tv PBS News Hour PBS March 8, 2010 6:00pm-7:00pm EST
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> ifill: good evening. i'm gwen ifill. turnout in iraq's election surpassed 60%. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, iraqis went to the polls sunday, despite a wave of attacks killing dozens of people. we'll get the latest from jane arraf of the "christian science monitor" in baghdad. >> ifill: then, president obama took on health insurers today for raising rates.
ray suarez takes a look. >> woodruff: tom bearden reports on car dealers struggling to stay open after failing automakers ordered them to shut down. >> i don't want the money. i want my deepership back. ... i want my dealership back. >> ifill: and a conversation with greek prime minister papandreou about his country's spiraling financial crisis. >> even though we're only 2% of the g.d.p. of the european union, that thing could become a tipping point for metastasizing to other parts of the world. >> ifill: that's all ahead on tonight's pbs newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour is provided by:
and the william and flora hewlett foundation, working to solve social and environmental problems at home and around the 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. >> ifill: the vote counting began today in iraq after the country held elections for a new parliament. the outcome will decide the shape of the government that presides over the u.s. withdrawal from iraq. >> ifill: purple ink-stained index fingers were once again on display across iraq. in the first voting planned and executed by iraqis since the war began in 2003,
heightened expectations translated to high turnout 62%. much of the day's violence occurred in and around baghdad. where up to 100 explosions sounded across the city. u.s. military officials said many were caused by noise bombs, explosives in plastic bottles. and the deadliest attack of the day, a rocket leveled the baghdad apartment building. killing 25 iraqis. u.s. forces left patrolling to their iraqi counterparts. today general the general said that bodes well for the planned u.s. troop drawdown. >> i believe we'll be at 50,000 by the first of september. everything is on track for that to happen. as the secretary has said, unless there's a catastrophic event, we don't see that changing. we think this is another milestone. but there's more to come. >> ifill: top u.s. and u.n. diplomats in iraq also hailed
the election as a success. >> i think it was really a very good day for iraqi democracy. i believe it will be a real foundation point, a real new beginning for a u.s. relationship with iraq we hope will stretch decades to come. >> this day has been a triumph of reason over confrontation and violence. iraqis are making history. >> ifill: more than 6,000 candidates competed for 325 parliamentary seats. millions of ballots are now being counted with final results not expected before thursday. the ballots were opened and the results of the list were examined as well. and then the results will be sent electronically to the center for inserting data. >> ifill: according to early estimates a coalition led by prime minister nouri al-maliki appeared to be leading in the south. on sunday he expressed
confidence that the violence would not derail the outcome. >> i'm very assured that the election process is going well. but if some lapses take place, this won't affect the election results. god willing. >> ifill: maliki's fiercest critic, the former prime minister, led a secular coalition which appeared to be doing well in heavily sunni regions. in the kurdish north iraqi president and his followers faced a challenge from a new kurdish party. for more on this weekend's election, i spoke earlier today with jane arraf, baghdad correspondent for the "christian science monitor." hello, jane. we're hearing about a 62% turnout in this election. is that higher than expected despite the violence? >> it is higher than expected. one of the really interesting things that happened yesterday is that here in baghdad, for instance, amid dozens of explosions, the polls understandably emptyed out and then people come back.
