Shields and Brooks - NewsHour with Jim Lehrer - PBS Podcast
Catch the most recent appearances by NewsHour political analysts syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.
People Who Liked Shields and Brooks - NewsHour with Jim Lehrer - PBS Podcast Also Liked:
Reviews & Ratings
User Reviews Rate this title
If this Podcast isn't working, please let us know by emailing us and we will try to fix it ASAP:
| Podcast Feed URL:|
Shields and Gerson on Cold War echoes, campaign financing
Fri, Mar 07, 2014
Watch Video | Listen to the Audio
JUDY WOODRUFF: And to the analysis of Shields and Gerson.
Jeff is back and in charge of that.
JEFFREY BROWN: And that’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson.
David Brooks is away today.
Well, gentlemen, let’s go back to the beginning of that interview we just heard.
Mark, the NATO treaty, the commitment to come to the aid of Eastern European countries, a confrontation with Russia, Cold War type of talk.
MARK SHIELDS: It — well, I think the gravity of the situation was very much underlined by General Dempsey.
I mean, he — he was serious. He didn’t pretend that it wasn’t. He didn’t want this to be “The Guns of August,” that we stumbled into something. He said he’s keeping — want to open the lines of communication with his counterpart in Russia, as well as urging and emphasizing diplomatic efforts.
JEFFREY BROWN: What jumped out to you, Michael?
MICHAEL GERSON: Well, it really struck me how scared the Eastern Europeans must be, all of these things, talking about Article 5, talking about troop movements.
They’re needed, but it’s frightening that they’re needed. Vladimir Putin wants to re-litigate the end of the Cold War. That’s one of his goals. And he uses tools of intimidation in what he regards as his sphere of influence. And that intimidation is working. I think that interview indicated that it needed to be reassured.
JEFFREY BROWN: Well, what is your sense of how much the stakes have raised for the U.S., even politically, in this last week, as the move into Crimea has happened?
MARK SHIELDS: Oh, I think — let’s be very blunt about it. Foreign policy is not a front-burner issue to the American people right now, and has not been.
And the economy remains so, trailing health care. But it is obviously getting more attention, and understandably so, because the stakes seem higher, and the possibility for, I don’t want to say catastrophe, but for crisis, certainly have increased.
I think, politically, you have seen a change in this country. The reality is this. There is minimal enthusiasm for another war in this country. I mean, we went through — without recycling, we went through a war where we were told we were going to be greeted as liberators, that was false intelligence that the other country had weapons of mass destruction, that it was going to be a cakewalk. And it wasn’t. And it hasn’t worked out.
And so I think the American enthusiasm for military engagement is pretty limited.
JEFFREY BROWN: But…
MARK SHIELDS: Yes.
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.
But I want to throw in, because there has been an increase this week of criticism from Republicans of President Obama, Michael, John McCain said, this is the ultimate result of a feckless foreign policy, in which nobody believes in America’s strength anymore.
MICHAEL GERSON: Well, I think it’s worth saying, just in response, that the threats of the world don’t really care if Americans are interested or not.
They arrive on their own timing. And America needs to be prepared for them. I think that McCain and Graham have made a tough critique here. I think historical counterfactuals are always very difficult. This could have happened with Teddy Roosevelt or Ronald Reagan in power. You don’t really know.
The problem — the case that they’re making, however, is that there’s a cumulative case against this administration, when you look at defense cuts, when you look at the reset with Russia, which ended the isolation of the Russians after the Georgian invasion, when you look at the president constantly talking about nation-building at home, six years of rhetoric, talking about retreat and retrenchment.
The case here is, this does matter. If you look historically, when Kennedy met Khrushchev and a sensed weakness in that relationship in the summit that they had, a real disaster in the Cold War, he — Khrushchev started building the Berlin Wall two months later.
These kinds of things can matter in the calculations of foreign leaders.
JEFFREY BROWN: What do you think of this…
MARK SHIELDS: I could not — I could not disagree more with Michael on this.
First of all, John McCain and Lindsey Graham can use their rhetorical barbs. When you hired Barack Obama, you were not hiring someone who was going to do a bad imitation of Clint Eastwood and say, make my day, or anything of the sort.
He has a rational, thoughtful, serious approach. He’s not somebody who speaks in bombastic terms or hurls thunderbolts rhetorically. The reality is that the reset with Russia — and I am second to none in my dislike of Putin — but the reality is that we wouldn’t have had an election in Iran, in my judgment, without that reset with him that led to a more moderate leadership there and a chance for rapprochement and denuclearization that — as far as the Syrian situation is concerned, I don’t think we would have gotten as far as we have with chemical weapons without Putin’s involvement.
But I’m not in any way defending him. The reality is, there is no action statement that any of these people have. They say — it’s like my saying, let me tell you, this is too much. Putin’s a bum. And this can’t stand. And what are we going to — all right, what do we do? What do we do?
JEFFREY BROWN: So, what’s the answer?
MICHAEL GERSON: What we do is a long-term strategy of isolation against Russia. We’re imposing sanctions. We’re working with the Europeans, who are less willing than we are to take these kind of actions.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes.
MICHAEL GERSON: But…
JEFFREY BROWN: But you’re agreeing that this really does stem a — well, these words, feckless foreign policy?
MICHAEL GERSON: Well, the situation here is that we did have a previous Russian invasion of one of its neighbors, Georgia.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes.
MICHAEL GERSON: There was the creation of isolation. That isolation was ended. That’s what the reset meant.
It’s not irrational for Vladimir Putin to say, I can outlast this isolation as well. And we need to signal that’s not the case, that he can’t outlast this isolation, like he did the last one.
MARK SHIELDS: I don’t know, militarily, beyond what has happened so far, what would lead to the United States’ engagement or involvement.
And I don’t how the sanctions are going to be employed, absent European cooperation. Are we going to cut off the gas that Europe depends on? That means the United States is going to have to export it. That’s going to mean lifting the ban on the United States exporting natural gas.
I mean, there are a lot of complicated moving parts. And there seems to be a glee on the part of so many on the Republican side right now, led by Rudy Giuliani, who just extolled Putin as the admirable leader. There’s a real leader, somebody who decides in the morning what he wants to do, gets it through Parliament, and, 30 minutes later, it’s done, I mean, an anti-democratic endorsement by Dick Cheney, who says that Barack Obama would rather spend money on food stamps than on our troops, I mean, Dick Cheney, who presided over a 40 percent cut in our national defense budget when he was secretary of defense at the end of the Cold War.
So, there just seems to be sort of an eagerness to lacerate Barack Obama.
MICHAEL GERSON: I don’t think there’s — I don’t think there’s an eagerness here.
I think what a lot of analysts are saying is that we are gradually increasing the isolation of Russia, slowed down by the Europeans. But he is moving to consolidate his gains with a referendum on March 17, which is coming up, to incorporate the Crimea into the Russian empire.
MARK SHIELDS: Now, I have a problem with this, OK, because the people of Crimea, I assume, were going to say they should have some right to self-determination, if this is done legally and constitutionally.
MICHAEL GERSON: It’s not legal.
MARK SHIELDS: No, but if it’s done legally and constitutionally under international monitors, and they vote to associate, identify with Russia, then that — what is — what is the United States talking — isn’t that what Iraq was all about, self-determination? Isn’t that what we were going to have there? That was what that war was about.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right, one last word, and then I want to get to one other subject.
MICHAEL GERSON: Well, that was precisely Dempsey’s point.
If you were to allow Russian self-determination across Eastern Europe, you would have endless conflict and chaos. This can’t be allowed. This — this — we can’t allow Russia to reassert its role in what it regards as its sphere of influence against pro-Western governments like the Ukraine.
MARK SHIELDS: I’m not recommending that or suggesting it as an alternative.
I do remember, because I’m older than you, times when the United States of America sent troops…
JEFFREY BROWN: Uh-oh. He played the age card on you.
MARK SHIELDS: … troops into the Dominican Republic — into the Dominican Republic to protect American citizens, which was a myth, which was a myth. And we did it. And that — that is in recent American history.
JEFFREY BROWN: OK.
I want to turn to one other very different subject here. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has now twice gone to the floor of the Senate to denounce the Koch brothers, the major contributors to conservative causes, and he used very strong language.
He called their activity un-American and accused them of trying to buy the country.
MICHAEL GERSON: Well, first, it’s worth saying that when a powerful political leader uses his office to attack private citizens engaged in political speech, that’s a problem.
He didn’t use this to talk about broad issues on campaign finance reform. In fact, what he said is — and we need to quote him — “I’m after the two brothers.” That’s really intimidation and abuse of power by a public official.
It’s also very typical of a conspiratorial narrative that’s on the left and the right, that, somehow, when you’re losing or when you’re not doing well, it’s the fault of some billionaire you don’t agree, George Soros or the Koch brothers.
You know, I think people should engage in arguments, not question the motives and funding of their opponents.
JEFFREY BROWN: What do you think, Mark?
MARK SHIELDS: I think it was unfortunate that Senator Reid used the term un-American. I mean, that has echoes of the era of Joseph McCarthy, when careers were ended and lives were trashed by that epithet.
Is American public political financing is a disaster? It’s a disaster beyond a scandal, beyond a tragedy. It’s — we went through elections from 1976 to 2008 in this country where candidates for president accepted limits on what they could receive and what they could spend, and then accepted public financing in the general election.
And that was broken, let it be noted, by Barack Obama in 2008, under the myth that John McCain was going to raise more money than he did. And he raised twice as much as McCain did.
From that point forward, you knew public financing was over, because the Republicans had always been defensive about it. Add — bring in the Citizens United case that said, mistakenly — if any one of these judges had ever have run for sheriff, they might have known the truth — said that a corporation is a person, the total, diametric opposite of what — everything that Teddy Roosevelt and Republicans had stood for.
And we have now opened this up to people like the Koch brothers or anybody else with a billion dollars, the left, right. And I’m telling you, what it does is, it turns the candidates into mendicants, into supplicants, and basically into ideological eunuchs.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right, just 30 seconds.
The tactic, you’re saying — the problem is real, but the tactic perhaps is wrong?
MICHAEL GERSON: I think there are disturbing elements about this system, but they’re not distributed by ideology.
You have Soros and Koch. You have the unions and you have the Chamber. That the system, you may not like, but it doesn’t privilege one party or one ideology. And we have generally believed in a marketplace and ideas.
MARK SHIELDS: I’m not even talking ideology. I’m talking about the fact that candidates spend all of this time — and the more time you spend raising money, the more money you raise, it narrows — it narrows your issues, because you end up taking money from so many sources, that you’re not going to raise issues that are going to in any way alienate them.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right, we ended up with our first agreement there. Alright.
Michael Gerson, Mark Shields, thank you both very much.
MICHAEL GERSON: Thank you.
The post Shields and Gerson on Cold War echoes, campaign financing appeared first on PBS NewsHour. Download File - 5.8 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
Shields and Brooks on Putin perceptions and a tax reform proposal
Fri, Feb 28, 2014
Watch Video | Listen to the Audio
JUDY WOODRUFF: And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.
So, Ukraine, Russia, David, U.S. officials are now saying they’re convinced the Russian military is in Crimea. You heard President Obama’s warning today. What are we to make of this?
DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times: Yes, I thought the warning was strong. I thought the reference to costs, I thought the reference to how deeply concerned the U.S. would be and the West would be if Russia continues this was a reasonably strong statement for him to go out there, but fully justified.
Ukraine was clearly — and Putin was clearly not going to do anything. He was going to throw some thuggish weight around. He will probably get to a reform to the electoral law. But the crucial thing here is money. Ukraine is a country which was really teetering toward bankruptcy.
And so this is a country for sale. And Putin has shown in the West, when we offered an IMF package a few months ago, we weren’t really willing to back it up with any money, and Putin. He was willing to outbid us. And so this is going to come down to who is going to outbid who. And I’m sure Putin thinks he can outbid us again, outbid the West again.
The administration sources I talked to are pretty resolute that we’re going to offer some money this time to keep the possibility of a Western-leaning Ukraine a fiscal reality. And so I think the administration is pretty resolved not to let Putin get away with this, given the leverage we have.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Where do you see this going, Mark?
MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: Well, Chip Bohlen, who was the great U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, said, there is no such thing as an expert on Russia; there’s just various degrees of ignorance.
And I fall in that category. I’m amazed that Putin, just having really been reflected glory of the Olympics…
JUDY WOODRUFF: Just a week ago.
MARK SHIELDS: A week ago. And having earned the goodwill that apparently was behind his rule, the prominence, the celebrity, the adulation, puts it on all on the line.
And David — I agree with David. Ukraine is in terrible shape. It needs $25 billion. It’s a country that has a gross domestic product of $176 billion. I mean, it’s not a wealthy country at 46 million people. And if it’s going to come, Judy, it’s going to come from the West and it’s going to come with strings attached, just as Greece did, perhaps not as severe, but there will be austerity, because they have an overvalued currency.
They have got a kleptocracy, with business moguls just cutting deals with the government, and the government with them. I mean, across the globe in the past year, we have seen democracy after democracy, and it’s been disappointment after disappointment. And I think is one where it’s going to require the best efforts and the long-term stamina of the West.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But what about the military piece of this? I mean, the fact that the Russians are sending their troops in, they’re sending military equipment in, David, does this rise to a different level? I know you’re stressing the economy, both of you, but what about the military?
DAVID BROOKS: Yes. Well, there are two elements of Putin’s personality. The one is that everything is for sale. It’s all about organizing corruption.
And one of the things he’s got to — probably going to work on is the oligarchs in Ukraine take up 80 percent of the economy. He can insert the Russian oligarchs. So that is one side of his personality.
But the second side of his personality — personality in crisis after crisis is the psychology of fear. And he saw how the Ukraine parliament, even the people nominally on his side, were basically running for their lives in the last couple weeks. And so he’s going to put the pressure on the other way. And that’s just the way he always is. That is what we understand about him, that he’s an autocrat who believes in ruling by fear. And so he’s beginning to instill the fear. This is probably small-bore. And I think he’s on his best behavior sort of because of the Olympic glow. He can get a lot rougher than this, as we saw in Georgia.
And so the people I speak to expect him to — they have no illusions about the character of this guy. The U.S. policy, U.S. attitudes toward Putin within the administration, the last two administrations have really hardened to an amazing degree. And he is now seen as a narcissistic autocrat.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, what is really at stake here for the United States, Mark? I mean…
MARK SHIELDS: Well, the importance of Ukraine and its European engagement, I mean, I think for the future of — I think we have to establish the premise that honest, functioning, competent democracies are good, are good for world peace, are good for world — good for the people of those countries, first of all.
And that — Ukraine has not had that. And its only hope for that evolving, painful though it will be in its birth, is, in my judgment, the United States and the E.U. working together, and being in for the long run.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But if — when it comes to Russia, though, tensions keep rising. We’re counting on the Russians in some regard in Iran, in Syria.
MARK SHIELDS: With Syria, yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I mean, in a host of troubled parts of the world, even the Middle East.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, if you wanted to delimit the bad things that could happen, Dimitri Simes mentioned earlier on the program just the possibility of miscalculation.
I mean, nobody thought World War I was going to happen either, not that we’re going to have World War I, but you could have miscalculations and you really could have something recently terrible if Ukraine breaks up. So there’s that. But, then, as you say, he could say, you mess with me in Ukraine, I’m going to really mess with you in the parts you really care about, which is Iran and Syria, where we do need them.
But I would just go back to Putin. We definitely need long-term stability in Central Europe and in Ukraine and in countries like that. But Putin is a history-making individual. He sees himself as someone who is shaping history. And people like that are inherently destabilizing.
And so he is the head of really a failing country with a lot of power, a lot of money, and an itch to destabilize the world. And so it’s his stability, it’s his either rise in power or fall in power that may be ultimately what is at stake, one of the world’s great troublemakers.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let’s bring it back home and talk about something that happened in this country this week, Mark.
And that is Arizona, a zigzag, I guess you could say, where the legislature passed a law saying — a bill saying that merchants, service providers could refuse to provide a service to anyone who is gay. Now the governor, Jan Brewer, Republican, vetoed this.
What does it all add up to?
MARK SHIELDS: Well, follow my lips, Judy.
MARK SHIELDS: The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU, the Anti-Defamation League, ADL, add to that Apple, Marriott, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, Marriott Hotels, Starwood Hotels, the loss of any standing for Arizona as a resort or convention center was on the table.
And Jan Brewer understood this. It was the old biblical injunction, render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. This wasn’t God’s. This was Caesar. This might have been freedom of religion on the part of the — or religious freedom on the part of advocates of this legislation, but this came right down to Arizona facing the same ignominy and loss of capital that it faced on Martin Luther King Day, when it refused to accept Martin Luther King Day as a national holiday and again lost convention business.
So, I think it was a pretty practical, hardheaded decision made, and with Mitt Romney, to his credit, weighing in, in favor for vetoing it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Along with Arizona’s two senators.
But, David, it is not just the Arizona legislature. What is it — I think there are six other states that are now considering similar legislation.
DAVID BROOKS: Right.
Well, hopefully — well, without declaring my interests here, hopefully, we will see the same result. And what is interesting to me is the reassertion of the corporate country club establishment. That is what really rallied here and really changed the bill, that this is an establishment that has been losing power to the Tea Party, in part, as my colleague Gail pointed out, because of the campaign finance reform that made it hard for the big donors to control the party and made it easier for the Tea Party.
But — but, so — but this was a reassertion of more or less the corporate elite, and saying, don’t do this to our state. And they carried the day. And what is I think useful is that a lot of the small, marginal groups, often some of the Tea Partiers or the social conservative groups that are off on the fringes, have had their way, because the people in the establishment who are in the center have not been able to slap them down.
And here was a case where they did that, facing ruinous economic costs. And I can’t see why other states wouldn’t face the same logic and wouldn’t try to mobilize. And if you think the center needs to mobilize against the fringes, this would be a good sign.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All right. This is a fun subject, tax reform.
The — Mark, the Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Congressman Dave Camp, today rolled out what would be a pretty dramatic change in tax — the tax code, getting us down to three rates, really, 10, 25, 35.
But the leadership, Republican and Democratic leadership, basically said, it’s not going anywhere.
MARK SHIELDS: I would say, first of all, two cheers for Dave Camp. We have had a lot of talk in this town, a lot of seminars, a lot of focus groups, a lot of theses on — written on the subject of tax reform.
But we haven’t had a committee do anything. And Dave Camp, the Republican, in his last year as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, did, in fact, produce a document, which had heresy in it.
Dave Camp said for those banks, for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, those struggling little mom-and-pop shops that were bailed out by the American people, that he would impose a tax upon them, a slight tax. But this is something that Republicans don’t do, now, haven’t voted for a single tax since 1993, before 1993, starting with Bill Clinton.
So, you know, I thought it showed daring, imagination.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But it’s not going anywhere.
MARK SHIELDS: I was very disappointed in the speaker’s reaction, blah, blah, blah, which was an insult to somebody who had spent some real work on it.
No, it isn’t going to go anywhere, Judy, because something like this takes a gestation period of three, four years and a lot of work. Dave Camp began the work.
DAVID BROOKS: I’m still hurting from Mark’s smear on seminars.
DAVID BROOKS: I do seminars.
DAVID BROOKS: I thought it was a good step forward.
Like Mark, it’s a step. And it’s not going to pass, but it’s a step, and a step for some of the reasons Mark said. But it’s a — it’s was a Republican plan that preserved the progressivity of the tax code, and maybe even increased it a little, and a plan that is revenue-neutral, but a plan that would produce amazing economic benefits if enacted.
