tv Mc Laughlin Group PBS February 2, 2014 4:00pm-4:31pm PST
issue one. a year of action? >> let's make this a year of action. that's what most americans want. today, after four years of economic growth, corporate profits, and stock prices have rarely been higher. those at the top have never done better. but average wages have barely budged. inequality has deepened. upward mobility has stalled. too many still aren't working at all. [ applause ] >> so our job is to reverse
these trends. president obama delivered his fifth state of the union address on tuesday. in attendance, as is custom, senate and house members, justices of the supreme court, the joint chiefs of staff, and members of his cabinet. over the course of 65 minutes, the president prodded congress to work with him on boosting upward mobility, creating more jobs, tackling climate change, and updating the nation's immigration system. the president made clear that if congress is recalcitrant, he would act alone, wherever possible. >> what i offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class. some require congressional action. and i am eager to work with all of you. but america does not stand still and neither will i. so wherever and whenever i can take steps without legislation
to expand opportunity for more american families, that's what i'm going to do. question. the "new york times" editorialized that president obama's state of the union address signifies that the white house will be content to achieve, quote, unquote, smaller actions. does this mean president obama's legacy or his presidency is diminished, pat? >> well, no doubt about it, we're headed for a long period of small ball, john. the era of the big programs, like obama care or the huge bargain, financial bargain, that is over. what you could get is you could get progress on immigration, if the republican house is willing to go part way. you get progress on the minimum wage, if the republican house is willing to go part way. a lot really depends not only on the republicans in the house, however, but the democrats in the senate. harry reid has just come out against fast track, which means they won't get those big trade
deals with europe and the other paid partnership deal with asia. so obama's got some problems, john. but he does have three things he's working on abroad. he's got an israeli peace deal to the palestinians, the syrian deal and the iranian nuclear deal. and i think some of those are looking very problematic, but i think there's a possibility he could get the iranian nuclear deal and that's where a lot of presidents work out in their second term, in foreign policy. >> eleanor. >> if he heads off a nuclear bond, that would be huge. if he gets immigration reform, that also would be huge, because that's eluded presidents going back. certainly george w. bush tried it. president reagan made a stab at it and did pass immigration reform, which was then considered a failure at legal'sed 3 million people, but illegal immigration continued unabaited. i think this is a mistake to say this is a presidency that
is diminished because he can do things by executive orders and other initiatives, and if you look at the speech, there were, like, 20 executive orders and other initiatives embedded in it. executive orders are not nothing. emancipation proclamation was an executive order. so he could accomplish quite a bit. in the area of climate change, and i think this president believes, like many do, that climate change poses an existential threat to this planet. he can get at that in ways that congress would never go along. you could say this is soft power, if you will. but president clinton at a similar point in his presidency advocated wearing school uniforms for kids at his state of the union. these are initiatives people can relate to. the president convening ceo's and trying to get them to hire the long-term unemployed. going after college loans. it's not like passing legislation, but it's not nothing either. it's, it's something.
did president obama try to go around congress, try to rally the public, and then get congress to exceed? >> well, he's lost leverage, so he doesn't really have a lot of choice. the healthcare law rollout was really such a big disaster, but he's not in position to try to force congress to do anything and use pressure that way. so he's got executive order as an option. but even those ideas, like pat said, small ball. even the minimum wage increase he's proposing for federal workers is only going to touch a fraction of people. most already make above that level because of other laws in federal government hiring. it's not going to do anything for the rest of the population. job training. that's something the republicans have already put on the table in congress. democrats have rejected. some of these other initiatives really are small ball. notice immigration reform. he said very little, because he knows the republicans are already working on that. that truly, as eleanor said, would probably be his biggest victory if anything like that is accomplished this year.
