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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  November 18, 2011 10:00pm-11:00pm PST

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captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: a deal to trim the nation's budget deficit remained elusive again today, as the standoff between republicans and democrats persisted just five days before a deadline. good evening. i'm judy woodruff. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. on the newshour tonight, we update the negotiations and look at what happens if they collapse with janet hook of "the wall street journal". >> woodruff: then, from our colleagues at wisconsin public television, we have the story of a push to recall republican governor scott walker after he moved to limit labor's bargaining rights.
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>> walker has lied to the people of wisconsin and he is destroying our state. >> it's a scam , because thexd voters, the voters chose walker. >> brown: paul solman talks to the author of a new book casting the father of evolution as a leading thinker in a very different field. within a hundred years from now if people poll professional economists, people like me, and ask who's the founder of your dis-- discipline, most people are going to say charles darwin. >> woodruff: mark shields and david brooks analyze the week's news. >> brown: and margaret warner examines the warming of relations between the u.s. and myanmar, as president obama announced he'll send secretary of state hillary clinton there next month. >> woodruff: that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> okay, listen. somebody has got to get serious. >> i think... >> we need renewable energy. >> ...renewable energy is vital to our planet. >> you hear about alternatives, right?
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wind, solar, algae. >> i think it's got to work on a big scale and i think it's got to be affordable. >> so, where are they? >> it has to work in the real world. at chevron, we're investing millions in solar and biofuel technologies to make it work. >> we've got to get on this now. >> right now. >> intelligent computing technology is making its way into everything from cars to retail signs to hospitals; creating new enriching experiences. through intel's philosophy of investing for the future, we're helping to bring these new capabilities to market. we're investing billions of dollars in r&d around the globe to help create the technologies that we hope will be the heart of tomorrow's innovations. i believe that by investing today in technological advances here at intel, we can help make a better tomorrow. >> and by bnsf railway. >> the william and flora hewlett foundation, working to solve social and environmental problems at home and around the
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world. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> brown: the congressional deficit super-committee went into the weekend with no deal in hand and a deadline looming next wednesday. a partisan stalemate persisted over taxes and spending, as the countdown continued. from all outward indications at the capitol, the super-committee was nowhere near completing its mission today. republicans and democrats on the 12-member board remain deadlocked over how to find $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions over the next decade. some of the members met again last night, and today, the
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republican co-chair-- congressman jeb hensarling of texas-- said negotiations would continue. >> we are painfully aware of the deadline staring us in the face. we have 12 good people working hard trying to find sufficient common ground for an agreement >> brown: the democratic co- chair, senator patty murray of washington, cited the major cause of disagreement. >> where the divide is right now is on taxes and whether the wealthiest americans should share in the sacrifice that we all have to make. that's the decision. it's what we're waiting for. i remain hopeful. >> brown: democrats insist on cutting into deficits, in part, by raising taxes. republicans on the committee have offered to raise revenues by closing tax loopholes, but they balk at raising tax rates. within that debate is an
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argument over the bush-era tax cuts. democrats want everyone who makes under $ 250,000 to keep the cut, while letting rates rise for wealthier americans. that would cost $3.2 trillion over the next 10 years. republicans want the tax cuts to be made permanent for everyone. that would cost $4 trillion. republicans also want much larger spending cuts than emocrats do, in any deficit package. but democrats like connecticut if no agreement is reached, automatic cuts in defense and social spending are supposed to go into effect, but not until 2013. meanwhile, the republican majority in the house tried today to pass a balanced budget amendment to the constitution. it was the first such attempt since 1995. today, it failed to get the required two-thirds majority. janet hook of "the wall street journal" is covering all this at the capitol. she joins us now. so janet, as we speak, where do things stand?
