Veteran diplomat Richard Haass turns from foreign affairs to threats from within. He argues Americans focus so much on rights we forget our obligations as citizens -- and the country is suffering because of it.
Nine people and a gunman are dead after a shooting at an Oregon community college. Once again, President Barack Obama expressed frustration that mass shootings have “become routine” in the U.S. Republican lawmakers and the White House gear up for long-term budget talks after Congress averts a government shutdown. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy tries to walk back his comments linking Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers to the House Benghazi investigation. The Vatican clarifies the Pope’s meeting with Kim Davis. And a disappointing September jobs report. A panel of journalists joins guest host Melissa Block of NPR News for analysis of the week’s top national news stories.
- Naftali Bendavid Editor and reporter, The Wall Street Journal
- Amy Walter National editor, Cook Political Report
- Juliet Eilperin White House correspondent, The Washington Post
Video: Are We Becoming Numb To Gun Violence?
In 2015, there have been 294 mass shootings in the U.S., which have left nearly 400 dead.
Video: Can Kevin McCarthy Rally The GOP To Get Things Done?
Our panel weighs in on what to expect from U.S. Rep Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the presumed successor to House Speaker John Boehner.
Video: Can Congress Find A Long-Term Funding Solution?
Congress passed a last-minute bill this week that would temporarily fund the government through Dec. 11.”Are we just kicking the can down the road?” Guest host Melissa Block asked.
Are GOP Candidates Out Of Touch With Voters On Climate Change?
A new poll shows 56 percent of Republicans say they believe in climate change, and believe that humans have something to do with it. But many GOP candidates aren’t on the same page. Will it hurt them in the primary?
MS. MELISSA BLOCKThanks for joining us. I'm Melissa Block with NPR News sitting in for Diane Rehm. She'll be back on Monday. Another mass shooting, this time at an Oregon Community College leads to renewed calls for gun control legislation. Also, Bernie Sanders posts robust fundraising numbers narrowing the gap with Hillary Clinton in the last quarter and Congress avoids a government shutdown at least for now.
MS. MELISSA BLOCKJoining us for the domestic hour of the Friday News Roundup, Juliet Eilperin of The Washington Post, Naftali Bendavid of The Wall Street Journal, and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report. Welcome to all of you on this rainy Friday.
MS. AMY WALTERGood morning.
BLOCKAnd, uh, we will be taking your comments, questions throughout the hour. You can call us on 800-433-8850. Send us your email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also join us on Facebook or Twitter and because it's Friday, we're also doing a live video stream of this hour. You can watch at drshow.org. And please join us.
BLOCKI want to start, Juliet, with the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Southern Oregon yesterday, the fourth shooting on a US college campus since August, 10 fatalities reported so far, including the gunman. What more do we know?
MS. JULIET EILPERINWell, at this point, they're still researching. There are people who are both in critical and serious condition and so, in that case, we know that the shooter is not a student, but lived nearby. You know, there are secondhand reports that he asked people whether they were Christian and instead of sparing them if they responded yes, according to the father of one of the victims who survived, he would say -- and paraphrasing, but you're gonna see God in about a second, and then shot.
MS. JULIET EILPERINSo obviously, there's a lot of research that's going on. There's something like more than 100 investigators on the case at this point and so certainly there's a lot that we'll be finding out in the coming hours and days.
BLOCKAnd we did hear President Obama come out yesterday and speak, at some length, as he has in multiple shootings over the course of his presidency. He mentioned -- we know he's come out after the shootings at Fort Hood and in Tucson, Newtown, Connecticut and Charleston, South Carolina. He made this point, Naftali. This is something we should politicize, he said.
BLOCKHe knew he'd be accused by some of politicizing this shooting. He said it is relevant to the body politic. This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America.
MR. NAFTALI BENDAVIDIt was remarkable to see the president's emotion and anger, but also sort of his fatalism. I think it's rare to see him not be so -- not only have such strong feelings about what he was talking about, but also pretty much admit that there was nothing much he could do about it. And if you look at his domestic accomplishments, actually, he's gotten stuff done on a range of issue, from healthcare to immigration to the environment, whether it's through executive orders or legislation.
MR. NAFTALI BENDAVIDBut this is one that he has not been able to move the ball on at all. And to see a president stand in the White House podium feeling emotion, feeling anger and admitting at the same time that there wasn't anything he could do was really an unusual spectacle, I thought.
EILPERINAnd yet, it seemed to break down exactly the same way, politically, even though he said it's important to politicize it, whether you saw it on Twitter or on Facebook or if you're watching cable news, the same voice is coming out defending guns and the right for people to control guns, saying the president shouldn't make this about guns. This is about much more complicated issues. Whether this person was mentally ill, whether this person was coming from an environment that made him violent, this isn't about guns, to people coming out and saying, of course, this is about guns, it's always about guns.
EILPERINSo it does feel -- there is a fatalism to it because it feels like we're back into the same sort of Groundhog Day-ness of a shooting.
WALTERAt the same time, though, the president did call on voters to make decisions and to think about, and as he said, whether the organization, especially for gun owners, referring to the NRA without naming them, represents you, speaks for you in the way that he says most people would favor some, as he calls it, common sense gun control legislation.
EILPERINAbsolutely. I mean, he really went right after the National Rifle Association, though he did not identify them and they did not have an immediate response to his comments. But, you know, he was combative. He really did make a specific appeal to gun owners, which was a little more pointed than he's done in the past, you know, kind of preemptively mocked them for cranking out the press releases...
