March 10, 2023 - PBS NewsHour full episode
03/10/2023 | 56m 42s | Video has closed captioning.
March 10, 2023 - PBS NewsHour full episode
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03/10/2023 | 56m 42s | Video has closed captioning.
March 10, 2023 - PBS NewsHour full episode
Problems Playing Video? | Closed Captioning
GEOFF BENNETT: Good evening.
I'm Geoff Bennett.
Amna Nawaz is on assignment.
On the "NewsHour" tonight: Another strong jobs report complicates the prospects for more interest rate hikes aimed at stopping rising prices.
A new storm brings the potential for life-threatening floods and mudslides in parts of California already hard-hit by heavy rain and snow.
Ukraine burns through an extraordinary amount of ammunition in its fight against Russia, creating a major challenge for arms manufacturers.
SETH JONES, Center for Strategic and International Studies: What the U.S. has been able to do is use a range of its stockpiles of weapons.
The challenge, though, is that a number of those stockpiles are now decreasing.
(BREAK) GEOFF BENNETT: Welcome to the "NewsHour."
The U.S. economy again created more jobs than expected last month, 311,000.
The unemployment rate also ticked up to 3.6 percent, but that came as the labor force participation rate improved and more than 400,000 workers jumped back into the work force.
President Biden made note of that after the report came out this morning.
JOE BIDEN, President of the United States: The part that pleased me the most about the report, the jobs report, is, people who've been staying out of the job market are moving back in, beginning to move back in.
Jobs are available.
People are working again.
They're becoming more optimistic about their future.
GEOFF BENNETT: Wage increases slowed down, but job growth remains strong overall.
Julia Coronado is the president and founder of the firm MacroPolicy Perspectives.
She's a former economist for the Federal Reserve and a professor at the University of Texas, Austin.
Thank you for being with us.
JULIA CORONADO, MacroPolicy Perspectives: My pleasure.
GEOFF BENNETT: So, we have a strong jobs report for February.
The U.S. added 311,000 jobs last month.
President Biden said this morning that our economy is moving in the right direction.
Is that the entire story?
JULIA CORONADO: Well, the report is a little bit of a Goldilocks report.
We -- as you mentioned, very strong job gains, stronger than expected, but not a lot of signs of inflation pressures from those jobs, in part because we did see participation rise.
We know that some good things are happening on the supply side of the labor market.
Immigration flows have improved.
We're working through backlogs of visas and bringing people in.
And people are returning to the labor force.
So, that is bringing supply and demand into better balance, and, therefore, wage growth did ease back a little bit.
And for the Federal Reserve, that is certainly what they are looking for in determining how fast and how high to take interest rates.
GEOFF BENNETT: A question about that, because the U.S. economy, looking back at the last three jobs reports, has averaged 350,000 jobs a month for the last three months, good news for the economy, great news for Americans.
But that could be read potentially as bad news for the Fed, which is trying to tame inflation.
Or is it bad news?
JULIA CORONADO: Well, it could be, potentially.
But, again, if you look over those same three months, the unemployment rate, first, it ticked down and then it ticked back up.
So we have been basically steady at 4.6 percent - - 3.6 percent unemployment rate over that same period.
So, that's a low unemployment rate.
We're not quite at the 50-year lows we were last month.
But we're not seeing -- again, because there's better supply of workers, more people returning to the work force, better population growth dynamics from immigration, that means that those demand for workers are being met, without tightening the labor market further.
So it's a delicate balance.
It's -- by any metric, it's a strong job market, which is good for the economy.
But we are at a very high rate of inflation that the Fed wants to bring down.
So they would like to see further cooling in the job market, which this report isn't a cooling outright, but it is a -- like, sort of a very healthy balance of strong jobs, but also strong engagement to meet those jobs.
GEOFF BENNETT: Julia, I want to ask you about what happened today with financial regulators closing Silicon Valley Bank.
This is a major lender to start-ups.
This is the largest U.S. bank failure since the financial crisis more than a decade ago.
What contributed to that collapse, and how is it connected, if at all, to the broader economy?
JULIA CORONADO: So there were, of course, some circumstances for this bank, which was focused on serving the tech sector, which we know is having a hard time right now.
It's the sector that's probably contracting the most.
So they had exposure to that sector.
But it's also a reflection, just more generally, of the impact of higher interest rates on the banking system.
Higher interest rates are -- require -- it does bring pressures on the bank's portfolio.
What that produced in this case was a run on deposits.
And so it's both a unique situation, but also one that does highlight that higher interest rates over time constrain the financial sector, constrain credit availability.
And this was just a particularly adverse event.
But we saw -- in the markets, we saw contagion to the broader banking sector and the broader stock market, because there is pain to come in the financial sector.
The financial sector is adjusting to the reality of higher interest rates.
GEOFF BENNETT: I had to brace myself a bit when you use that word contagion.
JULIA CORONADO: Yes.
GEOFF BENNETT: Because how concerned should we be about the -- about the ripple effect and about the overall health of the banking sector?
JULIA CORONADO: So I think the biggest concern in the banking sector is not sort of the big banks that are in very good shape, well-capitalized, lots of liquidity.
It's the smaller banks, like this bank, and other midsize, smaller banks that really do rely on deposits as their funding base.
And if deposits turn out to be a little bit more skittish, a little bit more prone to flight, then they're going to have to manage their risks and manage their liabilities very carefully.
So, I think the vulnerabilities in the banking sector really lie amongst the smaller and midsize banks.
And there is concern.
There is some concern that rates have gone up so far, so fast that it's a shock to the system that might ripple into other, again, midsized banking institutions.
