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tv   Inside Washington  PBS  February 9, 2013 6:00pm-6:30pm EST

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>> what do you think of it tree can be? can it be stronger than steel? can that treat the biodegradable plastic? can it be fuel for our cars, or clothing, or medicine that fights cancer? with our tree cell technology, we think it can. weyerhaeuser, growing ideas. >> lead us to a better solution. if you do not, mr. president, you will go down in history as
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one of the most irresponsible commanders in chief in the history of the country. >> this week on "inside washington," gunfight at the sequestration corral. >> i believe they should at least pass a smaller package that will delay the economically damaging effects of the sequester for a few more months until congress finds a way. >> john brennan, the cia, and drone strikes. >> i never believed it is better to kill a terrorist than to detain him. >> marco rubio, savior of the republican party, and immigration debate. >> this is about getting it right for the american people and those suffering under an immigration system that does not work well for anybody. >> after the lights go out at the super bowl, thoughts about the nation's crumbling infrastructure. captioned by the national captioning institute
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seesutawney phil did not his shadow this year, which means spring will come early. tell that to the folks in boston buried in snow. in washington, every day is groundhog day. the subject once again is the federal budget, but for debt, and the word that strikes fear in the hearts of contractors in the sea and the suburbs, sequestration. >> it gives new meaning to the term "march madness," because that is what would result if we have to face a sequester. >> that is why i fought not to have to sequester in the first place. the president did not want to have to deal with the debt limit again before his reelection. >> we will furlough as many as 800,000 dod civilians around the country for up to 22 days. >> defense secretary leon
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panetta says that if sequestration kicks in and billions in defense cuts are allowed to stand, he will have to throw the nation's defense strategy out the window, damaging our ability to respond to crises. if congress does not act to stop this, it will be a $1.20 trillion cut in spending, half from the defense department, no corresponding rise and a texas. what is your best guess, evan? >> i think it is going to happen. i don't think congress is capable of getting it together. to. >> if that happens, mark, the consequences? >> carl levin thinks the odds are probably even. but the iceberg is there, we can see it, and we continue to sail in the direction of it. i think republicans, particularly speaker boehner, don't want eight. >> colby, how did it come to this? >> they kicked it down the road
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on this problem, they put it off, thought it would never happen. they put it up to frighten everybody, but they cannot get themselves together on the question of tax cuts, cutting spending, entitlement reform. they cannot get it done. we are not going to have sequestration. we are going to have castration of the military, castration of domestic programs. they see it coming. and the president comes up with a proposal to do a little bit on both sides, the first word out of speaker boehner's amount is we are not going to have any type of tax increase. >> they just had one. that is what the republicans are arguing, nina. >> i think is going to happen. the question is for how long, because it will be awful. it is not just the contractors, not just the military. a is sending out social security checks on time, can you reach
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anybody at the irs when you have a question, major crimes being investigated, national security issues both domestically and abroad. the question is how many weeks before common sense prevails. the whole trigger was set up by people who thought we would never do this. but they seem to be frozen in incapacity. >> charles krauthammer is off this week, but he has this column. "what should republicans do about sequestration? nothing. the morning after, sit down with the president for negotiations on tax reform as recommended by simpson-bowles -- broaden the tax base, lower the tax rate." sounds reasonable? >> it sounds plausible, and to charles it sounds exceptionally reasonable. that is what the intention was.
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colby put his finger on it -- the alternative was so terrifying that it would force congress to act. in the short run, the political damage it will be to the republicans. they i seem as did so -- they are seen as the obstructionists. but let's be blunt about it -- if this goes on, it will be damaging to the economy and the country and in the long run it will be damaging to any sense of public confidence in government possibility to be a positive force and our lives -- government's ability to be a positive force and our lives. >> according to the congressional budget office, the deficit is shrinking, but it will increase later because of an aging population, expansion of federal subsidies for health insurance, growing interest on the debt. cdo is predicting that by 2023, if current laws remain in place, there will be 77% of gdp and be on an upward path.
