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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  November 15, 2013 6:00pm-7:01pm PST

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captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> wooduff: the house of representatives defied president obama today, voting to let health insurers keep selling policies that don't meet the standards of the affordable care act to both current and new customers. good evening, i'm judy woodruff. also ahead on the program, another in our series of personal stories about the health-care law's impact. tonight, an aspiring chef in california turns to medicaid. >> all i know is that that option is the best one for me at this point. >> wooduff: and it's friday, mark shields and david brooks are here to analyze the week's news. those are just some of the stories we're covering on tonight's "pbs newshour."
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>> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> my customers can shop around; see who does good work and compare costs. it can also work that way with healthcare. with united healthcare, i get information on quality ratings of doctors, treatment options and estimates for how much i'll pay. that helps me and my guys make informed decisions. i don't like guesses with my business and definitely not with our health. that's health in numbers. united healthcare. >> i want to make things more >> 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
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>> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... 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. >> wooduff: congress took the first step today toward letting americans hang on to their current health plans. but the bill that passed the house may be going nowhere fast. "newshour" congressional correspondent kwame holman begins our coverage. >> what has been visited upon the american people in the affordable care act will not be resolved by this action today. it is merely to stop the bleeding. >> reporter: the one page bill pushed through by house
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republicans would let those who want to keep or reinstate their health plans. the associated press reported more than four million policies have been canceled so far. michael burgess of texas: >> any good triage doctor knows before they can fully treat or cure the patient, they have to deal with the immediate problems. in this case, they have to stop the hemorrhage of people losing their private health insurance because of the affordable care act. >> reporter: but the bill also goes a key step further: it lets insurance companies sell new customers plans that fall short of the federal standards. california democrat henry waxman warned that provision would undermine the entire program. >> it will destabilize the health insurance exchanges, raise premiums, and continue to allow insurers to discriminate on the basis of pre-existing conditions. under the republican bill, insurers could cherrypick the best risks and destabilize the insurance market for everyone else.
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>> reporter: in the end, the vote was 261 to 157 with 39 democrats voting for the republican bill. white house officials feared even more democratic defections before the president announced he's giving insurance companies the option of extending current policies that fall short of the health care law's standards through 2014. in detroit today, kathleen sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, said she thinks most people will opt for new plans. >> we just hope that on balance, people find either affordable coverage staying with their plan for an additional year and have a transition year and that's what this really is kind of a bridge year or find for that far better coverage they are better off in the new market place. >> reporter: house republicans insisted today the president's administrative change is not enough-- that it takes the force of law to do what's needed. but the white house warned the president will veto the gop
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bill, if it ever reaches his desk. and in any event, the measure stands little chance of garnering a majority in the democratic-held senate. instead, a handful of senate democrats-- led by louisiana's mary landrieu-- is pushing its own bill. it requires companies to continue existing coverage, but unlike the house bill, it's limited to current customers. and unlike the one year limit in the plan the president announced yesterday the policies could remain in effect indefinitely. all this as the president met with health insurance c.e.o.s at the white house this afternoon, urging them to renew cancelled policies. >> wooduff: we'll have more on the health insurance industry's response to the president's latest initiative, right after the news summary. they kept counting bodies and kept waiting for help in the central philippines today. the confirmed death toll from last friday's typhoon rose to 3,621, with at least 600,000 homeless. survivors in the ravaged city of
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tacloban, swarmed the relief helicopters and trucks that did get through. angus walker of "independent television news" reports from there. >> reporter: a scramble for sacks of supplies. hunger in their eyes, survival on their minds. in seconds, it's all gone-- too explitle one week on, arguably, too late. they try to keep desperation at bay. another load to deliver, and the sound of the chopper brings a swarming crowd. the crew, fearful of being mobbed again, just throw it to the ground. most are left empty-handed, an air drop in an ocean of need. but the aid operation is growing. the u.s. military deployment more visible by the day, here to do the heavy lifting. with boots on the ground and
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boxes piling up. it certainly appears to be taking far too long for aid to get from runwe to ruins. but the most senior u.s. officer on the ground thinks that's normal at this stage. >> this is my third one of these, and i think it's fairly typical that-- processes that you use after a week or 10 days into it don't necessarily exist on day one. >> reporter: living just two minute from the airport, and the tons of stored food and water, mar i didn't tellas chirchgo hasn't seen any of it. >> what will we do? what will i do? what will these people do, these children? what will the children do? >> reporter: aid is being delivered to tacloban, but it's simply not enough. a truck has just turned up at this evacuation center, and within seconds, hundreds are queuing for food.
