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tv   Washington Week With Gwen Ifill  PBS  January 11, 2013 8:00pm-8:30pm PST

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a difference to the situation in afghanistan. it's the broader relationship that will make a difference to afghanistan and beyond in the region. gwen: -- and gun violence in america. >> there is no singular solution to how we deal with the kinds of things that happened up at newtown or in colorado or just the general gun violence that exists in america today. gwen: covering the week -- david wessel of "the wall street journal," james kitfield of "national journal," alexis simendinger of real clear politics, and christi parsons of tribune newspapers. >> award winning reporting and analysis covering history as it happens. live from our nation's capitol, this is "washington week" with gwen ifill. corporate funding for washington
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week is provided by >> we know why we're here. to connect our forces to what they need when they need it. >> to help troops see danger before it sees them. >> to answer the call of the brave and bring them safely home. >> around the globe, the people of boeing are working together to support and protect all who serve. >> that's why we're here. >> additional corporate funding for "washington week" is provided by prudential. additional funding is provided by the annenberg foundation, the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. once again, live from washington, moderator, gwen ifill. gwen: good evening.
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this week we got a peek at the obama administration's second-term priorities, at home and abroad. look for more disputes over the economy, foreign policy, defense cuts and gun control in the weeks to come. but for now, we take measure of the combatants. first, new treasury secretary jack lew -- a veteran of the clinton and obama white houses - who will succeed timothy geithner. >> jack has my complete trust. i know i'm not alone in that. in the words of one former senator, "having lew on your team is the equivalent as a coach of having the luxury of putting somebody at almost any position and knowing he will do well." gwen: so what does lew's appointment tell the senators who must confirm him about what comes next in our epic budget fights? david? >> i think it tells us that the president anticipates that this year will be a year dealing with taxes and spending and deficits. it will be the fifth year in which we have a trillion dollar deficit and jack lew has been budget director in two
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administrations. unlike timothy geithner, he has very little experience in finance. that was geithner's strong point. he has very little experience in international. that was geithner's background. this is a guy who knows budget and knows congress. it sort of marks a punctuation point in the financial rescue. geithner was part of the rescue at the new york fed before obama was elected and afterwards. if they've been selling shares of insurance company, i.g., dodd-frank has been passed. this is moving solidly on the fiscal thing and i think the third thing is that jack lew really is a creature of washington. ironically, he worked at a bank, he worked at city city bank. timothy geithner never did. although everybody in the country thinks he once did but i think jack lew is known as somebody, as a tough negotiator, he worked for tip o'neill, he has the confidence of the liberal democrats in congress
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who are needed so it shows the president's adversary will be in the beltway, in congress. gwen: he's a creature of washington, he commutes home every week. >> he mentioned queens. when he became the director of the office of management and budget, he replaced peter orszag. he took down the portrait of alexander hamilton who orszag had hanging in his office and replaced it with w.p.a. posters from new york city. >> you're talking about what a tough negotiator he can be and obviously that's a big part of the year we're in now but republicans complain mightily about whether he is a fair, even-minded, fair-minded guy in negotiations and yet one of the pieces of his persona we keep hearing about is how low key he is. can you be low key and an irascible negotiator? >> apparently. i think he is a low-key, calm guy, but he's passionate about government. i've talked to him. how many people do you talk to
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in washington who say i'm passionate about medicaid and about the people who it helps? partly it suggests the president knows it's not going to be a couple baila thing with the republicans. being known as a tough negotiator is not a bad thing but the republicans will have no doubt that jack lew speaks for the president. they're very close. if he'd taken an outsider from business and installed him in, you would never know if he had the president's confidence. >> is the fact that he doesn't have the international experience a major setback because it's such an international dimension to the financial crisis. >> it suggests the president doesn't think that's the top priority and i think we'll see him put in as deputy somebody with a lot of international experience, maybe lail brainard, now the undersecretary of the treasury. we had situations like this before, when lloyd bentsen was the secretary, he had strong international people. it could be a problem because the crisis you don't see is the
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one that could hurt you which could be europe or china. >> he's the guy that has to navigate the president through cliffhangers to come. what are the big economic policy things yet to do? >> we're past the fiscal cliff and we're looking at the three debt ceiling which has to be raised, the croots board spending cuts, the so-called sequester march 1 and at the end of march the government runs out of money to operate and the republicans will make an issue out of that. i think geithner was shrewd. he's leaving on january 25, timothy geithner says, so he's telling the senate i'm not sticking around until you confirm jack lew. either you confirm him or you'll deal with the deputy. lew will have a hectic first couple of months. gwen: this has been a remarkably stable economic team with the president. we've had tim geithner there the entire time, gene sperling has been there the entire time and