If the Republicans — if the Democrats want to come in and say, we will adopt a similar strategy, maybe we want a little more revenue, then you really could begin to have a negotiation, or at least you would if we lived in a normal political system.
But I thought it was — as Mark said, there is a lot of political opposition to this. Why should we put out a plan cutting somebody’s mortgage interest deduction before an election, when it’s not going to pass anyway?
JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.
DAVID BROOKS: So he did the right thing in putting it out there and getting this debate going another step forward. So I agree with Mark. I think it was an outstanding step.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Just finally — maybe we have time for two things.
And one is the president rolling out this program this week called My Brother’s Keeper, all about, Mark, young men of color, saying, we need to do something. A lot coming it is coming from the private sector, but it’s doing something about young men who just have not had a way up the ladder, as the president put it.
MARK SHIELDS: No, I thought — I thought it was pitch-perfect for the president.
This was something that he spoke about from a very personal experience, personal angle. He spoke to the young men in the room, autobiographically about his own, having gotten high and not done well in school, and all the rest of it.
For somebody who is criticized often, even by his own supporters, of being too cool, too distance, too detached, I thought it showed a very welcome passion on a subject in which he has, in my judgment, unique standing.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes.
And I would say what it does, people say, oh, it’s not — there’s no money, there’s no — it’s all private sector. But it does a couple of things. First, it begins to mobilize a coalition on behalf of some of these programs that the next president can use. And the second thing it does, there is going to be a lot of testing and studying to find out what actually works and then gathering of that information.
So I think it’s — it’s not huge, but it lays the predicate for some policies for the next president.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Gwen did a wonderful interview — had a wonderful report this week talking to some of these young men. It really is — it really does give you hope.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: David Brooks, Mark Shields, thank you.
MARK SHIELDS: Thank you.
The post Shields and Brooks on Putin perceptions and a tax reform proposal appeared first on PBS NewsHour. Download File - 0.0 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
Shields and Brooks on Ukraine upheaval, trade policy skepticism
Fri, Feb 21, 2014
Watch Video | Listen to the Audio
JUDY WOODRUFF: And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.
MARK SHIELDS: Good evening.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, our lead today and for the last few days has been Ukraine, really just exploded into mayhem yesterday.
But, Mark, today, there seems to be a truce. The president has signed an agreement with the opposition. We’re — it’s a little bit surreal. We’re watching the Olympics take place in Russia, but next door in Ukraine that is what’s happening. How do you see what’s been going on there?
MARK SHIELDS: Like everybody else, I guess, Judy, I have just been following it and hoping for the best.
And the latest developments certainly are encouraging. It seems to be fitting a pattern where the United States, there’s a government that uses repressive power against its own citizens. We saw it in Egypt. We have seen it in Syria. And it’s — it seems to be the pattern of an oligarch government that is out of touch with its own people.
And we hope that this is a move in the direction. I mean, it shows the limits what we — there’s American interests, but there’s not an American solution.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see it?
DAVID BROOKS: Yes.
Well, we have seen these things, as Mark said, all around the world, various orange, various color revolutions, people out on the streets in various squares. And I think our first instincts a couple years ago was to always root for the people in the streets. And I think we still root for them, but we should probably be a little sobered by the effects, especially Egypt and Syria and places like that, that you do have the potential of getting these rounds of destabilization.
And in Ukraine, certainly the lows, the political lows, the dangers are greater than the highs are high. The lows are lower than the highs are highs. And so there should be a need for caution. And I think that was demonstrated by the international community who came in today.
And we had this agreement. And it’s a pretty good agreement for the protesters. But it’s an agreement. It’s a negotiation and a settlement. It’s a bit of a half-a-loaf. And I think given the history of these things over the past couple years, half-a-loaf is pretty good.
And so I think we should hope that they do not topple the government, that the elections, the constitution is basically preserved. When things are bad and when the lows can be lower than the highs can be high, caution is the watchword. Half-a-loaf is pretty good.
And so far that’s the outcome, so that’s a good outcome.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Is it clear, Mark, what’s at stake here for the West, for Europe and for the U.S.?
MARK SHIELDS: The interest seems to be more primarily that on the part of Russia. They brought their influence there the old-fashioned way with $15 billion to the administration to bail it out.
And this is a new country. And it’s, what, 45 Russian-speaking. So I’m not sure, Judy. It’s between Europe and Russia. The pressures and the tensions are obvious and real.
DAVID BROOKS: I covered the Ukrainian independence movement when they were first declaring or voting on a referendum for independence.
And then if you had asked me, I thought Ukraine would be way ahead of Russia. It just seemed like a more — less corrupt place, a more stable place, a humane place, frankly, in the political culture sense. It hasn’t turned out that way, in part because of the divisions, in part because they can’t decide what part of the East-West divide they’re on, in part because the corruption has just gotten so bad.
And it’s a gradual process of roping them into the European system, I think, where Ukraine naturally belongs in sort of the orbit of the E.U., but that’s decades long.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me ask you both about something that is partly international, but certainly have very much a domestic component, Mark, and that is trade.
The president’s been pushing something called the Trans-Pacific Partnership in an effort to get closer to Asia. He’s in favor of it, but a lot of Democrats aren’t. Explain why the split and where do you see this going?
MARK SHIELDS: Well, every president, Judy, irrespective of party, wants fast-track authority to negotiate without the interference of Congress. Every Congress wants to have its oar in and be a part of it. So, there’s a natural tension there.
But we’re dealing here with the shadow of NAFTA. It’s 20 years since the North American Free Trade Agreement, which — there was much overpromise, that it was going to be great for everybody involved, that it was going to elevate Mexico to the point where the immigration problem would disappear. A Mexican middle class would flourish.
And what we have seen has not been really — there’s been economic growth, no question about it. But it’s not been broadly shared prosperity. And it’s reached now to the point where Democrats have grown skeptical, not simply the hollowed-out towns of Ohio and so much of the Industrial Belt of this country, but to the point where the most sophisticated technology developed in this country, its ingenuity, its genius, is sent overseas to be manufactured, not because there’s better education there, but because there’s repression of workers and suppression of wages.
So it’s cheaper. And that has caught up, I think, with the free trade side of the argument. And I think there’s a great skepticism, not only on the part of Democrats, but on the part of the American people.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I mean, does that say any kind of trade agreement is a problem?
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, they’re in trouble. There’s no question about that.
NAFTA, my reading of the evidence is that it didn’t turn out to be that big a deal one way or the other. It was sort of a wash economically and in a lot of things. But we have do much more than NAFTA.
We have really — since World War II, we have got 60 or 70 years of trade. And the trade agreements we’re talking about here are with Europe. They’re not low-wage countries and across the Pacific with Asia. These are trade agreements that we have 60 or 70 years of pretty guaranteed growth out of these agreements.
And they have the story of global prosperity for this time. I mentioned in my column today that in the last — since 1970, the number of people in this world making a dollar a day has declined by 80 percent, the greatest decline in global poverty in human history.
And why is that? Because of global trade. And so to me every president of either party has traditionally been a proponent of trade, as this one is, and I think there’s a strong evidence it’s growth agenda, and so I understand the political fears about it. But I don’t think they’re merited. And I do think when the president’s — when the congressional leaders are bucking their own president, they’re doing some harm for political reasons.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Where do you think — where do you think…
MARK SHIELDS: I don’t — I mean, I understand very much where Leader Pelosi and Senator Reid are here.
I argue with David. I think what it’s produced is what Professor Harley Shaiken of University of California on this broadcast has called high-productivity poverty. Yes, it’s been economic growth. The trade agreements, Judy, and Europe being the exception, have concentrated on protection of all the corporate rights, of copyright, of patent rights, of licensing, but have ignored workers’ rights.
And you can’t work at the outsourcing of production to Asia and to Southeast Asia and not say that they’re doing it for the lowest unit cost of work. And they’re doing it not to invest there. They invest there to produce there, not to sell there, but to bring stuff back here. And I just think that’s the skepticism and I think it’s a legitimate one.
DAVID BROOKS: I will say two things.
First, we’re beginning to see manufacturing jobs coming back here from China because their wages are coming up. We’re doing OK on that. The reason the economy has hollowed out is to me not because of globalization. It’s because of technology.
We just had this Facebook quote WhatsApp, this app, for X-zillions of dollars.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes.
DAVID BROOKS: The amazing statistic to me was the amount of money, the value per employee of WhatsApp. Each employee got the equivalent — or they didn’t get, but they paid the equivalent of $347 million per employee.
That means we have got companies with very few employees of very high value. That’s why the economy is hollowing out. I don’t think it’s because of globalization.
MARK SHIELDS: I would just add one thing.
I think broadly — and we’re seeing it in Ukraine as well. Broadly shared prosperity is not only a social value and a social justice value. It’s a civic value. And I think that is really something that is of overriding importance to us and should be in every policy we develop.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, in a way, this is connected to the conversation I had with the governors, which I think the two of you heard.
Governor Quinn of Illinois, Democrat, and Governor Haslam of Tennessee, we ended up talking about the minimum wage, the UAW vote in Governor Haslam’s home state. But we — I went into that again with this idea that Washington is divided. Governors are finding a way to work together.
But, Mark, what we’re hearing is that they were — you heard them — they’re divided on some of the same issues that Washington is divided.
MARK SHIELDS: Well, all politics is local.
MARK SHIELDS: Pat Quinn’s running for reelection in Illinois. And he came on and duked it out with Governor Haslam of Kentucky and stood up for workers’ rights against this anti-union Southern Republican.
I think there was a little bit of political…
JUDY WOODRUFF: Did you?
MARK SHIELDS: Yes, I did.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Did you?
MARK SHIELDS: Maybe theater even. But, no, the differences are real, don’t get me wrong.
DAVID BROOKS: I thought Governor Quinn was running in Tennessee, the way he was going.
DAVID BROOKS: But — he was aggressive, but he believed it, so good for him.
Just on the issues, first on the minimum wage issue, because we just had this big CBO report to come out in Washington this week. And it’s a mixed bag. Like a lot of policies, there are winners and losers. And so the winners out of this would be 900,000 lifted out of poverty, many more millions of people seeing a wage increase. The losers would be some loss of jobs potentially in the ballpark of 500,000.
And so how do you weigh that? I would say two things. First, when you take people out of the labor force, especially when our labor force has been so decimated, you’re really doing long-term harm to them. So, I sort of weigh that very heavily. And so I’m a little skeptical of the minimum wage for that reason.
Secondly — and the reason I think this is a waste — is that we have another set of policies, the Earned Income Tax Credit, that provide the same sort of benefit to low-income workers without the negative labor market effects. So, why are we not talking about that, instead of the minimum wage?
And the answer to that, transparently, is the minimum wage polls really well for Democrats. But I wish we were talking about the Earned Income Tax Credit, where you are beginning to see some Republican buy-in. It’s just not as politically useful.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Why is this not fair? Twenty-five seconds.
MARK SHIELDS: It’s not either/or. You can do both.
The Earned Income Tax Credit, the child of Milton Friedman and Jerry Ford, it was a great idea. It has worked enormously well. But, at the same time, you have to raise the income. And that’s why the minimum wage has to be raised. You have to raise it. Let’s not put it all on American taxpayers, which — Earned Income Tax Credit.
Let’s let Wal-Mart pay its share as well. Costco already is. Gap is. Let’s join in bringing some — a little bit of economic justice to our workers.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, the two of you bring justice to this program every Friday.
Mark Shields, David Brooks, thank you.
The post Shields and Brooks on Ukraine upheaval, trade policy skepticism appeared first on PBS NewsHour. Download File - 0.0 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
Shields and Brooks on debt limit drama, addressing economic inequality
Fri, Feb 14, 2014
Watch Video | Listen to the AudioJUDY WOODRUFF:
And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.
And it’s Valentine’s Day. And, by the way, pink tie, tie with hearts, very nice.
DAVID BROOKS: Mark overdid it a little.
MARK SHIELDS: Kind of.
DAVID BROOKS: So, because it’s Valentine’s Day, let’s start by talking about the debt limit.
MARK SHIELDS: Nice segue.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Good segue.
We watched this drama play out this week, David, in Congress, which ended up in the Senate with Senator Ted Cruz of Texas essentially hanging some of his fellow Republicans out to dry. What was he trying to accomplish, and did he — did he do it?
DAVID BROOKS: Nothing says Valentine’s Day like Senator Ted Cruz, our national aphrodisiac.
DAVID BROOKS: What — what he was trying to do is — it’s unclear. There are a couple — the official explanation was that he wanted Republicans to fight. He thinks there’s a spending problem in the country, and Republicans should fight harder before raising the debt ceiling, and they should get some spending reforms. That’s the nominal explanation.
The effective explanation, he was going to force a lot of Republican senators, including Mitch McConnell, that are up, to force — to make them cast an unpleasant vote, which is going to help make it harder for them in the primaries against a more rightward challenger. And so he put a lot of people in a tough bind.
And the basic problem have been here before. They’re not all insane. They saw how badly it went last time, and they made a completely rational strategic decision, let’s just let it go and let’s move on and talk about something else. And that’s called basic strategy, nursery school-style.
And yet, somehow, there are some in the party who think strategy is bad. They just want to run into the wall again and again and again. And I would put Ted Cruz in that category.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Is it working for him, Mark?
MARK SHIELDS: We will find out, Judy two years from right about now, because if Ted Cruz is going national, he has already carved out for himself a niche, which is that, I’m not the establishment Republican. You’re not going to get — we tried — we tried John McCain. He worked across the aisle. He was bipartisan, and he got 90 percent of Democrats voted against him.
And then we had blue state Mitt Romney, who had worked with Democrats in Massachusetts, and 93 percent of Democrats — there’s only one Republican who has gotten one out of four Democratic votes. That was Ronald Reagan. He was an ardent conservative. And I’m going to stand up against the establishment of both parties. I’m not like — I’m the anti-Washington candidate.
I think that’s what he’s casting himself as. I think David is absolutely right that what he’s done to his own party — the Democrats owned the debt ceiling. They were going to raise the debt ceiling all by themselves with nobody else’s votes. What he forced Republicans to do — and they had to — no — no Republican could be the 60th vote to cut off debate. So they had to get — round up seven more to cast an unpleasant vote.
And as Bob Dole used to say, wisely, we senators love to make tough speeches. We don’t like to cast tough votes.
And this was a tough vote that Ted Cruz forced them to cast.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So where does this leave the — the Tea Party? I mean, and we should say, this comes on the heels of the House, where Speaker Boehner couldn’t, David, round up enough Republicans to get behind a plan that would counter the — the Democrats wanted a clean extension of the debt limit with no strings attached.
The Republicans were looking for something, couldn’t get enough votes, but it never — it never came together. What does all this say about what is going on in that party?
DAVID BROOKS: Yes.
I think the Tea Party is going to be a permanent feature of the party. Those people were always here before we called them the Tea Party. And there’s two features. One, they’re — like a lot of Republicans, they think that we’re spending too much money. Two — and this is more a matter of strategy — they just don’t believe in it. They don’t believe in strategy.
They think simplicity, just whatever Washington is doing, just mess it up, and so a direct, full-bore, frontal assault approach again and again and again, whereas somebody like John Boehner says, well, you know, you pick your fights. I think — and so — but they’re against that sort of game playing, what I would call just intelligent strategy.
So, they are going to be a permanent part of the party. What is happening now is exasperation. What you’re seeing is beginning to see the Republican establishment, who have been terrified of the Tea Party, suddenly begin to say, we have got to stand up.
And so the most weirdly cowardly people on earth are the establishment. They hate to take on the renegades. And — but you’re beginning to see John Boehner leading the way, really, had a series of press conferences over the past couple of weeks or months really saying, you know, no, I’m not going to do it your way. I’m going to do it my way. This is the way I was taught to do politics. I will do it this way.
You’re beginning to see Bob Corker, a lot more senators coming out more forthrightly, certainly John McCain and people like that, and saying, no, we’re not going to do it that way. We’re going to do it the way that parties are supposed to do it, with strategy, with a little surrender here, be aggressive there, seize our opportunities, not just run into brick walls.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And what does that mean, though, Mark, for policy, for legislation, for addressing the country’s problems, when you have got one party that is so divided?
MARK SHIELDS: Well…
JUDY WOODRUFF: Not that the Democrats don’t have that.
MARK SHIELDS: Oh, no.
I think, first of all, just to review the bidding, Judy, last month, we were celebrating the fact that they’d come to a budget agreement, the first time in three years, and they had budgeted. And then Patty Murray, the Democrat in the Senate, and Paul Ryan, the respect in the House, had reached this great agreement.
Congress voted on it, and it was sort of the step in the right direction. And those are the bills we agreed to pay up. And then up come the bills, and they say, no, no, we’re not going to pay them. We’re basically going to default. And John — John Boehner, to his credit, acted like a grownup. He wasn’t Nathan Hale. He wasn’t Patrick Henry, but in this — in this climate, he looked like it because it was good politics and it was good public policy.
He did the right thing for the country, and he did the right thing for his party. He really did it. He saved — he brought them back from a second self-destructive closing of the federal government, which cost the Republican Party enormously.
So, what does it mean going forward? I’m not sure. I mean, it’s a better climate. It was a victory for the president, you could say a victory for the Democrats, in the sense that they didn’t — they did get a clean bill.
But I don’t see it as a great compact or a great concord. I really don’t. I mean, I think immigration is where the president had his biggest hope, and I don’t think — see that any closer this week than it was last week.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, though, if I were the president, I would — I would do — I would hit — I would take advantage of this moment of division or rancor, whatever you want to call it, in the Republican Party, and I would have two big proposals that I would just talk about endlessly.
The first would be immigration, which does split the Republican Party, and I would just hit that every single day, because maybe you can create a governing majority. Maybe there is enough upset with the Tea Party to really do that.
And the second thing would be poverty. Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, some of the people you have been talking to, they have stretched — stretched Republican orthodoxy a fair bit to allow for some government action to address poverty, some way — subsidies, some other things, increase the Earned Income Tax Credit. So there’s been some movement there.
And they differ with Democrats how to pay for it and that sort of thing. Nonetheless, there’s movement there. And I think there’s a potential for a governing compromise on some sort of poverty legislation, which, for the Democratic political advantage, would split the Republican Party, but would also yield possible legislation.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So you’re saying that mainstream Republicans could go along with something like that on immigration and on dealing with poverty, and just say goodbye — or say, Tea Party, too bad?
MARK SHIELDS: I don’t — I mean, David was a lot more bearish on immigration than he had been — than he is today.
I think Mitch — first of all, Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, a May 20 primary, fighting for his political life in a tough general election, has already said that he — there will be no immigration this year. And John — John Boehner stated the principles and quickly got shot down, I mean, got pulled back to earth.
So I don’t know. The votes may be there. There might be 45, 50 votes. I haven’t seen them self-identifying and come up and say, we want to sign a discharge petition with the Democrats yet to bring immigration to the floor.
DAVID BROOKS: I was just saying, if I were the president, you have got two subjects here. Immigration, I agree with Mark. It’s extremely unlikely. But at least you have got a great issue, because it splits the Republicans. So, that’s a political win.
And on poverty, I think there’s a chance of a substantive win, if you have the right set of packages. And it’s a subject much on people’s minds. And Republicans have a hankering to show that they do have a poverty policy.
MARK SHIELDS: If you want to split the Republicans, I mean, the Republicans are on the short side in popular support on minimum wage, which 70 percent of people want raised, for equal pay for women for equal jobs. They’re on the wrong side of that.
