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JOHN KING, USA
A Different Washington; Divided Government; Chairman Issa's Investigation
Aired January 5, 2011 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, HOST: Thanks Wolf and good evening everyone. Wow, what a big day. Tonight Washington is different, just how different is the question we can't answer tonight. We do know Republicans have a lot more power. I spent most of my day on Capitol Hill. And you could see and you could feel the excitement and the shifting politics. Democrat Nancy Pelosi today handed the speaker's gavel to Republican John Boehner, giving a GOP majority with a lot of Tea Party cut spending zeal control of the House of Representatives.
And on the Senate side, Vice President Biden swore in new members in a chamber that is still in Democratic hands but just narrowly. So what does this mean for you, for your taxes and health care, maybe your search for a job? Will divided government bring compromise or gridlock? Those are the big questions, as the 112th Congress begins its work and as President Obama prepares for a big midterm staff shake-up at the White House.
A lot of ground to cover tonight including early signs of confrontation as the president resubmits to Congress a long list of nominees the Republicans say are objectionable. And the Obama political organization warns its members his achievements are now under attack. Let's begin with the new speaker and his huge management challenge. John Boehner is a 61-year-old son of Ohio, one of 12 siblings from a blue-collar family. He's been in the House for 20 years. On day one as speaker, a humble tone and this promise --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE SPEAKER: No longer can we fall short. No longer can we kick the can down the road. The people voted to end business as usual. And today we begin to carry out their instructions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And already on day one some signs of a Republican retreat from some big campaign promises. CNN congressional correspondent -- senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash has that -- Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well John, the energy you talked about that you felt here on Capitol Hill you can still feel it and the anticipation of the 87 new Republicans who are going to be in the House. Many of them have never served in government before. Even those who have understand expectations are very high that they fulfill their campaign promises to cut spending, to shrink the size of government and to have a new open and transparent process.
When John Boehner, the now Speaker John Boehner, gave his speech today, he said, among the things he said was that he promises that there will be a more open process when it comes to putting legislation on the floor. He said it with some scorn towards Democrats for the way they handled things when Republicans were in the minority. But already Democrats are saying wait a minute, you promised that and one of the first major pieces of legislation, the first piece of legislation, repealing health care, Democrats won't be able to offer any amendments.
Second thing Republicans are being accused of backtracking on is something that we've heard so much of John; this is the pledge to America. Everybody who covers and follows politics knows what this is. It is the campaign document Republicans put out during the campaign on the House side. In this it says very clearly that they promise to roll back spending to 2008 levels and it says specifically it will be at least $100 billion. Guess what John, now Republicans are telling us it won't be that much, maybe about half, 50 to $60 billion. They say it's because the president submitted a budget that was never put in and that's why the calculations are off. But look that $100 billion figure, you know this, it was heard over and over again from John Boehner on down and now at least now they're saying maybe not.
KING: We're going to spend a lot of time on that because saying maybe not has huge consequences. But Dana, I want to show our viewers an example of persistence pays. All day long, you were on the House side of the Capitol, the speaker-to-be and then the actual speaker, John Boehner, walking by you and by you and by you. He wouldn't stop but just a short time ago you finally got the new speaker of the House to stop. And this is brief, but this is the first -- the first exchange between a reporter and the new speaker of the House. Let's see it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Will you stop now? I'm live.
BOEHNER: Are you really?
BASH: Yes, I swear. Will you come over here? Oh, no, no, you can't do that --
BASH: Wolf, Wolf, Wolf, Wolf --
BASH: Wait, wait, wait -- whoa -- whoa -- we have -- I have a very special guest. Thank you for stopping, Mr. Speaker. First time we can call you that. First, you got emotional. I don't think that's a big surprise at the beginning walking in but you gave a very deliberate speech about going forward. How do you feel right now?
BOEHNER: I feel good. It's time for the Congress to do what the American people expect of us. It's time for us to listen to the American people. They're the ones in charge and we will -- nice to see you.
BASH: Nice to see you, thank you for stopping this time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Thank you for stopping. You've known the speaker a long time, now Speaker John Boehner. He's in good spirits there, but huge challenges, huge management challenges ahead.
BASH: Oh, there's no question about it. You even talk to many of the new members particular in the hallways today, as I did, and they're making very clear they have -- they themselves have high expectations of their own leadership -- started with John Boehner. That they helped the Republican Party in general, especially in the House, fulfill all these promises. And it's not going to be easy because there -- as we talked about, very, very high expectations that they do a lot. And the thing that we need to remember is they may have control of the House but they don't have control of the Senate and they certainly don't have the White House and that does tie their hands.
KING: Dana Bash for us on Capitol Hill. I bet the Capitol police not so happy you grabbed the speaker of the House and let him get away there and I'm going to say on the record I'm not so happy he kissed my wife. I'll get over that I guess.
