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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  April 27, 2011 6:00pm-7:00pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> lehrer: president obama released a detailed birth certificate today which showed he was born in hawaii. good evening, i'm jim lehrer. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. on the "newshour" tonight: the president said he didn't have time for what he termed the "silliness" of questions about his citizenship. we talk with dan balz of the "washington post" about the so-called "birther" issue raised by republicans including donald trump. >> lehrer: then, we assess the first-ever regularly scheduled news conference by a federal reserve chairman. >> brown: kwame holman has the tale of two cities in one within the nation's capital.
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that's sometimes the interests of the residents of the district of columbia clash with those of the congress. and that's what happened in a battle this week. >> lehrer: and ray suarez examines a major security breach involving the personal data of millions of sony playstation users. that's all ahead on tonight's "newshour." major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> i mean, where would we be
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>> lehrer: president obama today directly addressed the long- running questions about where he was born. he released a detailed birth certificate from hawaii and urged his detractors to move on. the president sought to remove any doubt that he is a natural- born u.s. citizen, and therefore, qualified to hold his office. he spoke as he left the white house today, bound for chicago. >> i've been puzzled at the degree to which this thing just kept on going. >> lehrer: for years, elements on the political right-- the so- called "birthers"-- have claimed mr. obama was born elsewhere. and polls show substantial numbers of republicans believe the claim. >> i know that there's going to be a segment of people for which, no matter what we put out, this issue will not be put to rest. >> lehrer: mr. obama released the short version of his birth certificate during his campaign in 2008. today, white house officials
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released the long-form, showing again that he was born in honolulu, hawaii on august 4, 1961. >> i've got better stuff to do. but two weeks ago when the republican house had put forward and a budget and when i gave speech about my budget, during this entire week, the dominant news story wasn't about these huge monumental choices that we're going to have make as a nation, it was about my birth certificate. and that was true on most of the news outlets that were represented here. >> lehrer: the president then appealed to the nation to refocus on what he called enormous challenges the nation faces. >> i'm speaking to the vast majority of the american people,
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as well as to the press. we do not have time for this kind of silliness. we've got better stuff to do. i've got better stuff to do. we've got big problems to solve. we're not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers. >> today, i'm very proud of myself. >> lehrer: the "birther" theory has been rejuvenated of late by donald trump, the real estate mogul turned reality tv star, now considering a run for the republican presidential nomination. in new hampshire this morning, he claimed credit for prodding the president into giving out more information on his birth. >> i hope it's true so that we can get on to much more important matters. so the press can stop asking me questions. he should have done it a long time ago, why he didn't do it when the clinton's asked for it,
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when the clintons asked for it, why he didn't do it when everybody else was asking for it. i don't know, but i am really frankly to have played such a big role in hopefully, hopefully getting rid of this issue. >> lehrer: trump then raised another issue implying mr. obama did not deserve admission to the ivy league schools he attended. >> the word is he wasn't a good student, and he ended up getting into columbia and harvard. >> lehrer: attacks like that one, and the "birther" claim, have helped trump surge to the top of republican presidential polls. and, he suggested today, it's just a beginning. >> one of the big pollsters who came out with a very strong poll which i'm leading, just yesterday, said "if you actually announced, your poll numbers will go substantially up," because a lot of people think i'm having a good time. >> lehrer: trump has said he'll decide by june whether he'll run for the white house. and to dan balz, national
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political correspondent for the "washington post." dan, welcome. what is your read on why the president actually ended up doing this today, giving his full... releasing the full ofpy of his birth certificate? >> i think the president said what he meant, that brief scene in the briefing room today and that is he was upset that this issue was distracting from the issues that he wanted to talk about. during that week that he talked about he did an interview with george stephanopoulos from abc news and one of the questions was about this birther issue and he was upset by that and what he saw in terms of other people being asked about it constantly and he said let's see if we can get the real birth certificate and sent his legal team off to get it. >> couric: he seemed to be blaming the press for keeping this story alive. he didn't mention donald trump by name. >> no, he didn't but he certainly had a veiled reference when he talked about carnival barker because i think that's the way they see this at the
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white house. i think the press probably does bear some responsibility for this but there's no question that that what donald trump had done over the last month in bringing this issue back to the forefront at a time when i think most people thought it had been pretty well settled politically, not that there wasn't till some controversy but that for the most part this was not a live issue. but donald trump helped to make it a live issue and all the press coverage attendant to that some of it aimed at debunking what donald trump was saying nonetheless contributed to this atmosphere. >> couric: and he was essentially taking a victory lap today, trump was. "hey, look, i'm the one who raised the issue and now the president has released it, just what i wanted him to do." is that going to go down well? >> well, i think donald trump will take credit for a lot of things. he is a person of no small ego as we've seen over the years, not just in the political realm and he is a master at drawing attention to himself and taking credit for things whether he deserves it or not. but there's probably no question that he helped get the president