in ramadi where i was and where i flew in with the u.n., it seemed to be the same thing. people who had been faced with violence even the day before said they weren't going to let that deter them. now i know that sounds sort of like a fairy tale but it really did seem to be true. it did seem to have spurred people on in some sense. >> ifill: is there anyway to know who benefits the most from people showing up like this? is it the alawi slate, the al maliki slate. >> that's a great question. maliki being the incumbent still has quite a lot of support but alawi needed to get that vote out. also we have to remember there are a lot of smaller candidates. there were 6,000 candidates on the ballots. although most of them we'll never hear their names again they obviously also had an interest in getting their votes out as well. >> ifill: we also hear there was a return at least rhetorically of mack tad a al-sadr the anti-american claire i can who encouraged
his follower to vote. what was the effect of that. >> even though he has not been seen for a long time, he still has immense loyalty. probably the sadrists are among the best at getting that vote out. certainly any time he says something that does have an effect. when i was in sadr city just a few days before the elections i did talk to some people who said they wouldn't bother to go out to vote. once sadr indicates that he wants you to go out and vote, then that probably really did have an effect.ó- s it did with one of the major sunni leaders who had been barred under debathification. it seemed that people listened and heeded that call to some extent. >> ifill: it took 168 days to negotiate a new government in 2005 when the outcome was close as this one is expected to be. is similar instability feared this time as well? >> there is actually quite a lot of concern, gwen. in fact, that's probably the major concern because really
what we're looking at is a very closely fought race in which it's not clear who is going to emerge the winner. but what is clear is that whoever it is doesn't have the power to actually form a government by themselves. that means we're looking at weeks if not several months of jockeying for position and bargaining to actually form a government. and that's really what a lot of u.s. as well as iraqi officials are worried about. what happens in between? in between the time that this parliament actually phases out and the new one is set to come in. there are safeguards that have been put in place. certainly it's a worry as to who actually holds the reins of power and what happens if there's an emergency. >> ifill: going back to violence we talked about earlier what was the scale of these election day attacks? were they meant to destabilize or was it just random? >> they were really baffling. anyone who has spent any amount of time here justed to rockets and mortars and rpgs and car bombs and a whole gamut of things. what they're not used to are
dozens of explosions that turn out, according to u.s. officials, to be as mentioned water bottles packed with explosives. now they seem to have been designed to scare people but not kill them. all of us here, including every official we speak with, is really having a hard time figuring out who wants to scare people rather than kill them? because really killing them has been pretty much the point. so this was rather inex-applicable. most of these explosions turned out to be largely ineffective homemade bombs. there were two houses that collapsed one of them killing most of the people here in baghdad. but those were for the most part it was bombs that actually didn't kill people that for a couple of hours kept them away from the polls. >> ifill: the relatively low levels of attacks, were they a sign that iraqi security forces are having at least some success? >> well, i think it's indisputable they're having some success. i think the real question is, are they having enough of a success?
the other thing they did which doesn't get talked about a lot is that they actually managed to diffuse a lot of the potentially more explosive, more lethal bombs that were around including near the polling stations. but the iraqis... the security forces certainly have come a long way from a few years ago. you can see that in the streets if you go out here you'll see police. you'll see army and for the most part people are beginning to trust them. that doesn't mean that they're quite there yet. there are a lot of places in iraq where the police don't get along with the army, where intelligence doesn't get shared. there are vast areas of this country in the north, for instance, that are major causes for concern because they could be flash points between the kurds and arabs. but here in baghdad for the most part, they are doing a lot better. >> ifill: jane arras, as always, thank you for your on- the-ground reporting. >> thank you so much. my pleasure. >> woodruff: now, the other news
of the day. here's hari sreenivasan in our newsroom. >> sreenivasan: the nato commander in afghanistan promised today to retake the taliban's symbolic home, kandahar. u.s. army general stanley mcchrystal said the coming campaign will be different from last month's assault on the smaller city of marjah. instead, he said the kandahar operation will build gradually over several months. >> we have already put additional forces in the districts around kandahar, but we'll be able to reinforce that significantly over time. so there won't be a d-day that is climactic. it will be a rising tide of security as it comes. >> sreenivasan: u.s. defense secretary robert gates arrived in kabul today, to review plans for the kandahar operation. he also met with president hamid karzai who announced a three-day peace conference in late april. at least 13 people have died in a suicide car bombing in eastern pakistan. the attack came in lahore. it targeted a building where police interrogate high-value terror suspects. the offices were shattered and more than 60 people were wounded. the taliban claimed responsibility.