GEOFF BENNETT: Julia Coronado is with MacroPolicy Perspectives.
A real pleasure to speak with you.
Thanks for your time and for your insights.
JULIA CORONADO: My pleasure.
GEOFF BENNETT: In the day's other headlines: California took another hit from the heavens, as a so-called atmospheric river brought torrents of rain and more snow.
Stephanie Sy reports, it's adding to the states weather woes after a series of extreme storms.
STEPHANIE SY: Hours of rain since last night have caused overflowing waterways to wash out roads.
The downpours have filled freeways around the San Francisco Bay Area.
And 34 counties across the state are now under a state of emergency.
Piles of mud still line the streets of this neighborhood in Felton.
It's been battered repeatedly by storms since the start of the year.
TOM FREDERICKS, California Resident: I'm past the burnout part.
I'm in the acceptance part.
STEPHANIE SY: Tom Fredericks had just gotten through cleaning up from the last series of storms.
TOM FREDERICKS: We have been working every week, every week, when we can since then.
And it's just starting right now to feel like it was before the storms.
So, this is kind of discouraging to be facing it all over again.
STEPHANIE SY: In Southern California, there are concerns new rain could melt tons of snow from previous winter storms and trigger catastrophic flooding.
And evacuation warnings have been issued, including in Merced County in the central part of the state.
Just two weeks ago, people had to be rescued there.
CHRIS KRZANICH, California Resident: I don't want to go through this again.
After being rescued at 1:30 in the morning on a flatbed trailer with a backhoe pushing cars out of the way, and, yes, we're not going through that again.
So we will be leaving early if it is going to look bad.
STEPHANIE SY: In parts of the state with massive snow accumulations, the risk of roof collapses is rising, as up to eight feet of new snow is predicted in high elevations.
Kim George is the battalion chief for the South Lake Tahoe Fire Department.
KIM GEORGE, South Lake Tahoe, California, Fire Department: Some of these shaded neighborhoods have probably eight, 10 feet in the city, and the county areas even more so.
With all of the snow load and the amount of weight that's sitting on roofs, we have pretty significant concern coming up with roof snow load with all the rain.
CRAIG GRIESBACH, Emergency Services Director, Nevada County, California: I think this is day 15, essentially been working 24/7 with all hands on deck.
STEPHANIE SY: Craig Griesbach is director of emergency services for Nevada County, California, where new weather alerts are now up.
CRAIG GRIESBACH: We have a very old, older demographic.
So there's definitely an area of need here more than more than other places.
So that goes to mail.
Pretty much anything of daily service has been hampered, including trash service as well.
STEPHANIE SY: Meanwhile, Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada Mountains will remain closed through next Thursday.
Over the past two weeks, parts of the iconic park were buried 15 feet deep in snow.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Stephanie Sy.
GEOFF BENNETT: Forecasters are calling for yet another major storm in California early next week.
Former President Trump now has a decision to make, whether to appear before a grand jury in New York next week.
The focus would be his alleged role in hush money payments to an adult film actress during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Manhattan's district attorney has offered Mr. Trump the chance to testify in what could be a precursor to criminal charges.
Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed today to restore diplomatic relations in a deal brokered by China.
The Persian Gulf powers broke ties in 2016 and have competed in proxy conflicts in Yemen and elsewhere.
Iran's top security official welcomed the news.
ALI SHAMKHANI, Secretary, Iranian Supreme National Security Council (through translator): At the end of the talks, we reached a conclusion to start a new chapter after seven years of breaking off relations.
We hope this new chapter will compensate for the stagnation of relations and lead to stability and security in the region.
GEOFF BENNETT: The agreement marked a major diplomatic moment for China.
In Washington, the White House said it welcomes any deal that could end the war in Yemen and reduce regional tensions.
China's President Xi Jinping was awarded a third five-year term today, putting him on the road to staying in power for life.
He won a unanimous endorsement from the ceremonial National People's Congress.
He'd already secured five more years as head of the Chinese Communist Party.
Much of Ukraine had electrical power restored today after a major Russian missile barrage on Thursday.
And, in Kyiv, President Zelenskyy attended the funeral of a well-known fighter and commander.
He died in the battle that's raging around Bakhmut in Eastern Ukraine.
Police in Hamburg, Germany, are still searching for a motive after a gunman killed six people and himself at a Jehovah's Witness hall.
Eight others were wounded in the attack last night, including a pregnant woman who miscarried after being shot.
The killings stunned the neighborhood, and people today left flowers and lit candles, paying their respects to the victims.
DANIEL KRALLMANN, Hamburg Resident (through translator): It is important to me because this is on my way to work.
I always pass by here, and I enjoy it.
And so I thought I'd express my sympathy by laying flowers here.
I love Hamburg.
And then, when something like this happens, you are really quite disturbed.
GEOFF BENNETT: The gunman was a former member of the Jehovah's Witness congregation that he attacked.
Police said they recently received a tip that he was angry at the group and might be unfit to own a gun.
Back in this country, reports of sexual assaults shot up last year at U.S. military academies.
The Pentagon says a survey found an 18 percent increase over the previous year.
That includes one in five female students who said they'd been subjected to unwanted sexual contact.
The Naval Academy alone had nearly double the number of reports from the year before.
Some of the most conservative House Republicans spelled out their demands today in the impasse over raising the national debt ceiling.
The House Freedom Caucus called for cutting spending by $130 billion, reversing student debt relief, and freezing most agency budgets for 10 years.
Members dismissed President Biden's new budget, and he rejected their demands in statements.