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to where we were today so he'll get some credit for that among people who think this was something that needed to be done. but whether that will enhance him as a political candidate or, in fact, draw attention to him as somebody who has focused more on extraneous issues or distracting issues than on real issues i think is the challenge he'll face. >> lehrer: what do you make of his quote that we just saw in the clip, trump said "i hope it's true." >> i don't know what to make of that, jim, frankly. i mean, there is nothing more than can be put out. the state of hawaii has done an exception to its normal policy and rules in releasing the actual certificate of live birth as to what they called the certification, which was what they put out before. there's nothing more to be found and so i think donald trump in some way or another may be trying to keep an opening to raise other questions about the
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president's background. i mean, i think at the white house, jim, they view this issue not simply as a question of where the president was born but the question that has continued to dog him really in the start of this campaign and that is is he really one of us? is he really a real american? does he fit into american society? and he obviously faced those questions during the campaign and was successful in overcoming it enough to win the election with relative ease in the electoral college. but at a time when 67% of republicans in a recent poll said either that they believed he was born in another country or we're not sure where he was born there is a stirring out there among some people in the republican party about who barack obama really. >> lehrer: so that's real if you read the polls carefully? >> i think it is real and i think the white house and among republicans they're not convinced that this will convince the real doubters. but i think the president's feeling is by having done what
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he did today this will make the people who push this or other related issues, the question is he muslim as opposed to christian-- as he is-- that it will rise the bar on them in terms of their credibility. >> lehrer: now, what about trump's raising the additional issue today about suggesting that president obama was not qualified to go to columbia or harvard? what's that all about? >> well, i think it's just another way for him to try to, a get under the skin of the president, b, raise doubts about the president as a person, to raise questions about his character, to continue to suggest that we really don't know who this person is and he will needle on that. now, i would be surprised if the president suddenly shows up in the briefing room with transcripts of his records from columbia and harvard. >> lehrer: well, where do the other potential republican presidential candidates stand on these kinds of issues? the birther issue plus these...
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assuming that there's more said about what trump said about the college things as well. >> i think most of the other candidates have taken president obama for his word that he was born in the united states and have not wanted to wade in on this, although sarah palin is an exception. she kind of encouraged donald trump or praised him for trying to get to the bottom of this and she may continue to raise some questions. i think what's been interesting in the republican party is even among some people who say "i take the president at his word" they have been reluctant to really criticize the birther movement or to criticize those people who are raising these kinds of questions about president obama. >> lehrer: why? >> i think because they're part of a republican base. i think they want that base to continue to be energized over whatever issues energize them and i think they're going to be under more pressure now to put further distance between themselves and people who are raising some of these questionable questions.
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and they're going to have a higher standard they're going to have to meet, i think. so we'll see in the coming weeks how they deal it with. most of them today basically said "let's move on from this." but eric cantor, the house majority leader, criticized the president for raising a distracting issue when he should be talking about real issues. >> lehrer: you mean releasing his birth certificate? >> exactly. he basically said "the president shouldn't be talking about this." and frankly there were some people around the president who thought he shouldn't be the one to go out and make this announcement, that they could release the certification, the certificate of live birth and be done with it but he felt strongly about going out and making the larger point that we've got big issues to deal with and let's get to them. >> lehrer: finally let me ask you this straightforward. is it correct to say that donald trump is the front-runner in the race for the republican presidential nomination of 2012 as we speak? >> no. i don't think it is correct.
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i think if you would say anybody is the front-runner it would be mitt romney, the former governor of massachusetts. although although i think he's a fragile front-runner. there's no question donald trump has moved up in the polls and is at or near the top of some of the national polls at this point we don't know what he'll be like as a candidate and i think there are enough questions apart from whether he's going to run or whether this is a serious enterprise or an attention-getting one to say that he is not a real front-runner at this point. >> lehrer: okay, dan, thank you very much. >> thank you, jim. >> brown: still to come on the "newshour": bernanke talks to the press; washington, d.c. pushes back against congress and a security breach for play- station users. but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: an afghan military pilot shot and killed nine americans today outside kabul, before being killed. eight of the dead were u.s. troops. afghan officials said the pilot got into an argument with the americans, at the kabul airport. it was the latest in a string of similar incidents this year.