meanwhile, in northwest pakistan, intelligence officials said a suspected u.s. missile strike killed three people near the afghan border. a new tanker plane for the u.s. air force. the contract would be worth $35 billion but northup said the new set of guidelines clearly favors boeing. the long running fight will now effectively become a no-bid contract. it's expected to be awarded in september. security was tight across central nigeria today after a new wave of muslim-christian violence. as many as 500 people were killed near the city of jos. we have a report narrated by lindsey hilsum of independent television news. a warning: some of the images may be disturbing. >> reporter: greece and fear. after attacks which left several hundred dead. eyewitnesses say the victims are mainly christians, attacks by muslim men. they allegedly shot in the air to frighten people out of
their homes. and then killed them with machetes. the massacre was allegedly in retaliation for the killings of muslims in january. but the violence is also a conflict between those who have always lived here and those who ancestors came from elsewhere in nigeria. the acting president sent in more troops but africa's biggest country is going into crisis with no strong central government to take control. last month the president's plane touched down in the nigerian capital without warning in the dead of night. after a three-month stay in hospital in saudi arabia. he was whisked away by ambulance, and that was the last nigerians saw of him. the acting president has been obstructed by the former president's allies. he doesn't have the authority to act decisively anywhere. there's a power vacuum. >> sreenivasan: a pre-dawn
earthquake killed at least 51 people in turkey. the epicenter was in a remote area 340 miles east of the capital city. the mag tud 6 tremor reduced buildings to dust crushing people and livestock. rescuers used shovels and bare hands to dig out their buried neighbors. 3,000 more u.s. troops will be leaving haiti in the next few days after aiding the recovery from a devastating earthquake in january. on sunday, more than 700 soldiers loaded up and prepared for flights back home. their mission had been to help provide emergency water and, rations and prevent violence among survivors. some 8,000 u.s. troops remain in haiti, down from a peak of 20,000. the task of security is now largely in the hands of u.n. peacekeepers. meanwhile, in chile, 80% of the nation's school children returned to their classrooms today, nine days after the massive quake there. on wall street, the stock market was mostly flat. the dow jones industrial average lost more than 13 points to
close at 10,552. the nasdaq rose more than five points to close at 2332. 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: now, president obama takes to the road on health reform, and turns up the heat on insurers. ray suarez has the story. >> suarez: the president appeared outside philadelphia today, commencing a full-bore effort this week to win final passage of health care reform. >> we can't have a system that works better for the insurance companies than it does for the american people. >> suarez: mr. obama defended his proposal as a way to rein in unfair practices by the insurance industry. at the same time, he charged republicans did nothing when they were in power. and he said their ideas would only make things worse. >> this is what we heard at the health care summit. they said you know what? if we had fewer regulations on the insurance companies
... (audience booing) ... whether it's consumer protections or basic standards on what kind of insurance they sell, somehow market forces will makes things better. well, we tried that. i'm concerned that would only give insurance companies more leeway to raise premiums and deny care. >> suarez: the president cited a recent report by goldman sachs that insurance abuses stem from a lack of competition. health and human services secretary kathleen sebelius wrote to company executives today. she urged them to post on your websites the justification for rate increases. >> health care reform again . >> suarez: back in 1994 the industries harry and louise ads helped sink president clinton's reform efforts. in contrast the obama administration initially tried engaging the industry. at last year's health care summit industry spokeswoman karen ignani talked of having
