tv PBS News Hour PBS October 30, 2015 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, the u.s. ramps up its role in syria, sending special forces on the ground to try and end the war. then, a look at organized labor's role in this race for the white house. >> they're essentially withholding their endorsement, i think they actually pushed hillary into the position they want on the so called cadillac tax in obamacare, which they want repealed. >> woodruff: and it's friday. mark shields and david brooks are here, to analyze another full week of news. all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour.
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>> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and friends of the newshour. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: shipwrecks off the greek islands claimed more migrant lives today-- 31 in all, most of them children. that made 50 dead in three days, as the weather worsens in the aegean sea. the deadliest incident today was near the island of kalymnos, where 19 people drowned, trying to cross from turkey. disturbing scenes were repeated on lesbos, where more bodies washed ashore, including several
babies and other children. volunteers helped remove them for burials. meanwhile, in athens, greek prime minister alexis tsipras blasted europe for its handling of the crisis. >> ( translated ): i want to say that, as a member of the european leadership, i feel shame. shame, both for the inability of europe to deal effectively with this human drama, but also for the quality of discussion. >> woodruff: in addition to the dead, the greek coast guard said it rescued nearly 600 people in the last 24 hours. many of the migrants and refugees have fled syria and iraq. president obama says he's ready to sign a two-year budget deal that won senate approval early today. it passed 64 to 35, in spite of conservative opposition, and just in time to avert a federal default next week. the package includes $80 billion in new spending.
it also prevents a cut in social security disability benefits and a major hike in medicare premiums. in the presidential campaign, democrat hillary clinton worked to consolidate support among black voters in a swing across the south. in atlanta, she vowed to end disparities between crack and powder cocaine prison sentences, and called for other reforms. >> as president, i will work with congress to pass legislation to ban racial profiling by federal, state, and local law enforcement. it is wrong, it is demeaning and it does not keep us safe, and its time for us to put that practice behind us. >> woodruff: clinton also won a key endorsement, from new york city mayor bill de blasio. also today, the republican national committee suspended its partnership with nbc news for a presidential primary debate in february.
g.o.p. candidates complained that cnbc moderators asked off-topic or "gotcha" questions during this week's face-off in colorado. the last british detainee at guantanamo bay has returned home after being held for nearly 14 years. shaker aamer is a saudi national who's married to a british woman. he arrived back in britain on a private plane, hours after being released from the u.s. military prison in cuba. he was suspected of links to al-qaeda, but never charged. with aamer's departure, 112 detainees remain at guantanamo. new research is out that shows breast cancer no longer strikes black women less often than whites. a study published this week found the two races are now diagnosed at the same rate. that could be linked to stepped- up screenings and higher obesity rates in black populations. at the same time, african american women are still more
likely to die of the disease. the study appears in "ca: a cancer journal for clinicians". stocks fell on wall street today, but managed to post their best monthly gain in four years. the dow jones industrial average lost 92 points, to close at 17,663. the nasdaq fell more than 20 points, and the s&p 500 dropped 10. for the week, the indexes were all up less than a percent. still to come on the newshour: american boots on the ground in syria; labor unions' waning influence on politics; a tax increase threatens a greek speciality, and much more. >> woodruff: the united states steps up its mission in syria, part of a coalition aimed at dismantling the islamic state. as leaders from the u.s., russia
and iran meet in vienna trying to find a political end to the civil war. confirmation that commandos are going into northern syria, came at the day's white house briefing. >> the core of our military strategy inside of syria is to build up the capacity of local forces. >> woodruff: spokesman josh earnest gave few details on whether the u.s. effort will aid kurdish or arab fighters, or both. >> the president did make a decision to intensify that support by offering a small number of u.s. special operations military personnel to offer them some advice and assistance on the ground as they take the fight to isil. >> woodruff: that small number, earnest said, is fewer than 50. and, he insisted, they will not be on a "combat" mission. >> the responsibility that they have is not to lead the charge to take a hill; it still means that they're in a dangerous situation. it still means that they will have all of the equipment that
they need to protect themselves if necessary. >> woodruff: u.s. special operations troops have conducted raids inside syria, but this will be their first sustained presence. it comes amid russia's month-old air campaign in support of syrian president bashar al- assad. and, it marks a shift for president obama. he had said repeatedly he would not commit ground troops in syria. the military developments came as secretary of state john kerry was in vienna for talks on a diplomatic solution in syria. there was no agreement on the future of assad, but the u.s., russia and other nations directed the u.n. to try again to bring syria's government and opposition groups to the table. >> the united states position is, there is no way that president assad can unite and govern syria, and we believe that syrians deserve a different choice and our goal is to work