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the taliban claimed the man was an insurgent. the afghan defense ministry denied that, and said he was a 20-year veteran of the military. president obama plans a major reshuffling of his national security team tomorrow. administration officials confirmed today that ryan crocker, the former ambassador to iraq, will be the new ambassador to afghanistan. in addition, the president will nominate c.i.a. director leon panetta to be defense secretary. panetta will replace robert gates, now expected to step down on june 30. the overall commander in afghanistan army general david petraeus will take over at the c.i.a. marine lieutenant general john allen is expected to replace petraeus in afghanistan. more syrian tanks and troops entered the southern city of daraa today, as a crackdown intensified. this video-- posted online-- appeared to show a convoy of army transports carrying military vehicles toward daraa. the city has been at the heart of the syrian uprising. there were also reports of tanks deploying near damascus and in the coastal city of banias.
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the besieged city of misurata in western libya had a day of relative calm, after nato air strikes beat back moammar qaddafi's forces. the lull enabled a much-needed mercy vessel to reach the city's port. we have a report from alex thomson of "independent television news." >> reporter: a 38-hour voyage that should take 20 delayed by heavy shelling, the red star ferry charter from albania finally docks in misurata. smoke rising still from yesterday's bombardment. the rebels are nothing if not organized. a car and a driver laid on and straight to the hospital, they want world to see. outside in a car park, a tent is a hospital ward. the latest injured fighters, this man being patched up with a bullet in the buttocks and another in the chest. what you're witnessing here is the care and meticulousness necessary to move just one patient from this intensive care unit out to the vehicles and beyond to the ship and away from
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the resident safety of benghazi and europe after that. and that is just the gravity of the nature of the injuries that we're dealing with here on the one hand but also it shows you just how frightful that boat link in and out of the port of misurata remains. the transit camp for migrant workers out near the point desperate to escape the fighting is now all but empty. 900 more left for the red star today. but then they came back. "we've got another 50." and that leaves hundreds disappointed out in the open in an area which early yesterday was shelled and two people were killed. >> we are dying here! we are innocent! we are innocent here! these people tried to kill us! >> reporter: down at the dockside, we caught up to the chosen few who made it but there will be other boats in coming days.
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>> sreenivasan: in yemen today, security forces opened fire on a huge crowd in the capital, sanaa. a doctor at the scene reported 12 protesters were killed. an estimated 100,000 people had rallied, demanding the ouster of long-time president ali abdullah saleh. the protest came even though yemeni opposition leaders have agreed to a plan for saleh to give up power. the palestinians have reached initial agreement on uniting their rival governments. officials of fatah in the west bank and hamas in gaza announced the plan today. it calls for forming a single, caretaker government until new elections can be held a year from now. israel again rejected any government that includes hamas, which opposes the existence of a jewish state. officials across the middle of the united states reported at least 11 more deaths today, after the latest wave of severe weather. severe thunderstorms and tornadoes cut an enormous swath from the deep south, up through kentucky and tennessee, and reaching all the way into michigan and new york state. >> that's a tornado cloud right there, dude. look at it! >> sreenivasan: cries of alarm, like that one, echoed again overnight with reports of another 50 tornadoes sighted across five states.
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winds near hurricane force, if not outright twisters, took down tall trees in northeast georgia, smashing them into homes. >> probably three or four minutes, and that's when i heard the roof shake and saw daylight. >> sreenivasan: and all the while the rain kept falling, many in the region awoke to scenes of widespread flooding. the black river in southeastern missouri was already overflowing and threatening to do even worse. volunteers in evansville, indiana and elsewhere spent the day filling sandbags, trying to keep the creeping water at bay. the governor of kentucky said his state faces a double whammy. >> this will be the first time in a while that the ohio and mississippi are flooding at the same time. >> sreenivasan: that threat had the u.s. army corps of engineers pondering a plan to blow holes in the birds point levee in missouri. it could relieve the flood danger upstream, at cairo, illinois, near the confluence of
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the ohio and mississippi. meanwhile, the effects of violent weather also extended well north, dropping golf ball sized hail on michigan and sweeping heavy rains and winds across upstate new york. the u.s. supreme court considered today when lawmakers should recuse themselves from voting on official business. a city councilman in reno, nevada had voted on a casino project, even though his campaign manager served as a consultant for it. an ethics commission censured the councilman, but the state supreme court ruled the ethics law violated his free speech rights. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to jeff. >> brown: and we turn to the federal reserve on an unusual day of both substance and appearances. >> good afternoon, welcome. >> brown: it was a standard greeting, but hardly a standard setting, as federal reserve chairman ben bernanke held the first regularly-scheduled news conference in the central bank's 98 year history. the fed has long been seen as a secretive, even mysterious
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institution, pulling the levers of the economy wizard of oz-like from behind a magic curtain. bernanke said he hopes to change that. >> i personally have always been a big believer in providing as much information as you can to help the public understand what you're doing, to help the markets understand what you're doing, and to be accountable to the public for what you're doing. now of course the fed didn't do this for a long time, and i think the counter-argument has always been that if there was a risk that the chairman speaking might create unnecessary volatility in financial markets or may not be necessary, given all the other sources of information that come out of the federal reserve. it was our judgment, after thinking about this for some time, that at this point the additional benefits from more information, more transparency, meeting the press directly outweighed some of these... some of these risks.
