tv [untitled] February 7, 2012 5:00pm-5:30pm EST
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>> last night i watched the speaker on one of the evening news shows and he wasn't confident they would maintain the majority of the house. some of you should look at that. i was stunned. he was throwing a big softball and he missed it. >> senator reed we know that you guys are like -- >> senator harry reid, democrat from nevada, mat jort leader joined by democratic senators sh schumer, durbin. that was after the weekly party lunches. before that you heard the republican leaders. around the country on xm satellite radio channel 119. coming up in a minute "washington today." the number again for c-span
radio over your phone, 202-626-8888. >> first of all, let's put in perspective what this conference is all about. our time in short. we don't have a lot of time left, and we need to begin to move very quickly. >> we don't center time. in fact, we have less time than i think we have. by that i mean i think we have to wrap this up in a matter of at least close to wrapping this up in a matter of days. and i would urge us to be thinking of ways that we can compromise. >> the cements of senator max baucus and congressman dave camp as they try to hammer out an agreement to pay for that payroll tax holiday that would extend through the end of this year. also, the medicare doc fix and
extension of unemployment benefits. welcome to our one of washington today on c-span radio. i'm steve scully. thanks for joining us. remember the debate last december trying to work out an agreement to extend the payroll tax cut. they offered a two-month exit tension. the deadline is the end of the month. the chairman of payroll tax conferrees, congressman dave camp urging leaders of both parties to back off and let the panel try to strike an agreement. he told reporters today that comments from leadership on both sides of the aisle about a stalemate remain unhelpful in the ongoing negotiations. we'll have more on this story coming up in just a moment. mee meanwhile news from san francisco. gay marriages are still on hold in california, but a federal appeals court handed gay rights supporters a victory with the ruling saying a ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
quick reaction from mitt romney and other republican presidential candidates. voeters two years ago approved in response to a earlier court decision, but the appeals court says the ban violated the rights of gays. the white house is saying the u.s. is not krg arming opposition groups in syria amid calls on capitol hill to consider that option. we heard earnier from jay carney saying at this point u.s. efforts employ the possibility to provide humanitarian aid to the syrian people. i ran dismissed the new u.n. sanctions on saying the administration is trying to play psychological war that is so discontent among iranians and insisting the measures would not halt the country's nuclear program. we talked about the story yesterday as the obama administration ordered new penalties giving u.s. banks additional powers to freeze assets linked to the iranian
government. a political note from nebraska. former senator bob kerry today rejecting his potential comeback to the u.s. senate. that dashes hopes by democrats to maintain this set held by senator ben nelson retiring. many say bob kerry, who ran for president in 1992. he's a former governor as the one chance for bob kerry to keep that seat in democratic hands. bob kerry kept plans on hold to more than a month contemplating whether to keep the seat. the lead story at this hour is how they try to work an agreement but one of the big issues is how do you pay for a proposal that costs upwards of $150 billion? among those considered a pay freeze for federal workers as well as members of congress, the house voting on that particular measure last week and approving it overwhelmingly, also making seniors with incomes of $80,000 a year paying more for medicare
coverage. and also new subsidies have to pay a greater portion of the overpayments they may receive. there's a lot of criticism on this from john boehner who says he has significant concerns about whether senator democrats want to broker a payroll tax extension. you heard from congressman dave camp a moment ago. let's go into the innings between the house senate conferrees. we're hear from congressman henry waxman from california dealing with the one issue, the so-called means testing for medicare recipients. here's part of the exchange earlier today on capitol hill. >> first of all let's put in perspective what this conference is all about. this is not a conference to reduce the deficit. this is a conference to extend some emergency measures. people are unemployed through no fault of their own because of a bad economy, a lot of which had to do with the policies of the
previous administration. now we have a situation where these unemployed people are going to lose their benefits. if we don't extend their benefits, not only they but their families go without the basic paamount of money to survive. secondly -- this is an emergency. therefore, it ought to be treated as an emergency piece of legislation. you don't pay for acrisis emergency. secondly we have a middle class tax cut that we all say we want to support, and this middle class tax cut is one that many of us think shouldn't be paid for at all because the upper income tax cuts have never been paid for. i'm sure our republican colleagues will come at the end of this year is say extend the bush tax cuts but don't pay for them. if you're going to pay for them, we've got to make sure that the economy is improving, so we need to find offsets where we're not
putting a burden on these middle class again or the burden on the economy recovery. i think we ought to put the burden on medicare beneficiaries or workers, middle class workers. there are other ways to do it. when we say a surtax on millionaires, you might want to say over and over again it hasn't passed the senate. the test is what is a fair way to offset the costs? rather than suddenly deciding that some medicare beneficiaries are rich, and we're going to k make this them pay more, we're saying that those that are genuinely wealthy in our society shouldn't pay more in their share of the taxes. >> the comments of congressman henry waxman, democrat of california. we'll hear in a moment from a republican from north carolina. there are 20 lawmakers that are part of this house senate conferrees. the hill newspaper says with the tax break expiring at the end of
the month, they're charged with crafting a year-long extension. today the committee, quote, slogged through yet another meeting with little noticeable progress. the issue is focusing on solely how to pay for proposals and some stark disagreements over the pay freeze r for workers and medicare testing as well as our health care changes. more of the debate and want representative ellmers is on the question. >> what does that translate into for the american people, this emergency. if it's an emergency, the government shouldn't have to pay for it, unless, of course, you want to tax the hard-working small business owners who are our job providers in this country. that's what i'm hearing, and that's, i think -- >> i think you're incorrect in what you're hearing. >> let me go on. i'm not yielding my time. if this were i an emergency, we would have passed this at the end of the year, 2011.
