tv PBS News Hour PBS February 18, 2011 7:00pm-8:00pm EST
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> lehrer: good evening. i'm jim lehrer. democratic legislators remained on the run today, preventing a vote against bargaining rights for state employees in wisconsin. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, we debate the push in wisconsin, and potentially other states, to cut public worker benefits in the face of looming budget deficits. >> lehrer: we get the latest on the violent crackdown on protesters in bahrain, and the growing unrest in other arab and north african nations. >> woodruff: then, spencer michels looks at how west coast business leaders view the president's push for investment in technology. >> remember the game here in silicon valley is innovation. and that's what brought
president obama to these parts. >> lehrer: and kwame holman details the tug-of-war in congress today over spending cuts. >> woodruff: plus, mark shields and david brooks provide their weekly analysis. >> lehrer: that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> 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 got to work an a big scale. i think it's got 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.
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>> woodruff: in wisconsin, thousands of public workers and their supporters protested for a fourth day at the statehouse in a battle over benefits and union bargaining rights, a fight that is spreading to other states. >> workers' rights! workers' rights! >> woodruff: teachers, firefighters and other public employees in wisconsin turned out by the thousands again to express their anger over republican governor scott walker and his plan to cut the state's budget deficit by curbing their pay and their collective bargaining rights. walker says the state faces a $137 million deficit this year, and a $3.6 billion hole over the next two years. at a midday rally, richard trumka, the head of the country's largest labor group, the afl-cio, told workers that the governor was using the deficit to attack unions.
>> and here's the rub-- he did it so he can attack our collective bargaining rights to pay back his rich buddies and c.e.o.s. and he didn't count on all of this! you're inspiring all the people of wisconsin. you're inspiring the people of ohio, who are going through the same kind of attacks that you are. you're inspiring the people of indiana, who are living through the same attacks. >> woodruff: walker wants most state employees to pay half of their pension costs and half of health care costs, while eliminating union bargaining. without an agreement, walker has warned that 10,000 public workers could lose their jobs. >> we've got to balance it now. and for those unions that say they want to negotiate, i think it's pretty disingenuous. >> woodruff: on thursday, republicans were poised to pass a bill enacting walker's plan.
but the vote has been delayed indefinitely because more than a dozen senate democrats fled the state, gathering in neighboring illinois. state police went searching for them today, as wisconsin's senate minority leader mark miller spoke from an undisclosed location. >> we left the state so we were out of the reach of the wisconsin state patrol, which has the authority to be able to round us up and bring us back into the legislature. >> woodruff: governor walker has called the boycott a stunt and vowed not to concede. >> the state senators who are hiding out down in illinois should show up for work, have their say, have their vote, add their amendments. but in the end, we've got a $3.6 billion budget deficit we've got to balance. >> woodruff: the battle leapt to the front of the national agenda earlier this week when president obama sided with the state workers. >> some of what i've heard coming out of wisconsin, where you're just making it harder for public employees to collectively
bargain generally, seems like more of an assault on unions. >> woodruff: speaker of the house john boehner took issue, saying: >> if the president truly wants an adult conversation about our fiscal challenges, shouting down reform-minded leaders is a bad way to start. call off the attacks and lead, mr. president." the fight is being joined in other states, where republicans are also trying to lower employee benefits. protests are planned in coming days in ohio, indiana, missouri, new jersey, and pennsylvania. more than 20 state legislatures are considering benefit cuts. we get two views now on the issues being debated in wisconsin and elsewhere. randi weingarten is president of the american federation of teachers, one of the unions protesting in wisconsin. she was in madison last night. and jonathan williams is the director of the tax and fiscal policy task force for the american legislative exchange
council, which represents conservative state lawmakers. thank you both for beinging with us. randy weingarten, you first. just so that we understand, governor walk never wisconsin said all he's trying to do is simply ask state workers to bear their share of the pain in order to get the state finances under control is that how you see it? >> you know, something, once you spend some time in madison, you realize that we obviously did not do a good job in educating gofing never walker. because he's being totally and completely disen-- is ingenuous. last month before the governor passed these corporate tax breaks, the equivalent, the wisconsin he give lent of the congressional budget office said the state was goinging to perhaps end up with a surplus. three months ago the same state workers that the governor is trying to stript collective bargaining rights from, said they would give $100 million of concessions
but that wasn't enough for the governor. he attempted to get and succeeded in gettinging that contract rejected. since that point, he has not-- he has rebuffed every single attempt that the workers have made to talk to him. instead, he's manufactered this immediate crisis in order to just strip them of their economic bargaining rights. >> woodruff: let me turn to you, jonathan williams. as you can see, the other side has a very different view from what the governor says. i mean you are hearing them say they're trying to destroy our bargaining rights? >> i would disagree. wisconsin is a state in serious fiscal problems right now. they face not only the budget deficit of $3.6 billion in the next fiscal year which starts july 1st, but if you look at the unfunded liabilities in the pension funds, for instance, for teachers, for government employees, the unfunded liabilities range, the estimates range from 50 to