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>> brown: bernanke has slowly opened up the fed since taking over as chairman in 2006. he's been interviewed twice on "60 minutes"; held two informal question and answer sessions at the national press club in washington. and in 2009, he sat down with jim lehrer in kansas city, for a public forum about the fed's response to the financial crisis. and it's the financial crisis and its aftermath that have dominated his tenure and brought both praise for helping stem a complete meltdown and criticism for not sufficiently speeding up economic growth and job creation. at today's press conference bernanke was asked why the fed was not doing more to reduce high unemployment. he defended the central bank's actions to date. >> in terms of trying to help this economy stabilize and then recover, the federal reserve has taken extraordinary measures. those include-- obviously all the steps we took to stabilize
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the financial system during the crisis, again many of which were extraordinary measures taken under extreme circumstances. >> brown: he also defended a controversial program known as quantitative easing, or qe-2-- a fed program to buy $600 billion of government bonds in an effort to spur lending and expand business. today, the fed announced the program will end as scheduled in june. >> i do believe that the second round of securities purchases was effective. we saw that first in the financial markets. the way monetary policy always works is by easing financial conditions. and we saw increases in stock prices. we saw reduced spreads in credit markets. we saw reduced volatility. we saw all the changes in financial markets and quite significant changes that one would expect if one was doing an ordinary easing of policy via a reduced federal funds rate. so
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>> brown: bernanke also said today that short term interest rates would remain near zero. on the key question of inflation, he acknowledged a rise, but one that should be temporary. >> as i've noted, headline inflation is at least temporarily higher, being driven by gasoline prices and some other commodity prices. our expectation is that inflation will come down and towards a more normal level, but we'll be watching that carefully. >> brown: bernanke ended today press conference with a message seemingly aimed at the public at large, worried about pace of the recovery. >> it's very hard to blame the american public for being impatient. conditions are far from where they-- where we would like them to be. the combination of high unemployment, high gas prices and high foreclosure rates is a... is a terrible combination. a lot of people are having a very tough time, so i can certainly understand why people are impatient. i do think that the pace will pick up over time, and i am very confident that in the long run,
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that the u.s. will return to being the most productive, one of the fastest growing and dynamic economies in the world. and it hasn't lost any of the basic characteristics that made it the preeminent economy in the world before the crisis. and i think we will return to that status as we recover. >> brown: bernanke now plans to hold regular news conferences, following the fed's meetings on monetary policy. the next one is scheduled in june. wall street rallied on bernanke's remarks about the economy. the dow jones industrial average gained 95 points to close just below 12,691. the nasdaq rose 22 points to close near 2,870. more now about the fed's policy and presentation, from joseph stiglitz is a nobel-prize winning economist and professor at columbia university business school. and matthew slaughter, who
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served on the council of economic advisors under george w. bush. he's now associate dean at the tuck school of business at dartmouth. matthew slaughter, since this was so unusual i'll reverse the normal newshour approach and reduce appearances first. why is bernanke doing a press conference and who do you see him speaking to? >> i think the chairman connected to the press conference for two reasons. one is historically if you look at his academic work a lot of research had shown the value of transparency for central banks and the second is in the wake of the financial crisis and the ongoing sluggish recovery, i think he feel it is need to try to speak to different audiences that are concerned about how u.s. monetary policy is being conducted so today he was speak to business and finance leaders. he was speaking to policymakers, but at least as importantly, i think the third group he was speaking to american workers and their families to talk about the concerns that they have about the recovery.
