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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  February 26, 2010 7:00pm-8:00pm EST

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captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> lehrer: good evening. i'm jim lehrer. suicide bombers struck afghanistan's capital today, targeting foreigners. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, margaret warner reports the details of the deadly attack. then, we talk to army brigadier general ben hodges about the fall of the taliban stronghold of marjah and what comes next. >> the burden is on the afghan government to demonstrate that it can provide relatively core ruping-free basic services
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and the expectations of people here in the south are not real high. >> lehrer: then, kwame holman offers a primer on the congressional procedure called reconciliation. it could be used in the health care debate. >> woodruff: the analysis of mark shields and david brooks. >> lehrer: jeffrey brown talks to journalist don peck about the personal consequences of being unemployed. >> long-term unemployment is really one of the worst things that can happen to anyone. psychologically it's roughly equivalent to the death of a spouse. >> woodruff: and we look at the highs and lows of this year's olympic games with christine brennan of "u.s.a. today". >> lehrer: that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour is provided by: bank of america
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>> this is the engine that connects abundant grain from the american heartland to haran's best selling whole wheat, while keeping 60 billion pounds of carbon out of the atmosphere every year. bnsf, the engine that connects us. this is the power of human energy. grant thornton. and the national science foundation. supporting education and research across all fields of science and engineering. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations.
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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. >> lehrer: there was more violent death today in the center of kabul, the afghan capitol suicide attackers and a car bomb killed at least 16 people, half of them foreigners. another 40 were wounded. the taliban, despite its continuing losses on battlefields elsewhere in afghanistan, claimed responsibility. >> warner: explosions and gunfire rattled the early morning calm of the afghan capital today as attackers detonated car bombs and suicide vests at guesthouses frequented by foreigners. >> when i was coming out, i found two, three dead bodies.
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>> warner: the blasts also blew out windows at an upscale shopping mall and hotel. jean mackenzie, a reporter for global post, an international reporting web site, said the explosions were massive. >> i think almost everyone in kabul woke up to the sound of these bomb explosions this morning slightly before 6:30. you could hear them all over the city, rattling windows and shaking people out of bed. down at the scene, it was devastation. the guest houses did have some protection, but the blast was so massive that it destroyed the protective gate around one guest house and completely flattened the other. >> warner: the explosions sent dazed bystanders stumbling through the streets. afghan police swarmed to the scene, spurring a four-hour gunfight with militants holed up in one of the buildings. >> ( translated ): right now, according to our preliminary
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investigations, it shows that there were two suicide attackers and one man supporting them. the suicide attackers blew themselves up and we killed the third on. >> warner: humanitarian and government officials from india were regulars at one guesthouse. at least nine indians died in the assaults, and afghan president hamid karzai called today's chaos a "terrorist attack against indian citizens." after india's foreign minister called the strike "barbaric," a government spokesman in new delhi insisted india would continue to help its afghan neighbor. >> india has been at the forefront in offering assistance, providing assistance for the redevelopment, for rebuilding of infrastructure in diverse areas, to afghanistan, and our ties with afghanistan remain so. >> warner: jean mackenzie says afghan officials are convinced the targeting wasn't accidental.
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>> there has been a great deal of suspicion on the part of pakistan of the relationship between afghanistan and india. they do not like to see afghanistan getting too close to india. and there are many who are saying that perhaps this was an attempt to sew discord betweeni. and there the suspicion falls on pakistan. >> warner: well, the taliban are you talking about one of the factions that's been tied to pakistan's intelligence service? yes, and one of those is the haqqani network. with the taliban, but based in pakistan. they have claimed responsibility and have been shown to be responsible for many of the more serious attacks in kabul over the last three years. >> warner: is there another possibility, that the timing of today's attacks may be related to the coalition offensive more than 300 miles away, down in helmand? >> well, there are many who are saying this is taliban's answer to operation moshtarak in marjah, helmand province.
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and this may be one of messages that the taliban were hoping to convey with this attack, that they are not finished and that they will respond. >> warner: today's attacks come just one day after nato and afghan troops, who've been waging a two-week anti-taliban offensive led by u.s. marines, cemented control over the town of marjah in southern helmand province. yesterday, officials raised the afghan national flag over the difficult terrain has held up some advances north of town, and sporadic flare-ups and improvised explosive devices are still a threat. one such explosion killed a british soldier today, the 14th nato service member to die in the operation. still, coalition officials are confident the major fighting in marjah is over. success has come at the cost of civilian lives. the independent afghan human rights commission says 28 civilians have died since the marjah fighting started.