EILPERIN...the NRA for -- and other organizations for calling for more guns. And you did get the sense that, you know, what -- he absolutely feels powerless, as Naftali mentioned, at the same time, he clearly thought that the most powerful thing he could do was come out at this moment and really actually -- there was something meta about it, that he talked about how routine the press coverage is, the conversations are and his own comments.
EILPERINAnd, I think, he did that, as he talked about us becoming numb to this in away to try to pierce through that.
BENDAVIDBut you know, after Newtown, it was interesting, though. It was, of course, such an appalling event and he really tried to get legislation through at that time. In other words, his reaction then was let's see if we can pass some real gun control legislation and it failed fairly dramatically and since then his approach seems to be much more to say, this is an awful thing. We've got to change, but I can't do it. It's up to you, the people, to do it.
BENDAVIDI know there's some liberals who feel that he gave up the fight too easily. But whether you feel that that's true or whether you feel that the country's politics have to change, there's really been a different tone since then, I think, where he felt like after Newtown, if I couldn't get something done then, perhaps I really never can.
BLOCKAnd we'll remember that angry news conference he had in the Rose Garden after that legislation failed. I want to pivot and talk about news this morning, Naftali, the jobs numbers that were released, a disappointing report for September. What did we learn?
BENDAVIDWell, so it turns out that 142,000 jobs were created last month, which is lower than what people expected and there's sort of this 200,000 job benchmark that you sort of hope for, hope it's more than that and that's actually what people were predicting, many people, for the past month. And it fell lower than that, the economy has been a little bit sluggish. But in a way, this perfectly exemplifies the way this recovery has been, that is to say it's been relatively steady.
BENDAVIDI mean, we've had job growth for something like 67 months or something like that, but it hasn't been robust or at the levels that people want. And you can tell that. You know, the polls and on the campaign trail, you can tell that even with an improving economy people feel anxiety, they feel insecurity so we're kind of in this limbo and we've been there for a long time.
BLOCKUnemployment remains steady, 5.1 percent. That should be a good number. Why is it not as strong as it seems?
BENDAVIDWell, it should. And, you know, there's a lot of Democrats that feel that, you know, they and the president aren't getting enough credit now that we really have had a sustained recovery. But it's undeniable that the recovery hasn't been gangbusters. I mean, it hasn't been the kind of thing that people feel that we should see. Now, a lot of that has to do with what's going on overseas. There's been turmoil in Europe. There's been turmoil in China. There's been turmoil pretty much everywhere.
BENDAVIDBut be that as it may, it's affected the US economy and I think that's affecting the tone and mood of the electorate.
BLOCKOne big question hanging over all of these job numbers as they come out is will the Federal Reserve change interest rates. Amy Walter?
WALTERWell, it sounds as if, you know, Janet Yellen made pretty clear that she would like to do that. We're going to see something in the near future. That China is as much a part of this and what's happening overseas as what's happening here. But as Naftali pointed out, you know, there has been a steadying case being made that the economy here is on solid ground and the case to be made to raise rates, which, of course, you know, depending on when they're raised, that's also going to have an impact on the economy and, of course, since I cover politics, how it affects people running for president and what the mood is of the electorate going into a presidential election.
WALTERYou know, by the time you hit the summer of an election year, people's views about the direction of the country, direction of the economy are pretty well baked in. And so that is going to be -- this time from, you know, now through next summer is going to be very important to whoever is running for president to gauge where voters are, how optimistic or pessimistic they are about the state of the economy.
BLOCKAnd, Juliet, average hourly wages unchanged in this report. It's one other sign of the softness of this economy.
EILPERINRight. And that's something where, you know, again, you see the president and his aides have talked a lot about hourly wages and the need, for example, to raise the minimum wage. But, again, they recognize that those debates are going to play out on the state level. And so for them, they tried to put the most positive spin they could this morning talking about the streak they've been in, but at the same time, they have to recognize that this is not as good as they wanted.
BLOCKAmy, you mentioned Congress and let's turn to Congress now. Narrowly averting a government shutdown on Wednesday with just hours to spare. They passed a temporary spending measure. The continuing resolution that we hear about with some regularity these days in Washington. What happened?
WALTERWell, once again, Republicans and Democrats were able to avert disaster in getting a short term funding measure, as you said, to get us to December 11 when we are, once again, going to be talking about funding the government.
BLOCKTwo months. Two months and change from now.
WALTERAnd we also are going to be talking about -- two months. The difference will be that we'll have a new majority leader -- I'm sorry, a new Speaker, that the majority leader, Kevin McCarthy, is all but expected to take the role of Speaker and he has a very interesting challenge ahead of him, which is not only is he going to have to figure out, once December hits, the government funding issue, but now the treasury secretary telling Congress that we're about to hit our debt ceiling.
WALTERThat's going to take place in early November and that, you know, this is going to be a challenge for the new Speaker to both deal with two things that Republicans hate almost more than anything, which is raising the debt ceiling and then dealing with another continuing resolution where issues like Planned Parenthood will once again be put on the table.
BLOCKFunding of Planned Parenthood. Naftali, any hope here for a successful long term measure or are we doomed to continue kicking the can down the road on the...
BENDAVIDYou know, I think it's really tough and I don't really see exactly how a solution evolves. There's been a lot of talk about the new Speaker and how he has good relations with his, you know, Republican members, but the math is the same and the math is basically that there's this healthy portion of the Republican conference that does not want to do what its leaders think is necessary to do to run the country.