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>> well, as we speak, patty murray say earlier today she was still hopeful but there aren't too many people that are still hopeful that this group can reach their goal of cutting 1.2 trillion. they're really in the realm of last-ditch efforts. they had some closed-door meetings. there was an exchange of some more offers but so far they are still at a stalemate. they promised to work through the weekend but-- and they have basically until monday to find a breakthrough but the isn't much sign of that breakthrough happening. >> there were reports of the republicans putting forward a smaller package in the $600 billion, what's in that. what was the democratic response. and what's the thinking among republicans to have a smaller package? >> well, the republicans were thinking if the supercommittee can't reach the 1.2 trillion goal to try to see if there was some kind of consensus smaller
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package that they cone act. and what they tried to do was assemble a bunch prove posals that were less controversial through the budget negotiations, raising fees and smaller cuts in discretionary spending and smaller cuts in defense programs to come up with a package of $640 billion about, which would be about half of what the goal was. the problem with it was that when they presented it to the democrats, the democrats really want to see more tax increases, in whatever package they consider. the democrats wanted to be more of a balance of tax increases and spending cuts. >> well, janet, is there a sense of urgency at this point? it's hard to tell. can you tell what's going on behind the scenes? >> well, the sense of urgency is because they have this deadline coming up next-- well, the deadline is monday for them to submit the proposal for the committee to review. and they have to vote on it by wednesday night at
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midnight. so that creates a sense of urgency because there is a deadline. but unlike a lot of the other budget debates that congress has had this year, the consequences of them failing to act are not neay as immediate. earlr this year when they were negotiating a spending cut, a spending bill, an overall budget, the deadline was-- the deadline was set by the fact that the government was going to run out of money. and so if they didn't act by the deadline the government would shut down. then later in the summer the deadline was the government had reached the limit of its borrowing. and congress had to raise the debt limit. and if they didn't act by that deadline the government would default. and right now if they don't make this deadline, the consequences are not very immediate. and i think that actlly has lifted some of the pressure on them to make these really tough decisions that they're forced to make. down the line, the consequences are automatic spending cuts will take effect across the government to cut that 1.2 trillion
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that they are trying to get by a deal. but those spending cuts don't take effect until 2013. >> well n these last few days, i mean we're talking about broad disagreements between the two parties but how important are disagreements within each party? that is, is there movement, there was movement among some republicansor some raise in tax revenues. they got hit, swatted real quickly by some house republicans, right? >> actually, no, i would say at this point the differences between the parties are much more important than the differences within the parties. there had been throughout the negotiations some differences of opinion, among democrats, for example, some liberal its were really dead set against making big concessions on cutting entitlement programs like medicare and really wanted to hold out against compromising on allowing any extension of the bush tax cuts. and among republicans you're'c right, some have been more willing than others to allow some kind of tax increase as part of the deal.
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but at this point i really think that the biggest differences are between the parties. >> so as this impasse is impending, you sense both sides sort of preparing the ground for a blame game if we get to that point? >> absolutely. we have already seen the blame game starting. everybody comes out of their closed door meetings basically saying things like, well, the ball is in their court, not ours. we've made big concessions, we haven't. there's been a lot of that going on, even back when you felt like there was some serious negotiating going on behind the scenes. and right now i just don't see much sign of progress. >> and do they -- >> towards any kind of compromise. >> brown: and do they see fear-- door they worry about market reaction, about u.s. credit being downgraded again. does anybody talk about that as well as the political implications? >> sure there is concern that this will spookthe markets. theone thing about the
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mechanism that they're working under though, is it does guarantee for those who were concerned first and foremost that the deficit be reduced. that whether or not this group produces a deficit reduction package, there is supposed to be this fall back mechanism that if they don't propose a bill to cut $1.2 trillion, there's this mechanism of automatic spending cuts thatics-- kicks in a year from now. so there are some people who think that the markets won't be as spooked by this failure as they might otherwise be, because there is this fallback mechanism. maybe a more immediatend certain kens would be in terms of public opinion. i mean this would be another example of congress failing to deliver on a really big issue that people had been expecting this committee to address. and it's añ huge disappointment, though i suppose there are a lot of people who thought this supercommittee wouldn't be able to do what other committees and commissions and other members of congress had failed to do all year. >> all right, janet, talk-- all
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right janet hook of the "the wall street journal", thanks some of. >> woodruff: earlier this week, we talked with a democrat on the super-committee, maryland congressman chris van hollen. we've extended invitations to all of the committee republicans to appear on the newshour. none was available this evening. we will continue to try to bring you an interview with one of them next week. >> brown: still to come on the newshour tonight: a move in wisconsin to oust the governor; charles darwin, the "economist"; shields and brooks; and a diplomatic door opening in myanmar. but first, the other news of the day. here's kwame holman. >> holman: british prime minister david cameron appealed today for "decisive action" to contain europe's debt crisis. but german chancellor angela merkel cautioned against doing too much too fast. they met in berlin, amid tensions over debt strategy and over germany's growing financial clout. we have a report from matt frei of independent television news. >> reporter: europe may not
