tv Washington Week PBS September 5, 2009 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT
gwen: summer vacation is or, and how. wel talk about it all tonight on "washington week. it fl to the ve president to make the week's mos straightfoard observation out the prospects for a health care reform. the president put all his chips the table nex week with a back in business address to a joint session of congress. alth care is priority number one, but other isss loom, an increasingly unpular war in afghanistan. >> i absolutely do not think it is time toet out of afghanistan. gwen: a still-strugglin comply, and a slippery political
enronment -- all signal a tough aumn ahead. joining us tonight for our labor dayreview, dan balz of the "wasngton post," jkie calmes of "the neyork times,"ohn dickerson "slate" magazine d cbs news, and martha raatz of abc news. >> cebrate 40 years of jonalistic excellencefrom our nation's capal, this is "washington ek" -- "washingt week with gwen ifill & natiol journal." corporate funding for "washington week" rovided by -- >> we know why we're he. to desig the future of flight, inside and out. >>o build tomorrow's technology inmazing ways. >> and reshape the science of aerospac forever. >> around the globe, theeople
of boeing are working together for the dreams of generations to come. >> that's why we're here. >> maj funding for "washgton week" is alsrovided by the annenber foundation, the corporation for public broaasting and by contributions to your p station from viewe like you. thank u. once again from washington, moderator gwenn ifill. gwen: good evenin well, mr. presidentno onever said the job was goingo be easy, and now as congress prepares to return to washington, it's hard to imagine anne could have ever thout. so lawmakers returning from a mont of fractio town meetings home and the president returning from a week and a half of appently unrelaxing vacation have their plates full but the president has the most
to prove he has to res the date o three maj issues, health re, theconomy and the war in afghanista health care is the sted topic wednesday nig's aress. what do we know about what he mighhave to say,an? >> thehite house is sending signals that he's goi to begin to try to be more prescripte about what he wants. for monthshe people have been saying the president nee to be a stronger leadern this. they adoed a policy early on in whichhey said we're going to let congress draft thi legislation. theyere giving a tremendous amount of leasho coness. congress hasn't en able to get there with anything. negoations are still going on. nflicting and multiple bills are going through t house and sete and the white house nally realized they have to basically call annd to that phas oft and put him outn a much stronge way. the secondhing they wt to do
is seize control of the date, which slied away from tm through thos august town hall meetings. gwen: does specify fissty mean he got to come out with a point by point wayo fix health care o wednesday? >> h will be me specifi he's given 27 hlth care specific speeches or events nce being president. the benefit for him is th venue. he will s things he may hav said before but everybody is n listening. there's been a ca cough thousands dete and he's going to blow the whist, wall -- call erybody in from recess like the priipal and give the line by liney what he wants. over 60%, in the cbsoll recently, say they'r cfused. he's goi to talk about whats out tre and hope thawill get so of the confused a frigened people -- the gd thing for e administratio is
people still want healthare t chge. they're afra of whathat sounds like. >> girlfriend want to talon the oth big issues on hi plate. we hearhe unemploymt rate is creeping up to the magical0% number. it'sow 9.7, which a lot of people didn't expect. >> well, it was expected -- it was 9.4% for july and now it's 9.7% and the white house even last month when it was low was setting the stage for expeations that it will eeed 10for the end of this yr and perhaps into next year. on an economic basis that number is not the important one. what's importanis this has been the sixth or senth straight month where the decline -- the's been a decne in the mber of jobss. it's 1 -- 216,000 in aust from a high inanuary of over
107,000 in a singleonth. and it is a good economi sign that it's continuing to decline and at some point employers are going to sta hiring ain. from a political standpot it's still a hard cas toake. and if io next year, a middle term cgressional election year, u have an unemployment rate of 10% o more that's going to be a tough one toet by. gwen: here' the other political thing. afghanistan just during the summer, ameran pubc opinion hadone a 360, 1, whatever. anged their mind. >> it is not good. >> the american public has changed its mind. for the first time the majorit of people are saying thear is snot worth fighting and -- is not wor fighting and that gives the president ch a problem. becae that comes right athe time where hs about t get a
