tv PBS News Hour PBS September 20, 2013 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: the u.s. house of representatives passed a spending bill sure to lead to a budget showdown and possible government shutdown. then, the white house pushed ahead with the first federal limits of carbon emissions for new power plants, despite opposition from the coal industry. margaret warner reports on the plight of egypt's coptic christians, amid ongoing political turmoil. >> since the 2011 revolution that deposed hosni mubarak-- especially after morsi came to power in 2012-- christians came under pressure as never before. >> woodruff: and david brooks and e.j. dionne on the week's news. good evening. i'm judy woodruff.
gwen ifill has friday nights off to prepare for "washington week." and those are just some of the stories we're covering on tonight's "pbs newshour." >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> support also comes from carnegie corporation of new york, a foundation created to do what andrew carnegie called "real and permanent good." celebrating 100 years of philanthropy at carnegie.org. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and friends of the newshour. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
>> woodruff: the outcome of today's debate in congress was certain. what happens next, is anything but. at stake: keeping the government operating past month's end, and keeping president obama's signature domestic initiative on track. >> on this vote the yays are 230, the nays are 189, the joint resolution is passed. >> woodruff: with that, house republicans closed ranks behind not just a vote to pay for the federal government, but yet another attempt to derail the president's health care reform law. this week, g.o.p. leaders attached a provision to eliminate all funding for it: a move that was necessary to satisfy tea party conservatives, including john culberson of texas. >> we in the house, the constitutional conservative majority have kept our word to our constituents and to the nation to do our job, to fund the essential aspects of the government and to ensure that
we've done everything in our power to protect our constituents from the most unpopular piece of legislation that has ever passed in the history of congress-- obamacare- - by permanently and totally defunding it. >> woodruff: democrats accused republicans of pushing a dead- end strategy with only one possible ending. house minority leader nancy pelosi: >> what is brought to the floor today is without a doubt... without a doubt a measure designed to shut down government. it could have no other intent. it's purpose is clear. and if they-- our colleagues on the republican side deny that then they have no idea of the gravity of the situation. >> woodruff: the two parties are also at odds over overall spending for the coming year. the bill locks in lower outlays across the board, forced by
automatic cuts-- the so-called "sequester." majority leader eric cantor: >> americans are tired of seeing their government continue to spend more and more of their hard earned tax dollars and for the first time since the korean war, it'll be possible to have two consecutive years of discretionary spending cuts. >> woodruff: virginia's jim moran and other democrats argued today the plan short-changes critical needs. >> we need to do what this congress was meant to do. we need to fund the government adequately to be a first class society with a first class economy that can compete and beat anyone. we can't do that on the cheap. ( cheers and applause ) >> woodruff: but with a g.o.p. majority, passage was never in doubt, and republicans cheered their leaders when it was done. speaker john boehner declared the burden is now on the senate to do what the country wants. >> our message to the senate is
real simple. the american people don't want a government shutdown and they don't want obamacare. >> woodruff: but the senate's majority leader democrat harry reid made it clear he disagrees, insisting in a statement that his chamber will not pass any measure that targets obamacare. the senate takes up the spending bill next week, while the house turns to another fiscal fight, raising the national debt ceiling. the president weighed in on that issue, during a visit today to an auto plant in liberty, missouri. >> if congress doesn't pass this debt ceiling in the next few weeks, the united states will default on its obligations. that's never happened in american history. basically, america becomes a dead beat. we can't just not pay our bills. >> woodruff: the treasury projects the borrowing limit could be reached by late october.
and in the other news of this day, the showdown in washington sparked a sell-off on wall street. the dow jones industrial average lost 185 points to close at 15,451. the nasdaq fell 14 points to close at 3,774. for the week, the dow gained about half a percent. the nasdaq rose 1.5%. the obama administration has laid out the first national limits on carbon pollution from power plants. under the proposal, new coal- fired plants would have to prevent up to half their carbon dioxide from escaping into the atmosphere. the power industry condemned the plan; environmental groups welcomed it. we'll have more on this in a moment. chicago police fanned out today, hunting culprits in a shooting that wounded 13 people in a city park. the youngest-- a three-year-old boy-- remains in critical condition. witnesses reported bullets were fired from a passing car.