$60 billion over the life of those pension funds. so the question is, is you know, the budgeting as usual isn't working here and so what are the major reforms that we can accomplish to solve this budget shortfall without going back to the taxpayers and asking for more. >> randy-- randi weingarten? >> judy, let me just say that, you know, i asked the folks in madison last night what was the funding situation in terms of the pension. and it's 97% funded according to the wisconsin funding and actuary. but this is the bottom line. the workers, teachers and firefighters, they are all willing to sit down with the governor and solve these problems. businesserses are problem-solving folks. they've used collective bargaining for the last 50 years to do this. the bottom line here is they are willing to help, they are willing to do their fair share. they've said that over and over again. what the governor is trying to do is manufacture the
crisis right now rather than having the budget process over the next six months and he's done it for political payback and simply to try to get rid of workers' voices. >> woodruff: you are welcome to respond to that. but i want to broaden this out and talk about what is going on in other states. because there is an effort by governors and state legislators around the country to do action similar to what we are seeing in wisconsin. explain, just give us a few examples and explain how that is different or similar. >> sure. let me say that the pension situation in wisconsin is far worse than 96% or whatever funded that randy just said. that's assume ug didn't have any pension losses in the downturn in 2008 and assuming will you get an 8% rate of return over the next 30 years, if you now how to get that return i would love to invest my money with you. but to get to the broader question, other states probably two dozen states are going to look at changing pension systems to more of a private sector approach, for instance 401(k) plans, plans like
mitch daniels has done in indiana with health savings accounts for state workers instead of the current combined-- which 70% of indiana 30,000 state workers have voluntarily chosen the health savings account because it is a good deal and a portable asset for them. that is the way many states are moving today. >> what about this argument that since a lot of private workers have had to move away from the so-called defined benefit pension plan to an investment model like the 401(k), why shouldn't more public employees be willing to do the same thing? >> judy, you know what is interestinging is that west virginia actually went to that kind of contribution plan. and after several years went back to a defined benefit plan because it was actually cheaper for the taxpayers of west virginia. ultimately we need to have a discussion in this country about retirement security for all. and that insurancing that every american has that kind of retirement security. but that's not the point here. the point is that wisconsin, folks in wisconsin, folks in
ohio, they are willing to step up. they know that people are hurting. but they want to make sure that every american who plays by the rules, works by the rules, works hard, has a decent life and has a voice at work. and that's what this fight is about. it's making sure that the teachers who want to teach kids, firefighters who want to fight fires, that they actually have a voice at work. they want to work hard and engage in public service in that way but they want a voice. >> woodruff: jonathan williams, we do hear the unions and their allies saying awhat governor walker and these other governors, whether it's ohio or other states may want to do is take away their bargaining rights as unions. in other words, completely weaken or even decimate them as a union. >> well, you know, we really want to protect teachers. you know, they do a great service to our children i'm the product of two public schoolteachers from michigan. and i believe they add a great value to our society. however, the benefits have gotten out of line with
those in the private sector. there's no reason why we can't go for, for instance, new teachers and say the defined benefit model is ing to fail the states. this isn't just a right wing talking point. this is a former liberal speaker in the house, willie brown in the left in california said this, it is not a partisan issue, it is an issue of fiscal sustainability for the states. why do you think we talking about bankruptcy in the state. >> but what about the notion of taking way their right to have collective bargaining. in other words, the core of what a union does for its members. >> well, sure, i mean we've been seeing this. governor mitch daniels did something like this in 2005 by executive order. and you know, we feel that, you know, through the legislative process has more transparency and accountability so voters can weigh in. and that is what we see right now in madison. but we do have an open and honest hearing being it. >> woodruff: is that what the afc and other unions are most concerned about, randi weingarten. >> yes, judy. the bottom line here is taking away bargaining rights does not create one more cent in the wisconsin
coffers. what we're talking about is really having a voice at work. if the governor were serious about respecting teachingers, about warning public services to be the best they could be, about wanting to make sure that he heard the taxpayers and wanting to make sure that there was fiscal solvency in that state, he would actually talk to the workers as opposed to ignoring every single entreaty they have made. the reason they're on the streets is because he refuses to talk to them. the only redress they have is on the street. >> woodruff: just quickly again, jonathan williams, in other states, do you think we're going to see scenarios play out like what we've seen in wisconsin? >> i think states are living in a fantasy land if they think they can continue under the business as usual system that's racked up these billions of dollars of shortfalls and trillions of dollars of unfunded liability and pension systems. so i think many states are going to have to take the approach of wisconsin and
ohio and the other states to start to bring these benefits in line with the private sector. if you look at t the benefits for state and local workers are 69% greater than those of their private sector counterparts. that's just not sustainable. if money grew on trees we could all make a million dollars a year and have retirement security for life but we know that's not the case. >> woodruff: we goinging to have to leave. >> judy, may i just say that. >> woodruff: very brief. >> jonathan is actually not telling the truth. because the salaries of these workers are far below the salaries of private sector workers. >> i was mentioning benefits, but thank you. >> woodruff: all right, this is a story we're going to continue to follow, certainly through the weekend in wisconsin and ongoing in these other states. jonathan williams, randi weingarten, we thank you both. >> thank you. >> lehrer: still to come on the newshour: the protests in the middle east and north africa; innovation in silicon valley; the congressional spending cuts; and shields and brooks. but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan.
