tv Meet the Press NBC January 5, 2014 8:00am-9:01am PST
the world's longest running television program, this is "meet the press" with david gregory. >> good sunday morning. happy new year. it is a bitterly cold morning as an arctic blast of freezing air is running through the midwest. temperatures will plunge below zero in the midwest, where they're playing some football today, to the east coast with historical lows predicted. this morning president obama left hawaii after his two-week vacation to come back to a much colder d.c. than hawaii, at least, to try to jump start his agenda for 2014. so the stage is set for some of the key battles this year. back to work. as president obama returns, he
begins a fight with republicans over the economy, restoring jobless benefits, raising minimum wage. that's what we'll be talking about. the future of obamacare is another issue, the impact of the law of the quality and costs of health care around the country and the social issues in everyday life. where does marijuana use become legal? it is a growing public policy issue around the country and we'll get into that debate this morning. joining me this morning on the roundtable, chief white house correspondent chuck todd, the managing editor of the pbs news hour, judy woodruff, steve schmidt and economist donna edwards is here as well. welcome to all of you. happy new year to all. >> happy thu yenew year. >> the year of action is what president obama said it would be, so how does he take the president sit back? >> it starts with making sure obamacare works. i asked someone what their january would look like, and
they ticked off a whole bunch of issues. they sort of left out health care completely, and i said, so what does health care look like? well, they said, as long as everything continues to get a little bit better, a little bit better, they think they can somehow ease things. ultimately, no matter what, they would like to be talking about anything other than health care. they prefer nsa reforms which is unpopular. >> they like this fight because they want credit for a good year, right? >> they do. the economy has gotten so much better over the course of the presidency, and the administration hasn't really been able to capitalize on that. we're under 7% unemployment right now, we need to extend unemployment benefits. that's why the president is engaged in minimum wage, increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, making sure we make investments in transportation infrastructure and the kinds of things that will continue to grow the economy. frankly, chuck, i do think health care is getting better.
you can call it what you want, but every single day it gets better for millions of americans, and that's only a good news story for the administration. >> how does he take it back? >> i think he has reached a moment that every other president has reached, where he has lost control to shape his own destiny from a public policy agenda. so, congresswoman, as we look at this health care debacle as it's unfolded in the last couple months, we'll find out whether it's a website problem or a structural problem with the program. i believe it's a structural problem with the program, and this is an issue that touches every american, and so i think this will be the dominant political issue, health care, heading into 2014 elections. and i think the president and his team may not want to talk about it, but they have no choice but to deal with it, and it's going to supercede all these other debates because it's so much more personal to people. >> chuck is right, david. what you're saying is right. they have to get health care right. they've got to work on it. but at the same time, the argument for doing something about the economy, the argument
for addressing inequality is such a compelling argument. i think back to the piece in the "new york times" this week. steve rattner had this rescue piece about what to remember about 2014. it was the year in charts. look what happened with wall street this year. up 30%. what happened to average american wages this year? up 1%. productivity, way up over the last decade. but american wages barely up. >> this may be an issue that washington actually do something about it. on health care they seemed to have stepped back. they have to wait for the results. it will still be a fight but maybe the economy can be moved by that. we'll be back with all of you. we'll talk about that and some of the other big issues like the marijuana fight going on around the country. i'll be back with the roundtable a little bit later. but first i want to move to another economy, the debate with the direction of the economy. on friday the outgoing fed chairman ben bernanke talked about a stronger year for america's finances.
but how to continue the growth is being hotly contested in washington. president obama pushing hard for congress to restore those emergency long-term unemployment benefits thavt have been cut of to 1.3 million americans. here's what he said in his weekly address saturday. >> we make this promise to one another because it makes a difference to a mother who needs help feeding her kids while she looks for work. it makes a difference to a father while learning skills to get a new and better job. and denying families that security is just plain cruel. we're a better country than that. we don't abandon our fellow americans when times get tough. >> i'm joined now by president obama's economic point man gene sperling. he is the director of the economic council, assistant to the economic policy. and also here is the host of cnbc's "mad money," jim cramer. he's got a book out called "get rich carefully." gene sperling, the president's
goal is to get the unemployment benefits restored for those folks out of work. republicans are saying, okay, if you can do it fiscally, responsibly. what are the prospects of passage of this? >> what i would say is tomorrow, tomorrow is the day 1.3 million americans go to the mailbox and find that the check they've been relying on to put food on their table, put gas in their cars, to look for a new job will not be there. and tomorrow is also the day where the united states senate will have a chance to vote on the first bipartisan solution, which is a three-month extension supported by -- >> so what are the chances of passage of congress? >> i would hope it would be quite good. because i would hope that people went home and realize some things, which is that these are people who are desperately looking for work. the economy is improving. you know, we've had a lot of momentum. >> but how do you get it done when republicans say, look, what's the offset?