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>> woodruff: now, more on that allied operation in helmand province. earlier today, i talked with u.s. army brigadier general ben hodges of the southern region command in khandahar. >> woodruff: general ben hodges, thank you very much for talking with us. let me just begin by asking you if the fight for marjah is over. >> i think that the fighting is going to continue for a few more weeks as the marines an british soldiers an afghan army and police continue to clear out the remaining villages and agriculture areas where we don't yet completely dominate. i think that the majority of the enemy has either been killed or driven out or blended back into the population. there were certainly i had caters as we were getting ready to commence this operation that a lot of the taliban senior leadership were trying to get away from
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there because what was coming was pretty much inevitable. there will be some sporadic fighting, i believe, some tough areas where there are still a few holdouts. i think most of the significant operations will have subsided. >> woodruff: you mention that the taliban has either left the area or faded into the population. what new have you learned about the tactics and the skills of the taliban through this whole exercise. >> the insurgency really, you need to think about that as 80% little t taliban, 20% capital t taliban. in other words, a fifth or less will probably full-fledged ideaologically motivated taliban insurgents. the vast majority are people who for whatever reason are fighting against the afghan government, against the coalition. sometimes it's because they've been intimidated or
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out of fear, or they get paid. or their own governments give them no reason to resist the taliban when the taliban comes in to their village. so that was pretty much confirmed. we thought that was the case going in and that was pretty much confirmed during the last couple of weekss a lots of people chose not to fight, and, in fact, a large part of the population when it became obvious that we were coming there in force and had intended to stay, they quickly started pointing out weapons caches, ieds in huge numbers. so it is important to realize that the taliban is not a grass roots movement, it's not a popular people's uprising. the taliban have never provided clean water or education or fixed roads. the only thing they do is scare the hell out of people. >> woodruff: you said that the taliban is not a grass roots force, and yet what one reads in the press here
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in the united states is that many of the afghan people say they prefer the taliban in some ways to local government officials who they don't trust. >> that's true. the burden is on the afghan government to demonstrate that it can provide relatively corruption-free basic services and the expectations of people here in the south are not real high. our goal has always been to help find a district governor and a district chief of police who can deliver those basic services like water, roads, some health care and this 99% agricultural economy, a road distribution network, freedom of movement for afghans that will enable them to take what could be hugely productive agriculture areas to market. >> woodruff: u.s. officials, general, say that afghans are being brought in even from outside the country to
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take government jobs in marjah, including the new mayor. and i gather he is an afghan who has been living in germany for 15 years. why is this being done and how are these people being chosen? >> the selection of who is coming in to take government positions, of course, is the decision of the afghan government. haja sayir who is coming in to be the subdistrict governor in marjah i believe has lived in germany before. certainly that is not unusual. iraq and afghanistan, you have a lot of expatriots who did not want to stay under, just like in iraq, that did not want to stay under the saddam regime. certainly you have afghans who went to canada or europe or the u.s. because they didn't want to live under either the taliban or previous war lord-type situations. and so now they have come back. >> woodruff: general hodges,
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is what we're seeing in marjah a model for what you would like to do in other parts of afghanistan as you try to root out the taliban? is this going to work elsewhere? >> that's a great question. and that's exactly what we want to do. and the model is not just hundreds of british and u.s. soldiers and marines and afghan troops, it is also, in fact, more importantly it's about governance. two things that we did differently during this operation moshtarak which means together in dari, what we have done differently in the past is number one, we started with a governance in the lead where the afghan government started with the provincial governor, governor manageol with president karzai, with the minister of interior, minister of defense, them provide the leadership, them setting the political context so that when security forces were brought
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in, you already had the sureas at the provincial and district level ready to help take control and also, in fact, to explain to the locals what we were trying to do. so there was no surprise when this operation was launched other than the exact date and time and method of coming in. we want to do the same thing as we shift our focus to the east, the khandahar, khandahar city is the center of gravity for the pash tunes, spiritually, politically, historically, it has always been the most important part of afghanistan. certainly throughout afghan history, it is the center of gravity. so we are going to head to khandahar in a big way in coming months. >> woodruff: to wrap up, now that the marjah operation is largely complete, where is your next main focus there in afghanistan? i do want to emphasize that we think that most kichbt
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etic operations are going to be complete, but we're going to be clearing ieds and mines out of that area for quite some time. the police are still just getting in there. we're getting into a situation where the police can provide a lot of the security. so that's going to go on for several weeks. and of course the governor, governor mangol working very hard to debt business trict and provincial level governance into that area is just under way. that will always take a lot more time than the military portion of this. we think it will be two or three months before we know for sure that the clear has really taken root and that the whole phase-- hold phase is well under way. >> woodruff: brigadier-general ben hodges, we thank you very much for joining us. thank you. >> it was my pleasure and my honor. thank you. >> lehrer: now, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan in our newsroom. >> sreenivasan: the third major snowstorm in a month hovered