>> sreenivasan: a man wearing an afghan army uniform opened fire on nato troops in afghanistan today, killing two german soldiers. photographs showed the immediate aftermath in the capital of baghlan province. it was unclear if the attacker was actually an afghan soldier. separately, a suicide car bomber hit a police station in khost, killing 11 people and wounding 41. the taliban claimed responsibility. but in new york today, u.s. secretary of state hillary clinton warned the insurgents that they face a choice. >> to break ties with al qaeda, renounce violence and abide by the afghan constitution, and you can rejoin afghan society. refuse, and you will continue to face the consequences of being tied to al qaeda as an enemy of the international community. they cannot wait us out. they cannot defeat us. and they cannot escape this choice.
>> sreenivasan: clinton also said pakistan runs the risk of major unrest over corruption and economic decay. and she said "shocking, unjustified anti-americanism" will not solve the problems. she did not directly mention raymond davis, the u.s. diplomatic employee who killed two pakistanis and is still being held there. the united states vetoed a u.n. security council resolution today that condemned israeli settlements as "illegal". the 14 other council members voted for the measure. the obama administration opposes new settlements in the west bank and east jerusalem, but it said the u.n. vote would only complicate efforts to restart peace talks between israel and the palestinians. four major banks that operate in ivory coast have been seized by president laurent gbagbo. the west african leader refused to step down after losing last november's election. he said today the four banks, including citibank, acted illegally when they halted operations this week. the banks hold almost all of the accounts for civil servants in ivory coast. wall street ended the week with another advance. the dow jones industrial average gained 73 points to close at
12,391. the nasdaq rose two points to close near 2,834. for the week, both the dow and the nasdaq gained about 1%. another senate democrat is calling it a career. senator jeff bingaman of new mexico said today he will not be seeking a fifth term in 2012. bingaman is the sixth senator to announce plans to retire, including three democrats, one independent democrat, and two republicans. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to jim. >> lehrer: troops in bahrain opened fire today on crowds of protesters who defied a ban on demonstrations. hospital officials said at least 50 people were wounded. it came a day after a government crackdown in the persian gulf kingdom, where the u.s. navy's fifth fleet is based. we have a report from jonathan rugman of independent television news. a warning-- some of the images are disturbing. >> reporter: it's dusk in bahrain's capital, and volleys of gunfire are heard near the city's pearl roundabout.
government forces have been shooting at anti-government demonstrators. eyewitnesses and a doctor telling us that one man was shot in the head. >> not >> reporter: the regime here now acting as if it's fighting for its very survival, calls by its allies for restraint falling on deaf ears. earlier, bahrainis in their thousands came to bury their dead from yesterday's early morning attack by government forces.
it was part funeral and part protest. bahrain's shia majority calling for the sunni king to be thrown out. >> we are a peaceful people. and like egypt, bahrain is locked in a showdown with its own people. age-old tensions in danger of spilling over into what bahrain's foreign minister has called a "sectarian abyss". wrapped in the national flag is the body of ali almoumen, just 22, shot dead in the early hours of yesterday. we found his father saying good- bye to his son.