how do you do it in a fiscally respoible way? >> david, let's just be clear. 14 of the last 17 times that emergency unemployment has been extended, there have been no strings attached. all five times that president bush extended unemployment benefits, there were no pay-fors. so look, why don't we do this. let's pass the heller-reed proposal tomorrow. that will help them for three months. that will help these 1.3 million families and then we have time to look at what to do to extend it the rest of the year. because if you don't extend it -- >> is it smart, jim cramer, to extend this? >> have to do it. not even an issue. my question is, how does it create highly trained workers? how does it create jobs that are highly skilled that pay a lot?
these are the band-aids. you have to put the band-aids on, but it doesn't address the issue. >> rand paul says no, you have to stop putting the band-aids on. here's what he said talking about the economic impact on this policy for those who are out of work. >> when you allow people to be on unemployment insurance for 99 weeks, you're causing them to become part of this perpetual unemployed group in our economy, and while it seems good, it actually does a disservice to the people you're trying to help. >> is that how you view it? >> no, that's that kind of -- we're way past that. i'm surprised it even has come up again. these people need to have food on the table. but the question is, how do we get these people to where the jobs are? why are we not more focused just on upward mobility but mobility to where the booms are in this country, and there are booms. >> let's get to some of the other issues. look at the unemployment chart. this is a positive stat for the administration as you see unemployment coming down in 2013
at 7.7%. it looks like it will come down further. what gets it to keep coming down? what does it take for companies to go out there and get past their uncertainty and start hiring in 2014? >> i think that's the right question. we have economic momentum, as jim has said. what are we going to do with that momentum? i think there's three things. one, we have to provide more economic certainty. the era of threatening defaults has to be over, the era of shutdowns has to be over. secondly, it's time for the republicans to work with the president on the bipartisan opportunities we have for job creation in housing finance reform, in immigration, on manufacturing. the president has put forward a grand bargain on jobs. he has said he would be willing to do corporate tax reform that lowers rates to 28%, simplifies taxes for small businesses, but do it together with a major infrastructure investment. those are things we can work on together. and then finally, you know, we do want to make sure this recovery leaves no one behind,
that we deal with economic inequality, so we have to admit, and we do admit, that the worst legacy of this great recession is the crisis of long-term unemployment. and as jim says, we have to hit it on all fronts. job creation and work with ceos, but we have to give them support. >> the president also wants to raise the minimum wage. is that a fight he should win, jim? >> yes. again, it's a bit of a distraction. remember, walmart can pay the minimum wage no matter how high it goes. the smaller business guy, it actually is a factor. you don't want to be able to think, i can't start a business. but i don't want to get too caught in the weeds here. minimum wage, these jobless benefits, they do not do anything versus getting people in the states that are desperate for workers. what's being done to get people to louisiana, to texas, to ohio, to north dakota, to pennsylvania, to sunu, mexico, to montana. these are states that need
workers, but no one is helping them get there. $90 an hour for a trucker this year. no high school. >> where is the uncertainty? you said something in your book that i thought was interesting u. write in your book, this is about getting rich carefully. washington is writing a serial novel about bankrupting us slowly. so washington is a factor on whether the economy takes off the way people think it might. >> the ceos, much maligned in this country, i believe, are trying to figure it out. the problem is the ceos are saying, you know what? other than boeing with the seattle agreement the other day, let's just do it gnarly. let's do it in asia. let's do it in china. there's no duty. they can import here, the jobs can go over there, because they have a very capitalist government. and we have a government that
stands in the way. i'm saying government, i'm not saying democrat, gene, okay? >> here's the good news, jim and david. if you look at the boston group, they're now saying the united states is more competitive for jobs and manufacturing than in decades. they're predicting over 50% of companies are thinking about reshoring a job here. a.t. kearney just estimated that the united states for the first time since 2001 is the number one place for location. and we can increase that momentum by supporting the type of job creation the president has suggested. tell me if we were to pass bipartisan immigration reform that would bring in more skilled workers, more stem workers into our economy, if we were to launch a major effort to create jobs and modernize infrastructu infrastructure, of course that would increase the attractiveness of job location in our country. yes, minimum wage is just one piece of the puzzle. but i tell you, for over 10
