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tv   PBS News Hour Weekend  PBS  April 29, 2017 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by wnet >> thompson: on this edition for saturday, april 29: 100 days in office-- what promises has president trump fulfilled? in our signature segment, will tax reforms being considered in washington stop companies from relocating overseas? and a look at the los angeles riots 25 years later. next on pbs newshour weekend. >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: bernard and irene schwartz. judy and josh weston. the cheryl and philip milstein family. the john and helen glessner family trust-- supporting trustworthy journalism that informs and inspires. sue and edgar wachenheim, iii. barbara hope zuckerberg. corporate funding is provided by mutual of america--
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designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement company. additional support has been provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. from the tisch wnet studios at lincoln center in new york, megan thompson. >> thompson: good evening, and thanks for joining us. president donald trump is marking his 100th day in office with a visit and rally tonight in a key swing state that propelled him to the white house. mr. trump is expected to address supporters in harrisburg, the capital of pennsylvania, which backed him last november, the first time the state went republican since 1988. before the rally, the president was set to visit a shovel and gardening tool manufacturer and sign an executive order directing the commerce department and u.s. trade representative to identify trade agreement violations by other countries and recommend
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solutions within six months. earlier, in his weekly address, the president touted his record on saving jobs and bringing change to washington. >> the most fundamental change can be found in the relationship between the people and their government. for too long, politicians cared more about special interests than they did about a very successful future for all americans. they took our taxpayers' money and sent their jobs and wealth to other countries. not anymore. >> thompson: last night, the president signed a spending bill passed by congress to keep the federal government running for another week. though 100 days in office equals a mere 7% of a full four-year term, the measurement has dominated the conversation about the trump administration this week. the standard was set by franklin delano roosevelt, whose leadership in 1933 pushed a flurry of major legislation through congress to combat the great depression. joining me now from santa barbara, california, to talk about mr. trump's first 14 weeks
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on the job is newshour weekend special correspondent, jeff greenfield. jeff, it's good to see you. so here we are, 100 days in. but you've said on this program and you've written that you don't really think this 100-days measurement is a very reliable way to measure a president. the but didn't trump invite this measurement in the speech he gave right before the election in gettysburg? >> yes, october 22, he set down a 100-day action plan. he later released a contract with 28 specific proposals covering everything from legislation to executive orders to appointments to treaty policy. and if you judge him by that metric, it is very much a mixed bag. he did get a conservative justice not only nominated but confirmed. pulled out of the trans-pacific partnership, is set to renegotiate nafta, has put a flurry of executive orders out that severely change the environmental policy. on the other hand, on some issues he's just simply backed off, no, china is not a currency
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manipulator, which he said he would declare them on day one. no, nato is not obsolete. on the legislative front, nothing has been passed, even the desperate effort to get some kind of health care bill through the house before 100 days died. >> so the white house has dismissed this 100-day measurement, but it's also simultaneously claimed to have made more achievements since any president since f.d.r.? is this part of a pattern? >> you're absolutely right, it's double think. on the one hand they think-- and i agree-- it's a ludicrous metric and on the other hand they have tried to cobble together this claim of a record set of achievements. the kindest way to describe that is over-reach and the less kind way is to channel john mcenroe and say you can't be serious. by this point, barack obama had his massive stimulus bill passed. ronald regan's tax cuts were well on the way through the legislative process. and george w. bush's tax cuts and education plans were as
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well. i think they would have been better on historical grounds to say, look, we're not playing this media game. it's a ridiculous measurement. come back to us in a few months and see where we are." >> given your skepticism of what the first 100 days tell us what, have we learned? >> i think there are two things. in economic terms the idea that trump was going to be a populist president has to be cleared off the board. he said during the campaign, there are going to be higher taxes on the rich. it will hurt me. every proposal in that one-page set of bullet points, points the other way. what remains of populist approach is his attitude towards trade, those wicked foreign countries eating our lunch, and on immigration. but on economic grounds, this is a classic conservative republican presidency. the other thing i think we can see is the idea that trump was going to radically change how he decides is also, i think, a nonstarter. this is a unique president in terms of his skepticism about
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detailed policy proposals, his impairks with detail, his reliance on his own instincts, how he gathers information-- from friends on late-night telephone calls and watching cable news shows. this is who white house is. and those who thought the white house is going to change him, i don't think that's right. i think what you see is what you get and what we're going to get for the next 93% of the term. >> all right, newshour weekend special correspondent jeff greenfield. thank you so much for joining us. >> pleasure, megan. >> thompson: north korea's latest failed missile test is generating a storm of denunciation. the medium-range missile launched from a site near the capital of pyongyang exploded a few minutes after takeoff early today over the sea of japan. in a tweet, president trump said the test was an affront to north korea's main ally. on a visit to london, japanese
