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tv   Washington Week  PBS  November 25, 2011 8:00pm-8:30pm PST

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captioned by the national captioning institute >> the supercommittee packs up without an agreement, while the g.o.p. contenders debate america's place in the world. plus, is your holiday shopping list a little thinner this year? i'm john dickerson in for gwen ifill tonight on "washington week." no deal, the republicans, members of that committee, wanted an agreement. and they wanted to do something more than it was just more than token. >> no committee is going to solve america's problem unless we get people to stand up and do a balanced job. >> how do they get there and how urgent is the problem? >> if congress does president act, the typical family's taxes is going to go up by roughly $1,000. >> we'll discuss the fallout and next steps. meanwhile, the republicans who
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want barack obama's job focus on immigration. >> we are going to say to people who came here illegally, you get to stay. >> i'm prepared to take the heat for saying, let's be humane in enforcing the law without giving them citizen inspect, but by finding a way create legality. >> they have showed time after time they can't be trusted and until pakistan clearly shows that they have america's best interest in mind, i would not send them one penny, period. >> with all due respect to the governor, that is naive. >> the holiday season is officially upon us, but there is innovation from politics. joining us tonight, juice and davis of "national journal," david wessel of the "wall street journal," gloria borrow engineer of cna and dan balz of the
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"washington post." >> covering history as it happens, from our nation's capital, this is "washington week with gwen ifill," produced in association with "national journal." corporate funding for "washington week" is provided by -- >> this rock has never stood still. since 1875, we have been there for our clients through good times and bad. when their needs changed, we were there to meet them. through the years from insurance to investment management, from real estate to retirement solutions, we developed new ideas for the financial challenges ahead. this rock has never stood still. and that's one thing that will never change. prudential. >> a line is a powerful thing. it connects the global economy to your living room. cleaner air, to stronger markets.
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factory floors to less crowded roads. today's progress to tomorrow's promise, for folk southern, one life, infinite possibilities. corporate funding is provided by boeing. additional funding is provided by the annenb rench rg foundation and from viewers like you. thank you. >> once again sitting in for gwen ifill, john dickerson. >> good evening, we hope your thanksgiving week is going well. congress knocked off early having failed to come up with a deficit plan, members of the scurep committee turned their
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energies to finger pointing. >> they said we won't cut one dollar more without raidsing taxes and that tells you about washington. >> i will say after these three months, it's clear to me that the problem is a huge ideological divide in our nation, a value-system divide and people need to resolve that over the next months so a small group of people, extreme in their view, cannot hold america hostage any longer. >> susan, how did we get here? were >> two things. the first is that it was a poor construct, an idea that came together over the summertime and we were facing the debt ceiling and this idea was put together as a last-ditch effort to come up with additional deficit-reduction measures. the idea that 12 members appointed by their leadership
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and beholden to them could solve a problem is fault in itself. the second point which senator kerry alluded to is that on the two issues congress needs to address to really address the deficit question, the tax rates, particularly the bush tax cuts that are a point of contention and medicare, there was never any real give by either side despite the finger pointing, they blaming one or the other, democrats did put a certain amount of medicare cuts on the table, but never got to the red meat of the problem. so the idea that they failed is not surprising, but it is terribly bad policy for what is going to happen next, which if they don't solve it before january, 2012, we will have an automatic cut of $1.2 trillion. >> we have had several of these moments before, people have said the economy could crater if
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there is not a deal. in this case there wasn't a sense of urgency, is that the way you see it? >> that is right. it did demonstrate the disfunction of washington on this big long-term issue. but the reason, though the markets reacted negatively and they didn't expect anything to happen here. the other thing that is going on here, for every embarrassment, every gridlock here in washington, the europeans have six of them and the markets are so focused on this the complete collapse of the european system, they are kind of ignoring washington and that's giving the members of congress a pass because they don't feel pressure to actually do something and the test of that is that the u.s. government can still borrow almost unlimited amounts of money for 10 years at less than 2%. no other country in the world can do that. even germany is beginning to run
