tv PBS News Hour PBS February 10, 2011 7:00pm-8:00pm EST
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> lehrer: good evening. i'm jim lehrer. egyptian president mubarak relinquished some of his powers today, but he did not step down as president. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. on the "newshour" tonight, protesters in cairo's central square were enraged after muburak spoke. we get the latest on this dramatic day 17 of the uprising from margaret warner in cairo. >> people were pretty quiet and then suddenly you could see the deflation and then the anger. >> lehrer: we have two egypt analysts to explain what mubarak's speech means. >> brown: and we discuss the situation with former presidential national security advisors zbigniew brzezinski and stephen hadley. >> lehrer: then, republican darrell issa and democrat
elijah cummings debate the push to ease government regulation of business. >> we're going to have to do more with the president to really find ways to reduce the size of the burden of government to get people working again. >> i want jobs very badly, but i also want when people go to work, i want to know that they're going to come home because they're working in a safe environment. >> lehrer: that's all ahead on tonight's "newshour." major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> you can't manufacture pride, but pride builds great cars. and you'll find in the people at toyota, all across america. >> okay, listen. somebody has got to get serious. >> i think... >> we need renewable energy. >> ...renewable energy is vital
to our planet. >> you hear about alternatives, right? wind, solar, algae. >> i think it's going to work an a big scale. only, i think it's going to be affordable. >> so, where are they? >> it has to work in the real world. at chevron, we're investing millions in solar and biofuel technology to make it work. >> we've got to get on this now. >> right now. and with the ongoing support of and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
>> brown: it was a day of high drama in egypt. reports began early that president hosni mubarak would step down immediately. but in the end, the protesters who've made that their central demand, were disappointed. the egyptian leader appeared on state television, shortly before 11:00 p.m. local time. he insisted again he would remain in office until elections this september, but said he'd hand over some of his authority now. >> ( translated ): i thought to transfer the powers of the president to the vice president, according to the constitution, i am very well aware that egypt will come through this crisis, the will of its people will not be broken, it will stand again >> brown: mubarak said it had pained him to be condemned by many of his own people. and he vowed to make things right, including lifting emergency laws, when the time is right.
>> ( translated ): any political system can commit mistakes and any state can make mistakes. what is most important is to acknowledge mistakes and put them right and put them behind you. i would like to tell you that as president of my country, i am not embarrassed to listen to youth and to respond to them. earlier, state television showed the president meeting with newly appointed vice president omar suleiman, the man who will assume the reins of power. i would like to ask everybody to contribute towards this goal. the young people of egypt and it heroes, go back home. go back to work.
>> brown: thousands of people had waited all day in central cairo amid reports mubarak would resign. when it became clear he would not, they began to syria and chant "get out, get out." hours before mubarak spoke, the military announced it would take measures to "safeguard the nation." and the defense minister was shown sharing the supreme military council without president mubarak or vice president suleiman attending moreover, the general commanding the cairo area appeared before protesters and told them, "all your demands will be met today." it was all being closely watched by u.s. officials, from president obama on down. he spoke in marquette, michigan, before the mubarak announcement. >> but what is absolutely clear is that we are witnessing history unfold. it's a moment of transformation that's taking place because people of egypt are calling for change.
they've turned out in extraordinary numbers representing all ages and all walks of life but it's young america will continue to do all we can to support orderly and genuine transition to democracy in egypt. >> brown: the drama involving mubarak's future came as labor strikes spread around the country threatening egypt's economy from postal and electrical workers to professional groups. for the first time, doctors in their white lab coats and lawyers in business suits mixed with the mass of protesters today in cairo's tahrir square. >> ( translated ): we are here to express our solidarity with the youth and with the revolution of change. we ask hosni mubarak that if he loves egypt, he should leave and avoid the bloodshed of the youth. >> brown: protesters also fanned out to other parts of cairo targeting government buildings; the prime minister's office; the parliament and even the ministry of health.
and the movement for change remained strong across egypt from alexandria. to port said, near the suez canal, where crowds set fires. back in cairo, young organizers vowed to bring enormous new crowds into the city tomorrow. and, they said they would march on the state radio and television headquarters. margaret warner is in cairo. i spoke to her a short time ago. margaret, what's been the immediate reaction to president mubarak's speech? >> warner: jeff, we got to the square, it was our second visit today, i'd say maybe a half hour before he spoke, and it was really an air of jubilation and hundreds of thousands, maybe a million people in the square, big t.v. screens set up. when he started to speak at first people couldn't hear him but then they crowded around and people were pretty quiet and then suddenly you could see the deflation and then the anger. and at one point when he said something about giving some
power to suleiman and that was it and hen he blew right by it and started saying "i was a youngster, too" this crowd started chanting "leave, leave, leave, leave." and it started mocking him. and it was just... it was just an incredible turnaround. i turn to this young man who's a systems engineer who had been watching with us and i said "what did you think?" he said "oh, my god, i am spending the night here and tomorrow, tomorrow we go for it." and what he means is this call for tomorrow for 20 million people march. then we were trying to get back here on a building right on the nile and the crowds were actually a lot of people didn't leave the square but there were some crowds leaving and one whole group going next to us was chanting "tomorrow afternoon we go to the president's palace, we bring it down." and there was another group heading for the state television building which is just about a block this way and i can hear them chanting outside these windows.