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over the northeast u.s. today, bringing feet of snow and knocking out power across the region. the snow was only part of the story. the wintry blast also packed hurricane-strength winds, rain, and flooding. the slow-moving storm left more than a million customers without power, and forced many businesses, schools and transportation systems to shut down. snow plows struggled to keep up as two to three inches fell every hour in some areas. >> i've been out for 12 hours now. it keeps just coming down, about two foot, 24 inches-- heavy wet stuff. >> sreenivasan: a tractor trailer jackknifed on the pennsylvania turnpike in dangerous highway conditions, leading authorities to ban all trucks on the highway. the storm claimed at least three lives, including one yesterday in new york city's central park. heavy snow brought down this 100-pound branch, killing a 56- year-old man. today, mayor bloomberg advised people to stay out of the area. >> we're advising people to be
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very, very careful when they're outside in these kinds of conditions. >> sreenivasan: many struggled through widespread transit delays during a difficult morning commute. air travel was also snarled with most flights cancelled for the day in new york and in philadelphia. and the high winds also pushed a fire at an unoccupied hotel in hampton, new hampshire, out of control, with gusts of wind measuring more than 90 miles an hour. 20 miles down the road, winds completely ripped off the roof of this motel in gloucester, massachusetts. no one was injured. much of the region had just finished clearing snow from the last big storm. >> some winters are bad, some are good. this was a bad one. >> sreenivasan: and residents are getting weary. >> i am totally done with the snow. i am so ready for spring. so ready for spring. ( laughs ) >> sreenivasan: snow totals from this storm could top three feet in some areas. economic news was mixed today. the commerce department reported the u.s. economy grew last quarter by nearly 6%, but consumer spending lagged. and in the housing sector, there
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were still signs of trouble-- sales of existing homes plunged 7.2% in january, the lowest level since last june. on wall street today, stocks rose slightly. the dow jones industrial average gained four points to close at 10,325. the nasdaq rose four points to close at 2,238. for the week, the dow lost seven-tenths of a percent; the nasdaq fell three-tenths of a percent. the governor of new york, david paterson, quit his campaign for a new term today, just days after announcing he was running. the democrat faced mounting pressure to pull out of the race over his handling of a domestic violence case involving one of his top aides. speaking from his new york city office, paterson insisted he never abused his office, but it's become clear in recent days that he can't run. >> i am being realistic about politics. it hasn't been the latest distraction, it's been an accumulation of obstacles that have obfuscated me from bringing my message to the public. therefore, there are times in politics when you have to know
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not to strive for service, but to step back. and that moment has come for me. >> sreenivasan: paterson became governor in 2008 when former governor eliot spitzer resigned in a prostitution scandal. another new york politician, democratic congressman charles rangel, refused calls to step down as chairman of the house ways and means committee. an ethics probe found he broke congressional travel rules by accepting corporate money to take trips to the caribbean. rangel insisted the report exonerates him because his staff never told him how the trips were financed. but the committee report shows staff tried to tell him at least three times. rangel is also under investigation for other alleged ethics violations. white house social secretary desiree rogers is stepping down. in a statement, the obamas thanked rogers for the "terrific job" she's done. rogers came under criticism for how she handled the obama's first state dinner last november. a virginia couple was able to get past security without an invitation and meet the president.
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rogers later admitted she did not have staff at the checkpoint to identify guests. she'll leave her position next month to pursue opportunities in the corporate world. thailand's highest court stripped former prime minister thaksin shinawatra of $1.4 billion of his assets. the funds were frozen right after he was deposed in a military coup in 2006. thaksin addressed his supporters in thailand via satellite from his exile in dubai. the court left him with nearly a billion dollars of his wealth intact. the nine-judge panel said that thaksin shaped telecommunications policy in order to help his companies profit. those are some of the day's main stories. i'll be back at the end of the program with a preview of what you'll find tonight on the newshour's web site. but for now, back to judy. >> woodruff: and still to come on the newshour: shields and brooks; long-term unemployment changing lives across america; and reflections on two weeks of olympic contests. but first, an explanation of a senate tactic that could help decide the fate of health care
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reform. newshour congressional correspondent kwame holman walks us through a procedure called reconciliation. >> holman: yesterday's health care summit featured disagreements over policy ideas, governing philosophy, and the senate procedure known as budget reconciliation. it's a provision that was designed to keep spending and taxes within the parameters of the budget, a task made easier by an expedited process that prohibits filibusters and limits debate to 20 hours. >> "reconciliation" brings to mind harmony, but in fact, it's to wage war. >> holman: congressional scholar thomas mann of the brookings institution says that in the 36 years since it was adopted, lawmakers have expanded the use of reconciliation. >> as time went on, members of congress saw, hey, this is an opportunity to write some
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changes into law, or new law. "this train is leaving the station, it might be the only one that is." so over time, you began to see these reconciliation bills do more and more things, including passing major programs. >> holman: those major programs include substantial changes to health care laws. among them: a provision in the 1986 consolidated budget reconciliation act which allowed laid off workers to continue their employer-sponsored health care coverage under the program known as "cobra"; and the balanced budget act of 1997, which created the children's' health insurance program. >> it's definitely not unprecedented. in fact, every major piece of health reform, with just a couple of exceptions, over the past 30 years, has been passed by congress as part of a reconciliation bill. >> holman: sara rosenbaum is chair of the department of health policy at george