Keeping those promises, especially on spending and deficits is critical to the Tea Party favorites in the new Republican majority. Tim Scott of South Carolina is one of the Tea Party's most prominent voices. And we spoke a bit earlier outside the Capitol about the consequences if the new Republican majority fails to keep those promises.
KING: I want to get to some of the tough choices you'll face in the weeks ahead. But first what about this day, Tim Scott, African- American congressman from South Carolina, a Tea Party guy. That's the office now.
REP. TIM SCOTT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: It's not a bad deal, I'll tell you that much. It's a blessing to be here today, to tell you the truth. I look at it as an opportunity to serve the people that I grew up with for the last 45 years essentially so this for me is a dream come true in many ways but I understand that it is an amazing responsibility and an incredible opportunity for us to put America back on the right track, and hopefully we'll start today.
KING: And part of that is keeping promises you made in the campaign and the pledge to America said -- you know cut $100 billion in the first year and already we hear some indications, well 100 billion is really hard, maybe it should be 50 billion, maybe it should be 60 billion. Will you accept it if your leadership says sorry, we got to do less?
SCOTT: I think what we first should do is make sure that we look for $300 billion in cuts. Even if we don't find them, we should at least start there because that's the number necessary to avoid an increase in the debt ceiling. I don't think we'll find it. We certainly won't find common ground on that, but if we start there, it will be find -- be easier to find the $100 billion.
Ultimately, getting to a number that's less than $100 billion would be problematic from my perspective. It's not what we said we were going to do. I would like for us to stick with it and find that common ground if we can on $100 billion of savings. If you don't find the common ground, you can't make progress. But should you look for it? The answer is yes.
KING: The question then though if you don't get it, what are the consequences? In the sense, would you refuse to support an increase in the debt limit and put the government at risk of being in default if the leadership isn't genuine and doesn't say, here's 100 billion or at least here's 90 billion or --
SCOTT: I'm not sure I would phrase it as a lack of sincerity. I would simply say that we have to find common ground on the savings that we need to cut. Second (INAUDIBLE) ceiling that will be a separate vote unto itself. For me to find credibility to have a conversation about raising the ceiling will first start with finding the cuts. If we don't have a fundamental process of engaging ourselves and looking for those cuts, I'd have to say I'd have a very big problem voting for an increase in that ceiling.
KING: One of the big questions we all have is how does this new class of Republicans who come in after this resurgent year, the Tea Party year, a lot of energy at the grassroots, sure, we're going to see if you get along with the president and the Democrats. But the first question is can you get along yourself in the Republican family? A lot of the establishment guys who have been here who might say you know welcome but sorry, young man it doesn't move as fast as you would like. How's that part going?
SCOTT: I think you will have 87 freshmen who will be pretty ticked off. Truth of the matter is what we plan on doing is be a part of the process to lead the process in many ways to understand that time helps your understanding sometimes, at the same time, time sometimes dulls the senses. So the goal for us is to take the new -- and those who are the veterans put us together and hopefully we'll have a good foundation to listen to what the American people have been saying for the last 18 months. And then commence to creating the plan to actually accomplishing what they say are their priorities, which are jobs and the economy and to stop legislation that kills the economy.
KING: And the meetings to prepare for this, the Republicans all get together and we're not allowed in of course, and we understand that, you're all getting to know each other, you're (INAUDIBLE) make your plan, but when you campaign on cuts, I'm not saying it's easy, but it's easier to say we're going to go cut, we're going to go back to 2008 levels, but then when you have to do it, you're talking about, do we cut some kid's Pell grant, do we cut research for something like cancer or some disease like that, do we cut mass transit funds or that high-speed rail project out there or the construction project in somebody's district? Do you believe your new colleagues in the building, are they prepared when it comes to the specifics, which are hard and painful, to make those choices?
SCOTT: I say we'll find out over the next 90 to 100 days. I think you'll find that we have 87 freshmen who are very prepared to take a hard look at a budget and make very difficult choices. Let's remember, however, that only four years ago our budget was about 25 percent less than it is today. So to say that you cannot identify the cuts would be inconsistent with reality. Identifying is one challenge. The other challenge is finding common ground on those cuts that are necessary for us to avoid that ceiling cap increase. I think you'll find a robust conversation in the Republican conference on how to do so. I look forward to that conversation.
KING: A lot of politics still ahead, but first a little reminder of that civics class you took many, many years ago. Why does it matter that we have a new speaker of the House and a new Congress in town? Well the president of the United States of course he calls the shots. Next in line is the vice president of the United States. Here if we have a God forbid moment in the United States of America is where all this matters.
The speaker of the House is next in line to the presidency. That is John Boehner as of tonight, not Nancy Pelosi. From John Boehner, who is second in line, it goes to the president pro tem of the Senate, the veteran Democratic Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii. Then from there it goes to back to the cabinet, the secretary of state. Hillary Clinton at the moment is next in line.
After the secretary of state comes the treasury secretary, that's Tim Geithner at the moment and then on and on and on we go through the cabinet. So this is one of the important changes in Washington as the new Congress comes to town and we get a new speaker.
