tv In the Arena CNN July 27, 2011 5:00pm-6:00pm PDT
short. you want to eat. you want a job. president obama's losing support with everyone. that's what's opened the window for republicans here. the key line in that spanish one is we're losing work, we're losing our jobs. >> mr. belcher, you'll get a rebuttal next time. we're out of time. the demographic changes fascinate me. they'll be great in the campaign to come and we'll spend a lot of time on them. alex, cornell, thanks. we'll sigh you back here tomorrow. "in the arena" starts right now. good evening. i'm tom foreman. and republicans in washington are facing a political civil war tonight, their party deeply split by those who say they must strike a deal with democrats in the debt ceiling crisis and those who believe they must force even deeper 11th-hour concessions from the president's party. leading the charge newly elected congress members allied with the
tea party demanding more cuts in federal spending, a cap on future budgets, and a balanced budget amendment. but at a republican caucus meeting speaker of the house john boehner told everyone in his party, and i quote, "get your ass in line." and listen to senator john mccain. >> what is really amazing about this is that some members are believing that we can pass a balanced budget amendment to the constitution in this body with its present reputation, and that is foolish. that is worse than foolish. that is not fair. that is not fair to the american people. to hold out and say we won't agree to raising the debt limit until we pass a balanced budget amendment to the constitution. it's unfair. it's bizarro. and maybe some people who have only been in this body for six or seven months or so really
believe that. others know better. >> the ground is still shaking in d.c. over this tonight, with no doubt many late-night phone calls going under way right now. we'll cover all of the angles, and here are some of the other stories we will dig into as well. the end of al qaeda? some say bin laden's death has the terrorists on the ropes. but other security experts have their doubts. remember the last time we heard "mission accomplished"? and ronald reagan called it the 11th commandment. republicans shall not attack other republicans. that commandment was shattered today. can john boehner pick up the pieces? then, in a new poll his numbers are higher than congress. he gets good marks for job creation. but for disaster relief not so much. no, it's not the president. even mr. obama answers to this higher authority.
now let's get back to our top story. on capitol hill tonight speaker john boehner has just rewritten his plan to raise the debt ceiling. he had to after the congressional budget office said his numbers did not add up. now the question is can he sell it to his own party? cnn congressional correspondent kate bolduan is on capitol hill tonight, and kate, the speaker clearly took the whip to his party today. i guess my biggest question to start the night off is are members responding? >> reporter: well, it seems that -- it seems that they're doing better than yesterday, i think is the best way to say it in terms of trying to get them in shape and get them in line and get them to vote for his proposal. you mentioned this meeting this morning. the house speaker in there acore cording to sources told them very bluntly to get your you know whats in line, and this he's speaking to the conservatives who first at least were opposing his bill because they wanted deeper cuts, but as they were leaving this meeting, i was outside, tom, and i heard more and more members say really
kind of it's better than nothing and we can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. so they look like they're in better position than they were yesterday in terms of passing this through the house. but of course we don't count the votes until the votes are counted. but adding to that confidence this evening for this vote tomorrow, tom, is this new congressional budget office, these new cost estimates coming out. this is welcomed news for house speaker john boehner because it now meets the test that he set out for himself, that the amount of cuts would be higher than the amount they would be raising the debt ceiling. now they say it meets that test, although it's still short of his original target, but i think they're going to take this evening. >> there are 87 of these republican freshmen, kate. he obviously has to peel off a good number of them to make this thing work. you said there's a sort of nibbling around the edges of people talking about it. do you have any idea yet how many would be ready to move into his camp? >> reporter: it's hard to say. but even if you do the rudimentary math yourself, his margin of error is thin. there are 240, if i remember correctly, house republicans,
and democrats are trying to get unanimous opposition to this bill, and he needs 217 votes to pass this bill because of some vacancies. so he really can't lose more than i think it's 23. so his margin of error is very small if he's going to pass this with only republican votes. >> so he's got to get about 3 out of 4 of the freshmen who are currently drawing the line here, he has to get into his camp. what about the democratic side on this? harry reid's plan was also out there. the cbo also said his numbers don't quite add up either. but where does that plan stand tonight when you look at it compared to the house plan, the senate plan? >> reporter: it's really funny because the senate plan's been out there just as long as really john boehner's plan but nobody's really focusing on it at the moment and the reason being really because the senate itself seems to -- definitely there is a sense that they are waiting to act until they see what happens to john boehner's plan in the house in what they decide to do going forward. the honest truths is that neither plan at the moment looks like it can pass the opposing
chamber. so in the end they're going down these paths, they're going through the motions, even though they're very serious about these measures but in the end it's going to have to come down to some kind of compromise, tom, that they clearly have not found yet. >> and the it's going to come down to counting those votes you say they can't really count yet but they're trying. kate bolduan, thank you so much for joining us. if we don't get a deal out of washington before the big bad debt ceiling deadline, one of the guys you can blame or thank, depending on how you see it, is congressman joe walsh, a republican from illinois. he's one of those freshmen who rode the tea party wave into washington last fall. we mentioned them a moment ago. he spoke out against a compromise at a tea party rally in washington earlier today. listen. >> i'm a freshman. maybe i'm naive. but i don't think unless we force -- unless we force republicans and democrats to balance their books every year, they won't. the only way we can do that is to force them.
