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tv   Washington Week  PBS  November 20, 2010 2:00am-2:30am PST

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>> a lame duck congress comes face-to-face with tough choice. national security, taxes and spending, public opinion and expectations, who will lead? we tackle that on "washington week." welcome to wash. >> never been in the capitol. >> where everything old is new again, can at least when it comes to party leadership. >> in the 2008 session, we have two republicans. >> we look forward to hearing their ideas on job creation and deficit reduction. >> but is this what the voters wanted? >> i think we missed an opportunity today to send a
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signal to america. -- that we understand what happened this past election. >> on the docket, a trillion dollar budget bill, a tax cut debate, an ethics debate and a troubled nuclear deal. >> for anyone to think that we can postpone it or we can avoid it, is i'm afraid vastly underestimating the continuing threat that is posed to our country. >> and in a setback for u.s. terror prosecution, a former guantanamo detainee tried in civilian court gets a split verdict. >> it is a less than satisfactory outcome to what i think is a very unwise and dangerous gambit. >> covering a complicated week, john harwood of the cnbc and the "new york times." janet hook of "the wall street journal." david sanger of the "new york times." and pete williams of nbc news.
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>> award-winning reporting and analysis, covering history as it happens. live from our nation's capitol, this is "washington week" with gwen ifill. produced in association with "national journal." corporate funding for washington week is provided by -- >> we know why we're here, to give our war fighters every advantage. >> to deliver technologies that anticipate the future today. >> and help protect america everywhere from the battle space to cyberspace. >> around the globe, the people of boeing are working together to give our best for america's best. >> that's why we're here. >> there have been a lot of markets up and down lately, but
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anne and mike made it through. they stuck through their plan. now they're thicking about what's next. as their financial advisor i reviewed their complete financial picture. they're reallocating some of those assets so they don't have to rethink some of their dreams. >> wells fargo advisors. together we'll go far. >> corporate funding is also provided by exxonmobil, and prudential financial, additional funding for "washington week" is provide by the ethics in excellence in journalism foundation. the an nenberg foundation. the corporate for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> once again, live from washington, moderator, gwen ifill. >> good evening. this was the week where everyone was trying to make a point.
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republicans wanted do you know that they are drop dead serious about cutting spending. >> old habits aren't easy to break but sometimes they must be. and now is such a time. banning earmarks is another small but important symbolic step that we can take to show that we're serious,. >> how are we going to deal with $13 trillion? >> the message was they didn't have a lot of faith in the republican party. didn't have a lot of faith in the democratic party. the message is, ok, we want you guys to work together. >> we reach our hands with the republicans. we want them to work with us as they didn't do two years ago. >> but here's where the rubber meets the road. lawmakers have to agree on everything they just don't agree about.
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if they don't, there could be consequences up to and including government shutdowns and tax hikes. but first of all, who's right? who were voters actually asking -- what were voters actually asking for, john? >> one of the things they were consistently asking for is a cut in federal spending. the voters tend to associate bad times and spending as a cause of the times. we asked in our poll, what were major reasons why you voted for congressional candidates? 66% said the major reason was cutting spending. that's where the rubber is going to meet the road. you talk about the spervings that the deficit commission laid out, they're not comfortable with them because to save real money you to cut things like social security, medicare,
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defense. 70% of the american people said, no, we're not comfortable with that. 60% don't do that. would you phase in an increase the retirement age to 69? phase it in over 60 years. 6-10 said, no, i don't want to go there. >> talking about change and all of this, we're going to send a signal, a message to the american, capitol hill talk, what are the real priorities going forward? >> the priorities for the lame duck session go right into the tease that came up in the election. taxing, spendsing. you couldn't have a lame duck facing more basic issues because you have the bush tax cuts are about to expire at the end of the year. so if congress doesn't do something everybody gets a big tax increase. they have to figure out what the spending levels are for the next year because for the election
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congress just punted and they have a temporary budget in place that expires on december 3. so at least there are some action-forcing deadlines for congress to move on. another thing that's the unemployment benefits are about to expire on november 30. so a lot of stuff for congress to deal with. and every time they've tried in the last week since they got back, they bumped up against a brick wall. >> and yet, and yet, we now look at the leadership except for two freshman on the republican side. they're exactly the same leaders who led to the election. >> voters don't look to the leadership. it was striking on the democratic side because the democrats were the one who is lost in te election in a big way. and there's a lot of talk for a need for change. in fact, people were expecting the leadership to change because they thought on the senate side that harry reid wasn't going to win. >> right. >> but the voters were going to change their leader for them.