so it is really almost amazing that the government built up all this anticipation and at least to the crowd in the square tonight did not meet it. >> brown: margaret, speaking of that anticipation, what happened today behind the scenes? what have you been able to find out? >> it's interesting because all day long-- we got to the square about 11:00 in the morning and even before we got there just working the phones there was a sense something had to give, something had to happen. and it was really a concern about what would happen tomorrow if 20 million people turned out. amongst some of the organizers and people on the square-- and this was not all of them, some of them said to us... one young man said to me, a student at cairo university, "we're not going to just sit here like dummies forever. if they don't do something soon, we're going to have to ratchet up the pressure." and i know that talking to senior people in the government yesterday and today as well as senior opposition leaders, there was just a sense that these people don't want to just inhabit this square ad nauseam. that they were going to put on
more pressure if the government didn't do something. so we were told when we left the square at 3:30, "don't leave, there's going to be a big announcement." now, rumors fly, but then the government made the expectation even worse by giving out all these contradictory statements and i was talking to certain people who said "no, no, he's not stepping down. you have the new head of the party, the n.d.p. say "i think he should step down." the old days the way egypt was run if the head of the party said that you could take it to the bank. so it just showed also this kind of total confusion in the ruling elite. and the final reason i would say that, as was explained to me, the revolution has moved outside tahrir square. it's one,-- i'm sure you've already reported this, that you've had labor strikes and demonstrations in other cities. but also in these companies and in what's called syndicates, which are sort of like unions, if you're a journalist, a doctor, a dentist or a lawyer you have to belong this to thing
and there are always party guys who run them. and apparently today at the press since cat there was a revolt internally and they wouldn't even let the head of it come into the building and then tom fried man, our "new york times" colleague, was at a press conference at the journalists club and he said it was almost as if the head of the syndicate there was hiding under his desk. and there were similar movements, i talked to some young doctors today. so there was a sense among people even in the government that they had to do something or there was going to be just kind of a revolt from within. it wasn't just going to be the kids if the square. >> brown: given the results of this speech tonight-- and you referred to tomorrow, the potential for more demonstrations-- what can you tell about what happens next? and is there a real fear of renewed violence now? >> well, i have to say there is. and, again, jeff, i mean, i can't predict anything, but based on talking to people in the square today and then this
sense, one young man in the square after mubarak's speech said "he's just making a fool of us." there's a sense of they're being deeply disrespected even though he actually had... the first words he's ever said about expressing deep remorse for the killings of some of these young people, that he really was going to get to the bottom of it. i think at one point he said "it woke the whole country up" or at least that's the translation i was getting contemporaneously. so, again, he did things that the crowds have been calling for days earlier but they have gotten past the point of hearing him. so here's the big danger. the army has been-- as far as the demonstrators are concerned-- superb. they are all around the square, you've seen pictures a million times. people are sleeping under it. the army is incredibly friendly to the protestors. but they do have a job to do and part of their job is to protect certain secure installations. i mean, the presidential palace and state television being two
of them, but particularly the presidential palace. if these demonstrators decide to go after the real symbols of egyptian power and authority like that, the betting here is that the army will have no choice but to respond. and then, you know, who can predict? but it could be chaotic. >> brown: all right. margaret warner in cairo. thanks so much. >> warner: thanks, jeff. >> brown: more now, from two people who've helped us analyze all this these past two weeks: samer shehata, assistant professor of arab politics, at georgetown university and mary jane deeb chief of the african and middle east division at the library of congress. the views she expresses here are her own. samer shehata, this was not the speech that most people were expecting, what did you hear? what jumped out at you? >> well, there wasn't that much to the speech. this is the third time hosni mubarak has spoken. this is the third time the egyptians have expected him to resign or leave and the third time egyptians have been disappointed, in fact, shocked, outraged as margaret mention.