otherwise, i think you are right at the beginning. i think this is a president who has been diminished in his fifth year in office. presidents go to the grassroots without having problems with congress. they rally public opinion. and they get their way that way. this seems to have failed rather miserably with president obama. >> well, if you look at the independents, okay, his support used to be 52% independents. it's now down in the low 30s. if you follow what happened after the obama care fiasco, where he lost not only a sense that there was competency, but in fact a sense that there was honesty because a lot of people felt they were being misled when he said you could keep your insurance and health insurance and your doctor, and neither of those things was true. and he repeated it over and over and over again. that had a huge effect on him, because that was the issue for quite a long period of time. i don't think he's ever recovered from that. not to this point. i don't think he's going to be able to do even a lot of small ball things.
if the minimum wage is major, it's the wrong issue. the issue is not minimum wage. the issue is jobs. we have now roughly 40 million people in america who are either working part-time or who have given up looking for work, or are unemployed. 40million people in america. that's a disaster for america. and that -- he has to bear, like it or not, i'm not saying it's all his fault, but he has to bear the responsibility-- >> do you think a growing number of people do not believe what obama says? >> i think they -- i don't know that they believe it. i don't know how to measure that, okay? but i don't think they respect his policies to the degree that -- okay. one obama initiative, minimum wage hike. >> in the coming weeks, i will issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay their federally-funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour. >> of course to reach millions more, congress does need to get on board. say yes. give america a raise. [ applause ]
to be clear, the federal minimum wage is now $7.25 an hour. since congress is procrastinating, president obama will hike it by an executive order for some new federal workers to $10.10 an hour, a $2.85 boost. he wants congress to follow his example for the public at large. the audience was the lowest since nielsen began measuring in 1983. is america tuning obama out? by comparison, 48 million tuned in for obama's 2010 state of the union. start of this first midterm election year. he's lost 33% of his audience. what does that tell you? >> well, look, john, he's not popular anymore. people are mildly bored with him. they have seen the act and the rest of it. but this minimum wage is very interesting. $10.10 an hour, that comes up to almost $21,000 a year, which
is probably twice the median income of folks all through latin america and mexico, places like that. if he gets something like that, it would be a tremendous magnet to draw third world labor into the united states, which would contradict what he's trying to do on what he's trying to do on the immigration thing. >> pat -- [ laughter ] >> how can you translate-- >> it's a magnet. >> how are they going to get in here when-- >> same way! [ overlapping speakers ] >> if the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation, it would be almost $11 today. polls show the american people think it should be raised to at least $9. many cities and municipalities are already raising. the district of columbia with two areas in maryland are looking at $11.50 an hour. do you believe in trickle-down economics? or do you believe in trickle-
up? trickle-up, pay people, they will buy the necessities of life. >> shut down a lot of quality businesses. >> do you think-- >> -- lose a lot of jobs-- >> you raise the price of a good by 30 or 40%, believe me, you will diminish the quantity at which this good is going to be employed. >> eleanor, how many teenage black kids who dropped out of high school, is somebody going to hire for $21,000 a year? you will price them out of the market. that's why you got an enormous, you know, unemployment rate. >> 52% of fast food workers rely on government benefits, because they don't get paid enough. we're subsidizing the people who hire them. >> the house is not going to pass minimum wage increase right now. however, the fact that the president made the statement and has put this into effect in the federal government will have sort of an echo effect, i think. and what eleanor was just saying about the other municipalities, seattle, dc,
all across, i think you'll eventually semin wage go up because of that, which is probably a better way to go anyway. >> is that the feeling on capitol hill? that it will encourage movement for them? >> yes. >> could be the other reaction. >> unless the house changes leadership, there is no will right now to raise minimum wage. >> it gives the president something he can go to the business community with and that's what he's doing. >> big engine behind this current mood is, of course, obama care. >> that's right. >> that's why you're never going to have a big program in the next five years, john. that monstrosity is a total failure. >> it is. >> there is evidence lay bear why you don't want the government running something big. >> use political failure for obama, because there was a real concern over the program and because a lot of people in the country thought he misled them in the way he sold it. that really has diminished his strength enormously. that was the worst thing that's happened to him as president. >> it's a huge political failure, just like medicare was and social security was.