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little by little, help is in sight, but there's a long, long way to go. >> wooduff: china's ruling communist party announced a major revision today in the long-standing "one-child" policy. it means many more families will now be allowed to have a second child. officials also announced an end to the system of forced labor camps. we'll hear more about the changes, later in the program. japan has drastically reduced its goals for fighting climate change. the ruling cabinet voted today to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 3.8% from their 2005 levels by 2020. a spokesman said the previous target of a 25% reduction was unrealistic. at a conference in poland, the u.n.'s climate chief voiced dismay, while praising japan's overall energy policy. >> it's obviously regrettable, absolutely, but you know japan is a very advanced economy and
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they are already very energy efficient but they have shown that they can, even from a very high basis of efficiency, they have even increased that over the past years. >> wooduff: japan is the world's fifth largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. the drive to address climate change by burning more ethanol may be curtailed. the obama administration called today for reducing the amount of the corn-based fuel that's included in gasoline, starting next year. oil companies and some environmental groups lobbied for the reduction. more about what's behind the proposed change, later in the program. in libya, some of the worst fighting in memory erupted today in the capital city, killing 27 people and wounding 235 others. armed militia fighters opened fire on thousands of protesters, who were demanding that militias be disbanded. hundreds of armed groups have mushroomed across libya, since
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the fall of moammar qaddafi. efforts to find a place for destroying syria's chemical weapons have suffered a new setback. the prime minister of albania today rejected a u.s. request to accept tons of mustard gas and sarin nerve gas. the decision drew cheers from some 2,000 demonstrators massed outside the prime minister's office. they insisted their small balkan nation cannot safely dispose of the syrian weapons. >> i know exactly what it is and what damage they can create if they can come in my country. we are not prepared and we have no possibilities, no capacities and no specialists to do this kind of experiment. >> wooduff: albania was selected as a possible site because it recently destroyed its own poison gas arsenal. the c.i.a. is secretly collecting massive amounts of data on international money transfers, including those into and out of the united states.
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"the new york times" reported today that, according to unnamed officials, the previously unknown program is authorized by the "patriot" act. that's the same law the national security agency has used to gather data on americans' phone calls. the u.s. postal service narrowed its losses last year, but still ended up another $5 billion in the red. that was sharply lower than the loss of nearly $16 billion that the agency reported a year ago. still, it marked the seventh consecutive year that the postal service has run at a deficit. president obama will ask congress to extend long-term jobless benefits through the end of next year. the white house said today it's necessary because unemployment remains high. on wall street today, the dow jones industrial average gained 85 points to close at 15,961. the nasdaq rose 13 points to close just short of 3,986. for the week, the dow gained more than 1%.
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the nasdaq rose nearly 2%. still ahead on the "newshour": the effect of the president's reversal on the health insurance industry; a young chef turns to medicaid for coverage; china's plan to ease it's one-child policy; cutting the amount of ethanol in your gas tank and shields and brooks on the week's news. as kwame said in his report, the president's move yesterday on the problem of cancelled policies allows insurers to extend those current plans through 2014. but it does not require them to do so. now, one of the main questions is whether insurers will go along with this and if they do, what concerns they have about changing things again. hari sreenivasan picks up that part of the story. >> sreenivasan: julie appleby follows these matters closely for kaiser health news, an
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independent not-for-profit news organization. it is not affiliated with the kaiser permanente insurance company. so, i know that we saw images of the president meeting with the c.e.o.s today. has the insurance industry come out and made a statement on how they're going to take these changes? >> they're being very cautious right now. a lot of them, because of the logistics involved, because this is optional, are saying they're studying this but they haven't many any decisions. a lot are noncommittal. we have heard from a few insurers, like florida blue, aetna, blue cross and blue shield of north carolina who say they want some of the policies to be renewed, but we have heard from the industry trade lobby this is a bad idea. they don't like the idea. they say it could disrupt the market and cause problems down the line that could cause higher premiums in the future. >> sreenivasan: it's a mixed bag depending on the insurance companies and there's no way to interview every one of these. let's talk about some of the practical challenges these insurance companies have now. how much is it going to cost them when it comes to changing
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these formulas around? they've taken at least a year, year and a half to figure out how to comply with the a.c.a.? >> that's one of the things they're wrestling with-- is this worth it for them to go through the administrative hassle of figuring out how many policies do we want to renew? which ones? how much will it cost? do we want to raise premiums for these policies -- which they usually do. when a policy comes up for renewal there's a premium increase. that means they file that with the state insurance commissioner get approval in many cases and put it into effect. that's one of the questions they're wrestling with. how do we do that? do we have time to do that? a lot of the policies expire by the end of the year. if people want to have coverage starting january 1 they pretty much have to have this done by december 15. that's only a month from now and that is not a lot of time ask that's one of the things the insurers are wrestling with in this process. >> sreenivasan: one of the reasons for this timeline was to encourage people to get into the health care exchanges, they need