with syria's many factions to develop that choice. but we can't allow that difference to get in the way of the possibility of diplomacy and the beginning of a final solution. >> woodruff: the ministers will hold another round of talks in two weeks. meanwhile, the killing in syria continued apace. opposition attacks said a government rocket barrage in a damascus suburb left at least 57 dead and many more wounded. >> woodruff: we take a closer look at the decision to send special forces to syria with greg jaffe of the washington post. greg, welcome back to the program. so the white house is saying these special operations forces are there to help what they call moderates in the opposition forces. what does that mean? who is that? >> you know, it's primarily a
kurdish group called the y.p.g. up north along with what they call the syrian-arab coalition which is a coalition of arab fighters who are fighting alongside the kurds in the north. >> woodruff: what's the significance of singling out those two groups to help them? >> you know, i think the first thing is we feel like they share our values or at least our goals. they're sort of moderate syrian forces, and they've shown some success. i think that's what the administration is trying to build on here. the y.p.g. in particular backed by american airstrikes has been able to take back some ground from the islamic state. so in a place where they haven't seen a lot of success, it's something. >> woodruff: when they say "advice and assistance," which is how the white house described it, what does that mean? exactly what are they going to be doing for them? >> you know, the officials we spoke to said they primarily would be at the headquarters level. they won't be on the front lines or calling in airstrikes from
first point of cover and concealment, they'll be further back from that. i think a big part of what they do is assess the forces, figure out what they need, what equipment, weaponry the u.s. can help provide them and also help them plan the operation, make sure they have folks in the right places, that they're coordinating as best as possible with u.s. air power. >> woodruff: so the mission here is mainly anti-i.s.i.s. or anti-assad? >> no, it's anti-i.s.i.s. that's the complicating factor of the russians being involved as well because i think a lot of the forces that we've worked with in the north are looking to help their brethren south who feel battered by the assad regime and russia but i think that's a fight we don't want to pick right now. >> woodruff: greg jaffe, we heard white house spokesman josh ernst say this is not a mismghts have there been covert
operations like this going on? >> there have been raids that are covert. have there been folks on the ground doing advising and assisting on sort of a long-term basis? not that we know of. so it does seem like a departure. it's not a lot of troops. i think it's less than 50. mostly it's a big deal. we haven't had boots on the ground in syria before and now we do. >> woodruff: greg jaffe at "the washington post," we thank you. >> yeah, thanks for having me. >> woodruff: so how significant a move is this decision to send special forces into syria? and what impact will it have on trying to end the war diplomatically? for that we turn to former u.s. ambassador to russia, michael mcfaul; and joshua landis: he's director for middle east studies at the university of oklahoma. we welcome you both back to the program. ambassador mcfaul, let me start with you. before i ask about these diplomatic talks in vienna, what effect do you think this
operation, this announcement of putting special operations forces into iraq is going to have on any effort to resolve syria diplomatically? >> well, i think it will be in the margins but not a direct effect. i think it really does have to do with the desire by the obama administration to be more effective against i.s.i.l. as secretary kerry said today, under operation inhent resolve, they've now attacked -- they've had 7300 airstrikes to little effect and now i think they're doubling down in particular with the actors that they think have been most effective before, but it was a station identification for our russian interlocutors and everybody else that we are involved in syria and that our people and partners in syria have to be part of a negotiated process. >> woodruff: joshua landis, how do you see this move by the u.s. to put less than 50 special operations troops in? is it going to have an effect on
resolving what's going on in syria? >> it's not going to resolve anything. it's going to have a slight effect, but america is saying that we're here. they've had a lot of criticism, president obama's had a lot of criticism not only internally, because 50 intelligence people said that his administration was trying to jin up a success against i.s.i.s. and i was not having a success against i.s.i.s. so i think he's responding to the internal criticism he's had in the united states but also the region. saudi arabia and others are saying russia's moved into the region because obama's got a very light footprint and there's a power vacuum and, therefore, russia is coming in and going to displace the united states. so i think he's trying to turn up the heat a little bit without getting america fundamentally stuck in a third war in the middle east, because he's discovered how difficult it is to get out of iraq or afghanistan and he does not want to leave the next president with
a real american presence in syria. so it's doing a little bit but not a lot. >> woodruff: so let me ask you both separately then about this meeting in vienna. wrapped up two days, these are 17 countries plus theup and e.u. -- the u.n. and e.u. they came out launch ago new peace effort. how do you read what they're saying in vienna? >> well, first of all, it's always good to talk, it's always good to negotiate as opposed to not talking. second point, i think the hidden news in the statement today was that they said they're going to explore modalities for a cease fire but not against i.s.i.s., and if they do that, that's a big objective, it's a big success for the administration because, before, the russian forces were attacking the folks that we were supporting in syria and not really attacking