"the king has broken his pact with the people," he told me. "he must leave and america must help us." outside, they chanted for the downfall of the king and his regime. a week ago, sacking the prime minister might have sufficed, but after so much violence, democracy is what many shia want now. >> just like a human being. >> look-- in seconds because this is what we expect. and they are still here. there was a pro-government demonstration broadcast on state television. "massive rallies in support of wise leadership," they called this. and though the government has banned demonstrations, this one went ahead unhindered. bahrain's crown prince is
tonight talking of the need for dialogue, but the more funerals, and the more state brutality, the more dangerously divided this country becomes. >> woodruff: late today, the king of bahrain appointed the crown prince to open a dialogue with the opposition. jeffrey brown has more on the situation in bahrain. >> brown: we get that from gary sick, senior research scholar and adjunct professor of middle east politics at columbia university. he's executive director of gulf 2000, which tracks political developments in the persian gulf, and served on the national security council staff during three administrations. start with the new crackdown. why do you think the government is resorting to this level of force? >> i think there are two reasons. first of all, i think they are really scared. there is a battle within the administration itself within the royal family. with hard-liners such as the prime minister who is the uncle of the king taking a completely hard line and the king himself apparently not
so willing to do that. and the second reason is real pressure coming from the other gulf states who are absolutely terrified at the prospect that they might see a downfall in bahrain or in any gulf state similar to what happened in egypt. >> brown: there was a meeting, in fact of, of the gcc, the gulf gulf cooperation council. there was a meeting-- saudi arabia. you say they are putting pressure on the bahraini government? >> i think so. they called as soon as the these broke out, the demonstrations, they called an emergency meeting of the foreign ministers in bahrain itself and they came there, up-- bahrain is tied to saudi arabia almost like annum bill call cord. there is a causeway that runs across from the eastern province of saudi arabia where all of the oil is and runs over to bahrain which
is a 70% shi'a population. as it happens, the population of the eastern province of saudi arabia is also shi'a, dominantly. and i think the saudies are really frightened that the kinship relationships between the shi'a in bahrain is going to spill over that causeway and affect the shi'a in their country. i think they're offering bahrain anything that they need to put a stop to this opinions so when you think now about the potential effectiveness of these new strong arm active-- tactics, i guess the question is how strong is the opposition in turn? can they stand up to this? >> well w you never know. sometimes brute force will, in fact, stop people in their tracks. that happened in iran it has happened elsewhere. in this case, you know, the other alternative is that it actually will build opposition. a few, just a few days ago
if the government had come out and said they were goinging to replace the prime minister who has been in that job, the uncle of the king. if they were goinging to replace him, that would probably have settled everything. and everybody would have gone back off the street. today, after the shootings and the brutality, and these are really brought an attacks. they have people attacking the square when children and women are asleep in their tents. firing bullets at them from short rang, this is really brutality. and i don't think that the government of bahrain is going to get away with this. i think they have really fouled their nest in such a way that it is goinging to be hard for them to live there. >> brown: as we heard president obama calls for restraint. the-- fifth league is based there. how much influence does the u.s. have there? >> i think the u.s. has relatively little.
i don't think anybody's paying alot of attention to our words at this point. actually any much more than they were in egypt. we may have some-- in egypt we had some restraining power as far as the military was concerned. in ba rein i'm not sure who has authority because the king, yesterday, or actually made-- actually he issued a statement through the crown prince saying that the army should get off the streets. and they didn't. the command never chief of the armed forces. who are they listening to. who is actually in charge here. it's pretty clear that the king was not at least very happy about this brutality. and he seems to be losing the battle. so there are multiple battles going on at the same time. >> brown: and that leads to the last question, because just today the king asked the crown prince to start what he called a national die loll with all parties but are you suggesting it is really not clear who would be in charge of that or who
would participate. >> or what they are prepared to offer. if they cannot promise that, in fact, the military will be off the street, if they are not controlling that, if somebody else in the government is controlling that, what can they offer the protestors that will, in fact, convince them that they're serious about this. so it's-- as a dialogue goes we're all in favor of dialogue but i really think that if they want a dialogue, this was absolutely the wrong way to go about it. you had 48 hours of chaos and mayhem and that really is a bad way to launch a dialogue. >> brown: all right, we'll life it there. gary sick, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: meanwhile, there was more violence in libya, as moammar gadhafi's regime called out more troops to put down protests. doctors said at least 35 people had been killed since wednesday. we get that story from lindsey hilsum of independent television news. >> reporter: the green book,
colonel ghaddaffi's gift to the nation. first chapter-- "democracy," it says. the crowd in tobruk don't buy it anymore. in city after city across the great socialist people's libyan arab jamahiriya, they're attacking the symbols of the state. tens of thousands of libyans, maybe more, have broken the fear barrier. journalists can't get in, so we're relying on amateur video shot by protestors. today, dozens of clips have been posted on youtube. these pictures apparently show the crowd after friday prayers in el beyda. they're shouting "martyrs, martyrs," referring to an unknown number killed in clashes yesterday. at this point, it's calm, but later reports suggest pitched battles between protestors and police this afternoon. an ambulance arrives at al bayda hospital.