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a good cross-section of people-- young people, healthy people, et cetera. if this extension or this delay happens what, happens to the poofl people in these exchanges? >> that's one of the concerns that the insurers and the acuaries and some of the state insurance commissioners as well have stated is what happens? is this going to keep more people who are younger and health yerk for example, out of that pool that's going into this new marketplace? and if that happens, if the young people other than the healthier people decide to hang on to these policies because they're less comprehensive and maybe a little less expensive, that might leave older and sicker people in the marketplace and that over time could drive up costs in that marketplace which could be a big problem down the road. >> sreenivasan: help explain the role that the state insurance commissioners play. because they're not a wild card but they're a very important actor in rolling these out. >> that's right. and not all of them want to do this. we have heard from several states that say, yes, we want to. and we have heard from several that don't. washington state, for example, doesn't want to do this. the insurance commissioner there
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said we enacted some of these new consumer provisions. we require the new plans to have a lot of new benefits. that's why we're getting rid of the old plan and we think the consumers are going to benefit from the new plans and we don't want to change this. other states are saying yes, we want to try it. florida, for example has said we'll let people renew the policies. the insurance commissioners are going to be part of the decision and they're not unanimous in what they're going to do. >> sreenivasan: is there a timeline or deadline the insurance commission version to decide by? >> it gets pack to when does the policy kick in? >> for some people the policies expire at the end of december, so for them, the pressure is on. what the president said is that even policies that expire say, in january, or february or march, could be renewed for another year. for those policies there may be a little more time to decide. >> sreenivasan: ultimately, what about the end user, the person thinking about jumping into these exchanges? this shhh this give them pause? should they be waiting for some communication from an insurance company? >> you know, the folks-- what consumer advocates are telling me, if you have had a canceled
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policy you might want to check with your insurer whether they're going to allow to you renew it or not. that would be the first step. the other thing consumer vacation say is that you ought to check on your online marketplace whether it's your state one or the federal one to see if you might get a better deal through that marketplace, either more comprehensive policy or a subsidy. but that's-- that's one of the things that people should check. >> sreenivasan: all right julie appleby, thanks so much. >> wooduff: for all of the problems with the rollout of the health insurance program, one part of that effort seems to be going better-- the expansion of medicaid, health care for the poor. nearly 400,000 additional americans have learned they are now eligible to enroll. and that brings us to our series of personal stories of health reform. tonight, we hear from a young man in california who is in the process of newly enrolling in medicaid, a joint federal and state program that's known there as medi-cal.
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>> i'm going to scrape that out. don't you dare put water in there. >> you snot! >> my name is aaron macholl- stanley. i'm 25 years old. i live in alameda, california with my mother, and i am a second-year at san francisco city college culinary arts program. cooking has always just been one of the things that i've enjoyed. i just started working at the commonwealth cafe and public house in oakland, where i am dishwashing, prep cook. the employer does not provide any sort of health insurance, despite being an awesome place to work, and a really friendly environment. at my school, we have a health fee that covers limited medical responses like if i've cut myself, they'll give me a band- aid. i still need insurance so that i can get a prescription if i get sick. i don't have any pre-existing
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conditions or health issues constantly, other than maybe the occasional cat allergy, but i'm much more likely to burn myself or cut myself. i'm constantly around fire and sharp objects. i believe that having health insurance is definitely a necessity in this industry. as i was growing up, i had insurance through my mom's employer. once she retired, i moved onto her retiree group health plan through aetna insurance. when i got to be 23, we got a notification from aetna saying that at 23 i was going to age out. the difference that they seemed to imply about the retiree plan was that because everybody was retired, there were no active employees, so that they were not bound by certain language of the affordable care act that said
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that they had to keep me on until i was 26. i was at that point looking at different options. i could keep the same plan for $256 through cobra, and another option was the kaiser plan that i ended up going with, which was a high deductible, $90 plan. i did try to avoid going to the doctor so that i would not get the brunt of the bill because of the high deductible. at the beginning of october, i got a letter from kaiser saying that with the affordable care act, the plan that i had was going to be discontinued. the next closest plan was going to be a $221 plan with a $9,500 deductible. and that seemed like an exorbitant jump, despite assurances that i would be able to keep the insurance that i had and continue to pay what i had been paying.
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>> they're couple of options, coverage basics and apply for coverage. >> my mom and i went on to the covered california site together to look at what options were available. given my income level, the covered california site seemed to indicate i should definitely go with medicaid, medical in california. this is the application i had to fill out. at this point, i'm not really sure about what sort of coverage medical is going to be providing for me. all i know is that option is the best one for me at this point. i think the affordable care act is a small step in the right direction. i think that the more people we get on health insurance the better it will be for the entire nation. most people my age think that they're invincible, and that they don't need health insurance, and it's really not the first priority.