request for moreroops from the new commander. the comnder who is supposed to rn this around and secreta of defense robert gates has to dede whether he asks the prident for more troops. this is a huge dision. to me it feels like 2006 iraq at a real crisis point. you hadhe worst month in afghanistan for nato losses for the deaths of military losses sincehe war began. 47 were killed. 97% were e toxplosive devices. americans have beent waror eight year now andhey're starting to say really do we want to proct that population? they sayhat's part of the new sfrafpblgt they' implementin the presidenttrategy to defe al qaeda but stanley chstal wants to protect the population and i don know how you do that whout adding more
troops gwen: in many ways the health care debate is like a metaphor foall these probls because the prident is in a position that he has to convince people. they don't sm to be listeni. >> i tnk people are listening but are not agreeing with him at this point. was in colorado this wee for several ds and i was at a town hall meeting in wind sorry, co colorado -- colorado- windsor, colorado, where the congresswoman dinot showp. what happened s for nearly tw hours, her two staff pple let the audience eentially vent aboutealth care. theris tremendous confusion anyou can't leave an event like that without believing that this health careystem that we have is dysfunctional. we heard at that meeti examples fm several different
people about tir experience with breast ccer. the way they were dealt with by insurance companies was mpletely different. people are afrai as you say, but there's anher level of th in terms of the oppositn. as one of the women at this meeting said, don't say we're afraid -- we don't trust you. there is lack of trust, at let with part of the population, and the situatn e president has gotn himlf in to on ts now, there is anr on the left that heay abandon some of the ements they think are critil, particularly thiidea of a publ option for hlth care. he is losing indepennts, generally, whi were critical tois election victory and to the success this democrats have had. he's gotoind those two together and figur out a way if ere's any posbility to bring a few republicans aoss. this is a really hard tng to do.
>> gwen's pnt about he's talk so much and ty're not listening an you say theyon't like what they hear but when he ces out on wednesday, do they start listening and agreeg? there's one thing to reset, but everybody is always consed after these things anyway, then the political deba start again. i guess wh i'm asking i then what do they do? >> you can't reset this debate athis point entely. there's en too much said and taken place. i think th hopehey can crte a n legislative environment nd short circuit what hs been aotery productive process. >> they want t gb a deal and use the president's disming power to perade. his key ability i to persuade people a it isn't working. so use tt power to convince people to buy io the deem
girlfriend how much of this -- gw: how much of this put members of coness themselves on thepot? he's going to say, this is what i want but n you have to act. >> i think that's right and what he's going - in addion to making clear what it is he wants and we'll see if he's going to clarify where he sits on some of thesehings, lik a public option, he als is ging to have to make the case as to the price of doing nothing. he's tried to do that a few times and somewt effectively but he hasn't kept u with it. aside from that public case of the substantive case of doing thing. the premiums going up,he number ofnsured going up, the pocketosts going up, all tse things. behind the scenes he's, i think, going to be pressing e
argument of the potical cost of doing nothing. cause one of the chief lessons that a l of democrats took fromill clinton's failure i 19 and 1994 i that maybe it would have been bter to do mething because doing nothin and showing democratic dysfunction for l the wor to see helped them loseontrol of congressn 14. gwen: that is interesting. that seemso be the cruof the administraon's defense on how it's been handling theconomy. we heard vice president biden yesterday come out a explain how the recovery iorking and how wha they've done was better than sitting on e sidelines. let's listen to the vice president. >> t recery act has played a siificant role in changing the trectory of our enomy, in changing the conveation about the economy in this country. instead of tking about the ginning of the deession, we're talking about e end of a recession. gwen: so we're changinthe