REP. SCOTT PERRY (R-PA): Members of the House Freedom Caucus, who have never continually voted for debt ceiling increases, will support a solution to responsibly address the impending debt ceiling crisis.
Simply put, the plan is to shrink Washington and grow America.
JOE BIDEN, President of the United States: Members of the House caucus will consider voting to raise the debt ceiling contingent upon the enactment of legislation.
Do you know what the essence of the enactment of the legislation is?
Cut all spending other than defense by 25 percent, 25 percent, across the board.
GEOFF BENNETT: House Republican leaders have not indicated if they support the Freedom Caucus plan.
The House of Representatives voted unanimously today to declassify U.S. intelligence on the origins of COVID-19.
Democrats and Republicans joined in pressing for answers on how the virus started and whether it could have escaped from a Chinese lab.
The bill now goes to President Biden, but there's no word on whether he will sign it.
And, on Wall Street, stocks retreated again in the face of interest rate fears.
The Dow Jones industrial average lost 345 points, or 1 percent, to close at 31909.
The Nasdaq fell nearly 1.8 percent.
The S&P 500 slipped 1.5 percent, finishing its worst week since September.
And still to come on the "PBS NewsHour": arms manufacturers struggle to produce enough ammunition for Ukraine's battle against Russia; former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson discusses his potential bid for the White House; and David Brooks and Jonathan Capehart weigh in on the week's political headlines.
Since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion, the U.S. and its allies have supplied Ukraine with tens of billions of dollars of weapons systems and ammunition.
But keeping the material flowing for this bruising war is proving a challenge for arms manufacturers.
Nick Schifrin has the story.
NICK SCHIFRIN: The poets call war the ultimate measure of man.
Planners call war, the ultimate competition of logistics.
And it's been 80 years since a war with logistics on this industrial scale.
Ukraine fires as many 155-millimeter artillery rounds in about five days as the U.S. produces in a month.
Many of them are forged, finished at 1,500 degrees, and painted here, a 1950s factory in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
The machinery is decades-old, but, until now, it's suited us needs.
Iraq and Afghanistan were not dueling artillery battles.
But, today, the 20,000 artillery shells the plant creates every 30 days is a fraction of Ukraine's needs.
Ukraine's defense minister, Oleksiy Reznikov, recently wrote to the European Union in a letter described to "PBS NewsHour" that Ukraine can only one-fifth of what it could because of munition shortages.
We saw that ourselves on the outskirts of Bakhmut in Eastern Ukraine.
This team told us they did not have enough artillery to fire constantly.
Olexander commands and artillery unit in the 93rd Brigade.
Do you have what you need in order to complete this fight?
OLEXANDER, 93rd Brigade (through translator): We do have equipment, but we need more, and we need more and more and more, because they won't stop until we stop them.
JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO Secretary-General: The current rate of Ukraine's ammunition expenditure is many times higher than our current rate of production.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Last month, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said defense industry couldn't deliver fast enough and had to expand quickly.
JENS STOLTENBERG: This is now becoming a grinding war or attrition.
And the war of attrition is a war of logistics.
SETH JONES, Center for Strategic and International Studies: The U.S.' defense industrial base is not fully prepared to conduct an industrial-style war or to deter that kind of war.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Seth Jones directs the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and recently wrote a report about a shortage of materiel, empty bins in a wartime environment.
SETH JONES: The U.S. has had operational plans for a major war, but I think what hasn't happened is to tie those plans directly to acquisitions needs right now.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Already, the U.S. has sent from its stockpiles more than $32 billion worth of weapons, including more than a million 155-millimeter shells, 1,600 shoulder-fired Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, 8,500 Javelin anti-tank weapons, 1,800 Phoenix Ghost drones and 38 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems.
SETH JONES: What the U.S. has been able to do is use a range of its stockpiles of weapons.
The challenge, though, is that a number of those stockpiles are now decreasing, and the production lines aren't rising to levels that we need them for future contingencies.
NICK SCHIFRIN: It's not only about Ukraine.
The military always plans for contingencies, including a war in the Pacific with China.
And now the Defense Department is spending billions to increase production, including modernizing the Scranton plant, as seen in these before-and-after photos.
Already, production has increased nearly 50 percent.
Overall, the Army hopes to increase artillery production 500 percent in the next two years, the largest production expansion since the Korean War.
Bill LaPlante is the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment.
I spoke to him on Wednesday, and began by asking him whether the West could meet Ukraine's needs for artillery.
WILLIAM LAPLANTE, U.S.
Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment: We will do our best and we have been doing our best to meet the demand as it comes in.
And, of course, the devil's in the details as to which caliber.
But, yes, the piece showed, on the 155-millimeter, we have already funded the factory at significant amounts to get that production rate ultimately up at five times that amount, which is almost unprecedented.
And it's not just producing, but what we're also buying and getting from around the world in different stocks to supply what the Ukrainians need.
Every day, we try to move something to the left, whether it's finding equipment in another country we can ship in, or anything we can do to find stocks.
NICK SCHIFRIN: As we just saw Ukrainian soldiers just a few weeks ago outside of Bakhmut told me they didn't have enough.
That was an artillery piece, an older artillery piece, Soviet era.
WILLIAM LAPLANTE: Right.
NICK SCHIFRIN: I was with another mortar unit.
They said they didn't have enough mortars, also firing Soviet era mortars.
This isn't only about American and European weapons, is it?
WILLIAM LAPLANTE: Right.
NICK SCHIFRIN: It's also about getting Ukraine older weapons, which many of their units still use, right?
WILLIAM LAPLANTE: That's exactly right.
It's a constant challenge of, do we find or produce the old Soviet or Russian equipment?