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and on the house side they thought nancy pelosi was going to change the leadership because in losing the speakership she would now -- she decided instead to become minority leader. but a lot of people she would stand down. well, that didn't happen. we have two democratic leader who are two very familiar faces. >> may i ask you about the washington institution of earmarks? number one how serious is washington serious about not doing? does that give all the power to the house to have them? and the house members will say, will i bring home the bacon. >> reason mitch mcconnell came out and said he was going to support a moratorium on earmarks, because of pressure from the house. republicans are pushing for this strongly. in his post election news conference he very quickly embraced the republican leadership to do that.
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this is why mitch mcconnell has been opposed to this sfrep the beginning that that makes a trivial contribution to the deficit problem we've got. one of the challenges for lawmakers in trying to reconcile the desire for austerity with the popularity of programs is that in the mind map of many voters, they don't -- they see the amount of waste in the government associated with things like earmarks as much bigger than it actually is. pollsters have found you this when they do focus groups. vast amounts of the federal can be resolved by waste. we know with these commissions, you can't. >> let me ask you about taxes because this is part of the game that everybody's going be focused on between now and tend of the year. one theory is kick the can down the road. extend the bush tax cuts. make it the big issue of the presidential election. another theory is have the president back-off a little bit
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and just have tax increases for those who are making more than $1 million. if the republicans oppose it, the president can cast them as the party of millionaires. which is more likely? why didn't the president get this involved before the election? >> my assumption is that we're going to see across the board extensions for everyone for say two to three years. democrats could adjust the threshold but it's a complicated argument to explain. and republicans would still say they're raising taxes. >> the big question is, why they didn't work this out before the election because to be honest, all of the options were on the table before the elections. >> it's been on the tables for the past eight years. >> true, true, true. as they were getting up to the election, they could see there isn't going to be a big compromise. so people were aren't ch even talking about some straightforward extension. >> doesn't the president feel a little pressure from the left.
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saying ah, there he is, caving again? >> after threx, obama in his press conference and david axle rod were signaling that they were willing to compromise. and the left said, well, this is a capitulation. you have to at least fight. >> he doesn't have much leverage. >> right. >> what does it say for bipartisan that the republicans and the president can't even agree on a time when they're going do have this big come to jesus meeting? >> yes, does not bode well for him, does it? >> it was funny because right after the election, obama said, i want to have a big pleating with the partisan leadership, come for a meeting. have dinner. he said, i want it on this day. and then, it was funny because when i called the republican leadership after that was announced. i said so you guys are onboard for this? they said, well, we're checking the schedule, you know? >> it's not usually what you say when the president --
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>> i want to ask you about that. was it really that they had irreconcilable scheduling problems or was it a message to the president that we're not easily led like that. >> i would say it was a message that they're in no rush. >> the nbc news poll, the pollsters said they felt americans now had impressed resigned to realism. and when you look at pettyness over meetings at the white house or even the conviction of charlie rangel, you begin to think that congress has a resigned realism. >> i think resignation was the appropriate attitude. voters were pleased when they did in the election. when you asked female, is -- you asked people, is it a good
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election. and then the parties are going to work together. 75% said, no, they're going to fight and they're not going to compromise. that's a pretty accurate forecast i think because it's very difficult between these two party for them to work together. they're going to fight. and we'll see on issues like this text standoff. the two sides will draw a line. we'll see how hard the democrats decide to fight the republicans. who wins in the end? if nothing is passed, everybody's taxes go up. who's going to take the hit for that? that's going to be one of the big sorse sources of competition? are are there deals in the works? >> there are deals in the works. but it seems their bumping up against a deadline but for conk. they have weeks to go. they're just like college students to wait until last night to finish their term papers. we're talking about a december 31 deadline.
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and of course, they're all cooking next week. >> happy new year to everybody, right? thank you to both very much. as if all that wasn't enough lawmaker to adjourn this week, president obama traveled to lisbon today empty handed without the nuclear reduction treaty he hoped would pass during the lame duck session. despite support from baker, albright, and nunn and kissinger. this is what he had to say about it in lisbon today. >> we know that failure to ratify will put at risk the substantial progress that has been made in advancing our nuclear security and our partnership with russia on behalf of global security. >> how important is this treaty? and ifs the important, why hasn't the senate moved in on it? >> the treaty itself if you look at it is something of a nothing
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burger. there had been big arms treaties before. this ain't one of them. not even close. this is relatively modest reductions based on the agreement that president bush struck with the russians in 2002. it goes beyond that. if there's a criticism of this treaty is that it's so unambitious. in fact, it was supposed to be the easy one before you got to all the hard treaties. big reductions by the russians and by the united states, the comprehensive test ban treaty which president clinton tried to get through the senate and failed an it's been sitting around for more than a decade. , treaties that would help advance obama's vision of zero nuclear weapons. so they got tripped up on the truly easy ones. >> exactly.
