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tv   Inside Story  Al Jazeera  January 12, 2016 6:30pm-7:01pm EST

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money, you're finished. >> congress on the state of the union, and that will be tonight. state senators, and congress, and the supreme court to listen to barack obama's report. much larger than the audience inside of the room is the one outside, you. what's the state of your union? it's the "inside story".
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>> the state of my union is i'm drowning in student loans, and i would love for them to be pard =-d. >> the state of my union is i'm out of work. i have been out for a year now. >> i don't have a state of my union at this point. things are okay, and nothing unexpected. >> you're looking live at capitol hill, where president obama will give his final it state of the union address in 2 and a half hours from now. welcome to "inside story". i'm ray suarez. tonight, the president will tell the congress and the country his assessment of the way that things are going. one of those moments in history, where you could make a plausible non-partisan case for
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a gloomy forecast, and rank-and-file americans are consistent on their opinion. low unemployment and low gas, the san bernardino shootings, roll obamacare, terror attacks and war in the middle east, contributing to pessimism. before the dueling applause lines, and before the commentary on the first lady's guests in the gallery, which supreme court members decided not to come. and who from the cabinet is holding back in case the rest of the colleagues are wiped out, we want to talk to you about america that starts at your front door. so we asked people around the country, what's your state of the union? >> my it state of the union is improving. things in my city and country are getting better, especially over the last eight years, and i like the direction which it's held the. >> karen bass, a democrat in
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california. her district is at the heart of los angeles county, including big chunks of the city offing los angeles and culver city. and great to have you with us. >> thanks for having me on. >> the word from the white house, one of the things that the president is going to do is make an argument to the country, with his years in office as productive ones. but a lot of the public opinion polling doesn't seem to reflect that back. what can the president to do to strengthen his argument tonight some. >> one of the things that i think the administration should do every day is promote the accomplishments they have, and they haven't been very strong about that. >> if you think of where our country was seven years ago and where it is today, i think that the change is very significant, despite difficult odds. >> that's the problem though. on if you're sitting in your home and you're not happy about
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the state of the country, it's a tough sell for him, isn't it? >> si think that there are very significant things that the president can bring up. i know that he's not going to do a laundry list of his accomplishments. many of us will be out doing that. >> but if you mention healthcare, and the unemployment rate, half of what it was seven years, but you're right, if you're an individual that doesn't have a job, you have not felt the improvement of the economy, you're absolutely right. >> how are things looking from the 37th district of the state of california? it's a very diverse congressional district. and i'm sure that there are many opinions about the shape of the country tonight. >> absolutely, but i can tell you in the 37th district. and i know this intimately. because seven years ago, i was in the state legislature and having to deal with the crisis in california, where our state budget was $83 billion.
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and today, it's $153 billion. so california is still struggling, but nothing like it was. >> what about people looking for jobs, and what about those finishing their years in school, either with a high school diploma or credential, and heading out into the world of work? are there things happening in your part of the world? >> you're absolutely right. there's so much that needs to be done. but even if you take an issue like student loans, that has significantly improved, a long way to go still. but one of the first things that president obama did when he took over, he took a lot of the private loans back into the federal government, so the situation regarding student loans would be even worse if he hadn't made the changes that he did seven years ago. >> representative karen bass is in her second term, the 37th district of the u.s. house, and thanks for talking to us. >> thanks for having me o. >> we're looking at the state of your un, and joining me now,
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chelsea, a contributor at ebony.com. and kelly, the doctor for the american progress' action fund, and molly reynolds, a fellow in governance studies at the brooks institution. angela kelly, if we look at the measurements we use to find out what kind of shape we're in, is there a gap between what that is and how americans feel about things right now? >> that always exists, to some degree. >> as wide as it is now? >> may see the glass as half empty. but i think that the metrics show that the economy is stronger. if you look at how much the president did to improve the economy the last seven years, half of the rate it was as the congress said, 70 months of job growth and 14 million new jobs. i hear you. and these are new numbers.
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people are insecure. it is my daughter's first year of college, and boy, is that a sobering check to write every month. and i understand that. but i like to pause and say, where am i now compared to where i was seven years ago when this president took office? how do i feel about the state of the climate and his efforts for gun safety? how do i feel about my very best friend who is gay and his opportunity now? so much more than seven years ago. so concrete pieces and i would say that we're not done yet. but he has laid out a progressive vision for america and i would like to see that continue with whoever is white house. >> molly, the tracking numbers, and the sentiment numbers, they didn't change very much as unemployment went down and even the gas prices went down, and people had an extra $30 in their pockets each week.