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now we're expecting for the head of the fod leave and that's more upheaval. >> it is true that jack lew has been part of the establishment. the president likes people with whom he's comfortable but there's a huge decision coming up. ben bernanke's term is up in january 2014. it's clear he doesn't want another term and that's a big decision of lasting consequences. gwen: it never calms down. second-term presidents often leave their most lasting stamp on foreign policy. if that happens this time, a lot of the outcome will depend on three men who went before the cameras this week -- defense secretary nominee chuck hagel, c.i.a. choice john brennan. and today, hamid karzai, the president of afghanistan both he and the president were talking about the end of america's longest war. >> every day more afghans are stepping up and taking responsibility for their own security, and as they do, our troops will come home. and next year this long war will come to a responsible end. >> once the transition to afghan
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forces is completed, once the bulk of these international forces have withdrawn from afghanistan, we hope that the dividends of that transition economically to afghanistan will be beneficial to the afghan people and will not have adverse effects on afghan economy and the prosperity that we have gained in the past many years. gwen: taken together, what do the president's personnel choices tell us how he will deal with the challenges facing him in places like afghanistan? alexis? >> one of the things that i was thinking about when we heard these nominations and saw these -- and i'm including john kerry in this, too, for secretary of state, is i think of them as implementers in the president's mind. these are individuals he can rely on, people he's known for a long time who were actually with him at the beginning of his launch on to the national stage in some ways. they're, in some ways, very trusted, loyalists to him, but also as implementers of policy he has set forward.
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if he's thinking about the second term as a way of legacy-building or finishing a portfolio of things, so john brennan has been with the president since actually the transition phase is when they first met. he considered john brennan for a c.i.a. director at that time and passed him up because of the controversy over the bush policies and brought him closer into the white house. some people argue that the c.i.a. moved into the white house actually. he obviously turned to john kerry. we've already talked about that. but someone who can implement diplomacy with a national reputation and lots of seasoning on the hill and obviously with chuck hagel, someone who helped launch him as a senator into the international arena, someone he likes. gwen: even though he's a republican. >> they've all had something in their background who contrarian. the republican who sided with democrats. the two war veterans, including kerry, who opposed the war, and brennan who has straddled both sides of the war.
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gwen: and served republican administrations, as well. if we have a president who we've established likes relationship politics, values people who have been with him from the beginning, how is he getting along these days with happened cars eye. >> how is he getting along with karzai? they have a cordial relationship but there's no great warmth. they're driven by their domestic constituencies to do the same thing. gwen: do you see that today? >> yes, they are both talking about they couldn't end this war quick enough. on the president's side, saying we're going to transfer sovereignty to the afghans as soon as possible. karzai saying that's exactly what we need right now, it's the fact that we're in the driver's seat. the devils will be in the details. there will have to be residual force left there if afghan security forces are to have enablers that will let them succeed and it's unclear whether they're in the debate about will
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they have immunities, et cetera. gwen: it seems one guy was talking about immunity, that is, american troops won't be held responsible for anything they've done in afghanistan and other talking about sovereignty. >> president obama laid down a red line but he wants to use accepting that red line as leverage to get the americans to commit as much money for as long as possible for afghan security forces. >> do you think they stepped up the time line today in the meeting or did the president signal that when he came out and i wonder if you think that the choice of hagel signals something about the president's commitment? think hagel's very interesting. if i had to say what is the obama doctrine? it is end today's wars as quickly as possible, be reticent about getting involved in future wars and nation-build at home as he said constantly during the campaign and that means drawing down the pentagon because you need that money and hagel comports with that world view exactly so hagel fits perfectly
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with the obama administration's agenda right now. gwen: alexis, you were at the white house for the news conference this afternoon and to get to christie's question, did you have a sense that they meant to make an announcement that things were changing or was it coming out to say everything was fine, we'll proceed at pace? >> the administration has been lining up thoughts about how many troops will be left and how firmly the president believes that the united states is going to proceed on a time table. so the administration was dangling the idea that there might be zero troops as a pressure, a way to pressure karzai and the afghan, you know, government, in order to suggest, you know, you're on the stage now. >> drive too hard of a bargain -- >> right, you want to watch us leave town, here's your hat, what's your hurry, as my mother used to say. so the idea would be, we're not going to have zero but something maybe in the range of 2500 or 3,000 and christi was asking,