the only way we can force them is to put a balanced budget amendment in the constitution. we have to do that. we can't yield. >> and congressman walsh joins me now live from capitol hill. congressman, welcome back to the show here. listen, you know what i'm hearing more than anything around d.c., people are saying about you and some of the other people who are really holding the hard line here, don't these guys know how to take a win? because the feeling is that you've forced enormous concessions. what will be enough? >> let me first start out, tom, and go after senator john mccain in your lead. it's bizarro and insulting for a guy like john mccain, who's been here for so long, it's politicians like him that have gotten us to this point where we have a government we can't afford. i mean, shame on him for saying that, for going after those of us who were elected six months ago to change the way guys like him have operated in this town forever. look, my leadership, john boehner and eric cantor, are
doing a fantastic job. and the new numbers that they put out now in the boehner plan do look much better. all i'm saying is i think we've got a moment in time here where we can do better. the crisis is so severe, so severe. and we've got a president and a democratic party and i think too many folks over in the senate who just don't understand how severe this crisis is. >> define for me, if you would, what better is at this point because you talked about the numbers a minute ago. you've also talked a lot about the idea of a balanced budget amendment. i'm telling you, mr. representative, having looked at it as closely as i can, i don't see how you get approval of that measure right now. so if you can't pass that, what can you settle for? >> well, when we look at numbers, tom, i mean, we've got a $14 trillion debt now. we're going to add another 12 to 13 over the course of the next ten years. even the ryan budget that us -- that we republicans passed is going to add to that debt.
a trillion dollars over ten years is not a big number. it's great progress. and again, i give my leadership a lot of credit. we have changed the debate. all i'm saying is i think the administration -- everybody's been scaring us on this august 2nd thing. i want to make sure that we can get as good of a solution for the american people as we can and push hard for a balanced budget amendment. i know, tom, that people in this town will say it's impossible. but there are republicans, strong majorities of republicans who support it, and there are democrats who have been on the record supporting the balanced budget. >> i know you've challenged the august 2nd deadline in saying that's not the real deadline. but you've also acknowledged to me on this show that there is a point at which you think we'll get into trouble. are you not afraid at all about what would happen if we end up going into default? >> tom, we're all afraid. and nobody up here wants default. it hasn't been helpful for this
administration to hold the word "default" over our head for three or four months. we're not going to hit default on august 3rd. tom, we know we've got 170-some billion dollars in revenues coming in in the month of august -- >> yes, but you've also acknowledged to me here that whether or not we hit it on august 2nd it's not off in some distant five-year, ten-year mark, it's sometime -- >> absolutely. >> -- in the near future. again, let me get back to the question here. tell me now if you can, and tell your leadership and the democratic leadership, what will it take -- what does it take for me to put you in a car tonight? what's your deal that you say hit this, hit this, and you'll be on board? >> tom, i think these troublesome conservatives in the house, many of whom were sent here in january to change this town, we want to try -- it's a spending problem. we want to try -- >> i understand. tell me what that means. i mean, i understand that. and i accept that. and you're right. you wouldn't have been elected if not a lot of americans agreed with you. many do agree with you. what's the deal you want to take
back to them and say we agreed to this and to this and that's okay? >> i want a profound deal that will change this town so we never get to this point again. and that's huge spending cuts, and most importantly, that's some sort of spending reform that changes the way this town spends money. and again, the best one we've got out there right now is a balanced budget amendment. many of us want to keep pushing for this as hard as we could. look, the boehner plan with the new numbers looks pretty interesting. and we're going to give it a hard look. we just want to fight for as much as we can because i think that's why people sent us here. >> i understand that. the other question i keep thinking about. you know in negotiations like this you can go too far, and i think that's one of the concerns, even among people who support your cause. it's like i'm offering a house for $500,000 and you say you'll give me $100. if you get me down to $100,000, you've won, but you're still not going to get it for 100. >> i know, tom. and i think we're getting close. and the factor here that's
clouding a lot of this again is this sense of panic. i think your profession has helped create this. i know the administration has helped create this. and so it's got this town all worked up. whether it's august 2nd, 3rd, or 8th i think that what america needs is the best and biggest reform package we can put together. the boehner plan is a great start down that road. we just need to figure out if it's enough. >> two other quick questions here. one, when a plan like this comes along and it changes, you know tham of the people who are standing with you are also being leaned on by other republicans who are saying you've got a good deal, it's time to start moving. what is your sense of the core of those of you who are standing here, are you all standing together? do you feel like some are peeling off now or are ready to peel off? you sound to me like you are actually even ready yourself maybe, maybe in the next couple days to say okay, it's enough, i'll make a deal. >> well, i think we're going to