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be speaking german yet but thanks to the crisis, everyone everywhere these days knows its meaning of the word angst. this office building is nicknamed the washing machine here in berlin and a visiting david cameron, that is him in the middle, could be excused of feeling as if he was on his way to an uncomfortable spin cycle with a woman waiting behind the sliding door. >> it's been a week of fear and loathing on the markets but also-- the tabloids have done their bit. will here is a sampling. the daily mail, springtime for merkel, stepping down, giving a nazi salute. not to be outdone, the best selling tabloid said mr. cameron, you're-- does speak german and what do the english-- anyway. that's the kind of emotional backdrop to the workinge1 lunch between the prime minister and the chancellor. >> an hour later they were ready to face the cameras. so what about the german tabloids call on britain to quit europe. the fact that we're both
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standing here, how we're standing and what we're saying shows that we need each other in europe. you can practically hear the prime minister's sigh of relief. and they are, after all, both center right leaders who believe in belt-tightening. it's just that germannee belt has a much shinier buckle, on berlin's ground, the car showroom offers a less on on economic reality. they are looking at two of the world's finest cars, a french bugati, a british bentley, now both owned and beautifully made by volkswagen of germany. >> germany has europe >> holman: germany has europe's strongest economy, but merkel has refused to support jointly- backed "euro-bonds" to bail out heavily indebted countries. wall street searched for direction today as investors kept an eye on debt developments in washington and europe. the dow jones industrial avege gaed 25 points to close at 11,796. the nasdaq fell 15 points to close at 2,572. for the week, the dow lost
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nearly 3%; the nasdaq fell 4%. the famine in somalia may be easing somewhat. u.s. and u.n. food agencies reported today that the number of famine zones in the east african nation has been cut in half. they also said increased food aid has substantially reduced death rates from starvation. still, the famine remains the worst in the region in 20 years. security forces in syria killed at least 16 protesters after friday prayers today. amateur video from damascus showed people trying to drag victims from the streets. the killings followed a week of growing violence in several cities. at the same time, president bashar al-assad's government said it had agreed, in principle, to let into the country dozens of observers from the arab league. in egypt, thousands of demonstrators staged one of the largest rallies in months. they filled tahrir square in cairo and protested a newly released government document. it suggested the military would have final word on policy, even
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after democratic elections. >> we want egypt to move on, whether it's run by islamist sharia law or civilian party. but we need egypt to move on before it sinks to a point where we can't help or-- save it from drouning. >> holman: the military took control in february, after president hosni mubarak was forced out. egypt will hold its first parliamentary elections since mubarak's removal ten days from now. use of the drug avastin to treat advanced breast cancer may be curbed in the u.s. the food and drug administration recommended today that doctors stop prescribing the drug for that purpose. the agency said there's no evidence that the benefits cancel out dangerous side effects. the drug is still recommended for treating colon, lung, kidney and brain cancers. former penn state football coach joe paterno has been diagnosed with a treatable form of lung cancer. his son announced it today. he said doctors believe his father will make a full recovery. paterno is 84.
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he was fired last week amid allegations that a former assistant sexually abused boys. the ncaa announced today it will investigate how school officials dealt with the scandal. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to judy. >> woodruff: the eyes of the nation were on the political firestorm in wisconsin late last winter when republican governor scott walker took on the labor union representing the state's public employees. fast forward to today, and the tables have turned, as we hear from frederica freyburg of wisconsin public television in this report. >> i feel like i'm in vegas. we're here all week! >> reporter: virginia link took vacation from her state job to set up shop along a city street... >> you know you can download petitions online? >> reporter: ...gathering signatures to recall the governor and lieutenant governor. >> i have a 13-year-old car and walker's telling me i'm a "have"? i'm not a "have."
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>> i want to petition... >> reporter: fort atkinson voter julie wells hand-delivered the official recall filing to the state elections board. >> we're going to do this. we're taking back our state. >> reporter: and so launched the statewide push to gather more than 540,000 signatures; 700,000 for safety. the recall drive is a joint effort that includes a group called united wisconsin and the state democratic party. >> from the beginning of the signature gathering with united wisconsin truly a statewide effort. signatures in all 72 counties of this state. >> we have more than 100 county coordinators that are part of the volunteer leadership events in appleton, green bay.
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>> reporter: veteran campaign operatives claim the so-called "ground-game" being worked for this recall effort is as good as president obama's, but more energized. party-paid professionals man recall offices across the state. it's a ground game that takes lots of money. >> we're going to do the best we can. we know we'll be outspent. >> you're going to have big union money, aren't you? >> i think organized labor has a big stake in this fight. >>reporter: some estimates suggest a recall election of the governor and lieutenant governor could cost $80 million to $100 million in campaign spending. the state republican party says, "we'll have what we need." >> we're going to spend enough to get our message out that good policy is good politics. >> we have a good neighborhood around here.
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we have democrats and more democrats. >> reporter: apart from big money pouring in, on the recall walker side, there is an army of volunteers hitting the streets for signatures. >> this one's for walker, this one's for kleefish... >> reporter: this drive-through recall post is staffed by revolving shifts of 77 retired teachers angry over education cuts. >> basically, what people do is drive through ahead, just like macdonald's drive through ahead. >> reporter: but even in democratic strongholds like madison and milwaukee, there are staunch scott walker supporters. >> it's a fraud, a scam. >> reporter: why? >> because the voters chose walker. >> my issue is i think scott walker should be applauded for what he has done. >> from our perspective, the governor is welcoming the opportunity to go out there and talk to the voters. >> reporter: governor walker started talking to the voters
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with new tv ots is week, saying his budget-balancing policies are working. >> i think we are doing the very best thing that wisconsin has seen in probably a generation. ( applause ) >> reporter: the fervor on both sides is just heating up. at a recall the recall event featuring republican budget- writer robin vos, an interloper disrupted the message. and both sides can claim unsportsman-like behavior or worse. >> we're seeing a lot of dirty tricks being played by the republicans. we have filed complaints with the g.a.b., multiple complaints. we take it very seriously. the g.a.b. does as well.