BENDAVIDAnd I'm not sure how Kevin McCarthy, even though he's a nice, likeable guy, can change that. And so when December 11 rolls around, I'm really not quite sure how they're going to do anything other than what they've done in the past. That is to say, pass something with Democratic votes, potentially spurring another rebellion or maybe shut down the government for some prolonged period of time. But it's really going to be a difficult situation that, for now, all they're doing is postponing for a couple months.
BLOCKThat's Naftali Bendavid with The Wall Street Journal. I'm also joined this hour by Amy Walter with The Cook Political Report and Juliet Eilperin with The Washington Post. You're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." We'll have more of the Friday News Roundup coming up and you can see all of our guests on our live video stream, that's a drshow.org. Thanks for listening. We'll be right back.
BLOCKWelcome back. I'm Melissa Block with NPR News, sitting in for Diane Rehm. And I'm joined this hour here in the studio by Juliet Eilperin with The Washington Post, Amy Walter with the Cook Political Report, and Naftali Bendavid with The Wall Street Journal. And before the break, we were talking about the leadership succession in the House of Representatives. Let's talk a bit about the reason for that succession, which is of course the resignation -- the surprise resignation of the Speaker of the House John Boehner, who talks now about not wanting to leave my successor a dirty barn in the House.
BLOCKInteresting metaphor, Amy Walter.
WALTERWell, it is an interesting metaphor, the idea being, let's try to clean up as many of these lingering problems before I leave at the end of October. We have the debt limit being one, the continuing resolution of budget resolution -- and then other little things that are also big things, the transportation bill, the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank. Maybe we can get some of these things done. At the same time he talks about cleaning the barn, though, he also talked about not wanting to burden his successor...
WALTER...with problems. So his choice is, do you clean the barn a little bit -- as much as you can, to leave it, or do you actually throw a match in and just burn the whole barn down, which is to say...
BLOCKForget mucking the stalls.
WALTERForget about mucking the stalls. We can't muck anymore. Let's just burn it down. And I'm -- it's going to be ugly and it's going to be divisive. I'm going to put stuff on the floor that Republicans are going to hate, but Democrats would vote for, and we're going to push all this stuff through. And what's the big deal, right? I'm leaving.
BLOCKJuliet. Juliet, you're nodding your head.
EILPERINYeah. And from the White House perspective, of course, they're rooting for that. I was asking Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary about this yesterday and he said, We're willing to pick up the mops and help clean out the barn if that's what John Boehner wants to do.
BLOCKI think you need a pitchfork, not a mop. I don't know.
EILPERINExactly. Mop seems like not the right implement, but they can work on that. And I think, you know, what is interesting about this is that as much as they had difficulties and ultimately, from the White House perception, John Boehner couldn't deliver, they did see him as someone who was invested. And, you know, he talked about, in private, wanting to do big things. And so certainly there's -- they might hold out some slim hope that he could accomplish one thing, you know, one major thing before leaving. But it's -- odds are against it.
BENDAVIDYeah, I just -- I guess I just think it's pretty unlikely. I mean, I could see him getting maybe the transportation bill, maybe the Export-Import Bank, but any sort of bigger deal to raise the debt limit, to have a longer-term spending bill, it would just prompt a complete revolution on the part of the Republicans who are very angry, who just got rid of him. And it would also put Kevin McCarthy and the new leadership team in a terrible situation because they -- if they didn't actively campaign against it, they'd be seem as complicit. So I think he's going to do what he can but I wouldn't hold our collective breaths until he leaves in October for him really to have accomplished that much.
BLOCKYeah. And at this point they don't owe him anything. They have nothing to fear by bucking him.
BENDAVIDRight, well -- right that's true. He certainly couldn't whip votes among the Republicans.
EILPERINAnd on the other hand, also, McCarthy needs to curry favor with conservatives in order -- given as he's kind of seen as more moderate than many of them. So he -- his...
BLOCKHe puts them in a terrible spot.
BLOCKWell, it is a real question of how Kevin McCarthy governs this caucus...
BLOCK...the caucus -- Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader has called them, I think, the toxic wing of the Republican Party in the House. Amy Walter, what do you think?
WALTERWell, what's interesting is, you know, this House Republican caucus is very young in terms of the number of years they've served.
WALTERI think it's something like 40 percent or so have been elected just since 2010. So, you know, John Boehner came from a different era in Congress and was speaking with a different voice than Kevin McCarthy also -- he's only been there since 2006. So he has more in common with his conference in that sense. They don't go back to the olden days and the way that things used to work. He's -- he now understands the world order in which they live. He also knows these folks personally because he went and campaigned for them when they were first running. So he has some personal relationships with them that John Boehner didn't necessarily have.
WALTERBut Naftali and Juliet are right, he still has the same exact problems. And what's really interesting is that, you know, usually, if you have a fight within the party between one wing and the other, it's a fight between the two leaders and who's going to go and lead the party. In this case, what you have is the -- Nancy Pelosi calls it the toxic wing, you could call it the tea party wing, whatever you want to call it -- they definitely want to put up a fight, but they don't want to put up a leader. They just like fighting, to fight.
WALTERAnd that's the problem that McCarthy is in, which is, it's one thing if you say fine, I want to go in this direction, you go in this direction, let's figure it out. It's, no. We don't want to do any leading. We just want to be there poking you in the eye at every turn.
