tv PBS News Hour PBS December 25, 2009 7:00pm-8:00pm EST
captioni sponsored by macneil/lehrer pductions >> brown: good ening. i'm ffrey brown. millions this day celebrated the holiday even as blzards disrupted trav in the midwest. >> warner: i'm margaret rner. the latestn the storm that brought snow to e midwest including the latest on last night's attack on pe benedict
xvi the vatican. >> brown: one of chine's leang dissidents was sentenced to jail. >> warner: the ctroversy over the future opensions for retid state workers in california. spencer michels will have a report. >> pple -- beneficiaries would nobe at risk because we're on the hook f those payments gardless how well and how poorly pension funds do. >> mark ields and david brooks look fward on health care and back on thdecade. warner: efforts to reform washington, d.c.'s public schools. then tells us wh's ahead. >> we have been totall disrespected. have been treated like we don't matter. >> reporter: that's all coming on tonight's "pbs newshour." major funding r the pbs newshour is provided b
>> chevron. is is the power of hum ergy. d by toyota. and the lliam and flora wlett foundation, working to solve social and eironmental proble at home and around the world. d with the ongoing support o these institutio and fodations. and... this programas made possible the corporation for public badcasting. and by contribions to your pbs ation from viewers like you. thank yo >> brown: this chrisas day with all the chrisas festivits and observances but it was also marked by quesons about the pope's secury and by misery in the american midwe. >> we need help. >> we needome help! >> bro: for many people in t nation's midsectn, there was
no w to be home for christmas. a massive winter srm kept piling usnow and ice that clos down airports and made highways impasble. >> at some point you rea a breaking pointand you just want to see youramily. >> brown: oklahoma decred a state of emergcy, and scores ofamilies had to abandon cars and ke refuge in churches. entire towns in wa had no electricit halfy around the world, the issue wasn't weather, t distce. amican soldiers in afghanistan sang carols and ata hearty ristmas lunch. some even essed for the occaon. i miss my family tremendously, buif you look around at everyone tt wears one of theseniforms, gardless of whether it's arm navy, air force or marine,e're all fami and i'm here to, hopefull make it a little easier for them being away fm eir family. >> brown: but for one amican in afghanist, it was a ristmas in captivity. the liban released video of army private bowe berghl, captured five months ago.
he said he'd been treated ll but he saiof the war: "this is just going to be the next vietnam." such statements e generally assumeto be made under duress. and nato forces infghanistan condemd the video's timing and conten president obama dressed u.s. troops abroad, as he beg a holiy stay in hawaii. he spoke in a pre-record message, joined the first lady. >> to all oumen and women in uniform spendi the holidays fafrom home-whether its at a base here the states, a mess hall in iraqr a remote outpost in afghanistan, know that u are in our thohts and our prayers. and this holidayeason-and everholiday season-know that we areoing everything in our power to make re you can succeed in your missions and come home fe to your families. >> brown: britissoldiers receiv a similar tribute from queen elizabeth in hernnual christmaspeech. 106 brith troops died in afghantan this year,
>> i asure that we have all been affecd by events in afghanistan, and saddened the casuties suffered by our forces servinghere. our thghts go out to their relations and friendwho have shown imnse dignity in the face ogreat personal loss. >> brown: in rome, pe benedict xvi al spoke of war and peace and hopes for the worlin his annualhristmas blessings. >> ( anslated ): today, to the man family, deeply affected a seris moral and economic crisis a by the wounds caused byany wars and conflicts, the chur repeats, in a spirit of sharing: 'let's go to belehem. there we'll nd our hope.' >> brownthe pontiff did not mention a christmas eve indent in st. peter's basilica. a woman jumped a securit barrier and briey pulled the 82 yr old benedict to the ground.
it turneout the same woman, susanna maiolo, unsuccessfly ied the same thing last year today, a vaticanpokesman said the's no such thing as "zero risk", but he promis a security review. >> ( transled ): look, i don't think we can act much dierently. we've en that security tervened promptly once again i ink they did their job. sometimes you gethere in time, at other times you don't, t it seems to me th this time the incident was not so seous for the ly father, who was able, as we have seen, to rever in a couple of minutes. >>rown: indeed, the pope was unharmed, but a retired vacan diplomat bro a hip in the scuffle. in the meantime, religious celebrations in belehem were relatively upbeat. crowds packed the church othe nativity, maing the traditional rthplace of jesus. >> warr: now for the other news of thday, here is hari sreenivasan in o newsroom. sreenivasan: a passenger
allegedly tried to bloup a deltairlines flight as it landed in detroit. happened as the airbus 330 was coming in from amsrdam, the nethernds. a nior counterterrorism official quoted as sing the suspect tried to s off a bomb but it failed. itial reports said passenger set off firecracrs before being subdued. there were minor injurs reported. police in kistan say they plan to charge five american musls th violating their antiterro laws. the men were taken to a mastrate today after being detained earlier thimonth. theyllegedly had maps of a pakistani air force base and power plantsplus emails linking them to militants. the pakistan case cod hamper efforts to return e men to the u.s.o face charges of aiding a terrorist group. a christmaeve bus crash in the andes mountas of peru killed at least 42 pele, most farmers and merchants on the way home from t holidays. the bus plunged 250 feet inta ravine.