a man i spoke to there on the telephone said 500 injured people had been admitted, ten of them with serious bullet wounds. he said there weren't enough medicines or doctors, and that today's wounded were policemen, hurt in running battles with the protestors. aj dabya, another tumultuous city. these are not gandhi-esque proponents of civil disobedience, but young men seemingly determined to take on the security forces. such scenes have been repeated in half a dozen towns, including libya's second city, benghazi. today, they held funerals for those killed in benghazi yesterday. it can't be confirmed, but protestors are claiming that the army is now on their side and is helping them fight the police. some protestors calling themselves "the youth" appear to have taken over the radio
station, and are broadcasting locally and online. >> ( translated ): we call upon you to release all the prisoners, whoever they are. 40 years is enough! strike! don't go to school or the shops. >> reporter: early this morning, colonel ghaddaffi briefly appeared at green square in tripoli, surrounded by supporters but saying nothing. later, state tv showed people demonstrating their loyalty, as if nothing had changed in libya, as if the country were immune to the revolutionary contagion spreading across the middle east. >> lehrer: protesters in yemen dubbed this the "friday of rage," and at least five people were killed. government supporters fought with protesters in sanaa and other cities. police used tear gas and gunshots to disperse the crowds. security forces also clashed with protesters today in jordan and kuwait. and in egypt, an enormous crowd- - more than a million, by some estimates-- turned out to celebrate the ouster of
president mubarak one week ago. they also demanded the rest of his cabinet be ousted. late in the day, egypt's ruling military council warned it will take legal measures to stop the continued strikes and protests. now, the administration's innovation proposal. president obama made his case on a high-tech visit to the west coast. newshour correspondent spencer michels reports on the response from business leaders in california. >> reporter: so this is the kind of innovation you're talking about? >> sure. >> reporter: displays of high- tech gadgets like this google earth exhibit at san jose's tech museum continue to amaze even the denizens of silicon valley, where they invent stuff like this. we brought russell hancock to the museum.
he is c.e.o. of a consortium of silicon valley business and government. he says these innovations should remind president obama how important such inventions-- and the valley itself-- are to the nation. >> if there's a place that can lead us out of the recession, if there's a place that can reinvent energy in our energy future, it would be silicon valley. but we have to do this in partnership. >> reporter: the president came west this week to talk with high-tech leaders about issues like that. last night, he dined with an elite group of silicon valley executives, including google's eric schmidt, apple's steve jobs, and facebook's mark zuckerberg, among others. today, he traveled to oregon and met with science students in a program funded by intel, the largest computer chip manufacturer. the company's c.e.o., paul otellini,, was just appointed by the president to his council on jobs and competitiveness. intel is a newshour underwriter.
for the obama administration, innovation is a major way to fix the stalled economy. >> if we want to win the future, america has to out-build and out-innovate and out-educate and out-hustle the rest of the world. that's what we've got to do. ( applause ) >> reporter: in his 2012 budget, mr. obama proposed spending billions of dollars on research and development, including tax credits, with a focus on biomedical and clean energy technologies, increasing funding for math and science education, high speed internet, and other programs. and he's turning to silicon valley leaders like russell hancock for their support. >> what we rely on is those basic investments in research, in science, in the national research labs, in those kinds of innovative activities. >> reporter: federal involvement like that is exactly what t.j. rodgers doesn't like. he's the c.e.o. and founder of cypress semiconductor, a company
that makes programmable chips that can be used in a variety of products, including l.e.d. lights and touch screen controllers. the company employs about 3,500 people; 1,000 of them in the u.s. rodgers says his company has weathered tough times before, on its own. >> so stop giving me the subsidies, which you take from me anyway by taxing me. just go away and let us spend our own money, and we will create the jobs. silicon valley is a miracle of job creation. we really don't need any government help to continue on with what we've done. >> reporter: but the federal government has historically played a major role in spurring innovation, says hancock. >> there's this mythology about silicon valley. people think silicon valley happened in a garage. yes, those are true stories. but the real story at silicon valley is that it was built with federal money. it was the vietnam war, it was the cold war, it was the moon shot. federal government needed integrated circuits. they needed chips in small