emergency? this would have been taken care of. that is why what you say is completely sand totally incorrect. this is not an emergency. the american people are in hardship. we need to come up with solutions. we have got to pay for it. that is what they are asking for. they want accountability. they want efficiency, and they are tired of continuing on. sn senator carden, we hear about fairness from you. how is it fair to continue to ask our seniors -- i apologize because i'm go to digress for a moment. how is it fair that we have asked our seniors to have a cola freeze for two years, and yet we will continue to pay our federal workers without that. how is that fair to our seniors? >> there was a freeze for two years. >> do you want to respond? >> the point being that already existed, and now you are
basically saying that our federal employees that make more than those in the private sector should not be touched. moving on to this proposal, when we're talking about individuals with medicare part b, who are of the higher income, 4$400 no,000 we're asking them to pay -- a little over $300 a month for the premium. this is the president's proposal. the three provisions we have put forward today for the $70 billion are all bipartisan, and they have already been bipartisan. why is it today this conference committee that all of a sudden it is not? these are things that republicans and democrats have voted on in the past. that is why they were chosen. they were already in agreement. yet, somehow today they're not. how is that possible?
>> that's just some of the debate that took place before the house senate conferrees. again, the deadline is february 29th, an extra day this year because of leap year. that is the deadline for congress to come up with an agreement to extend the payroll tax holiday through the end of the year. attached to this legislation an extension of unemployment benefits and the so-called dock fix for medicare recipients. this is "washington today" on v span radio. another 243,000 jobs were added in the month of january, but today on capitol hill ben bernanke, who continued his testimony. last week he was in the house and this week before the senate committee. he said that the unemployment rate understates in his words the weaknesses of the u.s. labor market. he said irts important to look at other gauges including the issue of underemployment. while the jobless rate has dropped for five consecutive months, it does remain above the benchmark of 5.2 to 6%, which
the fed said is consistent with maximum employment. as the fed chairman giving his outlook on the u.s. economy and what we can expect through the spring and summer and taking questions from senator rob portman. >> you talk amgts bit about the fact that you see some signs of improvement, especially in manufacturing. those are certainly welcomwelco. you talked about the long-term unemployment that's 40% of people now unemployed for more than six months, which was twice what it was in the last recovery. i would add it to that this recovery is not like any previous recoveries. it's certainly going back to the depression which you're a student of. we're over 5 million jobs down still. 48 months after the recession. at this time after the '81 recession, which was the deepest recession in recent times, we had 6 million jobs that have been created as compared to over
500 down. even in the so-called jobless recovery in 2010 we were up at least 350,000 jobs. something is going on very different. i think the labor participation issue is a keyish and part of your mandate. you didn't talk about that in depth, but my understanding is you said earlier 8.3% is understating unemployment. if this participation were simply where it was prior to the reception, which is about 66% participation versus 64%, the unemployment number would be over 10%. and so i think we've got a more serious structural problem than perhaps just another business dagle. if you agree with me on that, i'd like to hair what you think about bha to do in terms of structural changes. >> i would add what you cited on the fiscal side. you said we're of increased possibility of a fiscal crisis, as i read your testimony,
because of crowding out higher debt payments but also the possibility of what happened in southern europe, a sudden spike in interest rates. my question to you is on the tax side, on the regulatory side, on the health care side and energy side as you talked about briefly in the area of health care costs, worker retraining, don't we need a sore of reset of the economy and a more aggressive structural change to the economy? if so, if you agree with that, you know, along what lines would you suggest? >> well, first of all, there's a substantial component in what's happening. our estimate of long-run employment of 5.2 too 6% is still quite far below 8.3, of course. so it remains important to try to support the recovery. there are a number of forces
slowing the recovery and i talked about housing and financial markets and credit markets in my testimony all of that said, good policy is good policy anytime. there's lots of things where the u.s. would benefit for structural reforms. i've talked frequently about the tax code. i know you're very interested in budgeting and tax code issues. that would be very constructive. we have very important needs on education and work force skills. r and d continues to need support. health care is a major, major issue, both because of the federal fiscal situation. this is the major force driving it, but also because the high costs are bad for the efficiency and the living standards of the economy in general. so those are all areas that when you and i were colleagues in the