thperu accidents often blamed on poorly maintaed mountain roads anunderregulated bus companies. at least 40,000 filipinospent christmas day shelters to escape the eruption of e mayon volcano. the volcano has erted 40 times er the last 400 years forcin evacuations. this was theirst time people have beeforced to flee a eruption during ristmas. those are some of the ma stories. i'll be back at the d of the pram with preview of what you ll find tonight on the program's website. back to margar. >> warner:he fight over the value of pensions california. the analysis of shies and brooks. d the conclusion of our seri on attempts reform public hools in the nation'sapital. that follows covage of the sentencing today oone of china's most promint dissiden.
u helps been convicted of th crime of subversion in a tri that lasted ju two hours. >> warner: outde the number 1 termediate people's court in beijing this morni, police kept a few protesters at bay as inside, the sentence agnst liu was handed down,ne supporter said it caied a clear messe for would-be political reformers. >> ( translat ): this shows at the government has destyed the spirit of legal society and harmonus society that ihas been claiming to advocate. >> warner: officiall liu was convicted of "inciting to subvert state power" a bad char often used by chinese communist authorities toail opponents. more than a don western diplomats were dend entry to the proceedings; but u.s. embassy spesman denounced the verdict outside the cot. >> thenited states government is deeply concerned by t sentence of years of prison announced today the case of prominent chinese mocracy actist liu xiaobo under the charge of inciting subrsion of state power.
persecution of indiduals for thpeaceful expression of political ews is inconsistent with internaonally recognized norms ofuman rights. >> warner: tt "peaceful exprsion" included "charter 08", aopen letter co-authored by liu and signed by morthan 30top chinese thinkers. released on the inrnet last decemb, it called for open electis, free spch and rule of law. the 53-year-old liu was deined that same month, n the first time he's run afouof chinese authorities. in 1989, while a viting scholar in the u.s., he turned to china ttake part in the tiananmen squareprising. he was jailed for months afr the government cracked down. his wife, u xia, spoke today after briey meeting with her husband. >> ( translated ): he hopes th he is the last oneharged with a cre for practicing freedom of expression. he thinks the government is aware thathis is illegal and wron and he wishes that on day the govement will come to
realise that they should not hurtheir own citizens by charging them r non-existing crimes. >>arner: but chinese authorities ve increasingly clamped down ofreedom of expreson, beginning last year, before theeijing olympics. the tightening comesven as china is grong into a economic powerhouse, and making beijing a key player on glal issu ranging from iran's nuclear program to climate change. >> warner: for more onhe meaning of today'sonviction of liu, we turn to sharon hm, exutive director of the advocacy organization huma ghts in chine aa long-time pressor at the city university of new york school of law,nd douglas paul, ce president for studies at the carnee endowment for ternational peace, he seed as an asia expert and a directoon the national secury council staff during the reagan and gege h.w. bush administratis. welcome to you both.