i.s.i.l, so that would be a breakthrough in and of itself. but to your bigger question of will this be a resolution, this is just the start of what will be a very long process. if you saw the exchanges about should assad stay or go, we were all reminded that we have a long ways to go before you get a process in place. i was part of geneva 1 and 2, the failed processes before. i guess this is now vienna 1. you know, i'm skeptical that it will be easy to do but i applaud the efforts for trying. >> woodruff: joshua landis, do you see getting back to what the ambassador said a moment ago, do you see this as a potential breakthrough in dealing with president assad in here? >> like the ambassador said, the two sides are worlds apart. what they do agree on is there has to be a political solution. what the russians an and assad believe the i political solution
is assad will capture the country, kick out the jihadists and have have a political solution by bringing back in the militias from the cold and have them accept an assad regime. america sees it as assad stepping down, having a regime that are will bring a semi- ascendentcy to syria. the two sides couldn't be more far apart. the united states said russia is getting into a swamp in syria. the big question is do they work for a cease fire or does america and its allouis lies -- saudi arabia, qatar and turkey -- throw in more arms and missiles to fight russians and make sure they sink in that swamp, or do they not throw in the weapons and allow russia to really dominate eastern syria -- western syria, excuse me.
>> woodruff: there are some real options there for the parties to consider, but ambassador mcfaul, where do you see the u.s. going from here? do you see secretary kerry engaging, putting the u.s. more on the line in syria in order to find a solution? >> well, two things. again, i want to stress the importance of this possible cease fire because before the russian attacks were primarily against moderate syrian groups we were supporting and we couldn't just let that go on. we cannot allow the russians to kill the people we're supporting. so that could be an achievement. with respect to the second thing, yes, secretary kerry, he's going to fight for this and be engaged. it's the way he does business. there is no doubt in my mind if he sees even a glimmer of hope, he's going to try to get these parties together and work towards a political transition. my heart's with them. my head suggests it's going to be a long, difficult fight.
>> woodruff: you both seem to agree on that. joshua landis, you're both saying they're very far apart but there are some possibilities here. what are the possibilities that you see both sides working on fact turn this into something positive? >> well, it likely comes down to these more moderate militias that are in the west of the country that assad wants to take. that's aleppo and idlib. and russia thinks -- and with syrians are all saying, you know, people in damascus are telling me we're going to take aleppo in three months and within a year you will see us mopping up in this area, they think they're going to do this. it's quite clear from what the ambassador said, america is not going to let that happen. if they're really going to support their allies in that region, they're going to have to send in more arms to scuttle the russian's plans and suck them into the swamp so they'll come back in a year's time on bended knee and say, okay, let's talk cease fire. the question of whether where the cease fire will be, what
lines will be drawn between the sunni syria and regime-dominated syria is what it's all about today, and that's -- a lot of that's going to depend on military power. >> woodruff: huge challenge and a lot of questions remaining and we thank you both for helping us at least explore this as it gets underway. ambassador mcfaul, joshua landis, thank you. >> pleasure. thank you. >> woodruff: and now a look at the power of organized labor in politics. union membership is down and their influence is waning. but as political director lisa desjardins reports, democrats still vie for their endorsements. >> when i say union, you say power. >> reporter: welcome to one of 2016's front lines. >> when i say union, you say power. >> reporter: the complex fight over unions. the drum beat was literal in
las vegas recently as the city's powerful culinary union marched to the trump hotel, which has blocked unions. >> we are one! we are one! >> reporter: but this is about more than trump-- it is about union survival. in the nation as a whole, union membership peaked long ago-- in 1954, when more than one in three of all wage and salary workers were union members. it declined to 20% in 1983, and then has kept sliding down to 11.1%. longtime union organizer maria elena durazo: >> i think unfortunately unions have lost so much strength and membership, that our influence isn't what it once was but who else besides us fights for raising the min wage? >> reporter: this is the complex part. while unions represent fewer voters, they and their fight for wages remain critical to democrats. and 2016 campaigns are furiously
fighting to get their support. both organizations are known for turning out voters and the expectation is if they pick any candidate, it will be a democrat. >> and those democratic campaigns are furiously fighting to get their support. at that local rally in las vegas -- >> i'm here in support of local 226! >> -- hillary clinton made an unannounced visit. a month earlier, her opponent, martin o'malley also stopped by a culinary union protest. bernie sanders, he had a town hall with a pivotal local chapter in march. why the contention? >> the biggest most influential union, 55,000 members, but the culinary union is the latino turnout organization. >> the host of nevada's premier talk show the ralston report,
where unions are growing is also where the democratic party is growing, with hispanic workers. and nevada's culinary union is using that leverage with candidates. >> culinary is doing something very smart. they're essentially withholding their endorsement and actually pushed hillary into the position they want on the cadillac tax and obamacare which they want repealed. >> reporter: the so-called cadillac tax would tax extensive-- and expensive-- insurance plans unions fought for in recent months. clinton came out against it. and in another pro-union stance she told judy woodruff she opposes the transpacific trade deal. >> reporter: her opponent bernie sanders meantime has filed nearly a half dozen bills to help unions and has railed against such trade deals. >> these trade agreements, among other things, have contributed to the that we have lost almost
