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Analysis, background reports and updates from the PBS NewsHour putting today's news in context.

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    GWEN IFILL: Again, to the president's health care plan.

    In the Senate, some Democrats are pushing their own legislation, including Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu.

    SEN. MARY LANDRIEU, D-La.: The president's announcement this morning was a great first step, and we will probably need legislation to make it stick. My bill is a permanent solution. We're going to be working to see how that can be shaped to make it real, hold the promise and support the Affordable Care Act.

    GWEN IFILL: But how did today's presidential mea culpa go over in the House?

    For that, we turn to two members, Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois and Republican Congressman James Lankford of Oklahoma.

    Jan Schakowsky, you just heard what Mary Landrieu had to say in the Senate. What do you think? Do you think what the president did today was enough?

    REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY, D-Ill.: We had a Democratic caucus.

    The reaction was really approving of the president's plan. I think people felt that this was a good fix. And, you know, when you start something like this, there are going to be changes that we need to make, and felt that this was a good idea.

    And so I think the -- the response has been very, very positive on the part of the Democrats that we're dealing with something that we have been hearing from our constituents about, and there's nothing to be ashamed of when you try and fix something that already has so much promise for millions and millions of Americans who have been denied health insurance in the past.

    GWEN IFILL: Except I keep hearing Democrats, Ms. Schakowsky, say, this is a good first step. This should be a permanent fix. This should be a permanent rollback. Do you think that that might gather some speed?

    JAN SCHAKOWSKY: Well, the Democrats are going to offer a response to the legislation that the Republicans are offering tomorrow. That's still in the works.

    But we certainly do think that the president has made a move in the right direction. I can't tell you, because I don't know right now, what we're going to be doing in the House. But I want to tell you, you played part of John Boehner. One other thing he said is that we have the best health delivery system in the world.

    I'm sorry. With 41 million people with no insurance and many more that are denied insurance because of preexisting conditions, I don't think so. We need the Affordable Care Act.

    GWEN IFILL: Mr. Lankford, when you talk to your constituents in Oklahoma, do you get a sense that they would accept the fix that the president put forward today?

    REP. JAMES LANKFORD, R-Okla.: No. We're still trying to figure out what this fix does and how the fix actually works.

    The insurance companies obviously have come out and said this fix actually won't work for us. It doesn't instigate it. And it does a couple things. One is, the president laid out a mandate to say, if the companies are going to still present this same insurance they had last year, first thing they have to do is they have to advertise for other competing companies that are on the exchanges and tell their people that they're offering the policy to that, hey, the exchange is over here, here's what here, and here's what we don't have, but the exchanges do.

    Companies are not going to step out and say, hey, here's another company that has a better product or a different product than ours. That's kind of nonsensical on it. It's one thing to say we're just going to compete on it. It's another to say, you can come back and compete again, but you have to compete at a disadvantage. That's the problem.

    The president came back and said, yes, companies can come back, but we're going to strap them down with even more regulations. That's not helpful.

    GWEN IFILL: Is your concern that this fix isn't enough or is it your concern that it's putting on a bandage on a bad product?

    JAMES LANKFORD: Yes, two things. One is, the fix, I'm not sure it's legal yet. The law is very clear on it.

     

    He's just basically saying we're going to ignore that part of the law. That's not what the executive branch is set to do. The legislative branch creates the laws and then it has to be fulfilled. The Democrats now two terms ago in Congress created a law that this president is now saying this part of the law doesn't work, so we're going to ignore it.

    Legally, you can't do that. So we're still trying to figure out where he's getting the legal authority to do it. The second thing is, it still creates this unstable environment where companies are trying to figure out, what's the regulatory environment, how do I do this? They're not going to take the risk if they don't know how to -- what to take the risk on.

    GWEN IFILL: Jan Schakowsky, as you know, atmospherics are sometimes just as important as policy.

    It was remarkable to see the president apologize at such great length today in the White House Briefing Room. Did you find that that is something that maybe could have happened a couple of weeks ago?

    JAN SCHAKOWSKY: Well, I think as soon as we saw that the rollout of the website in particular was really, really, what do you call it, rocky, difficult, you know, he's already taken responsibility for that.

    But you know what I fear? That we miss the big picture. Parents of children with autism were on the Hill today, and their message was, thank you. We don't have to worry anymore. And women are going to do so much better. And especially women who may have breast cancer and men who have cancer are -- this is what this law is about.

    It's not about the insurance industry being able to offer this or that, although we want to make it as easy as possible for people to access a policy that they haven't been able to get before.

    GWEN IFILL: But if the insurance companies and state insurance commissioners like in Washington State, say they don't know what to do about this fix, isn't that significant?

    JAN SCHAKOWSKY: No, because I think they are going to figure that out. This is going to happen over the next couple weeks, and I think that all of these things in a brand-new plan are absolutely going to roll out over time and finally going to be able to bring to the American people what they haven't had for decades.

    The constant worry about preexisting conditions, that goes away. Bankruptcies that have been caused by unaffordable policies, that goes away. This is a big deal for the American people, and we can't go back to the old, totally dysfunctional non-system that we had before.

    GWEN IFILL: Mr. Lankford, how would you define the big picture that might be missing in this conversation? Obviously, your colleague defines it differently.

    JAMES LANKFORD: Sure.

    No, there are a couple big challenges that are here. We have around five million people that have received a letter that said, you're canceled. Those are both people on the individual policies and small businesses that had grouped together with other small businesses that the Affordable Care Act made those things illegal, that small businesses couldn't group together in associations.

    So we have lots of small business owners that are out shopping for insurance. They go to the website to try to get insurance and they can't. As of yesterday, even, the administration and all the I.T. folks that are in front of our hearing couldn't say whether they would have the website done even by the 15th of December, which means we have people that currently have insurance will not have insurance in January, and they're going to have a gap in coverage.

    That's one issue. The separate issue deals with all these different insurance carriers and whether you're -- you're going to get coverage that you like or whether you can keep the coverage that you had in the past. Obviously, those rules are shifting.

    It was by design that people would lose their old insurance and step into -- well, the president talks about the grandfathering that's in there. The grandfather was if you had the exact same insurance you had in 2010 and it never changes. Whether it's 2020 or 2014, it doesn't matter. It's going to change at some point. It's going to be grandfathered off.

    So while he can say this was a glitch, the website was a glitch, losing your insurance was by design to be able to push you into this other policy. Now they're trying to back up and say maybe that was a mistake. That's a legislative fix ,if we have to do it. And as far as cancer patients and such, we're getting just as many contacts now from people that found out they had coverage, they have lost that coverage, whether they're in a small business or an individual.

    The new coverage that's offered doesn't provide their same cancer doctor. And so they have got to start all over again with a cancer physician and go through all the paperwork and testing and everything else they have got to do. It's a real problem for a lot of people that have serious health issues.

    And so the issues with this is not can we do something and should we do something. Yes, we should. It's whether this was the something that we should have done and how much trauma it has really created to our economy and a lot of families.

    GWEN IFILL: Jan Schakowsky, there have been a lot of man and woman hours extended on congressional hearings looking backward at what went wrong, why this rollout was so rocky, why the president had to apologize so profusely today.

    Do you think it's worth it trying to get to the bottom of what went wrong before you move forward to figure out a way to get it right?

    JAN SCHAKOWSKY: All of the complaints that we hear -- and I was in the hearing today -- is part of a 3.5 year nonstop, well-funded, relentless campaign to undermine the Affordable Care Act and never to offer any kind of comprehensive alternative, never to come up with a plan that actually would put people in coverage and make sure that they have the health care they needed.

    So that hasn't stopped. And we still haven't seen any kind of real plan, just an attack on Obamacare. And I want to say -- and I also want to say that those policies, a lot of them only covered you if you were healthy. Once you got sick, many of those policies are junk policies.

    GWEN IFILL: Let me direct the same question to Mr. Lankford, which is whether this is worth looking back at and whether it tells us about something about the future.

    JAMES LANKFORD: Oversight is very important, whether it's the Democrat or Republican, both sides. We have a responsibility to the taxpayer and to people in our district.

    The website itself, for instance, $600 million has been spent on something that didn't work. They now cannot tell us how much more they're going to spend. They're pouring in a lot of additional contractors that are no-bid contracts that they're pouring into this process. They don't know how they are going to fix it. They don't how long it's going to take to fix it, how much it is going to cost.

    And they couldn't even tell us who was in charge at the beginning. That's a -- that's a simple oversight issue to say, why was this done this way? And it's important for us to learn from it in the past. It's also important because it affects a lot of families.

    Now, everybody gets into the politics of Republicans, Democrats, who's up, who's down. The reality is, people in our districts have been harmed by this. There are people that really their life has turned upside-down. Did it have to happen this way? And we should examine that.

    GWEN IFILL: All right, Congressman James Lankford of Oklahoma, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, thank you both so much.

    JAN SCHAKOWSKY: Thank you. Thank you.

    JAMES LANKFORD: Thanks.

     


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Central Philippines struggled for another day under the weight of its developing humanitarian crisis, and the aid isn't coming fast enough for many.

    We have two reports from Independent Television News, beginning with John Sparks in Tacloban.

    A warning: Some of the images may be disturbing.

    JOHN SPARKS: Carried upon a simple cart, another body was wheeled to the grounds of the local auditorium and left to lie in the burning sun with hundreds of others. A small number of officials try to identify them, but there simply aren't enough to do the job.

    Up the street, at city hall, there were people willing to help, aid workers and volunteers here to help the living and bury the dead. But we saw them waiting for instructions or transport or supplies.

    The mayor was struggling to cope with his emotions and the mounting demands of others.

    Things aren't working at the moment. People are desperate.

    ALFRED ROMUALDEZ, mayor of Tacloban: Not the way it should, yes.

    Well, you can -- you saw it yourself. I'm trying to fix them first. And here is what I'm trying to get out -- get the news out. What we need here are more warm bodies to start doing manual labor.

    JOHN SPARKS: In a city where many are going hungry, there were signs of progress and manual labor at a local warehouse today, volunteers preparing for the first delivery of food aid.

    And a national government minister was there to oversee it.

    We spoke to the mayor this morning, and he said the national government wasn't doing enough. There weren't enough people on the ground. There simply weren't enough men here.

    MANUEL ROXAS, Philippines Department of the Interior: Maybe that's more of a political statement from him than a statement in reality. Why don't you go up to city hall and see what's functioning there vs. what the national government is doing?

    JOHN SPARKS: Well, the national government calls this the rice brigade. And we caught a lift on one of the first trucks into Tacloban.

    It's taken seven days to organize, but the first batch of food and water is now on the move, ready for distribution to people who desperately need it. But it's not a simple process. Splintered trees and precarious power lines slowed our progress and the authorities worried our cargo would get hijacked. But we made it to the first drop-off point.

    Is this the first time you have received food?

    AMELIA SARINAS, survivor (through interpreter): Yes, just now. It's the first assistance we have got.

    JOHN SPARKS: Ms. Sarinas said we could follow her home. And we were astonished by what we saw. Amelia Sarinas, her mother and four children don't have a choice, and they will do what they can to survive.

    How much food have you had over the last couple of days?

    WOMAN: This is the only one, the first time.

    JOHN SPARKS: There is much fortitude here, where the living coexist with the dead. The relief effort has begun, but it will take months or even years to resurrect this community.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: For many in the Central Philippines, the need is for more than water and food.

    Mark Austin of Independent Television News was out in Tacloban this evening and met a doctor who's not sure he can keep his patients alive without additional medical supplies.

    MARK AUSTIN: Tonight, in this wasted land of skeletal trees and hungry people, they are fending for themselves, as they have done every night since the storm did its worst here, decent people of a broken city turned by catastrophe into scavengers, a city of death, where they turn their backs on the bodies which still lie uncollected in the streets.

    Earlier, when we sheltered from a storm at the local hospital, this is what we found, water pouring through smashed roofs, flooding corridors, where Tacloban's sick and injured lie awaiting treatment. This is not outside the hospital, but inside.

    The intensive care neonatal unit is now in the hospital chapel. These are the babies of the storm, one born on the 8th of November, the very night it raged. But the lack of supplies and medicines and the danger of infection mean many may not survive.

    DR. ALBERTO DE LEON, hospital director: It's very distressing. I foresee, if it's not -- if this is not corrected immediately, there could be babies dying.

    MARK AUSTIN: You think some of these babies will die?

    ALBERTO DE LEON: Yes, if this is not corrected properly and immediately.

    MARK AUSTIN: I met Lowena Mubag, who gave birth to her baby today. But her injuries and blank stare only hint at her horrific story. On the day of the storm, five of her children drowned. Her nurses are doing their best for her.

    ANNIE SIA, nurse: What has been lost is lost. Now that they are -- those who are alive should go on, should go on. We have to survive. We have to go have hope as long as the sun is shining. We have to have hope.

    MARK AUSTIN: It is difficult to overstate how miserable things are at this hospital. Like the city itself, it is living a nightmare.

     


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    GWEN IFILL: As Washington debated health care fixes and the world coped with the Philippine disaster, the woman who would become -- who could become the most powerful banker in the world appeared on Capitol Hill today.