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washington university. she says the procedure can help to break through legislative gridlock. >> the reconciliation process-- it is not just about making reductions, it's about changing the structure of the mandatory spending programs that affect budgeting. so it's actually better to think about reconciliation as the special procedural tool that congress uses when it's changing the big spending and tax programs of the united states. >> holman: according to the congressional research service, 17 of the 22 bills passed under reconciliation have been advanced by a republican- controlled congress, or under a republican president. and in some cases, it has been used to clear major social legislation-- such as welfare reform in 1996, a cornerstone of the republican's "contract with america." republicans also used the tactic
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in 2001, and again in 2003, to pass then-president george w. bush's tax cuts. mann says that was a tipping point. >> the big change actually came under george w. bush in 2001. heretofore, it was always designed as deficit reduction, but this time, it was designed to cut taxes alone, and in effect, increase deficits or reduce surpluses. >> holman: but with the recent health care debate, republicans have objected to democrats using reconciliation to pass their comprehensive bill. here's tennessee senator lamar alexander at yesterday's summit. >> you can say that this process has been used before, and that would be right, but it's never been used for anything like this. it's not appropriate to use to write the rules for 17% of the economy. >> rather than start at the outset talking about legislative process and what's going to happen in the senate and the house and this and that, what i suggest is let's talk about the
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substance-- how we might help the american people deal with costs, coverage, insurance and these other issues. >> holman: but senate majority leader harry reid reminded alexander of the g.o.p.'s past use of reconciliation on significant pieces of legislation. >> lamar, you're entitled to your opinion but not your own facts. no one has said... i read what the president has online. no one has talked about reconciliation, but that's what you folks have talked about ever since that came out, as if it's something that has never been done before. >> holman: and the brookings institution's mann sees it being done again soon, with the health care bill. >> after the summit, where it became crystal clear that republicans want to "start over and go step-by-step," that they're in no mood to negotiate changes to the underlying bill, that it's on the democrats' shoulders to get it done.
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>> holman: and when it comes to the senate, all that might be needed is 51 sets of shoulders, a simple majority. >> lehrer: this afternoon, white house press secretary robert gibbs said president obama will announce a "way forward" on health care next week. but he declined to say whether that would include using reconciliation. and now to the analysis of shields and brooks-- syndicated columnist mark shields and "new york times" columnist david brooks. okay, mark, is there going to be reconciliation or not? >> yes. >> lehrer: david s there going to be reconciliation or not? >> in the more all sense or legislative sense. >> lehrer: in the legislative sense. >> there will be legislative which is the opposite of moral reconciliation. >> lehrer: the opposite of moral -- >> david, obviouslys will come out of the closet as an anti-majoritarian. a majority vote in the senate. >> lehrer: you think it is going to happen. >> it is going to happen. the democrats have concluded reluctantly but i think logically that there are no republican votes that could be won to support the health-care bill. there is nothing they could
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do at this point to win republican votes. >> lehrer: you mean the summit pretty much demonstrated that. >> i think the summit did. >> lehrer: so, if if it is going to pass, there is no choice but to go reconciliation. >> that's exactly right. >> lehrer: you agree with that, david. >> yes. >> lehrer: in it is going to happen t has to go this route. >> yes, and this is a piece of pure hypocrisy for both sides. whoever is in the minority hates reconciliation. and there is-- somebody has put together on the internet a group of quotations from obama and clinton and biden, when the republicans were in the majority and they want to change the rules on the senate filibuster on the judicial nominees which is not quite the same but nonetheless you have obama saying we just can't have majoratarianism in the senate, this is not how this was built and then clinton and then biden, so whoever is in the minority are complete hypocrites on the subject. >> lehrer: let's go through the plus and minuses. for the democrats, if the democrats go through reconciliation and get it by
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51 votes, is that-- is it worth that to get it done. >> yes . >> because it was interesting listening to the set-up piece. lamarre alexander immediately in his opening which i thought was good, he is a very impressive guy, former governor of tennessee, immediately went to the procedure, the process. john mccain wanted to talk about how these deals were cut in the dark, which they were. i mean, and the deal with the pharmaceuticals and the deal with the insurance companies, yes, they were. and they weren't on c-span but what the democrats have to get to, and the president understands this, is they've got to get to the product. they've got to say this is what we are doing, not how we got there, how it was achieved. they can't sell the process. they can't win on-- try to convince people pot process has been transparent, has been something common cause would-- they have to get this passed and they going to pass it, i think that is what the democrat cons included and that is what
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yesterday was about, the president trying to galvanize democrats on that issue. >> lehrer: do you see that way, either that way or no wayness. >> no, if i were democrats looking politically, i would go to what has been described as plan b which is to cover maybe 15 million extra people for a quarter of the price. i think what's going to happen is-- . >> lehrer: you think the republican was go along with something like that. >> no. >> lehrer: okay. >> it's possible but i wouldn't think that even so. but the republicans are ecstatic that they are going to do reconciliation. in their view what will happen is you will have another three months on health care, not on jobs. will you go through a very ugly process. and the odds are still very high that the democrats will get nothing. so the republicans think this is great for them. they think it will cause 20 or 30 house democrats to cast votes which will cost them their jobs. and that's really the evaluation that both sides are making. both sides think reconciliation will be good for them. and that's more or less why it's going forward. >> lehrer: do you see it that way too. >> no. >> lehrer: you don't. >> i don't.