Up next, we talk to another new Republican power. The committee chairman who says the Obama administration is corrupt and who promises dozens of investigations. And later from politics to the personal, one of John Boehner's brothers tells us where the new speaker fit in a family of 12.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say more the enforcer of the younger ones (ph) of not getting their homework done and stuff. I don't know if you've heard some of the stories that my sister tells about him being a third parent.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KING: If you want to understand how the Republican takeover of the House will change Washington, one place to watch closely is the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Its new chairman is California Republican Darrell Issa. And even before he got his gavel today, Chairman Issa was promising to use his subpoena power to investigate Obama administration spending and more.
His tough talk already earning him fans on the right and many critics who say he would do well to remember that old adage, innocent until proven guilty. I spoke to Chairman Issa earlier on Capitol Hill.
KING: You have promised aggressive investigations of this administration and you've drawn some criticism even before you become chairman in just a few moments because you have already said on the record, before you've had any hearings, any evidence, and used your subpoena power before you that you believe this is one of the most corrupt administrations in history. Do you owe the president and his administration an apology for saying that before you've done your work?
REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: Well, in the last Congress we saw that this last Congress and the Congress before handed out huge amounts of money to this administration that were misused. TARP money never authorized the bailout of car companies and their union pension programs. Well, causing the bond holders to be stiff. So there has been a great deal of misuse of those monies, but I've always said that Congress is more to blame. We have absolute obligation to deliver our money without that kind of specificity. So you know I've never blamed the administration alone. They were given this money. They misused it but the fact is they were given this money.
KING: But you have called them corrupt, sir. You just twice used the word "misused". That's a judgment on your part and you will have subpoena power. You can have hearings. You can call out the witnesses, and we will see what the evidence shows in the weeks and months ahead. Was it wrong to use the word "corrupt", which you have used repeatedly when you have not yet had a hearing?
ISSA: I think people misunderstand the meaning of the word "corrupt" and obviously CNN does. Corrupt or corrupted or failure, it's no different than a disk (ph) drive that's giving you some bits that are wrong. I've never said it is illegal. I've never made any of the statements that are often said on CNN that imply wrongdoing of the president at a criminal level, but I do believe that the American people have changed the control of the House in no small part because they saw more regulation, more misspending than they ever dreamed possible and they need Republicans to be part of the balance to bring that back under control and we have to be honest.
A lot of that missed conduct, if you will, of too much loose money started years ago under Republican president, Republican Congress. So understand, as chairman, I intend to go back to the beginning of the Bush administration and look at the early funding of the war and many things that can never be allowed to happen again. We cannot give the president blank checks for walking around money.
KING: I would give you myself personally as someone who's been here 22 years a big amen if what you conduct is aggressive congressional oversight, fair oversight of the administration. So help the American people on your first day in power understand where you draw the lines. What is first out of the box for Chairman Darrell Issa? And you will face partisan pressure. You know that, sir, in your new job. Where do you draw the line between oversight and witch- hunt?
ISSA: Well first of all, I said on Sunday that the administration doesn't need additional lawyers, they need more accountants. We intend on working with the IGs and with all the government accounting organizations to try to find opportunities for saving. Look for redundant programs and so on. We're going to begin not by doing any witch hunts but by taking the bipartisan work that Chairman Towns and I were doing in the last Congress and continuing it.
That will include things like food and drug safety. It will include looking at Countrywide and the programs that they had that may have led to at least in no small part the loss to the American people. As you know, Freddie and Fannie both received $1.3 billion each in settlement from the Countrywide misconduct. So we're going to continue on those because they're bipartisan.
The subpoena against Countrywide was issued by Chairman Towns. As we go forward, though, we're going to be looking for job killers and regulatory excesses. We're going to be calling in business, if you will employers and job creators and trying to get their look on what it takes to get America working again.
KING: It's fine for Chairman Issa to suggest the problem is that we here at CNN don't understand the definition of corrupt. That's part of the give and take between journalists and politicians. Don't worry about that.
But you make the call. Here's what the first entry in the dictionary says. Corrupt -- guilty of dishonest practices as bribery, lacking integrity, crooked. I've been at this for 25 years now and my take is the chairman was smartly retreating some from his earlier corrupt label. He just doesn't want to say so.
Let's ask CNN contributor Erick Erickson, the editor of the influential conservative blog RedState.com, Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher and veteran "TIME" political correspondent Joe Klein. Joe, I'm sure politicians have told you many times over the years you just don't understand.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. JOE KLEIN, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, TIME MAGAZINE: Well you know that segment could also have been called I'm back pedaling as fast as I can and as you said, amen. If he really wants to do oversight of some significant, you know, spending programs that have been enacted over the last couple of years, that's really a good thing. And also there needs to be a deep investigation into Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
But there's no hint, not even the vaguest hint, of corruption about the Obama administration so far in any way, shape or form. And as far as I can tell, the stimulus money has been disbursed in a pretty honest way. You can disagree with the need for it but it's been honestly dispersed.