Or do we give them the new equipment?
And that's -- we go through that every day.
NICK SCHIFRIN: But on air defense, specifically, I have been told they're running out of S-300 parts, weapons all over the world.
And so, therefore, they have to go to Western... (CROSSTALK) WILLIAM LAPLANTE: I think, for air defenses, and, frankly, for ground forces, what you're seeing is having to go from the old Soviet systems to almost certainly Western systems for the reasons you said.
NICK SCHIFRIN: And this is all, of course, before we get to Ukraine'S spring offensive.
You are trying to figure out how to get all these armored vehicles and their parts into Ukraine.
How do you know that they will have enough of those munitions, those parts, those modern weapons to be able to launch some kind of counteroffensive in the coming weeks?
WILLIAM LAPLANTE: What we're doing is working with the Germans, the Poles and the other countries, when we have a shortfall in parts, say, for a certain version of Leopards, to scour and find those parts, even to the extent we can find advanced manufacturing or 3-D print.
So we're working on each one.
And the idea is to make sure that there are enough parts to sustain for each model.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Why not give Ukraine the longer-range weapon known as ATACM, which would fly 180 miles, that it's been requesting?
So far, the administration has refused.
WILLIAM LAPLANTE: Yes, it's been a policy decision to date that the long-range weapons, which we have been providing, which is about an 80-kilometer precision-guided weapon, is sufficient in range for the targets that they have.
I think for -- when you get into types of capabilities that are well beyond it, you get into policy issues and sustainment issues of whether or not it's an escalatory thing.
NICK SCHIFRIN: If I could, though, intelligence officials tell me that, specifically, the capacity of the ATACM and the range of the ATACM is a red line for the Kremlin in terms of what Ukraine would be able to hit if it were to use that weapon in Russia.
But why is that a concern, given that Ukraine has promised not to use American weapons inside Russia?
WILLIAM LAPLANTE: Well, I think it's one of the concerns.
I think there's multiple concerns.
And the other piece of it is what -- to what extent it will make a big difference in the battle.
And those are all part of the calculation.
NICK SCHIFRIN: To what end are you trying to procure weapons for Ukraine to reseize all of its territory that it has lost since 2014?
WILLIAM LAPLANTE: We're providing everything we can that we believe they need.
And I would say this.
We are going to be there with them until it's over and as long as we need to, and not for the least of which is, if we think it's expensive now, if Putin prevails, it'll be really expensive.
And so this is really that important.
And we were going to provide the equipment they need.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Ukraine argues it won't be over until it reseizes Crimea.
WILLIAM LAPLANTE: That may be their view.
NICK SCHIFRIN: And that's Ukraine's choice, basically?
That's the U.S. policy.
WILLIAM LAPLANTE: This is their fight.
This is their fight.
NICK SCHIFRIN: You heard Seth Jones in the package there saying that, as stockpiles in the U.S. are being drawn down, production lines aren't expanding enough to meet future requirements.
Do you agree?
And, if so... (CROSSTALK) WILLIAM LAPLANTE: I think that that's a subjective comment.
I actually -- I actually don't necessarily agree.
I think we're going across the board and putting billions of dollars in investment across -- across in these companies.
And it's going to be rapidly ramping up.
And so, really, what's at stake here is a time issue.
It's, we will rank up -- ramp up, and we are ramping up right now.
And the question is -- arguably, is racing against time.
and that's where -- that's where we are.
NICK SCHIFRIN: How does that translate, though, into actual deliveries?
How long does that take?
WILLIAM LAPLANTE: Right.
This gets to something called a long lead item, how long it takes before you get the item when you actually award it.
And so what -- what that can be, as long as a year.
But it's every day we have teams working on this, scouring the earth.
NICK SCHIFRIN: And, finally, how do you prioritize orders, especially moving forward?
You have argued that the weapons going to Ukraine do not affect some of the weapons orders, for example, that Taiwan is making.
But the fact is, the U.S. is behind on some of the orders it has promised to Taiwan.
WILLIAM LAPLANTE: Right.
NICK SCHIFRIN: So what is that priority?
And does one theater affect the other?
WILLIAM LAPLANTE: It can affect.
But there's less overlap, perhaps, than people believe.
I will give you the example for Taiwan.
There is a backlog for Taiwan.
It happens to be on items like F-16 and production of F-16.
That's a lot of it, which, to date, even though there's been discussions, hasn't been a player in the Ukraine.
Where I will say that there is something that we all have to watch is the underlying suppliers, the suppliers of solid rocket motors, of batteries, of energetics.
There, those are common across all domains.
And that's where we have also been putting our emphasis.
NICK SCHIFRIN: And what is -- what message does your struggles to deal with the procurement challenges right now and also what you're doing to overcome them, what message does that send to China when it comes to Taiwan?
WILLIAM LAPLANTE: Well, I think what we -- I like to think that what we show China is, number one, we can turn fast.
We can turn fast.
We are getting folks under contract within a week.
And we are getting things put together and into theater that are incredibly innovative very, very fast.
We will follow up and make sure our industrial base is ready to go.
And so I have often said that industrial capacity is itself a deterrent.
And so I think we have to remind ourselves that as we look not just to China, but at what's beyond Ukraine.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Bill LaPlante, undersecretary of defense, thanks very much.
WILLIAM LAPLANTE: Thank you, Nick.
GEOFF BENNETT: The 2024 Republican presidential primary is already heating up in early voting states.
Prospective candidate Ron DeSantis traveled to Iowa for the first time today, and declared candidate Nikki Haley this week also met voters across that state.
Among those considering joining the fray is former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.
Amna Nawaz spoke with him earlier today.