I mean, so, I would — if you’re going to just talk about taking advantage of Republican weakness and Republicans defensively, I would emphasize those two.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And the Republicans we have interviewed this week, Marco Rubio and Senator Tim Scott, both adamantly against the minimum wage.
Let’s talk for just a minute about the health care law. There were some good numbers, David, that came out. The administration announced 3.3 million, I think, people have now signed up on these exchanges. On the other hand, the administration announced that it was going to extend the deadline for medium businesses to bring their employees under — under health care coverage.
Is this — does this mean the health care law is healthier, or does it mean it’s weaker? I mean, how do we read what’s going on?
DAVID BROOKS: It’s both. It’s both.
So, if you want to draw a straight line through a lot of the different stories that have been going through on health care reform, I think you would say one thing. The health care law is probably going to reduce the number of uninsured. Not probably — it will reduce the number of uninsured.
And the good enrollment numbers are a piece of that. The second thing that could be said down on the downside is that costs will probably be a lot higher than estimated. And so what you’re seeing is the exchanges are not competitive. A lot of places, there’s just only one person in the exchange, one company, a Blue Cross or something, in the exchange, so there’s no competition over price. And, therefore, it’s just a lot more expensive to get the policies.
Also, there are probably — I think they’re going to have no mandates. We had this big fight, individual mandates for the companies, and all this other stuff on mandates. They’re really walking back every mandate.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Including the individual mandate?
DAVID BROOKS: I think — I personally — and this is just conjecture — I think they’re going to have trouble getting mandates, period, and that will raise costs because you won’t be able to subsidize…
MARK SHIELDS: Without the individual mandate, there is none.
I agree with David on the walking back. But, Judy, it was projected seven million by the 31st of March. Now the Congressional Budget Office says six million, which is not as good as Democrats had hoped for or the architects had hoped for, a lot better than Republicans had hoped for.
I mean, the Republicans — Republicans have based their 2014 campaign on Obamacare. I think the whole test is going to be, in July, August of the summer, are people looking at it and say, gee, this has worked for my nephew, this has worked for my daughter, this is better. My neighbor’s life is better off. It’s going to be really a pragmatic, practical test of whether it’s working.
It’s not going to be ideological left or ideological right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: That’s my question. Is it a winning issue for Republicans to keep hammering away at health care?
DAVID BROOKS: So far, it has been a winning issue. If you have looked at the polls, it’s still an unpopular thing. It’s been a winning issue, especially in red states where a lot of Senate Democrats are up for reelection.
But Mark is right. It could turn around. And we both could be right, that people see, oh, yes, so and so, my friend got coverage, my bartender got coverage, my barber got coverage. But the costs over the long haul could prove to be extremely expensive. And so both those things are — there are a lot of extremely unaffordable programs that are quite popular.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we wish both of you happy Valentine’s Day.
MARK SHIELDS: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And we hope it hasn’t been too expensive for the two of you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: David Brooks…
DAVID BROOKS: Excellent point.
JUDY WOODRUFF: David Brooks, Mark Shields, thank you.
The post Shields and Brooks on debt limit drama, addressing economic inequality appeared first on PBS NewsHour. Download File - 0.0 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
Shields and Brooks on economic â€˜sludge,â€™ immigration reform standstill
Fri, Feb 07, 2014
Watch Video | Listen to the Audio
JUDY WOODRUFF: And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.
MARK SHIELDS: Hey, Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So let’s talk jobs, a report, mixed report for the month of January, Mark. The number of jobs created was less than what was expected, but the unemployment rate has gone down. You heard Paul Solman’s report. Should we be concerned?
MARK SHIELDS: Yes, we should be concerned.
This is 52 months after its ended, after this — and we are not returned to the number of jobs we had before the recession began. And at this rate, at the rate, the current rate of job creation, it will be six years before we get back to that level. It is — it’s hardly reassuring. It’s upsetting.
And it ought to get our attention. I would just say one thing, Judy, and that is, somewhere in recent American history, probably in the last 30 years, we changed our economic values. The economic value used to measure the economy in employment and how many people are employed, what their wages were. And then somewhere along the line, it became a stockholder, a shareholder economy.
Last year, corporate profits were at their all-time high. The percentage of — the percentage of the income that went to corporate profits and corporations was at their all-time high. The top 1 hazardous had their highest income share since 1928, and percent of the income that went to wages was the lowest it’s ever been. And something — something changed.
I mean, the health of our economy should be on the number of people working and that they are progressing and making more and being productive.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see this?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, we do talk about the job numbers every week.
I do think we pay attention to labor force participation. I sort of do agree somewhat with Mark that there does seem to be an imbalance in the power relationship between capital and labor.
MARK SHIELDS: That’s — yes.
DAVID BROOKS: And I don’t think we’re going to go back to unions, the way they were understood before. I don’t know what the next form is, employee-owned companies.
But I do think you — there probably should be something done to rebalance that relationship. Nonetheless, when I look at the jobs numbers — and I think they’re disappointing. Somebody pointed out, if we were in a normal recovery, we would have six million more jobs than we have now.
And so I look at what’s causing all the sludge in the economy, whether we’re not innovating enough. And there’s some evidence of that, some stagnation in that. A lot of people have just dropped out of the labor force. And that long decline — Doug Elmendorf, the head of the CBO, was asked.
One of the things that is moderating growth, it’s the aging of the population, shrinking of the labor force. And if you don’t have a lot of people working, paying taxes, making stuff, you’re just going to have a sludgier economy. And so there’s a whole bunch of reasons. Some have to do with the complexity of the government, which imposes costs, the complexity of the tax code.
It just feels like we have been a middle-age or late-age economy, and we need some rejuvenation of some sort.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Is anybody predicting that this is going to turn around in a positive way, in a big, positive way?
MARK SHIELDS: Well, there’s sort of this prediction of economic growth, and that 2014 was supposed to be good, and the market at the end of the year.
The decade — the first decade of the 1st century is the only 10-year period in the country’s history, as long as we have kept records, that we didn’t create any jobs, that there was no net increase of jobs. I mean, that’s just amazing.
And one of the things that has happened in this recession, Judy, is that the brutal austerity imposed is the number of public jobs, state, local, federal, firefighters, teachers, nurses, public employees that have been laid off. And they have not come back. I mean, even this past month, we’re still laying off people in the public sector. And, to me, it’s sheer folly, both in public services and economically.
DAVID BROOKS: It should be said that the CBO also had a report on the projected debt of the country going up, and they basically raised the debt level by $1.7 trillion. We’re going to be ramping up our public debt levels massively over the next 20 years.
MARK SHIELDS: Twenty years.
DAVID BROOKS: And that’s — that’s — that’s part of the equation of why the public employment has not gone up.
I just feel like — you know, there’s — Mancur Olson, a great economist, late economists, said countries — why did Germany and Japan do so well after World War II?Â It’s because, perversely, they lost the war, but all their institutions were cleaned out and they started afresh.
And middle-age economies just get a little more brittle. And it feels like we’re in that. And I don’t know how you then rejuvenate the economy, how you have a second burst, or a third burst in our case, but that sort comprehensive thing has to be talked about.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, speaking of the debt, which you just brought up, we had the forecast, I guess today, from the government that in a few weeks they’re not going to be able to pay their bills unless Congress raises the debt ceiling.
The president is saying, I want this. I want it with no conditions.
Mark, Speaker Boehner is saying, there won’t be a default, but, on the other hand, he’s saying, my members are not yet on board. Where is this headed?Â What do you think?
MARK SHIELDS: It’s headed for a Kabuki dance.
I just — one point on David. David is absolutely right about the long-term debt. But as a percentage of the gross domestic product in this country, the deficit this year is lower than it was in Ronald Reagan’s years. OK?Â So that’s taken some of the urgency, because we do deal with the immediate in this country.
As far as the current crisis, Judy, it was revolved last October. The nuclear option was exercised by the Republicans last October. They closed…
JUDY WOODRUFF: When they shut down the government.
MARK SHIELDS: They shut down the government. The nuclear device blew up on the launching pad, and left the Republicans at the lowest point that any party has ever been in the history of the Gallup poll. They don’t want to go revisit that going into the 2014 election.
They’re going to try and ride the Obamacare horse to victory, I guess, to use just terrible metaphors all the way through.
MARK SHIELDS: And I know David will bail me out at this point.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And not — and not talk about…
MARK SHIELDS: No, I just don’t think — plus, I think the Patty Murray-Paul Ryan deal took an awful lot of pressure off as far as the fiscal picture is concerned in the short range.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So you think this is just a stalling thing and…
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, they’re going to reach a deal. I’m trying to figure out Mark’s Kabuki horse and metaphors.
MARK SHIELDS: The Kabuki horse is a — is a big concept.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I’m not stepping into that one.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes. Mark’s right. The polling is, if there was sort of a debt blowup, who would you blame, American people?Â It’s roughly 59 percent would blame Republicans, 20-something would blame President Obama, so it’s a clear political loser.
So, they have got to ask for something, and they have talked about asking for, if he can approve the Keystone pipeline, then will approve it. They just want something in return. They will probably end up with like half a Pretzel M&M. They will get that and they will sign. And so they’re not going to walk into that again.
MARK SHIELDS: No.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, the speaker, this is not the only headache on the speaker’s — headache on the platter — that may not work.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But it’s not the only thing he’s got to deal with right now.
Immigration reform, just — it seems like just a few days ago, we were hearing from the speaker that it looked like they were ready to deal on immigration, Mark, but then they went off and had their retreat, and ever since then, they have been saying no. So, maybe not, the speaker said this week.
MARK SHIELDS: This is one where I have to admit David was right.
MARK SHIELDS: I was a lot more bullish about immigration reform, and David has been bearish, and I think events have borne him out.
Judy, it’s the difference we talked about, between a congressional party and a presidential party. The Republican Party presidentially is doomed on immigration. I mean, just take the Asian — Asian-American population, India, China, Korea, Japan. These are people of highest — higher income, highest education, entrepreneurial.
They should be Republicans; 55 percent of them voted for George H.W. Bush. More — they had a higher percentage vote for Barack Obama than Latinos did in 2012. I mean, they have lost everybody. They’re down — they’re down to the Caucasian caucus, the male…
JUDY WOODRUFF: You mean the Republicans.
MARK SHIELDS: The Republicans, the male Caucasian caucus.
But, I mean, at the presidential level, they have got — Mitt Romney got 59 percent of the white vote and he lost by five million votes. And I just don’t know, as they look at this, why they won’t act on it. But it’s the congressional…
JUDY WOODRUFF: But what happened, David?Â Because it was — the speaker was saying some positive things, and then something changed.
DAVID BROOKS: Well, first, let me say, I liked the first part of Mark’s answer back there. I’m going to make it the ring tone on my phone, I think.
DAVID BROOKS: What happened was, he didn’t have his members. And that says a lot about where parties are in general these days, not only the Republican Party.
Parties have trouble being led from the top. And the authority in parties is no longer with the speaker, with the leaders. It’s all dispersed. And there are a lot of reasons for that. Some of it has to do with no earmarks. The leaders can’t give out favors, so nobody listens to them. That’s not the only reason, but that’s a little piece of it.
And so they can’t control their party. And so the national leadership of the Republican Party understands what Mark just said, that they need this to get an entree into the immigration reform.
MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.
DAVID BROOKS: But the members, from their own House district A. in Arizona or in Utah, they don’t feel that pressure at all.
And so the leaders of the parties cannot control the parties. And, therefore, they can’t do the long-range thing that’s in the benefit of the entire party. And so parochial interests take over, and a parochial veto group has emerged. A lot of the smart, young Republicans, the rising stars in the House, are against this, and they exercise effective veto power.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Though some people are out there saying it’s — it could turn around later this year after the primaries. Do you see hope…
DAVID BROOKS: It doesn’t — it clearly wasn’t going to happen before the primaries. The party is really split. It doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen this year.
MARK SHIELDS: No.
And Mitch McConnell, in addition to David Brooks, predicted this week that it wouldn’t happen. And he even is closer to the situation than David is.
MARK SHIELDS: So, I just — I don’t see it happening.
The one voice who endorsed John Boehner, who backed off on immigration, was Steve King, the congressman from Iowa, whose contribution to the debate has consisted most recently of saying, these DREAM Act people who are here that the president has refused to deport, who — undocumented immigrants who were brought here by their parents, they aren’t class valedictorians. They have thighs the size of cantaloupes and calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re drug dealers.
And when he said that — I mean, he said it on the floor — John Boehner denounced him and described him in a two-syllable expletive to a couple of Democratic members. That’s the one voice I have heard endorse John Boehner’s position this week on immigration. So, it’s got to be cold comfort for the speaker.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, complete change of subject. The two of you were right last week on the Super Bowl. You both — I mean, just kudos to both of you. You both predicted Seattle would win.
So, let’s talk about the Olympics. Now, you both follow bobsledding and, what, downhill, luge and all those things very closely.
DAVID BROOKS: We’re actually dance — we’re judges in the ice dancing.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So what are — what’s your prediction?Â We have heard a lot about security, David. We have heard a lot about Sochi not being ready. What are you getting — what are you excited about?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, the Jamaican bobsledders, of course. The skeleton, I’m thrilled about.
I actually don’t think about the Olympics — the Winter Olympic sports at any moment, except for the moment they happen to be on. So I’m unaware of luge until that moment.
DAVID BROOKS: And then it is completely erased from my memory banks. It only exists in the present, the Winter Olympics, for me. So I don’t have any prejudgments, I’m afraid.
MARK SHIELDS: I think — I think the Olympics are in trouble, for a very simple reason. They have violated one of the first rules of politics, which — make — make sure the press has clean beds and hotels that — where there’s a bar open and they’re serving palatable food.
And they have guaranteed, Sochi has guarantee themselves bad press by not — not pandering to the press. I mean…
JUDY WOODRUFF: You’re not suggesting reporters…
MARK SHIELDS: I would not suggest that, and certainly not sportswriters least of all.
MARK SHIELDS: But I do — I’m holding my breath that we don’t have…
JUDY WOODRUFF: Sure.
MARK SHIELDS: … another 1972 Munich or…
JUDY WOODRUFF: Absolutely. We’re all…
MARK SHIELDS: … 1996 Atlanta, or whatever. I mean, that’s — I think that’s the biggest concern I have at this point.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We’re all hoping for that.
Mark, David, thank you. See you next week.
The post Shields and Brooks on economic ‘sludge,’ immigration reform standstill appeared first on PBS NewsHour. Download File - 5.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
Shields and Brooks on pipeline politics, Christie scandal
Fri, Jan 31, 2014
Watch Video | Listen to the Audio
JUDY WOODRUFF: And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.
So I want to ask you for your Super Bowl predictions in a minute, so you have got a few minutes to think about that, but there are a couple of new stories bubbling today.
David, one of them is this Keystone oil pipeline statement by the State Department that they don’t think that there is a serious environmental damage that would be created if they finished the pipeline. What’s the effect? This has been a hot potato issue. What effect did this have?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, the president has been waffling, sort of signaling he’s going to OK the thing. His view is that the thing is sort of overblown, has become a symbolic issue of whether you are for fracking or against fracking, what your attitude is toward the natural gas industry.
I think the assumption has always been that, at the end of the day, after making sort of a political gesture toward the environmental movement, he was going to end up on the other side. And if you listen to the State of the Union address, the energy revolution in this country is possibly the best thing economically that has happened to the country in a long time.
And so he was bragging about how much energy we’re producing, how much we’re beginning to export, how it changes the dynamic in the Middle East. It’s been a wonderful boon to the American economy. So I think at the end of the day, he is not going to want to get in the way of that, even on a symbolic issue or semi-symbolic issue.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Mark, do you think this just sort of smooths the way for the president to say it’s OK to go ahead with the expansion?
MARK SHIELDS: Well, it makes it tougher for him to say no, I think.
But I think the risk to Democrats is that it could alienate one of the most activist blocs in the party going into the 2014 elections, and that if environmentalists decide to sulk and sit on their hands and say, this president has let us down, and it could be a real deficit for Democrats.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And so — and we will watch and see.
We know there is another — John Kerry, secretary of state, has got to make a decision and tent president.
MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, the other story that came out, this is late today, has to do with Gov. Christie, the New Jersey governor, and whether he knew or didn’t know, David, about the closing down of traffic lanes on the bridge leading into New York City, and what it — it is a little confusing, but there is a New York Times story saying, quoting the former head of the Port Authority, who said that — who is saying Gov. Christie did know that this was going on.
And now Christie’s office has come out subsequent to that and said well, that’s OK, that confirms what he said.
So how do you — what do you take away from all this?
DAVID BROOKS: Viewers with disturbingly long memories will remember that I thought this wouldn’t hurt him too much.
DAVID BROOKS: So that view is looking a little less tenable as time goes by.
DAVID BROOKS: And so it has begun to hurt him just because there’s been a series of other stories following along.
But I did say that if it turns out that the central claim of that long news conference was that he did know contemporaneously, then he’s in big trouble. And so we don’t know the state of the evidence, the quality of the evidence. But argue about verb tenses aside, if he knew contemporaneously, then he doesn’t only look like a bully. He looks like somebody who got up there and said something that was either withholding the truth or simply untrue.
So, I don’t want to say we are there yet, but if it turns out to be there, I do think it really becomes quite damaging. And it’s even possible to imagine he won’t be able to run for president.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So it doesn’t matter whether it’s proven, Mark, that there was a political motivation, that he wanted to punish this mayor, what really matters is…
MARK SHIELDS: Yes, his word. I mean, he was pretty unequivocal and pretty clear.
And I think most Democrats would concede that he was the most formidable candidate in 2016 that they were most afraid of. They are less afraid today. This is the man, David Wildstein, who was his high school classmate.
JUDY WOODRUFF: This is the Port Authority…
MARK SHIELDS: Port Authority official to whom the message was sent from Christie’s deputy chief of staff, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” And so he was the guy to execute the plan. And there was a plan. This wasn’t just obviously a hanging phrase. There had been a plan. This was the activation order.
What is interesting, Judy, is this — everything goes back to high school. Chris Christie in high school said he didn’t really know — he said subsequently he didn’t really know David Wildstein, who he praised as a tireless advocate for the people of New Jersey when he left.
But he didn’t really know him, because he, Chris Christie, had been class president, he had been an athlete, and David Wildstein hadn’t been a cool guy who sat at the cool guy’s table in the high school cafeteria. And this is sort of the revenge of the geeks.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I mean, so both of you are saying, no matter what comes out of this, his brand, his — his — his persona is hurt?
MARK SHIELDS: I think the Times’ reporting has been pretty tough.
I mean, they did a long documented piece earlier this week on his office and how intimately he was involved in everything that went on, the politics of it, the substance of it, the campaign of it, you know, that he was a hands-on guy.
This is the argument for Chris Christie. This is a guy with wonderful political instincts, he’s a guy in charge. And now the defense is, he wasn’t curious, he didn’t know. And I just — or he was passive. And I just think it becomes more of a problem for them politically, whether legally or something else.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I think even bragging that you were a class president, big man on campus, you have already alienated 98 percent of the American public.
JUDY WOODRUFF: That’s right.
DAVID BROOKS: I’m sure people in Mark’s social circle are very upset about it.
DAVID BROOKS: Not my social circle, of course.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Go ahead, yes.
DAVID BROOKS: But just one other point. You are from New Jersey, you’re governor. Read Machiavelli. If the guy has some evidence to burn you, stay loyal to him, and he didn’t do that.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes, don’t — I could never understand that.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Alright, this is the week of the State of the Union, just three days ago, 72 hours.