KING: What about that, Erick Erickson? You know there's a lot of fervor on the right. Go get him, go get him, go get him, investigate, investigate, subpoena, subpoena, subpoena. There is a fine line. There is a fine line both from a legal and a legitimate investigative point and the people around Bill Clinton would tell you, amen, Ken Starr and then the Republicans in the House did them a great favor politically in overstepping.
ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, I think there's going to be some disappointment on the right with exactly what Darrell Issa does. In fact I'm already hearing today that there are a lot of Republicans on the Hill concerned about exactly how far back he's going to go into the Bush administration and some of the spending there and looking at some of the promises of appointments that the Obama administration has made to people like Joe Sestak versus what the Bush administration did. I suspect though what we're going to see out of Issa given I think that there's wide recognition he would like to potentially run for higher office in California. He's going to try to come off as reasonable as possible and financially prudent and look at both Republican and Democratic spending.
KING: What's your sense there, Cornell? Because the reason I said amen and a lot of liberals out there will send me angry messages, is that if we have legitimate congressional oversight, if we had it in the past we might know more about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, for example, and what exactly did the intelligence show before we went to war. Joe made a great point about Freddie and Fannie.
And sure we should look at where the stimulus money went, but today before us there's no evidence of malfeasance. You can question should you have funded this project or that project. Is that what you see in Darrell Issa?
CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Well I think it's problematic for the Republicans because I mean Joe's right. There hasn't -- there's -- there's the ideal of corruption around this administration is something that's new. But it starts off on the wrong foot. Because clearly what he's talking about is corrupt, is the government spending money in ways that he doesn't agree with.
And you know we just had an election where the president's approval ratings actually took a pop up because he looked to be working in a bipartisan sort of fashion. For him to come out of the box and start saying that the president's guilty and this administration's the most corrupt of all times, it's got to be going against the message that Speaker Boehner actually sort of -- or Boehner wants to be putting out there today, sort of you know that working together with Democrats to move the country forward. This politically has got to be really problematic for the incoming speaker.
KING: All right, Erick, Cornell and Joe are going to stay with us. And when we come back they, along with Senator John McCain, help us assess how hard it will be for the new Republican majority to live up to its promises and the consequences if it doesn't.
KING: Divided government is hardly new in the United States. President Reagan had to deal with a Democratic House and vice versa. There are some who say having a Republican Congress was the best thing that ever happened to President Clinton though he still takes issue with that impeachment thing. Now it's President Obama's turn and so while on Capitol Hill today, I touched base with a Republican who remembers the Reagan and the Clinton days and who had hoped that he would be the president now. Senator John McCain was adamant Republicans better keep their promises to slash spending.
KING: What happens six months from now if the new Republican majority in the House and the bigger Republican class in the Senate can't go to the American people and say, here it is?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Well, if we can't justify what we're doing and that means significant cuts, then I think you're going to see, as I said, and I've said this before, a third party movement in the United States. Very hard, the way the system is set up, as you know, but I think you'll see some glimmer of that. I think the second thing is that we're going to have to sit down and reform entitlements and that means tough decisions. You can't -- probably can't get it all out of just, you know, the small amount of discriminatory -- discretionary --
KING: You came here -- you like to tell the story of being a young foot soldier in the Reagan revolution. To the young foot soldiers who come in now full of zeal thinking I campaigned on this. I have to do it and I better do it by tomorrow. What's your advice because governing is a lot harder than campaigning?
MCCAIN: My advice is don't lose your zeal. Don't lose your idealism. Don't let this town water that down and remember that you don't want to become a Washington person. I mentioned this once before. I succeeded John Rhodes, who was here 30 years in the House and his advice to me was the first six months you're here you're going to wonder how you got here. The next six months you're going to wonder how all the others got here.
KING: What is your role? Ask the question, sometimes you like the question, sometimes you maybe don't. But as a senior member of the Republican Party, as somebody who ran against this president of the United States, who's here in the United States Senate now, a lot of people think divided government is going to mean gridlock. What it's going to need to not have gridlocks is grown-ups. people who are willing to say all right I'm not getting everything I want, but I'll cut that deal. Are you one of those people?
MCCAIN: Adhere (ph) to the lessons of the election but work together on issues that and again I go back to the president wants the power to eliminate a lot of wasteful spending. I want to give him that power, the enhanced rescission. What we used to call the line item veto. I'm very ready to sit down tomorrow and work with the president on things that we believe -- if we are truly going to fix Social Security and Medicare, it's going to have to be bipartisan. The way it was between Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill back in 1983.
KING: What is the biggest risk for the Republican, the resurgent Republican Party at this moment?
MCCAIN: Not fulfilling the promises that were made to the Tea Partiers. Do not underestimate the influence of the tea parties on elections today including primaries.