AMNA NAWAZ: Governor Asa Hutchinson, welcome back to the "NewsHour."
Thanks for being with us.
Let's start with the most important question.
Have you decided if you're going to run or not?
ASA HUTCHINSON (R-AR): Right now, I'm concentrating this month in going to different states, listening to voters, and really concentrating on a good, consistent conservative message that I have practiced as governor and throughout my public career.
April is an important time for decision-making and any announcement at that time.
And so stay tuned.
But, right now, we're really focusing on what's important for our country and the direction that we go.
And I think my message is important.
I have been encouraged by the response that I have received thus far.
AMNA NAWAZ: We will indeed stay tuned.
It is very early, we should say.
But, so far, there are two clear front-runners, former President Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who are very much in the same lane, I think it's fair to say, appealing to the same kinds of voters and base Republican voters.
What do you see as your potential lane?
Who are your potential voters?
ASA HUTCHINSON: Well, it's people that also are in that lane in terms of believing in changes that we need in government, a conservative position, fighting out against the progressive agenda.
So, those voters are very important for anybody who runs.
But we also need to broaden the base.
And it's important that we nominate a candidate that can appeal to independent voters and suburban voters and win in November.
We should be tired of losing, as we did not win as we should have in the last cycle.
And so that message of a consistent conservative that can broaden the base is really important for our party.
And I think that is the kind of candidate that people are looking for that can win in a November election and that can broaden our base.
AMNA NAWAZ: You have made clear that you don't believe that former President Trump should be that nominee, but you have also expressed concern about his message of vengeance, as you have put it.
If he is not the nominee, are you worried about him running as a third-party candidate or trying to seek revenge on the Republican Party in some way?
ASA HUTCHINSON: Well, the reason I say that we should not have somebody who's a president of the United States that's interested in revenge is that we have very serious times.
And these serious times calls for problem-solvers.
That's the kind of leadership, I think, that is needed.
Whenever you look at the threat of a third-party candidacy, I think that's the reason that Ronna McDaniel, head of the Republican National Committee, wants everybody who participates in the debate on the GOP side to sign a loyalty oath.
Well, I don't think we need a loyalty oath, but I think it is important to say, if we're going to participate in a Republican debate, we're not going to run as a third-party candidate.
And I think that's important for President Trump and any candidate to say if they're going to participate in that Republican nominating process.
AMNA NAWAZ: Nikki Haley, as you know, who has announced her candidacy, was today calling for raising the retirement age for Americans currently in their 20s, and limiting Social Security benefits for wealthier Americans.
As you know, there have been a number of proposals for how to address the coming crisis in Social Security across the aisle.
Senators Warren and Sanders have said they can increase taxes on the wealthiest Americans and shore up Social Security.
What are your thoughts on this?
What are you proposing as a fix for Social Security?
ASA HUTCHINSON: We need to protect Social Security for our retirees who have paid into it.
They have earned that payment in terms of the latter years of their life.
And so that's important that we keep it sound and full of integrity, and that we don't start chopping it up.
We have got to protect Social Security and Medicare.
When you look at the long-term concerns about it, we have got to bring in more workers.
We have got to be able to make some changes, probably, but it shouldn't be lowering their retirement age for all of the workers, because you think about the difference between somebody like me, who's worked at a white-collar job, I have been a lawyer, I have been in public service, vs. somebody who's worked in a factory.
I don't think that lifting their retirement age, whenever their body can wear out on some of those tough manual labor jobs, is the right way.
AMNA NAWAZ: I want to ask you about some news out of Arkansas this week as well.
The state Senate there, they have just passed what critics are calling the most extreme so-called bathroom bill that's targeting transgender people.
It would essentially criminalize, say, a transgender parent taking their child into a public restroom.
Would you support a bill like that?
ASA HUTCHINSON: I have not read that bill.
But I did make sure that,whenever I was governor, we tried to have the right balance of giving people flexibility in their life, not overly mandating from the state perspective, and recognizing the parental role in terms of raising kids and the influence that they have over them.
I do have hesitation about the criminal aspect of some of these penalties.
But, again, I have not read that specific bill AMNA NAWAZ: Governor, there's been over 150 similar bills from Republican-led legislatures targeting transgender people.
We know that kind of rhetoric leads to real-world violence, can create mental health and emotional problems for trans youth.
Why is this particular issue such a priority for Republicans right now?
ASA HUTCHINSON: Well, there's a great deal of concern about the children and their safety and their protection and in the schools and their influence.
And you do have concerns about the influence of whether they're encouraged to move at that very young age and to consider a transgender change.
This is a really extraordinary time that we're going through, that we're still learning more about science and more about why there's been such an increase in transgenderism across America.
And so I think there's a pause button that people are trying to set and trying to draw the right lines.
And so that's the reason for the debate, is simply trying to protect the knowledge of parents.
For example, if a child says that he wants to change his gender, should a parent know about that?
There should be that communication.
And so I think that's why this is being looked at by legislators across the country now.
AMNA NAWAZ: Governor, those same legislatures, though -- you mentioned that the aim is to protect children.
You know as well as I do the leading cause of death children in America right now is gun violence.
And we don't see any Republican-led action on that.
ASA HUTCHINSON: Well, that we believe in the responsibility of gun owners.
We believe in the responsibility of law enforcement to enforce the law.
And whenever you look at our Second Amendment privileges, correct, Republicans are not passing laws further restricting the rights under our Constitution.
But we certainly are concerned about violence in our society, and whether that is coming from the inner cities and prosecutors that don't believe in upholding the law, or judges that are releasing defendants on no bond, whenever they have got a series of criminal offenses in the past.