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>> lehrer: joseph stiglitz, what do you see? why is he doing it? who is he speaking to? >> i exactly with what matt said. there's another element. the trust of the fed has never been lower. it's lower than even congress. i think that they understand that the fed was asleep at the wheel, failure in regulation are and was largely responsible for allowing the bubble to get as big as it did and then having to deal with the mess. yes, it did save us from a disaster but it was a disaster they helped create. so they need to show that they are more open and more transparent. especially after the scandals associated with a.i.g., with the way that they were involved in the bailouts. the problem is this is, you might say, a little bit of a superficial approach. press conferences are nice, but
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what was really important is freedom of information. the right of people to find out what the fed is doing. and the fed has been fighting the bloomberg press trying to get information. we understand why, because some of the things they did don't stand up to scrutiny. but the fact that first they lost in the district court and then the appellate courts have supported the freedom of information act and they seem to be still reluck tonight go along with the law of the land. >> lehrer: we should say this was an effort to get them to disclose aid to banks during the financial crisis. but matt slaughter, pick up on that. do you think that he's doing this feeling a lot of outside pressure to speak up and to speak more clearly because of perceived failings of policy? >>ty think he does. i think joe is right. the fed today faces a trifecta of challenges. there's technical, economic, and
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political challenges. they're related to each other. the technical challenges is chairman talked today about when and how the fed might start to change the size and composition of its balance sheet. the economic challenges are the fed has this dual mandate by law. they're aiming at price stability in the united states, they're also aiming at maximum employment and one of the things the chairman talked about today was realizing that as time progresses those tradeoffs between how monetary policy gets conducted and how it affects inflation versus employment, those tradeoffs change and they talked about inflation being a bit more of a concern. but as joe said politically, the challenge for the fed is many people are a lot more concerned about what they've done in the past, what the powers are of the fed and so what was interesting was in a lot of the questions at today's press conference i think the chairman was speaking much more directly beyond the reporters to american people again, talking about the legitimate concerns they have about what's happening in the housing market, about slow rates of job growth, about how gas
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prices and trying to convey an understanding of those concerns and get people to understand the fed has some powers that it continues to conduct to try to alleviate those pressures on families but acknowledging the fed is not omnipotent on those challenges. >> lehrer: joe stiglitz, he did talk about this dual mandate and the challenge and balancing act. but on the substance, what do you think about where he was on the substance today of fed policy? >> the big issue in the minds of most americans, not wall street but most americans remains jobs. he mentioned a number, for instance, that the number of jobs is seven million below what it was in 2008 at the peak. what he didn't mention is in the intervening years if things had been normal something between four or five million or more americans would have entered the labor force. so our jobs gap is not just seven million, it's more like 11
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12 million. what was so disconcerting was the numbers that he reported about prospects of job growth, of g.d.p. growth in in a range of around 3%. at that pace of g.d.p. growth, employment growth will be so slow that the number of people that are unemployed will remain high for years to come. and the numbers that he was quoting didn't seem to square their circle. very moderate growth and the reality that at that moderate growth unemployment is going to be a problem not just this year and not even just next year but into 2013 and beyond. >> lehrer: so matt slaughter, you were talking about him referring to the limits of fed power. on the substance, do you think that the fed has woven its way
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pretty well in terms of getting the balance right? in terms of getting things on the right path? >> you know, i think he has. so one of the very interesting questions that was posed to the chairman was about long-term unemployment and the questioner said "could the fed do more to address long-term unemployment?" and chairman bernanke rightly pointed out that today it's still case that about 45% of americans that are unemployed have been unemployed for six months or longer. he talked about the cost that generates to those workers in terms of long-term skills, long-term earnings potential. but then he went on to say, you know, at some point the fed can only indirectly address that challenge and the kind of government policies that are needed for that are are things more related to job retraining, worker education, things that simply aren't in the purview of the fed. and i think traditionally the main channel by which the federal reserve can support hiring by companies is by lowering interest rates and lowering the cost of capital for companies. but when you look at the challenges that american
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business face today, large businesses, they're doing quite well. corporate profits are very high, cash flows are very high so that's not really something the fed can directly change much more. if you look at small businesses in america, surveys of small business owners, the biggest concerns they report are things like core sales and also just concern about government policy and what often times gets called government red tape. not the cost of capital for those businesses. i think the chairman's right that there is limits to how much a lot of these unemployment issues can be addressed directly by the feds. >> lehrer: joe stiglitz, are you trying to jump in there? >> yes, there is one area where i think there is... where they could do more. the major source of job creation in an economy are small and medium-sized enterprises and the flow of credit from community banks, from medium-sized banks is still clogged. so in spite of everything the fed has talked about, yes, there
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was big bailouts for a.i.g., big bailouts for the big banks, the flow of credit to small and medium-sized enterprises is not... has not been reignited. let me make two other points. one of them is that the... he talked about the deficit, the problems of the deficit and the necessity of addressing that. he should remember, we should remember that the fed chairman were in support of the tax cuts for the wealthiest americans. and that means that there's less fiscal space. if we didn't have that... remember, back in 2000, the end of the clinton administration, we had a 2% of g.d.p. surplus. and it was the big tax cut that really changed the scene and turned those surpluses into deficits. so the reason why this is so important is because this is now
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crowding out the kinds of spending for job retraining programs for infrastructure investment that would create jobs for ordinary americans. >> lehrer: >> well, briefly, matt slaughter just thigh thought back to the coming out here in a press conference. he is trying to talk about things like the deficit. he did actually say that it was the most important thing facing america today. >> yeah, it was very telling. he said it was the most important long-term challenge that america faces and i think he was right in saying i don't think america should close our fiscal deficit tomorrow, that would create a huge problem in lowering aggregate demand and would help slow the recovery if not destroy it all together. but he was right in saying our elected officials need to be putting forward credible plans for medium and long-term fiscal consolidation that creditors of the united states both here at home and abroad will believe.