    Janet Yellen, who would succeed Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve, appeared to move one step closer to confirmation, but not without scrutiny.

    NewsHour congressional correspondent Kwame Holman reports.

    MAN: I very much appreciate your candor and transparency.

    SEN. JOE MANCHIN, D-W.V.: You see, the committee has the utmost respect for you.

    KWAME HOLMAN: Janet Yellen, the Fed's current vice-chair, got a warm welcome before the Senate Banking Committee, and she quickly turned to making the case that the economy still needs the Fed's stimulus efforts.

    JANET YELLEN, Federal Reserve Chair nominee: The Federal Reserve is using its monetary policy tools to promote a more robust recovery. I believe that supporting the recovery today is the surest path to returning to a more normal approach to monetary policy.

    KWAME HOLMAN: Since late 2008, the Fed's been buying mortgage-backed securities and Treasury bonds, now at a rate of $85 billion a month. The goal is to keep interest rates low and encourage growth. Some Republicans worry it's all gone too far and that the massive bond-buying has inflated stock prices and real estate values.

    Alabama's Richard Shelby cited the record size of the Fed's holdings, now $3.8 trillion, or almost a quarter the size of the nation's total economic output.

    SEN. RICHARD SHELBY, R-Ala.: Looking back in history, recent history, the last 30, 40, 50 years, have you noticed any portfolio of the Fed approaching what it is today?

    JANET YELLEN: Not of the Federal Reserve.

    RICHARD SHELBY: That's what I mean.

    JANET YELLEN: But other central banks...

    RICHARD SHELBY: I'm asking you about the Federal Reserve of the United States of America.

    JANET YELLEN: No, I have not, Senator.

    RICHARD SHELBY: OK.

    KWAME HOLMAN: Others warned that while investors are benefiting greatly from low interest rates, retirees who depend on interest payments are hurting.

    Republican Mike Johanns of Nebraska:

    SEN. MIKE JOHANNS, R-Neb.: I think the economy has gotten used to the sugar you have put out there, and I just worry that we're on a sugar-high. And that is a very dangerous thing for the little person out there who's just trying to pay the bills and maybe put a buck away for retirement.

    JANET YELLEN: If we want to get back to business as usual and a normal monetary policy and normal interest rates, I would say we need to do that by getting the economy back to normal. And that's what this policy, I hope, will succeed in doing.

    KWAME HOLMAN: Yellen gave no indication of when the Fed might scale back on its bond buying, known as quantitative easing.

    On the Democratic side, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts complained the Fed still isn't doing enough to limit the size and dominance of big banks.

    SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, D-Mass.: The truth is, if the regulators had done their jobs and reined in the banks, we wouldn't need to be talking about quantitative easing because we could have avoided the 2008 crisis altogether.

    KWAME HOLMAN: Yellen agreed with the need to increase monitoring of the financial system. She also noted that the government shutdown and debt ceiling brinksmanship have hindered efforts to boost the economy.

    MAN: This hearing is adjourned.

    KWAME HOLMAN: Looking ahead, Yellen pledged to continue the push by outgoing Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke for greater transparency in what the Fed is doing and how.

     


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to our newsmaker interview with B. Todd Jones, the new director of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives. The agency, charged with keeping track of the nation's 300 million guns, lacked a permanent head for the last seven years. Jones was appointed shortly after the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, and he was confirmed in July.

    I spoke with him this afternoon at the bureau's headquarters here in Washington.

    Director Todd Jones, thank you for talking with us.

    B. TODD JONES, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives: Well, thank you for being here.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In your confirmation hearings to become the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, you called this an agency in distress.

    Others have called it the neglected stepchild of federal law enforcement. They have called it a bureau under siege. How do you see it now that you're here?

     

    B. TODD JONES: I call it a resilient law enforcement agency.

    I had the privilege of serving in an acting capacity for two years, which gave me the benefit of getting to know the people, getting to know the organization -- the organization better, and also identifying some immediate actions that we wanted to take. And it's -- 24 months has gone by really fast.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The ATF hadn't had a permanent director for seven years before you took the job. You have a budget that is -- yes, it's grown, but it's not nearly as vast as the budgets of the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency.

    It's been pointed out your number of agents smaller than many city municipal police departments, sheriff's departments. How are you managing?

    B. TODD JONES: I have got a good team. Having good people is always important.

    You know, we have the benefit of a very experienced special agent work force, but we are on the cusp of losing a generation of agents, so to speak. So it's absolutely critical that we have the opportunity in short order to rebuild our work force cadre in a way that makes sense and will allow us to function for the next 10 years.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But how strapped do you feel for resources?

    B. TODD JONES: Well, ATF is an organization, whether it's in the Justice Department or Treasury, that's always made do with what they have got, done a lot with very little.

    Our work force per capita has remained pretty static over the history of the bureau, which is 40 years now as a stand-alone bureau.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, of course, one of your principal priorities has to do with guns. Let's the talk about that for a minute.

    The NRA, the rest of the gun rights lobby has worked very hard since the ATF was created to limit your budget and, among other things, to say that you shouldn't have the ability in a large sense to go after guns that are used in crimes, that are used in the commission of crimes. How much has that affected what you're able to do here?

    B. TODD JONES: We have an area of expertise in the firearms realm that was really statutorily given to us in 1968. The Gun Control Act was a pivot point for this organization.

    And over the years, we have assumed additional jurisdictional reaches, arson, explosives. But at the core of what we do is really to regulate the legal commerce in firearms and to work to enforce the Gun Control Act when those firearms migrate into the black market or the illegal market.

    And that's a tall task.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But you -- but, at the same time, we know that, again, thanks to the work of the gun rights lobby, there's not even a computerized system to keep track of guns that are used in the commission of crimes. How much does that hamper the work that you do here?

    B. TODD JONES: Well, ironically, I think we have been able to do the job, not as well as we could, because we're really operating with 20th century technology in the 21st century.

    There are things that we could do, fully aware that it is against the law for us to do anything approaching a national gun registry. And that's been the fact since the Firearms Owner Protection Act. So we have a lot of folks in Martinsburg, West Virginia, who are very responsive to our gun trace program.

    Could we do it better with a little bit more open-mindedness and less of a fear factor that we're going to do something that would violate the law? Yes. Are we doing the job right now that we need to do? Yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, I ask you because, as you know -- you know these statistics better than I do -- from 2004 to 2011, the rate of lost or stolen guns rose 18 percent, a total of almost 175,000 firearms unaccounted for. That was the ATF's responsibility.

    B. TODD JONES: Well, I mean...

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I'm asking, was it the ATF's responsibility?

    B. TODD JONES: You know, like any other legal commerce here, there are vulnerabilities in the system.

    One of the fundamental things that we're very much aware of is the volume of firearms in this country. The legal commerce in firearms, the business of the firearms industry is such that, you know, there are 300 million firearms in this country. Some of those firearms have migrated from legal, non-prohibited persons, non-prohibited licensed businesses into the black market.

    And unlike a loaf of bread or anything else, there's no expiration date on a gun. And so one of our challenges is to really figure out ways to drain that illegal crime gun pool. And that's very difficult, because the convergence of that very deeply held belief in the Second Amendment constitutional rights of Americans, as the Supreme Court has stated in recent case law, that Second Amendment right, we don't believe should butt up against our responsibilities for public safety, because our focus really is on that illegal crime gun pool.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, there is a new worry in law enforcement.

    In fact, your -- your -- the bureau just put out, I guess, a warning this week about plastic guns, which are becoming more and more available, but they can evade metal detection. How big a worry is this?

    B. TODD JONES: Ten years ago, I don't think people were thinking about 3-D printing capabilities. But as computer power increases and innovation kicks in, the 3-D printing capabilities that allow people to create weapons with computer-assisted programs and literally within a matter of hours create a gun is a challenge.

    And for us, right now, it's running up against the sunsetting of the Undetectable Firearms Acts, which is scheduled to sunset at the end of this year. And that's converging with this technological leap that is raising public safety concerns for us.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, just quickly, what needs to be done?

    B. TODD JONES: Well, I think that the Congress needs to look at that statute and not let it lapse, and look at maybe ways to enhance what's on the books, because, again, that's an older statute. And it was primarily driven so that metal detectors could detect metal in firearms so that they could create some level of safety.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Todd Jones, thank you very much.

    B. TODD JONES: Thank you.

     


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    GWEN IFILL: President Obama also used his news conference today to warn Congress against imposing new sanctions on Iran while diplomatic options remain.

    As the U.S. negotiating team prepares to return to Geneva for a third round of talks next week, administration officials say they can still force Iran to freeze its nuclear program.

    At the White House, the president said no new sanctions are needed.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: If in fact we're serious about trying to resolve this diplomatically, because no matter how good our military is, military options are always messy, are always difficult, then there is no need for us to add new sanctions on top of the sanctions that are already very effective and that brought them to the table in the first place.

    GWEN IFILL: The behind-the-scenes struggle between the White House and Congress could drive the outcome of the Geneva talks.

    Chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner says it's been quite a vigorous one.

    Margaret, behind the scenes, it seem like what is the president is trying to do, as he was with health care today, is mollify the Democrats.

    MARGARET WARNER: That is one of his main problems, Gwen. There's strong sentiment on the Hill to step up pressure on Iran during these talks.

    And it's coming not just from Republicans, but from some leading Democrats, like Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Menendez. The two scenarios are, they would either impose new sanctions, or, as Senator Bob Corker, Republican, wants to do, strip the president of his ability to waive even existing sanctions under existing law.

    The administration says, if that happens, President Obama will have nothing left to deal on Geneva next week. His negotiators won't, because even the modest easing they're proposing, that they proposed last week, say, unblocking some funds that is Iranian money held in foreign accounts, he can't do if his hands are tied on the waivers. So that's why you saw a full-court press this week, Vice President Biden, Secretary Kerry up on the Hill in private briefings.

    GWEN IFILL: And they were saying -- and they were saying we weren't -- sorry -- that we weren't lifting oil sanctions, we aren't lifting banking sanctions.

    So what is driving the objections to even the potential of a deal?

    MARGARET WARNER: I would say distrust on two fronts, distrust of Iran, given its long record of deception -- and there is such a record in negotiations -- and distrust of the administration, or a mistrust, that this administration is so eager for a deal, that it is ready to give away leverage.

    And the final factor is definite pressure from Israel, from Prime Minister Netanyahu, from Israel's friends on the Hill and outside of the Hill to not head down the slippery slope of easing any sanctions until you get a deal that ends all, all Iranian enrichment.

    GWEN IFILL: Is anything that the president said, his statement that we just played at the White House, is this getting any kind of traction among the people who clearly were his target audience?

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, he said what Secretary Kerry was saying also yesterday in this private briefing...

    GWEN IFILL: Right.

    MARGARET WARNER: ... which is -- you know, which is, look, it's not only that they're not necessary; it's that it will undercut our ability to pursue diplomacy, and that that's a dangerous step to go down, and that we are really negotiating a tough deal.

    This is what Secretary Kerry was saying privately, but that if you do this to us, it will undercut Iranian President Rouhani at home against his hard-liners, and it will shake the confidence of both the Iranians and our own allies that this president has the power to make a deal.

    From what I heard from members in that meeting -- Senator Bob Corker, I spoke to late yesterday -- he said, it was totally frustrating and disappointing, totally unsatisfying. He said it was 80 percent emotion, only 20 percent details, that they're -- that -- that Secretary Kerry's attitude was, trust us, we're negotiating a tough deal, and didn't give us any detail.

    And Senator Menendez said, in more restrained language, much the same today.

    GWEN IFILL: So, nothing -- the ball has not moved. But they're still listening to, as you pointed out, people from abroad who are calling, and they're still listening to who else?

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, there is -- right now, I think the dynamic is, there's a very short time fuse.

    The administration wants their negotiators to get to Geneva with as big a hand as they already have. They feel that they have settled their issues with the French, so that isn't really what they're as most worried about. They want to be able to get to Geneva without the Hill doing anything to clip its wings, and they were so concerned about the revolt among Democrats this week that there was even talk in the administration and among its friends about a plan B, that if we -- if Dems need to vote yes on something, maybe, as long as we can forestall this stripping-the-waivers part, that we might agree to a sanctions bill that doesn't take effect for six months.

    GWEN IFILL: That's the middle ground?

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, that's the middle ground. The administration doesn't like it.

    I was told by a very senior official that's really -- that's a slippery slope to them. And a Hill aide said to me, a Democratic aide, that there may be a compromise where they give him another week to 10 days, but not the two months he was asking for.

    GWEN IFILL: Sounds like a week full of slippery slopes.

    MARGARET WARNER: A lot of slippery slopes, Gwen, and more to come.

    GWEN IFILL: Margaret Warner, thanks.

     


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight: the return of a character and the return of one of our own.

    The character is Julia, the heroine of the new novel Portrait of Julia. The author is indeed our own Robert MacNeil, longtime anchor and executive editor of the NewsHour.

    This is his fourth novel and continues a story begun in his earlier Burden of Desire.

    He talked with Jeffrey Brown this afternoon in our New York studio.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Robin, welcome.