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>> if i had time to... . there's not doubt they're desperate. >> reporter: but a new st. norbert college/wpr poll shows a majority-- 58% of respondents, including a growing number of republicans-- favor scott walker's recall. petitioners have 60 days to gather the required signatures to trigger an election, an historic political exercise that, like the events of this past spring, will have all eyes on wisconsin. >> brown: now, what does the work of naturalist charles darwin have to do with economics? newshour economics correspondent paul solman finds out. it's part of his regular reporting on "making sense of financial news". >> reporter: there's an idea war
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being waged over american economics. the left contends that greed and the market have become malign influences, which must be brought to heel. the right, which blames government for most of what ails us, has a more positive view of greed. as cornell economist bob frank puts it... >> the self-serving actions of greedy individuals will be channeled by market forces to produce the greatest good for all. >> reporter: and so the right swears by the simple invisible hand of free market competition, summed up here in simplistic graphics, perhaps, but 18th century british thinker adam smith's own timeless words. >> it is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from theiregardo their own interest. >> reporter: smith is widely regarded as the father of economics. but in a new book, bob frank says that honor should go instead to another british subject.
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>> a hundred years from now, if people poll professional economists, people like me, and ask, who is the founder of your discipline? most people are going to say charles darwin. >> reporter: charles darwin?! "mr. evolution?" yes, claims frank, who met us at the touring darwin exhibit, now at atlanta's fernbank museum of natural history. >> so, if we think about an animal like the rhea here-- how does it get away from predators if it can't fly the way other birds can? well, it's got to outrun them. >> reporter: of course, as darwin and frank both acknowledge, competition is, in fact, one key to progress. >> and so, generation by generation, small mutations contributed a little bit to the extra speed for an individual animal. that animal is less likely to be caught and eaten by predators, and so it left copies of that mutation in the next generation, and then it spread generation by generation until the bird is really quite a racehorse. >> reporter: and that is the survival of the fittest.
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>> that's the invisible hand story. it's good for the individual bird to be fast, and rheas as a species being fast is good for the species, makes them less vulnerable to predators. >> reporter: same with the keen eyesight of hawks-- the better their eyes, the better their meals; or the markings on these butterflies that mimic big bad owls, protecting them from predators. thus, the invisible hand of natural selection promotes the survival of the individual and the prosperity of the species. in economic terms, this is the greatest good for the greatest number-- the grand achievements of a market economy, made possible by competitive individuals like thomas edison, henry ford, or steve jobs. but to frank, the darwin show also depicts the dark side of competition-- individuals vying in ways that stultify the species. in the evolution of male elk, for example, the fight for
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females sults in outsized antlers. >> having bigger ones than your rival made you more likely to win your fight, and so every mutation that coded for larger antlers was very strongly favored, and they grew generation by generation. we see bull elk now with antlers that are four feet across, theyy weigh 40 pounds. that's great for doing battle with other bull elk, but it's horrible if you get chased into a densely wooded area by a wolf. >> reporter: you can't get out of the forest. >> there's nowhere to turn, literally! that's a feature that absolutely captures the conflict between individual and group. >> reporter: but returning to darwin the economist, how does competitive evolution hurt the species known as homo sapiens? years ago, frank began thinking that we engage in the same sort of wasteful, self-defeating contests that darwin documented in other animals. in the winner-take-all society in the mid-'90s, a younger bob frank wrote and explained to us,
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that, though the use of strength-enhancing steroids in sports was hurting the general health of athletes, for example, it was in no way enhancing the game. >> but from an individual point of view, it's compellingly attractive to take the drug because, otherwise, you don't land a spot on the team, you don't have a shot at the nfl roster. >> reporter: the line of thinking continued to evolve. the winners were separating from the rest in almost every field, and their sky-high pay was fueling "luxury fever," his 1999 book where he warned of competitive conspicuous consumption among the super- rich, taunting and tempting us all. >> there's no question but that we're in the midst of another gilded age. the robber barons had accumulated great wealth, and they spent it in very visible ways. the cyber barons of today have accumulated great wealth, and they're spending it in visible ways. >> reporter: ways so visible that those down the ladder began emulating them. and that's the downside of conspicuous competition, says frank-- with humans, as with
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other animals, the survival of the so-called "fittest" may come at a cost to the species as a whole. >> so in one species of seals, for example, 4% of the males sire 88% of all offspring. that's like the rich get richer that we're seeing in modern society. and so, i think you see a very parallel process-- the sexual selection that arises from battles among males in those species produces enormous, outsized animals with huge weaponry that's all self- canceling in the end, wasteful. when you see incomes concentrating at the top of the income ladder, as we have seen for the last three decades, then you see spending patterns that are essentially a duplicate of the waste that darwin saw. >> reporter: and that's what you call "luxury fever". >> exactly. if everyone builds a mansion twice as big, that just raises the bar that defines how big a mansion rich people feel they need.