the city's police superintendent said the attack looks gang- related. and he called for action to prevent mass shootings. >> military type weapons like the one we believe to have been used in this shooting belong on a battlefield not on a street or in a corner or in a park in the back of the yards. this country should have a ban on assault weapons and high- capacity magazines like the ones used in this event. it's common sense. >> woodruff: chicago had a surge of shootings and homicides last year. overall, violent crime is actually down so far this year. in yemen, al-qaeda militants killed 38 government troops and wounded dozens more today. it happened in the southern province of shabwa, in a remote area that was blanketed in heavy fog at the time. the attackers wore army uniforms and hit several military sites. a top israeli official is warning iran could build a
nuclear bomb within six months, despite tehran's diplomatic overtures. the israeli strategic affairs minister yuval steinitz issued the warning today in an israeli newspaper. he said, "there is no more time to hold negotiations." in washington, the state department's marie harf said the obama administration is not ready to go that far. >> we are committed to preventing iran from getting a nuclear weapon, that all options are on the table to do that, but obviously diplomacy is the preferred one, and that there-- we're not out of time here yet on diplomacy, obviously we'd like to give it a chance to work, and we believe there's an opportunity right now to do just that. >> woodruff: for his part, iranian president hassan rouhani called for constructive interaction today. writing in "the washington post", he said: "we must work together to end the unhealthy rivalries and interferences that fuel violence and drive us apart." rescue parties in mexico kept hunting for mudslide victims
today in a village north of acapulco. emergency workers dug through the mud and debris for 68 people who've been missing since a mountainside gave way. the disaster was triggered by a tropical storm. the resulting flooding and mudslides have killed at least 97 people, all told. pope francis denounced abortions today and urged roman catholic doctors not to perform them. the remarks came one day after he warned the church against emphasizing what he called small-minded rules. he spoke today in an audience with catholic gynecologists. >> ( translated ): dear friends, doctors, those of you who are called to deal with human life in its initial phase, remind everybody, with facts and words, that this life is always, in all its phases and at every age, sacred. >> woodruff: before today, some leading catholic conservatives voiced disappointment that francis had not spoken out about
abortion. still ahead on the "newshour": new rules to make producing electricity cleaner; the violence faced by minority christians in egypt; the taxes, credits and penalties in health care reform; brooks and dionne on the week's news and a memoir of loss in the rural south. >> woodruff: we zero in now on the e.p.a.'s decision to issue its first-ever curbs on power plant emissions. it's all part of a bigger effort to reduce greenhouse gases and it's generating an intense reaction from both sides. hari sreenivasan has the story. >> climate change caused by carbon pollution is one of the most significant public health threats of our time. >> sreenivasan: at the national press club in washington, e.p.a. administrator gina mccarthy said the stakes are too great to wait
to address climate change. >> power plants are the single largest source of carbon pollution. new power plants, both natural gas and coal-fired, can minimize th eir carbon emissions by taking advantage of available modern technology. these technologies offer them a clear pathway forward today and in the long term. >> sreenivasan: under the proposed rules, new power plants would have to install technology to capture and store carbon emissions. natural gas plants would be limited to one-thousand pounds of c.o.-2 per megawatt hour. while coal-fired plants would be limited to 1,100 pounds per megawatt hour. to put that in context, the most efficient plants running today emit about 1,800 pounds. but the guidelines would not affect existing plants, which will be dealt with in a separate proposal next year. last year coal-fired plants were responsible for about a third of america's energy-related carbon
dioxide emissions and they supplied 37% of america's power. but nearly all climate scientists say c.o.-2 helps trap heat in earth's atmosphere, contributing to climate change. and in 2007 the supreme court ruled that the e.p.a. has the authority to regulate carbon under the clean air act. >> coal generates electricity. the regulations coming down are >> sreenivasan: critics like the american coalition for clean coal electricity, an industry group have been campaigning to kill the new rules, saying they are costly for consumers and would prevent utilities from building plants. c.e.o. mike duncan issued this video statement: >> these proposed regulations put america on a dangerous and economically destructive path. coal is the dominant source of electricity in the united states. those who believe it can be easily replaced are sticking their heads in the sand. >> sreenivasan: the proposed guidelines now enter a one-year comment period.
the industry says new technologies to store and capture the carbon has never been proven at such a wide scale. it's planing to challenge the rules in court. juliet eilperin of the "washington post" has been covering this and joins me now. so do they have a point? is carbon sequestration or carbon capture a proven technology? >> well, it's proven it has worked in certain cases but it hasn't been applied commercially on a large scale. so in terms of does this technology actually function, absolutely. but has it been prove then a competitive marketplace, the answer is no. >> srennivasan: we mentioned earlier that this particular rule would not affect existing coal plants. why is the coal industry responding so vehemently now? are there a lot of coal plants in the pipeline? >> there aren't a lot of coal plants in the pipeline. and in fact a couple of them that are under construction are ones that are doing carbon capture and storage such as the plant in mississippi. but they really see this as kind of two things.