    ROBERT MACNEIL, Portrait of Julia: Thank you.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, first, this character of yours, Julia, first brought to life some 20 years ago, right, in your first novel.

    ROBERT MACNEIL: Right, right.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Was she clanging around in your head all these years, demanding to come back?

    ROBERT MACNEIL: Yes, she -- yes, I think so. She's been gestating for a long time.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes?

    ROBERT MACNEIL: To me, she's fascinating. She's -- in this book, as it begins, she's a 28-year-old widow of three years from the First World War.

    I grew up -- in my first -- I was born in 1931, 12 years after the First World War ended. And all my early childhood was in the sort of leftovers of that atmosphere from the First World War, the war to end all wars.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, that is so much of the context of this book, right?

    ROBERT MACNEIL: Yes. Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: It is the -- a new world beginning. Millions are dead.

    ROBERT MACNEIL: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And it is a kind of modern world emerging, and these characters are trying to negotiate...

     (CROSSTALK)

    ROBERT MACNEIL: Yes. Trying to negotiate it, yes, when nothing is as it was -- or nothing seems as it was.

    For young women in the European countries, there are too few men, because a generation was lost in each of those countries, Germany, France, England in particular. America and Canada, where this is first set, come out of this more optimistic than the Europeans do.

    In Canada, it even had -- the First World War had a role in beginning to inspire Canadians to seek their own national autonomy away from the British Empire, because the tremendous losses of the First World War, 60,000 dead out of a total population of eight million, was just stunning.

    And -- however, they came out of it optimistic and seeking a new relationship with Britain. And that led the other dominions of the British Empire gradually to -- and very gradually -- to evolve into what is now the British Commonwealth.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, so Julia is a painter herself.

    ROBERT MACNEIL: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And this is a portrait of Julia, and it is a literal portrait...

    ROBERT MACNEIL: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: ... being done of her by a -- an historical character...

    ROBERT MACNEIL: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: ... that you turn into your character.

    ROBERT MACNEIL: Yes, I turn into your character, J.W. Morrice, a Canadian painter, with whom she had studied in Paris briefly before the war.

    And he had painted a portrait of her then, nude, but reticent, which her husband, before he died, was so embarrassed by that he -- that she had to keep in the cupboard in the bedroom.

    But -- and she thinks it's -- it's a source of great pride to her that so accomplished a painter would be wanting to do her portrait again. But she uses the painting of the portrait to tell him a lot of what led up to why she's down there in the South of France.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And you -- you, the author, use painting and art...

    ROBERT MACNEIL: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: ... as a way to tell your story, because a lot of this is about -- and there are interesting -- there are real characters in here, Matisse...

    ROBERT MACNEIL: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: ... a lot of famous painters.

    ROBERT MACNEIL: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But there's the issue of representation in art.

    ROBERT MACNEIL: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: There's a sort of modernism in art.

    ROBERT MACNEIL: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: There's a lot going on there.

    ROBERT MACNEIL: Yes. Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What interested you about -- why the art...

     ROBERT MACNEIL: I have always, from early childhood -- well, teenage childhood. In my high school in Ottawa, Canada, there was -- in the assembly room, where we met a lot, there was one of his, Morrice's paintings enlarged and reproduced.

    And I looked at it almost every day of my high school years, and gradually I became more interested in -- he, I think, is undercelebrated. And it wasn't my aim, but it would be nice if he were rediscovered a little bit, I think.

    He was a very, very good painter. The French thought -- in the turn of the century and up until 1920, the French thought he was one of two of the greatest North American painters. And, of course, North American -- Canadian and American crowded Paris at the time, the center of world -- of modern painting.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So you have a changing world after World War I. You have the world of art.

    ROBERT MACNEIL: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: These things, how did -- you, as the novelist, but also I'm thinking of you as the newsman I know for many years, you're using some -- you're grounded in some historical fact.

    ROBERT MACNEIL: Yes. Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And then what happens?

    ROBERT MACNEIL: Well, what happens is, I think one of the lessons we learn in life -- and it's an old lesson, but each of us has to learn it, if he does, individually -- and that is that, in human relations, particularly sexual relations and so on, there -- there is -- the person you might most trust and feel most comfortable and easy with isn't necessarily the person your heart is going to fall for.

    (LAUGHTER)

    ROBERT MACNEIL: And dealing with that, it's an old story. It's the subject of many books over the centuries.

    (CROSSTALK)

    JEFFREY BROWN: A lot of great novels.

    ROBERT MACNEIL: But it's individual to each character.

    And in her character, she, trying to be the modern woman and trying to be very honest with herself about everything, which, in itself, is, to me, an interesting phenomenon, how honest can you be with somebody you love?

    JEFFREY BROWN: What compels you to write fiction?

    ROBERT MACNEIL: I don't know.

    I mean, I had the itch long before I became a journalist. I thought I was going to be a writer of fiction. It didn't work out, because I was trying to write plays, and they weren't very good plays. And then I had to earn a living.

    But it's -- it's always remained there in the background. The -- Saul Bellow said, fiction is the higher autobiography. And it's interesting where pieces of your own life and your own wishes or disappointments or hopes or anything come out in -- as fiction, like that character Julia herself. Who is she and where does she come from?

    I know where she came from. I was brought up during the Second World War. My mother was alone for five years. Canada was in the war for five years. My father was away at sea fighting the battle of the Atlantic. And I know what my mother went through, in terms of anxiety and hope and disappointment and fear and everything else.

    So, while I was writing that story in a memoir of mine called "Wordstruck," it suddenly occurred to me -- I remember going into my wife and saying, what would it have been like for a woman waiting for her husband to come back from France in the First World War, when everything was so much more constricted even than in the Second World War period? And this woman came out of that.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And the woman is Julia. The book is "Portrait of Julia."

    Robert MacNeil, thanks so much.

    ROBERT MACNEIL: Jeff, thank you very much.

     


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    In an hour-long press conference Thursday, President Barack Obama says his administration "fumbled the rollout" of his signature health care law. Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

    President Barack Obama entered the White House briefing room Thursday needing to accomplish two goals.

    The first: outline an administrative fix to tamp down the uproar surrounding the millions of Americans in the individual market who have had their health insurance policies canceled because the plans did not meet the standards under the Affordable Care Act.

    The second: revive his presidency amid a growing rebellion among congressional Democrats and dwindling approval of his job performance with the broader public.

    The Morning LineTo deal with the more immediate concern, the president announced that insurers would be allowed to offer plans that would have been canceled beginning next year. Mr. Obama said Americans who were told their policies would be discontinued would be able to "re-enroll in the same kind of plan."

    The longer-term rebuilding project for Mr. Obama will be working to restore the trust of the public, with one recent poll showing that a majority of the American people do not see him as honest and trustworthy. The president acknowledged Thursday that the troubled launch of his signature domestic achievement had damaged his standing with the public.

    "We fumbled the rollout on this health care law," the president said during his nearly hour-long appearance, displaying a level of contrition rarely seen. "Am I going to have to do some work to rebuild confidence around some of our initiatives? Yes."

    The Washington Post's Dan Balz writes that even though the president is done running for elected office, the problems with the health care launch mean "he still has another campaign he must try to win." He adds:

    The campaign ahead is one to restore credibility to his presidency. Without it, his second-term agenda remains at risk.

    The campaign he must wage now requires a different focus. It is about competency and delivering on promises, whether on health care or the economy. It requires a more positive and consistent approach, even in the face of opposition from Republicans determined to prove that Obamacare will never work.

    In the New York Times, Michael Shear notes that the mishandling of the health care rollout has drawn parallels with former President George W. Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina. Shear reports:

    Republicans readily made the Hurricane Katrina comparison. "The echoes to the fall of 2005 are really eerie," said Peter D. Feaver, a top national security official in Mr. Bush's second term. "Katrina, which is shorthand for bungled administration policy, matches to the rollout of the website." Looking back, he said, "we can see that some of the things that we hoped were temporary or just blips turned out to be more systemic from a political sense. It's a fair question of whether that's happening to President Obama."

    The president's top aides vehemently reject the comparison of Mr. Obama's fifth year in office to the latter half of Mr. Bush's second term. They say Americans lost confidence in Mr. Bush because of his administration's ineptitude on Hurricane Katrina and its execution of the war in Iraq, while Mr. Obama is struggling to extend health care to millions of people who do not have it. Those are very different issues, they said.

    Part the president's rehabilitation effort will have to include Democratic lawmakers -- many up for re-election -- who have been put on the defensive over the health care woes.

    "There is no doubt that our failure to roll out the ACA smoothly has put a burden on Democrats, whether they're running or not, because they stood up and supported this effort through thick and thin," the president said Thursday. "And I feel deeply responsible for making it harder for them rather than easier for them to continue to promote the core values that I think led them to support this thing in the first place."

    Senate Democrats said they were pleased with the president's announcement, but suggested that a legislative fix might still be in order.

    One of those lawmakers was Louisiana's Mary Landrieu, who has sponsored a proposal that would require insurance companies to continue offering coverage available through the end of the year to current policyholders. She called the president's comments "a great first step," but added that "we will probably need legislation to make it stick."

    "My bill is a permanent solution. We're going to be working to see how that can be shaped to make it real, hold the promise and support the Affordable Care Act," Landrieu said.

    House Speaker John Boehner dismissed the president's proposed fix Thursday. "True to form, it appears this is little more than a political response designed to shift blame rather than solve the problem," The Ohio Republican said in a statement. "This problem cannot be papered over by another ream of Washington regulations. Americans losing their coverage because of the president's health care law need clear, unambiguous legislation that guarantees the plan they have and like will still be allowed."

    The House will vote Friday on a measure put forward by Michigan GOP Rep. Fred Upton that would give insurers the ability to continue selling plans that were in effect at the beginning of 2013, even if they are considered substandard under the ACA. It would also allow new customers to enroll.

    We'll have full coverage of the debate on Friday's NewsHour.

    Gwen Ifill got reaction to the president's remarks Thursday from Reps. James Lankford, R-Okla., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.

    Watch the segment here or below:


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    Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop

    In a monthly column for PBS NewsHour, Dr. Howard Markel revisits moments that changed the course of modern health and medicine on their anniversaries, like the confirmation of C. Everett Koop as surgeon general on Nov. 16, 1981. Photo by AFP/Getty Images

    On Nov. 16, 1981, the U.S. Senate confirmed Dr. C. Everett Koop, in a vote of 60 to 24, as the 13th Surgeon General of the United States. He was sworn into office on January 21, 1982, by the president who appointed him to the post, Ronald Reagan.

    Although the physician and surgeon had never served in a public office before assuming this role, Dr. Koop's character, forthright determination to serve the health needs of all Americans, and his stern, bearded visage helped make him the most influential and powerful surgeon general in American history. By the time he stepped down from his office in 1989, Koop was a household name.

    Dr. C. Everett Koop on the day of his confirmation as Surgeon General. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

    It was a term filled with many public health triumphs. For example, Dr. Koop took strong stands on the dangers of tobacco and smoking.

    He also was the nation's most visible health official during the early years of the AIDS pandemic.

    Finally, despite his strong religious, moral and philosophical opposition to abortion, Dr. Koop refused to allow the office of the Surgeon General get drawn into the cultural wars of pro-choice/pro-life politics.

    His work won supporters among those who opposed his nomination, specifically, the pro-choice movement and the gay community and, in turn, made enemies out of those in the tobacco industry, the conservative politicians who represented tobacco-growing states, the religious right, and members of the pro-life movement.

    With his bushy white-gray beard (sans mustache), a 6 foot, 1 inch erect frame and the blue-black, gold festooned uniform of a vice admiral in the United States Public Health Service, Dr. Koop was a major leader in getting Americans to "kick the habit" of cigarette smoking -- one of the leading killers of people around the globe, both then and today. Thirty three percent of all Americans smoked when he took office and that number fell to 26 percent by the time he returned to private life.

    Moreover, by 1987 there were 40 states in the union that had completely banned smoking in public places; 33 had banned it on public transportation; and 17 had prohibited it in the workplace. His term witnessed the passage of over 800 local anti-smoking laws and the federal government banned the practice in 6,800 federal buildings.

    The NewsHour's Jim Lehrer interviewed Koop in 1989 on the anniversary of the first surgeon general's report on smoking. You can view that video here:

    More than any other federal official at the time, Dr. Koop immediately understood the import of the early reports of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS, that were appearing among gay men living in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York during the early 1980s, as well as intravenous drug users, sex workers, hemophiliacs, and Haitians.

    Although he later lamented that he was not able to interest either President Reagan or his successor, George H.W. Bush in making health in general and AIDS in particular a major emphasis of their administrations, Dr. Koop served as a superb role model for physicians and health professionals around the nation to become involved in the battle against AIDS, especially after its etiologic cause, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or HIV, was discovered and a blood test to detect it was developed.

    He insisted on public health programs that taught adults and youngsters on the precise ways one contracted HIV and methods of safer sexual activity to lower one's risk, no matter how uncomfortable these messages may have been to the majority of Americans at the time. He also helped oversee a major effort at improving the nation's blood banks so that virus-tainted blood products were quickly removed from the blood donor pool.