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prime minister shinzo abe said the launch was: as a precaution, for the first time, tokyo shut down a major subway line following word of the missile launch. it reopened ten minutes later. off the divided korean peninsula, a u.s. navy strike group led by the aircraft carrier "carl vinson" began joint exercises with south korean warships today, maneuvers south korea said are meant to deter north korea's" provocations." north korea called the "vinson's" arrival "a reckless action of the war maniacs." pope francis ended a rare visit to a predominantly muslim country today, egypt, and celebrated mass with the country's small catholic community. security was extremely tight around the stadium filled with an estimated 15,000 people. the pope urged egypt's muslims to join forces to protect the coptic christian minority from attacks by islamist militants who killed at least 45 people in an attack three weeks ago. francis also warned against the
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dangers of religious fanaticism. >> ( translated ): true faith leads us to protect the rights of others with the same zeal and enthusiasm with which we defend our own. >> thompson: europe is presenting a firm and united front on britain's looming split from the european union. at a summit in brussels today, leaders of the other 27 e.u. member nations took only a minute to unanimously approve their negotiating tactics for the brexit talks that are expected to begin in june and last two years. the european leaders dashed britain's hopes to negotiate a free trade deal during the talks and said their top priorities will be the rights of millions of european expatriates living in britain. the leaders also acknowledged northern ireland could possibly join the e.u. in the future if it votes to unite with the republic of ireland, which already belongs.
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>> thompson: this week, the white house announced a broad, single-page outline for tax reform, one of the next big items on congress' agenda. the last time the tax code had a major rewrite was 1986, when ronald reagan was president, but conservatives and liberals seem to agree the system is ripe for overhaul, especially when it comes to corporate taxes. in tonight's signature segment, special correspondent patricia sabga reports on efforts to change rules exploited by corporations that cost the treasury billions of dollars a year. >> my economic team is developing historic tax reform. >> reporter: from the white house to capitol hill, republicans are determined to lower the 35% corporate tax rate, the highest of any developed economy. matt gardner is a senior fellow with the institute on taxation and economic policy, a liberal washington-based think tank. >> the biggest, most profitable corporations are now finding it almost routine to escape paying the 35% tax.
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in some cases, they're easily finding ways to avoid paying any income tax at all. >> reporter: that's because even though the u.s. taxes income earned anywhere in the world, the tax code allows american companies to defer paying taxes on income earned by their foreign subsidiaries indefinitely as long as the profits are not returned to the parent company in the u.s. here's a simple example: an american company that earns $1 billion in profits on sales in the united states would face a u.s. tax bill of $350 million before deductions, credits and write-offs. but if the company records those profits to an overseas subsidiary in say, ireland, where the corporate tax rate is only 12.5%, it would owe the irish government $125 million before any adjustments and nothing to the u.s. treasury as long as the money is not brought home.
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citizens for tax justice corporations to amass at least $2.6 trillion overseas. when a major corporation basically shifts a lot of its profits overseas, how then do ordinary americans end up footing the bill? >> the most direct way is through large scale spending cuts, less direct spending on all the things that make the united states a good place to live-- healthcare, transportation, education, all the public services that we find most vital. >> reporter: one legal maneuver companies use to minimize their u.s. tax bill is to sell or license intangible assets, like software or drug patents, to a lower tax foreign subsidiary. when a product made with that intellectual property is sold, the foreign subsidiary records the income. and because of that, u.s. taxes can be deferred. >> we counted 10,000 tax haven subsidiaries among fortune 500 corporations. deferral creates a clear incentive for companies to shift their activities offshore, but, more damagingly, it creates a
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clear incentive for them to pretend they're shifting their activities offshore. >> reporter: pretending to shift activities offshore is also the main critique of another legal tactic known as an inversion. that's when an american company changes its corporate citizenship by acquiring a firm based in a lower tax country or jurisdiction. since the 1980s, more than 50 american companies have pulled this off, with 25 such deals in the past five years alone. samsonite, the century-old luggage maker, moved its tax address from massachusetts to luxembourg, where the corporate tax rate is 19%. restaurant brands international, parent of fast-food chain burger king, relocated its headquarters from florida to canada, where the corporate tax rate is 15%. but the number one destination for tax inversions is ireland, where, at 12.5%, the corporate tax rate is nearly two-thirds lower than the u.s. the biggest company to change its tax address from the united