one, the nose under the camel's tent which is this is the beginning of regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and ultimately the administration is moving forward and will be addressing existing plants. and also while natural-gas prices are very low, which is one of the reasons why people are building gas plants rather than coal plants, obviously market conditions can change and the coal industry doesn't want to be constrained. they want an opportunity to compete in the future should market shift dramatically and gas becomes more expensive. >> srennivasan: so how does this fit with the president's second term agenda on global waming, on the environment? >> this is an important part of his agenda. what you're seeing her is really the-- here is the most important domestic initiative that the president has taken in his second term to use his own executive authority to tackle climate change. so this is the first step. again, the epa has made it clear that it's going to move on and now tackle existing plants. but what this shows is that there is a political
commitment on the part of president obama and his top deputies to really use the levers that they control where they don't need congress to address carbon emissions nationwide. >> srennivasan: does this particular rule change signal what will inevitably come to existing coal plants? is it a slippery slope that the coal industry is trying to avoid? >> well, again, it shows that they are going to address this, gina mccarthy, the epa administrator made it clear that people don't necessarily have to read the tea leaves in this proposal to see what's going to happen when they tackle existing plants. right now, in fact, she used this proposal as a launching point to say that epa is going to reach out to whether it's the states as well as utilities, across the country to really begin the discussions about what will it look like to regulate existing plants, you know, going forward. but you know t clearly shows that they are going to push the energy. that they are comfortable
with the idea of using the clean air act to drive the deployment of pollution control technology across the country in the power sector. >> srennivasan: gina mccarthy also mentioned the public health aspect of this. how does that factor into this rule? >> i think that, you know, that's certainly something that's important, particularly in how the obama administration frames this. when you look at power plants, while this is addressing, again, the climate impact that they have, they are a major source of emissions that are linked to, for example, lung and heart disease, things like asthma there is something like 30 million americans who face some sort of lung disease that, you know, in some ways one can tie to power plants. and so that's something that they see as important. and one of the things that gina mccarthy has been trying to do with its rollout of this proposal is talk about the connection between climate and public health, what people often talk about, for example, at the american lung association s the climate penalty that basically as temperatures rise, all the
conditions that we have ordinarily including smoing become more intense and become more of a problem for americans. and so i think that it is an important way that, certainly, the administration will be making its case to the public of why this move is justified despite the clear economic cost that come with it. >> srennivasan: that's likely to happen next in the courts? >> well, first, the first step is that this ruling needs to be finalized and that will take a year. so the epa will take comments on it. and then they will issue a final rule about a year from now. once that happens, i think you can expect to see attorneys head directly to federal court to challenge this. they will argue that it does not meet the test under the clean air act that this technology has been adequately demonstrated. and so you are going to see a court battle. but that doesn't mean that the rule won't go ahead. most likely it will move ahead and then it will be up to a court to block it if it chooses to do so.
>> srennivasan: juliet eilperin from "the washington post"ing thanks so much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: now, in the final story from her recent overseas reporting trip, margaret warner looks at egypt's christians, who have been victims of dozens of attacks since july. >> reporter: the attackers came at night to the church of the virgin mary, for more than 60 years a coptic christian sanctuary in the village of kafr hakim, fifi awad worshiped there. >> ( translated ): they attacked the church, they took everything they could take-- the generator, the refrigerator, even bags they thought had donation money. then they burned the first and second floors and said, "allahu akbar." >> reporter: guard emile mousa was on the job, but he felt powerless. >> ( translated ): a march came towards the church yelling "islamic, islamic" and cursing the pope and christians. i started to call the police and the military, but no one answered.
>> reporter: the timing was no coincidence. earlier that day, august 14, hundreds of egyptians were killed by security forces as they cleared two sit-ins protesting the military's ouster of egypt's president, mohamed morsi of the muslim brotherhood. retaliation came swiftly against christian churches and police stations around egypt. when the smoke cleared, more than 40 churches had been damaged or destroyed. most were in fiercely islamist areas of southern or upper egypt and a few in cairo's outskirts, too. amid the chaos that night, some muslims like nagah azab came to the aid of their christian neighbors. >> ( translated ): christians are more than brothers to me. we live together and it is good for us both. i want you to know that we are the ones who protect christians, as we did when the young men came and attacked the church on orders of the muslim brotherhood. >> reporter: yet even now, awad says, she lives in fear. >> ( translated ): we are so
afraid for our families and children. we are afraid as christians to wear the cross. >> reporter: coptic christians have worn that cross in egypt for centuries. tradition has it the faith was brought here by the apostle mark. egypt was majority christian until the 10th century, when islam spread. even today, with an estimated 10% of this country's 85 million people, egyptian copts are a significant number. but they don't always live comfortably, says georgetown university's john esposito. >> this is an ancient church. it's the largest, most people would say, its the largest christian community in the middle east. but in the modern period, copts have continued to experience forms of discrimination, hate crimes, attacks on copts, and attacks on churches. >> reporter: in that period since the 1950s, under series of strongmen egyptian rulers, christian copts were free to practice their faith, but were
second class citizens in other ways. and during outbursts of islamist terrorism here-- like the 1990s- - christians were targeted. but since the 2011 revolution that deposed hosni mubarak, especially after morsi came to power in 2012, christians came under pressure as never before, says mona makram ebeid, a copt, former professor and one-time parliamentarian. >> we had every week or every other month, a church attacked, christians killed. sectarian violence has increased much more in the past year than it was before. >> reporter: georgetown's john esposito agrees, especially when it comes to the last two-and-a- half months since morsi's ouster. >> i think it's-- one could i think that is the nature of what's going on in egypt right now. i think the attacks stand out as much more threatening.