BLOCKI want to touch on one comment that drew some attention that Kevin McCarthy, the presumed next speaker of the House, made and it had to do with the House Benghazi Committee. He talked about that committee taking -- being able to assume responsibility for Hillary Clinton's slipping poll numbers. In other words, that this -- the implication being that this committee did not have something to do with getting to the bottom of the story of what happened with the Benghazi attack, but really was politically charged. At least that's the Democrats' interpretation. Naftali, does -- has he dug himself a hole here?
BENDAVIDWell, he has in a sense that I actually think it's a pretty significant misstep. I mean, the Republicans really put a lot of emphasis on this Benghazi Committee and they've been so careful and so scrupulous to say it's not political. It's about getting to the bottom of a national security issue. And in one moment, he kind of undermined that. I don't think it's significant in the sense that it's not going to affect his chances to become speaker. But it does highlight his lack of experience and lack of political deftness.
BENDAVIDAnd there's one other thing that it does, which is that it shows how the presidential race is going to increasingly infiltrate or infect what's happening in Congress. I mean, the minute there's a debt-limit proposal, a spending proposal or anything, everybody from Ted Cruz to Rand Paul to Donald Trump is going to opine on it. And so you're going to have this very volatile, back-and-forth relationship between the presidential campaign on the one hand and what's going on in Congress on the other.
BLOCKSpeaking of the presidential campaign, new campaign financing -- fundraising numbers out for the last quarter and, lo and behold, Bernie Sanders...
BLOCK...is closing in on Hillary Clinton. Amy Walters, talk about the numbers that we're seeing and where he's getting his money.
WALTERSo, yeah. So this is the third quarter, which is money basically raised over the course of the summer, from June 30 to the end of September. Now, these reports are not due until October 15. So what we're getting right now is what the campaigns are telling us. So we don't have everybody's numbers yet, not everybody has released them. We will know in a couple weeks exactly what happened.
WALTERWhat we do know, though, is that Bernie Sanders raised $26 million. Just incredibly impressive.
BLOCKIn one quarter?
WALTERIn one quarter, yeah, from June to September. Hillary Clinton raised $28 million. Obviously...
BLOCKIn that same period?
WALTER...in that same period of time. And Bernie Sanders raised it basically all in small donors. He did, I think, something like four fundraisers total, which is pretty remarkable. Getting this, again, this momentum from small donors, this idea of he's a grassroots campaigner. What's really interesting though, as I -- I think it's -- I do think it's important. I don't want to dismiss this at all as a very big deal for Bernie Sanders. And certainly, if you're a Hillary Clinton backer, you have to look at those numbers and go, hmm, what's happening here.
WALTERI think she took a big hit from the fact that not only is Bernie Sanders doing well, but that Joe Biden hasn't made up his mind yet. A lot of people sitting on their hands waiting till Joe Biden decides before they write a check. But I went back and I looked at, well, what has the third quarter told us in past years?
WALTERThis time of the year, a year up from the election. And interestingly enough, that's usually been a good time for the sort of insurgent incumbent -- insurgent candidates like Bernie Sanders. Howard Dean crushed John Kerry over the summer of 2003. Bill Bradley, in the summer of 1999, slightly outraised Al Gore. So there is some precedent for, this is when those outsider candidates kind of get hot. Although -- and in 2007, actually, it was Hillary Clinton who did much better. So we have to be careful of saying, Okay, this is going to tell us...
WALTER...something about who's going to win. But it still -- I still think it's important.
BLOCKAnd it is interesting too, though, because it does mean that all of these donors, they have headroom, right?
BLOCKThey can give a lot more. They're not maxed out. Juliet.
EILPERINI also think there are a couple of other interesting things about those numbers. By the way, it also -- I'm always interested when the Clinton camp likes to talk about where Kerry and Al Gore were at different points, to note that neither of them became president. So it's always a little complicated to make those analogies. But I do think that's an excellent comparison. I also think what's interesting is the burn rate of these campaigns.
EILPERINAnd what was fascinating and I want to credit Matea Gold and Garin (sp?) for a story that they had in the Post, this idea that Hillary Clinton went through something like 90 percent of her money in this short period of time, had a driver, had all these different expenses. You know, Bernie Sanders, his son is his driver. He flies coach, sometimes even take the middle seat.
BLOCKAnd he's done no advertising.
EILPERINRight. And he's done no advertising and he's saving his firepower on that. Now, also, he does not have a Super PAC, you know, independently supporting him. But, so, I just think also it shows you the nature of these campaigns and the challenges Hillary Clinton faces.
BENDAVIDBut I also think we need to look at who didn't do well. And to me, who jumped out in that regard was Rand Paul. I mean he raised $2.5 million. And so if you compare that to, say, Ben Carson, who raised $20 million...
BENDAVID...not to mention Rand Paul himself raised, I think, $7 million or so the previous quarter. He's clearly not doing well. He's not doing well in the polls. I think it's another sign of that this Republican field is too big and can't accommodate this many people. I don't want to predict that he's going to withdraw or anything like that but I do think it's worth watching that campaign in the next few weeks because this was not the number that they were going for.
BLOCKMm-hmm. We did see a new tax proposal this week from the Republican frontrunner at this stage, Donald Trump. Juliet, do you want to talk about what's in it?
EILPERINActually, I would defer to Amy Walters.
WALTERWell, I've called it the Oprah tax plan, because it's -- you know how Oprah would have her giveaways and she'd say...
