The Biden administration has released a proposal to raise standards in nursing homes. Why one expert calls it the most significant development for the industry in decades -- and why it might still not be enough.
President Barack Obama meets with leaders from both parties today to discuss future collaboration, following the decisive Republican victory in the midterm elections. The GOP says approving the Keystone XL pipeline and rolling back the Affordable Care Act are among its top priorities for the new Congress. A federal appeals court upholds the ban on gay marriage in four states, paving the way for the Supreme Court to take up the issue. Gas prices dip below $3 a gallon for the first time in four years. And the U.S. unemployment rate falls to 5.8 percent in October.
- Jeanne Cummings Deputy managing editor, Bloomberg Politics.
- Major Garrett Chief White House correspondent, CBS News.
- Sheryl Gay Stolberg Washington correspondent, The New York Times.
Featured Video: Why Are Gas Prices Falling, And What Could It Mean For Republicans?
Falling gas prices mean America’s energy situation is improving, the White House said this week.
But they could also indicate the end of the fracking boom, said Sheryl Gay Stolberg of The New York Times, and deprive Republicans of an argument they’ve often used to push for the XL Keystone Pipeline.
Watch our panel’s full discussion above.
Featured Video: Could We See Nationalized Legal Gay Marriage By June?
A federal appeals court decision Nov. 6 to uphold same sex marriage bans in four states could actually help the country move toward nationwide legalization of same sex marriage by June 2015, said Sheryl Gay Stolberg.
She explains why in this video clip.
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. President Obama meets with a bipartisan group of congressional leaders at the White House. The GOP lays out its priorities for a new Congress. And the unemployment rate drops to 5.8 percent. Here for the week's top national stories on the Friday News Roundup, Jeanne Cummings of Bloomberg Politics, Major Garrett of CBS News and Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times.
MS. DIANE REHMAnd since it's Friday, you can watch a live video stream of the program on our website, drshow.org. You can also join us by phone, 800-433-8850. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook or send us a tweet. And happy Friday to all of you after a very busy week.
MS. JEANNE CUMMINGSGood morning.
MS. SHERYL GAY STOLBERGGood morning.
MR. MAJOR GARRETTGood morning, Diane. It's been a long week.
REHMGood to see you. Major Garrett, this huge night for the GOP on Tuesday, I think we have all heard pretty much what happened, but were there any surprises for you?
GARRETTCertainly. I think, at the state level, Republicans winning governors races in Massachusetts, Illinois and Maryland were huge surprises. Big gains that Republicans made at the state legislative level where every political party, we have two major ones in this country, built its farm team for the future and sets its sort of ideological course for the country at a more grass roots level.
GARRETTRepublicans did very well in state legislative races. And in each of the closely contested Senate races and one that we weren't considering closely contested, Virginia, Republicans out-performed the polls and they out-performed their previous midterm ground game approach, turning out their own voters. In two states, Colorado and North Carolina, Democrats exceeded their last term turnout models, but it still wasn't enough.
GARRETTThat, to me, was a surprise.
REHMAnd Sheryl, what surprised me are the ballot initiatives that seemed to go in precisely the opposite direction from those who were elected.
STOLBERGRight. We really saw a disconnect in a way in this election. We saw four states, Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota approving ballot initiatives to increase the minimum wage, which was, of course, something that Democrats campaigned on. I think what we're seeing, though, is really a reflection of kind of unease in the electorate about the economy.
STOLBERG78 percent of voters in exit polls said that they were somewhat or very worried about the future of the economy. We're seeing that even though unemployment is down, as we saw in the jobs report released today, down to 5.8 percent nationally, that people aren't feeling it because they're not feeling any increase in their wages and hourly wages are stagnate.
STOLBERGSo we are seeing sort of a move in one direction to usher Republicans into office, but in the other direction to maybe embrace policies that are advocated by Democrats.
REHMAnd legalizing the use of pot, for example, and here in Washington, making the possession of some 2 ounces not a crime?
CUMMINGSThat seems to be sweeping across the country and what will be really interesting is where did the 2016 candidates put themselves on that scale. So far, we don't have a candidate who has stepped up in the race that is, you know, really embracing the idea of legalizing marijuana broadly. They've talked about medical marijuana, but, you know, the recreational use, nobody's, you know, full-throated gone there and we'll see how they start to move on that and on gay marriage, which is also becoming, you know, one of the new wedge issues politically.
CUMMINGSBut if you look at the electorate, you start to see consensus drawing around that. And, of course, we had the rulings, you know, just yesterday upholding bans in four states, which will send it straight to -- or move it closer to the Supreme Court.