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what is jon kyl, the senator from arizona who's objected to this and slowed it down. what's his objection to it? >> well, his stated objection has been that he wanted to see a commitment from the obama administration to go informs in the nuclear infrastructure, the nuclear laboratorys that have not been conducting tests but have fallen into some disrepair. even if we're cutting numbers, we need to increase the quality and the viability of the nuclear arsenal. this was an area where he was in agreement with president obama. president obama agreed to $80 billion in a time of significant austerity. and even threw another $4 billion. and they thought they had a deal with kyl. but he shocked him when he said, he doesn't want to do it. and he doesn't want to bring it
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up in this senate. if it has to spill over then the whole process starts all over again and there has to be no hearings. and of course, there will be many more republican senators. they would need 14 republicans to vote for it because remember this is a treaty. it needs 67 votes. >> if 80 billion isn't snuff what is enough for jon kyl? >> he hasn't said. help hasn't said that his particular objections for treaty itself. for a while they thought it would stop the united states from announcing a.b.m. systems. but in fact, when you read the treaty, wording doesn't seem to be there that would really restrict it. and in fact, nato today when the president was in lisbon imimportants a system. they're not just trying to deny president obama a victory on the treaty.
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if in fact, it's an incri mental stop does that mean that congress is hiding the consequences? >> you just don't know until you see it. there have been two major negative consequences they have discussed. one of them is that relations with russia, the russia reset would be set back. and certainly there are reason to wonder whether the russians would react badly with this. the thing is the thing that we need the russians on the most is iran. they refuse to sell iran a missile systems. they've been enforcing these embargos. will the whole contain of iran fall apart. what you have continued to do is say the republicans, if they appear pose this are helping ahmadinejad with the iranian nuclear program. >> i thought republicans liked this sort of thing. isn't unusual republican to
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oppose to this? and lugar really wants this to go through. is there some kind of intraparty problem? >> there sure is it. it goes back to the cold war versus a new bread of the congressmen. james barke who over of course had worked -- >> old establishment guy. >> right. how many old republican names you can get? >> everybody has different pressures. ahmed dalaney was found guilty of the 284 counts brought against him in the case. the controversy that he was tried in civilian rather than military court, a key obama
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administration strategy. the question, twhuled have changed the outcome? >> and the justice department was asking that this week. here is the problem. we just said that the government could not call a key witness. a taxi driver from tanzania who would have testified that he sold the explosives used in the bombing. the job said was the way that he was interrogated, questioned by the c.i.a. the judge called it extremely harsh interrogation. but the problem is the fifth amendment put galany's statement -- they couldn't touch it. anything that flowed from that including the fact that galaney, they could not hear the trial. legally they got a conviction. but politically it has touched off this whole debate again.
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republicans john boehner for example has said that this shows the decision was bad from the start. mitch mcconnell was asking that this approach is deeply harmful to national security but as to whether it would have come out different in a military commission, which is the question, would this have been admissible? >> the judge addressed himself to that question. he said the military's own rules might have blocked the same kind of temperature or the constitution etc. >> he could still get a life sentence? >> yes. 20 years to live is the statute ufment how many difference it would make in the political fallout if he's in fact going to prison? >> well, this is what the government will say. if he gets a life sentence, which is most likely given the magnitude of this crime.
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224 people died in this attack. look you got the sentence. i think politically the damage is done. what do you think it means for the future for even higher pro depile cases? >> it certainly says that for those people who were interrogated oversees is going to be hard tore try them in civilian court if they blocked out the evidence. i think that we could make the argument that the three or four 9/11 defendants, the government insists that it has a lot of co-defendants. anything that flowed from what he said certainly will not be admitted. that passes every test but the government says there's lot of independent evidence on him. >> but think of where he is in
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the khalid sheik mohammed. they wanted to try him in new york city right near ground zero. then they had to turn away from it. you have to think that this is more vastly complicated. they have to be some place to put them and congress has given enough money to house them. congress doesn't seem to want to do anything. it's interest that we have to pass a law that these folks have to do. >> was this somethng that the department of justice intended to be a tax case or is it something they didn't see it coming? >> well, i said yes to both. i think they did intend it to be
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a test case. galaney managed to get into the u.s. we'll be watching all these upcoming cases as well. thanks everybody else. the conversation continues as always online on our "washington week" cast extra. you can find us on we'll see you again right here, around the table next week on "washington week." and by the way have a lovely thanksgiving. good night. >> download our weekly podcast and take us with you. it's the "washington week's" pod cast at
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