ed so the details weren't important. he talked about this supposed quote/unquote dialogue with a group of opposition, quite broad and so on, he talked about youth and constitutional amendments, specific constitutional amendments having to do with restrictions on presidential candidacy and judicial supervision of elections but really none of that mattered because that's not what this is about. i mean, for several weeks now millions of egyptians have been calling for the president to resign and they didn't get that and i think things are going to escalate, as margaret mentioned. >> brown: mary jane deeb, does it mean he thinks he has... does he have the backing of the military of power elites? >> absolutely. there is no way that he could stay in power if he didn't have the backing of the top brass, the supreme council. and i think one of the issues that led to this belief that he was going to resign was the communique that was issued by the supreme council of the armed force which is basically said
that the people's demands would be met. this was a misunderstanding and that led people to believe that the president was going to resign, because that was the primary demand of the people. in reality, they were saying that we were going to respond to some of the demands for more democracy, more openness, etc. so it's a very dangerous situation because there you have the top brass of the army backing the president, supporting, and yet issuing a communique a bit earlier in the day that has led to very high expectations and then crash, the whole thing collapses. >> brown: now, the main news of this speech that this shifting of power to the vice president, what exactly does that mean? do we know? >> well, no, and even that was very vague. he simply said he was going to transfer some of the presidential powers to the vice president. we can surmise from what's happened over the last three
days and mr. suleiman's appearance on egyptian state television, for example, leading the so called quote/unquote national dialogue and so on. or meeting with youth. or addressing the nation. that those are some of the powers or responsibilities that omar suleiman is taking. but there was no specifics as to what he was going to be charged with or what powers mr. mubarak was going to give to the... to general suleiman, the newly appointed vice president. >> brown: and what do you make of mr. suleiman now, given the speech by the president and then by the vice president? >> the vice president and the president are out of touch. >> brown: out of touch? >> out of touch. >> brown: together but out of touch? >> together but out of touch. and the president is simply moving, shifting, some of his responsibility to the vice president so that instead of the crowds focusing on the president they now have two people to focus on and he can sort of move back behind in the shadow and leave suleiman to face the music.
>> brown: but there was some sense that he might be-- suleiman, that is-- the kind of transition figure. but you're saying not anymore? >> he's done. he's finished. basically suleiman always wanted to become president. he was the major contender for presidency with mubarak. and now in a way he has burned his boats in terms of any expectation that there would be support for him among egyptians. >> brown: samier, there were references in this speak to constitutional amendments and an emergency law. hard for an american audience to know all of those. what is he referring to? what kind of changes is he talking about? >> well, he mentioned article 76 which restricts quite narrowly who can run in presidential elections. that's why mohammed elbaradei, the former head of the international atomic energy agency, is not permitted because the restrictions are tailor made so only members of the ruling party can run. or article 77, which doesn't provide term limits which is has allowed president mubarak to rule for 29 years. or article 88, which essentially
doesn't allow any kind of supervision of the elections by the judiciary or outside bodies. so he mentioned these articles. these long-standing demands that could have been implemented decades ago that egyptians have been calling for, but the regime has lost all credibility and mr. suleiman is certainly part of the regime and transferring powers to him or him becoming an interim leader, i think that would not be acceptable as this stage for the vast majority of egyptians. >> brown: the language, the use of the word account chaos" and the fear of chaos and stability, you heard the again tonight. what does that tell you about what happened today behind the scenes, the power elites. that's the strategy they've decided to come with here? >> they've always spoken this way. law and order, you have to go back home, we have to have a peaceful transition. but, you know, it is avoiding the major issue which is he needs to resign and a new... new
elections have to be held. and so by speaking about law and order and stability, they're really evading the issue. but also the danger is that they're preparing the way for a greater military intervention in the situation. because by emphasizing... >> brown: they're signaling that, do you think? >> it's dangerous. >> brown: do you feel that? >> well, mr. suleiman hinted at that yesterday when he fed is things get out of hand if the people don't go back home the military could get involved. with regard to the question of chaos and anarchy, though, however, we have to remember it's a manufactured chaos. the regime is responsible for unleashing the thugs, for having the camels stampede into the protestors, for what we think is releasing the prisoners and so on. and this is the false choice that mr. mubarak has presented to egyptians and the world. it's either chaos and anarchy or me. and, of course, that's, i think, the problem is mr. mubarak and the regime. >> brown: there was another line that jumped out for me from president mubarak with where he referred briefly to foreign
dictations. >> absolutely. he was implying the united states. and, in fact, that might be good. because baby implying that the united states is putting pressure on him to resign, that would make the egyptian public very much in favor... very positive towards the united states. >> brown: do you sense that, too? >> yes. in the past, of course, that kind of a discourse would have affected the egyptian population, right? we don't want foreign meddling and so on. but i think no one believes that anymore. this is well beyond... this is not ant the united states. it's about egyptian domestic politics. >> couric: and finally the vice president said go home, go back to work, you heard what margaret said. that sounds unlikely, doesn't it? >> not only that, but it is patronizing. "you're little children, now go to bed, we are going to be dealing with the problems of egypt. you really don't know what you're talking about. we know better than you." >> brown: and just on the
wire, mohammed elbaradei he said "egypt will explode, the army must save the country now." >> that's very correct. not only have we seen this talk about moving... marching to the presidential palace, but protestors tried to really storm the parliament yesterday and as margaret mentioned, the radio and television building is there and i think the protestors are thinking about new and creative ways of moving around the city enmass as opposed to simply revaining themselves in tahrir square. so this is going to escalate only. >> and by escalating it will lead to violence and interference of the army. and so it may be a calculated risk by provoking people to violence and then using the army to quell the violence. >> brown: mary jane deeb, samer shehata, thank you both very much. >> lehrer: some perspective on today's events from two former presidential national security advisors: stephen hadley held that position for president george w. bush. he now has his own consulting firm.