GARRETTAnd, Diane, one quick point about the apparent disconnect between the federal result and the state result. I think it is the beginning of a process in which federalism classically defined is reasserting itself. State voters look at Washington and say, they're not gonna come to our rescue. Not only are they not gonna come to our rescue, we really can't even get their attention.
GARRETTAnd at the state level, you see -- we have a long history of initiatives in this country -- but a disconnect between what isn't happening at the federal government, what can happen at the state level, state voters saying, we're gonna take control of what we can directly influence in our own state, not think or conceive of Washington as a place that can handle these issues at an entirely federal level and we'll take the issue up ourselves.
STOLBERGYeah, no, I think Major's exactly right and I think, actually, you mentioned pot legalization and we're certainly seeing kind of the laboratory of democracy there, where legalization in Colorado, a purple state has really, you know, lead the way for this kind of experimentation so now we're seeing it in Oregon and, as you mentioned, in D.C. Also, another point on the same-sex marriage court ruling, that court ruling is actually good news for gay marriage advocates, even though the court upheld bans on same-sex marriage.
STOLBERGBecause it is going to force the Supreme Court to take it up. This court ruling has now created a clash between federal appeals courts, with some courts saying that these bans are unconstitutional and this court in Ohio saying, no, the ban can be upheld. So now, you've got a situation in which the Supreme Court will need to intervene to settle the matter as a result of the Supreme Court's failure to intervene so far in upholding lower court rulings.
STOLBERGSo far we've got about 30 or 35 states, plus the District of Columbia allowing same-sex marriage. That's...
REHMSo isn't there kind of an out, though, that the Supreme Court could take and avoid taking the issue up altogether?
STOLBERGWell, I think when you have competing federal appeals court rulings, the only way to rectify those two rulings is for the Supreme Court to step in. And the Supreme Court seems to have been waiting for kind of momentum to build. In 1967, when the court took up Loving vs. Virginia, the case involving interracial marriage bans, by that time, some 35 states were allowing interracial marriage.
STOLBERGWe now have the same situation today with respect to same-sex marriage so I suspect the Supreme Court will look at this and say, enough states are allowing it, there's sort of critical mass that this will happen. And if the court considers this case this term, we could see a national right to same-sex marriage by June.
REHMSheryl Gay Stolberg, she's Washington correspondent for the New York Times. You can see all of our guests through video stream. Go to drshow.org and click on "watch now." What about national issues like Ebola and ISIS? How did they play into this election, Jeanne?
CUMMINGSI think they had a real impact in that the Republicans were searching for a way to nationalize the midterms and Obamacare only got them so far and they kind of stalled at the beginning of September. And at that point, Democrats were having pretty good success in trying to regionalize the elections, keep them at the state level.
CUMMINGSIn North Carolina, Kay Hagan was holding on by talking about education. Pryor was hanging on Arkansas talking about agriculture. Mary Landrieu was talking a lot about energy and that's where they wanted the conversation to stay. And so when ISIS started beheading people, people started getting afraid again. It gave the Republicans one new issue where they could talk about the White House's handling of it, talk about a universal fear and revulsion to what was going on overseas and the U.S. response.
CUMMINGSEbola gave them another one. And so even I -- there were some Democrats who felt like the final week of campaigning, the Ebola threat was starting to tamp down, that maybe they could get the races back to where they had wanted them to. But there wasn't enough time.
REHMSo Major Garrett, did Republicans win this election or did Democrats not participate?
GARRETTWell, both, and one leads to the other. I mean, inexorably, when one side is either unmotivated or feels its sense of attachment to its political leader or its political leadership drawn broadly and sit out an election, that creates an opportunity for the opposing party. That's exactly what happened in 2006. And the president spent a little bit of time in his press conference talking about those who didn't vote.
GARRETTWell, there's always a large percentage of American voters who don't participate in midterm elections. That does not render them invalid anymore than it did in 2006 when Democrats swept Republicans out of the House and Senate and credibly argued to President Bush, you better change what you're doing in Iraq. You better change the leadership of your White House team and you better listen to the verdict of the voters.
REHMAnd that's the question. Will President Obama -- and we had a number of questions yesterday, will he be changing his team, Sheryl?
STOLBERGWell, I think, you know, we'll see. I think, typically, and Major may know this more because Major's covering the White House full time, but typically after a shakeup, a midterm, you know, drubbing or shellacking or thumping, whatever...