nversation. isn't at what the president wants do tuesday night? >> yesit's interesng, tse biden remarks. there are two auences there one is the inside audience to democrats. he wants to say, lk, we can big things and show results,o your constitues will seeou signing on to big things and having it pay off. in other words, do tt with us on health re. in the public it's harder for them to make that case because they don't want to snd like they'rtalking up the economy too much. they're trying to make a link abouthe tentative success in the onomy and hopefully with health care. >>iven how bad the economy has been and the health care debate and energ is there a fling that they took too much really at this point? gwen: and is that theasic fear ong amerins that we' hearing now? >> ihink that is the basic fear that sort of the center of
the electorat has. ople who were drawn to obama because of his positiv message for change, optimistic for a fferent kind of politics, i don't think they were prepared for the lume of activity from this administration. some othat had toome. you had to dea with the economy. their arguments if you're ever going to get the enomy right you have to x healtcare. you can make a strong argument happing swuns and that is a basic underlying, eve to people who are stl sympathetic to it, do you have to go thi fast? >> don'tover healtcare but having covered wars for this ny years, i have noteen the passion for the war that you see for health care. it's so incredibl personal. i think wh people says
afghanisn possibly obama's vietm? i think not really. it's more about heth care. >> in arong way for the administtion. everybody personally fearful their lives are going to be srupted but when they see t benefi of reform the don't think it'soing to hp them. even people who think reforms a great idea, they don't tnk it will help them. 77% fromhis cbs poll sd it probably won't aect me. >> at th session in colorado, aentleman got up and said this is the mos divisive issue this country has faced since vietnam eaking of the health care deba. gwen: martha is rht and you're rit. people have stted to mention the "v" word more and more whe they tk about afghastan. as secretary gates pointed o yesterday, the difference between iraq a ahanistan, is that afghanistan doesn't he much of a central government. it's gotuy out the who
seems to be corrupt. >> and who was widely considered to be corrupt bore. they have toeal with him and focus on t population. and that's what they' talking about. bringing up vinam, clearly that what thehite house is woied about. that you keep adding tops, when do you stop? the problem is the surge in iraq was 20,30, 35,000 troops. if they put that number of trps in afghanistan they have a rl probl. gwen: mike mullen came out sterday and told you and other reporters about what he thinks the problem is and what the chges are -- challenges are going forward in afghanist. >> this is a msionhat's been underresourced aost since its inception, certainly in renalt years, and part of why it has tten more sious andas
deteorated is directly td that. gwen: whatoes he mean by that? >> does he meanot enough people- i think he means there'been not enoh focus on afghantan, which we all know. the troops and a lot of the telligence forces were moved iraq during that war. >> it s a major part of barack obama's presidential campaig which is exactly the point becae it makes it much more colicated. gwen: he wasupposed to be focud on afghanistan. >> you listen to secrety gates, who seems so thoughtful out this and knowing that the white house, as i'm told, is deeply uncmfortable with sending more troops into ghanistan. this is a decision that is going to be very difficult. i think probably what will happen is that geral chrystal will present a report
questioning requesting troops and putting the risksssociated with eh. if we send in 40,0, we may have success but too print a foot prinlt. 20,000, we can help otect the people but not asig a foot prinlt. when they weighing that it leaves the some cover. >> and i think this is an issue that bloods into all these issues we' talking abo. the liberal who dominate ithe housand in the president's party, they feel like they've been compromising al along. andf there a pce where they feel like they're about to aw the line, you're pking up at could be in afghanistan. gwen:e saw this week, nancy pesi sent out a stern, there must be a public option letter. and thene saw the congressional black caucus and thprogressive cawg cuss saying the same thing. doesn't sound like the berals are going toet the
president off the hook o any of th. >> in the white house ty say th're going to ha the-- to buy the idea tha ifhere's not a plic option,hey have to not le the public be the enemy of t good and tha you can't run on health care as your signature it and then not pass it goi into the 2010 eltions. >> one of the lesser noted things about the monthf august is the eney that has be beguto be generated on the left on the health ce issue. ony traffles ialked to a cup travels i tald to a couple of peopleho are very active obama organizer last yearn colorado. ey are trying to get people to organize for health care they said the people now willing to participaten the hlth care fightre not t people who we there for obama a year ago. it's a difrent group of people. pele who are more toued by health ce problems.