60,000 factories since 2001 and millions of decent-paying jobs. and i think enough is enough. >> reporter: but while democrats hope for union support, some key union leaders have questions for them. j. david cox is president of the american federation of government employees. he watched the democrats debate in las vegas and noticed something. >> i heard all five candidates on stage talk about the need to raise wages in this country. but the one thing i did not hear them say was the word "union." >> reporter: it's as if-- even while asking for their support, democrats fear "union" is a politically dirty, unpopular word. and indeed, back at the protest in las vegas: >> i just wanted to come by and lend my voice to all of yours, to wish you well in this effort to organize. >> reporter: clinton actually did not say "union" there either. but she did win over voter and housekeeper carmen llarull. >> oh, it's big thing.
when i see her, i say "oh my god, she is here" so this rally for us today is a win for us because she just stood with us. >> reporter: but organizer durazo held on to her union's leverage. >> it's great that she was here, but we want to see more of this from her and from any of the other candidates. and when they show interest in our future, we'll show interest in their future. >> reporter: and the future question is a big one for unions, an existential one. as they work to expand with immigrant and other worker groups and try to push democrats to the left, they fear a potential crushing blow should a republican win the white house. in the union debate, 2016 could be a defining fight. for the pbs newshour, i'm lisa desjardins.
>> woodruff: stay with us. coming up on the newshour: what a drinking tradition has to do with the greek debt crisis; and why some co-ops under the affordable care act are going bust. but first, there is a new speaker of the u.s. house of representatives, and the political landscape may be shifting in the republican race for the white house. for that and more we turn to the analysis of shields and brooks. that's syndicated columnist mark shields and new york times columnist david brooks. david david, welcome to you gentlemen. friday before halloween. thank you for being here. the lead story, the decision by the administration to send special opens troops into sir. i can't they say there is not a change and they won't be involved in combat, but does this make it clear what the administration's strategy is in syria? >> no. well, taking them at their word,
they won't be involved in combat, judy. they obviously are now in harmas way and increases the risk or exposure of capture and all of that and what it could mean. >> my view is you could leave the middle east but it won't leave you. the president's tried to withdraw from the middle east and afghanistan and, as a result, there is been a void and a chaos and the destruction of two countries, syria and iraq as we formerly knew them, continued crisis in afghanistan, so he's begun to look around and seeing the situation deteriorating and he's trying to adjust and to his credit, trying to adjust in a way that's politically embarrassing because he maiduguri the statements we would not put boots on the ground, he said it bluntly, in syria but he's doing the right thing. the question is is there a strategy and i don't see what the strategy is. are we willing to tolerate assad, trying to get i.s.i.s., or trying to get assad or who are we actually trying to get. and the steps are so small. looks like the classic case of
mission creep. what happens if one of the guys gets captured? what happens if one o -- if a russian bomb lands? i would feel more comfortable if there was a more plausible road instead of tactical creeps. >> woodruff: do you think there is a strategy that the administration is just not sharing with us, mark? >> i think it may very well be the case. i'm always willing to bet my own ignorance. but american special forces doesn't seem to be a particular answer. this is, you know, acknowledging the stakes are good for any president to do. but we've drawn red lines, said what was intolerable, assad had to go. now we're looking at an election. i hope there is an election and he's voted out and leaves but i
don't see a master strategy at work. >> woodruff: speaking of master strategy, bringing it all the way back home, we do have a new speaker of the house of representatives. paul ryan was selected. he said for days he wasn't interested but finally came around and won a big majority of the republicans. only nine voted against him. my question is he said in his speech yesterday the house is broken, we're going to start doing things differently, we're going to work with the other party. at that something he can deliver on? >> well, temperamentally he's sort of fit for it. he had a nice line in there where he said if we have clarity, we'll have more charity. he has certain convictions, a pretty conservative guy. he is a nice guy. he gets along with people. he's a very charitable guy. i think temperamentally he's well suited for the moment as much as anybody can be but he does believe in certain things, and i think if there is small agreements over the next couple of months, 18 months, whatever
it is, he'll go for it, but i don't expect that to happen. i think the big news for paul ryan's selection is it's possible that the republican party after veering off into dangerous political territory, now as its most prominent spokesperson, paul ryan, a mainstream, popular, admiral, attractive figure, it may if the presidential race turns out a certain way, have marco rubio and ryan and rubio a generational shift and probably an excellent team as the two face the republican party. >> woodruff: so you're tying it to the presidential. keeping it in the house, mark, he's saying i want to do some bipartisan things, but that's exactly what the freedom caucus says they don't want to do. >> i agree with david. paul ryan is liked by democrats who have worked with him. if you like somebody and agree with his politics you say he's a person of convictions. if you don't, he's an idiolog.