REHMWhatever you want to call it.
STOLBERG...noted, President Obama didn't want to use those terms, he wouldn't get dragged into that, you know, we've seen shakeup. President George W. Bush, famously, fired his defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld after the 2006 midterms, because there was so much dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq...
REHMAnd backed off from his vice president, Dick Cheney.
STOLBERGRight, Dick Cheney. To me, I think the big question is -- and we'll get a hint of this today when the president hosts congressional leaders of both parties at the White House, what kind of relationships will forge. And, you know, like the business world or really any part of life, Washington revolves around relationships and there have not been very good relationships between President Obama and the Republicans, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner.
STOLBERGAnd I think that that is going to be critical. He's got to be able to reach out and find a way to work with them, even if they don't particularly like each other.
REHMSheryl Gay Stolberg, Jeanne Cummings, Major Garrett, they're all here and you can join us by phone, you can watch on video. We look forward to having your participation.
REHMAnd welcome back to the Domestic Hour of our Friday News Roundup. Of course this week, so many election results. We've talked about those to a certain extent with Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Major Garrett and Jeanne Cummings. I received this email just before I went on the air today. It's from AE who says, "Do you think John Boehner realized he sounded like he was chastising a small boy when he warned President Obama not to cross him on Thursday?"
CUMMINGSI think he knew exactly what he was doing. And picking up on Sheryl's comments before the break about building relationships, the fact is they have a relationship, they all do, and it's a bad one. And it's unlikely to get any better. If you listened also to the tone of the president, the president seeded no ground. It is true, he would not give the news media the adjective it craved. He wasn't going to do it.
CUMMINGSAnd when you heard his comments when he said, okay, they had a good night and we're going to meet and they're going to tell me what their agenda is, in other words, they ran on nothing and now they need to produce something. So he was equally drawing hard lines in the sand. He said flat out he's going to veto whatever -- if they try to do something big on Obamacare, not going to happen. He said flat out, I'm going to do things they don't like.
CUMMINGSExactly, and that he's run out of patients on that. And so I think that both sides have taken positions that are aimed at butting heads as we move along. I don't think we're going to see a great age of cooperation with legislation passing.
REHMMajor, here's an email from Rob. You were there at that press conference yesterday. Rob says, "The Media is beating the drum that the American people want the newly-elected Republicans to work in a bipartisan way with the president. This, of course, makes no sense. If the people wanted congress to work with the president to advance his agenda, they would have sent Mr. Obama a group of new Democrats to work with. The people elected Republicans because they want a new direction. It's time for the president to work with Republicans, not the other way around." How do you see it?
GARRETTWell, I can only tell you what the president said and what the White House believes. They are going to test the ability of this new Republican majority to figure out A. what it's agenda is. Now there was an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal yesterday where Mitch McConnell and the incoming Senate majority leader and Speaker Boehner tried to lay it out.
GARRETTAnd what the White House is going to say is fine, that looks mildly interesting. Let's see if you can pass any of it out of your two chambers first...
GARRETT...because you have a fractious set of House Republicans and you have an untested ability within a context of a Senate Republican majority to get people like Ted Cruz and Susan Collins -- Ted Cruz, very strongly conservative, outspoken, Tea Party fire brand Susan Collins, the epitome of moderate main Republicanism. And I say that historically and no other way. Can these two get together on a significant piece of legislation? Nobody knows.
GARRETTAnd the president is going to sit back to a certain degree and say, well, I'm going to watch and see what you can actually produce among yourselves. One reality in the Senate is, yes, there is a smaller Senate Democrat minority but they still have the 60-vote rule. They watched Republicans use it relentlessly against them when they were in the majority. And the remaining Senate Democrats are almost to a person in (unintelligible) the dominant themes of the Republican agenda.
GARRETTAll -- nearly all, not all, but nearly all the Democrats that would've, in certain instances, been willing to vote with Republicans, well, guess what? They got defeated on Tuesday. So Republicans are going to have to find almost all the votes themselves and the president is going to wait and see if they can do that.
CUMMINGSAnd there aren't going to be enough -- they can -- even if Mitch McConnell can get all of his caucus to vote, that's 53 votes.
CUMMINGSIt's not enough. He can't pass it. And that's part of -- and what Boehner can pass out of his House with a larger Tea Party caucus. Is that going to be acceptable even to the 53 Republicans in the Senate?
STOLBERGBut I think that's a key question. Are we going to see the Ted Cruz Senate or are we going to see the Mitch McConnell Senate?
REHMWe don't know.