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was it sped up. it was interesting the way the president said we are speeding up a new way of describing this in the spring but we still will be in combat position. >> the semantics have been in play since the beginning. afghan takes the lead, the full lead, all the lead, part of the lead. >> hagel's not been confirmed by senate yet and there's a lot of noise. a, why are the republican senators so hostile to him and b, is there a chance he won't get confirmed? >> you would look back in the history of nominees who don't get confirmed for the cabinet and it would suggest that is not going to happen that, he will get confirmed, because most of what we've seen in history is there has to be something personal, some horrible embarrassment that comes forward. in this particular case, you're hearing republicans, and even a few democrats -- senator schumer, right, from new york -- describing some of this concerns or objections as a way to either return to some arguments they
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used to have with senator hagel. i would mention john mccain in that category of disagreements they've had in the past, but also to hold the president's feet to the fire on other things they want to have more on the table. gwen: i have a hard time imagining senator schumer, a leading democrat, in the end -- he may hold out his support but in the end, not supporting the president's choice. >> no, and hagel's going to say what schumer wants to hear about support for israel. there's no question about that. gwen: already has. >> and he's calling senate ofss saying he's a strong supporter of israel but on the point of, if he's going to not get confirmed, i would find that shocking because the president will line up behind the -- democrats will line up behind the president's choice. >> two purple hearts. gwen: john brennan has to be confirmed and he's been the architect, for many democrats, a far more troubling policy of
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targeting killings and drones. >> the drone policy, right. i would imagine that his confirmation hearing, as they should be, a full discussion about what the president's policies are going forward and are.his true beliefs in this case, all three of these gentlemen, kerry, hailing and brennan, will say, the president's policies are, i will be executing the president's policies. >> the most controversial thing for him for the democrats is are his fingertips in the c.i.a. bush years, obama seems to think that's not a problem and has indicated he doesn't think that's a problem for him. the drone program, it's popular. it's popular with the americans, it's president obama's significant national security program -- sitting national security program. the polls show the american public supports this program. gwen: one of the things that comes out of this conversation
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with karzai at the white house is the echoes of iraq. pulling out is so much harder than going in. so is there any fear, any concern as they begin to come up with a plan for withdrawal in a year, leaving behind residual forces, whatever, that they might get stuck? >> sure, when you hear karzai talk about, we're not going to necessarily give immunity to american soldiers, something that we put status of forces agreement front and center all over the world, that's the same thing that the iraq negotiations broke down over and it's a clear red line. the good news is, they're starting much earlier. in iraq, they're really starting the last few months, for domestic approximately reasons, both sides felt difficult to say the things that needed to be said, to ensure continued american presence so there is concern that dynamic could take hold again. the good news is there's more time to iron out the problems this time.
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gwen: are we done with trial balloons for now with the cabinet picks? i think we've seen another couple more cabinet members announcing they're leaving according the administrator of the epa and department of labor. >> most of the time you see half of the cabinet turn over in a second term or get reshuffled and i would think we might see a little bit of that, too. gwen: the white house is also attempting to use congress' absence from washington this week and next to force movement on a key domestic matter, gun violence. that task has fallen to vice president joe biden, who says he will send recommendations to the president by next tuesday. >> there's got to be some common ground here to, not solve every problem, but diminish the probability that what we've seen in these mass shootings will occur and diminish the probability that our children are at risk in schools and diminish the probability that
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weapons will be used, firearms will be used in dealing with abhorrent behavior. gwen: while the vice president was talking about common ground, gun rights groups like the n.r.a. were saying, fine, as long as it doesn't include restricting access to guns. where does it look like the white house is heading on this, christi? >> the vice president's been involved in a series of meetings, casting a wide net, looking for what he describes as a comprehensive solution to the problem of gun violence, not a silver bullet, as he memorably said. >> he did say that. >> he did. and we were moving sort of expeditiously toward an early next week announcement, he's now saying it might take more time to put together that comprehensive plan but what we're looking at are things that are out there and have been discussed widely for a long time. the president will push an assault weapons ban even though the white house has calculated