David, what are we left with at this point? Did the president help himself? Did he advance his cause by what he had to say?
DAVID BROOKS: I just — I go back to the wet noodle. That has only been reinforced by just what I have heard from people around, that there is a sense of uninspired, not thrilled, ratings not great, not big ideas.
And I do think it was a misreading, on reflection, a misreading of the country. With a country in fear of really decline, I do think you have to have something big. And that means you probably can’t have something passable. But I do think he had the opportunity to really change the debate in some large way to really maybe not pass legislation, but pave the way for a future president to pass legislation by introducing ideas, creating networks behind mobilizing a movement for equality, for opportunity, for social mobility.
And he could have laid the predicate for something big that would have felt big and commensurate with the moment, and I guess I don’t think he did that.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you read…
MARK SHIELDS: I can’t argue that it wasn’t big. I don’t think children in the future generations will be memorizing large chunks of this speech and committing them to memory.
But I do think that it was the word that we used — I think Gwen used it in the post-election, post-speech analysis — and that was it was workmanlike. It worked politically. It wasn’t uplifting. It wasn’t the lift of a driving dream.
But I do think that it has put the Republicans, quite frankly, on the defensive by the issues the president did raise. The Republicans have been scrambling since to prove that they’re not just the opposition, the blind opposition, that they do have alternatives, whether — and they are even now revisiting — I think forced to revisit health care.
They just can’t be blindly let’s repeal it. And they’re wrestling with immigration, which is truly the San Andreas Fault of the Republican Party. This is potentially combustible for them.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, he only touched briefly on immigration. But since then, he’s indicated, David, just in the last day or so that he’s open to — frankly to language that the Republicans were supporting.
Now, the House Republicans have been off at a retreat for the last couple of days. What is coming out of that and what do we think about it?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, the president was actually deft about that. He didn’t want to get out in front of the Republicans. He wanted them to take the initiative and then he could embrace.
And Boehner got out there and issued some principles. I thought they were good principles. I guess I thought when he issued the principles that they had found a way to heal the fault.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes.
DAVID BROOKS: And my understanding is they actually haven’t found a way to heal the fault.
And they are certainly not going to want to do it, raise anything before primaries, because they don’t want Republican candidates to be faced with primary challenges on this issue. So that pushes it off for a bit of a while. And then I think the opposition is still strong. So I’m less hopeful that they’re going to be able to get something out of the House, let alone something that is manageable with the Senate.
MARK SHIELDS: The problem the Republicans face is a very simple one. The Republicans have the House. In all likelihood, they are going to hold on to the House.
The Republicans can and maybe even expand that in 2014. The Republicans cannot win the presidency with their present position on immigration and the position of Mitt Romney in 2012. They have to deal with it. It is the difference between the electorate in 2014 and that in 2016 is approximately 42 million people.
Of those 42 million people, half of them will be African-American, Asian, and Latinos.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In 2016?
MARK SHIELDS: In 2016.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Who won’t be voting, you’re saying, this year?
MARK SHIELDS: They won’t be voting.
So they can win an election where whites are disproportionately represented, where older voters are disproportionately represented. They cannot compete presidentially. And I just think the party is — you know, Ronald Reagan won 45 percent of the Latino vote in California in 1984.
Republicans held half the House seats in California. Today, as a consequence of Republican policy, beginning with Pete Wilson, but followed by Republican presidential candidates, the Republicans are not even competitive in California. And that’s 55 votes out of one-fifth of all you need to get elected president.
And that is happening in Colorado, in Florida, in Virginia, in Nevada, across the country. I mean, this is a party that is writing off the White House.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Quick change of subject.
Ben Bernanke, today is his last day as chairman of the Federal Reserve. We heard Paul Solman talk to economists on both sides of the political spectrum. David, how do you see it?
DAVID BROOKS: I think it was gutsy.
I think, right now, we have to think he did a fantastic job. It was gutsy to really not only unfurl the tools, but unfurl tools he didn’t know he had.
MARK SHIELDS: I agree.
I mean, when the — everybody else went weak in the knees and were naysayers and everything, particularly the Congress, the Republicans, he really stood up. I mean, he stood between this country and the gulf, I mean, and disaster. And I think he deserves an awful lot of credit. I really do.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You both give him an A. or something like that?
DAVID BROOKS: We will see how it is all unwound, but yes.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, the final and most important question, the Super Bowl. I want a prediction from both of you and what are you looking for?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, when your own team is not in the Super Bowl, you have a moral — two moral obligations. You can either root for the team from the most economically disadvantaged city.
MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.
DAVID BROOKS: And Denver and Seattle, I think, are about even. So, they are pretty economically advanced. So there is a wash there.
So then you have to go on the moral caliber of the role model.
DAVID BROOKS: And here you have Peyton Manning, who is a very perfect presentation.
For Seattle, Richard Sherman, the defensive back, a bit of a braggadocio manner, you would say, so I do think you have to go with Manning on that. So that is my moral preference.
My game decision preference is that Seattle wins.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Oh, my.
All right, Mark.
MARK SHIELDS: Let’s take a word for Richard Sherman, who came out of Compton, which is a tough city in California, gangs, and turned down a scholarship to the University of Southern California to go to Stanford, where he graduated, finished second in his high school class. Because he wears dreadlocks and maybe he has…
DAVID BROOKS: No, but he says bad things about Crabtree. That’s…
MARK SHIELDS: He apologized for that.
MARK SHIELDS: Judy, favorites are favorites for good reason. Favorites usually win.
I like underdogs. I root for the filly to win the Kentucky Derby, which it doesn’t do. I root for the kid who went to law school nights and worked days to get the promotion, and it’s always the CEO’s nephew that gets the promotion instead.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All right.
MARK SHIELDS: I am rooting for Russell Wilson, even though Peyton Manning is a totally admirable human being and great citizen. I am rooting for Seattle, and they will win.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, you can bet we’re going to hold to you account on this one.
David, two answers you gave.
DAVID BROOKS: Well, on the game outcome, we agree. So, that’s probably true.
MARK SHIELDS: OK.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, thank you both.
MARK SHIELDS: Thank you.
The post Shields and Brooks on pipeline politics, Christie scandal appeared first on PBS NewsHour. Download File - 0.0 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
Shields and Brooks offer State of the Union predictions
Wed, Jan 29, 2014
Watch Video | Listen to the Audio
GWEN IFILL: And we turn our attention again to tonight’s State of the Union address with some pre-speech analysis from Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.
So, Mark, what are you expecting tonight?
MARK SHIELDS: I’m expecting a real uphill struggle on the part of the president. This is the first time the president, who has been personally popular in spite of his programs, is less popular than the ideas he’s pushing.
And his numbers are underwater. He’s below 50 percent. And Democrats are nervous and scared and the country is pessimistic. So he’s got to — he’s got a tough task tonight.
JUDY WOODRUFF: David, what do you expect and what does he need to do?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, there will be a lot of modesty tonight.
He gave an interview to David Remnick of “The New Yorker” a couple weeks ago in which he said, being president is a bit like being a runner in a relay race. You inherit the baton. You pass it along.
And this really was someone who has been chastened maybe, made aware of the limits of the office. And so I don’t think we’re going to see a lot of radical proposals. But I would like to see a radical definition of the problem.
And we know he’s going to talk about inequality and lower social mobility. And so we would like to see at least the description of that and maybe some gesture towards some bigger solutions, even if, in the interim, he’s only proposing a few executive actions.
GWEN IFILL: In fact, we have a couple excerpts that have been prepared for delivery in tonight’s speech.
And one of the things he says is that inequality has deepened and upward mobility has stalled, and our job is to reverse these tides.
What do you guys think? Is it possible to reverse these tides when you’re in the midterm of a second term?
MARK SHIELDS: It’s tough, but there’s no place like the presidency.
It’s the greatest pulpit and bully pulpit in the country to lead. The numbers are just absolutely staggering the president made in a speech in early December. Productivity of the country has increased 90 percent in the past 35 years, and yet the average family’s wages are up only 8 percent.
And there’s been a widening, widening gap. And it’s not only bad ethics. It’s bad economics. The lack of buying power is slowing down the greater economy. So I think you can make an argument in the national interest that this is not simply the right thing to do morally, but it’s the right thing to do economically and nationally.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, he’s laid out these ambitious goals, David, but, in a way, he’s limiting himself in a way by saying, well, I plan to do this with executive actions, if I can’t do it any other way.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes.
The problem with the lack of social mobility is such a gigantic problem that you really need him to blare forth with some gigantic set of solutions. And he obviously doesn’t have access to that because of the way Washington is. And he’s come to accept that.
So, raising the minimum wage on some future federal contractors, that is not going to reverse the tide. It might be a positive step, might not be. But he — what you have to do to reverse the tides is a whole series of reasonably radical reactions which are both left and right together, some wage subsidies, which will please liberals, probably some social policies that will please conservatives. You have got to do a lot of this stuff together in a way that really breaks the orthodox barriers we now have.
And as we see each side standing up and sitting down, you need something that just breaks the orthodoxies. And it’s unlikely he will be able to …
DAVID BROOKS: … something like that.
GWEN IFILL: Sorry.
I asked Jay Carney about this earlier, which is that, yesterday, Roy Blunt told Judy he’s abandoning Congress. And he said, oh, I’m not abandoning Congress. This is what Jay Carney said. Congress has basically abandoned the president.
Which is it? And is there any way to turn that around?
MARK SHIELDS: Well, I mean, the president can’t abandon the Congress if he hopes to get an immigration law. And I think that certainly remains a hope, and sort of a growing hope now with action and activity on the Republicans, some resistance from David’s former colleague Bill Kristol, who’s arguing that it would be in — not in the Republicans’ interest to bring this up in an election year.
But, if they don’t address that issue before 2015, they’re not going to address it, and they go into 2016 with their presidential nominee disabled again. So the president has to have an olive branch in that sense, but he doesn’t expect — his level of expectation of the Congress and the Congress’ level of expectation of him I think are considerably lower than they were a year ago.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, other than immigration, David, where are the areas where you see the potential for real working together, cooperation?
DAVID BROOKS: Other than immigration, I don’t see any.
This has been a problem for the Obama administration, maybe an insoluble one, but I think it was soluble. You had a core of Tea Party people on the Republican side who are clearly not going to cooperate with anything. I still think at some point early in the administration, it would have been possible to build a governing majority sort of center-right and sort of try to isolate the Tea Party people and get the other Republicans into some sort of governing coalition.
They never quite could do that, and, therefore, we’re just stuck with the polarization we have now. And it’s really unlikely we’re going to see big legislation any time in the next couple years.
GWEN IFILL: Who does a president speak to on a night like tonight at this point in his presidency? Is he just talking to himself? Is he just talking to his supporters, talking to the American people who might be watching something else on DVR?
MARK SHIELDS: Well, this is the biggest audience he’s probably going to have this year.
And it’s before the 2014 elections. And the Democrats are hoping that he can bring some passion, some intensity, some purpose back to the administration. The — as I pointed out earlier, the issues are very much — the primary issues are very much in the Democrats’ favor.
But when a president is below 50 percent approval — and this president is now — the average loss of House seats in a six-year term is 36. When a president is above 50 percent, the average loss is 14 percent. Now, Democrats don’t want to lose 14 seats, but that’s a significant difference.
And so Democrats are hoping that it’s a resurgence on his part, that he can be a more popular leader for their party going into the 2014 elections.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes. It’s certainly not the people in the room.
David Wessel of The Wall Street Journal pointed out today that the lasted address, he had 42 asks of Congress, of which three happened. And so that’s not a great batting average. So it’s not them. But it is the people out in the country, for the reason Mark — this is really the last campaign speech he can make for the midterms.
And it’s the administration. This is mostly about setting the agenda within the administration, not so much what he says, but the act of composing the speech.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We look forward to talking to both of you when it all begins, in just a few hours.
GWEN IFILL: All night long.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All night long.
The post Shields and Brooks offer State of the Union predictions appeared first on PBS NewsHour. Download File - 0.0 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
Shields and Brooks on McDonnell and money, Clinton and the campaign
Fri, Jan 24, 2014
Watch Video | Listen to the Audio
JUDY WOODRUFF:Â And now to the analysis of Shields and Brooks.Â That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.
So, we live in this rich country, Mark and David, but we have just heard kind of a remarkable report that Hari did from Orange County, California, about hunger.Â And then we just heard Raj Chetty, the economist, in this fascinating conversation with Jeff, Mark, talk about how the mobility, the ability of people to move up if they are the lowest level of the income ladder really hasn’t changed.Â And, in fact, it’s gotten worse in some ways.
What are we to make of all this?
MARK SHIELDS:Â I wish I had an answer for it.
I think there is no question we’re talking about this being an issue and theme that is going to dominate certainly the president’s presentation coming up.Â And it’s — Judy, the reality that he talked about, the income inequality, the economic inequality in the country, in a little over a generation, we have gone from the top 1 percent having 11 percent of the national income to 25 percent, and the bottom 90 percent — that is 90 percent of the people — instead of sharing 67 percent, down to less than 50.
So that widening income and economic inequality is real.Â And it has consequences that are social, that are political, and they’re generational.Â And I was just blown away by the interview with Jeff.Â I mean, it just — to me, it was so riveting, what he says and how he says it.
JUDY WOODRUFF:Â David, how does this — what effect does this have or should have it on our public debate?
DAVID BROOKS:Â Well, I’m frankly a little concerned about the way it is going to affect our public debate.
Inequality is certainly widening.Â Mobility is something we have to think about as Americans.Â It is the American dream.Â But as a frame, it is a very broad frame.Â What Mark talked about, the concentration of wealth at the top, is caused by one set of problems, middle-class wage stagnation caused by another set of problems, what is happening in the lower 20 or 40 percent caused by a different set of problems.
So you have got a whole bunch of problems all intermingled.Â And my viewing, the political system I don’t think can deal with all these different problems all layered on top.Â If I were President Obama doing the State of the Union address next week, I would say, where is the greatest injustice?Â Where is the greatest harm?
And I would say that’s at the bottom 20 percent or the bottom 40 percent.Â You take kids, what do they have to do to have a pretty — chance of a decent life?Â Graduate from high school at age 19 with maybe a 2.5 GPA, not get convicted of anything, not get pregnant.Â Only 37 percent of kids at the bottom 20 percent income scale are doing that, only 37 percent.
So that is where the greatest harm is.Â That is already a phenomenally difficult problem.Â And I would focus on that, with early childhood education, nurse-family partnerships, school programs.Â I would really focus energy on that, rather than this vast society-wide issue called inequality.
JUDY WOODRUFF:Â So — but do we think that he may do some of that, Mark?
MARK SHIELDS:Â I think he will.
I think — and David makes a very, very, very good point and a real point.Â But, Judy, when we just talk about family, and we talk about — which I think has become sort of the dividing line, one side saying it’s values that we have to do, the other side saying that there is economic war here, and I think that is something that is real.
And there are defined economic interests.Â And there is one side that has won and one side that has lost.Â And when we talk about children born to unmarried mothers, the country with the highest economic mobility in the world is Denmark with 55 percent of babies are born to unmarried mothers, you know?
DAVID BROOKS:Â Danish unmarried mothers are not like ours.Â They are living with guys and they’re living decade after decade.Â They’re just not having a marriage.
MARK SHIELDS:Â OK.Â But, I mean, you could say that marriage then as an institution in Western Europe has suffered.
But, I mean, just to simply say that this is the answer, I think it is — it’s Globalization.Â It’s the decline of all these jobs that are in the industrial base of the country.Â It is a weakening of unions.Â There are a dozen factors that have contributed to it.Â But I think the fact that it’s being addressed is important and urgent.
DAVID BROOKS:Â That is what makes it so hard as a political issue, because Mark is right.Â It is economic.Â It’s the decline of low-skill jobs.Â It’s de-industrialization.Â That leads to there are a lot of especially men who are not worth marrying, because they don’t have incomes, they don’t have wages.
And so they’re just not going to get married.Â And so there is a clear economic cause there.Â There is also a cultural shift, as more people decide it’s OK to have children before getting married.Â And these two interplay in an incredibly complicated way that is very hard to understand and probably differs person to person.
So my view is, it is already a phenomenally thick and thorny problem.Â And so by making it more thick, by putting all these society-wide things, I understand there is inequality, I understand the mobility problem.Â I just think when we’re thinking about policy, it is really important to focus.
JUDY WOODRUFF:Â But, sometimes, we feel the two political parties are stuck in an argument, that one makes one argument, the other one makes another.Â Does this change what those arguments should be?
MARK SHIELDS:Â Well, I think it — the question becomes, does the economy serve the people or do the people serve the economy?
And I think that to me is the cleavage here.Â I mean, I’m sorry.Â People — the economy exist, the economy is thriving, the economy is working for very powerful and influential people.Â We see it.Â We see it in the scandals every day in our American politics.Â People with the affluence have influence.
And it comes down to, I think, a fundamental question about what kind of a society you are, is, does the economy exist for people?Â And I just think we have got to figure out a way to let people participate and enable them do participate in this economy and to live a life of dignity and respect.
DAVID BROOKS:Â Yes, another — just another cleavage which I do not know the answer to, is the economy properly rewarding workers?
Democrats tend to say, these are productive workers and the economy is not rewarding them because there are fewer unions and things like that.Â Republicans tend to gravitate toward the issue, these are just not that productive workers and the economy is fairly rewarding them, and, therefore, the response is to increase their human capital through education and other things, so to make them more productive.
And that is sort of basic question.Â Is the capitalist economy right now working, or is it not?
And when — as we said tonight, we reported the chairman of J.P. Morgan Chase making $20 million last year at a company that did have, what, 33 percent increase in profits, but also negotiated…
MARK SHIELDS:Â And paid $18 billion in fines.
JUDY WOODRUFF:Â Right.
MARK SHIELDS:Â If you are arrested as an axe murderer, you want Jamie Dimon to be bargaining for you.
MARK SHIELDS: Â He has kept the company out of jail and profitable, and, I guess, so they double his salary.
JUDY WOODRUFF:Â Well, we mentioned you — one of you — both of you — I think Mark mentioned politicians in trouble.
The former governor of Virginia indicted today for — along with his wife — for taking money, gifts, loans from a businessman in Virginia.Â And the question is whether he did anything in return.Â And we don’t know whether he did, David.Â But some — you hear the argument made that, well, this is the kind of thing all politicians do.
Is this the kind of thing all politicians do?
DAVID BROOKS:Â No, not really.Â Most politicians are not actually that into money.Â That is why they went into politics.Â They’re into power, they’re into prestige, they want to be the center of attention.
What is mystifying about this couple is the fascination with Rolexes and Ferraris.Â I have like a $80 watch or something like that.Â Why do you need a $6,500 watch?Â What are you getting out of it?Â He needs status.Â I guess he wants a Rolex.Â But he’s governor.Â He has a security detail.Â That’s status.
So what’s the psychology that was driving them is a bit of a mystery to me.Â And then I think it’s partly because — and this is true of politicians — they spend their time hanging around rich people, constantly around rich people.Â You look around the table, it’s Rolex, Rolex, Rolex, and suddenly they don’t fit in.Â And that does have a corrupting effect on politicians in a variety of ways, actually.
MARK SHIELDS:Â And that’s universal.
The point, the last point David made is absolutely universal.Â We have a system that is excessively deferential to people with money.Â Politicians spend too much of their time seeking the approbation and the support of people with money.Â And a little resentment develops.Â I’m not in any way justifying Bob McDonnell.
