tv Washington Week PBS June 22, 2012 8:00pm-8:30pm EDT
john: immigration policy and the fight for latino votes. the white house and congress wrestle over documents and political advantage. and can the u.s. and europe prevent economic disaster? i'm john harwood sitting in tonight for gwen ifill on "washington week." >> i will priorityites efforts that strenten legal immigration and make it easier. we may not always agree but when i make a promise to you, i will keep it. >> your speaker from yesterday has a different view. in a speech he said that when he makes a promise to you, he'll keep it. well, he has promised to veto the dream act and we should take him at his word and i believe that would be a tragic
mistake. john: dueling philosophies and dueling pitches to latino voters. did president obama's bold move settle the fight or convince hispanics that romney has a better plan m the ayes have it and a contempt order is ordered to the house. joongs a -- john: a showdown between house republicans and eric holder. and the countries of the euro zonal keep struggling to resolve their debt crisis. >> because of the crisis in europe and the softness you're seeing in growth outside europe that means that in the u.s. we're not growing as fast as we need to grow. john: can a new greek government and bigger bail oits -- bailouts keep europe's economic trouble from worsening ours in the u.s.? covering the week -- jeff
zeleny of the "new york times," laura meckler of "the wall street journal," major garrett of "national journal," and doyle mcmanus of "the los angeles times". >> award-winning reporting and analysis, covering history as it happens. live from our nation's capital, this is "washington week with gwen ifill". produced in association is "national journal." corporate funding for "washington week" is provided by -- >> we know why we're here. to chart a greener path in the air and in our factories. >> to find cleaner, more efficient ways to power flight. >> and harness our technology for new energy. >> the people of boeing are work atogether around the globe to build a better tomorrow. >> this rock has never stood estimate since 18 5 we've been
there for our clients through good times and bad. when our needs changed we were there to meet them. through the years from insurance to investment management, from real estate to retirement solutions, we've developed new ideas for the financial challenges ahead. this rock has never stood still and that's one thing that will never change. prudential. >> corporate funding is also provided by norfolk southern, at&t, rethink possible. additional fundinging is provided by the annenberg foundation, the corporation for public broadcast,and by contributions to pbs stations from viewers like you. thank you. >> once again, live from washington, subs teuting for gwen ifill, john harwood of cnbc and the "new york times" -- john: good evening. the presidential campaign this
week moved to florida, where both president obama and mitt romney competed for support among hispanic voters. the back drop? that group's growing influence and the president's big immigration policy shift aveg few days ago. >> we announced that we're lifting the shadow of deportation from deserving young people who are brought to this country as children. we should have passed the dream act a long time ago. it was written by members of both parties. when it came up for a vote a year and a half ago republicans in congress blocked it. after three and a half years of putting every issue from loan guarantees to his donors to cash for clunkers, putting all those things before immigration, now the president has been seized by an overwhelming need to do what he could have done on day one but didn't. i think you deserve better. john: jeff, this was romney's first big chance to respond to that new immigration policy and
try to repair his damaged reputation with latino voters. a good start? >> it was an ok start. romney is trying to walk a fine line here. he really took a hard-right stance during this republican primary nomination. it wasn't all that long aol -- ago that he thought governor pick rery of texas ways big rival of his so he had to sort of be on the right of him. you could hear by the audiences down at this organization meeting in florida that most of these latino leaders are with president obama, so governor romney knows he's not going to win the majority of latino votes. john: you think shve the people in the room remembered the self-deportation line he used? >> that was actually in a debate in florida. he said illegal immigrants so self-deport. it was almost as striking what he did not say in his speech as what he did say. he tried to moduleate his
rhetoric and neutralize his tone against them. but he knows he has to do that because the republican party knows it has to expand its reach to latino voters and he's not going to do that by himself. his biggest burden is congressional republicans, some on the opposite view of this dream act proposal. john: laura, from the white house perspective, how confident are they that with this move the president has locked in the big advantage he's had among hispanics and maybe energized that group? >> i think they think he went a long way toward that goal. he won about 2/3 of those votes in 2006 and polling shows he's still doing well with them. the problem for the white house and obama is they have to energize them and get a big turnout from latino voters in important states like colorado, nevada, florida.