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into trouble. >> what about the possibility of undoing these automatic spending cuts in defense and social spending that were supposed to take effect in 2013. there is talk that republicans want to undo all of these defense cuts. the president said he would veto it, but isn't there a problem in the republican party that you want the to undo the cuts but you are fiscally conservative? >> immediately after they announced failure, the members of the armed services committee said we are going to try to rejigger. $1.2 trillion is what they need to cut but where it comes from is a debate. the president said he i will veto. democrats feel they have leverage. two things are going to happen at the same time if congress isn't able to act next year. across-the-board the cuts will happen and bush tax cuts will
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expire at the exact same time. democrats think they might have some leverage and can say to republicans, maybe we are willing to give on defense cuts if you are willing to talk about the bush tax rates. >> clearly, we are going to talk about it in the next year and will be arguing about it and the questions of this being resolved are slim. at the end of this year, 2011, payroll tax cut to both parties agreed to expire and the unemployment compensation extension, the one that gives people who are out of work up to 99 weeks a pay check, that expires. and the economy is in no shape to take those hits. it would mean raising taxes on the average working person by $20 a week, that is over $100 billion taken out of the economy. it seems to me the focus will now turn to those. i think most people think the republicans don't want to be on the side of quote, raising taxes
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on working people and will find a way to meet common ground and don't like to pay for tax cuts. the fight might be on unemployment compensation. the republicans might want to offset. >> after last summer's debt ceiling zwate, congress and the president took a hit politically. confidence in washington went off the edge of the cliff. what is the fall off likely to be? >> because of that, one of the things we did see in the supercommittee fight is a nonexistent barack obama and didn't weigh in and because the president took a lot of hits because of the earlier fight he had with congress and they don't think the president has much to gain by getting involved. secondly, he is ks criticized for not being involved but anyone paying attention, the lawmakers said on the he
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committee said they would prefer him not to and talk in a room without the president being involved and that could inject politics in the deal. >> david, you watched a lot of these before and -- [laughter] >> well, that's why you are here to give us the benefit of your experience. i mean, the path, there were tough issues and tough politics, but things got done. >> this isn't ever going to get doven without presidential leadership. these are really hard decisions. the members of the supercommittee worked hard and learned about the budget choices we have to make but the only way we are going to get a compromise here is with the cooperation of the political leadership of the congress and the white house. and so i don't think that the president had very high hopes for this thing. sue is right. he thought the political advantage would come to him. if he wants to blame it on congress, but in the end, if we
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have a dysfunctional government, if the economy is louis eye throughout the year, this isn't going to play well for the president. >> the president is going to run against congress. >> how do you run against change when you have been president -- run for change? >> he needs a new slogan. [laughter] >> he does. >> but he is going to run against congress which means he is running against democrats to a great agree and the public looks at this and says, really? what's going on here? could this be sort of anti-incumbent and could you see another swing as a result of the fact that they can't seem to get this done. >> congress' approval rating whether republican, independent or democrat is between 11% and 13%. we are getting down to congress' immediate and extended families. that feeds an anti-incumbent. i do think -- i think we have
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been in an era of wave elections and it's not out of the realm of possibility and not out of the realm of possibility that the republicans take the senate. while the question is on the table, we need leadership. republicans don't have a ton of incentives because they think they can win the senate. >> does this play in the presidential primary? >> i don't think a lot at this point. one, the expectations through this supercommittee were so low everywhere. this is the least surprising failure that we can remember in a long time. [laughter] >> i think in a sense the same way that the markets weren't that weard about it for economic reasons, i think the political system felt it has to run its course. i don't think it will be a big issue in the republican primaries. >> i was talking to a senior person at the white house who was playing this house saying if president obama gets re-elected
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and i don't know what you folks think, if he gets re-elected they believe he is in a good position before the cuts take effect to push congress up against the wall in a lame duck session. >> absolutely. if the president gets re-elected it will be a productive lame duck session and will not get vacations again. [laughter] >> i agree with that. >> there will be a sword hanging. >> there will be a sword, the sequester was written. >> across-the-board spending cuts. >> to make it uncomfortable for conservatives to go along with the defense cuts. the bush tax cuts not only on rich people but working people and poor people will be expiring. if the president's re-elected he will claim he will have a mandate. i don't think these questions that john kerry spoke about is going to be resolved in november. but i think that may be the moment where they are forced to do something a what the white