places. that's what built this valley, and more recently, that funding has trailed off. and it's a concern. we're actually deeply concerned about it. >> reporter: cypress' rodgers, who was once described as the "bad boy of silicon valley" for his outspoken views on the need to cut "corporate welfare," says that such government spending drives up federal deficits and taxes, making it harder for executives like him to invest in technologies which spur the economy. >> corporate welfare is bad. it not only takes money from people it shouldn't take money from to give it to some of the richest corporations in the world, like mine. it also hurts the corporations you give it to, because the minute you start lifting the weights from somebody, eventually, the day will come when they have to get in the arena themselves and lift the weights themselves, and they will be weaker and less competitive. >> reporter: rogers says a better alternative is the private sector venture capitalist model. under cypress's own roof, an incubator funds risky startups,
and one investment turned into the second largest solar company in the u.s. but in other quarters, the president's proposals were welcomed. in a silicon valley hotel, we caught up with entrepreneur dan carnese. he's been starting high-tech companies for 20 years, and today is c.e.o. of kdh systems, a firm providing hospital software. >> the most important thing the federal government can do is to provide incentives for the private sectoto innovate. >> reporter: carnese, an obama supporter in 2008, says the president's new initiative, called "startup america," creates enormous tax incentives for entrepreneurs, provides seed financing for startups, and reduces government regulations. and that helps him. >> now, what that means is that would make capital much more accessible to me, because people can see that investing in me as a small startup is at the very beginning of the stage of
creating jobs, that will have much better... much more of a return to them. >> reporter: carnese also insists that if federal money is cut off, there will be consequences. what happens is you don't get it? >> my business will keep going; other businesses will, too. but fewer will succeed. fewer will be able to become the next facebook or google. >> reporter: and carnese says that will boost businesses in other countries. as for the president's push against offshore hiring, t.j. rodgers says it's naive. >> my company has 1,000 jobs in the philippines. we have about 1,000 jobs in the united states. i can tell you for a fact that those jobs in the united states would not exist if i didn't have jobs in the philippines. meanwhile, back here in silicon valley, i've got the brain trust, i've got, in effect, the wall street of technology right here in silicon valley.
and we still rule the world in technology. >> reporter: while silicon valley leaders disagree over jobs and federal subsidies, they agree on one thing-- beefing up federal support for education, especially in science and math-- as the president mentioned in oregon today-- is necessary for the u.s. to keep the technological edge that silicon valley has helped build. >> woodruff: the showdown over spending stretched into a fourth day in the u.s. house. newshour congressional correspondent kwame holman has our report. >> holman: a marathon house debate slogged on today on a trillion-dollar spending bill to fund the government through september. the package introduced by house republicans would trim $61 billion over the next seven months. but that total has been rising. the debate was carried out under
a so-called "open" rule. that allowed members to propose more than 500 amendments to the spending bill, many aimed at making even deeper cuts. when the house came in this morning, only 80 amendments had been considered, leaving many members waiting for their turns. first up was montana republican denny rehberg, with a proposal to block funds for implementing health care reform. >> we call it what it is. it is "obamacare." it is a travesty. it is big government. it is not controlling health care costs and it needs to be repealed. >> holman: minority leader nancy pelosi guided health reform to house passage when democrats were in the majority and she was speaker. >> they said we didn't read the bill. well, we did. but clearly, you did not. and i urge you to read the bill. because if you did, you would see that the bill puts medical decisions in the hands of patients and doctors, not your favorite insurance companies. >> holman: the rehberg amendment ultimately passed.
republicans also voted to strip funding for the e.p.a. to regulate greenhouse gases. and they blocked federal aid for planned parenthood, as abortion opponents wanted. but the house rejected a call for far deeper spending cuts-- totaling $22 billion-- in congress' own operating budget and in most government departments. >> this amendment builds on a good bill, and simply says let's get to a full $100 billion in savings outside of national defense, in non-security savings. >> this is a meat-ax approach on top of a meat-ax approach. it's a double meat-ax approach. and it is an amendment we should defeat and defeat soundly. >> holman: and it was defeated soundly, with more than 90 republicans joining most democrats to vote no. the house could finish work this weekend, but the bill has little hope of making it intact through the democratic-controlled senate.