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so what happened? >> i think with our bigging picture numbers, and our job growth numbers are moving in the right direction, and as you were saying, it's not necessarily filtering down to every day americans, they're not necessarily feeling that, and when a pollster calls hem and says are you satisfied with the direction that the country is going, they may think about their day-to-day and not necessarily say i feel better about what's happening. >> chelsea, what about you? what do you think about what's going on? people are pretty grumpy and gloomy. >> they're looking at their every day lives. let's look at some of the facts. you talk about unemployment. the labor force has decreased in terms of those who are actually out looking for jobs. we heard the representative talking about students. you have black young men and women between the age of 16 and 19, and their unemployment rate is at 24%. so while these students are
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trying to gain experience and make that extra cash, they're being faced with the burden that they can't find jobs. so when people are talking about where we are and the state of the union and how they feel, they're thinking about their every day lives and the fact that they're not able to go forth and live out their american dream, so there are many issues that we can discuss, from the war on terror, to unemployment and the so-called war on women and and r fordable care act. will they be able to pay for their child's education, and these are the things that they think. >> before the president tells you what his state of the union feels like, we'll tell you our state of the union. >> the state of my union is pretty good. and i retired and i was in a
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union, so i have a good pension. >> let's say that the state of my union is in transition. and in turmoil right now. >> the state of my union, i'm concerned about the way that we're treating each other. especially the foreigners.
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>> welcome whack to "inside story," i'm ray suarez. a signpost in the year, and the cry of the house sergeant at arms, the slow procession down the aisle. the leadership of the house and senate, and military brass, the first lady and her entourage. then comes the ideological choreography. standing or sitting on your hands, looking over the president's shoulder. vice president joe biden, and the new speaker of the house this year, paul ryan. the center of american progress, and chelsea henry, the republic diversity coalition are still with me, and molly reynolds, one of the things that we have been told
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to expect tonight, a different kind of state of the union, where the president not only gives a laundry list of proposals, but he's going to talk about new politics. >> if we think of what the state of the union can do for the president, signaling his agenda and what he thinks about, if you look at the legislative agenda, there's not a lot on it. maybe criminal justice reform, and maybe the partnership trade agreement, but not much beyond that. so if we think about what's important to the president, what he wants to signal and what he cares about, his accomplishments of the last seven years, and going forward, a vision for the country, and for voters to return a democrat to the white house, and democrats to come. >> chelsea henry, is the relationship between the president and a republican-dominated congress
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now so non-functional that there's not of that he has to say to them about what they're going to do together? they're not going to do much together. >> when we look at the history of president obama, when we look at the number of executive orders that he has done, you can say that he's not the one that has not always been the one to work with congress, so as we approach his last state of the union, i think that he's going to be very strong in his delivery in the facts of what he has done, but more importantly, the things that he sees forecast, and as molly was saying, one of the important things that i'm hopeful that he'll work with congress on will be criminal justice reform. it's one of the areas, and we're at a crossroad in that area, and i hope that he will work more with congress since it's his last state of the union and his last year as president. >> i see that there's a place
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where there's broader agreement. >> i think that molly is right. it's going to be more about legacy and less about legislation, but he is going to be speaking to lawmakers, and this is where we begin to see glimmers hope, that the tough sentencing guidelines are too much and we need to pull back on the legislation that the other guests referred to. this president has gotten to the point in the last year or two of having to engage in executive orders because congress hasn't acted. and there's no clear issue with that with immigration reform, and ray, i know that you know that well, where you did see bipartisan legislation pass in the senate. and the house reversed to act. and the house republicans stomped their feet and said no, and the president wait and waited and waited and then he passed executive action to protect the undocumented who had been there a long time.
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so he has been aggressive and absolutely, he has been within the letter of the law, but he has been aggressive, and i hope in the last year war the table is set for the next administration that we can build on the tj bill, and i think that the tcp is a possibility where we can build on successes, and i think seeing where the executive actions go. and i think that the x factor is going to be in the supreme court. there are a lot of cases in front of the supreme court this upcoming term having to do with a woman's access to abortion, and having to do with the immigration executive order that i mentioned, and having to do with labor. so there's a papaably of issues that are sitting, not at the white house, but in the supreme court steps. >> between 2016 and the x factor of the coming months. how can this shape the 2016
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elections? the president would love to sit a year from now and see a democrat take the oath of office, but unpredictable effects, especially in the minds of a public that has been telling pollsters for years that the country is heading in the wrong direction. that's the "inside story." >> i think that the state of my union, the state of the u.s. is in a little bit of a turmoil, we have to get back to being a capitalistic society. >> the state of my union is, i have a job, gas prices are low? i'm good to go.
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>> the state of the union, the leadership, and gun control. >> the state of my union is fractured. from ferguson to burns. it's everywhere. it's in everything. >> welcome back to "inside story". i'm ray suarez. in a few hours, the president will report to congress on the state of the union. the living rooms and kitchens and watch parties, and on capitol hill, his diagnoses will get cheers and jeers.