previous administration, we talked about some of those issues. we worked on it. this is an area where i think the progress can still be made. they shouldn't be put on the shelf because we're recovering from a deep recession. >> the comments of ben bernanke, the fed chairman referring to rob portman who in the bush administration served as the budget director and now senator of ohio, former member of the house of representatives, senator portman is on the senate budget committee. the headline from cnbc.com, the labor market a long way from normal, the comment of ben bernanke. steve leisman is joining us from new york. thanks for being with us. >> great to be here. >> what did you take away from the comments today. this is twice within the week he testified on capitol hill offering a more sober outlook for the job picture in the next eight to nine months? >> i analyzed the hearings in two different ways.
the first is what he's being asked, which tells you a little bit about the political atmosphere going on and the answers that he gives. you asked about the second part which is what he says on the question. and generally he has not been either as upbeat as the market or in some cases wall street economists. he does not seem so far to have bought into this better data we've had. remember, last friday we got the 243,000 jobs created and the unemployment rate declined to 8.3%. the fed has not changed its characterization of the economy very much, if at all, despite five months of unemployment declines. i think that's because even with this improvement we had, to quote the chairman, there's still just a very long way to go, and we're still a very long way from normal. >> let's put it in even longer perspective. we heard last week from the congressional budget office which predicted that the deficits will continue at about $1.1 trillion for the next
several years, and ten years from now could be $1.5 trillion, just to put a%ive in all of that. ma means the debts would rise to levels unseen since world war ii when we were paying off our debt because of the involvement in that war. as you take a broader look at this, steve leisman, what do you see? >> i see a very long road back for employment, which you can imagine it could be four or five years, assuming no recession in that time period before we get to back to a more normal employment rate. as far as deficits go, it's probably important to look at the nuance that bernanke is off offering up. he very much wants the government -- congress on the administration to put together a long-term plan to bring around deficits. he does not want them to take action right now. he's concerned that austerity in the moment could really derail
this very weak recovery that we have out there. he's been consistent on that message. create a long time plan to create the deficit. deal with health care and social security and retirement gut it on a long-term basis and decent do it right now. >> in greece the prime minister has inninged creditors, and according to cnbc and the associated press report tonight, it does look like he's getting closer to a deal on a new austerity measure that would enjoy bankruptcy. what does it mean for greece, for europe, for the u.s. and the markets? >> we've been waiting for this deal for a very long time, and i'm sure it was brought out because i left the office. it seems to happen that way. >> so turn around and head back. >> i should do that. i have to believe it when i see it. it's been out there. we thought it was about a week
ago that it was going to happen on the weekend. it's an interesting set of facts on the ground in europe. it looks like they have staunched the bleeding when it comes to broader europe. the european central bank came in with a massive program that has an analogy to the quantitative user program in the united states. taken some of the insolvency concer concerns. not that there aren't huge, massive, long-term problems in europe. if greece can get solved and needs to get solved with european money and there's sufficient amounts of it out there, of course, with a massive private sector haircut, which means they agree to reduce the amount of the value of the bonds they own and really take a hit on the value and that could help
out the u.s. economy and helping out the european and global economy. bernanke was asked about this a lot today, and he believes europe is at or close to being in recession. he did say that u.s. banks have reduced their exposure to greece, but he did offer that, look, don't fool yourself. if there's a major financial shock in europe, it's going to be felt on these shores in a meaningful way. >> we're talking with steve leisman of cnbc. his work is is available online at cnbc.com. two other points, first of all, the inflation. the fed chairman was asked about inflation. right now it averages about 2% a year. any concerns we could see it increase over the next year to two? >> well, there's always that concern out there, but it's kind of interesting that bernanke wants an inflation problem. you have to pick the problem. he doesn't want to have inflati inflation. if he has to choose a problem, he would choose the problem of inflation rather than deflation. he's very concerned that we