and white house officials have threatened a presidential veto, in any case. the obama administration upped the ante today, warning workers who administer social security could be furloughed if the republicans' cuts go through. all of that, as the clock ticks toward march 4, when funding for the federal government is set to run out. >> lehrer: and finally tonight, the analysis of shields and brooks-- syndicated columnist mark shields, "new york times" columnist david brooks. >> you can think of the way the house republicans can are running their spending cut show at the moment? >> well, first i love the process. you know, whether gingrich or speaker pelosi you really had five people running the house. now we've got a process. it looks like a legislature. and it is messy and kind of ug leigh but i think boehner has actually done a great thing. he promised transparency. i thought he would back off, but it's tough. he has lost some things. he lost an engine firm that will help ge which is big in ohio, his home state and
stuck with the idea it will be open. more power to him t is a real legislature now. as for the cuts, i don't agree with all of them but i do think they're takinging deficit seriously. to me the most important thing that happened in the house was the republicans announcing hen they do next year's budget they are going to put entitlements on the table. that is a big step, much more than the president's willing to do. about this current continuing resolution this year, you know i'm glad they are taking the deficit seriously. i don't quite see the exit strategy here. i see them voting on this stuff. i don't actually see it getting through the senate and certainly not true the white house. so are they positioning themselves for a primes? have they fought about what the next step is going to be? i don't quite see. i guess some of the republicans, i have talked to some of the older ones it is getting a little out of their control. and so i wish i knew if they had a next step, an exit strategy for what is happening these days opinions what do you think? >> i think first of all that you have a choice. you can be a strong speaker. and nancy pelosi, a strong speaker, newt gingrich was a
strong speaker and a very tightly controlled legislative forum and very few amendments. and what you put together and as we have in recent years is two armies in the house of representatives. the democratic army and the republican army. and if you have got more democrats you can get all your armies to vote for it and the republican votes against it and you pass it. a we saw this week was all of a sudden the f-35 engine both 100 democrats, more than a hundred democrats and more than a hundred republicans going forward. i means that's -- >> that's the new world order. >> that was the new world order. and john boehner is by doing this, fails to be a strong speaker which is what is coveted and admired in washington. he is being true to his word. it is a-- process am but at this think what they are doing is letting off steam and awful lot of people, the tea party people, the new people can vote for these things but what happens what happens from the point of
frustration when they don't pass. what they are using is the the appropriations process to rewrite law. the securities and exchange commission, they defunded it, why? because they hadn't done their job in 2000. they hadn't done their job properly. they hadn't done their job properly in 2008 when they were not at the top of the previous administration's priority list. that wasn't, they weren't looking for regressive sec. but this is the way of saying we're to the going to enforce the because wah reform act. and i think the same thing is true on planned parent defunding. it's a way of expressing their convictions, their passions, their beliefs. but it's to the going to pass the senate. it's not going to be in law. the president's not going to sign it will. and what we are droing, i think is stumbling toward that moment where both sides could can be facing a shutdown. >> lehrer: you think so, could go that far? >> as i say i'm mystified.
the republican leadership has said quite clearly we are not going to have a shutdown. at the same time they said they want to use the raising of the debt ceiling as leverage. but the leverage is essentially unless you come to our demands we'll throw ourselves out a window. it's not like-- the democrat was love a government shutdown. they clearly-- because of what happened in 1995. it politically benefitted. so i'm not quite clear clear what the republican leverage is here and why they've made such a central issue this year's resolution and this year's budget. as oppose odd to next year's budget which actually is where the real money is and where you can actually have some real reform. i would have said okay, we'll fund the rest of this year canned then have a fight about next area's budget. >> lehrer: all right. but explain this so i will understand it. you say we can shut the government down. but everybody can see that a lot of what was passed today and will be passed tomorrow is not going to make-- and
if make it through the senate and if it did the president would veto it. so then what happens, if there is nothing there that has been enacted, then how does that result in shutting the government down? >> well, i think it then has to come-- this makes it more difficult, in my judgement, to reach a compromise, okay. because are you digging in. >> lehrer: because you have to raise the debt ceiling. >> that comes later but we're sitting there. we've done these things. we feel good about them, say the refreshman republicans and conservatives in the house and it goes nowhere and they realize that there is not a change in the public policy but we still don't have a continuing resolution to fund the government. >> which is just carry over. >> at current level so how do you-- how do you get out of that. how do you save face and walk back from that position if you are john boehner and the republican house leadership? >> can't they say oh, well, we made our point and let's move on. but they won't do that. >> well, that's what the leadership i think would like to do. that is what with the committee chairman would like to do. they came in earlier with a
smaller series of cuts. i think it was more politically plausible but the president said not good enough. we were sent here for a job. i don't like this job, i like my job back home but i came for a mission. i am goinging to enact the mission. i made a promise. they rueterly sincere about this. politicians in the normal sense. they are sincere about what they want to do. and so but how they negotiate that, with what is doable, i don't think they made up their minds yet. >> it is real, i mean i can't krrl in 45 years in washington when the appropriations committee of the house of representatives has cut the-- appropriations. this is really unpress dent. they not only had it redoesed, then they went back and cut it further. >> lehrer: the new people on the appropriations committee. >> they put pressure right on them. >> lehrer: you mentioned president obama's proposed budget not-- the one for the next fiscal year, what did you think about it.