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as one of the ways we need to support the broader economic environment in america, ultimately to help grow jobs in america. >> brown: we'll leave it there. matthew slaughter, joe steph stiglitz, thank you both very much. >> thank you. :. >> lehrer: now, a report on congress's rocky relationship with the city it calls home. "newshour" congressional correspondent kwame holman is the reporter. >> reporter: washington d.c. actually is two different worlds. there's official washington-- the nation's capital-- home to the white house, congress and the supreme court. but there's also the district of columbia-- d.c.-- a city like any other, with 600,000 residents, historic neighborhoods, schools and parks. and every so often those two worlds collide. the two washingtons were thrown together earlier this month when congress and the president finally reached an agreement to
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fund the federal government through september and avert a shutdown. two provisions affecting the district were critical to closing that deal: a prohibition on the district's use of its own tax dollars to pay for abortions for poor women, and a requirement that the city reinstate a controversial private-school voucher program. house speaker john boehner cited both measures as republican improvements to the compromise. >> it bans taxpayer funding of abortion in the district of columbia, ensuring that taxpayer funds won't be used to fund the destruction of human life. it saves the d.c. opportunity scholarship program, giving thousands of children here in this city a chance at a decent education. is it perfect? no. i would be the first one to admit that it's flawed. welcome to divided government. >> reporter: president obama and senate democrats accepted the d.c.-related measures as a way of getting republicans to back off other targets, such as
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funding for planned parenthood and the environmental protection agency's authority to regulate greenhouse gasses. but the deal incensed city officials who complained they weren't even consulted. washington's mayor vincent gray and six city council members blocked constitution avenue near the capitol to demonstrate their anger and were briefly arrested. speaking to the "newshour" later that week, gray said the budget deal was just the latest example of congresses and presidents casually meddling in the district's affairs. >> it just appears to me that the district of columbia was thrown under the bus in terms of reaching that compromise. and we're sick and tired of being treated like second class citizens in this country. >> reporter: since the nation's founding, washington has existed as a hybrid political entity. until 1964, residents could not even vote in presidential elections. it took a constitutional amendment to bestow that right. a few years later, congress granted limited "home rule" allowing d.c. voters to elect a
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mayor and city council, but required all legislation, including the city's budget, be subject to congressional approval. washingtonians's push for washingtonians' push for greater autonomy recently has focused on representation in congress. the city has a delegate in the house who currently cannot vote on legislation. but in 2009, congress was on its way to approving a bipartisan plan that would give washington a full-fledged house member, while creating another seat in utah. but the effort stalled after senate republicans attached an amendment that would have stripped away gun restrictions in the district. >> there's a serious problem here when you have hundreds of thousands of tax paying and draftable american citizens who are governed by the laws but have no say in the making of the laws. >> reporter: jamin raskin teaches constitutional law at american university and has argued a case before the supreme court on behalf of d.c. residents seeking a voting member of congress.