million americans, it's a big piece. we're a country that believes that if you work full-time, you should not have to raise your children in poverty. but minimum wage workers with two children, some of them do. we can address that, and by the way, right now the minimum wage is at the same real level it was in 1950. you can't tell me as a country that over 64 years, we can't have a higher minimum wage that allows more people to work with dignity. >> david, don't you find it interesting that the dogma post-clinton is pro-immigration at a time when we have a much larger supply of labor than we need, and pro free trade. even though we are supposed to be green gas oriented, we know where those jobs go. those jobs leave this country to countries that can pollute all they want. we need to defense against the countries that take our jobs and pollute all over. we don't care about that. what we care about is when workers come from other
countries to this country, they get jobs. why don't we care about our people? >> let me turn the page with our remaining time. the stock market. how bullish are you in 2014? >> the stock market is about profits and about washington staying out of the way. we have washington off the table for now, we have balanced profits. that is great for the stock market. the administration never embraces the stock market because i think the administration think it's only for rich people. i think that's wrong. people with 401(k)s depend on the stock market. >> i don't think that's true. >> i want to talk to an official on the program for a while. 2.1 million people have signed up, the goal is 7 million by march for obamacare. how do you think that will happen? >> the key is to have an exchange that's working -- >> 7 million people by march. >> i think success is having an ongoing, strong market, and i want to disagree with chuck
todd. i am anxious to talk, and we are anxious to talk about what health care means. you know, for all the criticism, how about some focus on 6 million americans who now have coverage, 3 million young people who are on their parents' coverage because of obamacare, and today is the first week ever where women cannot be discriminated against on their health care just because they're women. it's the first time 129 million americans can't be discriminated against because of preexisting conditions. i'm proud of it and it's worth it for the people. >> gene sperling, thank you very much. jim cramer, continued success for the book. thank you all for being here. up next, who is right about it? >> this is going to destroy the best health care system in the world. >> millions of americans, despite problems with the website, are not poised to be covered by quality health
insurance. >> the insight of obamacare. i'll get insight from the mayo clinic and the cleveland clinic. plus, the marijuana debate. is legalization the start of a national trend or just a temporary experiment? the roundtable will break it down this morning. olympic danger. terror attacks in russia. are our athletes safe? my exclusive interview with former homeland security chief, janet we know why we're here. ♪ to connect our forces to what they need, when they need it. ♪ to help troops see danger, before it sees them. ♪ to answer the call of the brave and bring them safely home. [ female announcer ] around the globe, the people of boeing are working together, to support and protect all who serve. that's why we're here. ♪
the reason i visited the cleveland clinic is because, along with the mayo clinic, they have been able to drive down costs more than any other health care system out there while maintaining some of the highest quality. >> that was president obama back in 2009, and this morning i want to get beyond some of these political arguments over obamacare in washington, and that's why i've asked two top
leaders in the medical field by the hospitals mentioned by the president to give their oversights on the future of obamacare. joining me from the mayo clinic is dr. john noseworthy and from the cleveland clinic, dr. delos cosgrove. dr. cosgrove, let me start with you. what is the impact of obamacare in 2014? >> this started out to be three things. it started out to increase access. i think when it's fully developed, we will see increased access. it started out to improve quality of care, which is very available across the country, and i think with the transparency that it brings around quality, we'll see quality going up across the country. the real question is cost. and we really don't have the answer to that yet. we're going to have to see how this plays out over time. >> i see it the same way. i think what it basically has done is expand insurance coverage, and what we need to do now is modernize the health care
system to deliver care at cost. and sustainability of medical care in the long term is something the nation hasn't wanted to touch, but we have to have the courage to stand up to it. >> and you see doctors deal with the fact that medicare rates and reimbursement rates are going down. it affects hospitals. medicare drives health care costs in this country, right? >> in a large sense. about 50% of the costs are medicare costs. >> and what kind of reform has got to happen beyond the health care reform that has to do with insurance, which is the affordable care act? >> what needs to happen now is we need to modernize the payment system to drive better outcomes to pay for results, not just activity. and we also need to take advantage of technology. right now we can provide great information knowledge, patient care across state borders using mental health, mobile and digital technology, and that's tied up in state laws for how health care is delivered and how it's paid for. and we have to fund the nih.