STOLBERGEven prior to these elections we saw Ted Cruz from the Senate meeting with House Tea Party leaders to rally their support for things like the government shutdown or repealing Obamacare. Now we've got a new incoming House caucus that will have some members who are even more conservative, more likely to line up behind a Ted Cruz faction of the party than those outgoing. So as Major said, first we'll have to see those tensions settled.
STOLBERGI also think that a key test will be what does the president do on immigration? How does he flex his muscle and use his executive authority there? Mitch McConnell has already warned that an executive order on immigration would be like waving a red flag in front of a bull. So we know that President Obama will do something. He's been saying so for months. He's promised to do it by the end of the year.
REHM...end of the year. Right.
STOLBERGThe question is what will he do? Will he expand his effort to lower the deportations or to give more rights to more categories of those who have come here illegally, as he has done for the so-called dreamers? And how will the Republicans react?
REHMAnd during this lame duck congress he's also going to ask for money for Ebola, money for ISIS. How is that lame duck congress likely to react with immigration included in that mix?
GARRETTWell, the timing of immigration will be crucial. Now remember, it's a lame duck congress so Democrats in the Senate still control the Senate schedule. And the House has to deal with at least one item on the president's agenda. We've got to keep the government open. You have to pass a continuing resolution.
GARRETTWithin that the president's asked for $6.2 billion for Ebola funding, all emergency meeting. It doesn't count against the deficit. Republicans are taking that in. So are Democrats. It's a big number but everyone is sort of aware that Ebola, not only here in terms of preparedness, but in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the United States must step up and be the world leader to try to stop and contain the virus there.
GARRETTAnd the president has also thrown another thing into the mix which Republicans have long asked for but weren't expecting in a lame duck context, rewriting the authorization for the use of military force in Syria and Iraq, no longer relying on the 2001 post-9/11 authorization to use military force, but draw it in a way that is more relevant to the campaign in Iraq and Syria.
GARRETTAnd there are Republicans who want to afford the president the opportunity to introduce U.S. ground troops. Whether or not the president's going to want that to be laid out specifically in that piece of legislation, we'll have to wait and see.
CUMMINGSWe will probably see the budget taking care of. There are tax extenders that need to be taken care of. Those things are pretty likely to happen in the lame duck. We'll probably see Harry Reid push forward with some nominations to try to get the 200 or so people who've been in limbo moved into their positions.
REHMHow likely is he to get any of those approved during the lame duck?
CUMMINGSI think he'll get some of them approved. He -- as Major pointed out, the Democratic majority comes back. And they have a new rule in the Senate in which they can do it with a majority vote. And so he can go ahead and do it. I'm not sure it's going to be the attorney general that would be pushed through a lame duck because frankly it's not much of a benefit to the person who becomes the next Attorney General to have been brought in in such a way.
CUMMINGSBetter to have buy-in from the new congress. But there are over 200 people who are in limbo and -- nominees who are in limbo and many of those are not necessarily terribly controversial. But in terms of the dynamics in congress , I just want to add, there's one other element here. And that's what do the Democrats do?
CUMMINGSNancy Pelosi has dragged John Boehner over the line every time he's had to pass a continuing resolution and to prevent a government shutdown. What is she going to do? Might she not bring her people to the table? We know, through reporting, she was furious that her members were attacked on the campaign trail for casting votes that bailed out John Boehner because he could not get his caucus to go along. And at the time the threat was, never again. Let's see if she delivers.
CUMMINGSAgain, look in the Senate at Reid. How angry might Reid be after six years of Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz and Rand Paul using every piece of power that they had to block legislation that Harry Reid wanted to pass? Are they suddenly going to be cooperative? I kind of doubt it.
STOLBERGWell, another key thing, you know, we've talked about the fishers within the Republican Party, but let's think about the Democrats too. Harry Reid was the boogeyman of this election along with President Obama. And his staff has made no secret of their own disenchantment with the president. Democrats, many of them feel that this president created the demise of the Democratic Party in the South. We saw Kay Hagen lose her seat in North Carolina. Mary Landrieu's on the way out. Michelle Nunn who seemed to have a decent shot in Georgia, at least maybe to get into a runoff, lost by a whopping 8 percentage points.
STOLBERGSo Democrats are now looking around the south and thinking, oh my goodness, you know, we have to rebuild. And why do we have to rebuild? The governor of Arkansas said the other day, why? It's Barack Obama. So there are fishers within the Democratic Party too. And I think it will be interesting to see going forward how Senator Reid, new Minority Leader Reid relates to President Obama. And Nancy Pelosi as well.