vote on something tomorrow. and i would tell you, i think leadership has done a great job. they made a very persuasive case to many of my colleagues that this is as good as we can get right now and it's pretty darn good. i'm not there yet. and a number of members aren't. but leadership, i think, is picking them off one at a time. they're doing a great job of trying to persuade members. >> do you have -- if john boehner called you tonight and said okay, i heard you, i watched you on "in the arena," i heard what you had to say, what can i give you now -- maybe it's not everything, but what tonight do you want? what if you can get a balanced budget amendment vote but it doesn't succeed? does that serve any purpose to you? is that important? >> that would be a big step. and if it didn't succeed, tom, a huge valiant one to two to three to four-month effort at building a movement behind a balanced budget amendment. you know, part two of the boehner plan is there will be another tranche of potential
debt ceiling raise down the road -- >> so let me make sure i understand. if you could get the vote, if democrats and republicans say we will have a vote on a balanced budget amendment, even if it failed, you would say this is a victory of a sort and we can move forward? >> it's movement in the right direction. is it enough, tom, for a guy like me right now? no. i need passage out of both houses. i know that's a tall lift. but i really want my leadership to keep pushing for that. and let's see how this plays out. >> all right. well, i understand -- i fully understand your position, the sense that as you said this is a once in 100-year opportunity for people like you to push the way you are. and we'll see how it plays out. congressman, thanks so much for being here. congressman joe walsh. and i'm sure we'll check in with you as it goes on here. >> thank you. when we come back, is al qaeda finished? the secretary of defense says we're close to declaring victory over these terrorists. but i'll talk to security experts who say al qaeda is stronger than ever and may have some big plans. that in just a moment. [ male announcer ] there's more than one
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"washington post." defense secretary leon panetta is quoted as saying, "we're within reach of strategically defeated al qaeda." joining me now from washington, two experts who can tell us whether to believe this and why it's even being claimed. michael scheuer is a former cia counterterrorism analyst who headed the bin laden unit. and chad sweet worked both in the cia and homeland security. welcome. let me start with you, michael, if i can. should we have any faith in this claim that we're close to defeating al qaeda? >> i think we should have zero faith in it, sir. it's one of those things that when i was in college the jesuits taught me to never lie about anything. but if you lied about something, don't lie about something people can check. and if you simply pay attention to the open source material and look at the expansion of al qaeda since 2001, they now have operational platforms in half a dozen places -- >> let me interrupt you while you're saying that, and we're going to bring up a map because i want you to explain this but i want people to be able to look
at it at the same time you're saying that. in 2001 tell me where they were and then tell me where they are now. >> in terms of large operational bases at 9/11, they had afghanistan. to plan, to recruit, to store material, to train, to strategize in safety. today they still have part of afghanistan. they have a big swath of pakistan. they're in yemen. they're in somalia. they're all the way across north africa in a growing movement that's now reaching down into the western part of africa. and so just objectively you really don't need an opinion. you just need to look at the facts, sir. al qaeda is much bigger and much more geographically dispersed than it was at 9/11. >> chad, would you agree with that? and what kind of operations are we talking about in places like algeria and eenggypt compared t what they had in afghanistan when they had the harboring government of the taliban? >> i couldn't agree more with michael. and i'd actually go a step further to say not only is he right that they have now expanded geographically and have multiple launch points for
operations but if we step back and look at that map you'll see it lays over very nicely with what we're witnessing with the arab spring. we're also witnessing a dysfunctional nato operation both in afghanistan as well as in libya that leads to openings for al qaeda there. as michael points out, they in each one of those countries are seeing instability that can be exploited. and let's step back and look at what we learned from the bin laden treasure trove, which is essentially that al qaeda was much more centrally controlled than many in the intelligence community thought and i thought and many in the chertoff group. but what it shows is the old guard, what we'll call central a.q., al qaeda, was basically trying to force the young guard to follow their past performance, which is to do these long, multiyear planning attacks for very iconic operations with catastrophic proportion.