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house hopes maybe a year from now the economy will be stronger and will be able to take a deficit-reduction bill. >> we are all now in the supersubcommittee -- supercommittee. in the race for the white house, the fresh new runner is a familiar face in washington, newt gingrich. having risen in the polls with his performances he was in washington earlier this week along with his rivals debating national security issues but on the topic of immigration where gingrich went against the grain. >> you have been here 25 years, three kids and two grand kids and paying the taxes and obeying the law and belong to a church, we won't kick you out. >> i don't think you would agree to make 11 million workers legal, because that is amnesty and object i don't believe you would give the dream act on a
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federal level. and the speaker can speak for himself, but those are two areas i don't gee with. >> gloria, you spoke with the speaker. he didn't back off. >> he spoke for himself. [laughter] >> he did not back down. and he said, look, i don't think any serious-minded, serious is the word he used, people would believe we could deport 11 million people out of this country. and the thing about newt gingrich, he never fails to surprise you. he is an intellectual, a professor, and sometimes he seems to to be having a debate with himself right up there on the stage. but last night, a lot of people were stunned, because immigration and the question of immigration reform has been the quicksand for republican presidential candidates. you go back to john mccain's presidential race. he was for a path to
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citizenship. remember that? well, it didn't go over so well. when he ran again, he had to disown that entire policy. look at governor perry in this campaign. he talks about the so-called dream act and that didn't go over so well. and now you look at newt gingrich and the question, here he is rising into the top tier, has to do well in iowa, conservatives in iowa this past week already came out and said, agh, this is a problem for us what newt gingrich has said, but he's not backing down. >> what do you think, dan? how is this going to play out? >> here's the fascinating thing, he said the same binge -- thing back at the reagan library and caused not a ripple and that's because nobody was paying attention to newt gingrich in september because they thought he wasn't a viable candidate.
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everybody was watching governor romney and governor perry that night. he said the same thing this week in washington. and it is at least a moderate uproar. i e mailed him the day after the debate and said, how worried are you that this is going to be a problem and he said none, i'm not worried. i have been saying this to republican audience for years whenever it has come up in town meetings. he is confident. but what he underestimates is the words front runner that resonate. >> he doesn't like -- and for a party where people are trying to be like ronald reagan -- >> and newt gingrich voted for reagan's immigration bill. but you know, what is interesting, he has been around for so long. never been a leader for the republican party now. he has been a leader of the
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republican party 15, 20 years ago, whatever. not now. this is a different republican party from the party that newt gingrich brought into the congress when he became the speaker. and he learned that when he criticized paul ryan's budget plan, calling it right-wing social engineering. he was out of step. >> america is a different place than it was when ronald reagan was president. the number of hispanics who will be voting in november, 2012 is higher than 20 four years. >> i think the question is has gingrich caused himself a real problem or found a way to talk about this issue, because he isn't talking about a path to citizenship which is what george w. bush was promoting, but a path to legality. has he found a way to talk about this that will prevent infladges of the republican base --
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inflammation of the republican base? >> what about mitt romney, what does he do now? >> he runs to the right, whenever he can, and he is running to the right of newt gingrich on the amnesty issue. and you know, the question is whether in the last campaign, he was to the right of -- on the amnesty issue. we have to go back and pars much e everything that mitt romney has said. >> well, what do you do about the rainfallly 11 million -- the 11 million illegal immigrants in this country. >> is newt a viable candidate or is this just the latest anti--romney version of the republican party voicing its dissatisfaction with mitt romney who seems like he is the guy? >> somebody is going to become
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the challenger to mitt romney. we assume that mitt romney will be in the finals -- >> newt says it. >> and newt believes romney will be the candidate. he is viable in this sense. a lot of other people have had their ups downs, michele bachmann, rick perry and that's because they weren't particularly well noun and the more people seen them, the less likely they liked them. and romney has been able to rise up. gingrich has been his own worst enemy over the years and fully capable of causing himself problems. >> he could rise, two, three times. >> is it the newt gingrich, intellectual professor who is interesting to listen to or is it the nastier newt gingrich taking on the media every opportunity, the more cutting newt gingrich?