john: and the economic argument romney can make is a real one. >> exactly. the wind is at his face on the economy and a lot of other issues so they need to make sure immigration is still a threrked issue -- threshold issue for latino voters. president obama was with them, but there was a little bit of question around him both because, as you said, he didn't really push immigration reform during most of his term and also because he's done some pretty tough line stuff too, border security and deportations. >> he's walking a fine line as well. >> exactly. john: do you get the feeling that the first priority is to neutralize this issue and in so doing for himself and his party keep the lid on other republicans from straying off and saying things that could complicate his approach to having another conversation
with latinos and a broader party conversation as well? >> without a doubt and it's one of the reasons he didn't answer the very simple question of what would you do if elected president with that order patriotic signed last week. he has to keep his party sort of even on this. he cannot go too far and agitate conservatives. even though they've all rallied behind him and it's extraordinary how republicans across the spectrum have rallied behind him. his level of support among republicans and conservatives is not that deep, so he needs to keep them sort of on board. but at the same time he's leaving his options open. i don't necessarily doubt and don't think most people doubt that if he is elected president he would like to pursue immigration reform but we've seen two presidents see how difficult it is. george w. bush wanted to do it, senator obama wanted to do it and -- >> he pointed that out in the
speech today. >> exactly. that's the big problem here for mitt romney is his own party here. he cannot get too for out in front of this because he has senator rubio on the side back him up on this but -- but there are louder voices who are really concerned with illegal immigration, border security, other things, the steve kings of the world, the congressman from iowa, who have loud voices on this. >> let me ask you to tackle the question that governor romney kind of posed. what took so long? he's been president for three years. the dream act got blocked in the senate some time ago. >> i think there are two sides to this, both legitimate. on the one hand president obama had a lot of priorities. he pushed all sorts of things. he has a long list of legislative achievements and this is not on that list. he never really gave a full scale effort for this. he gave one major speech and
that's about it. on the other hand, they knew they needed some republican support to get this through and wean -- even when they controlled the senate with large numbers they needed some republicans. but in -- there was exactly one republican who ever said he would support it, lindsay graham of south carolina. so on the one hand you can understand the white house calculus. they were trying to push a lot of things. do you push the thing that doesn't seem to be going anywhere? on the other hand sometimes you find that support once you gl -- really get out there on it. i think it's disingenuous for the republicans to say this is the democrats' fault, they ran this, when there was virtually no republican support. and they needed 60 votes for it to advance and got 55. john: jeff, romney before he gave his speech put out a fact sheet with his proposals on
immigration. was there anything new in there he hadn't said before? >> he was amplifying some things he said in the primary. one is he believes any illegal immigrant who has served in the military should get citizenship and he said in the speech this week anyone who receives an advanced degree should have a green card stapled on the back of that. john: family members of those who do have green cards he said he was going to accelerate >> right. and there -- these are things the business community by and large supports. the idea that someone would come here and get a master's degree or ph.d. and then have to leave the country is sort of absurd by most people's standards. he did offer new proposals in that respect, but it was sort of around the edges, things most moderates on this iraq lar degree with. >> i think what the people in the republican party that are
really focused on this will say it they need to be defined as the party that's for legal immigration, not just against illegal immigration and i think romney's speech seemed to be along those lines. stapling the green card to the the master's degree in a technical field is somethinging patriotic proposed a long time ago. there is is bipartisan consensus about that. but when you are in a hole, the first thing you do is stop dignd and romney did stop digging. his rhetoric was softer the >> speak of of the nomination, it was also interesting, mitch mcconnell when he was asked about this this week said we're waiting for mitt romney, the leader of our party. more and more it looks like republicans are going to cure their problem through romney. >> that's their best chance. they're all in this together, going to rise or fall.
