tv Washington Week PBS July 25, 2009 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT
gwenthe professor, the policen and the president. id barack obama step on his own health ca message? tonight on "washinon week." the first black esident steps in his first racl controversy. >> the cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting someody whenthere was already poof th they were in thei own
home. gwen: th attempts to step away. >> tere was an overreaction in pulling the pofessor out of his home to the station. ialso continu to believe based on wt i herd, that professor gas probably overreaed as well. gwen: the health care push is being threatened. s ros garden, new conferences and rallies. >> t nation cannotafford a future here our governnt spends mo on medicare and medicaid thn we spend on anything else. this is te price of doing nothing about health ca. gwen: some emain unmoved. this administraon, this president s no one else to blame. they have no strong mn, they have no press coferences left. gwen: on the hill, fed chaian ben bernankepushes te rese button.
>>e have a much beter situion today than we wuld hae if we seen a colpse of the glob financial sstem last october. gwen: is anybody listing? covering the week, peter baker of "thenew york times," michael fletch of "te washington post," maril werber serani of "national journal", and david ssel of "thwall street journal." >> celebrating 40 years o journalistic excellence. live fom our ntion's apital, thiss "washington week" with gwen ifill, prouced in asciation with "national journal." rporate funding for "washington week" is rovided by -- >> weknow whywe're here. >> to design the future of flight insidand out. >> touild tomorrow's technolo in amazing ways. >> andreshape the scienceof aerospace fever.
>> aroundthe globe,the people of boeinare worki together with a dream of generaons to come. >> that's why we're here. >> it createshalf the electricity that fuelour dreams. we have mor of it than any placon earth. ande're working on cleaner ways to us coal every y. there's mre informatn at nma.org. >> major funding for "washington week" isrovided by te annenberg foundation. the john s. ad james lfet knight foundation. the corporation for public broadcasting. d by cntributions for yo pbs ation from viewers like you. thank you. >> onceagain, live from washington, moderator gwen ifill. gwen: good eveng. if you ver wondere whether race was the third rail of our time, this wek may have provid the answer. it all started wi a disputed arst and ened with
preidential intervention. the plight the henne lewi gates jr the african-american scholar rrested on his ront porchn what some called minderstanding and othe called racia profiling ecame the president's prolem, too, when he said this-- >> idon't know, not aving be there and not seeing all the facts what rolerace play in that. but i thinkit's fair to say, number one, any ofuswould be pretty angry. number two, tha the camidge olice acted stupidlyin rresting somebody whn there was alreadyproof that they we in their own me. gwen: the ambridge policewere insulted, the blog exploded. so today the president stepped in againwith a surpse visit to the white hou pressroom. >> becae this has been ratcheting up ad i obviously helped t contribute atcheting
it up, i want to make clear that in my choice of word, and i think i unfortunatel gave an impression that i was maigning the cambridge police deparent or ergeant crowley specifically, and i could have calibrated those wrds fferently. gwen: the president usualy avoids, sideeps race-lated questins, issues. wh was different this tim, peter? a couple things were diffent. first of al he was aske direct questions ata press conference, and it's hard to avoid tht. and i think whatyou would be told is hewas ersonally offended, towatch this controrsy play out in whic a person he ew, person f some eminence, as he put it a middle-aged manwith a cane was haled off with hancuffs on his own frt porch struck something inde of him in a persal way. >> i think both statements a very tellingabout bara obama as a president.