Absolutely, these are serious concerns for legislators to address those crime issues, and particularly in our -- in our inner cities, where we don't have good enforcement the law.
That needs to change.
AMNA NAWAZ: Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, we will be following you, as I know you're making a decision on whether or not to run.
Please do come back when you have made that decision.
Thank you for joining us.
ASA HUTCHINSON: Thank you.
Good to be with you.
GEOFF BENNETT: Court watchers anticipate charges against former President Donald Trump, President Biden previews his 2024 reelection platform in dollars and cents, and FOX fights a legal battle over its lies about the 2020 election.
At the end of this week full of political developments, it's time for the analysis of Brooks and Capehart.
That's New York Times columnist David Brooks, and Jonathan Capehart, associate editor for The Washington Post.
With a welcome to you both on this Friday evening, Jonathan, we will start with you.
In this interview we just heard with former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, he said that serious times call for problem-solvers.
Amna asked him about gun violence, about Social Security solvency, about trans issues.
What did you make of the solutions that he offered?
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Well, let's start with crime, because that's the one that really piqued my interest, because he went immediately to violent crime in our inner cities.
And it made me think of a study from Third Way, the centrist -- well, Democratic-leaning think tank Third Way here in Washington, that put out a report last March, almost a year ago, March 2022, that showed that the top 10 homicide rates in the United States, eight of the 10 states with the highest homicide rates per capita in 2020 were states that voted for Donald Trump.
The number nine state is Arkansas, with 10.3 murders per capita, the ninth most homicides in the country.
And so my question for the governor would be, why is that so high in your state?
What did you do when it came to that kind of crime, and especially if they were crimes that were committed with guns?
What are you doing to be a part of the solution?
When it comes to Social Security, that Nikki Haley proposal that Amna pointed out is an interesting idea, because it's not about the retirees who are about to... GEOFF BENNETT: Raising the age.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Raising the age.
Well, yes -- well, raising the retirement age, but for, if I heard Amna correctly, folks who are in their 20s now.
I didn't hear a direct response to that.
And I think that's going to be the challenge for the former governor.
GEOFF BENNETT: David, I want to get your reaction here.
And, as this Republican field fills out, you have got Chris Sununu, Asa Hutchinson weighing their options, Tim Scott potentially, former Vice President Mike Pence.
Who is positioned to be the moderate, to use your phrase, normie Republican candidate moving forward?
DAVID BROOKS: Yes.
This is a season where a lot of governors are reaching out to journalists.
So, I have spent a lot of time around governors all of a sudden.
And my sense is that the Republicans have quite a strong -- it's like a Major League Baseball organization with a great minor leagues and a pitcher who can't throw a pitch.
And that pitcher is Donald Trump.
But, underneath, there's a lot of talent in the party.
And when you talk to the governors -- I'm talking about Governor Kemp of Georgia, Governor Sununu of New Hampshire, former Governor Ducey of Arizona, Governor Youngkin of Virginia - - I think one of the things they point to is that people are moving to red states.
If you look at where people are moving, they're moving out of blue states and into red states.
And why is that?
Well, their claim is that people like the quality of life.
They like the tax structure.
They like the schools.
And so Florida, Georgia, Texas, just a lot of people are moving to those places.
And these governors are not focusing on some of the culture war issues, except for DeSantis.
They're not going after Disney.
They're not making trans the center of their - - their trans issues the center of whatever they want to do.
They're talking about crimes, streets, schools, the normal things that governance is all about.
And so I do think there's a lane for a -- somebody who's going to focus on quality of life.
And if I had to pick out one person right now, I would say Chris Sununu of New Hampshire.
And that's mostly because he's just a warm, friendly, natural, good guy that people like.
He won a very impressive reelect victory up there in New Hampshire, a pretty mixed state.
And, somehow, he leaps out to me in these early days as someone with just political skill.
And so, if there's going to be a normie, or somebody who is going to focus on quality of life, somehow, Governor Sununu seems to me, at least a potential, that person.
GEOFF BENNETT: Jonathan, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has reportedly indicated to folks privately that he intends to run.
He's in Iowa today, headed to Nevada tomorrow.
There are Democrats who say that a DeSantis presidency could potentially be more troubling than a second Trump term, in part because, in Ron DeSantis, you have a Harvard -- Harvard- and Yale- educated lawyer, someone who he really believes in the culture wars in which he is engaged, and someone who fundamentally understands how the levers of power work and how to use them.
Where do you come down on that?
JONATHAN CAPEHART: That's exactly where I come down.
I have been saying it, and particularly to the young people who I talk to, who were so focused on Donald Trump and whether he could win -- win reelection to the White House in 2024.
I said, forget about Donald Trump.
Focus on the entire field, because it is about Trumpism.
And I was thinking specifically about Governor DeSantis, because he is Trump, but Trump with the real Ivy League pedigree, who has been a governor, who knows how the levers of power work and knows how to work them.
And, also, let's not forget, the big red wave that everyone was talking about that was supposed to sweep Congress didn't happen federally, but it happened in Florida.
And Governor DeSantis won by a big margin.
And so we have to keep that in mind.
That's what makes Governor DeSantis so dangerous.
I noticed that David didn't mention him in his -- when he was rattling off all the normies.
And he didn't mention him because of what David mentioned, that Governor DeSantis is so focused on the culture wars.
That's why he's coming in second to Donald Trump.
But let's not forget -- and this is the other reason, final reason why he is dangerous.
The culture war stuff works, because it's emotional.
And that is what I think the -- the entire nation has to keep his eyes on that.