CUMMINGSBut thanks to the Republicans those fishers exist outside of Washington. Those fishers aren't really here. The Republicans took out the last white male Democrat in the South.
STOLBERGRight, John Barrow.
CUMMINGSThere are none left. John Barrow in Georgia.
STOLBERGIn the House in the Deep South.
CUMMINGSIn the House, yes.
STOLBERGAnd Mary Landrieu is soon to probably be defeated in a runoff.
CUMMINGSSo those fishers won't play out inside of congress.
REHMLet's talk for a moment about gas prices, which seem to be in freefall. What's happening, Major?
GARRETTWell, lower demand and more production. That's kind of classic economics. I remember it from basic economics in college. I probably remember little else from basic economics in college, but I do remember that. And one thing the president said on Wednesday at the press conference is, look, the energy situation in this country is better and improving. And he answered that in the context of a question I posed to him about Republicans pushing the Keystone XL Pipeline. He said, look, yeah, they're going to -- that's one of the things I've got to process at the State Department.
GARRETTBut look, in the grand scheme of things, our natural gas production, our oil domestic production that we turn into gas at the pumps is the envy of the world. And whatever you think about Keystone, I think it's a really teeny part of the whole debate, so dismissing it right out of the box.
REHMBut isn't there a downside to these falling gas prices? Couldn't the oil and fracking industry in this country be affected, Sheryl?
STOLBERGWell, they're saying that these falling gas prices could be the end of the fracking boom in this country. And one reason that we're seeing -- you know, as Major said, it's simple supply and demand, right. So we have increased production, we have falling prices. I do think, as Major said, the falling prices may deprive the Republicans of an argument that they would otherwise have used to try to get this Keystone Pipeline built. And that's high on their agenda.
GARRETTAnd just one other aspect of this, if the president were here or his economic team were here, they would say, you know, we could not have asked or imagined 12 months ago to have a better overall macroeconomic atmosphere for this midterm election than we had.
STOLBERGIt didn't help them.
GARRETTAnd it didn't help. And there was a great sense of frustration within the White House that they were reliving part of the saga of Bill Clinton's presidency in 1994 where the country had, in many ways, climbed out of the recession of 1991 and '92. But the country didn't perceive it. There was a huge backlash. Republicans took control. And Clinton and his economic advisors then and maybe the president's economic advisors look around themselves now, then and now and say, wow, we are really better shape than people perceived. But perception is everything, not actual data sometimes.
REHMMajor Garrett of CBS News and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Jeanne, the monthly job numbers came out today. We dropped a bit of a percentage point to 5.8 percent unemployment, which certainly looks like good news. But the overall number, just 212,000 new jobs created as opposed to 250, 275, what do they tell us?
CUMMINGSWell, what they tell us is that we are on track. It's a steady modest recovery. It's not robust by any stretch but we have had consistent job growth for months now, the unemployment rate lowest in five years. People who are counted as, you know, the broader unemployed, those who are in part time jobs which they could be in fulltime jobs, that fell too. It's still a little over 11 percent so it's not a great number but it went down. That number has been rather stubborn throughout this recovery. And so, you know, for once the recovery seems to be now starting to tick away at those people as well as the broader population.
REHMBut wage stagnation is really the issue.
STOLBERGRight. Yeah, so hourly wages have been stubbornly stuck at about average of $24.50 an hour. I'd also note that while unemployment has gone down, really it's not being experienced evenly by the population, so teenage unemployment remains at almost 19 percent, black unemployment remains at almost 11 percent, Hispanic at nearly 7 percent. So as always, certain segments of the population aren't experiencing this trend.
REHMAnd here you've got companies, corporations still holding onto their money and not raising wages. What does the White House have to do with that, Major?
GARRETTVery little. I mean, there's nothing a president can really do other than to jawbone publically. Now there is one thing that is on the table. It was raised at the press conference and Republicans and the president have both identified it. There is about -- estimates run as high as $2 trillion of offshore money that major American corporations have that they will not re-patriot from profits overseas because the corporate tax rate here is, in their judgment, too high.
GARRETTThe president said, I'm open to lowering the corporate tax rate. Republicans certainly want to do that. That's not a surprise. Can you create a mechanism by which both sides can do that? Will Republicans give any ground on individual rates, which the president would like? Probably not. So the president's only remaining compromise offer is, all right, that money comes back in. The treasury gets some of it. Let's dedicate it to infrastructure projects that are more to my liking than yours. We'll get some of yours but a little more of mine, ports, bridges, roads and things like that.