miss holm, how big a deal this? how significana development? to have a leading chinese intellectual like thiset this kind of convicti and sentence. >> it's an extreme significant case botdomestically and internationally, oneecause it's not theirst chinese intellectual or lawyer o journali or activist who has been charged, convicted and sentenced for this crime o incitement to bvert state power, and sadly, he won'te e last, so it's extremely significt as what's really on trial is the chinese constitutional rights that a supposedly procting and the man rights amendment and chinesea's willingness to respect internatiol human rights includingreedom of expression, so the signicance of the case is whait's really denstrated is that the chinese governme cannot and will not abide by its international obligations to respect human rights. this is very clear to chines
insi china, it is clear to the international commity, it's clear to theovernments. this is actually a messagehat the chinese governmentas been nding for many, many years a one would only hope that thi time, thmessage is clear that something very serus has to be done to addresthe human rights abuses insidchina. >> warr: do you think that's what this says, doug paul? and plain why, for instance, liu xibao was offering this charter was se as threatening the chinese government. >> it rings memories othe late period of the collapse of the soviet union when vaclav havel in czechoslovakia organized s movement and got dissidentto speak up against the rulof the communist party. china learned lessons from tt period of 1989991, they studied and found a lot ofas wrong from china's perective. they put emphasis economic
grow in exchange for no expansion ofndividual personal freedoms -- ceainly no polical freedoms. >> warner:ould you say that's the basibargain, miss holm, at the chinese government is trng to stri with the chine people? "we'llive you a lot of economic growt and more economic fedom, but in return, do not challengeur monopoly on por"? >> i thinkhat's in part a very good stament of the bargain that was struck, pticularly st-crackdown of the june 4, 19 crackdown. that is, make mone yes. democracy,o. the importance of charter0is beyond a pition to what doug paul just said -- arter-08 presents a cogent anysis of the last almoswond years of chinese hiory and enumerates a -- almos100 years of chinese history d enumerates a list of human-rights disasters andhis has all been laid at the fooof the regime that do not allow
freedom expression, indendent, civil-society voices and then wh the charter sets fth is a call to implemt international human rights in the chinese contt, so i think thais in part why there isuch a strong reaction fromhe authories, but the other reacon is because charter-'08 in december 08 was signed by 300 of t most diverse group so in additiono intellectuals and holars, it was sign by workers. it was signed by petitners. it was signed by journalts. it was a derse group. and now, more than a yr later, despite most a year of chinese poce, security forces, and the whole machery intimidating, detaining, questioning individus who did sign it, you actually now have ov 10,000 signatures, sohat the significance of it iis, despite the intidation and the detention and the 11ear
sentce, individuals in china continue, and wi continue, to demand theinds of democratic reforms. you now have over 450 individuals have signed an online petion who have said, "we claim collecti responsibility we signed charter'08, d if liu xiaobarks bao is guiltwe are guilty for signing,"n fact the intimidation tactics are not workg to silence the chinese people. >> warner: doug paul, if smany people sigd this and he had so ny co-authors, why did they aftehim in particular? how important a gure is he? >> hs the key intellectual sparkplug for this mement. he's proven hero of e movement because he nt to prison aer coming back to tiananmen to prote in 1989 -- >> warner: when he cou have stayedt columbia. >> could have stayed at the iversity and been under american protection but he's brave rson. he's taken on the state in t mo direct way that an
intellectu can, and he presents a big threat to the state as an dividual and as a representativef this movement. >> warner: pfessor, what does this ia, do you think, about the ofn-advanced theo that the re that china experiences prosperity, thmore it gets integrated into the global ecomy, the more that will lead inexorably to greatepolitical freedom? is that just not goingo be operative in cna's case? or do you think that t chinese vernment is trying to hold back wave here? >>learly, there has been -- in terms of macroeconomic gwth, there has be progress in china, butt what cost? and the costas been the sustainability of the environment. there is massive envonmental degredion. anreally at the cost of cracng down on an independent media, on immediate civil soety, so there has been
economic developmentut it has al been at the cost of resource extraion from tibet and that inot benefitting the local pulation, and perhaps liu xiaobao's own words wod be appropriate re. he wrote in 2006hat this was not inevable, that economic prress would inevibly lead to political refor we've en that that has absolutely not bn the case, and in tms of global democratization, he ites, "china is a y player." witht china in that game, the game -- china needs to bin the democry game for the game to be ali. inther words, if china does not democratize, the nsequences are quite serious for the regionfor the world, in addition to the chise people. >> wner: yet, doug paul, the chinese governme today just dismisseall the foreign criticism as "crude ddling in china's ternal affairs."