now the younger guard doesn't believe in that. they're much more in tune -- anwar al awlaki to do lower-level attacks. and i think what we'll see is more of a leaderless jihad, which is now ironically more unleashed by the death of bin laden. so it is an issue of jeefrk distributi geographic distribution as well as the fact they're willing now to conduct much more lower level attacks on softer targets. >> michael, one of the things i remember even from the earliest days after 9/11 was the sense that intelligence analysts were saying it is a mistake to think of al qaeda as an organization, it is both an organization and an idea and a free-flowing movement, and so even if you knock off the leaders of this group here, here, here, and here there are still a lot of them out there. >> well, i think that's exactly right. and i think great credit should go to the central intelligence agency and the special forces for amassing a very impressive body count of al qaeda leaders. but that's all we really have, is a body count. we don't have a measure of progress against them.
and you know, to go back just for a couple years, the real turning point in this problem was the invasion of iraq. it transformed the group and the man, bin laden and al qaeda, into just exactly what you said, tom, into a philosophy and a movement. and now we see that everywhere, including in north america, in europe and canada and australia. it's a much bigger problem today and much more potentially lethal in many more places than it was at 9/11. >> and that's because as you were mentioning a moment ago this notion, chad, that you're not necessarily seeing the old guard saying we want a giant attack like we saw here in new york with the world trade center but smaller-level things that can be operated truly by one or two people and can still have a big impact. >> exactly. let's just think back to shahzad in times square or abdulmutallab on christmas day -- christmas eve. i mean, obviously those attacks were not on the scale of 9/11, but what we learned from the bin
laden treasure trove is that bin laden was actually reprimanding his lieutenants for trying to do those types of low-level attacks and frankly anwar al awlaki and the younger generation were saying, you know, what we waited too long, we've got to start to show that we're relevant. so you know, to build on what michael said, you know, i have tremendous respect for secretary of defense panetta, but these comments are frankly irresponsible -- >> let me -- that's what i want to ask -- >> -- and arrogant, and they lead to complacency. >> why are they saying it, then? it seems to me that i'm not sure of what the upside is of saying this other than it makes the public feel a little better. >> i think that's exactly it, sir. they've surrendered in afghanistan. they've lost the war in afghanistan. they're beginning to pull people out of there. after ten years we have not even been able to build a security situation where karzai's main political lieutenants are protected. the mayor of kandahar was just blown up -- >> you know the white house and the defense department would say not that they've lost in afghanistan and many families who've been over there would say no, that's not the case, that
they have stabilized things much more than they were before, they got bin laden, they drove a lot of these people back either into the mountains or over to the pakistani side and they're still going to keep mopping them up. that doesn't sound -- it may not sound like victory to many, but it certainly doesn't sound like defeat to others, too. >> well, it's a complete loss, tom. >> why do you say that? >> we will dress it up -- because we will dress it up for the american people as mr. panetta did today, but for 1.4 billion muslims, when the united states leaves afghanistan without accomplishing any of the goals except for killing bin laden that they set out to do, it will be seen in the muslim world as the defeat of the second superpower by the mujahadin. they beat the soviets, and now they beat the americans. it will be a galvanizing moment for this generation of young muslims, just as it was for bin laden's generation of young muslims. >> and chad, do you agree with that, or do you think that that still remains to be seen? >> i respectfully -- and i have
tremendous respect for michael, as do my colleagues at the chertoff group. but i would say it still remains to be seen. general petraeus is now taking over as head of the cia, and there are opportunities to force success. but i think michael's fundamental point is correct, which is when i was a football player in texas we were always taught by my coach, you know, you always play like you're from behind. you never get arrogant. and right now it is absolutely arrogant to say the things that they're saying and it breeds complacency. so what we want to drive home is the point that, forgive the fans out there for drew brees and the new orleans saints, but this reminds me of the 2010 super bowl where everybody had written them off going into the final part of the game, they kicked an onside kick and came back from ten points from behind. that's the challenge we have, which is it would be a tragedy of ironic proportions that if in bin laden's death we give him a victory he couldn't achieve in life through our arrogance and