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they build bigger because they have more money. people just below them who travel in the same social circles, their frame of reference shifts, they've got to build bigger, too, and it cascades all the way down. >> reporter: and why is that a problem? >> if you have to spend 50% more on a house and you don't have more money, that's a short explanation of why conditions confronting the middle class have gotten more difficult in e last 30 years. >> reporter: no wonder there's so much discontent, so bitterly felt, from "the other 99%" on the left to the tea party on the right. though bob frank is usually identified with the left, he was a devout deregulator when he served in government. and he thinks that, for all their earnestness, both sides are missing the essential message of charles darwin-- that there are two sides to economics: the invisible hand of market competition, to be sure, making us faster-- keener--
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safer-- but also the helping hand of the community in the form of government, to restrain ourselves when the competition starts costing more than it benefits. >> the political conversation these days seems to be dominated by the idea that if the society tries to act collectively, it's always going to make matters worse. but you can't just turn selfish people loose and hope for the best. in those cases, both in nature and in the marketplace, you get very bad results oftentimes. >> reporter: so then yours is the message of the benevolent economist, if you will, who says both left and right are in some fundamental sense wrong because they don't understand both the value of the market from the left and the importance of government from the right? >> that's exactly the point of the argument, yeah, that there really is much more to the market than its critics realize, and the people who say government can do no good for the society are way off base.
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they don't understand the fundamental conflict that often arises between individuals and groups. >> reporter: to bob frank, then, as to charles darwin, success is a balance between the urge to cooperate and the impulse to compete, a balance in the origin of our species and its continued evolution. >> brown: the darwin exhibit is on view at the fernbank museum of natural history in atlanta through january 1. >> woodruff: and to the analysis of shields and brooks-- syndicated columnist mark shields, "new york times" columnist david brooks. welcome, so i am tempted to ask you both, what would charles darwin think if he handed in the middle of our political and economic conundrum that we're in. >> i-- social darwinism was
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a very right wing, laissez-faire idea in the 19th century and now bob is using social darwinism or a form of darwinism to push a more left wing agenda. i'm not sure i know which side is right. i'm a little dubious about taking evolutionary ideas and transposing them to the realm of economics because unlike animals, we have cognition, we have will,my and we are able to do things. one thing he is absolutely right b andçó this has moved in the evolutionary thinking is that we are n only fierce individualists we are supercooperaters, a guy named jonathan height at the university of virginia said we are the giraffes of cooperation. we are really good at cooperating. and soes's right to emphasize the collective. i'm just dubious about taking darwin and trying to make politics out of it. >> woodruff: we didn't s any giraffes in that -- >> no, we saw everything but giraffes. i would say if charl charles darwin were to come back he would have real serious doubts about his theory. if he looked at the presidential line-up of
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candidates, do you think the species is improving. chuck, do you want to take another look at this? >> woodruff: well, let's try to-- this is my effort to move from charles darwin to the supercommittee. >> okay. >> woodruff: mark, we got a very-- another fairly pessimistic report from janet hook of "the wall street journal" s that what you are hearing, that this effort to do something about the budget deficit is to the going to succeed. >> yeah, i mean janet hook is a superb reporter and i think she's absolutely right. we are now in the situation where it's-- when the great scorer comes to write against your name it is not whether you won or loss but who gets the blame. i think they are both into-- both sides are into sort of postmortems and>2ñ positioning rather than there's no realistic hope for a grand solution at this point. and i think in all fairness, judy, our political process as we know is pretty damn polarized. and the middle and both sides of both parties has
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been hollowed out to a considerable degree. and the idea that this could have been fashioned at this time, in these circumstances is probably an unrealistic hope. >> what are you hearing? >>. >> i mean i'm hearing the exact same thing. i think the tragedy of it is if it was ever going to work t was going to work under these circumstances. the rules were rigged to make a deal asxd possible-- as possible as possible, which is to say there was going to be a clean vote on the house. they were going to meet in private. they had this sort of damocles hanging over them and they still couldn't-- and still, and so it is's a history of really 10 or 15 years of potential moments where we could have-- somebody could have made a deal with doing some spending cuts, some tax increases, jam it all together in whatever form you want to do and every think tank has their own version. but the two sides are just too far apart and as the mark says there is no center.q!í and so you know, they hope the election will solve it, that is what everybody is siningt hill. i'm dubious the electio- why should this election solve it when all the other elections didn't solve it. so the short answer is