KING: Let's continue the conversation with Erick Erickson, Cornell Belcher and Joe Klein. And Erick, I want to go to you first because this is the pledge to America. The House Republicans ran on this. And there's two references at least to cutting at least $100 billion in the first year. And now you hear from some Republicans, well, you know, the budget year's already started. Or, well, that's going to be hard.
You know they knew when they printed this when they were going to take power just like they know July 4th comes in July and Christmas comes in December. Did they not?
ERICKSON: Yes, I hope people who really were firing shots at me for saying it was all pablum and dreckle (ph) finally realize I was right about that stinking pledge. You know John McCain is totally right on this issue. You've got a lot of House Republicans now in leadership positions who were saying oh my god, what did we promise? Well they've got a lot of Tea Party activists out there who are going to consider primarying them. I don't think we'll have a third party. I think we'll have more aggressive vicious primaries than we had this year and to John McCain's point, at the very end he mentioned primaries, he would know because he saw that in 2010.
KING: You know Joe, you've been through this before and the president has been through it. I mean he was going to close Gitmo his first year. He was going to have comprehensive immigration reform in his first year. Governing is a whole lot harder than campaigning.
KLEIN: Well I -- you know I think John McCain is precisely wrong actually. I think that if you look at the polls and what I saw out in the country this year, the American people are not at all interested in entitlement reforms. They're thinking you took away our jobs, sent them overseas. You took away the value of our homes, now you want to take away our pension and our old age health care -- the hell with you.
The polls say that the American people want to see higher taxes on the rich and that they want to see the defense budget cut. But I don't think that's going to happen this year either. I don't think all that much is going to happen. Although there can be deals made on Social Security at the margins.
KING: I think, Cornell, we're going to have a short-term period where everybody tries to feel out their position and then we'll see if we can have bipartisan compromise, see if we can have divided government that works. And I mention that because here's a tweet from @Barack Obama today.
It's up to you to show that you care too much about this country to let it fall backward. Essentially the Republicans take control of the House, the Obama administration in his name warning they're going to take it back. Then this e-mail from Organizing for America, the first line which is our progress is under attack. The Republicans are going to repeal health care in the House. They know they can't get it all the way done. The Democrats in these e-mails are warning, oh, my god, the sky is falling. What happens?
BELCHER: Well guess what, politics has broken out already, surprise, surprise. And you're going to see the Democrats to a certain extent take some of what the Republicans, very successful (INAUDIBLE) Republicans, just did with us by go -- by rolling out some of these politics, but on the other side, I mean this does get hard. I mean because when you look at the federal budget unless you're talking about touching these entitlements, which there is no constituency for, unless you're talking about touching the military budget, which, again, it's going to be really tough, the way the military bases are spread over the country and how the spending is done. To get to $100 billion in spending cuts gets really hard. You're not going to get there by cutting these little things. You're going to have to touch entitlements. You're going to touch the military. Or you are going to do what the American people want to do, but what Republicans don't want to do, is raise taxes on the rich. They've got some really tough decisions ahead.
KING: All right, Joe, Cornell, Erick, thanks for coming in on this first big day. We'll keep in touch. We'll watch if they can keep those promises and just what happens.
And one is a veteran House Republican who says big change takes time. The other is a new Tea Party senator who says change better come fast. Father and son, Ron and Rand Paul, after the break.
KING: With us now, father and son team in the new Congress; Congressman Ron Paul in the House, a new chairman, Senator Rand Paul, Tea Party favorite in the Senate.
I want to ask you, on this first day, there are some saying already they see signs of some retreat. That the pledge that the House Republicans ran on said we will cut at least $100 billion in the first year. Now we're hearing that number, well, maybe that's hard, we'll be in the middle of the year, maybe we should do $50 or $60 or $30 or $40. Is that a retreat from your point of view?
REP. RON PAUL, (R) TEXAS: I think it's facing up to reality. They don't have the votes. They don't have the support. I predict the budget this year will be bigger than last year. I don't think the budgets are going to shrink. Because just the cost of living increases and other things, there's so much momentum, I don't have high expectations that we are going to be cutting much.
KING: Well, if you don't have high expectations you're going to be cutting much, what does it say about the credibility of the campaign platform you just ran on? If the budget is going to be bigger.
SEN. RAND PAUL, (R) KENTUCKY: I'm a little more optimistic than that actually. I think actually we're introducing a bill that will be $500 billion in cuts. If you simply go back to 2008 levels, that's $100 billion. We will push the leadership, House and Senate to try to listen to the Tea Party. The Tea Party does want spending cuts. We do want to address the deficit. I'm more optimistic. I think we will get some concessions.
KING: What do you base the optimism on? You'll be in the Senate, where the Democrats still have the majority. If you are going to get those cuts, your dad chamber needs to lead. The House needs to lead. So, if they're backing down already, that has to cause you concern.