to earn a seat at the table. >> we want to work with you. we want to work with the members of congress on a bipartisan basis here. you have our commitment. we hear the american people about what is not working. we've taken that very seriously. you have our commitment to play, to contribute, and to help pass health care reform this year. >> suarez: so far the insurers say they still support health reform overall, but they say the real problem is out of control inflation in the cost of health care itself. for a closer look at the president's >> suarez: for a closer look at the presidents' new tack, we turn to two long-time observers of health care policy. james morone is chair of the political science department at brown university and co-author of the book, "the heart of power: health and politics in the oval office." and jonathan oberlander, professor of social medicine, health policy and management at the university of north carolina in chapel hill. professor oberlander, what you heard from the president today, does that represent a new
rhetorical salvo in this ongoing health care debate? >> yes, it does. really the obama administration has tried during their first year of health care reform to work with the insurance industry. i think what they've fallen back on at the end of this process is to frame this as a debate of the obama administration against the insurance industry. >> suarez: james morone, is that a worthwhile target? is that going to work? >> yes, it certainly is what they have to do. they've been so deep in the policy weeds that they've left the other side-- again this always happens with democratic efforts to pass national health insurance-- they've let the other side get the sound bite about the debate. death panels. this time harry and louise last time. they need their own bestilled version. here's what we're going to do for you in a quick sound bite. that finally is what obama is doing now. >> suarez: is that in part, professor morone, because this is such a difficult subject? today the president was
talking about really concrete things. premiums, denials of coverage, and on and on. >> exactly, ray. we can put the whole audience to sleep when john and i start talking about the details of health reform. it's very tempting to get deeper and deeper into the details, but what you have to have is a narrative that connects all these details to a story the people can buy. any narrative has to have a problem, a solution and a villain. and finally obama has found just those three things. >> suarez: professor oberlander, is there a risk involved in an industry that you've been courting for almost a year now , trying to make them into an enemy? >> yeah, i think there is a political risk here. the insurance industry has shown in the past that they can fund campaigns against health reform that are quite effective. but from the obama administration's perspective, it's probably worth the risk. i think there is one other thing that's important to realize what's going on here. to the extent that this health reform debate is about the uninsured, i think the obama
administration and the democrats lose it. their big failure in the past year has not been reaching insured americans who after all represent 84% of the country and by reframing the debate about insurance regulation, it's a way of bringing the insured into the health reform tent. >> suarez: but isn't there a difficulty because people have ambivalent feelings about their insurers. public opinion researchers asked them. two-thirds say they like their coverage. two-thirds say this system is broken. professor morone? >> yes, exactly. what you have to remember about health insurance polls is that people feel lots of anxiety and the numbers are always quick silver. they dart hither and yon so that anybody who reads a poll on national health care and takes it as serious fixed numbers is only going to get blown away the next time you get a exchange in the debate. people are anxious. they're often satisfied with
their own health care, as you just said, ray, but fearful about what could happen. so public opinion has to be shaped and formed rather than taken as a given . >> suarez: professor oberlander, same question. >> well, you know, i think it's important to realize that most people don't use a lot of medical care in a given year. when we hear these surveys that 70% of americans are satisfied with their coverage, well, they're satisfied because their employer is paying most of the bill and they're not using medical care very often. if you look a little bit below the surface and you look at people who are chronically ill and use a lot of medical care, they're much more satisfied with insurers. in addition while people are satisfied overall with their coverage, the same survey showed that they're worried about the cost of care and they're worried about the prospect of losing their coverage. frankly, they should be. >> suarez: as you look at the long trajectory of this debate, professor oberlander, was the administration late in getting to this kind of concrete