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tell that to your kids and grandchildren. >> i am a boring deficit hawk, i say the same thing over and over again. paul krugman has convinced a lot of my liberal friends that it is okay to kick the can down the road. >> he actually used those words. >> terrible idea. it? all sorts of disasters. sudden interest -- it courts all sorts of disasters. it takes a long time to fix these problems. sequestration is a very crude, ugly tool, but if it actually has the effect of making people get serious about entitlement reform and tax reform, it would not be so bad. >> colby, what do you think? >> going back to charles' column, he said this the first time since the election the president obama has been put on defense. i don't think that is true. i agree with mark, the republicans will bear the brunt
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of this initially, because they will appear to be the obstructionists. looking at it in sheer political terms is the wrong way to look at this. this would have merkel implications if the economy tanks as a result of this -- global implications if the economy tanks as a result of this. >> you think the american people are getting fed up with this? it has been going on for years and years. >> and getting worse and worse, because there is no planning. you had a five-year transportation bill. now we have got a two-year transportation bill, now a nothing transportation bill because of sequestration. >> what kind of crisis de you have to have? i would rather have an internal washington crisis like this than wait for a real crisis where the economy really turns -- if this would be a forcing event -- >> if it would, it would not be such a bad thing, but we keep having these forcing events.
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>> every state is going to be affected by this. >> the fault line in the conservative movement is pretty clear here. what you have this john mccain warning that sequestration would be 1 million jobs in defense cuts. at the same time, "the wall street journal" editorial page is dismissing the cuts that would result, because they do not want to touch any dollar of tax increases, even on carried interest, for wall street millionaires. >> the cia, drones, targeting bad guys abroad even if the bad guys are americans. >> there is no occasion i am aware of where we had the opportunity to capture terrorists and we did not and we decided to take a strike. >> that is john brennan, nominee to be director of the cia. a lot of attention recently on drones killing bad guys abroad,
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including awlaki, a very bad guy who happened to be an american citizen. they also kill civilians, and every time you kill civilians, he made more enemies. but you have to go after terrorists, and obama's record, some would say, is impressive. >> it is a continuation of the policy that george w. bush laid down after 9/11, that we pursue them wherever they are and whatever the circumstances. i don't -- the notion that drones kill civilians -- it is not just drones that do it. if you fire artillery, you might hit civilians. if you talk about american citizens being killed, targeted abroad, isn't it true that during world war ii you had some americans who volunteered for the ss? >> that is correct, yes.
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>> this is not groundbreaking, except that we will have to think through a traditional way of handling this or extrajudicial way of handling these -- judicial way of handling this or extrajudicial way of handling these targets. but to say that we will not do this through drones to me is silly. >> should there be someplace to go if you are an american citizen, like an intelligence court, where you say, look, we are going to do this, we need a legal finding. >> there probably is in some cases a method that might work, but a great many times you don't have time. you find out about this fairly late and you just need to do is. in a question of boots on the ground or drones, it is an unappetizing choice because you alienate people if you come at them from the air or with boots on the ground. >> you could argue that drones are more precise than f-18's.
