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tv   Washington Week With Gwen Ifill  PBS  December 26, 2014 7:30pm-8:01pm PST

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gwen: we go around the world focusing on the good news, the bad news and the challenges that remain. that shaped 2014, week." on "washington >> i'm eager to work with all of you. declaredsident obama 2014 his year of action. stand stilloes not and neither will i. so wherever and whenever i can steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more whatcan families, that's i'm going to do. gwen: congress resisted his executive action especially after democrats went down to midterm defeat. >> this is a serious breach of our constitution. it's a serious threat to our system of government. gwen: after republicans seized control of congress, for the president, it was to the pen and
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the phone -- on immigration, on climate change, on foreign policy. america knows how to solve problems when we work together, we can't be stopped. gwen: from north korea to ukraine to islamic state threatsgs, new multiply. >> we will follow them to the gates of hell until they are justice!o gwen: but there were also new opportunities. time to try working with the cuban people to build a different future. gwen: health crises as thousands ebola in west africa. terrorism in australia and pakistan. government scandals at the secret service and the veterans affairs administration. treating those to whom we owe the most so callously, so ungratefully, is unconscionable. the supreme court to the polling booth to the grand
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for culturala year debate with moves to legalize and same-sex marriage, as other old debates on race and anew.e flared >> millions of people throughout our nation have come together bynd by grief and bound anguish in response to the tragic deaths of michael brown ferguson, missouri, and eric garner in new york city. gwen: covering all this and more back at 2014. with dan balz of the "washington post," carrie budoff brown, white house correspondent for , indira lakshmanan, foreign policy correspondent for and pierreews, thomas, justice correspondent for abc news. >> award-winning reporting and as itis covering history happens. capitol, thisn's is "washington week" with gwen ifill.
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corporate funding for byshington week" is provided -- >> how much money do you have in your pocket right now? $40.have >> 21. >> could something that small make an impact on something as retirement? >> i don't think so. >> if you start putting that money towards your retirement grow over time, 20, retirementhat challenge might not seem so big all. >> funding for "washington week" thelso provided by annenberg foundation, the corporation for public byadcasting, and contributions to pbs stations from viewers like you. thank you. once again, from washington, moderator gwen ifill. gwen: good evening.
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practically over so it's time for our annual long look back at the year just past and what a year, from news of a recovering domestic economy to rise of an alarming new terror threat as tensions with ebb, nervousness about north korea rise while domestically the president's major hit,bs a losing control of the senate in a billion dollar midterm in major and unrest american cities launches matters of race and justice to the front burner. week with the economy, ending the year on an upswing. this was the president last week. there is no doubt that we can enter into the new year with thated confidence america's making significant strides where it counts. we took early on to rescue our economy and foundationon a new helped make 2014 the strongest year for job growth since the 1990's. all told, over a 57-month
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businesses have created nearly 11 million new jobs. gwen: that was before this news that the dow broke 18,000. so is it too soon for the people 1600 pennsylvania to be doing a victory dance, carrie? question has vexed this white house for years because of starts, signs of growth in the economy only to have a setback. within the west wing, there is this feeling for two reasons that they have to start pushing more robustage in a sort of uniformly positive way. showingthe numbers are strength, sort of consistency over a period of months. believeother reason i that we're going to see the president talk more forcefully the next economy in few months, certainly at the state of the union next month, because he's running out of time to make the case for his presidency and what he did. he's in his last two years. it's time for him to start
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legacy, thet his economic legacy. gwen: he doesn't use the l word. doesn't but i think we'll see that change. within the west wing, there's planning underway on how to deal with the legacy question, how he frames it. is a big piece of that and this week he got more news so that i think fear of embracing it is fading be anut there will asterisk on that message about wages and that gap that exists going to seee're him -- in many ways it's the been using,e's "we're making progress but there's more work to do" -- i think the state of the union next month which they'll plan reallye holidays and work at next month, it's going to be that exact thing. the: at the same time, dan, president powered into this post-election period pretty ticking off the people who theoretically could be his friends in congress.