democrats say paul ryan is an idiolog, that he's open to discussion and -- two things: i thought he was quite cute in saying that -- on the budget agreement was reached in two years, which really makes his speakership a lot more palatable, which john boehner was the architect of and forged. he condemned the process but endorsed the product. he voted for it while condemning the process, which was sort of a bow to the right, to the freedom caucus. but it's a generational switch. we've had, now, for eight years, we've had nance pelosi as the democratic house leader and john boehner as the republican house leader, switching back and forth on the speakership. harry reid who is going to retired, democratic leader in the senate, and mitch mcconnell.
and this really is a major generational shift. i think, judy, quite bluntly, david mentioned the presidential, i think the republicans are in such dire circumstances now presidentially, they're on the cusp of offering the nation two people who are, frankly, unelectable in ben carson and donald trump, in my judgment in the general election. paul ryan as the face of that party is very important. he's going to have a tough task. inmean, if either trump or carson is the nominee, then i think the republicans could lose the house. >> woodruff: pick up on the theme of the generational change. my question, is coming off this debate this week, we didn't hear as much from donald trump and ben carson, and there just seemed to be, you know, a sense that marco rubio did well, the senator from florida ted cruz, the senator from texas, what, they're both 44, 45 years old,
they're of the generation you just spoke about. >> i see matters in two days. first, a lot of people grew up in the age of reagan and his solutions are sufficient, cut marginal tax rates, the size of government and that's our policy. marco rubio and paul ryan grew up in an area where there were structural changes in the economy, structural fissures in the economy such that you could have growth but no wage growth. so they understand it's not enough just to cut taxes. they both ryan and rubio have specific targeted policies like wage subsidies designed to get money directly to the middle class who have seen wages stagnant. ryan and rubio, cruz a bit less, but they're so wonky. pelosi, boehner, mcconnell, these are political people. paul ryan comes out of a power america think tank.
he's a think tank guy who steams to have political skills. rubio is a bit of the same so they're the wonkiest pair of the party if they become that. >> woodruff: at this point, you just said the republican party is on the verge of something -- >> well, judy, republicans say, oh, it's like 2012 when we switched from rick perry to herman cain to mitt romney, then to newt gingrich then rick santorum back to mitt romney. no, it's not 2012. we're a year from the election and we have at the top, at the very summit, we have ben carson -- dr. ben carson, retired neurosurgeon, and donald trump. now, if you think about it, in that debate, donald trump shows an indifference to truth that borders on contempt. >> woodruff: what do you mean by that? >> when asked by becky quick,
you've said marco rubio was mark zuckerberg's favorite senator, or basically his servant, where do you get this kind of stuff? turns out it's on his web site. ben carson says, i believe we should tithe, the tax system should be based on tithing. he said it should be 10%, dr. carson. i never said 10%. then he said 15%. the candidates who appeal to many republicans, hat's off for appealing to them -- david axlerod said, in the summer, you're in the bathing suit competition, who do you like. then you move into the talent test competition. we're in the talent competition now and these two stayed at the top and the only establishment candidate who offers potential
help is marco rubio. i thought ted cruz had the best night of anybody in the room. i mean, he just showed himself to be brilliant and agile, and i thought just as gifted a knifer as anybody i've ever seen. >> i think we liked the bathing suits a little more. it will be cold, it will be december, in their bathing suits. but they can't nominate these guys. these guys are so incompetent, whenever the actual subject is running the country, they disappear from the debates. i've had no evidence for this and i say this for six months they're about to collapse. >> not that we're keeping track. the emerald path will get to oz, the curtain will come down and marco rubio will emerge triumphant. >> we have heard you mention this before. >> i think it will be cruz and rubio at the end of the day. republicans are really angry.