th wednesday nig statement where heaid the cambridge police acted stupidl was obvisly heartfelt, something he blieved. something genuely came out of his owopinions on this. and i think e friday statement als in some ways was also anotherpart of brack ama, the conciliatory barak obama, t one who wants to idge divides and doesn' want to ilame things and probay regret it, ahough he idn't use that word,the idea hiswn rds had further inflamed an alrey polarizing situation. gwen: i s reading, i thik it wa "salon" tat head a line, breaking nws, the president is a bla guy. maybe is that what wewere seeing? >> you could haveeasily forgottethat. he spent six mnths -- gwen: a lot of eople anted -- >> i don't know it' surprising it tk six months for this to ppen, but he knw at some poinand it happens in ny presidenc that some racia issue will come nd consume the country and consume th media for a while ad it was goingo be a test fo how he would respond beuse obviously he does have this unique position
in american siety history. so he did choo to weigh in where heoften miht be mor elyptical. a lot of peopleould say he had a duty to insome fashn because it had eally concenated a lot of people's attention. but what it did was mething he didn't want, whch was to distract fr health care and other isss he'd rather talk abou >> dyou think that's why he backed off and sort of recalibratehis statement? >> i thinkthat's a big motivati, obviously. he underood, i think, if e dn't go out there and try to lance the boilto end the controversyt would keep goig on andn and he could gve as many interviewshe would want about the public lan or cost controlfor medicare and all be washed away by, should he apologize, shuld he nt apologize, so he ried to end it toda maybthe sunday shoes will be a lot o talk and hopefly by monday he can get back to his health care. barack obama is famouy displinned -- isciplined and
doesn'make many missteps. was heot expecting a questn onthis? d he really ad l this whole thing. >> he idn't ad lib. the wor "stupidly" might hav been the bigest problem. wi him saying there might e issues of racial profiling in america probably wouldnot have created a big fror. i think if h said gates is a iend of mine and i d't know the facts bu i have a hard time imaining skip gates ould mmit disorderly contact -- conduct, that probably ouldn't ve been quite as big. i thi it was the word "stupidly" and looks likehe was attacking he police and it's a volatil area and its a wedgemerican society had a lofpk tme -- en: to call the police offir. >> tha's a remarkae thing. thpresident intervenes a local case tat's become nationa call the police officer, alls the proessor, and inves both of them tothe whithouse for a beer. that's really omething. can't wait for that gwen: i want to see that you had a question? >> so o you think that the friday timing ws wise?
is that goi to work? >> i think it wa necessary. i tink it tok too lon to get to this point. ere was a question whetr he uld do it or not. the white house cameout this morng and said the first thing erly morning, informal briefing the preside had nothinelse to say on the tter four hours later. gwen: so tere must have een a lot of discussn. >> a lotof discuion inside the white house todaand a lot of disagreement. you know,we don't have a good picte of how much disagreement but the were people inthe white house w wereary of him revisiti the issue d others who felt ike ere was no wayto getaround it unls he did. >> it has ben very dismiss of t idea and the preident said is pretty uncontroversial and heaid himself this was straightfward analysis. >> although they say the president didn't watchit was his press conference b the mbridge police departmt and they were very incesed and talked how the president had bemeaned sergeant crowle and
asked for hs apology. intrestingly, an afrian-american officer who had been at the scene ameout for seeant crwley and sto behi his fellow offier 100% anddded to the whole m of things d they recognized wiout doing something they hato put an end to it gwen: one thing we know is health ca was supposed to be the main issue of theweek and the esident gave it all h had, ether he was talkingto network anchors -- >> e've literally been waiting 50 years ad we still haven't gott i doe. en: or to primetime audiences. >> i'm rushe because i t letters very day fromfamilies that are being clobbered by health care costs. and they ask me, can you help? gwen: but as polls showed growing skeptism about his plans, did the white house accomplish whathey intended to accomplisthis week, michael, espeally with what just saw happen? >> i'm thnking the word no. not yet. but wasn't for a lack of
tryi. the president w out there using the full arsenal f he presidency for a se garden stement, a primetime news confence and had a ally in ohio. he did interviews for host of interviews, all trying tomake the case that health ce reform is necessary, not jus to cover the 46 milion pople who don't have heath care right now, but t really ave the economy going forard. anhe promises a lot. he's saying w can have better care for less cost and that health care rerm is really key to taming the deficit lon term. and te american public kind of shrugged at this saying we've heard promises before. partof what he white hoe is encountering kind of lie extrordinary action fatigu you've had the financl bailouts and theauto bailouts. and while this mayhave prevented sort of total crisis our economy, i do't think it's shownp in the lies of americans as impvement. that's a problem thehite house is facig to kind o petrate this growing skpticism about big goverent action. >> the presidentwanted both houses to pass their own lans