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watching him at the press conference before he went off for his holiday vacation, you was anot know that this president who's party took such a beating in november. he was very upbeat. was jaunty. he was joking with some of the people here with us tonight. and but more importantly he just aggressively from the minute the election ended. now, he's been through a number of post-election periods -- victories and defeats over his presidency. he's often had a pretty good december. he had a very good december shellacking.0 he got a lot done in the lame duck session. is what happens next year, how he's able to do things next year and how he manages the new business with a congress not fully in republican hands. gwen: one of the things i find most interesting is how the white house tries to deal with the question of job creation. a different formulation than his year-end press conference.
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the auto about industry. hadn'tt was something i heard before, that he added 100,000 jobs. >> he can claim a direct link andeen that job growth decisions he made early in his presidency. i think we'll continue to see draw links like that, helping to save the auto said don'ten many provide assistance from the government. this year is a tale of two years. 10 monthst first where it was so atrocious for his year ended in november, it would have been one of the worst on record. six weeks, the good economic news this week is really -- he had a bunch of did show muscular presidency in the last six weeks the positivemy, news on the economy, is really sort of as good as they could want to get in terms of the economy is going to define his andidency after all is said
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done and that strength really not only satisfies them from from art of a purely -- standpoint of helping the country, but really, i think personally in the west wing, a joy out of of having good economic numbers that will put the republicans on their heels. is,ut the interesting thing within his own party, there is a debate about the other part of the economy, the economy that is working, the economy that has left middle class families struggling and this rising populism that we've seen in the interest in elizabeth warren a binde democrats in even as the president's trying to make a good case. gwen: let's move on because else to talkch about tonight. the good economic news did not obscure the political setbacks for the white house and victories for republicans in the president acknowledged defeat but showed few signs of conciliation, moving almost immediately to unilaterally changed immigration law. want everyone who voted, i you to know that i hear you. voters who chose
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not to participate in the process yesterday, i hear you, too. >> i believe that the president continues to act on his own. he is going to poison the well. matches, you with take the risk of burning yourself. election the midterm results change the political architecture in washington? it didn't look like it just dan. now >> it changed the balance of power because the republicans had a big victory. they got nine more seats in the senate. they've now got 54 seats, more most people expected. that changes the calculus. i think the other thing that's realistic is that these two another pretty well and there's a lot of distrust. it's going to take enormous work to get together and do things and it's not clear either side is prepared to do it. the president showed a signal that he's prepared to hee on on his own whenever can and the republicans now have the burden, with both the house
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and senate, of showing they can govern and many in the party are pushing them to do that. is their plan? if the president is showing his hand that he's going to poke the eye when he can and blame it on them when they screw up, how do they set their agenda? they have two things they'll want to do. one is to satisfy the partyvative base in the to do some things to undo what the president has done, whether or some othercare issues. they are going to take votes to do that and try to put some president's desk, the keystone pipeline, for example. they'll do those things and force him to veto them. think the other is they are going to look for ways, small, perhaps, where they can the president. i think that senator mcconnell majoritybe the new leader will want to try to do some things. trade is one obvious place where president's policy is closer --the robberies'
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republicans' than to a lot of democrats. taxes orhere's hope on entitlements is another question. newsthink the economic this week makes it less likely there will be tough looks at debt reduction and i've followed this debate for years with this president and they areress and diametrically opposite. there's a lot of talk but neither party can make tough decisions. >> what does the good economic the political dynamic with the republicans? what does it do there? to say, asl continue they have every month, in the that thisb increases, economy is not working for enough people. are nowboth sides keenly focused on middle class economics and a message for the middle class so i think that's where the republicans will go. not acknowledge fully that the recovery has touched as many people as it needs to.
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the presidentrse, has acted unilaterally as he did in immigration but i wonder how he be able to, on his own, achieve some of his central desires for this administration? closing guantanamo is one thing i'm thinking of. other is climate change, cap and trade. will he be able to do that alone? >> there are limits to what he can do. gwen: the white house trumpeted has week that the president signed 80 executive actions, right? >> yes. there is a lot he can do but limits to what he can did, whether it's on immigration, certainly climate change. guantanamo, he's wrestled with that six years and can't quite figure out the formula. sense of have a better that than i would, frankly. >> i think they have -- i think monthba announcement this took a lot of people -- you knew something was percolating but the extent of the back story to what they were doing, there has things like that they're doing, i think.