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with great respect for david. >> lehrer: noted. >> the idea that you go to all of this effort, bill bradley former senator from new jersey who knows something about reform, having been the author and principal architect of tax reform in 1986, ronald reagan's great domestic achievement of the second term. >> lehrer: bill bradley was a democrat. >> bill bradley was a democrat, to me it was a single achievement. he said it takes just as many meetings, just as much anguish, just as much trouble, time and travail for a small reform as for a big reform. so make the big reform. if you are going to put in all that time, effort and energy and all that political talk, go for the big reform. that's why they argued at the time why don't you just go for a smaller chunks of change in the tax code. no, he said, i'm going to change-- and i think that is where the democrats are now. and i think that's-- that's what is important. >> lehrer: and the approximated made that pretty clear, yesterday. >> yeah. >> lehrer: there is not going to be step-by-step. >> that seems clear.
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but this is-- this bill right now is more unpopular than clinton-care was when it went down. so it's politically very unpopular. and the difficulty, frankly, is not in the senate with reconciliation, the difficulty is in the house. they can't get a simple majority in the house to vote for this, they are well short of that now. and they could be well short of that, that is where the real challenge is. and then to me for those of us who care about the substance, in order to pass something, they're guting what i think is some of the most important parts of the legislation. earlier in the week the president announced his package. and that package basically guts this thing called the excise tax, the tax on the so-called cadillac plans, the high cost plans. and that is tremendously important. what they are going to do is push that back to 2018 and then watt ter down. that's important because this tax was the single biggest cost-cutting, bending the curve procedure in the whole bill. second, it is the long-term revenue source to pay for all this. and the second decade, it what would raise $954 billion. that is at least extremely
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watered down, probably gutted because a congress in 282018 is to the going to exceed to a tax hike that this congress doesn't have the guts to pass right now. so to me you have just sucked the guts out of parts of the bill, the revenue and bending the cost curve all in an effort to get something, anything passed. >> i think this was the central debate yesterday. it was about price and cost. and price and cost are enormously important in government. and the president kept coming back and the democrats did as well, over and over to people who aren't covered. >> lehrer: the president said that about 50 times. >> he did. i think that really is the chiefage here s it the cost s it-- is it the price, which is considerable. i mean it doesn't begin to approach in cost or price what president bush's tax cuts did on reconciliation which were twice as large as this. but it is-- it is, that
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remains a sticking point. it's tough in the house right now because not only have you lost three members, jack murtha's death, bob wechsler's resignation to leave the house voluntarily from florida, and neil abercrombie, all three votes for the bill whose's leaving to run for governor of hawaii next week. so you've got to find new support. >> lehrer: david, let me ask you this. what is your reading as to why, the president's point, the one he kept going back to, that what this is really about is getting everybody insured. because if we don't do that, then we'll never get control of health care because it will-- people will still be going to emergency rooms, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. why is that debate not ever engaged. >> well, because the republicans only want to ensure three million more people. >> lehrer: but why. why is that. >> i think they focus on the cost. frankly it is because the republicans i think do not have a solution to that. but when the president
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started this bill, there were two elements. there was the coverage of the 30 million or 44 pll, whatever it is, which is a moral necessity. but remember, he led off with the costs. when he started this, the cost issue was number one. and frankly, politically, that's where most people are concerned about. we can't afford these premiums which are doubling every 15 years or so. and he has reduced to one argument because he essentially has no solution to the cost problem. to me if we're going to get it passed, we have to do them both together. you can't just do the dessert, the good part that people want to spend money on to cover the uninsured without actually controlling the structure of the country. >> it isn't just the dessert, by any means. i mean david cites the polls. up until yesterday, with all due respect to the president, we didn't know where the president was. i mean the president did something very important yesterday. he established ownership of this. this had always been democrats in congress versus republicans in congress, the
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house and the senate. yesterday-- . >> lehrer: you guys work it out. >> yes it became president barack obama. and i think to say the polls, the polls show that people don't accept the status quo. they do not, they think the present system is broken. they are worried about it. they know that they can get knocked off insurance, that they can get banned for life tomorrow. but the plan that had they had been polled on has been one that has been caricatured, that has not been presented well by the democrats, the white house never made a compelling statement. i mean yesterday i thought the president made a compelling presentation. i would love to see a sample poll of-- polling of the people who watched yesterday with any kind of a remotely open mind. i just thought he was persuasive. >> lehrer: what did you think of the event itself, david. >> i liked the event quite a great deal. i thought you saw real expertise in the room, republican and democratic side. i thought obama was great at leading discussion.