RAND PAUL: Well, for example, let's say the debt ceiling has come up, I think we should attach something to a debt ceiling, either spending cuts or balanced budget rule. Say, we're not voting to raise the debt ceiling unless you attach spending cuts to the vote.
KING: What is it going to say, as you know, you're assuming this power, it's an awesome responsibility and a new relationship with the American people, your first steps sort of set the tone. The Democrats will say, they're retreating, they can't keep their promises.
RON PAUL: I think the desire is there. And they want to do it. I think the momentum and the size of government is so big and so out of control, I'm afraid they can't get a handle on it. We will have more people supportive and they want to do it, and they will try but already year you're seeing these cracks. As I anticipated they would be.
But it represents how huge the problem is. And that's why I think that the approach has to be more than just cutting here and there. I think we have to change our attitude about what the role of government out to be. As long as we think we can police and run the world, as long as we think we can have endless welfare for everybody, and nobody gets short-changed, it won't work.
KING: What happens when you go home? You shocked the establishment. You beat the Republican Party's establishment candidate in the primary with the support of the Tea Party. Grassroots people who are fed up at all the Republican spending. What happens when you go home and say, I'm sorry. I got there, I did my job. But the rest of the Republicans wouldn't help me?
RAND PAUL: I've told them throughout the whole campaign, everywhere I went, you're concerned about the debt, I'm not bringing you home any pork barrel spending. I'm not bringing you a new shiny building for Louisville or Lexington. We're out of money. People understand that. I ran on that. I will continue to fight for that. I'm more optimistic as to what we can do. There's 87 new Republicans in the House. I think they steadfastly got the message that we have to reduce spending. And I think they will transmit that message. I hope they don't cave in to the leadership who might want to compromise already. I think those 87 Republicans will have some influence.
KING: How much tension is there between the new breed coming in with this new grassroots support? And you've been here a while. You've challenged the establishment while you've been here. But you know the folks who have been here a long time, who say, oh, go slow. Go easy. We've got a lot people who will be mad at us if we do it so hard and so fast.
RON PAUL: I think we'll have an easier time in the House. I think they will do much better. It was when we had a Republican president sending the orders down to a Republican Congress, they did whatever the president told them. Now with a Democratic president it's very healthy to have a Republican House. Wish we had a Republican Senate, then maybe we would have a much better chance.
But no, I think the House, the people that have been in the House, got the Tea Party message. I think they're going to come in this direction. The big test is going to be on this raising the debt limit. That will tell us a lot about how steadfast they're going to be.
KING: If you want cuts to go with the debt limit, let's be specific, people. What are we talking about? These are hard choices you have to make. You think the government is spending money it doesn't have? Talking about reducing Pell grants? Reducing Pell grants? Talking about maybe limiting the amount of money that goes to medical research? What is it that has to be cut?
RAND PAUL: If you go to 2008 levels, that's $100 billion.
KING: You are saying across the board?
RAND PAUL: Across the board is your baseline.
And then Secretary Gates has talked about $100 billion from military spending. The debt commission talked about $100 billion. Absolutely, you are going to have a compromise. You will have to cut money from the military as well as from the domestic budget. That is the compromise that has to happen. You have to look across the board for spending cuts.
KING: And in six or nine months the Republicans have not kept those promises, what should the American people think?
RAND PAUL: They should kick them all out and send us all home.
RON PAUL: I think they should kick the people out who voted incorrectly. If we've been voting the right way, why should you get kicked out for that? No, you should kick out the people who vote for the spending.
KING: Let me ask you lastly about this, father/son in Congress, is it strange, is it odd, is it fun, is it all of the above?
RAND PAUL: I think so, very entertaining, also daunting.
RON PAUL: You know what I've told him is you take your opportunities in politics and you go after a seat. And when you have a chance you win it. He took an opportunity, won a Senate seat, and some day he just might make it to the House of Representatives.
KING: You think compromise is a dirty word?
RAND PAUL: Well, you know, Henry Clay was a great compromiser from Kentucky. But some of the things he compromised on were not that good. He compromised on allowing slavery and the extension of slavery. So sometimes it's not right to compromise. Think you do stand for what you believe in. People will respect you if you stand for what you believe in. I think we're at a point in our country where the debt really threatens the foundation of our country. And the people who voted for me I think want when to come up here and stand up for cutting spending.
KING: Senator Rand Paul, Congressman Ron Paul, appreciate your time on this big day.
RAND PAUL: Thank you.
KING: Next, a shift from politics to a startling new medical story breaking tonight. A new investigation says the scare about a measles vaccine possibly causing autism was based on deliberately falsified data.
KING: Welcome back. Let's check in with Joe Johns for the latest news you need to know right now.
KING: Troubling story now. A new investigation says one of the biggest medical controversies of the past decade is based on falsified data. The British Medical Journal's just released study debunks claims the childhood vaccine against mumps and measles and Rubella, causes autism and labels the vaccine square, quote, "an elaborate fraud".
CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us.