    Sylvester Stallone, Vanna White and Dr. C. Everett Koop attend White House Correspondents Dinner Gala in 1988 in Washington. Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage.

    Before he became Surgeon General, Dr. Koop was a prominent pediatric surgeon at the University of Pennsylvania. A graduate of Dartmouth College and the Cornell University Medical School, he specialized in correcting severe congenital birth defects, such as esophageal atresia (the incomplete formation of the esophagus, which is the tube that delivers food into the stomach).

    In the years before his surgeon generalship, Dr. Koop was a well-known and fervent anti-abortion activist, who collaborated with Francis Schaeffer, a Christian evangelical pastor well known for his anti-abortion views. Koop was also a strong supporter of the rights of infants with severe birth defects to receive life-saving medical care. In the early 1980s, there was great debate over whether such infants should be allowed to die without extraordinary efforts to save their lives, especially when most of the medical and surgical interventions available were not yet as miraculous as they are today. At the time, Dr. Koop insisted that the medical and legal system had an absolute duty to protect all citizens, regardless of age, against neglect or discrimination -- even if that went against parental wishes.

    It was these associations that garnered the most angry comments directed at him during his confirmation process, a vitriolic set of events led by the powerful senator from Massachusetts, Edward M. Kennedy, who claimed that Koop's beliefs indicated a "cruel, outdated and patronizing stereotype of women." The New York Times castigated him as "Dr. Unqualified."

    Still, it was Dr. Koop's unimpeachable integrity that both won the day in terms of his being confirmed as surgeon general and during his entire term in office. As he told his wife, Elizabeth, while traveling to Washington to testify at his confirmation hearing: "If I ever have to say anything I don't believe or shouldn't be said, we'll go home." His detractors had little to worry about, regardless of Dr. Koop's religious or moral views; to the end, he served as physician, not as an activist, and stuck to the medical facts for guidance.

    Dr. Koop was a stellar physician, a superb advocate for the nation's health, and a role model for those who care for patients as well as those seeking out healthy lives. His death, at 96, on February 24, 2013 made the front pages of virtually every newspaper in the country and evoked sympathy among every American whose lives he so valiantly improved.

    Even the New York Times, which initially opposed Dr. Koop's confirmation in 1981, admitted its errors in judging the doctor too quickly and too harshly. A 1989 editorial opined: "Throughout he has put medical integrity above personal value judgments and has been, indeed, the nation's First Doctor."

    It took the editorialists eight years to do it, but they finally got the story right.

    Dr. Howard Markel writes a monthly column for the PBS NewsHour website, highlighting the anniversary of a momentous event that continues to shape modern medicine. He is the director of the Center for the History of Medicine and the George E. Wantz Distinguished Professor of the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan.

    He is the author or editor of 10 books, including "Quarantine! East European Jewish Immigrants and the New York City Epidemics of 1892," "When Germs Travel: Six Major Epidemics That Have Invaded America Since 1900 and the Fears They Have Unleashed" and "An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug Cocaine."

    More Stories on the History of Medicine

    The Real Story Behind Penicillin

    A Curious Inspiration for the First Stethoscope

    'I Have Seen My Death': How the World Discovered the X-Ray

    How a Boy Became the First to Beat Back Diabetes

    The Day Scientists Discovered 'The Secret of Life'

    How a Doctor Discovered U.S. Walls Were Poisonous

    The Day Polio Began Losing Its Grip on America

    The Day Doctors Began to Conquer Smallpox

    A Hormonal Happy Birthday

    How 'Going Under the Knife' Became Much Less Deadly

    The Painful Story Behind Modern Anesthesia

    Do you have a question for Dr. Markel about how a particular aspect of modern medicine came to be? Send them to us at onlinehealth@newshour.org.

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    Richard B. Freeman and Joseph R. Blasi

    Citizen ownership, often demonized as "socialist," has a pedigree dating to the American Revolution. "Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States," oil on canvas by Howard Chandler Christy, 1940, via Wikipedia Commons.

    Paul Solman: "Using tech playbook, oil drillers shower employees with stock." So read a recent article in Reuters.

    But as Joseph Blasi of Rutgers and Richard Freeman of Harvard emphasize in Friday's post, worker ownership is as new as fracking, but as old as America itself. George Washington, a slave owner, remember, believed that broad-based worker ownership would ensure "the happiness of the lowest class of people because of the equal distribution of property."

    John D. Rockefeller encouraged worker ownership. George Eastman (of Eastman Kodak) helped invent stock options.

    These and other rather surprising facts are in Blasi, Freeman and co-author Doug Kruse's new book, "The Citizens Share," which Freeman told me about recently when I interviewed him for the NewsHour.

    "The Alternative American Dream: Inclusive Capitalism." That was the headline of an extremely popular post on our Making Sen$e Business Desk by long-time worker ownership activist Chris Mackin this summer. Now, Freeman and Blasi, in a sense, follow up.

    Richard B. Freeman and Joseph R. Blasi: The fact is indisputable: productivity -- output per worker -- nearly doubled over the past 30 years. Yet the real pay of most workers increased much more slowly, and the hourly pay of many groups of non-supervisory workers barely budged at all. So what happened to the gains of higher productivity?

    They showed up in an increased share of income accruing to owners of capital and in the pay of top earners, whose compensation consists disproportionately of -- guess what? -- stock options and stock grants that give them a share of the increased growth and income that comes from capital. The net result of this shift has been the well-documented increase in the wealth and income of a small number of Americans and American families, while the income and wealth of most Americans has grown little, if at all.

    Here's the latest census data: the top 10 percent of earners received 46.5 percent of all income in 2011, the largest slice of the pie since 1917. But the persons who benefited most from recent economic growth constitute an even small minority of the top 10 percent. Yes, the upper 1 percent whom the Wall Street Occupiers made famous gained more than their fellow travelers in the top 10 percent. But among the upper 1 percent, the real winners were those in the upper 0.1 percent, whose share of national income increased from 3.1 percent (1972) to 11.3 percent (2012). Had the share of the upper 0.1 percent remained as 30 years ago, the income for all other Americans, including the rest of the upper 1 percent, would have increased by about 8 percent in the past three decades.

    But even this is not the full story of the increased inequality of income. Within the upper 0.1 percent, the biggest gainers were those in the upper 0.01 percent -- one American in 10,000 -- whose share of income increased from 1.2 percent (1972) to 5.5 percent (2012).

    As for capital income -- capital gains on stocks and bonds, dividends and interest -- the latest Internal Revenue Service report on the country's top 400 taxpayers is an egalitarian's nightmare. In 2009 these persons, who make up .00028 percent of all persons filing individual tax returns, earned 16 percent of all net capital gains, 6.5 percent of all dividends and 3.2 percent of all interest income. And that's 400 people. As a result, a larger social problem looms: high-rising inequality is transforming the U.S. from an economy and polity based on a broad middle class to a feudal society dominated by a small number of super-wealthy "lords of the manor."

    Reading through the original arguments for a United States of America suggests that this level of inequality threatens not only our economy -- who will buy what the wealthy produce? -- but the health of our democracy as well. One does not have to be a modern radical to worry. Back in the 1770s, the Founding Fathers worried deeply about the dangers to the new democracy of concentration of wealth.

    James Madison warned that inequality in property ownership would subvert liberty, either through opposition to wealth (a war of labor against capital) or "by an oligarchy founded on corruption" through which the wealthy dominate political decision-making (a war of capital against labor). John Adams favored distribution of public lands to the landless to create broad-based ownership of property, then the critical component of business capital in the largely agricultural U.S. Current levels and trends in inequality would almost certainly have terrified the founders, who believed that broad-based property ownership was essential to the sustenance of a republic.

    If increasing inequality is indeed as dire a problem as the Founding Fathers imagined, what, if anything, can the U.S. do to reverse the pattern and to assure that in the next three decades, all of us share in the benefits of modern technology and economic progress? What is the best way to avoid Madison's dark scenarios?

    The standard economic solutions from the right and left are either to raise or lower taxes; to increase or decrease social welfare expenditures; to invest more or less in education or infrastructure; to clamp down or loosen up on business. But none of them addresses the essence of the problem: the huge concentration of capital ownership and capital income.

    We propose a new strategy: to expand capital ownership and capital income for normal workers through programs that encourage broad-based employee stock ownership of firms, widely available profit-sharing, and all-employee stock options and stock grants in firms that now restrict ownership, stock options and bonuses to only the highest-level executives. (More active pension fund investments, more active institutional investors economy-wide and reforms in corporate governance are also needed to address what we could call the ownership gap, but we'll save them for another day.)

    The economic benefit of increasing workers' shares of the income earned by their employers jumps out in the data. On average, workers produce more in those firms in which they have a stake and in which they participate in workplace decision-making than in those in which they are merely hired hands. To be sure, worker ownership of shares and of the stream of returns through profit-sharing or gain-sharing or other forms of shared capitalism does not always produce better outcomes, any more than medicines cure all diseases. But empirical evidence reviewed in chapter five of our new book shows that on average, ownership and decision-making based on all employees owning a stake in performance beats out hierarchical economic structures dominated by the few. Technical aficionados will find details in "Shared Captialism at Work."

    One way to avoid the danger of inequality subverting democracy, then, and at the same time to improve corporate America's overall economic performance, is to create tens of millions more citizen capitalists by giving workers stock in their companies -- enough to focus their efforts on improving firm performance. In short, we favor employee stock ownership based on grants of stock to broad-groups of workers rather than workers buying shares with their wages or savings.

    Our new book, "The Citizen's Share," makes the economic case in greater detail. It references the detailed scholarly studies that underlie our conclusion. It directs attention to individual firms that reward workers with different forms of capital and notes that these firms are disproportionately among Fortune Magazine's "Best Places to Work," among the star performers in the industry in which they primarily operate, and they play important roles in high technology industries (think Google).

    But in researching the book, the biggest surprise was that citizen ownership -- often stigmatized as "socialist" or pie in the sky -- has a pedigree stretching back to the American Revolution. And it wasn't just James Madison and John Adams. Other be-wigged early presidents of the U.S. and half the crew on Mt. Rushmore -- George Washington and Thomas Jefferson -- believed that U.S. democracy would work best if citizens had a broad-based ownership stake in the economy. They too feared that extreme property inequality would prevent America from fulfilling its promise.

    George Washington, top; bottom, left to right: Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and John Adams. "American Star," by Thomas Gimbrede, 1781-1832, via Library of Congress.

    Madison wrote in a letter on voting that "the owners of the country itself form the safest basis of free government" and stressed "the universal hope of acquiring property." Washington, in a letter on immigration, said broad-based ownership would insure "the happiness of the lowest class of people because of the equal distribution of property." Adams favored "preserving the balance of power on the side of equal liberty and public virtue (by making) ... the acquisition of land easy to every member of society."

    Jefferson wrote to Madison that "legislators cannot invent too many devices for subdividing property."

    Even Alexander Hamilton, favorite of the moneyed interests, argued that few people wanted to be wage laborers only, and he believed, like Henry Ford centuries later, that a strong middle class was needed to become energetic customers of businesses in the entire economy.

    This view showed up in policies. Washington gave tax incentives to New England cod fishers to rebuild their fleets after the Revolutionary War on the condition that the captains and the crew sign contracts ensuring broad-based profit sharing among all workers. He also favored grants of substantial land to veterans of the Revolutionary War to make them into self-sufficient property-owners. Jefferson made the Louisiana Purchase to allow for more land ownership by citizens. The founders also sought to outlaw primogeniture, the practice whereby all property was inherited by the first-born son, the underpinning of feudal economies throughout Europe.

    Since the early days of the U.S., land was the main productive asset. Administration after administration provided inexpensive land to citizens. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 allowed citizens to cheaply acquire land in what would become Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and a third of Minnesota. Throughout the first half of the 19th century, the Federal government sold large plots to citizens at low prices, often using installment loans, and foregoing federal revenue to do so. Under President Abraham Lincoln, Congress enacted the Homestead Act of 1862, which gave 600,000 citizens access to about 100 million acres of land in 160-acre plots if they lived on the land and improved it. States such as Texas and Florida implemented generous state homestead acts. And most significantly, for our argument, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, Pennsylvania Rep. Galusha Grow, who managed the Homestead Act through the Congress for Lincoln, believed that the future of the homestead idea was in workers owning shares of corporations.

    The extraordinary success of farming and economic shift toward manufacturing and services changed the main form of productive capital in America, from land to business capital -- machinery and equipment, stores with stocks of goods, and yes, Mr. Hamilton's beloved financial capital as well. But to share in the income generated by business capital, workers needed ownership stakes in the firm. Some famous industrialists -- Charles Pillsbury of the Pillsbury Flour Mills, William Cooper Procter of Procter & Gamble, John Rockefeller of Standard Oil, George Eastman of Eastman Kodak (who invented the broad-based stock option idea in high-tech companies in the 1920s) -- developed low-risk ways for employees to acquire corporate shares of their companies' stock or profits.

    In 1956, the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) was invented by economist and corporate lawyer Louis O. Kelso as a way for the workers of a privately owned newspaper chain to buy out its owners. In 1974, as part of the Employee Retirement Savings Act (ERISA), Congress instituted tax incentives for corporations to grant workers shares of stock.