Bob McDonnell was a very appealing political figure.Â He was a real possibility to be on the ticket.
JUDY WOODRUFF:Â For president.
MARK SHIELDS:Â He won as a conservative in a swing state, a battleground state.
JUDY WOODRUFF:Â Vice president.
MARK SHIELDS:Â The vice president.
In Virginia, he governed as a moderate.Â He was a successful governor.Â But — and this is not Teapot Dome.Â This is not somebody selling the mineral rights of a country.Â This is not Rod Blagojevich selling a U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder.Â But it is grubby entitlement.
And the Rolex gene, which is exclusively male, is a real disorder.
MARK SHIELDS:Â It truly is.Â I have no idea.
I mean, Bernie Madoff had 17 Rolexes.Â Jesse Jackson Jr…
JUDY WOODRUFF:Â Is that right?
MARK SHIELDS:Â He had 17.Â And Jesse Jackson Jr., the same thing, he had a Rolex.
I have no idea what it is.Â I talked to one of the smartest woman I know this week, and she said, it’s man’s real impulse to wear diamond necklaces, and Rolex is the closest thing to it that’s tolerable.
JUDY WOODRUFF:Â I’m not going to ask…
JUDY WOODRUFF:Â … necklace…
DAVID BROOKS:Â Yes, I have got diamonds, but I don’t…
JUDY WOODRUFF:Â All right, just one last quick question, speaking of politicians and money.
Hillary Clinton, we haven’t talked a lot about her in a while.Â But she’s going around the country making speeches.Â And I guess one of the most successful political action committees, super PACs, announced this week that it is going to be backing her.
So, again, it’s what — it’s what you both are talking about.Â It’s money, it’s politics.Â What does this say that, here we are, January 2014, and we’re already talking about how much money…
DAVID BROOKS:Â Yes, well, they’re trying to scare people out of the race.Â But, to me, it’s not going to work.
It’s the sound of doom.Â No, I don’t think it’s the sound of doom, but I do not think she is going to be coronated out of this.Â And the fact that some high-flying Washington establishment PAC is helping her is not going to necessarily help her.Â There is a great outsider hunger here.
And I’m looking for an outsider.Â Governor Jerry Brown of California, mark my words, he’s going to run.
JUDY WOODRUFF:Â Thirty seconds.Â Thirty seconds.
MARK SHIELDS:Â The election of 2016 will not be about continuity.Â It will be about change.
And the idea that you’re talking about inevitability as a campaign strategy, that you better buy your ticket right now and get on the train because it’s pulling out of the station, American voters today, we are participating in this.
And I just really think that it’s a total disservice, quite frankly, to President Obama.Â It makes him look more and more like a lame-duck, when his own party can’t wait to get him out of town.Â It would be one thing if there was a Republican sitting it in the White House.Â There is a Democrat, and he’s got basically 1,000 days left in his term.
JUDY WOODRUFF:Â I just want to see what kind of watch you both are wearing.
MARK SHIELDS:Â L.L. Bean.
DAVID BROOKS:Â Very cheap.Â Very cheap.
JUDY WOODRUFF:Â OK.
MARK SHIELDS:Â L.L. Bean, and it’s overpriced at $89.
JUDY WOODRUFF:Â Mark Shields, David Brooks, thank you both.
The post Shields and Brooks on McDonnell and money, Clinton and the campaign appeared first on PBS NewsHour. Download File - 0.0 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
Shields and Brooks on Christieâ€™s scandal tolerance, Gatesâ€™ war stories
Fri, Jan 10, 2014
Watch Video | Listen to the Audio
JUDY WOODRUFF: And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.
Welcome, gentlemen. It’s Friday.
So let’s start with the spectacle New Jersey, Republican Governor Chris Christie in hot water over a, apparently, Mark, deliberately arranged traffic jam done in retribution for political enemies, people who didn’t vote for him. What — what do you make of this? Why is it getting so much attention?
MARK SHIELDS: It’s getting so much attention because he is the de facto front-runner in many people’s minds for the Republican nomination. Certainly, Democrats see him as the most formidable potential nominee at this point in 2016 on the Republican side.
But, Judy, this is a story that plays to his greatest strength and becomes his greatest vulnerability, in my sense. Chris Christie crystallized as a national figure August 26, 2011. He stood on the beach as Hurricane Irene thundered down upon the Jersey Shore. And there were some sunbathers who refused to go.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Hurricane Sandy.
MARK SHIELDS: No, Hurricane Irene, 2011.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Oh, this is another one. This is 2011.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes, this is 2011.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you.
MARK SHIELDS: OK.
And he went — they refused to leave, in spite the threats and the warnings, and everything else. And Chris Christie went on television and said, get the hell off the beach. Get out, get in your car, the sun is down, it’s 4:30. You have got all the tan you have got.
It was just one of those moments that was just so real. And this was what he was. He was a no-nonsense guy. He was a take-charge, I’m in control guy, roll up your sleeves.
And this, the only defense he has is, he was detached, he was disengaged, he didn’t know. And instead of the naturalness of that language, his language yesterday in the press conference was that of the victim, you know, that he was betrayed by those whom he trusted.
And yet he didn’t once express real, genuine, authentic Chris Christie concern for the people whose lives were really disrupted, I mean, thousands of people who missed appointments, who missed funerals, who missed business opportunities, who missed their chance to get their kids to school.
And it was a — it was a lousy act. And it was a ruthless act. it wasn’t — this isn’t hardball politics, where you take David’s pet project and don’t fund it. This is dislocating thousands of people and a cheap political trick. And if he didn’t know about it, the people he trusted the most, brought in, and he was uncurious about, I think it raises serious questions about him.
And the most important thing is that nobody has come to his defense, nobody. I mean, Republicans haven’t come to his defense. And Democrats are happy to see him stew right now.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Raises serious questions?
DAVID BROOKS: Here I come. Here I come to his defense.
MARK SHIELDS: OK.
DAVID BROOKS: No, I — some of that, I agree with. He should have expressed more regret about the people who were inconvenienced.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes.
DAVID BROOKS: It should be said also the level of small-minded petulance that exists in politics is never to be underestimated.
People do nasty, cheap stuff all the time, because they are caught up in some small-minded politicalness of it. As having said that, though, I thought Christie did reasonably well. I thought…
JUDY WOODRUFF: At the news conference.
DAVID BROOKS: At the news conference.
If he knew about what was happening at the time, his career is really damaged. But so far, there has been no evidence that he did.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Because he denied.
DAVID BROOKS: He denied, flatly denied.
So, if an e-mail comes out showing he knew, then he is in deep trouble. But, so far, I thought he expressed naturalness. He expressed humiliation. He walked us through in intimate detail how he found out about it, how he fired the people.
I thought it was Christie. Now, my friend Mike Murphy, the political consultant, says the essence of Christie, he doesn’t come in small doses. He comes in big doses. And the challenge for Christie as a candidate has always been, will people accept somebody who comes on that strong?
But if he comes on that strong as even a little bit of a bully, which is sort of what he looks like in this, he could be that people want a bully to go to Washington. If they’re going to vote for Christie, they don’t want a charmer. They want a big bully. And this will not hurt him, I think.
I think some politicians would be hurt by this kind of scandal. He will not be hurt, because his image, as a big, tough, bully, that is what you are hiring him for if you are going to elect him president. And so this is consistent with that image, I think.
MARK SHIELDS: You don’t want the president who is a bully. You want a president who is strong. You want a president who can impose his will upon Congress. You want a president who can lead, is not afraid to make tough decisions.
You don’t want a bully. Chris Christie has been everyman up until now. Now, at this point, he has become somebody who is so uncurious about what is going on. He was the last person in the entire governor’s office to find out about this?
Add to this the other problem that he’s going to have, is that, 2012, he was one of the finalists with Paul Ryan to be the Republican nominee for vice president. He was passed over. And when somebody is passed over, there’s always questions. And there were stories out of the Romney campaign. Many spoke on the record that it was his entourage, overbearing, demands of a private jet, demands of a big support system, impossible, divas to deal with, and all of this.
This plays right into that. And if he found out at 8:55 on Wednesday morning that this was happening, and then this is a story that has been brewing now for two months, you know, I just think it really confounds anybody’s believability.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes. Well, first, if I…
JUDY WOODRUFF: You mean you are saying you don’t believe him?
MARK SHIELDS: I don’t. It’s next to impossible.
I can’t believe anybody could be so chronically, terminally uncurious about something that affects his career, as well as his governorship, let alone his presidential ambitions.
DAVID BROOKS: Well, it could be that he was lied to.
It’s also, it seems to me, true it’s rare that a scandal, especially not a major scandal, knocks out a candidate, Bill Clinton, Gennifer Flowers. Scandals are not — people are reasonably scandal-tolerant.
And as to Mark’s point about whether it should be a bully, I think in normal times, this is true. But now we’re living in a time of incredible distrust of Washington, distrust of politics. I think the standards are a little different. In times of high distrust, maybe you want somebody — and this has happened through history, and even in Israel, Bibi Netanyahu, a little rough guy.
People get — pick the rough guy when they’re really fed up.
MARK SHIELDS: What is the knock — just one rebuttal? What is the knock on Barack Obama? A close, tightly-knit staff of ultra-loyalists, don’t seek outside advice, don’t go beyond that circle, detached and disengaged.
Sound familiar to the Chris Christie modus…
DAVID BROOKS: Well, the diva thing, I totally get. I totally agree with that. If the diva thing is a problem, he is a diva and that will hurt him.
But he doesn’t remind a lot of people of Barack Obama. Barack Obama is very cool and…
MARK SHIELDS: No, no, but, I mean, his defense is that he was detached and disengaged. He didn’t know what was going on.
DAVID BROOKS: OK.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All right.
Well, speaking of President Obama, he was the, I guess you could say, victim, certainly the victim of criticism, in the book that came out in the last few days by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
He has clearly broken a little bit of china with this book. It’s 600 pages. I confess, I have not read the entire thing. I am going to be talking to Secretary Gates next Tuesday.
But, just in a situation like this, David, where a former official comes out and says, among other things, that the president didn’t believe in the war in Afghanistan and didn’t trust the generals, is this the kind of thing that ends up hurting the president? Does it — what effect — what is the lasting effect of something like this?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, his — his defense is that he was skeptical of the Afghan surge. And maybe skepticism was well justified, because it was widely determined it didn’t work so well.
And so he was skeptical. And then the criticism of him, he sent young men and women into harm’s away not really believing in it. And the argument should be, if you don’t totally believe in a military mission as president of the United States, you shouldn’t do it.
And my understanding at the time — and I had a lot of direct reporting at the time — my firm conviction then was the president wasn’t fully behind the surge, that he had completely understood and in many ways was very sympathetic to the arguments against it. Why he did, I really don’t know.
Maybe he wanted to give it a shot. Maybe he thought it would work. But I certainly — the central charge, that he wasn’t fully supportive of the Afghan surge, rings completely true to my memory of reporting at that time.
MARK SHIELDS: I think, from everything — and I have not — I confess I have not read the book, but everything I have read about the book and excerpts from it, it is quite nuanced.
I mean, yes, this is an indictment of the president.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Is more than just criticism.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes. He calls him the most deliberative president he’s ever been around, a gutsy decision-maker. I mean, he really is quite full of praise. He had never made a political decision, that — you know, that he was — really, the consequences of the formulation of the campaign of 2008 came back to haunt the president.
The consequences were that — the formulation that Iraq was a bad war, Afghanistan was a good war. And so you come to office, and you have got to support the good war and wind down the bad war. And I don’t think there’s any question that — but that that happened.
And — but, at the same time, to me, there are two questions. The serious thing that he says in the book — and I think it’s true of not just this administration — we had the campaign in 2012, when none of the four had even been anywhere near military service. And there is a skepticism and distrust of the military thinking they want to go to war.
They don’t want to go to war. People who have been to war don’t want to go to war. That’s the first thing. And the second thing, I will leave to David.
MARK SHIELDS: I have taken too much time. I’m sorry.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we will all go off read the book. Then we will come back and talk about it again.
But the last thing I do want to ask the two of you about is, we observed the 50th anniversary this week of the war on poverty, what President Lyndon Johnson announced in 1964.
David, looking back on it, big question. I want to ask you if it’s been a success. And I mean that, because right now you have got this big debate under way between Democrats and among Democrats and Republicans about whether the whole — the apparatus that was established to fight poverty has been a total failure and should be torn up and we should start from scratch with something else.
DAVID BROOKS: I’m still in shock Mark is giving me time.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And I’m giving you some time too.
DAVID BROOKS: Right.
I wouldn’t say it was a total failure, and I’m a skeptic of it. There were programs that were clearly successful, the food stamp program. There were programs that were successful, but they just got the costs wrong, Medicare. So they estimated what Medicare would cost today. They were off by huge factors.
There were some programs that could have been successful, but they were poorly executed. I think Head Start would count on that. And so you have got a bunch of programs that they tried all at once, which had some modest effect, but not the effect you wanted, and a lot of negative effects.
And right after the Great Society program, there was a tremendous decay in our social fabric, a tremendous rise in crime. And I would say they emphasized the economic parts of poverty. They didn’t emphasize and they misunderstood some of the social capital effects. And they had unintended negative consequences.
So I would say mixed blessing. I would lean a little more on the skeptical side, that it was a — more of a failure than a success.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see…
MARK SHIELDS: The biggest criminal act of the last 50 years is committed by people who had nothing to do with OEO or a poverty program. It was done by people on Wall Street. And the country is still reeling and suffering and paying from it.
I think, Judy, that it’s been a very great success if you happen to be over the age of 60 in this country. We have reduced poverty among those over 65 from 35 percent of the population down to 9. Ninety-nine percent of people over 65 have medical care now. They didn’t.
And children, there are hard studies now that show people who went through Head Start are graduating from high school and going on to college at a higher rate than those who didn’t. I agree that it hasn’t been an unvarnished success.
But I would just point out this. The difference is, in large part, people over 65 have very formidable lobbies, and they vote. And kids don’t. And I do think the reexamination of it by the president, encouraged Republicans to participate in that dialogue, is important.
I think the pope deserves credit for putting it on the agenda. And I think we are addressing poverty. It’s something that when — all we talked about in 2012 was the middle class, the middle class, the middle class. Now we are at least addressing a reality.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But you are saying children have been left out of it.
MARK SHIELDS: Children have — children have been — children have not benefited to the degree that those over 60 have, who have done very well.
DAVID BROOKS: Well, I agree with that. The — we did reduce elderly poverty, but by taking — making the government a giant transfer machine from young families to the elderly.
Just one thing on poverty and Republicans. Marco Rubio had a speech today, or this week, which was, I thought, a quite impressive speech, much more affirmatively using the power of government to address poverty problems, whether it’s wage subsidies, whether it’s through direct grants, much — for a party that has become instinctively anti-government, we are beginning to see Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio and some others wanting to affirmatively use government, I think, in targeted, but limited and conservative ways to really address practical problems.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We can talk about that.
MARK SHIELDS: OK.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Unless you can say it in one word, or two words.
MARK SHIELDS: David is not completely right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: OK. Promise to let you finish that thought later.
Mark Shields, David Brooks, thank you both.
The post Shields and Brooks on Christie’s scandal tolerance, Gates’ war stories appeared first on PBS NewsHour. Download File - 0.0 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
Shields and Gerson on the political lessons of 2013
Fri, Dec 27, 2013
Watch Video | Listen to the Audio
JUDY WOODRUFF: And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks — or Michael Gerson. That is syndicated columnist Mark Shields and Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson. David Brooks is off tonight.
MARK SHIELDS: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, we have just heard this conversation, Mark, about inequality. We have talked about it before at this table. How big a problem is it in this country as we close out this year?
MARK SHIELDS: I think it’s a growing problem. I think it’s a real problem, Judy.
And the president has obviously — has called it the defining issue of our time, and pointed out that, over the past 35 years, we have seen a widening of the difference in income and wealth between the middle class and between the top 1 percent. The top 1 percent in the past 30 years, since Ronald Reagan was president, have seen their incomes go up by 279 percent.
Just last year, 10 percent, the top 10 percent got more than 50 percent of the country’s income. That’s the first time that has ever happened in U.S. history. And sort of the irony of this is that, as his critics have branded him a socialist, if anything, capitalists have done exceedingly well during Barack Obama’s presidency.
JUDY WOODRUFF: If that’s the case, Michael, where is the outrage, or should be there any outrage about this?
MICHAEL GERSON: Well, there should be. I think there should.
I mean, I think you are seeing stickiness at the lower ends of the ladder and an ability for the upper class to perpetuate privilege. Often, affluent and educated people are marrying affluent and educated people. The problem here, the bad news is, it’s a very complex social problem. It’s not just a difference in income. It’s a difference in skills and education and social capital.
And those are what really make the difference in the long term. And that’s going to require institutions to change fundamentally to be able to transfer those skills and education and values.
The good news, from my perspective, is that both left and right have part of the answer here. You know, part of the problem is the decline of families and values-shaping institutions, and part of the problem is the decline of blue-collar jobs at decent wages.
You know, both left and right should have something to contribute here. Robert Putnam, who is an expert on these issues at Harvard, calls it a perfectly purple problem, meaning the left has insights into the problem. The right has insights in the problem. They should come together and have some ideas.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Mark, is there any sign or reason to think they will come together and do something about it?
MARK SHIELDS: Well, I think it is.
I think, Judy, that it’s, I think, become increasingly evident that income inequality is just not bad ethics or bad morally. It’s bad economics. I mean, as Robert Reich was pointing out, when people don’t have disposable income, they can’t buy goods and services. They can’t — and spur the greater economy.
And I think the pope has contributed to this discussion. I think he’s given a moral dimension that — making the point that, while globalization has made us all neighbors, it certainly hasn’t made us all brothers, and that that is really a sense of responsibility that we have.
When mobility is lost in this country — because that has been sort of the dream, the ideal of the United States — I mean, when one out of 20 children born in the bottom fifth quintile ever makes it the top fifth, and when Michael made the point two out of three who are born in the top fifth remain there, I mean, they are there — I mean, so there isn’t that sense of going back and forth and high risk.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, the conversation right now, as we just heard, Michael, is about extending unemployment benefits.
But there is a larger — a larger question here that we’re talking about. Is there real, tangible evidence anywhere that the two sides that — you talked about the two sides have put forward ideas about this.
MICHAEL GERSON: Well, it’s a good thing they’re talking about it.
President Obama has made some eloquent speeches about it. Paul Ryan has announced this is going to be a focus of what he wants to contribute to the Republican Party over the next year. Be interesting it to see what ideas he comes up with.
I agree with President Obama on this. I think it is a central issue to the definition of the country. Americans are willing to accept inequality when there’s mobility. But, in the absence of mobility, inequality is just a caste system in which birth equals destiny.
That’s not consistent with the American ideal. There’s too much of that in America.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But I guess what I’m saying, Mark, as I’m looking, where is it on the agenda?
MARK SHIELDS: Well, I think…
JUDY WOODRUFF: In the city?
MARK SHIELDS: We do things in this city by baby steps.
I think, if we do minimum wage, if we extend unemployment insurance, I think those…
JUDY WOODRUFF: You think minimum wage could get…
MARK SHIELDS: I think — yes, I think there is — I think there is no question that minimum wage — now, it’s being done seriatim, state by state, but I think there is a real chance that we can get…
JUDY WOODRUFF: That the president…
MARK SHIELDS: … get some momentum going, get in that direction.