>> reporter: human rights investigators say though some muslim brotherhood members were involved in last month's rampage against christian churches. it was not a campaign that appeared to have been directed by the leadership. but that's not the view of much of the public, as we found in the shobra district of cairo, with a big coptic population. a local muslim landlord, mona gharib, had no question who was behind it. do you think it's the brotherhood or the extreme islamists? >> ( translated ): it was the brotherhood, because they wanted to bring back morsi, but he's never coming back. >> reporter: she introduced us to a coptic shopkeeper, who insisted there's no ill feeling between ordinary christians and muslims here. >> ( translated ): muslims and christians, we are one hand. and any external attempt to divide us will never happen. >> reporter: who do you think is trying to divide you? >> ( translated ): the muslim brotherhood; they are not muslims, they are terrorists and
their actions are not islamic. even if all the churches are burned, we will pray in the mosques. we all worship the same god. >> reporter: and when she took us to the church of the virgin mary and archangel michael, the pastor, father raphael ramzy, struck the same theme. have there been any threats against this church? >> ( translated ): no because our muslim brethren protect us here; we are like one big family. far away from the muslim brotherhood, we are a family. >> reporter: the accusation that the brotherhood was behind the church attacks is an insidious lie, insists arm darrag, a former minister in morsi's government and top official in the brotherhood's political wing, the freedom and justice party. >> ( translated ): the bishop of minya, he clearly stated the attacks on the churches in minya were done by thugs who are historically related to the security forces. and he actually called the security forces to come and help in protecting the churches, and they declined.
>> reporter: so the brotherhood was completely uninvolved in these attacks on churches? >> 100%. definitely. this is an old technique that has always been used unfortunately by the some parts of the security forces to put a wedge between muslims and christians in the country and show the world that there is a problem. >> reporter: so that leaves the question-- why? why do coptic christians become targets in times of national stress? some see political motives behind the latest attacks. morsi had accused christians of being among his chief opponents and when general abdel fatah el- sisi announced he'd deposed morsi, he was flanked by civil and religious figures, including the coptic pope. but mona zulficar, a prominent corporate lawyer, a muslim who also fights for women's and minority rights, thinks the animosity goes deeper than that, among the ranks of islamic fundamentalists. >> ( translated ): there is a part of the extremists' view that looks at non-muslims as
infidels, and this is not true islam. i must underline that is a malicious, abusive interpretation that has no foundation in the holy quran; to >> reporter: as a member of the committee now rewriting egypt's constitution, zulficar iis pressing for it to include a guarantee of equal rights and opportunities for all egyptians. you are not a christian. why is this issue, why is the protection of these rights for christians so important to you? >> if you start discriminating between people you are destroying the social fabric of this society. >> reporter: that social fabric for christians has been destroyed in other parts of the middle east since the onset of the arab spring. in syria during the current civil war,, and particularly in iraq, where it's believed more than half of all christians fled during the years of sectarian violence there. so what does the future hold for
christians in egypt? >> i think that the question of the future is a super-serious question. in the last couple of years, there's been an upsurge from north africa or from egypt all the way over to malaysia of incidents involving anti- christian groups. and given the, if you will, the still chaotic situation in egypt, and certainly iraq, which seems to be falling apart, the worry has to be that the situation can clearly get worse. >> reporter: mona makram ebeid concedes some younger copts have left egypt, but she has no intention of buckling under the pressure. >> christians have been here since before islam, so they are solidly ingrained in the soil of egypt.
we have a past, we have a history so we will fight for that. >> reporter: and for a future that egypt's coptic christians hope can be theirs, too. >> woodruff: you can see more of margaret's reporting from egypt on our world page. next week, she'll be reporting from new york at the united nations general assembly. and online, we report on how a coptic christian congregation in the u.s. is helping to welcome christians who have fled egypt. >> woodruff: and we return to the subject of healthcare reform. even as republicans are trying to shut off funding for the law, the obama administration and some states are preparing for a pivotal new phase to take effect in october. that's when new exchanges, or online insurance marketplaces, are set to open. we've been trying to answer your frequently asked questions all week.
and ray suarez leads the way again tonight. >> suarez: we've spent some time laying out some of the basics of the exchanges and the premiums consumers might payment but we're also getting a number of questions on other related financial issues such as tax credits, taxes, and penalties still to come. and that's our focus tonight and once again julie rovner of npr joins us. and julie to get people to do things and to the do things there are all kinds of insen fivs and disincentives-- incentives and disincentives baked into the law. what about the sub cities and tax credits. how do they work. >> the idea is if are you going to require people to have insurance, then you want to make it affordable. so there are subsidies for people between 100 percent of poverty and 400 percent, for an average individual that is about 11,000 to $45,000 a year for a family of four, about 23,000, all the way up to about 92,000 of income.
now one of the questions i have gotten a lot is do you have to wait until the end of the year to get tax credits. the answer is no, if you qualify you will be able to get them monthly so it will help immediately offset the cost of that insurance. >> suarez: and in a country with a median family income in the low 50,000s range, that captures most american families that 400% of poverty. >> yes, many of the people who go to the exchanges who don't have insurance will be able to get some kind of a subsidy, some kind of help to help them pay for insurance. in many cases it will be possibly almost equivalent to what they would get if they had health coming from an employer, that's the idea. >> suarez: all week we've been fielding questions from people who have asked us about things they still don't understand, that it's in the law. let's take a listen. >> i'm michelle from florida, and my question is how would a tax credit affect those uninsured. >> suarez: is this different if you are not working right now? >> no basically, it's the same.