they think the country is going down the tubes, so they have to express it somehow and are expressing it now. i think they will wind up with cruz and the mainstream will wind up with kasich or somebody. but i can't imagine. a major american party doesn't nominate donald trump. i can't believe it. i'll have to go to canada. (laughter) >> woodruff: what about mark's point about some of the candidates were asked questions and turns out later what they said didn't pan out? >> the carnes moment with the dietary supplement thing, i think the question is we're not prepared for the brazenness of their lies. i don't totally blame donald trump for not knowing what's on his web page. i can't imagine he's ever read his web page, he's not into that sort of stuff, but there is a certain brazenness to it. somehow there is no political price. that's why donald trump is a bit of a game changer. he said 8 million things that
are normally disqualifying but because that part of the electorate is so angry, you know, he says casey stuff but we need someone to shake things up. so they tolerate it. i still don't think they will tolerate it at the end of the day. >> a quick exception of david's laudatory testimony to paul ryan and marco rubio. republicans are addicted to the idea of ronald reagan, cutting taxes, doubling defense. they pay lip service unbelievably to balanced budget as they offer supply side tax cuts. the two are so opposite. oh, yes, we'll have a balanced budgets as well. supply side basically helps those who are well supplied. >> this is on cutting taxes.
it really is. i think they just all come back to that. even rubio, who is more different and more creative, it comes back to cutting the rate on the top. >> little less emphasis on that from rubio. when taxes were up to 50%, they cut them down, have a big effect now, they're in the 30s. rubio acknowledged that. but their budgets don't add up. i concede that point. >> woodruff: next week we'll get out the calculator and figure it out. mark shields, david brooks, thank you both. >> woodruff: now we head to greece, a country that's been inundated by a surge of refugees washing up on its shores. at the same time, it's still reeling from a financial crisis. the government has been forced to cut spending and raise revenue. many citizens aren't happy-- especially with a tax hike on a beloved national drink. hari sreenivasan has the story.
>> sreenivasan: in a barn full of pungent fumes, demetrios papafigos is distilling: applying the techniques of monks who created this quintessentially greek elixir in the fourteenth century. this alcohol time capsule, in the central town of tyrnavos, is at the heart of the latest tax dispute, in a country that's broke and under intense pressure to extract as much revenue as possible from its citizens. brewed from fermented grape skins, it's a powerful, clear type of brandy, similar to italy's grappa, called tsipouro. >> ( translated ): tsipouro provides the grape growers with supplementary income. without it the vineyards would have to be uprooted. the vineyards wouldn't survive otherwise. the vineyards have only survived thanks to production of tsipouro because during difficult times when bad weather destroyed the crop we could even distill
damaged grapes and make some money. >> sreenivasan: fellow grape farmers from this close knit community have joined papafigos for lunch, washed down, of course, with tsipouro. if the european union gets its way, the tsipouro makers will have to pay double the alcohol excise duty, which is currently applied. at the moment, the liquor enjoys a low taxation rate because it's considered to be a traditional speciality; not one that's mass produced. >> it's a crazy situation. we don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. if the excise taxes go up to that level, then it will destroy all the wine production in greece. because these people will not be producing any grapes any more because it will not be profitable. >> sreenivasan: at the moment, there's no sign as to whether greece plans to obey the european union. but if it does, the tax increase
will be implemented within the next month or so. the european union argues tsiopouro doesn't warrant the lower rate, and claims small home brewers are cheating the system by supplying restaurants on an industrial scale. but the greeks are worried that manufacturers in neighboring albania and bulgaria will flood the market with black market tsipouro. silas rapsaniotis, president of the cooperative, warns that it won't just be the farmers who will suffer. >> ( translated ): there will be no profit for any of the businesses. the industry will close down. it will be a huge catastrophe it will stop being the poor man's drink. it won't be drunk at lunchtime, and it will have a negative knock on effect for other connected businesses, there will be shops such as restaurants that will close down. >> sreenivasan: in one of many working class districts in athens, the greek capital, this teetotaling, vegetarian correspondent went in search through meat and fish markets for the hellenic equivalent of