And the key is, Judy, those public institutions, whether they’re schools or whether they’re colleges or whether they’re training centers, that — where people do acquire the skills that they can rise, I mean, we can’t underfund those. We can’t understaff those. And I think that becomes a part of the debate.
JUDY WOODRUFF: If those kinds of things get done, Michael, does that make any difference?
MICHAEL GERSON: Well, I think it should.
But I just wouldn’t underestimate how difficult this is. I mean, we have talked about education reform for a couple of decades in America. It’s hard to do. It’s hard to implement, but it’s a key to all of this, graduation from high school and then graduation from college. These are keys to social mobility. And we don’t really know how to get there right now, but we need to come up with some ideas.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Just quickly, if Democrats pushed a minimum wage increase, would Republican goes along with it, if it were a federal move?
MICHAEL GERSON: I don’t know. I think there would be significant resistance on the part of significant portions of the Republican coalition on minimum wage, for economic arguments back and forth on how this affects entry-level jobs and other things.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, very quick question about Edward Snowden.
He came out, I guess, the day before, the day of Christmas to say, mission accomplished. He, of course, is the former National Security Agency contractor who put out hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, Mark.
Mission accomplished? What should we be thinking about Edward Snowden right now?
MARK SHIELDS: Well, I mean, I think there are certain facts that are irrefutable. He took an oath. He broke the oath. He’s — he violated the law.
At the same time, he started a national debate that we had not had in this country before. He’s revealed — he has certainly complicated America’s relations with foreign countries, both friendly and maybe neutral, by revealing that we had been eavesdropping on their leaders’ phones.
He led to the director of national intelligence lying to the Senate of the United States when asked if they collect data on Americans, thousands of Americans, millions of Americans. He said no. And it turns out we — every phone call, its number and its length are in fact recorded.
So I think it started a debate. I have been, frankly, surprised, Judy that there hadn’t been a more intense debate about privacy. But I can see it now gaining some traction in this country.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What is his — what are we left with at the end of this year because of the Snowden disclosures?
MICHAEL GERSON: Well, I think that he demonstrates how technology is defusing and decentralizing power in America.
Some contractor, obscure contractor, because of the way information technology works, can expose the government and have tremendous, disproportionate influence. It also makes harder for the government to keep secrets, which are sometimes necessary for national security. I mean, we’re showing the upside of technology, the it decentralizes power, but it complicates the work of government, sometimes essential roles of government. And that’s the flip side.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, this is our last Friday show before the end of the year. So I get to ask a few questions looking back.
Mark, here’s one. What should the president have learned in 2013?
MARK SHIELDS: The president should have learned, Judy, that reality counts, that how — where the rubber hits the road, where people live.
I mean, the rollout of the health care, the crowning glory of his administration, the signature issues, has been little short of a public catastrophe and a political disaster. And it’s raised serious questions about — among the president’s own supporters about his competence and about the competence of, the quality of the people that he has chosen to staff his administration.
So I don’t think there is any question that it’s been a — it should have been an incredibly sobering experience for the president.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What would you say has been the biggest lesson for — or should have been the biggest lesson for the president?
MICHAEL GERSON: Well, I think both sides had lessons here.
I mean, this is a year in which the left in some ways showed its worst face in Obamacare, overconfident, technologically incompetent. But, at the same time, the right showed its worst face, angry populism, uninterested in governing.
The spectacle was extraordinary this fall of both parties essentially self-destructing at the same time, unable to take advantage of one another’s mistakes, blaming one another, but really being at fault themselves. It’s bad for American politics when that happens.
And now we’re left to ask, well, what emerges from the ruins? Will reasonable elements of both parties be able to emerge and do things like emphasize opportunity in immigration and reforms of health care which are going to be necessary going forward or not in this? But we — it was a bad year for our political class.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you think lessons were learned?
MARK SHIELDS: Well, I think the Republicans — I think the Republicans learned, should have learned the fundamental truth that is politics is not a seesaw.
Just because the other guy is down doesn’t mean you’re up. They’re down even further. And there’s — as Peter Hart has pointed out, they’re at the lowest point in the history of the Wall Street Journal/NBC poll of any political party.
I mean, it isn’t the people who are — the supporters of the president who have been disappointed or in some cases disaffected — by an 11-1 margin find the Republicans negative. And they have — they are a party without ideas. I mean, Michael has spoken about Paul Ryan’s plans, and they’re ambitious plans.
MICHAEL GERSON: We will see.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes.
But there isn’t a Republican health care plan. There hasn’t been. They — all they — basically, what the Republicans have learned is this, Judy, something that the beer industry learned a long time ago. And that is, one beer company doesn’t accuse the other beer company of causing hangovers, bad breath and big stomachs, because, in the long run, it starts to hurt beer and beer sales.
And they have really hurt politics and hurt politicians, I think, by the constant, relentless negativism. And they haven’t been alone in that respect. But I think that has been the continuing line from the Republicans. And they have got to come up with a sense of governing and how they would govern.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, there’s lessons here for all of us.
It’s the end of our time at the end of this year. And we wish you both a happy new year.
Mark Shields, Michael Gerson, thank you.
MICHAEL GERSON: Happy new year.
MARK SHIELDS: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And to you.
The post Shields and Gerson on the political lessons of 2013 appeared first on PBS NewsHour. Download File - 0.0 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
Shields and Gerson discuss the budget breakthrough, Boehnerâ€™s backlash
Fri, Dec 13, 2013
Listen to the Audio
JUDY WOODRUFF: And to the analysis of Shields and Gerson. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson. David Brooks is away tonight.
Gentlemen, welcome to you both.
Glory be. Congress has passed a budget.
Mark, is this something — does this mean the gridlock is coming unlocked, or is this just a one-time thing?
MARK SHIELDS: Hold the champagne, Judy. I mean, Congress hasn’t passed a budget. The House has passed a budget.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, by — that’s what I meant.
MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.
And perhaps for the first time since 1997, the Congress will pass a budget. I mean, that — Bill Clinton was president, Trent Lott was Senate leader, and Newt Gingrich was speaker of the House.
It’s baby steps. It’s not a giant stride. It’s not to be confused with the Connecticut Compromise, which led to the adoption the United States Constitution, or the Missouri Compromise that postponed the Civil War for 40 years. But it is — we had no bar, as opposed to a low bar, but an act of civility and compromise and leadership on the part of particularly Paul Ryan in the House, the Republican, and Patty Murray, the Democrat, in the Senate gave us at least encouragement that the Congress could, in fact, act positively.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And so, Michael, do you see sunshine and cooperation down the road, or is this…
MICHAEL GERSON: I think that would be highly desirable and highly unlikely.
MICHAEL GERSON: Paul Ryan and Speaker Boehner sold this to their own caucus in the House by saying, we need to keep attention on the failures of Obamacare and not draw attention to our own divisions by having another counterproductive budget fight.
That argument is hardly the prelude to ambition, OK? This deal succeeded in many ways because it was small. It had small reduction — reductions in entitlements, non-medical entitlements. And it had small increases in discretionary spending. This is the reason it could pass both sides.
And that — I think what we have seen is a truce in the budget wars, and not a new governing coalition, unfortunately.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Mark, when it comes to bigger fiscal issues, tax reform, this doesn’t mean that that may be any easier now, right?
MARK SHIELDS: I don’t think it means anything for tax reform, quite frankly. I think tax reform is a long way off.
I mean, we didn’t go to either party’s core concerns here. I mean, the Democrats didn’t give up anything on entitlement reduction or curtailment. The Republicans…
JUDY WOODRUFF: In fact, they stayed away from that.
MARK SHIELDS: That’s right. And the Republicans stayed away from a tax increase. It was, you won’t go near mine, I won’t go near yours. And they met in the middle and dealt over the territory they could. But I don’t see that.
I do think, Judy, both parties needed a win, and they were — coming in. The rollout of Obamacare had been botched, is the euphemism, but it had been disastrous to Democrats in recent polls. And, quite frankly, the closing of the government had been brutal to the Republicans, so they could not in any way risk that.
And I think the chances of the debt ceiling, which we’re looking at in another three months, I think the chances of the Republicans going to the mat, mattresses again on that is very remote.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, one interesting thing that did come out of all this, Michael, was Speaker Boehner made a point two days in a row to take after these conservative, outside conservative groups that were opposing the deal, telling Republican members not to vote for it.
In fact, we want to show, remind everybody of something the speaker said when he talked to some reporters yesterday. Here’s just a portion of what he said.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-Ohio: Frankly, I just think that they have lost all credibility.
You know, they pushed us into the â€¦ to defund Obamacare and to shut down the government. Most of you know, my members know, that wasn’t exactly the strategy that I had in mind. But, if you will recall, the day before the government reopened, one of the people — one of the â€¦ these groups stood up and said, well, we never really thought it would work.
Are you kidding me?
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Michael, what does this tell you? The speaker is going after people in his own party.
MICHAEL GERSON: Well, narrowly, this was clearly a backlash to the manifest failure of the shutdown strategy, which I think most people recognize.
My friend blogger Peter Wehner says that Republicans have apocalypse fatigue. They are just tired of confrontation in this way. But there is something broader going on here. I think the leadership has decided, it tried to appease Tea Party groups, the activist groups. But they are unappeasable. They criticized this deal before it was printed.
And there’s very little incentive to accommodate a group that is going to criticize you anyway. So I think the leadership has made the decision that this is an important part of the coalition, but it can’t define the Republican Party and it can’t bully the Republican Party. And that’s — this is just the beginning of an institutional reaction to Tea Party activist groups, it seems to me.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you make of this? Is this the beginning of a serious split, or just a momentary thing?
MARK SHIELDS: I think, Judy, first of all, in the speaker’s statement, he acknowledged that he had been bullied and pressured into the closing of the government. They forced it upon him, that they had capitulated. The Republican Caucus had capitulated to the demands of those who wanted to close the government and the repeal of Obamacare.
What was fascinating in the entire debate — I was up watching the House debate — was that there was no mention at any point of the repeal of Obamacare. There was none of that language. It was all common ground and all of rest of it.
This was a declaration of independence by John Boehner from — from these groups and sort of reasserting his leadership of the caucus. I mean, I think it’s fair to say, for the first time in this session, he’s really acted like the speaker. And I think that was — that was clear.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, is that going to have repercussions, though, for other things he tries to do as the leader of his party?
MARK SHIELDS: I think his position — I think his position is stronger within the caucus. I think there’s — I mean, you had a budget deal that was supported by Eric Cantor, by Paul Ryan, by Nancy Pelosi, and by President Barack Obama, which is — I think, probably strengthens the position of the speaker.
MICHAEL GERSON: And, Mark, by 66 percent of the Republican Study Committee in the House of Representatives…
MARK SHIELDS: That’s right, which is conservative.
MICHAEL GERSON: Most conservative group.
This was a huge victory, personal victory, a small deal, but a huge personal victory for the speaker.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But do you see — Michael, just quickly, do you see this leading to problems going forward for the speaker and his own Tea Party members?
MICHAEL GERSON: Well, the problems existed.
The question is whether the leadership was going to push back or not. Now we have seen Mitch McConnell push back. We have seen Paul Ryan push back. We have seen Speaker Boehner push back. We have seen the Chamber of Commerce in key races fund more mainstream Republicans. I think this was a serious response to what is going on.
MARK SHIELDS: I would just point out, Judy, that the Republican leader of the Senate has come out against the deal, Mitch McConnell.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.
MARK SHIELDS: So has the Republican whip in the Senate, John Cornyn, both of whom face Tea Party challenges. Six of the seven Republican candidates in the House now running for the Senate have opposed this deal. So there is still fear and apprehension.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But the budget is still — is in some question?
MARK SHIELDS: I think, right now — I think the Senate is — we think of the House as the real problem. I think, right now, the Senate is a lot more of a problem for the passage of this than is the…
MICHAEL GERSON: They’re very close to culture. They have — he has supporters for cloture.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Meaning — meaning closing…
MICHAEL GERSON: Yes, closing the debate, right.
MARK SHIELDS: Getting to 60, it’s — but it is really tricky at this point.
MICHAEL GERSON: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, while — just before we leave the subject altogether, watching all this, the president — and we have watched new — a number of new polls come out this week showing his approval rating down, the lowest of his presidency, in the last couple of weeks, Michael.
There are some staff changes at the White House. What does all this say about what is going on one year into the second term?
MICHAEL GERSON: Well, the deal was an example, to some extent.
The president had almost no influence on the deal. He was marginal to it. It didn’t embody any of his legislative priorities, very much a bystander in this. Now, you can never count a president out. President Bush in his second term, at a low point, did the surge in Iraq. This is an inherently powerful position.
But the president faces real challenges. The Senate is very much up for grabs, which would be a huge blow to the president. There are increasing questions in the polling about his credibility, particularly because of some promises on Obamacare, and his competence. These are long-term challenges for the president as he tries to, you know, reconstitute his influence.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes, what the president has going for him right now with the reservoir, is people do like him. But he’s taken a hit, make no mistake about it, Judy.
You have got 54 percent now in the Wall Street Journal/NBC poll disapproving of the job he’s doing.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Highest ever disapproval.
MARK SHIELDS: The highest ever.
And you have also got half of voters saying they’re disappointed or dissatisfied in his performance in office. So, there is no question. The people he is bringing back, John Podesta was a superb chief of staff under Bill Clinton.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Bringing him back as a senior adviser.
MARK SHIELDS: And Phil Schiliro is a gifted congressional liaison, knows the Hill very well.
But even as he’s bringing these people, which is an acknowledgment that he had to do something, he’s never gone really out of his comfort zone. He’s never done the equivalent of reaching out to a Jim Baker, who had run the two campaigns against Ronald Reagan…
JUDY WOODRUFF: Who was Ronald Reagan’s — right.
MARK SHIELDS: … and bringing him in as a chief of staff.
And I think — you know, I think that still remains a little problem. It’s still an insular operation.
JUDY WOODRUFF: This kind of thing, though, Michael, can make a difference for the president in getting his agenda…
MICHAEL GERSON: It can.
But I’m afraid his problem, his main problem is not a personnel problem right now. It’s the implementation of Obamacare, which is a huge challenge, with very disappointing uptake, with dislocations in insurance markets because of regulation, with new taxes coming on in the new year.
This is the substantive challenge he faces that’s not going to be solve by personnel issues.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The last thing I want to ask you both about is, we know tomorrow is the anniversary of the terrible shootings at Newtown, Connecticut. Today, on the eve of that, another terrible school shooting in Colorado, where the shooter took his own life.
Mark, do we look for anything to be done about these school shootings? There have been 27, I believe, since Newtown around this country.
MARK SHIELDS: Judy, I was — I was so wrong about Newtown.
I just thought the size, the dimension, the scene of Newtown, of the slaughter of the innocents would really move public opinion. It hasn’t. I don’t know what it will take.
MICHAEL GERSON: It is extraordinary the mixed influence this had on the states.
In some blue states, you have more restrictive laws, in some red states, less restrictive laws. It just shows how geographically and culturally polarizing this issue is, but increasing agreement on the issue of mental health. The administration made the announcement this week — 37 states have increased funding for mental health.
That’s a common ground issue and a real issue that I think needs to be confronted.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, again, our — as we have said, our heart goes out to the families of everyone involved in Newtown.
Michael Gerson, Mark Shields, we thank you both.
MARK SHIELDS: Thank you, Judy.
MICHAEL GERSON: Thank you.
The post Shields and Gerson discuss the budget breakthrough, Boehner’s backlash appeared first on PBS NewsHour. Download File - 0.0 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
Shields and Brooks on Mandelaâ€™s influence, Obamaâ€™s vow to address inequality
Fri, Dec 06, 2013
Listen to the Audio
JUDY WOODRUFF:Â And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks.Â That is syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.
So, the world is, as we know, mourning Nelson Mandela since we learned of his death.
David, what do you think about when you reflect on his life?
DAVID BROOKS:Â You know, I was foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal then.Â I was mostly covering the Soviet Union in those days, but I took a couple trips to South Africa at the time when he came out, and then later during the — when he was inaugurated.
And if you had asked me to compare the two societies, I would have said that South Africa’s social fabric was worse.Â The crime was much worse than in the Soviet Union as Russia emerged.Â The sense of ethnic menace — there has been a lot of talk about the white and black violence.Â There was a tremendous violence between the ANC and Inkatha rival movement, real sense of menace, a lack of social trust.
So you could have drawn a very negative scenario for South Africa.Â And, in fact, I erroneously did so in some of my reporting down there, because I just felt bad social fabric.Â And it’s very hard for leaders to counteract that.
JUDY WOODRUFF:Â Even after he was released.
DAVID BROOKS:Â But — right.Â And this is — I was involved in riots of people getting killed.
It was ugly.Â And yet I think, by force of moral example, this was one of those rare cases when somebody at the top of society really has a cultural effect and leads to — really averts what could have been quite a disaster.Â And the country did much, much better in the ensuing years, because — I think because of the sheer moral example.
JUDY WOODRUFF:Â Mark, what about you?Â What do you think of when you think of him?
MARK SHIELDS:Â Well, some leaders are respected.Â A few leaders are loved.
And Nelson Mandela is that almost unique figure who is both loved and respected virtually around the globe.Â It’s a remarkable achievement.Â And what I think of is, he described resentment as the poison we drink hoping it will hurt others or punish our enemies or kill our enemies.
And, I mean, the example of magnanimity, of largeness of spirit and perspective — Peter Hart — I never met him.Â David did meet Nelson Mandela.Â But Peter Hart, the pollster, has that little question he asks of Washington people when he runs into them, just conversational icebreaker — the prospect of meeting what individual in the world would make your palms turn sweaty?
And, you know, this is a place where we meet, you know, celebrities and senators and all the rest of it, and get a little blase.Â And Peter said, overwhelmingly, the answer was Nelson Mandela, I mean, even if — it was just universal.
It is a singular achievement.Â He made his nation, and he gave us all an example of moral leadership.
JUDY WOODRUFF:Â Singular achievement, David, but how many — there are so many other places in the world that are still having problems, leaders in the continent of Africa who don’t want to give up power as he did.Â Was he just a one-time example of shining goodness?
DAVID BROOKS:Â Well, he was that.Â I don’t know how the imprisonment affected him.
It doesn’t always affect you in a good way.Â Aging doesn’t always affect you in a good way.Â My favorite definition of humility is self-understanding in the context of other-centeredness, meaning your life is devoted to something else.
And through — in that context of life devoted to a movement or to faith, you achieve self-understanding.Â And he exuded that.Â And so I think that was the center around which he ruled.Â It was also the case, that in that time, there were a whole series of world historical figures that came on the scene at the same time. So Deng Xiaoping, I think Pope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, probably Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Mandela, some would say Gorbachev.
But these were world historical figures, had gigantic effects, big leaders.Â They all came on the scene at the same time, I would say fortuitously.Â And so we had a reasonably not bad decade, because there were some really great leaders.Â China was transformed.Â South Africa improved.Â Economies in the U.S. and U.K. improved.Â And those were, you know, big leaders.
JUDY WOODRUFF:Â But maybe it wasn’t meant to last.
MARK SHIELDS:Â Maybe it wasn’t meant to last.
But just — just one political, historical note — the United States, under Ronald Reagan’s leadership, was of no help, no help.Â Ronald Reagan had a blind spot.Â He saw the world through the narrow tunnel prism of anti-communism.Â And when the United States, just outraged by apartheid, and, finally, the Congress, with a majority Republican Senate, passed sanctions, Ronald Reagan vetoed them against the apartheid regime.