would go into a situation like japan has had for nearly two decades where it's been at really declining prices and, of course, declining incomes go along with that. you may want prices aat the store to go down, but unfortunately usually that comes along with your income going down so you're willingness to buy the goods declines as well. the inflation problem is a problem we sort of know how to deal with. it's painful, but it's a problem that the kind of theory and the mechanism of dealing with has already been written and done. so when you think about what bernanke has done, he's taken an awful lot of heat for the quantitative easing, they've largely been done in order to avoid what they call -- i'll lay this technical term on you. the zero lower bound. that means that once you as a central bank reduce interest rates to zero, you cannot reduce them any more to help the economy. you want to stay away from the zero lower bound. when you're there, you want to
keep away from the deflationary out come. that's bernanke's aim, and i'm not sure that's understood from the fed. >> steve leisman, we always learn so much when you join us. we appreciate it. one final question in terms of politics with an eye on the november elections. mitt romney is campaigning on the tough economy, the high unemployment rate. we've seen five months in a row where the unemployment rate has come down. the director indicates that the jobless rate will increase in the summer and fall from ben bernanke and what the white house is looking at moving into the summer and fall, what are you hearing? what do you think? >> part of what the cbo issi talking about is a bit of a thing that would up happen. people have droged out in part because they're aging and older people don't work in great advantages as younger people too. another cohort of people dropped out of the work force because
they're discouraged. now, what would happen in a better jobs market is you would bring people on the fence. should i work? should i not work? especially if the unemployment insurance claims were not provided, they would come back spew the work force if they don't get jobs that brings up the unemployment rate. the iron any is an improving job market could bring people back into the labor forgs and raise the unemployment rate. if that is indeed the case, you have strong payroll numbers. there's two surveys out there. the household number that calculates the unemployment rate and the payroll number that gives you the nor jobs created. you're absolutely right. the jobs numbers such as they've been and especially if they continue change the political calculus out there. it changes romney's argument from it's really lousy now to it could have been better if. that's a bit of a harder argument to make.
i think a lot of americans are going to believe them, because they're merns who have jobs or been unemployment and got back in the work force at a place where they were before. that's out there yet. it's a harder sell. it could have been better rather than it's terrible now. >> steve leisman joining us live from new york tonight. as always, we appreciate your time here on c-span radio. >> thanks for having me. >> this is washington today heard coast to coast on xm-119. we're also on the webb at c-spanradio.org. some may call it a hip pock see, and but some say it's a necessity. depending on the beholder the president has rooefred course and is bliss bleszing the efforts of the super-pac. yesterday morning the he reviled the sb tone of pacs, but last night political first reporting
that he offered his support for pry rarities u.s. action and this is only a frauk of what the republican backed groups have made including american cross roads. at the white house today jay carney asked about all this. here's a portion of being questions by aps. >> he's on record saying that these pacs and the way they drive money for elections is a threat to democracy. now he gave his stamp to exactly that kind of information to that the democratic pact he paying with republican loans. this campaign says basically, these are the rules and they stink. fou if you want to compete, you play by them. what is the important of taking a he principal stand if you swif course and abandon it for the safk strategy. >> ben, first of all the president's views of the influence of of the citizens united decision haven't changed.
he strongly opposed it. as you know, he made that clear at his state of union address in 2010, which got a the lot of attention. he holds those views today. just as recently as this weekend discussed as you mentioned the fact that he wished washington was doog nor influence the money in politics. the fact is that he has been committed to working with congress to eliminate the kroersikroer corrosive influence of money in washington. he proposed new ideas in the state of the union address with with regards to political reench in congress. on the first day in office, the president issued an executive order with some of the toughest rules forever on the executive branch. for the first time in history the white house posted visitor records online for anyone to browse or download. as of december 2011 over 2 million records were pace posted
on the mail site. this is the first to inhikt employees from sipping gifts to lobbyists. this legislation has done more in any in history to prevent undue influence over the government by lobbyists and money interests. the fact is i will refer a lot of questions that do with specific campaigns questions to chicago. the president obviously agrees with the decision because of what the campaign has said. the rules are what they are. we can't -- the campaign -- i've read the same reports you read. they made clear they cannot engage in this campaign if there are two sets of rules. >> from the president's point of view, do you not see any consistency in talking about the corrosive influence of money and encouraging donors to give to groups. >> let's be clear about a couple of things. his views on the
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