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that's a tough lift. that's a key part of his talking points and part of that package. they're looking at limiting the magazine capacity with ammunition and also it now seems like there's a lot of focus on background checks and they're talking about pushing for universal background checks for all gun sales. so i think those are features you'll see in that package. gwen: i guess what bothers me is we have been through this before, we have covered these gun rights issues and the n.r.a. has not moved at all. maybe there are others at the table this week talking about finding common ground but not the most powerful folks at the table. >> it's not the n.r.a. and it doesn't hurt the president's all that much. they expected that but you're right, they're staking out a position that the white house expecting and i believe you'll see the president go around the country and make use of that and make use of the bully pulpit to address the bad
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guy. >> do you see any time there are changes in congress, senator mansion from west virginia who seemed to have changed his mind. is that the beginning of a trend? >> chuck grassley said he was open to the same thing, conservative senator from iowa. so the white house has taken this on as if there's opportunity here, yes, the assault weapons ban is a tough thing to pass, universal background checks are difficult to address, but maybe the shooting in newtown and public response to it has sort of destabilized the politics on this a bit. >> i was going to say, haven't we seen people rally from the other side, against the n.r.a., gabby giffords and others, talking about going out there and counter that message. will that help the president? >> i think it's useful to the president. he's -- the administration is definitely trying to pull a lot of stakeholders as they call them into this sort of share the push and share the responsibility. i can't remember what the figure was that gabby giffords was trying to raise but i recall it's minuscule compared to what
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the n.r.a. has been able to pump into the system over time so it's no small matter. it's helpful as he makes the case but it's still not a light lift. >> christi, we're expecting the state of the union address, the schedule was completed this week, so it's mid february, february 12. one of the things i was wondering, when you were talking about comprehensive, are we imagining at this entertainment industry gets woven into that? i know the vice president was trying to talk to representatives of the video gaming and entertainment hollywood folks. is that part of what could be proposed of a package, a comprehensive package? >> it's definitely part of the package in some way and as you mentioned, they were in the video game makers' "call of duty," for example, the make of "call of duty" was in the room and chris dodd from the motion picture industry was there. there will be some way they address that but there's a lot of push-back. we've heard a lot of second
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amendment arguments about what the president is thought to propose. gwen: david talked about senator mansion a moment ago. i wonder if the landscape has changed in any political way. today we heard the retirement of senator jay rockefeller from west virginia state that's very red and he's the last living democrat probably in the state. so how does that change the landscape and make it tougher to do the kinds of things the vice president is talking about. >> it was tough to start with because conservative democrats, democrats from rural areas, are not supportive of gun control, especially the particular points that have been hashed out over time and the senate's not getting any more -- any less conservative, any more blue, and the house is its own problem. >> is there anything the president can do without legislation? >> there's a lot the and the do without legislation. for example, the -- there are going to be background checks, the database could be stronger
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and that's something he could order and make it easier for background checks to be conducted. gwen: something the department of justice could do unilaterally. >> exactly but the white house sees that as not very effective if the background checks aren't required to begin with. gwen: is there anything else he can do? i'm so curious because of politics of it don't seem to indicate he's going to get immediate embrace from congress. >> what about a.t.f.? there's no director at the alcohol, tobacco and firearms and the president has lamented that. gwen: he says congress has never taken it up. >> congress hasn't taken it up. maybe? >> that's a possibility. there are other things that can be done by administrative action and it's no small matter, the talk about access to mental health services in this action. gwen: we'll be watching all of that. one more note on senator rockefeller. the first time in 60 years there was neither a rockefeller or
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kennedy in the senate. i looked it up. we have to go for now. we will pick up where we left off in the "washington week" webcast extra. trillion dollar coins, hand signatures, you name it. find us on line still talking at nweek where you can also read my blog about what it takes to be a political journalist, my tribute to ben cramer who passed away this week. keep up with developments on the pbs newshour. >> 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
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to investment management, from real estate to retirement solutions, we've developed new ideas for the financial challenges ahead. this rock has never stood still and that's one thing that will never change. prudential. >> additional funding is provided by boeing. additional funding is provided by the annenberg foundation, the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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captioning by vitac, underwritten by fireman's fund every single bite needed to be -- >> twinkies in there? >> wow. >> its it's like a great big hug on a cold day. >> not as spicy as i can handle and my parents put chili powder in my baby food. >> french fries bits all over the table and just a lot of


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