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>> you can, but there is a certain inconsistency and hypocrisy here. when george w. bush was doing it, there was a lot of criticism, and it has increased dramatically under president obama, and with exceptions, the liberals and civil libertarians have been muted in criticism. >> affleck, obama has been much more aggressive about it -- actually, obama has been much more aggressive. . >> dianne feinstein, chairman of the intelligence committee, says that we have a process for wiretaps. i don't think that you can calculate the hostility and the enmity that is generated by civilian deaths and drones. >> drones underscore the tragic nature of being a superpower. they are absolutely essential and they are sure to end badly. there is sure to be a bad ending to the store, but is still
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necessary to do these things because what else are we going to do? >> we have a sort of secret army, and the cia is going off on its own bid you wrote a book about this -- >> it makes me extremely anxious, because the history of covert action is that it often backfires. it is just an existential dilemma. i hate to be too fruity about this, but if you are a superpower and trying to keep peace and it will, you will do morally reprehensible things, and it is almost guaranteed to come and bite you, but you still have to do it. >> i remember you predicted after 9/11, get ready, we will do unpalatable things. >> of course, it it just goes with the territory. >> there was this moment in the hearings that i thought was indicative of all of this, which was actually about waterboarding and torture, in which brennan
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said he knew about it and protested it could not do anything to stop it because he was not in the chain of command at that point. i thought that was a pretty reprehensible answer. on the other hand, i know that bob gates, when he was cia director, did some things i have the same view about, and he turned out to be a wonderful, the best of bureaucrats. i don't think there's any way you can have these jobs and have me actually have any respect for your morals. >> if evan is fruity, he's a real peach. [laughter] on the subject of the hearings, john brennan and chuck hagel, they stand in stark contrast. whatever one thinks about john brennan, and the disagreements are real, he was in command, knowledgeable, assertive, direct, and he made his own case. would that chuck hagel had the
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same level -- >> talk about our jobs, he has been lord high executioner -- >> and he wants to move it to the military. >> brennan does want to get the cia back into the business of collecting intelligence and of the paramilitary kinds of things -- not paramilitary kinds of things. somebody still has to do that job, though. >> marco rubio, emigration, and the future of republican politics. >> are we serious about border security and employment verification? are we serious about making this the last last time we have this conversation? or are we simply playing political games with people's lives and undercutting respect for the rule of law, the very reason they seaek to come to ths country in the first place? >> that is a congressman from south carolina on the house border security subcommittee. a long time ago, ronald reagan
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said that hispanics were republicans who don't know it yet. if the last election is any indication, they is still d on't. here is republican senator marco rubio playing a leading role for republicans giving a path to citizenship. the man "time" magazine calls the savior of the republican party, tapped to deliver the response to the state of the union address on tuesday. message -- hispanics, we love you, join our party. will they, liste -- they lsiten, mark? >> yes, because state and have no alternative. they have to talk to hispanic voters -- >> i meant will hispanics listen to republicans? >> ask them. [laughter] i don't speak for hispanics, i speak for the nation. marco rubio, quite frankly, is a
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great talent. >> no question. >> the only reason that he moved on emigration is that his sainted mother left a voicemail saying, "go easy, these are our people. they came for the right reason, just like we did it." >> that is in the "time" magazine story, a great story. >> to you believe it? [laughter] >> you guys are so cynical " >> this is early in the presidential sweepstakes. i don't know where he will end four years from now. there are the republicans will step into this race, too. all we can do is evaluate his proposals and whether they have any impact. as far as hispanics going to the republican party, is about
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policy, not about marco rubio. republican policies are not the kinds of policies that i think latinos -- >> although there seems to be an awakening -- >> talking about all the that politics and congress dysfunctional -- here is a chance where american politics could force a good thing. this guy running for president and reaching out to hispanics who could get the compromise that everybody knows we need. >> over in the house, republicans are want to have their cake and eat it, too -- no real change, no path to citizenship, no green card. this is not a way to get a population to vote for you. >> but there appears to be movement on the hill about this. >> there is, make no mistake about it. john mccain put it very bluntly that his state would be eight blue state. but ann coulter has already come