    In other words, while the idea of reducing inequality and improving economic efficiency by giving workers a greater ownership stake in their firm may sound radical in the context of today's partisan battles in Washington between capital and labor, history shows that it is in fact firmly rooted in U.S. tradition. In a world in which capital's share of income has risen, and top earners gain much of their "labor income" from capital, it is far more sensible to expand the proportion of Americans with capital income than to engage in destructive ideological battles pitting capital against labor.

    "The Citizen's Share" sketches out specific policies that can encourage greater employee stock ownership. It opens the door for others to present their ideas about how private companies can develop innovate ways to increase ownership by their employees and how government can use taxes and other policies to better incentivize corporations to consider such plans or to expand current plans. Restructuring the tax code should include provisions to broaden the citizens' share of the country's business stock.

    Our forefathers, George, John, Tom, James, and even Alexander, would, we believe, approve of this path for overcoming the danger to the country of wealth inequality. The Constitution begins, "We the People," not "We the Billionaires." We will better preserve or restore the reality of "We the People" if more of us have an ownership stake as well as work stake in our economy. The founders believed that a democratic republic required wide ownership of property and a bustling middle class to ensure its very existence.

    This entry is cross-posted on the Rundown -- NewsHour's blog of news and insight. Follow @paulsolman


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    On Nov. 22, 1963, America was changed forever. For the first time, a wide television audience witnessed the unfolding of a national tragedy. Fifty years later, we still remember the events of that fateful day, and the men who told its story. Photo by Carl Mydans/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

    In today's media coverage, a presidential trip is followed in real-time through updates on social media, blogs and 24-hour news channels. Fifty-years ago it was a different story. Television was just beginning as a medium for news, social media didn't exist and there were far fewer citizen journalists. President John F. Kennedy's trip to Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, was still followed closely, but what started as a normal day became anything but. It ended up forever changing the nation, and for five journalists it marked a watershed moment in their careers.

    Robert MacNeil

    NBC News' Robert MacNeil looks at the KRLD camera thinking it was the NBC camera, following the president's assassination and ensuing media frenzy. Photo by John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum

    At the time of Mr. Kennedy's trip to Dallas, Robert MacNeil was covering the presidential visit for NBC News. He may have been one of the first people to run into Lee Harvey Oswald after the shooting, but he didn't realize it was Oswald at the time and still isn't positive it was him. MacNeil


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    "Nonfiction is easy and fiction is hard." That's according to author Ann Patchett. " Her new book, "This is the Story of a Happy Marriage," collects autobiographical essays that reflect on, yes, her husband, but also writing, her friends, opening a bookstore and the other details that make up her life and experience.

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    Bidding representatives speak on the phone with their clients during an auction at Sotheby's on Wednesday in New York City. Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

    Even for the high stakes world of fine art auctions, $1.8 billion dollars is a chunk of change. That's the figure that changed hands during the last two weeks of auction sales, another record added to the long list that have been broken recently. The calculation comes from Kelly Crow, a reporter at the Wall Street Journal who covers the art market and who live-tweeted the phenomenon. In fact, all her tweets from Tuesday night's record-setting auction at Christie's were compiled into a handy and highly entertaining timeline.

    Millions are just pouring spigot-style into cty art @ChristiesInc: a $32.6m Pollock, $57.3m Warhol, $32.1m De Kooning, $46m Rothko & so on!

    — Kelly Crow (@KellyCrowWSJ) November 13, 2013

    It was on Tuesday night that the world witnessed the gavelling of the most expensive work of art ever sold: Francis Bacon's "The Studies of Lucian Freud." The triptych was purchased for a whopping $142 million, beating out the previous record of nearly $120 million for Edvard Munch's "The Scream," set in May 2012. Christie's also broke the record for any piece of art sold at an auction by a living artist. That artist, Jeff Koons, saw his "Balloon Dog (Orange)," sell for $58.4 million. In total Tuesday, world records were set for 10 artists and Christie's experiences the most expensive auction ever at a total of $691.6 million.

    Then, on Wednesday, Sotheby's witnessed more records breaking. Andy Warhol's "Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster)," expected to sell for $85 million, sold for $105.4 million, an auction record for the pop artist and the second highest price ever paid at an auction for contemporary art. By the end of the night, Sotheby's also saw its largest total ever at $394.1 million.

    These massive numbers beg the question: what does it all mean? Art Beat spoke with Crow to find out what it's like covering these multi-million dollar auctions, what makes these particular works so special and what does it mean for the future of the art market.

    To the lady wearing elbow-length purple gloves & the other carrying a bag that apes the book "Crime & Punishment," I say well done. Drama!

    — Kelly Crow (@KellyCrowWSJ) November 13, 2013

    You were at New York auction houses for back-to-back record breaking nights -- what was it like? The thing that you gain from attending an auction that you don't from going to a museum or a gallery or flipping through an art book on a coffee table is the electricity that comes from being in a room filled with billionaires and iconic paintings. There's a theater and a melodrama to being present in that almost game-like atmosphere. It feels a little like a casino and sporting event and a cocktail party all in one. Very few other places in the cultural sphere match that, at least for the handful of hours that the sale is going on.

    .@ChristiesInc built a new ground-level "skybox" b/c it had so much discreet $$ coming in. Room w/ one-way glass looks like a duck blind ha

    — Kelly Crow (@KellyCrowWSJ) November 13, 2013

    Can you put this in a context? What were the last two nights like in relation to previous auctions? The art market has been on a real roller coaster for the last decade or so. Whenever the wealth boom really began to kick in around 2003 or 2004, the art world went from being kind of a clubby, gentile atmosphere to really being a global litmus test for world wealth. For the first time arguably in history, you no longer just had the Europeans and the Americans jockeying for the world's most expensive western artists, but now you also have Russians and Ukrainians and folks from Dubai, China, India, Brazil all combining and fighting for a handful of the few hundred top works that come up to the market at any given year. The more competition, the higher the price -- that's very easy supply and demand economics.

    The last decade has seen this flood of money come into the market and has really transformed not only the prices but also the taste because what a Chinese collector likes is not always what a Brazilian likes is not always what someone from Oklahoma likes. There's been a real re-calibrating and shifting and settling that's been going on for a really long time.

    During the recession, there was of course a plummeting of prices, especially for the very newest artworks that came onto the marketplace, the contemporary works. Prices for Rembrandt and for Sevre porcelain and things that you might be able to pull form your granny's attic; the prices for those didn't change demonstrably. But the really hot trendy artists coming out of Chelsea that were selling for $5,000 last year and are now $20,000 and will next year be $300,000, that kind of heat really cooled off during the recession.

    But, for those who are watching the market, the real zinger has been how quickly those artists have bounced back. Now, here we are, I would say about 6 years or so since the last market peak -- the last market peak was really in 2007, when Bacon's were again selling for $85 million and Warhol's were selling for $70 million -- and now fast forward to today and we're cycling in again and Bacon's are selling for $142 million and Warhol's are selling for $100 million.

    A cameraman films Francis Bacon's "Three Studies of Lucian Freud" on display at Christie's on Oct. 14 in London. The triptych was sold at Christie's New York evening sale of post-war and contemporary art auction on Tuesday and is now the most expensive work of art ever sold. Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

    Some of the most talked about pieces that broke these records were Bacon's triptych, Koon's balloon dog, and Warhol's car crash. What makes them so special?

    I was really struck by how many of the top 10s for both houses were made in the 90s. I think collectors seem really willing to bet very big on works that were made not that long ago. So then when you scroll back and you compare the very expensive pieces, it's almost heartening to see that Francis Bacon, at least he painted this in 1969. At least this wasn't painted literally when I was in high school.

    For folks who are not familiar with Bacon's work, he is someone who was famous in his own lifetime in the 60s, sort of the swinging London 60s if you can think of the Austin Powers era. Francis Bacon was one of these big charismatic figures known for frequenting the bars of Soho and painting these kind of vigorous, to me very testosterone fueled, portraits of his friends and lovers. And yet, for collectors, the irony is that Bacon was a gay man who had terrible taste in men. The men that he fell for very often were thieves or just broke his heart so there's a fragility that underlies this vigorous paintbrush work.

    In this case, this particular Bacon, it's actually a series of thre 6-foot tall paintings, so I think you could argue that it's actually a three-for-one situation. It also has its own sort of great story involving an Italian collector who had spent the better part of 20 years searching around the world for these three paintings that had been separated by their dealer when they were originally sold in 1970 and dispersed against the artists wishes. This particular collector went back and reunited them, right? So it has kind of a nice, heartwarming afterlife. I think collectors are often paying for the story behind the work as they are for the work themselves.

    Jeff Koons' "Balloon Dog (Orange)" is displayed Oct. 31 at Christie's in New York. The mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating set a net record for the the price of an artwork by a living artist at Christie's auction on Tuesday. Photo by Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

    Jeff Koons' big balloon dog reminds us about everything we loved as kids. Who doesn't love going and getting a balloon from a clown -- we don't love the clowns, but we love the balloons. Here is this huge dog, it's mirrored, we can see our own reflection in it and its ginormous. It's the size of a shipping container. It's very easy to love the item and the fact that there are only a handful of them made, that rarity also just gives it an extra sizzle. I think that's what we're learning, that the things that we loved as children are not that far are from the things we end up loving as adults, we just have to pay more for them.

    Andy Warhol's artwork, "Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster)" is displayed while being auctioned at Sotheby's on Wednesday in New York City. The artwork was the big seller of the evening, sold for $105.4 million, a record for the famed artist. Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

    When it comes to Warhol, man, Warhol right? He is the Dow industrial average for the art market. He is traded so often and at such regularity that his price has often helped set the pace for dozens of artists in and around him. He is one of the handful of names that I think pretty much anyone in America would recognize. I think honestly you could go to any two-bit town and say "Do you know Picasso? Have you heard of Warhol?" And they will say yes. He has really ascended the ranks of household name status in a way that few other artists in America have done before or since. And so people are willing to pay a serious premium to own any significant work by him.

    In 1963, he was around 35 years old and embarked on a series of paintings called "Death and Disaster." That was the theme of these works. He would end up pulling newspaper accounts of car crashes or poisonings or other sort of people getting impaled by scary things -- having a car crash. And he began to be interested in the fact that these were clearly ghastly moments in the life of the people affected and yet they were almost sort of casually broadcast on TV stations and in newspaper accounts in a way that we have become very desensitized to now. We watch these things happening in the Philippines and we're devastated but we're not, we're not surprised by being able to look at violence. We're inundated with it now.

    As someone who was very taken with American culture and analyzing the iconography of that, from Hollywood starlets to soda pop cans to you name it, Warhol had a really great eye for these images that just sort of seared into our brains and reminded us that we were American or reminded us just who we were, kind of rooted us in a place and a time. In that way these Death and Disaster pictures really stand apart because they are darker and they are, so to speak, an uglier side of our culture and yet you can't ignore it.

    Never seen that before:As a Twombly faltered below est, a dude flung his hand out of the skybox, only to grow sheepish. Art went to another

    — Kelly Crow (@KellyCrowWSJ) November 14, 2013

    What does this mean for the future of auction houses and art prices?

    If I were to place a bet right now, and I can't because I can't read the future, I might argue that this was the best it's going get for this cycle of the market. Everything about it, from the supply of really great pictures to the frothy prices being paid for it suggest a peak. I'm not sure where we could go up from here. Now I felt a little bit that way in May but May was also, the Spring was a banner season for the auctions as well and I wondered how much further we could go and this, this set of fall sales clearly reinforced that.

    So we may have one more round in us. It could carry over through February in London, especially if the stock market keeps doing as well as it's doing and if the recession clearly seems over. I think as long as the economy keeps doing well there's clearly an argument to be made that the art market will be doing well. But gosh I'm not sure how many $100 million pictures the market absorbs in any given season and so I think it's still anyone's guess if we're at the peak.

    This conversation has been lightly and clarity edited for length.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Congress took the first step today toward letting Americans hang on to their current health plans. But the bill that passed the House may be going nowhere fast.

    NewsHour congressional correspondent Kwame Holman begins our coverage.

    REP. MICHAEL BURGESS, R-Texas: What has been visited upon the American people in the Affordable Care Act will not be resolved by this action today. It is merely to stop the bleeding.

    KWAME HOLMAN: The one-page bill pushed through by House Republicans would let those who want to keep or reinstate their health plans. The Associated Press reported more than four million policies have been canceled so far.

    Michael Burgess of Texas:

    MICHAEL BURGESS: Any good triage doctor knows before they can fully treat or cure the patient, they have to deal with the immediate problems. In this case, they have to stop the hemorrhage of people losing their private health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act.

    KWAME HOLMAN: But the bill also goes a key step further. It lets insurance companies sell new customers plans that fall short of the federal standards. California Democrat Henry Waxman warned that provision would undermine the entire program.

    REP. HENRY WAXMAN, D-Calif.: It will destabilize the health insurance exchanges, raise premiums, and continue to allow insurers to discriminate on the basis of preexisting conditions. Under the Republican bill, insurers could cherry-pick the best risks and destabilize the insurance market for everyone else.

    KWAME HOLMAN: In the end, the vote was 261-157, with 39 Democrats voting for the Republican bill.