this program is going to settle in, be part of the way of life- - >> you'll get another one with a republican house like this. are you? >> who is looking for another one like this? we're happy to implement this one! [ laughter ] >> he spent time trying to get the republicans to repeal the aca. what about that? >> look, i think he's got so much on his plate in terms, if i were he, i would leave that issue alone. >> try to dissuade them. >> listen, the real problem-- >> -- democrats will tolerate change because they are trying to save themselves in 2014, so the action may happen over in the senate, where the democrats are in charge, but about to lose control. so they may allow something to go through to give their six or seven vulnerable democrats something to go home and talk about to say i did something to change this. there's where the opportunity in this new law will come from. >> even obama said give me your ideas if you've got some. >> that's the opening right there. >> change is not repeal. the law is here to stay.
>> what actions do the leader of the senate take that was kind of a snub to obama? >> fast track. >> fast track. >> he has said many times in the past he doesn't approve it, so it's nothing new. >> yeah, but-- >> -- because of the unions-- >> -- run them through without amendments. issue 2, ukraine cross roads. >> what would provoke even more concrete action on the part of u.s. congress, if there's any brutal repressing of these demonstrators, that would be unacceptable, i think, in congress. it began as a peaceful protest in ukraine's capital city of kiev. and it has not escalated into a violent confrontation. the president of ukraine is facing a nation-wide uprising. he sparked the crisis in november, by spurning a long- sought economic treaty with the eu, the european union.
he favors renewed ties with russia. ukraine is a nation of 46 million people, the geographic size of france. it became an independent nation in 1991, 23 years ago, following the break-up of the soviet union. his rejection of the eu accord was a triumph for russian president vladimir putin, who wants ukraine realigned with the east, with russia, and put up $15 billion to rein force a ukrainian-russia trade deal. this was a setback for ukrainian nationalists who want to integrate with the west, with europe and the eu, where ukrainians seem more lucrative and reliable gains. last month, u.s. senators john mccain and chris murphy appeared before a crowd of a quarter of a million ukrainians to express their solidarity with the western-leaning protesters. the demonstration escalated this month, when ukrainian riot
police killed six. across the country, demonstrators seized government buildings, including the president's base in eastern ukraine. in many cases, the authorities handed over the buildings to the protesters, declaring their allegiance with the people. the protesters demanding the president's resignation and new election to apiece the protesters, the president has repealed antiprotest laws, offered amnesty to demonstrators. in fact, his pro russian prime minister. but so far, the president himself refuses to step down. in his tuesday state of the union speech, president obama affirmed the right of the ukrainian people to have their voices heard, but he limited notice of the attempted coux to one line. on wednesday, obama aides told congressional aides they are
readying sanctions to be used against ukrainian officials and if necessary, against protest leaders. on thursday, the ukrainian president removed himself from the situation, citing sick leave. question, john kerry is meeting with the antipresident ukrainian opposition. what's the plan, pat buchanan? >> clearly it looks like we want to get him out of there, but he's a democratically- elected president. what is going on in the ukraine now is what went on in cairo, with the military coming in and throwing out mohammed morsi, because the crowds got together in the streets. united states ought not to be involving itself in this quarrel, john. it is an economic quarrel between russia, which wants its own common market in the ukraine, and the eu, and putin made a very tough offer and a strong offer, $15 billion, and he got the ukrainians to side with him.
for heavens sakes, for the united states to get in the middle of an operation where a democratic government is about to be overthrown would be an absurd tee for us. >> what do you think, eleanor? >> kerry is there discussing, and so is catharine ashton, the foreign representative for the eu, and putin said this is like if he had sent an envoy to greece, when the europeans were having their difficulty. so he really sees this as his monroe doctrine. he really doesn't think that europe or the u.s. has any business mettling, and kerry basically said -- i guess it was friday, that mr. putin shouldn't worry, that we just are on the side of having a peaceful demonstrations there. and basically, that's the point they are making. don't crack down in a bloody way on these protesters, which is what senator mccain said as well. i don't see the administration necessarily in there pushing for regime change. >> it was very bloody in kiev.