but that does not mean romney is still not going to have problems with the baggage from the house republicans on some other things, some other proposals. but on this issue speckly all republicans know that it's in their best electoral interest to try and put the economic argument forward to get more latino voters on their side. >> how does the raw politics be this work in swing states? does this move arizona or colorado or nevada into a different column? >> if every latino voter out there decided to register and vote for president obama it would but that is a big if. only about half of all you aeligible latino voters actually voted four years ago. the obama campaign believes they still have enough latino voters on their side but if romney begins eating into it even somewhat, that's a big problem for them. arizona, i think most people
still think it's -- it's a big reach for democrats because a lot of the latino voters there aren't voting. but we have the big supreme court coming up. john: this fight's not going away the rest of the election year. thanks, guys. house republicans in the obama white house -- and the obama white house have been at war for a long time and this week it got worse. the reason? the since-abandoned gun walking program. the justice department refused to turn over some documents, the white house complamed executive privilege and now the committee has voted to hold attorney general eric holder in contempt. major, how did we come to this? >> this is about a 16-month investigation. the house government and oversight committee has subpoena power. this line was originally started in the senate by
charles grassley. a very stern, competent bipartisan investigator but he didn't have subpoena power so he handed it off to the house. for a long time the white house position was don't call us about this, we have nothing to do with this. in dribs and drabs information has come out that indicates or at least raised a significant be suspicion to house republicans that people in the white house did know more than originally remented about this program. there are are a lobt things typical in washington in investigating scandals. allegations of a coverup. executive privilege. all very similar. there are things about this that is -- are unique, it seems to me. a border patrol agent, brian terry is, was killed in 2010 and two of the weapons at the scene were gun-walked weapons. p and there is an attorney
general in chihuahua state in mexico also killed, guns at that murder scene also linked to fast and furious. so that gives emotional resonance to this story. it gives a kind of thing that's not typical in washington. and from the eyes of the house republicans it justifies the level of inquiry on this matter. john: is it true and how relevant to republicans and others that a program similar to this was executed under the bush administration before obama took office? >> two programs. this has been -- long been an issue, guns moving across the border. operation gnl runner was mildly successful. did not have the problems that fast and furious did. then there was operation wide receiver which did have some nominal gun walking components.
fast and furious was different in kind and magnitude and what sets it apart is the widespread violence linked -- linked to these guns that walked. we don't have a positive 100% verifiable number. it's in the dozens, maybe hundreds of gun cartel criminals using weapons that walked across the border. john: in terms of the contempt action, are there negotiations underway to not have this reach a full house vote? and how is this viewed politically? is this feared by the white house and campaign? >> two questions. the first one, no. i met a very senior person close to the. who said we're not talking, that's it. everyone close to chairman issa told me right before we came on air, we're not talking. so it's heading to a logjam. the political aspect is look, the country is just beginning to get to this story and what
they see is republicans in congress focusing on something other than the economy and having a big fight about doums. the white house is perfectly comfortable with that frame. similarly, house republicans say there say border patrol agent dead, their family is not satisfied. there is a foundation now supporting him. we're going to lean on the family and the inquiry. >> are any republicans concerned at all that this is taking the message off the economy and toward something in a bit of left field? >> i would say that the answer to that can partially be found in the scheduling of the vote next week. it may help wednesday or thursday. i think all of us agree there will be something else mildly interesting coming down next week. the health care decision from the supreme court and it will be bookended by the decision on the arizona immigration law. it will be in the context of a lot of other news which tells me the leadership is supportive
but they've positioned it in a way that it will of be the dominant, driving force of news. >> look, the republicans, the majority of republicans in the house are going to vote yes if it comes up and there will be a contempt citation and that has to be enforced by the department of justice of the united states, which is run by the attorney general? >> right. yes, that is true. there is one other option. the house can go before a district court in the district of columbia and say evaluate the president's executive order assertion, as a legal matter does it stand up to scrutiny? the house is prepared to spend the money to have the lawyers represent them in district court the in district of columbia to challenge that asaturdayession the john: thanks, major. something we'll be watching for a while the and for the struggling economies in europe, three new things this week.