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the republicans came back and they had a bunch of doctors and experts showing real expert ice. there were exchanges that actually got you somewhere. there was at early on lamarre alexander say to the president your plan would raise premiums 13%. obama comes back and says that's not fair. i'm offering much higher coverage for that 13%. and then john kyle of arizona comes back and says but should drp -- you are offering that coverage, are you mandating that coverage. shouldn't people have a choice. and that leads to a discussion of how much government should mandate and that is actually like a real discussion. and quite substantive. and so i love that part it was sort of play acting because the next day it is all as if it didn't happen but i love the one day of fantasy. >> lehrer: run day of fantasy. >> a couple of good things about it. the president was criticized by some people, scholars on the presidency who said sitting at the same table was not a good idea. you know, that somehow this makes the president just one of the group. and i thought the table worked, jim, it worked the
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same way that we saw it work in the vice presidential debates with dick cheney against john edwards and joe lieberman. the cheney people insisted in those debates they sit at tables. partly it was because the vice president standing for 90 minutes and all the rest of it but you know at a table, you have got to be more conversational and less confrontational. and there was, it was substantive and it was civil. i mean the big winner yesterday was really washington. i mean people tuned in they said this is a thoughtful, serious discussion going on. and i really thought in that sense it was-- it was enormously helpful it took a lot of the bombast and the bile, i mean that is what people get with the negative commercials out of washington. and videos. >> lehrer: do you think if somebody watched it all they now understand what the differences are, that there are real differences and hear what they are. >> i think that was laid out. you know both partys agree on the problem. the democrats think you solve the problem with a set of rules to rationalize the system. the republicans think you solve the problem by creating a market with empowered consumers so you
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get a free market competition to bring down costs and provide coverage. so that's two different approaches. and i think you saw that. >> lehrer: you agree. >> i do. i thought that the president was persuasive. i do think the difference there, and the difference of priority. covering the uninsured, the uninsured don't have any political clout, let's get that straight it is not like they have got their big political action with large checkbooks hz. >> lehrer: the big constituent are people who feel they will lose what they have, not the people that don't have any. >> that's right. >> it should be said republicans feel if you bring down costs then you do expand coverage because the thing driving people out of insurance programs are the costs going up and up and up. >> the only way you are going to do it is to get everybody in. that is the only way to keep the costs down. >> lehrer: the only people we have tonight are just the two of you so we have to leave it there. thank you. >> woodruff: now, the social consequences of long-term
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joblessness. jeffrey brown has our conversation. >> since the rescission began in 2008 more than 8 million jobs have been lost and even as the economy has begun to recover, job growth remains very weak. we've looked often at the numbers and data. now a new essay in the atlantic magazine takes a longer view of the social costs of this recession. it's titled "the recession's long shadow: how a new jobless ira will transform america" the writer is don peck, the managing editor. thank you for being here. >> it is a pleasure to be here. >> i want to start at the conclusion, you wait we are living through a slow motion social catastrophe, what are you looking at in the longe longer-term. >> well, you no he there are two sorts of unemployment. there's short term unemployment, normal, natural, unemployment which the economy always has and which is necessary to any economy. and then there is long-term chronic unemployment. which to a large degree is
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what we've got right now. the average duration of unemployment passed six months last fall that is the longest it has ever been recorded by the bureau of labor statistics since 1948. and long-term unemployment is really one of the worst things that can happen to anyone. psychologically it's roughly equivalent to the death of a spouse. and a kind of bereavement in its own right so we have large numbers of people who are suffering from long-term unemployment. it's really a plague on them, on their families, and if it's widespread enough, on society itself. >> so you look at various populations within our society, one clearly would be young people . >> yes. >> reporter: and it's not just-- what becomes clear it is not just what happens now to them, right, but it's how that plays out over the entirety of their careers. >> that's exactly right. the first few years in the job market are extremely important to establishing
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someone's career track. you know, when i first started reporting for this story, i thought that young people would actually be spared the worst scars of the recession because they are in and out of the labor market anyway and they don't typically have that many responsibilities. but all the research shows that that just isn't true. lisa conan economist at yale has done work that indicated that people who come out in recessions even if they find work immediately, you know, they take large hits to their income immediately. and they never fully catch up with people who came out in better times. even 10, 15, 20 years later. >> it is interesting because judy woodruff took a look at the millennial generation, the kind of people are you talking about, and that is a survey that confirmed what you are saying, they are having a hard time getting a first job but also that they are quite optimistic many of them about their long-term prospects but your research or what you are citing suggests that perhaps they shouldn't be. >> perhaps shouldn't be, that's right.