moonshine. do you think people will drink less, if the tax goes up? >> of course. >> sreenivasan: costas karagiannis runs a lunch joint in the city's main market, where tsipouro is a staple. >> the customers will have to pay. more expensive. and this time, in greece, it's too difficult to pay anything. >> sreenivasan: one of the reasons a tax on tsipouro strikes such a nerve is because it's not the fancy stuff, it's a commoner's drink. people have it with meat and cheese in the middle of the day. it's part of the greek circle of life. at this pavement cafe not far from the market, these pensioners were making the most of the circle of life at eleven o'clock in the morning. >> ( translated ): we'd rather give up food than tsipouro. tsipouro is drunk when the child is born, at its baptism, at its wedding, and even at his funeral. >> ( translated ): for us, tsipouro is the best drink of
all. >> sreenivasan: at the booze shop next door, the owner was quickly decanting four pints of the home brew for a taverna owner who was expecting a rush at lunchtime. the rough stuff is cheaper than bottled tsipouro, but, even so this man doesn't think his customers can take the extra tax hit. >> i think all restaurants are going to close. because the prices are too high. about the tax, yes. >> sreenivasan: we asked the greek finance ministry for an interview, but no one was available, however, the country's former chief tax inspector hari theocharis, did talk to us, and was sympathetic to the grape farmers. >> any tax at this time, which is a drag on growth, is a problem because greece problem is jobs, that's our number one problem, and we need to do anything in our power to create more investment and more jobs. >> sreenivasan: do you think a tax like this will create an incentive for a larger black market in this? >> it's possible. we already do have a big black market, due to the way we
license those small producers. >> sreenivasan: how crucial is this to the overall financial health of the country? >> this is a very small issue, i think. it starts with the commission taking us to court in order to have a level fair playing field, so it has nothing to do with the actual austerity or is not a measure that is done for that. >> sreenivasan: and that last answer gives hope to the people of tyrnavos. under their interpretation of european rules, greece can refuse to implement the tax increase. they just hope that after giving in to europe over so many financial issues, the government in athens will be prepared to fight for tsipouro. >> it's our tradition to go at noon and drink some tsipouro. that's our kind of living. right? so if we lose that, we're losing everything. >> sreenivasan: in greece, tsipouro is known as the tear of the land.
but will this part of the land soon be in tears? the key question for the government is whether collecting extra taxes makes good short term sense, or is bad for the economy in the long term. for the pbs newshour, i'm hari sreenivasan in greece. >> woodruff: now to the second part of our look at obamacare and insurance coverage, as year three gets underway. this weekend marks the beginning of open enrollment in the health exchanges, and we're looking at some of the questions about costs and coverage. one development this fall that's turning into a concern for some consumers: a series of collapses of an alternative to traditional insurance plans, known as co-ops. nearly half of them, which were created through the affordable care act, are now shutting down. i sat down to discuss it yesterday with mary agnes carey
of kaiser health news. and mary agnes carey is with us again. welcome back. >> thank you. >> woodruff: let's focus on this thing called co-ops. remind us exactly what they are and what did the administration want them to accomplish? >> as they were negotiating the act alaska, democrats wanted a public option. they wanted a uniform option available to everyone across the country for health insurance. that wasn't going to happen. as an alternative, they created independent, nonprofit co-ops that were to be an alternative to the additional insurer and to be an option for consumers. >> woodruff: they believed this was going to cover a chunk of the uninsured out there is this. >> they absolutely did but ran into a few road blocks. for example, in budget deal a few years ago funding for co-ops was cut. there wasn't an announcement from the department of health and human services. they couldn't gev the companies
as much as anticipated to help offset some of the hiring cost cases and that's where some of the co-ops got into trouble. some were popular, lower cost alternatives, meant sometimes sicker beneficiaries came to them and some of the financial problems happened. >> woodruff: let's look, mary agnes, at a agendaman named edward azria who lives in new york. he was in a co-op in brooklyn but it collapsed. >> the premium and deductibles were good, certainly for my needs because i'm not habitually in the doctor's office for anything. so it was easy to maintain and start out on my own to take the monthly payment where it was without having it be too heavy of a burden going forward, and they provided everything that i needed. my biggest worry is to stay within the same pricepoint, if it's even going to be possible, is the level of services going to be diminished because i have to make up for it. the price point of the co-op was obviously too good to be true.