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change, too.ate >> i think guantanamo, i think they'll try to figure out a way. they have been this week accelerating the transfer of some of the detainees to third countries. the question is he has to get everyone out of there to shut the place down and the u.s. has to keep some of the detainees in american soil. there positioning for 2016 -- there was any positioning we saw this year that matters going forward? >> a little bit. i think the most significant are two things. one was the book tour by hillary which did not go as well as some of her people hoped or i suspect as well as she hoped. went into it thinking it was mostly a book fact viewedwas in mostly as an opening act for 2016. i think the other important was a move recently by jeb bush, former florida heernor, to say explicitly is actively exploring, which i think most people took as him
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get intoam going to this race and i think that had the effect of shaking up all of the republicans a little bit to think about how quickly do i have to move, what does this will it affectw fund-raising, et cetera. gwen: we know it will happen year but let's go to foreign policy. take your pick. from ukraine to afghanistan, from the middle east to north to cuba to nigeria, there were challenges in every corner year. globe this the face of most u.s. involvement in nearly every case was secretary of state john kerry who traveled nearly just00 miles to 44 nations this year. in september, he weighed in on the grave new threat of islamic state terrorists who are beheading hostages. >> when terrorists anywhere have murderedld our citizens, the united states no matteraccountable how long it took. and those who have murdered foley and steven sotloff in syria need to know that the united states will hold them
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accountable, too, no matter how long it takes. gwen: the hard part, of course, is how is the u.s. holding its indira?accountable, >> i think the major situation we're looking at now is of course north korea and with the coming right out and saying strongly that north korea was behind the sony hack and that there would be a proportional response from the united states without showing thatand about what response will be, we don't know of time line or the menu options that his advisers are giving to him, it raises a lot of questions. think with north korea it's particularly difficult because statee already a pariah completely cut off from the global economy. they are sanctioned to such an extent that i'm not sure adding more sanctions would make a difference. gwen: let's think about our friends, for instance, ukraine. ukraine was a huge story for many, many weeks this year and the u.s., obviously, as is often the case, came to its aid in the
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end, toward what end? >> that's right. we judge of the saw a bill that passed through congress at that signed last week which adds on more money, half a billion dollars in support for ukraine, including about $300 million of that being for aid, authorizing it if the president chooses to go in direction and the point of this law was to give the president the right to give ukraine.d to i would have to say that in congress there are a lot of more enthusiastic for lethal aid to ukraine and enthusiastic for nato aid of ouraine than either allies in the e.u. we certainly have hurt the russian economy with sanctions and oil prices on their own have economy.russian there's a feeling in the white house that's what happened in the white house with the economy and the ruble and everything else that things are working and
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contained problem that's not spiraling out of control. >> i would say working to what end? purpose of sanctions is not russia ase to punish an end. the purpose of sanctions is to get the government to change and we see sanctions on north korea have not been effective over the years. theirave not stopped nuclear program. they've not stopped human rights likes and with russia, wise, they have not backed down. you can't prove the negative. would have you believe they would have gone further into ukraine without wections so at this point know we're punishing their economy but we don't have a horizon for whether putin will back down. >> i want to go back to isis for second. a lot of law enforcement officials tell me that beyond the military action to attack group, their ability to inspire people to go there is a huge issue. had more than 12 people this year, even after the
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intodings, trying to get syria. what is that saying? >> you're absolutely right including some minors. inre was a terrific piece "the washington post" recently that looked at a sister and two brothers who were trying to go of whom were juveniles. this is a real problem, the model and what's interesting about isis, i think they've been more effective in inspiring foreign jihads through social media even more than al qaeda was. the al qaeda came out with magazine years ago, "inspire," everyone thought, this is how they're getting young people to join. but, in fact, isis has been more successful. you mentioned the military response. 1300 militaryn strikes on isis targets in iraq and syria. that's a lot but they're still rocka and mosul so the question is how long will this take? striking that the president was able to pull out of iraq and now we're back in