    MAN: The bill is passed.

    KWAME HOLMAN: White House officials feared even more Democratic defections before the president announced he's giving insurance companies the option of extending current policies through 2014.

    In Detroit today, Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, said she thinks most people will opt for new plans.

    KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary: We just hope that, on balance, people find either affordable coverage staying with their plan for an additional year and have a transition year -- and that's what this really is -- it's kind of a bridge year -- or find for that, for far better coverage, they are better off in the new marketplace.

    KWAME HOLMAN: House Republicans insisted today the president's administrative change is not enough, that it takes the force of law to do what's needed. But the White House warned the president will veto the GOP bill if it ever reaches his desk. And in any event, the measure stands little chance of garnering a majority in the Democratic-held Senate.

    Instead, a handful of Senate Democrats led by Louisiana's Mary Landrieu is pushing its own bill. It requires companies to continue existing coverage, but unlike the House bill, it's limited to current customers. And unlike the one-year limit on the plan the president announced yesterday, the policies could remain in effect indefinitely, all this as the president met with health insurance CEOs at the White House this afternoon, urging them to renew canceled policies.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: As Kwame said in his report, the president's move yesterday on the problem of canceled policies allows insurers to extend those current plans through 2014. But it doesn't require them to do so.

    Now, one of the main questions is whether insurers will go along with this and, if they do, what concerns they have about changing things again.

    Hari Sreenivasan picks up that part of the story.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Julie Appleby follows these matters closely for Kaiser Health News, an independent not-for-profit news organization. It is not affiliated with the Kaiser Permanente insurance company.

    So, I know that we saw images of the president meeting with the CEOs today. Has the insurance industry come out and made a statement on how they're going to take these changes?

     JULIE APPLEBY, Kaiser Health News: They're being very cautious right now.

    A lot of them, because of the logistics involved, because this is optional, they are saying they're studying this, but they haven't made any decisions. A lot of them are very noncommittal about it. We have heard from a few insurers, like Florida Blue, Aetna, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of North Carolina, who say that they do want to allow some of these policies to be renewed.

    But we're also hearing from the industry's trade lobby that this is a bad idea. They don't like the idea. They say it could disrupt the market and could cause problems down the line that could cause higher premiums in the future.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, it's a mixed bag depending on the insurance companies, and there's no way to interview every one of these.

    JULIE APPLEBY: Yes.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, let's talk about some of the practical challenges that these insurance companies have now. How much is it going to cost them when it comes to changing these formulas around? They have taken at least a year, a year-and-a-half to try to figure out how to comply with the ACA.

    JULIE APPLEBY: That's one of the things they're wrestling with. Is this worth it to them to go through the administrative hassle of figuring out, how many policies do we want to renew? Which ones? How much will it cost? Do we want to raise premiums for these policies?

    If they want to raise premiums, which they usually do -- when a policy comes up for renewal, there's usually a premium increase. But that requires that they file that with their state insurance commissioner, get approval in many cases, and put it into effect. That's one of the questions they're wrestling with. How would we do that? Do we have time to do that?

    Remember, a lot of the policies expire by the end of the year. And so if people want to have coverage starting January 1, they pretty much have got to have this done by December 15. That's only a month from now and that is not a lot of time. So, that's one of the things that the insurers are wrestling with in this process.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: One of the reasons for all these timelines was to encourage people to get into these health care exchanges. The exchanges need a good cross-section of people, young healthy people, old people, et cetera.

    If this extension or this delay happens, what happens to the pool of people in these exchanges?

    JULIE APPLEBY: That's one of the concerns that the insurers and the actuaries and some of the state insurance commissioners as well have stated is, what happens? Is this going to keep more people who are younger and healthier, for example, out of that pool that's going into those new marketplaces?

    And if that happens, if the young people or the healthier people decide to hang on to these policies because they're less comprehensive and maybe a little bit less expensive, then that might leave older and sicker people in the marketplace and that over time could drive up costs in that marketplace, which could be a big problem down the road.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And then help explain the role that the state insurance commissioners play, because they're not a wild card, but they're a very important actor in rolling these things out.

    JULIE APPLEBY: That's right. That's right. And not all of them want to do this. We have heard from several states that say, yes, we want to.

    And we have heard from several that don't. Washington State, for example, doesn't want to do this. The insurance commissioner there said we enacted some of these new consumer provisions. We require these new plans to have a lot of new benefits. That's why we're getting rid of the old plans, and we think that consumers are going to benefit from the new plans, so we don't want to change this.

    But other states are saying that, yes, we want to try it. So, Florida, for example, has said, yes, we're going to let people renew the policies. So, these insurance commissioners are going to be part of this decision, and they're not unanimous in what they're going to do.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And is there any sort of a timeline or deadline that the insurance commissioners have to decide by?

    JULIE APPLEBY: Well, again, it gets back to, when do these policies kick in?

    So, for some people, these policies expire at the end of December, so for them, the pressure is on. But what the president said is that even policies that expire say, in January, or February or March could be renewed for another year. For those policies, there may be a little more time to decide.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And, ultimately, what about the sort of end user, the person who is thinking about jumping into these exchanges? Should this give them pause? Should they be waiting for some sort of communication from an insurance company?

    JULIE APPLEBY: You know, the folks that are -- what consumer advocates are telling me is that if you have had a canceled policy, you might want to check with your insurer whether they're going to allow to you renew it or not. That would be the first step.

    And then the other thing that consumer advocates say is that you ought to check on your online marketplace, whether it's your state one or the federal one, to see if you might get a better deal through that marketplace, either a more comprehensive policy or a subsidy. But that's that's one of the things that people should check.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Julie Appleby, thanks so much.

    JULIE APPLEBY: Thank you.

     


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: We will have more on the health insurance industry's response to the president's latest initiative right after the news summary.

    They kept counting bodies and kept waiting for help in the Central Philippines today. The confirmed death toll from last Friday's typhoon rose to 3,621, with at least 600,000 homeless. Survivors in the ravaged city of Tacloban swarmed the relief helicopters and trucks that did get through.

    Angus Walker of Independent Television News reports from there.

    ANGUS WALKER: A scramble for sacks of supplies, hunger in their eyes, survival on their minds.

    In seconds, it's all gone, too little and, one week on, arguably too late. They try to keep desperation at bay. Another load to deliver, and the sound of the chopper brings a swarming crowd. The crew, fearful of being mobbed again, just throw it to the ground. Most are left empty-handed, an airdrop in an ocean of need.

    But the aid operation is growing, the U.S. military deployment more visible by the day, here to do the heavy lifting, with boots on the ground and boxes piling up. It certainly appears to be taking far too long for aid to get from runway to ruins. But the most senior U.S. officer on the ground thinks that's normal at this stage.

    ADM. MARK MONTGOMERY, U.S. Navy: This is my third one of these, and I think this is fairly typical that take -- the processes that you use after a week or 10 days into it don't necessarily exist on day one.

     ANGUS WALKER: Living just two minutes from the airport, and the tons of stored food and water, Maritez Cinco hasn't seen any of it.

    MARITEZ CINCO, survivor: So, what will we do? What will I do? What will these people do? What will these children do?

    ANGUS WALKER: Aid is being delivered to Tacloban, but it's simply not enough. A truck has just turned up at this evacuation center, and within seconds, hundreds are queuing for food. Little by little, help is in sight, but there's a long, long way to go.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: China's ruling Communist Party announced a major revision today in the longstanding one-child policy. It means many more families will now be allowed to have a second child. Officials also announced an end to the system of forced labor camps. We will hear more about the changes later in the program.

    Japan has drastically reduced its goals for fighting climate change. The ruling cabinet voted today to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 3.8 percent from their 2005 levels by 2020. A spokesman said the previous target of a 25 percent reduction was unrealistic.

    At a conference in Poland , the U.N.'s climate chief voiced dismay, while praising Japan's overall energy policy.

    CHRISTIANA FIGUERES, United Nations Climate Chief: It's obviously regrettable, absolutely. But, you know, Japan is a very advanced economy. And they are already very energy-efficient, but they have shown that they can, even from a very high basis of efficiency, they have even increased that over the past years.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Japan is the world's fifth largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

    The drive to address climate change by burning more ethanol may be curtailed. The Obama administration called today for reducing the amount of the corn-based fuel that's included in gasoline starting next year. Oil companies and some environmental groups lobbied for the reduction. More about what's behind the change a little later.

    In Libya, some of the worst fighting in memory erupted today in the capital city, killing 27 people and wounding 235 others. Armed militia fighters opened fire on thousands of protesters who were demanding that the militias be disbanded. Hundreds of armed groups have mushroomed across Libya since the fall of Moammar Gadhafi.

    Efforts to find a place for destroying Syria's chemical weapons have suffered a new setback. The prime minister of Albania today rejected a U.S. request to accept tons of mustard gas and sarin nerve gas. The decision drew cheers from some 2,000 demonstrators who were massed outside the prime minister's office. They insisted that their small Balkan nation cannot safely dispose of the Syrian weapons.

    TOMOR LUZATI, protester: I know exactly what it is and what damage they can create it if they can come in my country. We are not prepared and we have no possibilities, no capacities and no specialists to do this kind of experiment.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Albania was selected as a possible site because it recently destroyed its own poison gas arsenal.

    The CIA is secretly collecting massive amounts of data on international money transfers, including those in to and out of the United States. The New York Times reported today that, according to unnamed officials, the previously unknown program is authorized by the Patriot Act. That's the same law the National Security Agency has used to gather data on Americans' phone calls.

     The U.S. Postal Service narrowed its losses last year, but still ended up another $5 billion in the red. That was sharply lower than the loss of nearly $16 billion that the agency reported a year ago. Still, it marked the seventh consecutive year that the Postal Service has run at a deficit.

    President Obama will ask Congress to extend long-term jobless benefits through the end of next year. The White House said today that it's necessary because unemployment remains high.

    On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 85 points to close at 15,961. The Nasdaq rose 13 points to close just short of 3,986. For the week, the Dow gained more than 1 percent; the Nasdaq rose nearly 2 percent.

     

     


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: For all of the problems with the rollout of the health insurance program, one part of that effort seems to be going better is the expansion of Medicaid, health care for the poor.

    Nearly 400,000 additional Americans have learned that they are now eligible to enroll.

    And that brings us to our series of personal stories of health reform. Tonight, we hear from a young man in California who is in the process of newly enrolling in Medicaid, a joint federal and state program that's known there as Medi-Cal.

    WOMAN: I'm going to scrape that out. Don't you dare put water in there. Oh, you snot.

    AARON MACHOLL-STANLEY, college student: My name is Aaron Macholl-Stanley. I'm 25 years old. I currently live at home with my mother. I am just finishing up a second year at San Francisco City College culinary arts program.

    Cooking has always just been one of the things that I have enjoyed. I actually started working at the CommonWealth Cafe and Public House in Oakland, where I am dishwashing, prep cook and line cook.

    The employer doesn't provide any sort of health insurance, despite being an awesome place to work and a really friendly environment. At my school, we have a health fee that covers limited medical responses. Like, if I have cut myself, they will give me a Band-Aid. I still need insurance so that I can get a prescription if I get sick.

    I don't have any preexisting conditions or health issues constantly, other than maybe the occasional cat allergy, but I'm much more likely to burn myself or cut myself, and constantly around fire and sharp objects.

    And I believe that having health insurance is definitely a necessity in this industry. As I was growing up, I had insurance through my mom's employer. Once she retired, I moved onto her retiree group health plan through Aetna insurance.

    When I got to be 23, we got a notification from Aetna saying that, at 23, I was going to age out. The difference that they seemed to imply about the retiree plan was that, because everybody was retired, there were no active employees, so that they were not bound by certain language of the Affordable Care Act that said that they had to keep me on until I was 26.

    I was at that point looking at different options. I could keep the same plan for $256 through COBRA. Another option was the Kaiser plan that I ended up going with, which was a high-deductible, $90 plan. I did try to avoid going to the doctor, so that I wouldn't get the brunt of the bill because of the high deductible.

    At the beginning of October, I got a letter from Kaiser saying that, with the Affordable Care Act, the plan that I had was going to be discontinued. The next closest plan was going to be a $221 plan with a $9,500 deductible. And that seems like an exorbitant jump, despite assurances that I would be able to keep the insurance that I had and continue to pay what I had been paying.

    WOMAN: There's a couple of options. It's coverage basics and apply for coverage.

    AARON MACHOLL-STANLEY: My mom and I went on to the Covered California site together to look at what options were available.

    Given my income level, the Covered California site seemed to indicate I should definitely go with Medicaid, Medi-Cal in California. This is the application that I filled out. It's just all of the questions that I had to answer in order to apply.

    At this point, I'm not really sure about what sort of coverage Medi-Cal is going to be providing for me. All I know is that option is the best one for me at this point.

    I think the Affordable Care Act is a small step in the right direction. I think that the more people we get on health insurance, the better it will be for the entire nation. Most people my age think that they're invincible, and that they don't need health insurance, and it's really not the first priority.