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and i would assume that health should be everyone's first priority, because if you're not healthy, you're not able to work, you're not able to go to school, you're not able to do all of the things that being alive sort of entails. >> wooduff: just for the record, we checked back with aaron today. he said kaiser told him it is considering how it will respond to the president's move. but either way, he plans to enroll in the medi-cal program. as always, we try to fill out the broader picture. tonight, "newshour" analyst susan dentzer joins us. susan, welcome back. medicaid seems to be one of the bright spots in the rollout of this health care law. what is it, 400,000 people we said have enrolled? why has it become so attractive? >> first of all, medicaid has expanded under the law, obviously, so people with higher incomes than were generally the case can now enroll. for single individuals, that's up to about-- just under $16,000
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a year income now can enroll, and very importantly, the eligibility was expanded so that single adults without dependent children, like aaron, can now sign up for the program. in many states previously if you were a single adult you were not eligible. because of that, there are an estimated 10 million to 20 million who could eventually come into the medicaid program, the expanded medicaid program. of course, that depends on whether the states have gone ahead and expanded medicaid, and because of the supreme court decision a year ago which threw that into question, there are still about two dozen states that have not decided yet to expand their medicaid program. so we'll have to see how that plaitz out over time. >> woodruff: i was going to ask you. how do you see that affecting this? initially, the medicaid expansion was very much a part of the health care law, but then when the supreme court said states could decide for themselves, how did that affect the-- people's decisions about what to do? what do we see so far?
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>> it certainly has blocked the population in some of the states that have not expanded medicaid, like texas, for example. many people who in other states that expanded medicaid would have been eligible are not able to get enrolled. a state like california, which has probably about two million people who will be eligible for the expanded medicaid program, those folks, like aaron, are not going to have trouble getting enrolled. >> woodruff: how representative would you say he is? 26 years old. obviously, just getting started in his professional life, still going to school. mao typical is he of people who are signing on to medicaid? do we know? >> certainly there are going to be a lot like him. there are also going to be work older adults, single adults without dependent kids who have struggled in low-wage jobs, that don't provide health insurance coverage. that will be another important group of people. many people who are living just above the poverty level because we're expanding medicaid up to 138% of the federal poverty level, so just-- just richer
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than that, typically, you haven't been able to qualify. so people like aaron who potentially are going to be in medicaid for a while, also have another advantage going for them in states like california because in about 10 states, insurers have offered coverage both in medicaid and in the health insurance exchange. so that if their income fluctuates over time, they can stay in the same plan. that may be the case with aaron. if he rises through the ranks of the restaurant some day and earns more money, he could potentially stay in the same plan and get coverage through the exchange. >> woodruff: now, as we're saying, a lot of people are signing up for medicaid. at the same time, there have been these problems with the technical aspect of signing up, the web site itself. we know still troubled. how much of an effect is that having do we know on the ability of people to sign up for medicaid? >> it has had some effect. in about 36 states, depending on
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people being able to come through, and fill out an application for medicaid, that would then be detailed over to the state itself. that hasn't worked yet. however, it is the case that people can still sign up through their state medicaid program. you can also get referred to that medicaid program on and in addition there, have been many states that actually said we're going to go our own route. states like oregon, that decide in advance to send out letters to people who they thought would probably be eligible and those folks have filled out paper applications and sent them back. so in oregon, for example, 70,000 people have signed up that way. >> woodruff: siewrk thank you. i have to say, i was struck by the young man saying he doesn't know what type of coverage he's going to have but it's his only option. >> and he gets all the benefits that are in all the packages in the exchanges. >> woodruff: susan dentzer, we thank you. >> great to be with you, judy.
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>> wooduff: after decades of global condemnation over the practices, china today announced the easing of one controversial government policy and the abolishment of another. jeffrey brown explains. >> brown: the announcement heralded the biggest change in china's one-child policy in three decades. millions more couples will be allowed to have two children, provided at least one parent was an only child. the existing policy-- enforced by mandatory abortions and sterilization was deeply unpopular. so was the system of forced labor camps that communist party leaders announced they're abolishing. the system, established in 1957, allows police to imprison people for up to four years without formal arrest or trial. the reforms came out of a four- day meeting of top communist officials, led by president xi jinping, who took office earlier this year. xi consolidated his power at the
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gathering, with the formation of a national security committee to oversee the party, government and military. the party meeting also agreed to let the private market play a more important role in the world's second-largest economy. so, what do the announcements mean for the future of human rights in china? for that, i'm joined by susan shirk, professor of china and pacific relations at the university of california san diego. and kenneth roth, executive director of human rights watch. susan shirk, let's start with the one child policy. what has compelled this change and how important is it? >> well, it's driven by the fact that as you noted it's very unpopular, and, also, that china's population is aging. which will slow down economic development. so they need to have more working age children sper enterg the labor force. demographers have been asking
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for this for quite a few years. it means-- i think an estimate is that 10 million additional families will be able to have more than one child if they so choose. of course, many urban families, especially, may decide to stick with one child. >> brown: kenneth roth, how do you see it? it's a partial action. it doesn't take the government out all together. >> precisely. it's a good step forward, but the problem is the method of enforcement of either the one or the two-child policy is coercive and intrusive. one of the reasons why this reform is taking place is that it has become so unpopular. it's enforced through exorbitant fines sometimes, through forced apportion, through forced sterilization. women often have to report their menstrual cycles to their workplace. this kind of intrusive policy is actually going to stay there but simply be liberalized somewhat for couple where's one of them is an only child.