zbigniew brzezinski served president carter in the same national security post. he's now counselor at the center for strategic and international studies. both of you gentlemen know president mubarak, have dealt with him. as this was approaching even to this day, dr. brzezinski, did you ever believe that president mubarak would actually voluntarily stand aside? >> no, of course not. i mean, he has a sense of his own mission, his own worth, his responsibility. this doesn't mean that the course he has chosen is right, but to expect him to resign in part under domestic pressure, in part under pressure from the outside is, i think, a misreading of his personality and his history. >> lehrer: his personality being what? what is it about his personality that would keep him from doing this in this situation that has now been dramatized these last several days?
>> look, he was a fighter pilot. he's from the military. egyptians have a sense of their own pride. they even have special pride for the war of 1973 in which he participated. that's not the kind of background which inclines you to quit when the going gets rough. and especially you're told to quit from the outside. >> lehrer: how do you read that, steve hadley? did you think that, hey, waim, mubarak might actually go? >> i thought there was a possibility that he would confer his powers to vice president suleiman. the problem he's got is that if he were to actually resign as president under the constitution, the leader of the parliament would take over and within 60 day there is would have to be presidential elections. and that's really inconsistent with what our president has been saying which we want an orderly and genuine transition. so there is a problem that
dr. brzezinski described about who this man is. there's also-- if you want a transition-- a problem for him stepping down. but i did expect that he would more dramatically convey powers to omar suleiman. and the problem was, if you read the speech, there's a lot of sympathetic words for the people in the streets. there is a reform agenda, but it's about ten days too late and rather than making expectations low and then exceeding the expectations to get ahead of the crisis, they did just the opposite: expectations got way inflated and what they delivered was much less. so rather than being ahead of this crisis, they're now again behind. and their options as to how they go forward are consider brie narrowed. >> lehrer: what about the suggestion now that this thing was kind of a setup in a way? in other words, you... the military must act if the protestors take another step and it leads to violence, go after
the palace, go after the radio, t.v. thing, and that... then the military reacts and everything would be justified, et cetera. >> well, i have no idea if it was a setup. but i do feel that we're getting to a point in which the options could become quite ominous because obviously tensions are rising, the situation is fluid, e showdown, there could be the use of fire, lots of casualties, polarization, violence. and then the outcomes become equally unpalatable in which ever direction they go. either the army takes over eventually, crushes the opposition and we end up we jipt a little bit like the pinochet dictatorship in chile, for example. or, the army crumbles, disintegrates and we end up with something somewhat approximating iran; namely, the muslim
brotherhood from behind the scenes gains higher in significance and egypt veers in that direction. so the name of the game, many any judgment, is to the extent that we have any influence-- and we have to be very careful not to exaggerate it-- is to try to promote, add vance a political process which transform this is amorphous rising of the young people, the protestors and others, into a real participation in a political process which means leaders become evident, programs begin to be articulated and eventually the existing government, whoever is running it, and they sit down and define the rules of the game for a transition of power by actions. that is exactly what happened in poland in 1989. the communist government, realizing that it can not crush solidarity, was prepared to
talk. solidarity was willing to sit down and then you had in effect a round table in which the opposition-- led by trade union leader walesa, assisted by intellectuals with the church participating and the right wing and the left wing of the communist party together, eventually arranging for elections. that cannot happen in egypt overnight because you're dealing with an amore to phos protest which isn't yet crystal sizes into some sort of programs and leaderships and that's what we have to promote as much as we can from the outside but quietly and not by imperative commands publicly. >> lehrer: can that be done? can the u.s. promote that effectively. >> i think we can. it's something our president has talked about. it's... if you look at it, it's what a lot of responsible leaders in egypt are calling for: a transition time. you know, the options now are either the government party or the muslim... which is the only really powerful party and the
clandestine, if you will, muslim brotherhood because hosni mubarak has really prevented the arising of non-islamist middle parties. they need time for those parties to organize and to e smoarnlg that when elections are held, the egyptian people have real choices. if they have real choices, i think they will accept and choose a government that is not islamist government, but to have that transition you need some time. the box they're in was that if president mubarak had conveyed power to omar suleiman and it had taken with the people in the street, had been accepted as a way forward, they would have bought time. but they're running out of time under the constitution with the demand now that mubarak leave. because if he leaves, then under the constitution, elections come in 60 days. that's the challenge for them, to get a way to buy the time for the kind of process that dr. brzezinski talked about.