    And I would assume that health should be everyone's first priority, because, if you're not healthy, you're not able to work, you're not able to go to school, you're not able to do all of the things that being alive sort of entails.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Just for the record, we checked back with Aaron today. He said Kaiser insurance told him that it is considering how it will respond to the president's move. But, either way, he plans to enroll in the Medi-Cal program.

    As always, we try to fill out the broader picture.

    Tonight, NewsHour analyst Susan Dentzer joins us.

    Susan, welcome back.

    So, Medicaid seems to be one of the bright spots in the rollout of this health care law. What is it, 400,000 people, we said, have enrolled? Why has it become so attractive?

    SUSAN DENTZER: Well, first of all, Medicaid has expanded under the law, obviously, and so people with higher incomes than were generally the case can now enroll.

    For single individuals, that's up to about just under $16,000 a year of income now can enroll, and, very importantly, the eligibility was expanded so that single adults without dependent children, like Aaron, can now sign up for the program. In many states, if you were a single adult, previously, you were not eligible.

    So, because of that, there are an estimated 10 million to 20 million people who could eventually come into the Medicaid program, the expanded Medicaid program. Now, of course, that depends on whether the states have gone ahead and expanded Medicaid. And because of the Supreme Court decision a year ago, which threw that into question, there are still about two dozen states that have not decided yet to expand their Medicaid program. So we will have to see how that plays out over time.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes. I was going to ask you, how do you see that affecting this? Because, initially, the Medicaid expansion was very much a part of the health care law. But then, when the Supreme Court said states could decide for themselves, how did that affect the -- people's decisions about what to do? What do we see so far?

    SUSAN DENTZER: Well, it certainly has blocked the population in some of the states that have not expanded Medicaid, like Texas, for example. Many people who in other states that have expanded Medicaid would have been eligible are not able to get enrolled.

    A state like California, which has probably about two million people who will be eligible for the expanded Medicaid program, those folks, like Aaron, are not going to have trouble getting enrolled.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, how representative would you say he is? Twenty-six years old, obviously, just getting started in his professional life, still going to school, how typical is he of people who are signing on to Medicaid? Do we know?

    SUSAN DENTZER: Well, certainly, there are going to be a lot like him. There are also going to be working older adults, single adults without dependent kids who have struggled in low-wage jobs that don't provide health insurance coverage. That will be another important group of people.

    Many people who are living just above the poverty level, because we're expanding now Medicaid up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, so just -- just richer than that, typically, you haven't been able to qualify. So people like Aaron, who potentially are going to be in Medicaid for a while, also have another advantage going for them in states like California, because, in about 10 states, insurers have offered coverage both in Medicaid and in the health insurance exchange, so that if their income fluctuates over time, they can stay in the same plan.

    And that may be the case with Aaron. If he rises through the ranks of the restaurant some day and earns more money, he could potentially stay in the same plan and get coverage through the exchange.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, as we're saying, a lot of people are signing up for Medicaid. At the same time, there have been these problems with the technical aspect of signing up, the Web site itself, we know, still troubled.

    How much of an effect is that having, do we know, on the ability of people to sign up for Medicaid?

    SUSAN DENTZER: It has had some effect in about 36 states, where -- depending on people being able to come through healthcare.gov, and fill out an application for Medicaid that would then be detailed over to the state itself.

    That hasn't worked yet. However, it is the case that people can still sign up through their state Medicaid program. You can also get referred to that Medicaid program on healthcare.gov. And, in addition, there have been many states that actually said, we're going to go our own route, states like Oregon that decided in advance to send out letters to people who they thought would probably be eligible.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.

    SUSAN DENTZER: And those folks have filled out paper applications and sent them back. So, in Oregon, for example, 70,000 people have signed up that way.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Susan Dentzer, thank you.

    I have to say, I was struck by the young man saying he doesn't know what type of coverage he's going to have, but it's his only option.

    SUSAN DENTZER: And he gets all the benefits that are in all the packages in the exchanges.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Susan Dentzer, we thank you.

    SUSAN DENTZER: Great to be with you, Judy.

     


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: After decades of global condemnation over the practices, China today announced the easing of one controversial government policy and the abolishment of another.

    Jeffrey Brown explains.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The announcement heralded the biggest change in China's one-child policy in three decades. Millions more couples will be allowed to have two children, provided at least one parent was an only child.

    The existing policy, enforced by mandatory abortions and sterilization, was deeply unpopular. And so was the system of forced labor camps that Communist Party leaders announced they're abolishing. That system, established in 1957, allows police to imprison people for up to four years without formal arrest or trial.

    The reforms came out of a four-day meeting of top communist officials, led by President Xi Jinping, who took office earlier this year. Xi consolidated his power at the gathering with the formation of a national security committee to oversee the party, government and military. The party meeting also agreed to let the private market play a more important role in the world's second-largest economy.

     


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    JEFFREY BROWN: So, what do the announcements mean for the future of human rights in China?

    We turn to Susan Shirk, a professor of China and Pacific relations at the University of California, San Diego, and Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch.

    Susan Shirk, start -- let's start with the one-child policy. What has compelled this change, and how important is it?

    SUSAN SHIRK, University of California: Well, it's driven by the fact that, as you noted, it's very unpopular, and also that China's population is aging, which will slow down economic development.

    So they need to have more working-age children entering the labor force. Demographers have been asking for this for quite a few years. It means that 10 million -- I think an estimate is that 10 million additional families will be able to have more than one child if they so choose.

    Of course, many urban families, especially, may decide to stick with one child.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, Kenneth Roth, what would -- how do you see it? It's still -- it's a partial action. It certainly doesn't take the government out of this altogether.

    KENNETH ROTH, Human Rights Watch: Precisely. It's a good step forward.

    But the problem is that the method of enforcement of either the one- or the two-child policy is coercive and intrusive. One of the reasons why this reform is taking place is that it has become so unpopular. It's enforced through exorbitant fines sometimes, through forced abortion, through forced sterilization. Women often have to report their menstrual cycles to their workplace.

    This kind of intrusive policy is actually going to stay there, but simply be liberalized somewhat for couples where one of them is an only child.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Does it -- just stay with you, Ken Roth. Does it suggest to you, though, that public discontent does play a bigger role now in China, the larger voice?

    KENNETH ROTH: I think there's no question that it does.

    One of the big game-changers in the last few years has been the rise of social media in China. And despite the massive efforts of the government to try to control that and censor it, it often gets out of hand. And people are able to express their discontent. The government cannot afford to disregard massive voicing of discontent against policies like the one-child policy.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, so, Susan Shirk, pick up on that, but put it in the context oft other big reform we heard about today, which involves the prison labor camps.

    What's behind that? And how big a change is that?

    SUSAN SHIRK: Well, I think it's very substantial, especially in the context of a much longer piece of the document about the reform of the legal system.

    There's a lot in the document about having a more authoritative legal system, even a more independent legal system. Now, of course, it doesn't say that the party will have no role. But it does mean that, for example, the judges who actually hear the evidence and the testimony are supposed to make the call, instead of some deliberation committee.

    So, this is a very comprehensive document. There's lots to talk about here. And the reform of reeducation through labor is one of the important steps forward.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What -- Ken Roth, what, do you see in that aspect to it? What questions do you have, even as this comes out?

    KENNETH ROTH: Yes. Well, first, let me correct one thing. China is not abolishing labor camps.

    It's abolishing one of the means that people are put in labor camps, the so-called reeducation through labor. About two-thirds of the people sentenced through reeducation through labor are drug users. And what we fear is that they're simply going to take these forced labor camps, change the sign out front to make them a detox center, and the people will continue in place.

    And these are detox centers only in name, since 98 percent of the people when they leave relapse into drug use. There are also things like something called custody and education, which is used for sex workers. There's no mention of discontinuing that.

    The real difference potentially is for what here we might call misdemeanor offenders, as well as various dissidents, democracy advocates, human rights vacation, people petitioning against the government, religious dissidents, so Falun Gong practitioners. These are people who had been sentenced under reeducation through labor, which basically means the police on their own without a judge can sentence them to up to four years of forced labor.

    That system is being abolished. We don't know what's going to replace it, whether it's going to be a judge-led system, in which there really is due process, or whether it's going to continue to be some form of detention without trial. That's a big question we have to watch.

    (CROSSTALK)

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, Susan Shirk, when you -- you referred to the document that contains all of this and much more that you have had a chance to look at.

    SUSAN SHIRK: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: When you put it all together, does it look like large change? What does it tell you about Xi Jinping? Does it look like limited things around the margins, or, say, something much bigger?

    SUSAN SHIRK: No, I think it's a very big deal.

    It is a very ambitious and comprehensive reform blueprint of the sort that we haven't seen for decades. And Xi hearkens back to Deng Xiaoping 1992, and is clearly modeling himself on Deng Xiaoping. And the document, of course, in some areas, it's short on details. In other areas, there are real details.

    But it's very market-oriented. It basically says that the government should get out of the way of the market and allow the market to allocate inputs into the economy. It offers a lot of new opportunities for private business and for foreign business. So, I think it's a very big deal. People will want to read it quite thoroughly.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And, Kenneth Roth, the last word to you. It sounds like you're -- you want to read details.

    KENNETH ROTH: Yes, I have got to say, the jury is still out on this one.

    There have been some positive advances today. But we have got to look at what the government didn't do. It didn't take the government out of the business of deciding how many children couples can have. It didn't even guarantee a trial before the government detains people. So, you know, yes, it's a step in the right direction. It shows that China is responsive both to domestic pressure and international criticism, but it is nowhere near where we want things to end up.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Kenneth Roth, Susan Shirk, thank you both very much.

    KENNETH ROTH: Thank you.

    SUSAN SHIRK: Thank you.

     

     


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Next: the changing requirements for ethanol in gasoline and bigger questions over its wider use in recent years.

    Today, the Obama administration proposed cutting the amount of ethanol that would be blended into gasoline next year. The Environmental Protection Agency cited better fuel efficiency among the reasons, saying the current mandatory levels are no longer appropriate.

    Hari is back with that story.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The announcement comes, coincidentally, during a week when the Associated Press released an investigation into the environmental impact of increased U.S. corn production in recent years, much of it going to make ethanol.

    Dina Cappiello is national environment reporter for the AP and co-authored their report.

    So, let's put this change today in perspective. I think they wanted to take, what, three billion gallons of ethanol out of the fuel mixture? Is that a large amount? 

    DINA CAPPIELLO, AP: Well, it's actually three billion gallons of all renewable biofuels.

    So, actually, for ethanol, which makes the bulk of our biofuel mandate, it's about 1.5 billion gallons. And what's significant about it is, obviously, this is an industry that wanted to see its portion grow. It was going to max out at about 15 billion gallons in a couple of years.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Yes.

    DINA CAPPIELLO: What they did today was say 13 billion gallons for ethanol. Last year, this year, this current year, it's 13.8.

    And it was a recognition that we're really reaching a point where, as gasoline consumption comes down, there's really no place to put it unless you're going to increase the percentage of ethanol in gasoline.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And that could change how a car performs if it's past a certain percentage, right?

    DINA CAPPIELLO: Yes. Some engines struggle with anything above 10 percent, which is what the vast majority of our fuel is blended with now.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Did they just not see this coming in terms of people using less gasoline? Did they just predict that there would be more gasoline, so let's add more biofuels into that mix?

    DINA CAPPIELLO: Well, remember, this was in 2007. So, a lot has changed since 2007 since this law was passed.

    I think that, for a couple years now, the oil industry has been arguing that what they call -- we call it a blend wall, is coming, and EPA might have to consider what to do with ethanol. Now, it's already, previous to this announcement today, this proposal today, had lowered for quite a few years the requirements for cellulosic, just because the industry has not taken off as fast as they expected.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, this was -- it was a bipartisan-supported piece of legislation in 2007, and today we had the heads of the -- I think the House Energy Commerce Committee, a bipartisan kind of rolling back of the standards in support of the EPA today. What's changed?

    DINA CAPPIELLO: What's changed is, I think, that we have seen, first of all, what ethanol has done on the ground is what our investigation looked at. As it helped increase corn prices, created a new market for corn, that has driven more planting, so there has been some real question about what its environmental impacts are and whether it's really as green as it was billed back in 2007.

    And then it's just the difference in energy markets. The president today in his weekly address was talking about how, earlier this week, we are -- actually announced we produced more oil than we import for the first time. This is also an argument for reducing our dependence on foreign oil, but this since this law passed, we're reproducing oil like gangbusters.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, what are some of those environmental consequences? Are we pulling more water out of the ground, so to speak, to make the land arable or to water the agriculture?

    DINA CAPPIELLO: Well, I think the big one is just the land conversion. So, what our investigation found is not only has the push for ethanol helped drive farmland that was fallowed for conservation reasons to be converted into crop, but it also has helped convert native prairie lands that were never cropped.

    That is a loss of habitat that actually releases greenhouse gases because grass store carbons, right. So do soils. So, as you till that land, you're actually -- there is a greenhouse gas footprint. Then, on these marginal lands really not meant for corn, you're increasing nitrogen use,the tilling, going back and forth on these acres, increase of gasoline use in the tractors that are used. All of this has environmental consequences.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Hasn't farming become more efficient over time? And some of the -- I think Chuck Grassley's office pushed back today and said, hey, we're actually using less fertilizer per bushel acre than we ever were before.