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>> brown: stay with you, ken roth, does it suggest to you that public discontent does play a bigger role now in china, the larger voice? >> i think there's no question that it does. one of the big game changers in the last few years has been the rise of social media in china. and despite the massive efforts of the government to try to control that and censor it, it often gets out of hand. and people are able to express their discontent. government cannot afford to disregard massive voicing of discontent against policies like the one child policy. >> brown: susan shirk, pick up on that but put it in the other reform we heard about today involving the prison labor camps. what's behind that? and how big a change is that? >> well, i think it's very substantial, especially in the context of a much longer piece of the document about the reform of the legal system. there's a lot in the document about having a more
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authoritative legal system, even a more independent legal system. now, of course, it doesn't say that the party will have no role. but it does mean that, for example, the judges who actually hear the evidence and the testimony are supposed to make the call instead of some deliberation committee. so this is a very comprehensive document. there's lots to talk about here. and the reform of reeducation through labor is one of the important steps forward. >> brown: ken roth what, do you see in that aspect to it? what questions do you have, even as this comes out? >> first, let me correct one thing. china is not abolishing labor camps. it's abolishing one of the means that people have put in labor camps, the so-called reeducation through labor. about two-third of the people sentenced through reeducation through labor are druggizer, and what we fear is they're simply
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going to take these forced labor camps, change the sign out front to make them a detox center, and the people will continue in place. and these are detox centers only in name since 98% of the people when they leave relapse into drug use. there are also things like something called custody in education, used for sex workers. there's no mention of discontinuing that. the real difference potentially is for what we're might call misdemeanor offenders, as well as various dissidents -- democracy advocates, human rights vacation, people petitioning against the government, religious dissidents, these are people who had been sentenced under reeducation through labor which basically means the police on their own without a judge can sentence them to up to four years of forced labor. that system is being abolished. we don't know what's going to replace it. whether it will be a judge-led system, in which there really is due process or whether it's going to continue to be some form of detention without trial. that's a big question we have to
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watch. >> brown: susan shirk, when you refer to the document that contains all of this and much more, that you've had a chance to look at. when you put it all together, does it look like large change? what does it tell you about xi jinping. does it look like limited things around the margins or say something mitch bigger? >> no, i think it's a very big deal. it is a very ambitious, and comprehensive reform blueprint of the sort that we haven't seen for decades. and she harkens back to 1992, and is modeling himself on that. the documents of course in some areas it's short on details. and in other areas, there are real details. but it's very market oriented. it basically says that the government should get out of the way of the market and allow the
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market to allocate inputs into the economy. it offers a lot of new opportunities for private business and for foreign business. so i think it's a very big deal. people will want to read it quite thoroughly. >> brown: and kenneth roth, the last word to you, it sounds like you want to read details. >> i have to say the jury is still out on this one. there have been some positive advances today. but we have got to look at what the government didn't do. it didn't take the government out of the business of deciding how many children couples can have. it didn't even guarantee a trial before the government detains people. so, yo, you know, yes, it's a sp in the right direction. it shows china is responsive both to domestic pressure and international criticism, but it is nowhere near where we want things toned up. >> brown: all right kenneth roth, susan shirk thank you both very much. >> thank you. >> thank you.