Elizabeth, these are very serious allegations. Break down the details.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: They certainly are, John.
In 1998, this study that linked the MMR vaccine to autism, it was the study that scared the stuffing out of millions of parents worldwide. The basis of this study back in '98 said that 12 kids were totally normal, perfectly fine, got the vaccine and within days developed autism.
But now the study that's out today in the "British Medical Journal" says uh-uh, that's not true. He said, the investigative journalist who wrote it says when you look at the data, some of these kids had signs of autism before they got the vaccine. And some of these 12 kids never got autism. And another group of the 12, they got autism but it was months and months later. So how could it possibly be linked to the vaccine?
I spoke to the investigative journalist who wrote this new report and here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN DEER, AUTHOR OF BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL ARTICLE: All the way through the paper, we see Doctor Wakefield chiseling the data, falsifying medical histories of children, and essentially concocting a picture which was the picture he was contracted to find by lawyers hoping to sue vaccine manufacturers and to create a vaccine scare.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COHEN: Doctor Andrew Wakefield is the author of that original study. He'll be on Anderson Cooper tonight. And I know he's going to tell Anderson his critic is actually a hit man for the vaccine industry, but he didn't offer any proof of that, John.
KING: Disturbing story, Elizabeth. We'll stay on top of it. Thanks so much for your help today.
Wow! A lot of parents have used that study to make big decisions. When we come back, John Boehner is the new speaker of the House. He is also one of 12 siblings. What can Bob Boehner, his brother, tell us about the new powerful speaker of the House.
KING: Literally a sign of the times there, the new plaque outside the office of the new speaker of the House, John A. Boehner. Now, speakers often refer to their job as herding sheep. Well, this speaker you might say begins with more experience than most. He's one of 12 children. They grew up in a two-bedroom house; 10 of the Boehner siblings were on hand to watch their brother take the gavel. I had a few minutes with one of them, Bob Boehner.
KING: What traits from the family and his upbringing do you think will best serve him now when he has a very difficult challenge? You have a Democratic president. You have a Republican speaker of the House. As you well know, he has a restive impatient new membership that wants to move, probably, more quickly than Washington can move.
BOB BOEHNER, SPEAKER BOEHNER'S BROTHER: Well, John's got a really good quality of connecting with people and trying to build a consensus before he moves forward. Much like -- we were very young, nine, 10 years old, cleaning the bar. You couldn't kick customers out. You had to work with the customers and talk to them. I think his ability to work with people no matter what their ideas are will put him in pretty good stead at this point.
KING: He likes to golf. We know that. He likes to smoke. We wish we could disabuse him of that habit. He is known to like to tan and be out in the sun. And he is known to occasionally tip a glass and enjoy a drink. What about your brother don't we know? And is that portrait of him, is that genuine and real? Or is part of that caricature?
B. BOEHNER: I think some of that's caricature. Some of his critics like to point to that. I like to play golf as well. Have a beer once in a while. I don't smoke. But, you know, I think John likes to have fun, but when it gets time to work hard, he's the first one in line to work hard.
KING: Another thing about your brother, and we saw it today, he's a very emotional guy. And he tears up at big moments. We see him wiping. Has that always been the case?
B. BOEHNER: I think as we get older, our family, as we get older, we get more sentimental. I think he thinks more about what Mom and Dad would have thought seeing all this going on. I think that's what tears him up a little bit. He really held it together during the speech on the House floor. I couldn't be prouder, because I think if he lost it on the House floor, we were going to lose it up in the balcony as well.
KING: What don't we know about your brother? What is there that has not been put out in the public sphere? What have you learned watching him through the rough campaign year and to the historic moment today? What have you learned about him that maybe you didn't know?
B. BOEHNER: Well, I think the press has learned about as much as I know it him because this is my number 35 interview since August. One of the things I've learned through this campaign that I think is different is he's more focused on what he feels needs to be done. Because he knows he only has two years to get started and get something accomplished, otherwise, they're going t kick the Republicans out in a heart beat, in two years. So I think he's very focused and determined to get something done this term. (END VIDEOTAPE)
KING: Speaker's brother is not involved in politics but that two-year window is something heard a lot from Republicans today. Let's reflect more on the moment and the busy news day with Senior Political Analyst Gloria Borger, National Political Correspondent Jessica Yellin and our Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash is on the Capitol Hill.
A big transition day, we have spent most of the hour looking at the republican transition. But we're about to have, it appears, a Democratic transition. Bill Daley, the former Commerce secretary, Chicago business executive, was at the White House for a while today. Could be the next chief of staff. Robert Gibbs, confirmed today what we reported last night, he's going to leave. It's a big moment for the Obama White House.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It would be a big change. It's an adjustment not just because of the Republicans taking over control of the House but also a shift to campaign themes and focusing on messages. They know they need strategy. Bill Daley is a guy who knows what it is to campaign. He has negotiated NAFTA with Congress, he has steadied the ship, and came in and fixed up the Gore campaign. Seems like a good man for these times at the White House.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: You know it is interesting the timing of this, today. Gibbs goes out gives a press conference, his briefing, saying I'm leaving, the day the Republicans take over the House of Representatives. Not the bigger news story really.