what do yosee as the relationsh between china's growing global role and its continuing crackdo like this? >> it's contradictory. e chinese have just have 20 the best years of the st 250 history. a lot of prosperity. coege students today don't remember tianaen but they do know their cntry is standing taller nowthat they have more individual freeds than they have had ia long time as long as they don't challee the state. over again this, you've got a regime that's concerned abt movements that mig emerge, that's terrifi of ethnic violence andepression in -- in sinjian and tibet,ho had to confine president oba during his sit to china so that he wouldn't be able to reach th chinese people, sot's a ntradiction between the se-confidence of power, of prestige, sources, over against fear of intern threat. >> warner: and aontradiction that will continue, no doubt for many years to come
dougs paul and professor holm, thank you bo very much. >> y're welcome. thanyou. >> brown: now, in a weak onomy, what may be a ticking time bomb for many stas, cities andowns. hundreds of billions ipension liabities that are currently underfunded. in california, goverr arnold schwarzeneer warned just this week that histate will need billions more from t federal governmentor basic operations, even as longer-term pensio requirements loom. ewshour" correspondent spenc michels reports. reporter: when 86-year-old john canfield retired fromis cafornia state job, he was making about50,000 a year. as a senior enneer, he had designed highway bridges useby thousands of californians. >> destructed l over the state
of califora and i take pride in that. reporter: today with yearly increases for co of living, his state pension totals about $63,000. that's more than the avera for ste workers because canfield was one of the higher paid employees. >> i feel that iarned that tirement pay. considered it a contract between me and the ste of california. reporter: for decades, retireesike canfield drew their pay with little noticeut no that xpayers in california and other stes are being told to pone up for underfunded pension ans, questions are being asked abouthe amount pensioners ear the way pension funds are invested a how the pension boards themselveare beinrun. david crane, scial economic advisor to govnor arnold scarzenegger worries that unss those questions are
swered, pension spending wil eat away at key ate-supported programs. they already have diverted3.3 billion from the sta budget, a figure that is rising. we are diverting, really, biions of dollars from the univsity of california and health and human services pay ofpension promises that were made deces ago or even joust a decade ago. >> reporter: sce crane and other reforms cannot change what others willarn, covered by contract and courorders, he wants to change nefits for futu employees. bring those levels down to least low what they were when they were increasein 1989 or reduce current compensation r employees toy. >> reporter: mars frafritzays other anges are needed as well. shsays high pensions in californ and other states are often thresult of spiking the final year's p, by adding in
car allowancesr selling back unused vacation days. >> in lieu of pay increases th'll say give us a few more days off, and then ty don't take t days off, they accrue ito that taxpayers have to pay off the ney, and that goes into authority fal pay for pension rposes. >> reporter: ftz has put in a measure to stop that. she has a list of retirees making me than $100,000. the oneshat drew the most tension wereour retired officers of thsan ramon fire district near san fransco. they we said to be collting er $245,000 each, more than what they rned while working. fire chi richard price says those pensionsre deserved. >> these are top-lel managers who are adminiering large districts, large nbers of
emplees, large budgets like any c.e.o. running a corpotion of similarize. >> reporter: now, under pressure, the fire boa has come up withew rules to curtail wh some see as pension abuses. >> my tierm, and the rirement of the managers of this -- >> my rerement and the tirement of the managers of this districare considerably lower than thewould have been before ouroard took these tion. >> reporter: davidowe,a lobbyi who serves on the gornor's committee thinks the notion that the pension funds in trouble because of high payouts is misading. >> theeality is it's the majority of the poce and refighters get a reasonable and fair benit for putting their lives on the lin and they're t going out with these huge pensions. >> reporter: t california public employees retirement system, calpers agrees. it pays benefits amountingo $10 billion a year to 40000
retirees. pat macht. >> 70% of those wh retire with us getbout $36,000. we have folks like bus drive, schoolorkers who get less than $1,0 a month. >> repter: lowe instead blames the rise andall of the stock market since most of tho calpers payos comes with investments ma by money contributed employees and employers. >> thosenvestments had been doing so well that employe contributions wereurtailed but in 2008 the fundost a third of its value and that's when th ste had to pony up more than $3 billion >> reporter: it was wrongheaded investnt strategy, according to governor's advir david cran he says cal pers as well as pension funds elsewhere d been too optimistic >> all plic pension funds have done this -- is assumeery high, faastical rates of returns far in excess what stocmarkets have historically
returned and bonds have historical returned and by doing th they induced govements to put away less than was nessary bht promises were made. >> reporter: somcritics also allege calpers and oer funds de risky investments ihedge funds urged on bmiddlemen who got a cut. still, calpers aues it has no trouble paying retireewhat ey have been promised. >> we ke in more than enough cash. we're in aeally stro position to ed our benefit yroll. >> reporter: but crane says that's nothe point. it'she state, not calpers that has to come up with the peion moy and next year it will need increased contributis because of the investment sses. >> calpers cou lose every penny tomorrow a the beneficiaries would t be at risk because we're on e hook for the payments regardless of how well or poorly pension fds , so it doesn't make sense t even askhem whethethey're solvent. their asse are insufficient to
et our liabilities and the result is th're underfunded and we have to come out our general fus to make the paents. >> reporter: the debate over public pensions wi only get more iense as the legislature takes up redtions in benefits, as marcia frz's group tries to quify a ballot measure to curtail abusesnd as unions fit to contain benefits they think may be in jeardy because of the zeal to reform. lehrer: now to the holiday analysisf shields and brooks. welce. happy holiday. had a health care vote yesterday. i'm from boston. i nt to try out my boston marathon alogy. sometimes thwinner comes through arms waving, readyor more, sometimehe or she falls to the ground exhauste what did you see yesterday >> there was a greater sensef reliefhan celebration but like winning the rathon, it's just a real andnderstandable, legitimate nse of accomplishment.