obama's afraid that the alienates putin over ukraine, he's going to regret it because he needs putin in iran. >> well, but putin-- >> do you follow me? >> i do. >> he needs putin in syria. >> i do, but putin's going to do what's in his best interest. he's not going to pull out of negotiations in iran because he's upset with the u.s. mettling. he's got other things on his mind. the olympics are coming up in sochi, so i think he's a little preoccupied with keeping his country safe. >> what do you think, mort? >> look, i think this is a putin gamut, what's happened with the ukrainian president. he all of a sudden became sick when he was supposed to be meeting with the democratic representatives in ukraine. ukraine has always been seen by the russians as basically a wholly-owned subsidiary of the russians. this is the way putin does it. putin frankly outsmarted everybody. he got him basically doing what he wants him to do and he is
going to continue to do that and we are not going to be able to move either one. >> but the momentum in the streets looks like it's going to be very hard to stop. okay. take a look at the top, top members of the ukrainian opposition. brothers vitale and vladimir, both of whom are world heavy weight boxing champions. and one of them, particularly one of them, wants to become the president of ukraine. >> he's become very popular. >> he's ahead of his party. he's a very powerful tough street demonstrator. united states is supposed to support democratic-elected governments. even when they do badly. you wait for the next election, throw him out. these guys are three parties. they want to overthrow this government and have a battle inside. john, there's a real danger here that this ukraine could break apart. they speak the russian
language, culturally russian. in the far west, that's part of the hapsburg empire. you overthrough this government and get a new crowd in there, you could have a ukraine break apart. >> that, is but you can't just give a blank check to the leader-- >> it's not our problem, eleanor. >> well, they are just going over there and talking, along with the european union. we're not sending in troops or anything. >> tell kerry to talk to his iranian friends. [ laughter ] you know that putin went over there and offered them $15 billion. >> 15 billion. he bought them. >> to avoid going towards the eu, which a lot of, lot of the country wants to move in that direction. >> the origins of the mugs orthodox church, ties there don't go back decades. they go back centuries. >> but they see their future with the west culturally and commercially, want to go with
the european union and basically putin is bribing them to stay temporarily with them. >> what's obama's pron with the dilemma arising with the ukraine? >>he's got very few cards to play. nobody believes he's going to do anything serious about what they want. not in terms of -- he's going to speak well and he will speak out on the democracy-- >> who does he really need? he really needs putin. >> yeah, he's not-- >> he doesn't want to do anything to annoy putin. >> that's right. >> he needs putin in iran and syria, right? >> correct. you're absolutely right. >> he already has very little leverage with putin. look how putin treats us. he's got snowden in permanent asylum. putin is the big issue. you're not going to see united states do anything very serious. >> putin is holding back because of the sochi olympics. i would wait for them to be over. >> that's exactly right. issue 3, boehner on bond. >> listen, i like to play golf. i like to cut my own grass. >> right. >> and i do drink red wine. i smoke cigarettes.
i'm not giving that up to be president of the united states. >> right, right. republican house speaker john boehner tells us why he won't run for the u.s. presidency in 2016. the reason is that the house speaker enjoys his current job, appears relaxed and letting his hair down so to speak. last week on the tonight show with the retiring jay leno. three months ago, the speaker was in crisis mode. his party responsible for what mr. boehner describes as a quote, unquote, disaster. namely, the 16-day government shutdown. speaker boehner repeatedly warned fellow republicans against the shutdown maneuver, although he backed them up once it had occurred. >> i looked up and i saw my colleagues going this way. and you learn that a leader without followers is simply a man taking a walk. >> right. >> so i said, do you want to fight this fight? i'll go fight the fight with you, but it was a very predictable disaster. >> yeah.