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states to ireland is medical device maker medtronic, which still maintains a hefty presence in its native minnesota. medtronic's operational headquarters and all of its top executives are in the united states, but its official headquarters is here, in dublin, ireland, in that building behind me. that change of address was engineered two years ago when medtronic bought covidian, an irish-based medical device maker. this modest building in dublin may be medtronic's global headquarters, but the company employs around 4,000 people in ireland compared to more than 43,000 in the united states. >> they went out of their way to guarantee that they weren't going to move employees out of minnesota, that everything from a u.s. perspective would remain exactly as it was before. >> reporter: medtronic declined newshour weekend's request to be interviewed. in a written statement, the company said:
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>> we don't offer any sweetheart tax deals to any individual companies. >> reporter: ireland's minister of foreign affairs and trade, charlie flannigan, makes no apologies that 12 of the 20 biggest companies in ireland have roots in the united states. he says multinational companies have brought hundreds of thousands of jobs to his country and pay their fair share of irish taxes. >> we will continue with a very attractive rate of corporation tax, but we also offer something that perhaps might not be as evident in the united states, and that is a very skilled and adaptable workforce. >> reporter: veronique de rugy is a senior fellow with the mercatus center at george mason university, a conservative think tank partially funded by the koch brothers. she says corporate taxes ultimately fall on workers. >> economics 101-- we know now that the person writing the check is not necessarily the one
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shouldering the burden of the tax. 70% of the burden of the corporate income tax falls on the workers in the form of lower wages. >> our objective is to make u.s. businesses the most competitive in the world. lawyer >> reporter: when the trump administration unveiled its one- page outline for rewriting the tax code this week, it featured a cut in the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%. the white house also wants a one-time "tax holiday" that would allow american companies to repatriate that $2.6 trillion in overseas cash at a reduced though as yet unspecified rate. >> which will bring back trillions of dollars that are offshore to be invested here in the united states to purchase capital and to create jobs. >> reporter: in addition, the white house wants to stop taxing profits earned overseas. that's also a staple of the tax reform blueprint by house speaker paul ryan and house ways
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and means committee chairman kevin brady. the ryan-brady plan would cut the corporate tax rate to 20%, not 15%, and would introduce a new tax on imports to offset the revenue loss. republican illinois congressman peter roskam chairs the house ways and means subcommittee on tax policy. >> tax cuts have to pay for self. and that pays for create >> reporter: the proposed new tax is called a border adjustment tax, a 20% levy on imports which roskam says will encourage companies to produce more in the u.s. and keep profits here. >> right now, if you're a manufacturer in the chicago area, if you're in my constituency and you're making a product, the cost of your product includes the income tax that the company pays for that. then, when it's exported and it goes into another jurisdiction-- it goes to, let's say germany, for example-- the germans move that in, and they tax it, as well. our weakness here is that the inverse is not true.
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so, if you're a german manufacturer and you're making something in stuttgart, germany, when it comes to the united states, we don't tax it. so, literally, our products are double taxed, theirs are not taxed. >> reporter: the c.e.o.s of 16 american exporting giants which underpin millions of american jobs, including boeing and caterpillar, agree. in a letter to congress, they said the border adjustment tax is a "critical element" of tax reform "that ensures goods and services produced abroad face the same tax burden as those produced in the united states." but more than 100 american companies and trade groups that rely on cheap imports-- including retailer walmart, which alone employs 1.5 million americans-- oppose a border adjustment tax. they say it would increase their costs, leaving them little choice but to raise prices for consumers. but congressman roskam says that's unlikely because a border adjustment tax will increase of the value of the dollar and effectively lower the cost of
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imports. >> as these border adjustment moves in, the dollar gets stronger, the price of imports gets lower, and we can make transition rules that are reasonable for companies. >> reporter: many economists, including veronique de rugy, question whether the dollar would rise sufficiently. >> the idea that the dollar will adjust not only perfectly and completely to the border adjustment tax but also quickly is an article of faith. >> reporter: in february, president trump said a border adjustment tax "could lead to a lot more jobs in the united states." but this week, treasury secretary steven mnuchin said the white house does not support it "in its current form." the white house says its corporate tax cuts will pay for themselves through higher economic growth. but with many economists warning that the plan could add trillions to the federal budget deficit, there are serious differences to bridge to parlay frustration with the corporate tax code into fundamental
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change. >> we can't stay here. this current tax code is a failure. there is a massive amount of money, and whether it's $1 trillion, $2 trillion, $3 trillion or $4 trillion, it's too much money that's stuck overseas. and we need to create an environment where that money can come back. >> thompson: read about a new anthology that explores black men's feelings on childhood and masculinity. visit www.pbs.org/newshour. 25 years ago this weekend, parts of los angeles were in flames. neighborhoods erupted with anger after four white l.a. police officers were acquitted of assaulting motorist rodney king even though videotape had shown them beating him 56 times with their batons. the riots lasted five days, left 63 people dead and destroyed or damaged more than 1,000 buildings. some residents of the city marched today to commemorate those who died and suffered losses in the event. perhaps surprisingly, six out of