GEOFF BENNETT: The other big story this week was The New York Times first reporting that the Manhattan prosecutors have invited former President Donald Trump to appear before a grand jury investigating his alleged role in hush money payments and an alleged cover-up.
What are the political implications, David, if he is the first president ever to be indicted, add to that while he's running for office?
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I had the profound thought earlier today that being indicted is not good for your political career.
(LAUGHTER) DAVID BROOKS: So, it reminds people that -- of Stormy Daniels, that whole mess.
And so it can't be good.
I don't think the New York case is where I would keep my focus.
I just think, to lift this hush money payment to the level of a felony strikes me, and from what I have read, strikes a lot of people as a bit of a stretch.
To me, the Georgia case is the real case.
Trying to corrupt an electoral process, that's something anybody can understand.
And that strikes me as felony-like.
And I would say, I'm struck, even talking to Republicans over the last six months, how much January 6 has had an accumulative power on their minds.
There are some people for whom it's fine, it was a peaceful walk in the park, as Tucker Carlson said, but there are a lot of people who didn't say much at the time, but now that they actually have candidates in front of them, they're thinking, that's just -- that was horrible and that was a menace.
And so now all the other Republican candidates, aside from Donald Trump and maybe DeSantis, are beginning to use January 6 as a way to distinguish themselves from Trump.
And so I think that Georgia case is the -- is the indictment I'd look for.
GEOFF BENNETT: How would an indictment -- and, again, we don't know that it's going to end in any charge, but how would that affect Donald Trump's standing?
Because he is someone who has spent -- has invested a lot of time and energy in sowing distrust about the institutions that seek to hold him to account.
When he was at CPAC this past weekend, he told his supporters: They're not coming after me.
They're coming after you.
That would have, could have a rallying effect, could it not?
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Sure.
Sure, it could have a rallying effect.
And it would have -- excuse me -- no impact on his standing, meaning he's not going to lose support.
His supporters are there.
They are his bedrock, 28, 30 percent.
I think the other reason why I don't see any change to his political standing is because, in order for him to have some sort of change in his standing, it would require him to have a sense of shame.
And we know, after four years -- well, in his run for president and his four years in the White House, he has no shame.
And so, of course, he's going to -- he would stay in the race if he gets indicted.
Of course, he will stay in the race and walk the gauntlet of news cameras outside a courtroom in New York City while he's supposed to be running for president, because it all in the end, to his mind, inures to his benefit.
Meanwhile, going through all that does nothing for the Republican Party, does nothing for our political discourse, and does nothing for our democracy.
GEOFF BENNETT: Governor Chris Sununu, David, this week, I had the chance to interview him.
And he said that he's not concerned about the number of Republicans who decide to run in this race.
The question was about, if there are too many Republicans in the field, does that benefit Donald Trump?
He said the bigger thing is, these Republicans have to know when to get out.
How does that strike you?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, he's right in theory.
It's a lot harder in practice, because, if you're running for president, you're raising a ton of money.
And so you build up these war chests, and, suddenly, a couple of weeks go by, it doesn't look so good.
A, do you want to look at your donors and say, eh, sorry, you wasted your money?
You're not allowed to give them the money back.
And so -- and you have to spend it that election cycle.
And so it's actually hard to withdraw, because you have this pot of money there.
And the instinct is to say, oh, I will just stay in.
I have got this money.
I might as well see what I got and spend it.
And so, since it's structurally hard to get out, for this fund-raising reason I have described, a lot of them are going to face the temptation to stay in longer than they should.
And that will -- that will split the field.
I think it's a real problem for anybody who does not want Donald Trump to be the nominee.
GEOFF BENNETT: David Brooks and Jonathan Capehart, appreciate you both.
Have a good weekend.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Thanks, Geoff.
DAVID BROOKS: Thank you.
GEOFF BENNETT: And we will be back shortly.
But, first, take a moment to hear from your local PBS station.
It's a chance to offer your support, which helps keep programs like ours on the air.
For those of you staying with us, millions of Americans live in rural or underserved areas known as care deserts, where there are few medical care facilities and few doctors with specialized expertise.
In this encore report, Fred de Sam Lazaro looks at how one doctor in New Mexico is trying to help change that.
DR. SANJEEV ARORA, Founder, Project ECHO: Perfect.
Yes, just relax.
Now take a deep breath.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: It was cases like these that inspired gastroenterologist Sanjeev Arora's idea.
DR. SANJEEV ARORA, Founder, Project ECHO: You liver really feels good.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Fifty-eight-year-old Robert Subia contracted hepatitis C, a viral liver infection, from a blood transfusion decades ago.
DR. SANJEEV ARORA: Hello, Mr. Robert.
How are you?
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Regular appointments and scans of his liver are critical to his recovery.
DR. SANJEEV ARORA: Wow.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Which appears to be going well.
DR. SANJEEV ARORA: This is amazing results.
ROBERT SUBIA, Patient: Need to lose some weight, exercise, which I don't do, and eat better.
FLORENCE SUBIA, New Mexico: So, we can reduce the fatty liver, so we don't get close to cirrhosis.
DR. SANJEEV ARORA: This has to move back.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Robert Subia has the strong support of his wife, Florence, and he is lucky in another way.
They live close to this Albuquerque center.
About a third of New Mexico's residence live in its vast rural areas, where a trip to get specialized medical care can often mean a daylong journey or even overnight.
That is not affordable for a lot of people in a region with one of the highest rates of poverty in the United States.
It was one case in particular that haunted Dr. Arora, a single mother with two young children whose home was a five-hour drive from his clinic.
DR. SANJEEV ARORA: She had cancer of the liver, and she passed away six months later, leaving these two children.