And it also signifies I think this White House has decided the bubble has gotten way too small and that if they're going to have a bubble, or they should try to burst it, to overuse the met metaphor
KING: A bigger bubble, and a burst bubble?
BORGER: Overused bad metaphor, but whatever. That they need to kind of reach outside a little bit. Although Daley, as we know, does come from Chicago.
KING: And Dana, what about the Democratic transition on the Hill. Nancy Pelosi spoke for 11 minutes today, led many to believe, boy, she really didn't want to give up that gavel.
DANA BASH, CNN SR. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, she didn't. It was kind of surprising. I'm not sure if you and our other colleagues there agree. She used the speech, at least at the beginning, it was kind of a campaign speech. She listed pretty much everything that was in the health care bill. Something that is unusual for a moment like that.
She ended up, came around with a quite gracious introduction to John Boehner. Yes, this is not an easy transition at all. In some ways, rhetorically, it is going to be easier, because it's always easier to be the flame thrower from the outside. The fact of the matter is that Nancy Pelosi, after four years of being the first famous female speaker, it's gone now and that's a hard thing to swallow.
BORGER: But Dana, as you said yesterday, she has no regrets, right? She didn't seem to have a lot of regrets today.
KING: What's the first test of whether we are going to have gridlock? I mean, everyone's going to feel themselves out. They're going to be partisan for a couple of days to see how established they are with their political standing. But what is their first test of, will this town be different. Can they get along like grown ups?
YELLIN: I think the debt ceiling is going to be a huge test.
BORGER: Yeah, in march. I think that's going to be the first big, big test. And the reaction to the president's State of the Union, because he's going to propose some new things.
KING: And do the Democrats put on the table a series of spending cuts, budget decisions that the Republicans have to take seriously, right?
BASH: Yes, that is going to be one question. I think obviously understandably, appropriately so the focus was on John Boehner today. He's second in line to the presidency. The person we're going to be watching is Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, because that's where the deals are going to have to be done and if anybody's got to do it it's got to be him.
KING: All right, big changes in town today. Big changes coming Friday. Apparently the White House shake-up, we might learn more about that on Friday. Dana, Gloria, Jess, appreciate you coming. Maybe tomorrow, why not? They'll do it when they want to do it.
When we come back, Pete Dominick does he part to boost-Las Vegas? How did Pete get to Vegas? Pete, working the Vegas economy on The Strip, next.
KING: Jobs, jobs, jobs, it is the mantra of all the politicians right now. No state feeling the pain more than Nevada. Offbeat Reporter Pete Dominick doing his part to boost the local economy out there.
PETE DOMINICK, CNN OFFBEAT REPORTER: Hey, John King. I'm at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. I'm going to come out here and try to tell people they have to stimulate Nevada's economy. One of the hardest hit states in the country, high unemployment. My job is to get all the people visiting and working at the Consumer Electronics Show to spend money. I'm the unofficial Nevada economy stimulator. Here I go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The way I gamble, I always lose so I'm losing quite a bit.
DOMINICK: I'm losing my life savings.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gambling and food.
DOMINICK: Gambling and food. Any other entertainment? Will you take in a show?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hotels.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will not.
DOMINICK: Why do you hate entertainers?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't hate entertainers.
DOMINICK: Oh, come on.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Slot machines, restaurants.
DOMINICK: Leave as much as you can in the slots. I want you to leave here empty-handed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Empty-handed.
DOMINICK: You got it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
DOMINICK: You promise?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah. I can charge it all back to work, right?
DOMINICK: Whatever you want to do, yeah.
Stimulate the economy while you're here, you promise to do that?
DOMINICK: What will you be spending your money on?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to lose a lot of money.
DOMINICK: You promise you'll lose a lot of money?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gambling, yeah.
DOMINICK: What were you going to say? What was the second one? The other thing people do here, gambling and --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: oh, prostitution?
DOMINICK: No, I wasn't going to say that!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you were. It was in your eyes.
DOMINICK: What about just leaving the money at your house?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That will work.
DOMINICK: Is it OK, if I just come over to your house and leave cash?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.
DOMINICK: That's probably the best stimulus of at all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll tell you what, I have an open pocket, right here.
DOMINICK: You have an open pocket.
This is as close as I'm going to leaving a dollar on any human out there. OK, Sweetheart? It's just this guy, he's harmless.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a guy.
DOMINICK: It's totally fine.
There you go, John King. I did my best to influence the people here visiting and working at the Consumer Electronics Show to spend as much money as they can in this state, Nevada.
For the rest of you, come on out here and leave your money here as well.
Back to you, John.
KING: I hope Pete brings me home a gadget. That's all for us tonight. PARKER SPITZER starts right now.