if you go to the exchange, if you are uninsured or if you buy your own insurance, again, it's important to remember that the exchanges are not really for people who have insurance at their jobs. it's for people who are in what we call the individual market, people who buy their insurance on their own without the help of an employer, or people who are uninsuranced who don't have insurance, don't have access to employer provided insurance. and again, all of those people without go to the exchange would be he legible for the subsidies, these tax credits if they are between 100%6 pov the and 400% of poverty, their income. >> we've also been getting questions on-line, one comes from bob s who writes you say you're going to explain obama care. explain title 9 of obama care. title 919 revenue section. it contains 23 new taxes-- title 9. what is obama care going to cost us taxwise. >> well, the short answer is that when obamacare passed, it was estimatesed to cost about a trillion dollars over ten years. and everybody agreed that it would not add to the deficit. so indeed there are a lot of taxes to pay for it these taxes basically, they tried
to spread them as widely as they could so everybody would have to pay a little bit there are a number of new tax on people who are wealthier, who earn more than $200,000 as an individual or $250,000 as a couple. there is an increase in their medicare payroll tax. there's increases in taxes on their unearned income. there are also increases in things like there is a 10% tax on indoor tanning services, that's to deter people from doing that. considered relatively dangerous, encourages possibly could lead to skin cancer. there are also tacks on many pieces of the health-care system. there are is a new tax on medical device manufacturers, on health insurers themselves, on pharmaceutical manufacturers, i might add that all of them are complaining and would like to see the taxes either reduced or taken away. >> suarez: but again that trillion dollars is over the course of the first decade of the law. >> yes t is. >> suarez: we got a question involving the mandates. because that was one of the most controversial parts of this law. that you would be required
to enter the insurance market. let's take a look. >> i'm kevin brown, from iowa. and i've got a friend that's uninsuranced and i'm kind of worried what is going to happen with the prem tomb-- premiums and how the fines work, really. >> suarez: do we know yet how the fines are going to, without. how they are going to be levied, how high they will be. >> yes, we've known from the beginning but also a source of great confusion. the first year if you are-- if you don't have insurance, at tax time in 2015, if you don't have insurance in 2014, the fine is $95 or 1% of your taxable income, which sever greater. that fine goes up over several years, eventually it becomes $695 or 2.5% of your income. now there are a lot of people who won't be subject to the fine if they don't have insurance. if for instance you don't make enough money to have to file federal income taxes, that's about 10,000 dollars for an individual, about 20,000 for a couple. those people are exempt from the requirement to have
insurance. they're also certain people if you are not here legally, obviously you are exempt from it. if you are a member of certain religious orders you are exempt from the mandate. if buying the lowest cost insurance available would cost more than 8% of your gross income, are you also exempt from that. so those people would not have to purchase insurance and therefore would not have to pay the fine. >> suarez: when you are designing a fine it has to be high enough to hurt and not so low that the person would say oh, then i'll gladly pay the fine instead. how did they negotiate that sweet spot. >> well, there's a concern from the insurance industry that, indeed, this fine is not big enough. that a lot of people will simply pay the fine rather than purchase insurance. but there's also, you know, one of the goals of this law is to make insurance more affordable, that people will want insurance. and that they will go out and buy insurance because insurance, they will think insurance is a good and important thing to have. remember if you pay the fine, you're not going to pay that much but you're also not
going have health insurance. >> suarez: julie rovner of npr, thanks again. >> thank you. >> woodruff: and to the analysis of brooks and dionne. "new york times" columnist david brooks and "washington post" columnist e.j. dionne. mark shields is off today. gentlemen, welcome. >> good to be with you. >> woodruff: so just nine days until the start of the fiscal rear, david, the republicans in the house have thrown down the gauntlet. they're not going to fund the government for the coming year, they say, unless the president's health-care plan is zeroed out. where is it headed? >> i'm mr. polly anna ons this, i think it will be fine. i think what happened, there was a minority of house republicans who up set the majority, up set the leadership. they wanted to have this big thing, we're going to defund obama care or else shut down the government. the leaders didn't really want to do this. they thought was a deadend or are calling it a box canyon which is the metaphor of the week. but they have these people,
they'll give them what they want from pressure from the right so they give them what they want. they pass this thing, no funding for obama care. it's going to die in the senate. and then i think they will come back or either fudge or cave in. and i suspect we will not be shutting down the government. >> woodruff: is that what you think? >> well, i think the republicans at this point are going to call in vladimir putin to set the civil war. this is an astonishing fight within the republican party. and the one guy bringing them together is senator ted cruz who is the guy who pushed the republicans in this direction and then said well, really we're to the going to do it in the senate. it's up to you guys in the house. later he made a kind of churchillian statement saying i will fight all the way. but a lot of republicans ar are-- that they got put in this box. more moderate republicans say we shouldn't be here at all. and the conservatives say are you going to really back us up. i am more inclined than i was a few days ago to think we'll avoid a shutdown. there's a lot of pressure building within the republican party to say this
is the dumbest strategy we could pursue. and i think that is starting to sink in. but part of that party feels this very, very strongly. and so i'm not sure they're going to roll over all that easily. >> well, given that who is calling the shots in the republican party, who is in charge in the house of representatives. >> apparently senator ted cruz is in charge. and these 43 or some odd, couple dozen more tea party republicans. mostly there are a couple things going on. first the people on the far right, well, we'll call it the far right, have just the media behind them. they've got a lot of momentum behind them. and nobody really wants to anger them. and it's just easier to placate if you are leadership than it is to take them on. i think that's probably the wrong strategy wrong term. at some point you have to have a showdown probably with the ted cruzes of the world if you are in leadership. at some point if are you in leadership, and believe me, the republican leaders detest him. he's really unpopular. and at some point they think he'll burn out. maybe that's true. >> suarez: that's cruz. >> that's cruz. >> because they want to