GARRETTThat is a possible area of not insignificant compromise. There are a lot of details yet to be worked out, but it's one of the ways to address, if not wages, but getting offshore money back into the American economy and back into the American treasury because it's doing only marginal good, if any, where it is currently.
REHMSo how possible?
CUMMINGSWell, the thing that -- one of the things that is around that compromise that is really important is, are the advocacy groups behind it? And that's the U.S. Chamber and the AFLCIO. Because the argument for it is one about jobs in addition to bringing some of that money back into the U.S. And so the U.S. Chambers wants the bridges built. AFLCIO wants the workers to get those jobs. That's a pretty powerful lobbying and the U.S. Chamber just spent a whole lot of money to put those people in power.
REHMJeanne Cummings. She is deputy managing editor of Bloomberg Politics. Short break and right back.
REHMAnd welcome back. Time to open the phones. Your calls, questions, comments. And remember, you can join us and watch a video stream of the program at drshow.org. Let's go first to Fort Worth, TX. Hi, Mark, you're on the air.
MARKGood morning, Diane. Thank you for taking my call.
MARKI'm going to lump a lot of details as fast as I can. I've been hearing that people are scratching their heads why the Republicans as much of the House, yet the ballot initiatives about minimum wage were passed, which on the surface appears to contradict what the voters really wanted. What the voters really wanted was something to counteract one number, which is 28 hours. Employers have ACA insurance over 28 hours, which means that all part-time workers basically get capped at 28 workers. Well, seven and a quarter national minimum wage, it's pretty difficult to live on that.
MARKSo they did two things. They voted in people who felt that they could get that particular part of the ACA raised to a more realistic number to be able to work. If that didn't work, they increased their minimum wage. This was all spurred upon by the -- in December when the Republicans were able knock a lot of the long-term unemployment insurance down and get rid of the benefits, which threw a ton of people back in the job market, which is why we've seen the job increases that we've seen but they're not making enough money. And now they're finding out why.
REHMAll right. And let's hear a response, Sheryl.
STOLBERGSo, I would say that I would be surprised if most voters are Machiavellian enough to think that, okay, if I vote to increase the minimum wage, I'm doing so because of this provision in the ACA. But I do think the caller has an important point, and that is that provision that redefines the work week to 30 hours is a matter of some contention. And Republican leaders have already said this will be among their priorities is changing that 30-hour a week provision to 40 hours.
STOLBERGAnd there is some Democratic support for it, although, as Major mentioned earlier about energy, some of the Democratic lawmakers who supported changing that like Mary Landrieu may no longer be in Congress. But I wouldn't be surprised if we see that as an item where maybe they can get some cooperation from the Democrats.
REHMAll right, to Richard in Tuscaloosa, AL. Hi there.
RICHARDHi. I'm wondering, having grown up in Chicago and watched Mayor Daly dictate to anybody that is a politician there, I see the same sort of thing with Barack Obama in that he deals in Chicago politics. And I don't know if he recognizes that Tuesday he lost. Not only did they take over the Senate, there are more Republicans in statehouses now than it's ever been before.
RICHARDSo he needs to understand that he can't dictate everyone as he would like to, my way or the highway, and find a way to do what he wanted all the Republicans to do, which is to reach across the aisle and find a way to make compromise if he's going to have any kind of possibility of getting anything done over the next two years.
CUMMINGSWell, the caller makes a good point. The president was somewhat dismissive in that when he said only a third of the electorate came out, and essentially I was elected by two-thirds. And so, my mandate is bigger than your mandate. I was really -- he did take a really tough and sort of in-your-face stand. And the caller is right to sense that. And as to the Republicans' take over of statehouses, I mean, where Republicans can draw their own lines, they win.
CUMMINGSAnd they can draw their own lines in the U.S. House and they can draw their own lines, their own district lines in statehouses because they had won the legislatures in the '00 election -- or the '10 election, which is when redistricting occurs. And so that was a good triumph for them now because it's going to be even harder for Democrats to fight their way back. And I think Republicans are going to be in charge of statehouses for a long time because they are probably going to hold those seats in the next round of redistricting in 2020.
GARRETTOne thing the president is going to have to consider, what -- and it's the inevitable consideration of every president in the last seven, eight years -- what's the legacy, how do you define it? How do you define it on your terms? And there is a developing historical argument that looks at the first two years of the Obama presidency as very productive, intensely oriented along the lines the president campaigned for and the large majorities he brought to the House and Senate, replicated in legislative language.