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out against marco rubio, saying that all we are doing is creating more democratic voters with a path to citizenship, just like you did with easy divorce, in her judgment. >> does she have a point, colby? >> as far as rubio is concerned? >> creating more democratic votes. continue tol c vote democratic until republicans come up with policies that attract their attention. when you have a health care plans that brings latinos into the system as obama's does, that his policy. you will not change that with marco rubio's face. >> were you watching when the lights went out at the super bowl? that happens around washington and a lot. >> the interruption in service
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did not occur inside the building. >> the system worked the way it was supposed to work. >> the system worked -- that is what they said after watergate. [laughter] the power company says there was a faulty device they installed to prevent a power failure. in any case, it brings me to the question of infrastructure. the world economic forum rated us 23rd between chile and spain. to the gets back gridlock in washington. the president said over and over to address this, tackle the problem of infrastructure, and we're going nowhere. the budget, the budget, the budget. but the infrastructure is going to continue to deteriorate. >> the electrical grid, roads, bridges, tunnels -- think of all
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the people we could put to work. >> great point, but it is more fundamental than that. cbs, showing great inattentiveness, pointed out that during the blackout, it is the fourth most watched television show in history. [laughter] there is something called future preference, a willingness in the hearing now to make sacrifices so that tomorrow will be richer, fairer, a better country. if that isn't missing from the dialogue of the debate, and the congress and the president -- >> government increasingly writes checks to people and gives them money instead of writing checks to build things. we have got to cut back on the entitlements, writing checks to people and pension reform and all that, so that there is money to actually start building things again. until then, we will have more of these blackouts. >> sacrifice, nina. >> you see the public opinion polls. we are the me generation and
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have been for awhile to people want to balance the budget, but god forbid you trim social security or medicare. even if it they are fairly well- to-do, they don't want to give up anything they have. >> what caused the power failure? did the mob intervene? was it the new orleans agreed electrical system? was it beyonce's show? >> i thought that show was repulsive. it shows america at its worst presell accep -- it shows america at its worst eight. we accept lewdness. she is beautiful and a great singer, but people watching that from abroad -- >> abroad? the vatican? [laughter] there was nothing repulsive
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about that performance. it was keeping in what we see from young singers -- >> yes, that is the point. >> it does not bother me. she danced very well, she sang very well, she did not let it sink -- >> she is a great performer, but it is so overt. >> peggy coats up to her neck -- >> no, but there is a difference between petticoats' up to the neck -- >> oh, you watched every second. did you turn off the tv? >> yeah, actually. >> there is a great latin phrase -- there is no point arguing about matters of taste. i come down on evan's side. i felt the same way about madonna and lady gaga. what ever happened to us subtlety?
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this was bumps and grinds. i stipulate that beyonce is very talented and absolutely beautiful -- >> bumps and grinds -- >> great family event of america -- >> do you think subtlety is overrated, nina? >> well, in the great scheme of things, this was hardly the most vulgar and lewd -- wait, you have argued a lot. there is routinely on television way worse, wave worse language and everything. it is not my personal taste, but he did not jump out at me as particularly awful -- it did not jump out at me as particularly awful. >> i don't know what this has to do with infrastructure. >> or "inside washington"! >> could we put that on again and this time, watch everything, evan.
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>> back to infrastructure. we may be up to 15, i don't know. but is it fair to compare us to countries like switzerland? if you want to drive across the country, all the reds are pretty good. >> do you commute in washington? >> well, washington has the worst traffic problems and the country. >> nothing but pot holes, most of the places. >> pot holes are one of the few things made in america. >> the electrical grid is really vulnerable, and in the age of the cyberwar and all that, it can break down on its own. if you are sitting in the dark and it is cold, that is no fun. >> one of the things that the president will do by executive order, because it is so scary and vulnerable and congress has done nothing. >> one of the great uncovered stories of the cyberwar, seven security, because of "the new york times" and "the wall street
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journal," the reality is that american corporations are the victims of cyber warfare on a regular basis, but they don't raise it because of the profits. they don't want in any way to jeopardize their markets in china. >> uhhhh -- >> true, from the corporate ceo 's. >> they want to keep their presence at there. that is not a money-making. that is for news gathering -- >> i am not talking about that at all. i am talking about private corporations that have been raided. >> that is it for this week. that is probably the last segment ever on popular culture. thanks for being with us. see you next week.
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