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if the public is in a grumpy, dissatisfied mood, will a good enough year be good enough for the democrats who want to succeed president obama? and if the president does well, will that hurt republicans running for president? and if he tanks, will that end up being good news for them? we continue with molly and chelsea, and is this really the first 2016 campaign speech for the president. >> yes, it is. and some of the reports have said that he's going to kind of put the ball into hilliary clinton's hands. i don't think that this is the best move for the president moving forward. because of everything in the polls, and even after it was reported today, one of the grassroots organizations, move on.org, and bernie sanders, as he continues to rise in the polls in the primary states, i think that the president would
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do himself justice by focusing on what he wants to accomplish. because at the end of the day, in 2008, when he was running against hilliary clinton, he said that their politics were divisive and distractive. and actually, put the ball in her hand would be a huge mistake. but i also want to say, when we look at the state of the union, when i look at my state of the union, i'm hoping that the next commander in chief will be able to address those issues that are important to me. but not only student loans, but taxes. there are other issues that americans like myself are facing, and we want to see improvement. >> and kelly, does the president want to step carefully? he has made no secret of the fact that he wants a democrat to succeed him? and doe have to be careful about that tonight? >> it will be less about hillary versus bernie, but woah, what's happening on the republican side and the
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language that donald trump has used. and just the discourse has gotten so negative and ugly, and i think that what he'll try so a is a no, we're better than that. >> we're not about monitoring mosque beings, we're not about stopping syrian refugees, or legitimate refugees from getting protection, and being respectful to women, and i could go on and on. so he's a great architect, donald trump is, but i think that the president is saying, we need to be serious now. this is 2016, and this is the year you're going to vote. >> the white house now just lifted the embargo on the speech. and we have a couple of excerpts, and this is interesting. the future that we want, security for our family, sustainable, and peaceful planet for our kids, and all of that is within reach. but it will only happen if we can work together and if we can have rational and constructive debates and it will only happen
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if we can fix our politics. that sounds like barack obama in the weeks before the iowa caucus in 2018. >2008.>> it sure does, it takess back to 2008. and it does reflect the president treading carefully. and acknowledging the state of affairs in washington, where we have gotten to the point where there's a lot of division between the two parties. sort of meagher clearing that he understands that. but saying that if we do want to get anything done, we have to work across the aisle. and using that as a way to highlight ways in which we're returning democrats to the white house would encourage that kind of progress. >> he goes on to say a better politics, and not that we have to agree on everything, but this is a big country with different regions and attitudes and interests, and that's one of our strengths too, but
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democracy does imply basic trust within its citizens, and has that not come to pass? angela? >> i think that it's an admission, not even an admission, we live in a timeframe where the lawmakers that the president uses can be offensive. and i think that we're saying that we're better than that. we're a nation of immigrants, just a core principle. and it's not -- we shouldn't be turning our back on who we are, but building on what we have done, rather than trying to unravel it. >> jesse, we have a minute left. the final better politics and better of trust between citizens. >> i disagree with angela. i think that it's an admission over the past eight years ago that there's more that the
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president could have done. and what he can do, i'm not very optimistic about that. and going forward, it's very important for the american people to pay attention. it's not just about politics, but policies. the pollses that lawmakers make every day so we can sleep peacefully each night. >> will people hear what the president is trying to say? or is it just going to sound like a dreamy dream? >> so the people will be watching the speech. and if we know about the state of the union, at the top of the show, that has been a real problem for him, and so i wouldn't expect a lot of positive reaction from the polls to his speech, but again, i think what he's trying to do here is lay a groundwork for democrats to run strong in the polls, and he has made no secret of that. and i think acknowledging the current state of our politics
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is an important part of that message. >> i want to thank our guests, molly reynolds, and angela kelly, and chelsea henry. i'll be back in a moment with a time thought on persuasion, and how good news for the country could be bad news for some candidates. stay with us. it's "inside story".
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>> americans are not optimistic about the shape of the country and the promise of the year to come, telling them all of the good things about the country's current condition, it's not going to make them change their minds. they will, instead, conclude that a leader doesn't understand what they're up against related to the struggles of other people. so where does that leave president obama? it's probably fair to say that
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one of the toughest sells in politics is to tell people how much worse things could have been but aren't because of you. the majority of americans think that the country is on the wrong track. in national opinion polls, the president's job performance is approved of by about as many americans as disproof, millions more people have jobs, but millions more are making less money than before the recession, or making no money at all. at the same time, another eight months of robust job growth or a peace plan with iran that may look like it's working may make it harder for the eventual republican nominee to make the case that things are much worse than the people realize. of course these are all dynamic systems. the world will not stand still for the president's last year in office. there in lies the peril and the promise for him and for us all. i'm ray suarez, and that's the
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"inside story". >> this is aljazeera america, live from new york city, i'm tony harris. in iran custody, the pentagon says two navy boats and ten u.s. sailors are being held by teheran. a foreign policy test for president obama before his final state of the union address. and we

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