>> lehrer: when you were an official of the u.s. government and before that and since that time, did there come a time when you believed that something like this could happen in egypt or that this was inevitable if mubarak and the people who run the country didn't get their act together? >> you know, we've known for a long time that authoritarian regimes look on their surface stable but aren't over the long term. and in the end of the day, stable regimes are built on democratic freedom for the population. you look at it this way. the kindling for this kind of uprising was laid because of the policies of the mubarak regime. the authoritarianism, the destroying of any political center. so it was either the government party or the muslim brotherhood. that put on the kindling. nobody knew what the spark would be that would cause the
uprising. but the spark has now come and the uprising is in evident. the egyptian people are trying to win their own freedom. that's the only way you get freedom, you have to win it yourselves. and what we need to do with our policy is to encourage a process so that the end state is real freedom, not either an army crackdown or a muslim brotherhood takeover. >> lehrer: did you see the possibility of a spark coming, dr. brzezinski? >> i think steve said it correctly. in these regimes, you never see the spark until the spark occurs. >> lehrer: (laughs) too late. >> exactly. and that's the problem. that's exactly the problem. however we have to recognize the fact that the egyptian people don't have yet the a variety of political voices to whom to listen and whom to follow. that has now to be encouraged. i wish, for example, the republican institute, the democratic institute, the national endowment for democracy, the human rights
groups, would be engaged as soon as possible in promoting in effect the civic organization of the egyptian people. but the great uncertainty in all of this is that there could be a collision, a spark, something sets things off, there's gunfire, lots people get killed and the whole thing erupts. and i have no way of predicting that. i'm also perplexed, somewhat, by the reporting we're getting. because what strikes me about the reporting is that it's totally concentrating on one square in a large city of 15 million people. one square. that's all we've seen. we have seen it now for ten days. but what about the rest of the country? even what about the rest of chai slow in what's happening there? i wish our correspondents would talk to some of the other people because we don't really know what's going on. we have essentially a focus on a narrow highly congested combustible situation. but we don't have a sense of what have is really happening elsewhere in the country. in some places it could be
worse. for example, people have talked about alexandria erupting. but in many parts of the country, maybe even in cairo, it's much less volatile. so we don't really have a good grasp visually and therefore intellectually of what is really happening. >> lehrer: do you share that concern? >> yes. i think, though, tomorrow will be an interesting test, as margaret warner suggested. given the reaction in the square and perhaps more broadly to the speech today, it will be interesting to see how many people come out and where they come out tomorrow. i think that will tell us something about the strength of this movement. and then the question will be how will the government respond. >> and the army. particularly the army. you have to watch the army, because that's the only national organization in egypt today that's really viable, that is an organization. there is other things on the square, there is the passive masses, but only one organized
institution. if there's there's a collision, all bets are off. if there isn't, then probably the move mubarak has propose willed become reality maybe in a slightly faster fashion. >> lehrer: let me pick up on dr. brzezinski. margaret has done a report outside on the newshour and there is a concern about people who are not in the square who want to go back to work. they've got their shops open but there's nobody there to buy anything. they were... they had a... we had a piece on that the other... and that's the... is that the majority or do you think the majority is ready for... we don't know, do we? >> we don't know. >> lehrer: ready for thing to go to blows, if it needs be. >> well, the majority at this point i think is watching. but my expectation is they are spell bound by what is going on and you see that in the deference that even president mubarak gave to what is happening in the role of the young people in his speech.