>> lehrer: david? >> since woodrow wiln presidents havbeen trying to do this, certain since eiseower, none have succeeded, obama has or wl succeed, that's a tremendous accomplishment. i wod point out you haven't finished the mathon, you're in the first mile >> lehrer: nowhey have to get together with the house. >> i think that pa they'll do reasonably wel i n't imagine anybody is going hold us up. the biggest difference is e financing. thhouse has a provision that uld have a surtax on millioires, the senate wants to pay for it throh high-cost health insurce premiums. the whole thing would fallpart if they didn't go with t senate measure and that's substantively a good tng, beuse those employer tax exemptions for these insuran plans is fcally insane and bad for the health care syst becae it subsidizes these cadillac plans. >> ihink that there will be a mix of financing. i thk there will be a tax on individuals. and i think there will ba tax
on the hher -- the real cadillac plans -- think to callhe plans that many ornized labor workers have negotiated called cadillaclans is a misnomer and an embellisent but i also think the will be a fight over the trigr on public options and there will be -- and ihink ere is a great chance they'l come out of it wita hard trigger. if, in fact, thexpenses of health care exceed the.b.o. estimas, i think theres a very good chce that that is acceable to both sides. >> republicans a quite clear they're not for anything so e fit is among democrats. >> t fight is among democrats and mpeting visions. the hoe bill covers more. it'sore democratic with a large d traditiolly speaking -- it was a consensus coalion -- you saw it put togethern the senate. nancy pelosi was truenough as speaker of the houseo keep it all in her oice -- in the
senate, it was pretty open, pretty visible androbably not what our teachers in decracy and civilization h in mind in high school when ty taught us. >> some of the tngs in the house billre better than the senate bill. >> i agree. >> the excnges in the house bill are more competite but if ey have a fight over this ta exemption, to me that woulbe a big deal becau first of all, i don't think you can pay for pecially over 20 years witho the full tax on all ose plans. that t, because it's not really indexed for inflation raises $1.3 trilon in the second 10 years. if they'reoing to say this balances the budget, that's st a toof money they need and they need toax it all, and condly, i think there is a nsensus at least among healt care economists --ou've got to raistaxes from within the health care system becau noing else will keep up with the risingosts, so if there really is resolve fight this, especily on the part of the unions -- anthere probably is -- that could ke it trickier than may i anticipate. >> awe se at year's end, where does this ght --
particularly, this fighteave e parties? one thing that happened this week was defection from mocrat to republican. >> areshman democrat from northern alabama -- huntsvle, alabama, pker griffith, who democrats have been a ry mpetitive seat -- retiring congressman bud kramer w had been a democrat was a democrat democrats spent a miion dollars toin that seat. and anyte anybody leaves a party -- a especially condemns the party or -- or indites h party on the way outs he -- indicts has party the way out anjoins the opposition it's t insignificant -- mr. -- mr. grfith probably nobody had heard of before this weetried to cast it in mol terms that it w a philosophical move. >> bro: that went over well with his colleagues. >> is about self-preservation -- imakes you yearn for the varnished candor of arlen
ecter who, when he left arle specter became a democt from pennsylvia earlier this year -- he conceded verfrankly he couldn't win the republica primary, hcould not win in vember as an independent so became a democrat and the was something -- thereas no paul on theoad to damascus, some ephany, this was all about self-preseation but the democrats have become the majority party in e house of representatives by winningeats they weren'tupposed to win, in the border states and the south, so -- in this sen, it manot be a harbinger but it's not od news for the democrats. there are retirements on th democratic side -- all t signs that it's going be a tough year for 2010 for democrs -- they're all out there --nd you know, one suspects they n a loof those seats in north carolina and theouth and the near south, they're going to se a ton of them, 20 seats i the areas, they'reemocrats and looking at polital suicide in theace. i wa to say one thing about the parties and how th're reacting. i rely think this health care