example of why people ... why they would suggest people should be for health care reform? >> well, there's no script that tells you how to pass health care reform because lots of presidents have tried. lots of presidents have failed. i think what the obama administration did is they took the last script that was used, the strategy that bill clinton used in 1993 and 1994, where they really vilified the insurance industry. they made them an enemy. they proved to be a very effective adversary. they helped sink reform. what the obama administration did is let's do the opposite of clinton did. let's bring them in the tent. i'm not sure it was a mistake. the fact is there's no perfect way to do this. >> suarez: professor morone? >> we've been working on this since 1915. if it were easy, if as john says there were a script to succeed, we would have figured it out long ago. we ought to note that the obama people have gotten this through both house and senate for the first time since we've
been seriously arguing about it in congress. that would be 1938. so they've played the inside game really quite brilliantly. as for outside game, remember, this is is a bill that actually helps the insurance industry. it's like franklin roosevelt saving the banks. it's like lots of other examples in american history where the industry is actually helped and protected from some of the more out raged critics. in this case people demand ago single payor. i think the insurance industry will not roar back when they think about what some of the alternatives are to the obama plan which leaves them a very large role in american health care. >> suarez: professor morone, professor oberlander, gentlemen, thank you both. >> thank you. >> thank you, ray. >> woodruff: still to come on the newshour, car dealers fighting back; and the prime minister of greece. but first, this is pledge week on public television. we're taking a short break now so your public television station can ask for your
>> woodruff: last may, g.m. and chrysler both announced plans to close hundreds of auto dealerships. but the shutdowns have not all gone according to plan. on friday, g.m. announced its intention to reinstate 661 of the targeted dealers, and others continue to fight back at the state level. newshour correspondent tom bearden reports. >> reporter: most cities have strips like south broadway in littleton, colorado. long rows of new and used car dealers side by side competing for business. but these days more than a few of the show rooms are empty. that's partly because when general motors and chrysler went bankrupt last year, the law gave them the opportunity to break contracts with their dealers. both companies embarked on dramatic reductions of their dealer networks. while g.m. announced last week it would restore more than half of the dealerships it had
started to wind down, the company says it still needs to reduce the number of dealers nationwide. both auto makers said greater efficiency will allow them to return to profitability and pay back the loans they got from u.s. tax payers. >> what percentage of parts are we selling to our customer coming in. >> reporter: jim fines used to be a jeep-chrysler dealer until the auto maker sent him a letter last may telling him he had 29 days to shut down. that decision cost him a great deal of money. how much have you lost? >> (laughing) you know, it's really sad to see what happens. right now it's over $4 million i've lost because of what chrysler did to me. >> reporter: chrysler also shut down a dodge dealer just across the street. fines stayed open selling used cars. the dodge dealer shut down entirely. >> this is a store we had little over 80 employees. today i have 30. >> reporter: and then last month fines said chrysler added insult to injury. he says they gave his chrysler and jeep franchises to the
former dodge dealer and allowed him to reopen. >> you know here i am a rejeked dealer. the other right across the street down here is another rejected dealer also. but on february 12, they put that dealer back into business. so they've taken my franchises and given it to the store across the street. >> our next bill up is.... >> reporter: a bipartisan effort in the colorado state legislature aims to protect rejected dealers in the future. the house has already passed a bill that gives any dealer who has lost a franchise the right of first refusal, should an auto maker decide to open a dealership in the same area within the next ten years. republican state senator sean mitchell is carrying the legislation in the senate. >> this is about cost cutting. they're not closing these dealerships down. they're cutting out some dealers and giving the opportunity to other dealers. >> reporter: sweetheart deals. >> sweetheart deals. friend connections. brother-in-laws, political agendas-- i don't know. i'm not sure whose aend agenda is being served.