>> i think it was a failure of lead ir-- leadership. it opened up the possibility of a real debate about the fundamental issues that are causing this looming fiscal crisis am you have a series of senators, some liberal, tom coburn, mark warner. >> we had-- on last night. >> so they are talking about doing the really serious stuff that needs to be done. and so at this moment i think this was the time the president capitalized on that and say this is going to be big. it's goinging to take a long time but i'm going to be out in front of it and i'm going to explain to you, the american people, what the scope of the problem is. and it can't can be solve by cutting foreign aid so we're going have a big discussion. i'm going to be out front. instead the president-- the only year it actually controls next year, actually increases the deficit and that has a lot of gim i believes to imagine 368 billion in transportation money which is magical thinking. and all the real cuts are off in the past 2016. and so you i thought the budget while doing some things quite well were
forming pell grants and things like that, on the big things, the macro things was a failure of leadership. >> failure of leadership? >> i think that you could say it certainly wasn't bold. and it wasn't seizing the sputnik moment. but there is a political reality here. i mean to be very blunt about it, we had four consecutive years of balance like this in the past half century. they were under bill clinton because revenue from the country were at 19%. we were selecting 19% of the gross domestic product and we were spending less than that, okay. and george w. bush came in and with the republican congress, god bless him, they had tax cuts in 2001. 2003, they had two wars that they put off the books. >> lehrer: iraq and afghanistan were not counted. >> not count kd. then medicare prescription drug, and that was off, that was not funded. so you look around, they doubled, doubled the deficit
in the-- the debt, ex-- excuse me, in eight years, doubled it, took clinton's balanced budget and went right bye. and now, all of a sudden they come back in office, and wait a minute, they're born again budget balancers. i mean i'm not questioning their sincerity but for eight years they were mute. not tom coburn but the overwhelming majority of them were mute. now they are saying you have to do this. i mean, bill clinton had to do it when he came in in 1992. and he increased revenues without a single republican vote. and he launched a house in 1994-- lost the house in 1994 and that did bring back balanced budgets. so i can understand that. i will say this, that neither side wants to take the steps on to entitlements. and dealing with medicare. and dealing and defense. and i applaud the work of coburn and durbin and chandler, mark warner and everyone else. they have not produced that
document. >> republicans said this week, eric cantor said we will throw it in there and democratic staffers were gleeful because they think these guys have walked into our trap. but at least this leadership is taking a step in the direction of sobriety. and the president could have done that i think there are people in his administration wanted to do it, the fierce urgency of now turned into the fierce urgency of whenever. he just pushed it down the line. for those of us covering the white house and regaled with promises year after year that per we're about to get serious on the debt have at this moment another set of promises, well, maybe next year we'll get serious but not right now. it's just, it's just you get sick of it. >> lehrer: meanwhile before we go, wisconsin the issue being raised there which we reported on at the beginning of the program. how do you read that. >> i think in state after state for decade after decade, people, governors didn't want to raise salaries so they said okay, we're agoing to give you these pensions and benefits and these were irresponsible promises and state after state the chickens are now coming home to roost.
now so i figure it's right to be charging more for the benefits. whether i would at the same time go after the collective bargaining, just on a matter of politics, i think it's probably asking too much to not only get the benefit cut but also to have the basic arrangements renegotiated it. and that's unfair, i think the basic arrangements are just but politically, i think if you really care about the deficit, then you want something prakicable, i would have just gone after the -- >> i think it's an adroit political move by the republican government of wisconsin. -- governor of wisconsin. he sees his opportunity. he's using the deficit which is real which has been compounded by 117 million dollars in tax cuts that he and the republican legislature have recently enacted. but the reality is a, the public employees do pay a lot less in benefits. the average family, the average in america is $32-- 32% for insurance coverage and we're talking
about 5 to 6%. what this is really about is, again, defunding, destroying on a policy basis, what is a very politically formidable institution and that is organized labor and the right of workers to collectively bargain. and that's what is behind it. >> do you see this growing to other states? >> i do. and i think that 1958 we had this in ohio, in california, in big elections where they tried to put right to work on the ballot. they did. it went down in both places. but at that point, jim, one of the three american families had a union member in it. that's not the case today. >> lehrer: thank you both very much. >> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day: democratic lawmakers in wisconsin stayed out of the state for a second day, preventing a vote to eliminate bargaining rights for public employees. troops in bahrain opened fire on protesters, and hospital officials said at least 50 people were wounded. and libyan leader moammar
gadhafi called out more troops. doctors said at least 35 protesters had been killed since wednesday. and to hari sreenivasan for what's on the newshour online. hari. >> sreenivasan: we have more with shields and brooks on "the rundown." and how much will medicaid costs rise in your state by 2012? we've crunched the data in a special series of graphics that break down the projections state-by-state. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. judy. >> woodruff: and that's the newshour for tonight. on monday, we'll have the latest on the protests in the middle east and north africa. i'm judy woodruff. >> lehrer: and i'm jim lehrer. "washington week" can be seen later this evening on most pbs stations. we'll see you online, and again here monday evening. have a nice weekend. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs wshour has been provided by:
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