impose some party structure. they want the leaders of the party to lead a party. they believe politics is a team sport. a lot of these republicans like cruz and like some in the house and like jim demint who is a former senator now at the heritage foundation, they are doing very well for themselves by running against the republican party. they can raise a lot of money. they can build their national stature, potential presidential options. but it's very bad for the leadership. and so eventually i think they will have to have a confrontation and show who's boss, somehow. >> you know, i think the answer to your question when you ask who is the leader of the republican party, right now there is really no leadership. and i was told by a conservative today, made a really interesting point. a lot of republicans aren't necessarily worried that they will lose a primary to a tea party candidate. what they are worried about is having the primary in the first place. having to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars, face a lot of negative ads. and so allots of republicans are just reluctant to cross the line even when they are not inclined to agree with them.
and that sort of really makes john boehner's job very difficult. and boehner himself is worried about crossing them because he's worried about losing his leadership. >> woodruff: david is saying the leadership needs to confront the tea party. >> i mean i could make the alternative case, just let it sort of play itself out. but you know, that's a dangerous game. the problem the leadership has, what exactly is their leverage over these people, whether are you leadership in the house or leadership-- they really are fervent believers. they have total conviction in their cause. they're not-- afraid of being denied committee assignments. and crucially, and this really has affected capitol hill in terrible ways, when we got rid of earmarks we got rid of the power leaders have over their own members. so getting rid of the earmarks, the little special interest spending legislation was very bad for washington. >> woodruff: and this isn't the end of it. you have got the debt ceiling decision coming up in just a few weeks. how do you see this getting revolved? i mean are we looking potentially at a government
shutdown? >> i think, as i say, i think it receded a little bit this week. but the debt sealing is really frightening. if we don't know exactly what would happen if congress doesn't approve the debt ceiling. and one way speaker boehner might get this round, meaning they will get some agreement so they don't shut down the government. but this he have to do something then on obamacare. and it's really this fixation on obamacare i think is really important. and i have started to believe that they're not afraid of obamacare because they think it won't work. they're afraid of it because they think it will work. and ted cruz almost said that when he said look this is our last chance, because people will get hooked on obamacare. people don't get hooked on bad programs. they get hooked on social security, they get hooked on medicare so i think there really is this fear we can't let this have a chance. >> there i disagree with you. i really think it's to the going to, without. there are all these anomalies in the law there are things that are just messing up already.
they're reasonably confident it will not work and they just think it is a job kill. it is also political gold for them. an extremely unpopular program. so it's a no-brainer politically and substantively. >> the particulars are popular. if you poll on obamacare, it's unpopular. but people want to keep protections against the discriminated against on preexisting conditions, want to keep their koinsd parents plans there are a whole bunch of things where if you repealed obamacare people would say wait a minute, we just lost a lot of stuff. and i think it's going to work better than david does. >> woodruff: let's talk about the federal reserve. larry summers took himself out of the running, an unusual step. the white house is now indicating, suggesting it's probably, or that janet yellin the federal reserve governor is probably the candidate to chair the federal reserve. but what does all this is a, david b how the white house, how the president is handled this? >> i'm a little misfind by the fact that after the susan rice imbrog leo in which she was sort of hung out there and there was no comment from the white house and people were attacking
her, debating whether she would or would not be a good secretary of state, they got in exactly the same fix with larry summers. sort of mentioning names, floating names. and then he is sort of hanging out there being attacked from the left. being defended a little. to the being defended enough from inside. and it takes the decision-making power out of the president's hands and becomes a public volleyball. and it's unfair to summers as it was unfair to rice. and it's sort of unfair to the president because he can't make a decision. so my advice would be pick somebody and make the decision quickly. don't let it become a tug-of-war. >> woodruff: how do you explain the thinking behind all of this? >> i'm not sure what thinkings there was behind this. i think this was a real problem with the handling. first he kind of leaks prematurely that bernanke is leaving. that sets off all this speculation. >> woodruff: the president. >> the president, yes. and if he really wanted larry summers, he had to move really quickly. he allowed this to brew. and there is within the democratic party now a more, sort of if you will, populist left that is really
unhappy about some aspects of clintonism and obamaism, particularly the deregulation of the 1990s that larry summers was involved in. i think summers actually-- his image nonetheless he was very entangled in that. in the meantime they already had a problem in not appointing enough women in the eyes of women. and here you have janet yellin is who an eminently qualified person whatever her agenda. and so they just had a situation where progressive democrats were ready to draw a line here and make a point. and they had to back down and larry summers had to drop out. >> woodruff: we'll see what happens. we expect there could be an announcement pretty soon. another grim subject, another mass shooting this week, david. everybody dismayed at this tragic shooting at the navy yard here in washington. the focus again seems to be on people with mental illness, emotional problems having access to guns.