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ten l.a. residents believe another civil disturbance is likely in the next five years. this according to an ongoing survey conducted by loyola marymount university. joining me from l.a. to discuss this is marymount university professor fernando guerra. first, you can just tell us' little bit about this poll. you've been doing it every five years since the riots. what have you found in previous years? >> the main thing is that the vast majority of indicators are very positive about the city and the future of the city. of course, there are some challenges, and one of the challenges is the likelihood of another riot. and for the first time in the last 20 years, we had an uptick in the number of residents who believe another riot is likely. >> tell me why is that? >> part of it is that, obviously, latinos and african americans felt more likely-- that a riot would be more likely than whites and asians, but also millennials, the young people, many of them when were not around when this happened. for latinos and african americans, a lot of the things that caused the riots, mostly
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economic disparity, continue in los angeles, and are actually a little bit worse. >> thompson: talk to me a little bit more about the millennials who you found were the most likely to think this could happen again. >> i think what happens is, number one, we did this survey in january. number two, los angeles is overwhelmingly a democratic city. only 17% of us voted for donald trump. and the sense that there has to be civic action is really strong, especially amongst the millennials. so they're willing to take the resistance to the current administration to much graer degree than those who experienced the actual riots in 1992. >> thompson: talk to me a little bit more about the economic situation for minorities in los angeles. hows that played a role? >> sure. we have seen in the los angeles the last 25 years, a continuing deindustrialization, shifting from a manufacturing to a service and knowledge economy. this has created a tremendous amount of disparity. next year, or this year, los angeles will probably create more millionaires than any other region, with the possible exception of the silicon valley.
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but it will also create more poverty than any other region in absolute numbers. and you see it play out in this disparity, and it cause tension. >> thompson: so you talk about tension. how about the relationship between the community and the police. has that improved at all? >> it's improved tremendously. in our poll we show that people are trusting l.a.p.d. to an ever greater extent. there were tremendous reforms. police chiefs are nowhere near as powerful as they were or auton pus as they were. there are still shootings, and there is still unjustified force that is used. but the mechanism to deal with that is much greater. the major change, of course, for not only los angeles but the world is social media and the internet, and things go viral. really, the rodney king recording was one of the first viral videos and now we're so used to that and we see everything that's happening. >> thompson: professor fernando guerra of marymount
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university, thank you so much for joining me. >> thank you for having me. >> this is pbs newshour weekend, saturday. >> thompson: this 100th day of the trump administration drew tens of thousands of demonstrators to the nation's capital, this time for what was called "the people's climate march." the march began on capitol hill and made its way along pennsylvania avenue to the white house, demonstrators protesting trump administration environmental policies. chief among them, dismantling president obama's "clean power plan," which limited carbon dioxide emissions from burning coal to produce electricity. the marchers oppose president trump's desire to withdraw from the 2015 paris climate change accord, which committed the u.s. and 194 other nations to reduce emissions that cause global warming by 25% by the year 2025. >> i'm here to make a statement about the stupidity of denying
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climate change. and it's urgent. we need to do something now. it's important to live. >> thompson: also motivating those in attendance, the white house has proposed cutting the environmental protection agency budget by 30%. and just yesterday, the president signed an executive order to expand offshore drilling for oil and gas in once protected arctic and atlantic waters. >> if something isn't done, the stakes are enormous because they are talking about more pollution. that's going to put more pollution in the air like arsenic and mercury, and in our water, that affects the air our kids breath and the water they drink. >> thompson: looking to next year's midterm congressional elections, march organizers said they'll support candidates with strong environmental records. smaller "people's climate marches" took place in dozens of other cities. the marches occurred one week after the earth day marches for science, which had demanded respect for fact-based, scientific research in public policy.
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>> thompson: and coming up on pbs newshour weekend sunday, an innovative program that aims to reduce the sometimes violent interactions between humans and elephants in tanzania. that's it for this edition of pbs newshour weekend. i'm megan thompson. thanks for watching. captioning sponsored by wnet captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by:
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bernard and irene schwartz. judy and josh weston. the cheryl and philip milstein family. the john and helen glessner family trust-- supporting trustworthy journalism that informs and inspires. sue and edgar wachenheim, iii. barbara hope zuckerberg. corporate funding is provided by mutual of america-- designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement company. additional support has been provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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