem and that is the number twelve, that is number of full legislative days left from now until the end of the year when they also need to fund the government which runs out of money on December 8. They need to deal with hurricane relief. So it will in fact be lickety-split as you said if they manage to do something by the-- by the White House deadline of-- of Christmas to get a tax bill through. And if they manage to do that, it will be because they are so interested in passing something that they won't care about exactly what it is they're passing.

JOHN DICKERSON: They have to get something out of the Senate at least by Christmas because otherwise if this Roy Moore thing doesn't turn out, the numbers in the Senate will change and they'll lose one Republican Senate-- senator and that-- there are at least two, Ron Johnson and Lisa Murkowski in the Senate side who-- who have real issues with this tax bill. Are they-- is that real opposition or is that the kind of opposition you get so that your thinking get fixed?

ED O'KEEFE: I'd actually tweak it and say, Ron Johnson for sure based on some comments he made this morning, Susan Collins actually probably still has some legitimate concerns. Murkowski's point was just that, we-- we need to stabilize the markets. It's not--

JOHN DICKERSON: Health insurance market.

ED O'KEEFE: Right. This bipartisan bill by (INDISTINCT) and Patty Murray. Her office clarified later Friday despite some comments she'd made earlier in the day, isn't contingent on her support for the tax bill. But she's expressing a concern--


ED O'KEEFE: --that certainly some of her Republican colleagues have. I would watch more the people-- the Republican senators who are concerned about things like the deficit. That is Bob Corker, that is Jeff Flake, that is probably Ron Johnson and then secondarily, whether or not this includes changes to the individual mandate. There you lose Susan Collins, maybe Lisa Murkowski. And if the thing happening too lickety-split, you may lose John McCain who has been arguing that this has to be done methodically and fairly to both sides, he says that last week's deliberations in the Senate went perfectly in that regard.

RUTH MARCUS: Can I jump in on the deficit? I can't be contained.

JOHN DICKERSON: Quickly, yeah.

RUTH MARCUS: The whole agreement here--

JOHN DICKERSON: Neither can the deficit.

RUTH MARCUS: Yes. Nice. It's one point-- we're going to pass this but we're going to be fiscally responsible because it's going to be only 1.5 trillion. The budget director made clear to you in his comments that that is not the intention at all. The intention is to eventually make these-- the individual tax cuts permanent to the tune of closer to over 2-- 2.2 trillion dollars. There-- if you think that you're fiscally responsible so that you can only afford a 1.5 trillion dollar tax cut, you should not vote for this because everybody is saying it's going to cost more than that.

JOHN DICKERSON: David, give me a sense of two things. One what Ruth says and what happened to the fiscal hawks. But then secondly you mentioned Steve Bannon and the people he supports and the kind of core of the Trump message.


JOHN DICKERSON: How does this tax bill line up with them that corporations are going to go down to twenty percent? Do they care or do they buy the argument from Trump--

DAVID FRENCH: Okay, I'm in the camp that believes that this Trump populism thing is not really a meaningful ideological movement in the-- in the Republican Party. Trumpism is the personal ambition of Donald Trump. That's Trumpism. Okay. This populism has always been a-- a relatively small slice of the GOP pie. We're not looking at a big political sea change here. And the-- the people who make up Trump's base are very-- are far more concerned with the perception that Donald Trump is exceeding than they are with any given line item of the quote, unquote, Trump agenda. So I think that the bottom line analysis here is, does Trump help get tax reform passed. If the answer is, yes, mega. If the answer is, no. Then, well, you know, it's Mitch and Paul Ryan, it's not Donald Trump that will ultimately receive the-- the blame in Trump world. But I think that we've gotten down to sort of a post-ideological age in some ways when it comes to the success of Donald Trump where the most important thing is perceived by his fans as the success of Donald Trump.

JOHN DICKERSON: (INDISTINCT) standing of course for Make America Great Again for anyone who doesn't know that Susan Page, sixteen percent in a Quinnipiac Poll thought they were going to get a tax cut here. What David says about the Trump voter rings true from the Trump voters I've talked to. What about the rest of the country?

SUSAN PAGE: Well, I-- I think this tax bill is a tough sell for the rest of the country. And especially because some of the arguments that proponents are making are so easily disproved. You know, for instance, the idea that repealing the estate tax is going to help farms and small businesses. This year, eighty farms and small businesses are affected by the estate tax. It's an-- you know, the estate tax benefits the wealthiest Americans, only five thousand or so whom get caught in the estate tax. So I think that the idea that the-- the reality of the tax cut helps the rich at the expense-- raising taxes over the long-term for even families below thirty thousand is something that makes big difficulties for Republicans.

JOHN DICKERSON: All right. We're going to go. We'll be back in a moment.


JOHN DICKERSON: That's it for us today. Until next week for FACE THE NATION, I'm John Dickerson.transcript 

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