    DINA CAPPIELLO: Well, less fertilizer per acre, yes, but since this mandate came to be, we have planted 15 million more acres of corn.

    So, take the per-unit out. In total, it's more fertilizer going on to cornfields, and that fertilizer in turn runs off into streams that are used for water supplies, runs off into the river, where it flows and helps produce the dead zone. So, yes, per acre, it is more efficient. But the bottom line, is we're, planting a lot more corn.

    I mean, when this announcement came out today, Bob Dinneen of the Renewable Food Association said, we have farmers out there in this country that planted 93 million acres of corn in preparation for this fuel source going up, not going down.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Right. Right.

    What about some of the environmental groups now today that are trying to push back and say, listen, this is one of the cornerstones to fight climate change; you can't roll back on this?

    DINA CAPPIELLO: I think what the concern is, is this, is that ethanol -- corn-based ethanol was always viewed as a bridge. Right?

    And the administration has long said -- they have been steadfast in their support for this law, even though, obviously, they didn't sign it, but they were steadfast it was a bridge to a cleaner, greener fuel, which is the cellulosics from waste products.

    I think what the concern of the environmental community is, is not really getting rid of corn ethanol, which they know has some environmental tradeoff, but is, what does that mean for the next generation of fuels that are better environmentally, that don't have these consequences that we exposed in our investigation?

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Dina Cappiello from the Associated Press, thanks so much.

    DINA CAPPIELLO: Thank you.

     


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks.

    That's syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    Welcome to the program, gentlemen.

    So, Mark and David, a tough week for the president, culminating in this vote today in the House, 39 Democrats crossing over to vote with Republicans.

    Why -- what happened? Why is this happening?

    DAVID BROOKS: Well, there's a slide.

    I have always thought Obamacare wouldn't be repealed and it will essentially go into effect more or less as an enacted. But now, this week, you have to begin to have some doubts. And I say that for a couple reasons. First, on just substance grounds, the reversal on the insurance on the people who had their insurance policies canceled, that's going to do a little, as we said earlier on the program, to make it more likely that the young people do not get involved in the exchange and do not end up subsidizing, so you get a sicker, older pool of people there.

    Rates rise, and then you get into this problem where nobody wants to get in because the rates become so high and they end up paying the penalty. So, I think you have got a substantive problem there, which they need those younger people in, or else it just doesn't work. And then the second thing is political.

    The administration is now on its back heels. And they're on the back heels on the easy stuff. The stuff up front was the easy stuff. And when the hard challenges come at later enactment dates, when those hit, they will have -- people will have no spirit to defend them. And so if we're seeing people peeling off right now, I think when the hard challenges come, there's much more political peril for the White House.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark, the president had made this concession yesterday, saying -- he's backtracking, saying he was willing to let these insurance companies continue to sign -- to sponsor people who already had policies. But that didn't turn out to be enough.

    MARK SHIELDS: Well, it did, Judy.

    I mean, there were really speculation and realistic expectation that as many as 100 Democrats would desert, but the president yesterday, in his rather uncharacteristically subdued press conference, he was almost glum, it seemed, but that was directed at the House and the Congress in particular.

    And the fact that they held it to 39 was seen as somewhat of a victory. But there's no question that there was despair and discouragement in the ranks of Democrats. The president's own job rating has fallen below 40 in several polls. And when a president's job rating is below 40 in midterm congressional elections, the average number of seats lost by that president's party is three dozen.

    So that has led to some consternation and anxiety. Democrats just a few weeks ago were bullish about 2014 and the prospects of winning back the House even and upsetting history.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: After the government shutdown.

    MARK SHIELDS: After the government shutdown, the Republican brand, and we have got 9 percent approval of the Congress, which is essentially the Republican brand in the Congress.

    John McCain said, when you're down to 9 percent, you're talking about blood relatives and staff members, and that's it. But when you're -- right now, in the most recent survey, the president actually was seen as less able than the Republicans in Congress on handling health care. So there's a real nervousness.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, it is just politics that caused the president to issue this apology, mea culpa. Mark describes him as glum and down.

    DAVID BROOKS: Well, he's unpopular.

    It turns out if you sell a health care plan on the basis that we won't increase the debt and nobody will be a loser, then, when there are losers, they get really mad. And there were bound to be losers. And so that's part of it.

    But part of it is just the weakening of the law, the weakening of support for the law, and the weakening of the own president's authority to say, trust me, trust me. I'm really struck by the downward slide that he's doing.

    I'm a little surprised by it, frankly. And what's interesting is, compared to Reagan and Clinton in their second terms, had very similar popular approval ratings, which were going up at this point. George W. Bush and Barack Obama have extremely similar downward slopes. Bush's went all the way through, caused by Iraq and Katrina, and, in Obama's case, health care and other things.

    And one of the things that strikes me is the country has changed, much more cynical, much more anti-Washington and, as a result of that, much less likely to come in a big collective effort to help some uninsured off, so much more skeptical of the law, and, second, when it is not implemented properly, much more punishing on the government. And so that makes it very fragile to me.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Should we be surprised, Mark? There are stories of people out there who are saying, I got coverage that I wouldn't have otherwise gotten because of this new law.

    We had an interview way woman this week who is far along in her cancer treatment. And she made no bones about it.

    MARK SHIELDS: That's right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: She said, if it weren't for this law...

    MARK SHIELDS: That's exactly right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: ... my coverage, my -- my health care treatment wouldn't be covered. But that's not making a difference, or is it?

    MARK SHIELDS: Well, it's -- I think there are two points here, Judy, that make it beyond politics.

    The first is that the administration made the decision to sell it on the basis of this is -- everybody's a winner, it really was ouchless and painless, instead of making the counterargument, which was the natural argument, that, look, we are hurting as a people when 38 million people are not covered.

    It means that they end up in emergency rooms getting emergency coverage, which is terribly expensive, which the rest of us pay for, and they're not healthy, and this is not the way a civilized society does it. It would be in our economic interest, it would be in our justice interest as a society. And we're going to ask everybody to pitch in a little, and it's going to be in your long-term interest to do so.

    That wasn't the case made. And what has happened...

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But why wasn't it?

    MARK SHIELDS: Why wasn't it? Because they decided, obviously, to sell it the other way. It's not going -- it's going to be painless, maybe in part because of what David suggested, a skepticism that people were willing to accept such a sacrifice, even though limited though it was.

    The other thing is, let's be very blunt about it. The president said time and again that nobody is going to lose his insurance or her insurance if they like it. And so, driven to one of two conclusions, that is -- wasn't a true statement. And you're driven to one of two conclusions.

    Either the president was almost -- almost negligently uncurious in not asking about what the answer was, or he made the choice to trade his considerable reputation and record of integrity for short-term political gain. That's why they had to come and that's why there was such consternation in the ranks.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you explain it, David, what happened, with the president acknowledging yesterday that he wasn't on top of it?

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I think it is politics.

    They knew that they -- getting this thing passed -- we were there -- it was hard. And so they were pulling out every political stop in the book. And a lot of those political stops have made it harder now. The first early one was, they were really late in issuing the regulations because they didn't want them to come out during the campaign so Romney could attack them.

    As a result, the whole implementation got pushed back, and that's part of the reason the Web site is such a mess. And then they made this political calculation. Then they made the -- that they weren't going to tell you there will be losers here. And they made the political calculation there would be no deficit effects. They made a whole series of political calculations.

    And, frankly, it hasn't stopped. What the president said this week was a political gesture. He backtracked substantively. It was a pseudo-backtrack, because the state commissioner is not going to go along, because the insurance companies are not going to go along. So, I like the apology. I like the honesty of it. But you have got to have an honest non-political policy to go with it.

    And, to me, he's still playing little political games there just to try to get a fewer defections in the House, rather than really coming full out and saying, OK, let's try to fix this.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, that's my question. What could they be saying? What could he be doing and saying at this point to get beyond this?

    MARK SHIELDS: Well, in a personal sense, I think the president has to be more resolute.

    I mean, it has to be, this is on my watch. In a strange way, all the retrospectives about John Kennedy come back to haunt him at this point. Kennedy at the time of Bay of Pigs came out and said, this is mine. This is my responsibility. I take the blame for it. Success has many fathers. Failure is an orphan. This is mine.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, he said that yesterday. But you're saying he didn't.

    MARK SHIELDS: No, he didn't. No, he didn't. He really didn't.

    He said, my team. We fumbled.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: That's right. That's right.

    MARK SHIELDS: It wasn't -- it wasn't, this is mine and I'm going to make sure that it never happens again. I mean, this has got to work.

    Judy, this is beyond the Obama administration. If this goes down, if the Obama -- if health care, the Affordable Care Act is deemed a failure, this is the end -- I really mean it -- of liberal government, in the sense of any sense that government as an instrument of social justice, an engine of economic progress, which is what divides Democrats from Republicans -- that's what Democrats believe.

    And that's what Democrats believe. Time and again, social programs have made the difference in this country. The public confidence in that will be so depleted, so diminished, that I really think the change -- the equation of American politics changes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Is your view that dire?

    DAVID BROOKS: I agree with that.

    I think it's -- I don't know if it's permanent, but it will be a severe blow to the idea of expanded liberal governments. My big thought is, are we no longer the kind of country in which you can pass this sort of thing? And by that, I mean, when you were passing the New Deal or the Great Society, there were winners and losers.

    But the losers felt part of a larger collective and they said, OK, I'm going to take a hit for the team. We may no longer have that sense of being part of a larger collective, so when you're a loser, you just say, I'm a loser. And, as a result, you're just not willing to be part of the group.

    And the penalty for being part of the loser just makes you want to hit whoever made you the loser.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And you're saying that that just doesn't...

    DAVID BROOKS: Well, we have lower social trust, lower faith in the institutions, lower sense of collectivity.

    And those are deep social trends that have been building for decades, but it just makes it much harder to sustain this kind of big legislation.

    MARK SHIELDS: The we-ness of our society, the we, that we're all in it together, has really been diminished.

    Now, the one thing that could save the Democrats, having given that apocalyptic assessment, is the Republicans. I mean, nobody in his right mind or her right mind looks at a hearing, a statement, an investigation, a press release given by any Republican and comes to the conclusion that they're really interested in covering people who aren't covered.

    They are rooting for failure. I mean, it's so transparent, and so obvious, whether it's Darrell Issa, whether it's Reince Priebus, the chairman. They're just cheering for failure. There's not a sense of what we can do to make this work, or this isn't going to work, but we're going to come up with something better. There just isn't.

    DAVID BROOKS: We're sort of not in the business of covering politics anymore. We're in the business of covering this mutual masochism race, where one side stabs themselves in the arm and then the other side stabs themselves in the arm. Whoever does it last loses the election.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: That's gruesome.

    But do you agree with Mark's point that the Republicans have the ability to -- I mean, that, thanks to the Republicans, this may not be the end of what the Democrats believe in?

    DAVID BROOKS: Well, I do think the Republicans should come up with an alternative. And a lot of the policy people in the Republican Party have tried to suggest them.

    But if you're running for Senate in North Carolina this time or whatever House, marginal House race, if you're a Republican, you don't need an alternative right now. You can just say you're against it, and you will be fine.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, less than a minute, quick prediction, sense of it, immigration reform.

    House Speaker John Boehner, Mark, said this week he -- the House will not take up the Senate-passed legislation. What does it mean? Is immigration on life support? Could it live? What? What do you see?

    MARK SHIELDS: I guess it could come back, Judy.

    You have the American business community. You have religious leaders, civil rights leaders, Democrats and Republicans, large majorities all in favor of immigration reform. And the speaker has said no. And, apparently, he sees no political cost or calculus involved.

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes. He's avoided a short-term blowup to his speakership, because he won't have a fight, but his party has a long-term problem on this issue.

    MARK SHIELDS: Right.

    DAVID BROOKS: And unless he takes it up, that long-term problem will remain.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, well, there is nothing of a problem about Mark and David.

    We thank you very much for being with us. Thank you both.

     


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    "I saw a man killed right in front of my eyes."

    Nearly 50 years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, we hear from Mary Ann Moorman, an eyewitness to the infamous scene at Dealey Plaza, who shared her story with documentary filmmaker Alan Govenar.

    Govenar's film is currently on display at an exhibit at the International Center of Photography in New York City.

    The exhibit showcases dozens of photographs, many taken by ordinary people who -- like Moorman -- were witness to extraordinary moments of the assassination and its aftermath.

    HTML tutorial Unidentified Photographer, ca. 1963. International Center of Photography, Museum Purchase, 2013. View more photographs from the exhibit.

    Brian Wallis, chief curator, pored over thousands of photographs for the exhibit.

    "One of the things that struck me and has always struck me about the Kennedy assassination was that it was like a national wound that everyone felt and carried with them through their life," he said.

    "To me, photography was a way to manage that grief and that trauma -- a way to try to get a handle on what really happened."

    Credits: Video by Elisabeth Ponsot/PBS NewsHour | Footage provided by Alan Govenar; Stills by International Center of Photography and Zapruder Film © 1967 (Renewed 1995) The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

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