>> we'll get back to that in a second because that gets to research and what makes our health care system great. do you understand all the parts of obamacare, and will you be out promoting it? >> we don't understand it all yet and we don't understand the implications, how it's going to affect hospitals and physicians, et cetera, who is going to get what sort of insurance and who is going to be covered with what sort of policy. so we really don't understand this. we do know, however, that we're going to be paid less for what we do -- >> hospitals will be paid less. >> everybody is going to get paid less. there will be less money in the organization. and we've got to learn to be more efficient. and the health care system in the united states is not really a system. it's a whole bunch of cottage industries, and we're coming together as a system, and to drive more and more efficiency across our organization. >> so here's a question about costs. one of the big issues is not you just get enough people insured so they can get insurance in an affordable way, but what do consumers of health care now do? the number of people going into
hospitals is far down. a lot of people now have insurance. we saw this week they're still going to the er to get health care, which is very expensive. or maybe they're not spending their health dollars in the way they should for their overall wellness, which could still drive costs in the future. >> there's no question that having insurance is a good step forward for everyone. but folks don't necessarily know what they've got when they go on the exchange is buy something until they get ill. preventative services may be covered but these narrow networks that likely will develop and can you keep your doctor, all of that will play out in the coming months. i think it's very important that we stay very close to this, but david, the affordable care act will take its own path. what we really need to do is the next series of steps. there are things the country needs to do, the government must do and health care providers. >> such as? >> first of all, they have to modernize the payment system, modernize medical care, they
have t find a way to bring technology across state borders. we have to fund the nih, and ultimately the nation has to have the coverage to step up to the looming solvency of medicare. >> does medicare have to become a different program? covers less, fewer benefits? >> one thing medicare has to do is incense people to take care of themselves. we have to deal with obesity which is now 10% of the health care costs in the united states and going up, growing number of diabetes, et cetera. so we need to have incentives for individuals to take care of themselves, and that's not really as big a part of the new law as it should be. >> are republicans reaching out to either one or both of you to really get a handle on an alternative that they might propose? >> we have not been involved with the political discussion. we entered into discussion at the time the bill was put together and gave our opinions, but subsequently, we haven't
heard a lot about this. >> we've been actively involved with senate finance, house ways and means, energy and commerce. we have congressmen coming to us from both parties trying to understand more. for 150 years we wanted to share more about what it is we do. these are complex issues. making health care affordable for everyone in the country is going to take a lot of time, it's highly complex. but it's the right thing for the nation. >> and this is not the end of it. we have to keep changing the law, modifying the law, amending the law, because it's not going to be a perfect law when we start out, and we have to reform the entire health care system, not just the aca. >> i know you want to stay away from politics, and one of the big political questions right now in a lot of states is whether to legalize marijuana. we've seen colorado do it. i'm asking two doctors, how do you feel about that? >> well, marijuana has been around in medical care and in recreational use for 5,000 years. it was on the american formula for 100 years, and it wasn't
until 1970 it was declared a class 1 drug which means it has no value and has risk. between 1970 and 1995, a lot of things happened at the state level and we've seen what's happened in california. right now we're in a situation where the cannabis system is a pain modifying system. there is an important bit of research that could happen there, but the federal government, of course, has not supported that. so there is a lot of unknowns about this, and we have the states and federal government. we have to see where it goes. >> say nothing of being a legal issue, but -- >> we worry about it as a legal issue but also as a health issue. i don't think it's been clearly defined where its benefit is at this point, and it would be nice to have an opportunity to find out where it's been fishl anefi where it's not. >> thank you for your opinions about obamacare.
thank you both very much. >> thank you, david. coming up here, we're back with our roundtable on some of the big battles and questions of the new year. and yes, the legalization of marijuana being one of them, whether the fight is headed next to more states and frequent guest here columnist david brooks is lighting up that debate. and why liberals are so pleased about the historical change of political power in new york city. plus a developing story we're following this morning, the battle for the future of iraq as [ male announcer ] this is the story of the little room
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coming up next, we're back with the roundtable. also the latest on the developing situation with al qaeda in iraq from nbc's richard as a business owner, i'm constantly putting out fires. so i deserve a small business credit card with amazing rewards. with the spark cash card from capital one, i get 2% cash back on every purchase, every day. i break my back around here. finally someone's recognizing me with unlimited rewards! meetings start at 11, cindy. [ male announcer ] get the spark business card from capital one. choose 2% cash back or double miles on every purchase, every day. what's in your wallet? i need your timesheets, larry!
roundtable, i want to bring you the latest on a growing crisis, the rise of al qaeda in iraq. it's been a lot of violence since the u.s. left two years ago. this is the city of fallujah. it's a key city west of iraq. more than 100 troops were killed in the battle. the forces that were killed in iraq were in that province. richard engel is in sochi, russia. he's covering the games for us. he covered the war for us, and you also covered the civil war in syria. and i bring that up because here you have sunni militants operating in iraq again as they are in neighboring syria. what's the significance of this? >> reporter: well, we're seeing the return of al qaeda in iraq, and it is absolutely connected to syria. the same al qaeda militants that are fighting sometimes against the regime of bashara al-assad
are fighting in baghdad. it's all about what you just mentioned. the government in baghdad is shiite and the people in rumani are sunnis. the people in fallujah, same situation. they feel they have not been given a fair share of the political power in iraq. and you see the same divide in the conflict just across the border in syria where you have the rebels who are sunni who are fighting against the government, which is shiite. it is one conflict across the two borders. >> richard, the united states has pulled out of iraq, preparing to do the same at year's end in afghanistan. secretary kerry saying today this is iraq's fight. but does the united states have a real concern, a real interest here? >> reporter: well, the gains that were achieved by u.s. troops in iraq, very hard-fought
gains, have now been wiped out or are being wiped out. u.s. troops fought in f parks llujah, they invaded fallujah twice to drive out sunnis. i'm not sure the government has the capability, or does it have the capability to do it without producing mass bloodshed? the government in baghdad is now threatening assault, because there has been uprise ng both these cities in western iraq, and the government in baghdad says it will assault them to drive these extremists out. if the u.s. had trouble doing it, and the u.s. had to destroy large parts of both fallujah and rumani to do it, what's going to happen when the two forces try
to get out these two cities? >> richard engel, thank you so much. you'll be watching for terror concerns and security concerns at the games in sochi, and we will keep pace with you, richard. thank you so much. we're back now with the roundtable. congressman edwards, i want to start with you. how much concern do you have about iraq? >> i have a lot of concern, but i don't think the united states really has a place there. it's unfortunate what happened because so many americans lost their lives in fallujah, and to see this happening is really disturbing, but it's not the united states' fight. >> you were there in the political wars, behind the actual war in iraq. not only the gains that richard engel says is being lost, but does the united states have responsibility for what's happening in iraq, particularly if it's a growing problem in the region? >> before the united states left
iraq, it had the chance for a decent self-government, for iraqi leaders to bind the wound to the country. what you see playing out, as richard pointed out, is a sunni-shiite civil war across the region that the united states must stay out of. we have no ability to go and affect an outcome in any of these countries in the middle of this civil war which has been going on for some 700 years. >> look at the "new york times" today. that's one of the lead stories. and the other is, "new york state is set to loosen marijuana laws." i'm looking at you, chuck todd, only because you cover politics so closely. that's the only reason. this is a very interesting story about what is a growing public policy debate that the states are having. where is this headed? >> like many of our social cultural reforms that end up being more liberalized culturally, it's coming from the west. it's coming from these
referendu referendums. it's colorado and washington state being the most prominent. we've seen these movements thech. they start west and make their way east. but i think this is moving pretty quickly. i think you have an interesting left-right coalition here. the rand paul libertarian wing of the republican party has no issue of what you do in your home, whether it comes, in some cases, with the issue of a woman's body and in other cases with things like marijuana. >> i look at this and i think about it as a parent with young kids, and whether i think it's acceptable for them to be smoking marijuana, as well as other things that are legal that can be very damaging to them. there is a legal aspect of this as well, a deterrent aspect. talking to an fbi friend of mine who was saying, you know, there still is a deterrent about making marijuana legal. here's something the denver post writes in its editorial where they talk about marijuana being legalized in the state.
they never opposed 64 mainly because of the conflict with federal law, which exists in colorado, but we've long supported the concept of legalizing marijuana nationwide and putting an end to the massive squandering of resources and it appears others now agree. >> i think there is clearly a growing support around the country for decriminalizing marijuana. legalization is something else. and yes, it's happened in two states. and yes, new york is moving toward medical marijuana. and people are now saying they like the idea, they're willing to think about the idea that marijuana is legal, but when you get down to practical effects, it's only been in effect in colorado, legal, for a few days. already it's reeking a little havoc. i talked to a good friend over the weekend that lives there, and she was telling me, you know, the police have having to learn about how to detect when drivers have been using.
marijuana, it's different. she talked about the ski resorts in the state which are a huge draw are going to have to figure out what they do about this, because they're on federal lands. there are safety issues. marijuana can be dangerous. yes, it can be fun, as david brooks wrote about in his column this week, but there are other issues. and i think we've only looked at one part of it. >> you mentioned david brooks because there is so much reaction in his column in the "new york times" in social media circles, various platforms. here's part of what he wrote in his column on friday. in legalizing weed, citizens of colorado are indeed enhancing individual freedom but they are also nurturing a moral ecology in which it is a bit harder to be the sort of person we want to be. you talk about ultimate experiences and later regretting them. >> i agree. that's sort of the rite of passage chuck referred to. i think first as a parent, but i also look at a public policy where we have driven so many young black and brown men and
women into the criminal justice system. the entre was marijuana. we can figure out these issues from a decriminalization issue of how do you detect marijuana use. the same rules still apply if you're driving impaired and those sort of things, but we do have to get to a point in this country where we say, you know what? there are some things that need to be regulated because it actually makes it safer. >> steve, where do you see this? >> marijuana has been functionalfunctio functionally legal in the state of california for many years. anyone who wants to get it can get a prescription. the reality here is when you evaluate it over the long term, how much money have we spent in this country trying to enforce the war on marijuana? how many people do we have locked up, non-violent marijuana offenders, in this country, and what percentage of them are black versus middle class white kids? so this era of prohibition is coming to an end. this product should be legal. it should be regulated, it
should be taxed. we talk about as parents things that we're concerned about it. as a parent of young kids, i worry about my kids turning on the tv and seeing miley cyrus. it is a dangerous world out there. >> but there's a little bet of sentime sentimentality, where, i don't know, if i tried pot, i might not like it. it's a lot more potent now. it doesn't seem to me as a parent it should be like cigarettes. >> there's cigarettes and alcohol, and a parent has the responsibility in all issues and all matters forever in perpetui perpetuity. parents have to have a relationship with their kids where they say, hey, don't do this. but at the end of the day, has this been a successful government policy, this prohibition policy? i think it's very difficult to make an argument. >> i want to just turn the page here away from this and talk about the bigger issues we're
seeing in the country. especially the role of progressives now, and with de blasio now the mayor of new york city. de blasio draws all eyes to new york city lab, populist ideas. what's going on in democratic politics? >> the idealogy of both parties is disappearing, i think, and now we're seeing a move here where the democratic party is more united in what it stands for these days. it has moved to the left a little bit in the same way the republican party, which used to have idealogical adversity inside the party, liberal republicans, conserving republicans, were seeing one idealogy inside the republican umbrella. i think that's what's going on in the republican party. the question is, where we have much more stark choices -- i
remember in 2000, gore and bush were trying to sound like the same candidate, and i think that's why we ended up am a tie. we have not had this clear of a divide between the two parties idealogically, perhaps, in a couple generations. what does that mean? i think it means the gridlock we get in washington because it's so hard to find compromise when you're so far apart. >> here's de blasio talking about some of the inequality he wants to address in the city. >> we are called to put an end to economic and social inequalities that threaten to unravel the city we love. and so today we commit to a new progressive direction in new york. >> judy, it's interesting to me that part of the reaction to obama on the left is to say, he's let us down on some of these real progressive areas. >> and that explains why, i think, picking up on what chuck
was saying, there is this kind of excitement in some democratic circles about de blasio because there is a full-throated support about some of these policies which universal pre-kindergarten has some support in both parties. but i think it's hard to say a lot of people are ready for a surge toward liberalism and saying what we've got in new york is a situation where somebody was in power for a long time, michael bloomberg, one philosophy. and we know historically in this country when somebody is in power in a long time and party shifts, policy shifts. and i think that's mainly what's happening in new york right now. >> so more broadly, as we think about washington getting back to work, the big political stories in 2014, i've got a list of them here and we'll put them on the screen, obamacare, immigration, the debt ceiling, broader economy, control of the senate. steve schmidt, how do republicans tackle these? where is there any progress? >> i think it's definitely going
to be a year for progress, and i think you can make a strong argument that we won't see progress until we're in a new presidency. certainly as jim cramer was talking about that divide between small things, the minimum wage issue, and big things, how do we create economic growth, how do we create upward mobility, how do we are release the engine of prosperity with big reforms? i don't think any of those things are going to happen. one issue not on that list is energy. i think from the undercover stories of 2013, the energy boom of this country, and when jim cramer is talking about the places where you can go get a job out of high school driving a truck for $90,000 a year, that is because of the energy revolution in this country which has profound security, ramifications for us globally and that's going to be an issue out there as we talk about fracking and other things. >> donna, you have to look at some of the progressive goals, whether it's raising the minimum wage, maybe it's restoring jobless benefits, maybe that's easier, but you have to take a
tough look at congress and say, i don't see how i get this through the house. do you think that as a democrat? >> i think it's complicated, but i think it's still important to define what those issues are, where the dividing lines are. when i look at bill de blasio, what i see there is an ability in a jurisdiction to create that kind of change that really is about closing that economic gap, whether it's on minimum wage, expanding child care, closing the inequality gap and using that as a platform for promoting some of these things in a congress that is going to be quite recalcitrant in terms of accomplishing. >> let me get another break in here. we're going to come back and talk about the terror attacks in russia, safety concerns for our athletes in next month's winter games. i'll speak with former homeland security secretary janet welcome back. how is everything? there's nothing like being your own boss! and my customers are really liking your flat rate shipping. fedex one rate.
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we've all met bill. he shows up once a month asking for money. you can't avoid him, but you can stop him from wasting 150 million pounds of paper every year. ask bill to go online. green bill is much cooler. the more you know. now to the politics of the olympics, an issue we'll be discussing a lot here on "meet the press" with just one month to go before the olympics in sochi, russia. a bombing in volgograd, just a few miles away, raises more questions about security. i talked to janet napolitano who is leaving the opening ceremony to others. good to have you here.
>> thank you. >> given your background, what are the major questions you would have when it comes to protecting u.s. athletes going to the games? >> well, i think, you know, security has always been an issue with the games probably going back at least to munich, so the questions are the logical ones, have appropriate preparations been made? do we have good liaison between the united states and the international olympic committee and with the host nation and the like? and then just making sure that everyone who is attending the games, you know, knows to be alert, attentive to their surroundings, that sort of thing. >> there is not great cooperation between the united states and russia now on a host of issues, and even the government has said that we'd like a closer look at some of the security preparations, be in closer dialogue. should that be an area of concern? >> well, you know, i haven't been privy to that. i know the state department, through their security division, and the fbi will have security
people on the ground. and so i think we're going to have to rely on that. we look to cooperating with the ioc, with the host nation, and the other countries that are there in terms of protecting the security of the games. >> again, if you were head of homeland security, as you were, would you look at this recent history of attacks, look at some vulnerabilities and conclude that this is just a probe by terrorists to potentially target the games? >> i don't know that i would conclude that. i think that what you would do is just be alert to the fact, you know, to the situation. but remember, in the run-up to all the games recently, there have been security issues, security questions, have appropriate preparations been made. after the games, everybody talks about the actual performances which actually is the point. >> the usa today concluded on monday in its paper the following, and i'll read it to you about broader concerns. yet as the new security measures
were being advanced, the volgograd attacks underscored a long-standing concern in the run-up to the winter games. two months ago, a western security official with knowledge told usa today that there is a fear to lock down sochi that other transportation hubs could be vulnerable. again, an area of concern for you? >> well, i think if true, absolutely, and i think what the speaker was saying is if all the security arrangements are in sochi, does that expose other so-called soft targets to potential terrorist attacks. but look, the united states will work as closely as we can with russia, with the ioc, with the other countries there. we want the games, obviously, to be safe, and we want it to be about the athletes. because we've got a terrific team going. >> it's also, though, in part about making a statement to russia, particularly with some of the laws they've passed against gay and lesbian athletes. you are leading the presidential delegation to the opening
ceremonies, and you look at some of the others, including famous gay and lesbian athletes in america, billy jean king, brian boy -- boitano as well. what would you like president putin to hear through all this? >> i think what we would like to do is demonstrate that the united states is a very free and open and tolerant society. i'm going to represent my country to support our team, and, you know, partially to represent the university of california, which is the largest public research university in the world. >> and positiliticizing the gamn this way, does it take attention away from the athletes that you said is so important, by making -- even if it's a subtle statement, everybody gets it. >> there have always been politics, at least in my memory, there have always been some politics surrounding the games,
particularly in the weeks in the immediate lead-up. once the athletes start going down the runs and doing the skating and the first women's team ever to be ski jumping, the attention will turn. but in the meantime, yes, everybody will be conscious of security and making sure that athletes and spectators are safe. >> the other issue, of course, with russia has to do with edward snowden, and i ask you again to put back on that intelligence hat as former head of homeland security and ask you, how much damage has been done to u.s. intelligence by him, do you think? >> oh, i think snowden has exacted quite a bit of damage and did it in a way that violated the law. i think he's committed crimes, and i think that, you know, the damage we'll see now and we'll see for years to come. >> but if we're concerned about other documents, other material that he has, as the "new york
times" suggested, should clemency for him be on the table if it meant securing some of this other information? >> well, i think that would require more intimate knowledge of what he allegedly has, but from where i sit today, i would not put clemency on the table at all. >> you would rule it out. >> i would rule it out. he has, by individual fiat, leaked very extensive information. you know, the president has been very clear, was very clear with me when i was secretary, that there needed to be discussion and open dialogue about the balance between privacy and our privacy values and security. and remember, these are both important values. there is a balance, a right balance, to be struck here. mr. snowden just decided to go off on his own, and he did exact quite a bit of damage, in my judgment. >> so you're no longer homeland security secretary, so i can ask you all those political questions i wanted to ask you
for so long when you were a politician. we're talking about the statement of gay rights in america, same-sex marriage and some of the difficulties that athletes experience in russia. when you were governor, you opposed same-sex marriage. have you changed your views on that? >> yes, i think, like many in political and elective life in the early part of this century, that the evolution hadn't occurred and my statements were very much in that way, which is to say that this was something that society, in a way, the arc of history, as it were, need to do get there. the arc of history has clearly arrived. >> and on presidential politics of which this would be a part, when you were among the early supporters of barack obama, you felt that he was a fresh voice for the democratic party. well, now as you look ahead to 2016, you chose him over hillary clinton. do you think that she will be a fresh voice in 2016 in a way that she wasn't in 2008?
>> well, i think i have the utmost respect for former secretary clinton with whom i worked closely as the secretary of homeland security, and i think we're all awaiting her decision as to whether she's actually going to be a candidate. >> but would she be a fresh voice in 2016? >> i think she would be, because she's had a lot of unique and different experiences than perhaps she had then. >> former secretary napolitano, thank you very much. have a good year with your work. >> thank you very much. i want to talk about what's happened on the program here today, and chuck todd, you were sing he would out by gene sperling on this broader question of obamacare. it's similar to where we started the program. he's saying, we do want to talk about obamacare. we're going to own it this year. do you think that's true? >> i think the administration is hoping they will get there, but they have senate democrats. gene sperling is not running for senate in louisiana, in montana,
all these red states where the issues of health care is so politicized and it's such a red-blue divide that it's going to be a challenge. he's right, if the administration can turn this page and make it so all of a sudden republicans are are on the side of taking away health care by opposing the administration on health care, they could possibly, at least, i would say, get rid of some of the hostility toward health care in places like north carolina. it's never going to be, i don't think, popular in those states this year. >> gene, the question is whether congress has any appetite to do what they were talking about to go beyond the insurance question but the aspects of the health care system they were going to address. >> that was a fascinating conversation you had with him a few minutes ago. maybe in another year. this is a year devisible by two. it's a primary year, and for the
house members, every single one of them, the idea we're going to tackle something big. immigration, different subject. maybe something happens there in a piecemeal way, maybe the administration comes together, but i don't see it on medicare. >> thank you all very much. great conversation today, great having you along the whole way.. that's all for today. we'll be back next week. if it's sunday, it's "meet the press."