And his veto was overridden in the Senate and in the House overwhelmingly, with, I mean, people like John Warner of Virginia, Dan Quayle, the senator from Indiana, John Stennis, the longtime Democratic segregationist from Mississippi, all voting to overturn.
And it was really a point — a time of moral obtuseness on the part of the leadership.
DAVID BROOKS:Â Yes.Â Mark’s right, absolutely right about that.Â And it was a blind — it’s a black mark on the Reagan administration.
When I was in South Africa, I used to ask people, how much do the sanctions really hurt?Â And the common answer, not universal, common answer was, the sports sanctions really hurt.Â Their teams get — it’s a sports-crazy country.Â And their teams couldn’t play abroad.Â And that was like a moral insult that, â€˜We’re not worthy to play abroad. â€˜
The second thing I just want to say about Africa today, it has become a good news story.Â The governance in Africa across many countries in the region is good news.Â And you’re seeing I think five out of six fastest-growing economies are in Africa.
So I don’t know if it’s — you can ascribe it to Mandela, but there are a lot of countries where we are seeing unprecedentedly decent governance, and, as a result, economies and societies improving.
JUDY WOODRUFF:Â And we tend to focus on the bad things.
Well, you brought up the economy.Â Let’s bring it back home. Jobs numbers out today, good jobs numbers, 200,000 — over 200,000 jobs, Mark, created, but, as Paul Solman reported, the number of people who have given up looking for a job still really, really high, 4 million and up.Â And then the president goes and gives a speech this week and says economic inequality is going to be the main focus of his administration.
How do you read what he’s saying about that?
MARK SHIELDS:Â I thought it was the best speech, certainly on the economy, I have heard President Obama give.
I thought it was a strong and persuasive case.Â I think the facts are there.Â There can be no doubt about it over — between 1979 and 2007, 13.5 percent of this nation’s total income was transferred to the top 1 percent.Â That’s $1.1 trillion for the top 1 percent of families, I mean, just in that period of time.
And it’s not just an accident.Â I mean, yes, globalization has contributed to it, but we have trade policies, we have economic policies, we have tax policies, all of which have contributed to — and workers policies, union policies, labor policies — all of which have been directed to, channeled toward helping those at the very top.Â And there’s no question about it.Â It’s worked.
JUDY WOODRUFF:Â Well…
MARK SHIELDS:Â Go ahead.
JUDY WOODRUFF:Â And we’re going to pick up on that in just a minute.
MARK SHIELDS:Â OK.Â Sure.
JUDY WOODRUFF:Â But we are going to take a short break right now.Â We’re going to pick up on this and let David have a chance to weigh in.
But, right now, we are going to take a short break to allow your public television station to ask for your support.Â And that support helps keep programs like ours on the air.
JUDY WOODRUFF:Â And we are back now with Mark Shields and David Brooks.
All right, where were we?
JUDY WOODRUFF:Â We were talking about — seriously, David, we were talking about income inequality.Â Mark was — I asked both of you about the president saying this week he’s — he wants to devote the rest of his time in office to trying to do something about income inequality in this country.
DAVID BROOKS:Â Well, it’s one of the big major issues, so that’s a good idea.
And I agree with Mark.Â I thought it was an excellent speech.Â It was a little lacking in agenda items, realistically, because there’s not that much that is going to be passed.Â But there was an interesting elision in it, which elided really two sides of a debate.Â And he used it — and they must have been very conscious of this because of the way they structured the speech.
They used the phrase income inequality and social mobility constantly together.Â And, of course, they are related problems, but sometimes they point in different policy response directions.Â And so, if your main problem is income inequality, then you’re going to want to focus on — maybe on the top 1 percent or the top 5 percent, and you’re going want to have tax policies, health care policies that are about redistribution.
If you are focusing on social mobility, you are probably going to see it as a human capital problem, and you’re going to focus on early childhood education, which the president does, college loans, maybe some family structure issues.
And so you don’t have to choose totally A. and B., but you probably have to pick a priority.Â And so it would be — there is a very interesting debate about which path is the more appropriate path to take.Â I personally take the social mobility path, lifting more up from the bottom, not worrying as much about redistribution.Â But the president sort of fuzzed over those choices.
JUDY WOODRUFF:Â So, do you think the president — that they have — the White House hasn’t decide which way they’re going to go, Mark?Â I mean, how do you — do you share that analysis?
MARK SHIELDS:Â Well, I think David makes a good point.
I just don’t think the two are mutually inconsistent or incompatible.Â And I — we have had a policy which has been upward income redistribution.Â I mean, we privatized profits for the corporations and companies, and we socialized losses.
I mean, the public picked up when we had failure.Â I mean, when $173 billion went to AIG, American Insurance Group, and they then turned around and gave $165 million in bonuses, and the idea that somehow helping people at the bottom or redirecting part of that national wealth to help those most needing social mobility — and David’s right — it does require an expenditure, and it requires a commitment.
The president did the first thing that’s important in this, and that is to introduce the debate.Â You’re not going to get to any decision until you put something on the national agenda.Â And I think this was very important to get it.
And, quite honestly, the Republicans, in all due respect, it’s exactly the way they are in medical care.Â They — the repeal, but there is no replace.Â And I think Paul Ryan and Rand Paul are aware of this, and 2016 candidates potentially, are addressing the subject of poverty, and recognizing that their party’s idea bin is pretty barren right now.
JUDY WOODRUFF:Â Well, I guess my question is, is this just a speech, or do we see some sign that there’s going to be an attempt to do something?
And, by the way, Republicans are saying this is just an attempt to distract attention from the problems of Obamacare.
DAVID BROOKS:Â Well, it is a long-term interest of his.
It is somewhat just a speech.Â The one cavil I would have would be that to put an idea on the agenda is usually what a president does in the eighth year of his presidency, not in, what are we, the sixth or something.
JUDY WOODRUFF:Â Fifth.
DAVID BROOKS:Â Fifth.
JUDY WOODRUFF:Â Yes.
DAVID BROOKS:Â And so he should still be focusing on things about which he has actual action items, rather than just putting something on the agenda.Â Do that later in the term, but because of the stagnation in Washington and in Congress, I think he’s decided to just be a more rhetorical president.
Just on the one point about the income inequality, if are you talking about the top 1 percent, I agree with Mark.Â There has been this ridiculous increase in wages, ridiculous compensation schemes on Wall Street, a lot of the socialization of profit — privatization of profits, socialization of risk.
But if you are talking about the top 20 percent or the top 30 percent, there, I think you have a structural problem that educated people have become really good at marrying other educated people and passing down their advantages to children.
And I don’t think you can do much about that.Â The real thing is to give people without those family backgrounds the leg up.
MARK SHIELDS:Â Yes.
No, social mobility is — that is why I think it’s two wings of the same bird.Â I mean, but the social mobility is crucial.Â Right now, the social mobility, that chance in the United States of somebody being born at the bottom, the Al — I was going to say Alger Hiss — Horatio Alger story…
MARK SHIELDS:Â … of somebody coming from nowhere and achieving is less and less likely, and it’s less and less likely than it is in other advanced countries and that has been historically.
And that’s where you have to expend that kind of effort and capital and attention as a people to give them that…
DAVID BROOKS:Â I don’t think there is so much two wings of the same bird, but the one point is that both wings are in the Democratic Party.Â The Republican Party doesn’t have a wing.
DAVID BROOKS:Â And so they need a policy…
JUDY WOODRUFF:Â I’m trying to visualize this bird right now.
MARK SHIELDS:Â That’s right.Â It’s a beautiful bird.Â It’s an American eagle.
JUDY WOODRUFF:Â The two of you fly beautifully, can I just say?
JUDY WOODRUFF:Â Mark Shields, David Brooks, thank you.
The post Shields and Brooks on Mandela’s influence, Obama’s vow to address inequality appeared first on PBS NewsHour. Download File - 0.0 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
Shields and Brooks on the popeâ€™s critique of capitalism, Thanksgiving gratitude
Fri, Nov 29, 2013
Watch Video | Listen to the Audio
HARI SREENIVASAN: And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.
So, while you were out last weekend, there was some news. The Iran deal happened. We did cover it on the NewsHour Weekend, but you didn’t have a chance to weigh in.
So, let’s get to it. Is this a good deal?
MARK SHIELDS: It’s a better deal than where we were, in the sense that six months, and there’s a — I think it’s confidence-building on both sides, in a place where there was little to no confidence on either side. And I think the inspections are positive, and the alternate is unspeakable.
DAVID BROOKS: I have got ambivalence of mountain — mountain-size proportion about this thing.
I think, on balance, it’s probably worth an attempt, because I really think thought they were heading towards nuclear weapons. And I think still think that is probably the likely outcome. Nonetheless, this is a shot. But it all depends on how tough we are in following up.
This is a six-month thing that is up to lead up to a bigger thing. But do we actually — and the administration has begun to do this, in part through a column that David Ignatius wrote, laying out exactly what they consider criteria for a good final deal. And if they stick to that criteria, rather than folding, then — then you really could get there somewhere.
And the second thing we really have to be tough on, the Iranians are counting on us, or the entire world, that the sanction regimes will begin to dissolve, that once companies get the chance to make some money in Iran, it will all fall apart. Somehow, if the Western alliance can really hold the sanctions together, then this is a worth — a risk worth taking.
Both those are big ifs, though.
HARI SREENIVASAN: What do you — what — do you think the alliance can hold it together there?
MARK SHIELDS: I think it can.
I think that the president is obviously all in on this. And I think one of the problems he does face is that the Congress is going to try and push harder for sanctions. He’s got to stop those in the short-term, and at least get his six months. And I think they have been doing a good job so far in trying to tamp down the understandable criticism and opposition.
But I just think that we — we — there’s been an overreaction on the opposition’s side. The idea of comparing this to Munich 1938 is beyond overblown. Iran in 2013, whatever it is, and it’s not a very pleasant place, is not Nazi Germany in 1938. And I — so I think this is — I think it’s worth it, and I’m just hoping.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes.
The Saudis — though, to be fair, the Saudis are really upset. The Gulf states are really upset. The Israelis are really upset. The people who are most vulnerable to an Iranian nuclear weapon are really upset. And that, to me, is to be trusted. It seems unlikely that a regime that went so far to get a nuclear weapon is suddenly going to pull back and give it up.
HARI SREENIVASAN: What about the congressional variable here? What if Congress decides to slap on new sanctions that really makes this…
MARK SHIELDS: Well, I think this is a real test of the president’s political leadership in the country, as well as with the Congress.
And it obviously is tougher now that his numbers are down. But I think only the president can lay out the stakes, and that is a six-month period. What — and it comes down to what the alternative is. I mean, if we think that, in isolation, they weren’t developing, if the people who were convinced of that, and I don’t understand their skepticism — I can understand their skepticism. I don’t understand their opposition to an attempt now to freeze it and with total inspection every day.
DAVID BROOKS: Well, sanctions are working. And if sanctions are working, maybe more sanctions are good.
I happen to think the confluence of events of sort of the deal, the offer from the Obama administration, which is the carrot, and the stick from the Congress, is a pretty good balance. So, if they want to be tough while Obama is being open, that sends the right signal to the Iranians.
HARI SREENIVASAN: OK. Let’s shift gears.
The pope came out with — I want to get this correct — his first apostolic exhortation. It was his first major work, big report. In there, he takes quite a few very specific jabs at capitalism, calling it a new tyranny. I mean, popes in the past have had these concerns before, but really he’s laying this out. And some of the sort of pope watchers, experts are saying that this is the agenda for how to reform the Christian church.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, well, I — I actually have a lot of sympathy.
I’m a fan of capitalism, but I have a lot of sympathy for it. And it should be remembered that Benedict and John Paul II issued some extremely critical statements on capitalism. That is the job of the Catholic Church, to be a balance to the materialistic drives of our culture and of economy.
I guess I would wish he would emphasize two things, first, that capitalism over the last 25 years has been an incredible moral good. It has reduced poverty more in the last 25 years than ever before in human history, mostly in Asia. But that’s been a phenomenal good. That’s relieved suffering. And that has been a product of capitalism.
The second thing I would say is sometimes I think the analysis and some of the language used this time was too narrowly economic. One of the things capitalism does is, it does enhance and exacerbate the sin of pride, making yourself, the material world the center of your universe, instead of God’s will.
But the doesn’t only happen in capitalism. That can happen in faculty clubs. It can happen at NGOs. And so that is a spiritual sin. And to talk about some of the spiritual sins that capitalism encourages in a broader scale seems to me the right way to do it. To focus on a certain sort of economic theory, that seems to me a little out of the pope’s lane.
MARK SHIELDS: I think it’s very much in the pope’s lane.
And I think that survival of the fittest has never been a tenet of either Judeo-Christian values or Christian — our culture. And I think the pope has confronted us with a fundamental question: What are we first? Are we a free market system, that we have confidence that, untrammeled and unfettered, it will eventually provide good for more people?
Or are we a community, a community of human beings of equal dignity, and that a capitalist system, a free enterprise system, under regulation and required regulation — and that’s what he — that’s the difference he makes more than any to me in the economic sphere, which is not private charity and private generosity, which have always been important, but that we have a collective responsibility to make that sure all of us, the least among us, through our collective instrument of government, have education, have health care, have shelter, have food, that that’s not just a matter of individual kindness or compassion.
And I — to me, that was it. And David’s right. It’s not a deviation from John Paul II or Benedict or past popes, but the emphasis that he brings to it, the passion he brings to it, that Pope Francis does, as well as the sense of engaging the world, I mean, it’s an optimistic, upbeat, and passionate pope that we are seeing right now who drives a Ford Focus.
MARK SHIELDS: I mean, he doesn’t — he doesn’t drive around in an armored limo. That’s a big difference.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, if I could just say one thing, capitalism tells you, be ambitious, be self-interested.
All of us from all political persuasions understand that is not enough and that there should be countercultures telling you that that is not enough. And there used to be a ton. Religion was a counterculture, but our intellects — there were a lot of countercultures that said, being self-interested, being interested in your own achievement, that is not a happy life.
And — but I’m afraid that sometimes when the pope does it in the way he did this time, he is introducing a political divide where there doesn’t need to be one, where he makes it into an argument about economic philosophy, when it could be the core message of Catholicism, that self-interest shouldn’t really be the center of your life.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Does it punctuate a conversation about inequality that has been happening…
MARK SHIELDS: Well, that to me is what the fundamental premise of what the pope’s — and that is not simply the inequality, economic inequality, which David has talked about in the past, and income inequality, and wealth inequality, but that that leads to an inequality of opportunity.
And we have seen it in this country with a widening divide, where people who are born poor, whether they’re white or black, in the South, in the Midwest, they have a better chance — I mean a worse chance, actually, of growing up to be poor adults, whether white or black, and that this has been a problem, and that income inequality and economic inequality are — quite frankly, have a social cost.
DAVID BROOKS: So, I literally am being more Catholic than the pope.
DAVID BROOKS: So, what Catholicism, what Christianity tells us — and Judaism as well — tells us that we’re all equal shows. What do the Beatitudes say?
It’s about — it’s about how we are all fundamentally equal souls, and if you make a zillion dollars, you’re not any better than anybody else spiritually. You’re still an equal soul. In fact, it’s probably going to be a little tougher for you because of the sins that go along with that.
I would love to see the pope emphasize the equality of souls and the fact that your success is problematic to your salvation, and instead of a much more narrowly political — I’m all in favor of talking about inequality. We do it all the time. I just want the pope to be the pope.
MARK SHIELDS: The pope said, David, if you did read it…
DAVID BROOKS: I have.
MARK SHIELDS: OK.
He said, I love the — I love the rich. As well, I love the poor, that that is — but that the responsibility we have — I mean, the rich are getting by pretty damn well. And, as we have cut taxes, the inequality has grown wider. And so, you know, I think the pope deserves a listen-to.
DAVID BROOKS: A listen-to.
MARK SHIELDS: A shout-out.
DAVID BROOKS: Very controversial.
MARK SHIELDS: No, I do. I do.
HARI SREENIVASAN: OK.
So there was — in sort of domestic political news, we almost started to look at campaign finance reform through the Treasury. We are looking at these — quote, unquote — “social welfare organizations” that have been very, very active in the entire political process now, 501(c)(4)s.
So, first of all, for someone who might not have paid attention, what are the structural changes and why are they so important?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, some of them, it’s like the David Koch organizations, some of the Tea Party organizations, as well as some environmental groups.
And their giving has been ramping up from — if you took total giving from these groups, it was in the single millions a few generations — or a few elections ago, very recently.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes.
DAVID BROOKS: And now it’s something like $300 million. It’s just become an explosion.
And so there’s — and this has all become fuzzy. Remember, the Tea Party thought they were being targeted. And it has just become fuzzy regulation. So, the administration’s position is, we just wanted to tighten up the regulation and make it harder so they — for these supposedly nonpartisan groups to give, put some limits on what they can say.
The groups themselves says, we’re mostly Republican-leaning. You’re clamping down on us. You’re not clamping down on unions. This is unfair. That’s the essential argument.
MARK SHIELDS: We had 32 years, from 1976 to 2008, in which we had elections.
As somebody who spent his early year in politics, before I turned to journalism, by default, I can tell you, they were clean. Ronald Reagan three times ran for president. He accepted the limits on contributions, the limits on what you could spend, and he ran on public financing in the fall elections, when he won 49 states one time and 44 the next, George H.W. Bush twice, Bill Clinton twice, George W. Bush.
And it changed in 2008. President Obama was the first president not to abide by the limits in the general election. And then along comes the Citizens United case decision at the Supreme Court, which took off all limits on spending.
We had in the last election $470 million contributed by 100 individuals. And we don’t know through these 501(c)(4)s, which are — list themselves as social welfare organizations, charitable organizations, we don’t know who is contributing. They can hide behind that.
So, we have gone from total disclosure and limitations to no disclosure and no limits. And anybody who thinks that is good for politics in the long run, you know, I just wish anybody on the Supreme Court who voted that way had ever run for sheriff, because they would know, people who give money in large amount in politics are basically not altruistic.
They have some issue. They have some interest. And it’s — you know, it may be world peace. It may be preserving carried interest. But it’s not altruistic.
DAVID BROOKS: Right.
MARK SHIELDS: And that has changed our democracy.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes.
And I would say this is — may be one of those issues where moderation is not the answer; the middle way is the worst possible way. So, I think there are two basic approaches you can use for campaign finance. One is complete openness, everybody knows absolutely everything, but no limits. But you let people decide.
The other is just have a national public system. What we have is a hybrid, which is the worst of both worlds. And so to that — to this — to the extent that it’s going to crack down on some of these charitable giving groups, which, let’s face it, they’re very polarizing — they tend to drive candidates to extremes.
MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.
DAVID BROOKS: It’s probably a good thing.
It’s tough to do it from Treasury, which looks — it looks a little political.
HARI SREENIVASAN: OK.
MARK SHIELDS: David’s point about their giving and the limitations as to what people can give, the reality is this, Hari, that when there are no limits, candidates then just seek a wealthy individual.
I mean, and that’s all you are pleasing. And that — there was a time when political support was reflected in financial support, if you won New Hampshire or you did well in the Iowa caucuses. Now all you have to do is court two or three major benefactors, and they will keep you alive, and keep you alive even on a single issue that they care about.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Last pressing question — about a minute left — what are you thankful for?
MARK SHIELDS: I’m thankful — and Peggy Noonan of The Wall Street Journal reminded me of this today in her piece — that certain employers like Nordstrom and Costco and others to let their employees have Thanksgiving…
HARI SREENIVASAN: That’s great.