GARRETTAnd in significant ways, changed the way the country dealt with a big recession, dealt with banking regulation and health care. Huge issues. Then there was this sort of four-year interregnum of very difficult negotiations with Congress where you essentially achieved things in the negative. You didn't close the government down and you didn't default and you changed the tax code in the mid -- intermittently. What is the bookend?
GARRETTWhat do you do with these last two years when you are the president, but the opposition party controls both ends of Congress. Do you define it in terms that protect, defend and assert the legacy you created in those first two years? Or do you reshape at least part of how you define your presidency and its net accomplishments by taking some Republican ideas, sanding them down a little bit to your satisfaction and calling it a deal?
STOLBERGAnd history has shown, Diane, that parties -- when one party controls Congress and the other party controls the presidency after a midterm election like this, there can be some cooperation. Less so in the last two years of a presidency, especially on the domestic policy front because, let's face it, President Obama is a lame duck president right now. But past presidents like Ronald Reagan have been able to carve out foreign policy achievements.
STOLBERGHe was able to carve out some nuclear arms treaties with Democrats after the midterm elections in which they took control. In 1994, of course this was just two years into Clinton's presidency, he was able to work with Republicans Newt Gingrich to balance the budget and to achieve welfare reform. Of course at the end of his presidency...
REHMTo the unhappiness of Democrats.
STOLBERGRight. That's right. And, of course, we saw what happened at the end of the Clinton presidency after the '98 midterms where he wound up getting impeached. Some talk of that with President Obama, I don't think so. But...
REHMCan be a...
CUMMINGSThere's a big difference, though. There's a very, very big difference from the Reagan years and the Clinton years. And that is the nature of the Republicans in Congress today. They came to Washington not to pass things, but to get rid of things. And that was not at all the attitude of Newt Gingrich. Newt Gingrich wanted a legislative record of his own. He wanted to make change. And, of course, Reagan was dealing with Democrats and they, you know, do want the government to function and are willing to pass legislation.
CUMMINGSSo, I think one of the hardest things that Obama would face -- will face and as will Boehner and McConnell is what we have already discussed, and that's managing the internal conflict within their own caucuses.
STOLBERGRight, but they want to win in 2016.
REHMTwo things I want to talk about here. The money spent in this election on both sides, Major.
GARRETTTremendous amounts. I don't know what the final reckoning is, but...
CUMMINGSIt's about 3.6, 7 billion.
GARRETTYeah, almost $4 billion. Okay, and you got a lot of outside spending. The Democratic outside superPACs played very prominently. It didn't work. I would say what we're beginning to see in the last two elections, lots of big money spent on both sides and the fundamentals still apply. What's the message environment? What is your ground game? What is your candidate recruitment and how much are you sticking to your political knitting in between elections?
GARRETTAnd Republicans make, I think, a mildly credible case that 18 months ago they began the hard work having been defeated and demoralized in the 2012 election of recruiting, building a message and building a ground game that was able to achieve the goals it set for himself 18 months ago. That's how you win elections.
REHMWith lots of money.
GARRETTWith lots of money, sure.
REHMLots of money.
GARRETTBut it wasn't as if Democrats were around the country without any money.
GARRETTThey had plenty on their side.
REHMSome of the goals already stated by Republicans to diminish the size of government, get rid the Department of Education, get rid of the EPA, get rid of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. How likely are those things to happen in the next two years, Sheryl?
STOLBERGCan you say veto? I don't think so. I mean...
STOLBERGIt's not going to happen. I mean, President Obama said at his press conference, I think, or his aides have said, he's going to veto some things. If they try to do that, we'll see the veto pen.
REHMAnd one thing about that, Diane, in 2016, 24 Senate Republicans will be up for reelection, many in states President won once or if not twice. The map does not favor Republicans in the way it did this midterm election.
GARRETTSome of those Republicans are going to look for compromises and they're not going to go back to Pennsylvania or other places saying, you know what, I just voted to get rid of the Department of Education.
REHMLet's go to Louisville, KY. Hi, Christian, you're on the air.
CHRISTIANHi, Diane. Great show as always.
CHRISTIANI've got a question here. When I listened to two sets of neighbors, one set are African Americans who, by and large, did not participate in the midterms because they felt the president was being highly disrespected, that his record is outstanding and I consider him to be the Jackie Robinson of politics. You know, he has to play an amazing game just to get grudging respect. And I want to know if you felt that this was sort of a Ty Cobb versus Jackie Robinson kind of new cycle, where, you know, he's -- President Obama is not given much credit for having unemployment, you know, more than halving the deficit, et cetera, et cetera. Thank you.