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there again. pulling out of afghanistan but will he be back again if the or a group like isis takes power there? >> to what extent have they had to re-evaluate the time table for dealing with isis? >> i think going into this, the top players, at least secretary kerry and president obama, knew it would be a long-term thing. i don't think any of them had they could destroy isis in a couple of months. kerry said on the record from the start this will take a few get this done. but i think what they're re-evaluating is how do use economic tools, how do you stop smuggling of oil over the border? prices is one of the biggest stories of this year, gwen, and it has affected board, it has also hurt isis because, remember, their one to two million dollars a day they were earning was illegal oil sales so the falling oil prices has hurt it's hurt russia, it's hurt iran.ela, it's
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gwen: finally, one huge unresolved dispute comes along ride -- race and criminal justice. from ferguson, missouri, to cleveland, to milwaukee, to new york, the justice department has found itself entangled in involving race, politics and policing and every time pierre thomas has been in middle of the story. how many outstanding investigations do we know about that the justice department is in because of these outbreaks route now? >> they're investigating ferguson still and the case in new york for the choking death. these other cases -- cleveland and milwaukee -- potentially could get federal investigations, as well. covered a story in recent memory that has struck this much emotion across the country. have seenlly thousands of people in major cities across this country -- place but across the country -- protesting police action. is a feeling, particularly in the african
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american community, that they the benefit of the doubt in dealings with the police and that misunderstandings can result in death. if you look at both ferguson and york,he situation in new what's striking is that there was not a call for any kind of violent act. a routine police action that turned deadly. gwen: but i wonder whether this doesn't make for a very ericcult exit strategy for holder and an even more difficult one for the president to walk in that on one side is the blue line, the police, law enforcement, who, of course, protect andn to lead. and on the other hand are people somelearly they have sympathies for who are blocking highways and lying down in the doing their best to ofp, what, hundred days protests alive? >> it got more complicated in the last week or so with the of those officers in new york who were assassinated and
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the person accused of doing it posted some things which indicated that he was in some the protest but he's mainly a person with a person past, mainly a with mental health issues. but you have eric holder's name in terms of the way you've been talking about toicing may have contributed that. gwen: and mayor de blasio, the same thing. struck by how damaging this is to the president who ran ownost-racial politics, his story was supposed to be about transcending racial politics in had aountry and yet we bloomberg poll this week that showed 53% of americans think worse thanons are before obama took office and 50% pew,ople, according to don't approve of the way he's handling the race problems. >> this has been a difficult issue for the first african american president. every time the issue of race has the presidentwhen has sought to calm the
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complicatedt's been for him. again, what it tells us is that still aca race is prickly issue with different see thatoints and we playing out over and over again. gwen: i don't know if he promised post-racial as much as people expected that which has put him in a box. there's a gallup poll that asked people what's the big issue, most important issue that's a constant question in the gallup folks said for the first time the issue of race and racism has to be about the same as the economy and dysfunction in government. is a new matrix. it's spiked over the last few we've as a result of what seen and this gap in perceptions between white america and black about these issues. >> the interesting thing is that look across the board, race relations are better. look at this table.
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it tells you they are better. there are pockets in policing and race is one of those pockets where there's a of opinion based, in part, on how people have their with police. you would dare say, dan, that ifr interaction with police, you had any, have been different from mine. i had one case where i was for a over and it was minor traffic violation and suddenly a second police officer appeared with his hand on his weapon and i was thinking, wait a minute, i'm two miles from my house, it's 8:00 p.m., why am i like a criminal. gwen: and so many people have stories like that and that's why this doesn't go away. know it seems we barely scratched the surface because we did. we'll continue our conversation on our "washington week" webcast we'll sort through what weas possible in didn't get to including same-sex marriage and the torture report next whenappens congress returns to town. it's available at
7:56 pm online, check out our year-end holiday reading list. our panelists have great recommendations for you. with that, we'll see you next year on "washington week." good night. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] >> 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 you.viewers like thank you.
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next on "kqed newsroom" a look back at 2014. plus, after four decades of public service, george miller reflects on his his career. >> the passage of the affordable care act is key to me. that was a huge milestone. good evening. and welcome to "kqed newsroom." i'm thuy vu. tonight we reflect on the last year. joining me for the discuss are michelle quinn,


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