an is a huge event in our political history. when the new deal was suessful ograms, it created, really, democrat majorities for a long time. the great soety, on the other hand, created republican majoties for a great, long time. i think, however this alth re bill works out it's going to have --aybe not quite as seismic effect but a huge effect. if it's a success it will beco a safety program, d if it's a faile -- >> brown: you're not pting on the ystal ball. >> i lean slhtly one way but i do think wshould think of it in tse terms. >> bro: are the consequences at big? >> the consequens are enormous and i think it will be a scess -- this s always been a difficult thin-- why it's a signalchievement for -- for harry reid, r the democrats in the senatefor the democrats in the congre, in the house of presentatives, nancy pelosi, for the administtion is this -- this -- this is an em, an sue, that has never come to thfloor for a vote under chard nixon, under bill
clinton, under harry truman. w, it's passed bog -- now it passed both houses that's important but the important thinto member is this. we passed medica in the middle the 1960's which was probab the apex of american confidee. were doubling the nation's gross tional product in that cade and there was just a sense unlimited possilities. to pass this -- this major, major difference in a me of uncertainty ich itself produces uncertainty to --mong people, 80% of whom ve health ca -- 83% of whom have health care is a signal -- gnal achievement to do th, because ameran confidence and optimism are ong their lowest -- >> wh 35 or 45% support dending on how they ask the question with e majority opposing, which a risky thing too and the other thing i wod say is in the short-term if you oppose e bill or support the bill, there is think -- even the supporters acknowdge a short-term problem whicis a lot of the benefits don't kick in immeately, the tas do, second you're going to
have this crease in demand for health care withouan increase inupply, that's going to drive up costs in the short-te so that's a politicalroblem for 10 yrs. >> the end of the year- end of the firsyear for president obamso i want to talk a little bit about how you see his rst year. >> brown: jim asked the president in that terview earlier thiseek. so let's take look at president's answ to get starte >> i think that we have maged an economic isis of monumental proportis, two wars, a whole host of other challeng, very well. i am entirely dissisfied with where we are rightow in terms of jobs and the facthat families out theren the eve of christmas are ill really worried about being ab to pay the bills or send eir kids to college or haveealth care for emselves. and so don't pat myself on the back at the end of this ye,
but what i do have confince in is that we've de good decisions, that wee applied sound judgments to se very difficult siations, and that -- ah, if we staon a path where we are -- ah, workg hard, intaining a -- a -- a sense of possibili for the future, 're willing not to fer tough decisions around heth care or energy or education so that somedy else deals th them -- that america will be strong againand i think that -- think i've shown, ts year, that i can make hard cisions -- even when they're not pular -- and that i take a lg view on these problems, and i ankly think that that's what americaeeds right now. >> brown: david? himsf and yourself with him? i more or less agree with him. the emphasis on the decisi-making structure, the soundness of the decisio, judgme, that's so quinteentially obama -- he's
not talking about some impassioned thing fothe american people, it's out his slownd deliberate decision-making process. snoot process. >> he's got, that i giveim cred for that, he's got some thingse's failed othe middle east process was a flure, a setback, cap and tradeoing nowhere,inancial region regulations, iran ha't worked out buon the other hand as he says we' come out of the worst financial problem. he did pass heal care. he had a very sounprocess deciding afghastan. i would have to give him a br b-plus which is roughlthe range he ge himself so i think you would have to regard ias a successful yr. >> brown: ma? >> the president lays downhe premise which was at he did -- comes to officat a time arably the worst economic ti since the deession, with two wars and a financi crisis of historic pportions and he got up everyorning which was
impressi and kept going and still his equamity in his interview wi jim, but at the sa time he initiated two major objectives -- i mean, heal care is enormous. as is climatchange. and i agrewith david, the climate change is prably in etty precarious shape right now, but he's ing to achieve health care, and- you know, i he gave himself a b-plus -- not in jim's intervi, and came back and i was sprised at that, becausif he had been grading me in my ademic years i might ha been a serious coender for class ledictorian because i think he's a little easy and soft himself ani was surprised that he didn't ve -- i was not a valedictorian and was nevea threat to be bute didn't say "i'll leave at to the ultimate authorities." >> brown: a b-plus is practically an - >> aenerational thing. but -- you know,nteresting thing to me ishis.