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welcome greece, we're going to be greece. >> woodruff: are you serious? >> of force,-- of course, yeah, i firmly believe that, i think in ten years, i don't know when it will happen but i'm very pessimistic that we'll actually have the sort of deal we need. and at some point what is happening in the europe will happen here. >> woodruff: and mark right now, if they don't reach a deal -- >> if they don't reach a deal, i mean it's not the end of the world. i mean it is-- it was written, david's right t was well written. to achieve a deal but one of the real components of its reaching a deal was that if they didn't reach a deal there would be 1.2 trillion dollars in cuts that they kick in, and january 2013. and social security and medicare are exempt as the deal is written. so that's going to happen. if nothing does happen legislatively t if the president is as stalwart as he insists he's going to be, the bush tax cuts will expire. okay, so that expires to everybody. it's not simply for the 250,000-- so you're talking
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about over the next ten years some $7 trillion in revenue just looking at it that way narrowly, judy. that would be coming into the government as well as the cuts that would be imposed. so it's not-- you know, it's not an impossible situation, it's not an ideal situation but it's not impossible. >> but if they don't reach an agreement, david, the markets presumably will react negatively. the american people, i mean can they get any more down on washington and on government than they are right now. >> yeah, it would be interesting to see. michael bennett, the senator from colorado had a chart on the senate floor this week where they compared the congress to other institutions. and so congress is at 9%. i think paris hilton was at 14%. the number of americans who want to turn america communist was at 11%. so more than approve of congress. and so that's very down. i think the markets have anticipated there won't be a deal. but if they don't go to the sequester, if they don't actually dot cuts, which i think is quite likely. i think they're going to try
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to wriggle out of them, then i think the markets will be up set. >> woodruff: so whatever damocles that was there, won't be there. >> well, i think that's got to be the real fight. i mean if there is a serious effort to automatic cuts harx is to frustrate to eliminateok the sequestration that is written into t the washington term that those are automatic cut, half of which will become out of defense, i think that is when the markets will look at it, will really take a negative look and downgrade. the fear of downgrade becomes. i think there is a role chance for the campaign 20612. i think it's scaring us there now. that this is a nation -- >> a chance to discuss this, to debate it i mean i think that thisñi is made for barack obama. whatever says about him, de put $3 billion on the table. that's out there. if made a lot of democrats nervous when de it but i think it's there. and i have to say this, judy, we now v there is a
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percentage of gross domestic product, taxes are the lowest than in the past 60 years. 60 years ago we did not have medicare. 60 years ago we did not have medicaid. 60 years ago we did not have a defense budget of $700 billion. i mean so what we are really talking about, i mean, is the reality of tax increases, and i don't think as a rational person who can say that this can be done without spending cuts and spending curbs, serious, but with tax increases. there was no net tax increase in any of the republican's proposals. >> this is where i think the campaign will not settle it. the debate on the tax side will be between barack obama who going to promise not to raise taxes on the bottom 98% and the republicans who are promising the bottom 100%. so that doesn't get at the problem. and then on the medicare side, mitt romney actually does have a plan to trim medicare but the democrats are going to run on don't touch medicare. so i don't think either way is going to solve, america will not make up its mind. >> woodruff: you don't think the campaign solves
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anything. >> i think there is a chance for it i agree with david, that you can't hold harmless everybody earninging under $250,000. we're all in this. >> woodruff: well, meanwhile what is getting attention right now on the campaign trail among the republicans, david, is newt gingrich. he's been, continuing to rise in the pole. he's rivalling mitt romney, either leading or tied with romney. but then there are these new stories that have come out about money he was earning, working for freddie mac, for other organizations all while he was working trying to convince congress to vote a certain way. what is all this mean for his candidacy. >> i don't think he's go stock the nominee. !sb i think it's going to take a little while but i think he's fats allly undermined by this. if you are going to be the outside voice, you can't have taken the policy positions he's taken for the individual mandate, for all this stuff, he's got many more left wing policies than a rom know over the course of his long career, and long
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and idea lollically parapetitic career. he is the washington insider, taking money from freddie mac for being a historian, come on, that's laughable. and then taking $37 million from var yus health-care industries for supposedly not lobbying or just for being a sounding board. $37 million. i mean -- you know, and so i just think he's going to be seen for what he is, as a very smart guy, fountain of ideas whose played the washington game and made himself very wealthy off of it. >> so you see his candidacy, mark -- >> newt gingrich has had the ideal laboratory for his candidacy to rise. eight person debates. newt gingrich is confident. he's polished. he's well-spoken. he speaks in short bursts that are quite coherent, coat interesting. he's attack the press. he has never been cross-examined. he's never been asked about his position on cap and