complacency. >> well, michael scheuer and chad sweet, i really appreciate you joining us here. >> thank you, sir. up next, between iraq and a hard place. that's where john boehner finds himself. as we told you at the top of the show. taking on the democrats while fighting off the tea party in his own party. it's enough to drive a republican to tears. our political panel brings the kleenex and hopefully some answers. when we come back. phillips' caplets use magnesium, an ingredient that works more naturally with your colon than stimulant laxatives, for effective relief of constipation without cramps. thanks. [ professor ] good morning students. today, we're gonna... but i did. they said i couldn't fight above my weight class. but i did. they said i couldn't get elected to congress. but i did. ♪ sometimes when we touch ha ha! millions of hits! [ male announcer ] flick, stack, and move between active apps seamlessly. only on the new hp touchpad with webos.
debt limit screen, which the tea party people have some objection to. they don't feel this is actually correct nor should we be that worried about it in this time. but nonlts, that's what we're hearing with the numbers, when we get to the debt limit that we've been talking about for so long and of course washington has been talking about. the words about it in washington this morning from speaker john boehner were "get your ass in line." that's what he said to his republicans at their caucus this morning, saying they simply have to get serious about this. he has unveiled his new plan to raise the debt ceiling, and it closed more than $900 billion in spending cuts and no new taxes. he had to adjust it because the cbo said his numbers weren't quite right. but some tea party loyalists are refusing to heed his call. with just 87 members, about 20% of the votes in the house, why does the tea party caucus hold so much power, and exactly who is in control of the gop these days? steve kornaki is the news editor for salon.com. he's not in charge of it. he joins us now along with dylan
glenn, a republican strategist and former special assistant to president george bush, who's also not in charge of it. thanks to both of you for coming here. let me start with you, dylan. what -- who is in charge of the gop these days? >> well, the speaker's very much in charge of that caucus. and you know, i think they had a contentious meeting of the caucus this afternoon, but by all accounts the ball's moving in the right direction. and i tend to be an optimist, but i feel like the speaker will get his votes and a lot of those tea party activists will be a part of that vote and that bill will move out of the house tomorrow at some point in my opinion. >> i think if you just look at the math you find yourself saying, steve, that the reason the tea party is so powerful is because if they stick together, even 2/3 of them, they can sort of strangle things there. >> it would take even less than that. because the democrats have made it clear that they're going to provide zero votes when this thing comes to the house tomorrow for the john boehner plan on the debt ceiling. you'll get zero votes from democrats. which means basically john boehner and republicans have
wiggle room of about 20, 22 votes. >> this reminds me of the health care vote on the democratic side, when in effect the republicans were all holding together and the democrats were saying we have to fight these defectors who won't support this plan. >> i think that's a great annuali and a pretty fair one at that. look, the dynamic of the tea party activists, if you will, and i don't think that's a fair way to describe all of the holdouts, but is that they came to washington with this raison d'etre and the raison d'etre is to reduce the debt. and i think they're going to work their level best to get there. the challenge for the leadership is to be able to tie strings on some of those balloons, if you will, and have people accept yes for an answer. and i'm hopeful, i think we're close. it's a process, though, it's not an event. so this will have to run its course over the next couple days. >> in some ways i would think if i were a republican right now if you can get to a deal i would think that the second part of that is you go around and shake hands with all the tea party people and say you scared the democrats to death because republicans have got a
tremendous deal out of this compared to what they would have had without that factor. >> listen, i think a lot of the credit goes -- will go to the speaker. you know, he tried for a grand bargain, then had that deal go down and stepped back and came back with an alternative that i think will bring the tea party along in the end -- >> but you think some of the credit goes to the tea party? >> i think listen, they've shaped this debate. and the tea party is nothing more than an extension of a lot of the electorate out there that was very frustrated about runaway spending last november. and i think they're responding to that criticism. the challenge going forward is going to be to shape some legislation that satisfies them but also that brings enough democrats in the senate along. >> how do the tea party people not wind up being a dirty word in washington, though? because right now the majority of the public is saying, okay, we get your point, enough already, let's compromise, let's do a deal. moffett republicans are saying enough already, let's do a deal. do you think there's a risk here that the tea party comes out really looking like the bad guys in this? >> i think it already has.
