There’s a 65 percent chance tax reform will pass this year, though it may not include repeal of the estate tax. But it will likely include repeal of the individual mandate provision in the Affordable Care Act that requires all Americans to have health insurance, buying it on their own if necessary. Those were some of the predictions of Fox News anchor Bret Baier when he spoke at the WANADA Annual Meeting and Luncheon at the Ritz-Carlton/Tysons Corner, VA, November 17, 2017.
Baier, who has reported from all over the world for Fox News, talked about everything from his recent trip to Asia with the president to the harrowing first few days of his son’s life. He even offered a passable imitation of President Trump’s voice and manner of speaking.
Baier’s own career has seen a meteoric rise that he attributes to hard work and fortunate timing. “I started with Fox when Fox started,” he said. The Atlanta bureau for FOX was the computer, phone and fax machine in his apartment.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, Baier’s boss told him to go up to New York to cover the World Trade Center bombing. With the airports closed, he started driving from Atlanta, then stopped in Washington and reported on the bombing of the Pentagon as it burned behind him. Two weeks later, Baier became national security correspondent for Fox.
For a reporter covering the White House, as Baier does now, “every morning is like a Christmas present” because there’s so much news every day. President Trump has sent 1,690 tweets since he became president, most of them between 6 and 8 a.m each day.
After Baier played golf with Trump in Florida before he started running for president, Baier realized that for Trump, “it’s all about the W[in]–he doesn’t care how he gets there, he’s got to win.”
Right now, Trump’s win is the tax bill. Seven Senators are in different stages of “maybe,” but the chances are good that the bill will at least get to conference, Baier predicted. He gave the tax bill a 65 percent chance of passing this year, but said the final version may not include repeal of the estate tax.
It’s no secret that most people in the Washington area are not Trump fans, said Baier. Many believe he has accomplished very little this year. But to his base, Trump’s first year in office has been a grand success.
“If you’re a Trump supporter in the middle of the country, you’re excited about Neil Gorsuch being on the Supreme Court, about Clinton not being president, that abortion is being rolled back,” Baier said. “Trump is like a bull in the china shop in Washington, and his base likes that.”
Closer to dealers’ concerns, Baier said that with Mick Mulvaney on deck to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, big changes will be implemented at the agency and to the Dodd-Frank finance reform.
Asked what would help change the polarization of American politics, Baier said, “A lot of people on the Hill want to compromise, but they’re been forced back to their corners by their political parties.”
He also referenced the need to deal with the gerrymandering of electoral districts across the country. A regional primary system is one possible solution, Baier said.
“Trump’s election will change things,” said Baier. More businesspeople will run for president now, such as Howard Schultz, founder of Starbucks. (A recent analysis in The Washington Post said Schultz “sure sounds like a 2020 presidential candidate.”)
“That’s what Trump’s election was about,” Baier said, “the frustration of not getting things done. Bernie Sanders was an example of that on the left.”
Baier donates all his speaking fees to the Children’s National Medical Center. After his son was born with five congenital heart defects that were successfully treated by 8 hours of open heart surgery at the Medical Center.
“An event like that changes your life forever,” Baier said, noting that his son had two more open heart surgeries by the time he was 6 years old, and nine angioplasties. Now the boy is healthy and athletic.
After his lunch presentation, Baier met with a number of WANADA members who stayed for an exclusive “fireside chat” hosted by Kindred-Line member Keith Lemer of WellNet Healthcare, the sponsor of the chat. A few observations from Baier at that session:
- Former White House chief of staff Steve Bannon has more power outside the White House than when he was in it. “He’s successful in getting things done, which is helpful in stirring up the base.”
- Republican candidate Roy Moore is likely to lose the Senate race in Alabama.
- There will be more indictments in the Russia probe, but “I don’t know that it will get to Trump.”
- Baier’s aim in his position at Fox: “I try to be a voice of reason and not get too carried away on any one thing.”
- To those who say Trump has not accomplished anything in his first year: He has done a lot to roll back regulations. And “he’s changed the dynamic of the judicial system more than any other president.”
Many citizens are concerned about the current rifts in the nation. But Baier is optimistic.
“The country is resilient,” he said. “No matter what happens, America is what we make it.”Download Bulletin PDF