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trade, there's never been anything adversarial. maria maria bartiromo of cnbc tried it briefly in the debate, out in michigan. but i mean he has never-- this is a perfect-- what does he use, his adversary, not the other can dats, the press, he is beating up on the press. but judd judy, the reality is either mitt romney or barack obama will be thenb luckiest man in america, whoever gets to run against newt gingrich, he is a walking contradiction. he's changed his position time and again. he's the ultimate insider. if american business is so damn smart, what the hell would they spend $37 million to newt gingrich. i mean-- really, i mean brooks is a lot smarter than newt gingrich and at least consistent. >> woodruff: one other republican who has gotten more headlines this week is herman cain. he had problems answering a question about libya when he was meeting with a newspaper editorial board and just yesterday was quoted as saying what this country needs is a president who say leader, not au
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>> yeah, well lost the teacher vote with that one. i guess mi a big believer in the 10,000 hour rule. that you know you should do things for 10,000 hours to actually absorb the bits of information involved in the field. whether it's journalism, whether it's playing the piano or run, for president. you should have put in the time. and there's a reason why all these outsiders flame out. because running for president like being a surgeon or like being a teach certificate a really hard thing to do. and it's really hard to do if you haven't been prepared. he's like a lot of people we knew. a lot of us had that experience. you didn't do your homework. you showed up at class, you tried to bluff your way through and it got a little embarrassing at times. >> the coast is clear for mitt romney. >> i'm a drinker, not a thinker, a leader, not a reader. judy, this stuff, you know, it's empty. it's-- they are empty words from an empty head. >> woodruff: 45 seconds left, steven sheer the energy secretary testified
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yesterday about the solar panel make their took hundreds of millions of dollars in federal loan guarantees and went bankrupt. is steven shearer going hold on to his job. >> i think so he's not the problem. the problem is if you think government say good venture capitalist, you back into these problems. government should be doing the basic research, not the minute details of when people are laid off or the technologies a company pursue. >> i think he handled himself well. i think the republican from texas is a pretty fierce said he acknowledged that he was a solid representative. but the problem is that there are political e-mails that are kind of embarrassing about holding off on the layoffs. and so forth. and this is a vulnerability the republicans see and they're going to try and run with. it's understandable showing the others what the democrats do the same thing. >> woodruff: well, we are so glad you are both with us tonight and we'll see you her next try.
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mark shields, david brooks, thank you both >> brown: and finally tonight, a call for renewed ties with an asian nation long isolated from much of the world. margaret warner has our story. >> warner: it was a major turnaround for the united states. at a summit of south east asian nations in bali, indonesia, president obama today announced he's sending secretary of state hillary clinton to myanmar. >> after years of darkness, we've seen flickers of progress in these last several weeks. we want to seize what could be an historic opportunity for progress, and make it clear that if burma continues to travel down the road of democratic reform, it can forge a new relationship with the united states of america. >> warner: for years, the isolated myanmar-- previously known as burma-- has been subject to u.s. and western sanctions for its repression of political opponents, ethnic
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minorities, and even buddhist monks. the news that now, for the first time in more than 50 years, a u.s. secretary of state will visit was welcomed by soe aung of the forum for democracy in burma. >> i think it is an opportunity for the u.s. to ensure that the release of the political prisoners, as well as the ending attacks in ethnic areas in north and eastern burma, as well as inclusive dialogue to bring about the national reconciliation in the country. do not forget about that these ongoing human rights violations are taking place in many areas in burma. >> warner: myanmar is strategically located between asia's two rising powers, india and china, both are major trading partners. but myanmar angered the chinese recently by canceling a chinese dam project near their common
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border. the president's announcement coincided with another ground- breaking decision, this one in myanmar. nobel peace prize laureate aung san suu kyi, who was in prison and under house arrest for 15 years, said she and her opposition party, the national league for democracy, will take part in parliamentary elections next year. her party boycotted last november's election, but she was freed from house arrest just days later. and in march, myanmar's generals handed power to a quasi-civilian government led by a retired general, thein sein. he has made some reform moves, including easing media censorship and freeing some political prisoners. secretary clinton is expected to arrive in myanmar two weeks from now. for more on today's developments, we turn to priscilla clapp, a retired foreign service officer who headed the u.s. embassy in burma
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between 1999 and 2002. she's now an analyst and consultant to think tanks and foundations. and tom malinowski, washington director of human rights watch, and a former state department and national security council staffer in the clinton administration. welcome to you both. priscilla clapp, let me begin with you, why this turn around on the part of the united states. i mean the u.s. has had myanmar in the deep freeze now for years and years. >> it's an attempt to respond to some very, very positive developments in myanmar that we have been calling for for decades. they're finally moving it in the direction that we have been asking for, reconciliation, particularly bringing the nld and-- . >> warner: the opposition party. >> the opposition party into the political fold. they have changed their party registration laws to make it possible now to remove the objections that the nld had to the party registration act. they can now participate in the elections that are coming up next month. they will be part of the political process.