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you don't know. >> other thing that came up at the debate which was interesting and fish you are we see here is aid to pakistan. michele bachmann and governor perry of texas got into it. >> michele bachmann who serves on the intelligence committee showed her credentials mattered when she talked about pakistan in the debate and made the case that pakistan was, quote, too nuclear to fail. that perry made the case that we were giving pakistan a blank check and ought to stop doing that because we weren't getting anything in return. and she turned to perry and said that that was naive. that, in fact, of course you have to deal with pakistan and of course you have to support pakistan to a certain agree, and by the way, you may not know this, governor, we are getting intelligence in return and i
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would know that because i serve on the intelligence committee and you don't. [laughter] >> it was a telling exchange and speaks to the larger political question about foreign aid, because rick perry has said he would start at zero and then buildup. >> for everyone. >> what else did we learn about the shape of the republican field? >> we learned a couple things. one, there are some real zrements within the republican coalition about these foreign policy issues. there was a clear disagreement between governor romney and governor huntsman over the pace of withdrawal from afghanistan, huntsman arguing for more rapid withdrawal and romney saying no, we should go slower. there are disagreements on a whole series of these but overall, what we learned is that this is a group that is collectively, with the exception of ron paul, a more hawkish group in terms of foreign policy than president obama and there will be a foreign policy debate
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and it was interesting before the debate happened, the degree to which the democratic national committee, the obama campaign, the national security adviser were all out talking about foreign policy and aiming criticism at governor romney on foreign policy. the president wants to run as a president who has had foreign policy success. >> he wants to talk about that much more than the economy. let me ask you about herman cain. he was the big deal in this campaign. >> a week ago? >> he had bad moments on foreign policy, where does he stand? >> i think in the debate, he was not very much in evidence. i just don't think he's comfortable talking about foreign policy. he keeps going back to the old thing, well, i have to consult my commander is the important thing, my commanders on the
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ground, i need to talk to the generals. i don't need to know that much about foreign policy he has said before last week's debate because i trust my commanders. the question then that you ask what if your commanders disagree, which has been known to occur, what do you do. i think in the cnn debate, i don't think he was much of a player on foreign policy. do you disagree? >> no, i don't. i had the same reaction. >> in iowa, he still lives a little. >> well, for somebody who has gone through a very, very difficult period, his numbers in the polls are holding up. there is a sense, though, that he is slowly fading and not a collapse, not like what we saw with governor perry who was very high and went way down. herman has been on a slow decline. there was a recent poll that had a four-way tie basically in
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iowa. i was in iowa a week ago and i was wide open. it's anybody's game. >> lots to talk about in coming weeks. that will wrap it up for tonight. check out our web cast extra where we will pick up on other stories including romney's controversial ad in new hampshire and picks by our panelists for holiday reading and gift-giving. gwen will be back next week. i'm john dickerson. good night. >> download our weekly podcast and take us with you. it's the "washington week" podcast at washingtonweek online >> funding for "washington week" is provided by -- >> we know why we're here, to give our war fighters every
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