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he says denying the district a representative in congress runs contrary to the country's founding principle. >> the american nation was created against the idea of virtual representation, that the people who lived in the colonies would be represented in parliament by other people's representatives. we rejected that as a country. everybody needs their own representatives. you can't trust other people's representatives to do your bidding and to represent your interests effectively. >> reporter: but, many conservatives oppose d.c. autonomy, arguing it is unconstitutional for d.c. to have a voting representative without it being a state. republican congressman jason chaffetz of utah: >> i understand how there are people that are emotionally charged on both sides of this issue, but the constitution is crystal clear and that's what we should living by. and until it's amended, i think we continue on the current trajectory. >> reporter: but that presents a
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real problem says matthew spalding, a constitutional scholar at the heritage foundation, a conservative think-tank in washington. >> it can't be in another state, which is why they created the district in the first place. so how do you solve this dilemma in the one hand that recognizes this question about representation and the necessity of having the district, the federal government not in a state, really in a place where it has its own sovereign jurisdiction. >> reporter: regardless of the reason, many d.c. residents say the status quo is unacceptable. >> i find it infuriating that lawmakers take our tax money and make laws for the rest of the country and impose ones on d.c. that we don't want without any representation. >> that's taxation without representation and that's part of our constitution, and you know, that's something that should be enhanced. so, you know we should be able to implement our thoughts and our ideas just like everyone else in the rest of the country. >> d.c. really means doesn't count. >> reporter: local news radio commentator mark plotkin has
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advocated on behalf of d.c. voting rights for decades. he says nothing will change until residents turn up the heat on congress and the administration. >> it has to be beyond politics. and it's also got to be the president and the people who are against this, have to be embarrassed properly. and their lives have to be made uncomfortable in a constant, incessant way. >> reporter: raskin says that might be a tough sell, given the city's legion of transplants-- workers who come to washington for jobs with the government-- and the prudent sensibility of many long-time washingtonians. >> and then there are also that's a more likely place that you would find a real sense of indignity and insult about what's taken place, but even there is a certain kind of identification with the government, civil service and doing things in a normal and rational and civilized way. and that doesn't mean going out
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and protesting and making a big ruckus. >> reporter: but without a big ruckus, there is little impetus for lawmakers to relinquish their control over the district's affairs. and that leaves d.c. residents wondering what the next step might be. for advocacy groups, such as "d.c. vote" which sponsored a pro-d.c. democracy mural painting this week, the primary focus at the moment is on protecting the rights they already have with a long-term goal of full representation in the house and the senate. heritage's spalding has another suggestion for them: take a cue from your license plate. >> no taxation without representation. how about no taxation? let's make the district of columbia truly very attractive economically. and congress should take advantage of its responsibility over the district, its exclusive jurisdiction, not merely as a kind of a little brother, kind of keeping them in line, but make it into a grand city, as it should be.
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>> brown: perhaps then other states would want to be more like the district, instead of the other way around. >> brown: next, it happened again: a major data breach involving personal information. ray suarez has the story. >> suarez: the latest episode involved millions of people around the world who use sony's playstation video game system and who may have had their credit card information stolen in a hacking incident. the intrusion caused the company to shut down playstation's internet network a week ago, which provides access to online gaming, music, movies, sports and tv shows. 77 million user accounts were disconnected worldwide. but it wasn't until yesterday that sony disclosed that a hacker obtained information including players' names, addresses, birth dates, email addresses, passwords, and log-in names. and on the company's blog, sony spokesman patrick seybold said, "while there is no evidence at this time that credit card data
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was taken, we cannot rule out the possibility." near sony headquarters in tokyo, some said the breach may stop them from using playstation. >> ( translated ): i will be afraid of playing with the game machine after hearing of this. i don't want my credit card information to be leaked out somewhere else in the world. >> suarez: and in australia, police urged playstation users to be vigilant. >> it would appear that the risk in relation to credit cards may be low. but if people have concerns, they should be talking to their banks and watching for an unauthorized usage of the cards. >> suarez: some industry experts say the scale of the breach could cost the company billions of dollars. >> this is going to, you know, this is going to have a very negative impact on the business that they've built up. i think a lot of consumers will be very wary of putting their credit card information back online, or even buying anything. >> suarez: sony said it expects the playstation network to be restored in a week. in the meantime, an outside security firm has been hired to investigate what sony deemed the
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malicious intrusion. for a closer look at all this, we turn to kevin poulsen, senior editor at wired.com. a former hacker himself, he is also author of a new book "kingpin: how one hacker took over the billion-dollar cyber crime underground." and, kevin, for those people who aren't gamers, why would you have to load personal information into a game console in the first place? >> well, a lot of gaming takes place now online. you have multiplayer games where you can play with or against opponents live in realtime. and, of course, a game console isn't just a game console, anymore. you want to be able to download movies and other consent tent and you pay for all of that, which means you have to give up this information. >> suarez: sony says it has no direct evidence that credit card numbers were taken but it says "we cannot rule out the possibility." when you've had a breach, when someone has been rifling around in your files electronically,