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and this is a major step in the direction of reconciliation on the side of the opposition. >> warner: is that the way you see it, that this is to recognize the really significant steps. >> i think it is to encourage significant steps to recognize what president obama called flickers of progress. the big, big shift in burma has been that after 20 years of basically trying to eliminate and sung su chi the government says they want to bring her in to some extent why are they doing that. because they want greater legitimacy with their own people who hated them for tall these years. they want greater leblingity massey in the international community and they the only way to do that is to bring her in. the question is, is this for real s this a sincere effort to partner with her to build aew kind of burma or are they trying to sort of co-opt her or use her in order to get what they want from the international community that has to be tested now. >> warner: what is your
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answer to tom malinowski's question, is this for real, the steps they've taken. >> ri have the same question he has, is it for reechlt i believe that they have-- that they are sincere in what they are doing. and i very much trust the judge of su chi. we not only need but i would say my former colleagues in the u.s. government place a lot of faith in her ability to judge whether it's real. and she's saying that she believes it is real, this time. particularly on the part of the president there are many others in this new government that i wouldn't trust an inch. but the president seems to be a sincere strategic thinker. and reformer. and i think that everybody inside and outside the country wants to find ways to support what he'sjf doing. >> warner: what explains that tom malinowski,-- a
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retired general, installed by the military, was part of the previous regime, why is he even taking these limited steps? >> s there a lot going on here and it is probably very complicated. one factor is china. for a lot of time critics of u.s. sanctions on burma said don't sanction them because will you push them not arms of the chinese. but if turned out that pushing them not arms of the chinese may have been the thing that got them to come right back and say we don't want that, that's not comfortable for us. it's humiliating for us. there is the legacy, i think, of the revolution. >> warner: the 2007. >> the monks being shot, that was a terrible thing. the government succeeded in putting down that monks uprising but killing monks in burma in this very deeply buddhist society is a terrible thing to live down. the cyclone, the terrible cyclone, the following year in which government neglect led to over 100,000 deaths.
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i think a lot of people in the military, though they may have an authoritarian mind-set, they do were ashamed of those things so they want something different and they know that to get that something different they need aung sung suchi on their side with the international community. again the question is how far are they willing to go to meet her legitimately. >> these ex-generals in the government now have travel add lot, in the region and around the world. and they have seen how far behind their country ismy. they know that only reform, particularly economic and political is going to correct this situation. >> warner: let me bring it back to china in the limited time we have left. how does china figure into the calculations here, what are u.s. interests, human rights s it as a counterweight to china. is it because burma has great resources? >> first of all, it's human rights. that really is the first item on our a againa. there's no question about. the question of china is
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ancillary. china is aw3 big neighbor of burmas. it's always going to be a major player there. we're minor. this is just, we're beginning to correct an imbalance simply by sending the secretary of state. but we have a long way to go. >> how do you think china figures in u.s. calculations here? >> it's a huge factor for the burm ease and i think is a minor factor for the united states. burma is a small pond on that chessboard. what has mattered i think to americans successive administrations from clinton to bush to now president obama is the insfrational quality of aunó and this amazing nonviolent pure democracy movement, standing up against a brutal military. that's fascinated us for a long time. >> warner: so what would be a mark of success for the secretary's trip? in other words, is she just going there to pat them on the back or is she going there to press and to do some sort of a carrot and stick offer here for more?
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>> i think she'll do both. i think she will encourage them, say some encouraging words. but i think she will also press them. >> to do what. >> that's really the basis of our policy right now. principalled engagement and pressure on the other side. >> the visit won't be a success if all they do is have a dialogue. we've had that with them. they have to release all of the polit call prisoners. they promised to do it. we thought they were going to do it this week actually, and they didn't. >> warner: how many. >> about 1600 left. one reason i'm grad that the secretary is going is because i know she is doesn't want an unsuccessful visit. and now the u.s. government i think is going to spend every day between now and her touchdown in burma to make sure that there are real deliverables including prisoners. >> the secretarial visits have the advantage of organizing the u.s.
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government. >> ws$zer: always a good thing. priscilla clapp, tom malinowski, thank you both. >> thank you. >> woodruff: again, the other major developments of the day: there was still no deal to trim the nation's budget deficit with a deadline just five days away. and the food and drug administration recommended that doctors no longer use avastin to treat advanced breast cancer. online, we look at refugees fleeing south sudan. kwame holman explains. kwame. >> holman: thousands of people are seeking a safe haven after bombs fell close to a camp near the border between north and south sudan. find the story on our "world" page. on our "making sense" page, paul explores what darwin, evolution and taxes have in common. all that and more is on our web site, judy. >> woodruff: and that's the newshour for tonight. on monday, we'll look at the vicious cycle of poverty in
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reading, pennsylvania. i'm judy woodruff. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. "washington week" can be seen later this evening on most pbs stations. we'll see you online and again here monday evening. have a nice weekend. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> chevron. we may have more in common than you think.
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