BLOCKYou get a car. You get a car.
WALTER...you get a car. I mean this tax plan really is like: and you get a tax cut and you get a tax cut, middle class gets a tax cut, corporations get a tax cut, you -- we're going to get rid of this alternative minimum tax, we're going to get rid of, you know, everybody, quote, unquote, "wins." What does not happen, of course, is that the non-winner, of course, is the deficit, which this would blow something like a $12 trillion hole in the deficit because, quite frankly, there's just not enough loopholes that Trump can close to make up for the loss of revenue.
WALTERHowever, I do think it's instructive that, you know, for all the criticism leveled against Donald Trump that he's not a serious candidate, look, he's put out two proposals thus far in the campaign: immigration, which of course also got a lot of blow-back, where he talks about the wall and humanely rounding up 11 million immigrants, and now a tax plan that is also riddled with problems, but it is a plan. Compare that to some of the other candidates who are on top of the polls, most specifically Ben Carson, who has not laid out anything. There's just still a lot of platitudes. If you look at his website, I think there's a three-sentence issue page for him on taxes.
WALTERThe other thing that this did for Donald Trump, I think, was it got him some cover from conservatives, from Republicans who came out -- especially like Grover Norquist, who's an anti-tax crusader on the right saying this is the kind of tax plan we like for a candidate like Donald Trump, who's being charged with being not conservative enough, not being a real Republican, getting a stamp of approval from some conservatives was a good moment for him.
BLOCKNaftali, your thoughts on the Donald Trump tax plan and how it differs from what we've heard from the other Republican candidates and what they would do with the tax code.
BENDAVIDYeah. I mean, clearly, you know, Trump wanted to put out a policy proposal to answer some of the critics who said he's just not a serious candidate, he doesn't have detailed ideas on anything. But to me this tax plan looked a lot like Jeb Bush's tax plan but kind of dialed-up to 11, you know?
BENDAVIDYou know, Jeb Bush wanted to bring the tax rate down to 28, so Trump's going to bring it down to 25. And Bush wanted to bring the corporate rate down to 20, so Trump's going to bring it down to 15. And Bush is going to, you know, he's predicting a 4 percent growth in the economy, so Trump's predicting 6 percent. So it had this sense of like, okay, here's my serious tax plan, guys, but it's very Trumpified, it's very up to, you know, everything's extreme and everything's bigger and everything's more dramatic. And so, I don't know exactly how serious it is. But I think he was trying to simultaneously show he's serious but in a very Trump-like dramatic way.
BLOCKAnd with the proposition that folks who owe no taxes could just send a letter, I believe, to the IRS saying, I win.
BENDAVIDRight. Which is another classic Trump...
EILPERINJuliet, any thoughts on what we may hear from the other Republican candidates about taxes coming up in the future? Whether they feel compelled now to weigh-in the...
EILPERINI think you're going to see, you know, a number of the candidates -- although, again, Ben Carson might hang back because he has absolutely avoided talking about those things. But, clearly, other folks will feel like they have to put plans on the table. And one would imagine that some of them probably will be sensitive to this issue of expanding the deficit. And that, so I would imagine you'd see at least some nod to fiscal conservatives coming forward, even as I'm sure they will try to pander to different groups, which is par for the course for any candidate who's running for president.
BLOCKI'm Melissa Block with NPR News and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." If you'd like to join us, please call 1-800-433-8850 to join the conversation. You can also send us an email to email@example.com, find us on Facebook or send us a tweet. And don't forget, you can see all of our guests this hour on our live video stream at drshow.org.
BLOCKI want to run by you -- we were talking earlier about the shooting in Oregon at the community college there -- and just go back to an email right now we have from Brian in Jackson, NH, who says, the president is right, we need to do something about guns. Please note, I own guns. Why don't the Republicans, who overwhelmingly dominate gun ownership, propose proper gun control measures? They need to take a step back and realize they are Americans first, Republicans second and NRA members last. They are sworn to protect and defend us. They are failing miserably. Naftali, I don't know how representative you might think this writer is of gun owners in America or support for the NRA.
BENDAVIDWell, President Obama went directly at those people when he spoke. He talked about responsible gun owners who go and use it for hunting and for self defense and legitimate purposes and he appealed to them directly. Obviously, the big complicating factor in this whole issue is the National Rifle Association. And there are, you know, varying views of it, but they have this sort of absolutist view of the Second Amendment. And I mean, you know, to give them their due, there are people who have absolutist views of the First Amendment and other things. And from their perspective, this is not the kind of thing you compromise on.
BENDAVIDNow, of course, there's a whole other viewpoint that says of course it's the kind of thing you compromise on. You have responsible restrictions. But I think, for now, this is the kind of thing that the president has been frustrated by, is the lack of any movement and sort of an absolutist view of gun ownership, rather than the usual politics of give and take.
WALTERYou know, and a lot of this, too, comes from the messenger. And I think some of the pushback -- I know, that the president now saying it's up to Congress to do it. But he's ultimately the person with bully pulpit and he's ultimately the person that folks are looking to. And I think for a lot of Republicans, a lot of voters in this country, they need to feel like they can trust and identify with the messenger.
WALTERAnd when they dislike the president, even if they agree with what he says, they are not going to give him the benefit of the doubt. And it almost seems like this is one of those issues and a sort of Nixon-goes-to-China type of thing where it's going to need to be a Republican president who goes and makes this happen, before we see something actually move...