is there any sense that either congress or some mechanism to get at that. or what? what do you think? >> i think nothing's going to happen on the gun front. the fact that two colorado state legislators lost their jobs recently over gun laws i think that suggests at least in the near term gun control legislation is to the going anywhere. gun control legislation hasn't become less popular since the connecticut shooting in the school. but the mental health thing has sort of bipartisan support. i've always thought that was the best way to go. there are 250 million guns in the control, it's really hard to regulate guns and keep them out of the hands of people. we could have a much, much, much better mental health system. i always thought investing in there, first of all t may prevent some of these violent attacks but more importantly you get a better mental health system. so doing on its own intrinsic basis is worth it even without the shooting. >> woodruff: but why hasn't that happened. you have had several shootings, where the perpetrators are dualed to have had emotional or mental problems.
>> first of all, i suspect if you look at the sequester we're probably taking lot of money out of mental health as we sit here. i don't disagree on with david on the importance of mental health but i think is a gigantic invasion to say we can't do anything about guns. if you look at the list of countries in the world that have had mass shootings over the last i think 50 years, we are number one at 15rx finland is number two with two of them. there's something different bus. it's not that we are more violent people. it's we have the most permissive gun laws in the world. and i just think this is one of those subjects as a coach one of my sons once said, where you just have to keep coming at them. and i think when you look at the side that wants to have some really sensible regulations on guns, they have not been as well organized as the nra. the nra has been at this for 30 years. there's been a renewal of organization since newtown. and i think you just have to keep coming back at this. a lot of states have passed better laws even though you had the recalls in colorado. i think you have got to
bring it back to the floor of senate. and sometimes you have to lose some fights before you can win them. >> woodruff: you think that's doable. >> no i think they're so-- many, may be studies on gun control whether it reduces violence, murder or anything else. gun control reduces suicide it does not re-- reduce violence. i think is weak affect you get from trying to control the gun, much more promising to try to do something about the mental health side this is why it hasn't happened it has become a left right feud. the right talk approximates about mental health. >> the right talks about mental health and doesn't fund it i think mental health anchors this conversation because it's a way of pushing back against gun control. we should have a serious conversation about mental health and a serious conversation about regulating guns. >> woodruff: i want to ask you about what the pope said in this interview yesterday. a kind of remarkable comments, david and ej, saying that the church has been roman catholic church has been far too focused on what he called small rules. small minded rules. and too much on abortion and
contraception. what do you see happening? >>. >> people are focusing i think too much on the abortion contraception. the church is to the going to change its views on that. we should focus on is the personality of francis. remark rbl personality. i really recommend everybody reeds this gorgeous personality, read that interview you see a man you tremendously admire who i think will have a tremendous affect on the world. >> my favorite line in the interview is if one has all the answers to all the questions, that is proof that god is not with him, i should probably say i don't know in this question. i do think what he said about abortion and gay marriage and all of that was a very big deal. because he hasn't changed the churches view on abortion as you reported earlier in the show. he gave a very strong speech on abortion, but what has happened is that conservative forces in the church have so emphasized abortion and gay marriage and those issues that the church's rich tradition of social teaching and concern for the poor have been pushed to the last pew. and what he's saying is i'm not going to do that any more. i'm not going to change the
church's doctrine but the church is going to be much more about this. he's also saying i don't want to reduce the church to a small group of very orthodox believers. i want to open these doors and welcome people in. >> woodruff: much to think about. ej dionne, david brooks, thank you. >> thank you. >> woodruff: finally tonight, a tale of lives on the margin. jeffrey brown has our book conversation. >> brown: five young men dead within the space of four years. they died of different causes-- accidents, drugs, and suicide. they had in common being black, male, from rural mississippi and friends or relatives of jesmyn ward, author of a new memoir titled "men we reaped." ward's previous book, the novel "salvage the bones", won the 2011 national book award. welcome to you. >> thank you. >> brown: you write early here of being afraid of ghosts as a child and then later realizing that quote my ghosts were once people. you were driven to write
this by the collective loss of friends and relatives. >> yes. you know, the first was my brother and then another was my cousin. and the other three were friends of mine, that were all part of the small community that mi from in mississippi. >> brown: and what were you after in trying to look at all of them together what had happened? >> well, you know, i meanwhile it was happening, i mean, i was just bewildered and didn't know how to deal with grief upon grief upon grief. and so you know, years later, sort of after it happened i decided to revisit, revisit their deaths. and try to figure out why that would have occurred in the kind of place that i'm from. >> brown: speaking of place, the place is almost a character here right. on the gulf coast, tell us about that. >> it is a small town. population, i don't know the