and i wouldn't put the cart before the horse in saying the tea party's kind of got its way, got a good deal and let's move on. because i think there's a couple very formidable obstacles standing between right now and actually raising this debt ceiling and the tea party is sort of essential to those obstacles. what i would say is this. if john boehner gets his way tomorrow and sort of the republican establishment gets his way and they pass the john boehner plan, democrats who control the senate are right now saying and making it clear they will not support this. they will not vote for this. and they will amend this to the harry reid plan. and barack obama is saying in the white house that if you pass the john boehner plan, if somehow that clears both the house and the senate i will veto it. >> so steve, what's going to be the play here? is this going to be -- how do we get past this? because you're arguing in effect we're just wasting time now. >> what i think it's going to come down to is this -- will barack obama relent on -- the basic stumbling block between the house and the senate, numbers are different but what it really boils down to is this. obama says there cannot be another vote on this about raising the debt ceiling until after the 2012 election.
that's the democratic position. the republican position is we want to do this again in six, seven, eight, nine months. >> do the republicans fundamentally want that for economic reasons or for political reasons? and same for the democrats. >> tom, no one's naive here. politics is a part of this process. i think that the president of the united states will be hard pressed to veto a bill that raises the debt limit, whether or not it has a timetable of six months or whether or not it has a timetable out beyond the 2013 election -- i mean 2012 election. so my -- >> but there's no doubt in your mind that republicans would love to have this front and center during the presidential election and the democrats would love to not have it there. >> tom, i'm going to step back and say listen, this is a good conversation for america. we spend more than we take in, and we need to figure out an appropriate way forward. i think it does play well for republicans. but i think it plays well for the country as well. so we'll see what happens in the process. >> can i say, i think this is the problem, though. let's say the boehner plan passes the house tomorrow, they go to the senate and harry reid does what he's saying he's going to do, and that is he amends it
so that it's extended beyond the 2012 election. so you have that fundamental dispute between no 2012 vote or 2012 vote. it then gets kicked back to the house. and the question is you just had, if you're john boehner, you just spent the entire week doing everything possible to keep everybody in your party in line to barely pass your plan. now you're being asked to sell them on something completely different. how do you get that through? and that's what i can't see. >> last quick question for both of you. do you think there's going to be a deal and if so how soon? >> i hope there will be a deal. it's very important for the country. and think it will happen in the next -- over the weekend at the latest. >> how about you? >> i'm not as optimistic. >> all right. steve kornacki and dylan green, thanks for having you here. and if this goes on, heaven knows how many times you'll be here. still ahead, the debt ceiling debate has dragged on for absolutely months. but according to the bible, the whole world was created in just six days. so you would think god's approval rating would be off the charts. right? well, wrong. we'll have the almighty numbers when we come back.
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what if god were up for re-election? we in the media just love to use polls to gauge the temperature of america and what it means for politicians' futures. but a new poll by public policy polling looks at god's approval rating. and you might be a little surprised at what they found. god has a 52% approval rating but only 9% disapprove and a full 40% aren't sure how they feel. after the earthquake in japan and the tornado in joplin god's approval rating on natural disasters is still pretty high.