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>> wooduff: next, the changing requirements for ethanol in gasoline and bigger questions over it's wider use in recent years. today, the obama administration proposed cutting the amount of ethanol that would be blended into gasoline next year. the environmental protection agency cited better fuel efficiency among the reasons, saying the current mandatory levels are no longer appropriate. hari is back with that story. >> sreenivasan: the announcement comes, coincidentally, during a week when the associated press released an investigation into the environmental impact of increased u.s. corn production in recent years, much of it going to make ethanol. dina cappiello is national environment reporter for the a.p. and co-authored their report. let's put this change today in perspective. i think they wanted to take what, 3 billion goolons of et cetera nol out of the fuel mixture? is that a large amount? >> it's 3 billion gallons of all are unusual biofuels. for ethanol comrk makes the bulk of the biofuel mandate, it's
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about 1.5 billion gallons. what's significant is obviously this is an industry that wanted to see its portion grow. it was going to max out at about 15 billion gal nons a couple of years. what they did today was say 13 billion gallons for ethanol. last year, this year, this current year, it's 13.8. and it was a recognition that we're really reaching a point where as gasoline consumption comes down, there's really no place to put it unless you're going to increase the percentage of ethanol in gasoline. >> sreenivasan: and that could change how a car performs if it's past a certain percentage, right? >> some engines struggle with anything above 10%, which is what the vast majority of our fuel is blended with now. >> sreenivasan: did they just not see this coming in terms of people using less gasoline? did they just predict there would be more gasoline and add more biofuels? >> remember, this was in 2007. a lot has changed since 2007 when this law was passed. i think fair couple years now, the oil industry has been arguing-- we call it a blend wall-- it is coming, and e.p.a.
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might have to consider what food with ethanol. now, already previous to this announcement today, this proposal today, had lowered for quite a few years, the requirements for celuosic, because the industry has not taken off as fast as they expected. >> sreenivasan: this was a bipartisan supported piece of legislation in 2007, and today we had the head of the house energy commerce committee, a bipartisan rolling back of the standards in support of e.p.a. today. what's changed? >> what's changed we've seen-- first of all, what ethanol has done on the ground is what our investigation looked at. it helped increase corn prices, created a new market for corn. that has driven more planting so there has been some real question about what its environmental intractz and whether it's really as green as it was billed back in 2007. and the difference in energy markets. the president today in his weekly address was talking about how earlier this week, we are actually announced we produced
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more oil than we import for the first time. this is also an argument for reducing our dependence on foreign oil burkts since this law passed we're reproducing oil like gang busters. >> sreenivasan: are we pulling more water out of the ground to make the land airable or water the agriculture? >> i think the big one is the land conversion. what our investigation found is not only has the push for ethnol helped drive farmland that was fallowed for conservation reasons to be converted into crop but help convert native prairie lands that were never cropped. that is a loss of habitats that releases greenhouse gases because grass stores carbons, and so do toils. as you till that land, there is a greenhouse gas footprint. and then on the marginal lands really not meant for corn, you're increasing nitrogen use. the tilling, going back and forth on these acres, increase of gasoline use in the tractors that are used. all of this has environmental consequences. >> sreenivasan: hasn't farming become more efficient over time?
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i think chuck grassley's office pushed back and said we're using less fertilizer per bushel acre than before. >> less fertilizer per acre, yes, but since the man kite dait came to be we planted mor 15 min more acres of corn. in total it's more fertilizer going on to cornfields and the fertilizer runs off into streams used for water supplies, into the rivers where it helps produce the dead zone. yes, per acre, it is more efficient. but bottom line, is we're planting a lot more corn. i mean had this announcement came out today, bob derks 19 of the renewable food association said we have farmers out there in this country that planted 93 million acres of corn in preparation for this fuel source going up not going down. >> sreenivasan: what about some of the environmental groups now today trying to push back and say this is one of the cornerstones to fight climate change? you can't roll back on this. >> i think what the concern is,
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is corn-based ethanol was always viewed as a bridge. and the administration has long said-- they've been steadfast in their support for this law even though, obviously they, didn't sign it, but they were steadfast it was a bridge to a cleaner, greener fuel which is a celusoic from waste products. i think the concern of the environmental community is not getting rid of corn ethanol, which they know has environmental tradeoff, but what does that mean for the next generation of fuels that don't have the consequences we exposed in our investigation. >> sreenivasan: all right dina cappiello from the associated press. thanthank you very much. >> thank you. >> wooduff: and to the analysis of shields and brooks. that's syndicated columnist mark shields and "new york times" columnist david brooks. welcome to the program, gentlemen? mark and david air, tough week for the president culminating in this vote today in the courthouse house. 39 democrats crossing over to
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vote with republicans. why-- what happened? why is this happening? >> well, there's a slide. i've always thought obamacare would not be repealed and will essentially go into effect, more or less as an enacted. this week you have to begin to have some doubts and i say that fair couple reasons. first on substance grounds, the reversal on the insurance on the people who had their insurance policies canceled. that's going to do a little, as you said earlier on the program, to make it more likely the young people do not get involved in the exchange and do not end up subsidizing so you get a sicker, older pool of people there, rates rise, and you get into this problem where nobody wants to get in because rates become so high and they end up paying the penalty. i think you have a substantive problem there. they need the younger people in or else it just doesn't work. and the second thing is political. the administration is nowots back heels and they're on the back heels on the easy stuff. the stuff up front was the easy stuff. and when the hard challenges come later enactment dates, when those hit, people will have no
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spirit to defend them. so if we're seeing people peeling off right now, i think when the hard challenges come there's much more political peril for the white house. >> woodruff: mark, the president made this concession yesterday, saying he-- backtracking saying he was willing to let these insurance companies continue to sponsor people who already had policies but that didn't turn out to be enough. >> it did, judy. i mean, there were really speculation, and realistic expectation as many as 100 democrats would dessert, but the president yesterday in his rather uncharacteristically subdued press conference-- he was almost glum it seemed-- but that was directed at the house and the congress in particular, and the fact that they held it to 39 was seen as somewhat of a victory. but there's no question that there was despair and discouragement in the ranks of
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democrats. the president's own job rating has fallen below 40 in several polls. and when a president's job rating is below 40 in midterm congressional elections, the average number of seats lost by that president's party is three dozen. so that has led to some consternation and anxiety. democrats just a few weeks ago were bullish about 2014. and the prospects of winning back the house even and upsetting history. >> woodruff: after the government shutdown. >> after the government shutdowner the republican brand, 9% approval of the congress, which is essentially the republican brand in the congress. john mccain said when you're down to 9%, you're talking about blood relatives and staff members. and that's it. but when-- right now, in the most recent survaish the president actually was seen as less able than the republicans in congress on handling health care. so there's a real nervousness.