exact count but it's probably somewhere in like the low maybe thousand, may be a little bit above that. it's a small town where mostly everyone is related. my family on both sides, my mother and father side have lived in that town for generations. and you know, the part of the community where i live at is mostly black, mostly working class, you know, mainly it's very quiet. you don't feel, it's not the kind of place that people, i think, associate with epidemics of young black men dying and all these unexpected and often violent ways. and so i wanted to examine that. because it was so out of the ode it seemed out of the ode. >> brown: you use that word, epidemic. i just want to read a passage-- passage. you say you wanted to understand a bit better why this epidemic happened, about how the history of racism and economic inequality and lapsed public and personal responsibility festered and turned sour and spread here. there is a lot in that
sentence, right. >> uh-huh. >> brown: there's class issues, there's race issues, and what you refer to as personal responsibility. >> uh-huh. >> brown: they're all tied up here. >> i think so i mean after, you know, i spent, you know, i spent many years thinking about the book. and then around three actual years sort of working on the book, writing it and then revising it and sending it out to readers. at the end of that process i really felt like, like all of those things came together in that moment and made those deaths possible. you know, made really made the kind of culture where that could happen and then know one would talk about it, made that possible. because they did. my friends, my brother, they all died and then it seemed like no one, you know, it wasn't-- it wasn't problematic for anyone. and that really bothered me. >> brown: but they died in different ways, as you said. >> yes. >> brown: so a car accident. >> uh-huh. >> brown: a drug overdose, and yet somehow you're seeing it all tied together.
both through institutional causes and as you say, personal choices in some sense. >> uh-huh, yeah. because i think that these larger issues like the history of racism or like the history of economic unequality in the south, i think that those, or just in general, the culture of the south that tells young black people all the time that they're worth less. just that they're worth less, right. and so i think that all of those things, you know, bear down in the present and really sort of limit the vision and also the choices that these young mean feel that they have in their lives. and i think lead to situations like this where, you know, where either they make bad choices or they don't make the best choices and then sometimes through a combination of bad luck and those choices it leads to, you know, deaths. >> you yourself though interestingly enough, you escaped. you went to a private school paid for by the people your
mother worked for. >> uh-huh. >> you went to standford, university of michigan, became a writer but you've gone back. >> uh-huh. >> brown: so you escaped but didn't. >> i chose to return. i mean it was important for me to go out into the larger world and see what was there. but then i feel a real sense of commitment to the place that i'm from and to the people of my community because that's who i write about, in my fiction and nonvision-- nonfiction so,s it was important to return there because that is my sense. not just because that's the place that i write about but also because that's my family. i have a very large extended family. like i said, most people in the town are related to each other. so there is a real sense of community and belonging there that i missed and that i wanted to have again. >> brown: we're going to continue this conversation on-line. i will invite viewers to watch later on but for now, jesmyn ward, men we reaped, thanks so much. >> thank you.
>> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day: house republicans pushed through a bill to fund the government and de-fund the president's health care law. it sets up a possible government shutdown at month's end. and the environmental protection agency proposed the first national limits on carbon pollution from power plants. online, one economist argues how government funding for research and development is responsible for much of the innovation driving economic growth. read her position and contribute to the discussion on making sense. all that and more is on our website newshour.pbs.org. before we go, a reminder about some upcoming programs from our pbs colleagues. as we said earlier, gwen is off preparing for "washington week" which airs later this evening. here's a preview: >> ifill: both sides call it a train wreck waiting to happen. tonight, we give you the story behind the story of the fight over the budget, health care and
the debt ceiling. all coming to a head at once. that's this week on "washington week." judy? >> woodruff: and coming up saturday. hari sreenivasan and the team in new york have a story from portland, oregon about a plan to raise funds for highway construction and maintenance. here's a brief excerpt of the story reported by correspondent rick karr. >> does the gas tax generate enough revenue for the state of oregon to maintain its roads properly? >> no. >> just plain no. >> vici berger is a republican member of the oregon house. she says as the state's residents buy even more efficient cars an less gas, the budget crunch is only going to get worse. but she thinks there may be a solution. instead of having oregon motorists pay a 30 cent tax on every gallon of gas they buy, have they pay a fee of a penny or two for every mile they drive. it's known as a vehicle miles travel or vmt fee. oregon was the first state in the union to impose a gas
tax nearly a century ago. and in 2006 it set up an experiment to see whether it might be able to lead the nation again. >> that's on >> woodruff: that's on "pbs newshour weekend" tomorrow night. on monday, we talk with former president bill clinton about iran, syria, the clinton global initiative and more. i'm judy woodruff. have a nice weekend. thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us.
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