STOLBERGWell, I'm interested in his use of the Jackie Robinson analogy and in thinking just about kind of the racial polarization of the electorate. If you looked at who turned out in this election, 75 percent of those who turned out were white. Only 25 percent minorities. The traditional Democratic constituency of minorities, young, unmarried women and young people really did not turn out and participate in this election.
STOLBERGThirteen percent were young people, that's down from I think 19 percent in 2012. The gender, 51 percent were female, down from 53 percent in 2012. If Democrats had any chance of doing well in this election at all, it was to turn out those voters. And those voters traditionally drop off in midterm elections and may have felt demoralized and stayed home. Republicans, party dominated white men, turned out in greater numbers and that's what we're seeing.
CUMMINGSWell, it is true that, you know, much of the Obama coalition didn't show up. But they did in Colorado and they did in North Carolina and they did in some of the targeted states. The African American committee in Georgia showed up, the whites just didn't vote for her and it's just that simple. She got, like, 23 percent of the white vote. So I think credit also has to go to the Republican Party. As Major said, they started almost two years ago recognizing what are the lessons learned here and trying to apply some changes.
CUMMINGSAnd one of them was they did work up a ground game that I think did have an effect. I don't think it's as good as the Democratic ground game, it'll get better. But they were out there in North Carolina and they were out there in other states. And I do think it made a difference when we're talking about two points in a race.
REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." And clearly, as you all know, the NPR family loss one of its favorite people this week. Tom Magliozzi, a co-host with his brother Ray of "Car Talk," which has been on the air for 35 years. Started in Boston as a local show, expanded all over the country, people loved hearing the laughter. What are your recollections, Sheryl?
STOLBERGWell, you know what, this show was a show that was extensively about cars. But really, it was about life and it was about the love of these two brothers. And as you mentioned, just the laughter. I was such a fan of that show. I started my career as a young reporter in Providence, RI, so not far from our fair city of Cambridge, where the brothers came from and then I moved to Los Angeles, too, worked for the LA Times. And I would listen to "Car Talk" faithfully because it reminded me of home. And I was so saddened to see the loss of Tom Magliozzi.
GARRETTYou couldn't have written better comedy for them than they produced organically, naturally and repetitively. And they engaged their audience in a way that I've never really seen two brothers or any kind of radio hosts. Engaging with an audience in radio is a difficult thing. I don't need to tell you that, Diane. And they did with such ease and such joy and it came across. I know nothing about Cambridge.
GARRETTI grew up in San Diego. I worked in Amarillo, Houston, Las Vegas and D.C. I don't know anything about that geographic part of the country, really. But I know those guys, and I love them and I will confess, a tear came to my eye when I got the news because I -- I miss the show already and I will miss him.
CUMMINGSWell, what struck me when they suspended the show, undoubtedly because of Tom's health, was you suddenly got a sense of really how long they had sustained this program and how popular it was for decades. And they were doing one of the replays and a woman in some small town in the south had gotten herself a Porsche. And she got in part -- she was a doctor, female doctor, and she was trying to break into the male doctor world.
REHMSo she bought a Porsche.
CUMMINGSAnd it was -- so she got herself this really cool car...
CUMMINGS...as an ice breaker because the guys would talk about her car. She called them up and she said I don't know anything about my car except it's a cool car. Can you give me one or two facts that I can have for a cocktail party where I could throw them out? Well, they started thinking it through and trying to come up with something. They, you know, they weren't really getting there. And I thought, my God, why don't they just, like, Google it. And then it hit me, there was no Google. This show was so old, it predated the internet. That's how long those guys were on...
STOLBERGBut you can still hear it on replays.
CUMMINGS...and did amazing things.
REHMYes. And tomorrow at 10 o'clock on this station and on stations across the country, there will be a remembrance and Ray will talk about his brother. There'll be excerpts of past shows. Doug Berman said, and he was a producer of the program, they were completely themselves in an uninhibited way. And rather than being a disaster, they became completely comfortable doing that. They created this unique hour where people were entirely themselves, just normal regular people. So, we say farewell Tom Magliozzi who died of complications of Alzheimer's disease. Thank you all so much. Have a great weekend.
CUMMINGSThank you for having me.
STOLBERGThank you, Diane.
GARRETTThank you, Diane.
REHMThanks for listening, all. I'm Diane Rehm.
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