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can you tell what they've seen and what they haven't? >> there are... there's uslly some kind of trail left, yes. but if the hacker is good and took steps to cover his or her tracks, then it could take a while to extract that. i imagine that's why sony took so long to announce this. they were probably hoping to find better news. they were probably hoping to find evidence that that information wasn't accessed. now they've brought in an outside company i expect they'll know a lot more than they do now eventually. of course, they may know more than they're telling us now. >> suarez: the playstation system has been down for over week, disappointing a lot of people who are frequent users. does that long-term shutdown tell you something about the seriousness of the breach? that they're not patching it but rebuilding the whole network? >> absolutely. it's a really radical measure to take. it's surely going to cost them a lot of money and a lot of fan loyalty. there are people that aren't even going care about the breach itself who are just going to be extremely angry they were denied
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access to the playstation network for so long. so it's bad news all around. if this had just been a casual intruder, a recreational intruder, some kid working from his bedroom i doubt they would have taken this measure. so they probably have some indication that this was a serious focused attack. >> suarez: well, as we reported earlier, they got user names, passwords, various other kinds of personal information. what's the risk to account holders at this snint. >> you know, the biggest risk is probably with the personal information, especially passwords. because a lot of people use the same passwords everywhere. so that coupled with your e-mail address and your real name and your date of birth, the hackers will, if this was done for profit, then all of that could wind up being sold on the black market probably for a nice sum of money and whoever buys it, other computer intruders could use the information to try and
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hack into other accounts by these playstation network users, it could be anything from facebook to online banking. you could use it to stage scams targeting the users there other ways. so it could wind up that this becomes the first stage in a lingering problem that haunts users for a long time if, in fact, that that was the nature of the breach. >> suarez: given what you just said, what should an individual account holder do to protect him or herself? >> the first thing you should do if you're a playstation network user and you use your password anywhere else you should change those passwords. you should also be alert to unauthorized charges on your credit cards. start checking your statements frequently online in near to real-time for a while in case there are fraudulent charges and you should especially be alert to scams that are targeting you using information that may have been lost in the breach. so if you get an e-mail that purports to be from sony in
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particular and that has your user name and your date of birth and all of this other stuff, it may not be from sony and you probably shouldn't click on any links. >> suarez: internet-enabled computers and game consoles used to be kind of two different animals. but now that you can access the web using a game console, should you be cautious when dough yo something like buy a game or update your information? should you switch back to your computer to do those kinds of transactions? >> your computer is definitely not safer than your game console. game consoles generally can't be hackd from the outside. so at least you have that measure of security. so there's really a... the fact is these kind of breachs are happening everywhere and they don't just affect online systems we've seen credit card numbers stolen from brick-and-more outlets as well. so the scale of this breach makes it extraordinary. it's quite unusual.
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but it doesn't mean that you're not safe doing things on the internet. you're really at this point no less safe doing things online than you are conducting transactions in real life. because everything, it turns out, is connected in some way to the net. >> suarez: very briefly, kevin, we mentioned earlier that you used to be a hacker. that has state-of-the-art advance add great deal? is it like the arms race where people are figuring out how to breach the walls at the same time as people are trying to thicken the walls on the other side of the encounter? >> yeah, the state-of-the-art has improved dramatically since my day back in 1991. on both sides. the hackers have the upper hand right now. the good guys are playing defense and there are reasons for that. part of it is that the defenders are trying to defend against attacks that haven't been invented yet so they're kind of playing catch up. we've seen a lot of sophistication, a lot of people doing this full time and making a lot of money at it.
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>> suarez: kevin poulsen, thanks for joining us. >> thanks for having me. >> lehrer: again, the major developments of the day: president obama released a detailed birth certificate. he said continuing claims that he was born in another country are silliness. an afghan military pilot shot and killed eight u.s. troops and one american civilian outside kabul. and federal reserve chairman ben bernanke held the first in a series of news conferences. and to hari sreenivasan for what's on the "newshour" online. hari? >> sreenivasan: you can read about the history of washington, d.c. dating back to the creation of a federal district soon after the united states was born. and connect with the crew of the shuttle endeavor while they're in space. on monday, miles o'brien will lead a live chat. send your questions via youtube or twitter. just follow a link on our web site. plus, as great britain prepares for the royal wedding, ray reflects on a different wedding and a different britain, 30
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years ago. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. >> lehrer: and again to our honor roll of american service personnel killed in the iraq and afghanistan conflicts. we add them as their deaths are made official and photographs become available. here, in silence, are 11 more.
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>> brown: and that's the "newshour" for tonight. on thursday, we'll look at changes at the top in president obama's military and diplomatic teams. i'm jeffrey brown. >> jeff: and i'm jim lehrer. we'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening. thank you and good night.
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and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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