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>> woodruff: so, is it just politics that caused the president to issue this apology, mea culpa-- mark describes him as glum and down. >> he's unpopular. it turns out if you sell a health care plan on the base that we won't increase the debt and nobody willing a loser, when there are losers, they get really mad, and there were bound to be losers. that's part of it. but part of it is just the weakening of the lay, the weakening of support for the law, and the weakening of the own president's authority sosay, "trust me, trust me." i'm struck by the vibe of the downward slide he's doing. i'm surprised by it, frankly. what's interesting is compared to reagan and clinton in their second terms had very similar popular approval ratings which were going up at this point. george w. bush and barack obama have extremely similar downward slopes. bush's went all the way through caused by iraq and katrina and in obama's case, health care, and other things. what-- one of the things that strikes me is the country has changed. much more sin cool. much more anti--washington, and
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as a result of that, much less likely to become a big collective effort to help some uninsured off, and much more skeptical of the law. and second, when it is not implemented properly, much more punishing on the government. that makes it very fragile to me. >> woodruff: should we be surprised, mark? there are stories of people out there that say i have gotten coverage that i wouldn't have otherwise gotten because of this new law? we had an interview way woman this week who is far along in her cancer treatment and she made no bones about if, it it weren't for this law, my health care treatment wouldn't be coveredded. that's of but that's not making a difference. or is it? >> i think there were two boyant here, judy, that make it beyond politics. the first is that the administration made the decision to sell it on the basis of everybody's a winner. it really was ouchless and painless. instead of making the counter-argument, which was the natural argument, that, look, we
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are hurting as a people when 38 million people are not covered. it means that they end up in emergency rooms getting emergency coverage which is terribly expensive, which the rest of us pay for, and they're not healthy, and this is not the way a civil ides society does it. it would be in our economic interest, it would be in our justice interest as a society, and we're going to ask everybody to pitch in a little and it's going to be in your long-term interest to do so. that was not the case made and it-- >> woodruff: why wasn't it? >> they decide, obviously, to sell it the other way, it's going to be painless, maybe in part because of what david suggested, a skepticism that people were willing to accept such a sacrifice, limited though it was. the other thing is-- let's be very blunt about it, the president said time and again that nobody is going to lose his insurance or her insurance if they like it. so driven to one of two conclusions-- that was not a true statement. and you're driven to one of two
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conclusions, either the president was almost-- almost negligently uncurious and not asking about what the answer was. or he made the choice to trade his considerable reputation and record of integrity for short-term political gain. that's why they had to come and-- and that's why there was such consternation in the ranks. >> woodruff: how do you explain it, david, what happened with the president conditionalling yesterday that he wasn't on top of it? >> i think it is politics. they knew getting this thing passed -- we were there-- it was hard. and so they were pulling out every political stop in the book. and a lot of those political stops have made it harder now. the first early one was they were really late in issuing the regulations because they didn't want them to come out during the campaign so romney could attack them. as a result, the whole implementation got pushed back, and that's part of the reason the web site is such a mess. and then they made this political calculation, then they made-- that they weren't going to tell you there will be losers here. and they made the political calculation there would be no
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deficit effects. they made a series of political calculations and frankly it hasn't stopped. what the president said this week was a political gesture. he backtracked substancively. it was a pseudo backtrack. the state commissioners are not going to go along, the insurance crusms not goings to go along. i like the apology. i like the honesty of it. but you have to have an honest, nonpolitical policy to go with it. and to me, he's still playing a little political game there just to try to get a fewer defections in the house rather than really coming full out and saying, okay, let's try to fix this. >> woodruff: that's my question. what could he be saying and doing at this point to get beyond this? >> well, in a personal sense, i think the president has to be more resolute. i mean it has to be-- this is on my watch. in a strange way, all the retrospectives about john kennedy come back to haunt him at this point. kennedy at the time of bay of pigs came out and said this is mine. this is my responsibility. i take the blame for it. success has many fathers.