i know it's not fair play when you get permission to close a dealership and instead of closing it you give it to somebody else. >> at the new g.m. nothing is more important than paying back our tax payer loans. unfortunately legislation is moving through the colorado legislature that will cost tax payers more money. >> reporter: general motors launched a $60,000 advertising campaign on local radio stations and in print opposing the bill. saying it would prevent them from closing inefficient dealers. dale sullivan, g.m.'s regional business operations manager for 14 western states, testified the legislation could threaten the company's very existence. >> house bill 1049 will result in significant new costs for us, hinder our ability to repay our tax payer loans and establish a dangerous precedent. if this precedent were to be dupe lipgted across the nation... and this is the key, this could set a precedent that could go throughout the nation. it could threaten the future
of our company of g.m.. the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people we employ in the u.s. like myself and the business of our suppliers and thousands of we will-run dealerships in the g.m. family. >> reporter: the auto makers have already negotiated a reduction in the time period from 10 to seven years and hope to reduce it even further before final passage. >> the decision whether to close or not close a dealership.... >> reporter: state senator mitchell says if the economy gets better and the auto makers decide to reenter a market, the former dealers deserve a chance to get back into the business. >> if the market rebounds, if everything that mr. sullivan is saying here today turns out to be wrong, we're going to expand rather than contract, there's nothing wrong with that dealer being first in line to get his deepership back. in fact i think there's everything right about that dealer being first in line to get his dealership back. >> reporter: they're just trying to wear it out until we just go away. >> reporter: jim fines pointed out that his franchise was given to somebody else before his case had gone through a
congressionally mandated arbitration process which was supposed to review such decisions by the manufacturers. >> when somebody can arbitrarily literally just take your franchise away from you to the point where you have been profitable every year and try to make it in this economy, this legislation is very important. it will give us a chance to have a day back in court. right now i can only say that chrysler is doing all they can to block every opportunity for whatever reason i have no idea what they're hiding from, but nobody should be able to go ahead and get away with this. >> reporter: even if the colorado bill passes, it won't help fines because it can't be retroactive. it won't help david fitzgerald either but he wants it passed to protect still functioning dealers like his brother. the former owner of north glen dodge testified that his dealership was among the top three brand performers in the denver market, that his franchise was transfered to a jeep chrysler store just a few blocks away for no apparent reason. >> i don't want the money.
i want my dealership back. >> reporter: fitzgerald was forced to lay off more than 100 people when he switched to used cars. chrysler declined our request for an on camera interview and instead supplied this written statement which said in part a chrysler group representative previously testified on the colorado bill before a colorado house committee. the stark reality is that the old chrysler had to choose between downsizing its dealer network to match the market or face complete liquidation which would have resulted in the elimination of all dealers nationwide. the committee unanimously voted to send the bill to the full senate. senator mitchell predicts an overwhelming passage. >> ifill: on another auto industry story, >> ifill: on another auto industry story, toyota today took the unusual step of holding a news conference with engineers to rebut concerns about whether vehicles' electronics systems could have caused acceleration
problems. the move comes as house lawmakers said they wanted to know more about a 2006 memo in which employees described safety shortcuts. that memo was first reported today in the los angeles times. for the record, toyota is an underwriter of the newshour. >> woodruff: finally tonight, the greek prime minister is in washington, trying to head off foreign speculation against his embattled economy.ó- reek prime minister george papandreou made washington the last stop on a four-nation tour he'd rather not have taken. but secretary of state hillary clinton offered warm words. >> i know these are difficult days in greece, but i want to commend the prime minister for his leadership in tackling the challenge that he confronted upon taking office. we support greece and the tough economic measures it is
taking to address this issue. >> woodruff: the issue papandreou faces, his government's finances are on the verge of collapse. so over the weekend, he made calls in luxembourg, berlin, and paris-- all to drum up support for his plan to pull greece back from a crisis that threatens european stability. combination of spending, systemic corruption and then the global recession have put greece at risk of default on its $400 billion debt, much of which is held by european banks. papandreou' socialist government was elected just last fall. he responded to the crisis with major cuts in public spending and big tax hikes. but the budget cuts have been met with angry protests by many greek public employees and other workers in athens and elsewhere. the anger boiled over outside parliament last friday. lawmakers approved the plan.
public sector employees have also gone on strike and some on the streets of athens say the government is targeting the wrong people. >> everyone knows who needs to pay. but it's the worker who always pays. >> woodruff: others worry that such major tax hikes could stifle a recovery. >> the mere fact that the income and purchasing power of a huge chunk of society are being reduced, this will have constant repercussions on all aspects of life. >> woodruff: there are also fears the crisis could spread beyond the borders of greece. a debt default could imperil large european banks, holding greek government bonds. and with several smaller european economies like portugal facing major debt problems of their own, currency speculation has driven down the value of the euro. the common currency for 16 european states. in paris yesterday, french president nicolas sarkozy denounced the speculators and gave the greeks a strong vote of cover dense.