MARK SHIELDS: … and didn’t open their stores on Thursday.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes.
I’m thankful that we live in a crassly commercial, polarized culture, so media…
DAVID BROOKS: … jackals like me have a lot of work to do.
DAVID BROOKS: No.
I have actually made more personal friends this year than I have maybe since I was in high school, so that’s…
MARK SHIELDS: Really?
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. All right, including Mark Shields. All right.
DAVID BROOKS: I knew him before.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, you can hear Mark Shields and David Brooks weigh in on their opinion on college football’s biggest day, rivalry Saturday. That will be on The Doubleheader that will be posted online.
The post Shields and Brooks on the pope’s critique of capitalism, Thanksgiving gratitude appeared first on PBS NewsHour. Download File - 0.0 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
How much discretion does Obama have in setting deportation priorities?
Tue, Nov 26, 2013
Watch Video | Listen to the Audio
GWEN IFILL: Now to the debate within the debate over immigration reform.
Even as a sweeping overhaul remains politically out of reach, hundreds of thousands of undocumented residents are still being deported. And that has angered some of the president’s most loyal supporters.
PRESIDENT PRESIDENT OBAMA: I said it was time.
GWEN IFILL: The president was making his case for immigration reform on Monday in San Francisco, when a dissenting voice rose right behind him, demanding an end to deportations that divide families.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Most importantly, we will live up to our character as a nation.
JU HONG, undocumented immigrant: Our families are separated. I need your help. There are thousands of other…
JU HONG: … immigrants.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: That’s — that’s — that’s exactly what we’re talking about here.
JU HONG: … every single day.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: That’s what why we’re here.
JU HONG: Mr. President, please, use your executive order to halt deportations for all 11.5 undocumented immigrants in this country right now.
GWEN IFILL: The man making the plea was Ju Hong, a 24-year-old undocumented immigrant from South Korea. Others joined in, chanting for action, even as the president waved the Secret Service away.
MAN: Stop deportation.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: What I would like to do — no, no, don’t worry about it, guys.
MAN: Stop deportation. Yes, we can.
GWEN IFILL: The administration has deported record numbers of undocumented immigrants, about 400,000 every year. Protesters have pressed for executive action to halt the practice just as Mr. Obama ordered a stop to deporting undocumented immigrant children last year.
But the president insisted yesterday that, in this case, his hands are tied.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: The easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws.
And what I’m proposing is the harder path, which is to use our democratic processes to achieve the same goal that you want to achieve, but it won’t be as easy as just shouting. It requires us lobbying and getting it done.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: So…
GWEN IFILL: Still, the prospect of getting it done as part of broad immigration reform seems remote for now. A bipartisan measure passed the Senate in July, but House Republicans have no plans to take it up before year’s end.
The issue, however, continues to play out on the local level. In Boston, the newly elected mayor said today he wants to pull out of a federal program that tracks people in the country illegally. But detention and deportation continues apace.
For more on that, we turn to Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, and David Martin, a law professor at the University of Virginia. He served in the Obama administration as deputy general counsel of the Department of Homeland Security.
Welcome to you both.
Ms. Hincapie, we — why have deportations increased, in your view?
MARIELENA HINCAPIE, National Immigration Law Center: Well, under the Obama administration, we’re seeing a record number of people being detained and deported. These are your working mothers, working fathers. They’re people picking our fruits, serving our food at restaurants.
And there have been a number of programs like Secure Communities, which is a program that the administration created and has enforced vigorously. We also see a lot of collaboration between law enforcement agents at the ground, as well as with immigration agents.
And we are about to rake a record of two million deportees under this administration.
GWEN IFILL: So, David Martin, why is that happening?
DAVID MARTIN, Department of Homeland Security: Well, Congress has funded enforcement at those levels. The administration is carrying out the laws, honoring the president’s obligation under the Constitution to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.
And so this is both a congressional and an executive policy. But I want to emphasize that the Obama administration has made an effort to redirect deportations and enforcement actions so that they focus on a better set of priorities, to prioritize people with criminal involvement or recent border crossers or people with serious immigration violations.
And the best example of that, I think, is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, the policy for the so-called DREAMers, for people who came here as young children and are not accountable for their illegal presence in the country. That was a policy announced about 18 months ago that provides a form of status for those people.
So all of that is part of the process. The president doesn’t have the authority to simply wave off enforcement of the laws. That’s not the kind of system we have. So there’s been an effort to reprioritize it.
GWEN IFILL: Ms. Hincapie, is that re-prioritization enough for you? The president, that’s essentially what he said yesterday to the heckler in the crowd: Listen, it’s not up to me. Go talk to Congress.
MARIELENA HINCAPIE: I think the young immigrant in the crowd was really voicing a growing concern among immigrant communities because of the frustration of congressional inaction, as well as the fact that this administration is deporting more people than any prior administration.
And David is right that the appropriations — Congress has — is partially at fault here in terms of the amount of money that they’re throwing away, $18 billion in last fiscal year alone, more than all law enforcement — all federal agent — law enforcement agencies combined. That’s incredible that this nation is spending that much time, that much money at a time that we’re facing such a federal deficit.
But the administration with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program did identify that DREAMers, in particular young immigrants, are eligible or considered to be low-level priority. The problem is that the administration isn’t necessarily enforcing or applying even its existing policies and procedures.
GWEN IFILL: But what do you say to David Martin’s point that the law is the law is the law?
MARIELENA HINCAPIE: Well, I think there are — we believe in the rule of law as well.
And we believe that the administration should be enforcing — and hopefully under new DHS leadership with Jeh Johnson’s nomination, they will actually put in place an implementation of existing policies and priorities. So the way that the administration has identified who is a — considered a low-level priority, we shouldn’t continue to see immigrant workers, people who are paying taxes, people who are raising a family, who are contributing to our economy in so many different ways, the same very people that would be eligible for immigration reform, which the administration has identified as its top legislative priority.
We couldn’t — we shouldn’t be deporting today the citizens of tomorrow.
GWEN IFILL: David Martin, how much latitude does the president have to say, OK, these are criminals over here who are out of immigration status and these are mothers and children who are out of immigration status, and these I will deport or detain and these I won’t?
DAVID MARTIN: The president does have discretion to set the priorities, and that’s pretty much what the president has tried to do.
It’s not just for people with criminal records, but also, for example, for recent arrivals, even if they’re just coming here to work. I think that’s a sound overall policy. So the president does have authority. And it can be adjusted some beyond what it is right now. And also I share Marielena’s concern.
Steps need to be strengthened to make sure that the priorities are really followed. But the president doesn’t have the authority to do what some of the people I think were asking for yesterday, essentially to stop all deportations of any of the estimated 11.5 million people who are here in the country. Prosecutorial discretion is the authority to focus resources, to direct toward priorities. It’s not the authority to negate the law or ignore it.
GWEN IFILL: Can I ask you another question about that? I’m curious how this — she alluded to the fact that this — these are record numbers of deportations. How does what this administration is doing compare to past administrations?
DAVID MARTIN: Well, the administration has not ramped up enforcement beyond essentially what it was at the end of the Bush administration.
There was a big run-up in enforcement and especially in congressional appropriations for that in the Clinton administration and then in the George W. Bush administration. I did some calculations on how that was. The final year of the Bush administration, there were 391,000 removals and returns by ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the interior enforcement agency.
Currently, it’s running about 400,000. And it is increasing somewhat in line with the appropriations. But this is — this may be record deportations now, but it’s only slightly above the level that it reached in the Bush administration, again, with Congress’ very active support.
If we’re going to change that pattern, we really need to get new legislation and also the focus has to be as well on Congress and on the appropriations process.
GWEN IFILL: Marielena, a final word?
MARIELENA HINCAPIE: Yes, I think Congress is — the final decision really rests with Congress. Congress must enact immigration reform. That’s where the permanent solution rests.
However, in the meantime, the president does have, we believe, the legal authority and the moral authority to reduce the number of deportations, so that people who are considered low-level priorities that would be eligible today for immigration reform if Congress acted shouldn’t be deported anymore.
GWEN IFILL: And, David Martin, is this a legal and moral — legal or a moral issue, I guess?
DAVID MARTIN: Well, both are involved.
The effort to try to infuse more of this moral perspective — people really disagree on what that is — but that perspective into our overall enforcement picture has to be primarily done through working on amendments for the laws. We’re involved in that process. It’s a very difficult process, politically fraught.
But I think serious continuing level of enforcement has got to be a key part of the overall package and the long-term effort to make our immigration system healthy.
GWEN IFILL: David Martin at the University of Virginia and Marielena Hincapie of National Immigration Law Center, thank you both so much.
MARIELENA HINCAPIE: Thank you, Gwen.
DAVID MARTIN: Thank you.
The post How much discretion does Obama have in setting deportation priorities? appeared first on PBS NewsHour. Download File - 0.0 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
Shields and Brooks look at long-term impact of Senateâ€™s â€˜nuclearâ€™ rule change
Fri, Nov 22, 2013
Watch Video | Listen to the Audio
JUDY WOODRUFF: And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.
Welcome to you both, David in Philadelphia tonight.
Let’s talk about what happened yesterday in the Senate, the — essentially changing the rules, Mark, to say that, to confirm a president’s — one of the president’s nominees, it only takes a simple majority, no longer 60. They called it the nuclear option.
But were the Democrats justified in doing this?
MARK SHIELDS: Were they justified? I will leave that to a higher power to make that determination.
I think it became inevitable, Judy. There have been 168 filibusters on presidential nominees in the history of the Senate. Half of them have occurred in the last four-and-a-half years, under President Obama. So it had become a tactic that was just part and parcel, that changed the system and the rules in the Senate, that you required 60 votes to be confirmed.
And it reached the point where they weren’t objecting to nominees on the basis of their qualifications or lack thereof. There was just a blanket opposition. And I think Democrats concluded, breaking their word from five years ago, when — when they opposed this nuclear option — but they concluded the Republicans, if they do win control of the Senate in 2014, which is probably a better-than-even bet, that they would do the same.
So, they would get — that any chance of compromise was probably minimal, so why not get done what they could get done in the remaining time of President Obama’s term?
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, David — David — and, by the way, I made a mistake. You’re not in Philadelphia. You’re in San Francisco.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I knew that.
But are you prepared to weigh in on whether the Democrats made a mistake here or not?
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, they made a big mistake.
There’s — Mark’s right. There’s no question there’s been a deterioration of norms, but that’s no reason to basically begin the erosion of the institution of the Senate, what makes the Senate special. When you go to the Senate dining room and you look at the senators, they actually do talk to each other across party lines. They have working relationships. It’s not great. It’s not the way it used to be.
But they basically have working relationships. And they were able to pass legislation, even immigration reform, a couple weeks or months ago, because they have to do that, because to get a lot of stuff passed, including nominations, you have got to get 60 votes. And it’s very rare that one party has 60 votes. So, they’re used to working across party lines, in a way they just aren’t in the House.
And so, if you take away that 60-vote thing, starting now with some of the nominations, but probably going within a couple of years to the Supreme Court nominations and maybe the legislation, you basically are turning the Senate into the House. You’re basically beginning the erosion of what makes the Senate special, beginning the erosion of minority rights.
You’re creating a much more polarized body over the long term. So, if you think partisanship and polarization are in short supply, well, then this was a good move, because we’re going to have more of it, I think, in the medium and long term.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Are these the kind of consequences you see?
MARK SHIELDS: David’s — David’s analysis is, as always, interesting, but erosion of partisan — of comity and good feelings is not beginning with this. This is not — this is not a cause.
This is an effect of what has happened. I mean, this is a consequence of what has been going on. In running administration, Judy, personnel is policy. If you can’t have your own people at a department or an agency, you can never — you can never execute or be responsible for — for the administration of justice and the law, which is your obligation.
Take the case of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Because Republicans objected to the law, they refused to confirm Rich Cordray, first Elizabeth Warren, who is now a member of the United States Senate, who, as a consequence of their opposition, became a national folk hero, and finally Rich Cordray. And only with the threat of the nuclear option did they do it.
I mean, so it had reached a point — it will be more partisan, no question about it. It will be more like the House. But I don’t — I think this was a — this was one more step at a time when there wasn’t that willingness that there was eight years ago for a gang of 14 to emerge and to say, we’re going to break with our own party. Seven Democrats and seven Republicans, they did that on judicial nominees.
JUDY WOODRUFF: David, the Democrats argue that — that the obstruction under this president is much worse than it was under his predecessors.
DAVID BROOKS: Well, I think, overall, that’s true.
I think the final year of the Bush administration was pretty bad. I think that was equal to some of these years. I would say the most defensible thing that the — part of this law is the White House personnel. I agree with Mark on that. The president really should have wide leeway to choose who he want. I can see sort of getting rid of the 60-vote thing for the administration personnel.
I find it much harder to defend the idea of getting rid of it for the judges. And, believe me, the Supreme Court judges, that will be — that 60-vote thing will be gone in short order because of this.
In the first place, what you’re going to get is much more polarized judges. Now you have to kind of pick a nominee who is going to get some votes from the other party. Once this rule is in place, you don’t have to do that. Both parties are going to go to their bases and we will have a much more polarized judiciary than we have now as a part of this.
Then the final thing to be said, I agree with Mark, there’s been a deterioration of norms, but the way to fix that is try to get people to behave better. We fix the norms. You don’t want to break the fundamental structures and rules of the body. To me, that’s basically giving up.
And so we’re sort of sentencing ourselves to a long period of greater polarization and partisanship.
MARK SHIELDS: I think the — historically, there has been a distinction made on presidential nominations, because a presidential appointment in the administration, at a Cabinet job or a sub-Cabinet job, is going to serve as long as that president.
The president has been given greater latitude. The Senate has been more likely to confirm. It’s very, very rare that the Senate has opposed a presidential nominee for a Cabinet job, John Tower being one of the few, Lewis Strauss under President Eisenhower.
But judicial nominees have been historically different, that they have had to meet a different test, because they’re there for a lifetime appointment, and they’re going to be there long after the president who nominates them has left office. And so, I think, once you put the two of them together, I think you do — you do accelerate and aggravate the partisanship…
JUDY WOODRUFF: What are the consequences, though, for policy? For ordinary Americans watching all this, David, what is going to change as a result of this?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, I think, in the short-term, the Republicans are going to do a little retaliation. And so they’re probably not going to cooperate, maybe some of the budget stuff, maybe some of the agriculture bills, some of the water bills, some of that kind of stuff.
But on — in the short term, we probably weren’t going to see much passage of anything anyway. So, in the short term, you will just see — it — it underlines the fact that we’re probably not going to have much legislation on anything. You had stuff going through the Senate before. It was dying in the House. Â Now it will probably die in both bodies.
I think what you will see in the long term, if my supposition is correct that we’re going to go to a majority rule, a 50-vote rule on a to of things over the next couple years, is that you will see wider things in policy. One of the nice things about the American system is because we’re a republic, and not a democracy, that we do protect majority rights, we made it hard to pass legislation.
So, we have a lot of stability in our policy across really decades, because it’s just hard to pass stuff. But now it will be much easier to pass stuff, if it’s only a 50-vote rule, and so Republicans will swing policy this way, Democrats will swing it that way. And so we will probably see wider policy swings, and probably more instability.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Is that what people are going to see?
MARK SHIELDS: I think that — I think there’s a good chance of that.
Just take, for example, Judy, the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964. They had a real filibuster, 504 hours of Senate argument and debate over a four-month period. And it finally passed 71-29. And they invoked cloture. They ended the filibuster. And on that vote, there were 23 Democrats who opposed ending the filibuster who were opposed to civil rights, and six Republicans.
It’s reached the point now where when you — I don’t care who the nominee is. The Republicans were all against the nominee simply because a Democratic had done so. I think the implications will be, in addition to what David suggests, I think there will be — they are felt in people’s lives — as long as the court of appeals in Washington, D.C., cannot make decisions, and they can’t if the Republicans — in the Republican system, had refused to approve, confirm another judge, then all the questions about civil rights, and gay rights, and workers’ rights that come before that court, because that’s where all of the regulations and laws are appealed.
In addition to that, don’t forget this: campaign finance. I mean, judges have changed the way we finance our campaigns. And it is abysmal. And anybody who doesn’t think that touches their lives…
JUDY WOODRUFF: And that’s coming from the Supreme Court.
MARK SHIELDS: And that’s coming from the Supreme Court.
MARK SHIELDS: But it — so I just think — I think that these decisions do touch people’s live, just not directly in the way they might be keenly aware of on a daily basis.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it’s — we — we — today is a day for both of you when we — the whole country looks back to President John Kennedy.
David, you know, so much has been written about this over the last days. Certainly, today, we have been thinking about it all day long. How did this country change, or did it change, as a result of his presidency and his assassination?
DAVID BROOKS: Yes.
Well, I think the whole presidency really peaking, if you want to say, the martyrology of John F. Kennedy on this day 50 years ago changed the way we define presidents and politics really.
If you go back Eisenhower, if you go back to his farewell address, which was I think three days before the Kennedy inaugural, it’s a very limited sense of what government can do, and it should be balanced. We should suspect bigness. We should just try to balance interests. It’s a very modest sense of what government can do.
Kennedy comes in with that inaugural, and promises to bear any burden, pay any price, to end disease. It becomes much more utopian. And that sort of utopian sense that politics can really transform life is underlined by his charisma, the charisma of an office, and then it’s underlined even more by the martyrdom, and by the mystique of Camelot that grows up.
And politicians since, presidents since, including Reagan and including Clinton and including Obama, have tried to strike that Kennedyesque tone that they are the charismatic leader who can really transform everything.
And, to me, the perverse effect of that, of sort of the enlargement of politics, has been subsequent disappointment when politics can’t deliver that sort of Camelot dream again and again, whether it’s — whether it’s Obama or whether it was Kennedy himself. And so it’s perversely, I think, inflated politics, created a much more image-conscious politics, but then led to disillusionment, as politics can’t live up to that sort of mirage of sort of religiosity.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, in a way, setting an unreachable standard, Mark?
MARK SHIELDS: Well, I — I have an advantage over David. I lived through it.
And the first time I ever…
DAVID BROOKS: Hey, I was 2.
MARK SHIELDS: OK.
MARK SHIELDS: The first time I ever slept in the same quarters with an African-American or took orders from an African-American as a regular course was at Parris Island, South Carolina, in Marine Corps boot camp.
And the only reason I did it was because a president of the United States named Harry Truman said it was immoral, in the final analysis, to have Americans fight and possibly die for their country and be segregated by race.
John Kennedy did the same thing and he was the first president actually to announce that policy, that civil rights was a matter of morality, that — and segregation was immoral. And it changed America by so doing.
The other thing he did and — that is so important and is so missing is he called those who had been blessed and advantaged by education or by birth to an ethic and a — to summon them to public service, that they had a responsibility to serve those who were less fortunate than themselves.
It was best put, Judy, I thought by a young Peace Corps volunteer as, why did you — why did you do this? And he said, I had never done anything unselfish, political, or patriotic. And nobody had asked me. Kennedy asked.
And Kennedy did ask. And he did make a difference, and he brought thousands of people into public service and at every level. And I think in the best sense of a country, he touched what was best.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Shields, David Brooks, we thank you both.
MARK SHIELDS: Thank you.
The post Shields and Brooks look at long-term impact of Senate’s ‘nuclear’ rule change appeared first on PBS NewsHour. Download File - 0.0 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
- LearnOutLoud.com Product ID: