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tv   Washington Week With Gwen Ifill  PBS  December 14, 2013 1:30am-2:01am PST

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gwen: how washington learned to just get along and whether it can last. that's tonight on "washington week." >> for far too long here in washington, d.c.,, compromise has been considered a dirty word, especially when it comes to the federal budget. >> we knew that if we forced each other to compromise at ore pral -- principle, wed get nowhere. gwen: hurray, a deal is cut. but house republicans are still angry at the tea partyers who engineered the first shutdown. >> the day before the government opened one of the people from one of these groups stood up and said well, we never really thought it would work. are you kidding me! gwen: and in the senate
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lawmakers are pulling all-nighters, fighting over white house nominees. does this mean the white house is out of the woods on domestic policy? polls say no, but foreign policy could end up being barack obama's enduring legacy. at least john kerry homes so >> the united states is stronger under this first agreement than before. gwen: covering the week, molly bell of "the atlantic," jeanne cummings of bloomberg news, john harwood of cnbc and "the new york times" and doyle mcmanus of the "los angeles times." >> award-winning reporting and analysis, covering history as it happens. live from our nation's capital, this is "washington week with gwen ifill." corporate funding for "washington week" is provided by -- >> we went out and asked people a simple question. how old is the oldest person
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you've known? we learned a lot of us have known someone who's lived well into their 90's and that's a great thing. but even though we're living longer, one thing that hasn't changed, the official retirement age. how do you make sure you have the money you need to enjoy all f these years? >> additional corporate funding for "washington week" is providedly northrop grumman. additional funding is provided by the annenberg foundation, the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to pbs stations from viewers like you. thank you. once again, live from washington, moderator gwen ifill. gwen: good evening. don't get too excited, not yet, but democrats and republicans in congress found something to agree about this week. not health care, nothing
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sweeping on taxes and spending, certainly not immigration, but they did agree that shutting down the government again, because they couldn't agree on anything would be a bad ideaful >> we didn't get everything we wanted. neither did they. that's what we used to do. we'd say, ok, i can't get this but maybe we can work together and that's what we did. >> i think it's a slightly partisan thing to say. to really do what we think needs to be done we're going to have to win some elections. in the meantime let's try and make this divided government work. gwen: but the outlines of the debate foreshadowed fights to come, perhaps in the senate. >> i will stand before this body tonight and say they cannot vote and will not vote for this budget. gwen: he talked about this budget. first off, molly, what was in this budgets? what did the house accomplish and not accomplish? >> in a way this is a small
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deal. it fund the government for only a little more than a year. sets spending levels a little bit above a trillion dollars. restoreles some of the dreaded sequestration cuts and speend -- spending and discretionary spending. it does not extend unemployment belves, which democrats really want and would since it sets spending higher than sequestration, it doesn't cut as much spending as republicans would like and doesn't do any long-term changes to things like entitlement or tax reform. gwen: so a refresher for those of us who last paid attention when the government shut down and we couldn't agree on a budget. why wasn't the tea party able to stop it this time? >> somewhere around an 8% popularity rating. that's how low the republicans went. john boehner gave them their moment and they saw what became
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of and it that was a very important lesson for the house republican caucus. many of them walked out of that saying never again or at least not in an election year and so the whole point of this gar begin is to push everything past next year's mid term elections so that the republicans can now focus on just, in their minds, just attacking health care because they believe that this will be an issue that will work for them. gwen: a victory for patty murray, for paul ryan or john boehner himself? >> i don't think it was a victory necessarily for boehner. any bipartisan teal -- deal has eluded him for years. ryan got a deal but it's a double-edged sword for ryan. inside the house, his stock went up. in iowa, maybe not so much. so it depend on what his ambitions are. gwen: molly, what do you think? >> i think boehner is quite strengthened by this deal.
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that clip e-- you showed where boehner really went off on these outside groups who a lot of republicans, even conservatives in the house feel like they've been playing them like pawns in a game. that that he has groups command them to vote in a certain way and throw up their hands when it doesn't work out and the government shuts down. this was boehner wresting back control saying you are not going to be the boss of me or of us. we're the lawmakers here. we are running the house of representatives and it happened. he got almost 3/4 of the house republican caw culls. now, the tea party may have the last latch if they can make good on their threat and throw a lot of these people out in primaries. but it's going to be hard with 169 members of congress. >> we're used to seeing the senate accomplish things like
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on immigration then it gets stopped in the house by ideology. here you have more than 300 votes for this deal in the house, including a large majority of the republican caucus and yet people like rocker wicker when -- in that clip we just saw -- there has been some nervousness about yeah, we're probably going to get it in the senate but not for sure. what's the problem? >> molly touched on it and it's the primaries. the senators are far more vulnerable to losing their seats when they get primaries by the tea party. as of right now, seven of the 12 republican senators who are seeking re-election have tea party primary challenges. including the minority leader, mitch mcconnell. so for them, the threat for tea party groups to put money into their races and to come after them is much more vivid than it is necessarily for the house
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members. if you look at texas where senator cornyn is facing steve stockman, a house member who's very much a tea party person. most people thought cornyn is very well established, a member of the leadership but it was in texas that ted cruz took out the establishment candidate so strange things can happen. so there is palpable nerve -- nervousness and it will being in to -- interesting to see how many of those challenged senators actually vote no in order to avoid stirring up more trouble. >> i would say there's another subplot because they're in 24-hour session thanks to harry reid. much topped however bipartisan commentary there was in the senate. >> how much was there?
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[laughter] gwen: we called the nuclear option and now it's kind of -- >> majority rules. gwen: majority rules and these judges and administration appointees are being appointed pretty routinely. >> what happened on the democratic side on the house? there was a threat there that a lot of democrats who hated this bill as much as a lot of the republicans were going to take a walk. >> the phrase nancy pelosi used, she told her caucus to embrace the suck. >> can we say that on tv? >> nancy pelosi would not repeat it in a television interview. she's had her face in a few commercials over the years. democrats are not thrill and would i think that is a sign that both signs got about as much as they could out of this bill. it's mostly the failure to extend unemployment insurance the democrats are mad about and
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they say they'll still fight on that in january. >> that's the thing, the democrats take that issue into the campaign year and that's not necessarily a bad issue for them to take into a political season in which the last cycle, what was the message? that hey only care about rich people so now the democrats can take that into the 2014 mid terms. >> that's what i wanted to ask. if you get that into january, a million people have lost their unemployment. do the democrats have enough leverage at this point to -- at that point to make a fight on it? >> they can't win it. the democrats also, like the republicans, have got to focus now on health care. they believe, some, senator reid in particular that they can make it an asset if they can make it work and if they can get their messaging right and the republicans are hoping for the third straight cycle that this becomes their issue, their ace in the hole. gwen: isn't there also another
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thing looming? that's that debt ceiling fight. it's not over. they settled this small problem with a small deal but there's kind of a bigger issue, rock, bolder at the top of the hill. >> that's right. the debt ceiling will be hit in late february, early march will have to be some kind of arrangement to raise the debt ceiling. republicans have historically used it for leverage. the administratige and harry reid's line is there is no negotiating around the full faith and credit of the united states. we'll see if republicans feel about the chance of default the way they do about the chance of shutdown. >> a much higher percentage of democrats supported this deal than republicans. is it fair to look at john boehner and nancy pelosi and say one leader has control over his caucus and can deliver the votes and one is struggling to do that?
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>> that has been the case for years. gwen: except he delivered the votes this time. >> he did but not in as high a proportion as pelosi did. >> pelosi is a very good leader of her caucus, no question about it. but getting back to the debt ceiling, if that fight comes and we see the same kind of brinksmanship over a national default, that is the rupture that occurred between the business community and republicans and so that's what has sent the u.s. chamber into these primaries to try to square up against the tea party. the chamber and the business community didn't get in because of the shutdown, although that was irritating and they didn't like it. it was when you have some members ofavhe house saying well, let's default. i don't think it's going to be a problem. let's just give it a shot. that's what drove the business groups crazy so it will be interesting if that fight comes again or not. gwen: and it's too soon for
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either democrats or the business-minded republicans to say that the tea party has been defanged as a result of this. >> absolutely. i think the tea party has seen they now have to take this fight to the primaries. i don't think we know. the tea party played really big in 2010. it's easier for them to play in a mid term where turnout is lower and it's a more republican electorate. be you they notably elevated a lot of candidates in primaries who then lost in the general election. the tea party really has a lot of clout in the house where a lot of those people got elected and in the senate with people like ted cruz. by -- but they didn't have as much success in 2012 and they're really going to have a fight this time where the chamber of commerce and pillars of the republican accomplishment and taken it -- establishment have taken it
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upon themselves. >> bloomberg had a poll and a majority of independents, democrats and republicans said not a good idea for the chamber to intervene. gwen: as all these fights are going on in the republican party, you would think the president would be kind of happy about this. let's see how he's taking on this. he was cheered in south africa as he delivered a moving eulogy to nelson mandela and people are slowly signing up for health care but a new poll shows his political standing has taken a serious, perhaps permanent him. john harwood, what are the numbers? >> first of all, let me talk about some of the good things that happened. you mentioned the mandela funeral. that was a good moment for the president. i do think this deal has very important political benefits for president obama, this budget deal we've been talking
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about. the reason is that congress has been actively harming the economy but the brinksmanship, the government shutdown by the problem with the debt ceiling. i think the debt ceiling is likely to get raised without incident. so for the president to get to the end of the week and say we have a truce on the budget. the facts that the economy is not getting pummeled by the capital, that's a good thing for the president. we had a poll this week that took stock of the effect of the end of year troubles the president had on health care. there's very serious fallout for him. his poll approval rating ticked up just one point since the pop about a month ago at the height of the struggles over health care. still 54% of the people, the highest we've shown in our poll disproving of his performance. more importantly, on his personal criticsist i said he's fake -- taking a --
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characteristics he's taking a hit. the majority of the american people still like the president. but it's a smaller majority. and specifics like is he honest and straits forward, only 37% of the people said yes. that is a by bill at a timing thing. the website capped the week by declaring the if you like your health care plan you can keep it the lie of the year. that is a small emblem of what's happened to his poll numbers. people saw a very high-profile thing that he said, concluded that it wasn't true. now, is it permanent? i don't think anything is permanent in our politics right now so i think it is certainly possible, now that the website is on stronger footing. they have a lot of work to go to -- do to get the exchanges healthy by getting the people they need to make that financially viable, the right mix of people and it's of paramount importance, i think by the administration by the end of this month to get all the people whose plans were
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canceled who want to buy coverage, get them coverage so that nobody can say because of obamacare, the number of people without insurance has gone up because they weren't able to buy coverage. >> let me go back to that big question, is it permanent or transyenlts? we have ace cases of presidents who hit terrible bumps in their second years, ronald reagan and bill clintonen and recovered beautifully. and a recent example of george w. bush who just kept hitting bumps and went on down. any evidence as to what type this is? >> you shouldn't expect him to follow a bush pattern of continuing to go down. the succession of blows president bush had. an iraq war going badly. hurricane katrina, which caused people to say maybe he's not competent at all and then a recession and financial crisis after that that was a tremendous set of blows the
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president had. i think this president has a growing economy, an improving job market so if he can get the health care system figured out so that the enrollment process is smooth enough that people don't look at the government and say they screwed this up i think he has a chance amount a recovery. >> will they believe in him again? can he win back their trust? gwen: how do you do that, exactly? >> if he's just competent will that do it? >> i don't think you can fully recover from a blow like this remember, the president is the most well-known figure in the country so if people reach a decision about his credibility on an important issue and find it wanting, that's not a casual judgment. that's a big deal and so i think it's hard -- he won't get back to the levels that he was but i think the better off the country feels it is, the less consequential that loss of confidence in his credibility
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will be. >> of course, no matter how bad things get for president obama, he doesn't have to face the voters again. he is not going to be on the ballot, especially in the mid terms next year. do we have a sense of how much this damage is accruing to the democrats? the democrats in congress, the democratic brand? all the democrats especially in red states? >> we know it's bad for members of the president's party when his approval rating is lower but we've seen some get hammered at midterm even with high approval ratings. the small number of competitive seats is good. only 6% --% in the election coming up that have split their tickets in presidential and house races recently. the you know side is limited by that fact. gwen: we move to secretary of state john kerry who's been bouncing to and fro. he stopped in washington long enough this week to win a small
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concession from congress. it will not impose additional sanctions on iran for now. this was the secretary's appeal. >> we're asking to you give our negotiators and experts the time and the space to do their jobs and that includes asking you, while we negotiate, that you hold off imposing new sanctions. now, i'm not saying never. i'm just saying not right now. gwen: but that is just a portion of the meal on kerry's plate. there are the peace talks, the war in syria and it's not the second time a president has refocused on foreign policies. what are the priorities? >> i think you kind of listed all of them. it's hard to say these are priorities and these aren't. around the white house, president obama, susan rice wants to focus on asia. it's the issue of the future. not the old and insoluble
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issues in the middle eastern. how can the secretary of state find an and you make his or her own because the white house wants to take the goods ones? john kerry has taken all the bad issues. all the insoluble treble old ones, iran, israel-palestinian negotiations. there's a no-win situation for a long time and maybe worst of all the syrian civil war and he is throwing himself into these things. at the end of this week he made his ninth visit to israel to try and get those peace negotiations on track and he's really going to try and make his mark and part of the key here in the kind of bureaucratic politics is the white house is very happy to have john kerry taking on all these really nasty issues. gwen: where is the white house in this? saying go ahead, boiled.
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call us if you make any progress? >> exactly. the plan is one skeeleds it will be called the obama plan and if it fails, it will be dodd kerry plan. >> is it fair for people to draw the conclusion, as some have, hillary clinton, political, playing it safe as secretary of state. didn't do that much. john kerry bold, taking risks, the kind of secretary of state who gets things done. >> it's not entirely affair, for example, the iranian nuclear negotiations weren't ready and you needed a new president in iran for that to go forward. it's not entirely unfair either. inside the state department, hillary clinton was seen as a little bit risk averse and she sub contracted issues to other people. afghanistan went to the late richard holbrooke. the difference here is that john kerry knows that this is almost certainly his last big job in american politics. he hit his 70th birthday this
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week, incident lip. so in a way he has nothing to lose and this next three years is his chance to make his mark and he says in speeches he's willing to go out and take risks. he's willing to risk getting knocked down if he thinks he might have a chance at getting something done. >> doyle, it seems to me that this started, it seems months ago with the war in syria and whether they were going to engage and whether we were going to attack them and now you don't hear much about that at all. what -- >> but you will again soon because that same john kerry, believe it or not, has been spending months putting together a peace conference in jeevepa in january and he's going to try and get the two sides together. now, does this thing have a chance of really work something gwen: everybody said the u.s. decided maybe it was going to pull out support for the moderate forces? >> the moderate forces the
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united states has been supporting are in disarray? no. this is almost the again tessens of the kerry doctrine. this one is a complete loser. nobody thinks it's going to succeed and he's going to go ahead anyway. >> he has this whole laundry list and as you said, he's not delegating a lot of this stuff. sit possible he's bitten off a lot more than health care chew? >> that's the concern of a lot of professionals. even the guy that is his own middle east negotiator, martin endick. he said to people he's probably bitten off more than he can chew. gwen: martin was there when it all fell apart before and knows of which he speaks. >> i did a column on kerry and i asked clearly he can't spend much time on asia, which the president is really interested in. they said no, no, he's in asia
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this week. he's in vietnam right now. gwen: at the least he's going to come out of this with a reputation for john kerry. we'll be watching all of that. thank you, everyone. this conversation has to end but another begins shortly on the "washington week" webcast extra. that streams live at 8:30 eastern time or you can catch t all week long at"washington week." also, find my take on the week in selfies, hand shakes and fake sign language. keep up with daily developments now seven day as week on the pbs news hour and we'll see you right here next week on "washington week." ood night. >> corporate funding for "washington week" and provided by -- >> at northrop grumman we've
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always been committed to innovation. when the world called for speed. when the world called for stealth. knowledge. awareness. flexibility. innovation. and when the world asked for the future. staying ahead in a constantly evolving world. that's the value of performance. northrop grumman. >> additional corporate funding for "washington week" is provided by prudential. additional funding is provided by the annenberg foundation, the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to pbs stations from viewers like you. thank you.
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