th said when we started this effort in je it was indt t get people interested and now th are. that raises the stakes for obama as he trieso fin a compromise. gwen: what ds compromise loo like? this trigg option tt olympia snowe from maine has been talking abo? >>t's interesting. if they're not compromising wit a few repubcans and from within the party you have two different procts, perhaps. that's another thing that emboldening some of the libals in theemocratic par. their thking is become cle during the month of august that these liberals ar not serious. if w pass it's goingo be a re liberal vote than we were perhaps going to g ang with
in july. but e compromise i tnk ultimately wl have -- if i had to go ou on a limb -- it ll be a plic optionrigger, much li olympianowe is proposing that if the states and the private industryre not offering enough a competitive and affordable set options fogetting insurance, then in five yea, say, there will be some sort of trigger where the gornment stepsn an option. gwen: aleasthat's what the argument is todaas opposed to co-ops a week ago. >> we'll have to seef they react to that. one of the tngs the psident isrying to do wednesday night is reseize control of this thing. it's all these machine natio in coness that tookhe message aw from him in the spring. that's what pele saw a didn't hear the presint. thattill continues the finance committ may be
meeting two months after the ll is actually passed. they continue to meet. how does he play both the insid game and outside ge and retain contl of the message? >> bond the public option ssible compromise, there still is the iss of howig a bill is this going t be, what's it going to ct and how's he going pay fort? >> and all these other this, w's he going to pay for it. >> those are still unresolved big sues. gwen: welways boil this down to bipartisan and partisa in this town but it's all mixed up. even in afghanistan we have leadg line querts saying let's get o. >> tt was auge problem this week a lot of people were saying wha does georgwill know about the military whatever he knows, he's ry inuential and the need republicans on this me than anything >> a list of republicans wrote
obama as aandidate, but now y hang on in there in iraq. gwen: let me te ack- make a point about george will. when say that baracobama presented a strategy for pakistan and afghanistan i march. and at they have chosen do a counter iurgency campaign. orge will isuggesting a different kind of implementation of the sametrategy. its a debate that people should have in this country about how they want barack obama's strategy implemented. you heard sectary gates say no way is it time toet out of there. esntially george will is saying do th droughns, air rikes, special forces. gwen: i haveo askou all this question because we' almost out ofime. are we all getting wed up --
it's the president's term. or is the honeymoonver? >> the honeyon is over in rtain areas it's notver but there not buying. the american people are eptical. on wedneay night he's going to sa this is what's i it f u. those of you with private insurance and those who have medica. they still thi he can be a leader. that number is still in the 70's in some polls. they wan him to move slower and they want the president to convince the gwen: so the marriage isn't or -- >> they' just looking for another honeymoon. >> or a weekend away,aybe. >> i think what haened -- thi is a president who famouy promised big change. we have to askurselves what woulwe be saying if hwasn't attempting some of these things? that said what happened in e meantime is the ecomy fell much wse than anybody expect. itas now pu the deficit and the debt squarely in e middle
of our dcussion more than its its --t's been in the last 10 years. en: final wor >> i think t honeymo isver in this way i think the cntry has repolarized quickly d sharply and we're heang into a election year and that's only ing to get worse. the ia that there there can be great good will i tnk is a thing that h gone. gwen: gerning is the complicad part. thk you all so mu, happy labor day to all of you and thank alof you. we have to leave you but t convsation continues online on the "shington week" webcast extra at pbs.org slash washingtonweek. u can keep upith daily develops on "the newshour" and we'll be back to hash it all out right re next week on "washington week." have a restful lor day. good nig.
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