the military, i think, is the institution to watch. i think they do not want to crackdown, they do not want to take over control in the country. they've actually played this very well. they were not involved in the initial crackdown, that was done by the central security forces. they are now viewed as on the side of the people. they have talked about protecting the country but also supporting the legitimate demands of the egyptian people. so for the moment, the army is heroes. they are going to be loathe to give that up. and i think we do need to watch this army, but i think the army is pulling for a resolution well short of putting them charge. >> lehrer: well, we're see what we're talking about 24 hours from now. >> or later. >> lehrer: thank you both. >> thank you. >> brown: still to come on the "newshour": representatives issa and cummings on easing government regulation. but first, the other news of the day. here's kwame holman. >> holman: some 3,000 iraqis
demonstrated in baghdad today, demanding an end to corruption in the courts, and abuse of prisoners. they were led by lawyers, in one of the biggest protests in iraq, since the uprisings in egypt and tunisia. smaller rallies also were held in basra and mosul. in pakistan, a suicide bomber attacked soldiers at an army training camp, killing 31 troops. it happened in mardan in the northwest, during morning exercises. in addition to the dead, more than 40 soldiers were wounded. the attack was one of the worst aimed at security forces in recent months. the governments of india and pakistan will resume peace talks for the first time since the 2008 attacks in mumbai, india. negotiations were put on hold after pakistani-based militants killed 166 people there. a statement today said the new talks will discuss terrorism and the disputed kashmir region, among other issues. there was no immediate word on when the sessions will begin. the number two republican in the
u.s. senate is retiring. arizona's jon kyl announced today he won't seek re-election in 2012. his departure, after three terms, leaves republicans with a second open seat to defend, as they try to take back control of the senate. still, kyl said it's time to give the job to someone else. >> there are people who say there are so many unmet challenges. that will always be the case. i guarantee you and other people say you could win reelection and i think i could but i think it is better to leave when people have a fairly good attitude like you, hounded out of office like some of my colleagues are experiencing. >> holman: also today, house speaker john boehner said he approved of congressman christopher lee's decision to resign on tuesday. the new york republican quit after reports he sent a photo of himself shirtless to a woman he met online.
the married congressman told the woman he was a divorced lobbyist. in a statement, lee said he regretted any harm to his family, staff or constituents. in economic news, first-time jobless claims fell last week to the lowest level in nearly three years. and wall street had a mixed day. the dow jones industrial average lost more than 10 points to close at 12,229. the nasdaq rose a point to close at 2,790. parts of arkansas and oklahoma shivered in rare, sub-zero cold today, after a winter storm dumped two feet of snow. the storm hit wednesday as the region still was trying to recover from last week's blizzard. in little rock, snow backed up traffic for miles on interstate 40 and three people died in accidents. farmers and ranchers also labored around-the-clock to protect livestock from freezing to death. newborn calves and poultry were especially at risk. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to jeff.
>> brown: the republican majority in the house of representatives stepped up its push today to free businesses from what they see as burdensome government regulation. judy woodruff has our story. >> woodruff: from workplace safety to environmental cleanup to financial oversight business leaders have long complained that government regulations are costly and often threaten jobs. republicans are sympathetic to the complaints, and now that the g.o.p. controls the house of representatives, they're targeting regulations, as at today's hearing of the house oversight and government reform committee. >> regulation is strangling private sector, and so we have to be very careful when we regulate that something that we don't put ourselves in non- competitive situation while at the same time being concerned about people who are in the work force. >> woodruff: democrats pushed back and suggested the benefits
of certain regulations were missing from the debate. >> these regulations affect real people and has a real significant benefit in protecting consumers and people in our society, that cannot be measured by merely a cost profit side or tally sheet. it is there to protect people and it should be part of the discussion. >> woodruff: the only witnesses invited were critical of regulations: industry representatives and small business owners. >> even for our member companies who are investing an expanding regulatory uncertainty and costs discourage the addition of new employees. so, as a small business owner, you not only continue to look at the uncertainty of the economy, you're also looking at new regulation and costs that will permeate your entire business. >> woodruff: the committee's new chairman, california republican darrell issa-- himself the owner of an electronics manufacturing company-- has been soliciting
industry comments on regulations. last year, he sent a letter to companies and trade groups seeking input. he received more than 200 responses, among them complaints about the environmental protection agency's pollution control efforts; the occupational safety and health administration's workplace safety rules and the u.s. department of agriculture's food safety regulations. the claim that government rules hinder growth and job creation has taken center stage for both parties, with an eye on next year's election since getting companies hiring is key to boost the still-lagging economy. it was topic a for republican leaders at a white house lunch yesterday. >> clearly, our number-one issue is getting the economy going again and getting people back to work. and we believe that in order for that to happen, that we need to cut spending, we need to stop unnecessary regulation that's
hampering small business's ability to hire people. >> woodruff: for his part, on monday, president obama, in an effort to neutralize the issue, told the chamber of commerce he would work to remove unnecessary restrictions. >> i've ordered a government- wide review. and if there are rules on the books that are needlessly stifling job creation and economic growth, we will fix them. >> woodruff: on capitol hill, the house could vote this week to direct oversight committees to compile a list of rules that they deem obstacles to job growth. now, two different views, from the top republican and democratic members of the committee at the center of today's action. first, to republican congressman darrell issa of california. he chairs the house oversight and government reform committee. welcome, congressman issa. you have said that your goal is not to do away with regulations. if not, what is the goal? >> the goal is to find out of
the tremendous growth in regulations and regulatory actions whether some of these actions have changed slightly, modified, enhanced, combined or even streamlined just to be a little quicker could cause american companies to be able to create more jobs. we often hear about the time it takes to get f.d.a. approval versus the europeans. these kinds of areas-- including e.p.a. and some of the obvious ones-- were what we've begun a dialogue with job creators on to see if, in fact, we can be part of the solution to their job creation. >> warner: you mentioned the e.p.a. and, in fact, it seems that more than half of the comments that come in from business do have to do with environmental regulations. do you believe that the environment simply is going to have to take a backseat while the economy struggles to get back on its feet? >> oh, not at all. let's remember that, in fact, most of what they were complaining about are new standards, additional items that may not be ready for prime time.