>> greece has shown that it is capable of regaining its credibility by its own efforts. but i want to be very clear. if necessary, the member-states of the euro zone will fulfill their commitment. there can be no doubt on this. the euro is our currency. the euro implies solidarity. >> woodruff: whether that solidarity crosses oceans is another matter. neal erwin is a financial reporter for the "washington post." he says u.s. officials and markets still remember what happened in asian markets in the late 1990s. >> they realize they were taking losses in thailand, they started to look around and say, you know, is something going wrong in korea as well and indonesia and other nations? before you know it, all emerging markets around the world especially russia are having an all-out crisis. that has had a real impact on the global economy. the fear is that greece could be the first step in the same kind of thing this time around. >> woodruff: how to avoid that fate was on the agenda today for the american born and educated papandreou.
i spoke with him at his washington hotel. prime minister george papandreou, thank you very much for talking with us. >> thank you. it's good to be on your show. >> woodruff: many countries around the world are having serious debt crises right now. why has your problem in greece created such turmoil, do you think? >> that's a good question. obviously we were affected by the international situation also. greece being a smaller country , people were wondering, well, will it be able to deal with this deficit problem? and then we became a target. that could happen to pretty much any country. as it happened to a bank even in the united states whenlyman brothers basically closed. this is what happened to greece. it became the focus of attention. >> woodruff: you were doing a lot of traveling in recent days. europe and now the united states. how worried are you that problems in greece could spread elsewhere, including
here? >> what happens is if you have one... even a small country like a bank failing in one way or another, creating problems, this would create problems in europe. it would create problems for the euro zone of which we are a part. the euro zone is the euro currency, the common currency we have in the european union union. that could create fluctuations. a world currency mark, it could create, for example, a change in parity between the united states and europe and this could also affect, for example, the ... not only the deficit but also the growth potential, the export potential of the united states. so even though it's... we're only 2% of the g.d.p. of the european union, that could become a tipping point for metastasizing to other parts of the world. >> woodruff: in a nutshell you're here in washington. what are you asking from the united states? >> on the economic front on the financial front, what we are say ing is that, okay, we
are in a period which is quite volatile because of the crisis we went through last year. and because of the crisis last year we have to get some lessons. one of these lessons is you can be doing what's correct. you can be moving along as an economy but if there's a lot of opaque and non-transparent markets, for example, speculation the so-called swaps.... >> woodruff: the credit default swaps. >> that's right. credit default swaps. in essence you could also bet against your neighbor, insure your against your neighbor and if his house gets on fire, you get the money. >> woodruff: that's already started to happen. >> that's what's started to happen with greece where people were betting against greece. that didn't help us. what that basically... what the difficulty that it created was that greece would then go out on the market to get some loans as a country very often needs and our loans would then be very expensive. >> woodruff: how do you prevent that? what are you asking the u.s. and others to do?
you were just in germany, france. you said you weren't asking for money. >> that's right. >> woodruff: what do you want them and us to do? >> what we're saying is we're doing our part. we're putting our finances in order. and we've taken some very difficult measures. now what we also wanted to make sure that the markets are regulated in a sense so that they don't speculate against countries. and i have been in touch with the chancellor of germany the president of france, the president of the euro group so- called euro group which is a euro currency. we together are now making initiatives to push for worldwide regulation on this issue. and that is where what i also brought to the united states and just had a discussion with the head of the state department. >> woodruff: are you getting the support you need? is this going to happen? if it doesn't, what does that mean if it doesn't happen snen. >> yes, we are getting the support.