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failures are an orphan gld he said that yet. >> no he didn't. he said, my team. we fumbled. he there wasn't this is mine and i'm going to make sure this will never happen. judy, this beyond the brgz. obama administration. if this goes down-- if the affordable care act is deemed a failure, this is the end-- i really mean it-- of liberal government in the sense of any sense that government as an instrument of social justice, an engine of economic progress-- which is what dwiedz democrats from republicans. that's what democrats believe. and that's what democrats believe time and again, social programs have made the difference in this country. the public confidence for that will be so depleted, so diminished, that i really think the equationf american politics changes-- >> i agree with that. i don't know if it's permanent, but it will be a severe blow of the idea of expanded linl governments. my big thought is are we no longer the kind of country in
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which you can pass this sort of thing? d by that i mean, when you were passion the new deal or the great society, there were winners and losers, but the losers felt part of a larger collective and said okay, i'll take a hit for the team. we may no longer have that set of being part of a larger collective, so when you're a loser, you say, "i'm a loser." and as a result you're not willing to be part of the griewrng and the penalty for being part of the loser makes you want to hit whoever made you the loser. >> woodruff: you're saying-- >> we have lower social trust, lower faith in the institutions and lower sense of collectivity. and those are deep social trends building for decades but it makes it harder to sustain this type of legislation. >> the "weness" of our society, the we, we're all in it together, has really been diminished. the one thing that could save the democrats -- having given that apocalyptic assessment-- is the republicans. i mean, nobody in his right mind or her right mind looks at a hearing, a statement, an
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investigation, a press release given by any republican and comes to the conclusion that they're really interested in covering people who aren't covered. they are rooting for failure. i mean, it's so transparent, and so obvious, whether it's darrell issa, priebus, the chairman, they're cheering for failure. there's not a sense of what can we do to make this work? or this isn't going to work but we're going to come up with something better. there just isn't. >> we're not in the business of covering politics anymore. we're in the bfs covering the mutual masochism race, where one side stabs themselves in the arm and the other side stabs themselves in the arm. >> woodruff: that's gruesome. do you agree with mark's point, that-- thanks to the republicans this may not be the end of what the democrats believe? >> i do think the republicans should come up with an alternative, there are a lot of policy people in the republican party who tried to suggest them. in fyou're running in north carolina, you don't need an alternative, you just stay against it.
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>> woodruff: quick prediction, sense of it, immigration reform. house speaker john boehner, mark, said this week the house will not take up the senate-passed legislation. what does it mean? is it immigration on life support? could it live? what do you see? >> i guess it could come back, judy. you have the american business community. you have religious leader, civil rights leaders, democrats and republicans, large majorities, all in favor of immigration reform. and the speaker has said no. apparently he sees no political cost calculus involved. >> he's avoid a short-term blow-up to his speakership but his party has a long-term problem on this issue and unless he takes it up there is the long-term problem will remain. >> woodruff: there is no problem with mark and david. we thank you for being with us. thank you, both pln >> wooduff: again, the major
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developments of the day: house republicans voted to let health insurers keep selling policies that fall short of new federal standards. the white house promised a veto and typhoon survivors in the philippines fought for bottled water and sacks of rice as helicopters and trucks began getting through. on the "newshour" online right now: a young boy's wish transformed san francisco into gotham. a 5-year-old battling cancer, today fought crime and warmed hearts as batkid. find a roundup of stories on how thousands across the city, including the mayor and police chief, pitched in to make batkid's dream come true. president obama saved him for saving gotham. all that and more is on our website and a reminder about some upcoming programs from our pbs colleagues. gwen ifill is preparing for "washington week" which airs later this evening.
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here's a preview: >> ifill: did the president's health care apology stanch the political bleeding, or open a new vein? and is there still hope for a deal with iran? all that and more, tonight on "washington week." judy? >> wooduff: tomorrow's edition of "pbs newshour" weekend looks at the story of a young girl that's sparked a heated debate over abortion in the overwhelmingly catholic country of chile. "pbs newshour" weekend with hari sreenivasan airs saturday and sunday on most pbs stations. and we'll be back, right here, on monday with part two of our newsmaker interview with the new director of the a.t.f.. that's the "newshour" for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. have a nice weekend. thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪
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