I was asking myself, why did she die?
And the answer was, she died because the right knowledge didn't exist at the right place at the right time.
And this was not an isolated case.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: At the time, amid a hep C epidemic, Dr. Arora was one of very few specialists treating it.
His appointment calendar stretched out eight months.
WOMAN: I think you had just started talking about it, and I would love to hear more.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: That is when he says the idea came to him to -- quote -- "democratize that knowledge," have specialists use technology and share their expertise with rural providers, so they could treat their patients much closer to home.
He dubbed it Project ECHO, Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes.
DR. SANJEEV ARORA: I don't like people to exercise when they are feeling really tired.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: His vision is to move beyond the model of one doctor, in this case, a specialist in an urban medical center working with one patient.
DR. SANJEEV ARORA: To see somebody in a rural area, they see one less patient in the urban area, the total number of patients doesn't go up.
We need an exponential improvement in capacity to deliver best practice care.
That is where something like ECHO comes in, where we multiply expertise.
DR. ALITHEA GABRELLAS, Gallup Indian Medical Center: It really helps sort of level the playing field, I think, in medicine.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Dr. Alithea Gabrellas practices at the Gallup Indian Medical Center, about a two-hour drive from Albuquerque.
DR. ALITHEA GABRELLAS: We were able to treat a lot of people that had been waiting years to be able to access treatment.
And we were able to cure a lot of patients.
I had the same knowledge as, you know, a high-level hepatologist at the University of Mexico to be able to bring that new resource to my patients.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Is it safe to say it has literally saved lives of your patients?
DR. ALITHEA GABRELLAS: Absolutely.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: ECHO uses a hub-and-spoke design to connect a team of specialists, the hub to multiple participants in the spokes via Zoom during regularly scheduled sessions that include discussions on specific cases and mentorship.
WOMAN: This man has one of the most complex cases of multidrug resistance.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Dr. Gabrellas, who completed a fellowship in infectious disease, credits ECHO for keeping her up to date on how to treat a wide variety of challenging conditions, like that of 27-year-old Dana Quintero.
DANA QUINTERO, Patient: I ended up, you know, being an ICU -- or, I think, ICU, for about, like, a whole week, I think.
That's whenever Dr. Gabrellas walked into my room, and she was like, you have an infection.
It is called A strep.
DR. ALITHEA GABRELLAS: Even though this was a fairly serious infectious disease, I felt 100 percent confident doing that kind of care here, because I have instant access to those academic medical centers through ECHO.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Since its creation nearly 20 years ago, Project ECHO's presence has multiplied across the globe.
There are now 792 hubs operating in 69 countries focusing on dozens of specialties.
It is supported entirely by grants from government and private sources.
One of the first places Project ECHO expanded was in Dr. Arora's native India, a country with myriad public health challenges which have taken a backseat during COVID.
Among the campaigns using the ECHO platform is the fight against tuberculosis, which has surged in recent times.
Tuberculosis is preventable and, in most cases, curable, and reaching vulnerable populations is key to reducing the number of cases.
Last year, more than half-a-million people died from T.B.
The government has pledged to eliminate T.B.
And Dr. Kamal Chopra at the New Delhi Tuberculosis Center says the ECHO model will be key.
DR. KAMAL CHOPRA, New Delhi Tuberculosis Center: It speeds up our reach to the community.
By this ECHO platform at our national level, attendance goes up to 800.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Eight hundred in a single meeting?
DR. KAMAL CHOPRA: Yes, in a single meeting.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: In central Delhi, Neera and Preeti are among hundreds of volunteers who visit patients in their homes.
Recovered from T.B.
themselves, they say they use their ECHO training to help patients manage their medication and watch other family members who may be vulnerable.
PREETI, Volunteer (through translator): We tell them not to ignore even trivial symptoms.
Fever or cold, they need to go in and consult with a doctor immediately and get a diagnosis or get medicine NEERA, Volunteer (through translator): Also, those people who have HIV or diabetes are more likely to get T.B.
because their bodies have been weakened.
DR. SANJEEV ARORA: This democratization of best practices is not a health care issue alone.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Dr. Arora is now trying to expand ECHO into education.
DR. SANJEEV ARORA: When I look at my own life, what made the huge difference to make me who I am today?
It was education.
And I really would like to give that opportunity to every child.
We have the technology backbone.
We have the model.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: So far, they have started eight education ECHO programs with some 3,000 participating K-12 teachers from across the state of New Mexico.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I am Fred de Sam Lazaro in New Mexico.
GEOFF BENNETT: Fred's reporting is in partnership with the Under-Told Stories Project of the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.
Remember, there is much more on our Web site, including a story about a man who was recently honored for donating more than 50 gallons of blood over the past 30-plus years.
That's at PBS.org/NewsHour.
And be sure to tune into "Washington Week" later tonight here on PBS, where our very own Amna Nawaz will be speaking with a panel of journalists about the week's political news.
And ahead of the Oscars, watch "PBS NewsHour Weekend" for a conversation about women in the film industry, including why none were nominated for best director this year.
REBECCA SUN, The Hollywood Reporter: I think that there's such a difference between a trend and sustainable change.
As long as we're still at a precarious point where, year to year, the fortunes of women can swing from two in a race to zero in a race, you're not solidly achieving sort of a pipeline of systemic equity.
GEOFF BENNETT: You can watch that full interview tomorrow on "PBS NewsHour Weekend" with John Yang.
And that is the "NewsHour."
I'm Geoff Bennett.
On behalf of the entire "NewsHour" team, thanks for joining us.
Have a great weekend.