first of all there are two forms of support. if we do go out into the market and we have problems getting loans which i hope we don't have that problem or we have very high interest rates beyond our capacity to sustain this, then there will be certain intervention from the european union where we're discussing the type of instrument so that the markets will respond positively and won't profiteer on greece's misfortune. on the other hand we're also taking this a step further by asking further regulation-- this is where this will come up in the g-20 in the next meeting where the united states of course will participate and will have a very strong voice on this issue. >> woodruff: about these speculators though. i mean these are people who are betting against greece's success. aren't they looking at the data and the history and saying, this is really the way it's been. we don't think... we're not sure you'll be able to turn it around? how can you convince them that they're wrong? >> well, if we can convince
major players and very important institutions, whether they are our partners in the european union, whether they are the european central bank, whether they are the international monetary fund, all has said what we're doing in greece is spot on, is right. we're doing the right thing. but what happens with the i.m.f., if somebody goes to the i.m.f., they say, okay, in order you don't have speculation we're going to put money on table. it's like putting a gun on the table saying i may not use it but it's there as a threat. and making sure that there won't be speculation against greece. now greece is not... greece is in the euro zone so we're not asking to go to the imf, although we would have to if the euro zone wasn't there to help us. that's what i've been discussing right now. if we do need some special kind of intervention into the markets so that there is no special lags even though we're doing the right thing and that's the point you're asking,
therefore we are able to counter this speculative attack on greece. >> woodruff: some are asking what's taken so long? i mean greece has had these endemic problems. you mentioned corruption, people not paying their taxes. a huge load of debt for years and years. you yourself have been in and out of government for what? 20-some years. 25 years. so why should people believe now it's going to be different? your pred predecessors have tried to do something. >> there were certain endemic problems but in the last five or six years luckily the previous government rather than dealing with these endemic problems exacerbated them. we have reached the bottom if you like. now is a crisis which we can use as an opportunity to make changes which we have not made over the years. >> woodruff: how much is the ultimate success going to depend on you personally? your personal skills of persuasion in talking to other leaders and in talking to your own people? >> well obviously this is a great responsibility.
when one takes on leadership of any country. that is a big responsibility. i have taken on it. in a time of deep crisis. but i have seen crises in my life. i have lived through a dictatorship. seen my father and grandfather in jail. we fought for democracy very, very hard to bring back democracy in greece. when i first took over in the ministry of education, it it was during a teachers' strike. when i took over the foreign ministry it was when we had the worst of relations with turkey. i turned that around. when i took over head of my party we were just before elections and we were certain to lose. i turned that around. this is a bigger crisis, of course. it's a crisis in... of greece . it's a major crisis we're facing, but i think what we have is the strong support of a wide majority in greece to make these changes. they want these changes. i think that's a very optimistic sign for greece and for our future. >> woodruff: prime minister
papandreou, thank you very much for talking with. >> thank you very much. >> ifill: again, the other major developments of the day. the vote counting began in iraq after the country held elections for a new parliament. the nato commander in afghanistan promised to retake the taliban's symbolic home, kandahar. and president obama went after insurance companies and republicans as he pushed for final action on health care reform. the newshour is always online. hari sreenivasan, in our newsroom, previews what's there. hari? >> sreenivasan: ray suarez previews a series of stories from his reporting trip to peru. he looks at the economic boom there, a program that has halved the number of women who die in childbirth and new h.i.v. research. judy woodruff explores the future of the tea party movement. that's on the rundown. we mark a grim milestone in the afghan war as the pentagon reported their count of u.s. military dead passed 1,000. we look behind the numbers to see who died and where. and on "art beat," an interview with the director of "the cove," which won the oscar for best
documentary last night. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. gwen? >> ifill: and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. we'll see you on-line, and again here tomorrow evening. thank you, and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour is provided by: >> what the world needs now is energy. the energy to get the economy humming again. the energy to tackle challenges like climate change. what is that energy came from an energy company? everyday, chevron invests $62 million in people, in ideas-- seeking, teaching, building. fueling growth around the world to move us all ahead. this is the power of human energy. chevron.
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