by te auust recess, and it's not going to happ in the senate. how important is that? why does i matter whether ey do it or don't do it y the august recess? >>n the end it doesn matter but it's a mall blow n obama. he put the deadlineout there and now he's had to bak of. yesterda when senar reid madehe statement, he sai that's ok, i jut want to see continued rogress. and peraps the senate finance committee will havea bill out. it's jt another sml blow. i ink the deadline,the present says it himself, without a deadlinnothing happens in this town and h wants to keep te heat on cgress. buthe evidence is these issues are hardand com play the daye and hard to get across to the publi and hard to bui a public consensus for althe talk of the people tat don't have covrage, 85% to 8% of amricans do have coverage. and while it's imprfect and people are losng coverage, peoe are scared to give up what they don't know. >> what is behind the publ
uneasiess showing up in the polls? people always we concerned about losing theiroverage. what has chaged? >> i dn't know it's changed so much as people start oking at the details ad theylook very americanny a for all the promises the resident makes, he has a plan hat deliverthe things he says. there no plan yet tat puts togher all these elements. people have fferent ideas out there that sort of get part of the problem. many of hese cost saving that e the magic bullet here are speculative and don't ow whether they'll ork. you can lk about the mayo clinic or te cleveland clinc does and we know tat can be scald up with thepopulation of ptients, some rally deep questions here. >> how do thy decide when the prident does the press conference, bullypulpit stuff and when h says ok w we've got to do somthing like this med-pac comission and when re the being specific r just hearding -- herding the cats the hill. >> there moving to mor
specificity. the qution has been when is the president going o focu in on heah care solely. he's been doing hat and everything ee and now when congress comes backi think u'll see him talking alot more about specifis. but ain, this stuff is pretty dense and really hard to ell on us. gwen:that's what ou saw o the news conferencehe oth night. how much aith is his white house put in their guy? i men, it's emarkable hw often weee him in front of a microphone, h often we see m in front of a bankof cameras. they clearly hve decided, deils aside, the president has agical powers f persuasion. >> rig. that's right. that's barack obama's stock and trade. you lookt the polls and evn though there's alot of skepticm about his policies that come reeping in he reman as popular resident. his populaty is down some but clearly the white housethinks he's the salesman that can make this de. gwen: as he said, thout a deadline thing happens in is town. congressleaves town the
beginningf next month. do they worry thy'll lose their momentum? >> i think the worry about that but t president established new deadline yestery and said, i want a bill on my desk by th end of the year. gwen: i noced that. >> i think hat's one he'll have to stick to gwen: whe in doubt come up with a new deadlin we've got to move on the white house p. push is the ha nuts and blts work underwayehind the scenes at e capital. harry reid admittehe would misshe president's first deadline to get bill passed before the smer recess. but whydid congressthen seem to h the brakes? it felt this wee they could hear the rubber hiting the roadas everybody said, it a minute. wh happened? >> they did hit e brakes. buthis is no surprise to many people. thiis part of the naural political cycle of big piece of legislation. pple expected this would happen. until now or recently we'v had many of the takeholders comin at this vry easy. they wanted tosit at the table
and keep their at at the table, whether wee talking about the repubcans or moderas or conservative or the insuranceindustry, they wanted a seat at the tale. so we din't hear a whle lot of complaining. now we're making the b decisions and t's bound to happen that once yostart making the big decisions, that everyone is goingo start drawing theilines in the sand. so the oncerns wer there beore about a publicplan, a publ health plan that would potentially compete with prate insurance plans for lks who don't hav insurance. the cncerns were always there about we've been taling that this bill uld cost more than $1 rillion, may even $1.5 trillion for while now. this isn't the rst we're hearing of it. t this is the first we' starting to hea complaints abouthese things. gwen: are the compints rooted, as the predent said, are they rted in the idea th people justfeel nevous and this is big deal they want a little time to ook at? >> i think it's both. in the national we're eally talking about the republins