EILPERINYeah. And I think what's interesting -- I totally agree -- I do think it would be actually interesting to see in the coming days how Bernie Sanders weighs in on this because, as someone who comes from Vermont, he actually has broken with the Democratic Party. And it's fair to say that there absolutely are Democrats who support the NRA and in fact that's why we did not have legislation passed in the wake of the Newtown shooting. So I think what's interesting is, while I absolutely agree with Amy that a Republican is often the most authentic messenger, there are a handful of Democrats who could make the case.
EILPERINAnd when you look at the presidential race, he's the one person. Because between both Hillary Clinton and her position and Joe Biden, if he enters, who led the president's effort to impose gun control...
EILPERIN...they're not the people who are going to win over some of these gun owners.
BLOCKThat's Juliet Eilperin, White House bureau chief with The Washington Post. I'm also joined this hour by Amy Walter with the Cook Political Report, Naftali Bendavid with The Wall Street Journal. Much more coming up. I'm Melissa Block with NPR News filling in for Diane Rehm. Coming up, your calls and questions for our panel, so please stay tuned.
BLOCKAnd welcome back. I'm Melissa Block with NPR News sitting in for Diane Rehm. I'm joined this hour by Juliet Eilperin with the Washington Post, Amy Walter with the Cook Political Report and Naftali Bendavid with the Wall Street Journal. If you're just joining us, please give us a call at 800-433-8850. You can also see all of our guests, that's a big thrill, on our live video stream at drshow.org. And I would like to go to the phones now. And take a call from Jim who's calling from York, Pennsylvania. Jim?
JIMGood morning. Thank you for taking my call. You spoke earlier about the President speaking about five hours after the event happened out in Oregon. And had fundamentally little information about who the shooter was, what his motivation, any information at all. Yet, he came out and asked for more control. And I'm surprised that he comes from Chicago, which has the largest and most restrictive gun laws in the nation. Yet each week, 20 to 40 young men are shot in Chicago with very restrictive gun laws.
JIMI don't know what the answer is and I don't think anybody knows what the answer is with regards to gun control. Because if a person that's deranged wants to get a hold of a gun, they can. And they can do what they did. And I think it's something that we've grown to live with and I'm outraged just like he is. But I don't think speaking before any information is given, that this would helpful or even productive.
BLOCKOkay, Jim, thanks for your call. Naftali, thoughts on what Jim had to say, and certainly, the President makes the point that other countries who've been confronted by mass shootings have changed their laws and have seen positive results from that.
BENDAVIDYeah, I mean, clearly, he felt that no matter, and he said this, that no matter what the details were about the shooter, about his identity, about his mental state, that clearly having fewer guns was going to be better than having more guns and having what he'd consider reasonable controls made sense. But there's another issue as well, which is that I think the President, no matter who it is, tends to play the role of being sort of a consoler or a comforter and they sort of time their appearances in relation to that.
BENDAVIDThis felt like another trauma, another thing the nation had gone through that was difficult and painful. And causing a lot of grief. And he clearly felt like he needed to come out and address that and be the consoler in chief, as they call it. As well as putting forward the policy proposals that he thought were important.
BLOCKAnd I should mention that Diane Rehm will be back on Monday and will be taking up these questions about gun control and legislation on Monday. I do want to pivot, Juliet, and talk about a new poll that came out this week on climate change that caught our attention, specifically about, the numbers in that poll about how Republicans and conservative Republicans feel about climate change. Why don't you go through what that poll shows?
EILPERINBasically, what's interesting about the poll, which was commissioned by a moderate Republican businessman, is that it really looked at the fact that you have the majority of Republicans supporting, essentially, what the President is undertaking right now. And I have to say that this is in line with frequent polls that we've seen. That essentially what's happened is you've seen strong majority of Americans who believe in mandatory, nationwide controls on greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change.
EILPERINAnd while, what's interesting is that it also kind of highlighted some of the challenges that when you look at the most conservative Republicans, those are the ones who do resist this idea of, you know, certain proposals including cap and trade, this idea, which is actually again, originally was a Republican idea, of putting overall limits, but allowing kind of private sector trading of carbon emissions. And what's interesting about it is that this was an effort to kind of convince the Republican candidates, right now, that they actually are out of sync with their own voters.
EILPERINAnd that they would do best to embrace some sort of positive, you know, climate change agenda. But what you certainly see, and everyone would acknowledge this, this is not being reflected in the field that we have. That, if anything, this field is moving more conservatively, is more confrontational.
BLOCKWe did hear Donald Trump, very recently, say I don't believe in climate change.
BLOCKFlat out. Does this notion get any traction, do you think, or do you agree with Juliet on that?
WALTERWell, a lot of it, too, is how you ask the question. And if you look at how the poll that was put out by this Republican businessman, they asked the question about, do you think climate is changing and human activity is contributing a lot to it? Okay? 21 percent of Republicans said yes. When you then said, and 45 percent of all Americans say yes. Human activity is, quote, probably contributing a little to change, now you get more Republicans saying yes. If you just flat out, as the Pugh Poll asks, the earth is getting warmer because of human activity.
WALTERDo you agree or disagree? 71 percent of Democrats agree. Only 27 percent of Republicans agree. So, I think it's pretty clear from both of these polls that you only have about a quarter of Republicans who agree with the idea, the Earth's getting warmer and humans are responsible for that. So, if you're a Republican candidate, and you're going to go out and campaign for the Republican primary, saying that you agree that the Earth's getting warmer and human activity is the reason is not going to win you a whole lot of votes in a Republican primary.