he got a 50% approval in that category. and here's one that surprised me. the pollsters asked about how god handled the creation of the universe, and a full quarter of the people asked said you know, i just don't know how i feel about that. joining me now to talk about all of this is spiritual adviser to the stars, rabbi shmuley boteach. let me ask you -- first of all, i want to say, there's no disrespect meant by this bays actually found the poll interesting not because what it tells us about god but what it tells us about us. >> i'm surprised that god's approval rating was so high. i mean, 50% of people approve of god's handling of natural disasters? i mean, he is god. he should be able to prevent these things. i think there's a tendency on the part of the faithful to defend god at all costs, but sometimes at the expense of humanity. it would seem to me that god as the father of humanity would rather that we indict him at times and absolve people. the standard religious defense of god in the face of a tornado, in the face of a tsunami or -- >> bad things happening to good people. >> -- is that the people are sinful or that karma, maybe
their soul did something in a previous life. this is nonsense. people don't deserve these terrible tragedies zme deserve much better. and god is a perfect being so his world ought to reflect that perfection. hence i'm surprised his poll numbers were that high. i'm a very religious man but i do believe our world has glaring imperfections that need to be remedied. >> all your life i'm sure you have had people who are in your congregation and you yourself have probably had times when you said i don't understand, i believe in god but i don't understand why things happen this way. >> and the worst thing i think is that priests and pastors believe and we rabbis that our responsibility is to defend god at all costs and to tell parents who lose children to luke 'em wra that their child is in a better place. that's ridiculous. the better place is with their parents. a child isn't supposed to grow up in heaven at the divine throne. he's supposed to grow up on his father or mother's lap. >> well, you say that. at the same time you know that many christians would take umbrage to you saying that because they say no, that heaven is the greatest place to be and
that is a comfort these parents should have. >> well, that's because many of my christian brothers and sisters look at the suffering of christ as something that's redemptive. so bad things happen to good people for the benefit of the innocent. i personally don't subscribe to that. i think god is omnipotent enough to bring about good ends with good means. >> i want to talk about some other numbers that are kind of interesting. the reason i say it tells us more bus than it does about god is president obama's approval rating last week was 45%. michelle obama in october of 2010 -- >> i'm surprised -- i'm surprised to actually say -- can you can't defile the holy name. if we're going to distinguish between president obama and god. so he is lower than god. >> pope benedict, 40% approval rating. that's why i say i think this tells us more about us than about god. i wonder if that 52% also reflects a lot of the ambivalence people have in troubled times, in trying times, about their faith in general, just this sense of it's hard to be faithful when times are hard. >> well, it's also hard to be faithful when people who claim a
certain faith are responsible for a lot of the tragedies that are not god's fault. look, it was an orthodox june who killed leiby kletzky in borough park. but god the one what who allowed this child who wanted to find his way home to ask the one person in the neighborhood perhaps who was going to dismember him and wind up putting body parts in the freeszer. >> sure. terrible tragedy. >> or the right-wing nut in norway, i don't want to excuse him by saying he's insane. he may be just evil. but he claims to be a christian fundamentalist. lets let alone all the islamic bombs going off. so god is maligned by the actions of the faithful. whatever we want to fault god for say lost it is how faith has failed to shape our heart and mold it into something more comforting and more human. >> do you think a faithful person should even care about a poll like this at all? >> sure. >> why? >> because if you go to any of the museums that surround -- here in new york, once upon a time man's highest creative potential was devoted toward glorifying god, and now we live in a very cynical age of militant atheism and so whether god is o'popular or not really reflects whether people think
that faith is useful or african. people look at an iphone, they look at technology, they say that works. then they go to church and say i walked out depressed and my child is still sick and i don't have a job, where is god when i need him, god is is useless. 6k these polls 3459er. religion has to be held to the same standard of usefulness or uselessness. i want to see a religion that makes us more charitable, less judgmental. i don't want to see religion that's obsessed only with gay marriage to the exclusion of all other issues. let's face, it america's becoming increasingly materialistic. our values are failing. and religious leaders aren't addressing those issues. we just seem obsessed with abortion, gay marriage. we've talked about it for 20 years. people are looking at this debate and they're saying how does this help me in giving me advice to raise my kids or stay happily married? >> and rabbi, i'm looking at the clock and saying i have to move on. >> but god is above time. but i'm not. neither are you. >> if you were producing the show, we'd have the whole evening. >> i'll consider that an offer. thank you. >> when we come back, god willing, maybe now or maybe later, that's basically the sticking point between the