who are sarting to feel more uneasy than they id before and the house, of course, here's a stng democrat majority ey've not had to give lot of thought to what th reblican concerns might b in the house we' taling about te so-called blue dog democrats, theconservatives d the moderate democrats. and frankly in thehouse, this bill really can't bpassed without their spport. but whetheit's the blue dog in t house or the republins in the senate, theissues ar pretty much the same. some of them are hilosophical, having do with big government. they don't really ant what thesee could potentlly be a big govement takeover. they don't really want ahugely expensive bil they don't want to -- you know, last week whenthe director of the c.b.o. dropped the bomb -- gwen: congresonal budget ofce. >> exaly. he basically dropped the bmb that hsaid none ofthe big bills n the table would
acually do much to decrea the costs of hlth care. that s very saient an at's what really got u started and is ctinuing this week, in a way he oped the door ait for the republica and the conservative and moderate democrats o step in and say, ok, tht's exactly wh i needed to hear, heres myine in the sand. >> we're talking the epublicans but in e senate the democratsif they were to have all their members healthy and in town have 6 votes, enough to get pat a filiuster. what's happening with thm? why are the republans able to ha any influence on his process giv that? >>ctually, there ar two asons. one is tht you do have modete and conservative democrats th real concerns in the sete. you look at senator conrad who runs the budget ommittee. he is a -- h's very concerned about the pice tag and making sure you do somethg about costs. but addition to that, the
senate finance committ where a lot of this is ging on has a tradition of bipartisanship. and in this committ, senator baucus, the chaiman of the committee, is dedicated to working with hicounterparts, senator graley, republican from iowa, to ome out with a bipartisan effort. he said th from the begiing whenenator grassley was chairman andid the same thing for senator baucus. it's their tradition a they've vowed to worktogether. >> the president has ade the case, made it at the pss conferce that if you want mo uninsured anhigher sts, the way to do that is to do nothing. do members o congress see it that way, that doig nothing would be worse than oing something? or are they willing t say we n't agree, we'll go hme and say we ied and failed. >> i don'tthink there are many peope who would feel the way that they could gohome and say tried, i'm sorry, the other party really mssed it up and really sopped us from doing it. everyone els there's a lot t stake here there are man people who believe we've got toget the
whole thin done. there are many peopl who belie even if we can ge a piece of it doneand even if we can expand corage to children or expand coverage toa group ofeople that we've got to do something. and n fact that's what's keeping these negotiations, they'ron again, they're off again, before, whe i left the newsom this evening to come re, i had one peron yelling from one sid of thenewsroom, yeah, they'reon again. someone elseould say no, theye off again. and so, you knw -- >> anoth day. >> th was about an our ago and i'm not sur where they are now and it's minute to nute and the emotionsare running very high and so it's notclear from minute tminute it's changing. gwen: we love itat the end of thyear when congress decid it's going tobe crazy,the end of the summer ts always hpens because congresis al concerned this week, arching a colleive eyebrow at fedel reserve chairman ben bernanke who estified he hasa planan exit strategy. where have i heard thabefore? wantso extract thfed from the unprecedent private
sector interventn. come augu 4 you'll be able to read all about it indavid wessel's newook "in fed we trust." ben bernanke's war on thegreat panic. tonight he'll tell uswhat bernanke ws up to this week. >> that's right, gen. the poor guy went to te hill three times, ce in the senate and ce before the house. he had a ve consstent meage. things are etting a little better and i eserve some of the credit. and arney frank to him no one got elected with abumper sticker sayin you could have been worse. he said, you real do need to hange the regulory -- financial regulatoryapparatus so wdon't go through this again. and i'm 100% behind ti ithner, the treasy secretary and h plan, except r the things i don' want to . he said to congress emphatically he htes this bill ron paul is pushing th has the surpsing support of 2/ of thehouse that would gi the government e accountaility office the right to audit te feds' monetary policy, their interest rate
decisions and basicaly said if yodo that the fd will lose its independence a we'll have inflation. was very strong on that. and he said, as ou said, i've got an exit trategy in mind so you don't have to worr about the fed inadversently creaing inflation, i'vgot a way out. then he tured the tables on th and said, so what's your exit strategy? how are you goin to get out of this $1.8 trillion deficit tht you built? en: did they buy ny of that? >> ty all promised they don't want tinterfere with his independee and then they go to say why is i if e audit your monetary policy things ad tellou what we didwrong, it's demoracy, you'refor transparency, y don't they do ? a lot of theare suspicious of thgeithner plan and don' like the idea of ceating a consumeragency thatould take all e consumer stuff. thbanks hate it and som of tm were vey sympathetic and i dn't notice anyprofiles of courage of people coing up with olutions to the deficit when the chrman of the fed offered the oprtunity for em to giveit.