his job rating tod in the gallup poll is 50% favorab, high than that of ronald reagan who went on to n 49 states three yearsater and it's lower by 21 points th george herbert walker sh and lowethan 10 points by jimmy carter was at this time bo of whom were denied a second rm, so when he talksbout the long-term, he'talking about 2012 whereas democts who are nervouright now are on the ballot in 20. >> bro: was it a good year for american politics? >> not ectly. we've had a bad -- a badecade for american politics. >> brown: you don't know - decade -- >> bad two centuries -- it's been fine. you know, the angeafter the fight for healthare is worse than ever, he promised new age, we're not red arica, we're not blue americathat hasn't word out, not his
fault, as long as you ve a congress run by john boehn and nancy pelosi y're going to have a partisan congressas long as you promote your adership on the basis of fund-raising y're going to ha this. don't necessarily blame him but it hasn't worked out. >>rown: bad year, indifferent year? >> it was not happy year -- the pledge of thcampaign to be ansparent -- obviously couldn'te fulfilled on health ca -- to the degree it was, it was problem, and to bring a new era had in washingto i think that's theiggest disappoiment. i do not flt the president for that. i think that is a decisi that has been made on the oth side -- the house has nev en a place of gat collegiality, nancy pelosi did, think, a remarkable job in paing climate chge and passing heth care but the senate is -- is really a far mo brutal ace than it's ever been. ey have used the filibuster more in this sessionf congress, than they diin the
enti decade of the 1960's when itas changing the civil rights law. brown: really? yeah. that is reallyi think, a commentary -- when erything has to get 60 votes -- iean, a mother's day resolutiohas to get 60 votes. >> brown: that's a biof a bummer -- >> david -- >> grge iii was a little concerned about th. >> bwn: the next it will be new year, w decade, for new happy holiday. >> thank you vermuch. >>arner: finally tonight, we close out our week-long seri on t high-profile campaign to change the public school sysm in the nation's pital. this week we have been revisiti key developments in this story as told by the "newshour's" special corrpondent for education, john merrow. we go back tnovember to look at howhancellor michelle rhee and her schools are fari in
e third year. >> on a thursd morning in octobe six weeks in the scol year, members of washington, d.c.'s teacher union gathered tsend a message. >> and our schools we will not controlled by fear. their message wafor d.c. schoolchancellor michee rhee who had unexpectedly ld-off 229 tehers to close a budget shortfall. >> we ha been totally diespected. we have been treat like we don't matter. >> i was ld-off on friday. on saturday look online on the newspaper, "the waington post" and it's about it's od weot rid the plan lessons.
>> the city council took uthe issue weeks later allegi that rhee overstepped h authority making the layoffs and engineeredhe budget shortfall in order to get d of teachers she didn't want. >> by your own aission, you have sted on the recorthat you maden administrative decision regdless of the law d the process that is in fro of you tfollow. >> my unrstanding is that i do havehe authority as the agency head to make the decisio about moving bget from one place to other. >> these pple sitting out here lost their jobs becausthat's a decisionou made. >> correct. >> what is the council suppod to dat that point? >> my undetanding is that i do have the authority -- >> before you moveo your understandg, i'm talking about the law. >>ichelle rhee has been no stranger tcontroversy since shtook control of d.c.'s public schls over two years ago. she's closed 25 school replaced almost half her principals. and battlethe teachers' union over a new contrt.
t some believe rhee's latest actions pose a thrt to her larger reform effort yes. in the back. >> repter: even as teachers across the count were losing bs, rhee hired 994 new teachers bween spring and ll. that's double the mber d.c. usually adds. but by fal the picture had changed. in oober, rhee declared a budget shortfall of nely $44 million with nearly ha coming from msummer cuts by the city council, tn came the layoffs, called a duction in force or rif follow by an explosion of accusations. >> think the way this was coucted -- there are going to beany lawsuits. >> reporter: geoe parker is president of t teachers' unio i think to some degree, the ght have been an intentional effort to target some tehers to get ridf them and the way u do that is that you go out and you hire additnal teachers cause somewhere down the lin you intend to use those tehers
toeplace certain targeted teachers. >> reporter: fueling parkes suspicions are public commen by rhee and her team. early last year, her heaof profesonal development spoke with us abouwashington's tehers. >> 50% d't have the right mindset, and there is a possibility that morof them don't have the contentnowledge to do thjob. >> reporter:nd rhee has been open about her operatingtyle since our first interview o years ago. are you a le-breaker? i think what i am is somebo who is focused on thend result that i think needs to happenso if the rule is standing in the way of that, will question those rules. i will bend the rules. >> reporter: aan education conference two wee after the layoffs, i askedhee and her boss, mayor adrian fenti abo the controvers >> they're saying because yo overhired, you have surplus and then, since you'reot doing seniority, the princals can go
and they can say, "ah-ha we have tget rid of some people." >> id.c., we cannot do that. by law, we c only move a personl action form forward there is a vacancy at a scol level and en there is a budget to suprt -- >> repter: why are you riffing? you are riffing fobudget reasons? >> these a terminations tharp a result of a budgeteduction that whad to take. >> reporte because rhee tied the layoffs budget pressures she was nobound by the existing teaers' contract. to make e reduction in force, prinpals used a formula devised rhee in which niority count -- in which senioritcountered for just 5%. >> whatypically happens in a hool district, you know that 25people have to go. it's last , first out. th's just the way that it goes buthat's not the way it should go. >> the model we' pushing toward ia model wherein the
principahas the autonomy that u find in a charter school o private scols. >> reporter: in ordeto change the stem permanently, to alter the way principals hire d fire teachers, rheeeeds a new teacrs contract. thunion is now suing to erturn theayoffs. despite the stdstill, rhee has some backing othe city council whichas oversight of the schools. >> i d't believe she overhired with the intent thenf firing teachershat she didn't want there. i don'think that's what happened. and ev if it did, so what? you know -- you know, michel rhee is in crge of the schools. >> reporter: even suppters like jack evans are rried. >> yete are sitting here in a chambewhere the tensions couldn be higher. we canno-- we cannot continue to have this cziness. >> you clearly don trust the akeholders, it's obvio the stakehders don't trust your office, so how dwe repair this? >> i will fully do my pa to
the exnt that people have suggestions about how we mov forward, some of theifficult decisions that wmake will, indeed, use some people to be unhay, but we know we have to sh forward on those decision because they are rht for schooland kids. >> reporter: rhee remains confident that, in the lonrun, results will prove her right >> warner: that ory was filed just a few weeks ago. rlier this week, gwen ifill spoke with jn to get an upon wherthings stand now. she began by asking him ether there is still standoff betwn chancellor rhee and the unions over ntract negotiations and herecision to lay off teachers >> reporter: thas where we are no the union appealed that cision and the judge lookedver the factof the case and threw out the appeal, sohe won there, but there is not any mement on the contract. that's been gog on -- those negoations have been off and on for the entire time basicall and they're basically off righnow.