one was the election in greece. the second was a gathering in mexico of leaders from the world's largest economies, including german chance he will or angela merkel and president obama. >> resolveth issues in europe is difficult. the sense of you are sense -- urgency among the leaders is clear. we have to combine that sense of urgency with the tools that are available and bridge them in a timely fashion that can provide markets confidence. john: back in washington, federal reserve chairman ben bernanke once again tried to calm fears of economic stagnation here at home. doyle is just back from europe. what did you find? >> president obama is right about one thing, john, and that is that the leaders of europe do share a sense eve urgency. but that's all they share.
they're still stuck in the version of the logjam they've been in for months. the leaders of the four top countries met today to work on new elements. france, sparningse and italy all wanted to come up with a new fund that would automatically guy -- buy bonds of governments that are having trouble in the bond markets. it's not degree, it's spain and italy when their bond rates shoot through the ceiling. angela merkel, the leader of germany, who is the one who has to pay most of the bills for this said she's not ready to go that far. john: is the pay the bills part the reason? >> it's the pay the bills and the fact that the others wanted it to be automatic. they didn't want there to be new austerity targets. merkel wasn't willing to go that far. her taxpayers are getting very impatient with the idea that they keep paying the bills. so you have still got europe
stuck in this mode of austerity. tough job to go to europe and look at this but somebody's got to do it. as one businessman i met with said, the problem is austerity is, it's austere. you aren't getting any growth. southern europe is in a full- blown reserks britain in a recession and the german economy is being pulled down. what does that mean? j.p. morgan says if the european commep slows down by a percentage point, ours slows down by half a percentage point. so we have ream skin in the game. they're going to have a summit meeting next week among these same leaders. this was a prep ratory meeting today. 9 hope is merkel will feel some of the pressure and loosen up a bit more. if you want a kind of american analogy for this, when we went through our financial crisis we sort of bit the bullet on tarp,
the bailout of the banks. we mated -- hated it. it made for terrible politics. noke likes bailing out the banks. but we're kind of past that now. in europe they've been doing tarp a drip at a time. every few months they come back with a new tarp. some pay higher taxes. but it's made them miserable personally and in their politics. >> does president obama really have any sway in this? is there anything he can do in these private conversations to influence any of this? >> not really. this has been going on for so long, jeff, all of the players know what's on the table. angela merkel knows her own politics. she and patriotic apparently have a quite cordial personal relationship but it hasn't seemed to loosen her up a whole lot. >> two words, one medical, one vaguely suggestive. contagion, exposure. is this a contagion that can
come to the united states? and how much exposure do you multinational banks sl -- have from this? >> in terms of contagion, yes, it's that recession problem. it's already having an effect on our economy and on china and on india so yes, you do have the specter of another global recession. exposure? that's the other problem here. this is is not about -- that's why greece is sort of a sideshow. this isn't really about greefments it's about all the banks in france and the u.k. that are holding bonds in all of these countries. john: we've gotten to the point where the amount of time available for the show is limited by severe austerity measures. [laughter] gwen ifill is back next week to talk about major decisions from the supreme court on president obama's health care law and president obama's controversial
immigration statute. i'm john harwood. have a good night. and here's gwen ifill on tape with an announcement. gwen: with -- can we talk? really. i'd love to talk about -- with you in any next online chafment mark your calendars and join me on thursday, june 28, between 1:00 and 2:00 p.m. eastern time and if youan't make it you can submit questions ahead of time. either way i hope you will enjoy the discussion. >> funding for "washington week" swoosh provided by -- >> one line helps communities turn plans into reality. helps shippers forge a path to
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