one example was this boiler mact where there's a new standard that even the e.p.a. has said is flawed. they asked the courts to give them a delay and yet the courts were saying nope, you've made a standard, implement it, even if, in fact, it's not viable. so there are some things that happen. they don't happen often, but those things are the ones we want to review and, quite frankly, we're in harmony with the president who's asking for this review and is broadly looking for a way to get the private sector firing again through whatever means and including regulatory alignment that might be necessary. >> warner: you mentioned the president. is that a significant step he's take do you think, in your direction? >> i think the direction of the american people. we don't view it as us versus him. if he sees as we do that these should be looked at, streamlined, see if we can't find a way to-- as the president said-- make things shovel ready, something he discovered was a lot harder to do when he got into trying to stimulate the
economy, that's good for everyone and particularly for employers who will make investments with some of the dollars sitting on the sidelines if the right symbols are coming from government and the right partnership with government. >> woodruff: now, chairman, issa, the representative democrat on your committee, elijah cummings-- and we'll talk to him in a moment-- he says you've only asked businesses to give information about regulations... about the cost of regulations and nothing about the benefit and that you only invited witnesses today who were essentially critical of regulation. is that a fair comment? >> well, i think it may be a little myopic. the offer we made at american americanjobcreators.com was for anyone to make their comments. we didn't limit who got on our web site and did it. the letters we sent out were to some of the representatives of the largest companies and employers including small business, f.i.b. and others like
that. but understand, the business round table and others that weighed in, these are the same groups the president reached out to with substantially the same question. so my ranking member may not understand that when i asked the same question as the president, it's for the same reason. >> woodruff: so, in other words, there weren't people out there with views who were left out? >> well, not at all. the minority chose a witness, mr. shapiro spoke on behalf of his views which were in a nutshell-- and he reiterated hem-- that he sees no reason to have a cost versus benefit analysis, he thinks it's futile. meaning that no matter how much it costs, go ahead and do regulations. i would theme instead of the progressive witness that they had that they would have sensible groups that see an advantage to environmental progress while at the same time getting business progress. that win-win that we often look for but don't find in government but we find in the the private sector whenever possible. >> woodruff: it's mr. cummings view-- as i understand its that much of the current economic
crisis is the result of inadequate regulation in the financial industry. do you share that view? >> well, i think two years after a financial meltdown, after trillions of dollars being put back in the economy, when we have corporate leaders who have over a trillion dollars sitting overseas in cash that won't bring it back because they don't have a place to invest it and don't want to pay the additional taxes, when we see lines of credit and capability particularly for our larger companies not being utilized we should start looking beyond a financial crisis that was, in fact, two years ago and is largely behind us. i think this important thing is when you see global profits-- and mr. cummings said this in the hearing and they were exponential in their growth and then you find out 80% of those profit increases came from foreign operations you realize america's beginning to be left behind in job creation and that's what today's hearing was about. we look forward to hearing from all parties on this issue.