BLOCKNaftali, we did see former Florida Governor Jeb Bush roll out his energy plan. What's in that and how does it line up with this conversation about climate change?
BENDAVIDWell, what's in it is some fairly standard issue Republican ideas that have to do, for example, with removing the ban on selling crude oil overseas. That have to do with rolling back some of President Obama's regulations, that have to do with approving the Keystone Pipeline. And I think he, in a different way from Donald Trump, is also under pressure to show that he's the serious candidate in the race. And this was one of several policy pieces that he's released to try to do that.
BENDAVIDYou know, one of the interesting thing about the Bush energy plan, to me, in part, was the Democratic reaction. They're looking for any opportunity to tie him to the administration of his brother, and so they immediately jumped on this. Because, if you remember, the Bush/Cheney administration was criticized for being tied to big oil and so forth. And so, the Democratic response tended to be, you know, fairly or unfairly, see, he's just like his brother. He's a guy from big oil. And I think that's a debate you're going to see more and more of in the months to come.
BLOCKWe have not touched yet, in this hour, on the hearing this week featuring Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood. And we have a call on that question from Shane in Monroe Falls, Ohio. Shane, you're on the air.
SHANEHi, thanks for taking my call.
SHANEI had a question for the panelists regarding the hearing that you mentioned earlier this week. The treatment of Cecile Richards at the hearing, there seemed to be, at least what I heard, people on both sides who expressed, you know, regardless of what their views on what Planned Parenthood does, the way that she was, you know, sort of treated at the hearing, was, you know, very sexist and misogynist and I was curious what people thought of how that might play into the election. Whether or not that would be used by either side as fuel to the fire.
BLOCKOkay Shane, thanks for your call. Cecile Richards did mention, when she was asked at that hearing, are we treating you any differently than we would treat any man? She said, I think she said no. And my mom, Ann Richards, former Governor of Texas, did not raise me that way. Or did not raise me to be flustered by that.
WALTERWe're not allowed that. Right. Yeah.
BLOCKAmy Walter. What do you think?
WALTERYou know, if you watch some of the late night shows, you would conclude that Republicans did not come out of this looking very good. But if you are a partisan, which is really what these hearings, I think, were really designed to do, which was to fire up, on the Republican side, folks who don't like the idea of Planned Parenthood doing abortions. They want to stop federal funding of this. They can't find a way to do that currently in legislation. This was an opportunity to at least put this issue out there, grill somebody, try to score some political points.
WALTERIf you're a liberal, you look at that and you say, this was just about trying to put Cecile Richards on trial rather than trying to do anything substantive. And so, I think where we end up is both sides seeing what they wanted to see out of this debate. What is clear though is that when you look at the polling, there is no desire, by the American public, at this point, to stop federal funding for Planned Parenthood. So, if the goal of Republicans is to say, we're going to put Cecile Richards in front of the committee, we're going to include defunding of Planned Parenthood into any legislation we can get.
WALTERWe're going to make this a focus of the 2016 campaign. It's not going to go over well among a broad swath of the electorate. There is a real danger in them overreaching, in that sense.
BLOCKThere was also news this week, on a separate topic, that Pope Francis, on his visit to the United States, held a private meeting with Kim Davis, the clerk from Kentucky who refused to grant same sex marriages, was jailed for a time. The Vatican, today, clarifying some details of that meeting, although it now has been confirmed that that meeting did happen. Juliet.
EILPERINRight. The Vatican, which initially was not very forthcoming about this meeting, now said that while it did take place, this should not be interpreted as an endorsement of her actions. And also that there were multiple people in this meeting, that this was not a one on one meeting. That's, you know, that's what they're conveying. And I think, you know, this is fascinating, because Pope Francis is someone who certainly -- different people project ideas on him. And certainly, what you saw when he was here was particularly liberals, whether you're talking about the President or others, trying to highlight the more progressive aspects of his agenda.
EILPERINOn climate change, on poverty. On immigration. And, you know, obviously, conservative would point out other things. And, you know, what's particularly interesting on this issue of gay rights and same sex marriage, there has been this effort to portray him as being significantly different on this compared to his predecessors, where, in reality, that is not really true. And so, I think this highlights that contradiction.
BLOCKWe have an email on this subject from Catherine, who asks a question that I'm not sure anybody at this table can answer. Who at the Vatican embassy decided to allow Kim Davis to meet the Pope and why was the Pope not thoroughly briefed about her before she was allowed to be in a group that would meet with him? I suppose we could argue that maybe he was thoroughly briefed.
BLOCKAnd this was a meeting that he wanted to have. Naftali.
BENDAVIDYeah, I mean, it strikes me that the Vatican has been very careful about the Pope's image, in a certain way. They didn't want this meeting to come out, and at first, they barely confirmed it. It was a meeting that was kept private, whereas so much else that the Pope did when he was here, things that tended to be more friendly, I guess, toward the progressive view, but even others as well, were publicized. And so, they've now carefully framed this meeting in a certain way.
BENDAVIDAnd another thing that was interesting about the Pope's visit is I feel like there was a little bit of a change regarding the abuse victims of the church. Where, early on, he started out sort of sympathizing with the bishops who'd had to put up with the controversy. And by the end, he was fully apologizing and talking about how God weeps for the abuse victims. I think this is a Pope who's very aware of the way he's coming off. And I thought that was evident in his response to this news emerging.