>> when does the chrman think the exit strategwill be need? e we getting closeto the en or arewe to t point where they can pull back so of theieasy money on policie i don't think from what he said this week,i don't think hethinks we're anywhere near that. the receson could be about to end, meaning the ecnomy may b closto the point were it stops hrinking and starts to grow again. but the fd's forecast is unemployment will rein very high, 9.%, 1% for another year and a half, twoyears. he thinks they have long tim to go before ey have to start lling back and wants to resure people they n do it when they want to. is it our impression that we've seen him a lot lately, bernanke,ut in public and doing lot of talking? is that typical for a fed hair and he said the point s coming up, obvously, at the end o -- being nextyear, is there any elationship there, campaigning fr anoter term? >> it's veryunusual. he's taken very different approach. he came to office sayinghe anted to be less the personification of the fed than
alan grespan, his predecessor, butn the crises gone t places fed chairmen haven't ne before. did a press conference t the naonal press club. he went on 60 mintes" and sunday night e's doing a own meeting in kansas citythat wi be on news hour. ose are things greenan never did. i hink hisprimary ambition is peoplare suspicious of the fed and goinover the hads of congre to say, look i saved e country and here's w i did it, trust e. then it mas him a little mre lily to be reapinted, then that's an add benefit. >> wil he be reappointed? >> i think if thepresident had to decide rig now, i thin the odds favor reappointment. you can bet on th internet on this. and i checked before i cme ov, nearly 70 odds of reappointment. but i hink the white house will wai a whle becase if something else goes wong, if the econy goes south and the need somebody to blame, they would like to hae the opportunity.
gwen: i'm curious. he was gving a version of the green cutes spee, things are getting beter. s optimism is uted. is ijustified. >> i think if yousay are we at the risk of havi another great depressn, another 5% o 6% decline in the gd.p., the answer is he'sright, we're beyondhat. thin seem to be getting better. the stk market is now fially risen above where itwas when e president took office. the g..p. is probablyabout to stop ctracting. so in hat sense thngs are better. but ty're still awful. and that's a veryhard message to deler. gw: ok. you can preorder that bok on amaz. we'll end onthat note. but the coersation continues online check outour "ashington week" webcast q&a, your questions, our answers, fid us at pborg/washington wk. turn to news hour with jim lehrer and see the ess nference monday in kans city.
we'll wrap it u and see yo next ek on "washgton week." go night. captd by the national captioning instute --www.ncicaprg-- gwen: every thursday ge a preview of our tops and anel with our "wshington week" email alert. availablet washington week line at pbs.org. >> "washingt week" was produced by weta whi is solely responsible for its content. >>orporate funding for "washington weekis prvided by boeing and te national mining assoation. ajor funding for "washiton week" is provide by the annberg foundation.