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i fear they shouldn't be. and the long they are recession drags on, this jobs recession drags on, the less optimistic they should be. it's interesting. it's not surprising to me that they would be optimistic now. i encountered a lot of that in my own reporting. this is a generation that has really been told throughout their childhood that they are special, that they are destined for great things. self-esteem has been rising steadily in children since the 1980s. and so-- so a lot of people particularly those that haven't been out of work for a year or more still do believe that things will right themselves. that optimism is great as long as it enables them to keep trying to-- to keep looking for work. but you know, i think there's some risk for some people in their 20s that they think they can just kind of wait the recession out, pov back home, wait until things get better, and then expect that their careers will just resume. everything we know indicates
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that that is unlikely to happen. >> and then another large part of the population are you looking at would be poor, lower, middle income families. and there it's how the job situation impact s real social structure. a marriage, child bearing, and so on. >> that's right. you know, william julius wilson the great harvard fisiologist has looked at inner cities throughout much of his career. and what he found is that black inner city neighborhoods changed radically starting in the '70s after male joblessness began to rise. manufacturing left the cities. men had a hard time finding work. and that is really when you started to see the dissolution of families, men turning to illegal activities to drug use, to drug selling. social institutions collapsed.
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and so for inner cities now, i think there's a huge risk and we're already seeing it happening to some degree, that particularly young people, you know, young black men have a 50% unemployment rate right now. if they can't find jobs in the formal secr recession goes away, they are going to have a hard time kind of getting back into the real economy. the risk today though goes beyond inner cities. this has been called the man session. and three quarters of all job losses have been to men, particularly blue collar men. and you know, i worry that over time persistent male joblessness will have those same sorts of affects in a much wider array of communities. you are likely to see more divorces, fewer marriages, and young men turning to crime sometimes. >> there were-- there was another side.
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i mean there were some signs of hope that you cite. people talking about being less material action-- materialistic, for example, at a time lake this. >> right, absolutely. many of the people that i spoke to who were job its said that in some ways the recession had changed them for the better. as you say they were less materialistic. they had come to value other things besides money or houses. and you know, they would come to volunteer more and were enjoying that. so i think that to the extent that this weak period helps us kind of reorient ourselves towards family and friendships and the like, that might lead to richer lives for everyone. also i found that for adolescents, this could actually be in a strange sort of way good news. glen elder looked at people in their teens during the great depression. and what he found was that particularly for adolescents,
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the depression changed them in some healthy ways. they became more adaptable. they became more family-oriented, as adults and throughout their adulthood. so i think maybe today's adolescents will be patch erred a little bit less and count and on for more because of this recession. an that's a good thing. >> i would love to end on the good news but the brunt of this really is the kind of things we're report on every day, we have to see how it plays out over many years. >> we do, of course. >> all right, don peck of the atlantic magazine, thanks very much. >> thank you, jeff. >> and finally tonight wrapping up the winter olympics in vancounghave been high for these games. the highest for winter games held on foreign soil since 1994. as american athletes have done very well. in fact, as a closing weekend approaches, the u.s. is leading in the medals count.
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but last night one of the main highlights came from a south korean teenager who made history for her country. in women's figure skating, kim-yu naw won the gold medal in grateful performance that set record force individual scoring. and in women's ice hockey the canadian team beat the u.s. to win the gold medal. the american men's hockey team after winning today will be competing in the gold medal game on sunday. but there have been some disappointments this week too. the latest one for u.s. women's skier lindsay vonn who won two medals earlier despite injury. since then she has failed to finish three races and today she skied out of her final competition in slalom. well-- we have been checking with christine brennan of abc news and "u.s.a. today" throughout the competition. she's back with us one more time. i spoke with her a short time ago. christine brennan, hi, let's talk first about women's figure skating.