BLOCKAmy Walter, thoughts on the Pope's meeting with Kim Davis.
WALTERYeah, I thought that it was very telling how the Vatican responded with the, we don't have a comment. Which, we're not going to say that she did. We're not going to say that she didn't. I think that they really thought, and maybe this goes to show that they haven't spent enough time in American political situations, that this was going to be kept quiet. And that Kim Davis's lawyer was not going to make a public declaration of this meeting. And once it did occur, you could see the scrambling to make sure that they covered their tracks.
EILPERINAnd I think, you know, one thing that's interesting about this is that while Pope Francis has been masterful in his use of gestures, the public media, his millions of Twitter followers, the Vatican is not known for its openness, responsiveness to the media, regardless of whether you're talking about here in America or in Italy. And so, I think that that's part of the challenge that they're facing right now.
BLOCKJuliet Eilperin, excuse me, with the Washington Post. Also, Amy Walter with the Cook Political Report. And Naftali Bendavid with the Wall Street Journal, joining us this hour for the Friday News Roundup, the domestic part of the Friday News Roundup. And again, you can watch our video, our live video stream at drshow.org. We'll be back after a break. I'm Melissa Block with NPR News.
BLOCKAnd we're back with The Diane Rehm Show. You're listening to The Diane Rehm Show. This hour, the domestic news roundup. There was news out of Oklahoma, this week, Naftali, that I know you wanted to talk about. The Governor, Mary Fallin, has delayed the execution of an inmate, Richard Glossip. What's going on there?
BENDAVIDWell, it was sort of a dramatic thing and I did think it was striking that just minutes before a scheduled execution, the state found that it had the wrong chemical. That is to say there's a three drug cocktail, and one of them was the incorrect one, and so the Governor, inevitably perhaps, postponed or delayed the execution for 37 days. Since then, the state's Attorney General has requested a suspension of all executions in the state. And, you know, this actually plays into some problems that a number of states, or issues, that a number of states have had regarding the chemicals that are used in lethal injections.
BENDAVIDThere are countries in Europe that are reluctant to export those drugs to the United States for use in the death penalty. There's been cases that have to do with whether these drugs cause pain or are as effective as they should be. And it shows, I think, in my mind, a little bit of a shift in the debate over the death penalty. From moral issues, to some degree, to almost more logistical ones or technical ones. And the argument that, you know, whatever you think of it, it just doesn't work that well. And I think this is going to play right into that debate.
WALTERYeah. I think that's a very excellent point. Because, you know, we've had so much discussion about the Innocence Project and the number of people that are on death row that may or not actually have committed these crimes. We have the DNA evidence now becoming much more significant in these court cases. But I think this does raise a very interesting question, which is, if indeed this is the way that we are going to choose to execute prisoners, and we can't even do that correctly, maybe there is a total, wholesale re-examination of how we go about doing this.
BLOCKI want to say, we have time to fit in one more caller. I'm curious to hear from Timothy in Detroit, Michigan, who has thoughts on Donald Trump and his tax plan. Timothy, you're on the air.
TIMOTHYHi. Good morning. I had a question for the panel.
TIMOTHYYou had mentioned that Donald Trump's tax plan would increase our deficit. I would like to -- let's add a couple of more moving parts. What if he was able to get the trillions of dollars overseas back to invest in America? And what if he was able to create 20 or 25 million new jobs, like he said he's going to do? Would that tax plan work?
BLOCKOkay, let's see if we can some answers from our panel. Thanks Timothy, for your question.
WALTERTimothy, it's a good question. And it is what the -- what Donald Trump is saying is if we -- we're going to get those, that money that's sitting overseas right now. We're going to have, it's called repatriation. We're going to make corporations pay a 10 percent tax, one time, 10 percent tax on all that money that they're holding overseas. That's going to bring a ton of money in. But when tax experts looked at that, they said, yeah, that's going to bring a lot of money in. Still not enough to make up for the whole.
WALTERTo be fair, it's not as if the Rubio plan or the Bush plan don't blow holes in the deficit either. They do, because what all these plans do, fundamentally, is they lower the tax rates for, well, actually not the Rubio plan as much as the Bush plan and the Trump plan will lower tax rates. Which means less revenue. The Rubio plan also has more tax credits, just putting more money out there. So, all of them have a deficit problem. What you're going to hope, as Timothy pointed out, is that this is going to encourage growth and that ultimately, lower taxes mean more jobs, mean more investment in America.
WALTERThere's not really evidence that that's going to occur.
BLOCKAnd Naftali, briefly, the hypothetical that listener Timothy was positing there, do you give it some credence?
BENDAVIDI mean, I give it credence in a sense that if it were to happen, and that everything that Donald Trump says his tax plan is going to do, you know, that would work, and there wouldn't be a deficit. But I don't think there are very many neutral economists who believe that the stuff that he is suggesting would come from his tax plan, specifically the six percent growth, millions of jobs created, would necessarily follow. So, I just don't think, most people think that's that what would happen.
BLOCKThanks to the three of you for coming in on this rainy Friday in the prelude to Hurricane Joaquin, which hopefully will not hit. Naftali Bendavid, Editor at the Wall Street Journal. Amy Walter, National Editor for the Cook Political Report. And Juliet Eilperin, White House Bureau Chief with the Washington Post. Thanks for listening. I'm Melissa Block with NPR sitting in for Diane Rehm.
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