>> it's now being recognized. close boehner ally iowa representative tom latham with a near-perfect conservative rating of 94 and near perfect liberal rating of zero gave this description of speaker boehner to the politico newspaper. quote, he's probably more at ease in the job than he has been. i think a lot of it comes that after the shutdown, a lot of people saw that was a fool's errand. he was proven correct and came out of it much, much stronger, unquote. strong enough to take on outside conservative factions, like the club for growth and heritage action and their impassioned disprofl of the budget deal struck last month between the two parties. the speaker berated both. >> i think they are pushing our members in places where they don't want to be. and frankly, i just think that they have lost all credibility. >> if you'll recall, the day before the government reopened,
one of the people, one of these groups stood up and said, well, we never really thought it would work. are you kidding me! question, has the speaker reclaimed his speakerhood, setting the agenda and fully in charge? >> i don't think he ever lost it. boehner is not the kind of speaker you can compare to nancy pelosi or newt gingrich. he always operated from the bottom-up, said he was going to listen to everybody and do things in the sort of democratic way, which is unusual for a house speaker. so things have always been a little bit up and down with the way things go in the house. i think he's -- if he is stronger, it's only because he showed his tea party faction he was willing to go the distance for them. they lost their leverage when the government shut down, hurt their credibility, and now he is back in control. he's got them piped down a little bit on some things. they are are still voting against a lot of legislation, but he's got leverage. [ overlapping speakers ]
>> he's got maneuvering room here and it looks like he's going to use it, maybe, to push through immigration reform. and the tea party has lost some of their steam and yet i think he's got boehner has a little more influence with them. >> let me say this. >> here comes the grassroots implosion. >> let me say this. if he goes with immigration reform and goes all out for it, given the tremendous force and emotion inside the republican caucus and he splits the caucus and goes and repeals that rule and goes and works with the democrats for immigration reform, legalization of the folks who are already here and the dream act, i think john boehner will be his last period as speaker of the house. >> right. >> he will not be back as speaker. >> that may be by design. may be by design. >> he'll save the republican party and he may not do it until the lame duck session. is it an immigration bill likely this year? >> i think it is likely. the question is, what is going to be in the bill? the issue, as pat says, from
the republican point of view, if they allow -- i mean, i think i remember that there's something going to be like 15 million additional hispanic votes and 17 million additional black votes. these are not votes that the republican party is going to be able to get. and therefore, they are going to have a huge political problem going forward. so they are caught between a rock and a hard place on this. >> amnesty-- >> no automatic-- >> amnesty is the end of the republican party. >> no automatic path to citizenship for a majority of illegal aliens. that is offensive to nancy pelosi. this -- that's why there is a crisis this. >> this will be on an eventual path to citizenship. >> more than a dozen years away, the senate bill has a 13- year path. if the republican party can't figure out how to diversify itself in 12 to 15 years, they are going to be dead anyway. >> we think they are going to -- 13 years will stay once the first bill goes through. come on. >> who won the week. three seconds? >> i would say obama won the
week. pretty good speech. >> obama won the week, reboots the presidency. >> obama. >> president putin. i think he won the week, rein forced his position all around the world. >> it's clearly putin. i also predict prime minister thorning smith who posed for a selfie with brahm and david cameron at nelson mandelaed funeral service will be vanquished in denmark's upcoming election. bye-bye.
th week on "moyers & company," the state of the union from beyond the beltway with journalist/producer david simon. >> the scam of it, the scam of what america's become, you know, give the money to the rich and they'll see that you're not poor. is that really what you're saying? >> announcer: funding is provided by -- anne gumowitz, encouraging the renewal of democracy. carnegie corporation of new york, celebrating 100 years of philanthropy, and committed to doing real and permanent good in the world. the ford foundation, working with visionaries on the front lines of social change worldwide. the herb alpert foundation, supporting organizations whose mission is to promote compassion and creativity in our society. the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation, committed to building a more just, verdant,