>> ifill: both of us havbeen watching reports with inrest, wanto know the bottom-line aner to the question abo what improvement -- how u measure improvent. do wknow if what a school chcellor like michelle rhee is doin-- do we know if it's working? >> reporter: there ione piece ofolid evidence. there is a nional test called the natial assessment of educational progress or nape a that's the gold standa, gwen, and only fr states and the district of columbia shod significant gainin fourth and eighth gradeath on the results at came out in fall, that's pretty remarkable and it happened on her tch. on the otherand, you would ve to say that strife is up and morale is down. but in terms of the ecomic gas, they are there. >> ifillwhat can other school systems read into wh rhee has gone wrong and what has rked and what hasn't worked? >> reporter: she hasad a signicant impact. she set out ying she wanted to make difference nationally and
she's had i a gnificant impact in at least three ways r one, the conversation abou linking teacher pay totudent performae is now in the air -- i mean, that even part of the federal effort called race t the top, and mhelle rhee has shed that forward. people a talking, now -- questiing tenure in ways that they haven't bore, and chelle rhee has pushed that well, and finally, chaer schools are much more in t publ consciousness, and ey're growing, and she has said that she doesn't caref she loses studen to charter schools,he just wants students to go to charter sools. i would say shs done this very sibly. a couple of otr supentendents -- andre zalanso in baltimore, robert bennettn denver bore he became u.s. senator, they both have be achieving remaable things under e radar, quietly and without all the furoand without all the alienaon, so michelle rhehas paid a price for what she hasccomplished. >> ifill: it seems like, asi
from h personal price there is always a tradeoff in these ings. chter schools some say weaken otheschools, some say teachers y the idea of nking performance to tenure doest encouragteachers to stay and ow. these debates arstill going on. >> reporter: these dates are going . for a journalist, it's a fascating story. as a nional policy issue it's important, we need stronpublic schools and she's one of t people trying figure out if we will get ere. she may wion the big issues but on the other hand shhas made an awl lot of enemies and ople waiting for her to fall so if she fall she will fall rd. >> ifill: john merw, thanks for all your good rk. >> reporter: thank you, gw. >> brown: the major velopments of the day. a man allegey tried and failed to set o a homemade bomb on a deltairlines flight as it landed in detroit. news accounts name h as a gerian who claimed a link to al qaeda.
white house officialcalled it an attemptedct of terror and said t president was monitoring the syste millions arounthe world celebrate -- mlions around the world lebrated christmas as blizzards disrted travel in the u.s. harsvene in our neroom previe. >> othe rundown there is more from john rrow and what the plight of c. schools can shape the nation. you can also find a link to watch e full series on schools in both c. and new orleans. also, check ouour roundup of all our rent coverage on the health care debate boton air and onli. you ll find reports on what the new legislation may an for you, the politic road ahead and at policy makers can learn from innovative mode in local communities arnd the nation. all that a more is on our website, newshour.pbsrg. >> brown: that's the newour for tonight. i'm jeffrey brn. >>arner: i'm margaret warner.
we'll see you here and onlin have a ne christmas weekend. thank you and goodnight. majofunding for the pbs newshour iprovided by: >> what the worlneeds now is energy. the energy to get e economy hummg again. the ener to tackle challenges like climate change. what is that energy ca from an energy company? everyday, chron invests $62 million in people,n ideas-- seeking, tching, building. fueling growthround the world to move all ahead. thiss the power of human energy. chron.
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