we're certainly not making conclusions. we're just asking questions. >> woodruff: we're just asking the question about some of the difficulties republican leadership? the house are having with tea party backed members who want deeper cuts. these freshmen members who are backed by the tea party, are they the driving force among house republicans? >> i certainly think when many of my members-- including these new members-- are asking us to do better, we got to a hub billion in sensible cuts on an annualized basis, they say they want the cuts in seven months and we're working together to find them. that's the tip of the iceberg. we have a $1.5 trillion deficit so we're only talking about one fifteenth of the deficit being carved away. we have to do more with the president to find ways to reduce the size of the burden of government to get people working again and part of it is if we can get job creation we'll begin
increasing the revenues to the government because people get back to work, don't need the aid and are paying more taxes. that's the win-win that today's hearing was about. >> woodruff: representative darrell issa chairman of the oversight committee, thank you very much. >> you're welcome. >> woodruff: now to representative elijah cummings of maryland, the ranking democrat on the committee on house oversight and government reform. congressman cummings thank you so much for being with us. i don't know if you were able to hear but your committee chairman, representative darrell issa said it's not that he wants to do away with all regulations but just those that are interfering with job creation. >> yeah, i did hear him and i think that... well, based on the hearing that we had today the seven witnesses that were brought by the majority basically they all talked about... they didn't talk a lot about the benefits of regulations and the importance of it, they talked about how
they wanted to get rid of them. and really we did not have a lot of facts. no statistics. they basically said this is what we want to get rid of. period. and in fact i asked chairman issa about that and he said that most of the comments that were solicited back were critical. well, the letters specifically went out. he sent the letter out to about 160 corporations and he basically asked them to tell us-- tell him-- what were the quote job-killing regulations that would that they would like to see repealed. and so when you ask in that way, that's exactly what you're going to get. you know, the sierra club was not solicited. organizations that have fought for these regulations trying to protect the american public they were not solicited in these
letters so what we have said all the time is that we wanted to take a comprehensive look at these regulations. basically what the president has said he wants to do through his executive order. to look at these regulations. if they're outdated, if they are... if they make no sense anymore if they are too onerous, we want to take a close look at them. but on the other hand, we also want to keep in mind that when we were sworn in we sore that as members of congress to protect the american people. so i think our first first... our first objective is to make sure americans are protected and at the same time we want to create jobs. >> woodruff: fully half of the comments that have come back evidently, at least half, have to do with the environment. do you acknowledge that perhaps there's been some overzealous regulation when it comes to the
environment? >> i think there have been some instances where they may have been... maybe the government may have gone a bit too far. but you can not make that determination unless you have a comprehensive look at these regulations. keep in mind, there is a process by which the public and business have an opportunity to comment on regulations before they come out. in other words, to criticize them. and you know who usually is in that process and involved in that process? business. usually the public does not have the money nor do they have the lobbying power to get to the... those promulgating the regulations to even put their facts forward. and so we here in a situation where these things have been vetted, they've gone through a process, and maybe industry didn't like them and so now they get a second or third bite at the apple. >> woodruff: well, i mean, just quoting, there was one person who testified today, i
guess he's the head of a company in wisconsin, who testified it took his staff he said three hours and $2,500 per form to comply with health care regulations. >> well, he was talking about the 1099 and that's one that i venture to guess the entire congress and senate will agree we need to take out. but, again, in the process of creating the health care law, those provisions were put in there to try to make sure that the health care bill was properly paid for. so now we are going to more than likely take it out but now we've got to find the money to... that would have come from that 1099 provision to make up for it. so, you know, in creating legislation, you're going to run into some of those kinds of problems also, but that's one that, again, we looked at and said maybe there's something here, we need to take a look at it, the president agrees, the
senate and the congress agrees and i think that one is going to be one that disappears. i want you to understand, i'm not saying there are not regulations that we need to repeal. i'm sure there are. but all i'm saying is that we have to make sure that we do this thing in a very comprehensive way. and we need to not only look at the cost, but we've got to see the benefit. and i don't know how you put a value on life such as you talk about e.p.a. and those types of regulations that go to the life, health, and safety. another issue that came up over and over again are osha regulations. as i said today, people want jobs. in my district 20% in some instances are the people in various areas that don't have jobs. i want jobs very badly. but i also want when people go to work, i want to know that they're going to come home because they're working in a safe environment. and i want them to come home safely and not in a coffin.
>> woodruff: all right. on that note we will leave it. representative elijah cummings, we thank you very much for talking with us. >> thank you. it's always a pleasure. >> lehrer: again, the major developments of the day: egyptian president mubarak announced he's turning over powers to his vice president. it angered thousands of protesters in cairo. shortly after mubarak spoke, vice president suleiman called for the protesters to go home and work for egypt's future. and a suicide bomber in pakistan killed 31 soldiers and wounded more than 40 at an army training camp. and to kwame holman for what's on the "newshour" online. kwame? >> holman: we are updating our news blog on egypt with the latest developments. our foreign beat also looks at progress and nostalgia in singapore, as the city state plus, patchwork nation examines census data from new orleans, which shows new post-katrina demographics. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. jeff? >> brown: and that's the "newshour" for tonight. i'm jeffrey brown. we'll see you online and again
here tomorrow evening with mark shields and david brooks, among others. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: country. >> oil companies have changed my country. >> oil companies can make a difference. >> we have the chance to build the economy. >> create jobs, keep people healthy and improve schools. >> ... and our communities. >> in angola chevron helps train engineers, teachers and farmers; launch child's programs. >> it's not just good business. >> i'm hopeful about my country's future. >> it's my country's future. >> you can't manufacture pride, but pride builds great cars. and you'll find in the people at toyota, all across america.
and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... 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 macneil/lehrer productions captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org vo:geico, committed to providing service to