so it will be interesting to see what they actually come up with and if they're going to cut services to make up for it. >> woodruff: mary agnes, what would the administration do for someone like mr. azria. >> we're talking about special outreaches for 500,000 people or more who were going to reaching for plans, explaining to them on how to navigate for the plans. they're trying to investigate what "they," the department of health and human services, might do to grant relief to the co-ops because some are still struggling financially. >> do they think they will be able to find an option for someone like him at the same price point? >> i think they could. there are different tiers of coverage. if he's interested in a lower monthly premium, a bronze plan
might work for him. it might not be the exact same plan in the co-op which he obviously really liked, but, again, that's where, whether you go on to healthcare.gov yourself or get assistance from a broker or agent or work with many of the groups on the ground helping people find coverage, he's going to have to look, what's covered, are my doctors or prescription drugs covered, what's the out of pocket cost, what's the total package and how does it compare to what he had and what he had before. >> explain why a number of these co-opens didn't make it. >> they basically had solve nlsy issues. if they were sicker, that would drive up the cost. they anticipated federal large payments from the government to help offset the cost of the sicker folks. as we mentioned earlier, there was a change and funding was cut
early on in inception off the co-ops and secondly another legislative change that adjusted the amount of money that the federal government could pay them. it's a program that says, if you have a lot of healthier beneficiaries, you pay in, and that is -- the insurers pay in and that money is distributed to the insurance plan to take care of the sicker folks. the insurers including many of the co-ops expected a much more generous payment from the administration than receiving and that hurt the bottom line. >> woodruff: what can the administration do to shore them up? >> for ten of them, they're folding. they can't enroll people in 2016. 23 co-opens, 10 are gone, for the other 13 perhaps the administration could do something whether through their own administrative power or working with congress because remember this is affecting people's constituents. members of congress are hearing about. this there is actually two congressional hearings to happen next week. i expect there will be greater focus on. this looking at the co-ops, they're still functioning and can they help them.
>> woodruff: remind us again when is this third annual enrollment period coming up? any other advice for people who are looking at whether or not they should sign up? >> open enrollment starts november 1 but you can get on healthcare.gov now and do window shopping. if you want healthcare to start january 1, you need to enroll by december 15. there is an administrative period that needs to happen to get your coverage going and you can enroll through the end of january. so another piece of advice, don't wait till the deadline. we all love to wait for the deadline, but don't do that. >> woodruff: that's me. me, too. i'm a reporter, that's what we live by. but if you're interested, i encourage people to get on early and check it out. if you need in-person assistance, get it. look for a local enrollment event. call the 800 number on healthcare.gov, get the help you need. >> woodruff: so you can call that number and get help? >> you can call the number and get help. the department of health and
human services say they've improved the functionality of the web site and are making sure the toll free lines are answered and people know what they're talking about. >> woodruff: mary agnes carey, kaiser health news, getting people ready for the enrollment. thank you. >> thank you. >> woodruff: on the newshour online: much has been discussed on congress's budget and debt deal. that's been sent to president obama's desk. but our "making sense" columnist larry kotlikoff warns that the bill cuts social security benefits for millions of americans. what exactly are those cuts? he spells them out in today's column, which you can find on our home page. and remember, you can sign up for newshour's politics emails, to receive weekly analysis from mark and david, and also the rest of our politics team. there's a link to subscribe, on our home page. that's www.pbs.org/newshour.
>> woodruff: and a reminder about some upcoming programs from our pbs colleagues. gwen ifill is preparing for "washington week," which airs later tonight. here's a preview: >> ifill: it's the revenge of the 40-somethings. paul ryan, marco rubio, ted cruz, each had a breakthrough week. but what does that mean for trump, carson, bush, and the house freedom caucus? an intra-party fight could define republican politics for a generation. plus, boots on the ground in syria. we'll delve into all that tonight on washington week. judy? >> woodruff: on tomorrow's edition of pbs newshour weekend, will a new de-salination plant help to solve california's water crisis? is facility will create an opportunity to learn as to what large scale the salination community for southern california and the rest of the state for that matter. we have the largest reservoir at our doorstep.
>> there is a drought-proof supply of freshwater but critics say there are questions about desal and the bandwagon is filling up too fast. >> you can't desal yourself out of a drought because you're partly contributing to the compares base of climate change and drought long term. >> even with support design the plant will burn from 840 megawatts of power per day, about the same amount of electricity to power 30,000 homes. >> woodruff: you can see the whole story tomorrow night on pbs "newshour" weekend. and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. have a great weekend. thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> and by bnsf railway. >> and the william and flora
hewlett foundation, helping people build immeasurably better lives. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
♪ ccess.wgbh.org >> announcer: this is "nightly business report," with tyler mathisen and sue herera. no trick but a treat. october turned out not to be scary at all for investors as stocks logged their best month in four years. so what does that mean for the rest of 2015? mega madness. this week's market monitor says you should capitalize on mega trend stocks and he has three names for you. and madoff rebound. what bernie madoff has to do with this year's world series. all that and more for friday october 30th. good evening, everybody, and welcome. october is usually a month associated with fright and ghouls and goblins. and the month typically is approached with a wary eye from investors as well. but this october was anything but