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get there. so take a look at this. senator reid wants this all done now. he doesn't want to go through this fight again before the election. speaker boehner, on the other hand, wants to take this in steps. he wants to see progress before he commits to a lump sum. that's one of the major differences here. look at the rest of that screen, though. spending cuts over ten years. slightly different but check on both, although they disagree on how to get there, on what to cut. no tax increases now. check and check. and then we get to the last point. a vote on a balanced budget amendment, a thing we were talking about so much before. the democrats do not want it, and the republicans do. it doesn't mean it will pass, but they want to talk about a vote on it. so once again the fight now is not even if we should raise the debt ceiling tonight. both plans as we understand them allow for that. the question is by how much and when to do it. and to make matters worse, there are many people who think that neither plan actually goes far enough to solve our debt problems no matter what we do with it. nonetheless, it's one step at a time right now and washington is
having trouble taking any . up next, the debt ceiling mess is american made, but the whole world is really watching and worrying. stay with us. positively radiant tinted moisturizers with scientifically proven soy complex and natural minerals. give you sheer coverage instantly, then go on to even skin tone in four weeks. aveeno tinted moisturizers. excuse me? my grandfather was born in this village. [ automated voice speaks foreign language ]
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and it's a scary thought. so how do you reckon with this if you're in the rest of the world? a little bit earlier i talked with cnn's richard quest. >> richard, let me start off with a really basic question here. should the rest of the world be worried about our debt problems here? >> at one level yes. and to another level no. which is not the answer you were hoping i was going to give. of course. of course the rest of the world is worried about the u.s. debt levels, but not because you may have a temporary default or there may be a downgrade or whatever in the short term. remember, that is a case of won't pay, not can't pay. the reason the rest of the world is worried is that the u.s. is effectively a vacuum cleaner sucking up huge amounts of capital. month in, month out. hundreds of billions of dollars
a year. put it this way. the u.s. economy is basically living on borrowed money, has continued to do so for a very long period of time, and that has to be addressed. >> so the concern is not that we have had all this debt but that our system for dealing with it and paying it off seems to be in so much turmoil that people can't rely on that. >> no one is suggesting that i speak to in macroeconomic circles that the u.s. suddenly embarks on a greek-style or uk-style austerity program. it would be foolhardy in the extreme with the growth numbers we're seeing, with your unemployment rate at over 9%. and with the problems that the global -- the fragility that the global economy -- >> if they're not suggesting that, what are they suggesting? >> a proper plan that is credible, that puts the long-term deficit position on a
downward track. they're looking for a situation where both sides say this is what we're going to do and it will cut the deficit by x. but what have we got instead? we've got both u.s. political parties basically arguing to the death, to the point where you and i are not only talking about default but also about debt downgrade. which hasn't happened. the u.s. has had its aaa since 1917. and one other thing, while we're sort of on about this. the u.s. debt market is the most liquid, the most significant. everything is crucially important by the dollar and the u.s. bond market. and that these two now should be in such turmoil because of what's happening is a concern. >> if the u.s. goes into default, what you're saying is
that a lot of countries out there are saying you guys have to stay in the ball game here, you're simply too big of an economy to go into this kind of freefall. >> well, put it another way. look what happened with lehman brothers. and that was one bank at a particularly difficult time. but we are going to enter uncharted territory at the moment. 1917 since it was aaa. and it's never -- the u.s. has never had a default. now, even if it's a technical default or a structural default, or whatever sort of default you want to say, it's uncharted, and the rest of us don't know what will happen. if there's -- >> tell me if i'm wrong here, richard. there are only a handful of countries in the world that have never had a default or a problem like this. and we're one of them. it's us and canada and like new zealand and australia, somebody like that. >> yeah, absolutely. and there are some countries like venezuela that have defaulted many times. and other countries, if you look
on the list, some have gone three, four, five times. in fact, over the last 200 years there have been several hundred defaults of one stage or another. >> sought issue is just the sheer bulk of us -- >> the issue is -- the issue is do you want to be in the same category as russia in '98, argentina in 2001 -- and by the way, argentina has defaulted several times. and yes, the default may be different. and it will only be a temporary. and it won't actually be a real default. but it doesn't matter. once the d word arrives, it tends to stick. >> so our problems, as much as we may want to say it's about us, the whole world really is saying your problems are about all of us because you are simply too big of a player for us to ignore. >> i'll be more blunt than that. the united states has demanded the role of being the leader. it's got the world -- the world's reserve currency, the
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