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that was quite a performance last fight by the south core kwan kim-yu. >> that is correct. fantastic a coronation as much as a competition. that has been about a year in the making and i think all of south korea has finally exhaled at the notion that their kim-yu is now the queen of the ice and she won by a landslide, 23 points is almost unheard of in this sport. and yet right behinder the japanese woman skated fantastically with three triple axles. the toughest jump women do two in the long program, one in the short. so that was amazing and then joany roachette, the canadian who lost her mom to a heart attack a few days ago winning the bronze with an emotional performance. i think she was in the embrace of an entire nation. and that was terrific to see her skate well also. >> woodruff: it was something to watch. now women's ice hockey, the condition dans have been disappointed overall-- the canadians have been disappointed overall but they pulled off a gold. >> they did. they beat the united states, their archrival. in fact this in women's
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hockey t is really these two nations, canada and the u.s. that have won the last three golds including this one, the u.s. won the first won. but they are really the rivals. and there is a bit of a controversy because the ioc president jacques rogue said he wants to see improvement. he wants to see other nations doing well or he might consider getting women's hockey out of the olympics. i find that a stunning man for this-- thing for this man to say. maybe what he should be do is talking to the federation president, all of them men who are not paying attention to women's hockey and encouraging some of these other nations to start ponying up to give some money and some attention to the women's side of their sport. >> woodruff: so women sports in some jeopardy? >> well, they have been. as you know, softball was taken out of the olympics, a women's only sport. that was final decision just a few months ago. a devastating blow for softball. now you say okay, that is a u.s. sport or asian. well, they were actually growing the game in africa and encouraging young girls to learn softball.
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and now that has been niped in the bud by the international olympic committee an jacques rogue who made this decision to get rid of softball. we saw the same thing women's ski jumping was supposed to be in these james but jacques rogue said no, you cannot be in it. there is men's ski jumping, of course. so as he talks about getting the 50/50 participation, male and female at the olympics, he is nowhere near that t is about 40% women here, 60% men. and what he is doing is going the other direction by getting rid of women's sports that i can't believe that i am even saying those sentences in 2010. >> woodruff: well, we have to get to men's hockey. the u.s. team winning today. they're go into the finals this weekend. what do we expect? >> well, canada of course plays later. and speaking of holding their breath as a nation, that's where this story is with men's hockey in canada. the biggest gold medal by far. and if canada and the u.s. play again, they played the other day. the u.s. up set canada and i think sent a nation into
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total depression up here. so it will be very hard for the u.s. to win again. >> woodruff: christine, these games started out with a tragedy, the death of that young georgian luger what do you think, i mean the games are not over. they have a couple of days to go, but what do you think these vancouver games are going to be remembered for. >> well, judy, i think that, you make a great point. that that will never get away from that. the fact that just a few hours before the opening ceremony that tragedy occurred. an athlete, preparing for the games is killed on a venue, on the track at luge. so that will always be the black mark, i think of these games. however, with the, you know, sure spirit of the canadians with all of the great competition, with the fantastic performances of the united states olympic team, potentially the greatest winter olympics ever for the u.s. if things go right the next couple of days, then i think there will be a lot of other high points to remember. so maybe that offsets it a
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little. but it will be remembered, i think, for the good and the bad. and but all in all canada has been i think a very good job of hosting an olympics at a time when it's not easy to host the olympic games any more. >> at this point i read the u.s. athletes are on track to maybe win their most medals ever at a winter olympics. any particular reason to pull together why they are doing as well as they are? >> there are, judy. a couple big reasons. first of all, you remember the games in salt lake city in 2002, the united states made a big push then just like canada made coming into these games. in sports the u.s. didn't do well in nordic combined, other things most people are saying what is that. i don't even know what that is now. well, the united states didn't win gold or any medals in nordic combined in 2002. but what it did was it pushed everything along to now the benefits are being reaped in 2010. and four medals for the u.s. in nordic combined that is just extraordinary. i think also we saw a very
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veteran u.s. team. so lindsey vonn and the women's hockey team, and apollo ohno, all of those people have been to multiple olympic games, they know what to expect. and the last thing for me as we say in real estate, location, location, location, these games being just across-the-board never vancouver meant that they were a home game for the united states. a home game without the home pressure. so these athlete kos come up here, easy flight force a lot of people from the west coast, they could go back and forth, the figure skaters went home for a few days and then came back. they could also have these great perform an a-- performances on familiar terrain but without the pressure of a home country cheering you on. >> we always expect great reporting from christine brennan, thank you very much. good to see you. >> thank you, judy. >> lehrer: again, the major developments of the day: suicide bombers launched attacks in the heart of kabul, afghanistan. at least 16 people were killed, half of them were foreigners. the taliban claimed responsibility.
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and a winter storm hovered over the northeast u.s., bringing high winds, snow and rain. it knocked out power to more than a million homes and businesses. the newshour is always online. hari sreenivasan, in our newsroom, previews what's there. hari. >> sreenivasan: we follow up on yesterday's health care summit, and look at what comes next with mary agnes carey of kaiser health news. you can watch our video timeline showing highlights of the health reform battle over the last year-- that's on the "rundown." and on "art beat," jeffrey brown talks to nobel prize-winning author orhan pamuk about his latest novel, "the museum of innocence." all that and more is on our web site, judy. >> woodruff: and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. >> lehrer: and i'm jim lehrer. "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
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